15 decisive battles of the world Vol 2 (London)
BATTLES OF THE WORLD;
FROM MARATHON TO WATERLOO.
By E. S. CREASY, M.A.,
PROFESSOR OF ANCIENT AND MODERN HISTORY IN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON;
LATE FELLOW OF KING'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
Those few battles, of which a contrary event would have essentially varied
the drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes.—Hallam.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET,
Publisher in Ordinary to her Majesty
Printed by Samuel Bentley and Co.,
Bangor House, Shoe Lane.
THE SECOND VOLUME.
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Hastings, A.D.1066, and Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, 1429 .
Joan of Arc's Victory over the English at Orleans,A.D. 1429 . . . . . .
Synopsis of Events between Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, A.D. 1429, and the Defeat of the SpanishArmada, A.D. 1588 . . . . .
Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, A.D. 1588, and the Battle of Blenheim,1704 . . . . . .
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Blenheim,1704, and the Battle of Pultowa, 1709 ...
CHAPTER XII.The Battle of Pultowa, 1709 . . .
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Pultowa, 1709,and the Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga, 1777 .
Victory of the Americans over Burgoyne at Saratoga,A.D. 1777 . . . .
Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of Burgoyne atSaratoga, 1777, and the Battle of Valmy, 1792 .
CHAPTER XIV.The Battle of Valmy ....
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Valmy, 1792,and the Battle of Waterloo 1815 . . .
CHAPTER XV.The Battle of Waterloo, 1815 . . .
FIFTEEN DECISIVE BATTLES
OF THE WORLD.
THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, 1066
Eis voe la Bataille assemblée,
Dune encore est grant renomée.
Roman de Rou, 13183.
Arletta's pretty feet twinkling in the brook made her the mother of William the Conqueror. Had she not thus fascinated Duke Robert the Liberal of Normandy, Harold would not have fallen at Hastings, no Anglo-Norman dynasty could have arisen, no British empire. The reflection is Sir Francis Palgrave's: and it is emphatically true. If any one should write a history of "Decisive loves that have materially influenced the drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes, the daughter of the tanner of Falaise would deserve a conspicuous place in his pages. But it is her son, the victor of Hastings, who is now the object of our attention; and no one, who appreciates the influence of England and her empire upon the destinies of the world, will ever rank that victory as one of secondary importance.
It is true that in the last century some writers of eminence on our history and laws mentioned the Norman Conquest in terms, from which it might be supposed that the battle of Hastings led to little more than the substitution of one royal family on the throne of this country, and to the garbling and changing of some of our laws through the "cunning of the Norman lawyers." But, at least since the appearance of the work of Augustin Thierry on the Norman Conquest these forensic fallacies have been exploded. Thierry made his readers keenly appreciate the magnitude of that political and social catastrophe. He depicted in vivid colours the atrocious cruelties of the conquerors, and the sweeping and enduring innovations that they wrought, involving the overthrow of the ancient constitution, as well as of the last of the Saxon kings. In his pages we see new tribunals and tenures superseding the old ones, new divisions of race and class introduced, whole districts devastated to gratify the vengeance or the caprice of the new tyrant, the greater part of the lands of the English confiscated, and divided among aliens, the very name of Englishman turned into a reproach, the English language rejected as servile and barbarous, and all the high places in church and state for upwards of a century tilled exclusively by men of foreign race.
No less true than eloquent is Thierry's summing up of the social effects of the Norman conquest on the generation that witnessed it, and on many of their successors. He tells his reader that "if he would form a just idea of England conquered by William of Normandy, he must figure to himself—not a mere change of political rule—not the triumph of one candidate over another candidate—of the man of one party over the man of another party, but the intrusion of one people into the bosom of another people—the violent placing of one society over another society, which it came to destroy, and the scattered fragments of which it retained only as personal property, or (to use the words of an old act) as 'the clothing of the soil;' he must not picture to himself, on the one hand, William, a king and a despot—on the other, subjects of William's, high and low, rich and poor, all inhabiting England, and consequently all English: he must imagine two nations, of one of which William is a member and the chief—two nations which (if the term must be used) were both subject to William; but as applied to which the word has quite different senses, meaning, in the one case, subordinate — in the other, subjugated. He must consider that there are two countries, two soils, included in the same geographical circumference; that of the Normans rich and free; that of the Saxons poor and serving, vexed by rent and toilage: the former full of spacious mansions, and walled and moated castles, — the latter scattered over with huts and straw, and ruined hovels; that peopled with the happy and the idle — with men of the army, and of the court — with knights and nobles, — this with men of pain and labour — with farmers and artisans: on the one side, luxury and insolence, — on the other, misery and envy — not the envy of the poor at the sight of opulence they cannot reach, but the envy of the despoiled when in presence of the despoilers."
Perhaps the effect of Thierry's work has been to cast into the shade the ultimate good effects on England of the Norman conquest. Yet, these are as undeniable, as are the miseries which that conquest inflicted on our Saxon ancestors from the time of the battle of Hastings, to the time of the signing of the Great Charter at Runnymede. That last is the true epoch of English nationality; it is the epoch when Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon ceased to keep aloof from each other; the one in haughty scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence; and when all the free men of the land, whether barons, knights, yeomen, or burghers, combined to lay the foundations of English freedom.
Our Norman barons were the chiefs of that primary constitutional movement; those "iron Barons,"" whom Chatham has so nobly eulogised. This alone should make England remember her obligations to the Norman Conquest, which planted far and wide, as a dominant class in her land, a martial nobility of the bravest and most energetic race that ever existed.
It may sound paradoxical, but it is in reality no exaggeration to say, with Guizot, that England's liberties are owing to her having been conquered by the Normans. It is true that the Saxon institutions were the primitive cradle of English liberty, but by their own intrinsic force they could never have founded the enduring free English constitution. It was the Conquest that infused into them a new virtue, and the political liberties of England arose from the situation in which the Anglo-Saxon and the Anglo-Norman populations and laws found themselves placed relatively to each other in this island. The state of England under her last Anglo-Saxon kings, closely resembled the state of France under the last Carlovingian, and the first Capetian princes. The crown was feeble, the great nobles were strong and turbulent. And although there was more national unity in Saxon England than in France, although the English local free institutions had more reality and energy, than was the case with anything analogous to them on the Continent, in the eleventh century; still, the probability is that the Saxon system of polity, if left to itself, would have fallen into utter confusion, out of which would have arisen first an aristocratic hierarchy, like that which arose in France; next an absolute monarchy; and finally a series of anarchical revolutions, such as we now behold around, but not among us.
The latest conquerors of this island were also the bravest and the best. I do not except even the Romans. And, in spite of our sympathies with Harold and Hereward, and our abhorrence of the founder of the New Forest, and the desolator of Yorkshire, we must confess the superiority of the Normans to the Anglo-Saxons, and Anglo-Danes, whom they met here in 1066, as well as to the degenerate Frank noblesse, and the crushed and servile Romanesque provincials, from whom, in 912, they had wrested the district in the north of Gaul, which still bears the name of Normandy.
It was not merely by extreme valour and ready subordination to military discipline, that the Normans were preeminent among all the conquering races of the Gothic stock, but also by an instinctive faculty of appreciating and adopting the superior civilizations which they encountered. Thus Duke Rollo and his Scandinavian warriors readily embraced the creed, the language, the laws and the arts, which France, in those troubled and evil times with which the Capetian dynasty commenced, still inherited from Imperial Rome and Imperial Charlemagne. "Ils adoptèrent les usages, les devoirs, la subordination que les capitulaires des empereurs et les rois avoient institués. Mais ce qu'ils apportèrent dans l'application de ces lois, ce fut l'esprit de vie, l'esprit de liberté, l'habitude de la subordination militaire, et l'intelligence d'un état politique qui conciliât la sureté de tous avec l'independance de chacun." So also in all chivalric feelings, in enthusiastic religious zeal, in almost idolatrous respect to females of gentle birth, in generous fondness for the nascent poetry of the time, in a keen intellectual relish for subtle thought and disputation, in a taste for architectural magnificence, and all courtly refinement and pageantry, the Normans were the Paladins of the world. Their brilliant qualities were sullied by many darker traits of pride, of merciless cruelty, and of brutal contempt for the industry, the rights and the feelings of all, whom they considered the lower classes of mankind.
Their gradual blending with the Saxons softened these harsh and evil points of their national character, and in return they fired the duller Saxon mass with a new spirit of animation and power. As Campbell boldly expressed it, "They high-mettled the blood of our veins." Small had been the figure which England made in the world Rapin, who, writing of the battle of Hastings more than a century ago, speaks of the revolution effected by it as, "the first step by which England is arrived to that height of grandeur and glory we behold it in at present."the coming over of the Normans; and without them she never would have emerged from insignificance. The authority of Gibbon may be taken as decisive, when he pronounces that, "Assuredly England was a gainer by the Conquest." And we may proudly adopt the comment of the Frenchman,
The interest of this eventful struggle, by which William of Normandy became king of England, is materially enhanced by the high personal character of the competitors for our crown. They were three in number. One was a foreign prince from the North. One was a foreign prince from the South; and one was a native hero of the land. Harald Hardrada, the strongest and the most chivalric of the kings of Norway, was the first; Duke William of Normandy was the second; and the Saxon Harold, the son of Earl Godwin, was the third. Never was a nobler prize sought by nobler champions, or striven for more gallantly. The SaKon triumphed over the Norwegian, and the Norman triumphed over the Saxon; but Norse valour was never more conspicuous than when Harald Hardrada and his host fought and fell at Stamford Bridge; nor did Saxons ever face their foes more bravely than our Harold and his men on the fatal day of Hastings.
During the reign of King Edward the Confessor over this land, the claims of the Norwegian king to our crown were little thought of; and though Hardrada's predecessor, King Magnus of Norway, had on one occasion asserted that, by virtue of a compact with our former king, Hardicanute, he was entitled to the English throne, no serious attempt had been made to enforce his pretensions. But the rivalry of the Saxon Harold and the Norman William, was foreseen and bewailed by the Confessor, who was believed to have predicted on his deathbed the calamities that were impending over England. Duke William was King Edward's kinsman. Harold was the head of the most powerful noble house, next to the royal blood, in England; and, personally, he was the bravest and most popular chieftain in the land. King Edward was childless, and the nearest collateral heir was a puny unpromising boy. England had suffered too severely, during royal minorities, to make the accession of Edgar Atheling desirable; and long before King Edward's death, Earl Harold was the destined king of the nation's choice, though the favour of the Confessor was believed to lean towards the Norman duke.
A little time before the death of King Edward, Harold was in Normandy. The causes of the voyage of the Saxon earl to the continent are doubtful; but the fact of his having been, in 1065, at the ducal court, and in the power of his rival, is indisputable. William made skilful and unscrupulous use of the opportunity. Though Harold was treated with outward courtesy and friendship, he was made fully aware that his liberty and life depended on his compliance with the duke's requests. William said to him, in apparent confidence and cordiality, "When King Edward and I once lived like brothers under the same roof, he promised that if ever he became king of England, he would make me heir to his throne. Harold, I wish that thou wouldst assist me to realize this promise." Harold replied with expressions of assent; and further agreed, at William's request, to marry William's daughter, Adela, and to send over his own sister to be married to one of William's barons. The crafty Norman was not content with this extorted promise; he determined to bind Harold by a more solemn pledge, the breach of which would be a weight on the spirit of the gallant Saxon, and a discouragement to others from adopting his cause. Before a full assembly of the Norman barons, Harold was required to do homage to Duke William, as the heir apparent of the English crown. Kneeling down, Harold placed his hands between those of the duke, and repeated the solemn form, by which he acknowledged the duke as his lord, and promised to him fealty and true service. But William exacted more. He had caused all the bones and relics of saints, that were preserved in the Norman monasteries and churches, to be collected into a chest, which was placed in the council room, covered over with a cloth of gold. On the chest of relics, which were thus concealed, was laid a missal. The duke then solemnly addressed his titular guest and real captive, and said to him, "Harold, I require thee, before this noble assembly, to confirm by oath the promises which thou hast made me, to assist me in obtaining the crown of England after King Edward's death, to marry my daughter Adela, and to send me thy sister, that I may give her in marriage to one of my barons." Harold, once more taken by surprise, and not able to deny his former words, approached the missal, and laid his hand on it, not knowing that the chest of relics was beneath. The old Norman chronicler, who describes the scene most minutely, says, when Harold placed his hand on it, the hand trembled, and the flesh quivered; but he swore, and promised upon his oath, to take Ele [Adela] to wife, and to deliver up England to the duke, and thereunto to do all in his power, according to his might and wit, after the death of Edward, if he himself should live; so help him God. Many cried, "God grant it!" and when Harold rose from his knees, the duke made him stand close to the chest, and took off the pall that had covered it, and showed Harold upon what holy relics he had sworn; and Harold was sorely alarmed at the sight.
Harold was soon after this permitted to return to England; and, after a short interval, during which he distinguished himself by the wisdom and humanity with which he pacified some formidable tumults of the Anglo-Danes in Northumbria, he found himself called on to decide whether he would keep the oath which the Norman had obtained from him, or mount the vacant throne of England in compliance with the nation's choice. King Edward the Confessor died on the 5th of January, 1066, and on the following day an assembly of the thanes and prelates present in London, and of the citizens of the metropolis, declared that Harold should be their king. It was reported that the dying Edward had nominated him as his successor. But the sense which his countrymen entertained of his pre-eminent merit was the true foundation of his title to the crown. Harold resolved to disregard the oath which he made in Normandy, as violent and void, and on the 7th day of that January he was anointed King of England, and received from the archbishop's hands the golden crown and sceptre of England, and also an ancient national symbol, a weighty battle-axe. He had truly deep and speedy need of this significant part of the insignia of Saxon royalty.
A messenger from Normandy soon arrived to remind Harold of the oath which he had sworn to the duke "with his mouth, and his hand upon good and holy relics." "It is true," replied the Saxon king, "that I took an oath to William ; but I took it under constraint: I promised what did not belong to me — what I could not in any way hold: my royalty is not my own; I could not lay it down against the will of the country, nor can I against the will of the country take a foreign wife. As for my sister, whom the duke claims that he may marry her to one of his chiefs, she has died within the year; would he have me send her corpse?"
William sent another message, which met with a similar answer; and then the duke published far and wide through Christendom what he termed the perjury and bad faith of his rival; and proclaimed his intention of asserting his rights by the sword before the year should expire, and of pursuing and punishing the perjurer even in those places where he thought he stood most strongly and most securely.
Before, however, he commenced hostilities, William, with deep-laid policy, submitted his claims to the decision of the pope. Harold refused to acknowledge this tribunal, or to answer before an Italian priest for his title as an English king. After a formal examination of William's complaints by the pope and the cardinals, it was solemnly adjudged at Rome, that England belonged to the Norman duke; and a banner was sent to William from the holy see, which the pope himself had consecrated and blessed for the invasion of this island. The clergy throughout the continent were now assiduous and energetic in preaching up William's enterprize as undertaken in the cause of God. Besides these spiritual arms (the effect of which in* the eleventh century must not be measured by the philosophy or the indifferentism of the nineteenth) the Norman Duke applied all the energies of his mind and body, all the resources of his duchy, and all the influence he possessed among vassals or allies, to the collection of "the most remarkable and formidable armament which the western nations had witnessed." All the adventurous spirits of Christendom flocked to the holy banner, under which Duke William, the most renowned knight and sagest general of the age, promised to lead them to glory and wealth in the fair domains of England. His army was filled with the chivalry of continental Europe, all eager to save their souls by fighting at the pope's bidding, eager to signalize their valour in so great an enterprise, and eager also for the pay and the plunder which William liberally promised. But the Normans themselves were the pith and the flower of the army, and William himself was the strongest, the sagest, and the fiercest spirit of them all.
Throughout the spring and summer of 1066, all the sea-ports of Normandy, Picardy, and Britauny rang with the busy sound of preparation. On the opposite side of the channel King Harold collected the army and the fleet with which he hoped to crush the southern invaders. But the unexpected attack of King Harald Hardrada of Norway upon another part of England, disconcerted the skilful measures which the Saxon had taken against the menacing armada of Duke William.
Harold's renegade brother. Earl Tostig, had excited the Norse king to this enterprise, the importance of which has naturally been eclipsed by the superior interest attached to the victorious expedition of Duke William, but which was on a scale of grandeur which the Scandinavian ports had rarely, if ever, before witnessed. Hardrada's fleet consisted of two hundred war-ships, and three hundred other vessels, and all the best warriors of Norway were in his host. He sailed first to the Orkneys, where many of the islanders joined him, and then to Yorkshire. After a severe conflict near York, he completely routed Earls Edwin and Morcar, the governors of Northumbria. The city of York opened its gates, and all the country, from the Tyne to the Humber, submitted to him. The tidings of the defeat of Edwin and Morcar compelled Harold to leave his position on the southern coast, and move instantly against the Norwegians. By a remarkably rapid march he reached Yorkshire in four days, and took the Norse king and his confederates by surprise. Nevertheless, the battle which ensued, and which was fought near Stamford Bridge, was desperate, and was long doubtful. Unable to break the ranks of the Norwegian phalanx by force, Harold at length tempted them to quit their close order by a pretended flight. Then the English columns burst in among them, and a carnage ensued, the extent of which may be judged of by the exhaustion and inactivity of Norway for a quarter of a century afterwards. King Harald Hardrada, and all the flower of his nobility, perished on the 25th of September, 1066, at Stamford Bridge; a battle which was a Flodden to Norway.
Harold's victory was splendid; but he had bought it dearly by the fall of many of his best officers and men; and still more dearly by the opportunity which Duke William had gained of effecting an unopposed landing on the Sussex coast. The whole of William's shipping had assembled at the mouth of the Dive, a little river between the Seine and the Ome, as early as the middle of August The army which he had collected amounted to fifty thousand knights, and ten thousand soldiers of inferior degree. Many of the knights were mounted, but many must have served on foot; as it is hardly possible to believe that William could have found transports for the conveyance of fifty thousand war-horses across the Channel. For a long time the winds were adverse, and the Duke employed the interval that passed before he could set sail, in completing the organization and in improving the discipline of his army; which he seems to have brought into the same state of perfection, as was seven centuries and a half afterwards the boast of another army assembled on the same coast, and which Napoleon designed (but providentially in vain) for a similar descent upon England.
It was not till the approach of the equinox that the wind veered from the north-east to the west, and gave the Normans an opportunity of quitting the weary shores of the Dive. They eagerly embarked, and set sail, but the wind soon freshened to a gale; and drove them along the French coast to St. Valery, where the greater part of them found shelter; but many of their vessels were wrecked, and the whole coast of Normandy was strewn with the bodies of the drowned. William's army began to grow discouraged and averse to the enterprise, which the very elements thus seemed to fight against; though, in reality, the north-east wind which had cooped them so long at the mouth of the Dive, and the western gale which had forced them into St. Valery, were the best possible friends to the invaders. They prevented the Normans from crossing the Channel until the Saxon king and his army of defence had been called away from the Sussex coast to encounter Harald Hardrada in Yorkshire; and also until a formidable English fleet, which by King Harold's orders had been cruising in the Channel to intercept the Normans, had been obliged to disperse temporarily for the purpose pf refitting and taking in fresh stores of provisions.
Duke William used every expedient to reanimate the drooping spirits of his men at St. Valery; and at last he caused the body of the Patron Saint of the place to be exhumed and carried in solemn procession, while the whole assemblage of soldiers, mariners, and appurtenant priests, implored the Saint's intercession for a change of wind. That very night the wind veered, and enabled the mediæval Agamemnon to quit his Aulis.
With full sails, and a following southern breeze, the Norman Armada left the French shores, and steered for England. The invaders crossed an undefended sea, and found an undefended coast. It was in Pevensey Bay in Sussex, at Bulverhitje, between the castle of Pevensey and Hastings, that the last conquerors of this island landed on the 29th of September, 1066.
Harold was at York, rejoicing over his recent victory, which had delivered England from her ancient Scandinavian foes, and resettling the government of the counties which Harald Hardrada had overrun, when the tidings reached him, that Duke William of Normandy and his host had landed on the Sussex shore. Harold instantly hurried southward to meet this long-expected enemy. The severe loss which his army had sustained in the battle with the Norwegians, must have made it impossible for many of his veteran troops to accompany him in his forced march to London, and thence to Sussex. He halted at the capital only six days; and during that time gave orders for collecting forces from the southern and midland counties; and also directed his fleet to reassemble off the Sussex coast. Harold was well received in London, and his summons to arms was promptly obeyed by citizen, by thane, by sokman, and by ceorl, for he had shown himself during his brief reign a just and wise king, affable to all men, active for the good of his country, and (in the words of the old historian) sparing himself from no fatigue by land or by sea. He might have gathered a much more numerous army than that of William; but his recent victory had made him over-confident, and he was irritated by the reports of the country being ravaged by the invaders. As soon, therefore, as he had collected a small army in London he marched off towards the coast: pressing forward as rapidly as his men could traverse Surrey and Sussex, in the hope of taking the Normans unawares, as he had recently by a similar forced march succeeded in surprising the Norwegians. But he had now to deal with a foe equally brave with Harald Hardrada, and far more skilful and wary.
The old Norman chroniclers describe the preparations of William on his landing, with a graphic vigour which would be wholly lost by transfusing their racy Norman couplets, and terse Latin prose, into the current style of modern history. It is best to follow them closely, though at the expense of much quaintness and occasional uncouthness of expression. They tell us how Duke William's own ship was the first of the Norman fleet. It was called the Mora, and was the gift of his Duchess, Matilda. On the head of the ship in the front, which mariners call the prow, there was a brazen child bearing an arrow with a bended bow. His face was turned towards England, and thither, he looked, as though he was about to shoot. The breeze became soft and sweet, and the sea was smooth for their landing. The ships ran on dry land, and each ranged by the other's side. There you might see the good sailors, the sergeants, and squires sally forth and unload the ships; cast the anchors, haul the ropes, bear out shields and saddles, and land the war-horses and the palfreys. The archers came forth, and touched land the first, each with his bow strung, and with his quiver full of arrows, slung at his side. All were shaven and shorn; and all clad in short garments, ready to attack, to shoot, to wheel about and skirmish. All stood well equipped, and of good courage for the fight; and they scoured the whole shore, but found not an armed man there. After the archers had thus gone forth, the knights landed all armed, with their hauberks on, their shields slung at their necks, and their helmets laced. They formed together on the shore, each armed, and mounted on his war horse; all had their swords girded on, and rode forward into the country with their lances raised. Then the carpenters landed, who had great axes in their hands, and planes and adzes hung at their sides. They took counsel together and sought for a good spot to place a castle on. They had brought with them in the fleet, three wooden castles from Normandy in pieces, all ready for framing together, and they took the materials of one of these out of the ships, all shaped and pierced to receive the pins which they had brought cut and ready in large barrels; and before evening had set in, they had finished a good fort on the English ground, and there they placed their stores. All then ate and drank enough, and were right glad that they were ashore.
When Duke William himself landed, as he stepped on the shore, he slipped, and fell forward upon his two hands. Forthwith all raised a loud cry of distress. "An evil sign," said they, "is here." But he cried out lustily, "See, my lords, by the splendour of God, I have taken possession of England with both my hands. It is now mine, and what is mine is yours."
The next day they marched along the sea-shore to Hastings. Near that place the Duke fortified a camp, and set up the two other wooden castles. The foragers, and those who looked out for booty seized all the clothing and provisions they could find, lest what had been brought by the ships should fail them. And the English were to be seen fleeing before them, driving off their cattle, and quitting their houses. Many took shelter in burying-places, and even there they were in grievous alarm.
Besides the marauders from the Norman camp, strong bodies of cavalry were detached by William into the country, and these, when Harold and his army made their rapid march from London southward, fell back in good order upon the main body of the Normans, and reported that the Saxon king was rushing on like a madman. But Harold, when he found that his hopes of surprising his adversary were vain, changed his tactics, and halted about seven miles from the Norman lines. He sent some spies, who spoke the French language, to examine the number and preparations of the enemy, who, on their return, related with astonishment that there were more priests in William's camp, than there were fighting men in the English army. They had mistaken for priests all the Norman soldiers who had short hair and shaven chins, for the English laymen were then accustomed to wear long hair and mustachios. Harold, who knew the Norman usages, smiled at their words and said, "Those whom you have seen in such numbers are not priests, but stout soldiers, as they will soon make us feel."
Harold's army was far inferior in number to that of the Normans, and some of his captains advised him to retreat upon London, and lay waste the country, so as to starve down the strength of the invaders. The policy thus recommended was he unquestionably the wisest, for the Saxon fleet had now reassembled, and intercepted all William's communications with Normandy; and as soon as his stores of provisions were exhausted he must have moved forward upon London: where Harold, at the head of the full military strength of the kingdom, could have defied his assault, and probably might have witnessed his rival's destruction by famine and disease, without having to strike a single blow. But Harold's bold blood was up, and his kindly heart could not endure to inflict on his South Saxon subjects even the temporary misery of wasting the country. "He would not burn houses and villages, neither would he take away the substance of his people."
Harold's brothers, Gurth and Leofwine, were with him in the camp, and Gurth endeavoured to persuade him to absent himself from the battle. The incident shows how well devised had been William's scheme of binding Harold by the oath on the holy relics. "My brother," said the young Saxon prince, "thou canst not deny that either by force or freewill thou hast made Duke William an oath on the bodies of saints. Why then risk thyself in the battle with a perjury upon thee? To us, who have sworn nothing, this is a holy and a just war, for we are fighting for our country. Leave us then alone to fight this battle, and he who has the right will win." Harold replied that he would not look on while others risked their lives for him. Men would hold him a coward, and blame him for sending his best friends where he dared not go himself. He resolved, therefore, to fight, and to fight in person: but he was still too good a general to be the assailant in the action; and he posted his army with great skill along a ridge of rising ground which opened southward, and was covered on the back by an extensive wood. He strengthened his position by a palisade of stakes and osier hurdles, and there he said he would defend himself against whoever should seek him.
The ruins of Battle Abbey at this hour attest the place where Harold's army was posted. And the high altar of the Abbey stood on the very spot where Harold's own standard was planted during the fight, and where the carnage was the thickest. Immediately after his victory, William vowed to build an Abbey on the site; and a fair and stately pile soon rose there, where for many ages the monks prayed and said masses for the souls of those who were slain in the battle, whence the Abbey took its name. Before that time the place was called Senlac. Little of the ancient edifice now remains; but it is easy to trace in the Park and the neighbourhood the scenes of the chief incidents in the action; and it is impossible to deny the generalship shown by Harold in stationing his men; especially when we bear in mind that he was deficient in cavalry, the arm in which his adversary's main strength consisted.
William's only chance of safety lay in bringing on a general engagement: and he joyfully advanced his army from their camp on the hill over Hastings, nearer to the Saxon position. But he neglected no means of weakening his opponent, and renewed his summonses and demands on Harold with an ostentatious air of sanctity and moderation.
"A monk, named Hugues Maigrot, came in William's name, to call upon the Saxon king to do one of three things — either to resign his royalty in favour of William, or to refer it to the arbitration of the Pope to decide which of the two ought to be king, or to let it be determined by the issue of a single combat. Harold abruptly replied, 'I will not resign my title, I will not refer it to the Pope, nor will I accept the single combat.' He was far from being deficient in bravery; but he was no more at liberty to stake the crown which he had received from a whole people in the chance of a duel, than to deposit it in the hands of an Italian priest. William, not at all ruffled by the Saxon's refusal, but steadily pursuing the course of his calculated measures, sent the Norman monk again, after giving him these instructions. — 'Go and tell Harold, that if he will keep his former compact with me, I will leave to him all the country which is beyond the Humber, and will give his brother Gurth all the lands which Godwin held. If he still persist in refusing my offers, then thou shalt tell him, before all his people, that he is a perjurer and a liar; that he and all who shall support him are excommunicated by the mouth of the Pope; and that the bull to that effect is in my hands.'
"Hugues Maigrot delivered this message in a solemn tone; and the Norman chronicle says that at the word excommunication, the English chiefs looked at one another as if some great danger were impending. One of them then spoke as follows: — 'We must fight, whatever may be the danger to us; for what we have to consider is not whether we shall accept and receive a new lord as if our king were dead; the case is quite otherwise. The Norman has given our lands to his captains, to his knights, to all his people; the greater part of whom have already done homage to him for them: they will all look for their gift, if their duke become our king; and he himself is bound to deliver up to them our goods, our wives, and our daughters: all is promised to them beforehand. They come, not only to ruin us, but to ruin our descendants also, and to take from us the country of our ancestors. And what shall we do? — whither shall we go ? — when we have no longer a country.' The English promised, by a unanimous oath, to make neither peace, nor truce, nor treaty with the invader, but to die, or drive away the Normans.
The 13th of October was occupied in these negotiations: and at night the Duke announced to his men that the next day would be the day of battle. That night is said to have been passed by the two armies in very different manners. The Saxon soldiers spent it in joviality, singing their national songs, and draining huge horns of ale and wine round their camp-fires. The Normans, when they had looked to their arms and horses, confessed themselves to the priests with whom their camp was thronged, and received the sacrament by thousands at a time.
On Saturday the 14th of October was fought the great battle.
It is not difficult to compose a narrative of its principal incidents, from the historical information which we possess, especially if aided by an examinatino of the ground. But it is far better to adopt the spirit-stirring words of the old chroniclers, who wrote while the recollections of the battle were yet fresh, and while the feelings and prejudices of the combatants yet glowed in the bosoms of living men. Robert Wace, the Norman poet, who presented his "Roman de Rou" to our Henry II, is the most picturesque and animated of the old writers; and from him we can obtain a more vivid and full description of the conflict than even the most brilliant romance-writer of the present time can supply. We have also an antique memorial of the battle more to be relied on than either chronicler or poet (and which confirms Wace's narrative remarkably) in the celebrated Bayeux tapestry which represents the principal scenes of Duke William's expedition, and of the circumstances connected with it, in minute, though occasionally grotesque details, and which was undoubtedly the production of the same age in which the battle took place, whether we admit or reject the legend that Queen Matilda and the ladies of her court wrought it with their own hands in honour of the royal conqueror.
Let us therefore suffer the old Norman chronicler to transport our imaginations to the fair Sussex scenery, north-west of Hastings, as it appeared on the morning of the fourteenth of October, seven hundred and eighty-five years ago. The Norman host is pouring forth from its tents; and each troop, and each company is forming fast under the banner of its leader. The Masses have been sung, which were finished betimes in the morning; the barons have all assembled round Duke William; and the duke has ordered that the army shall be formed in three divisions, so as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in three places. The duke stood on a hill where he could best see his men; the barons surrounded him, and he spake to them proudly. He told them how he trusted them, and how all that he gained should be theirs, and how sure he felt of conquest, for in all the world there was not so brave an army, or such good men and true as were then forming around him. Then they cheered him in turn, and cried out, "'You will not see one coward; none here will fear to die for love of you, if need be.' And he answered them, 'I thank you well. For God's sake spare not; strike hard at the beginning; stay not to take spoil; all the booty shall be in common, and there will be plenty for every one. There will be no safety in asking quarter or in flight; the English will never love or spare a Norman. Felons they were, and felons they are; false they were, and false they will be. Show no weakness towards them, for they will have no pity on you: neither the coward for running well, nor the bold man for smiting well will be the better liked by the English, nor will any be the more spared on either account. You may fly to the sea, but you can fly no further; you will find neither ships nor bridge there; there will be no sailors to receive you; and the English will overtake you there and slay you in your shame. More of you will die in flight than in battle. Then, as flight will not secure you, fight, and you will conquer. I have no doubt of the victory: we are come for glory, the victory is in our hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we so please.' As the duke was speaking thus, and would yet have spoken more, William Fitz Osber rode up with his horse all coated with iron; 'Sire,' said he, 'we tarry here too long, let us all arm ourselves. Allons! allons! '
"Then all went to their tents and armed themselves as they best might; and the duke was very busy, giving every one his orders; and he was courteous to all the vassals, giving away many arms and horses to them. When he prepared to arm himself, he called first for his good hauberk, and a man brought it on his arm, and placed it before him, but in putting his head in, to get it on, he unawares turned it the wrong way, with the back part in front. He soon changed it, but when he saw that those who stood by were sorely alarmed, he said 'I have seen many a man who, if such a thing had happened to him, would not have borne arms, or entered the field the same day; but I never believed in omens, and I never will. I trust in God, for he does in all things his pleasure, and ordains what is to come to pass, according to his will. I have never liked fortune-tellers, nor believed in diviners; but I commend myself to our lady. Let not this mischance give you trouble. The hauberk which was turned wrong, and then set right by me, signifies that a change will arise out of the matter which we are now stirring. You shall see the name of duke changed into king. Yea, a king shall I be, who hitherto have been but duke.’ Then he crossed himself, and straightway took his hauberk, stooped his head, and put it on aright; and laced his helmet, and girt on his sword, which a varlet brought him. Then the duke called for his good horse—a better could not be found. It had been sent him by a King of Spain, out of very great friendship. Neither arms nor the press of fighting men did it fear, if its lord spurred it on. Walter Giffard brought it. The duke stretched out his hand, took the reins, put foot in stirrup and mounted; and the good horse pawed, pranced, reared himself up, and curvetted. The Viscount of Toarz saw how the duke bore himself in arms, and said to his people that were around him, ’Never have I seen a man so fairly armed, nor one who rode so gallantly, or bore his arms, or became his hauberk so well; neither any one who bore his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse and managed him so nobly. There is no such knight under heaven! a fair count he is, and fair king he will be. Let him fight and he shall overcome; shame be to the man who shall fail him.'
"Then the duke called for the standard which the pope had sent him, and he, who bore it, having unfolded it, the duke took it and called to Raol de Conches. ’Bear my standard,' said he, ’for I would not but do you right; by right and by ancestry your line are standard-bearers of Normandy, and very good knights have they all been.’ But Raol said that be would serve the duke that day in other guise, and would fight the English with his hand as long as life should last. Then the duke bade Galtier Giffart bear the standard. But he was old and white-headed, and bade the duke give the standard to some younger and stronger man to carry. Then the duke said fiercely, ’By the splendour of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and fail me in this great need.'—’Sire,' said Giffart, 'not so! we have done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony towards you; but I have to lead a great chivalry, both hired men and the men of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I now have; and, if God please, I will serve you; if need be I will die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.’
"’By my faith,’ quoth the duke, ’I always loved thee, and now I love thee more; if I survive 'this day, thou shalt be the better for it all thy days.' Then he called out a knight, whom he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc, by name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To him he delivered the standard; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good heart. His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheritance on that account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold their inheritance for ever.
"William sat on his war-horse, and called out Rogier, whom they call De Montgomeri. ’I rely much on you,' said he, ’lead your men thitherward, and attack them from that side. William, the son of Osber, the seneschal, a right good vassal, shall go with you and help in the attack, and you shall have the men of Boilogne and Poix, and all my soldiers. Alain Fergert and Ameri shall attack on the other side; they shall lead the Poitevins and the Bretons, and all the Barons of Maine; and I, with my own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in the middle throng, where the battle shall be the hottest.
"The barons and knights and men-at-arms were all now armed; the foot soldiers were well-equipped, each bearing bow and sword; on their heads were caps, and to their feet were bound buskins. Some had good hides which they had bound round their bodies; and many were clad in frocks, and had quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights had hauberks and swords, boots of steel, and shining helmets; shields at their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their cognizances, so that each might know his fellow, and Norman might not strike Norman, nor Frenchman kill his countryman by mistake. Those on foot led the way, with serried ranks, bearing their bows. The knights rode next, supporting the archers from behind. Thus both horse and foot kept their course and order of march as they began; in close ranks at a gentle pace, that the one might not pass or separate from the other. All went firmly and compactly bearing themselves gallantly.
"Harold had summoned his men, earls, barons, and vavassors, from the castles and the cities; from the ports, the villages, and boroughs. The peasants were also called together from the villages, bearing such arms as they found; clubs and great picks, iron forks and stakes. The English had enclosed the place where Harold was with his friends and the barons of the country whom he had summoned and called together.
"Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, of Hertfort, and of Essesse; those of Suree and Susesse, of St Edmund and Sufoc; of Norwis and Norfoc; of Cantorbierre and Stanfort; Bedefort and Hundetone. The men of Northanton also came; and those of Eurowic and Bokinkeham, of Bed and Notinkeham, Lindesie and Nichole. There came also from the west all who heard the summons; and very many were to be seen coming from Salebiere and Dorset, from Bat and from Sumerset. Many came, too, from about Glocestre, and many from Wirecestre, from Wincestre, Hontesire, and Brichesire; and many more from other counties that we have not named, and cannot, indeed, recount. All who could bear arms, and had learnt the news of the duke's arrival, came to defend the land. But none came from beyond Humbre, for they had other business upon their hands; the Danes and Tosti having much damaged and weakened them.
"Harold knew that the Normans would come and attack him band to hand; so he had early enclosed the field in which he placed his men. He made them arm early, and range themselves for the battle; be himself having put on arms and equipments that became such a lord. The duke, be said, ought to seek him, as he wanted to conquer England ; and it became him to abide the attack, who had to defend the land. He commanded the people, and conselled his barons to keep themselves all together, and defend themselves in a body; for if they once separated, they would with difficulty recover themselves. ’The Normans,' said he, ’are good vassals, valiant on foot and on horseback; good knights are they on horseback, and well used to battle; all is lost if they once penetrate our ranks. They have brought long lances and swords, but you have pointed lances and keen-edged bills; and I do not expect that their arms can stand against yours. Cleave whenever you can; it will be ill done if you spare aught.'
"The English had built up a fence before them with their shields, and with ash and other wood; and had well joined and wattled in the whole work, so as not to leave even a crevice; and thus they had a barricade in their front, through which any Norman who would attack them must first pass. Being covered in this way by their shields and barricades, their aim was to defend themselves; and if they had remained steady for that purpose, they would not have been conquered that day; for every Norman who made his way in, lost his life in dishonour, either by hatchet or bill, by club or other weapon. They wore short and close hauberks, and helmets that hung over their garments. King Harold issued orders and made proclamation round, that all should be ranged with their faces towards the enemy; and that no one should move from where he was; so that whoever came, might find them ready; and that whatever any one, be he Norman or other, should do, each should do his best to defend his own place. Then he ordered the men of Kent to go where the Normans were likely to make the attack; for they say that the men of Kent are entitled to strike first; and that whenever the king goes to battle, the first blow belongs to them. The right of the men of London is to guard the king’s body, to place themselves around him, and to guard his standard; and they were accordingly placed by the standard to watch and defend it.
"When Harold had made all ready, and given his orders, he came into the midst of the English, and dismounted by the side of the standard ; Leofwin and Gurth, his brothers, were with him; and around him he had barons enough, as he stood by his Standard, which was in truth a noble one, sparkling with gold and precious stones. After the victory William sent it to the pope, to prove and commemorate his great conquest and glory. The English stood in close ranks, ready and eager for the fight; and they moreover made a fosse, which went across the field, guarding one side of their army.
"Meanwhile the Normans appeared advancing over the ridge of a rising ground; and the first division of their troops moved onwards along the hill and across a valley. And presently another division, still larger, came in sight, close following upon the first, and they were led towards another part of the field, forming together as the first body had done. And while Harold saw and examined them, and was pointing them out to Gurth, a fresh company came in sight, covering all the plain; and in the midst of them was raised the standard that came from Rome. Near it was the duke, and the best men and greatest strength of the army were there. The good knights, the good vassals and brave warriors were there ; and there were gathered together the gentle barons, the good archers, and the men-at-arms, whose duty it was to guard the duke, and range themselves around him. The youths and common herd of the camp, whose business was not to join in the battle, but to take care of the harness and stores, moved off towards a rising ground. The priests and the clerks also ascended a hill, there to offer up prayers to God, and watch the event of the battle.
"The English stood firm on foot in close ranks, and carried themselves right boldly. Each man had his hauberk on, with his sword girt, and his shield at his neck. Great hatchets were also slung at their necks, with which they expected to strike heavy blows.
"The Normans brought on the three divisions of their army to attack at different places. They set out in three companies, and in three companies did they fight. The first and second had come up, and then advanced the third, which was the greatest; with that came the duke with his own men, and all moved boldly forward.
"As soon as the two armies were in full view of each other, great noise and tumult arose. You might hear the sound of many trumpets, of bugles, and of horns: and then you might see men ranging themselves in line, lifting their shields, raising their lances, bending their bows, handling their arrows, ready for assault and defence.
"The English stood steady to their post, the Normans still moved on; and when they drew near, the English were to be seen stirring to and fro; were going and coming; troops ranging themselves in order; some with their colour rising, others turning pale; some making ready their arms, others raising their shields; the brave man rousing himself to fight, the coward trembling at the approach of danger."Then Taillefer, who sang right well, rode mounted on a swift horse, before the duke, singing of Charlemagne, and of Roland, of Oliver, and the Peers who died in Roncesvalles. And when they drew nigh to the English, ’A boon, sire!' cried Taillefer; ’I have long served you, and you owe me for all such service. To-day, so please you, you shall repay it I ask as my guerdon and beseech you for it earnestly, that you will allow me to strike the first blow in the battle!' And the duke answered, ’I grant it.’ Then Taillefer put his horse to a gallop, charging before all the rest, and struck an Englishman dead, driving his lance below the breast into his body, and stretching him upon the ground. Then he drew his sword, and struck another, crying out, ’Come on, come on! What do ye, sirs? lay on, lay on!' At the second blow he struck, the English pushed forward, and surrounded, and slew him. Forthwith arose the noise and cry of war, and on either side the people put themselves in motion.
"The Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended themselves well. Some were striking, others urging onwards; all were bold) and cast aside fear. And now, behold, that battle was gathered whereof the fame is yet mighty.
"Loud and far resounded the bray of the horns; and the shocks of the lances, the mighty strokes of maces, and the quick clashing of swords. One while the Englishmen rushed on, another while they fell back ; one while the men from over sea charged onwards, and again at other times retreated. The Normans shouted Dex Aie, the English people Out. Then came the cunning manoeuvres, the rude shocks and strokes of the lance and blows of the swords, among the Serjeants and soldiers, both English and Norman.
"When the English fall the Normans shout. Each side taunts and defies the other, yet neither knoweth what the other saith; and the Normans say the English bark, because they understand not their speech.
"Some wax strong, others weak : the brave exult, but the cowards tremble, as men who are sore dismayed. The Normans press on the assault, and the English defend their post well: they pierce the hauberks, and cleave the shields, receive and return mighty blows. Again, some press forwards ; others yield, and thus in various ways the struggle proceeds. In the plain was a fosse, which the Normans had now behind them, having passed it in the fight without regarding it. But the English charged and drove the Normans before them till they made them fall back upon this fosse, overthrowing into it horses and men. Many were to be seen falling therein, rolling one over the other, with their faces to the earth, and unable to rise. Many of the English, also, whom the Normans drew down along with them, died there. At no time during the day^s battle did so many Normans die as perished in that fosse. So those said who saw the dead.
"The varlets who were set to guard the harness began to abandon it as they saw the loss of the Frenchmen, when thrown back upon the fosse without power to recover themselves. Being greatly alarmed at seeing the difficulty in restoring order they began to quit the harness, and sought around, not knowing where to find shelter. Then Duke William's brother, Odo, the good priest, the bishop of Bayeux, galloped up, and said to them, 'Stand fast! stand fast! be quiet and move not I fear nothing, for if God please, we shall conquer yet.' So they took courage, and rested where they were; and Odo returned galloping back to where the battle was most fierce, and was of great service on that day. He had put a hauberk on, over a white aube; wide in the body, with the sleeve tight; and sat on a white horse, so that all might recognize him. In his hand he held a mace, and wherever he saw most need he held up and stationed the knights, and often urged them on to assault and strike the enemy.
"From nine o'clock in the morning, when the combat began, till three o'clock came, the battle was up and down, this way and that, and no one knew who would conquer and win the land. Both sides stood so firm and fought so well, that no one could guess which would prevail. The Norman archers with their bows shot thickly upon the English; but they covered themselves with their shields, so that the arrows could not reach their bodies, nor do any mischief, how true soever was their aim, or however well they shot. Then the Normans determined to shoot their arrows upwards into the air, so that they might fall on their enemies' heads, and strike their faces. The archers adopted this scheme, and shot up into the air towards the English; and the arrows in falling struck their heads and faces, and put out the eyes of many; and all feared to open their eyes, or leave their faces unguarded.
"The arrows now flew thicker than rain before the wind; fast sped the shafts that the English call 'wibetes.' Then it was that an arrow, that had been thus shot upwards, struck Harold aboye bis right eye, and put it out. In his agony he drew the arrow and threw it away, breaking it with his hands: and the pain to his head was so great, that he leaned upon his shield. So the English were wont to say, and still say to the French, that the arrow was well shot which was so sent up against their king; and that the archer won them great glory, who thus put out Harold's eye.
"The Normans saw that the English defended themselves well, and were so strong in their position that they could do little against them. So they consulted together privily, and arranged to draw off, and pretend to flee, till the English should pursue and scatter themselves over the field; for they saw that if they could once get their enemies to break their ranks, they might be attacked and discomfited much more easily. As they had said, so they did. The Normans by little and little fled, the English following thenu As the one fell back, the other pressed after; and when the Frenchmen retreated, the English thought and cried out, that the men of France fled, and would never return.
"Thus they were deceived by the pretended flight, and great mischief thereby befell them; for if they had not moved from their position, it is not likely that they would have been conquered at all; but like fools they broke their lines and pursued.
"The Normans were to be seen following up their stratagem, retreating slowly so as to draw the English further on. As they still flee, the English pursue; they push out their lances and stretch forth their hatchets: following the Normans, as they go rejoicing in the success of their scheme, and scattering themselves over the plain. And the English meantime jeered and insulted their foes with words. ’Cowards,' they cried, ’you came hither in an evil hour, wanting our lands, and seeking to seize our property, fools that ye were to come! Normandy is too far off, and you will not easily reach it. It is of little use to run back; unless you can cross the sea at a leap, or can drink it dry, your sons and daughters are lost to you.'
"The Normans bore it all, but in fact they knew not what the English said; their language seemed like the baying of dogs, which they could not understand. At length they stopped and turned round, determined to recover their ranks; and the barons might be heard crying dex aie I for a halt. Then the Normans resumed their former position, turning their faces towards the enemy; and their men were to be seen facing round and rushing onwards to a fresh mêlée; the one party assaulting the other ; this man striking, another pressing onwards. One hits, another misses; one flies, another pursues : one is aiming a stroke, while another discharges his blow. Nor- man strives with Englishman again, and aims his blows afresh. One flies, another pursues swiftly : the combatants are many, the plain wide, the battle and the mêlée fierce. On every hand they fight hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle becomes fierce.
"The Normans were playing their part well, when an English knight came rushing up, having in his company a hundred men, furnished with various arms. He wielded a northern hatchet, with the blade a full foot long; and was well armed after his manner, being tall, bold, and of noble carriage. In the front of the battle where the Normans thronged most, he came bounding on swifter than the stag, many Normans falling before him and his company. He rushed straight upon a Norman who was armed and riding on a war-horse, and tried with his hatchet of steel to cleave his helmet; but the blow miscarried, and the sharp blade glanced down before the saddle bow, driving through the horse's neck down to the ground, so that both horse and master fell together to the earth. I know not whether the Englishman struck another blow; but the Normans who saw the stroke were astonished, and about to abandon the assault, when Roger de Montgomeri came galloping up, with his lance set, and heeding not the long handled axe, which the Englishman wielded aloft, struck him down, and left him stretched upon the ground. Then Roger cried out, 'Frenchmen, strike! the day is ours!' And again a fierce melée was to be seen, with many a blow of lance and sword; the English still defending themselves, killing the horses and cleaving the shields.
"There was a French soldier of noble mien, who sat his horse gallantly. He spied two Englishmen who were also carrying themselves boldly. They were both men of great worth, and had become companions in arms and fought together, the one protecting the other. They bore two long and broad bills, and did great mischief to the Normans, killing both horses and men. The French soldier looked at them and their bills, and was sore alarmed, for he was afraid of losing his good horse, the best that he had; and would willingly have turned to some other quarter, if it would not have looked like cowardice. He soon, however, recovered his courage, and spurring his horse gave him the bridle, and galloped swiftly forward. Fearing the two bills, he raised his shield, and struck one of the Englishmen with his lance on the breast, so that the iron passed out at his back. At the moment that he fell, the lance broke, and the Frenchman seized the mace that hung at his right side, and struck the other Englishman a blow that completely fractured his skull.
"On the other side was an Englishman who much annoyed the French, continually assaulting them with a keen-edged hatchet. He had a helmet made of wood, which he had fastened down to his coat, and laced round his neck, so that no blows could reach his head. The ravage he was making was seen by a gallant Norman knight, who rode a horse that neither fire nor water could stop in its career, when its master urged it on. The knight spurred, and his horse carried him on well till he charged the Englishman, striking him over the helmet, so that it fell down over his eyes; and as he stretched out his hand to raise it and uncover his face, the Norman cut off his right hand, so that his hatchet fell to the ground. Another Norman sprang forward and eagerly seized the prize with both his hands, but he kept it little space, and paid dearly for it, for as he stooped to pick up the hatchet, an Englishman with his long handled axe struck him over the back, breaking all his bones, so that his entrails and lungs gushed forth. The knight of the good horse meantime returned without injury; but on his way be met another Englishman, and bore him down under his horse, wounding him grievously, and trampling him altogether underfoot.
"And now might be heard the loud clang and cry of battle, and the clashing of lances. The English stood firm in their barricades, and shivered the lances, beating them into pieces with their bills and maces. The Normans drew their swords and hewed down the barricades, and the English in great trouble fell back upon their standard, where were collected the maimed and wounded.
"There were many knights of Chauz, who jousted and made attacks. The English knew not how to joust, or bear arms on horseback, but fought with hatchets and bills. A man, when he wanted to strike with one of their hatchets, was obliged to hold it with both his hands, and could not at the same time, as it seems to me, both cover himself and strike with any freedom.
"The English fell back towards the standard which was upon a rising ground, and the Normans followed them across the valley, attacking them on foot and horseback. Then Hue de Mortemer, with the sires D'Auviler, D'Onebac, and Saint- Cler, rode up and charged, overthrowing many.
"Robert Fitz Erneis fixed his lance, took bis shield, and, galloping towards the standard, with his keen-edged sword struck an Englishman who was in front, killed him, and then drawing back his sword, attacked many others, and pushed straight for the standard, trying to beat it down, but the English surrounded it, and killed him with their bills. He was found on the spot, when they afterwards sought for him, dead, and lying at the standard's foot.
"Duke William pressed close upon the English with his lance; striving hard to reach the standard with the great troop he led; and seeking earnestly for Harold, on whose account the whole war was. The Normans follow their lord, and press around him; they ply their blows upon the English; and these defend themselves stoutly, striving hard with their enemies, returning blow for blow.
"One of them was a man of great strength, a wrestler, who did great mischief to the Normans with his hatchet; all feared him, for he struck down a great many Normans. The duke spurred on his horse, and aimed a blow at him, but he stooped, and so escaped the stroke; then jumping on one side, he lifted his hatchet aloft, and as the duke bent to avoid the blow, the Englishman boldly struck him on the head, and beat in his helmet, though without doing much injury. He was very near falling however, but bearing on his stirrups he recovered himself immediately; and when he thought to have revenged himself upon the churl by killing him, he had escaped, dreading the duke's blow. He ran back in among the English, but he was not safe even there, for the Normans seeing him, pursued and caught him; and having pierced him through and through with their lances, left him dead on the ground.
"Where the throng of the battle was greatest, the men of Kent and Essex fought wondrously well, and made the Normans again retreat, but without doing them much injury. And when the duke saw his men fall back, and the English triumphing over them, his spirit rose high, and he seized his shield, and his lance, which a vassal handed to him, and took his post by his standard.
"Then those who kept close guard by him, and rode where he rode, being about a thousand armed men, came and rushed with closed ranks upon the English; and with the weight of their good horses, and the blows the knights gave, broke the press of the enemy, and scattered the crowd before them, the good duke leading them on in front Many pursued and many fled; many were the Englishmen who fell around, and were trampled under the horses, crawling upon the earth, and not able to rise. Many of the richest and noblest men fell in that rout, but still the English rallied in places; smote down those whom they reached, and maintained the combat the best they could; beating down the men and killing the horses. One Englishman watched the duke, and plotted to kill him; he would have struck him with his lance, but he could not, for the duke struck him first, and felled him to the earth.
"Loud was now the clamour, and great the slaughter; many a soul then quitted the body it inhabited. The living marched over the heaps of dead, and each side was weary of striking. He charged on who could, and he who could no longer strike still pushed forward. The strong struggled with the strong; some failed, others triumphed; the cowards fell back, the brave pressed on; and sad was his fate who fell in the midst, for he had little chance of rising again; and many in truth fell who never rose at all, being crushed under the throng.
"And now the Normans had pressed on so far, that at last they had reached the standard. There Harold had remained, defending himself to the utmost; but he was sorely wounded in his eye by the arrow, and suffered grievous pain from the blow. An armed man came in the throng of the battle, and struck him on the ventaille of his helmet, and beat him to the ground; and as he sought to recover himself, a knight beat him down again, striking him on the thick of his thigh, down to the bone. "Gurth saw the English falling around, and that there was no remedy. He saw his race hastening to ruin, and despaired of any aid; he would have fled, but could not, for the throng continually increased. And the duke pushed on till he reached him, and struck him with great force. Whether he died of that blow I know not, but it was said that he fell under it, and rose no more.
"The standard was beaten down, the golden standard was taken, and Harold and the best of his friends were slain; but there was so much eagerness, and throng of so many around, seeking to kill him, that I know not who it was that slew him.
"The English were in great trouble at having lost their king, and at the duke's having conquered and beat down the standard; but they still fought on, and defended themselves long, and in fact till the day drew to a dose. Then it clearly appeared to all that the standard was lost, and the news had spread throughout the army that Harold, for certain, was dead; and all saw that there was no longer any hope, so they left the field, and those fled who could.
"William fought well; many an assault did he lead, many a blow did be give, and many receive, and many fell dead under his hand. Two horses were killed under him, and be took a third when necessary, so that he fell not to the ground, and lost not a drop of blood. But wbatever any one did, and whoever lived or died, this is certain, that William conquered, and that many of the English fled from the field, and many died on the spot. Then he returned thanks to God, and in his pride ordered his standard to be brought and set up on high, where the English standard had stood; and that was the signal of his having conquered, and beaten down the standard. And he ordered his tent to be raised on the spot among the dead, and had his meat brought thither, and his supper prepared there.
"Then he took off his armour; and the barons and knights, pagos and squires came, when he had unstrung his shield; and they took the helmet from his head, and the hauberk from his back, and saw the heavy blows upon his shield, and how his helmet was dinted in. And all greatly wondered, and said, 'Such a baron (ber) never bestrode war- horse, nor dealt such blows, nor did such feats of arms; neither has there been on earth such a knight since Rollant and Oliver.'
"Thus they lauded and extolled him greatly, and rejoiced in what they saw; but grieving also for their friends who were slain in the battle. And the duke stood meanwhile among them, of noble stature and mien; and rendered thanks to the King of glory, through whom he had the victory; and thanked the knights around him, mourning also frequently for the dead. And he ate and drank among the dead, and made his bed that night upon the field.
"The morrow was Sunday; and those who had slept upon the field of battle, keeping watch around, and suffering great fatigue, bestirred themselves at break of day, and sought out and buried such of the bodies of their dead friends as they might find. The noble ladies of the land also came, some to seek their husbands, and others their fathers, sons, or brothers. They bore the bodies to their villages, and interred them at the churches; and the clerks and priests of the country were ready, and at the request of their friends, took the bodies that were found, and prepared graves and lay them therein.
"King Harold was carried and buried at Varham; but I know not who it was that bore him thither, neither do I know who buried him. Many remained on the field, and many had fled in the night."
Such is a Norman account of the Battle of Hastings, which does full justice to the valour of the Saxons as well as to the skill and bravery of the victors. It is indeed evident that the loss of the battle by the English was owing to the wound, which Harold received in the afternoon, and which must have incapacitated him from effective command. When we remember that he had himself just won the battle of Stamford Bridge over Harald Hardrada by the manœuvre of a feigned flight, it is impossible to suppose that he could be deceived by the same stratagem on the part of the Normans at Hastings. But his men, when deprived of his control, would very naturally be led by their inconsiderate ardour into the pursuit that proved so fatal to them. All the narratives of the battle, however much they vary as to the precise time and manner of Harold's fall, eulogize the generalship and the personal prowess which he displayed, until the fatal arrow struck him. The skill with which be had posted his army, was proved, both by the slaughter which it cost the Normans to force the position, and also by the desperate rally which some of the Saxons made after the battle in the forest in the rear, in which they cut off
a hige number of the pursuing Normans. This circumstance is particularly mentioned by William of Poictiers the Conqueror's own chaplain. Indeed, if Harold, or either of his brothers, had survived, the remains of the English army might have formed again in the wood, and could at least have effected an orderly retreat, and prolonged the war. But both Gurth, and Leofwine, and all the bravest Thanes of Southern England lay dead on Senlac, around their fallen king and the fallen standard of their country. The exact number that perished cm the Saxon side is unknown; but we read that on the side of the victors, out of sixty thousand men who had been engaged, no less than a fourth perished. So well had the English billmen "plyed the ghastly blow," and so sternly had the Saxon battle-axe cloven Norman casque and mail The old historian Daniel, justly as well as forcibly remarks, "Thus was tried, by the great assize of God's judgment in battle, the right of power between the English and Norman nations; a battle the most memorable of all others; and, however miserably lost, yet most nobly fought on the part of England."
Many a pathetic legend was told in after years respecting the discovery and the burial of the corpse of our last Saxon king. The main circumstances, though they seem to vary, are perhaps reconcilable. Two of the monks of Waltham Abbey, which Harold had founded a little time before his election to the throne, had accompanied him to the battle. On the morning after the slaughter they begged and gained permission of the Conqueror to search for the body of their benefactor. The Norman soldiery and camp-followers had stripped and gashed the slain, and the two monks vainly strove to recognize from among the mutilated and gory heaps around them the features of their former king. They sent for Harold's mistress, Edith, surnamed "the Fair" and "the swan-necked," to aid them. The eye of love proved keener than the eye of gratitude, and the Saxon lady even in that Aceldama knew her Harold.
The king's mother now sought the victorious Norman, and begged the dead body of her son. But William at first answered in his wrath, and the hardness of his heart, that a man who had been false to his word and his religion, should have no other sepulchre than the sand of the shore. He added, with a sneer, "Harold mounted guard on the coast while he was alive, he may continue his guard now he is dead." The taunt was an unintentional eulogy; and a grave washed by the spray of the Sussex waves would have been the noblest burial-place for the martyr of Saxon freedom. But Harold's mother was urgent in her lamentations and her prayers; the Conqueror relented: like Achilles he gave up the dead body of his fallen foe to a parent's supplications, and the remains of King Harold were deposited with regal honours in Waltham Abbey.
On Christmas-day in the same year William the Conqueror was crowned at London King of England.
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Hastings a.d. 1066, and Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, 1429.
A. D. 1066—1087. Reign of William the Conqueror. Frequent risings of the English against him, which are quelled with merciless rigour.
1096. The first crusade.
1112. Commencement of the disputes about investitures between the emperors and the popes.
1140. Foundation of the city of Lubeck, whence originated the Hanseatic league. Commencement of the feuds in Italy between the Guelfs and the Ghibelines.
1146. The second Crusade.
1154. Henry II. becomes King of England. Under him Thomas à Becket is made Archbishop of Canterbury: the first instance of any man of the Saxon race being raised to high office in Church or State since the Conquest.
1170. Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, lands with an English army in Ireland.
1189. Richard Coeur de Lion becomes King of England. He and King Philip Augustus of France join in the third Crusade.
1199—1204. On the death of King Richard his brother, John, claims and makes himself master of England and Normandy and the other large continental possessions of the early Plantagenet princes. Philip Augustus asserts the cause of Prince Arthur, John's nephew, against him. Arthur is murdered, but the French king continues the war against John, and conquers from him Normandy, Britanny, Anjou, Maine, Tourain, and Poictiers.
1215. The barons, the freeholders, the citizens, and the yeomen of England rise against the tyranny of John and his foreign favourites. They compel him to sign Magna Charta. This is the commencement of onr nationality: for our history from this time forth is the history of a national life, then complete, and still in being. All English history before this period is a mere history of elements, of their collisions, and of the processes of their fusion. For upwards of a century after the Conquest, Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon had kept aloof from each other: the one in haughty scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence. They were two peoples, though living in the same land. It is not until the thirteenth century, the period of the reigns of John and his son and grandson, that we can perceive the existence of any feeling of common nationality among them. But in stud3dng the history of these reigns, we read of the old dissensions no longer. The Saxon no more appears in civil war against the Norman, the Norman no longer scorns the language of the Saxon, or refuses to bear together with him the name of Englishman. No part of the community think themselves foreigners to another part. They feel that they are all one people, and they have learned to unite their efforts for the common purpose of protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of alL The fortunate loss of the Duchy of Normandy in John's reign, greatly promoted these new feelings. Thenceforth our barons' only homes were in England. One language had, in the reign of Henry III., become the language of the land, and that, also, had then assumed the form in which we still possess it. One law, in the eye of which all freemen are equal without distinction of race, was modelled, and steadily enforced, and still continues to form the groundwork of our judicial system.
1273. Rodolph of Hapsburg, chosen emperor of Germany.
1283. Edward I. conquers Wales.
1346. Edward III. invades France, and gains the battle of Cressy.
1356. Battle of Poictiers.
1360. Treaty of Bretigny between England and France. By it Edward III. renounces bis pretensions to the French crown. The treaty is ill kept, and indecisive hostilities continue between the forces of the two countries.
1414. Henry V. of England claims the crown of France, and resolves to invade and conquer that kingdom. At this time France was in the most deplorable state of weakness and suffering, from the factions that raged among her nobility, and from the cruel oppressions which the rival nobles practised on the mass of the community. "The people were exhausted by taxes, civil wars, and military executions; and they had fallen into that worst of all states of mind, when the independence of one’s country is thought no longer a paramount and sacred object. 'What can the English do to us worse than the thing we suffer at the hands of our own princes?' was a common exclamation among the poor people of France."
1415. Henry invades France, takes Harfleur, and wins the great battle of Agincourt.
1417 — 1419. Henry conquers Normandy. The French Dauphin assassinates the Duke of Burgundy, the most powerful of the French nobles at Montereau. The successor of the murdered duke becomes the active ally of the English.
1420. The treaty of Troyes is concluded between Henry V. of England, and Charles VI. of France; and Philip, Duke of Burgundy. By this treaty it was stipulated that Henry should marry the Princess Catherine of France; that King Charles, during his life-time, should keep the title and dignity of King of France, but that Henry should succeed him, and should at once be entrusted with the administration of the government, and that the French crown should descend to Henry's heirs; that France and England should for ever be united under one king; but should still retain their several usages, customs, and privileges; that all the princes, peers, vassals, and communities of France should swear allegiance to Henry as their future king, and should pay him present obedience as regent. That Henry should unite his arms to those of King Charles and the Duke of Burgundy, in order to subdue the adherents of Charles, the pretended dauphin: and that these three princes should make no peace or truce with the dauphin, but by the common consent of all three.
1421. Henry V. gains several victories over the French, who refuse to acknowledge the treaty of Troyes. His son, afterwards Henry VI., is born.
1422. Henry V. and Charles VI. of France die. Henry VI. is proclaimed at Paris, King of England and France. The followers of the French dauphin proclaim him Charles VII., King of France. The Duke of Bedford, the English Regent in France, defeats the army of the dauphin at Crevant.
1424. The Duke of Bedford gains the great victory of Verneuil, over the French partizans of the dauphin, and their Scotch auxiliaries.
1428. The English begin the siege of Orleans.
JOAN OF ARC's VICTORY OVER THE ENGLISH, AT ORLEANS, A.D. 1429.
The eyes of all Europe were turned towards this scene; where, it was reasonably supposed, the French were to make their last stand for maintaining the independence of their monarchy and the rights of their sovereign. — Hume.
When, after their victory at Salamis, the generals of the various Greek states voted the prizes for distinguished individual merit, each assigned the first place of excellence to himself, but they all concurred in giving their second votes to Themistocles. This was looked on as a decisive proof that Themistocles ought to be ranked first of all. If we were to endeavour, by a similar test, to ascertain which European nation has contributed the most to the progress of European civilization, we should find Italy, Germany, England, and Spain, each claiming the first degree, but each also naming France as clearly next in merit. It is impossible to deny her paramount importance in history. Besides the formidable part that she has for nearly three centuries played, as the Bellona of the European commonwealth of states, her influence during all this period over the arts, the literature, the manners and the feelings of mankind, has been such as to make the crisis of her earlier fortunes a point of world-wide interest; and it may be asserted without exaggeration, that the future career of every nation was involved in the result of the struggle, by which the unconscious heroine of France, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, rescued her country from becoming a second Ireland under the yoke of the triumphant English.
Seldom has the extinction of a nation's independence appeared more inevitable than was the case in France, when the English invaders completed their lines round Orleans, four hundred and twenty-two years ago. A series of dreadful defeats had thinned the chivalry of France, and daunted the spirits of her soldiers. A foreign king had been proclaimed in her capital; and foreign armies of the bravest veterans, and led by the ablest captains then known in the world, occupied the fairest portions of her territory. Worse to her, even than the fierceness and the strength of her foes, were the factions, the vices, and the crimes of her own children. Her native prince was a dissolute trifler, stained with the assassination of the most powerful noble of the land, whose son, in revenge, had leagued himself with the enemy. Many more of her nobility, many of her prelates, her magistrates, and rulers, had sworn fealty to the English king. The condition of the peasantry amid the general prevalence of anarchy and brigandage, which were added to the customary devastations of contending armies, was wretched beyond the power of language to describe. The sense of terror and wretchedness seemed to have extended itself even to the brute creation.
"In sooth, the estate of France was then most miserable. There appeared nothing but a horrible face, confusion, poverty, desolation, solitarinesse and feare. The lean and bare labourers in the country did terrific even theeves themselves, who had nothing left them to spoile but the carkasses of these poore miserable creatures, wandering up and down like gbostes drawne out of their graves. The least farmes and hamlets were fortified by these robbers, English, Bourguegnons and French, every one striving to do his worst: all men-of-war were well agreed to spoile the countryman and merchant. Even the cattell, accustomed to the larume bell, the signe of the enemy's approach, would run home of themselves without any guide by this accustomed misery."
In the autumn of 1428, the English, who were already masters of all France north of the Loire, prepared their forces for the conquest of the southern provinces, which yet adhered to the cause of the dauphin. The city of Orleans, on the banks of that river, was looked upon as the last stronghold of the French national party. If the English could once obtain possession of it, their victorious progress through the residue of the kingdom, seemed free from any serious obstacle. Accordingly, the Earl of Salisbury, one of the bravest and most experienced of the English generals, who had been trained under Henry V., marched to the attack of the all-important city; and, after reducing several places of inferior consequence in the neighbourhood, appeared with his army before its walls, on the 12th of October, 1428.
The city of Orleans itself was on the north side of the Loire, but its suburbs extended far on the southern side, and a strong bridge connected them with the town. A fortification, which in modern military phrase would be termed a tête-du-pont, defended the bridge head on the southern side, and two towers, called the Tourelles, were built on the bridge itself, at a little distance from the tête-du-pont. Indeed, the solid masonry of the bridge terminated at the Tourelles; and the communication thence with the tête-du-pont and the southern shore, was by mean of a draw-bridge. The Tourelles and the tête-du-pont formed together a strong fortified post, capable of containing a garrison of considerable strength; and so long as this was in possession of the Orleannais, they could communicate freely with the southern provinces, the inhabitants of which, like the Orleannais themselves, supported the cause of their dauphin against the foreigners. Lord Salisbury rightly judged the capture of the Tourelles to be the most material step towards the reduction of the city itself. Accordingly he directed his principal operations against this post, and after some severe repulses, he carried the Tourelles by storm, on the 23rd of October. The French, however, broke down the arches of the bridge that were nearest to the north bank, and thus rendered a direct assault from the Tourelles upon the city impossible. But the possession of this post enabled the English to distress the town greatly by a battery of cannon which they planted there, and which commanded some of the principal streets.
It has been observed by Hume that this is the first siege in which any important use appears to have been made of artillery. And even at Orleans both besiegers and besieged seem to have employed their cannons merely as instruments of destruction against their enemy's men and not to have trusted to them as engines of demolition against their enemy's walls and works. The efficacy of cannon in breaching solid masonry, was taught Europe by the Turks, a few years afterwards, at the memorable siege of Constantinople. In our French wars, as in the wars of the classic nations, famine was looked on as the surest weapon to compel the submission of a well-walled town; and the great object of the besiegers was to effect a complete circumvallation. The great ambit of the walls of Orleans, and the facilities which the river gave for obtaining succours and supplies, rendered the capture of the town by this process a matter of great difficulty. Nevertheless, Lord Salisbury and Lord Suffolk, who succeeded him in command of the English, after his death by a cannon-ball, carried on the necessary works with great skill and resolution. Six strongly fortified posts, called bastilles, were formed at certain intervals round the town; and the purpose of the English engineers was to draw strong lines between them. During the winter, little progress was made with the entrenchments, but when the spring of 1429 came, the English resumed their works with activity; the communications between the city and the country became more difficult, and the approach of want began already to be felt in Orleans.
The besieging force also fared hardly for stores and provisions, until relieved by the effects of a brilliant victory which Sir John Fastolfe, one of the best English generals, gained at Rouvrai, near Orleans, a few days after Ash Wednesday, 1429. With only sixteen hundred fighting men, Sir John completely defeated an army of French and Scots, four thousand strong, which had been collected for the purpose of aiding the Orleannais, and harassing the besiegers. After this encounter, which seemed decisively to confirm the superiority of the English in battle over their adversaries, Fastolfe escorted large supplies of stores and food to Suffolk's camp, and the spirits of the English rose to the highest pitch at the prospect of the speedy capture of the city before them; and the consequent subjection of all France beneath their arms.
The Orleannais now in their distress offered to surrender the city into the hands of the Duke of Burgundy, who, though the ally of the English, was yet one of their native princes. The Regent Bedford refused these terms, and the speedy submission of the city to the English seemed inevitable. The Dauphin Charles, who was now at Chinon with his remnant of a court, despaired of continuing any longer the struggle for his crown; and was only prevented from abandoning the country, by the more masculine spirits of his mistress and his queen. Yet neither they, nor the boldest of Charles's captains, could have shown him where to find resources for prolonging the war; and least of all, could any human skill have predicted the quarter whence rescue was to come to Orleans and to France.
In the village of Domremy, on the borders of Lorraine, there was a poor peasant of the name of Jacques d'Arc, respected in his station of life, and who had reared a family in virtuous habits and in the practice of the strictest devotion. His eldest daughter was named by her parents Jeannette, but she was called Jeanne by the French, which was Latinized into Johanna, and Anglicised into Joan.
At the time when Joan first attracted attention, she was about eighteen years of age. She was naturally of a susceptible disposition, which diligent attention to the legends of saints, and tales of fairies, aided by the dreamy loneliness of her life while tending her father's flocks, had made peculiarly prone to enthusiastic fervour. At the same time she was eminent for piety and purity of soul, and for her compassionate gentleness to the sick and the distressed. The district where she dwelt had escaped comparatively free from the ravages of war, but the approach of roving bands of Burgundian or English troops frequently spread terror through Domremy. Once the village had been plundered by some of these marauders, and Joan and her family had been driven from their home, and forced to seek refuge for a time at Neufchâteau. The peasantry in Domremy were principally attached to the house of Orleans and the dauphin; and all the miseries which France endured, were there imputed to the Burgundian faction and their allies, the English, who were seeking to enslave unhappy France.
Thus from infancy to girlhood, Joan had heard continually of the woes of the war, and had herself witnessed some of the wretchedness that it caused. A feeling of intense patriotism grew in her with her growth. The deliverance of France from the English, was the subject of her reveries by day, and her dreams by night. Blended with these aspirations were recollections of the miraculous interpositions of heaven in favour of the oppressed, which she had learned from the legends of her church. Her faith was undoubting; her prayers were fervent. "She feared no danger, for she felt no sin," and at length she believed herself to have received the supernatural inspiration which she sought.
According to her own narrative, delivered by her to her merciless inquisitors, in the time of her captivity and approaching death, she was about thirteen years old when her revelations commenced. Her own words describe them best. "At the age of thirteen, a voice from God came to her to help her in ruling herself, and that voice came to her about the hour of noon, in summer time, while she was in her father's garden. And she had fasted the day before. And she heard the voice on her right, in the direction of the church; and when she heard the voice she saw also a bright light." Afterwards, St. Michael and St Margaret and St. Catherine appeared to her. They were always in a halo of glory; she could see that their heads were crowned with jewels; and sheheard their voices, which were sweet and mild. She did not distinguish their arms or limbs. She heard them more frequently than she saw them; and the usual time when she heard them, was when the church bells were sounding for prayer. And if she was in the woods when she heard them, she could plainly distinguish their voices drawing near to her. When she thought that she discerned the Heavenly Voices, she knelt down, and bowed herself to the ground. Their presence gladdened her even to tears; and after they departed, she wept because they had not taken her with them back to paradise. They always spoke soothingly to her. They told her that France would be saved, and that she was to save it. Such were the visions and the voices that moved the spirit of the girl of thirteen; and as she grew older they became more frequent and more clear. At last the tidings of the siege of Orleans reached Domremy. Joan heard her parents and neighbours talk of the sufferings of its population, of the ruin which its capture would bring on their lawful sovereign, and of the distress of the dauphin and his court Joan's heart was sorely troubled at the thought of the fate of Orleans; and her Voices now ordered her to leave her home; and warned her that she was the instrument chosen by Heaven for driving away the English from that city, and for taking the dauphin to be anointed king at Rheims. At length she informed her parents of her divine mission, and told them that she must go to the Sire de Baudricourt, who commanded at Vaucouleurs, and who was the appointed person to bring her into the presence of the king, whom she was to save. Neither the anger nor the grief of her parents, who said that they would rather see her drowned than exposed to the contamination of the camp, could move her from her purpose. One of her uncles consented to take her to Vaucouleurs, where De Baudricourt at first thought her mad, and derided her; but by degrees was led to believe, if not in her inspiration, at least in her enthusiasm, and in its possible utility to the dauphin's cause.
The inhabitants of Vaucouleurs were completely won over to her side, by the piety and devoutness which she displayed, and by her firm assurance in the truth of her mission. She told them that it was God's will that she should go to the king, and that no one but her could save the kingdom of France. She said that she herself would rather remain with her poor mother, and spin; but the Lord had ordered her forth. The fame of "The Maid," as she was termed, the renown of her holiness, and of her mission, spread far and wide. Baudricourt sent her with an escort to Chinon, where the Dauphin Charles was dallying away his time. Her Voices had bidden her assume the arms and the apparel of a knight; and the wealthiest inhabitants of Vaucouleurs had vied with each other in equipping her, with war-horse, armour, and sword. On reaching Chinon, she was, after some delay, admitted into the presence of the dauphin. Charles designedly dressed himself far less richly than many of his courtiers were apparelled, and mingled with them, when Joan was introduced, in order to see if the Holy Maid would address her exhortations to the wrong person. But she instantly singled him out, and kneeling before him, said, "Most noble dauphin, the King of Heaven announces to you by me, that you shall be anointed and crowned king in the city of Rheims, and that you shall be his vicegerent in France." His features may probably have been seen by her previously in portraits, or have been described to her by others; but she herself believed that her Voices inspired her when she addressed the king; and the report soon spread abroad that the Holy Maid had found the king by a miracle; and this, with many other similar rumours, augmented the renown and influence that she now rapidly acquired.
The state of public feeling in France was now favourable to an enthusiastic belief in a Divine interposition in favour of the party that had hitherto been unsuccessful and oppressed. The humiliations which had befallen the French royal family and nobility, were looked on as the just judgments of God upon them for their vice and impiety. The misfortunes that had come upon France as a nation, were believed to have been drawn down by national sins. The English, who had been the instruments of Heaven's wrath against France, seemed now by their pride and cruelty to be fitting objects of it themselves. France in that age was a profoundly religious country. There was ignorance, there was superstition, there was bigotry; but there was Faith—a Faith that itself worked true miracles, even while it believed in unreal ones. At this time also, one of those devotional movements began among the clergy in France, which from time to time occur in national churches, without it being possible for the historian to assign any adequate human cause for their immediate date or extension. Numberless friars and priests traversed the rural districts and towns of France, preaching to the people that they must seek from Heaven a deliverance from the pillages of the soldiery, and the insolence of the foreign oppressors. The idea of a Providence that works only by general laws was wholly alien to the feelings of the age. Every political event, as well as every natural phænomenon, was believed to be the immediate result of a special mandate of God. This led to the belief that his holy angels and saints were constantly employed in executing his commands and mingling in the affairs of men. The church encouraged these feelings; and at the same time sanctioned the concurrent popular belief that hosts of evil spirits were also ever actively interposing in the current of earthly events, with whom sorcerers and wizards could league themselves, and thereby obtain the exercise of supernatural power.
Thus, all things favoured the influence which Joan obtained both over friends and foes. The French nation, as well as the English and the Burgundians, readily admitted that superhuman beings inspired her; the only question was, whether these beings were good or evil angels; whether she brought with her "airs from heaven, or blasts from hell." This question seemed to her countrymen to be decisively settled in her favour, by the austere sanctity of her life, by the holiness of her conversation, but, still more, by her exemplary attention to all the services and rites of the church. The dauphin at first feared the injury that might be done to his cause if he laid himself open to the charge of having leagued himself with a sorceress. Every imaginable test, therefore, was resorted to in order to set Joan's orthodoxy and purity beyond suspicion. At last, Charles and his advisers felt safe in accepting her services as those of a true and virtuous Christian daughter of the Holy Church.
It is indeed probable that Charles himself and some of his counsellors may have suspected Joan of being a mere enthusiast; and it is certain that Dunois, and others of the best generals, took considerable latitude in obeying or deviating from the military orders that she gave. But over the mass of the people and the soldiery, her influence was unbounded. While Charles and his doctors of theology, and court ladies, had been deliberating as to recognising or dismissing the Maid, a considerable period had passed away, during which a small army, the last gleanings, as it seemed, of the English sword, had been assembled at Blois, under Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, and other chiefs, who to their natural valour were now beginning to unite the wisdom that is taught by misfortune. It was resolved to send Joan with this force and a convoy of provisions to Orleans. The distress of that city had now become urgent. But the communication with the open country was not entirely cut off: the Orleannais had heard of the Holy Maid whom Providence had raised up for their deliverance, and their messengers urgently implored the dauphin to send her to them without delay.
Joan appeared at the camp at Blois, clad in a new suit of brilliant white armour, mounted on a stately black war-horse, and with a lance in her right hand, which she had learned to wield with skill and grace. Her head was unhelmeted; so that all could behold her fair and expressive features, her deep-set and earnest eyes, and her long black hair, which was parted across her fore-head, and bound by a ribbon behind her back. She wore at her side a small battle-axe, and the consecrated sword, marked on the blade with five crosses, which had at her bidding been taken for her from the shrine of Saint Catherine at Fierbois. A page carried her banner, which she had caused to be made and embroidered, as her Voices enjoined. It was white satin, strewn with fleurs-de-lis; and on it were the words "Jhesus Maria," and the representation of the Saviour in his glory. Joan afterwards generally bore her banner herself in battle; she said that though she loved her sword much, she loved her banner forty times as much; and she loved to carry it because it could not kill any one.
Thus accoutred she came to lead the troops of France, who looked with soldierly admiration on her well proportioned and upright figure, the skill with which she managed her war-horse, and the easy grace with which she handled her weapons. Her military education had been short, but she bad availed herself of it well. She had also the
good sense to interfere little with the manœuvres of the troops; leaving these things to Dunois, and others whom she had the discernment to recognise as the best officers in the camp. Her tactics in action were simple enough. As she herself described it—" I used to say to them 'Go boldly in among the English,' and then I used to go boldly in myself." Such, as she told her inquisitors, was the only spell she used, and it was one of power. But while interfering little with the military discipline of the troops, in all matters of moral discipline she was inflexibly strict. All the abandoned followers of the camp were driven away. She compelled both generals and soldiers to attend regularly at confessional. Her chaplain and other priests marched with the army under her orders; and at every halt, an altar was set up and the sacrament administered. No oath or foul language passed without punishment or censure. Even the roughest and most hardened veterans obeyed her. They put off for a time the bestial coarseness which had grown on them during a life of blood-shed and rapine; they felt that they must go forth in a new spirit to a new career, and acknowledged the beauty of the holiness in which the heaven-sent Maid was leading them to certain victory.
Joan marched from Blois on the 25th of April with a convoy of provisions for Orleans, accompanied by DuDois, La Hire, and the other chief captains of the French; and on the evening of the 28th they approached the town. In the words of the old chronicler Hall: —"The Englishmen, perceiving that thei within could not long continue for faute of vitaile and ponder, kepte not their watche so diligently as thei were accustomed, nor scoured now the countrey environed as thei before had ordained. Whiche negligence the citizens shut in perceiving, sent worde thereof to the French captaines, which with Pucelle in the dedde tyme of the nighte, and in a greate rayne and thundere, with all their vitaile and artillery entered into the citie."
When it was day, the Maid rode in solemn procession through the city, clad in complete armour, and mounted on a white horse. Dunois was by her side, and all the bravest knights of her army and of the garrison followed in her train. The whole population thronged around her; and men, women, and children strove to touch her garments, or her banner, or her charger. They poured forth blessings on her, whom they already considered their deliverer. In the words used by two of them afterwards before the tribunal, which reversed the sentence but could not restore the life of the Virgin-martyr of France, "the people of Orleans, when they first saw her in their city, thought that it was an angel from heaven that had come down to save them." Joan spoke gently in reply to their acclamations and addresses. She told them to fear God, and trust in Him for safety from the fury of their enemies. She first went to the principal church, where TeDeum was chanted; and then she took up her abode at the house of Jacques Bourgier, one of the principal citizens, and whose wife was a matron of good repute. She refused to attend a splendid banquet which had been provided for her, and passed nearly all her time in prayer.
When it was known by the English that the Maid was in Orleans, their minds were not less occupied about her than were the minds of those in the city; but it was in a very different spirit. The English believed in her supernatural mission as firmly as the French did; but they thought her a sorceress who had come to overthrow them by her enchantments. An old prophecy which told that a damsel from Lorraine was to save France, had long been current; and it was known and applied to Joan by foreigners as well as by the natives. For months the English had heard of the coming Maid; and the tales of miracles which she was said to have wrought, had been listened to by the rough yeomen of the English camp with anxious curiosity and secret awe. She had sent a herald to the English generals before she marched for Orleans; and he had summoned the English generals in the name of the Most High to give up to the Maid, who was sent by Heaven, the keys of the French cities which they had wrongfully taken: and he also solemnly adjured the English troops, whether archers, or men of the companies of war, or gentlemen, or others, who were before the city of Orleans, to depart thence to their homes, under peril of being visited by the judgment of God. On her arrival in Orleans, Joan sent another similar message; but the English scoffed at her from their towers, and threatened to burn her heralds. She determined before she shed the blood of the besiegers to repeat the warning with, her own voice; and accordingly she mounted one of the boulevards of the town, which was within hearing of the Tourelles; and thence she spoke to the English, and bade them depart, otherwise they would meet with shame and woe. Sir William Gladsdale (whom the French call Glacidas) commanded the English post at the Tourelles, and he and another English officer replied by bidding her go home and keep her cows, and by ribald jests, that brought tears of shame and indignation into her eyes. But though the English leaders vaunted aloud, the effect produced on their army by Joan's presence in Orleans was proved four days after her arrival; when, on the approach of reinforcements and stores to the town, Joan and La Hire marched out to meet them, and escorted the long train of provision waggons safely into Orleans, between the bastilles of the English, who cowered behind their walls, instead of charging fiercely and fearlessly, as had been their wont, on any French band that dared to show itself within reach.
Thus far she had prevailed without striking a blow; but the time was now come to test her courage amid the horrors of actual slaughter. On the afternoon of the day, on which she had escorted the reinforcements into the city, while she was resting fatigued at home, Dunois had seized an advantagous opportunity of attacking the English bastille of St. Loup; and a fierce assault of the Orleannais had been made on it, which the English garrison of the fort stubbornly resisted. Joan was roused by a sound which she believed to be that of her Heavenly Voices; she called for her arms and horse, and quickly equipping herself she mounted to ride off to where the fight was raging. In her haste she had forgotten her banner; she rode back, and without dismounting had it given to her from the window, and then she galloped to the gate, whence the sally had been made. On her way she met some of the wounded French who had been carried back from the fight. "Ha," she exclaimed, "I never can see French blood flow, without my hair standing on end." She rode out of the gate, and met the tide of her countrymen, who had been repulsed from the English fort, and were flying back to Orleans in confusion. At the sight of the Holy Maid and her banner they rallied, and renewed the assault Joan rode forward at their head, waving her banner and cheering them on. The English quailed at what they believed to be the charge of hell; Saint Loup was stormed, and its defenders put to the sword, except some few, whom Joan succeeded in saving. All her woman's gentleness returned when the combat was over. It was the first time that she had ever seen a battle-field. She wept at the sight of so many bleeding corpses; and her tears flowed doubly when she reflected that they were the bodies of Christian men who had died without confession.
The next day was Ascension-day, and it was passed by Joan in prayer. But on the following morrow it was resolved by the chiefs of the garrison to attack the English forts on the south of the river. For this purpose they crossed the river in boats, and after some severe fighting, in which the Maid was wounded in the heel, both the English bastilles of the Augustins and St. Jean de Blanc were captured. The Tourelles were now the only post which the besiegers held on the south of the river. But that post was formidably strong, and by its command of the bridge, it was the key to the deliverance of Orleans. It was known that a fresh English army was approaching under Fastolfe to reinforce the besiegers, and should that army arrive, while the Tourelles were yet in the possession of their comrades, there was great peril of all the advantages which the French had gained being nullified, and of the siege being again actively carried on.
It was resolved, therefore, by the French to assail the Tourelles at once, while the enthusiasm which the presence and the heroic valour of the Maid had created was at its height. But the enterprise was difficult. The rampart of the tete-du-pont, or landward bulwark, of the Tourelles was steep and high; and Sir John Gladsdale occupied this all-important fort with five hundred archers and men-at-arms, who were the very flower of the English army.
Early in the morning of the seventh of May, some thousands of the best French troops in Orleans heard mass and attended the confessional by Joan's orders; and then crossing the river in boats, as on the preceding day, they assailed the bulwark of the Tourelles "with light hearts and heavy hands." But Gladsdale's men, encouraged by their bold and skilful leader, made a resolute and able defence. The Maid planted her banner on the edge of the fosse, and then springing down into the ditch she placed the first ladder against the wall, and began to mount. An English archer sent an arrow at her, which pierced her corslet and wounded her severely between the neck and shoulder. She fell bleeding from the ladder; and the English were leaping down from the wall to capture her, but her followers bore her off. She was carried to the rear, and laid upon the grass; her armour was taken off, and the anguish of her wound and the sight of her blood, made her at first tremble and weep. But her confidence in her celestial mission soon returned: her patron saints seemed to stand before her, and reassure her. She sate up and drew the arrow out with her own hands. Some of the soldiers who stood by wished to stanch the blood, by saying a charm over the wound; but she forbade them, saying, that she did not wish to be cured by unhallowed means. She had the wound dressed with a little oil, and then bidding her confessor come to her, she betook herself to prayer.
In the meanwhile, the English in the bulwark of the Tourelles, had repulsed the oft-renewed efforts of the French to scale the wall. Dunois, who commanded the assailants, was at last discouraged, and gave orders for a retreat to be sounded. Joan sent for him and the other generals, and implored them not to despair. "By my God," she said to them, "you shall soon enter in there. Do not doubt it. When you see my banner wave again up to the wall, to your arms again! the fort is yours. For the present, rest a little, and take some food and drink." "They did so," says the old chronicler of the siege, "for they obeyed her marvellously." The faintness caused by her wound had now passed off, and she headed the French in another rush against the bulwark. The English, who had thought her slain, were alarmed at her reappearance; while the French pressed furiously and fanatically forward. A Biscayan soldier was carrying Joan's banner. She had told the troops that directly the banner touched the wall, they should enter. The Biscayan waved the banner forward from the edge of the fosse, and touched the wall with it; and then all the French host swarmed madly up the ladders that now were raised in all directions against the English fort. At this crisis, the efforts of the English garrison were distracted by an attack from another quarter. The French troops who had been left in Orleans, had placed some planks over the broken arch of the bridge, and advanced across them to the assault of the Tourelles on the northern side. Gladsdale resolved to withdraw his men from the landward bulwark, and concentrate his whole force in the Tourelles themselves. He was passing for this purpose across the drawbridge that connected the Tourelles and the Tete-du-pont, when Joan, who by this time had scaled the wall of the bulwark, called out to him, "Surrender, surrender to the King of Heaven. Ah, Glacidas, you have foully wronged me with your words, but I have great pity on your soul and the souls of your men." The Englishman, disdainful of her summons, was striding on across the drawbridge, when a cannon shot from the town carried it away, and Gladsdale perished in the water that ran beneath. After his fall, the remnant of the English abandoned all further resistance. Three hundred of them had been killed in the battle, and two hundred were made prisoners.
The broken arch was speedily repaired by the exulting Orleannais; and Joan made her triumphal re-entry into the city by the bridge that had so long been closed. Every church in Orleans rang out its gratulating peal; and throughout the night, the sounds of rejoicing echoed, and the bonfires blazed up from the city. But in the lines and forts which the besiegers yet retained on the northern shore, there was anxious watching of the generals, and there was desponding gloom among the soldiery. Even Talbot now counselled retreat. On the following morning, the Orleannais, from their walls saw the great forts called "London" and "St. Lawrence" in flames; and witnessed their invaders busy in destroying the stores and munitions which had been relied on for the destruction of Orleans. Slowly and sullenly the English army retired; and not before it had drawn up in battle array opposite to the city, as if to challenge the garrison to an encounter. The French troops were eager to go out and attack, but Joan forbade it. The day was Sunday. "In the name of God," she said, "let them depart, and let us return thanks to God." She led the soldiers and citizens forth from Orleans, but not for the shedding of blood. They passed in solemn procession round the city walls; and then, while their retiring enemies were yet in sight, they knelt in thanksgiving to God for the deliverance which he had vouchsafed them.
Within three months from the time of her first interview with the dauphin, Joan had fulfilled the first part of her promise, the raising of the siege of Orleans. Within three months more she had fulfilled the second part also, and had stood with her banner in her hand by the high altar at Rheims, while he was anointed and crowned as King Charles VII. of France. In the interval she had taken Jargeau, Troyes, and other strong places; and she had defeated an English army in a fair field at Patay. The enthusiasm of her countrymen knew no bounds; but the importance of her services, and especially of her primary achievement at Orleans, may perhaps be best proved by the testimony of her enemies. There is extant a fragment of a letter from the Regent Bedford to his royal nephew, Henry VI., in which he bewails the turn that the war has taken, and especially attributes it to the raising of the siege of Orleans by Joan. Bedford's own words, which are preserved in Rymer, are as follows:—
"And alle thing there prospered for you til the tyme of the Siege of Orleans taken in hand, God knoweth by what advis.
"At the whiche tyme, after the adventure fallen to the persone of my cousin of Salisbury, whom God assoille, there felle, by the hand of God as it seemeth, a great strook upon your peuple that was assembled there in grete nombre, caused in grete partie, as y trowe, of lakke of sadde beleve, and of unlevefulle doubte, that thei hadde of a disciple and lyme of the Feende, called the Pucelle, that used fals enchantments and sorcerie.
"The whiche strooke and discomfiture nott oonly lessed in grete partie the nombre of your peuple there, but as well withdrewe the courage of the remenant in merveillous wyse, and couraiged your adverse partie and ennemys to assemble them forthwith in grete nombre."
When Charles had been anointed King of France, Joan believed that her mission was accomplished. And in truth the deliverance of France from the English, though not completed for many years afterwards, was then ensured. The ceremony of a royal coronation and anointment was not in those days regarded as a mere costly formality. It was believed to confer the sanction and the grace of Heaven upon the prince, who had previously ruled with mere human authority. Thenceforth he was the Lord's Anointed. Moreover, one of the difficulties that had previously lain in the way of many Frenchmen when called on to support Charles VII., was now removed. He had been publicly stigmatized, even by his own parents, as no true son of the royal race of France. The queen-mother, the English, and the partizans of Burgundy called him the "Pretender to the title of Dauphin;" but those who had been led to doubt his legitimacy, were cured of their scepticism by the victories of the Holy Maid, and by the fulfilment of her pledges. They thought that Heaven had now declared itself in favour of Charles as the true heir of the crown of St Louis; and the tales about his being spurious were thenceforth regarded as mere English calumnies. With this strong tide of national feeling in his favour, with victorious generals and soldiers round him, and a dispirited and divided enemy before him, he could not fail to conquer; though his own imprudence and misconduct, and the stubborn valour which the English still from time to time displayed, prolonged the war in France until the civil war of the Roses broke out in England, and left France to peace and repose.
Joan knelt before the French king in the cathedral of Rheims, and shed tears of joy. She said that she had then fulfilled the work which the Lord had commanded her. The young girl now asked for her dismissal. She wished to return to her peasant home, to tend her parents' flocks again, and live at her own will in her native village. She had always believed that her career would be a short one. But Charles and his captains were loth to lose the presence of one who had such an influence upon the soldiery and the people. They persuaded her to stay with the army. She still showed the same bravery and zeal for the cause of France. She still was as fervent as before in her prayers, and as exemplary in all religious duties. She still heard her Heavenly Voices, but she now no longer thought herself the appointed minister of Heaven to lead her countrymen to certain victory. Our admiration for her courage and patriotism ought to be increased a hundred fold by her conduct throughout the latter part of her career, amid dangers, against which she no longer believed herself to be divinely secured. Indeed she believed herself doomed to perish in a little more than a year; but she still fought on as resolutely, if not as exultingly as ever.
As in the case of Arminius, the interest attached to individual heroism and virtue makes us trace the fate of Joan of Arc after she had saved her country. She served well with Charles's army in the capture of Laon, Soissons, Compiegne, Beauvais, and other strong places; but in a premature attack on Paris, in September 1429, the French were repulsed, and Joan was severely wounded. In the winter she was again in the field with some of the French troops; and in the following spring she threw herself into the fortress of Compiegne, which she bad herself won for the French king in the preceding autumn, and which was now besieged by a strong Burgundian force.
She was taken prisoner in a sally from Compiegne, on the 24th of May, and was imprisoned by the Burgundians first at Arras, and then at a place called Crotoy, on the Flemish coast, until November, when for payment of a large sum of money, she was given up to the English, and taken to Rouen, which then was their main stronghold in France.
"Sorrow it were, and shame to tell
The butchery, that there befell."
And the revolting details of the cruelties practised upon this young girl may be left to those whose duty, as avowed biographers, it is to describe them. She was tried before an ecclesiastical tribunal on the charge of witchcraft, and on the 30th of May, 1431, she was burnt alive in the market-place at Rouen.
I will add but one remark on the character of the truest heroine that the world has ever seen.
If any person can be found in the present age who would join in the scoffs of Voltaire against the Maid of Orleans and the Heavenly Voices by which she believed herself inspired, let him read the life of the wisest and best man that the heathen nations produced. Let him read of the Heavenly Voice, by which Socrates believed himself to be constantly attended; which cautioned him on his way from the field of battle at Delium, and which from his boyhood to the time of his death visited him with unearthly warnings. Let the modern reader reflect upon this; and then, unless he is prepared to term Socrates either fool or impostor, let him not dare to deride or vilify Joan of Arc.
Synopsis of Events between Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, a.d. 1429, and the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, a.d. 1588.
A.D. 1452. Final expulsion of the English from France.
1453. Constantinople taken, and the Roman Empire of the East destroyed by the Turkish Sultan Mahomet II.
1455. Commencement of the civil wars in England between the houses of York and Lancaster.
1479. Union of the Christian kingdoms of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella.
1492. Capture of Grenada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and end of the Moorish dominion in Spain.
1492. Columbus discovers the New World.
1494. Charles VIII. of France invades Italy.
1497. Expedition of Vasco di Gama to the East Indies round the Cape of Good Hope.
1503. Naples conquered from the French by the great Spanish general, Gonsalvo of Cordova.
1508. League of Cambray, by the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of France against Venice.
1509. Albuquerque establishes the empire of the Portuguese in the East Indies.
1516. Death of Ferdinand of Spain; he is suceeded by his grandson Charles, afterwards the Emperor Charles V.
1517. Dispute between Luther and Tetzel respecting the sale of indulgences; which leads to the Reformation.
1519. Charles V. is elected Emperor of Germany.
1520. Cortez conquers Mexico.
1525. Francis First of Spain defeated and taken prisoner by the Imperial army at Pavia.
1529. League of Smalcald formed by the Protestant princes of Germany.
1533. Henry VIII. renounces the Papal supremacy.
1533. Pizarro conquers Peru.
1556. Abdication of the Emperor Charles V., Philip II. becomes King of Spain, and Ferdinand I. Emperor of Germany.
1557. Elizabeth becomes Queen of England.
1557. The Spaniards defeat the French at the battle of St. Quentin.
1571. Don John of Austria at the head of the Spanish fleet, aided by the Venetian and the Papal squadrons, defeats the Turks at Lepanto.
1572. Massacre of the Protestants in France on St Bartholomew's-day.
1579. The Netherlands revolt against Spain.
1580. Philip II. conquers Portugal.
THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA, A.D. 1588.
In that memorable year, when the dark cloud gathered romid our coasts, when Europe stood by in fearful suspense to behold what should be the result of that great cast in the game of human politics, what the craft of Rome, the power of Philip, the genius of Farnese could achieve against the island-queen, with her Drakes and Cecils,—in that agony of the Protestant faith and English name.
Hallam, Const. Hist., vol. i. p. 220.
On the afternoon of the 19th of July, A.D. 1588, a group of English captains was collected at the Bowling Green on the Hoe at Plymouth, whose equals have never before or since been brought together, even at that favourite mustering place of the heroes of the British navy. There was Sir Francis Drake, the first English circumnavigator of the globe, the terror of every Spanish coast in the Old World and the New; there was Sir John Hawkins, the rough veteran of many a daring voyage on the African and American seas, and of many a desperate battle; there was Sir Martin Frobisher, one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic seas, in search of that North-West Passage, which is still the darling object of England's boldest mariners. There was the high-admiral of England, Lord Howard of Effingham, prodigal of all things in his country's cause, and who had recently had the noble daring to refuse to dismantle part of the fleet, though the queen had sent him orders to do so, in consequence of an exaggerated report, that the enemy had been driven back and shattered by a storm. Lord Howard (whom contemporary writers describe as being of a wise and noble courage, skilful in sea matters, wary and provident, and of great esteem among the sailors) resolved to risk his sovereign's anger, and to keep the ships afloat at his own charge, rather than that England should run the peril of losing their protection.
Another of our Elizabethan sea-kings, Sir Walter Raleigh, was at that time commissioned to raise and equip the land-forces of Cornwall: but we may well believe that he must have availed himself of the opportunity of consulting with the lord-admiral and the other high officers, which was offered by the English fleet putting into Plymouth; and we may look on Raleigh as one of the group that was assembled at the Bowling Green on the Hoe. Many other brave men and skilful mariners, besides the chiefs whose names have been mentioned, were there, enjoying, with true sailor-like merriment, their temporary relaxation from duty. In the harbour lay the English fleet with which they had just returned from a cruise to Corunna in search of information respecting the real condition and movements of the hostile Armada. Lord Howard had ascertained that our enemies, though tempest-tost, were still formidably strong; and fearing that part of their fleet might make for England in his absence, he had hurried back to the Devonshire coast. He resumed his station at Plymouth, and waited there for certain tidings of the Spaniard's approach.
A match at bowls was being played, in which Drake and other high officers of the fleet were engaged, when a small armed vessel was seen running before the wind into Plymouth harbour, with all sails set. Her commander landed in haste, and eagerly sought the place where the English Lord-Admiral and his captains were standing. His name was Fleming; he was the master of a Scotch privateer; and he told the English officers that he had that morning seen the Spanish Armada off the Cornish coast. At this exciting information the captains began to hurry down to the water, and there was a shouting for the ships' boats; but Drake coolly checked his comrades, and insisted that the match should be played out He said that there was plenty of time both to win the game and beat the Spaniards. The best and bravest match that ever was scored, was resumed accordingly. Drake and his friends aimed their last bowls with the same steady calculating coolness, with which they were about to point their guns. The winning cast was made; and then they went on board, and prepared for action, with their hearts as light and their nerves as firm as they had been on the Hoe Bowling Green.
Meanwhile the messengers and signals had been despatched fast and far through England, to warn each town and village that the enemy had come at last. In every sea-port there was instant making ready by land and by sea; in every shire and every city there was instant mustering of horse and man. But England's best defence then, as ever, was in her fleet; and after warping laboriously out of Plymouth harbour against the wind, the LordAdmiral stood westward under easy sail, keeping an anxious look-out for the Armada, the approach of which was soon announced by Cornish fisher boats,and signals from the Cornish cliffs.
The England of our own days is so strong, and the Spain of our own days is so feeble, that it is not easy, without some reflection and care, to comprehend the full extent of the peril which England then ran from the power and the ambition of Spain, or to appreciate the importance of that crisis in the History of the World. We had then no Indian or Colonial Empire, save the feeble germs of our North American settlements, which Raleigh and Gilbert had recently planted. Scotland was a separate kingdom; and Ireland was then even a greater source of weakness, and a worse nest of rebellion than she has been in after times. Queen Elizabeth had found at her accession an incumbered revenue, a divided people, and an unsuccessful foreign war, in which the last remnant of our possessions in France had been lost; she had also a formidable pretender to her crown, whose interests were favoured by all the Roman Catholic powers; and even some of her subjects were warped by religious bigotry to deny her title, and to look on her as an heretical usurper. It is true that during the years of her reign which had passed away before the attempted invasion of 1588, she had revived the commercial prosperity, the national spirit, and the national loyalty of England. But her resources to cope with the colossal power of Philip II. still seemed most scanty; and she had not a single foreign ally, except the Dutch, who were themselves struggling hard, and as it seemed, hopelessly, to maintain their revolt against Spain.
On the other hand, Philip II. was absolute master of an empire so superior to the other states of the world in extent, in resources, and especially in military and naval forces, as to make the project of enlarging that empire into a universal monarchy seem a perfectly feasible scheme; and Philip had both the ambition to form that project, and the resolution to devote all his energies, and all his means, to its realization. Since the downfall of the Roman empire no such preponderating power had existed in the world. During the mediæval centuries the chief European kingdoms were slowly moulding themselves out of the feudal chaos. And, though their wars with each other were numerous and desperate, and several of their respective kings figured for a time as mighty conquerors, none of them in those times acquired the consistency and perfect organization, which are requisite for a long sustained career of aggrandizement. After the consolidation of the great kingdoms, they for some time kept each other in mutual check. During the first half of the sixteenth century, the balancing system was successfully practised by European statesmen. But when Philip II. reigned, France had become so miserably weak through her civil wars, that he had nothing to dread from the rival state, which had so long curbed his father, the Emperor Charles V. In Germany, Italy, and Poland he had either zealous friends and dependents, or weak and divided enemies. Against the Turks he had gained great and glorious successes; and he might look round the continent of Europe without discerning a single antagonist of whom he could stand in awe. Spain, when he acceded to the throne, was at the zenith of her power. The hardihood and spirit which the Aragonese, the Castilians, and the other nations of the peninsula had acquired during centuries of free institutions and successful war against the Moors, had not yet become obliterated. Charles V. had, indeed, destroyed the liberties of Spain; but that had been done too recently for its full evil to be felt in Philip's time. A people cannot be debased in a single generation; and the Spaniards under Charles V. and Philip II. proved the truth of the remark, that no nation is ever so formidable to its neighbours for a time, as a nation, which, after being trained up in self-government, passes suddenly under a despotic ruler. The energy of democratic institutions survives for a few generations, and to it are superadded the decision and certainty which are the attributes of government, when all its powers are directed by a single mind. It is true that this preternatural vigour is short-lived: national corruption and debasement gradually follow the loss of the national liberties; but there is an interval before their workings are felt, and in that interval the most ambitious schemes of foreign conquest are often successfully undertaken.
Philip had also the advantage of finding himself at the head of a large standing army in a perfect state of discipline and equipment, in an age when, except some few insignificant corps, standing armies were unknown in Christendom. The renown of the Spanish troops was justly high, and the infantry in particular was considered the best in the world. His fleet, also, was far more numerous, and better appointed, than that of any other European power; and both his soldiers and his sailors had the confidence in themselves and their commanders, which a long career of successful warfare alone can create.
Besides the Spanish crown, Philip succeeded to the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, the duchy of Milan, Franche-Compté, and the Netherlands. In Africa he possessed Tunis, Oran, the Cape Verd, and the Canary Islands ; and in Asia, the Philippine and Sunda Islands, and a part of the Moluccas. Beyond the Atlantic he was lord of the most splendid portions of the New World, which Columbus found "for Castile and Leon." The empires of Peru and Mexico, New Spain, and Chili, with their abundant mines of the precious metals, Hispaniola and Cuba, and many other of the American islands, were provinces of the sovereign of Spain.
Philip had, indeed, experienced the mortification of seeing the inhabitants of the Netherlands revolt against his authority, nor could he succeed in bringing back beneath the Spanish sceptre all the possessions which his father had bequeathed to him. But he had reconquered a large number of the towns and districts that originally took up arms against him. Belgium was brought more thoroughly into implicit obedience to Spain than she had been before her insurrection, and it was only Holland and the six other Northern States that still held out against his arms. The contest had also formed a compact and veteran army on Philip's side, which, under his great general, the Prince of Parma, had been trained to act together under all difficulties and all vicissitudes of warfare; and on whose steadiness and loyalty perfect reliance might be placed throughout any enterprise, however difficult and tedious. Alexander Famese, Prince of Parma, captain-general of the Spanish armies, and governor of the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands was beyond all comparison the greatest military genius of his age. He was also highly distinguished for political wisdom and sagacity, and for his great administrative talents. He was idolized by his troops, whose affections he knew how to win without relaxing their discipline or diminishing his own authority. Pre-eminently cool and circumspect in his plans, but swift and energetic when the moment arrived for striking a decisive blow, neglecting no risk that caution could provide against, conciliating even the populations of the districts which he attacked, by his scrupulous good faith, his moderation, and his address, Farnese was one of the most formidable generals that ever could be placed at the head of an army designed not only to win battles, but to effect conquests. Happy it is for England and the world that this island was saved from becoming an arena for the exhibition of his powers.
Whatever diminution the Spanish empire might have sustained in the Netherlands seemed to be more than compensated by the acquisition of Portugal, which Philip had completely conquered in 1580. Not only that ancient kingdom itself, but all the fruits of the maritime enterprises of the Portuguese had fallen into Philip's hands. All the Portuguese colonies in America, Africa, and the East Indies, acknowledged the sovereignty of the King of Spain; who thus not only united the whole Iberian peninsula under his single sceptre, but had acquired a transmarine empire, little inferior in wealth and extent to that which he had inherited at his accession. The splendid victory which his fleet, in conjunction with the Papal and Venetian galleys, had gained at Lepanto over the Turks, had deservedly exalted the fame of the Spanish marine throughout Christendom; and when Philip had reigned thirty-five years, the vigour of his empire seemed unbroken, and the glory of the Spanish arms had increased, and was increasing throughout the world.
One nation only had been his active, his persevering, and his successful foe. England had encouraged his revolted subjects in Flanders against him, and given them the aid in men and money, without which they must soon have been humbled in the dust English ships had plundered his colonies; had defied his supremacy in the New World, as well as the Old; they had inflicted ignominious defeats on his squadrons; they had captured his cities, and burned his arsenals on the very coasts of Spain. The English had made Philip himself the object of personal insult. He was held up to ridicule in their stage plays and masks, and these scoffs at the man had (as is not unusual in such cases) excited the anger of the absolute king, even more vehemently than the injuries inflicted on his power. Personal as well as political revenge urged him to attack England. Were she once subdued, the Dutch must submit; France could not cope with him, the Empire would not oppose him; and universal dominion seemed sure to be the result of the conquest of that malignant island.
There was yet another and a stronger feeling which armed King Philip against England. He was one of the sincerest and one of the sternest bigots of his age. He looked on himself, and was looked on by others, as the appointed champion to extirpate heresy and re-establish the Papal power throughout Europe. A powerful re-action against Protestantism had taken place since the commencement of the second half of the sixteenth century, and he looked on himself as destined to complete it. The Reformed doctrines had been thoroughly rooted out from Italy and Spain. Belgium, which had previously been half Protestant, had been reconquered both in allegiance and creed by Philip, and had become one of the most Catholic countries in the world. Half Germany had been won back to the old faith. In Savoy, in Switzerland, and many other countries the progress of the counter-Reformation had been rapid and decisive. The Catholic league seemed victorious in France. The Papal Court itself had shaken off the supineness of recent ceuturies, and, at the head of the Jesuits and the other new ecclesiastical orders, was displaying a vigour and a boldness worthy of the days of Hildebrand, or Innocent III.
Throughout continental Europe the Protestants, discomfited and dismayed, looked to England as their protector and refuge. England was the acknowledged central point of Protestant power and policy; and to conquer England was to stab Protestantism to the very heart. Sixtus V., the then reigning pope, earnestly exhorted Philip to this enterprise. And when the tidings reached Italy and Spain that the Protestant Queen of England had put to death her Catholic prisoner, Mary Queen of Scots, the fury of the Vatican and Escurial knew no bounds. Elizabeth was denounced as the murderous heretic whose destruction was an instant duty. A formal treaty was concluded (in June, 1687) by which the pope bound himself to contribute a million of scudi to the expenses of the war; the money to be paid as soon as the king had actual possession of an English port. Philip, on his part, strained the resources of his vast empire to the utmost. The French Catholic chiefs eagerly co-operated with him. In the seaports of the Mediterranean, and along almost the whole coast from Gibraltar to Jutland, the preparations for the great armament were urged forward with all the earnestness of religious zeal, as well as of angry ambition. — "Thus," says the German historian of the popes: "thus did the united powers of Italy and Spain, from which such mighty influences had gone forth over the whole world, now rouse themselves for an attack upon England! The king had already compiled, from the archives of Simancas, a statement of the claims which he had to the throne of that country on the extinction of the Stuart line; the most brilliant prospects, especially that of an universal dominion of the seas, were associated in his mind with this enterprise. Everything seemed to conspire to such end; the predominancy of Catholicism in Germany, the renewed attack upon the Huguenots in France, the attempt upon Geneva, and the enterprise against England. At the same moment a thoroughly Catholic prince, Sigismund III., ascended the throne of Poland, with the prospect also of future succession to the throne of Sweden. But whenever any principle or power, be it what it may, aims at unlimited supremacy in Europe, some vigorous resistance to it, having its origin in the deepest springs of human nature, invariably arises. Philip II. had to encounter newly-awakened powers, braced by the vigour of youth, and elevated by a sense of their future destiny. The intrepid corsairs, who had rendered every sea insecure, now clustered round the coasts of their native island. The Protestants in a body —even the Puritans, although they had been subjected to as severe oppressions as the Catholics,—rallied round their queen, who now gave admirable proof of her masculine courage, and her princely talent of winning the affections, and leading the minds, and preserving the allegiance of men."
Ranke should have added that the English Catholics at this crisis proved themselves as loyal to their queen, and true to their country, as were the most vehement anti-Catholic zealots in the island. Some few traitors there were; but as a body, the Englishmen who held the ancient faith, stood the trial of their patriotism nobly. The Lord Admiral himself was a Catholic, and (to adopt the words of Hallam) "then it was that the Catholics in every county repaired to the standard of the lord-lieutenant, imploring that they might not be suspected of bartering the national independence for their religion itself." The Spaniard found no partizans in the country which he assailed, nor did England, self-wounded,
"Lie at the proud foot of her enemy."
For upwards of a year the Spanish preparations had been actively and unremittingly urged forward. Negotiations were, during this time, carried on at Ostend, in which various pretexts were assigned by the Spanish commissioners for the gathering together of such huge masses of shipping, and such equipments of troops in all the seaports which their master ruled; but Philip himself took little care to disguise his intentions; nor could Elizabeth and her able ministers doubt but that this island was the real object of the Spanish armament. The peril that was wisely foreseen, was resolutely provided for. Circular letters from the queen were sent round to the lord-lieutenants of the several counties, requiring them "to call together the best sort of gentlemen under their lieutenancy, and to declare unto them these great preparations and arrogant threatenings, now burst forth in action upon the seas, wherein every man's particular state, in the highest degree, could be touched in respect of country, liberty, wives, children, lands, lives, and (which was specially to be regarded) the profession of the true and sincere religion of Christ. And to lay before them the infinite and unspeakable miseries that would fall out upon any such change, which miseries were evidently seen by the fruits of that hard and cruel government holden in countries not far distant. We do look," said the queen, "that the most part of them should have, upon this instant extraordinary occasion, a larger proportion of furniture, both for horsemen and footmen, but especially horsemen, than hath been certified; thereby to be in their best strength against any attempt, or to be employed about our own person, or otherwise. Hereunto as we doubt not but by your good endeavours they will be the rather conformable, so also we assure ourselves, that Almighty God will so bless these their loyal hearts borne towards us, their loving sovereign, and their natural country, that all the attempts of any enemy whatsoever shall be made void and frustrate, to their confusion, your comfort, and to God's high glory."
Letters of a similar kind were also sent by the council to each of the nobility, and to the great cities. The primate called on the clergy for their contributions; and by every class of the community the appeal was responded to with liberal zeal that offered more even than the queen required. The boasting threats of the Spaniards had roused the spirit of the nation; and the whole people "were thoroughly irritated to stir up their whole forces for their defence against such prognosticated conquests; so that, in a very short time, all her whole realm, and every corner, were furnished with armed men, on horseback and on foot; and those continually trained, exercised, and put into bands, in warlike manner, as in no age ever was before in this realm. There was no sparing of money to provide horse, armour, weapons, powder, and all necessaries; no, nor want of provision of pioneers, carriages, and victuals, in every county of the realm, without exception, to attend upon the armies. And to this general furniture every man voluntarily offered, very many their services personally without wages, others money for armour and weapons, and to wage soldiers: a matter strange, and never the like heard of in this realm or elsewhere. And this general reason moved all men to large contributions, that when a conquest was to be withstood wherein all should be lost, it was no time to spare a portion."
Our lion-hearted queen showed herself worthy of such a people. A camp was formed at Tilbury; and there Elizabeth rode through the ranks, encouraging her captains and her soldiers by her presence and her words. One of the speeches which she addressed to them during this crisis has been preserved; and, though often quoted, it must not be omitted here.
"My loving people," she said, "we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects; and, therefore, I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God, for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too; and think it foul scorn that Parma, or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean time, my lieutenant-general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject, not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."
Some of Elizabeth's advisers recommended that the whole care and resources of the government should be devoted to the equipment of the armies; and that the enemy, when he attempted to land, should be welcomed with a battle on the shore. But the wiser counsels of Raleigh and others prevailed, who urged the importance of fitting out a fleet, that should encounter the Spaniards at sea, and, if possible, prevent them from approaching the land at all. In Raleigh's great work on the "History of the World" he takes occasion, when discussing some of the events of the first Punic war, to give his reasonings on the proper policy of England when menaced with invasion. Without doubt, we have there the substance of the advice which he gave to Elizabeth's council; and the remarks of such a man on such a subject, have a general and enduring interest, beyond the immediate crisis which called them forth. Raleigh says:—" Surely I hold that the best way is to keep our enemies from treading upon our ground: wherein if we fail, then must we seek to make him wish that he had stayed at his own home. In such a case if it should happen, our judgments are to weigh many particular circumstances, that belongs not unto this discourse. But making the question general, the positive, Whether England, without the help of her fleets be able to debar an enemy from landing; I hold that it is unable so to do; and therefore I think it most dangerous to make the adventure. For the encouragement of a first victory to an enemy, and the discouragement of being beaten to the invaded, may draw after it a most perilous consequence.
"Great difference I know there is, and a diverse consideration to be had, between such a country as France is, strengthened with many fortified places; and this of ours, where our ramparts are but the bodies of men. But I say that an army to be transported over sea, and to be landed again in an enemy's country, and the place left to the choice of the invader, cannot be resisted on the coast of England, without a fleet to impeach it; no, nor on the coast of France, or any other country; except every creek, port, or sandy bay, had a powerful army, in each of them, to make opposition. For let the supposition be granted, that Kent is able to furnish twelve thousand foot, and that those twelve thousand be layed in the three best landing places within that country, to wit, three thousand at Margat, three thousand at the Nesse, and six thousand at Foulkston, that is, somewhat equally distant from them both; as also that two of these troops (unless some other order be thought more fit) be directed to strengthen the third, when they shall see the enemies fleet to head towards it: I say, that notwithstanding this provision, if the enemy, setting sail from the Isle of Wight, in the first watch of the night, and towing their long boats at their sterns, shall arrive by dawn of day at the Nesse, and thrust their army on shore there; it will be hard for those three thousand that are at Margat (twenty and four long miles from thence), to come time enough to reinforce their fellows at the Nesse. Nay, how shall they at Foulkstone be able to do it, who are nearer by more than half the way? seeing that the enemy, at his first arrival, will either make his entrance by force, with three or four shot of great artillery, and quickly put the first three thousand that are intrenched at the Nesse to run, or else give them so much to do that they shall be glad to send for help to Foulkstone, and perhaps to Margat, whereby those places will be left bare. Now let us suppose that all the twelve thousand Kentish soldiers arrive at the Nesse, ere the enemy can be ready to disembarque bis army, so that he will find it unsafe to land in the face of so many prepared to withstand him, yet must we believe that he will play the best of his own game (having liberty to go which way he list), and under covert of the night, set sail towards the east, where what shall hinder him to take ground either at Margat, the Downes, or elsewhere, before they, at the Nesse, can be well aware of his departure? Certainly, there is nothing more easy than to do it. Yes, the like may be said of Weymouth, Purbeck, Poole, and of all landing places on the south-west. For there is no man ignorant, that ships, without putting themselves out of breath, will easily outrun the souldiers that coast them. 'Les armées ne volent point en poste;' — 'Armies neither flye, nor run post,' saith a marshal of France. And I know it to be true, that a fleet of ships may be seen at sunset, and after it at the Lizard, yet by the next morning they may recover Portland, whereas an army of foot shall not be able to march it in six dayes. Again, when those troops lodged on the sea-shores, shall be forced to run from place to place in vain, after a fleet of ships, they will at length sit down in the mid-way, and leave all at adventure. But say it were otherwise, that the invading enemy will offer to land in some such place, where there shall be an army of ours ready to receive him; yet it cannot be doubted, but that when the choice of all our trained bands, and the choice of our commanders and captains, shall be drawn together (as they were at Tilbury in the year 1588) to attend the person of the prince, and for the defence of the city of London; they that remain to guard the coast can be of no such force as to encounter an army like unto that, wherewith it was intended that the Prince of Parma should have landed in England.
"For end of this digression, I hope that this question shall never come to trial: his majesties many movable forts will forbid the experience. And although the English will no less disdain, than any nation under heaven can do, to be beaten upon their own ground, or elsewhere, by a forein enemy; yet to entertain those that shall assail us, with their own beef in their bellies, and before they eat of our Kentish capons, I take it to be the wisest way; to do which his majesty, after God, will employ his good ships on the sea, and not trust in any intrenchment upon the shore."
The introduction of steam as a propelling power at sea, has added tenfold weight to these arguments of Raleigh. On the other hand, a well-constructed system of railways, especially of coast lines, aided by the operation of the electric telegraph, would give facilities for concentrating a defensive army to oppose an enemy on landing, and for moving troops from place to place in observation of the movements of the hostile fleet, such as would have astonished Sir Walter, even more than the sight of vessels passing rapidly to and fro without the aid of wind or tide. The observation of the French marshal, whom he quotes, is now no longer correct. Armies can be made to pass from place to place almost with the speed of wings, and far more rapidly than any post-travelling that was known in the Elizabethan or any other age. Still, the presence of a sufficient armed force at the right spot, at the right time, can never be made a matter of certainty; and even after the changes that have taken place, no one can doubt but that the policy of Raleigh is that which England should ever seek to follow in defensive war. At the time of the Armada, that policy certainly saved the country, if not from conquest, at least from deplorable calamities. If indeed the enemy had landed, we may be sure that he would have been heroically opposed. But history shows us so many examples of the superiority of veteran troops over new levies, however numerous and brave, that without disparaging our countrymen's soldierly merits, we may well be thankful that no trial of them was then made on English land. Especially must we feel this, when we contrast the high military genius of the Prince of Parma, who would have headed the Spaniards, with the imbecility of the Earl of Leicester, to whom the deplorable spirit of favouritism, which formed the great blemish on Elizabeth's character, had then committed the chief command of the English armies.
The ships of the royal navy at this time amounted to no more than thirty-six: but the most serviceable merchant vessels were collected from all the ports of the country; and the citizens of London, Bristol, and the other great seats of commerce, showed as liberal a zeal in equipping and manning vessels, as the nobility and gentry displayed in mustering forces by land. The sea-faring population of the coast, of every rank and station, was animated by the same ready spirit; and the whole number of seamen who came forward to man the English fleet was 17,472. The number of the ships that were collected was 191; and the total amount of their tonnage 81,985. There was one ship in the fleet (the Triumph) of 1,100 tons, one of 1,000, one of 900, two of 800 each, three of 600, five of 500, five of 400, six of 300, six of 250, twenty of 200, and the residue of inferior burden. Application was made to the Dutch for assistance; and, as Stowe expresses it, "The landers came roundly in, with threescore sail, brave ships of war, fierce and full of spleen, not so much for England's aid, as in just occasion for their own defence; these men foreseeing the greatness of the danger that might ensue, if the Spaniards should chance to win the day and get the mastery over them; in due regard whereof their manly courage was inferior to none."
We have more minute information of the numbers and equipment of the hostile forces than we have of our own. In the first volume of Hakluyt's "Voyages," dedicated to Lord Effingham, who commanded against the Armada, there is given (from the contemporary foreign writer, Meteran) a more complete and detailed catalogue than has perhaps ever appeared of a similar armament.
"A very large and particular description of this navie was put in print and published by the Spaniards; wherein were set downe the number, names, and burthens of the shippes, the number of mariners and soldiers throughout the whole fleete; likewise the quantitie of their ordinance, of their armour, of bullets, of match, of gun-poulder, of victuals, and of all their navall furniture was in the saide description particularized. Unto all these were added the names of the govemours, captaines, noblemen, and gentlemen voluntaries, of whom there was so great a multitude, that scarce was there any family of accompt, or any one principall man throughout all Spaine, that had not a brother, sonne or kinsman in that fleete; who all of them were in good hope to purchase unto themselves in that navie (as they termed it) invincible, endless glory and renown, and to possess themselves of great seigniories and riches in England, and in the Low Countreys. But because the said description was translated and published out of Spanish into divers other languages, we will here only make an abridgement or brief rehearsal thereof.
"Portugal furnished and set foorth under the conduct of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, generall of the fleete, ten galeons, two zabraes, 1300 mariners, 3300 souldiers, 300 great pieces, with all requisite furniture.
"Biscay, under the conduct of John Martines de Ricalde, admiral of the whole fleete, set forth tenne galeons, four pataches, 700 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 250 great pieces, &c.
"Guipusco, under the conduct of Michael de Oquendo, tenne galeons, four pataches, 700 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 310 great pieces.
"Italy with the Levant islands, under Martine de Vertendona, ten galeons, 800 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 310 great pieces, &c.
"Castile, under Diego Flores de Valdez, fourteen galeons, two pataches, 1700 mariners, 2400 souldiers, and 380 great pieces, &c.
"Andaluzia, under the conduct of Petro de Valdez, ten galeons, one patache, 800 mariners, 2400 souldiers, 280 great pieces, &c.
"Item, under the conduct of John Lopez de Medina, twenty-three great Flemish hulkes, with 700 mariners, 3200 souldiers, and 400 great pieces.
"Item, under Hugo de Moncada, foure galliasses, containing 1,200 gally-slaves, 460 mariners, 870 souldiers, 200 great pieces, &c.
"Item, under Diego de Mandrana, foure gallies of Portugall, with 888 gally-slaves, 360 mariners, twenty great pieces, and other requisite furniture.
"Item, under Anthonie de Mendoza, twenty-two pataches and zabraes, with 574 mariners, 488 souldiers, and 193 great pieces.
"Besides the ships aforementioned, there were twenty caravels rowed with oares, being appointed to performe necessary services under the greater ships, insomuch that all the ships appertayning to this navie, amounted unto the summe of 150, eche one being sufficiently provided of furniture and victuals.
"The number of mariners in the saide fleete were above 8,000, of slaves 2,088, of souldiers 20,000 (besides noblemen and gentlemen voluntaries), of great east pieces 2,600. The foresaid ships were of an huge and incredible capacitie and receipt; for the whole fleete was large enough to containe the burthen of 60,000 tunnes.
"The galeons were 64 in number, being of an huge bignesse, and very flately built, being of marveilous force also, and so high, that they resembled great castles, most fit to defend themselves and to withstand any assault, but in giving any other ships the encounter farr inferiour unto the English and Dutch ships, which can with great dexteritie weild and tume themselves at all assayes. The upperworke of the said galeons was of thicknesse and strength sufficient to beare off musketshot. The lower worke and the timbers thereof were out of measure strong, being framed of plankes and ribs foure or five foote in thicknesse, insomuch that no bullets could pierce them, but such as were discharged hard at hand; which afterward prooved true, for a great number of bullets were founde to sticke fast within the massie substance of those thicke plankes. Great and well pitched cables were twined about the masts of their shippes, to strengthen them against the battery of shot.
"The galliasses were of such bignesse, that they contained within them chambers, chapels, turrets, pulpits, and other commodities of great houses. The galliasses were rowed with great oares, there being in eche one of them 300 slaves for the same purpose, and were able to do great service with the force of their ordinance. All these, together with the residue aforenamed, were furnished and beautified with trumpets, streamers, banners, warlike ensignes, and other such like ornaments.
"Their pieces of brazen ordinance were 1600, and of yron a 1000.
"The bullets thereto belonging were 120 thousand.
"Item of gun-poulder 5600 quintals. Of matche 1200 quintals. Of muskets and kaleivers 7000. Of haleberts and partisans 10000.
"Moreover they had great store of canons, double-canons, culverings and field-pieces for land services.
"Likewise they were provided of all instruments necessary on land to conveigh and transport their furniture from place to place; as namely of carts, wheeles, wagons, &c. Also they had spades, mattocks and baskets to set pioners on worke. They had in like sort great store of mules and horses, and whatsover else was requisite for a land-armie. They were so well stored of biscuit, that for the space of halfe a yeere, they might allow eche person in the whole fleete halfe a quintall every moneth; whereof the whole summe amounteth unto an hundreth thousand quintals.
"Likewise of wine they had 147 thousand pipes, sufficient also for halfe a yeeres expedition. Of bacon 6500 quintals. Of cheese three thousand quintals. Besides fish, rise, beanes, pease, oile, vinegar, &c.
"Moreover they had 12000 pipes of freshwater, and all other necessary provision, as namely candles, lanternes, lampes, sailes, hempe, oxe-hides and lead to stop holes that should be made with the battery of gunshot. To be short, they brought all things expedient, either for a fleete by sea, or for an armie by land.
"This Navie (as Diego Pimentelli afterward confessed) was esteemed by the king himselfe to containe 32000 persons, and to cost him every day 30 thousand ducates.
"There were in the said navie five terzaes of Spaniards (which terzaes the Frenchmen call regiments), under the command of five governours, termed by the Spaniards masters of the field, and amongst the rest there were many olde and expert souldiers chosen out of the garisons of Sicilie, Naples, and Terçera. Their captaines or colonels were Diego Pimentelli, Don Francisco de Toledo, Don Alonço de Luçon, Don Nicolas de Isla, Don Augustin de Mexia; who had eche of them thirty-two companies under their conduct. Besides the which companies, there were many bands also of Castilians, and Portugals, every one of which had their peculiar governors, captains, officers, colours and weapons."
While this huge armament was making ready in the southern ports of the Spanish dominions, the Duke of Parma, with almost incredible toil and skill, collected a squadron of war-ships at Dunkirk, and a large flotilla of other ships and of flat-bottomed boats for the transport to England of the picked troops, which were designed to be the main instruments in subduing England. The design of the Spaniards was that the Armada should give them, at least for a time, the command of the sea, and that it should join the squadron, that Parma had collected, off Calais. Then, escorted by an overpowering naval force, Parma and his army were to embark in their flotilla, and cross the sea to England, where they were to be landed, together with the troops which the Armada brought from the ports of Spain. The scheme was not dissimilar to one formed against England a little more than two centuries afterwards.
As Napoleon, in 1805, waited with his army and flotilla at Boulogne, looking for Villeneuve to drive away the English cruizers, and secure him a passage across the Channel, so Parma, in 1588, waited for Medina Sidonia to drive away the Dutch and English squadrons that watched his flotilla, and to enable his veterans to cross the sea to the land that they were to conquer. Thanks to Providence, in each case England's enemy waited in vain!
Although the numbers of sail which the Queen's government, and the patriotic zeal of volunteers, had collected for the defence of England exceeded the number of sail in the Spanish fleet, the English ships were, collectively, far inferior in size to their adversaries; their aggregate tonnage being less by half than that of the enemy. In the number of guns, and weight of metal, the disproportion was still greater. The English admiral was also obliged to subdivide his force; and Lord Henry Seymour, with forty of the best Dutch and English ships was employed in blockading the hostile ports in Flanders, and in preventing the Duke of Parma from coming out of Dunkirk.
The Invincible Armada, as the Spaniards in the pride of their hearts named it, set sail from the Tagus on the 29th of May; but near Corunna met with a tempest that drove it into port with severe loss. It was the report of the damage done to the enemy by this storm, which had caused the English court to suppose that there would be no invasion that year. But, as already mentioned, the English admiral had sailed to Corunna, and learned the real state of the case, whence he had returned with his ships to Plymouth. The Armada sailed again from Corunna on the 12th of July. The orders of King Philip to the Duke de Medina Sidonia were that he should on entering the channel keep near the French coast, and, if attacked by the English ships, avoid an action and steer on to Calais roads, where the Prince of Parma's squadron was to join him. The hope of surprising and destroying the English fleet in Plymouth led the Spanish admiral to deviate from these orders and to stand across to the English shore; but, on finding that Lord Howard was coming out to meet him, he resumed the original plan, and determined to bend his way steadily towards Calais and Dunkirk, and to keep merely on the defensive against such squadrons of the English as might come up with him.
It was on Saturday, the 20th of July, that Lord Effingham came in sight of his formidable adversaries. The Armada was drawn up in form of a crescent, which, from horn to horn, measured some seven miles. There was a south-west wind; and, before it, the vast vessels sailed slowly on. The English let them pass by; and then, following in the rear, commenced an attack on them. A running fight now took place, in which some of the best ships of the Spaniards were captured; many more received heavy damage; while the English vessels, which took care not to close with their huge antagonists, but availed themselves of their superior celerity in tacking and manœuvring, suffered little comparative loss. Each day added not only to the spirit, but to the number of Effingham's force. Raleigh, Oxford, Cumberland, and Sheffield joined him; and "the gentlemen of England hired ships from all parts at their own charge, and with one accord came flocking thither as to a set field, where glory was to be attained, and faithful service performed unto their prince and their country."
Raleigh justly praises the English admiral for his skilful tactics. Raleigh says, "Certainly, he that will happily perform a fight at sea, must be skilful in making choice of vessels to fight in: he must believe that there is more belonging to a good man of war, upon the waters, than great daring; and must know, that there is a great deal of difference between fighting loose or at large and grappling. The guns of a slow ship pierce as well, and make as great holes, as those in a swift. To clap ships together, without consideration, belongs rather to a madman than to a man of war; for by such an ignorant bravery was Peter Strossie lost at the Azores, when he fought against the Marquis of Santa Cruza. In like sort had the Lord Charles Howard, Admiral of England, been lost in the year 1588, if he had not been better advised, than a great many malignant fools were, that found fault with his demeanour. The Spaniards had an army aboard them, and he had none: they had more ships than he had, and of higher building and charging; so that, had he entangled himself with those great and powerful vessels, he had greatly endangered this kingdom of England. For, twenty men upon the defences are equal to a hundred that board and enter; whereas then, contrariwise, the Spaniards had a hundred, for twenty of ours, to defend themselves withall. But our admiral knew his advantage, and held it: which had he not done, he had not been worthy to have held his head."
The Spanish admiral also showed great judgment and firmness in following the line of conduct that had been traced out for him; and on the 27th of July, he brought his fleet unbroken, though sorely distressed, to anchor in Calais roads. But the King of Spain had calculated ill the number and the activity of the English and Dutch fleets; as the old historian expresses it, "It seemeth that the Duke of Parma and the Spaniards grounded upon a vain and presumptuous expectacion, that all the ships of England and of the Low Countreys would at the first sight of the Spanish and Dunkerk navie have betaken themselves to flight, yeelding them sea-room, and endeavouring only to defend themselues, their havens, and sea-coasts from invasion. Wherefore their intent and purpose was, that the Duke of Parma, in his small and flat-bottomed ships, should, as it were under the shadow and wings of the Spanish fleet, convey ouer all his troupes, armour, and war-like provisions, and with their forces so united, should invade England; or while the English fleet were busied in fight against the Spanish, should enter upon any part of the coast, which he thought to be most convenient. Which invasion (as the captives afterward confessed) the Duke of Parma thought first to have attempted by the river of Thames; upon the bankes whereof having at the first arrivall landed twenty or thirty thousand of his principall souldiers, he supposed that he might easily have woonne the citie of London; both because his small shippes should have followed and assisted his land-forces, and also for that the citie it-selfe was but meanely fortified and easie to ouercome, by reason of the citizens' delicacie and discontinuance from the warres, who, with continuall and constant labour, might be vanquisbed, if they yielded not at the first assault."
But the English and Dutch found ships and mariners enough to keep the Armada itself in check, and at the same time to block up Parma's flotilla. The greater part of Seymour's squadron left its cruising-ground off Dunkirk to join the English admiral off Calais; but the Dutch manned about five-and-thirty sail of good ships, with a strong force of soldiers on board, all well seasoned to the sea-service, and with these they blockaded the Flemish ports that were in Parma's power. Still it was resolved by the Spanish admiral and the prince to endeavour to effect a junction, which the English seamen were equally resolute to prevent: and bolder measures on our side now became necessary.
The Armada lay off Calais, with its largest ships ranged outside, "like strong castles fearing no assault; the lesser placed in the middle ward." The English admiral could not attack them in their position without great disadvantage, but on the night of the 29th he sent eight fire-ships among them, with almost equal effect to that of the fire-ships, which the Greeks so often employed against the Turkish fleets in their late war of independence. The Spaniards cut their cables and put to sea in confusion. One of the largest galeasses ran foul of another vessel and was stranded. The rest of the fleet was scattered about on the Flemish coast, and when the morning broke, it was with difficulty and delay that they obeyed their admiral's signal to range themselves round him near Gravelines. Now was the golden opportunity for the English to assail them, and prevent them from ever letting loose Parma's flotilla against England, and nobly was that opportunity used. Drake and Fenner were the first English captains, who attacked the unwieldly leviathans: then came Fenton, Southwell, Burton, Cross, Raynor, and then the lord admiral, with Lord Thomas Howard and Lord Sheffield. The Spaniards only thought of forming and keeping close together, and were driven by the English past Dunkirk, and far away from the Prince of Parma, who in watching their defeat from the coast, must, as Drake expressed it, have chafed like a bear robbed of her whelps. This was indeed the last and the decisive battle between the two fleets. It is, perhaps, best described in the very words of the contemporary writer as we may read them in Hakluyt.
"Upon the 29 of July in the morning, the Spanish fleet after the forsayd tumult, having arranged themselues againe into order, were, within sight of Greveling, most bravely and furiously encountered by the English; where they once again got the wind of the Spaniards; who suffered themselues to be deprived of the commodity of the place in Caleis road, and of the advantage of the wind neer unto Dunkerk, rather than they would change their array or separate their forces now conioyned and united together, standing only upon their defence.
"And albeit there were many excellent and warlike ships in the English fleet, yet scarce were there 22 or 23 among them all, which matched 90 of the Spanish ships in the bigness, or could conveniently assault them. Wherefore the English shipes using their prerogative of nimble steerage, whereby they could turn and wield themselves with the wind which way they listed, came often times very near upon the Spaniards, and charged them so sore, that now and then they were but a pike's length asunder: and so continually giving them one broad side after another, they discharged all their shot both great and small upon them, spending one whole day from morning till night in that violent kind of conflict, untill such time as powder and bullets failed them. In regard of which want they thought it convenient not to pursue the Spaniards any longer, because they had many great vantages of the English, namely, for the extraordinary bigness of their ships, and also for that they were so neerely conjoyned, and kept together in so good array, that they could by no meanes be fought withall one to one. The English thought, therefore, that they had right well acquitted themselues, in chasing the Spaniards first from Caleis, and then from Dunkerk, and by that meanes to have hindered them from joyning with the Duke of Parma his forces, and getting the wind of them, to have driven them from their own coasts.
"The Spaniards that day sustained great loss and damage, having many of their shippes shot thorow and thorow, and they discharged likewise great store of ordinance against the English; who, indeed, sustained some hindrance, but not comparable to the Spaniard's loss; for they lost not any one ship or person of account, for very diligent inquisition being made, the English men all that time wherein the Spanish navy sayled upon their seas, are not found to haue wanted aboue one hundred of their people: albeit Sir Francis Drake's ship was pierced with shot aboue forty times, and his very cabben was twice shot thorow, and about the conclusion of the fight, the bed of a certaine gentleman lying weary thereupon, was taken quite from under him with the force of a bullet. Likewise, as the Earle of Northumberland and Sir Charles Blunt were at dinner upon a time, the bullet of a demy-culvering brake thorow the middest of their cabbin, touched their feet, and strooke downe two of the standers by, with many such accidents befalling the English shippes, which it were tedious to rehearse."
It reflects little credit on the English government that the English fleet was so deficiently supplied with ammunition, as to be unable to complete the destruction of the invaders. But enough was done to ensure it. Many of the largest Spanish ships were sunk or captured in the action of this day. And at length the Spanish admiral, despairing of success, fled northward with a southerly wind, in the hope of rounding Scotland, and so returning to Spain without a farther encounter with the English fleet. Lord Effingham left a squadron to continue the blockade of the Prince of Parma's armament; but that wise general soon withdrew his troops to more promising fields of action. Meanwhile the lord-admiral himself, and Drake, chased the vincible Armada, as it was now termed, for some distance northward; and then, when they seemed to bend away from the Scotch coast towards Norway, it was thought best, in the words of Drake, "to leave them to those boisterous and uncouth northern seas."
The sufferings and losses which the unhappy Spaniards sustained in their flight round Scotland and Ireland, are well known. Of their whole Armada only fifty-three shattered vessels brought back their beaten and wasted crews to the Spanish coast which they had quitted in such pageantry and pride.
Some passages from the writings of those who took part in the struggle, have been already quoted; and the most spirited description of the defeat of the Armada which ever was penned, may perhaps be taken from the letter which our brave vice-admiral Drake wrote in answer to some mendacious stories by which the Spaniards strove to hide their shame. Thus does he describe the scenes in which he played so important a part
"They were not ashamed to publish, in sundry languages in print, great victories in words, which they pretended to have obtained against this realm, and spread the same in a most false sort over all parts of France, Italy, and elsewhere; when, shortly afterwards, it was happily manifested in very deed to all nations, how their navy, which they termed invincible, consisting of one hundred and forty sail of ships, not only of their own kingdom, but strengthened with the greatest argosies, Portugal carracks, Florentines, and large hulks of other countries, were by thirty of her majesty's own ships of war, and a few of our own merchants, by the wise, valiant, and advantageous conduct of the Lord Charles Howard, high-admiral of England, beaten and shuffled together even from the Lizard in Cornwall, first to Portland, when they shamefully left Don Pedro de Valdez with his mighty ship; from Portland to Calais, where they lost Hugh de Moncado, with the galleys of which be was captain; and from Calais driven with squibs from their anchors were chased out of the sight of England, round about Scotland and Ireland. Where, for the sympathy of their religion, hoping to find succour and assistance, a great part of them were crushed against the rocks, and those others that landed, being very many in number, were, notwithstanding, broken, slain, and taken; and so sent from village to village, coupled in halters to be shipped into England, where her majesty, of her princely and invincible disposition, disdaining to put them to death, and scorning either to retain or to entertain them, they were all sent back again to their countries, to witness and recount the worthy achievement of their invincible and dreadful navy. Of which the number of soldiers, the fearful burthen of their ships, the commanders' names of every squadron, with all others, their magazines of provision were put in print, as an army and navy irresistible and disdaining prevention: with all which their great and terrible ostentation, they did not in all their sailing round about England so much as sink or take one ship, bark, pinnace, or cock-boat of ours, or even burn so much as one sheep-cote on this land."
Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, a.d. 1588, and the Battle of Blenheim, 1704.
A.D. 1594. Henry IV. of France conforms to the Roman Catholic Church, and ends the civil wars that had long desolated France.
1598. Philip II. of Spain dies, leaving a ruined navy and an exhausted kingdom.
1603. Death of Queen Elizabeth. The Scotch dynasty of the Stuarts succeeds to the throne of England.
1619. Commencement of the Thirty Years War in Germany.
1624—1642. Cardinal Richelieu is minister of France. He breaks the power of the nobility, reduces the Huguenots to complete subjection, and by aiding the Protestant German princes in the latter part of the Thirty Years War, he humiliates France's ancient rival, Austria.
1630. Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, marches into Germany to the assistance of the Protestants, who were nearly crushed by the Austrian armies. He gains several great victories, and, after his death, Sweden, under his statesmen and generals, continues to take a leading part in the war.
1640. Portugal throws off the Spanish yoke: and the House of Braganza begins to reign.
1642. Commencement of the civil war in England between Charles I. and his parliament.
1648. The Thirty Years War in Germany ended by the treaty of Westphalia.
1653. Oliver Cromwell lord-protector of England.
1660. Restoration of the Stuarts to the English throne.
1661. Louis XIV. takes the administration of affairs in France into his own hands.
1667—1668. Louis XIV. makes war on Spain, and conquers a large part of the Spanish Netherlands.
1672. Louis makes war upon Holland, and almost overpowers it. Charles II., of England, is his pensioner, and England helps the French in their attacks upon Holland until 1674. Heroic resistance of the Dutch under the Prince of Orange.
1674. Louis conquers Franche Comté.
1679. Peace of Nimeguen.
1681. Louis invades and occupies Alsace.
1682. Accession of Peter the Great to the throne of Russia.
1685. Louis commences a merciless persecution of his Protestant subjects.
1688. The glorious Revolution in England. Expulsion of James II. William of Orange is made King of England. James takes refuge at the French court, and Louis undertakes to restore him. General war in the west of Europe.
1697. Treaty of Ryswick. Charles XII. becomes King of Sweden.
1700. Charles II., of Spain, dies, having bequeathed his dominions to Philip of Anjou, Louis XIV.'s grandson. Defeat of the Russians at Narva, by Charles XII.
1701. William III. forms a "Grand Alliance" of Austria, the Empire, the United Provinces, England, and other powers, against France.
1702. King William dies; but his successor, Queen Anne, adheres to the Grand Alliance, and war is proclaimed against France.
THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM, 1704.
The decisive blow struck at Blenheim resounded through every part of Europe: it at once destroyed the vast fabric of power which it had taken Louis XIV., aided by the talents of Turenne and the genius of Vauban, so long to construct.— Alison.
Though more slowly moulded and less imposingly vast than the empire of Napoleon, the power which Louis XIV. had acquired and was acquiring at the commencement of the eighteenth century, was almost equally menacing to the general liberties of Europe. If tested by the amount of permanent aggrandisement which each procured for France, the ambition of the royal Bourbon was more successful than were the enterprises of the imperial Corsican. All the provinces that Bonaparte conquered, were rent again from France within twenty years from the date when the very earliest of them was acquired. France is not stronger by a single city or a single acre for all the devastating wars of the Consulate and the Empire. But she still possesses Franche Comté, Alsace, and part of Flanders. She has still the extended boundaries which Louis XIV. gave her. And the royal Spanish marriages a few years ago proved clearly how enduring has been the political influence, which the arts and arms of France's "Grand Monarque" obtained for her southward of the Pyrenees.
When Louis XIV. took the reins of government into his own hands, after the death of Cardinal Mazarin, there was a union of ability with opportunity, such as France had not seen since the days of Charlemagne. Moreover, Louis's career was no brief one. For upwards of forty years, for a period nearly equal to the duration of Charlemagne's reign, Louis steadily followed an aggressive and a generally successful policy. He passed a long youth and manhood of triumph, before the military genius of Marlborough made him acquainted with humiliation and defeat. The great Bourbon lived too long. He should not have outstayed our two English kings, one his dependent, James II., the other, his antagonist, William III. Had he died, when they died, his reign would be cited as unequalled in the French annals for its prosperity. But he lived on to see his armies beaten, his cities captured, and his kingdom wasted year after year by disastrous war. It is as if Charlemagne had survived to be defeated by the Northmen, and to witness the misery and shame that actually fell to the lot of his descendants.
Still, Louis XIV. had forty years of success; and from the permanence of their fruits we may judge what the results would have been if the last fifteen years of his reign had been equally fortunate. Had it not been for Blenheim, all Europe might at this day suffer under the effect of French conquests resembling those of Alexander in extent, and those of the Romans in durability.
When Louis XIV. began to govern he found all the materials for a strong government ready to his hand. Richelieu had completely tamed the turbulent spirit of the French nobility, and had subverted the "imperium in imperio" of the Huguenots. The faction of the Frondeurs in Mazarin's time had had the effect of making the Parisian parliament utterly hateful and contemptible in the eyes of the nation. The Assemblies of the States-General were obsolete. The royal authority alone remained. The King was the State. Louis knew his position. He fearlessly avowed it, and he fearlessly acted up to it.
Not only was his government a strong one, but the country which be governed was strong : — strong in its geographical situation, in the compactness of its territory, in the number and martial spirit of its inhabitants, and in their complete and undivided nationality. Louis had neither a Hungary nor an Ireland in his dominions. The civil war in the Cevennes was caused solely by his own persecuting intolerance; and that did not occur till late in his reign, when old age had made his bigotry more gloomy, and had given fanaticism the mastery over prudence.
Like Napoleon in after times, Louis XIV. saw clearly that the great wants of France were "ships, colonies, and commerce." But Louis did more than see these wants: by the aid of his great minister, Colbert, he supplied them. One of the surest proofs of the genius of Louis, was his skill in finding out genius in others, and his promptness in calling it into action. Under him, Louvois organized, Turenne, Condé, Villars, and Berwick led the armies of France; and Vauban fortified her frontiers. Throughout his reign, French diplomacy was marked by skilfulness and activity, and also by comprehensive farsightedness, such as the representatives of no other nation possessed. Guizot's testimony to the vigour that was displayed through every branch of Louis XIV.'s government, and to the extent to which France at present is indebted to him, is remarkable. He says, that, "taking the public services of every kind, the finances, the departments of roads and public works, the military administration, and all the establishments which belong to every branch of administration, there is not one that will not be found to have had its origin, its development, or its greatest perfection, under the reign of Louis XIV." And he points out to us, that "the government of Louis XIV. was the first that presented itself to the eyes of Europe as a power acting upon sure grounds, which had not to dispute its existence with inward enemies, but was at ease as to its territory and its people, and solely occupied with the task of administering government, properly so called. All the European governments had been previously thrown into incessant wars, which deprived them of all security as well as of all leisure, or so pestered by internal parties or antagonists, that their time was passed in fighting for existence. The government of Louis XIV. was the first to appear as a busy thriving administration of affairs, as a power at once definitive and progressive, which was not afraid to innovate, because it could reckon securely on the future. There have been in fact very few governments equally innovating. Compare it with a government of the same nature, the unmixed monarchy of Philip II. in Spain; it was more absolute than that of Louis XIV., and yet it was far less regular and tranquil. How did Philip II. succeed in establishing absolute power in Spain? By stifling all activity in the country, opposing himself to every species of amelioration, and rendering the state of Spain completely stagnant The government of Louis XIV, on the contrary, exhibited alacrity for all sorts of innovations, and showed itself favourable to the progress of letters, arts, wealth, in short, of civilization. This was the veritable cause of its preponderance in Europe, which arose to such a pitch, that it became the type of a government not only to sovereigns, but also to nations, during the seventeenth century."
While France was thus strong and united in herself, and ruled by a martial, an ambitious, and (with all his faults) an enlightened and high-spirited sovereign, what European power was there fit to cope with her, or keep her in check ?
"As to Germany, the ambitious projects of the German branch of Austria had been entirely defeated, the peace of the empire had been restored, and almost a new constitution formed, or an old revived, by the treaties of Westphalia; nay, the imperial eagle was not only fallen, but her wings were clipped."
As to Spain, the Spanish branch of the Austrian house had sunk equally low. Philip II. left his successors a ruined monarchy. He left them something worse; he left them his example and his principles of government, founded in ambition, in pride, in ignorance, in bigotry, and all the pedantry of state.
It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that France, in the first war of Louis XIV., despised the opposition of both branches of the once predominant house of Austria. Indeed, in Germany, the French king acquired allies among the princes of the empire against the emperor himself. He had a still stronger support in Austria's misgovernment of her own subjects. The words of Bolingbroke on this are remarkable, and some of them sound as if written within the last three years. Bolingbroke says, "it was not merely the want of cordial co-operation among the princes of the empire that disabled the emperor from acting with vigour in the cause of his family then, nor that has rendered the house of Austria a dead weight upon all her allies ever since. Bigotry, and its inseparable companion, cruelty, as well as the tyranny and avarice of the court of Vienna, created in those days, and has maintained in ours, almost a perpetual diversion of the imperial arms from all effectual opposition to France. I mean to speak of the troubles in Hungary. Whatever they became in their progress, they were caused originally by the usurpations and persecutions of the emperor: and when the Hungarians were called rebels first, they were called so for no other reason than this, that they would not be slaves. The dominion of the emperor being less supportable than that of the Turks, this unhappy people opened a door to the latter to infest the empire, instead of making their country, what it had been before, a barrier against the Ottoman power. France became a sure though secret ally of the Turks, as well as the Hungarians, and has found her account in it, by keeping the emperor in perpetual alarms on that side, while she has ravaged the empire and the Low Countries on the other."
If, after having seen the imbecility of Germany and Spain against the France of Louis XIV., we turn to the two only remaining European powers of any importance at that time, to England and to Holland, we find the position of our own country as to European politics, from 1660 to 1688, most painful to contemplate; nor is our external history during the last twelve years of the eighteenth century by any means satisfactory to national pride, though it is infinitely less shameful than that of the preceding twenty-eight years. From 1660 to 1668, "England by the return of the Stuarts was reduced to a nullity." The words are Michelet's, and though severe, they are just. They are, in fact, not severe enough: for when England, under her restored dynasty of the Stuarts, did take any part in European politics, her conduct, or rather her king^s conduct, was almost invariably wicked and dishonourable.
Bolingbroke rightly says that, previous to the Revolution of 1688, during the whole progress that Louis XIV. made towards acquiring such exorbitant power, as gave him well grounded hopes of acquiring at last to his family the Spanish monarchy, England had been either an idle spectator of what passed on the Continent, or a faint and uncertain ally against France, or a warm and sure ally on her side, or a partial mediator between her and the powers confederated together in their common defence. But though the court of England submitted to abet the usurpations of France, and the King of England stooped to be her pensioner, the crime was not national. On the contrary, the nation cried out loudly against it even whilst it was committing.
Holland alone, of all the European powers, opposed from the very beginning a steady and uniform resistance to the ambition and power of the French king. It was against Holland that the fiercest attacks of France were made, and though often apparently on the eve of complete success, they were always ultimately baffled by the stubborn bravery of the Dutch, and the heroism of their great leader, William of Orange. When he became King of England, the power of this country was thrown decidedly into the scale against France; but though the contest was thus rendered less unequal, though William acted throughout "with invincible firmness, like a patriot and a hero," France had the general superiority in every war and in every treaty: and the commencement of the eighteenth century found the last league against her dissolved, all the forces of the confederates against her dispersed, and many disbanded; while France continued armed, with her veteran forces by sea and land increased, and held in readiness to act on all sides, whenever the opportunity should arise for seizing on the great prizes which, from the very beginning of his reign, had never been lost sight of by her king.
This is not the place for any narrative of the first essay which Louis XIV. made of his power in the war of 1667; of his rapid conquest of Flanders and Franche Comté; of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which "was nothing more than a composition between the bully and the bullied;" of his attack on Holland in 1672; of the districts and barrier towns of the Spanish Netherlands which were secured to him by the treaty of Nimeguen in 1678; of how, after this treaty, he "continued to vex both Spain and the Empire, and to extend his conquests in the Low Countries and on the Rhine, both by the pen and the sword; how he took Luxembourg by force, stole Strasburg, and bought Casal;" of how the league of Augsburg was formed against him in 1686, and the election of William of Orange to the English throne in 1688, gave a new spirit to the opposition which France encountered; of the long and chequered war that followed, in which the French armies were generally victorious on the Continent, though his fleet was beaten at La Hogue, and his dependent, James II., was defeated at the Boyne; or of the treaty of Ryswick, which left France in possession of Roussillon, Artois, and Strasburg, which gave Europe no security against her claims on the Spanish succession, and which Louis regarded as a mere truce, to gain breathing-time before a more decisive struggle. It must be borne in mind that the ambition of Louis in these wars was two-fold. It had its immediate and its ulterior objects. Its immediate object was to conquer and annex to France the neighbouring provinces and towns that were most convenient for the increase of her strength: but the ulterior object of Louis, from the time of his marriage to the Spanish Infanta in 1659, was to acquire for the house of Bourbon the whole empire of Spain. A formal renunciation of all right to the Spanish succession had been made at the time of the marriage; but such renunciations were never of any practical effect, and many casuists and jurists of the age even held them to be intrinsically void. As the time passed on, and the prospect of Charles II. of Spain dying without lineal heirs became more and more certain, so did the claims of the house of Bourbon to the Spanish crown after his death become matters of urgent interest to French ambition on the one hand, and to the other powers of Europe on the other. At length the unhappy King of Spain died. By his will he appointed Philip, Duke of Anjou, one of Louis XIV.'s grandsons, to succeed him on the throne of Spain, and strictly forbade any partition of his dominions. Louis well knew that a general European war would follow if he accepted for his house the crown thus bequeathed. But he had been preparing for this crisis throughout his reign. He sent his grandson into Spain as King Philip V. of that country, addressing to him on his departure the memorable words, "There are no longer any Pyrenees."
The empire, which now received the grandson of Louis as its king, comprised, besides Spain itself, the strongest part of the Netherlands, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, the principality of Milan, and other possessions in Italy, the Philippines and Manilla islands in Asia, and, in the New World, besides California and Florida, the greatest part of central and of southern America. Philip was well received in Madrid, where he was crowned as King Philip V. in the beginning of 1701. The distant portions of his empire sent in their adhesion; and the house of Bourbon either by its French or Spanish troops, now had occupation both of the kingdom of Francis I., and of the fairest and amplest portions of the empire of the great rival of Francis, Charles V.
Loud was the wrath of Austria, whose princes were the rival claimants of the Bourbons for the empire of Spain. The indignation of our William Ill., though not equally loud, was far more deep and energetic. By his exertions a league against the House of Bourbon was formed between England, Holland, and the Austrian Emperor, which was subsequently joined by the Kings of Portugal and Prussia, by the Duke of Savoy, and by Denmark. Indeed, the alarm throughout Europe was now general and urgent. It was evident that Louis aimed at consolidating France and the Spanish dominions into one preponderating empire. At the moment when Philip was departing to take possession of Spain, Louis had issued letters-patent in his favour to the effect of preserving his rights to the throne of France. And Louis had himself obtained possession of the important frontier of the Spanish Netherlands with its numerous fortified cities, which were given up to his troops under pretence of securing them for the young King of Spain. Whether the formal union of the two crowns was likely to take place speedily or not, it was evident that the resources of the whole Spanish monarchy were now virtually at the French king's disposal.
The peril that seemed to menace the Empire, England, Holland, and the other independent powers, is well summed up by Alison. "Spain had threatened the liberties of Europe in the end of the sixteenth century, France had all but over-thrown them in the close of the seventeenth. What hope was there of their being able to make head against them both, united under such a monarch as Louis XIV.?"
Our knowledge of the decayed state into which the Spanish power had fallen, ought not to make us regard their alarms as chimerical. Spain possessed enormous resources, and her strength was capable of being regenerated by a vigorous ruler. We should remember what Alberoni effected even after the close of the War of Succession. By what that minister did in a few years, we may judge what Louis XIV. would have done in restoring the maritime and military power of that great country, which nature bad so largely gifted, and which man's misgovernment has so debased.
The death of King William on the 8th of March 1702, at first seemed likely to paralyze the league against France "for, notwithstanding the ill-success with which he made war generally, he was looked upon as the sole centre of union that could keep together the great confederacy then forming; and how much the French feared from his life, had appeared a few years before, in the extravagant and indecent joy they expressed on a false report of his death. A short time showed how vain the fears of some, and the hopes of others were." Queen Anne, within three days after her accession, went down to the House of Lords, and there declared her resolution to support the measures planned by her predecessor, who had been "the great support, not only of these kingdoms but of all Europe." Anne was married to Prince George of Denmark, and by her accession to the English throne the confederacy against Louis obtained the aid of the troops of Denmark; but Anne's strong attachment to one of her female friends led to far more important advantages to the Anti-Gallican confederacy than the acquisition of many armies, for it gave them Marlborough as their Captain-General.
There are few successful commanders, on whom Fame has shone so unwillingly, as upon John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire,—victor of Blenheim, Ramilies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet,—captor of Liege, Bonn, Limburg, Landau, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Oudenarde, Ostend, Menin, Dendermonde, Ath, Lille, Tournay, Mons, Douay, Aire, Bethune, and Bouchain; who never fought a battle that he did not win, and never besieged a place that he did not take. Marlborough's own character is the cause of this. Military glory may, and too often does, dazzle both contemporaries and posterity, until the crimes as well as the vices of heroes are forgotten. But even a few stains of personal meanness will dim a soldier's reputation irreparably; and Marlborough's faults were of a peculiarly base and mean order. Our feelings towards historical personages are in this respect like our feelings towards private acquaintances. There are actions of that shabby nature, that, however much they may be outweighed by a man's good deeds on a general estimate of his character, we never can feel any cordial liking for the person who has once been guilty of them. Thus, with respect to the Duke of Marlborough, it goes against our feelings to admire the man who owed his first advancement in life to the court-favour which he and his family acquired, through his sister becoming one of the mistresses of the Duke of York. It is repulsive to know that Marlborough laid the foundation of his wealth by being the paid lover of one of the fair and frail favourites of Charles II. His treachery, and his ingratitude to his patron and benefactor, James II., stand out in dark relief even in that age of thankless perfidy. He was almost equally disloyal to his new master, King William: and a more un-English act cannot be recorded than Godolphin's and Marlborough's betrayal to the French court in 1694 of the expedition then designed against Brest, a piece of treachery which caused some hundreds of English soldiers and sailors to be helplessly slaughtered on the beach in Cameret Bay.
It is, however, only in his military career that we have now to consider him; and there are very few generals, of either ancient or modern times, whose campaigns will bear a comparison with those of Marlborough, either for the masterly skill with which they were planned, or for the bold yet prudent energy with which each plan was carried into execution. Marlborough bad served while young under Turenne, and bad obtained the marked praise of that great tactician. It would be difficult, indeed, to name a single quality which a general ought to have, and with which Marlborough was not eminently gifted. What principally attracted the notice of contemporaries, was the imperturbable evenness of his spirit Voltaire says of him—
"He had, to a degree above all other generals of his time, that calm courage in the midst of tumult, that serenity of soul in danger, which the English call a cool head [que les Anglais appellent cold head, tête froide], and it was, perhaps, this quality, the greatest gift of nature for command, which formerly gave the English so many advantages over the French in the plains of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt."
King William's knowledge of Marlborough's high abilities, though he knew his faithlessness equally well, is said to have caused that sovereign in his last illness to recommend Marlborough to his successor as the fittest person to command her armies: but Marlborough's favour with the new queen, by means of his wife, was so high, that he was certain of obtaining the highest employment; and the war against Louis opened to him a glorious theatre for the display of those military talents, which he had previously only had an opportunity of exercising in a subordinate character, and on far less conspicuous scenes.
He was not only made captain-general of the English forces at home and abroad, but such was the authority of England in the council of the Grand Alliance, and Marlborough was so skilled in winning golden opinions from all whom he met with, that, on his reaching the Hague, he was received with transports of joy by the Dutch, and it was agreed by the heads of that republic, and the minister of the Emperor, that Marlborough should have the chief command of all the allied armies.
It must, indeed, in justice to Marlborough be borne in mind, that mere military skill was by no means all that was required of him in this arduous and invidious station. Had it not been for his unrivalled patience and sweetness of temper, and his marvellous ability in discerning the character of those whom he had to act with, his intuitive perception of those who were to be thoroughly trusted, and of those who were to be amused with the mere semblance of respect and confidence; had not Marlborough possessed and employed, while at the head of the allied armies, all the qualifications of a polished courtier and a great statesman, he never would have led the allied armies to the Danube. The Confederacy would not have held together for a single year. His great political adversary, Bolingbroke, does him ample justice here. Bolingbroke, after referring to the loss which King William's death seemed to inflict on the cause of the allies, observes that, "By his death, the Duke of Marlborough was raised to the head of the army, and, indeed, of the Confederacy; where he, a new, a private man, a subject, acquired by merit and by management, a more deciding influence, than high birth, confirmed authority, and even the crown of Great Britain, had given to King William. Not only all the parts of that vast machine, the Grand Alliance, were kept more compact and entire; but a more rapid and vigorous motion was given to the whole; and, instead of languishing and disastrous campaigns, we saw every scene of the war full of action. All those wherein he appeared, and many of those wherein he was not then an actor, but abettor, however, of their action, were crowned with the most triumphant success.
"I take with pleasure this opportunity of doing justice to that great man, whose faults I knew, whose virtues I admired; and whose memory, as the greatest general and as the greatest minister that our country, or perhaps any other, has produced, I honour."
War was formally declared by the Allies against France on the 4th of May, 1702. The principal scenes of its operation, were, at first, Flanders, the Upper Rhine, and North Italy. Marlborough headed the allied troops in Flanders during the first two years of the war, and took some towns from the enemy, but nothing decisive occurred. Nor did any actions of importance take place during this period, between the rival armies in Italy. But in the centre of that line from north to south, from the mouth of the Scheldt to the mouth of the Po, along which the war was carried on, the generals of Louis XIV acquired advantages in 1703, which threatened one chief member of the Grand Alliance with utter destruction. France had obtained the important assistance of Bavaria, as her confederate in the war. The Elector of this powerful German state made himself master of the strong fortress of Ulm, and opened a communication with the French armies on the Upper Rhine. By this junction, the troops of Louis were enabled to assail the Emperor in the very heart of Germany. In the autumn of the year 1703, the combined armies of the Elector and French king completely defeated the Imperialists in Bavaria; and in the following winter they made themselves masters of the important cities of Augsburg and Passau. Meanwhile the French army of the Upper Rhine and Moselle had beaten the allied armies opposed to them, and taken Treves and Landau. At the same time the discontents in Hungary with Austria again broke out into open insurrection, so as to distract the attention, and complete the terror of the Emperor and his council at Vienna.
Louis XIV ordered the next campaign to be commenced by his troops on a scale of grandeur and with a boldness of enterprise, such as even Napoleon's military schemes have seldom equalled. On the extreme left of the line of the war, in the Netherlands, the French armies were to act only on the defensive. The fortresses in the hands of the French there, were so many and so strong, that no serious impression seemed likely to be made by the Allies on the French frontier in that quarter during one campaign; and that one campaign was to give France such triumphs elsewhere as would (it was hoped) determine the war. Large detachments were, therefore, to be made from the French force in Flanders, and they were to be led by Marshal Villeroy to the Moselle and Upper Rhine. The French army already in the neighbourhood of those rivers, was to march under Marshal Tallard through the Black Forest, and join the Elector of Bavaria, and the French troops that were already with the Elector under Marshal Marsin. Meanwhile the French army of Italy was to advance through the Tyrol into Austria, and the whole forces were to combine between the Danube and the Inn. A strong body of troops was to be dispatched into Hungary, to assist and organise the insurgents in that kingdom; and the French grand army of the Danube was then in collected and irresistible might to march upon Vienna, and dictate terms of peace to the Emperor. High military genius was shown in the formation of this plan, but it was met and baffled by a genius higher still.
Marlborough had watched, with the deepest anxiety, the progress of the French arms on the Rhine and in Bavaria, and he saw the futility of carrying on a war of posts and sieges in Flanders, while death-blows to the empire were being dealt on the Danube. He resolved therefore to let the war in Flanders languish for a year, while he moved with all the disposable forces that he could collect to the central scenes of decisive operations. Such a march was in itself difficult, but Marlborough had, in the first instance, to overcome the still greater difficulty of obtaining the consent and cheerful co-operation of the Allies, especially of the Dutch, whose frontier it was proposed thus to deprive of the larger part of the force which had hitherto been its protection. Fortunately, among the many slothful, the many foolish, the many timid, and the not few treacherous rulers, statesmen, and generals of different nations with whom he had to deal, there were two men, eminent both in ability and integrity, who entered fully into Marlborough's projects, and who, from the stations which they occupied, were enabled materially to forward them. One of these was the Dutch statesman Heinsius, who had been the cordial supporter of King William; and who now, with equal zeal and good faith, supported Marlborough in the councils of the Allies; the other was the celebrated general, Prince Eugene, whom the Austrian cabinet had recalled from the Italian frontier, to take the command of one of the Emperor's armies in Germany. To these two great men, and a few more, Marlborough communicated his plan freely and unreservedly: but to the general councils of his allies, he only disclosed part of his daring scheme. He proposed to the Dutch that he should march from Flanders to the Upper Rhine and Moselle, with the British troops, and part of the foreign auxiliaries, and commence vigorous operations against the French armies in that quarter, while General Auverquerque, with the Dutch and the remainder of the auxiliaries, maintained a defensive war in the Netherlands. Having with difficulty obtained the consent of the Dutch to this portion of his project, he exercised the same diplomatic zeal, with the same success, in urging the King of Prussia, and other princes of the empire, to increase the number of the troops which they supplied, and to post them in places convenient for his own intended movements.
Marlborough commenced his celebrated march on the 19th of May. The army which he was to lead had been assembled by his brother, General Churchill, at Bedburg, not far from Maestricht on the Meuse: it included sixteen thousand English troops, and consisted of fifty-one battalions of foot, and ninety-two squadrons of horse. Marlborough was to collect and join with him on his march the troops of Prussia, Luneburg, and Hesse, quartered on the Rhine, and eleven Dutch battalions that were stationed at Rothweil. He had only marched a single day, when the series of interruptions, complaints, and requisitions from the other leaders of the allies began, to which he seemed subjected throughout his enterprise, and which would have caused its failure in the hands of any one not gifted with the firmness and the exquisite temper of Marlborough. One specimen of these annoyances and of Marlborough's mode of dealing with them may suffice. On his encamping at Kupen on the 20th, he received an express from Auverquerque pressing him to halt, because Villeroy, who commanded the French army in Flanders, had quitted the lines which he had been occupying, and crossed the Meuse at Namur with thirty-six battalions and forty-five squadrons, and was threatening the town of Huys. At the same time Marlborough received letters from the Margrave of Baden and Count Wratislaw, who commanded the Imperialist forces at Stollhoffen near the left bank of the Rhine, stating that Tallard had made a movement, as if intending to cross the Rhine, and urging him to hasten his march towards the lines of Stollhoffen. Marlborough was not diverted by these applications from the prosecution of his grand design. Conscious that the array of Villeroy would be too much reduced to undertake offensive operations, by the detachments which had already been made towards the Rhine, and those which must follow his own march, he halted only a day to quiet the alarms of Auverquerque. To satisfy also the margrave, he ordered the troops of Hompesch and Bulow to draw towards Philipsburg, though with private injunctions not to proceed beyond a certain distance. He even exacted a promise to the same effect from Count Wratislaw, who at the juncture arrived at the camp to attend him during the whole campaign.
Marlborough reached the Rhine at Coblentz, where he crossed that river, and then marched along its left bank to Broubach and Mentz. His march, though rapid, was admirably conducted, so as to save the troops from all unnecessary fatigue; ample supplies of provisions were ready, and the most perfect discipline was maintained. By degrees Marlborough obtained more reinforcements from the Dutch and the other confederates, and he also was left more at liberty by them to follow his own course. Indeed, before even a blow was struck, his enterprise had paralysed the enemy, and had materially relieved Austria from the pressure of the war. Villeroy, with his detachments from the French Flemish army, was completely bewildered by Marlborough's movements; and, unable to divine where it was that the English general meant to strike his blow, wasted away the early part of the summer between Flanders and the Moselle without effecting anything. Marshal Tallard, who commanded forty-five thousand French at Strasburg, and who had been destined by Louis to march early in the year into Bavaria, thought that Marlborough's march along the Rhine was preliminary to an attack upon Alsace; and the marshal therefore kept his forty-five thousand men back in order to protect France in that quarter. Marlborough skilfully encouraged his apprehensions, by causing a bridge to be constructed across the Rhine at Philipsburg, and by making the Landgrave of Hesse advance his artillery at Manheim, as if for a siege of Landau. Meanwhile the Elector of Bavaria and Marshal Marsin, suspecting that Marlborough's design might be what it really proved to be, forbore to press upon the Austrians opposed to them, or to send troops into Hungary; and they kept back so as to secure their communications with, France. Thus, when Marlborough, at the beginning of June, left the Rhine and marched for the Danube, the numerous hostile armies were uncombined, and unable to check him.
"With such skill and science had this enterprise been concerted, that at the very moment when it assumed a specific direction, the enemy was no longer enabled to render it abortive. As the march was now to be bent towards the Danube, notice was given for the Prussians, Palatines, and Hessians, who were stationed on the Rhine, to order their march so as to join the main body in its progress. At the same time directions were sent to accelerate the advance of the Danish auxiliaries, who were marching from the Netherlands."
Crossing the river Neckar, Marlborough marched in a south-eastern direction to Mundelshene, where he had his first personal interview with Prince Eugene, who was destined to be his colleague on so many glorious fields. Thence through a difficult and dangerous country, Marlborough continued his march against the Bavarians, whom he encountered on the 2nd of July on the heights of the Schullenberg, near Donauwert. Marlborough stormed their entrenched camp, crossed the Danube, took several strong places in Bavaria, and made himself completely master of the Elector's dominions, except the fortified cities of Munich and Augsburg. But the Elector's army, though defeated at Donauwert, was still numerous and strong; and at last Marshal Tallard, when thoroughly apprised of the real nature of Marlborough's movements, crossed the Rhine: and being suffered, through the supineness of the German general at Stollhofien, to march without loss through the Black Forest, he united his powerful army at Biberbach near Augsburg, with that of the Elector and the French troops under Marshal Marsin, who had previously been co-operating with the Bavarians.
On the other hand, Marlborough re-crossed the Danube, and on the 11th of August united his army with the Imperialist forces under Prince Eugene. The combined armies occupied a position near Hochstadt, a little higher up the left bank of the Danube than Donauwert, the scene of Marlborough's receipt victory, and almost exactly on the ground where Marshal Villars and the Elector had defeated an Austrian army in the preceding year. The French marshals and the Elector were now in position a little farther to the east, between Blenheim and Lutzingen, and with the little stream of the Nebel between them and the troops of Marlborough and Eugene. The Gallo-Bavarian army consisted of about sixty thousand men, and they had sixty-one pieces of artillery. The army of the Allies was about fifty-six thousand strong, with fifty-two guns.
Although the French army of Italy had been unable to penetrate into Austria, and although the masterly strategy of Marlborough had hitherto warded off the destruction with which the cause of the Allies seemed menaced at the beginning of the campaign, the peril was still most serious. It was absolutely necessary for Marlborough to attack the enemy, before Villeroy should be roused into action. There was nothing to stop that general and his army from marching into Franconia, whence the Allies drew their principal supplies; and besides thus distressing them, he might, by marching on and joining his army to those of Tallard and the Elector, form a mass which would overwhelm the force under Marlborough and Eugene. On the other hand, the chances of a battle seemed perilous, and the fatal consequences of a defeat were certain. The disadvantage of the Allies in point of number was not very greats but still it was not to be disregarded; and the advantage which the enemy seemed to have in the composition of their troops was striking. Tallard and Marsin had forty-five thousand Frenchmen under them, all veterans, and all trained to act together; the Elector's own troops also were good soldiers. Marlborough, like Wellington at Waterloo, headed an army, of which the larger proportion consisted not of English, but of men of many different nations, and many different languages. He was also obliged to be the assailant in the action, and thus to expose his troops to comparatively heavy loss at the commencement of the battle, while the enemy would fight under the protection of the villages and lines which they were actively engaged in strengthening. The consequences of a defeat of the confederated army must have broken up the Grand Alliance, and realised the proudest hopes of the French king. Mr. Alison, in his admirable military history of the Duke of Marlborough, has truly stated the effects which would have taken place if France had been successful in the war: and, when the position of the confederates at the time when Blenheim was fought is remembered; when we recollect the exhaustion of Austria, the menacing insurrection of Hungary, the feuds and jealousies of the German princes, the strength and activity of the Jacobite party in England, and the imbecility of nearly all the Dutch statesmen of the time, and the weakness of Holland if deprived of her allies, we may adopt his words in speculating on what would have ensued, if France had been victorious in the battle, and "if a power, animated by the ambition, guided by the fanaticism, and directed by the ability of that of Louis XIV., had gained the ascendency in Europe. Beyond all question, a universal despotic dominion would have been established over the bodies, a cruel spiritual thraldom over the minds of men. France and Spain united under Bourbon princes, and in a close family alliance—the empire of Charlemagne with that of Charles V.—the power which revoked the edict of Nantes, and perpetrated the massacre of St. Bartholomew, with that which banished the Moriscoes, and established the Inquisition, would have proved irresistible, and beyond example destructive to the best interests of mankind.
"The Protestants might have been driven, like the Pagan heathens of old by the son of Pepin, beyond the Elbe; the Stuart race, and with them Romish ascendancy, might have been re-established in England; the fire lighted by Latimer and Ridley might have been extinguished in blood; and the energy breathed by religious freedom into the Anglo-Saxon race might have expired. The destinies of the world would have been changed. Europe, instead of a variety of independent states, whose mutual hostility kept alive courage, while their national rivalry stimulated talent, would have sunk into the slumber attendant on universal dominion. The colonial empire of England would have withered away and perished, as that of Spain has done in the grasp of the Inquisition. The Anglo-Saxon race would have been arrested in its mission to overspread the earth and subdue it. The centralised despotism of the Roman empire would have been renewed on Continental Europe; the chains of Romish tyranny, and with them the general infidelity of France before the Revolution would have extinguished or perverted thought in the British Islands."
Marlborough's words at the council of war, when a battle was resolved on, are remarkable, and they deserve recording. We know them on the authority of his chaplain, Mr. (afterwards Bishop) Hare, who accompanied him throughout the campaign, and in whose journal the biographers of Marlborough have found many of their best materials. Marlborough's words to the officers who remonstrated with him on the seeming temerity of attacking the enemy in their position, were—"I know the danger, yet a battle is absolutely necessary, and I rely on the bravery and discipline of the troops, which will make amends for our disadvantages." In the evening orders were issued for a general engagement, and received by the army with an alacrity which justified his confidence.
The French and Bavarians were posted behind a little stream called the Nebel, which runs almost from north to south into the Danube immediately in front of the village of Blenheim. The Nebel flows along a little valley, and the French occupied the rising ground to the west of it. The village of Blenheim was the extreme right of their position, and the village of Lutzingen about three miles north of Blenheim formed their left. Beyond Lutzingen are the rugged high grounds of the Godd Berg, and Eich Berg, on the skirts of which some detachments were posted so as to secure the Gallo-Bavarian position from being turned on the left flank. The Danube secured their right flank; and it was only in front that they could be attacked. The villages of Blenheim and Lutzingen had been strongly palisadoed and entrenched. Marshal Tallard, who held the chief command, took his station at Blenheim: the Elector and Marshal Marsin commanded on the left. Tallard garrisoned Blenheim with twenty-six battalions of French infantry, and twelve squadrons of French cavalry. Marsin and the Elector had twenty-two battalions of infantry, and thirty-six squadrons of cavalry in front of the village of Lutzingen. The centre was occupied by fourteen battalions of infantry, including the celebrated Irish Brigade. These were posted in the little hamlet of Oberglau, which lies somewhat nearer to Lutzingen than to Blenheim. Eighty squadrons of cavalry and seven battalions of foot were ranged between Oberglau and Blenheim. Thus the French position was very strong at each extremity, but was comparatively weak in the centre. Tallard seems to have relied on the swampy state of the part of the valley, that reaches from below Oberglau to Blenheim for preventing any serious attack on this part of his line.
The army of the Allies was formed into two great divisions: the largest being commanded by the Duke in person, and being destined to act against Tallard, while Prince Eugene led the other division, which consisted chiefly of cavalry, and was intended to oppose the enemy under Marsin and the Elector. As they approached the enemy, Marlborough's troops formed the left and the centre, while Eugene’s formed the right of the entire army. Early in the morning of the 13th of August, the Allies left their own camp and marched towards the enemy. A thick haze covered the ground, and it was not until the allied right and centre had advanced nearly within cannon shot of the enemy that Tallard was aware of their approach. He made his preparations with what haste he could, and about eight o'clock a heavy fire of artillery was opened from the French right on the advancing left wing of the British. Marlborough ordered up some of his batteries to reply to it, and while the columns that were to form the allied left and centre deployed, and took up their proper stations in the line, a warm cannonade was kept up by the guns on both sides.
The ground which Eugene's columns had to traverse, was peculiarly difficult, especially for the passage of the artillery; and it was nearly mid-day before he could get his troops into line opposite to Lutzingen. During this interval, Marlborough ordered divine service to be performed by the chaplains at the head of each regiment; and then rode along the lines, and found both officers and men in the highest spirits, and waiting impatiently for the signal for the attack. At length an aide-de-camp galloped up from the right with the welcome news that Eugene was ready. Marlborough instantly sent Lord Cutts, with a strong brigade of infantry, to assault the village of Blenheim, while he himself led the main body down the eastward slope of the valley of the Nebel, and prepared to effect the passage of the stream.
The assault on Blenheim, though bravely made, was repulsed with severe loss; and Marlborough, finding how strongly that village was garrisoned, desisted from any further attempts to carry it, and bent all bis energies to breaking the enemy's line between Blenheim and Oberglau. Some temporary bridges had been prepared, and planks and fascines had been collected; and by the aid of these, and a little stone bridge which crossed the Nebel, near a hamlet called Unterglau, that lay in the centre of the valley, Marlborough succeeded in getting several squadrons across the Nebel, though it was divided into several branches, and the ground between them was soft, and, in places, little better than a mere marsh. But the French artillery was not idle. The cannon balls plunged incessantly among the advancing squadrons of the Allies; and bodies of French cavalry rode frequently down from the western ridge, to charge them before they had time to form on the firm ground. It was only by supporting his men by fresh troops, and by bringing up infantry, who checked the advance of the enemy's horse by their steady fire, that Marlborough was able to save his army in this quarter from a repulse, which, succeeding the failure of the attack upon Blenheim, would probably have been fatal to the Allies. By degrees, his cavalry struggled over the blood-stained streams; the infantry were also now brought across, so as to keep in check the French troops who held Blenheim, and who, when no longer assailed in front, had begun to attack the allies on their left with considerable effect.
Marlborough had thus at last succeeded in drawing up the whole left wing of his army beyond the Nebel, and was about to press forward with it, when he was called away to another part of the field by a disaster that had befallen his centre. The Prince of Holstein Beck had, with eleven Hanoverian battalions, passed the Nebel opposite to Oberglau, when he was charged and utterly routed by the Irish brigade which held that village. The Irish drove the Hanoverians back with heavy slaughter, broke completely through the line of the Allies, and nearly achieved a success as brilliant as that which the same brigade afterwards gained at Fontenoy. But at Blenheim their ardour in pursuit led them too far. Marlborough came up in person, and dashed in upon the exposed flank of the brigade, with some squadrons of British cavalry. The Irish reeled back, and as they strove to regain the height of Oberglau, their column was raked through and through by the fire of three battalions of the Allies, which Marlborough had summoned up from the reserve. Marlborough having re-established the order and communications of the Allies in this quarter, now as he returned to his own left wing, sent to learn how his colleague fared against Marsin and the Elector, and to inform Eugene of his own success.
Eugene had hitherto not been equally fortunate. He had made three attacks on the enemy opposed to him, and had been thrice driven back. It was only by his own desperate personal exertions, and the remarkable steadiness of the regiments of Prussian infantry which were under him, that he was to save his wing from being totally defeated. But it was on the southern part of the battle-field, on the ground which Marlborough had won beyond the Nebel with such difficulty, that the crisis of the battle was to be decided.
Like Hannibal, Marlborough relied principally on his cavalry for achieving his decisive successes, and it was by his cavalry that Blenheim, the greatest of his victories, was won. The battle had lasted till five in the afternoon. Marlborough had now eight thousand horsemen drawn up in two lines, and in the most perfect order for a general attack on the enemy's line along the space between Blenheim and Oberglau. The infantry was drawn up in battalions in their rear, so as to support them if repulsed, and to keep in check the large masses of the French that still occupied the village of Blenheim. Tallard now interlaced his squadrons of cavalry with battalions of infantry; and Marlborough, by a corresponding movement, brought several regiments of infantry, and some pieces of artillery, to his front line at intervals between the bodies of horse. A little after five, Marlborough commenced the decisive movement, and the allied cavalry, strengthened and supported by foot and guns, advanced slowly from the lower ground near the Nebel up the slope to where the French cavalry, ten thousand strong, awaited them. On riding over the summit of the acclivity, the Allies were received with so hot a fire from the French artillery and small arms, that at first the cavalry recoiled, but without abandoning the high ground. The guns and the infantry which they had brought with them, maintained the contest with spirit and effect. The French fire seemed to slacken. Marlborough instantly ordered a charge along the line. The allied cavalry galloped forward at the enemy's squadrons, and the hearts of the French horsemen failed them. Discharging their carbines at an idle distance, they wheeled round and spurred from the field, leaving the nine infantry battalions of their comrades to be ridden down by the torrent of the allied cavalry. The battle was now won. Tallard and Marsin, severed from each other, thought only of retreat. Tallard drew up the squadrons of horse that he had left, in a line extended towards Blenheim, and sent orders to the infantry in that village to leave it and join him without delay. But long ere his orders could be obeyed, the conquering squadrons of Marlborough had wheeled to the left and thundered down on the feeble array of the French marshal. Part of the force which Tallard had drawn up for this last effort was driven into the Danube; part fled with their general to the village of Sonderheim, where they were soon surrounded by the victorious Allies, and compelled to surrender. Meanwhile, Eugene had renewed his attack upon the Gallo-Bavarian left, and Marsin, finding his colleague utterly routed, and his own right flank uncovered, prepared to retreat. He and the Elector succeeded in withdrawing a considerable part of their troops in tolerable order to Dillingen; but the large body of French who garrisoned Blenheim, were left exposed to certain destruction. Marlborough speedily occupied all the outlets from the village with his victorious troops, and then, collecting his artillery round it, he commenced a cannonade that speedily would have destroyed Blenheim itself and all who were in it. After several gallant but unsuccessful attempts to cut their way through the Allies, the French in Blenheim were at length compelled to surrender at discretion: and twenty-four battalions, and twelve squadrons, with all their officers, laid down their arms, and became the captives of Marlborough.
"Such," says Voltaire, "was the celebrated battle which the French call the battle of Hochstet, the Germans Plentheim, and the English Blenheim. The conquerors had about five thousand killed, and eight thousand wounded, the greater part being on the side of Prince Eugene. The French army was almost entirely destroyed: of sixty thousand men, so long victorious, there never reassembled more than twenty thousand effective. About twelve thousand killed, fourteen thousand prisoners, all the cannon, a prodigious number of colours and standards, all the tents and equipages, the general of the army, and one thousand two hundred officers of mark in the power of the conqueror, signalized that day!"
Ulm, Landau, Treves, and Traerbach surrendered to the Allies before the close of the year. Bavaria submitted to the emperor, and the Hungarians laid down their arms. Germany was completely delivered from France; and the military ascendancy of the arms of the Allies was completely established. Throughout the rest of the war Louis fought only in defence. Blenheim had dissipated for ever his once proud visions of almost universal conquest.
A.D. 1705. The Archduke Charles lands in Spain with a small English army under Lord Peterborough, who takes Barcelona.
1706. Marlborough's victory at Ramillies.
1707. The English army in Spain is defeated at the battle of Almanza.1708. Marlborough's victory at Oudenarde.
THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA, 1709.
Dread Pultowa's day,
When fortune left the royal Swede,
Around a slaughtered army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed.
The power and fortune of the war
Had passed to the triumphant Czar.
Napoleon prophesied, at St. Helena, that all Europe would soon be either Cossack or Republican. Three years ago, the fulfilment of the last of these alternatives appeared most probable. But the democratic movements of 1848 were sternly repressed in 1849. The absolute authority of a single ruler, and the austere stillness of martial law, are now paramount in the capitals of the Continent, which lately owned no sovereignty save the will of the multitude, and where that, which the democrat calls his sacred right of insurrection, was so loudly asserted and so often fiercely enforced. Many causes have contributed to bring about this reaction; but the most effective and the most permanent have been Russian influence and Russian arms. Russia is now the avowed and acknowledged champion of Monarchy against Democracy;—of constituted authority, however acquired, against revolution and change for whatever purpose desired;—of the Imperial supremacy of strong states over their weaker neighbours against all claims for political independence, and all strivings for separate nationality. She has crushed the heroic Hungarians; and Austria, for whom nominally she crushed them, is now one of her dependents. Whether the rumours of her being about to engage in fresh enterprises, be well or ill-founded, it is certain that recent events must have fearfully augmented the power of the Muscovite empire, which, even previously, had been the object of well-founded anxiety to all Western Europe.
It was truly stated, eleven years ago, that, "the acquisitions which Russia has made within the [then] last sixty-four years, are equal in extent and importance to the whole empire she had in Europe before that time; that the acquisitions she has made from Sweden are greater than what remains of that ancient kingdom; that her acquisitions from Poland are as large as the whole Austrian empire; that the territory she has wrested from Turkey, in Europe, is equal to the dominions of Prussia, exclusive of her Rhenish provinces; and that her acquisitions from Turkey in Asia, are equal in extent to all the smaller states of Germany, the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, Belgium and Holland taken together; that the country she has conquered from Persia is about the size of England; that her acquisitions in Tartary have an area equal to Turkey in Europe, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In sixty-four years she has advanced her frontier eight hundred and fifty miles towards Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Paris; she has approached four hundred and fifty miles nearer to Constantinople; she has possessed herself of the capital of Poland, and has advanced to within a few miles of the capital of Sweden, from which, when Peter the First mounted the throne, her frontier was distant three hundred miles. Since that time she has stretched herself forward about one thousand miles towards India, and the same distance towards the capital of Persia."
Such, at that period, had been the recent aggrandizement of Russia; and the events of the last few years, by weakening and disuniting all her European neighbours, have immeasurably augmented the relative superiority of the Muskovite empire over all the other Continental powers.
With a population exceeding sixty millions, all implicitly obeying the impulse of a single ruling mind; with a territorial area of six millions and a half of square miles; with a standing army eight hundred thousand strong; with powerful fleets on the Baltic and Black Seas; with a skilful host of diplomatic agents planted in every court, and among every tribe; with the confidence which unexpected success creates, and the sagacity which long experience fosters, Russia now grasps, with an armed right hand, the tangled thread of European politics, and issues her mandates as the arbitress of the movements of the age. Yet a century and a half have hardly elapsed since she was first recognised as a member of the drama of modern European history,—previous to the battle of Pultowa, Russia played no part Charles V. and his great rival, our Elizabeth and her adversary Philip of Spain, the Guises, Sully, Richelieu, Cromwell, De Witt, William of Orange, and the other leading spirits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thought no more about the Muscovite Czar, than we now think about the King of Timbuctoo. Even as late as 1735, Lord Bolingbroke, in his admirable "Letters on History" speaks of the history of the Muscovites, as having no relation to the knowledge which a practical English statesman ought to acquire.It may be doubted whether a cabinet council often takes place now in our Foreign Office, without Russia being uppermost in every English statesman's thoughts.
But, though Russia remained thus long unheeded amid her snows, there was a northern power, the influence of which was acknowledged in the principal European quarrels, and whose good-will was sedulously courted by many of the boldest chiefs and ablest councillors of the leading States. This was Sweden; Sweden, on whose ruins Russia has risen; but whose ascendancy over her semi-barbarous neighbour was complete, until the fatal battle, that now forms our subject.
As early as 1542 France had sought the alliance of Sweden to aid her in her struggle against Charles V. And the name of Gustavus Adolphus is of itself sufficient to remind us that in the great contest for religious liberty, of which Germany Was for thirty years the arena, it was Sweden that rescued the falling cause of Protestantism, and it was Sweden that principally dictated the remodelling of the European state-system at the peace of Westphalia.
From the proud pre-eminence, in which the valour of the "Lion of the North," and of Torstenston, Bannier, Wrangel, and the other generals of Gustavus, guided by the wisdom of Oxenstiern, had placed Sweden, the defeat of Charles XII. at Pultowa hurled her down at once and for ever. Her efforts during the wars of the French Revolution to assume a leading part in European politics, met with instant discomfiture, and almost provoked derision. But the Sweden^ whose sceptre was bequeathed to Christina^ and whose alliance Cromwell valued so highly, was a different power to the Sweden of the present day. Finland, Ingria, Livonia, Esthonia, Carelia, and other districts east of the Baltic, then were Swedish provinces; and the possession of Pomerania, Rugen, and Bremen, made her an important member of the Germanic empire. These territories are now all reft from her; and the most valuable of them form the staple of her victorious rival's strength. Could she resume them; could the Sweden of 1648 be re-constructed, we should have a first-class Scandinavian State in the North, well qualified to maintain the balance of power, and check the progress of Russia; whose power, indeed, never could have become no relation to the knowledge which a practical English statesman ought to acquire. It may be doubted whether a cabinet council often takes place now in our Foreign Office, without Russia being uppermost in every English statesman's thoughts.
But, though Russia remained thus long unheeded amid her snows, there was a northern power, the influence of which was acknowledged in the principal European quarrels, and whose good-will was sedulously courted by many of the boldest chiefs and ablest councillors of the leading States. This was Sweden; Sweden, on whose ruins Russia has risen; but whose ascendancy over her semi-barbarous neighbour was complete, until the fatal battle, that now forms our subject.
As early as 1542 France had sought the alliance of Sweden to aid her in her struggle against Charles V. And the name of Gustavus Adolphus is of itself sufficient to remind us that in the great contest for religious liberty, of which Germany was for thirty years the arena, it was Sweden that rescued the falling cause of Protestantism, and it was Sweden that principally dictated the modelling of the European state-system at the peace of Westphalia.
From the proud pre-eminence, in which the valour of the "Lion of the North," and of Torstenston, Bannier, Wrangel^ and the other generals of Gustavus, guided by the wisdom of Oxenstiem, had placed Sweden, the defeat of Charles XII. at Pultowa hurled her down at once and for ever. Her efforts during the wars of the French Revolution to assume a leading part in European politics, met with instant discomfiture, and almost provoked derision. But the Sweden^ whose sceptre was bequeathed to Christina, and whose alliance Cromwell valued so highly, was a different power to the Sweden of the present day. Finland, Ingria, Livonia, Esthonia, Carelia, and other districts east of the Baltic, then were Swedish provinces; and the possession of Pomerania, Rugen, and Bremen, made her an important member of the Germanic empire. These territories are now all reft from her; and the most valuable of them form the staple of her victorious rival's strength. Could she resume them; could the Sweden of 1648 be re-constructed, we should have a first-class Scandinavian State in the North, well qualified to maintain the balance of power, and check the progress of Russia; whose power, indeed, never could have become Sclavonic empire, has been growing up in these countries, which, however we may deride its principle, is not the less real and active, and of which Russia, as the head and the champion of the Sclavonic race, knows well how to take her advantage.
It is a singular fact that Russia owes her very name to a band of Swedish invaders who conquered her a thousand years ago. They were soon absorbed in the Sclavonic population, and every trace of the Swedish character had disappeared in Russia for many centuries before her invasion by Charles XII. She was long the victim and the slave of the Tartars; and for many considerable periods of years the Poles held her in subjugation. Indeed, if we except the expeditions of some of the early Russian chiefs against Byzantium, and the reign of Ivan Vasilovitch, the history of Russia before the time of Peter the Great is one long tale of suffering and degradation.
But whatever may have been the amount of national injuries that she sustained from Swede, from Tartar, or from Pole in the ages of her weakness, she has certainly retaliated ten-fold during the century and a-half of her strength. Her rapid transition at the commencement of that period from being the prey of every conqueror to being the conqueror of all with whom she comes into contact, to being the oppressor instead of the oppressed, is almost without a parallel in the history of nations. It was the work of a single ruler; who, himself without education, promoted science and literature among barbaric millions; who gave them fleets, commerce, arts, and arms; who, at Pultowa, taught them to face and beat the previously invincible Swedes: and who made stubborn valour, and implicit subordination, from that time forth the distinguishing characteristics of the Russian soldiery, which had before his time been a mere disorderly and irresolute rabble.
The career of Philip of Macedon resembles most nearly that of the great Muscovite Czar: but there is this important difference, that Philip had, while young, received in southern Greece the best education in all matters of peace and war, that the ablest philosophers and generals of the age could bestow. Peter was brought up among barbarians, and in barbaric ignorance. He strove to remedy this, when a grown man, by leaving all the temptations to idleness and sensuality, which his Court offered, and by seeking instructiob abroad. He laboured with his own hands, as a common artisan in Holland and England, that he might return and teach his subjects how ships, commerce,and civilization could be acquired. There is a degree of heroism here superior to anything that we know of in the Macedonian king. But Philip's consolidation of the long disunited Macedonian empire; his raising a people, which he found the scorn of their civilized southern neighbours to be their dread; his organization of a brave and well-disciplined army, instead of a disorderly militia; his creation of a maritime force, and his systematic skill in acquiring and improving sea-ports and arsenals; his patient tenacity of purpose under reverses; his personal bravery; and even his proneness to coarse amusements and pleasures; all mark him out as the prototype of the imperial founder of the Russian power. In justice, however, to the ancient hero, it ought to be added, that we find in the history of Philip no examples of that savage cruelty, which deforms so grievously the character of Peter the Great.
In considering the effects of the overthrow which the Swedish arms sustained at Pultowa, and in speculating on the probable consequences that would have followed if the invaders had been successful, we must not only bear in mind the wretched State in which Peter found Russia at his accession, compared with her present grandeur, but we must also keep in view the fact, that, at the time when Pultowa was fought, his reforms were yet incomplete, and his new institutions immature. He had broken up the Old Russia; and the New Russia, which he ultimately created, was still in embryo. Had he been crushed at Pultowa, his immense labours would have been buried with him; and (to use the words of Voltaire) "the most extensive empire in the world would have relapsed into the chaos from which it had been so lately taken." It is this fact that makes the repulse of Charles XII. the critical point in the fortunes of Russia. The danger which she incurred a century afterwards from her invasion by Napoleon, was in reality far less than her peril when Charles attacked her, though the French Emperor, as a military genius, was infinitely superior to the Swedish King, and led a host against her, compared with which the armies of Charles seem almost insignificant But, as Fouche well warned his imperial master, when he vainly endeavoured to dissuade him from his disastrous expedition against the empire of the Czars, the difference between the Russia of 1812 and the Russia of 1709 was greater than the disparity between the power of Charles and the might of Napoleon. "If that heroic king," said Fouché, "had not, like your imperial Majesty, half Europe in arms to back him, neither had his opponent, the Czar Peter, 400,000 soldiers, and 50,000 Cossacks." The historians, who describe the state of the Muscovite empire when revolutionary and imperial France encountered it, narrate with truth and justice, how "At the epoch of the French Revolution this immense empire, comprehending nearly half of Europe and Asia within its dominions, inhabited by a patient and indomitable race, ever ready to exchange the luxury and adventure of the south for the hardships and monotony of the north, was daily becoming more formidable to the liberties of Europe. * * The Russian infantry had then long been celebrated for its immoveable firmness. Her immense population, amounting then in Europe alone to nearly thirty-five millions, afforded an inexhaustible supply of men. Her soldiers, inured to heat and cold from their infancy, and actuated by a blind devotion to their Czar, united the steady valour of the English to the impetuous energy of the French troops." So, also, we read how the haughty aggressions of Bonaparte "went to excite a national feeling, from the banks of the Borysthenes to the wall of China, and to unite against him the wild and uncivilized inhabitants of an extended empire, possessed by a love to their religion, their government, and their country, and having a character of stern devotion, which he was incapable of estimating." But the Russia of 1709 had no such forces to oppose to an assailant. Her whole population then was below sixteen millions; and, what is far more important, this population had neither acquired military spirit, nor strong nationality, nor was it united in loyal attachment to its ruler.
Peter had wisely abolished the old regular troops of the empire, the Strelitzes; but the forces which he had raised in their stead on a new and foreign plan, and principally officered with foreigners, had, before the Swedish invasion, given no proof that they could be relied on. In numerous encounters with the Swedes, Peter's soldiery had run like sheep before inferior numbers. Great discontent, also, had been excited among all classes of the community by the arbitrary changes which their great emperor introduced, many of which clashed with the most cherished national prejudices of his subjects. A career of victory and prosperity had not yet raised Peter above the reach of that disaffection, nor had superstitious obedience to the Czar yet become the characteristic of the Muscovite mind. The victorious occupation of Moscow by Charles XII, would have quelled the Russian nation as effectually, as had been the case when Batou Khan, and other ancient invaders, captured the capital of primitive Muscovy. How little such a triumph could effect towards subduing modern Russia, the fate of Napoleon demonstrated at once and for ever.
The character of Charles XII. has been a favourite theme with historians, moralists, philosophers, and poets. But it is his military conduct during the campaign in Russia, that alone requires comment here. Napoleon, in the Memoirs dictated by him at St Helena, has given us a systematic criticism on that, among other celebrated campaigns, his own Russian campaign included. He labours hard to prove that he himself observed all the true principles of offensive war; and probably his censures on Charles's generalship were rather highly coloured, for the sake of making his own military skill stand out in more favourable relief. Yet, after making all allowances, we must admit the force of Napoleon's strictures on Charles's tactics, and own that his judgment, though severe, is correct, when he pronounces that the Swedish King, unlike his great predecessor Gustavus, knew nothing of the art of war, and was nothing more than a brave and intrepid soldier. Such, however, was not the light in which Charles was regarded by his contemporaries at the commencement of his Russian expedition. His numerous victories, his daring and resolute spirit, combined with the ancient renown of the Swedish arms, then filled all Europe with admiration and anxiety. As Johnson expresses it, his name was then one at which the world grew pale. Even Louis le Grand earnestly solicited his assistance; and our own Marlborough, then in the full career of his victories, was specially sent by the English Court to the camp of Charles, to propitiate the hero of the North in favour of the cause of the Allies, and to prevent the Swedish sword from being flung into the scale in the French king's favour. But Charles at that time was solely bent on dethroning the sovereign of Russia, as he had already dethroned the sovereign of Poland, and all Europe fully believed that he would entirely crush the Czar, and dictate conditions of peace in the Kremlin. Charles himself looked on success as a matter of certainty; and the romantic extravagance of his views was continually increasing. "One year, he thought, would suffice for the conquest of Russia. The Court of Rome was next to feel his vengeance, as the Pope had dared to oppose the concession of religious liberty to the Silesian Protestants. No enterprise at that time appeared impossible to him. He had even dispatched several officers privately into Asia and Egypt, to take plans of the towns, and examine into the strength and resources of those countries."
Napoleon thus epitomises the earlier operations of Charles's invasion of Russia:—
"That prince set out from his camp at Aldstadt, near Leipsic, in September 1707, at the head of 45,000 men, and traversed Poland; 20,000 men, under Count Lewenhaupt, disembarked at Riga; and 15,000 were in Finland. He was therefore in a condition to have brought together 80,000 of the best troops in the world. He left 10,000 men at Warsaw to guard King Stanislaus, and in January 1708, arrived at Grodno, where he wintered. In June, he crossed the forest of Minsk, and presented himself before Borisov; forced the Russian army, which occupied the left bank of the Beresina; defeated 20,000 Russians who were strongly entrenched behind marshes; passed the Borysthenes at Mohilov, and vanquished a corps of 16,000 Muscovites near Smolensko, on the 22nd of September. He was now advanced to the confines of Lithuania, and was about to enter Russia Proper: the Czar, alarmed at his approach, made him proposals of peace. Up to this time all his movements were conformable to rule, and his communications were well secured. He was master of Poland and Riga, and only ten days' march distant from Moscow: and it is probable that he would have reached that capital, had he not quitted the high road thither and directed his steps towards the Ukraine, in order to form a junction with Mazeppa, who brought him only 6,000 men. By this movement his line of operations, beginning at Sweden, exposed his flank to Russia for a distance of four hundred leagues, and he was unable to protect it, or to receive either reinforcements or assistance."
Napoleon severely censures this neglect of one of the great rules of war. He points out that Charles had not organised his war, like Hannibal, on the principle of relinquishing all communications with home, keeping all his forces concentrated, and creating a base of operations in the conquered country. Such had been the bold system of the Carthaginian general; but Charles acted on no such principle, inasmuch as he caused Lewenhaupt, one of his generals who commanded a considerable detachment, and escorted a most important convoy, to follow him at a distance of twelve days' march. By this dislocation of his forces he exposed Lewenbaupt to be overwhelmed separately by the full force of the enemy, and deprived the troops under his own command of the aid which that general's men and stores might have afforded, at the very crisis of the campaign.
The Czar had collected an army of about a hundred thousand effective men; and though the Swedes, in the beginning of the invasion, were successful in every encounter, the Russian troops were gradually acquiring discipline; and Peter and his officers were learning generalship from their victors, as the Thebans of old learned it from the Spartans. When Lewenhaupt, in the October of 1708, was striving to join Charles in the Ukraine, the Czar suddenly attacked him near the Borysthenes with an overwhelming force of fifty thousand Russians. Lewenhaupt fought bravely for three days, and succeeded in cutting his way through the enemy with about four thousand of his men, to where Charles awaited him near the river Desna; but upwards of eight thousand Swedes fell in these battles; Lewenhaupfs cannon and ammunitions were abandoned; and the whole of his important convoy of provisions, on which Charles and his half-starved troops were relying, fell into the enemy's hands. Charles was compelled to remain in the Ukraine during the winter; but in the spring of 1709 he moved forward towards Moscow, and invested the fortified town of Pultowa, on the river Vorskla; a place where the Czar had stored up large supplies of provisions and military stores, and which commanded the passes leading towards Moscow. The possession of this place would have given Charles the means of supplying all the wants of his suffering army, and would also have furnished him with a secure base of operations for his advance against the Muscovite capital. The siege was therefore hotly pressed by the Swedes; the garrison resisted obstinately; and the Czar, feeling the importance of saving the town, advanced in June to its relief, at the head of an army from fifty to sixty thousand strong.
Both sovereigns now prepared for the general action, which each saw to be inevitable, and which each felt would be decisive of his own and of his country's destiny. The Czar, by some masterly manoeuvres, crossed the Vorskla, and posted his army on the same side of that river with the besiegers, but a little higher up. The Yorskla falls into the Borysthenes about fifteen leagues below Pultowa, and the Czar arranged his forces in two lines, stretching from one river towards the other; so that if the Swedes attacked him and were repulsed, they would be driven backwards into the acute angle, formed by the two streams at their junction. He fortified these lines with several redoubts, lined with heavy artillery; and his troops, both horse and foot, were in the best possible condition, and amply provided with stores and ammunition. Charles's forces were about twenty-four thousand strong. But not more than half of these were Swedes: so much had battle, famine, fatigue, and the deadly frosts of Russia, thinned the gallant bands which the Swedish King and Lewenhaupt had led to the Ukraine. The other twelve thousand men, under Charles, were Cossacks and Wallachians, who had joined him in the country. On hearing that the Czar was about to attack him, he deemed that his dignity required that he himself should be the assailant; and leading his army out of their entrenched lines before the town, he advanced with them against the Russian redoubts.
He had been severely wounded in the foot in a skirmish a few days before; and was borne in a litter along the ranks, into the thick of the fight. Notwithstanding the fearful disparity of numbers and disadvantage of position, the Swedes never showed their ancient valour more nobly than on that dreadful day. Nor do their Cossack and Wallachian allies seem to have been unworthy of fighting side by side with Charles's veterans. Two of the Russian redoubts were actually entered, and the Swedish infantry began to raise the cry of victory. But on the other side, neither general nor soldiers flinched in their duty. The Russian cannonade and musketry were kept up; fresh masses of defenders were poured into the fortifications, and at length the exhausted remnants of the Swedish columns recoiled from the blood-stained redoubts. Then the Czar led the infantry and cavalry of his first line outside the works, drew them up steadily and skilfully, and the action was renewed along the whole fronts of the two armies on the open ground. Each sovereign exposed his life freely in the world-winning battle; and on each side the troops fought obstinately and eagerly under their ruler's eye. It was not till two hours from the commencement of the action that, overpowered by numbers, the hitherto invincible Swedes gave way. All was then hopeless disorder and irreparable rout Driven downward to where the rivers join, the fugitive Swedes surrendered to their victorious pursuers, or perished in the waters of the Borysthenes. Only a few hundreds swam that river with their king and the Cossack Mazeppa, and escaped into the Turkish territory. Nearly ten thousand lay killed and wounded in the redoubts and on the field of battle.
In the joy of his heart the Czar exclaimed, when the strife was over, "That the son of the morning had fallen from heaven; and that the foundation of St. Petersburg at length stood firm." Even on that battle-field, near the Ukraine, the Russian emperor's first thoughts were of conquests and aggrandizement on the Baltic. The peace of Nystadt, which transferred the fairest provinces of Sweden to Russia, ratified the judgment of battle which was pronounced at Pultowa. Attacks on Turkey and Persia by Russia commenced almost directly after that victory. And though the Czar failed in his first attempts against the sultan, the successors of Peter have, one and all, carried on an uniformly aggressive and uniformly successive system of policy against Turkey, and against every other state, Asiatic as well as European, which has had the misfortune of having Russia for a neighbour.
Orators and authors, who have discussed the progress of Russia, have often alluded to the similitude between the modern extension of the Muscovite empire and the extension of the Roman dominions in ancient times. But attention has scarcely been drawn to the closeness of the parallel between conquering Russia and conquering Rome, not only in the extent of conquests, but in the means of effecting conquest. The history of Rome during the century and a half which followed the close of the second Punic War, and during which her largest acquisitions of territory were made, should be minutely compared with the history of Russia for the last one hundred and fifty years. The main points of similitude can only be indicated in these pages; but they deserve the fullest consideration. Above all, the sixth chapter of Montesquieu's great treatise on Rome, "De la conduite que les Romains tinrent pour soumettre les peuples" should be carefully studied by every one who watches the career and policy of Russia. The classic scholar will remember the state-craft of the Roman senate, which took care in every foreign war to appear in the character of a Protector. Thus Rome protected the Ætolians, and the Greek cities, against Macedon; she protected Bithynia, and other small Asiatic states, against the Syrian kings; she protected Numidia against Carthage; and in numerous other instances assumed the same specious character. But, "Woe to the people whose liberty depends on the continued forbearance of an over-mighty protector." Every state which Rome protected was ultimately subjugated and absorbed by her. And Russia has been the protector of Poland,—the protector of the Crimea,—the protector of Courland,—the protector of Georgia, Immeritia, Mingrelia, the Tcherkessian and Caucasian tribes, &c. She has first protected, and then appropriated them all. She protects Moldavia and Wallachia. A few years ago she became the protector of Turkey from Mehemet Ali; and since the summer of 1849 she has made herself the protector of Austria.
When the partisans of Russia speak of the disinterestedness with which she withdrew her protecting troops from Constantinople, and from Hungary, let us here also mark the ominous exactness of the parallel between her and Rome. While the ancient world yet contained a number of independent states, which might have made a formidable league against Rome, if she had alarmed them by openly avowing her ambitious schemes, Rome's favourite policy was seeming disinterestedness and moderation. After her first war against Philip, after that against Antiochus, and many others, victorious Rome promptly withdrew her troops from the territories which they occupied. She affected to employ her arms only for the good of others. But, when the favourable moment came, she always found a pretext for marching her legions back into each coveted district, and making it a Roman province. Fear, not moderation, is the only effective check on the ambition of such powers as Ancient Rome and Modern Russia. The amount of that fear depends on the amount of timely vigilance and energy, which other states choose to employ against the common enemy of their freedom and national independence.
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Pultowa, 1709, and the Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga, 1777.
A.D. 1718. Treaty of Utrecht Philip is left by it in possession of the throne of Spain. But Naples, Milan, the Spanish territories on the Tuscan coast, the Spanish Netherlands, and some parts of the French Netherlands are given to Austria. France cedes to England Hudson's Bay and Straits, the Island of St. Christopher, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland in America. Spain cedes to England, Gibraltar and Minorca, which the English had taken during the war. The King of Prussia and the Duke of Savoy both obtain considerable additions of territory to their dominions.
1715. Death of Queen Anne. The House of Hanover begins to reign in England. A rebellion in favour of the Stuarts is put down. Death of Louis XIV.
1718. Charles XII killed at the siege of Frederickshall.
1725. Death of Peter the Great of Russia.
1740. Frederick II. King of Prussia. He attacks the Austrian dominions, and conquers Silesia.
1742. War between France and England.
1743. Victory of the English at Dettingen.
1745. Victory of the French at Fontenoy. Rebellion in Scotland in favour of the House of Stuart: finally quelled by the battle of Culloden in the next year.
1748. Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle.
1756—1763. The Seven Years War, during which Prussia makes an heroic resistance against the armies of Austria, Russia, and France. England, under the administration of the elder Pitt (afterwards Lord Chatham), takes a glorious part in the war in opposition to France and Spain. Wolfe wins the battle of Quebec, and the English conquer Canada, Cape Breton, and St. John. Clive begins his career of conquest in India. Cuba is taken by the English from Spain.
1763. Treaty of Paris: which leaves the power of Prussia increased, and its military reputation greatly exalted.
"France, by the treaty of Paris, ceded to England Canada and the island of Cape Breton, with the islands and coasts of the Gulf and River of St. Lawrence. The boundaries between the two nations in North America were fixed by a line drawn along the middle of the Mississippi, from its source to its mouth. All on the left or eastern bank of that river, was given up to England, except the city of New Orleans, which was reserved to France; as was also the liberty of the fisheries on a part of the coasts of Newfoundland and the Gulf of St Lawrence. The islands of St Peter and Miquelon were given them as a shelter for their fishermen, but without permission to raise fortifications. The islands of Martinico, Guadaloupe, Mariegalante, Desirada, and St Lucia, were surrendered to France; while Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica, and Tobago, were ceded to England. This latter power retained her conquests on the Senegal, and restored to France the island of Gorea, on the coast of Africa. France was put in possession of the forts and factories which belonged to her in the East Indies, on the coasts of Coromandel, Orissa, Malabar, and Bengal, under the restriction of keeping up no military force in Bengal.
"In Europe, France restored all the conquests she had made in Germany; as also the island of Minorca. England gave up to her Belleisle, on the coast of Brittany; while Dunkirk was kept in the same condition as had been determined by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. The island of Cuba, with the Havannah, were restored to the King of Spain, who, on his part, ceded to England Florida, with Port-Augustine and the Bay of Penzacola. The King of Portugal was restored to the same state in which he had been before the war. The colony of St. Sacrament in America, which the Spaniards had conquered, was given back to him."The peace of Paris, of which we have just now spoken, was the era of England's greatest prosperity. Her commerce and navigation extended over all parts of the globe, and were supported by a naval force, so much the more imposing, as it was no longer counterbalanced by the maritime power of France, which bad been almost annihilated in the preceding war. The immense territories which that peace had secured her, both in Africa and America, opened up new channels for her industry; and, what deserves specially to be remarked, is, that she acquired at the same time vast and important possessions in the East Indies.
VICTORY OF THE AMERICANS OVER BURGOYNE AT SARATOGA, A.D. 1777.
Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The first four acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day,
Time's noblest offspring is its last.
Of the four great powers that now principally rule the political destinies of the world, France and England are the only two whose influence can be dated back beyond the last century and a half. The third great power, Russia, was a feeble mass of barbarism before the epoch of Peter the Great; and the very existence of the fourth great power, as an independent nation, commenced within the memory of living men. By the fourth great power of the world I mean the mighty commonwealth of the western continent, which now commands the admiration of mankind. That homage is sometimes reluctantly given, and is sometimes accompanied with suspicion and ill-will. But none can refuse it. All the physical essentials for national strength are undeniably to be found in the geographical position and amplitude of territory which the United States possess; in their almost inexhaustible tracts of fertile, but hitherto untouched, soil, in their stately forests, in their mountain-chains and their rivers, their beds of coal, and stores of metallic wealth, in their extensive sea-board along the waters of two oceans, and in their already numerous and rapidly increasing population. And, when we examine the character of this population, no-one can look on the fearless energy, the sturdy determination, the aptitude for local self-government, the versatile alacrity, and the unresting spirit of enterprise, which characterize the Anglo-Americans, without feeling that here he beholds the true elements of progressive might.
Three quarters of a century have not yet passed since the United States ceased to be mere dependencies of England. And even if we date their origin from the period, when the first permanent European settlements, out of which they grew, were made on the western coast of the North Atlantic, the increase of their strength is unparalleled, either in rapidity or extent.
The ancient Roman boasted, with reason, of the growth of Rome from humble beginnings to the greatest magnitude which the world had then ever witnessed. But the citizen of the United States is still more justly entitled to claim this praise. In two centuries and a half his country has acquired ampler dominion than the Roman gained in ten. And, even if we credit the legend of the band of shepherds and outlaws with which Romulus is said to have colonized the Seven Hills, we find not there so small a germ of future greatness, as we find in the group of a hundred and five ill-chosen and disunited emigrants who founded Jamestown in 1607, or in the scanty band of the Pilgrim-Fathers who, a few years later, moored their bark on the wild and rock-bound coast of the wilderness that was to become New England. The power of the United States is emphatically the "Imperium quo neque ab exordio ullum fere minus, neque incrementis toto orbe amplius humana potest memoria recordari."
Nothing is more calculated to impress the mind with a sense of the rapidity with which the resources of the American Republic advance, than the difficulty which the historical inquirer finds in ascertaining their precise amount. If he consults the most recent works, and those written by the ablest investigators of the subject, he finds in them admiring comments on the change which the last few years, before those books were written, had made; but when he turns to apply the estimates in those books to the present moment, he finds them wholly inadequate. Before a book on the subject of the United States has lost its novelty, those States have outgrown the descriptions which it contains. The celebrated work of the French statesman, De Tocqueville, appeared about fifteen years ago. In the passage which I am about to quote, it will be seen that he predicts the constant increase of the Anglo-American power, but he looks on the Rocky Mountains as their extreme western limit for many years to come. He had evidently no expectation of himself seeing that power dominant along the Pacific as well as along the Atlantic coast. He says:—
"The distance from Lake Superior to 4:he Gulf of Mexico extends from the 47th to the 30th degree of latitude, a distance of more than 1200 miles, as the bird flies. The frontier of the United States winds along the whole of this immense line; sometimes falling within its limits, but more frequently extending far beyond it into the waste. It has been calculated that the Whites advance every year a mean distance of seventeen miles along the whole of this vast boundary. Obstacles, such as an unproductive district, a lake, or an Indian nation unexpectedly encountered, are sometimes met with. The advancing column then halts for a while; its two extremities fall back upon themselves, and as soon as they are reunited they proceed onwards. This gradual and continuous progress of the European race towards the Rocky Mountains has the solemnity of a Providential event; it is like a deluge of men rising unabatedly, and daily driven onwards by the hand of God.
"Within this first line of conquering settlers towns are built, and vast States founded. In 1790 there were only a few thousand pioneers sprinkled along the valleys of the Mississippi; and at the present day these valleys contain as many inhabitants as were to be found in the whole Union in 1790. Their population amounts to nearly four millions. The city of Washington was founded in 1800, in the very centre of the Union; but such are the changes which have taken place, that it now stands at one of the extremities; and the delegates of the most remote Western States are already obliged to perform a journey as long as that from Vienna to Paris.
"It must not, then, be imagined that the impulse of the British race in the New World can be arrested. The dismemberment of the Union, and the hostilities which might ensue, the abolition of republican institutions, and the tyrannical government which might succeed it, may retard this impulse, but they cannot prevent it from ultimately fulfilling the destinies to which that race is reserved. No power upon earth can close upon the emigrants that fertile wilderness, which offers resources to all industry, and a refuge from all want. Future events, of whatever nature they may be, will not deprive the Americans of their climate or of their inland seas, of their great rivers or of their exuberant soil. Nor will bad laws, revolutions, and anarchy be able to obliterate that love of prosperity and that spirit of enterprise which seem to be the distinctive characteristics of their race, or to extinguish that knowledge which guides them on their way.
"Thus, in the midst of the uncertain future, one event at least is sure. At a period which may be said to be near (for we are speaking of the life of a nation) the Anglo-Americans will alone cover the immense space contained between the Polar regions and the Tropics, extending from the coast of the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific Ocean; the territory which will probably be occupied by the Anglo-Americans at some future time, may be computed to equal three-quarters of Europe in extent. The climate of the Union is upon the whole preferable to that of Europe, and its natural advantages are not less great; it is therefore evident that its population will at some future time be proportionate to our own. Europe, divided as it is between so many different nations, and torn as it has been by incessant wars and the barbarous manners of the Middle Ages, has notwithstanding attained a population of 410 inhabitants to the square league. What cause can prevent the United States from having as numerous a population in time?
"The time will therefore come when one hundred and fifty millions of men will be living in North America, equal in condition, the progeny of one race, owing their origin to the same cause, and preserving the same civilisation, the same language, the same religion, the same habits, the same manners, and imbued with the same opinions, propagated under the same forms. The rest is uncertain, but this is certain; and it is a fact new to the world, a fact fraught with such portentous consequences as to baffle the efforts even of the imagination."
Let us turn from the French statesman writing in 1835; to an English statesman, who is justly regarded as the highest authority in all statistical subjects, and who described the United States only five years ago. Macgregor tells us—
"The States which, on the ratification of independence, formed the American Republican Union were thirteen, viz.:—
"Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
"The foregoing thirteen states (the whole inhabited territory of which, with the exception of a few small settlements, was confined to the region extending between the Alleghany mountains and the Atlantic) were those which existed at the period when they became an acknowledged separate and independent federal sovereign power. The thirteen stripes of the standard or flag of the United States, continue to represent the original number. The stars have multiplied to twenty-six, according as the number of States have increased.
"The territory of the thirteen original States of the Union, including Maine and Vermont, comprehended a superficies of 371,124 English square miles; that of the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 120,354; that of France, including Corsica, 214,910; that of the Austrian Empire, including Hungary and all the Imperial States, 257,540 English square miles.
"The present superficies of the twenty-six constitutional States of the Anglo-American Union, and the district of Columbia, and territories of Florida, include 1,029,025 square miles; to which if we add the north-west, or Wisconsin territory, east of the Mississippi, and bound by Lake Superior on the north, and Michigan on the east, and occupying at least 100,000 square miles, and then add the great western region, not yet well defined territories, but at the most limited calculation, comprehending 700,000 square miles, the whole unbroken in its vast length and breadth by foreign nations, comprehends a portion of the earth's surface equal to 1,729,025 English, or 1,296,770 geographical square miles."
We may add that the population of the States when they declared their Independence was about two millions and a half; it is now twenty-three millions.
I have quoted Macgregor, not only on account of the clear and full view which he gives of the progress of America to the date when he wrote, but because his description may be contrasted with what the United States have become even since his book appeared. Only three years after the time when Macgregor thus wrote, the American President truly stated:—
"Within less than four years the annexation of Texas to the Union has been consummated; all conflicting title to the Oregon territory, south of the 49th degree of north latitude, adjusted; and New Mexico and Upper California have been acquired by treaty. The area of these several territories contains 1,193,061 square miles, or 763,559,040 acres; while the area of the remaining twenty-nine States, and the territory not yet organized into States east of the Rocky Mountains, contains 2,059,513 square miles, or 1,318,126,058 acres. These estimates show that the territories recently acquired, and over which our exclusive jurisdiction and dominion have been extended, constitute a country more than half as large as all that. which was held by the United States before their acquisition. If Oregon be excluded from the estimate, there will still remain within the limits of Texas, New Mexico, and California, 851,598 square miles, or 545,012,720 acres; being an addition equal to more than one-third of all the territory owned by the United States before their acquisition; and, including Oregon, nearly as great an extent of territory as the whole of Europe, Russia only excepted. The Mississippi, so lately the frontier of our country, is now only its centre. With the addition of the late acquisitions, the United States are now estimated to be nearly as large as the whole of Europe. The extent of the sea-coast of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico is upwards of 400 miles; of the coast of Upper California, on the Pacific of 970 miles; and of Oregon, including the Straits of Fuca, of 650 miles; making the whole extent of sea coast on the Pacific 1,620 miles; and the whole extent on both the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, 2,020 miles. The length of the coast on the Atlantic, from the northern limits of the United States, round the Capes of Florida to the Sabine on the eastern boundary of Texas, is estimated to be 3,100 miles, so that the addition of sea coast, including Oregon, is very nearly two-thirds as great as all we possessed before; and, excluding Oregon, is an addition of 1,370 miles; being nearly equal to one-half of the extent of coast which we possessed before these acquisitions. We have now three great maritime fronts—on the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific; making, in the whole, an extent of sea-coast exceeding 5,000 miles. This is the extent of the sea-coast of the United States, not including bays, sounds, and small irregularities of the main shore, and of the sea islands. If these be included, the length of the shore line of coast, as estimated by the superintendent of the Coast Survey, in his report, would be 33,063 miles."
The importance of the power of the United States being then firmly planted along the Pacific applies not only to the New World, but to the Old. Opposite to San Francisco, on the coast of that ocean, lie the wealthy but decrepit empires of China and Japan. Numerous groups of islets stud the larger part of the intervening sea, and form convenient stepping-stones for the progress of commerce or ambition. The intercourse of traffic between these ancient Asiatic monarchies, and the young Anglo-American republic must be rapid and extensive. Any attempt of the Chinese or Japanese rulers to check it, will only accelerate an armed collision. The American will either buy or force his way. Between such populations as that of China and Japan on the one side, and that of the United States on the other,—the former haughty, formal, and insolent,—the latter bold, intrusive, and unscrupulous, causes of quarrel must, sooner or later, arise. The results of such a quarrel cannot be doubted. America will scarcely imitate the forbearance shown by England at the end of our late war with the Celestial Empire; and the conquests of China and Japan, by the fleets and armies of the United States, are events which many now living are likely to witness. Compared with the magnitude of such changes in the dominion of the Old World, the certain ascendancy of the Anglo-Americans over Central and Southern America, seems a matter of secondary importance. Well may we repeat De Tocqueville's words, that the growing power of this commonwealth is, "Un fait entièrement nouveau dans le monde, et dont l'imagination ellemême ne saurait saisir la portée."
An Englishman may look, and ought to look, on the growing grandeur of the Americans, with no small degree of generous sympathy and satisfaction. They, like ourselves, are members of the great Anglo-Saxon nation, "whose race and language are now overrunning the world from one end of it to the other." And whatever differences of form of government may exist between us and them; whatever reminiscences of the days when, though brethren, we strove together, may rankle in the minds of us, the defeated party; we should cherish the bonds of common nationality that still exist between us. We should remember, as the Athenians remembered of the Spartans, at a season of jealousy and temptation, that our race is one, being of the same blood, speaking the same language, having an essential resemblance in our institutions and usages, and worshipping in the temples of the same God. All this may and should be borne in mind. And yet an Englishman can hardly watch the progress of America without the regretful thought, that America once was English, and that, but for the folly of our rulers, she might be English still. It is true that the commerce between the two countries has largely and beneficially increased; but this is no proof that the increase would not have been still greater, had the States remained integral portions of the same great empire. By giving a fair and just participation in political rights, these, "the fairest possessions" of the British crown, might have been preserved to it. "This ancient and most noble monarchy" would not have been dismembered; nor should we see that which ought to be the right arm of our strength, now menacing us in every political crisis, as the most formidable rival of our commercial and maritime ascendancy.
The war which rent away the North American colonies from England is, of all subjects in history, the most painful for an Englishman to dwell on. It was commenced and carried on by the British ministry in iniquity and folly, and it was concluded in disaster and shame. But the contemplation of it cannot be evaded by the historian, however much it may be abhorred. Nor can any military event be said to have exercised more important influence on the future fortunes of mankind, than the complete defeat of Burgoyne's expedition in 1777 ; a defeat which rescued the revolted colonists from certain subjection; and which, by inducing the courts of France and Spain to attack England in their behalf, ensured the independence of the United States, and the formation of that transatlantic power which, not only America, but both Europe and Asia now see and feel.
Still, in proceeding to describe this "decisive battle of the world," a very brief recapitulation of the earlier events of the war may be sufficient; nor shall I linger unnecessarily on a painful theme.
The five northern colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont, usually classed together as the New England colonies, were the strongholds of the insurrection against the mother country. The feeling of resistance was less vehement and general in the central settlement of New York ; and still less so in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the other colonies of the south, although every where it was formidably strong. But it was among the descendants of the stem Puritans that the spirit of Cromwell and Vane breathed in all its fervour; it was from the New Englanders that the first armed opposition to the British crown had been offered; and it was by them that the most stubborn determination to fight to the last, rather than waive a single right or privilege, had been displayed. In 1775, they had succeeded in forcing the British troops to evacuate Boston; and the events of 1776 had made New York (which the royalists captured in that year) the principal basis of operations for the armies of the mother country.
A glance at the map will show that the Hudson river, which falls into the Atlantic at New York, runs down from the north at the back of the New England States, forming an angle of about forty-five degrees with the line of the coast of the Atlantic, along which the New England States are situate. Northward of the Hudson, we see a small chain of lakes communicating with the Canadian frontier. It is necessary to attend closely to these geographical points, in order to understand the plan of the operations which the English attempted in 1777, and which the battle of Saratoga defeated.
The English had a considerable force in Canada; and in 1776 had completely repulsed an attack which the Americans had made upon that province. The British ministry resolved to avail themselves, in the next year, of the advantage which the occupation of Canada gave them, not merely for the purpose of defence, but for the purpose of striking a vigorous and crushing blow against the revolted colonies. With this view, the army in Canada was largely reinforced. Seven thousand veteran troops were sent out from England, with a corps of artillery abundantly supplied, and led by select and experienced officers. Large quantities of military stores were also furnished for the equipment of the Canadian volunteers, who were expected to join the expedition. It was intended that the force thus collected should march southward by the line of the lakes, and thence along the banks of the Hudson river. The British army in New York (or a large detachment of it) was to make a simultaneous movement northward, up the line of the Hudson, and the two expeditions were to unite at Albany, a town on that river. By these operations all communication between the northern colonies and those of the centre and south would be cut off. An irresistible force would be concentrated, so as to crush all further opposition in New England; and when this was done, it was believed that the other colonies would speedily submit. The Americans had no troops in the field that seemed able to baffle these movements. Their principal army, under Washington, was occupied in watching over Pennsylvania and the south. At any rate it was believed that, in order to oppose the plan intended for the new campaign, the insurgents must risk a pitched battle, in which the superiority of the royalists, in numbers, in discipline, and in equipment, seemed to promise to the latter a crowning victory. Without question, the plan was ably formed; and had the success of the execution been equal to the ingenuity of the design, the reconquest or submission of the thirteen United States, must in all human probability have followed; and the independence if hich they proclaimed in 1776 would have been extinguished before it existed a second year. Na European power had as yet come forward to aid America, It is true that England was generally regarded with jealousy and ill-will, and was thought to have acquired, at the treaty of Paris, a preponderance of dominion which was perilous to the balance of power ; but, though many were willing to wound, none had yet ventured to strike; and America, if defeated in 1777, would have been suffered to fall unaided.
Burgoyne had gained celebrity by some bold and dashing exploits in Portugal during, the last war; he was personally as brave an officer as ever headed British troops; be bad considerable skill as a tactician; and his general intellectual abilities and acquirements were of a high order. He had several very able and experienced officers under him, among whom were Major-General Philips and Brigadier-General Frazer. His regular troops amounted, exclusively of the corps of artillery, to about seven thousand two hundred men, rank and file. Nearly half of these were Germans. He had also an auxiliary force of from two to three thousand Canadians. He summoned the warriors of several tribes of the Red Indians near the western lakes to join his army. Much eloquence was poured forth both in America and in England in denouncing the use of these savage auxiliaries. Yet Burgoyne seems to have done no more than Montcalm, Wolfe, and other French, American, and English generals had done before him. But, in truth, the lawless ferocity of the Indians, their unskilfulness in regular action, and the utter impossibility of bringing them under any discipline, made their services of little or no value in times of difficulty; while the indignation, which their outrages inspired, went far to rouse the whole population of the invaded districts into active hostilities against Burgoyne's force.
Burgoyne assembled his troops and confederates near the river Bouquet, on the west side of Lake Champlain. He then, on the 21st of June 1777, gave his Red Allies a war feast, and harangued them on the necessity of abstaining from their usual cruel practices against unarmed people and prisoners. At the same time he published a pompous manifesto to the Americans, in which he threatened the refractory with all the horrors of war, Indian as well as European. The army proceeded by water to Crown Point, a fortification which the Americans held at the northern extremity of the inlet, by which the water from Lake George is conveyed to Lake Champlain. He landed here without opposition; but the reduction of Ticonderoga, a fortification about twelve miles to the south of Crown Point, was a more serious matter, and was supposed to be the critical part of the expedition. Ticonderoga commanded the passage along the lakes, and was considered to be the key to the route which Burgoyne wished to follow. The English had been repulsed in an attack on it in the war with the French in 1758 with severe loss. But Burgoyne now invested it with great skill; and the American general, St. Clair, who had only an ill-equipped army of about three thousand men, evacuated it on the 5th of July. It seems evident that a different course would have caused the destruction or capture of his whole army; which, weak as it was, was the chief force then in the field for the protection of the New England States. When censured by some of his countrymen for abandoning Ticonderoga, St. Clair truly replied, "that he had lost a post, but saved a province." Burgoyne's troops pursued the retiring Americans, gained several advantages over them, and took a large part of their artillery and military stores.
The loss of the British in these engagements was trifling. The army moved southward along Lake George to Skenesborough; and thence, slowly, and with great difficulty, across a broken country, full of creeks and marshes, and clogged by the enemy with felled trees and other obstacles, to Fort Edward, on the Hudson river, the American troops continuing to retire before them.
Burgoyne reached the left bank of the Hudson river on the 30th of July. Hitherto he had overcome every difficulty which the enemy and the nature of the country had placed in his way. His army was in excellent order and in the highest spirits; and the peril of the expedition seemed over, when they were once on the bank of the river which was to be the channel of communication between them and the British army in the south. But their feelings, and those of the English nation in general when their successes were announced, may best be learned from a contemporary writer. Burke, in the "Annual Register" for 1777, describes them thus:—
"Such was the rapid torrent of success, which swept everything away before the northern army in its onset. It is not to be wondered at, if both officers and private men Were highly elated with their good fortune, and deemed that and their prowess to be irresistible; if they regarded their enemy with the greatest contempt; considered their own toils to be nearly at at end; Albany to be already in their hands; and the reduction of the northern provinces to be rather a matter of some time, than an arduous task full of difficulty and danger.
"At home, the joy and exultation was extreme; not only at court, but with all those who hoped or wished the unqualified subjugation, and unconditional submission of the colonies. The loss in reputation was greater to the Americans, and capable of more fatal consequences, than even that of ground, of posts, of artillery, or of men. All the contemptuous tad most degrading charges which had been made by their enemies, of their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even in their defence of whatever was dear to them, were now related atid believed. Those who still regarded them as men, and who had not yet lost all affection to them as brethren; who also retained hopes that a happy reconciliation upon constitutional principles, without sacrificing the dignity of the just authority of government on the one side, or a dereliction of the rights of freemen on the other, was not even now impossible, notwithstanding their favourable dispositions in general, could not help feeling upon this occasion that the Americans sunk not a little in their estimation. It was not difficult to diffuse an opinion, that the war in effect was over; and that any further resistance could serve only to render the terms of their submission the worse. Such were some of the immediate effects of the loss of those grand keys of North America—Ticonderoga, and the lakes,"
The astonishment and alarm which these events produced among the Americans were naturally great; but in the midst of their disasters none of the colonists showed any disposition to submit. The local governments of the New England States, as well as the Congress, acted with vigour and firmness in their efforts to repel the enemy. General Gates was sent to take the command of the army at Saratoga; and Arnold, a favourite leader of the Americans, was despatched by Washington to act under him, with reinforcements of troops and guns from the main American army. Burgoyne’s employment of the Indians now produced the worst possible effects. Though he laboured hard to check the atrocities which they were accustomed to commit, he could not prevent the occurrence of many barbarous outrages, repugnant both to the feelings of humanity and to the laws of civilized warfare. The American commanders took care that the reports of these excesses should be circulated far and wide, well knowing that they would make the stern New Englanders not droop, but rage. Such was their effect; and though, when each man looked upon his wife, his children, his sisters or his aged parents, the thought of the merciless Indian "thirsting for the blood of man, woman, and child," of "the cannibal savage torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating the mangled victims of his barbarous battles" might raise terror in the bravest breasts; this very terror produced a directly contrary effect to causing submission to the royal army. It was seen that the few friends of the royal cause, as well as its enemies, were liable to be the victims of the indiscriminate rage of the savages; and thus "the inhabitants of the open and frontier countries had no choice of acting: they had no means of security left, but by abandoning their habitations and taking up arms. Every man saw the necessity of becoming a temporary soldier, not only for his own security, but for the protection and defence of those connections which are dearer than life itself. Thus an army was poured forth by the woods, mountains, and marshes, which in this part were thickly sown with plantations and villages. The Americans recalled their courage, and when their regular army seemed to be entirely wasted, the spirit of the country produced a much greater and more formidable force."
While resolute recruits, accustomed to the use of fire-arms, and all partially trained by service in the provincial militias, were thus flocking to the standard of Gates and Arnold at Saratoga; and while Burgoyne was engaged at Fort Edward in providing the means for the further advance of his army through the intricate and hostile country that still lay before him, two events occurred, in each of which the British sustained loss, and the Americans obtained advantage, the moral effects of which were even more important than the immediate result of the encounters. When Burgoyne left Canada, General St Leger was detached from that province with a mixed force of about one thousand men, and some light field-pieces across lake Ontario against Fort Stanwix, which the Americans held. After capturing this, he was to march along the Mohawk river to its confluence with the Hudson, between Saratoga and Albany, whete his force and that of Burgoyne's were to unite. But, after some successes, St. Leger was obliged to tetreat, and to abandon his tents and large quantities of stores to the garrison. At the very time that Gieneral Burgoyne heard of this disaster, he experienced one still more severe in the defeat of Colonel Baum with a large detachment of German troops at Benington, whither Burgoyne had sent them for the purpose of capturing some magazines of provisions, of which the British army stood greatly in need. The Americans, augmented by continual accessions of strength, succeeded, after many attacks, in breaking this corps, which fled into the woods, and left its commander mortally wounded on the field: they then marched against a force of five hundred grenadiers and light infantry, which was advancing to Colonel Baum's assistance under Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman; who, after a gallant resistance, was obliged to retreat on the main army. The British loss in these two actions exceeded six hundred men: and a party of American loyalists, on their way to join the army, having attached themselves to Colonel Baum's corps, were destroyed with it.
Notwithstanding these reverses, which added greatly to the spirit and numbers of the American forces, Burgoyne determined to advance. It was impossible any longer to keep up his communications with Canada by way of the lakes, so as to supply his army on his southward march; but having, by unremitting exertions collected provisions for thirty days, he crossed the Hudson by means of a bridge of rafts, and, marching a short distance along its western bank, he encamped on the 14th of September, on the heights of Saratoga, about sixteen miles from Albany. The Americans had fallen back from Saratoga, and were now strongly posted near Stillwater, about half way between Saratoga and Albany, and showed a determination to recede no farther.
Meanwhile Lord Howe, with the bulk of the British army that had lain at New York, bad sailed away to the Delaware, and there commenced a campaign against Washington, in which the English general took Philadelphia, and gained other showy, but unprofitable successes. But Sir Henry Clinton, a brave and skilful officer, was left with a considerable force at New York; and he undertook the task of moving up the Hudson to co-operate with Burgoyne. Clinton was obliged for this purpose to wait for reinforcements which had been promised from England, and these did not arrive till September. As soon as he received them, Clinton embarked about 3,000 of his men on a flotilla, convoyed by some ships of war under Commander Hotham, and proceeded to force his way up the river.
The country between Burgoyne's position at Saratoga and that of the Americans at Stillwater was rugged, and seamed with creeks and water-courses; but after great labour in making bridges and temporary causeways, the British army moved forward. About four miles from Saratoga on the afternoon of the 19th of September, a sharp encounter took place between part of the English right wing, under Burgoyne himself, and a strong body of the enemy, under Gates and Arnold. The conflict lasted till sunset. The British remained masters of the field; but the loss on each side was nearly equal (from five hundred to six hundred men); and the spirits of the Americans were greatly raised by having withstood the best regular troops of the English army. Burgoyne now halted again, and strengthened his position by field-works and redoubts; and the Americans also improved their defences. The two armies remained nearly within cannon-shot of each other for a considerable time, during which Burgoyne was anxiously looking for intelligence of the promised expedition from New York, which, according to the original plan, ought by this time to have been approaching Albany from the south. At last a messenger from Clinton made his way, with great difficulty, to Burgoyne's camp, and brought the information that Clinton was on his way up the Hudson to attack the American forts which barred the passage up that river to Albany. Burgoyne in reply stated his hopes that the promised co-operation would be speedy and decisive, and added, that unless he received assistance before the 10th of October, he would be obliged to retreat to the lakes through want of provisions.
The Indians and Canadians now began to desert Burgoyne; while, on the other hand, Gates's army was continually reinforced by fresh bodies of the militia. An expeditionary force was detached by the Americans, which made a bold, though unsuccessful, attempt to retake Ticonderoga. And finding the number and spirit of the enemy to increase daily, and his own stores of provision to diminish, Burgoyne determined on attacking the Americans in front of him, and by dislodging them from their position, to gain the means of moving upon Albany, or at least of relieving his troops from the straitened position in which they were cooped up.
Burgoyne's force was now reduced to less than 6,000 men. The right of his camp was on some high ground a little to the west of the river; thence his entrenchments extended along the lower ground to the bank of the Hudson, their line being nearly at a right angle with the course of the stream. The lines were fortified in the centre and on the left with redoubts and field-works. The numerical force of the Americans was now greater than the British, even in regular troops, and the numbers of the militia and volunteers which had joined Gates and Arnold were greater still. The right of the American position, that is to say, the part of it nearest to the river, was too strong to be assailed with any prospect of success: and Burgoyne therefore determined to endeavour to force their left. For this purpose he formed a column of fifteen hundred regular troops, with two twelve pounders, two howitzers, and six six-pounders. He headed this in person, having Generals Philips, Reidesel, and Frazer under him. The enemy's force immediately in front of his lines was so strong that he dared not weaken the troops who guarded them, by detaching any more to strengthen his column of attack. The right of the camp was commanded by Generals Hamilton and Spaight; the left part of it was committed to the charge of Brigadier Goll.
It was on the 7th of October that Burgoyne led his column on to the attack; and on the preceding day, the 6th, Clinton had successfully executed a brilliant enterprise against the two American forts which barred his progress up the Hudson. He had captured them both, with severe loss to the American forces opposed to him; he had destroyed the fleet which the Americans had been forming on the Hudson, under the protection of their forts; and the upward river was laid open to his squadron. He was now only a hundred and fifty-six miles distant from Burgoyne; and a detachment of 1,700 men actually advanced within forty miles of Albany. Unfortunately Burgoyne and Clinton were each ignorant of the other's movements; but if Burgoyne had won his battle on the 7th, he must on advancing have soon learned the tidings of Clinton's success, and Clinton would have heard of his. A junction would soon have been made of the two victorious armies, and the great objects of the campaign might yet have been accomplished. All depended on the fortune of the column with which Burgoyne, on the eventful 7th of October, 1777, advanced against the American position. There were brave men, both English and German, in its ranks; and in particular it comprised one of the best bodies of Grenadiers in the British service.
Burgoyne pushed forward some bodies of irregular troops to distract the enemy's attention; and led his column to within three-quarters of a mile from the left of Gates's camp, and then deployed his men into line. The Grenadiers under Major Ackland were drawn up on the left, a corps of Germans in the centre, and the English Light Infantry, and the 24th regiment on the right. But Gates did not wait to be attacked; and directly the British line was formed and began to advance, the American general, with admirable skill, caused a strong force to make a sudden and vehement rush against its left. The Grenadiers under Ackland sustained the charge of superior numbers nobly. But Gates sent more Americans forward, and in a few minutes the action became general along the centre, so as to prevent the Germans from sending any help to the Grenadiers. Burgoyne's right was not yet engaged: but a mass of the enemy were observed advancing from their extreme left, with the evident intention of turning the British right, and cutting off its retreat. The Light Infantry and the 24th now fell back, and formed an oblique second line, which enabled them to baffle this manœuvre, and also to succour their comrades in the left wing, the gallant grenadiers who were overpowered by superior numbers, and, but for this aid, must have been cut to pieces. Arnold now came up with three American regiments, and attacked the right flanks of the English double line. Burgoyne's whole force was soon compelled to retreat towards their camp; the left and centre were in complete disorder, but the Light Infantry and the 24th checked the fury of the assailants, and the remains of Burgoyne's column with great difficulty effected their return to their camp; leaving six of their guns in the possession of the enemy, and great numbers of killed and wounded on the field; and especially a large proportion of the artillerymen, who had stood to their guns until shot down or bayoneted beside them by the advancing Americans.
Burgoyne's column had been defeated, but the action was not yet over. The English had scarcely entered the camp, when the Americans, pursuing their success, assaulted it in several places with uncommon fierceness, rushing to the lines through a severe fire of grape-shot and musketry with the utmost fury. Arnold especially, who on this day appeared maddened with the thirst of combat and carnage, urged on the attack against a part of the intrenchments which was occupied by the light infantry under Lord Balcarras. But the English received him with vigour and spirit. The struggle here was obstinate and sanguinary. At length, as it grew towards evening, Arnold, having forced all obstacles, entered the works with some of the most fearless of his followers. But in this critical moment of glory and danger, he received a painful wound in the same leg which had already been injured at the assault on Quebec. To his bitter regret he was obliged to be carried back. His party still continued the attack, but the English also continued their obstimite resistance, and at last night fell, and the assailants withdrew from this quarter of the British entrenchments. But in another part the attack had been more successful. A body of the Americans, under Colonel Brooke, forced their way in through a part of the intrenchments on the extreme right, which was defended by the German reserve, under Colonel Breyman. The Germans resisted well, and Breyman died in defence of his post; but the Americans made good the ground which they had won, and captured baggage, tents, artillery, and a store of ammunition, which they were greatly in need of. They had, by establishing themselves on this point, acquired the means of completely turning the right flank of the British, and gaining their real. To prevent this calamity, Burgoyne effected during the night a complete change of position. With great skill he removed his whole army to some heights near the river, a little northward of the former camp, and he there drew up his men, expecting to be attacked on the following day. But Gates was resolved not to risk the certain triumph which his success had already soured for him. He harassed the English with skirmishes, but attempted no regular attack. Meanwhile he detached bodies of troops on both sides of the Hudson to prevent the British from recrossing that river, and to bar their retreat. When night fell, it became absolutely necessary for Burgoyne to retire again, and, accordingly, the troops were marched through a stormy and rainy night towards Saratoga, abandoning their sick and wounded, and the greater part of their baggage to the enemy.
Before the rear-guard quitted the camp the last sad honours were paid to the brave General Frazer, who had been mortally wounded on the 7th, and expired on the following day. The funeral of this gallant soldier is thus described by the Italian historian Botta.
"Towards midnight the body of General Frazer was buried in the British camp. His brother officers assembled sadly round while the funeral service was read over the remains of their brave comrade, and his body was committed to the hostile earth. The ceremony, always mournful and solemn of itself, was rendered even terrible by the sense of recent losses, of present and future dangers, and of regret for the deceased. Meanwhile the blaze and roar of the American artillery amid the natural darkness and stillness of the night came on the senses with startling awe. The grave had been dug within range of the enemy's batteries; and while the service was proceeding a cannon-ball struck the ground close to the coffin and spattered earth over the face of the officiating chaplain."
Burgoyne now took up his last position on the heights near Saratoga; and hemmed in by the enemy, who refused any encounter, and baffled in all his attempts at finding a path of escape, he there lingered until famine compelled him to capitulate. The fortitude of the British army during this melancholy period has been justly eulogised by many native historians, but I prefer quoting the testimony of a foreign writer, as free from all possibility of partiality. Botta says:
"It exceeds the power of words to describe the pitiable condition to which the British army was now reduced. The troops were worn down by a series of toil, privation, sickness, and desperate fighting. They were abandoned by the Indians and Canadians, and the effective force of the whole army was now diminished by repeated and heavy losses, which had principally fallen on the best soldiers, and the most distinguished officers, from ten thousand combatants to less than one-half that Dumber. Of this remnant little more than three thousand were English.
"In these circumstances, and thus weakened, they were invested by an army of four times their own number, whose position extended three parts of a circle round them; who refused to fight them, as knowing their weakness, and who from the nature of the ground could not be attacked in any part. In this helpless condition, obliged to be constantly under arms, while the enemy's cannon played on every part of their camp, and even the American rifle balls whistled in many parts of the lines, the troops of Burgoyne retained their customary firmness, and while sinking under a hard necessity they showed themselves worthy of a better fate. They could not be reproached with an action or a word which betrayed a want of temper or of fortitude."
At length the 18th of October arrived, and as no prospect of assistance appeared, and the provisions were nearly exhausted, Burgoyne, by the unanimous advice of a council of war, sent a messenger to the American camp to treat of a convention.
General Gates in the first instance demanded that the royal army should surrender prisoners of war. He also proposed that, the British should ground their arms. Burgoyne replied, "This article is inadmissible in every extremity; sooner than this array will consent to ground their arms in their encampment, they will rush on the enemy, determined to take no quarter." After various messages a convention for the surrender of the army was settled, which provided, that "The troops under General fiurgoyne were to march out of their camp with the honours of war, and the artillery of the intrenchments, to the verge of the river, where the arms and artillery were to be left. The arms to be piled by word of command from their own officers. A free passage was to be granted to the army under Lieutenant-General Burgoyne to Great Britain, upon condition of not serving again in North America during the present contest."
The Articles of Capitulation were settled on the 15th of October; and on that very evening a messenger arrived from Clinton with an account of his successes, and with the tidings that part of his force had penetrated as far as Esopus, within fifty miles of Burgoyne's camp. But it was too late. The public faith was pledged; and the army was indeed too debilitated by fatigue and hunger to resist an attack if made; and Gates certainly would have made it, if the convention had been broken off. Accordingly on the 17th, the Convention of Saratoga was parried into effect. By this convention 5,790 men surrendered themselves as prisoners. The sick and wounded left in the camp, when the British retreated to Saratoga, together with the numbers of the British, German, and Canadian troops, who were killed, wounded, or taken, and who had deserted in the preceding part of the expedition, were reckoned to be 4,689.
The British sick and wounded who had fallen into the hands of the Americans after the battle of the seventh, were treated with exemplary humanity; and when the Convention was executed. General Gates showed a noble delicacy of feeling, which deserves the highest degree of honour. Every circumstance was avoided which could give the appearance of triumph. The American troops remained within their lines until the British had piled their arms ; and when this was done, the vanquished officers and soldiers were received with friendly kindness by their victors, and their immediate wants were promptly and liberally supplied. Discussions and disputes afterwards arose as to some of the terms of the convention, and the American Congress refused for a long time to carry into effect the article, which provided for the return of Burgoyne's men to Europe; but no blame was imputable to General Gates or his army, who showed themselves to be generous as they had proved themselves to be brave.
Gates after the victory immediately despatched Colonel Wilkinson to carry the happy tidings to Congress. On being introduced into the hall he said, "The whole British army has laid down its arms at Saratoga; our own, full of vigour and courage, expect your orders. It is for your wisdom to decide where the country may still have need for their service." Honours and rewards were liberally voted by the Congress to their conquering general and his men; and it would be difficult (says the Italian historian) to describe the transports of joy which the news of this event excited among the Americans. They began to flatter themselves with a still more happy future. No one any longer felt any doubt about their achieving their independence. All hoped, and with good reason, that a success of this importance would at length determine France, and the other European powers that waited for her example, to declare themselves in favour of America. There could no longer be any question respecting the future; since there was no longer the risk of espousing the cause of a people too feeble to defend themselves."
The truth of this was soon displayed in the conduct of France. When the news arrived at Paris of the capture of Ticonderoga, and of the victorious march of Burgoyne towards Albany, events which seemed decisive in favour of the English, instructions had been immediately despatched to Nantz, and the other ports of the kingdom, that no American privateers should be suffered to enter them, except from indispensable necessity, as to repair their vessels, to obtain provisions, or to escape the perils of the sea. The American commissioners at Paris, in their disgust and despair, had almost broken off all negotiations with the French government; and they even endeavoured to open communications with the British ministry. But the British government, elated with the first successes of Burgoyne, refused to listen to any overtures for accommodation. But when the news of Saratoga reached Paris, the whole scene was changed. Franklin and his brother commissioners found all their difficulties with the French government vanish. The time seemed to have arrived for the House of Bourbon to take a full revenge for all its humiliations and losses in previous wars. In December a treaty was arranged and formally signed in the February following, by which France acknowledged the Independent United States of America. This was, of course, tantamount to a declaration of war with England. Spain soon followed France; and before long Holland took the same course. Largely aided by French fleets and troops the Americans vigorously maintained the war against the armies which England, in spite of her European foes, continued to send across the Atlantic. But the struggle was too unequal to be maintained by this country for many years; and when the treaties of 1783 restored peace to the world, the independence of the United States was reluctantly recognised by their ancient parent and recent enemy, England.
1781. Surrender of Lord Cornwallis and the British army to Washington.
1782. Rodney's victory over the Spanish fleet. Unsuccessful siege of Gibraltar by the Spaniards and French.
1783. End of the American war.
1788. The States-General are convened in France;—beginning of the Revolution.
THE BATTLE OF VALMY.
Purpurei metuunt tyranni
Injurioso ne pede proruas
Stantem columnam; neu populus frequens
Ad arma cessantes ad arma
Concitet, imperiumque frangat.
Horat. Od. I. 35.
A little fire is quickly trodden out,
Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench.
A few miles distant from the little town of St.Menehould, in the north-east of France, are the village and hill of Valmy; and near the crest of that hill a simple monument points out the burial-place of the heart of a general of the French republic, and a marshal of the French empire.
The elder Kellerman (father of the distinguished officer of that name, whose cavalry charge decided the battle of Marengo), held high commands in the French armies throughout the wars of the Convention, the Directory, the Consulate, and the Empire. He survived those wars, and the empire itself, dying in extreme old age in 1820. The last wish of the veteran on his death-bed was that his heart should be deposited in the battle-field of Valmy, there to repose among the remains of his old companions-in-arms, who had fallen at his side on that spot twenty-eight years before, on the memorable day when they won the primal victory of Revolutionary France, and prevented the armies of Brunswick and the emigrant bands of Condé from marching on defenceless Paris, and destroying the immature democracy in its cradle.
The Duke of Valmy (for Kellerman, when made one of Napoleon's military peers in 1802, took his title from this same battle-field) had participated during his long and active career, in the gaining of many a victory far more immediately dazzling than the one, the remembrance of which he thus cherished. He had been present at many a scene of carnage, where blood flowed in deluges, compared with which, the libations of slaughter poured out at Valmy would have seemed scant and insignificant But he rightly estimated the paramount importance of the battle with which he thus wished his appellation while living, and his memory after his death, to be identified. The successful resistance, which the raw Carmagnole levies, and the disorganized relics of the old monarchy's army then opposed to the combined hosts and chosen leaders of Prussia, Austria, and the French refugee noblesse, determined at once and for ever the belligerent character of the Revolution. The raw artisans and tradesmen, the clumsy burghers, the base mechanics and low peasant-churls, as it had been the fashion to term the middle and lower classes in France, found that they could face cannon-balls, pull triggers, and cross bayonets, without having been drilled into military machines, and without being officered by scions of noble houses. They awoke to the consciousness of their own instinctive soldiership. They at once acquired confidence in themselves and in each other; and that confidence soon grew into a spirit of unbounded audacity and ambition. "From the cannonade of Valmy may be dated the commencement of that career of victory which carried their armies to Vienna and the Kremlin."
One of the gravest reflexions that arises from the contemplation of the civil restlessness and military enthusiasm, which the close of the last century saw nationalized in France, is the consideration that these disturbing influences have become perpetual. No settled system of government, that shall endure from generation to generation, that shall be proof against corruption and popular violence, seems capable of taking root among the French, And every revolutionary movement in Paris thrills throughout the rest of the world. Even the successes which the powers allied against France gained in 1814 and 1815, important as they were, could not annul the effects of the preceding twenty-three years of general convulsion and war.
In 1830, the dynasty which foreign bayonets had imposed on France was shaken off; and men trembled at the expected outbreak of French anarchy and the dreaded inroads of French ambition. They "looked forward with harassing anxiety to a period of destruction similar to that which the Roman world experienced about the middle of the third century of our era." Louis Philippe cajoled Revolution, and then strove with seeming success to stifle it. But, in spite of Fieschi laws, in spite of the dazzle of Algerian razzias and Pyrenee-effacing marriages, in spite of hundreds of armed forts, and hundreds of thousands of coercing troops, Revolution lived, and struggled to get free. The old Titan spirit heaved restlessly beneath "the monarchy based on Republican institutions." At last, three years ago, the whole fabric of king-craft was at once rent and scattered to the winds, by the uprising of the Parisian democracy; and insurrections, barricades, and dethronements, the downfalls of coronets and crowns, the armed collisions of parties, systems, and populations, became the commonplaces of recent European history.
France now calls herself a republic. She first assumed that title on the 20th of September, 1792, on the very day on which the battle of Valmy was fought and won. To that battle the democratic spirit which in 1848, as well as in 1792, proclaimed the Republic in Paris, owed its preservation, and it is thence that the imperishable activity of its principles may be dated.
Far different seemed the prospects of democracy in Europe on the eve of that battle ; and far different would have been the present position and influence of the French nation, if Brunswick's columns had charged with more boldness, or the lines of Dumouriez resisted with less firmness. When France, in 1792, declared war with the great powers of Europe, she was far from possessing that splendid military organization which the experience of a few revolutionary campaigns taught her to assume, and which she has never abandoned. The army of the old monarchy had, during the latter part of the reign of Louis XV., sunk into gradual decay, both in numerical force, and in efficiency of equipment and spirit. The laurels gained by the auxiliary regiments which Louis XVI. sent to the American war, did but little to restore the general tone of the army. The insubordination and licence, which the revolt of the French guards, and the participation of other troops in many of the first excesses of the Revolution introduced among the soldiery, were soon rapidly disseminated through all the ranks. Under the Legislative Assembly every complaint of the soldier against his officer, however frivolous or ill-founded, was listened to with eagerness, and investigated with partiality, on the principles of liberty and equality. Discipline accordingly became more and more relaxed; and the dissolution of several of the old corps, under the pretext of their being tainted with an aristocratic feeling, aggravated the confusion and inefficiency of the war department. Many of the most effective regiments during the last period of the monarchy had consisted of foreigners. These had either been slaughtered in defence of the throne against insurrections, like the Swiss; or had been disbanded, and had crossed the frontier to recruit the forces which were assembling for the invasion of France. Above all, the emigration of the noblesse had stripped the French army of nearly all its officers of high rank, and of the greatest portion of its subalterns. Above twelve thousand of the high-born youth of France, who had been trained to regard military command as their exclusive patrimony, and to whom the nation had been accustomed to look up as its natural guides and champions in the storm of war, were now marshalled beneath the banner of Condé and the other emigrant princes, for the overthrow of the French armies, and the reduction of the French capital Their successors in the French regiments and brigades had as yet acquired neither skill nor experience; they possessed neither self-reliance, nor the respect of the men who were under them.
Such was the state of the wrecks of the old army; but the bulk of the forces with which France began the war, consisted of raw insurrectionary levies, which were even less to be depended on. The Carmagnoles, as the revolutionary volunteers were called, flocked, indeed, readily to the frontier from every department when the war was proclaimed, and the fierce leaders of the Jacobins shouted that the country was in danger. They were full of zeal and courage, "heated and excited by the scenes of the Revolution, and inflamed by the florid eloquence, the songs, dances, and signal-words with which it had been celebrated." But they were utterly undisciplined, and turbulently impatient of superior authority, or systematic control. Many ruffians, also, who were sullied with participation in the most sanguinary horrors of Paris, joined the camps, and were pre-eminent alike for misconduct before the enemy, and for savage insubordination against their own officers. On one occasion during the campaign of Valmy, eight battalions of federates, intoxicated with massacre and sedition, joined the forces under Dumouriez, and soon threatened to uproot all discipline, saying openly that the ancient officers were traitors, and that it was necessary to purge the army, as they had Paris, of its aristocrats. Dumouriez posted these battalions apart from the others, placed a strong force of cavalry behind them, and two pieces of cannon on their flank. Then, affecting to review them, he halted at the head of the line, surrounded by all his staff, and an escort of a hundred hussars. "Fellows," said he, "for I will not call you either citizens or soldiers, you see before you this artillery, behind you this cavalry; you are stained with crimes, and I do not tolerate here assassins or executioners. I know that there are scoundrels amongst you charged to excite you to crime. Drive them from amongst you, or denounce them to me, for I shall hold you responsible for their conduct."
One of our recent historians of the Revolution, regard military command as their exclusive patrimony, and to whom the nation had been accustomed to look up as its natural guides and champions in the storm of war, were now marshalled beneath the banner of Condé and the other emigrant princes, for the overthrow of the French armies, and the reduction of the French capital. Their successors in the French regiments and brigades had as yet acquired neither skill nor experience; they possessed neither self-reliance, nor the respect of the men who were under them.
Such was the state of the wrecks of the old army; but the bulk of the forces with which France began the war, consisted of raw insurrectionary levies, which were even less to be depended on. The Carmagnoles, as the revolutionary volunteers were called, flocked, indeed, readily to the frontier from every department when the war was proclaimed, and the fierce leaders of the Jacobins shouted that the country was in danger. They were full of zeal and courage, "heated and excited by the scenes of the Revolution, and inflamed by the florid eloquence, the songs, dances, and signal-words with which it had been celebrated." But they were utterly undisciplined, and turbulently impatient of superior authority, or systematic control. Many ruffians, also, who were sullied with participation in the most sanguinary horrors of Paris, joined the camps, and were pre-eminent alike for misconduct before the enemy, and for savage insubordination against their own officers. On one occasion during the campaign of Valmy, eight battalions of federates, intoxicated with massacre and sedition, joined the forces under Dumouriez, and soon threatened to uproot all discipline, saying openly that the ancient officers were traitors, and that it was necessary to purge the army, as they had Paris, of its aristocrats. Dumouriez posted these battalions apart from the others, placed a strong force of cavalry behind them, and two pieces of cannon on their flank. Then, affecting to review them, he halted at the head of the line, surrounded by all his staff, and an escort of a hundred hussars. "Fellows," said he, "for I will not call you either citizens or soldiers, you see before you this artillery, behind you this cavalry; you are stained with crimes, and I do not tolerate here assassins or executioners. I know that there are scoundrels amongst you charged to excite you to crime. Drive them from amongst you, or denounce them to me, for I shall hold you responsible for their conduct."*
One of our recent historians of the Revolution,
- Lamartine. disciplined army for the invasion of France, which for numbers, equipment, and martial renown both of generals and men, was equal to any that Germany had ever sent forth to conquer. Their design was to strike boldly and decisively at the heart of France, and penetrating the country through the Ardennes, to proceed by Chalons upon Paris. The obstacles that lay in their way seemed insignificant. The disorder and imbecility of the
French armies had been even augmented by the forced flight of La Fayette, and a sudden change of generals. The only troops posted on or near the track by which the allies were about to advance, were the twenty-three thousand men at Sedan, whom La Fayette had commanded, and a corps of twenty thousand near Metz, the command of which had just been transferred from Luckner to Kellerman. There were only three fortresses which it was necessary for the allies to capture or mask — Sedan, Longwy, and Verdun. The defences and stores of all these three were known to be wretchedly dismantled and insufficient; and when once these feeble barriers were overcome, and Chalons reached, a fertile and unprotected country seemed to invite the invaders to that "military promenade to Paris," which they gaily talked of accomplishing.
At the end of July the allied army, having fully completed all preparations for the campaign, broke up from its cantonments, and marching from Luxembourg upon Longwy, crossed the French frontier. Sixty thousand Prussians, trained in the school, and many of them under the eye of the Oreat Frederick, heirs of the glories of the Seven Years War, and universally esteemed the best troops in Europe, marched in one column against the central point of attack. Forty-five thousand Austrians, the greater part of whom were picked troops, and had served in the recent Turkish war, supplied two formidable corps that supported the flanks of the Prussians. There was also a powerful body of Hessians; and, leagued with the Germans against the Parisian democracy, came fifteen thousand of the noblest and the bravest amongst the sons of France. In these corps of emigrants, many of the highest born of the French nobility, scions of houses whose chivalric trophies had for centuries filled Europe with renown, served as rank and file. They looked on the road to Paris as the path which they were to carve out by their swords to victory, to honour, to the rescue of their king, to reunion with their families, to the recovery of their patrimony, and to the restoration of their order.
Over this imposing army the Allied Sovereigns placed as generalissimo the Duke of Brunswick, one of the minor reigning princes of Germany, a statesman of no mean capacity, and who had acquired in the Seven Years War a military reputation second only to that of the Great Frederick himself. He had been deputed a few years before to quell the popular movements which then took place in Holland; and he had put down the attempted revolution in that country with a promptitude and completeness, which appeared to augur equal success to the army that now marched under bis orders on a similar mission into France.
Moving majestically forward, with leisurely deliberation, that seemed to show the consciousness of superior strength, and a steady purpose of doing their work thoroughly, the Allies appeared before Longwy on the 20th of August, and the dispirited and despondent garrison opened the gates of that fortress to them after the first shower of bombs. On the 2nd of September the still more important strong-hold of Verdun capitulated after scarcely the shadow of resistance.
Brunswick's superior force was now interposed between Kellerman's troops on the left, and the other French army near Sedan, which La Fayette's flight had, for the time, left destitute of a commander. It was in the power of the German general, by striking with an overwhelming mass to the right and left, to crush in succession each of these weak armies, and the allies might then have marched irresistible and unresisted upon Paris. But at this crisis Dumouriez, the new commander-in-chief of the French, arrived at the camp near Sedan, and commenced a series of movements by which he reunited the dispersed and disorganized forces of his country, checked the Prussian columns at the very moment when the last obstacles to their triumph seemed to have given way, and finally rolled back the tide of invasion far across the enemy’s frontier.
The French fortresses had fallen; but nature herself still offered to brave and vigorous defenders of the land, the means of opposing a barrier to the progress of the allies. A ridge of broken ground, called the Argonne, extends from the vicinity of Sedan towards the south-west for about fifteen or sixteen leagues. The country of L'Argonne has now been cleared and drained; but in 1792 it was thickly wooded, and the lower portions of its unequal surface were filled with rivulets and marshes. It thus presented a natural barrier of from four or five leagues broad, which was absolutely impenetrable to an army, except by a few defiles, such as an inferior force might easily fortify and defend. Dumouriez succeeded in marching his army down from Sedan behind the Argonne, and in occupying its passes, while the Prussians still lingered on the north-eastern side of the forest line. Ordering Kellerman to wheel round from Metz to St. Menehould, and the reinforcements from the interior and extreme north also to concentrate at that spot, Dumouriez trusted to assemble a powerful force in the rear of the south-west extremity of the Argonne, while with the twenty-five thousand men under his immediate command, he held the enemy at bay before the passes, or forced him to a long circumvolution round one extremity of the forest ridge, during which, favourable opportunities of assailing his flank were almost certain to occur. Dumouriez fortified the principal defiles, and boasted of the Thermopylae which he had found for the invaders; but the simile was nearly rendered fatally complete for the defending force. A pass, which was thought of inferior importance, had been but slightly manned, and an Austrian corps under Clairfayt, forced it after some sharp fighting. Dumouriez with great difficulty saved himself from being enveloped and destroyed by the hostile columns that now pushed through the forest. But instead of despairing at the failure of his plans, and falling back into the interior, to be completely severed from Kellerman's army, to be hunted as a fugitive under the walls of Paris by the victorious Germans, and to lose all chance of ever rallying his dispirited troops, be resolved to cling to the difficult country in which the armies still were grouped, to force a junction with Kellerman, and so to place himself at the bead of a force which the invaders would not dare to disregard, and by which he might drag them back from the advance on Paris, which he had not been able to bar. Accordingly, by a rapid movement to the south, during which, in his own words, "France was within a hair's-breadth of destruction," and after with difficulty checking several panics of his troops, in which they ran by thousands at the sight of a few Prussian hussars, Dumouriez succeeded in establishing his headquarters in a strong position at St. Menehould, protected by the marshes and shallows of the rivers Aisne and Aube, beyond which, to the north-west, rose a firm and elevated plateau, called Dampierre's camp, admirably situated for commanding the road by Chalons to Paris, and where he intended to post Kellerman's army so soon as it came up. The news of the retreat of Dumouriez from the Argonne passes, and of the panic flight of some divisions of his troops, spread rapidly throughout the country, and Kellerman, who believed that his comrade's army had been annihilated, and feared to fall among the victorious masses of the Prussians, had halted on his march from Metz when almost close to St Menehould. He had actually commenced a retrograde movement, when couriers from his commander-in-chief checked him from that fatal course ; and then continuing to wheel round the rear and left flank of the troops at St. Menehould, Kellerman, with twenty thousand of the army of Metz, and some thousands of volunteer, who had joined him in the march, made his appearance to the west of Dumouriez, on the very evening when Westerman and Thouvenot, two of the staff-officers of Dumouriez, galloped in with the tidings that Brunswick's army had come through the upper passes of the Argonne in full force, and was deploying on the heights of La Lune, a chain of eminences that stretch obliquely from south-west to north-east, opposite the high ground which Dumouriez held, and also opposite, but at a shorter distance from the position which Kellerman was designed to occupy.
The Allies were now, in fact, nearer to Paris than were the French troops themselves; but, as Dumouriez had foreseen, Brunswick deemed it unsafe to march upon the capital with so large a hostile force left in his rear between his advancing columns and his base of operations. The young King of Prussia, who was in the allied camp, and the emigrant princes eagerly advocated an instant attack upon the nearest French general. Kellerman had laid himself unnecessarily open, by advancing beyond Dampierre's camp, which Dumouriez had designed for him, and moving forward across the Aube to the plateau of Valmy, a post inferior in strength and space to that which he had left, and which brought him close upon the Prussian lines, leaving him separatedy by a dangerous interval from the troops under Dumouriez himself. It seemed easy for the Prussian army to overwhelm him while thus isolated, and then they might surround and crush Dumouriez at their leisure.Accordingly the right wing of the allied army moved forward in the grey of the morning of the 20th of September, to gain Kellerman's left flank and rear, and cut him off from retreat upon Chalons, while the rest of the army, moving from the heights of La Lune, which here converge semi-circularly round the plateau of Valmy, were to assail his position in front, and interpose between him and Dumouriez. An unexpected collision between some of the advanced cavalry on each side in the low ground, warned Kellerman of the enemy’s approach. Dumouriez had not been unobservant of the danger of his comrade, thus isolated and involved; and he had ordered up troops to support Kellerman on either flank in the event of his being attacked. These troops, however, moved forward slowly; and Kellerman's army ranged on the plateau of Valmy, projected like a cape into the midst of the lines of the Prussian bayonets." A thick autumnal mist floated in waves of vapour over the plains and ravines that lay between the two armies, leaving only the crests and peaks of the hills glittering in the early light. About ten o'clock the fog began to clear off, and then the French from their promontory saw emerging from the white wreaths of mist, and glittering in the sunshine, the countless Prussian cavalry which were to envelope them as in a net, if once driven from their position, the solid columns of the infantry that moved forward as if animated by a single will, the bristling batteries of the artillery, and the glancing clouds of the Austrian light troops, fresh from their contests with the Spahis of the east.
The best and bravest of the French must have beheld this spectacle with secret apprehension and awe. However bold and resolute a man may be in the discharge of duty, it is an anxious and fearful thing to be-called on to encounter danger among comrades of whose steadiness you can feel no certainty. Each soldier of Kellerman's army must have remembered the series of panic routs which had hitherto invariably taken place on the French side during the war; and must have cast restless glances to the right and left, to see if any s3nnptoms of wavering began to show themselves, and to calculate how long it was likely to be before a general rush of his comrades to the rear would either hurry him off with involuntary disgrace, or leave him alone and helpless to be cut down by assailing multitudes.
On that very morning, and at the self-same hour, in which the allied forces and the emigrants began to descend from La Lune to the attack of Valmy, and while the cannonade was opening between the Prussian and the Revolutionary batteries, the debate in the National Convention at Paris commenced on the proposal to proclaim France a Republic.
The old monarchy had little chance of support in the ball of the Convention; but if its more effective advocates at Valmy had triumphed, there were yet the elements existing in France for an effective revival of the better part of the ancient institutions, and for substituting Reform for Revolution. Only a few weeks before, numerously signed addresses from the middle classes in Paris, Rouen, and other large cities, had been presented to the king expressive of their horror of the anarchists, and their readiness to uphold the rights of the crown, together with the liberties of the subject. And an armed resistance to the authority of the Convention, and in favour of the king, was in reality at this time being actively organised in La Vendee and Britanny, the importance of which may be estimated from the formidable opposition which the Royalists of these provinces made to the Republican party, at a later period, and under much more disadvantageous circumstances. It is a fact peculiarly illustrative of the importance of the battle of Valmy, that "during the summer of 1792, the gentlemen of Britanny entered into an extensive association for the purpose of rescuing the country from the oppressive yoke which had been imposed by the Parisian demagogues. At the head of the whole was the Marquis de la Rouarie, one of those remarkable men who rise into eminence during the stormy days of a revolution, from conscious ability to direct its current. Ardent, impetuous, and enthusiastic, he was first distinguished in the American war, when the intrepidity of his conduct attracted the admiration of the Republican troops, and the same qualities rendered him at first an ardent supporter of the Revolution in France; but when the atrocities of the people began, he espoused with equal warmth the opposite side, and used the utmost efforts to rouse the noblesse of Brittany against the plebeian yoke which had been imposed upon them by the National Assembly. He submitted his plan to the Count d'Artois, and had organised one so extensive as would have proved extremely formidable to the Convention, if the retreat of the Duke of Brunswick, in September, 1792, had not damped the ardour of the whole of the west of France, then ready to break out into insurrection."
And it was not only among the zealots of the old monarchy that the cause of the king would then have found friends. The ineffable atrocities of the September massacres had just occurred, and the reaction produced by them among thousands who had previously been active on the ultra-democratic side, was fresh and powerful. The nobility had not yet been made utter aliens in the eyes of the nation by long expatriation and civil war. There was not yet a generation of youth educated in revolutionary principles, and knowing no worship save that of military glory. Louis XVI. was just and humane, and deeply sensible of the necessity of a gradual extension of political rights among all classes of his subjects. The Bourbon throne, if rescued in 1792, would have had the chances of stability such as did not exist for it in 1814, and seem never likely to be found again in France.
Serving under Kellerman on that day was one who experienced, perhaps the most deeply of all men, the changes for good and for evil which the French Revolution has produced. He who, in his second exile, bore the name of the Count de Neuilly in this country, and who lately was Louis Philippe King of the French, figured in the French lines at Valmy as a young and gallant officer, cool and sagacious beyond his years, and trusted accordingly by Kellerman and Dumouriez with an important station in the national army. The Duc de Chartres (the title he then bore) commanded the French right, General Valence was on the left, and Kellerman himself took his post in the centre, which was the strength and key of his position.
Besides these celebrated men, who were in the French army, and besides the King of Prussia, the Duke of Brunswick, and other men of rank and power, who were in the lines of the Allies, there was an individual present at the battle of Valmy, of little political note, but who has exercised, and exercises, a greater influence over the human mind, and whose fame is more widely spread than that of either duke, or general, or king. This was the German poet Göthe, then in early youth, and who had, out of curiosity, accompanied the allied army on its march into France as a mere spectator. He has given us a curious record of the sensations which he experienced during the cannonade. It must be remembered, that many thousands in the French ranks then, like Gothe, felt the "cannon-fever" for the first time. The German poet says,—
"I had heard so much of the cannon-fever, and I wanted to know what kind of thing it was. Ennui, and a spirit which every kind of danger excites to daring, nay even to rashness, induced me to ride up quite coolly to the outwork of La Lune. This was again occupied by our people; but it presented the wildest aspect. The roofs were shot to pieces, the cornshocks scattered about, the bodies of men mortally wounded stretched upon them here and there, and, occasionally, a spent cannon-ball fell and rattled among the ruins of the tile roofs. "Quite alone, and left to myself, I rode away on the heights to the left, and could plainly survey the favourable position of the French ; they were standing in the form of a semicircle, in the greatest quiet and security; Kellerman, then on the left wing, being the easiest to reach.
"I fell in with good company on the way, officers of my acquaintance, belonging to the general staff and the regiment, greatly surprised to find me here. They wanted to take me back again with them ; but I spoke to them of particular objects I had in view, and they left me, without further dissuasion, to my well-known singular caprice.
"I had now arrived quite in the region where the balls were playing across me: the sound of them is curious enough, as if it were composed of the humming of tops, the gurgling of water, and the whistling of birds. They were less dangerous by reason of the wetness of the ground; wherever one fell, it stuck fast. And thus my foolish experimental ride was secured against the danger at least of the balls rebounding.
"In the midst of these circumstances, I was soon able to remark that something unusual was taking place within me. I paid close attention to it, and still the sensation can be described only by similitude. It appeared as if you were in some extremely hot place, and, at the same time, quite penetrated by the heat of it, so that you feel yourself, as it were, quite one with the element in which you are. The eyes lose nothing of their strength or clearness; but it is as if the world had a kind of brown-red tint, which makes the situation, as well as the surrounding objects, more impressive. I was unable to perceive any agitation of the blood; but everything seemed rather to be swallowed up in the glow of which I speak. From this, then, it is clear in what sense this condition can be called a fever. It is remarkable, however, that the horrible uneasy feeling arising from it, is produced in us solely through the ears. For the cannon thunder, the howling, and crashing of the balls through the air, is the real cause of these sensations.
"After I had ridden back, and was in perfect security, I remarked, with surprise, that the glow was completely extinguished, and not the slightest feverish agitation was left behind. On the whole, this condition is one of the least desirable; as, indeed, among my dear and noble comrades, I found scarcely one who expressed a really passionate desire to try it."Contrary to the expectations of both friends and foes, the French infantry held their ground steadily under the fire of the Prussian guns, which thundered on them from La Lune; and their own artillery replied with equal spirit and greater effect on the denser masses of the allied army. Thinking that the Prussians were slackening in their fire, Kellerman formed a column in charging order, and dashed down into the valley in the hopes of capturing some of the nearest guns of the enemy. A masked battery opened its fire on the French column, and drove it back in disorder, Kellerman having his horse shot under him, and being with difficulty carried off by his men. The Prussian columns now advanced in turn. The French artillerymen began to waver and desert their posts, but were rallied by the efforts and example of their officers, and Kellerman, reorganising the line of his infantry, took his station in the ranks on foot, and called out to his men to let the enemy come close up, and then to charge them with the bayonet. The troops caught the enthusiasm of their general, and a cheerful shout of Vive la nation, taken up by one battalion from another, pealed across the valley to the assailants. The Prussians hesitated from a charge up hill against a force that seemed so resolute and formidable; they halted for a while in the hollow, and then slowly retreated up their own side of the valley.
Indignant at being thus repulsed by such a foe, the King of Prussia formed the flower of his men in person, and, riding along the column, bitterly reproached them with letting their standard be thus humiliated. Then he led them on again to the attack, marching in the front line, and seeing his staff mowed down around him by the deadly fire which the French artillery reopened. But the troops sent by Dumouriez were now co-operating effectually with Kellerman, and that general's own men, flushed by success, presented a firmer front than ever. Again the Prussians retreatedt leaving eight hundred dead behind, and at nightfall the French remained victors on the heights of Valmy.
All hopes of crushing the Revolutionary armies, and of the promenade to Paris, had now vanished, though Brunswick lingered long in the Argonne, till distress and sickness wasted away his once splendid force, and finally but a mere wreck of it recrossed the frontier. France, meanwhile, felt that she possessed a giant's strength, and, like a giant, did she use it Before the close of that year all Belgium obeyed the National Convention at Paris, and the Kings of Europe, after the lapse of eighteen centuries, trembled once more before a conquering military Republic.
Gbthe's description of the cannonade has been quoted. His observation to his comrades, and the camp of the Allies at the end of the battle, deserves quotation also. It shows that the poet felt (and, probably, he alone of the thousands there assembled felt) the full importance of that day. He describes the consternation and the change of demeanour, which he observed among his Prussian friends that evening. He tells us that "most of them were silent : and, in fact, the power of reflection and judgment was wanting to all. At last I was called upon to say what I thought of the engagement; for I had been in the habit of enlivening and amusing the troop with short sayings. This time I said: 'From this place, and from this day forth, commences a new era in the world's history: and you can all say that you were present at its birth.' "
Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Valmy, 1792, and the Battle of Waterloo, 1815.
A.D. 1793. Trial and execution of Louis XVI., at Paris. England and Spain declare war against France. Royalist war in La Vendée. Second invasion of France by the Allies.
1794. Lord Howe's victory over. the French fleet. Final partition of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
1795. The French armies, under Pichegru, conquer Holland. Cessation of the war in La Vendée.
1796. Bonaparte commands the French army of Italy, and gains repeated victories over the Austrians.
1797. Victory of Jervis, off Cape St. Vincent. Peace of Campo Formio between France and Austria. Defeat of the Dutch off Camperdown, by Admiral Duncan.
1798. Rebellion in Ireland. Expedition of the French under Bonaparte to Egypt. Lord Nelson destroys the French fleet at the battle of the Nile.
1799. Renewal of the war between Austria and France. The Russian Emperor sends an army in aid of Austria, under Suwarrow. The French are repeatedly defeated in Italy. Bonaparte returns from Egypt and makes himself First Consul of France. Massena wins the battle of Zurich. The Russian Emperor makes peace with France.
1800. Bonaparte passes the Alps, and defeats the Austrians at Marengo. Moreau wins the battle of Hohenlinden.
1801. Treaty of Luneville, between France and Austria. The battle of Copenhagen.
1802. Peace of Amiens. 1803. War between England and France renewed.
1804. Napoleon Bonaparte is made Emperor of France.
1805. Great preparations of Napoleon to invade England. Austria, supported by Russia, renews war with France. Na|>oleon marches into Germany, takes Vienna, and gains the battle of Austerlitz. Lord Nelson destroys the combined French and Spanish fleets, and is killed at the battle of Trafalgar.
1806. War between Prussia and France. Napoleon conquers Prussia at the battle of Jena.
1807. Obstinate warfare between the French and Prussian armies in East Prussia and Poland. Peace of Tilsit.
1808. Napoleon endeavours to make his brother King of Spain. Rising of the Spanish nation against him. England sends troops to aid the Spaniards. Battle of Vimiera and Corunna.
1809. War renewed between France and Austria. Battles of Aspeme and Wagram. Peace granted to Austria. Lord Wellington's victory of Talavera, in Spain.
1810. Marriage of Napoleon and the Archduchess Maria Louisa. Holland annexed to France.
1812. War between England and the United States. Napoleon invades Russia. Battle of Borodino. The French occupy Moscow, which is burned. Disastrous retreat and almost total destruction of the great army of France.
1813. Prussia and Austria take up arms again against France. Battles of Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Culm, and Leipsic. The French are driven out of Germany. Lord Wellington gains the great battle of Vittoria, which completes the rescue of Spain from France.1814. The Allies invade France on the eastern, and Lord Wellington invades it on the southern frontier. Battles of Laon, Montmirail, Arcis-sur Aube, and others in the north-east of France; and of Toulouse in the south. Paris surrenders to the Allies, and Napoleon abdicates. First restoration of the Bourbons. Napoleon goes to the Isle of Elba, which is assigned to him by the Allies. Treaty of Ghent, between the United States and England.
BATTLE OF WATERLOO, 1815.
Thou first and last of fields, king-making victory!
England has now been blest with thirty-six years of peace. At no other period of her history can a similarly long cessation from a state of warfare be found. It is true that our troops have had battles to fight during this interval for the protection and extension of our Indian possessions and our colonies; but these have been with distant and unimportant enemies. The danger has never been brought near our own shores, and no matter of vital importance to our empire has ever been at stake. We have not had hostilities with either France, America, or Russia; and when not at war with any of our peers, we feel ourselves to be substantially at peace. There has, indeed, throughout this long period, been no great war, like those with which the previous history of modern Europe abounds. There have been formidable collisions between particular states; and there have been still more formidable collisions between the armed champions of the conflicting principles of absolutism and democracy; but there has been no general war, like those of the French Revolution, like the American, or the Seven Years War, or like the war of the Spanish Succession. It would be far too much to augur from this, that no similar wars will again convulse the world; but the value of the period of peace which Europe has gained, is incalculable, even if we look on it as only a long truce, and expect again to see the nations of the earth recur to what some philosophers have termed man's natural state of warfare.
No equal number of years can be found, during which, science, commerce, and civilisation have advanced so rapidly and so extensively as has been the case since 1815. When we trace their progress, especially in this country, it is impossible not to feel, that their wondrous development has been mainly due to the land having been at peace. Their good effects cannot be obliterated, even if a series of wars were to recommence. When we reflect on this, and contrast these thirty-six years with the period that preceded them,—a period of violence, of tumult, of unrestingly destructive energy,—a period, throughout which the wealth of nations was scattered like sand, and the blood of nations lavished like water; it is impossible not to look with deep interest on the final crisis of that dark and dreadful epoch; the crisis out of which our own happier cycle of years has been evolved. The great battle which ended the twenty-three years' war of the first French Revolution, and which quelled the man whose genius and ambition had so long disturbed and desolated the world, deserves to be regarded by us, not only with peculiar pride, as one of our greatest national victories, but with peculiar gratitude for the repose which it secured for us, and for the greater part of the human race.
One good test for determining the importance of Waterloo, is to ascertain what was felt by wise and prudent statesmen before that battle, respecting the return of Napoleon from Elba to the Imperial throne of France, and the probable effects of his success. For this purpose, I will quote the words, not of any of our vehement Anti-Gallican politicians of the school of Pitt, but of a leader of our Liberal party, of a man whose reputation as a jurist, a historian, and a far-sighted and candid statesman, was, and is, deservedly high, not only in this country, but throughout Europe. Sir James Mackintosh said of the return from Elba,— "Was it in the power of language to describe the evil? Wars which had raged for more than twenty years throughout Europe; which had spread blood and desolation from Cadiz to Moscow, and from Naples to Copenhagen; which had wasted the means of human enjoyment, and destroyed the instruments of social improvement; which threatened to diffuse among the European nations, the dissolute and ferocious habits of a predatory soldiery,—at length, by one of those vicissitudes which bid defiance to the foresight of man, had been brought to a close, upon the whole, happy, beyond all reasonable expectation, with no violent shock to national independence, with some tolerable compromise between the opinions of the age and the reverence due to ancient institutions; with no too signal or mortifying triumph over the legitimate interests or avowable feelings of any numerous body of men, and, above all, without those retaliations against nations or parties which beget new convulsions, often as horrible as those which they close, and perpetuate revenge and hatred and blood, from age to age. Europe seemed to breathe after her sufferings. In the midst of this fair prospect, and of these consolatory hopes. Napoleon Buonaparte escaped from Elba; three small vessels reached the coast of Provence; their hopes are instantly dispelled; the work of our toil and fortitude is undone; the blood of Europe is spilt in vain—
’Ibi omnis effusus labor!'"
The exertions which the Allied Powers made at this crisis to grapple promptly with the French emperor, have truly been termed gigantic; and never were Napoleon's genius and activity more signally displayed, than in the celerity and skill by which he brought forward all the military resources of France, which the reverses of the three preceding years, and the pacific policy of the Bourbons, during the months of their first restoration, had greatly diminished and disorganised. He re-entered Paris on the 20th of March, and by the end of May, besides sending a force into La Vendée to put down the armed risings of the royalists in that province, and besides providing troops under Massena and Suchet for the defence of the southern frontiers of France, Napoleon had an army assembled in the north-east for active operations under his own command, which amounted to between one hundred and twenty and one hundred and thirty thousand men,with a superb park of artillery, and in the highest possible state of equipment, discipline, and efficiency.
The approach of the many Russians, Austrians, Bavarians, and other foes of the French emperor to the Rhine was necessarily slow; but the two most active of the allied powers had occupied Belgium with their troops, while Napoleon was organizing his forces. Marshal Blucher was there with one hundred and sixteen thousand Prussians, and the Duke of Wellington was there also with about one hundred and six thousand troops, either British or in British pay. Napoleon determined to attack these enemies in Belgium. The disparity of numbers was indeed great, but delay was sure to increase the number of his enemies much faster than reinforcements could join his own ranks. He considered also that "the enemy's troops were cantoned under the command of two generals, and composed of nations differing both in interest and in feelings." His own army was under his own sole command. It was composed exclusively of French soldiers, mostly of veterans, well acquainted with their officers and with each other, and full of enthusiastic confidence in their commander. If he could separate the Prussians from the British, so as to attack each in detail, he felt sanguine of success, not only against these the most resolute of his many adversaries, but also against the other masses that were slowly labouring up against his south-eastern frontiers.
The triple chain of strong fortresses which the French possessed on the Belgian frontier, formed a curtain, behind which Napoleon was able to concentrate his army, and to conceal till the very last moment the precise line of attack which he intended to take. On the other hand, Blucher and Wellington were obliged to canton their troops along a line of open country of considerable length, so as to watch for the outbreak of Napoleon from whichever point of his chain of strongholds he should please to make it. Blucher, with his army, occupied the banks of the Sambre and the Meuse, from Liege on his left, to Charleroi on his right; and the Duke of Wellington covered Brussels; his cantonments being partly in front of that city, and between it and the French frontier; and partly on its west; their extreme right being at Courtray and Tournay, while their left approached Charleroi and communicated with the Prussian right. It was upon Charleroi that Napoleon resolved to level his attack, in hopes of severing the two allied armies from each other, and then pursuing his favourite tactic of assailing each separately with a superior force on the battle-field, though the aggregate of their numbers considerably exceeded his own.
On the 15th of June the French army was suddenly in motion, and crossed the frontier in three columns which were pointed upon Charleroi and its vicinity. The French line of advance upon Brussels, which city Napoleon resolved to occupy, thus lay right through the centre of the line of the cantonments of the Allies. The Prussian general rapidly concentrated his forces, calling them in from the left, and the English general concentrated his, calling them in from the right towards the menaced centre of the combined position. On the morning of the 16th, Blucher was in position at Ligny, to the north-east of Charleroi, with eighty thousand men. Wellington's troops were concentrating at Quatre Bras, which lies due north of Charleroi, and is about nine miles from Ligny. On the 16th, Napoleon in person attacked Blucher, and, after a long and obstinate battle, defeated him, and compelled the Prussian army to retire northward towards Wavre. On the same day, Marshal Ney, with a large part of the French army, attacked the English troops at Quatre Bras, and a very severe engagement took place, in which Ney failed in defeating the British, but succeeded in preventing their sending any help to Blucher, who was being beaten by the emperor at Ligny. On the news of Blucher's defeat at Ligny reaching Wellington, he foresaw that the emperor's army would now be directed upon him, and he accordingly retreated in order to restore his communications with his ally, which would have been dislocated by the Prussians fidling back from Ligny to Wavre, if the English had remained in advance at Quatre Bras. During the 17th, therefore, Wellington retreated, being pursued, but little molested by the main French army, over about half the space between Quatre Bras and Brussels. This brought him again parallel, on a line running from west to east, with Blucher, who was at Wavre. Having ascertained that the Prussian army though beaten on the 16th, was not broken, and having received a promise from its general to march to his assistance, Wellington determined to halt, and to give battle to the French Emperor, in the position, which from a village in its neighbourhood has received the ever memorable name of the field of Waterloo.
Sir Walter Scott, in his "Life of Napoleon," remarks of Waterloo that "the scene of this celebrated action must be familiar to most readers either from description or recollection." The narratives of Sir Walter himself, of Alison, Gleig, Siborne, and others, must have made the events of the battle almost equally well known. I might. perhaps, content myself with referring to their pages, and avoid the difficult task of dealing with a subject, which has already been discussed so copiously, so clearly, and so eloquently by others. In particular, the description by Captain Siborne of the Waterloo campaign, is so full and so minute, so scrupulously accurate, and at the same time so spirited and graphic, that it will long defy the competition of far abler pens than mine. I shall only aim at giving a general idea of the main features of this great event, of this discrowning and crowning victory.
When, after a very hard-fought and a long-doubtful day, Napoleon had succeeded in driving back the Prussian army from Ligny, and had resolved on marching himself to assail the English, he sent, on the 17th, Marshal Grouchy with thirty thousand men, to pursue the defeated Prussians, and to prevent their marching to aid the Duke of Wellington. Great recriminations passed afterwards between the marshal and the emperor, as to how this duty was attempted to be performed, and the reasons why Grouchy failed on the 18th to arrest the lateral movement of the Prussian troops from Wavre towards Waterloo. It may be sufficient to remark here, that Grouchy was not sent in pursuit of Blucher till late on the 17th, and that the force given to him was insufficient to make head against the whole Prussian army; for Blucher’s men, though they were beaten back, and suffered severe loss at Ligny, were neither routed nor disheartened; and they were joined at Wavre by a large division of their comrades under General Bulow, who had taken no part in the battle of the 16th, and who were fresh for the march to Waterloo against the French on the 18th. But the failure of Grouchy was in truth mainly owing to the indomitable heroism of Blucher himself, who, though severely injured in the battle at Ligny, was as energetic and active as ever in bringing his men into action again, and who had the resolution to expose a part of his army, under Thielman, to be overwhelmed by Grouchy at Wavre on the 18th, while he urged the march of the mass of his troops upon Waterloo. "It is not at Wavre, but at Waterloo," said the old field-marshal, "that the campaign is to be decided;" and he risked a detachment, and won the campaign accordingly. Wellington and Blucher trusted each other as cordially, and co-operated as zealously, at formerly had been the case with Marlborough and Eugene. It was in full reliance on Blucher's promise to join him, that the duke stood his ground and fought at Waterloo; and those who have ventured to impugn the duke's capacity as a general, ought to have bad common sense enough to perperceive, that to charge the duke with having won the battle of Waterloo by the help of the Prussians, is really to say that he won it by the very means on which he relied, and without the expectation of which the battle would not have been fought.
Napoleon himself has found fault with Wellington for not having retreated beyond Waterloo. The short answer may be, that the duke had reason to expect that his army could singly resist the French at Waterloo until the Prussians came up, and that, on the Prussians joining, there would be a sufficient force, united under himself and Blucher, for completely overwhelming the enemy. And while Napoleon thus censures his great adversary, he involuntarily bears the highest possible testimony to the military character of the English, and proves decisively of what paramount importance was the battle to which he challenged his fearless opponent. Napoleon asks, "If the English army had been beaten at Waterloo, what would have been the use of those numerous bodies of troops, of Prussians, Austrians, Germans, and Spaniards, which were advancing by forced marches to the Rhine, the Alps and the Pyrenees?"
The strength of the army under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo was 49,608 infantry, 12,402 cavalry, and 5,645 artillerymen with 156 guns. But of this total of 67,655 men, scarcely 24,000 were British, a circumstance of very serious importance, if Napoleon's own estimate of the relative value of troops of different nations is to be taken. In the emperor's own words, speaking of this campaign, "A French soldier would not be equal to more than one English soldier, but he would not be afraid to meet two Dutchmen, Prussians, or soldiers of the Confederation." There were about 6,000 men of the old German Legion, with the duke; these were veteran troops, and of excellent quality. But the rest of the army was made up of Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Nassauers, Dutch and Belgians; many of whom were tried soldiers, and fought well; but many had been lately levied, and not a few were justly suspected of a strong wish to fight under the French eagles rather than against them.
Napoleon's army at Waterloo consisted of 48,950 infantry, 15,765 cavalry, 7,232 artillery men, being a total of 71,947 men, and 246 guns.They were the elite of the national forces of France; and of all the numerous gallant armies which that martial land has poured forth, never was there one braver, or better disciplined, or better led, than the host that took up its position at Waterloo on the morning of the 18th of June, 1815.Perhaps those who have not seen the field of battle at Waterloo, or the admirable model of the ground, and of the conflicting armies, which was executed by Captain Siborne, may gain a generally accurate idea of the localities, by picturing to themselves a valley between two and three miles long, of various breadths at different points, but generally not exceeding half a mile. On each side of the valley, there is a winding chain of low hills, running somewhat parallel with each other. The declivity from each of these ranges of hills to the intervening valley is gentle but not uniform, the undulations of the ground being frequent and considerable. The English army was posted on the northern, and the French army occupied the southern ridge. The artillery of each side thundered at the other from their respective heights throughout the day, and the charges of horse and foot were made across the valley that has been described. The village of Mont St. Jean is situate a little behind the centre of the northern chain of hills, and the village of La Belle Alliance is close behind the centre of the southern ridge. The high road from Charleroi to Brussels runs through both these
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villages, and bisects therefore both the English and the French positions. The line of this road was the line of Napoleon's intended advance on Brussels.
There are some other local particulars connected with the situation of each army, which it is necessary to bear in mind. The strength of the British position did not consist merely in the occupation of a ridge of high ground. A village and ravine, called Merk Braine, on the Duke of Wellington's extreme right, secured his flank from being turned on that side; and on his extreme left, two little hamlets called La Haye and Papelotte, gave a similar, though a slighter, protection. Behind the whole British position is the extensive forest of Soignies. As no attempt was made by the French to turn either of the English flanks, and the battle was a day of straightforward fighting, it is chiefly important to ascertain what posts there were in front of the British line of hills, of which advantage could be taken either to repel or facilitate an attack; and it will be seen that there were two, and that each was of very great importance in the action. In front of the British right, that is to say, on the northern slope of the valley towards its western end, there stood an old-fashioned Flemish farm-house called Goumont, or Hougoumont, with out-buildings and a garden, and with a copse of beech trees of about two acres in extent round it. This was strongly garrisoned by the allied troops; and while it was in their possession, it was difficult for the enemy to press on and force the British right wing. On the other hand, if the enemy could occupy it, it would be difficult for that wing to keep its ground on the heights, with a strong post held adversely in its immediate front, being one that would give much shelter to the enemy's marksmen, and great facilities for the sudden concentration of attacking columns. Almost immediately in front of the British centre, and not so far down the slope as Hougoumont, there was another farm-house, of a smaller size, called La Haye Sainte, which was also held by the British troops, and the occupation of which was found to be of very serious consequence.
With respect to the French position, the principal feature to be noticed is the village of Planchenoit, which lay a little in the rear of their right (i.e., on the eastern side), and which proved to be of great importance in aiding them to check the advance of the Prussians.
As has been already mentioned, the Prussians, on the morning of the 18th, were at Wavre, about twelve miles to the east of the field of battle at Waterloo. The junction of Bulow's division had more than made up for the loss sustained at Ligny; and leaving Thielman with about seventeen thousand men to hold his ground as he best could, against the attack which Grouchy was about to make on Wavre, Bulow and Blucher moved with the rest of the Prussians upon Waterloo. It was calculated that they would be there by three o'clock, but the extremely difficult nature of the ground which they had to traverse, rendered worse by the torrents of rain that had just fallen, delayed them long on their twelve miles' march.
The night of the 17th was wet and stormy; and when the dawn of the memorable 18th of June broke, the rain was still descending heavily. The French and British armies rose from their dreary bivouacs, and began to form, each on the high ground which it occupied. Towards nine the weather grew clearer, and each army was able to watch the position and arrangements of the other on the opposite side of the valley.
The Duke of Wellington drew up his infantry in two lines ; the second line being composed principally of Dutch and Belgian troops, whose fidelity was doubtful, and of those regiments of other nations which had suffered most severely at Quatre Bras on the 16th. This second line was posted on the northern declivity of the hills, so as to be sheltered from the French cannonade. The cavalry was stationed at intervals along the line in the rear, the largest force of horse being collected on the left of the centre, to the east of the Charleroi road. On the opposite heights the French army was drawn up in two general lines, with the entire force of the Imperial Guards, cavalry as well as infantry, in rear of the centre, as a reserve. English military critics have highly eulogized the admirable arrangement which Napoleon made of his forces of each arm, so as to give him the most ample means of sustaining, by an immediate and sufficient support, any attack, from whatever point he might direct it; and of drawing promptly .together a strong force, to resist any attack that might be made on himself in any part of the field. When his troops were all arrayed, he rode along the lines, receiving everywhere the most enthusiastic cheers from his men, of whose entire devotion to him his assurance was now doubly sure. On the northern side of the valley the duke's army was also arrayed, and ready to meet the menaced attack.
"The two armies were now fairly in presence of each other, and their mutual observation was governed by the most intense interest, and the most scrutinizing anxiety. In a still greater degree did these feelings actuate their commanders, while watching each other's preparatory movements, and minutely scanning the surface of the arena on which tactical skill, habitual prowess, physical strength, and moral courage were to decide, not alone their own, but, in all probability, the fate of Europe. Apart from national interests and considerations, and viewed solely in connection with the opposite characters of the two illustrious chiefs, the approaching contest was contemplated with anxious solicitude by the whole military world. Need this create surprise, when we reflect that the struggle was one for mastery between the far-famed conqueror of Italy, and the victorious liberator of the Peninsula; between the triumphant vanquisher of eastern Europe, and the bold and successful invader of the south of France! Never was the issue of a single battle looked forward to as involving consequences of such vast importance—of such universal influence."
It was approaching noon before the action commenced. Napoleon in his memoirs gives as the reason for this delay, the miry state of the ground through the heavy rain of the preceding night and day, which rendered it impossible for cavalry or artillery to manœuvre on it till a few hours of dry weather had given it its natural consistency. It has been supposed, also, that he trusted to the effect which the sight of the imposing array of his own forces was likely to produce on part of the allied army. The Belgian regiments had been tampered with; and Napoleon had well founded hopes of seeing them quit the Duke of Wellington in a body, and range themselves under his own eagles. The duke, however, who knew and did not trust them, had guarded against the risk of this, by breaking up the corps of Belgians, and distributing them in separate regiments among troops on whom he could rely.
At last, at about half-past eleven o'clock, Napoleon began the battle by directing a powerful force from his left wing under his brother, Prince Jerome, to attack Hougoumont. Column after column of the French now descended from the west of the southern heights, and assailed that post with fiery valour, which was encountered with the most determined bravery. The French won the copse round the house, but a party of the British Guards held the house itself through-out the day. Amid shell and shot, and the blazing fragments of part of the buildings, this obstinate contest was continued. But still the English held Hougoumont; though the French occasionally moved forward in such numbers as enabled them to surround and mask this post with part of their troops from their left wing, while others pressed on-ward up the slope, and assailed the British right.
The cannonade, which commenced at first between the British right and the French left, in consequence of the attack on Hougoumont, soon became general along both lines; and about one o'clock Napoleon directed a grand attack to be made under Marshal Ney upon the centre and left wing of the allied army. For this purpose four columns of infantry, amounting to about eighteen thousand men were collected, supported by a strong division of cavalry under the celebrated Kellerman, and seventy-four guns were brought forward ready to be posted on the ridge of a little undulation of the ground in the interval between the two main ranges of heights, so as to bring their fire to bear on the duke's line at a range of about seven hundred yards. By the combined assault of these formidable forces, led on by Ney, "the bravest of the brave," Napoleon hoped to force the left centre of the British position, to take La Haye Sainte, and then pressing forward to occupy also the farm of Mont St. Jean. He then could cut the mass of Wellington's troops off from their line of retreat upon Brussels, and from their own left, and also completely sever them from any Prussian troops that might be approaching.
The columns destined for this great and decisive operation descended majestically from the French range of hills, and gained the ridge of the intervening eminence, on which the batteries that supported them were now ranged. As the columns descended again from this eminence, the seventy-four guns opened over their heads with terrible effect upon the troops of the Allies that were stationed on the heights to the left of the Charleroi road. One of the French columns kept to the east, and attacked the extreme left of the Allies; the other three continued to move rapidly forwards upon the left centre of the allied position. The front line of the Allies here was composed of Bylant's brigade of Dutch and Belgians. As the French columns moved up the southward slope of the height on which the Dutch and Belgians stood, and the skirmishers in advance began to open their fire, Byland's entire brigade turned and fled in disgraceful and disorderly panic; but there were men more worthy of the name behind.
The second line of the Allies here consisted of two brigades of English infantry, which had suffered severely at Quatre Bras. But they were under Picton and not even Ney himself surpassed in resolute bravery that stern and fiery spirit. Picton brought his two brigades forward, side by side, in a thin two-deep line. Thus joined together, they were not three thousand strong. With these Picton had to make head against the three victorious French columns, upwards of four times that strength, and who, encouraged by the easy rout of the Dutch and Belgians, now came confidently over the ridge of the hill. The British infantry stood firm; and as the French halted and began to deploy into line, Picton seized the critical moment; a close and deadly volley was thrown in upon them, and then with a fierce hurrah the British dashed in with the bayonet. The French reeled back in confusion; and as they staggered down the hill a brigade of the English cavalry rode in on them, cutting them down by whole battalions, and taking two thousand prisoners. The British cavalry galloped forward and sabred the artillery men of Ney's seventy-four advanced guns; and then cutting the traces and the throats of the horses, rendered these guns totally useless to the French throughout the remainder of the day. In the excitement of success the English cavalry continued to press on; but were charged in their turn and driven back with severe loss by Milhaud's cuirassiers.
This great attack (in repelling which the brave Picton had fallen) had now completely failed: and at the same time a powerful body of French cuirassiers who were advancing along the right of the Charleroi road, had been fairly beaten after a close hand to hand fight by the heavy cavalry of the English household brigade. Hougoumont was still being assailed, and was still successfully resisting. Troops were now beginning to appear at the edge of the horizon on Napoleon's right, which he too well knew to be Prussian, though he endeavoured to persuade his followers that they were Grouchy's men coming to aid them. It was now about half-past three o'clock; and though Wellington's army had suffered severely by the unremitting cannonade, and in the late desperate encounter, no part of the British position had been forced. Napoleon next determined to try what effect he could produce on the British centre and right by charges of his splendid cavalry, brought on in such force that the duke's cavalry could not check them. Fresh troops were at the same time sent to assail La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont, the possession of these posts being the emperor's unceasing object. Squadron after squadron of the French cuirassiers accordingly ascended the slopes on the duke's right, and rode forward with dauntless courage against the batteries of the British artillery in that part of the field. The artillery-men were driven from their guns, and the cuirassiers cheered loudly at their supposed triumph. But the duke had formed his infantry in squares, and the cuirassiers charged in vain against the impenetrable hedges of bayonets, while the fire from the inner ranks of the squares told with terrible effect on their own squadrons. Time after time they rode forward with invariably the same result: and as they receded from each attack the British artillery-men rushed forward from the centres of the squares, where they had taken refuge, and plied their guns on the retiring horsemen. Nearly the whole of Napoleon's magnificent body of heavy cavalry was destroyed in these fruitless attempts upon the British right. But in another part of the field fortune favoured him for a time. Donzelot's infantry took La Haye Sainte between six and seven o'clock, and the means were now given for organising another formidable attack on the centre of the Allies.
There was no time to be lost—Blucher and Bulow were beginning to press upon the French right; as early as five o'clock Napoleon had been obliged to detach Lobau's infantry and Domont's horse to check these new enemies. This was done for a time; but as large numbers of the Prussians came on the field, they turned Lobau's left, and sent a strong force to seize the village of Planchenoit, which, it will be remembered, lay in the rear of the French right. Napoleon was now obliged to send his Young Guard to occupy that village, which was accordingly held by them with great gallantry against the reiterated assaults of the Prussian left under Bulow. But the force remaining under Napoleon was now numerically inferior to that under the Duke of Wellington, which he had been assailing throughout the day, without gaining any other advantage than the capture of La Haye Sainte. It is true that, owing to the gross misconduct of the greater part of the Dutch and Belgian troops, the duke was obliged to rely exclusively on his English and German soldiers, and the ranks of these had been fearfully thinned; but the survivors stood their ground heroically, and still opposed a resolute front to every forward movement of their enemies. Napoleon had then the means of effecting a retreat. His Old Guard had yet taken no part in the action. Under cover of it, he might have withdrawn his shattered forces and retired upon the French frontier. But this would only have given the English and Prussians the opportunity of completing their junction; and he knew that other armies were fast coming up to aid them in a march upon Paris, if he should succeed in avoiding an encounter with them, and retreating upon the capital. A victory at Waterloo was his only alternative from utter ruin, and he determined to employ his Guard in one bold stroke more to make that victory his own.
Between seven and eight o'clock the infantry of the Old Guard was formed into two columns, on the declivity near La Belle Alliance. Ney was placed at their head. Napoleon himself rode forward to a spot by which his veterans were to pass; and as they approached he raised his arm, and pointed to the position of the Allies, as if to tell them that their path lay there. They answered with loud cries of "Vive l'Empereur!" and descended the hill from their own side, into that "valley of the shadow of death," while their batteries thundered with redoubled vigour over their heads upon the British line. The line of march of the columns of the Guard was directed between Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte, against the British right centre; and at the same time, Donzelot and the French, who had possession of La Haye Sainte, commenced a fierce attack upon the British centre, a little more to its left. This part of the battle has drawn less attention than the celebrated attack of the Old Guard; but it formed the most perilous crisis for the allied army; and if the Young Guard had been there to support Donzelot, instead of being engaged with the Prussians at Planchenoit, the consequences to the Allies in that part of the field must have been most serious. The French tirailleurs, who were posted in clouds in La Haye Sainte, and the sheltered spots near it, completely disabled the artillerymen of the English batteries near them; and taking advantage of the crippled state of the English gun, the French brought some field-pieces up to La Haye Sainte, and commenced firing grape from them on the infantry of the Allies, at a distance of not more than a hundred paces. The allied infantry here consisted of some German brigades, who were formed in squares, as it was believed that Donzelot had cavalry ready behind La Haye Sainte to charge them with, if they left that order of formation. In this state the Germans remained for some time with heroic fortitude, though the grape-shot was tearing gaps in their ranks, and the side of one square was literally blown away by one tremendous volley which the French gunners poured into it. The Prince of Orange in vain endeavoured to lead some Nassau troops to their aid. The Nassauers would not or could not face the French; and some battalions of Brunswickers, whom the Duke of Wellington had ordered up as a reinforcement) at first fell back, until the duke in person rallied them, and led them on. The duke then galloped off to the right to head his men who were exposed to the attack of the Imperial Guard. He had saved one part of his centre from being routed; but the French had gained ground here, and the pressure on the allied line was severe, until it was relieved by the decisive success which the British in the right centre achieved over the columns of the Guard.
The British troops on the crest of that part of the position, which the first column of Napoleon’s Guards assailed, were Maitland's brigade of British Guards, having Adam's brigade on their right. Maitland’s men were lying down, in order to avoid as far as possible the destructive effect of the French artillery, which kept up an unremitting fire from the opposite heights, until the first column of the Imperial Guard had advanced so far up the slope towards the British position, that any further firing of the French artillerymen would endanger their own comrades. Meanwhile, the British guns were not idle; but shot and shell ploughed fast through the ranks of the stately array of veterans that still moved imposingly on. Several of the French superior officers were at its head. Ney's horse was shot under him, but he still led the way on foot, sword in hand. The front of the massy column now was on the ridge of the hill. To their surprise they saw no troops before them. All they could discern through the smoke was a small band of mounted officers. One of them was the duke himself. The French advanced to about fifty yards from where the British Guards were lying down, when the voice of one of the band of British officers was heard calling, as if to the ground before him, "Up Guards, and at them." It was the duke who gave the order; and at the words, as if by magic, up started before them, a line of the British Guards four deep, and in the most compact and perfect order. They poured an instantaneous volley upon the head of the French column, by which no less than three hundred of those chosen veterans are said to have fallen. The French officers rushed forwards, and, conspicuous in front of their men, attempted to deploy them into a more extended line, so as to enable them to reply with effect to the British fire. But Maitland's brigade kept showering in volley after volley with deadly rapidity. The decimated column grew disordered in its vain efforts to expand itself into a more efficient formation. The right word was given at the right moment to the British for the bayonet-charge, and the brigade sprang forward with a loud cheer against their dismayed antagonists. In an instant the compact mass of the French spread out into a rabble, and they fled back down the hill pursued by Maitland's men, who, however, returned to their position in time to take part in the repulse of the second column of the Imperial Guard.
This column also advanced with great spirit and firmness under the cannonade which was opened on it: and passing by the eastern wall of Hougoumont, diverged slightly to the right as it moved up the slope towards the British position, so as to approach the same spot where the first column had surmounted the height, and been defeated. This enabled the British regiments of Adam's brigade to form a line parallel to the left flank of the French column, so that while the front of this column of French Guards had to encounter the cannonade of the British batteries, and the musketry of Maitland's Guards, its left flank was assailed with a destructive fire by a four deep body of British infantry, extending all along it. In such a position all the bravery and skill of the French veterans were vain. The second column, like its predecessor, broke and fled, taking at first a lateral direction along the front of the British line towards the rear of La Haye Sainte, and so becoming blended with the divisions of French infantry, which under Donzelot had been pressing the Allies so severely in that quarter. The sight of the Old Guard broken and in flight checked the ardour which Donzelot's troops had hitherto displayed. They, too, began to waver. Adam's victorious brigade was pressing after the flying Guard, and now cleared away the assailants of the allied centre. But the battle was not yet won. Napoleon had still some battalions in reserve near La Belle Alliance. He was rapidly rallying the remains of the first column of his Guards, and he had collected into one body the remnants of the various corps of cavalry, which had suffered so severely in the earlier part of the day. The duke instantly formed the bold resolution of now himself becoming the assailant, and leading his successful though enfeebled army forward, while the disheartening effect of the repulse of the Imperial Guard on the French army was still strong, and before Napoleon and Ney could rally the beaten veterans themselves for another and a fiercer charge. As the close approach of the Prussians now completely protected the duke's left, he had drawn some reserves of horse from that quarter, and he had a brigade of Hussars under Vivian fresh and ready at hand. Without a moment's hesitation he launched these against the cavalry near La Belle Alliance. The charge was as successful as it was daring; and as there was now no hostile cavalry to check the British infantry in a forward movement, the duke gave the long-wished-for command for a general advance of the army along the whole line upon the foe. It was now past eight o'clock, and for nine deadly hours had the British and German regiments stood unflinching under the fire of artillery, the charge of cavalry, and every variety of assault that the compact columns or the scattered tirailleurs of the enemy's infantry could inflict. As they joyously sprang forward against the discomfited masses of the French, the setting sun broke through the clouds which had obscured the sky during the greater part of the day, and glittered on the bayonets of the Allies while they in turn poured down into the valley and towards the heights that were held by the foe. Almost the whole of the French host was now in irreparable confusion. The Prussian army was coming more and more rapidly forwards on their right, and the Young Guard, which had held Planchenoit so bravely was at last compelled to give way. Some regiments of the Old Guard in vain endeavoured to form in squares. They were swept away to the rear; and then Napoleon himself fled from the last of his many fields to become in a few weeks a captive and an exile. The battle was lost by France past all recovery. The victorious armies of England and Prussia meeting on the scene of their triumph, continued to press forward and overwhelm every attempt that was made to stem the tide of ruin. The British army, exhausted by its toils and suffering during that dreadful day, did not urge the pursuit beyond the heights which the enemy had occupied. But the Prussians drove the fugitives before them throughout the night. And of the magnificent host which had that morning cheered their Emperor in confident expectation of victory, very few were ever assembled again in arms. Their loss, both in the field and in the pursuit, was immense; and the greater number of those who escaped, dispersed as soon as they crossed the French frontier.
The army under the Duke of Wellington lost nearly fifteen thousand men in killed and wounded on this terrible day of battle. The loss of the Prussian army was nearly seven thousand more. At such a fearful price was the deliverance of Europe purchased.
On closing our survey of this, the last of the Decisive Battles of the world, it is pleasing to contrast the year which it signalized, with the one that is now passing over our heads. We have not (and long may we want) the stern excitement of the struggles of war; and we see no captive standards of our European neighbours brought in triumph to our shrines. But we witness an infinitely prouder spectacle. We see the banners of every civilized nation waving over the arena of our competition with each other, in the arts that minister to our race's support and happiness, and not to its suffering and destruction.
"Peace hath her Victories
No less renowned than War;"
and no battle-field ever witnessed a victory more noble than that, which England, under her Sovereign Lady and her Royal Prince, is now teaching the peoples of the earth to achieve over selfish prejudices and international feuds, in the great cause of the general promotion of the industry and welfare of mankind.
Printed by Samuel Bentley & Co.,
Bangor House, Shoe Lane.
- "History of Normandy and England," vol. i. p. 526.
- "Essai sur l'Histoire de France," p. 273, et seq.
- See Guizot, ut supra.
- Sismondi, "Histoire de Français," vol. iii. p. 174.
- Rapin, "Hist. England," p. 164. See also on this point Sharon Turner, vol. iv. p. 72.
- See in Snorre the Saga of Haraldi Hardrada.
- Wace, "Roman de Rou." I have nearly followed his words.
- Sir James Mackintosh's "History of England," vol. i. p. 97.
- See Roger de Hoveden and William of Malmesbury, cited in Thierry, book iii.
- William's customary oath
- In the preceding pages I have woven together the 'purpureos pannos' of the old chronicler. In so doing, I have largely availed myself of Mr. Edgar Taylor's version of that part of the "Roman de Rou," which describes the conquest. By giving engravings from the Bayeux Tapestry, and by his excellent notes, Mr. Taylor has added much to the value and interest of his volume.
- The Conqueror's Chaplain calls the Saxon battle-axes "sævissimas secures."
- As cited in the "Pictorial History."
- See them collected in Lingard, vol. i. p. 452, et seq.. Thierry, vol. i. p. 299; Sharon Turner, vol. i. p. 82; and Histoire de Normandie, par Lieguet, p. 242.
- "Creasy's Text-book of the Constitution," p. 4.
- "Pictorial Hist, of England," vol. i. p. 28.
- Plutarch, Vit. Them. 17.
- De Serres, quoted in the Notes to Southey's "Joan of Arc."
- The occasional employment of artillery against slight defences, as at Jargeau in 1429, is no real exception.
- "Respondit quod in partibus suis vocabatur Johanneta, et postquam venit in Franciam vocata est Johanna." — Procés de Jeanne d'Arc, vol. i. p. 46.
- Southey, in one of the speeches which he puts in the
mouth of his Joan of Arc, has made her beautifully describe
the effect on her mind of the scenery in which she dwelt.
"Here in solitude and peace
My soul was nurst, amid the loveliest scenes
Of unpolluted nature. Sweet it was
As the white mists of morning roll'd away
To see the mountain's wooded heights appear
Dark in the early dawn, and mark its slope
With gorse-flowers glowing, as the rising sun
On the golden ripeness pour'd a deepening light.
Pleasant at noon beside the vocal brook
To lay me down, and watch the floating clouds.
And shape to Fancy's wild similitudes
Their ever-varying forms; and oh, how sweet!
To drive my flock at evening to the fold,
And hasten to our little hut, and hear
The voice of kindness bid me welcome home."
The only foundation for the story told by the Burgundian partisan Monstrelet, and adopted by Hume, of Joan having been brought up as servant at an inn, is the circumstance of her having been once with the rest of her family obliged to take refuge in an auberge in Neufchâteau for fifteen days, when a party of Burgundian cavalry made an incursion into Domremy. (See the "Quarterly Review," No. 138.)
- "Procés de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i. p. 52.
- "Procés de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i. p. 56.
- See Sismondi, vol. xiii. p. 114; Michelet, vol. v. livre x.
- See the description of her by Gui de Laval, quoted in the note to Michelet, p. 69; and see the account of the banner at Orleans, which is believed to bear an authentic portrait of the Maid, in Murray's "Hand-book for France," p. 175.
- "Procés de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i. p. 238.
- "Procés de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i. p. 238.
- Hall, f. 127.
- "Journal du Siége d'Orléans," p. 87.
- Vol. x. p. 408.
- Je voudrais bien qu'il voulût me faire ramener auprès mes père et mère, a garder leurs brebis et bétail, et faire ce que je voudrois faire."
- "Dès le commencement elle avait dit, 'Il me faut employer: je ne durerai qu'un an, ou guère plus.'"—Michelet, v. p. 101.
- The whole of the "Procès de Condemnation et de Réhabilitation de Jeanne D'Arc" has been published in five volumes, by the Société de L'Histoire de France. All the passages from contemporary chroniclers and poets are added; and the most ample materials are thus given for acquiring full information on a subject which is, to an Englishman, one of painful interest. There is an admirable essay on Joan of Arc, in the 138th number of the "Quarterly."
- See Cicero, de Divinatione, lib. i, sec. 41; and see the words of Socrates himself, in Plato, Apol. Soc. "Ὄτι μοι δειόν τι και δαιμόνιον γίγνεται. Έμοί δε τοντ έστιν έκ παιδός άρξάμενον, φωνή τις γεγνομένη, κ. τ. λ.
- In Macaulay's Ballad on the Spanish Armada, the transmission of the tidings of the Armada's approach, and the arming of the English nation, are magnificently described. The progress of the fire-signals is depicted in lines which are worthy of comparison with the renowned passage in the Agamemnon, which describes the transmission of the beacon-light announcing the fall of Troy from Mount Ida to Argos.
- See Ranke's "Hist. Popes," vol. ii. p. 170.
- Ranke, vol. ii. p. 172.
- Strype, cited in Southey's "Naval History."
- Copy of contemporary letter in the Harleian Collection, quoted by Southey.
- "Historie of the World," pp. 799—801.
- Historie of the World," p. 791.
- Hakluyt's "Voyages," vol. i. p. 601.
- Vol. i. p. 602.
- See Strype, and the notes to the Life of Drake, in the "Biographia Britannica."
- "Quand Louis XIV. dit, 'L'Etat, c'est moi:' il n'y eut dans cette parole ni enflure, ni vanterie, mais la simple ếnonciation d'un fait."—Michelett, Histoire Moderne, vol. ii. p. 106.
- "History of European Civilization," Lecture 13.
- Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 378. Lord Bolingbroke's "Letters on the Use of History," and his "Sketch of the History and State of Europe," abound with remarks on Louis XIV. and his contemporaries, of which the substance is as sound as the style is beautiful. Unfortunately, like all his other works, they contain also a large proportion of sophistry and misrepresentation. The best test to use before we adopt any opinion or assertion of Bolingbroke's, is to consider whether in writing it he was thinking either of Sir Robert Walpole or of Revealed Religion. When either of these objects of his hatred was before his mind, he scrupled at no artifice or exaggeration that might serve the purpose of his malignity. On most other occasions he may be followed with advantage, as he always may be read with pleasure.
- Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 378.
- Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 397.
- "Histoire Moderne," vol. ii. p. 106.
- Vol. ii. p. 418.
- Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 404.
- Ibid. p. 399.
- Military History of the Duke of Marlborough," p. 32.
- Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 445.
- Marlborough might plead the example of Sylla in this. Compare the anecdote in Plutarch about Sylla when young and Nicopolis, κοινἣς μὲν, εὺπόρον δὲ γυναικὸς, and the anecdote about Marlborough and the Duchess of Cleveland, told by Lord Chesterfield, and cited in Macaulay's "History," vol. i. p. 461.
- "Siècle de Louis Quatorze."
- Bolingbroke, vol. ii. p. 445.
- Coxe's "Life of Marlborough."
- "Marshal Villeroy," says Voltaire, "who had wished to follow Marlborough on his first marches, suddenly lost sight of him altogether, and only learned where he really was, on hearing of his victory at Donawert."—Siècle de Louis XIV.
- Alison's "Life of Marlborough," p. 248.
- Progress of Russia in the East," p. 142.
- Bolingbroke's Works, vol. ii. p. 374. In the same page he observes, how Sweden had often turned her arms southwards with prodigious effect.
- Bolingbroke's Works, vol. ii. p. 374. In the same page he observes, how Sweden had often turned her arms south-wards with prodigious effect.
- "The idea of Panslavism had a purely literary origin. It was started by Kollar, a Protestant clergyman of the Sclavonic congregation at Pesth, in Hungary; who wished to establish a national literature, by circulating all works, written in the various Sclavonic dialects, through every country where any of them are spoken. He suggested, that all the Sclavonic literati should become acquainted with the sister dialects, so that a Bohemian, or other work, might be read on the shores of the Adriatic, as well as on the banks of the Volga, or any other place where a Sclavonic language was spoken; by which means an extensive literature might be created, tending to advance knowledge in all Sclavonic countries; and he supported his arguments by observing, that the dialects of ancient Greece differed from each other, like those of his own language, and yet that they formed only one Hellenic literature. The idea of an intellectual union of all those nations naturally led to that of a political one; and the Sclavonians, seeing that their numbers amounted to about one-third part of the whole population of Europe, and occupied more than half its territory,
began to be sensible that they might claim for themselves a
position, to which they had not hitherto aspired.
The opinion gained ground; and the question now is, whether the Sclavonians can form a nation independent of Russia; or whether they ought to rest satisfied in being part of one great race, with the most powerful member of it as their chief. The latter, indeed, is gaining ground amongst them; and some Poles are disposed to attribute their sufferings to the arbitrary will of the Czar, without extending the blame to the Russians themselves. These begin to think that, if they cannot exist as Poles, the best thing to be done is to rest satisfied with a position in the Sclavonic empire, and they hope that, when once they give up the idea of restoring their country, Russia may grant some concessions to their separate nationality.
"The same idea has been put forward by writers in the Russian interest; great efforts are making among other Sclavonic people, to induce them to look upon Russia as their future head; and she has already gained considerable influence over the Sclavonic populations of Turkey."—Wilkinson's Dalmatia.
- Scott's "Life of Napoleon."
- Voltaire attests from personal inspection of the letters of several public ministers to their respective courts that such was the general expectation.
- Crighton's "Scandinavia."
- Malkin's "History of Greece. "
- Koch's "Revolutions of Europe."
- Eutropius, lib. i., exordium.
- The original French of these passages will be found in the chapter on "Quelles sont les chances de dure'e de TUnion Americaine—Quels dangers la menacent," in the third volume of the first part of De Tocqueville, and in the conclusion of the first part. They are (with others) collected and translated by Mr. Alison, in his "Essays," vol. iii. p. 374.
- Macgregor's "Commercial Statistics," vol. iii. p. 13.
- Fresh stars have dawned since this was written.
- Εὸν ὄμαιμὀν τε καὶ ὀμὀγλωσσον, καὶ Θεῶν ίδρύματά τε κοινὰ καὶ δυσὶαι, ἢθεά τε ὀμὀτροπα.—Herodotus, viii. 144.
- Lord Chatham.
- Lord Chatham's speech on the employment of Indians in the war.
- See in the "Annual Register" for 1777, p. 117, the "Narrative of the Murder of Miss M’Crea, the daughter of an American loyalist."
- Botta's "American War," book viii.
- Botta, book viii.
- Book viii.
- Botta, Book ix.
- See Niebuhr's Preface to the second volume of the History of Rome, written in October, 1830.
- Scott, "Life of Napoleon," vol. i. c. viii.
- Scott, "Life of Napoleon," vol. i. c. viii.
- See Scott, "Life of Napoleon," vol. i. c. xi.
- Some late writers represent that Brunswick did not wish to crush Dumouriez. There is no sufficient authority for this insinuation, which seems to have been first prompted by a desire to soothe the wounded military pride of the Prussians.}}
- See Lamartine. Hist. Girond. Livre xvii., I have drawn much of the ensuing description from him.
- Alison, vol. iii, p. 323.
- Göthe's "Campaign in France in 1792." Farie's Translation, p. 77.
- See the excellent Introduction to Mr. Charles Knight's History of the "Thirty Years Peace."
- See for these numbers Siborne's "History of the Campaign of Waterloo," vol. i. p. 41.
- See the numbers in Siborne's "History of the Waterloo Campaign," vol. i. chap. 3.
- See Montholon's "Memoirs, p. 45."
- See Montholon's "Memoirs," vol. iv. p. 44.
- Montholon's "Memoirs," vol. iv. p. 44.
- Siborne, vol. i. p. 376.
- Montholon's "Memoirs," vol. iv, p. 41.
- See Siborne, ut supra.
- Not to be confounded with the hamlet of La Haye at the extreme left of the British line.
- Siborne, vol, i. p. 376.
- Siborne, vol i. p. 377
- Siborne, vol. i. p. 373.