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AUSTERLITZ

while Mrs Radcliffe and “Monk” Lewis, whose supernatural fancies’ Northanger Abbey was written in part to ridicule, are no longer anything but names. Although, however, she has become only lately a household word, Miss Austen had always her panegyrists among the best intellects—such as Coleridge, Tennyson, Macaulay, Scott, Sydney Smith, Disraeli and Archbishop Whately, the last of whom may be said to have been her discoverer. Macaulay, whose adoration of Miss Austen’s genius was almost idolatrous, considered Mansfield Park her greatest feat; but many critics give the palm to Emma. Disraeli read Pride and Prejudice seventeen times. Scott’s testimony is often quoted: “That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements, feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I have ever met with. The big bow-wow I can do myself like any one going; but the exquisite touch which renders commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me.”

Many monographs on Miss Austen have been written, in addition to the authorized Life by her nephew J. E. Austen Leigh in 1870, and the collection of her Letters edited by Lord Brabourne in 1884. The chief books on her and around her are Jane Austen, by S. F. Malden (1889); Jane Austen, by Goldwin Smith (1890); Jane Austen: Her Contemporaries and Herself, by W. H. Pollock; Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends, by Constance Hill (1902); Jane Austen and Her Times, by G. E. Mitton (1905); Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers, by J. H. and E. C. Hubback (1906); and the essay on her in Lady Richmond (Thackeray) Ritchie’s Book of Sibyls (1883).

 (E. V. L.) 

AUSTERLITZ (Czech Slavkov), a town of Austria, in Moravia, 15 m. E.S.E. of Brünn by rail. Pop. (1900) 3145, mostly Czech. It contains a magnificent palace belonging to the prince of Kaunitz-Rietberg, and a beautiful church.


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The great battle in which the French under Napoleon I. defeated the Austrians and Russians on the 2nd of December 1805, was fought in the country to the west of Austerlitz, the position of Napoleon’s left wing being almost equi-distant from Brünn and from Austerlitz. The wooded hills to the northward throw out to the south and south-west long spurs, between which are the low valleys of several rivers and brooks. The scene of the most important fighting was the Pratzen plateau. The famous “lakes” in the southern part of the field were artificial ponds, which have long since been drained. On the west or Brünn side of the Goldbach is another and lower ridge, which formed in the battle the first position of the French right and centre. On the other wing is the mass of hills from which the spurs and streams descend: here the Olmütz-Brünn road passes. The road from Brünn to Vienna, Napoleon’s presumed line of retreat, runs in a southerly direction, and near the village of Raigern (3 m. west of Mönitz) is very close to the extreme right of the French position, a fact which had a great influence on the course of the battle. (The course of events which led to the action is described under Napoleonic Campaigns.) Napoleon, falling back before the advance of the allied Austrians and Russians from Olmütz, bivouacked west of the Goldbach, whilst the allies, holding, near Austerlitz, the junction of the roads from Olmütz and from Hungary, formed up in the valleys east of the Pratzen heights. The cavalry of both sides remained inactive, Napoleon’s by express order, the enemy’s seemingly from mere negligence, since they had 177 squadrons at their disposal. Napoleon, having determined to fight, as usual called up every available battalion; the splendid III. corps of Davout only arrived upon the field after a heavy march, late on the night of December 1st. The plan of the allies was to attack Napoleon’s right, and to cut him off from Vienna, and their advanced guard began, before dark on the 1st of December, to skirmish towards Telnitz. At that moment Napoleon was in the midst of his troops, thousands of whom had made their bivouac-straw into torches in his honour. The glare of these seemed to the allies to betoken the familiar device of lighting fires previous to a retreat, and thus confirmed them in the impression which Napoleon’s calculated timidity had given. Thus encouraged, those who desired an immediate battle soon gained the upper hand in the councils of the tsar and the emperor Francis. The attack orders for the 2nd of December (drawn up by the Austrian general Weyrother, and explained by him to a council of superior officers, of whom some were hostile, the greater part indifferent, and the chief Russian member, General Kutusov, asleep) gave the five columns and the reserve, into which the Austro-Russian army was organized, the following tasks: the first and second (Russians) to move south-westward behind the Pratzen ridge towards Telnitz and Sokolnitz; the third (Russian) to cross the southern end of the plateau, and come into line on the right of the first two; the fourth (Austrians and Russians under Kolowrat) on the right of the third to advance towards Kobelnitz. An Austrian advanced guard preceded the 1st and 2nd columns. Farther still on the right the 5th column (cavalry under Prince John of Liechtenstein) was to hold the northern part of the plateau, south of the Brünn-Olmütz road; across the road itself was the corps of Prince Bagration, and in rear of Liechtenstein’s corps was the reserve (Russians under the grand-duke Constantine). Thus, the farther the four main columns penetrated into the French right wing, the wider would the gap become between Bagration and Kolowrat, and Liechtenstein’s squadrons could not form a serious obstacle to a heavy attack of Napoleon’s centre. The whole plan was based upon defective information and preconceived ideas; it has gone down to history as a classical example of bad generalship, and its author Weyrother, who was perhaps nothing worse than a pedant, as a charlatan.

Napoleon, on the other hand, with the exact knowledge of the powers of his men, which was the secret of his generalship, entrusted nearly half of his line of battle to a division (Legrand’s) of Soult’s corps, which was to be supported by Davout, some of whose brigades had marched, from Vienna, 90 m. in forty-eight hours. But the ground which this thin line was to hold against three columns of the enemy was marshy and densely intersected by obstacles, and the III. corps was the best in the Grande Armée, while its leader was perhaps the ablest of all Napoleon’s marshals. The rest of the army formed in the centre and left. “Whilst they march to turn my right,” said Napoleon in the inspiriting proclamation which he issued on the eve of the battle, “they present me their flank,” and the great counterstroke was to be delivered against the Pratzen heights by the French centre. This was composed of Soult’s corps, with Bernadotte’s in second line. On the left, around the hill called by the French the Santon (which was fortified) was Lannes’ corps, supported by the cavalry reserve under Murat. The general reserve consisted of the Guard and Oudinot’s grenadiers.