The attack of the allies was begun by the first three columns, which moved down from their bivouacs behind the Pratzen plateau before dawn on the 2nd, towards Telnitz and Sokolnitz. The Austrian advanced guard engaged at daybreak, and the French in Telnitz made a vigorous defence; both parties were reinforced, and Legrand drew upon himself, in fulfilling his mission, the whole weight of the allied attack. The contest was long and doubtful, but the Russians gradually drove back Legrand and a part of Davout’s corps; numerous attacks both of infantry and cavalry were made, and by the successive arrival of reinforcements each side in turn received fresh impetus. Finally, at about 10 a.m., the allies were in possession of the villages on the Goldbach from Sokolnitz southwards, and Davout’s line of battle had reformed more than a mile to rearward, still, however, maintaining touch with the French centre on the Goldbach at Kobelnitz. Between the two lines the fighting continued almost to the close of the battle. With 12,500 men of all arms the Marshal held in front of him over 40,000 of the enemy.
In the centre, the defective arrangements of the allied staff had delayed the 4th column (Kolowrat), the line of march of which was crossed by Liechtenstein’s cavalry moving in the opposite direction. The objective of this column was Kobelnitz, and the two emperors and Kutusov accompanied it. The delay had, however, opened a gap between Kolowrat and the 3rd column on his left; and towards this gap, and the denuded Pratzen plateau, Napoleon sent forward St Hilaire’s division of Soult’s corps for the decisive attack. Kutusov was pursuing this march to the south-west when he was surprised by the swift advance of Soult’s men on the plateau itself. Napoleon had here double the force of the allies; Kutusov, however, displayed great energy, changed front to his right and called up his reserves. The French did not win the plateau without a severe struggle. St Hilaire’s (the right centre) division was fiercely engaged by Kolowrat’s column, General Miloradovich opposed the left centre attack under Vandamme, but the French leaders were two of the best fighting generals in their army. The rearmost troops of the Russian 2nd column, not yet committed to the fight on the Goldbach, made a bold counter stroke against St Hilaire’s right flank, but were repulsed, and Soult now turned to relieve the pressure on Davout by attacking Sokolnitz. The Russians in Sokolnitz surrendered, an opportune cavalry charge further discomfited the allied left, and the Pratzen plateau was now in full possession of the French. Even the Russian Guard failed to shake Vandamme’s hold. In the meanwhile Lannes and Murat had been engaged in the defence of the Santon. Here the allied leaders displayed the greatest vigour, but they were unable to drive back the French. The cavalry charges in this quarter are celebrated in the history of the mounted arm; and Kellermann, the hero of Marengo, won fresh laurels against the cavalry of Liechtenstein’s command. The French not only held their ground, but steadily advanced and eventually forced back the allies on Austerlitz, thereby barring their retreat on Olmütz. The last serious attempt of the allies in the centre led to some of the hardest fighting of the day; the Russian Imperial Guard under the grand-duke Constantine pressed closely upon St Hilaire and Vandamme on the plateau, and only gave way when the French Guard and the Grenadiers came into action. After the “Chevalier Guards” had been routed by Marshal Bessières and the Guard cavalry, the allies had no more hope of victory; orders had already been sent to Buxhöwden, who commanded the three columns engaged against Davout, to retreat on Austerlitz. No further attempt was made on the plateau, which was held by the French from Pratzen to the Olmütz road. The allied army was cut in two, and the last confused struggle of the three Russian columns on the Goldbach was one for liberty only. The fighting in Telnitz was perhaps the hardest of the whole battle, but the inevitable retreat, every part of which was now under the fire of the French on the plateau, was terribly costly. Soult now barred the way to Austerlitz, and the allies turned southward towards Satschan. As they retreated, the ice of the Satschan pond was broken up by the French artillery, and many of the fugitives were drowned. In the twelve hours from 7 a.m. to nightfall, the 65,000 French troops had lost 6800 men, or about 10%; the allies (82,500 engaged) had 12,200 killed and wounded, and left in the enemy’s hands 15,000 prisoners (many wounded) and 133 guns.
AUSTIN, ALFRED (1835- ), English poet-laureate, was born at Headingley, near Leeds, on the 30th of May 1835. His father, Joseph Austin, was a merchant of the city of Leeds; his mother, a sister of Joseph Locke, M.P. for Honiton. Mr Austin was educated at Stonyhurst, Oscott, and London University, where he graduated in 1853. He was called to the bar four years later, and practised as a barrister for a short time; but in 1861, after two comparatively false starts in poetry and fiction, he made his first noteworthy appearance as a writer with a satire called The Season, which contained incisive lines, and was marked by some promise both in wit and observation. In 1870 he published a volume of criticism, The Poetry of the Period, which was again conceived in a spirit of satirical invective, and attacked Tennyson, Browning, Matthew Arnold and Swinburne in no half-hearted fashion. The book aroused some discussion at the time, but its judgments were extremely uncritical. In 1881 Mr Austin returned to verse with a tragedy, Savonarola, to which he added Soliloquies in 1882, Prince Lucifer in 1887, England’s Darling in 1896, The Conversion of Winckelmann in 1897, &c. A keen Conservative in politics, for several years he edited The National Review, and wrote leading articles for The Standard. On Tennyson’s death in 1892 it was felt that none of the then living poets, except Swinburne or William Morris, who were outside consideration on other grounds, was of sufficient distinction to succeed to the laurel crown, and for several years no new poet-laureate was nominated. In the interval the claims of one writer and another were much canvassed, but eventually, in 1896, Mr Austin was appointed. As poet-laureate, his occasional verses did not escape adverse criticism; his hasty poem in praise of the Jameson Raid in 1896 being a notable instance. The most effective characteristic of Mr Austin’s poetry, as of the best of his prose, is a genuine and intimate love of nature. His prose idylls, The Garden that I love and In Veronica’s Garden, are full of a pleasant, open-air flavour, which is also the outstanding feature of his English Lyrics. His lyrical poems are wanting in spontaneity and individuality, but many of them possess a simple, orderly charm, as of an English country lane. He has, indeed, a true love of England, sometimes not without a suspicion of insularity, but always fresh and ingenuous. A drama by him, Flodden Field, was acted at His Majesty’s theatre in 1903.
AUSTIN, JOHN (1790–1859), English jurist, was born on the 3rd of March 1790. His father was the owner of flour mills at Ipswich and in the neighbourhood, and was in good circumstances. John was the eldest of five brothers. One of his brothers, Charles (1799–1874), obtained great distinction at the bar. John Austin entered the army at a very early age; he is said to have been only sixteen. He served with his regiment under Lord William Bentinck in Malta and Sicily. He seems to have liked his profession, and to have joined in the amusements and even in the follies of his brother officers. Yet it appears from a journal kept by him at the time that he occupied himself with studies of a far more serious kind than is common amongst young officers in the army. He notes having read in the course of one year Dugald Stewart’s Philosophical Essays, Drummond’s Academical Questions, Enfield’s History of Philosophy, and Mitford’s History of Greece, and upon all of these he makes observations which disclose much thought and a capacity for criticism which must have come from extensive reading elsewhere. The prevailing note of this journal is one of bitter self-depreciation. He says in it that the retrospect of the past year (1811) “has hardly given rise to one single feeling of satisfaction,” and farther on he says that “indolence, always the prominent vice of my character,” has “assumed over me an empire I almost despair of shaking off.” It is difficult to believe that a man only just of age, whose serious reading consisted of such books, and who (as appears from the same journal) was in the habit of turning to the classics as an alternative, could have deserved the reproach of indolence.