NOTABLE EVENTS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Great Deeds of Men and Nations and the Progress of the World, in a Series of Short Studies
Compiled and Edited by
JOHN CLARK RIDPATH
Published by The Christian Herald, Louis Klopsch, Proprietor, Bible House, New York.
This little volume constitutes one number of the Christian Herald Library series for 1896-97. The title indicates the scope and purpose of the work. Of heavy reading the reader of to-day no doubt has a sufficiency. Of light reading, that straw-and-chaff literature that fills the air until the senses are confused with the whirlwind and dust of it, he has a sufficiency also. Of that intermediate kind of reading which is neither so heavy with erudition as to weigh us down nor so light with the flying folly of prejudice as to make us distracted with its dust, there is perhaps too little. The thoughtful and improving passage for the unoccupied half hour of him who hurries through these closing years of the century does not abound, but is rather wanting in the intellectual provision of the age.
Let this volume serve to supply, in part at least, the want for brief readings on important subjects. Herein a number of topics have been chosen from the progress of the century and made the subjects of as many brief studies that may be realized in a few minutes' reading and remembered for long. Certainly there is no attempt to make these short stories exhaustive, but only to make them hintful of larger readings and more thoughtful and patient inquiry.
The Editor is fully aware of the very large circulation and wide reading to which this little volume will soon be subjected. For this reason he has taken proper pains to make the work of such merit as may justly recommend it to the thoughtful as well as the transient and unthoughtful reader. It cannot, we think, prove to be a wholly profitless task to offer these different studies, gathered from the highways and byways of the great century, to the thousands of good and busy people into whose hands the volume will fall. To all such the Editor hopes that it may carry a measure of profit as well as a message of peace.
[All articles not otherwise designated are by the Editor.]
CRISES IN CIVIL SOCIETY. PAGE.
Brumaire—The Overthrow Of The French Directory, 9 How the Son of Equality Became King of France, 14 The Coup d'Etat of 1851, 19 The Chartist Agitation in England, 23 The Abolition of Human Bondage, 27 The Peril of Our Centennial Year, 35 The Double Fete in France and Germany, 40
Trafalgar, 44 Campaign of Austerlitz, 50 "Friedland—1807", 55 Under the Russian Snows, 59 Waterloo, 63 Sebastopol, 71 Sadowa, 77 Capture of Mexico, 84 Vicksburg, 89 Gettysburg, 95 Spottsylvania, 104 Appomattox, 112 Sedan, by Victor Hugo, 118 Bazaine and Metz, 129
The Century of the Asteroids, 136 The Story of Neptune, 146 Evolution of the Telescope, 156 The New Astronomy, 165 What the Worlds Are Made Of, 175
PROGRESS IN DISCOVERY AND INVENTION.
The First Steamboat and its Maker, 184 Telegraphing before Morse, 196 The New Light of Men, 205 The Telephone, 216 The Machine That Talks Back, 225 Evolution of the Dynamo, by Professor Joseph P. Naylor, 235 The Unknown Ray and Entography, 244
STAGES IN BIOLOGICAL INQUIRY.
The New Inoculation, 256 Koch's Battle with the Invisible Enemy, 266 Achievements in Surgery, 276 GREAT RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS. BY B.J. FERNIE, PH.D.
Defence on New Lines, 284 Evangelical Activity, 289 Bible Revision, 291 Bibles by the Million, 293 A Great Missionary Era, 296 Preaching to Heathen at Home, 299 Churches Drawing Together, 304 Organized Activities, 308 Humanitarian Work, 314 The Sunday School, 316 Pulpit and Press, 318
Notable Events of the Nineteenth Century.
Crises in Civil Society.
THE OVERTHROW OF THE FRENCH DIRECTORY.
The eighteenth century went out with the French Directory, and the nineteenth came in with the Consulate. The coincidence of dates is not exact by a year and a month and twenty-one days. But history does not pay much attention to almanacs. In general our century arose with the French Consulate. The Consulate was the most conspicuous political fact of Europe in the year 1801; and the Consulate came in with Brumaire.
"Brumaire" is one of the extraordinary names invented by the French Revolutionists. The word, according to Carlyle, means Fogarious—that is, Fog month. In the French Republican calendar, devised by the astronomer Romme, in 1792, Brumaire began on the twenty-second day of October and ended on the twentieth day of November. It remained for Brumaire, and the eighteenth day of Brumaire, of the year VIII, to extinguish the plural executive which the French democrats had created under the name of a Directory, and to substitute therefor the One Man that was coming.
The Directory was a Council of Five. It was a sort of five-headed presidency; and each head was the head of a Jacobin. One of the heads was called Barras. One was called Carnot. Another was called Barthelemy. Another was Roger Ducos; another was the Abbe Sieyes. That was the greatest head of them all. The heads were much mixed, though the body was one. In such a body cross counsels were always uppermost, and there was a want of decision and force in the government.
This condition of the Executive Department led to the deplorable reverses which overtook the French armies during the absence of General Bonaparte in Egypt. Thiers says that the Directorial Republic exhibited at this time a scene of distressing confusion. He adds: "The Directory gave up guillotining; it only transported. It ceased to force people to take assignats upon pain of death; but it paid nobody. Our soldiers, without arms and without bread, were beaten instead of being victorious."
The ambition of Napoleon found in this situation a fitting opportunity. The legislative branch of the government consisted of a Senate, or Council of Ancients, and a Council of Five Hundred. The latter constituted the popular branch. Of this body Lucien Bonaparte, brother of the general, was president. Hardly had Napoleon arrived in the capital on his return from Egypt when a conspiracy was formed by him with Sieyes, Lucien and others of revolutionary disposition, to do away by a coup with the too democratic system, and to replace it with a stronger and more centralized order. The Council of Ancients was to be brought around by the influence of Sieyes. To Lucien Bonaparte the more difficult task was assigned of controlling and revolutionizing the Assembly. As for Napoleon, Sieyes procured for him the command of the military forces of Paris; and by another decree the sittings of the two legislative bodies were transferred to St. Cloud.
The eighteenth Brumaire of the Year VIII, corresponding to the ninth of November, 1799, was fixed as the day for the revolution. By that date soldiers to the number of 10,000 men had been collected in the gardens of the Tuileries. There they were reviewed by General Bonaparte and the leading officers of his command. He read to the soldiers the decree which had just been issued under the authority of the Council of the Ancients. This included the order for the removal of the legislative body to St. Cloud, and for his own command. He was entrusted with the execution of the order of the Council, and all of the military forces in Paris were put at his disposal. In these hours of the day there were all manner of preparation. That a conspiracy existed was manifest to everybody. That General Bonaparte was reaching for the supreme authority could hardly be doubted. His secretary thus writes of him on the morning of the great day.
"I was with him a little before seven o'clock on the morning of the eighteenth Brumaire, and, on my arrival, I found a great number of generals and officers assembled. I entered Bonaparte's chamber, and found him already up—a thing rather unusual with him. At this moment he was as calm as on the approach of a battle. In a few moments Joseph and Bernadotte arrived. I was surprised to see Bernadotte in plain clothes, and I stepped up to him and said in a low voice: 'General, everyone here except you and I is in uniform.' 'Why should I be in uniform?' said he. Bonaparte, turning quickly to him, said: 'How is this? You are not in uniform.' 'I never am on a morning when I am not on duty,' replied Bernadotte. 'You will be on duty presently,' said the general!"
To Napoleon the crisis was an epoch of fate. The first thing was to be the resignation of Sieyes, Barras and Ducos, which—coming suddenly on the appointed morning—broke up the Directory. Bonaparte then put out his hand as commander of the troops. Too late the Republicans of the Council of Five Hundred felt the earthquake swelling under their feet. Napoleon appeared at the bar of the Assembly, and attempted a rambling and incoherent justification for what was going on. A motion was made to outlaw him; but the soldiers rushed in, and the refractory members were seized and expelled. A few who were in the revolution remained, and to the number of fifty voted a decree making Sieyes, Bonaparte and Ducos provisional Consuls, thus conferring on them the supreme executive power of the State. By nightfall the business was accomplished, and the man of Ajaccio slept in the palace of the Tuileries. He had said to his secretary, Bourriene, on that morning, "We shall sleep to-night in the Tuileries—or in prison."
The new order was immediately made organic. There could be no question when Three Consuls were appointed and Bonaparte one of the number, which of the three would be First Consul. He would be that himself; the other two might be the ciphers which should make his unit 100. The new system was defined as the "Provisionary Consulate;" but this form was only transitional. The managers of the coup went rapidly forward to make it permanent. The Constitution of the Year III gave place quickly to the Constitution of the Year VIII, which provided for an executive government, under the name of the CONSULATE. Nominally the Consulate was to be an executive committee of three, but really an executive committee of one—with two associates. The three men chosen were Napoleon Bonaparte, Jean Jacques Cambaceres and Charles Francois Lebrun. On Christmas day, 1799, Napoleon was made FIRST CONSUL; and that signified the beginning of a new order, destined to endure for sixteen and a half years, and to end at Waterloo. The old century was dying and the new was ready to arise out of its ashes.
HOW THE SON OF EQUALITY BECAME KING OF FRANCE.
The French Revolution spared not anything that stood in its way. The royal houses were in its way, and they went down before the blast. Thus did the House of Bourbon, and thus did also the House of Orleans. The latter branch, however, sought by its living representatives to compromise with the storm. The Orleans princes have always had a touch of liberalism to which the members of the Bourbon branch were strangers.
At the outbreak of the Revolution, Louis Philippe Joseph, Duke of Orleans, fraternized with the popular party, threw away his princely title and named himself Philippe Egalite; that is, as we should say, Mr. Equality Philip. In this character he participated in the National Assembly until he fell under distrust, and in despite of his defence and protestations—in spite of the fact that he had voted for the death of his cousin the king—was seized, condemned and guillotined.
This Equality Philip left as his representative in the world a son who was twenty years old when his father was executed. The son was that Louis Philippe who, under his surname of Roi Citoyen, or "Citizen King," was destined after extraordinary vicissitudes to hold the sceptre of France for eighteen years. Young Louis Philippe was a soldier in the republican armies. That might well have saved him from persecution; but his princely blood could not be excused. He was by birth the Duke of Valois, and by succession the Duke of Chartres. As a boy, eight years of age, he had received for his governess the celebrated Madame de Genlis, who remained faithful to him in all his misfortunes. At eighteen he became a dragoon in the Vendome Regiment, and in 1792 he fought valiantly under Kellermann and Dumouriez at Valmy and Jemappes. Then followed the treason, or defection, of Dumouriez; but young Louis remained with the army for two years longer, when, being proscribed, he went into exile, finding refuge with other suspected officers and many refugees in Switzerland.
Thither Dumouriez himself had gone. Of the flight of young Louis, Carlyle says: "Brave young Egalite reaches Switzerland and the Genlis Cottage; with a strong crabstick in his hand, a strong heart in his body: his Princedom is now reduced to that Egalite the father sat playing whist, in his Palais Egalite, at Paris, on the sixth day of this same month of April, when a catchpole entered. Citoyen Egalite is wanted at the Convention Committee!" What the committee wanted with Equality Philip and what they did with him has been stated above.
Consider then that the Napoleonic era has at last set in blood. Consider that the Restoration, with the reigns of Louis XVIII. and Charles X., has gone by. Consider that the "Three Days of July," 1830, have witnessed a bloodless revolution in Paris, in which the House of Bourbon was finally overthrown and blown away. On the second of August, Charles X. gave over the hopeless struggle and abdicated in favor of his son. But the Chamber of Deputies and the people of France had now wearied of Bourbonism in all of its forms, and the nation was determined to have a king of its own choosing.
The Chamber set about the work of selecting a new ruler for France. At this juncture, Thiers and Mignet again asserted their strength and influence by nominating for the throne Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, representative of what is known as the Younger Branch of the Bourbon dynasty. The prince himself was not loath to present himself at the crisis, and to offer his services to the nation. In so doing, he was favored greatly by his character and antecedents. At the first, the Chamber voted to place him at the head of the kingdom with the title of Lieutenant-General. The prince accepted his election, met the Chamber of Deputies and members of the Provisional Government at the Hotel de Ville, and there solemnly pledged himself to the most liberal principles of administration. His accession to power in his military relations was hailed with great delight by the Parisians, who waved the tri-color flag before him as he came, and shouted to their heart's content.
At this stage of the revolution the representatives of the overthrown House and of the Old Royalty sought assiduously to obtain from Louis Philippe a recognition of the young Count de Chambord, under the title of Henry V. But the Duke of Orleans was too wily a politician to be caught in such a snare. He at first suppressed that part of the letter of abdication signed by Charles and Angouleme in which reference was made to the succession of the Duke of Berry's son; but a knowledge of that clause was presently disseminated in the city, and the tumult broke out anew.
Then it was that a great mob, rolling out of Paris in the direction of the Hotel Rambouillet, gave the signal of flight to Charles and those who had adhered to the toppling fortunes of his house. The Chamber of Deputies proceeded quickly to undo the despotic acts of the late king, and then elected Louis Philippe king, not of France, but of the French. The new sovereign received 219 out of 252 votes in the Deputies. His elevation to power was one of the most striking examples of personal vicissitudes which has ever been afforded by the princes and rulers of modern times.
THE COUP D'ETAT OF 1851.
With the overthrow of Louis Philippe in 1848, what is known as the Second Republic, was established in France. On the tenth of December, in that year, a president was elected in the American manner for a term of four years. To the astonishment of the whole world, the man so elected was Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, who had since the downfall of Napoleon been prisoner, exile and adventurer by turns. In the course of President Louis Napoleon's administration, matters came to such a pass between him and the National Assembly that one or the other must go to the wall.
In the early winter of 1851, a crisis came on which broke in a marvelous manner in the event called the Coup d'Etat. The President made up his mind to conquer the Assembly by force. He planned what is known in modern history by pre-eminence the stroke. He, and those whom he trusted, made their arrangements secretly, silently, that the "stroke" should fall on the night of the second of December. On that evening the President held a gay reception in the palace of the Elysee, and after his guests had retired, the scheme was perfected for immediate execution.
During the night seventy-eight of the leading members of the Opposition were seized at their own houses and taken to prison. The representatives of the people were hurried through the streets, and suddenly immured where their voices could be no longer heard. At the same time a strong force of soldiers was stationed near the Tuileries. The offices of the liberal newspapers were seized and closed, and the Government printing presses were employed all night in printing the proclamation with which the walls of the city were covered before morning. With the coming of daylight, Paris awoke and read:
1. The National Assembly is dissolved;
2. Universal suffrage is re-established;
3. The Elective Colleges are summoned to meet on December 21;
4. Paris is in a state of siege.
By the side of this proclamation was posted the President's address to the people. He proposed the election of a president for ten years. He referred the army to the neglect which it had received at the hands of former governments, and promised that the soldiery of France should rewin its ancient renown.
As soon as those members of the Assembly who had not been arrested could realize the thing which was done, they ran together and attempted to stay the tide of revolution by passing a vote deposing the President from office. But the effort was futile. A republican insurrection, under the leadership of Victor Hugo and a few other distinguished Liberals, broke out in the city. But there was in the nature of the case no concert of action, no resources behind the insurrection, and no military leadership. General Canrobert, Commandant of the Guards, soon put down the revolt in blood. Order was speedily restored throughout Paris, and the victory of the President was complete. It only remained to submit his usurpation to the judgment of the people, and the decision in that case could, under existing conditions, hardly be a matter of doubt.
In accordance with the President's proclamation, a popular election was held throughout France, on the twentieth and twenty-first of December, at which the Coup d'Etat was signally vindicated. Louis Napoleon was triumphantly elected President, for a period of ten years. Out of eight millions of votes, fewer than one million were cast against him. He immediately entered upon office, backed by this tremendous majority, and became Dictator of France. In January of 1852, sharp on the heels of the revolution which he had effected, he promulgated a new constitution. The instrument was based upon that of 1789, and possessed but few clauses to which any right-minded lover of free institutions could object. On the twenty-eighth of March, Napoleon resigned the dictatorship, which he had held since the Coup d'Etat, and resumed the office of President of the Republic.
It was not long, however, until the After That began to appear. Already in the summer and autumn of 1852 it became evident that the Empire was to be re-established. In the season of the vintage the President made a tour of the country, and was received with cries of Vive L'Empereur! In his addresses, particularly in that which he delivered at Bordeaux, the sentiment of Empire was cautiously offered to the people. The consummation was soon reached. On the seventh of November, 1852, a vote was passed by the French Senate for the re-establishment of the imperial order, and for the submission of the proposed measure to a popular vote.
The event showed conclusively that the French nation, as then constituted, was Bonapartist to the core. Louis Napoleon was almost unanimously elected to the imperial dignity. Of the eight millions of suffrages of France, only a few scattering thousands were recorded in the negative. Thus, in a blaze of glory that might well have satisfied the ambition of the First Bonaparte, did he, who, only twelve years before at Boulogne, had tried most ridiculously to excite a paltry rebellion by the display of a pet-eagle to his followers, mount the Imperial throne of France with the title of Napoleon III.
THE CHARTIST AGITATION IN ENGLAND.
One of the most important political movements of the present century was the Chartist agitation in Great Britain. This agitation began in 1838. It was an effort of the under man in England to gain his rights. In the retrospect, it seems to us astonishing that such rights as those that were then claimed by the common people of England should ever have been denied to the citizens of any free country. The period covered by the excitement was about ten years in duration, and during that period great and salutary reforms were effected, but they were not thorough, and to this day the under man in Great Britain is mocked with the semblance of political liberty, the substance of which he does not enjoy; the same is true in America.
The name Chartist arose from an article called the "People's Charter," which was prepared by the famous Daniel O'Connell. The document contained six propositions, follows:
(1) We demand Universal Suffrage—by which was meant rather Manhood Suffrage than what is now known as universal suffrage, meaning the ballot in the hands of both sexes. This the Chartists did not demand.
(2) We demand an Annual Parliament—by which was meant the election of a new House of Commons each year by the people.
(3) We demand the right to Vote by Ballot—by which was meant the right of the people to employ a secret ballot at the elections instead of the method viva voce.
(4) We demand the abolition of the Property Qualification now requisite as a condition of eligibility to Membership in the House of Commons.
(5) We demand that the Members of Parliament shall be paid a salary for their services.
(6) We demand the Division of the Country into Equal Electoral Districts—by which was meant an equality of population, as against mere territorial extent.
To the reader of to-day it must appear a matter of astonishment that the representatives of the working classes of Great Britain should have been called upon, at a time within the memory of men still living, to advance and advocate political principles so self-evident and common-sense as those declared in the Charter, and his wonder must be raised to amazement when he is told that the whole governing power of Great Britain, the King, the Ministry, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the Tories as a party, the Whigs as a party, and—all party divisions aside—the great Middle Class of Englishmen set themselves in horrified antagonism to the Charter and its advocates, as though the former were the most incendiary document in the world and the latter a rabble of radicals gathered from the purlieus of the French Revolution.
The reason for the outbreak of the Chartist reform was the fact that the Reform Bill of 1832 had proved a signal failure. For six years the English Middle Classes had sought by the agency of that act to gain their rights, but they had sought in vain. The people now began to follow popular leaders, who always arise under such conditions. One of these, by the name of Thorn, a bankrupt brewer and half madman, who called himself Sir William Courtenay, appeared in Canterbury. He said that he was a Knight of Malta and King of Jerusalem—this when he was only a knight of malt and a king of shreds and patches. Delusion broke out on every hand. One great leader was Feargus O'Connor. Another was Thomas Cooper, a poet, and a third was the orator Henry Vincent, afterward well known in America.
The agitation for reform spread far and wide. The people seemed to be about to rise en masse. The powers of British society were shaken and alarmed. The authorities put out their hands and the Chartist meetings in many places were broken up. The leading spirits were seized and thrown into prison for nothing. Three of the agitators were sent to the penal colonies, for no other offence than the delivery of democratic speeches. For several years the movement was in abeyance, but in 1848, in the month of April, the agitation broke out afresh and rose to a formidable climax. A great meeting was appointed for the Kensington common, and there, on the tenth of the month just named, a monster demonstration was held. A petition had meanwhile been drawn up, praying for reform, and was signed by nearly two million Englishmen!
After this the Chartist agitation ebbed away. The movement was said to be a failure; but it failed, not because of the political principles on which it was founded, but because those principles had in the meantime been acknowledged and applied. At least three of the six articles of the Chartist charter were soon adopted by Parliament. The principle of Manhood Suffrage is virtually a part of the English Constitution. The right of voting by Secret Ballot, deposited in a ballot-box, has also been acknowledged as a part of the modus operandi of all British elections. In like manner the Property Qualification formerly imposed on candidates for Parliament, against which the Chartists so vehemently and justly declaimed, has long since been abolished.
THE ABOLITION OF HUMAN BONDAGE.
Certainly no greater deed of philanthropy has been accomplished by mankind than the extinction of human servitude. True, that horrible relic of antiquity has not yet been wholly obliterated from the world, but the nineteenth century has dealt upon it such staggering and fatal blows as have driven it from all the high places of civilization and made it crouch in obscure corners and unenlightened regions on the outskirts of paganism. Slavery has not indeed been extinguished; but it is scotched, and must expire. According to the tendency of things, the sun in his course at the middle of the twentieth century will hardly light the hovel of a single slave!
The opening of the modern era found slavery universally distributed. There was perhaps at the middle of the eighteenth century not a single non-slave-holding race or nation on the globe! All were alike brutalized by the influences and traditions of the ancient system. All were familiar with it—aye, they were nursed by it; for it has been one of the strange aspects of human life that the children of the free have been nursed by the mothers of the enslaved. All races, we repeat, were alike poisoned with the venom of the serpent. Thus poisoned were France and Germany. Thus poisoned was England; and thus also our colonies. Time was, even down to the dawn of the Revolution, when every American colony was slave-holding. Time was when the system was taught in the schools and preached in the pulpits of all the civilized world.
It was about the Revolutionary epoch, that is, the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when the conscience of men began to be active on the subject of human bondage. We think that the disposition to recognize the wickedness and impolity of slavery was a part of the general movement which came on in civilization, tending to revolutionize not only the political but the social and ethical condition of mankind. We know well that in our own country, when our political institutions were in process of formation slavery was courageously challenged. It was not challenged more audaciously in the Northern than in the Southern colonies. Some of the latter, as, for example, Georgia, had at the first excluded slavery as a thing intolerable to freedom and righteousness. The leading men of the old Southern States at the close of the last century nearly all repudiated slavery in principle. They admitted it only in practice and because it was a part of their inheritance. The patriots, both North and South, were averse not only to the extension of the area of bondage, but to the existence of it as a fact.
Washington was at heart an anti-slavery man. He wished in his heavy but wholly patriotic way as heartily as Lincoln wished that all men might enjoy the blessings of freedom. Jefferson was almost radical on the question. Though he did not heartily believe in an overruling Providence, he felt the need of one when he considered the afflictive system of slavery with which his State and country were encumbered. He said that considering it he trembled when he remembered that God is just.
Meanwhile the unprofitableness of slavery in the Northern colonies had co-operated with the conscience of Puritanism to engender a sentiment against slavery in that part of the Union. So, although the institution was tolerated in the Constitution and even had guarantees thrown around it, it was, nevertheless, disfavored in our fundamental law. One may readily see how the patriots labored with this portentous question. Already in Great Britain an anti-slavery sentiment had appeared. There were anti-slavery leaders, statesmen, philosophers and philanthropists. By the terms of the Constitution the slave trade should cease in the year 1808. Sad to reflect that the inventive genius of man and the prodigality of nature in her gifts of cotton, sugar and rice to the old South should have produced a reaction in favor of slavery so great as to fasten it more strongly than ever upon our country.
The fact is, that to all human seeming at the middle of our century American slavery seemed to be more firmly established than ever before. Neither the outcry of the Northern abolitionists nor the appeals of Southern patriots such as Henry Clay, availed to check the pro-slavery disposition in fully one-half the Union, or to abate the covert favor with which the institution was regarded in nearly all the other half.
Meanwhile, however, slavery was suffering and expiring in nearly all parts of Europe. England began her battle against it even before the beginning of the century. The work of the philanthropists, begun as far back as 1786-87, when the Quakers, under the leadership of Clarkson and Sharpe, began to cry out against the atrocity of human bondage, now reached the public authorities, and ministers found it necessary to take heed of what the people were saying and doing. Both Pitt and Fox became abolitionists before the close of the eighteenth century. The first attack was against the slave trade. Bills for the abolition of this trade were passed in 1793-94 by the House of Commons, but were rejected by the Peers. In 1804 another act was passed; but this also was rejected by the Lords. So too, the bill of 1805! The agitation continued during 1806; and in 1807, just after the death of Fox, the slave trade was abolished in Great Britain.
The abolitionists went straight ahead, however, to attack slavery itself. The Anti-slavery Society was founded. Clarkson and Wilberforce and Buxton became the evangels of a new order that was seen far off. It was not, however, until the great reform agitation of 1832 that the government really took up the question of the abolition of slavery. The bill for this purpose was introduced in the House of Commons on the twenty-third of April, 1833. The process of abolition was to be gradual. The masters were to be compensated. There were to be periods of apprenticeship, after which freedom should supervene. Twenty million pounds were to be appropriated from the national treasury to pay the expenses of the abolition process.
It was on the seventh of August, 1833, that this bill was adopted by the House of Commons. Two weeks afterward the House of Lords assented, and on the twenty-eighth of August the royal assent was given. The emancipation, however, was set for the first of August, 1834; and this is the date from which the abolition of slavery in Great Britain and her dependencies may be said to have occurred. In some parts, however, the actual process of extinguishing slavery lagged. It was not until 1843 that the 12,000,000 of slaves under British control in the empire were emancipated.
The virtual extinction of human slavery in the present century, presents a peculiar ethnical study. Among the Latin races, the French were the first to move for emancipation. It appears that the infusion of Gallic blood, as well as the large influence of the Frankish nations in the production of the modern French, has given to that people a bias in favor of liberty. All the other Latin races have lagged behind; but, France foreran even Great Britain in the work of abolition. Scarcely had the great Revolution of 1789 got under way, until an act of abolition conceding freedom to all men without regard to race or color was adopted by the National Assembly.
It was on the fifteenth of May, 1791, that this great act was passed. One of the darkest aspects of the character of Napoleon I. was the favor which he showed to the project of restoring slavery in the French colonies. But that project was in vain. The blow of freedom once struck produced its everlasting results. Though slavery lingered for nearly a half century in some of the French colonies, it survived there only because of the revolutions in the home government which prevented its final extinction. Acts were passed for the utter extirpation of the system during the reign of Louis Philippe, and again in the time of the Second Republic.
Meanwhile, the northern nations proceeded with the work of abolition. In Sweden slavery ceased in 1847. In the following year Denmark passed an Act of Emancipation. But the Netherlands did not follow in the good work until the year 1860. The Spaniards and Portuguese have been among the last to cling to the system of human servitude. In the outlying possessions of Spain, in Spanish America and elsewhere, the institution still maintains a precarious existence. In Brazil it was not abolished until 1871. In the Mohammedan countries it still exists, and may even be said to flourish. In Russia serfdom was abolished in 1863. He who at that date looked abroad over the world, might see the pillars of human bondage shaken, and falling in every part of the habitable globe which had been reclaimed by civilization.
In the meantime, Great Britain, in her usual aggressive way, had established an anti-slavery propaganda, from which strong influences extended in every direction. Her Anti-slavery Society re-established itself in the United States. Abolition candidates for the presidency began to be heard of and to be voted for at every quadrennial election. Such was Birney in 1844. Such (strange to say) was Martin Van Buren in 1848. Such four years afterward was John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, and such in 1856, as the storm came on, was John C. Fremont.
The political history of the United States shows at this epoch an astounding growth of anti-slavery sentiment; and this expanding force culminated in the election of Lincoln. Great, indeed, was the change which had already swept over the landscape of American thought and purpose since the despised Birney, in 1844, received only a few thousand votes in the whole United States. Now the Rail-splitter had come! The tocsin of war sounded. The Union was rent. War with its flames of fire and streams of blood devastated the Republic. But the bow of promise was set on the dark background of the receding storm. American slavery was swept into oblivion, and the end of the third quarter of the century saw such a condition established in both the New World and the Old, as made the restoration of human bondage forever impossible.
Not until the present order of civilization shall be destroyed will man be permitted again to hold his fellow-man in servitude. The chain that was said "to follow the mother," making all her offspring to be slaves; the manacles and fetters with which the weak were bound and committed to the mercies of heartless traders; all of the insignia and apparatus of the old atrocious system of bondage, have been heaped together and cast out with the rubbish and offal of the civilized life into the valley of Gehenna. There the whole shall be burned with unquenchable fire! Then the smoke, arising for a season, shall be swept away, and nothing but a green earth and a blue sky shall remain for the emancipated race of man.
THE PERIL OF OUR CENTENNIAL YEAR.
Americans are likely to dwell for a long time upon the glories of our Centennial of Independence. The year 1876 came and went, and left its impress on the world. Our great Exposition at Philadelphia was happily devised. We celebrated the one-hundredth anniversary of our independence, and invited all nations, including Great Britain, to join us in the festival. The Exposition was successful in a high degree. The nation was at its best. The warrior President who had led her armies to victory announced the opening and the close. Great things were seen. One or two great orations were pronounced, and in particular a great Centennial poem was contributed by that gifted son of genius, Sidney Lanier, of Georgia. Nor do we refrain from repeating, after twenty years, one of his poetic passages:
"Long as thine Art shall love true love; Long as thy Science truth shall know; Long as thine Eagle harms no Dove; Long as thy Law by law shall grow; Long as thy God is God above, Thy brother every man below, So long, dear Land of all my love, Thy name shall shine, thy fame shall glow!"
With the autumnal frost the great Exposition was concluded; and with that autumnal frost came a peril the like of which our nation had not hitherto encountered. The presidential election was held, and ended in a disputed presidency. We had agreed since the beginning of the century that ours should be a government by party. Against this policy Washington had contended stoutly; but after the death of the Father of his Country, the policy prevailed—as it has continued to prevail more and more to the present day.
In 1876 a Democratic reaction came on against the long-dominant Republican party, and Samuel J. Tilden, candidate of the Democracy, secured a popular majority. The electoral majority remained in dispute. Both parties claimed the victory. The election was so evenly balanced in its results—there had been so much irregularity in the voting and subsequent electoral proceedings in the States of Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Oregon, and the powers of Congress over the votes of such States were so vaguely defined under existing legislation—that no certain declaration of the result could be made. The public mind was confounded with perplexity and excitement, and there began to be heard the threatenings of civil war.
Perhaps the nation did not realize the danger; but the danger was present, and threatened to be overwhelming. The Republican party in possession of the Government was not willing to lose its advantage, and the Democratic party, declaring its majority to be rightful, was ready to rise in insurrection. As to the facts in the case, neither Samuel J. Tilden nor General R.B. Hayes was clearly elected to the presidency. The Democrats had carried two or three States by the persuasion of shotguns, and the Republicans with the aid of electoral commissions had counted in the electoral votes of a State or two which they did not carry at all. The excitement increased with the approach of winter, and it was proposed in a leading Democratic journal of the West that a hundred thousand Democrats should rise and march unarmed on Washington City, there to influence the decision of the disputed question.
When Congress convened in December, the whole question of the disputed presidency came at once before that body for settlement. The situation was seriously complicated by the political complexion of the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the former body the Republicans had a majority sufficient to control its action, while in the House the Democratic majority was still more decisive and equally willful.
At length the necessity of doing something became imperative. The great merchants and manufacturers of the country and the boards of trade in the principal cities grew clamorous for a peaceable adjustment of the difficulty. The spirit of compromise gained ground, and it was agreed to refer the disputed election returns to a joint high commission, to consist of five members chosen from the United States Senate, five from the House of Representatives, and five from the Supreme Court.
The judgment of this tribunal was to be final. The commission was accordingly constituted. The disputed returns were sent, State by State, to the High Court for decision. That body was itself divided politically, and every member decided each question according to his politics. The Republicans had seven votes in the court, the Democrats seven votes, and one vote, that of Judge Joseph P. Bradley, was said to be independent. But Judge Bradley was a Republican in his political antecedents, and whenever a question came to a close issue, he decided with his party.
On the second of March, only three days before the time for the inauguration, a final decision was reached. The Republican candidates were declared elected by one electoral vote over Tilden and Hendricks. Mr. Tilden had himself counseled peace and acquiescence. The decision was sullenly accepted by the Democrats, and the most dangerous political crisis in American history passed harmlessly by without violence or bloodshed. No patriot will care to see such a crisis come again.
THE DOUBLE FETE IN FRANCE AND GERMANY.
The Third Republic of France has passed its twenty-fifth anniversary, and the German Empire has just celebrated its semi-jubilee. The French held their fete in September of 1895, and on the eighteenth of the following January all the Fatherland shouted greetings to the grandson of old Wilhelm the Kaiser. The Gaul and the Teuton have thus agreed to be happy coincidently; but for very different reasons! The Gaul has his Republic and the Teuton his Empire. Side by side on the map lie the two great powers, representing in their history and present aspect one of the strongest contrasts to be found in human annals.
What the German Empire is we may permit the Emperor himself, in his recent anniversary address, to explain. His speech shows that Germany, of all civilized nations, has gone furthest in the direction of unqualified imperialism. The utterances of Emperor William surpass the speeches of the Czar himself, in avowing all the pretensions and fictions of monarchy in the Middle Ages. The Hohenzollern potentate openly makes the pretence of governing his subjects by rights and prerogatives in nowise derived from the people, but wholly derived from himself and his grandfather. Why should Germany be an Empire and France a Republic? How could such an amazing historical result come into the world? The French Republic and the new Empire of Germany were not made by generals and kings and politicians in 1870-71. Indeed, nothing is made by the strutters who are designated with such titles. The two great powers having their centres at Berlin and Paris have their roots as deep down as the subsoil of the ages. They grew out of antecedents older than the Crusades, older than Charlemagne, older than Augustus and the Christ. They came by law—even if the result has surprised the expectation of mankind.
When Caesar made his conquest of Europe, he found the country north of the Alps in the possession of two races—both Aryan. These two races were as unlike then as they are now. The Gauls west of the Rhine were proper material for the reception of Roman rule; but the Germans beyond the Rhine were not receptive of any rule but their own. The Gallic races became Romanized. Gaul was a part of the Roman Empire and reasoning from the facts, we should have expected the Gaulish nations to develop into the imperial form.
For like reason we should expect the Teutonic races to develop into the greatest democracy of the modern world. Contrary to this double expectation, we have a French Republic and a German Empire. In 1870 the Gallic race became suddenly democratic, and at the same time the Germans became the greatest imperialists among civilized mankind! The German Empire has arisen where we should have expected a democracy; and the French Republic has arisen where we should have expected an Empire.
The illogical Empire lies alongside of the illogical Republic. They have a line of demarkation which, though drawn on the map, is not drawn on the ground. The great antagonistic facts touch each other through a long line of territorial extent, but the ethnic diversity does not permit political union. The Teuton and the Gaul continue to touch, but they are not one, and cannot be. Two neighbors living between Verdun and Metz are only a quarter of a mile apart. They cultivate their grounds in the same manner, raise the same fruits, have vines growing on the two sides of the same trellis. They speak the same language, exchange gossip and poultry; but their children do not go to the same school! One of them is a French democrat; the other, a German imperialist!
The reason for this reversal of expectation, by which the anticipated institutions of France are found in Germany and those of Germany in France, is this: It seems to be a law of human progress that mankind moves forward by reactions against its own preceding conditions; that is, Progress disappoints History by doing the other thing! The French race has done the other thing; and so has the German race! They who should have been logically the imperialists of Western Europe are the republicans and democrats. They who should have been logically the democrats and republicans of Europe—who should have converted Germania into the greatest democracy of the world—have accepted instead the most absolute empire. The phrase "German Empire" is, we think, the greatest paradox of modern history; and the phrase "French Republic" is another like it. But history has decreed it so; and the reason is that human progress works out its highest results by doing the other thing!
But this philosophical speculation or interpretation does not trouble either the French or the Germans. They both seem to rejoice at what has come to pass, and do not trouble themselves about the logistics of history. They celebrate their quarter centennials, the one for the Republic, and the other for the Empire, with profound enthusiasm, shouting, Vive for the one and Hoch for the other with an impulsive patriotism that has come down to them with the blood of their respective races from before the Christian era!
Lord Byron in his celebrated apostrophe to the ocean could hardly omit a reference to the most destructive conflict of naval warfare within the present century. In one of his supreme stanzas he reserves Trafalgar for the climax:
"The armaments which thunderstrike the walls Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake And monarchs tremble in their capitals, The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make Their clay creator the vain title take Of lord of thee and arbiter of war,— These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride or spoils of Trafalgar."
The battle of Trafalgar, preceding by forty-two days the battle of Austerlitz, holds the same relation to British ascendancy on the ocean that Napoleon's victory over the Emperors Alexander and Francis held to the French ascendancy on Continental Europe. Henceforth Great Britain, according to her national hymn, "ruled the wave;" henceforth, until after Waterloo, France ruled the land. Up to this date, namely, 1805, French ambition had reached as far as the dominion of the sea. It appears that Napoleon himself had no genius for naval warfare, but his ambition included the ocean; coincidently with his accession to the Imperial throne a great fleet was prepared and placed under command of Admiral Villeneuve for the recovery of the Mediterranean.
This fleet was destined in the first place for a possible invasion of England, but fate and Providence had reserved for the armament another service. At the same time the British fleet, to the number of twenty-seven ships of the line and four frigates, was brought to a high stage of proficiency and discipline, and placed under command of Lord Horatio Nelson. His second in command was Admiral Collingwood, who succeeded him after his death. The French fleet was increased to thirty-three ships of the line and five frigates, the addition being the Spanish contingent under Admirals Gravina and Alava. The Spanish vessels joined Villeneuve from Cadiz about the middle of May. The plan of the French commander was to rally a great squadron, cross the Atlantic to the West Indies, return as if bearing down on Europe, and raise the blockades at Ferrol, Rochefort and Brest.
As soon as it was known, however, that Nelson was abroad, his antagonist became wary and all of his movements were marked with caution. Meanwhile Lord Nelson sought for the allied-fleet on the Mediterranean, but found it not. He then passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and sailed for the coast of South America; but before reaching his destination he learned that the Spanish fleet had sailed for Europe again. Nelson followed, but did not fall in with the enemy. Villeneuve, gaining knowledge of the movements of the English admiral, and disregarding the instructions of Napoleon, withdrew from Ferrol to the south and put in at Cadiz. It was here that Nelson, so to speak, brought the allied fleet to bay.
On the southern coast of Spain, between Cadiz and Gibraltar, the Cape of Trafalgar projects into the Atlantic. In the autumn Nelson's fleet beat southward into this part of the seas, and it was here that the battle was fought. The rival commanders were eager for a meeting, and each foresaw that the contest was likely to be decisive. Each admiral had behind him a long list of naval achievements, and each to his own nation was greatly endeared.
Nelson had, on the first of August, 1798, destroyed the French fleet in the bay of Aboukir. In 1800 he had been raised to the peerage. In 1801 he had bombarded Copenhagen; and for that doubtful achievement had been made a viscount. One of his arms was gone, and he was covered with the scars of battle. Villeneuve had also a well-earned reputation. Could he but add to his previous services the defeat of Nelson, his fame would be established for all time.
It was on the twenty-first of October, 1805, that the combined squadrons of France and Spain on the one side, and the fleet of Great Britain on the other, came face to face off the Cape of Trafalgar. The rocks of Gibraltar might be seen in the distance. The sea was calm and the sky clear. The combatants discerned in advance the greatness of the event that was at hand.
The conflict that ensued ranks among the great naval battles of the world. Lord Nelson, with all his heroism, was a vain man, capable of spectacular display. He clad himself in the insignia of the many orders to which he belonged, and might be conspicuously seen from the decks of the French ships. In fact, he seemed to court death almost as much as he strove for victory. In the beginning of the engagement he displayed from his pennon, where it might be read by the whole fleet, this signal: "England expects every man to do his duty."
On the display of this signal the British fleet rang with cheers. The shouting was heard as far as the opposing Armada. The tradition goes that Villeneuve said on hearing the shouts of the British marines: "The battle it lost already." The admirals of the allied fleet arranged their vessels in parallel lines, so that each ship of the rear line should break the space between two of the advanced line. This arrangement enabled all the ships to fire at once, and it was the purpose of Villeneuve to hold his vessels in this form so that the British squadron might gain no advantage from manoeuvring.
Nelson's arrangement, however, was quite different. His plan was to attack at two points and break through the Armada, throwing the ships into confusion right and left. This brought his own vessels into the arrangement of two harrows, each pointing the apex against the designated vessels of the opposing squadron. One of the harrows was to be led by Collingwood in his ship called the "Royal Sovereign." Nelson led his column in his flagship the "Victory." The preliminaries of the battle extended to noon, and then the British attack was begun by Collingwood, who bore down on the two opposing vessels, the "Santa Anna" and the "Fougeux." Nelson also sailed to the attack in the "Victory" and broke through the enemy's line between the "Redoubtable" and the "Santissima Trinidad." The "Victory" in passing poured terrible broad-sides into both vessels.
It seems that both the British admirals in going into battle outsailed somewhat their supporting ships; but these soon came into action and the battle line of the allied fleet was fatally broken at both points. All the vessels were soon engaged, and the rear line of Villeneuve gave way as well as the first. Nevertheless, the battle continued furiously for about two hours. The "Santissima Trinidad" was at that time the largest warship and the most formidable that had ever been built. The "Redoubtable" was only second in strength and equipment. Five or six others were men-of-war of the heaviest draught and metal. The French and Spanish soldiers fought bravely, going into the battle with flying streamers and answering shouts.
Nelson, utterly fearless, seems to have had a premonition of his fate. He had made a hasty codicil to his will, and entered the struggle to conquer or die. Both fates were reserved for him. From the beginning of the battle the French and Spanish ships suffered terribly from the British fire; but they also inflicted heavy losses on their assailants. Here and there a French vessel was shattered and fell out of the fight. Nelson was struck with a ball, but refused to go below. Again he was hit in the shoulder by a musketeer from the masts of the "Redoubtable" and fell to the deck. "They have done for me at last, Hardy," said he to Sir Thomas Hardy, captain of the ship. He was carried below by the officers, and as he lay bleeding the news was brought to him that already fifteen of the enemy's ships had surrendered. "That is well," said the dying hero; "but I had bargained for twenty." Then his thoughts turned to Lady Hamilton, to whom he was devoted. "Take care of Lady Hamilton, Hardy; take care of poor Lady Hamilton," said he, as the death dew dampened his brow. He then embraced the captain and expired.
The victory of the British fleet was complete. The allies lost nineteen ships. Admiral Gravina was killed, and Villeneuve was taken prisoner. He never reacted from the mortification of his defeat, but lingered until the following year, when he despaired of life and hope and committed suicide. Nelson, in the midst of a pageant hitherto unsurpassed, was buried in St. Paul's. The battle of Trafalgar passed into history as the first and greatest naval conflict of the century.
CAMPAIGN OF AUSTERLITZ.
The first four years of the present century were a lull before a tempest. These years covered on our side of the sea the administration of the elder Adams. In Europe they corresponded to the period of the transformation of the Consulate into the French Umpire. This change was rapidly and easily effected. The star of Napoleon emerged from the chaos and the cloud and rose rapidly to the zenith. But the mood of the age was war, war. Could Europe in these first years have foreseen the awful struggles that were just before, then Europe might well have shuddered.
Now it was that the ascendancy of the Corsican brought in a reign of violence and blood. Napoleon became the trampler of vineyards. His armies made Europe into mire. England—agreeing at Amiens not to fight—fought. Pitt, now in the last year of his life, used all of his resources to bring about a league against France. He persuaded Alexander of Russia, Francis of Austria, and Gustavus of Sweden—all easy dupes of a greater than themselves—to make a new coalition. He tried to induce Frederick William of Prussia to join his fortunes with the rest; but the last-named monarch was for the time restrained by the weakness of prudence. The agents of Napoleon held out to the king suggestions of the restoration of Hanover to Prussia. But Austria and Russia and Sweden pressed forward confidently to overthrow the new French Empire. That Empire, they said, should not see the end of the first year of its creation!
The Austrians were first in the field. The Russians, under Kutusoff, came on into Pomerania from the east. Out of Sweden, with a large army, came down Gustavus, the Don Quixote of the north, to crush Bernadotte, who held Hanover. Napoleon for his part sprang forth for the campaign of Austerlitz, perhaps the most brilliant military episode in the history of mankind. With incredible facility he threw forward to the Rhine an army of 180,000 men. His policy was—as always—to overcome the allies in detail.
On the twenty-fourth of September, the Emperor left Paris. The Empress and Talleyrand went with him as far as Strasburg. On the second of October, hostilities began at Guntzburg. Four days afterward the French army crossed the Danube. On the eighth of the month, Murat won the battle of Wertingen, capturing Count Auffenberg, with 2000 prisoners. On the tenth the French had Augsburg, and on the twelfth, Munich. On the fourteenth Soult triumphed at Memingen, capturing a corps of 6000 Austrians; and on the same day Ney literally overran the territory which was soon to become his Duchy of Elchingen. Napoleon out-generaled the main division of the enemy at Ulm. The Austrians, under General Mack, 33,000 strong, were cooped up in the town and, on the seventeenth of October, forced to capitulate. Eight field-marshals and generals, including the Prince Lichtenstein and Generals Klenau and Fresnel, were made prisoners. "Soldiers of the Grand Army," said Napoleon, "we have finished the campaign in a fortnight!"
On the day of the capitulation of Ulm, Massena in Italy drove back the army of the Archduke Charles. The Austrians to this date, in a period of twenty days, had lost by battle and capture fully fifty thousand men! On the twenty-seventh of October, the French army crossed the Inn. Saltzburg and Braunau were taken. In Italy, Massena, on the thirtieth, won the battle of Caldiero, and took 5000 prisoners. The French closed toward the Austrian capital. On the thirteenth of November, Napoleon, having obtained possession of the bridges of the Danube, entered Vienna. He established himself in the imperial palace of Schonbrunn. The Austrian Empire and the Holy Roman Empire—which was its shadowy penumbra—seemed to vanish like ghosts before him.
Out of Pomerania into Moravia, to the plain of Olmutz, the great Russian army under the Czar and Kutusoff, came roaring. There they were united with a heavy division of the Austrians, under the Emperor Francis. The latter had fled from his capital, and staked his last fortunes on a battle in the field. The allied army was 80,000 strong. Napoleon, with 60,000 men, commanded by Soult, Lannes, Murat and Bernadotte, advanced rapidly from the direction of Vienna, as far as Brunn, and there awaited the onset.
Just beyond this town, at Austerlitz, the French were arranged in a semicircle, with the convex front toward the allies, who occupied the outer arc on a range of heights. Such was the situation on the night of December 1, 1805. The morrow will be the first anniversary of our coronation in Notre Dame—a glorious day for battle!
With the morning of the second, Napoleon could scarcely restrain his ardor. The enthusiasm of the army knew no bounds. On the night before, the Emperor, in his gray coat, had gone the circle of the camps, and the soldiers, extemporizing straw torches to light the way, ran before him. Looking eagerly through the gray dawn, he saw the enemy badly arranged, or moving dangerously in broken masses under the cover of a Moravian fog. Presently the fog lifted, and the sun burst out in splendor. The onset of the French was irresistible. The allied centre was pierced. The Austrian and Russian emperors with their armies were sent flying in utter rout and panic from the field. Thirty thousand Russians and Austrians were killed, wounded and taken. Alexander barely escaped capture. Before sunset the Third Coalition was broken into fragments and blown away. At the conference between Napoleon and Francis, two days afterward, at the Mill of Sar-Uschitz, some of the French officers overheard the father of Maria Louisa lie to her future husband, thus: "I promise not to fight you any more."
Whoever visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park, New York, is likely to pause before a great historical painting by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier. The picture is entitled "Friedland—1807." There goes a critical opinion that, though common fame would have Austerlitz to be the greatest battle of the Napoleonic wars, the palm ought really to be given to Friedland. At any rate, the martial splendor of that day has been caught by the vision and brush of Meissonier, and delivered, in what is probably the most splendid painting in America, to the immortality of art.
Let us note the great movements that preceded the climax of Friedland. In the summer of 1806, the historical conditions in Europe favored a general peace. Pitt was dead, and Fox agreed with Napoleon that a peace might now be secured by the restoration of Hanover to England. Suddenly, however, on the thirteenth of September, 1806, Fox died, and by the incoming of Lauderdale the whole complexion was changed. Toryism again ran rampant. The Anglo-Russo-Prussian intrigue was renewed, and the rash Frederick William sent a peremptory challenge to Napoleon to get himself out of Germany.
The Emperor had in truth agreed to withdraw his forces, but the Czar Alexander had also agreed to relinquish certain vantage grounds which he held—and had not done it. Therefore Napoleon's army corps would remain in Germany. Frederick William suddenly declared war, and in a month after the death of Fox, Napoleon concentrated in Saxe-Weimar an army of a hundred thousand men. Then, on the fourteenth of October, 1806, was fought the dreadful battle of Jena, in which the Prussians lost 12,000 in killed and wounded, and 15,000 prisoners. On the same day, Davout fell upon a division of 50,000 under the Duke of Brunswick and Frederick William in person, and won another signal victory which cost the Germans about ten thousand men.
Prussia was utterly overwhelmed by the disaster. Her fortresses were surrendered without resistance, and Napoleon, in less than a fortnight, occupied Berlin. On the twenty-first of November, he issued from that city his celebrated Berlin decree, declaring the British Islands in a state of blockade, and interdicting all correspondence and trade with England! The property of British subjects, under a wide schedule of liabilities, was declared contraband of war.
Meanwhile the aid promised to Prussia by the Czar had been too slow for the lightning that struck at Jena. The oncoming Russians reached the Vistula, but were forced back by the victorious French, who took possession of Warsaw. There the Emperor established his winter quarters, and remained for nearly three months, engaged in the preparation of new plans of conquest and new schemes for the pacification of Europe.
After Jena, Prussia, though crushed, remained belligerent. Her shattered forces drew off to the borders, and were joined by the Russians in East Prussia. The campaign of 1807 opened here. On the eighth of February, the French army, about 70,000 strong, advanced against the allies, commanded by Benningsen and Lestocq. At the town of Eylau, about twenty miles from Koenigsberg, a great but indecisive battle was fought, in which each army suffered a loss of nearly eighteen thousand men. The Russians and Prussians fell back about four miles to Friedland, and both armies were reinforced, the French to about eighty thousand, and the allies to approximately the same number.
Here for a season the two great camps were pitched against each other. The shock of Eylau and the inclemency of the spring, no less than the political complications that thickened on every horizon, held back the military movements until the beginning of summer. But at length the crisis came. On the fourteenth of June was fought the great battle of Friedland and the allied army was virtually destroyed. The loss of the Russians and Prussians was more than twenty-five thousand men, while the French loss was not quite eight thousand. Napoleon commanded in person, and his triumph was prodigious.
Let not the visitor to the Metropolitan Museum fail to look long and attentively on the picture of the scene which represents the beginning of the battle on the side of the French. There on a slight elevation, in the wheatfield of June, sitting on his white horse, with his triangular hat lifted in silent salutation, surrounded by the princes and marshals of his Empire, sits the sardonic somnambulist, while before him on the left the Cuirassiers of the Guard, on their tremendous horses gathered out of Normandy, plunging at full gallop, bearing down through the broken wheat, with buglers in the van and sabers flashing high and bearded mouths wide open with yellings that resound through the world till now, charge wildly, irresistibly onward against the unseen enemy, reckless alike of life and death, but choosing rather death if only the marble face but smile!
UNDER THE RUSSIAN SNOWS.
The first empire of France was buried between the Niemen and Moscow. The funeral was attended by vultures and Cossacks.
It was on the twenty-fourth of June, 1812, that Napoleon began the invasion of Russia. The dividing line was the River Niemen. The inhabitants fell back before him. He had not advanced far when he encountered a new commander, with whom he was unfamiliar. It was Field-Marshal Nature. Marshal Nature had an army that the Old Guard had never confronted. His herald was Frost, and his aid-de-camp was Zero. One of his army corps was Snow. His bellowing artillery was charged with Lithuanian tempests. Hail was his grape and shrapnel. The Emperor of the French had never studied Marshal Nature's tactics—not even in the Alps.
The Russian summer was as midwinter to the soldiers of France and Spain and Italy. Some of the invading divisions could hardly advance at all. The howling storms made impassable the ungraded roads; the 1200 guns of the Grand Army sank into the mire. Horse-life and man-life fell and perished in the sleet of the mock-summer that raged along the watershed between the Dwina and the Dnieper.
The Russians under Kutusoff fell back to Smolensko. There on the sixteenth of August they fought and were defeated with a loss of nearly twelve thousand men. The way was thus opened as far as the Moskwa. At that place on the seventh of September Kutusoff a second time gave battle, at the village of Borodino. This was one of the most murderous conflicts of modern times. A thousand cannon vomited death all day. Under the smoke a quarter of a million of men struggled like tigers. At nightfall the French had the field. The defeated Russians hung sullenly around the arena where they had left more than 40,000 of their dead and wounded. The Frence losses were almost equally appalling. "Sire," said Marshal Ney, "we would better withdraw and reform." "Thou advise a retreat, Michel?" said the marble head, as it turned to the Bulldog of Battles.
Kutusoff abandoned Moscow. The inhabitants receded with him to the great plains eastward. On the fifteenth of September, Napoleon entered the ancient capital. The streets were as a necropolis. All was silence. The conqueror took up his residence in the old palace of the Czars. Here he would spend the winter in luxurious quarters. Here he would extemporize theatres, and here he would issue edicts as from Berlin and Milan. Lo, out of the Bazaar, near the Kremlin, bursts a volume of flame! The surrounding region is lighted with the glare. Moscow is on fire in a thousand places. The equinoctial gales fan the flame. For five days there is the roar of universal combustion. Then it subsides. But Moscow is a blackened ruin. Napoleon tries in vain to open negotiations with the Czar; but Alexander and Kutusoff will not hear. The French are left to enjoy the ashes of a burnt-up Russian city.
Already winter was at hand. The snow was falling. The soldier of fortune had at last found his destiny. On the nineteenth of October, he left Moscow, and the retreat of the Grand Army began toward the Niemen. Had the retreat been unimpeded, that army might have made its way back to France with comparatively trifling losses. Indeed the fame of having burnt the old capital of the Czars might have satisfied the conqueror with his expedition. But no sooner did he recede than the Cossacks arose on every hand, and assailed the fugitives. The soldiers of the West and South dropped and perished by thousands along the frozen roads. The ice-darts in their sides were sharper than Russian bayonets. A hundred and twenty thousand men rolled back horridly across the hostile world. The bridges of the Beresina break down under the retreating army, and in the following spring, when the ice-gorges go down the river, 12,000 dead Frenchmen shall be washed up from the floods!
There is constant battle on flank and rear. All stragglers perish. The army dwindles away. It is almost destroyed. Ney brings up the rear guard, wasted to a handful. At the passage of the Niemen, soiled with dirt, blackened with smoke, without insignia, with only drawn sword, and facing backward toward the hated region, the "Bravest of the Brave" crosses the bridge. He is the last man to save himself from the indescribable horrors of the Campaign of Russia.
The remnants of the Grand Army dragged themselves along until they found refuge in Koenigsberg. Napoleon had gone ahead toward France. After Moscow he took a sledge, and sped away across the snow-covered wastes of Poland, on his solitary journey to Paris. There is a painting of this scene by the Slavic artist Kowalski, which represents the three black horses abreast, galloping with all speed with the Emperor's sledge across the cheerless world which he traversed. He came to his own capital unannounced. None knew of his arrival until the next day. At four o'clock in the morning of that day, some one entered his office at the Tuileries, and found him with his war-map of Europe spread out on the floor before him. He was planning another campaign! In doing so, he could hardly forget that the Grand Army of his glory was under the Russian snows!
One battle in this century rises in fame above all other conflicts of the ages. It is Waterloo.
It was on the night of the seventeenth of June, 1815, that the British and French armies, drawing near each other on the borders of Belgium, encamped, the one near the little village of Waterloo and the other at La Belle Alliance. They were close together. A modern fieldpiece could easily throw a shell from Napoleon's headquarters over La Haie Sainte to Mont St. Jean, and far beyond into the forest. During the afternoon of the seventeenth, and the greater part of the night, there was a heavy fall of rain. On the following morning the ground was muddy. The Emperor, viewing the situation, was unwilling to precipitate the battle until his artillery might deploy over a dry field.
As to the temper of the Emperor, that was good. Hugo says of him: "From the morning his impenetrability had been smiling, and on June 18, 1815, this profound soul, coated with granite, was radiant. The man who had been sombre at Austerlitz was gay at Waterloo. The greatest predestined men offer these contradictions; for our joys are a shadow and the supreme smile belongs to God.
"'Caesar laughs, Pompey will weep,' the legionaries of the Fulminatrix legion used to say. On this occasion Pompey was not destined to weep, but it is certain that Caesar laughed.
"At one o'clock in the morning, amid the rain and storm, he had explored with Bertrand the hills near Rossomme, and was pleased to see the long lines of English fires illumining the horizon from Frischemont to Braine l'Alleud. It seemed to him as if destiny had made an appointment with him on a fixed day and was punctual. He stopped his horse and remained for some time motionless, looking at the lightning and listening to the thunder. The fatalist was heard to cast into the night the mysterious words, 'We are agreed.' Napoleon was mistaken; they no longer agreed."
The arena of Waterloo is an undulating plain. Strategically it has the shape of an immense harrow. The clevis is on the height called Mont St. Jean, where Wellington was posted with the British army. Behind that is the village of Waterloo. The right leg of the harrow terminates at the hamlet of La Belle Alliance. The left leg is the road from Brussels to Nivelles. The cross-bar intersects the right leg at La Haie Sainte. The right leg is the highway from Brussels to Charleroi. The intersection of the bar with the left leg is near the old stone chateau of Hougomont. The battle was fought on the line of the cross-bar and in the triangle between it and the clevis.
The conflict began just before noon. The armies engaged were of equal strength, numbering about 80,000 men on each side. Napoleon was superior in artillery, but Wellington's soldiers had seen longer service in the field. They were his veterans from the Peninsular War, perhaps the stubbornest fighters in Europe. Napoleon's first plan was to double back the allied left on the centre. This involved the capture of La Haie Sainte, and, as a strategic corollary, the taking of Hougomont. The latter place was first attacked. The field and wood were carried, but the chateau was held in the midst of horrid carnage by the British.
Early in the afternoon a Prussian division under Billow, about 10,000 strong, came on the field, and Napoleon had to withdraw a division from his centre to repel the oncoming Germans. For two or three hours, in the area between La Haie Sainte and Hougomont, the battle raged, the lines swaying with uncertain fortune back and forth. La Haie Sainte was taken and held by Ney. On the whole, the British lines receded. Wellington's attempt to retake La Haie Sainte ended in a repulse. Ney, on the counter charge, called on Napoleon for reinforcements, and the latter at that moment, changing his plan of battle, determined to make the principal charge on the British centre, saying, however, "It is an hour too soon." The support which he sent to Ney was not as heavy as it should have been, but the Marshal concluded that the crisis was at hand, and Napoleon sought to support him with Milhaud's cuirassiers and a division of the Middle Guard. Under this counter charge the British lines reeled and staggered, but still clung desperately to their position. They gave a little, and then hung fast and could be moved no farther. In another part of the field Durutte carried the allied position of Papelotte, and Lobau routed Buelow from Planchenois. At half-past four everything seemed to portend disaster to the allies and victory to the French.
If the tragedy of Waterloo had been left at that hour to work out its own results as between France and England it would appear that the latter must have gone to the wall; but destiny had prepared another end for the conflict. Waterloo was a point of concentration. Several tides had set thither, and some of them had already arrived and broken on the rocks. Other tides were rolling in. The British wave had been first, and this had now been rolled back by the tide of France. A German wave was coming, however, and another French billow, either or both of which might break at any moment.
On the morning of June 18, at the little town of Wavre, fifteen miles southeast of Brussels and about eight or ten miles from Waterloo, a battle had been fought between the French contingent under Marshal Grouchy and the Prussian division under Thielmann, who commanded the left wing of Marshal Bluecher's army. That commander had a force of fully forty thousand men under him, and was on his way to join his forces with those of Wellington on the plateau of Mont St. Jean. Grouchy had at this time between thirty and forty thousand men, and was under orders from Napoleon to keep in touch with his right wing, watching the Prussians and joining himself to the main army according to the emergency.
These two divisions—Bluecher's and Grouchy's—were sliding along toward Waterloo, and on the afternoon of the eighteenth it became one of the great questions in the history of this century which would first arrive on the field. Napoleon believed that Grouchy was at hand. Wellington in his desperation breathed out the wish that either night or Bluecher would come. The ambiguous result of the principal conflict made it more than ever desirable to both of the commanders to gain their reinforcements, each before the other. The event showed that the arrival of Buelow's contingent was really the signal for the oncoming of the whole Prussian army. The French Emperor, however, remained confident, and at half-after four he felt warranted in sending a preliminary despatch of victory to Paris.
Just at this juncture, however, an uproar was witnessed far to the right. The woods seemed to open, and the banners of Bluecher shot up in the horizon. Grouchy was not on his rear or flank! Napoleon saw at a glance that it was then or never. His sun of Austerlitz hung low in the west. The British centre must be broken, or the empire which he had builded with his genius must pass away like a phantom. He called out four battalions of the Middle and six of the Old Guard. In the last fifteen years that Guard had been thrown a hundred times on the enemies of France, and never yet repulsed. It deemed itself invincible.
At seven o'clock, just as the June sun was sinking to the horizon, the bugles sounded and the finest body of horsemen in Europe started to its doom on the squares of Wellington. The grim horsemen rode to their fate like heroes. The charge rolled on like an avalanche. It plunged into the sunken road of O'Hain. It seemed to roll over. It rose from the low grounds and broke on the British squares. They reeled under the shock, then reformed and stood fast. Around and around those immovable lines the soldiers of the Empire beat and beat in vain. It was the war of races at its climax. It was the final death-grip of the Gaul and the Teuton. The Old Guard recoiled. The wild cry of "La Garde recule" was heard above the roar of battle. The crisis of the Modern Era broke in blood and smoke, and the past was suddenly victorious. The Guard was broken into flying squadrons. Ruin came with the counter charge of the British. Ney, glorious in his despair, sought to stay the tide. For an hour longer he was a spectacle to gods and men. Five horses had been killed under him. He was on foot. He was hatless. He clutched the hilt of a broken sword. He was covered with dust and blood. But his grim face was set against the victorious enemy in the hopeless and heroic struggle to rally his shattered columns.
Meanwhile the Prussians rushed in from the right. Wellington's Guards rose and charged. Havoc came down with the darkness. A single regiment of the Old Guard was formed by Napoleon into a last square around which to rally the fugitives. The Emperor stood in the midst and declared his purpose to die with them. Marshal Soult forced him out of the melee, and the famous square, commanded by Cambronne—flinging his profane objurgation into the teeth of the English—perished with the wild cry of "Vive l'Empereur!"
Hugo says that the panic of the French admits of an explanation; that the disappearance of the great man was necessary for the advent of a great age; that in the battle of Waterloo there was more than a storm, that is, the bursting of a meteor. "At nightfall," he continues, "Bernard and Bertrand seized by the skirt of his coat in a field near Genappe a haggard, thoughtful, gloomy man, who, carried so far by the current of the rout, had just dismounted, passed the bridle over his arm, and was now with wandering eye returning alone to Waterloo. It was Napoleon, the immense somnambulist of a shattered dream!"
On the spot where French patriotism afterward planted the bronze lion to commemorate forever the extinction of the Old Guard of the French Empire, and of Napoleon the Great, the traveler from strange lands pauses, at the distance of eighty years from the horrible cataclysm, and reflects with wonder how within the memory of living men human nature could have been raised by the passion of battle to such sublime heroism as that displayed in these wheatfields and orchards where the Old Guard of France sank into oblivion, but rose to immortal fame.
In the fall of 1852 Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Prince President of the French Republic, about to become the French Empire, was invited to a banquet by the Chamber of Commerce in Bordeaux. He was on his triumphal tour through the South of France. At the banquet he spoke, saying: "I accept with eagerness the opportunity afforded me by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce for thanking your great city for its cordial reception.... At present the nation surrounds me with its sympathies.... To promote the welfare of the country, it is not necessary to apply new systems, but the chief point above all is to produce confidence in the present and security for the future. For these reasons it seems France desires a return to the Empire. There is one objection to which I must reply. Certain minds seem to entertain a dread of war; certain persons say the Empire is only war. But I say the Empire is peace."
The last four words of this extract became the motto of the Second Empire. Everywhere the Prince President's saying was blown to the world. "The Empire is peace" was published in the newspapers, echoed on the stage, and preached from the pulpits.
But the Empire was not peace. Just at this time Tennyson wrote his poem against France, as follows:
"There is a sound of thunder afar, Storm in the South that darkens the day— Storm of battle and thunder of war; Well if it do not roll our way! Form, form; riflemen, form! Ready, be ready to meet the storm!"
In less than a year the storm broke. It broke in Eastern Europe. Of the personal forces that brought the breaking, the two principal were the Czar Nicholas and the Emperor Louis Napoleon. In 1853 the Czar demanded of the Sultan certain guarantees of the rights of the Greek Christians in the Turkish provinces. This was refused, and the Crimean War broke out on the Danube. The first power in Western Europe to support the Sultan was France, while England and Sardinia came hard after. There was an alliance of England and France in support of the Turkish cause. In the bottom of the difficulty lay this question: Whether Russia might now move forward, gain control of the Black Sea, overawe the Porte, force her way through the Sea of Marmora into the Mediterranean, and thus rectify the mistake of Peter the Great in building his capital on the Gulf of Finland. All this and much more was called The Eastern Question.
The coast of the Black Sea became the seat of the war that ensued. The Russians posted themselves strongly in the Crimea. That peninsula was commanded by the famous fortress of Sebastopol, situated at the southwestern extremity. On the twenty-fifth of September, 1854, the heights of Balaklava, lying south of the fortress, were seized by a British division under command of Lord Raglan. In this way the Russians were besieged; for the allied fleets had made their way into the Black Sea, and the land side of Sebastopol was commanded by Balaklava.
The siege that ensued lasted for nearly eleven months, and was one of the most memorable of modern times. On two occasions the Russians sallied forth and gave battle. The first conflict of this kind was on the night of the twenty-fifth of October, 1854, at Balaklava. The Russian attack on the English and Turks was at first successful, and four redoubts were carried by the assailants. At the crisis of the battle, however, the British Highlanders came into action, and the Russians were repulsed. The latter did not attempt to renew the attack, but fell back into their intrenchments. It was at this juncture that the famous incident occurred of the Charge of the Light Brigade, which was immortalized by Tennyson in his poem.
A few days after the battle of Balaklava occurred another hard conflict at the village of Inkerman, at the head of the harbor of Sebastopol. On the fifth of November, 1854, a strong force of Russians descended from the heights, and were met by the allies on the slope opposite the ruins of an ancient town, which occupied the site in the times of Strabo. A severe battle ensued, in which the English and French were victorious. Many other sorties were made from the fortress, but were designed rather to delay the siege than with any serious hope of breaking the investment. Sometimes the conflicts, though desultory, were severe, taking the proportions of regular battles. But nothing decisive was effected, until winter closed on the scene, and brought upon both the besiegers and the besieged the greatest hardships.
The sufferings of the allies, so far away from the source of supplies, were at times beyond description. It is doubtful whether any other siege of modern times has entailed such cruel privations upon a civilized soldiery. At times the combined havoc of hunger, disease and cold was seen in its worst work in the allied camps. The genius of Elizabeth Butler has seized upon the morning "Roll Call," in the Crimean snows of 1855, as the subject of a great painting in which to depict the excess of human suffering and devotion—the acme of English heroism in a foreign land.
Meanwhile, the allied lines around Sebastopol were considerably contracted, and several serious assaults were made on the Russian works. On the twenty-third of February the French in front of the bastion, called the Malakhoff, assaulted that stronghold with great valor, but were unsuccessful. On the eighteenth of the following June an attempt was made to carry the Redan, a strong redoubt at the other extreme of the Russian defences, but the assailants were again repulsed. Then, on the sixteenth of August, followed the bloody battle of Tehernaya, in which the Russians made a final effort to raise the siege. With a force of 50,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry they threw themselves on the allied position, but were beaten back with great slaughter.
In the meantime, the trenches of the allies had been drawn so near the Russian works that there was a fair prospect of carrying the bastions by another assault. A terrible bombardment was begun on the fifth, and continued to the eighth of September, when both the Redan and the Malakhoff were taken by storm. But the struggle was desperate, and the losses on both sides immense. The Russians blew up their fortifications on the south side of the harbor, and retreated across the bay. Nor did they afterward make any serious attempt to regain the stronghold which the allies had wrested from them. The victors for their part proceeded to destroy the docks, arsenals and shipyards of Sebastopol, and, as far as possible, to prevent the future occupancy of the place by the Russians as a seat of commerce and war.