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hurried away by an enthusiastic feeling, which their officers often participate in instead of checking: but there was little danger that this would happen with the Russians; their cold and implicit obedience would rise superior even to their hatred of the French : and the assurance that it was the will of their emperor that they should continue to retreat, even after a victory, would reconcile them to the plan of the campaign. But the greatest danger and difficulty in the way of the regular and full execution of this plan, arose from the character of the emperor Alexander : he was known to be timid and irresolute; and it was apprehended, that though he had given his assent to the plan, and must be convinced that the advance of the French and the devastation of the country were parts of the plan, and therefore ought not to be regarded with dismay: yet, when they actually occurred, he would be for concluding a peace with Bonaparte. It was therefore judged prudent, that after reviewing and exhorting his , troops at Wilna, he should return to Petersburgh, where he would be not only at a distance from the intrigues of the French, and unacquainted personally with their advance and the devastation of the country; but, also surrounded by nobles, whose interest it was to be at peace with England, and who, therefore, would not permit him to listen to any terms which Bonaparte might propose.
The following Sketch of Bonaparte is drawn by M.
Fane, a German, who served in the Armies during the Revolution, but left it on Bonaparte taking the Imperial Tille.
I have seen this man, whose name is Bonaparte: I have seen him an officer in the artillery, general in the army, consul, and emperor. When yet the Italian u in his name (BUONAPARTE) gave him no concern: all then was Italian about him, his physiognomy, his complexion ; he had neither the habits, the manners, nor the agreeable figure of a Frenchman; the rough motions and the sharp form of the foreigner displeased. A cold reserved air gave his exterior an appearance of indifference for all about him. He always walked concentrated in himself. Careless of the events which awaited him, but always occupied with his glory, he appeared determined to perform whatever could conduct him towards it. In all places and at all times, he appears to be alone and insulated. Nothing that surrounds him can reach him ; he alone forms his world. Men are nothing to him they are the means, himself is the end. His mouth is hideous when he smiles on them ; it is a smile of contempt, a smile of pity, which cheers cowards in the terrible immoveability of the rest of his features. This solitary smile has been given to him by heaven; I have seen this man; he is simple in his private manners, in his tastes, and in his wants. An uniform, the least showy, a black hat, without any other ornament than the cockade, -this is his dress. He has neither a taste for the table, nor for women, nor for the fine arts; these would level him with other men; he has only one, that of being above them. He speaks little, he
speaks without selection, and with a kind of incorrectness. He gives little coherence to his ideas, he is satisfied to sketch them by strong outlines. His words, pronounced with a sharp voice are oracles; he does not occupy his attention by the form in which he gives them, provided the thought is weighty, strikes, and overturns. I have seen this inan-I have seen him near; his head is a rare union of the most marked characteristics. Every portrait of Bonaparte will be known, even if it should not resemble him, in case they are like Frederick the Great; he admits of an overcharged likeness. It requires only lips, where the contempt of men alternately resides, to be placed between the protuberance of such a chin, and the concavity of such a transition from the nose to the upper lip."
Proclamation of the Emperor Alexander.
“ The French troops have passed the borders of our empire-a completely treacherous attack is the reward of the observance of our alliance. For the preservation of peace I have exhausted every possible means, consistently with the honor of my throne and the advantage of my people. All my endeavors have been in vain. The emperor Napoleon has fully resolved in his own mind to ruin Russia. The most moderate proposals on our part have remained without answer. This sudden surprise has shown in an unequivocal manner the groundlessness of his pacific promises, which he lately repeated. There therefore remain no further steps for me to take, but to have recourse to arms, and to employ all that have been granted me by Providence to use force against force. I place full confidence in the zeal of my people, and in the bravery of my troops. As they are threatened in the middle of their families, they will defend them with their national bravery and energy.Providence will crown with success our just cause. The defence of our native country, the maintenance of our independence and national honor, have compelled us to have recourse to arms. I will not sheath my sword so long as there is a single enemy within my imperial borders.
! On the ninth of May, Bonaparte set out from St. Cloud; and on the sixth of June, he crossed the Vistula, on the 22d of that month he formally declared war against Russia ; on which occasion he issued an address to his soldiers, in which, after accusing Russia of having broken her treaty with France, in order to serve the interests and views of England, he denounces that she is dragged along by a fatality, and her destinies must be accomplished ; and promises them that the second war of Poland shall be as glorious to the French armies as the first, and that the peace which alone he will conclude, shall be its own guarantee, and put an end to the influence which Russia for fifty years had exercised in Europe. On the 24th of June, Bonaparte crossed the Niemen, and entered the Russian territories, and on the following day, hostilities commenced by the capture of Kowno, which fell without a struggle.
Military Error of the Russians in advancing to the Niemen.
- Consequences of it.-Corps of Bragration separated from the the main Army, which retires to the Dwina. The French at Wilna.--Bonaparte re-establishes the king. dom of Poland.--Russians abandon their intrenched camp at Drissa.-and retires to Witepsk.-Wittgenstein takes a Northern route towards Petersburgh, -followed by Oudinot.
- Battle's between these Generals.---Between Bonaparte and the main Russian army,—and between Bragration and Davoust.
The passage of the Niemen and the capture of Kowno, though in themselves events of little moment, were attended with very important consequences. The Russians, in pursuance of the plan of the campaign which they had resolved to follow, had marked out their first line of defence on the banks of the Dwina ; here they had erected a chain of strong and connected fortifications, and it was natural to suppose, that immediately before these fortifications they would place their army. It is not easy to discover the military policy which in. duced them to bring forward their whole force, and range it on the banks of the Niemen, so much in advance of their first line of defence. On the banks of this river they had not prepared the means of opposing the passage, or resisting the attacks of the French; hence, as soon as the enemy appeared in force, they were compelled to retreat towards the Dwina. Besides, by ranging their whole army along the Niemen, their line became very extensive, and in many places so little connected, or disadvantageously posted, that it was exposed to be attacked with every prospect of success. Bona