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through a by-street, these fair admirers of courage begged that he might be led through the public square. "Really," said an Austrian officer, annoyed at their importunity, "one would suppose that he was some extraordinary animal." "Extraordinary, indeed," replied one of the ladies, " since it required a whole squadron of dragoons to take him." This sally put every one in good humour, and each yielded to the admiration which Ney's heroism inspired; some among the fair Germans calling to mind his valour on one occasion, others the humanity and disinterestedness with which he always treated the people he conquered.
Ney was received at the Austrian head-quarters in a manner worthy of his high reputation. Each condoled with him on his mishap, and on the vicissitudes of war. But the conversation soon turned on battles and military manoeuvres; and the prisoner was discussing each general's share of merit, when he perceived his horse, with an Austrian upon its back. The animal seemed weak, lazy and obstinate; in spite of the spur, it would not advance. Ney exclaimed against the awkwardness of the rider, and was answered by a joke about the worthlessness of the animal. An officer jestingly proposed to purchase it; and its points and capabilities seeming matter of doubt, Ney approached it. "I will show you," said he, "the value of my horse." An opening was immediately made, Ney sprang upon the saddle, and taking the direction of the French army, soon left in the rear those who accompanied or followed him. The horse which had appeared so powerless to the Austrians, carried him off like the wind, and he was near escaping; but the trumpets sounded, and the heavy and light cavalry rode off and soon stopped up every issue. Ney then turned back, and with equal celerity reached the spot where the Austrian generals stood aghast. "Well, gentlemen," he said, "what think you of the animal now? Is he not worthy of his master?" Their scattered squadrons sufficiently proved the affirmative. A little confused at their mistake, they henceforth guarded their prisoner more carefully, and took care not to jest again about his horse.
The letter which was sent to Ney, by the French Directory at this juncture, will be sufficient evidence of the estimation in which he was held by all France at this period, which, according to the date of the letter, was the year five, and the 12th Florial; or the 1st of the month of May, 1797:
The Executive Directory is truly afflicted, Citizen General, at the accident which made you fall into the hands of the enemy. The impetuosity of your courage before Giessen, and the brilliant manoeuvres which you executed at the head of the squadrons under your command, make this event still more to be regretted. The Directory trusts that the army will soon again behold one of its bravest general officers, whose absence is particularly regretted by the general-in-chief.'
Ney was soon exchanged for an Austrian officer, who had been taken by the French, and was welcomed back to his duties in his regiment, by none with more heartfelt satisfaction than by the commander of the expedition, General Hoche.
The tranquillity which succeeded this short campaign was general throughout Europe, except so far as England was concerned; and we learn from this biography, that at this period a project was set on foot for making a descent on this country. Buonaparte had strong reason to detest England from the very commencement of his career, and though, at the era to which we are now adverting, his time was fully occupied in carrying on with Germany those negotiations which he had commenced in Italy, yet he resolved that no delay should take place in the execution of a probable scheme of conquest, in which England was to be the victim. He appointed Dessaix therefore to lead this enterprize. The biographers tell us that it was to put a stop to the wars which desolated Europe that Napoleon thought of destroying England, she being the source from which these wars arose; but the. further experience which the family of Ney have had of the character of Buonaparte must have taught them to expect that such an assertion could meet with little credit indeed in the present state of human knowledge. For the purposes of the British expedi tion of invasion, Buonaparte had directed that the flower of the French troops, those that had been distinguished in the campaigns of the North and of the South, should be combined, in order to insure the success of this great national and benevolent undertaking, as the family circle of the Marshal are pleased to regard it. The contingent that war supplied by the northern army, it appears, was to have had Ney at its head, and he actually marched with his hussars to Amiens, where he arrived in March 1798, destined for the overthrow of Great Britain. Dessaix, however, was a man of prudence, and after an extensive inquiry into. the resources of the parties who were to stand in the relations of offender and defender, he gave it as his deliberate conclusion that any attempt on England at that juncture would not be attended. with success. In truth, France at the moment was a beggar; her. warehouses were empty; her arsenals were unfurnished with arms or ammunition, and the very armies of the Rhine, flushed, with barren victories, were more than ten millions of francs in arrear: throughout every locality, in every department connected with the financial means of France, distress, neglect, and want were apparent. Still Buonaparte persevered in his intention, and because he could not organize a direct attack on Great Britain, he resolved on doing her all the mischief which it was convenient for him to inflict. He saw by the European peace in this crisis, that the host of armies which had been engaged under the republican banners, were now returned home, utterly unfit for the peaceful condition of things which they had unconsciously. VOL. III. (1833) No. IV.
laboured to bring about: he resolved to give this unemployed community such occupation as suited their tastes; and in these various facts we have the whole explanation of the origin of the expedition to Egypt. Nothing, however, of this project transpired for a considerable time; and meanwhile the campaigns of Italy and the invasion of Switzerland by the French, occurred under the command of Massena. In the details of the proceedings which took place between France and Austria at this era, there are some curious particulars given in elucidation of the wellknown melancholy event-the assassination of the French plenipotentiaries at Radstadt. This event is one of those historical mysteries which have been designedly involved in confusion by writers, for purposes subservient to their own wishes; and, therefore, as a sort of accidental light shed on this transaction, we willingly insert the evidence which was collected in an evening's conversation from the Baron de, minister plenipotentiary of the Elector of Bavaria. The story told by this minister was as follows:
A few days prior to the murder, M. de Lerbach, imperial-commissary in Prince Charles's army, came to Munich, to make arrangements relative to the passage of the Austrian troops through the states of Bavaria. He lodged at an inn which was also inhabited by M. de ***. The two apartments were separated only by a large but very thin door. M. de Lerbach was out all day upon business, but regularly spent his evenings in his room with M. Hoppé, whom we had seen at Paris, as secretary to M. de Cobentzel. M. de ***, who was attached to the mission of the Commander, Jalabert, minister of the Elector at Frankfort, had been sent to Munich with dispatches relative to the matters in negotiation at Radstadt. He was accompanied by M. ****, who at present holds an appointment under M. de Mongelas, but was then employed in the chancellerie of foreign affairs at Munich. One evening, M. de *** having perceived that the conversation between M. de Lerbach and M. Hoppé related to the different interests of the German princes, had his candles taken into the next room, whence they could feebly light that in which he sat, without being visible through the door of communication-thus indicating that the room was not occupied. He then listened in profound silence, and took notes, as did also M. ****, of all that they heard. After each conversation they compared their notes, and formed them into a single narrative, which both of them signed, and took each day to the office for foreign affairs. The first conversation gave them the following information :-/ M. de Lerbach had gone to Prince Charles, and represented to him that it might prove of the greatest advantage, if the Austrian monarchy became acquainted with the connexion suspected to exist between the Princes of the Empire and France: that numer ous communications had been made on this subject to the plenipo
tentiaries, and there was no doubt as to the positive existence of
Whilst in Switzerland, Ney was offered the rank of general of division, which he at first declined, but was afterwards induced to accept it by the advice of Bernadotte the present King of Sweden, whose letter to Ney, as it is inserted in this work, is alone highly creditable both to the heart and understanding of that very extraordinary adventurer. The campaign proceeded, and the Austrians carried it on upon their part with great vigour; in one of the earliest of the battles, that at Winterthur, Ney, at the very commencement of the action, was struck with a musket 112
ball, which, after passing through his thigh, had spent itself in the shoulder of his horse; he was obliged to remain for a considerable time on the field after some of the men had staunched the wound with their pocket handkerchiefs, and then bound up the limb. Upon another and no very distant occasion, Ney charged a whole squadron of Hungarians at the head of a mere handful of his cavalry; he was personally attacked by a foot soldier just as he had struck down a hussar, and had not time to turn aside the point of the bayonet held by the soldier. It pierced the sole of his foot, but Ney instantly cut him down. In dying, the Hungarian fired his piece, and its contents shattered the wrist of Ney. The indisposition brought on by these injuries compelled the general to retire to the celebrated waters of Plombières for his health; here he remained two months and then joined Massena. At a subsequent period, his extraordinory merits pointed him out as a fit person to take the command of the army of the Rhine. The Directory acted on a due sense of those merits, and ordered him to join that army. The chief command of this force was very shortly afterwards offered to him, and he accepted it under circumstances which shewed that his compliance was given with great reluctance; still stronger proofs were given by him afterwards of his dislike of the distinction, since he made the most determined efforts to transfer it to another.
At the period to which we now direct the reader's attention, a negotiation for peace was carried on between France and England, and it is curious to hear the expression of the feelings with which even now the French viewed the conduct of the British government at that memorable era. To take the opinion of these writers on the political character of England in her relation to France, we must believe her to be a nation, of antient or modern times, the most destitute of principle; and they do not hesitate to attribute to England, a motive for her interference in the revolution, such as brings eternal shame upon her character, if the imputation be correct. Why was Great Britain so importunate in trying to force the Bourbons on France? A love of legitimacy was it, or a disinterested partiality for the remains of an antient dynasty? Or was it because Great Britain believed that the peace of Europe would be best secured by preserving the succession uninterrupted to the throne of France? The French even at this day of mature reflection, will not admit that views so innocent, or any of these, could have found a harbour in the mind of England; and, in the work before us, the family of Ney do not scruple to affirm, that the reason why the British government wanted the Bourbons to reign in France was, that as these princes were detested by the French nation, so was it likely that, with an unpopular government and a discontented people, France would continue a weak nation: thus England would have all the benefit of being rid of a rival in influence in Europe, and thus