« AnteriorContinuar »
tent to look upon those whose trade it is to in this supposition, it does not follow that die, under the feelings with which a young in respect of military skill and genius clergyman at a county ball beholds the he can justly be ranked even with several lady of his affections in active flirtation with of those lieutenants of Napoleon whom we a newly-arrived pair of epaulettes ; feel- have ventured to condemn to comparative ings which the author of Hamilton's oblivion. It is rather on the moral ground Bawn' has wedded to immortal doggrel. of his identification with a great national For lhe moment we can offer them no con- movement. of wbich be was the ostensible solation ; for we cannot enter on the dis. leader and representative, that he seems to cussion of the mavifold circumstances which us one of the legitimate . heirs of fame.' might be enumerated as a set-off to the ad We have two lives of this commander vantages enjoyed by a soldier duriug a before us, of which, however, the one lease of existence, of which the tenure is seems borrowed almost verbatim from the as uncertain as the conditions are severe. other. We shall ground our observations To those, however, who moan over the on the first which came into our hands, that posthumous part of the reward which Fal of Dr. Raushnick. staff in his shrewder philosophy rated so The Duke of Wellington received his low, we might suggest as matter o reflec. first military education at a French college, tion that the number of those who are des- a natural consequence of the deficiency of tined to enjoy it so limited as to leave room all appliances for that purpose in England for competitors of all classes, wbether po- at the period of his youih. It is rather more ets, philosophers, statesmen, or writers of singular that bis Grace's illustrious comnovels in three volumes, or of histories in rade, whose enthusiastic devotion to the a dozen. Survey the military annals of cause of Prussia formed the stimulus to his Europe from the French revolution : Ger- exploits and the basis of his reputation, many, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Belgi- should have borne his first arms against um, have formed the vast theatre of one that country—the land, not indeed of his huge and continuous scramble for such dis- birth, but of his adoption. tinction. Every species of cotemporary
Gerhard Leberecht von Blücher was reward, from kingdoms down to the Guel- born in 1742 at Rostock, in Mecklenburghphic order, has indeed been showered on Schwerin, in which province his family the combatants; but how many names will had been established for some centuries, outlive their owners ? How many of the having given a bishop to Lubeck in the meteors will leave a track of light behind thirteenth. His father had retired from their rapid and explosive course ? Some the military service of Hesse-Cassel upon half-dozen of all countries. We are speak- a small landed inheritance. Three elder ing, be it remembered, of general celebrity, sons having been impartially, but at some not of the just estimation in which the expense out of scanty means, distributed memory of individuals may be held in their among the Russian, Prussian, and Danish own countries, or by the scientific. Two services, it was this gentleman's anxious of the mightiest, by land and sea, are our desire to devote the two younger to the own. Russia, perhaps, may claim some only other occupation to which the landed duration for Suwaroff. In the case of gentry of his day condescended-the cultiFrance who but a decypherer of gazettes vation of the soil. For ibis a simple homewill trouble his h ad fifty years hence education was deemed sufficient, and was about any of Buonaparte's marshals ? The all the parental resources could afford. In crisis of Valmy may ensure an historical 1756 the Seven Years' War broke out, and notoriety to Dumouriez; but no nurse will to remove his sons from the temptation frighten children with his name or that of of military scenes, the father sent them to Moreau. There is soinething solid and the care of a relation in the Isle of Rugen. unpretending about the reputation of Arch- Such precautions frequently terninate like duke Charles, which, coupled with his the beautiful tale of Admetus in Herodowritings, will secure him respect from the tus. The boys for a while contented ovvero of times to come ; but the only name themselves with such frats of activity and connected with the great wars of our own danger as the cliffs of Rugen and the sea time, which we can add without scruple 10 could afford them. Some centuries earlier those of Buonaparte, Wellington, Nelson. Blucher might have figured among the and Suwaroff
, as likely to be permanently sea-kings in the annals of Scandinavian one of the household words of the world piracy; and, instead of emptying the celis that of a man longo intervallo inferior to Jars of Epernay, might have drank the ale three of the four-Blücher. If we are right of English convents. Sweden had now
joined the fray against the Great Frede- | placed by an officer of different habits and rick, and, in an hour evil for the paternal manners, with whom also, however, Bluprecautions, a regiment of Swedish hussars cher soon contrived to quarrel. The Poles set foot on the island. In spite of all at this time, like the Spaniards in ours, attempts at remonstrance or prevention, revenged by frequent assassinations their young Blücher, now in his fifteenth year. subjection to the invader. A priest, whom joined the ranks, and soon found himself Captain Blücher suspected as the instion the mainland opposed to the Prussian gator of two of these enormities. was sumforces in a contest in which little either of marily condemned by him to military exeardour or skill was evinced by his com-cution. The grave was dug with the usual rades. In 1758 he was taken prisoner in forn alities, ibe culprit blinded, and the a cavalry-skirmish with the regiment of muskets discharged--though with blank Colonel Belling, who, soon perceiving cartridges The priest survived his fright some promising indications in the stripling, .- but this daring violation not only of justtreated him with kindness, and negotiated ice, but of Frederick's conciliatory policy, for him an exchange with a prisoner, who, was punished, mildly enough, by the debeing by birth a Prussian, had forfeited | gradation of the offender from the highest his life to military law. This transaction to the lowest on the list of captains in his enabled Blücner, without impeachment of regiment. This being followed by the his honour, to take service in the regiment promotion of an officer from another regiof his captor. Till it was effected, he had ment to the next vacancy, the cup of Blutenaciously resisted the offer of a subal- cher’s indignation boiled over, and he detern's commission in the then most brilliant manded his retirement from the service, of contineutal services.
Frederick replied by placing him in arrest, Under Belling he served through the with a view io give him time for considerlatter part of the Seven Years' War, as- ation. The gentleman bowever, insisted, sisted at the murderous battle of Cuners- and his repeated applications at leogth exdu ff, which first brought the formidable torted the following answer: 'Captain von qualities of the Russian infantry under the Blücher is released from his service, and notice of civilized Europe, and was wound- may go to the d— January, 1773.' ed at Freyberg On the re-establishment This interruption of Blücher's military of peace he was found a turbulent subject career continued for this teen years. We for garrison dury, the inherent monotony have heard that a chancery-lawyer who for of which was not relieved to him by the any reason abandons his practice for the resources of education. His leisure was thirteenth portion of that period, seldom diversified, as usual in such cases, by as recovers it. Assuredly, few soldiers of formuch sporting, drinking, gaming, and Airta- tune, after quitting a regular sers ice for a tion as his pay could afford, as also by fre- dozen of the best years of their life have quent duelling, of which no serinus result died field marshals. Perhaps Blücher was is recorded One instance of the latter somewhat reconciled to an event which propinsity, for which hot blood and the seemed so likely to blast his prospects, by manners of his age and vocation may plead the circumstance that it found bim seriously excuse, was certainly little to his credit; in love and half engaged with the daughter for he ended by calling out his patron and of a Saxov Colonel Melling, then settled in commander, Beiling, who had now attained Poland. The lady was seventeen years the rank of general
. That he was not his junior, Polish' in her language, her shot, or at the least cashiered, for so gross beauty, and her attractions, which is saying a violation of military law, must be ascribed everything for the latter. They married, to the generosity of that veteran, who con- and setiled on a farm of the faiber-in-law. tented himself with transferring this turbu. Blücher appears to have abandoned the lent and ungrateful subject to a lieuten- excesses of his youth in his new vocation, ancy under a Major Podscharli, an officer and to have prosecuted it with ability and to whose military tuition Blücher's biogra- success. After a few years he found himpher ascribes the happiest results. self in condition to purchase a tolerable
In 1770_Poland was invaded by the estate near Stargard in Pomerania, whither troops of Frederick, and Blücher found he migrated from Poland. As a resident himself again commanded by Belling, who proprietor, he continued his attention to never ceased to befriend him. Belling was rural affairs, and became a man of consean able and trusted soldier, but his situa- quence among his neighbours. He was tion in Poland was one which required elected to the local magistracy, and conpolitical talent and pliancy, and he was re- sulted by the provincial authorities. This
was not all. It is evident that there was | Revolution opened a career for such spirits something about the man which in the esti- as Blucher. The commencement of hosmation of his superiors had uniformly out- tilities between Prussia and France found weighed the objectionable features of his him a colonel, and thus his exercise of wild, uneducated and untameable disposi- command dates its commencement from tion. Frederick the Second was not a man the fifty first year of his age, a time of life to overlook the freaks of an ordinary swag- at which many officers look to a wellgerer, yet we find that at this period he cor- earned retirement. From the period of responded with Blucher, and assisted him the Duke of Brunswick's famous and with money for the improvement of his fatal incursion to the peace of Basle, he estate, first in the shape of loan without in- was in almost constant employment. On terest, and then of donation. This liber- the death of General Goltz, he succeeded ality on the part of a sovereign so careful to the command of the left wing of the of his dollars was the more remarkable, as Prussian army; and without doubt the it by no means took the shape of a retain-confidence of his soldiers and the general ing fee for future military devotion. Blu- success which attended his operations, cher's restless spirit pined for restoration particularly with his favourite arm, the to the service, but on this subject Frederick cavalry, fully justified this promotion. The was inexorable. In 1778 there was a pros- corps of hussars under his immediate compect of hostilities in Bavaria, and Blücher mand, including his old regiment, is said to became urgent for permission to re-enter have lost but six men by surprise during the army. His first attempt was defeated the outpost duty of the campaigns of 1793 by his wife, a second by the stern refusal and '94, in which Prussian accounts boast of Frederick. He was obliged to remain that they captured 4000 men, 1500 horses, an agriculturist, his farm prospered, and and 11 guns from the enemy, and he retired his hearth was surrounded by six promis- from the contest with the reputation of a ing sons and a daughter.
second Ziethen. The curious in the details Frederick died in 1786. Blucher now of such warfare may learn them from a set aside all connubial remonstrances, rush-journal which he kept and published. ed to Berlin, made interest with some of There are one or two anecdotes of this his former commanders, and returned to period which may, perhaps, tend to rescue Pomerania without positive success, but his character from the imputation of unwith assurances of support in due season. mitigated barbarism cast upon it by the On the next military inspection he attracted French. While commanding within their by his riding the attention of the new king, frontier, he caused a captured officer who presented his request in person, and found had died of his wounds to be buried with himself in his former regiment of Black all military honours—an attention to the Hussars, with the rank which he would fallen so unusual as to excite the greatest have occupied had he continued without astonishment among the French inhabitinterruption in the service. It was soon ap- ants, who were further edified when ho parent that his military ardour, which
administered with his own hand an exem
perhaps might have cooled away in the bar-plary threshing to the village carpenter racks, had only been nursed and kept vigo- who had given short measure and bad rous by the long interval of domestic re workmanship to the coffin. Another incipose. His other old propensities were, we dent is recorded in his journal, and we fear, resumed with his uniform, and his give it in his own words. It occurred near wife perhaps only consulted her own con
Kaiserslautern in 1799:-venience and comfort by dying about this * Among the prisoners was one whose thighperiod. Except that she was beautiful, at- bone had been shattered. They had laid him tractive, and fond enough of her husband near the fire, and offered him bread and brandy, to wish to detain him at home, we hear as to the others. He not only rejected this, but
refused to be bandaged, and repeatedly begged little of her. Blucher returned to the the bystanders to shoot him. The latter said camp as though the interval had been a
to one another, “ This is an obstipate, sulky dream, and its adventures as imaginary as Frenchman.” Muffling and myself were within those of the sultan of the Arabian tale, who hearing, and approached the group. The dipped his head into a tub of water for an wounded man lay still, drawn into himself, and instant, which by the delusion of magic
saw nothing of what was passing. As he was converted into years of deposition and
seemed to shiver, I caused cloaks to be heaped
upon him. He looked up at me upon this, and servitude.
again cast down his eyes. Not being master of - Some years of garrison duty were still to the French language myself, I made my adjutant elapse before the great event of the French tell him that he ought to let himself be ban.
daged, and take nourishment. He answered In 1806 the drama opened at once with nothing, and I made them tell him further that that great disaster of Jena, which chastised I held him for a poor creature who did not know the military pride and overweening consoldier least of all men 10 take refuge in des fidence of Prussia, and placed her existence pair; that he should not give up hope of recov as a separate state on the map of Europe ery, and might be assured that he found him at the mercy of the conqueror. The diviself among men who would do everything pos- sions and distractions of those in high comsible to relieve him. He looked at me again, a mand were only rendered more conspicustream of tears burst from his eyes, and he ous by the courage which the isolated and reached me out his hand. Wine was offered him, he drank, and offered no further resistance unsupported battalions of the Prussians to the surgeon. I then asked him the cause of opposed to the admirable combinations and his previous obstinacy. He replied, “ I have concentrated masses of the enemy All been forced into the service of the Republic. the advantages of superior information and My father was guillotined; my brothers have intelligence which usually accrue to those perished in the war; my wife and children are who fight on their own soil, in this strange left in misery ; I thought, therefore, that death instance were engrossed by the foreign alone could end my troubles, and longed for it. Your kindness has brought me to better reflec- invader, who miglit have been said, like tions. I thank you for it, and am determined to
Ariel, meet my future lot with patience.”'
• Now in the waist, the deck, and every cabin, This incident seems to us to confirm the
To flame amazement.' valuable adage that the devil is not so black The spirit, not of the great Frederick, but as he is painted, especially where the of Ariosto's Agramant, reigned in the pencil is a French one.
Blucher was not in a The peace of Basle afforded Blücher situation as commander of the cavalry to leisure for a second marriage, and he was control the movements or repair the errors united to a Maria Amelia von Colomb. of Brunswick, Mollendorf, and Hohenlohe. He held for some time a command in all he could do was to offer to lead his Munster under the Duke of Brunswick, brave horsemen in a desperate attempt to where he made acquaintance with many of retrieve the fortune of the day. This offer the French emigrants, among whom the
was at first accepted by the King, but the Abbé de Pradt was his favourite. The late King, Frederick William III., who permission was revoked, and all that re
mained for Blücher was to endeavour to ascended the throne in 1797, had found occasion, while serving in his father's
save as large a remnant as possible of his
force by a retreat into Northern Germany. armies as crown-prince, to remark the The courage and perseverance with which merits of Blücher, and in 1801 promoted he conducted this attempt were such as him to the rank of lieutenant-general. In could scarcely have derived additional 1803 he was appointed governor of Mun: lustre from success. It must be admitted, ster, which by the terms of the peace
had fallen to the lot of Prussia. The episcopal ceed the vigour and activity with which
on the other hand, that nothing could expalace, which became his residence, now Buonaparte's generals, when slipped in the witnessed a revival of those scenes for chase, foiled all his efforts. Like a wild which it has been celebrated by Sir W; beast, he found himself alike tracked on Temple, in the times of the warlike and
retreat, and anticipated in every desperate Rhenish-loving prince-bishop. High play rush for escape, whether towards the Elbe, was still with Blücher a passion which the Oder, or in the direction of Hanover. could only find its substitute in that still Driven at length through Lubeck, which to more exciting pastime, in which
the misfortune of that neutral city he for a Kings hold the bottle, and Europe the stakes,' moment occupied, and where he narrowly
escaped personal capture, he was brought and the neighbouring baths of Pyrmont to bay in its neighbourhood—and here, afforded the dangerous summer facilities suffering himself from fever, and exhausted for the indulgence of this pernicious taste. of every supply for his men, he was forced
The peace was hollow. The French to capitulate. occupation of Hanover placed the two Blůcher retired for a season to Hamburgh nations in dangerous propinquity, and a on his parole. His exchange was afterstrong war-party existed in Prussia, espe- wards effected with General Victor. On cially in the army, of which party, as a the occasion of his release he visited the matter of course, Blücher was a leading French head-quarters, and was received member.
with marks of distinction by Napoleon.
With the powerful assistance of Russia day specified for the renewal of hostilities the contest was still maintained in the in Silesia :--but the Prussian accounts northerv provinces, and the offer of Swedish reply distinctly, that the original violation co-operation induced the king to organize of this territory was the act of the French a corps intended to act on the rear of the under Macdonald. enemy from the northern coast. Blücher The French are not his only accusers. was selected for the command of this ex. During his tenure of command' in Pomepedition, which was, however, frustrated rania he found occasion to defend himself in the first instance by the vacillation of against certain anonymous attacks wbich the Swedish sovereign, and finally by the issued from the Leipzic press upon his battle of Friedland and the peace of Tilsit military conduct in his recent arduous rewhich succeeded. After the treaty was treat. "Blücher demanded an investigation signed, our hero retained the command of before a court of inquiry which had been the Pomeranian army, a post of much diffi- appointed to sit at Konigsberg for the conculty, for the troops of the conqueror were sideration of cases of a far more serious stationed in its neighbourhood, and frequent complexion. The evidence of that distindiscussions and disputes arose between the guished officer Scharnhorst, who had sharcommanders. Blücheris said to have shown ed the toils and dangers of his retreat, was much subtlety and address in this position, conclusive in his favour, and the result was in which his character gave weight to the more than his justification. concessions he was compelled as the A dark period now ensued to Blücher's weaker party to make. Words, according adopted country--four years of humiliato our English satirist's theory (adopted by tion, of sullen submission to almost every Talleyrand), were invented by man as a possible variety of outrage and exaction. concealment to his thoughts and a disguise France should in policy either have purto bis intentions, and Blücher is said 10 sued her conquest to the uiter dismemberhave derived much convenience from his ment of Prussia, or have spared her digniuse of the German language in negotiation, ly. The death of the loved and lovely for which his ignorance of any other afford - Queen, who was considered as the victim ed him a pretext.
He stands, indeed, of Napoleon's unmanly insults, added to accused by French writers of having grossly the general indignation. In despite of misused this device on the retreat from French vigilance, and of the terms of the Jena, in an interview with the French peace which limited the numbers of the general Klein. It is certain that he suc- standing army, means were found silently ceeded in persuading that officer that an to accumulate both soldiers and material armistice had been concluded, and that for a future campaign. The Baron de both Klein and Lasalle were thereby in- Stein set on foot the famous tugendbund, duced to postpone an attack and allow and Blücher, in despite of his now advancBlücher to get a day's start of his pursuers. Sed age, was looked up to as the future vinIt is very difficult to believe, that if he had dicator of his country's wrongs. An illness committed himself in this instance beyond which afflicted him through the greater the allowed limits of military stratagem, part of the year 1808, and at times affected Napoleon, however little scrupulous he is his reason, seems to have added a morbid known to have been as to the conduct of fire to his enthusiasm. He is said in mohis own officers, would have forborne to ments of delirium to have attained to blast the character of a troublesome oppo- something like prophetic strain,' and to nent by a formal verification of the charge have predicted with confidence the speedy -still more that he would have given liberation of his country and the downfall Blücher the honourable reception of which of its oppressor. “This must happen,' he we have spoken, at his own head-quarters. said, and I must assist at it, and I will not Klein and Lasalle had the Emperor's ear die till it shall have come to pass., for their own story, and had every induce Blücher's education had been that of a ment to make the most of their own justifi- soldier. He knew no language but his cation. We must confess at the same time own, but he was fond of writing, and took that, but for this negative evidence, even a pleasure in dictating his despatches and the German account of the transaction proclamations.
We have seen letters adwould be suspicious. Another accusation dressed by him to the King at this period, of a similar nature has been preferred upon the subject of that future moment to against Blücher. He is charged with which he look forward with such unabated having violated the armistice in 1813 by confidence, containing passages of an elooccupying the neutral ground before the quence worthy of his theme. His hopes