LII. Night and Morning near Paris

So the allied armies encamped and rested round the bivouac-fires, while, at a house in the suburbs of La Chapelle, the plenipotentiaries of the sovereigns were still negotiating with the French marshals the terms on which the city was to be surrendered. But he who now rode along the road to Paris at a gallop in an open carriage knew no peace or rest. His quivering features were expressive of alarm; ruin sat enthroned on his forehead, covered with perspiration. By his side sat Caulaincourt; behind him, Berthier and Flahault. The carriage thundered along at the utmost speed. "Caulaincourt, I shall arrive at Paris in time," murmured the emperor; "we are already at Fromenteau; in an hour we shall be there. The watch-fires of the enemy are seen on the opposite bank of the Seine. Ah, I shall extinguish them; to-morrow night the enemy will not be so near.--But what is that? Do you hear nothing? Have the carriage stopped!"

Berthier shouted to the driver--the carriage stopped. They all heard a sort of hollow noise.

"It is a squad of cavalry riding along this road," whispered Caulaincourt.

"It is artillery," murmured Napoleon. "Forward! They can only be our own men. But why are they retreating from Paris? Forward!"

The carriage rolled on. And from the other side of the road a dark mass, with a rumbling noise, moved toward them. Napoleon was not mistaken, nor was Caulaincourt mistaken.

"Who is there?" shouted the emperor to the horsemen at the head of the column. "Halt!"

"It is the emperor!" cried a voice, in amazement, and a horseman dismounting in a moment approached the carriage.

"It is General Belliard," exclaimed the emperor, and alighted hastily from his carriage. "General, whither are you moving? What about Paris?"

"Sire, all is lost!" said Belliard, after a mournful pause.

"How so?" cried Napoleon, vehemently. "You see I am coming! I shall be in Paris in an hour. I will call out the National Guard, and put myself at the head of the troops."

"Sire, we are too weak; the enemy is five times stronger."

"But I am there, and my name will increase the strength of my army fivefold."

"Sire, it is too late."

"Too late! What do you mean?"

"Marmont and Mortier have capitulated; we are taking advantage of the night to evacuate Paris, while the marshals are still negotiating the terms of capitulation."

A single cry of anger burst from Napoleon's lips; then, as if crushed by the blow, his head dropped on his breast. Recovering himself in a moment, he said, imperiously: "General Belliard! return with your troops; I shall be there before you reach the city. Resuming hostilities, I will call upon all Paris to take up arms; the people love me, they will remain faithful; the majority of the working-men are composed of old soldiers. They know how to fight, and I will lead them. We shall fight as the Spaniards fought against us at Saragossa, defending with our blood the streets of our capital; detaining the enemy at least for a day, my army will arrive, and we shall be strong enough to give battle. I must go to Paris; when I am not there, they do nothing but blunder! My brother Joseph is a pusillanimous and easily-disheartened man, and Minister Clarke is a blockhead. Marmont and Mortier are traitors deserving death, for they violated my express instructions. I asked them to hold out only two days, and the traitors capitulated before they had elapsed! Oh, I shall hold them responsible for it: I know how to punish traitors and poltroons!" He hurried on in a rapid step, General Belliard walking by his side, and Caulaincourt, Berthier, and Flahault following him. "I must go to Paris," cried the emperor, after a momentary pause. "Order my carriage!"

"Sire," said Belliard, solemnly, "it is no longer possible for your majesty to reach Paris. You would run the risk of falling into the hands of the vanguard of the allies. If your majesty were at Paris, it would be of no avail. The enemy is in possession of all the heights, and they can bombard the city without being interfered with by the exhausted troops of Mortier and Marmont. Sire, all is lost; there is no prospect which would justify us to hope for a favorable change."

"To Paris!" cried the emperor. "You say I can no longer enter the city. Well, then, I shall put myself at the head of the troops of Marshals Mortier and Marmont, and, while the allies are making their entrance into the city, resume the struggle."

"Sire," said Belliard, mournfully, "it is too late, the marshals have agreed to surrender Paris; it was only on this condition that our troops were allowed to move out. The capitulation cannot be broken."

"What do I care for the capitulation of traitorous marshals?" said the emperor, stamping; "my will alone reigns here, and my will is, that the troops face about and follow me.--Say, Hulin," said the emperor, turning toward the commander of Paris, who had just approached him, "are you not of my opinion? The troops should return to Paris?"

"No, sire," said General Hulin, sighing, "the capitulation has already been concluded, and it does not permit the soldiers to return on any pretext."

"Are you of the same opinion?" asked Napoleon, turning toward General Curial, who had just come up with a corps of infantry, and saluted the emperor.

"I am, sire," said Curial. "The capitulation has been concluded, and we are happy to have received permission for our troops, who are exhausted, to evacuate the city. We are already on the march in the direction of Fontainebleau. We have no hope of conquering, and we could only be involved in a last dreadful but useless carnage. Your majesty cannot desire that. Have pity on poor France, bleeding from a thousand wounds; you do not wish the enemy to bombard the heart of our country."

"And you?" asked Napoleon, turning his eyes, with an expression of agony, toward his attendants. "Caulaincourt, do you, too, share the views of these gentlemen?"

"Yes, sire," said Caulaincourt, with tears in his eyes. "It is too late to conquer; it only remains for us to save what we can."

"And you, Berthier and Flahault?"

"Sire, that is our opinion! It is too late; all is lost!"

Napoleon's sigh sounded like a death-rattle. "Well, then," he said, in a faint, hollow voice, "I will return to Fontainebleau."

Napoleon reentered his carriage. When his three attendants had taken seats, he rose and called out in a commanding voice, "General Belliard!" The general approached the carriage hesitatingly; he was still afraid lest the emperor should change his mind.

"Belliard," said Napoleon, "dispatch immediately an orderly to Marshals Marmont and Mortier, and communicate to them that they march their troops to Essonne, ten leagues south of Paris; there they are to take a position, and await further orders.--To Fontainebleau!"

The carriage passed again along the road by which it had arrived, bearing away a wearied and despairing man, who a moment before was full of hope and energy. The clock of the village of Jurissy struck twelve, when he halted in front of the "Cour de France," and had the horses changed. "Caulaincourt," he said, hurriedly, "alight, take post-horses, and hasten to Paris! Penetrate to the headquarters of the Emperor Alexander! Prevent the capitulation--do so in my name; you have full powers! Negotiate, consent to any treaty that recognizes me as sovereign of France!" [Footnote: Beitzke vol. iii., p. 496.]

It was past midnight, and with a new day began a new era. The rising sun shone upon the brilliant array of the allies. The terms of the capitulation had been adjusted at two in the morning. It was stipulated that the marshals should evacuate Paris at seven on the same day; that the public arsenals and magazines be surrendered in the same state in which they were when the capitulation was concluded; that the National Guard, according to the pleasure of the allies, be either disbanded, or employed under their direction in the service of the city; that the wounded and stragglers, found after ten in the morning, be considered prisoners of war; and that Paris be recommended to the generosity of the sovereigns. [Footnote: "Memoires du Duc de Rovigo," vol. iii.]

It was now eight in the morning, and the corps of the allied troops that were to make their entrance into the city were in readiness. A staff, composed of hundreds of Austrian, Russian, Prussian, Wurtemberg, Bavarian, and Swedish generals, awaited the arrival of the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, when the triumphal march into Paris would take place.

Overcoming his pain, and keeping erect by a violent effort, Field- Marshal Blücher had himself dressed by his servants. The toilet was finished, and, attired in his uniform, covered with glittering orders, he stepped from his bedroom, and sent for Christian. "Pipe- master," he said, "I am ready now, and believe I look quite imposing; but you must adjust the last ornament of my toilet. You captured it, and ought to add it to my uniform."

"What ornament, your excellency?"

"Well, the eye-shade, Christian. Come and adorn me!" He handed the crownless bonnet to Christian, and sat down on a chair. The article was carefully placed on the head of the field-marshal, so that his bald scalp protruded from the aperture of the shade like a full moon surrounded by a green halo. He then carefully put on it the field- marshal's hat, with its waving plumes and gold-lace. [Footnote: Varnhagen, "Life of Blücher," p. 382]

"Now I am ready," said Blücher, rising.

At this moment the door opened, and General Gneisenau, accompanied by Surgeon-General Voelzke, entered the room.

"What!" exclaimed Gneisenau, in amazement. "An hour ago I found you in bed, a prey to a raging fever, complaining of your eyes; and now you have not only risen, but are in full feather, and ready for the march into the city!"

"Why, yes, of course, I am," said Blücher, sullenly. "I must make my entry, I must keep my word, and get into Paris after aiding in getting HIM out of it."

"That is to say," cried Dr. Voelzke, "you intend to break your pledge, and prove faithless to your oath?"

"What oath?" asked Blücher, greatly surprised.

"Did you not solemnly pledge me your word four days ago, your excellency, to submit to my treatment for two weeks, and adhere to my instructions?"

"Yes, and I think I have kept my word. I have swallowed your medicines, pills, and powders, rubbed in your salves, and applied your plasters, in accordance with your directions, although I must say that all this did not help me any."

"But your eyes have not grown any worse, and they will soon improve, if you continue my treatment."

"Well, what do you want me to do, then?"

"You must stay here. You must not be six or eight hours on horseback; you must not expose yourself so long to the dust and sun."

"What! I am not to participate in the entrance of the monarchs into Paris?" cried Blücher, indignantly.

"I implore your excellency not to do so," said the physician, in an impressive tone. "Give yourself a few days' rest and recreation, and your eyes will get well; but if you expose yourself to-day I shall never again cross your threshold, for I do not care to be disgraced by the report that Field-Marshal Blücher lost his eyesight while under my care; and I tell you, you will be blind, and then I can do nothing for you."

"Stay here, your excellency," begged Gneisenau; "do not trifle with your dear eyes, destined to see still many beautiful things, and gladden the world by their heroic glances! What can a triumph of a few hours' duration be to you to whom every day will be a triumph, and whom delivered Germany awaits to greet with manifestations of love and gratitude?"

"Ah, it is not for the sake of the triumph that I wish to go," cried Blücher, morosely. "But I have sworn, for seven years, and it has been my only consolation, that, in spite of Bonaparte, I would make my triumphal entrance into Paris, as Bonaparte did into Berlin, and now you insist on my not fulfilling my oath!"

"You will nevertheless make your entrance into Paris," exclaimed Gneisenau; "though your person be absent, your name will float as our banner of victory over the monarchs, and all know full well that Blücher is THE conqueror."

"Stay!" begged Voelzke; "think of the pain which you have already suffered, and of that you will suffer, and of which I give you sufficient warning."

"Yes, field-marshal," begged Hennemann, with tearful eyes, "pray do what the doctor says; do not hazard your sight; for, let me say, field-marshal, a blind man is like a pipe that will not draw; both of them will go out."

"Well, I do not care," cried Blücher, "I will stay. It will not hurt me. My task is performed, and it makes no difference to me how I enter Paris. I have my share of the victory, and no one can take it from me. HE has been cast down, and none will deny that I assisted."

"Well, I think I have also assisted a little in it," said Christian, solemnly; "for had I not always kept the pipes in so good a state, the field-marshal would not have had such successful ideas, nor could he have so well said, 'Forward!'"

"You are right, pipe-master," said Blücher, pleasantly. "The pipe-- but what is that? Was not that a gun, and there another? Have the negotiations miscarried, after all, and the bombardment commenced in earnest?"

"No, your excellency," said Gneisenau, smiling, "you must give up that hope! These are the guns which give the troops the signal that the monarchs have arrived, and that the march into the city is to commence."

"Well, good-by, then; make haste and leave!" cried Blücher, pushing Gneisenau and Voelzke toward the door.

They left, and the field-marshal was again alone with Christian Hennemann.

"Well," he said, "give me a pipe: while the others are making their entrance into Paris, I want you to afford me a little pleasure, too. Come here, therefore, and sing to me the Low-German song which you sang to me on the day when you arrived at Kunzendorf."

The reports of the artillery continued; the monarchs were entering Paris. The field-marshal in the mean time sat with the green bonnet on his head, puffing his pipe. No one was with him but Christian Hennemann, who sang in a loud voice, "Spinn doch, spinn doch, mihn lutt lewes Dochting!"

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches Napoleon and Blücher