« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
they might have done for native princes.
To the praises bestowed by Buonaparte on his army, the directory added its acknowledgments to him, and those of his officers who had fignalized themselves in the late actions. It wrote to them feparately, fpecifying, in the moft gracious and fatisfactory manner, the particular motives for which the thanks of the public were due to them.
This homage paid to their merit, in the name of the nation, by those who were invefted with its fupreme authority, was received, by the French officers, as the highest honour that could be conferred upon them, to be confidered as deferving of it was now become the fummit of their wifhes; fo effectually had the republican notions of patriotifm taken poffeffion of their minds.
The moment after the fufpenfion of arms between the French and the king of Sardinia had been figned, Buonaparte loft no time in availing himfell of it to the utmoft. He inftantly put his army in motion from all quarters, in order to cross the Po, and to render it doubtful to the enemy, by his various movements, at what place he would attempt the paffage over that river. The Auftrian general did not doubt but the French would endeavour to pafs it at the town of Valenza, which they had ftipulated with the Sardinian miniftry, fhould be ceded to them for that purpofe. For this reafon, he made every difpofition neceffary to obstruct their pafiage at this place: but Buonaparte deceived him; and, by rapid marches, reached the banks of the Po, oppofite to the city of Placenza. A body of horfe prepared to oppofe him; but a chofen corps of French infantry,
having feized a number of boats, rowed to the other fide, protected by fo heavy a difcharge of musketry, that the enemy was obliged to retire, and leave them to land, which they did in the compacteft order. This was effected on the feventh of May. As foon as Beaulieu was apprifed of it, equally aftouifhed at an event he had fo little expected, and anxious to repair the miftake he had committed, he felected the best of his troops, with whom he advanced on the French, in hope of coming upon them before a fufficient number could have croffed to fecure the paffage of the reft: but they were not only on his fide of the river, but marching towards him. On.receiving this intelligence, he intrenched himfelf at Fombio, a vil lage advantageoufly fituated, expecting the arrival of reinforce ments: but he was immediately attacked on every fide by the French, who forced him to break up his camp in the utmost diforder, and with the lofs of a large quan tity of horfes and baggage, as well as of men.
Another body of Auftrians was, in the mean time, haftening to his aid, and came up with the French early the next morning; but general Laharpe, an officer of great merit and intrepidity, charged them with fuch vigour, that they were inftantly defeated, and put to flight. The lofs of this officer, who fell on this occafion, was more than a counterpoife to the fuccefs of the French. He was a Swifs by birth; and, being driven from his country, on account of his republican principles, he took refuge in France, and entered into the fervice of the republic, where his military talents railed him to the rank of, a general. He
He was high in the efteem of Buonaparte, who had formed the greateft expectations from him, and grievoully lamented his fall.
The duke of Parma, in whofe fight, as it were, the French had crofed the Po, and defeated the Auftrians twice in one day, did not dare to prolong the conteft on his part, with fo irrefiftable a foe. He requested an armiftice from Buonaparte, and obtained it on condition of paying a large contribution in money, horfes, and provifions, of delivering into the poffeffion of the French, twenty capital paintings to be chofen by them, and of fending without delay commiffaries to Paris, to conclude a peace with the republic: on thefe terms the duke procured a neutrality for his domiaigns, which was concluded on the ninth of May.
The uninterrupted fuccetles of the French had now ftruck their enemies with univerfal confternation. Beaulieu himself, though an expert and intrepid warrior, thought it more prudent to act on the defenfive, than to attack them with troops continually defeated The bravery of the Auttrians, though undeniable, had not been proof againft their impetuous valour and unyieldug enthufiafin. They feemed to Lave reverfed the character formerly attributed to them, of impatience and anfteadiness, and to have affamed that of firmnefs and conItancy.'
Their exploits had now opened to them the road to Milan, the capture of which would give them the pofleflion of Lombardy, and effect the expaltion of the Auftrians from Italy. This was the project of Buonaparte, whofe glory would be completed by fuch an atchievement;
and whofe thirft of fame would thereby be gratified to the utmost extent of his wifhes.
Between him and that capital of Auftrian Italy lay the remains of the Imperial forces, determined to rifk another battle for its prefervation. They were pofted on the" other fide of the Adda, over which stood a long bridge, which Beaulieu had intended to break down, but was prevented from doing by the quick approach of the French general. It was protected, however, by fo numerous an artillery, that the Auftrians did not imagine the French would be able to force a paffage over it.
On the tenth of May, the French army arrived in fight of this bridge, before which flood the town of Lodi, filled with the Imperial troops," which were alfo pofted in every place around it in the most advantageous order of battle that the fituation of the town and its environs would admit. Beaulieu had," on this occation, difplayed uncommon fkill, confcious that, on the iflue of this day, the fate of Auftria in Italy wholely depended, and that, were he defeated, all future refiftance would be vain.
The battle began at nine in the morning. The approaches to Lodi were vigouroufly attacked by the French, who, after an obftinate difpute, drove the Auftrians into that town; where a refolute fight enfued: but the French had again the advantage, and forced them to retreat acrofs the bridge to their main body, which was drawn up in order of battle, with formidable batteries on their right and left to guard the paffage of the bridge. A battery was planted on the oppofite fide by the French, and a violent cannonade
nonade was kept up, on both fides, during great part of the day.
But the French general was convinced, that unless he fucceeded in effecting a pallage over the bridge, his failure would be conftrued into a defeat, and the reputation of the French arms would fufler in the opinion of the public. Fall of this idea, which was certainly well founded, he determined to try every effort, and to encounter every perfonal rifk, in order to carry a point on which fo much appeared at iffue. Forming together the felecteft bodies of his army, he led them in perfon to the attack of the bridge, in the midft of a moft tremendous fire. The intrepidity he difplayed was neceffary to confirm the courage of his men, whom the great nefs of the danger feemed to flagger: but his prefence, and that of all the chief officers in the French army, animated the foldiers to fuch a degree, that they rufhed forward with an impetuofity which nothing
would have been much greater. It was owing to the approach of night that the French defifted from the purfuit. Favoured by darkness, Beaulieu withdrew from the field of battle, after lofing upwards of two thousand men, killed, wounded, and taken, and twenty pieces of cannon. The lofs of the French was confiderable: the croffing of the bridge alone coft them near a thoufand of their boldeft men, who were deftroyed by the batteries pointed on it from the Auftrian fide of the river.
This defeat of the Imperial army appeared fo decifive to marshal Beaulieu that he durft not venture to ftop the progrefs of the victors towards Milan. Collecting the wrecks of his army, he made a fpeedy retreat towards Mantua, purfued by a large body of the French who, in their way, feized on Pizzighitona and Cremona, two places of note. The main body under Buonaparte proceeded to Milan, af
was able to withstand. They crofter taking Pavia, where all the Auftrian magazines fell into the hands of the French.
ed the bridge and affailed the whole line of the Aufirian artillery, which was inftantly broken. They fell with equal fury on the troops that advanced to charge them, who were thrown into diforder, and put to flight on every fide. The victory was complete. Had it not been for the excellive fatigue undergone by the French, a great proportion of whom had marched ten leagues that day to join the army, the lofs of the imperialifts though great
Buonaparte entered Milan the fifteenth of May, five days after the battle of Lodi, which, conforma bly to his opinion and that of his rival, Beaulieu, proved wholly decifive of the fate of Lombardy. Here the French general thought it neceflary to allow his people fome days of repofe, after the unceasing toils of a whole month, marked by uninterrupted victories.
CHA P. VII.
Laultation of the French at the Succeffes of their Armies.-Their Army in Italy animated by the Praifes of their Countrymen, and the Converfation as well as the Proclamations of Buonaparte to a high Paffion for Glory.Enters the Duchy of Modena.-Spoliation of Monuments of Antiquity and. Art.-Abhorrence of the Italian Nobility and Clergy towards the French greater than that of the inferior Claffes.-A general Infurrection, ready to break out, quafhed by the Vigilance and Promptitude of Buonaparte.-The Auftrians, under General Beaulieu, with the Connivance of the Venetians, take Poffeffion of Pejchieva.-Buonaparte advances against Beaulieu, who retreats to the Tyrole fe.-The Venetians tremble before the French.-Difmifs from their Territories the Brother of the late King and Claimant of the Crown of France.-Buonaparte takes Poffeffion of Verona.-Blockades Mantua. Prepares to march into the Tyroleje.-Detained by Infurrections in the Digrids, known under the Name of Imperial Fiefs.-Thefe being fuppreffed, he carries his Arms to the Southward.--Reduces Tortona, Bologna, and Urbino,-Menaces Rome.-Armifiice between the Pope and Buonaparte.-Sufpenfion of Hoftilities with Naples.-Buonaparte the Friend and Patron of Men of Learning and Science.-Ambitious Views of the French Repablic.-Infurrection in Lugo.—Quelled, and the City reduced by the French.-The Blockade of Mantua converted into a clofe Siege.-Raijed by Marshal Wurmfer.— Actions between the French Army and that of the Auftrians, reinforced by Detachments from Mantua.-Remarkable Inftance of Prefence of Mind in Buonaparte.—The Auftrians driven back beyond the Adige.
HE news of thefe aftonishing
filled all France with exultation. A fplendid feftival was appointed, at Paris, by the Directory, in order to celebrate them with faitable magnificence. To render it more folemn, it was accompanied with fpeeches to the citizens, and eulogiums of the victorious army, pronounced by Carnot, the prefident of the day, and calculated to animate the public againft the ene
mies of France, particularly the
tion to bear up chearfully against the preflures of the war, by the profpect of terminating it finally to the advantage and glory of France.
During an interval of five days reft, allowed by Buonaparte to his foldiers, he did not forget to addrefs them in his ufual manner, and to excite their ardour, by a recital of their exploits, and a reprefentation of the honours and applaufe beftowed
ftowed upon them by their country, and by a profpect of the future triumphs awaiting them.
He was now meditating expeditions into the territories of thofe princes of whofe enmity to France fufficient proofs had been given. A detachment of his army had already entered the duchy of Modena, the fovereign of which had fled to Venice with his treafures. From this city he deputed a minifter to the French general, with whom he concluded a fufpenfion of arms on much the fame conditions as thofe granted to the duke of Parma.
The fpoliation of the repofitories of art, which was now annexed to the conditions of treaties with the Italian princes, proved one of the moft vexatious as well as mortifying circumstances of the French invafion. The monuments of painting and of ftatuary, which adorned their palaces, cities, and churches, were viewed by the natives with a mixture of delight and veneration. They entertained a fpecies of affection for them; and, in the presence of fome of them, they placed not a little confidence. They had become a kind of tutelary deities and houtehold gods. The Italians were fenfible of emotions not altogether diflimilar to thofe of the Ifraelite Micah, into whofe houfe armed men from Dan entered, and took away "the graven image, and the ephod, and the feraphim, and the molten image.' In one refpect, the oppreffions of the French in Italy were greater than thofe of the northern hordes under Attila and Odoacer; for thofe chiefs did not trouble the Romans with de
mands of pictures, ftatues, and fculptures. It feems to be the fate of the great models of the arts, like the arts themfelves, to travel from the east, by the weft, to the north. Perhaps their tour in this direction is not yet terminated To deprive the poor Italians of objects fo long endeared to them, by habit and poffeffion, feemed an act of tyranny exercifed upon the vanquished in the wantonnefs of power. Thofe objects had been refpected by all parties, in the viciffitude of thofe events that had fo frequently fubjected the places that contained them to different masters. The French were the first who had conceived the idea of feizing them as a matter of mere property. Herein they were accufed of confulting their vanity rather than their tafte for the fine arts. The Romans, in their triumphant periods, had plundered the Greeks of all the mafter-pieces they could find in their country. This appeared to the French a precedent fit for their imitation, and a fanction for robbing the Italians of what they esteemed the most valuable part of their property, and the moft honourable proof they still retained of their former fuperiority in thofe departments of genius. The conduct of the French, in tearing the monuments of antiquity and art from Italy, and carrying them to Paris, was univerfally condemned and execrated by all civilized nations. It was, in truth, in fome meafure, plucking the rofe from the tree.
Motives of this nature, confpiring with the diffatisfaction experienced by multitudes, at the irreverence
"Ye have taken away the gods which I made, and what have I more ?"—Judges xviii. 24.