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cessor, Bonet, was wounded; the French left had been destroyed as a military body, and had fallen back in tumultuous and disorderly retreat. But two circumstances for a brief space changed the fortunes of the conflict, and seemed to make the final issue doubtful. Clausel, who assumed command of the French when Bonet fell, was a fine soldier, stubborn of courage and fertile in resource. He not only rallied the broken left and shaken centre, but, with the instinct of a valiant soldier, he attempted a daring counterstroke on Wellington's left; and chance for a moment seemed to offer him a golden opportunity. Wellington assailed the French Arapiles with Pack's Portuguese brigade. Pack’s men were 2,000 strong, and Pack himself was 'a fighting general' of very fine quality. The hill, too, was held by a single French battalion, and the success of the attack seemed assured. And yet it failed! Pack led his men up within thirty yards of the summit in solid column; then over the crest and round the flank of the hill the French came in a vehement charge, pushed home with fiery valour ; and the Portuguese broke. There was a cloud of smoke, a shout, a stream of fire, and the side of the hill was covered with the killed, the wounded, and the flying Portuguese.
French valour is always most dangerous when the imagination of victory gleams like a flame in it. The 4th division of the British had at that moment reached the edge of the southern ridge. Pack's defeat exposed their flank, and Clausel, seizing the critical moment, smote hard on their front with two strong unbroken regiments, and the British were driven in tumult and confusion, but fighting desperately, down the hill. Cole, in command of the division, fell badly wounded. Beresford brought up a Portuguese brigade to restore the fight, but the brigade was swept away, and Beresford himself was disabled. The French heavy cavalry was coming on to the attack, and the moment was critical. Wellington, riding quickly to the scene, brought up Clinton's division, which had not yet fired a shot, and the fury and thunder of the fight grew still deeper.
Night was falling. The dry grass on the slope where the hostile lines were exchanging close and deadly volleys, and making furious rushes with the bayonet, took fire, and ran in crackling flames over the bodies of the wounded, and under the trampling feet of the combatants. But the stubborn close-fighting valour of the 6th overbore the fiery daring of the French, and the changing current of battle set finally in favour of the British. The
whole volume of French retreat flowed in wild far-reaching tumult along the Alba de Tormes road. Still its rearguard, however, clinging to every vantage of ground, covered the retreat with sullen and desperate courage, and Foy in command of it showed fine skill. The fragments of Maucune's division held the last defensible ridge on the edge of the forest through which the French retreat, with loud clamour, was flowing. It was night, black and moonless; and Clinton, scornful of tactics and flank movements, led his division straight up the hill. To those who watched the fight from a little distance, the eddying fortunes of the attack and the defence were written in ever-changing characters of fire on the hill-slopes.
In the darkness of the night the fire showed from afar how the battle went. On the English side a sheet of flame was seen, sometimes advancing with an even front, sometimes pricking forth in spear-heads, now falling back in waving lines, anon darting upwards in one vast pyramid, the apex of which often approached yet never gained the actual summit of the mountain ; but the French musketry, rapid as lightning, sparkled along the brow of the height with unvary ing fulness, and with what destructive effects the dark gaps and changing shapes of the adverse fire showed too plainly: meanwhile Pakenham turned the left, Foy glided into the forest, and, Maucune's task being then completed, the effulgent crest of the ridge became black and silent, and the whole French army vanished as it were in the darkness.
The French must cross the Tormes in their flight at Alba de Tormes or at Huerta. Wellington had placed a Spanish garrison at the first, and he pushed on to the second with the light division. If he could seize that, the French army must surrender or be destroyed. The Spanish garrison, however, had abandoned Alba de Tormes without reporting the circumstance to Wellington ; and the French army crossed the Tormes at that point in safety, and pushed on their retreat with such speed that, on the day after the fight, Clausel was forty miles from Salamanca. Wellington overtook the French rear-guard with his cavalry a little before noon on the 23rd, and launched the heavy German dragoons and Anson's light horsemen at them. Then ensued a cavalry exploit of singular brilliancy. Anson's troopers broke the French cavalry; but the Germans, riding fast, with narrow front, up the valley, discovered some solid squares of infantry on the slope above them. The left squadron of the regiment instantly swung round and rode at the nearest square. The two front ranks, kneeling, presented a double row of deadly steel; and, over their heads, the French infantry, standing four deep, poured a deadly stream of fire into the swiftly moving mass of men and horses
before them. The Germans, however, gallantly led, pushed their charge up to the very points of the bayonets. A horse struck by a bullet stumbled forward on to the square, and broke for a moment its solid order, and the Germans— big men and huge horses-swept through the gap, and in an instant the battalion was cut down or trampled out of existence.
Meanwhile the second squadron, taking fire at the exploit of the squadron next to it, also swung round and rode fiercely at the second French square.
Its fire was angry and damaging; but its ranks had been shaken by the spectacle of the destruction which had just swept over the square below it. One or two French infantrymen ran from their places, and in an instant the tempest of galloping horses and furious swordsmen swept over the square. A third square, according to one version, was in like manner destroyed by the triumphant cavalry; but the remaining square stood firm and succeeded in covering the French retreat. The charge was one of the most memorable cavalry feats on record. Three squares were broken and 1,400 prisoners captured. Yet a great price was paid for this triumph. The hill of La Serna offered a frightful spectacle of the power of the musket—that queen of weapons and the track of the Germans was marked by their huge bodies. . . . In several places man and horse had died simultaneously, and so suddenly that, falling together on their sides, they appeared still alive, the horse's legs stretched out as in movement, the rider's feet in the stirrup, his bridle in hand, the sword raised to strike, and the large hat fastened under the chin, giving to the grim but undistorted countenance a supernatural and terrible expression.'
Salamanca is one of the great battles of modern history. The French army was practically destroyed as a military body. I never saw an army receive such a beating,' wrote Wellington, the least exaggerative of men. But the immediate results of Salamanca were its least important consequences. It destroyed the splendid prestige of the French. It delivered Madrid. It raised the siege of Cadiz. It rescued Andalusia and Castile from the French occupation. Napoleon heard the tidings of the defeat the night before Borodino, and it filled him with fury—and with reason. He could henceforth hope for no reinforcements from Spain; he must drain his strength, indeed, when he most needed it, to feed the war there. * The Spanish ulcer,' said Napoleon long afterwards, destroyed me.' But it was Salamanca that made the Spanish ulcer incurable.
AN ANNIVERSARY ARTICLE.
LAST NUMBER PUBLISHED JULY 9TH, 1798.
Talking to Miot de Melito at Montebello in July 1797, Napoleon, fresh from his Italian triumphs, thus enunciated his views of the Jacobin doctrines and their professors: 'Do you imagine that I triumph in Italy in order to aggrandise the pack of lawyers who form the Directory? What an idea! A republic of thirty million men! And with our manners, our vices! How is it possible? That is a fancy of which at present the French are full; but it will pass away, like all the others. What they want is glory and gratified vanity; but as for liberty, they do not understand what it means.''
It is not strange that the piercing eye of Napoleon should have seen the glaring discrepancy between Jacobin theory and practice, though it may seem strange that he should have uttered his views to a comparative stranger at the time when he was posing as 'citoyen général,' 'one of Plutarch's men;' but the frankness of Bonaparte, like the frankness of Bismarck, must, at times, have surprised his contemporaries. That his views were sound politically there are perhaps few who would now dispute. What is the answer that would be given by most thinking people to the grave question propounded by M. Renan nearly ten years ago? as to the success of the French Revolution ? Probably it would be found to coincide with that of Pitt rather than that of Fox; but the lapse of a century is only just enabling us to judge with tolerable impartiality of its effects. Not that, even now, it is easy for us to approach the consideration of that extraordinary epoch without bias, though the actors in it are at length shrinking to their proper proportions, and the judgment of posterity is shaking itself free from the apocalyptic visions of Victor Hugo and Carlyle, and is beginning to see events in their true perspective.
"Memoirs of Miot de Melito, vol. i. p. 189.
If it is difficult to avoid bias now in discussing the Revolution, it is hardly to be wondered at if it was difficult at the time. Gouverneur Morris, with the insight of a shrewd Yankee, foresaw the failure of the Revolution from its inception; but it is not surprising that the Opposition in England were friendly towards France ; for the repressive measures of the Government and constant defeat in Parliament might have justified much sympathy with the revolutionary doctrines as first preached. But it is difficult to understand their position in 1798, when the Jacobin theories were being illustrated by the victorious French armies.
Pitt at this time had the voting class, and, on the whole, sound statesmanship, on his side ; but the wit, the eloquence, and the sympathy of the populace were on the other. But, with great discretion, he had been gathering round him a band of young disciples, who amply repaid his prescient foresight. The most brilliant of this brilliant band was George Canning, and he was surrounded by others whose wit was hardly less keen than his own. They all held views with regard to the régime then existing in France identical with those of Napoleon, already quoted ; and, after the rupture of the negotiations at Lille, which brought back to England that most able of our diplomatists, Lord Malmesbury, Canning and his friends met under his presidency to draw up the first number of the 'Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner,' which appeared on November 20, 1797. The age and experience of the old diplomatist tempered the zeal and energy of the younger men, and the result was a series of the most successful political satires which have ever appeared. It is not too much to say that when it came to an end it had killed any hankering after Jacobinical doctrines in this country.
What has been accomplished by M. Taine through weight of evidence and reasoning at the end of a century in his own country was done in England in six months; and Bonaparte's victorious career finished the lesson. Hitherto, outside the walls of Parliament, the Opposition had had all the best of the fun in the 'Rolliad. Now they were made ridiculous in turn. Not only their political views and their supporters in the press, but the men of science who patronised revolutionary ideas, the literary man who modelled his style on foreign or unwonted examples, all fell under the lash. In many cases the parodies have lived, while the originals have been long forgotten. Canning, Hookham Frere, and George Ellis (formerly a contributor to the