Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

head of his Sarmatian troops. Kos. ningsen came up; and Napoleon for ciusko and Platoff met; it was the the first time sustained, a repulse, which embrace of two hearts as honest as checked his career during a few months. brave. When Platoff related the inci- General Barclay de Tolli seems to dent to the narrator of this paragraph, have raised his reputation considerably it was with more than one tear in his by his conduct in this war; for in the eye ; and precious are the tears which great campaign of 1812, we find him are drawn by the admiration of virtue. commanding the right or principal He knew how to value Kosciusko; wing of the Russian force stationed in for he knew that he had not only de. Poland. Here he had to withstand the fended his country against a press of first onset of that immense army, comforeign usurpation, but had refused posed of the accumulated troops of wealth from the late Emperor Paul, the whole continent of Europe, with and twice rejected the throne of Po. which Buonaparte was preparing to land from Napoleon Buonaparte. Ra- overwhelm Russia. In such circumther than receive a pension from the stances, retreat seems to have been the enemy of his country, or be the crown- only choice left to the Russian geneed satellite of any emperor upon earth, ral; and it was rendered still more imhe retired to a miserable village, and perious by the rapid movements of fed himself on bread and water." Napoleon, separating his part of the

The fatigues of these successive army from the left wing under Bagra. campaigns, though probably unfelt at thion. Barclay de Tolli, therefore, the moment by the aged hero, made abandoned his fortified positions on a deep inroad on his constitution. Af- the Niemen, and retreated, first upon ter the stimulus was over, exhaustion Witepsk, and then upon Smolensk, was deeply felt; and in the course of where the separated parts of the army the present year he fell a victim to it were again united. *Smolensk was a at Novotscherkask, the Cossack capi- very strong position, and had been fortal. A few months before, Alexander tified with extraordinary care, being Scherbatoff, his second in command, generally considered as the bulwark of had died, also a distinguished officer, Moscow, which capital, it was supand in the meridian of life.

posed, must follow the fate of Smo

lensk. It was expected, therefore, that General BARCLAY DE TOLLI was a a general battle would be hazarded German by birth, but entered early in. for its defence. The Russian geneto the service of Russia, and gradually ral, however, contented himself with rose to the highest commands. His throwing into the place a detachment first appearance in history is at the of 30,000 men, which kept up their battle of Pultusk, which immediately communication, and received reinforcefollowed Buonaparte's invasion of Po- ments from the main army. Buonaland, at the end of 1806. On this oc- parte immediately began the attack, casion, he commanded the vanguard, which continued with great obstinacy under General Benningsen, and first re- through the whole day, till in the ceived the attack of the enemy. The evening the town being on fire, was evaonset was made, however, with such cuated by the Russians. The

French superior numbers, that the Russian bulletins censured Barclay de Tolli for general was at first obliged to fall not hazarding a general battle in this

upon a battery, wbich, opening strong position, which they representupon the French, arrested their pro- ed as the last chance of preventing gress, and gave time till General Ben- the advance of Napoleon to Moscow.

back

They added, that the Emperor Alex® 40,000 men, was stationed to the north ander had given orders to defend Smo- of that capital, covering the road to lensk to the last extremity. We have St Petersburgh. In this situation, he scarcely materials of judging upon this took an active part in harassing the question, and are naturally led to be. enemy, and contributed to make him lieve it at least fortunate, that Buona- abandon his hopes of Russian conquest, parte was by any means led to plunge and determine upon retreat. After the farther into the interior of Russia. It evacuation of Moscow, a garrison was is certain, however, that the chief com- still left in the Kremlin. Winzingerode mand was soon after transferred to made himself master of Moscow; then Kutusoff, whose splendid successes se. anxious to prevent the effusion of cured its continuance during his life. blood, he advanced before his troops

In the following campaign, Barclay with a flag of truce in his hand, tode Tolli was not present at the battle wards the French garrison, by whom, of Lutzen. Having arrived, however, contrary to the laws of war, he was at Bautzen with a reinforcement of made prisoner and sent to Paris. This 14,000 men, he took the command of accident prevented him from figuring the right wing of the Russo-Prussian in the Saxon campaign ; but before army. In the battle of Hochkirch, thatof 1814 he had obtained hisliberty, the enemy directed all his efforts to and was employed to bring up a reinturn this wing, and by the general su- forcement to the army under Blucher. periority of his numbers, was enabled He was first opposed at Soissons by a to bring against it so overwhelming a considerable French detachment; but force as at length obliged it to give by a brisk attack he carried the place, way, and the whole of the allied army and made the whole garrison prisoners. was thus finally obliged to retreat, His advanced guard of Cossacks then though in excellent order. No blame entered Rheims. On the 6th March, seems even to have attached to the his division had to maintain a most obRussian general on this occasion ; yet stinate attack from the main body of repeated misfortune seldom fails to the French at Craone, and after an create a prejudice against an officer; obstinate resistance, was obliged to and we do not find him henceforth in- fall back. When the allies made the vested with any such high command. grand movement upon Paris, which A Russian general, however, does not terminated the war, Winzingerode was scruple to descend from a higher to a left with 10,000 cavalry to observe the lower station; and we find him re- motions of Buonaparte. When the peatedly commanding the reserve of French Emperor, however, seeing the the army during

the French campaign. critical state of his affairs, turned back Barclay de Tolli held the titles of with his whole force towards Paris, Prince and Field-Marshal. He died Winzingerode had no means of arrestat Interburg in Prussia, on the 25th ing his progress, but was obliged to May, 1818.

retreat before him with some loss.

This was the last success of which WINZINGERODE was another Rus. Buonaparte had to boast. sian General, who acted no inconsider- Winzingerode, from his youth, had able part in the great continental war. only attained the rank of LieutenantThe first high command with which General. He died at Wisbaden on the he appears to have been invested, was 16th May, 1818, in the 49th year of after the occupation of Moscow by his age. Buonaparte, when Winzingerode, with

CHAPTER II.

BIOGRAPHY-LITERARY.

Mr Malcolm Laing.-Mrs Brunton.-Dr Macneill.-Dr Burney.-Mr

Lewis.-Mr Gifford.-Dr Cogan.--Millin.-Visconti.

MALCOLM LAING, whose research ner he had not duly sacrificed to the and acuteness rank him among the graces. His speeches were uttered most respectable of Scottish histori- with an almost preternatural rapidity, ans, was born at Strynzia, an estate of and in harsh and disagreeable tones. which his father was proprietor, on His time, however, was intensely dethe mainland of Orkney. After recei- voted to studies, of which the public ving the rudiments of education at the soon began to reap the fruits. Dr grammar school of Kirkwall, he re- Henry having died, leaving unfinished paired in due time to the University the last volumes of his great work on of Edinburgh, and, under its celé- the History of England, Mr Laing, brated teachers, enjoyed every oppor. whose historical researches were al tunity of cultivating his mind. He ready known, was applied to by his became also a close frequenter of the executors to complete it. He wrote Speculative Society, and in its debates accordingly the two last chapters, acquired that readiness and fluency of adding a dissertation on the alleged argument, which continued to form crimes of Richard III. The sucthe leading feature in his intellectual cess of this specimen was so decided character.

as determined him to give himself In 1785, at the age of 23, Mr up wholly to his bias for historical Laing became a member of the Scot- writing. His researches were soon die tish bar ; but though he continued to rected, in a peculiar manner, towards plead for a number of years, he never his native country; and the fruits of attained to extensive practice. This them appeared in a History of Scotmay appear singular, when we consi. land, in two vols. 8vo. The period inder that his style of reasoning was pe- cluded was from the union of the culiarly suited to his professional pur- crowns to the union of the kingsuits ; but history and literature at- doms ; thus bringing down the plan of tracted the greater share of his atten- Robertson to the latest period which tion ; not to mention, that in his man- can belong to classical history. In all his works, Mr Laing shewed a strong up by Mr Mackenzie. This, however, propensity to controversy, carried on was met by MrLaing with a new edition indeed most ably and learnedly, but of the poems (2 vols. 8vo. 1805), in somewhat too much in the style cha- which he brought forward fresh mat. racteristic of his profession, making ter of argument, and combated all himself the eager advocate of the side that had beer advanced against him which he espoused, rather than a cool in the Report. He proved now, that inquirer into the subject. In the choice Macpherson had never shewn to any of that side, he shewed no deference to one, nor left behind him, any manupopular opinion, but a certain prefer- script of Ossian whatever; that the ence of whatever doctrine would be originals produced were all in his own most generally ungrateful and unwel- handwriting, and filled with correccome. He tore up unmercifully by tions and interlineations, similar to the roots all the tender flowers of na. those used by an author in composing tional vanity and romantic feeling. In his own work. From the full expothis spirit was composed the celebrated sition now made on both sides, the dissertation on Ossian, appended to candid reader will probably decide, the first edition of his History. There that there were fragments floating in was no subject on which Scottish oral tradition, relating to Fingal and pride had dwelt more fondly and en- his heroes, and containing no inconsithusiastically. Till that time, their derable portion of rude poetical talent, authenticity was very generally ac- -that Macpherson incorporated some quiesced in ; for Johnson's disdainful of these into his Ossian, but polishrejection was imputed to his austere ing, altering, and filling them up with and Anti-Scottish propensities, and a much larger proportion of his owa served only to whet the zeal of the composition; in short, there was some. nation in defending them. But Mr thing of Ossian, but much more of Laing dug so deep into the sub- Macpherson. ject, and brought his arguments so Mr Laing took a considerable inhome, that the faith of the most cre- terest in the political questions of the dulous was at last shaken. A second day; with a decided leaning to the edition being called for in a few years, Whig side. In 1806, when the Fox he attacked another stronghold of na- and Grenville administration came into tional feeling, by an elaborate disser- power, he warmly supported their tation, tending to establish the guilt plans for new-modelling the Edinof Mary. This and other additions burgh courts. At the same time, he swelled the work to four volumes oc- was nominated by his native county tavo. The subject, however, had in a as its representative in Parliament. great measure lost the hold it once He spoke on several occasions, and, possessed in the public mind. But, notwithstanding the defects of his manwith regard to Ossian, the whole ner, with such force of information Highland world was in a ferment; and and argument, that he was listened to the clans mustered almost as fiercely with respect. The state of his health round the aged bard, as formerly round prevented him from proceeding in this their darling Charles. The Highland career. His nerves had always been Society, then in all the zeal of a first weak, and they now fell into so shatestablishment, devoted the most strenu. tered a state, as to produce almost perous efforts and researches to vindicate petual suffering during the rest of his the honour of their race; and they pro- life. So distressing was often his si. duced an elaborate Report, ably drawn tuation, that, as we have been assured,

[ocr errors]

it was only by being kept artificially was the daughter of Colonel Balfour, in a particular posture, that he was of Elwick, cadet of an ancient family able to avoid fainting. In this situa. in Orkney: Her mother, daughter of

tion he withdrew from the circles of Colonel Ligonier, had acquired in the i literature and the world, and took up house of her uncle General Lord Ligo

his residence on his property in Ork. nier, rather the accomplishments which ney. Here the activity of his mind adorn a court, than those suited to was still exerted in the improvement so retired a sphere. Being a person, of his lands, and in attempts to intro. however, of talents and acuteness, she duce a better system of cropping and communicated probably to her daughmanagement than had hitherto pre- ter a variety of anecdote and informa. vailed in this remote part of the world. tion, and made her a proficient in He even made attempts to introduce music, French, and Italian. Upon the the breed of Merino sheep, and on the whole, however, Mary was indulged whole, set examples of a better sys- in a degree of freedom, which, though tem of agriculture, which promise to scarcely to be generally recommended, be useful to this portion of the em. is often favourable to the growth of pire. Amid these useful avocations, the strong and original powers. Her stuincreasing pressure of disease brought dies were turned in a great measure his life to a termination in the end of towards poetry and fictior. . At six1818.

teen, however, the death of her mother Mr Laing was happily married to devolved upon her the whole task of Miss Carnegie, daughter of a gentle. house-keeping, which, for four years man in the county of Forfar, whose succeeding, appears to have almost sister was married to Lord Gillies, one entirely occupied her attention. At of the Judges of the Court of Session, twenty, she received an invitation from and brother of Dr Gillies the historian. Viscountess Wentworth, a near relaThis lady survives him, but with no tion of her mother, to reside with her family. His property is inherited by in London. To the brilliant prospects Samuel Laing, Esq. his elder brother, thus opened, she preferred an outwardwho resides near Kirkwall. Gilbert ly humbler destiny. She had already Laing Meason, Esq. who in one me- become acquainted with Mr BRUNTON, moir is named as his heir, derived his a young clergyman of talents and acample property from quite a different complishments; and having again met quarter.

with him in her way south, mutual

attachment led to a matrimonial union. The individual now commemorated She retired with him to Bolton, a had died in the maturity of years, and country living, reckoned small even in after having long withdrawn from the Scotland, and at the distance of twelve world. A much deeper emotion was or fourteen miles from the metropolis. excited by the loss, in the full bloom In this retirement, the character of of life and genius, of one, who might Mrs Brunton's mind was formed. Un. justly be considered as the pride of der the direction, and in company of Scottish female society. Since the her husband, she went through a more death of Mrs Hamilton, no female methodical range of study. Without writer commanded equal respect by renouncing Belles Lettres, she applied her talents and character, as the au- to history, the philosophy of mind, thoress of Self-CONTROL. By the au- and received even a tincture of mathethentic memoir communicated by her matics. She examined carefully the surviving husband, it appears that she evidences of religion, and imbibed that

« AnteriorContinuar »