THE Empire lasted ten years, from 1804 to 1814. It was a period of uninterrupted warfare in which a long series of amazing victories was swallowed up in final, overwhelming defeat. The central, overmastering figure in this agitating story, dominating the decade so completely that it is known by his name, was this man whose ambition vaulted so dizzily, only to o’erleap itself. Napoleon ranks with Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, as one of the most powerful conquerors and rulers of history. It would be both interesting and instructive to compare these four. It is by no means certain that Napoleon would not be considered the greatest of them all. Certainly we have far more abundant information concerning him than we have concerning the others.
When he became emperor he was thirty-five years old and was in the full possession of all his magnificent powers. For he was marvelously gifted. His brain was a wonderful organ, swift in its processes, tenacious in its grip, lucid, precise, tireless, and it was served by an incredibly capacious and accurate memory. “He never blundered into victory,” says Emerson, “but won his battles in his head, before he won them on the field.” All his intellectual resources were available at any moment. He said of himself, “ Different matters are stowed away in my brain as in a chest of drawers. When I wish to interrupt a piece of work I close that drawer and open another. None of them ever get mixed, never does this inconvenience or fatigue me. When I feel sleepy I shut all the drawers and go to sleep.” Napoleon possessed a varied and vivid imagination, was always, as he said, “living two years in advance,” weaving plans and dreams and then considering coolly the necessary ways and means to realize them. This union of the practical and the poetic, the realistic and the imaginative, each raised to the highest pitch, was rendered potent by a will that recognized no obstacles, and by an almost superhuman activity. Napoleon loved work, and no man in Europe and few in all history have labored as did he. “Work is my element, for which I was born and fitted,” he said at St. Helena, at the end of his life. “I have known the limits of the power of my arms and legs; I have’never discovered those of my power of work.” Working twelve or sixteen and, if necessary, twenty hours a day, rarely spending more than fifteen or twenty minutes at his meals, able to fall asleep at will, and to awaken with his mind instantly alert, he lost no time and drove his secretaries and subordinates at full speed. We gain some idea of the prodigious labor accomplished by him when we consider that his published correspondence, comprising 23,000 pieces, fills thirty-two volumes and that 50,000 additional letters dictated by him are known to be in existence but have not yet been printed. Here was no do nothing king but the most industrious man in Europe. Happy, too, only in his work. The ordinary pleasures of men he found tedious, indulging in them only when his position rendered it necessary. He rarely smiled, he never laughed, his conversation was generally a monologue, but brilliant, animated, trenchant, rushing, frequently rude and impertinent. He had no scruples and he had no manners. He was ill-bred, as was shown in his relations with women, of whom he had a low opinion. His language,whether Italian or French, lacked distinction, finish, correctness, but never lacked saliency or interest. The Graces had not presided over his birth, but the Fates had. He had a magnificent talent as stage manager and actor, setting the scenes, playing the parts consummately in all the varied ceremonies in which he was necessarily involved, coronation, reviews, diplomatic audiences, interviews with other monarchs. His proclamations, his bulletins to his army were masterpieces. He could cajole in the silkiest tones, could threaten in the iciest, could shed tears or burst into violence, smashing furniture and bric-a-brac when he felt that such actions would produce the effect desired. The Pope, Pius VII, seeing him once in such a display of passion, observed, “ tragedian,” “ comedian.”
He had no friends, he despised all theorists like those who had sowed the fructifying seeds of the Revolution broadcast, he harried all opponents out of the country or into silence, he made his ministers mere hard-worked servants, but he won the admiration and devotion of his soldiers by the glamour of his victories, he held the peasantry in the hollow of his hand by constantly guaranteeing them their lands and their civil equality, the things which were, in their opinion, the only things in the Revolution that counted. He was as little as he was big. He would lie shamelessly, would cheat at cards, was superstitious in strange ways. He is a man of whom more evil and more good can be said and has been said than of many historical figures. He cannot be easily described, and certainly not in any brief compass.
Now that Napoleon was emperor he proceeded to organize the state imperially. Offices with high-sounding, ancient titles were created and filled. There was a Grand Chamberlain, a Grand Marshal of the Palace, a Grand Master of Ceremonies, and so on. A court was created, expensive, and as gay as it could be made to be at a soldier’s orders. The Emperor’s family, declared Princes of France, donned new titles and prepared for whatever honors and emoluments might flow from the bubbling fountain-head. The court resumed the manners and customs which had been in vogue before the Revolution. Republican simplicity gave way to imperial pretensions, attitudes, extravagances, pose. The constitution was revised to meet the situation, and Napoleon was crowned in a memorable and sumptuous ceremony in Notre Dame, the Pope coming all the way from Rome to assist — but not to crown. At the critical point in the splendid ceremony Napoleon crowned himself and then crowned the Empress. But the Pope poured the holy oil upon Napoleon’s head. This former lieutenant of artillery thus became the “an-ointed of the Lord,” in good though irregular standing. He crowned himself a little later King of Italy, after he had changed the Cisalpine Republic into the Kingdom of Italy (1805).
The history of the Empire is the history of ten years of uninterrupted war. Europe saw a universal menace to the independence and liberty of all states in the growing and arrogant ascendency of France, an ascendency and a threat all the more obvious and dangerous now that that country was absolutely in the hands of an autocrat, and that too an autocrat who had grown great by war and whose military tastes and talents would now have free rein. Napoleon was evoking on every occasion, intentionally and ostentatiously, the imperial souvenirs of Julius Caesar and of Charlemagne. What could this mean except that he planned to rule not only France, but Europe, consequently the world? Unless the other nations were willing to accept subordinate positions, were willing to abdicate their rank as equals in the family of nations, they must fight the dictatorship which was manifestly impending. Fundamentally this is what the ten years’ war meant, the right of other states to live and prosper, not on mere sufferance of Napoleon, but by their own right and because universal domination or the undue ascendency of any single state would necessarily be dangerous to the other states and to whatever elements of civilization they represented. France already had that ascendency in 1804. Under Napoleon she made a tremendous effort to convert it into absolute and universal domination. She almost succeeded. That she failed was due primarily to the steadfast, unshakable opposition of one power, England, which never acquiesced in her pretensions, which fought them at every stage with all her might, through good report and through evil report, stirring up opposition wherever she could, weaving coalition after coalition, using her money and her navy untiringly in the effort. It was a war of the giants. A striking aspect of the matter was the struggle between sea-power, directed by England, and land-power, directed by Napoleon.
While the Empire was being organized in 1804 a new coalition was being formed against France, the third in the series we are studying. England and France had made peace at Amiens in 1802.
That peace lasted only a year, until May 17, 1803. Then the two states flew to arms again. The reasons were various. England was jealous of the French expansion which had been secured by the treaties of Campo Formio and Luneville, French control of the left bank of the Rhine, French domination over considerable parts of the Italian peninsula, particularly French conquest of Belgium, including the fine port of Antwerp. England had always been opposed to French expansion, particularly northward along the Channel, which Englishmen considered and called the English Channel. The English did not wish any rival along those shores. However, despite this, they had finally consented to make the Peace of Amiens. The chief motive was the condition of their industries. The long war, since 1793, had damaged their trade enormously. They hoped, by making peace with France, to find the markets of the Continent open to them once more, and thus to revive their trade. But they shortly saw that this was not at all the idea of France. Napoleon wished to develop the industries of France, wished to have French industries not only supply the French market but win the markets of the other countries on the Continent. He therefore established high protective tariffs with this end in view. Thus English competition was excluded or at least greatly reduced. The English were extremely angry and did not at all propose to lie down supinely, beaten without a struggle. That had never been their custom. War would be less burdensome, said their business men. For England commerce was her very breath of life. Without it she could not exist. This explains why, now that she entered upon a struggle in its defense, she did not lay down her arms again until she had her rival safely imprisoned in the island of St. Helena.
There were other causes of friction between the two countries which rendered peace most unstable. With both nations ready for war, though not eager for it, causes for rupture were not hard to find. War broke out between them in May, 1803. Napoleon immediately seized Hanover, a possession in Germany of the English king. He declared the long coast of Europe from Hanover southward and eastward to Taranto in Italy blockaded, that is, closed to English commerce, and he began to prepare for an invasion of England itself. This was a difficult task, requiring much time, for France was inferior to England on the seas, and yet, unless she could control the Channel for a while at least, she could not send an army of invasion. Napoleon established a vast camp of 150,000 men at Boulogne to be ready for the descent. He hastened the construction of hundreds of flat-boats for transport. Whether all this was mere make-believe intended to alarm England, whether he knew that after all it was a hopeless undertaking, and was simply displaying all this activity to compel England to think that peace would be wiser than running the risk of invasion, we do not positively know.
At any rate England was not intimidated. She prepared for defense, and she also prepared for offense by seeking and finding allies on the Continent, by building up a coalition which might hold Napoleon in check, which might, it was hoped, even drive France back within her original boundaries, taking away from her the recent acquisitions of Belgium, the left bank of the Rhine, and the Italian annexations and protectorates. England made a treaty to this effect with Russia, which had her own reasons for opposing France — her dread of his projects in the eastern Mediterranean at the expense of the Turkish Empire.
For if any one was to carve up the Turkish Empire Russia wished to do it herself. The English agreed to pay subsidies to the Czar, a certain amount for every 100,000 men she should furnish for the war.
Finally in 1805 Austria entered the coalition, jealous of Napoleon’s aggressions in Italy, anxious to wipe out the memory of the defeats of the two campaigns in which he had conquered her in 1796 and 1800, eager, also, to recover the position she had once held as the dominant power in the Italian peninsula.
Such was the situation in 1805. When he was quite ready Napoleon struck with tremendous effect, not against England, which he could not reach because of the silver streak of sea that lay between them, not against Russia, which was too remote for immediate attention, but against his old-time enemy, Austria, and he bowled her over more summarily and more humiliatingly than he had ever done before.
The campaign of 1805 was another Napoleonic masterpiece. The Austrians, not waiting for their allies, the Russians, to come up, had sent an army of 80,000 men under General Mack up the Danube into Bavaria. Mack had taken his position at Ulm, expecting that Napoleon would come through the passes of the Black Forest, the most direct and the usual way for a French army invading southern Germany. But not at all. Napoleon had a very different plan. Sending enough troops into the Black Forest region to confirm Mack in his opinion that this was the strategic point to hold, and thus keeping him rooted there, Napoleon transferred his Grand Army from Boulogne and the shores of the English Channel, where it had been training for the past two years, across Germany from north to south, a distance of 500 miles, in twenty-three days of forced marches, conducted in astonishing secrecy and with mathematical precision. He thus threw himself into the rear of Mack’s army, between it and Vienna, cutting the line of communication, and repeating the strategy of the Great Saint Bernard and Marengo campaign of 1800. Mack had expected Napoleon to come from the west through the Black Forest. Instead, when it was too late, he found him coming from the east, up the Danube, toward Ulm. Napoleon made short work of Mack, forcing him to capitulate at Ulm, October 20th. “I have accomplished what I set out to do,” Napoleon wrote Josephine. “ I have destroyed the Austrian army by means of marches alone.” It was a victory won by legs — 60,000 prisoners, 120 guns, more than thirty generals. It had cost him only 1,500 men.
The way was now open down the Danube to Vienna. Thither, along poor roads and through rain and snow, Napoleon rushed, covering the distance in three weeks. Vienna was entered in triumph and without resistance, as the Emperor Francis had retired in a northeasterly direction, desiring to effect a junction with the oncoming Russian army. Napoleon followed him and on December 2, 1805, won perhaps his most famous victory, the battle of Austerlitz, on the first anniversary of his coronation as Emperor. All day long the battle raged. The sun breaking through the wintry fogs was considered a favorable omen by the French and henceforth became the legendary symbol of success. The fighting was terrific. The bravery of the soldiers on both sides was boundless, but the generalship of Napoleon was as superior as that of the Austro-Russians was faulty. The result was decisive, overwhelming. The allies were routed and sent flying in every direction. They had lost a large number of men and nearly all of their artillery. Napoleon, with originally inferior numbers, had not used all he had, had not thrown in his reserves. No wonder he addressed his troops in an exultant strain. “ Soldiers, I am satisfied with you. In the battle of Austerlitz you have justified all my expectations by your intrepidity; you have adorned your eagles with immortal glory.” No wonder that he told them that they were marked men, that on returning to France all they would need to say in order to command admiration would be: “I was at the battle of Austerlitz.”
The results of this brief and brilliant campaign were various and striking. The Russians did not make peace, but withdrew in great disorder as best they could to their own country. But Austria immediately signed a peace and a very costly one, too. By the Treaty of Pressburg, dictated by Napoleon, who now had beaten her disastrously for the third time, she suffered her greatest humiliation, her severest losses. She ceded Venetia, a country she had held for eight years, since Campo Formio, to the Kingdom of Italy, whose king was Napoleon. Istria and Dalmatia also she ceded to Napoleon. Of all this coast-line of the upper Adriatic she retained only the single port of Trieste. Not Austria but France was henceforth the chief Adriatic power. The German principalities, Bavaria and Baden, had sided with Napoleon in the late campaign and Austria was now compelled to cede to each of them some of her valuable possessions in south Germany. Shut out of the Adriatic, shut out of Italy, Austria lost 3,000,000 subjects. She became nearly a land-locked country. Moreover she was compelled to acquiesce in other changes that Napoleon had made or was about to make in various countries.
Napoleon began now to play with zest the congenial role of Charlemagne about which he was prone to talk enthusiastically and with rhetorical extravagance. Having magically made himself Emperor, he now made others kings. As he abased mountains, so he exalted valleys. In the early months of 1806 he created four kings. He raised Bavaria and Wurtemberg, hitherto only duchies, to the rank of kingdoms, which they have since held, “ in grateful recompense for the attachment they have shown the Emperor,” he said. During the campaign the King of Naples had at a critical moment sided with his enemies. Napoleon therefore issued a simple decree, merely stating that the House of Bourbon had ceased to rule in Naples. He gave the vacant throne to his brother Joseph, two years older than himself. Joseph, who had first studied to become a priest, then to become an army officer, and still later to become a lawyer, now found himself a king, not by the grace of God, but by the grace of a younger brother.
The horn of plenty was not yet empty. Napoleon, after Austerlitz, forced the Batavian Republic, that is Holland, to become a monarchy and to accept his brother Louis, thirty-two years of age, as its king. Louis, as mild as his brother was hard, thought that the way to rule was to consult the interests and win the affections of his subjects. As this was not Napoleon’s idea, Louis was destined to a rough and unhappy, and also brief, experience as king. “When men say of a king that he is a good man, it means that he is a failure,” was the information that Napoleon sent Louis for his instruction.
The number of kingdoms at Napoleon’s disposal was limited, temporarily at least. But he had many other favors to bestow, which were not to be despised. Nor were they despised. His sister Elise was made Princess of Lucca and Carrara, his sister Pauline, a beautiful and luxurious young creature, married Prince Borghese and became Duchess of Guastalla, and his youngest sister, Caroline, who resembled him in strength of character, married Murat, the dashing cavalry officer, who now became Duke of Berg, an artificial state which Napoleon created along the lower Rhine.
Two brothers, Lucien and Jerome, were not provided for, and thereby hangs a tale. Each had incurred Napoleon’s displeasure, as each had married for love and without asking his consent. He had other plans for them and was enraged at their independence. Both were expelled from the charmed circle, until they should put away their wives and marry others according to Napoleon’s taste, not theirs. This Lucien steadfastly refused to do, and so he, who by his presence of mind on the 19th Brumaire had saved the day and rendered all this story possible, stood outside the imperial favor, counting no more in the history of the times. When Jerome, the youngest member of this astonishing family, and made of more pliable stuff, awoke from love’s young dream, and at the furious demands of Napoleon, put away his beautiful American bride, the Baltimore belle, Elizabeth Patterson, then he too became a king. All who worshiped Mammon in those exciting days received their appropriate reward.
It would be pleasant and very easy to continue this catalogue of favors, scattered right and left by the man who had rapidly grown so great. Officials of the state, generals of the army, and more distant relatives received glittering prizes and went on their way rejoicing, anxious for more. Appetite is said to grow by that on which it feeds.
More important far than this flowering of family fortunes was another result of the Austerlitz campaign, the transformation of Germany, effected by the French with the eager and selfish cooperation of many German princes. That transformation, which greatly reduced the distracting number of German states, by allowing some to absorb others, had already been going on for several years. When France acquired the German territory west of the river Rhine, it was agreed, in the treaties of Campo Formio and Luneville, that the princes thus dispossessed should receive compensations east of the river Rhine. This obviously could not be done literally and for all, as every inch of territory east of the Rhine already had its ruler. As a matter of fact the change was worked out by compensating only the hereditary rulers. There were, both on the left bank and on the right and all throughout Germany, many petty states whose rulers were not hereditary — ecclesiastical states, and free imperial cities. Now these were tossed to the princes who ruled by hereditary right, as compensation for the territories they had lost west of the river Rhine. This wholesale destruction of petty German states for the advantage of other lucky German states was accomplished not by the Germans themselves, which would have been shameless enough, but was accomplished in Paris. In the antechambers of the First Consul, particularly in the parlors of Talleyrand, the disgraceful begging for pelf went on. Talleyrand grew rapidly rich, so many were the “gifts” — one dreads to think what they would be called in a vulgar democracy — which German princes gave him for his support in despoiling their fellow Germans. For months the disgusting traffic went on, and when it ended in the “ Conclusion “ of March, 1803, really dictated by Bonaparte, the number of German principalities had greatly decreased. All the ecclesiastical states of Germany, with one single exception, had disappeared and of the fifty free cities only six remained. All went to enlarge other states. At least the map of Germany was simpler, but the position of the Church and of the Empire was greatly altered. Of the 360 states which composed the Holy Roman or German Empire in 1792 only eighty-two remained in 1805.
All this had occurred before Austerlitz. After Austerlitz the pace was increased, ending in the complete destruction of the Empire. Paris again became the center of German politics and intrigues, as in 1803. The result was that in 1806 the new kings of Bavaria and Wiirtemberg and fourteen other German princes renounced their allegiance to the German Emperor, formed a new Confederation of the Rhine (July 12, 1806), recognized Napoleon as their “Protector,” made an offensive and defensive alliance with him which gave to him the control of their foreign policy, the settlement of questions of peace and war, and guaranteed him 63,000 German troops for his wars. Fresh annexations to these states were made. Thus perished many more petty German states, eagerly absorbed by the fortunate sixteen.
Perished also the Holy Roman Empire which had been in existence, real or shadowy, for a thousand years. The secession of the sixteen princes and the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine killed it. It was only formal interment, therefore, when Napoleon demanded of the Emperor Francis, whom he had defeated at Austerlitz, that he renounce his title as Holy Roman Emperor. This Francis hastened to do (August 6, 1806), contenting himself henceforth with the new title he had given himself two years earlier, when Napoleon had assumed the imperial title. Henceforth he who had been Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire was called Francis I, Hereditary Emperor of Austria.
Napoleon, who could neither read nor speak a word of German, was now the real ruler of a large part of Germany, the strongest factor in German politics. To French domination of West Germany, annexed to France earlier, came an important increase of influence. It was now that French ideas began in a modified form to remold the civil life of South Germany. Tithes were abolished, the inequality of social classes in the eyes of the law was reduced though not destroyed, religious liberty was established, the position of the Jews was improved. The Germans lost in self-respect from this French domination, the patriotism of such as were patriotic was sorely wounded at the sight of this alien rule, but in the practical contrivances of a modernized social life, worked out by the French Revolution, and now in a measure introduced among them, they had a salutary compensation.
While all this shifting of scenes was being effected Napoleon had kept a large army in South Germany. The relations with Prussia, which country had been neutral for the past ten years, since the Treaty of Basel of 1795, were becoming strained and grew rapidly more so. The policy of the Prussian King, Frederick William III, was weak, vacillating, covetous. His diplomacy was playing fast and loose with his obligations as a neutral and with his desires for the territorial aggrandizement of Prussia. Napoleon’s attitude was insolent and contemptuous. Both sides made an unenviable but characteristic record in double-dealing. The sordid details, highly discreditable to both, cannot be narrated here. Finally the war party in Berlin got the upper hand, led by the high-spirited and beautiful Queen Louise and by the military chiefs, relics of the glorious era of Frederick the Great, who thought they could do what Frederick had done, that is, defeat the French with ease. As if to give the world some intimation of the terrible significance of their displeasure they went to the French Embassy in Berlin and bravely whetted their swords upon its steps of stone. The royalist officers at Versailles in the early days of the Revolution had shown no more inane folly in playing with fire than did the Prussian military caste at this time. The one had learned its lesson. The other was now to go to the same pitiless school of experience.
Hating France and having an insensate confidence in their own superiority, the Prussian war party forced the government to issue an ultimatum to Napoleon, Emperor of the French, demanding that he withdraw his French troops beyond the Rhine. Napoleon knew better how to give ultimatums than how to receive them. He had watched the machinations of the Prussian ruling class with close attention. He was absolutely prepared when the rupture came. He now fell upon them like a cloudburst and administered a crushing blow in the two battles of Jena and Auerstadt, fought on the same day at those two places, a few miles apart (October 14, 1806), he himself in command of the former, Davout of the latter. The Prussians fought bravely, but their generalship was bad. Their whole army was disorganized, became panic-stricken, streamed from the field of battle as best it could, no longer receiving or obeying orders, many throwing away their arms, fleeing in every direction. Thousands of prisoners were taken and in succeeding days French officers scoured the country after the fugitives, taking thousands more. The collapse was complete. There was no longer any Prussian army. One after another all the fortresses fell.
On the 25th of October’ Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph. He had previously visited the tomb of Frederick the Great at Potsdam in order to show his admiration for his genius. He had the execrable taste, however, to take the dead Frederick’s sword and sash and send them to Paris as trophies. “The entire kingdom of Prussia is in my hands,” he announced. He planned that the punishment should be proportionate to his rage. He drew up a decree deposing the House of Hohenzollern but did not issue it, waiting for a more spectacular moment. He laid enormous war contributions upon the unhappy victim.
Napoleon postponed the announcement of the final doom until he should have finished with another enemy, Russia. Before leaving Berlin for the new campaign he issued the famous decrees which declared the British Isles in a state of blockade and prohibited commerce with them on the part of his dominions and those of his allies.
In the campaign of 1806 the Russians had been allied with the Prussians although they had taken no part, as the latter had not waited for them to come up. Napoleon now turned his attention to them. Going to Warsaw, the leading city of that part of Poland which Prussia had acquired in the partition of that country, he planned the new campaign, which was signalized by two chief battles, Eylau and Friedland. The former was one of the most bloody of his entire career. Fighting in the midst of a blinding snowstorm on February 8, 1807, Napoleon narrowly escaped defeat. The slaughter was frightful — “sheer butchery,” said Napoleon later. “What carnage,” said Ney, “ and no results,” thus accurately describing this encounter. Napoleon managed to keep the field and in his usual way he represented the battle as a victory. But it was a drawn battle. For the first time in Europe he had failed to win. The Russian soldiers fought with reckless bravery — “ it was necessary to kill them twice,” was the way the French soldiers expressed it.
Four months later, however, on June 14, 1807, on the anniversary of Marengo, Napoleon’s star shone again unclouded. He won a victory at Friedland which, as he informed Josephine, “is the worthy sister of Marengo, Austerlitz, and Jena.” The victory was at any rate so decisive that the Czar, Alexander I, consented to make overtures for peace. The Peace of Tilsit was concluded by the two Emperors in person after many interviews, the first one of which was held on a raft in the middle of the river Niemen. Not only did they make peace, but they went further and made a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive. Napoleon gained a great diplomatic victory, which completely altered the previous diplomatic system of Europe, a fitting climax to three years of remarkable achievement upon the field of battle. Exercising upon Alexander all his powers of fascination, of flattery, of imagination, of quick and sympathetic understanding, he completely won him over. The two Emperors conversed in the most dulcet, rapturous way. “ Why did not we two meet earlier? “ exclaimed the enthusiastic Czar of All the Russias. With their two imperial heads bowed over a map of Europe they proceeded to divide it. Alexander was given to understand that he might take Finland, which he coveted, from Sweden,and attractive pickings from the vast Turkish Empire were dangled somewhat vaguely before him. On the other hand he recognized the changes Napoleon had made or was about to make in Western Europe, in Italy, and in Germany. Alexander was to offer himself as a mediator between those bitter enemies, England and France, and, in case England declined to make peace, then Russia would join France in enforcing the continental blockade, which was designed to bring England to terms.
Napoleon out of regard for his new friend and ally promised to allow Prussia still to exist. The decree dethroning the House of Hohenzollern was never issued. But Napoleon’s terms to Prussia were very severe. She must give up all her territory west of the river Elbe. Out of this and other German territories Napoleon now made the Kingdom of Westphalia which he gave to his brother Jerome, who had by this time divorced his American wife. Prussia’s eastern possessions were also diminished. Most of what she had acquired in the partitions of Poland was taken from her and created into the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, to be ruled over by the sovereign of Saxony, whose title of Elector Napoleon at this juncture now changed into that of King. These three states, Westphalia, Saxony, and the Duchy of Warsaw, now entered the Confederation of the Rhine, whose name thus became a misnomer, as the Confederation included not only the Rhenish and South German states but stretched from France to the Vistula, including practically all Germany except Prussia, now reduced to half her former size, and except Austria.
Naturally Napoleon was in high feather as he turned homeward. Naturally, also, he was pleased with the Czar. “ He is a handsome good young emperor, with more mind than he is generally credited with “ — such was Napoleon’s encomium. Next to being sole master of all Europe came the sharing of mastery with only one other. A few months later he wrote his new ally that “ the work of Tilsit will regulate the destinies of the world.” There only remained the English, “ the active islanders,” not yet charmed or conquered. In the same letter to the Czar Napoleon refers to them as “ the enemies of the world “ and told how they could be easily brought to book. He had forgotten, or rather he had wished to have the world forget, that there was one monstrous flaw in the apparent perfection of his prodigious success. Two years before, on the very day after the capitulation of Ulm, Admiral Nelson had completely destroyed the French fleet in the battle of Trafalgar (October 21, 1805), giving his life that England might live and inspiring his own age and succeeding ages by the cry, “ England expects every man to do his duty!”
The French papers did not mention the battle of Trafalgar, but it nevertheless bulks large in history. This was Napoleon’s second taste of sea-power, his first having been, as we have seen, in Egypt, several years before, also at the hands of Nelson.
Napoleon returned to Paris in the pride of power and of supreme achievement. But, it is said, pride cometh before a fall. Was the race mistaken when it coined this cooling phrase of proverbial wisdom? It remained to be seen.