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WILLIAM BLACKWOOD & SONS, 45 GEORGE STREET.
AND 37 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS, EDINBURGII.
THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN OF 1812
SIR ROBERT WILSON.
It is long before we arrive at the much that is important regarding secret causes of events, the hidden the military narrative of the cammotives of the actors in them. paigns in which that Marshal took a The events themselves are patent to part. But there is no portion of this all; their form, their shape, their period both more interesting in itself, result, we all can from the first and upon which more new matter appreciate. Brilliant and accurate has bcen revealed, than the Russian descriptions of them we can gather campaign of 1812. from cotemporary records, but these The brilliant eye-painting of Segur relate to the outward seeming alone. —the Times' correspondent of the It is long years afterwards, when the campaign-left little to be desired generation who witnessed them have regarding the external features of sunk into the tomb, and the men who that most thrilling, of military acted in them have journeyed hence, episodes. The Russian view was that we first obtain a glimpse behind given with great clearness and great the curtain, and acquire a knowledge accuracy by Boutourlin, but he is of the real objects pursued, and the essentially a supporter of one of the true springs of action. Thus it is two great parties into which Russian that on many points connected both public opinion was split-viz., that of with the diplomatic history and the the nobles, represented by Kutusoff'; military events of the first French and that of the young Russians, by Empire, we are only now beginning Milaradowitch and Bagrathion. Ho to have revealed to us the secret belonged to the former.. Chambray causes, and to see in their just char- has with great care and impartiality acter the men who carried them on. given the French account. He wrote
Upon the diplomacy of Napoleon with many advantages. Himself an I. much light has been shed by actor in the events which he narrates, Thiers in his very valuable His- and furnished with all the informatory of the Consulate and the Empire, tion which the records of the French and by the documents published in War-office could afford, he has prothe Memoires of Joseph and Eugene. duced a work which in some respects, Many curious details have also been and more especially with regard to brought out by Marmont in his very the numbers of the French army at interesting Memoires ; and Koch, in different periods, is the best which his Life of Massena, has explained we possess. The keen Prussian
VOL. LXXXVIII.-NO. DXXXVII.
military writer, Clausewitz, has cri- Robert Wilson. That able soldier ticised with much judgment the and distinguished man joined the principal events; and our own his- Russian army just before the battle torian, Alison, has embodied the re- of Smolensko, and was soon after apsults of their labours in an account pointed British Commissioner at the remarkable for the fire of its descrip- Russian headquarters, which post he tion, the keenness of its criticism, retained through all the vicissitudes and the impartiality of its narrative of the war during 1812 and 1813.
Within the last few years, how- The present work is the result of the ever, two books have appeared which observations he made, and the inforthrow light upon many points mation he received, during the former hitherto involved in obscurity. The period. The considerations which fourteenth volume of Thiers gives prevented its publication earlier, are with great candour and minuteness thus stated by the editor :the French side of the question. Upon the diplomatic relations of 'Among these considerations a princiNapoleon at this period it is par- close personal intimacy with the Em,
pal one was, that he had been held in ticularly valuable.
peror Alexander, highly trusted and access to all the papers in the hands
honoured by him. The disclosure of of the French government relating facts and opinions, to which he could to the subject, Thiers has been able only have access through this confidence to elucidate the Emperor's plans, and of a generous friendship, would have the difficulties of their execution, in prejudicially affected the relations of the a very satisfactory manner. We Emperor with his great nobility : and, know no more interesting work to moreover, it would have given pain to read ; and with regard to the general
some with whom he had himself relahistory of the campaign, the numbers
tions of attachment and esteem, formed who began it, the loss incurred, the by the fellowship of danger among the results which flowed from it, there while he recorded, with exact care, the
moving scenes of military service. Meanis none more worthy of credit. To
events of which he was a personal witwards the Russians, also, it is very He felt the claims of society; fair. But there is one point where felt that the interests of mankind deThiers always requires to be studied mand from competent narrators, for enwith caution : his view of the move- during example, a record of the actions of ments of a battle is always just,
men intrusted with the conduct of the but his statement of the numbers
affairs of nations. The lapse years, engaged on both sides, and the loss he knew, removes the obstacles which incurred, is frequently inaccurate. present themselves in the circumstances This arises from a foolish vanity, historian's pen."—(Introduction, p. xv.)
of the passing period, and liberates the desirous of unduly increasing the great military merits of the French Many indeed were the advantages nation. In almost every instance which Sir Robert possessed, and he gives the French numbers be- good was the use which he made of fore a battle as less than they them. Of great talent, ardent in really were, and greatly diminishes temperament, keen in observation, their true loss ; while with regard but not balanced in judgment, his to their opponents, he as much ex- work is one of first-rate merit, both aggerates in both particulars. What from the vast importance of the facts makes this the more curious is, that it discloses, and the acute nature he in general is perfectly candid as to of the criticisms it contains ; yet it the numbers engaged in a campaign, has its defects. As a cotemporary and the total loss sustained in it. narrative of the contest, from one His general views in diplomacy and thoroughly acquainted with all its strategy are always admirable. secret details, it is invaluable; as a
Another work has appeared with calm and judicious history of a past in the last few months of even greater event, it has considerable faults. importance upon this subject, and Both its merits and its faults alike that is a journal or history (it par- flow from the character of the man. takes of the character of both) of the A bold and a skilful soldier, a quick campaign of 1812, by the late Sir and accurate observer, a' forcible