Chateaubriand's memoirs, XXII, 3

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Mémoires d'Outre-tombe


Book XXII, chapter 3
Defections – The deaths of Lagrange and Delille



Ill fortune brings betrayal with it but does not justify it; in March of 1813, Prussia allies itself with Russia at Kalisz. On the 3rd of March, Sweden signs a treaty with the Court of St James; she is obliged to provide thirty thousand men, Hamburg is evacuated by the French, Berlin entered by Cossacks, Dresden occupied by the Russians and Prussians.

The defection of the Confederation of the Rhine is imminent. Austria adheres to its alliance with Russia and Prussia. The war in Italy re-commences and Prince Eugène is sent there.

In Spain, the English army defeats Joseph at Vittoria; the paintings stripped from the churches and palaces fall into the Ebro; I have seen them in Madrid and at the Escorial; I had seen them when they were restored in Paris: the waves and Napoleon had passed over these Murillos and Raphaels, velut umbra (like a shadow). Wellington, ever advancing, defeats Soult at Roncesvalles: our noblest memories formed the background to the scene of our later fate.

On the 14th of February, at the opening of the Legislature, Bonaparte had declared that he had always wanted peace and that it was essential for the world. This lie no longer emanated from him. Moreover there was little sympathy for the grief of France from the lips of one who called us his subjects: Bonaparte exacted suffering from us, as a tribute due to him.

On the 3rd of April, the Senate (Conservateur) added a hundred and eighty thousand combatants to those it had already allocated: an extraordinary levy of men in the midst of the regular levies. On the 10th of April, Lagrange was taken; the Abbé Delille died some days later. If nobility of feeling outweighs depth of thought in Heaven, the singer of La Pitié is nearer the throne of God than the author of the Theory of Analytic Functions. Bonaparte left Paris on the 15th of April.