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The Invasion of France in 1814   By:

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[Frontispiece: AS THEY CLIMBED UP THEY WERE CLUBBED WITH MUSKETS]

HISTORICAL ROMANCES OF FRANCE

THE INVASION OF

FRANCE IN 1814

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF

ERCKMANN CHATRIAN

ILLUSTRATED

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

NEW YORK::::::::::::::::::::::1911

COPYRIGHT, 1889, 1898

BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

ILLUSTRATIONS

As they climbed up they were clubbed with muskets . . . Frontispiece

There was a general shout of " Long live France! "

Big Dubreuil; the friend of the allies

Yégof saluted each phantom with sparkling eyes

" Let us overwhelm them, as at Blutfeld! "

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

The invasion of France by the allied armies after the battle of Leipsic had proved the German campaign even more disastrous than that of Russia the year before, was not only essentially the death blow to the power of Napoleon, but was the first real taste France had had for many years of an experience she had so often previously meted out to her neighbors. In spite of all she had suffered from the conscription and from exhaustion of men and treasure in offensive war or at least war waged outside her own territory the great Invasion meant for her something far more terrible than any reverses she had yet undergone. Napoleon was not only not invincible, it appeared, he was not even able to defend the frontiers he had found firmly established on his accession to power. The allies had announced that they were warring not against France but against the French Emperor "against the preponderance that Napoleon had too long exercised beyond the limits of his empire." Everywhere in France except in the official world of Paris, the once enchanted name of Napoleon had become recognized as a synonym of national disaster.

Nevertheless nothing except, perhaps, the similar circumstances of the Prussian invasion in 1870 has ever so well attested the fundamental and absorbing patriotism of the French people as their heroic resistance to this invasion and their instinctive and universal refusal to separate in this crisis the cause of their Emperor from their own. The presence of a foreign foe on whatever pretext within their boundaries sufficed to arouse them en masse . No such enthusiasm had been known since the days of the Republic's and the Consulate's victories as was awakened, in the thick of national disaster and amid the ruin of all ambitious hopes, by the thought of an enemy within the borders of la patrie . And in "The Invasion" of MM. Erckmann Chatrian this enthusiasm and devotion find a chronicle which is most realistically impressive. So soon as the peasants of the outlying villages of the eastern frontier learn of the impending descent of the Cossacks and Germans, without thought of their own comfort and safety which it is, however, impartially pointed out they know would hardly be better secured by submission they organize for resistance. They blockade the highways and defend the mountain passes. Women and children aid in the work. While the siege of Phalsbourg goes on the heights are occupied by sturdy peasants who oppose for a while an effective obstacle to the passage of the invaders. The worst hardships, the most perilous adventures, are accepted by them with the heroic courage of regulars. Outlaws and smugglers work and fight hand to hand with the respected worthies of the neighborhood. They watch their farms burn from their outlook on the hill tops, they suffer the pangs of starvation when their supplies are intercepted by the enemy, they fight to desperation when their position is finally turned by the treachery of a crazy German they have long harbored and whose vagaries give, by the way, a most romantic color to the narrative and they are finally slain or captured just as Paris capitulates and peace is made. None of the National Novels is more graphic or more significant historically than "The Invasion."

THE INVASION OF FRANCE IN 1814

CHAPTER I

THE OLD SHOEMAKER AND HIS DAUGHTER

If you would wish to know the history of the great invasion of 1814, such as it was related to me by the old hunter Frantz du Hengst, you must transport yourself to the village of Charmes, in the Vosges... Continue reading book >>




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