JOSEPH KING OF SPAIN
 AFTER a series of the wildest, most tumultuous, and frantic scenes of which even Spanish history
gives any account, Charles IV. abdicated in favor of his son Ferdinand. On the 20th of
March, 1808, the new King, Ferdinand VII., was saluted by the acclamations of the people
and the soldiers, and received the homage of the Court. One of his first acts was to
arrest the hated Manuel Godoy. Murat was then in command of the French troops in Spain,
and was about entering Madrid. Junot, with a French army, had taken possession of
Portugal. Spain was nominally in alliance with France. England was consequently waging war
against Spain. The French troops were in Spain to protect the kingdom from the English.
The young King Ferdinand immediately dispatched the Duke of Pargue to convey assurances of
friendship to Murat, and to sound hie intentions. At the same time he sent three
 of the grandees of Spain to announce his accession to the throne to Napoleon, and to give
him renewed pledges of his friendship and devotion. On the 23rd of April Murat took
military possession of Madrid. The next day Ferdinand made his triumphal entrance into the
metropolis. He was received with bound less exultation, so greatly were the people
rejoiced to be delivered from the detestable Godoy. Thus far Napoleon did not recognize
the accession of Ferdinand. He however sent the Duke of Rovigo to Madrid to ascertain the
circumstances of the abdication. In the mean time the old King, who had retired with the
Queen to Aranjuez, wrote a letter to the Emperor, in which be said that he had been forced
to abdicate in favor of his son by the clamors of the people and the insurrection of the
soldiers, threatening him with instant death if he refused.
"I protest and declare," he said, "that my decree of the 19th of March, in which I
abdicated the crown in favor of my son, is an act to which I have been forced to prevent
the greatest misfortunes and the effusion of the blood of my well-beloved subjects. It
ought consequently to be regarded as of no value."
JOSEPH RECEIVING THE ADDRESSES OF THE SPANISH SENATE.
 The Queen also wrote to Murat, entreating him, in the most supplicating terms, to rescue
her paramour Godoy from prison, and stating that they had abdicated only to save their
lives. While Charles IV. and Caroline were making these secret protestations to Napoleon
and Murat, the abdicated King, to lull the suspicions of Ferdinand, was reiterating the
public declaration that the abdication was free and unconstrained, and that never in his
life had he performed an act more agreeable to his inclinations.
Murat took the old King and Queen under his protection, provided them with a suitable
guard, and demanded the liberation of Godoy. Ferdinand, convinced that he could not
maintain the throne without the support of Napoleon, sent his younger brother, Don Carlos,
to intercede with the Emperor in his favor. While these scenes were transpiring, Savary,
Duke of Rovigo, arrived at Madrid. He assured Ferdinand that it was the Emperor's desire
to unite France and Spain in the closest alliance. He proposed that Ferdinand should visit
Napoleon, that in a personal interview they might the better mutually understand each
other. The counsellors of Ferdinand urged the adoption of this
 measure, as one which would secure the confidence of the Emperor, and which might induce
him to give a princess of his family to Ferdinand. Such was the condition of affairs in
April, 1808. The great object of Napoleon was to secure a government in Spain whose
treachery he need not fear, and upon whose friendly co-operation he could rely. Charles
IV., the weakest of weak men, enslaved by long habit, was the obsequious tool of his
stronger-minded wife. The Queen, Caroline, sought, at whatever price, to save her lover
Godoy. Ferdinand wished to crush Godoy, his implacable foe.
Ferdinand decided to visit the Emperor, and on the 10th of April left Madrid for that
purpose. When he reached his frontiers he wrote a very suppliant letter to Napoleon,
entreating the recognition of his right to the throne, and pledging his friendship.
Napoleon replied that he was ready to recognize the Prince of Asturias as King of Spain if
it should appear that Charles IV. had not been compelled to abdicate through fear of his
life. By this extraordinary concurrence of circumstances Napoleon became the judge between
the father and the son, both of whom had appealed to his decision.
Ferdinand, with his suite, crossing the
fron-  tiers, hastened to Bayonne, and entered the city on the morning of the 20th of April. He
was received by the Emperor with distinguished marks of attention and kindness, but not
with regal honors. The Prince of Peace, whose liberation Murat had secured, came hurrying
on to Bayonne, to plead his cause before the Emperor; and he was followed, in a few hours,
by Charles IV. and the Queen. Thus the whole family was assembled at Bayonne. The result
of several stormy interviews, in which the King, the Queen, and their son exhausted upon
each other the language of vituperation, and in which the enraged old King was with
difficulty restrained from a violent personal attack upon his son, the parties all agreed
to cede to Napoleon the crown of Spain. Ferdinand first renounced his rights in favor of
his father, and Charles IV. transferred the sceptre to Napoleon. The imperial palace of
Campiegne, its parks and forests, were placed at the disposition of Charles IV. for
himself, his Queen, and Godoy, during his life, with an annual pension of thirty million
reals. He was also given the proprietorship of the chateau of Chambord, with its parks,
forests, and farms, to dispose of as he pleased. Upon the death of the King, the Queen was
 receive a pension of two million reals. The two princes, Ferdinand and Don Carlos, were
assigned to the castle of Valencay, its park, forests, and farms, with an income amounting
to about half a million dollars.
It is said that Napoleon obtained at Bayonne such developments of the character of
Ferdinand that he saw that it was utterly in vain to attempt to make a respectable king of
him; one upon whom he could repose the slightest reliance; and he could no longer think of
sacrificing the daughter of Lucien to so worthless a creature. Speaking upon this subject
at Saint Helena, Napoleon said to Las Casas:
"Ferdinand offered, on his own account, to govern entirely at my devotion, as much so as
the Prince of Peace had done in the name of Charles IV. And I must admit that if I had
fallen into their views I should have acted much more prudently than I have actually done.
When I had them all assembled at Bayonne, I found myself in command of much more than I
could have ventured to hope for. The same occurred there, as in many other events of my
life, which have been ascribed to my policy, but in fact were owing to my good-fortune.
"Here I found the Gordian knot before me.
 I cut it. I proposed to Charles IV. and the Queen that they should cede to me their rights
to the throne. They at once agreed to it, I had almost said voluntarily; so deeply were
their hearts ulcerated toward their son, and so desirous had they and their favorite now
become of security and repose. The Prince of Asturias did not make any extraordinary
resistance. Neither violence nor menaces were employed against him. And if fear decided
him, which I well believe was the case, it concerns him alone."
On the 8th of May Charles IV. issued a proclamation to the Spanish nation, informing them
that he had ceded the crown to Napoleon, and enjoining it upon them to transfer their
homage to him. "We have," said he, "ceded all our rights over Spain to our ally and friend
the Emperor of the French, by a treaty signed and ratified, stipulating the integrity and
independence of Spain and the preservation of our holy religion, not only as dominant, but
as alone tolerated in Spain."
As the throne was thus transferred without any action of the people whatever, Napoleon
felt the necessity of obtaining something like a national sanction of the deed, and an
expres-  sion of the national will in respect to the sovereign who should be placed over them.
Murat, at Madrid, announced to the council-general of Castile, to the junta or council of
the Government, and to the municipality, that the Emperor desired to know their opinion in
reference to the choice of a sovereign from the princes of his own family. All these three
bodies united in the expression of the wish that the choice should fall upon Prince
Joseph, King of Naples. A deputation of distinguished men was sent to convey this wish to
the Emperor. Fortified by these documents, Napoleon, on the 6th of June, proclaimed that
the crown of Spain was transferred to his brother Joseph.
Joseph was at that time on the road to Bayonne, not yet knowing the decision of his
brother, and in heart very reluctant to assume the crown of Spain. Napoleon rode out from
Bayonne to meet Joseph, whom he sincerely loved, and who was so ready to sacrifice his
inclinations and his happiness to aid the Emperor in his gigantic plans. The Emperor made
the following statement to Joseph as they rode back together to Bayonne:
"The passions of the princes of the House
 of Spain have precipitated a crisis which has arrived too soon. They could no more agree
together at Bayonne than they could in Spain. Charles IV. preferred to retire to France
upon certain conditions, rather than go back to Spain without the Prince of Peace. The
Queen also preferred to see a stranger ascend the throne rather than Ferdinand. Neither
Ferdinand nor any other Spaniard wished for Charles IV. if the reign of Godoy were to be
recommenced; they preferred a stranger to him. I am fully satisfied," said the Emperor,
"that it would require greater efforts to sustain Charles and the Prince of Peace than to
change the dynasty. Ferdinand has shown himself so moderate in ability, and so unreliable
in character, that it would be inconsistent for me to commit myself for him in sustaining
a son who has dethroned his father. This dynasty is no longer suitable for Spain. With it
no regeneration is possible. The most prominent personages of the monarchy, in rank, in
intelligence, and in character, assembled at Bayonne in a national junta, are, in general,
convinced of this truth. Since destiny has so ordered it, and since it is in my power now
to do that which I had no wish to undertake, I
 have designed to regenerate Spain by placing over it my brother, the King of Naples, who
is agreeable to the junta, and who will be also so to the nation. Ferdinand has, for a
long time, sought one of my nieces in marriage. But since the interview at Bayonne,
knowing more intimately the character of the prince, I can not think it proper to accede
to his demands.
"The Spanish princes have already left for France. They have ceded their rights to the
crown. I wish to transfer the crown to my brother, the King of Naples. It is important
that he should not hesitate. The Spaniards, as also foreign sovereigns, will think that I
wish to place that crown upon my bead, as I have done with that of Lombardy when Joseph
refused to accept it. The tranquillity of Spain, of Europe, the reconciliation of all the
members of the family
depend upon the decision which Joseph now makes. I will not cherish the thought that the
regret to leave a beautiful country, where there are no longer any dangers to be
encountered, can induce Joseph to refuse a throne, where there are
 great obstacles to be overcome, and much good to be accomplished."
When they reached Bayonne, Joseph found all the members of the Junta assembled in the
chateau of Marrac. He responded vaguely to the address of congratulation the Junta made to
him, wishing first to converse with each individual member of that body. The Spanish
princes left for Valenccay, and Charles IV. had no partisans whatever. The Duke of
Infanta-do and M. Cevallos had been considered the warmest advocates of Ferdinand. They
both called upon Joseph, and held a long interview with him. The duke Offered him his
services, saying that he had possessions in the kingdom of Naples, and that his agents
there had in-formed him of the wonders which Joseph had wrought. "If Joseph," said he,
"can be in Spain what he has been in Naples, there is no doubt that the entire nation will
rally around him." M. Cevallos expressed the same views. Joseph then saw every member of
the Junta individually, nearly one hundred in number. They all, without exception,
described the wretchedness into which Spain had fallen, and the apparent facility with
which it could be regenerated. Upon one point they all agreed:
 that it would be impossible to live in peace under either the father or the son; that
Joseph alone, sacrificing the throne of Naples that he might ascend that of Spain, would
meet the wishes of all parties, and bring back prosperity to the distracted realm.
These assurances, which were given to Joseph by all the members of the Spanish Junta
assembled at Bayonne, that his acceptance of the throne would calm all troubles, assure
the independence of the monarchy, the integrity of its territory, its liberty, and its
happiness, roused his generous enthusiasm. "He yielded," writes his biographer,
"sacrificing his dearest interests to the hope of doing good to a greater number of
people, and decided to accept the crown which was offered him. He considered it his duty
to occupy the most dangerous post. Virtue, not ambition, led Joseph to Spain."
The Emperor wished to introduce into Spain the same advanced principles of popular liberty
which Joseph, by the Constitution, had conferred upon Naples. With that object he convoked
at Bayonne, on the 15th of June, a Spanish assembly, called the Constitutional Junta. This
Congress was to consist of one hundred and
 fifty persons of the most distinguished orders in the state, though but about one hundred
were actually convened. A large number had already assembled when Joseph reached Bayne.
They hastened to welcome him. Many of them, however, afterward proved his most inveterate
enemies. The Duke of Infantado, addressing him in the name of the grandees of Spain, said,
"Sire, the Spaniards expect, from the reign of your Majesty, all their happiness. They
ardently desire your presence in Spain to fix ideas, to conciliate all interests, and to
establish that order so necessary for the regeneration of the country. Sire, the grandees
of Spain have always been distinguished by their fidelity to their sovereigns. Your
Majesty will experience this, as also our personal affection. Receive, sire, these
testimonies of our loyalty with that kindliness so well known by your people of Naples,
the renown of which has reached even to us."
The deputation of the Royal Council of Castile said to the new King: "Sire, your Majesty
is a branch of a family destined by Heaven to reign. May Heaven grant that our prayers may
be beard, and that your Majesty
 may become the most happy King in the universe, as we desire for him in the name of the
supreme tribunal of which we are the deputies."
Even the Inquisitor, Don Raymond Estenhard, organ of the councils of the Inquisition,
declared in their name "that they were full of fidelity and of affection; that they
offered their prayers for Joseph, who was charged to govern the country, that he might
find happiness in his own heart by contributing to the happiness of his subjects, and that
he might elevate them to that degree of prosperity which might be expected from him,
particularly when aided by the genius and power of his august brother, Napoleon the
The Duke of Pargue, at the bead of a deputation representing the army, gave the same
assurances of homage and support. Even Ferdinand wrote Joseph a letter of congratulation,
dated Valenccay, June 22. It was as follows:
"SIRE,—Permit me, in the name of my brother and of my uncle,
as well as in my own, to testify to your
Majesty the part which we have taken in his induction to the throne of Spain. The object
of all our desires having ever been the happiness of the generous nation which he
 is called to govern, that happiness is now complete, in view of the accession to the
throne of Spain of a prince whose virtues have rendered him so dear to the Neapolitans. We
hope your Majesty will accept our prayers for his happiness, to which is united that of
our country, and that he will grant to us his friend-ship, to which we are entitled, for
the friend-ship which we feel for your Majesty. I pray your Catholic Majesty to receive
the oath which I owe him as King of Spain, and also the oath of the Spaniards who are now
with me. From your Catholic Majesty's' affectionate brother."
The Constitutional Junta of Spain commenced its session at Bayonne on the 15th of June.
Ninety-one members were present. A constitution was presented very much resembling that
which had been conferred upon Naples. It was discussed and voted upon with perfect
freedom. Finally, on the 7th of July, it was accepted as amended by the signature of all
the members; "considering," as the act said, "that we are convinced that under the regime
which the Constitution establishes, and under the government of a prince as just as the
one whom we have the happiness to possess,
 Spain and all its possessions will be as happy as we can desire it to be."
The Constitution being accepted, Joseph appointed his ministry and constituted his court;
placing all the important offices in the hands of distinguished Spaniards. On the 9th of
July Joseph left Bayonne and entered Spain, accompanied by the members of the Junta, many
grandees of Spain, his ministers, and the officers of his household.
Many have reproached Joseph for having accepted the crown. But it should be remembered
that when he arrived at Bayonne, the treaty of abdication by the Spanish princes had
already been signed. An assemblage of Spanish notables met him there, and entreated him to
accept the crown, to rescue Spain from ruin. There seemed to be no dissent from the
opinion that his presence would be the signal of peace and harmony, that it would calm
agitation, and unite all parties. In a word, they declared that it was the only way to
rescue the country from anarchy, and from those calamities which menaced its entire ruin.
The intelligence of the nation exulted in the change, as promising a new era of equality
On the 20th of July Joseph arrived in
 Madrid. There were about eighty thousand French troops in Spain. Much to Joseph's surprise
and disappointment, he found, all over the kingdom, in the provinces, insurrection rising
against him. These scattered bands soon amounted, it was estimated, to one hundred and
fifty thousand men. The fanatic monks, alarmed in view of the changes which had been
effected in Naples, were very active in rousing the peasantry to resistance. The British
Government, which was then at war with Spain because it was the ally of Napoleon,
instantly espoused the cause of the insurgents, and contributed all its energies of fleet
and army and money to drive Joseph out of Spain.
The new sovereign had entered Madrid without being greeted with any signal demonstrations
of enthusiasm. In accordance with the established etiquette of the realm, he was received
at the foot of the grand stairs of the palace by the nobility of the country, and was
proclaimed king in the public squares and principal streets of Madrid with the accustomed
ceremonies upon the advent of a new sovereign. Intensely occupied with the cares of his
new government, Joseph did not, for some time, fully comprehend the perils which menaced
 Step by step he was led on, as he quelled here and there a popular insurrection, until he
found himself involved in a stern war with the great mass of the Spanish peasantry, with
all the priesthood fanning the flames of opposition, and the British Government
energetically co-operating with purse and sword. It would require volumes to describe,
with any degree of minuteness, the tremendous struggle. Napier has performed that task in
his immortal work upon the Peninsular War.
Joseph soon awoke to a full realization of the peril of his position. On the 13th of July
he wrote to the Emperor from Burgos at three o'clock in the morning, "It seems to me that
no person has been willing to tell the exact truth to your Majesty. I ought not to conceal
it. The task undertaken is very great. To accomplish it with honor will require immense
resources. Fear does not make me see double.
"In leaving Naples, I have indeed yielded my life to the most hazardous events. My life is
of but little consequence. I surrender it to you. But in order not to live with the shame
attached to failure, great resources are requisite in men and money. I am not alarmed, in
 view of my position. But it is unique in history. I have not here a single partisan."
Again, on the 19th, he wrote, "It is evident that we have not the soil, since all the
provinces are in insurrection or occupied by considerable armies of the enemy."
On the 28th of July he wrote, "I have no need to inform your Majesty that one hundred
thousand men are necessary to conquer Spain. I repeat it, that we have not a partisan, and
the entire nation is exasperated, and decided to sustain with arms the part which it has
"All my Spanish officers except five or six have abandoned me. The disposition of the
nation is unanimous against that which has been done at Bayonne."
On the 6th of August he wrote, "Your Majesty recommends me to be happy. Never have I been
so tranquil and so well, and so indefatigable; and if I have occasion to envy in your
Majesty a superior genius which has always enabled him to command victory, I have that in
common with all the world. But I have no need to envy any person for composure and
tranquillity of soul. And I must avow that I find that adversity enables me to
 experience a sentiment which is not without a certain charm; it is to be above adversity."
The Emperor endeavored to cheer his despondent brother with hopeful words. On the 19th of
July be wrote him, "I see with pain that you are troubled. It is the only misfortune which
I fear. You have a great many partisans in Spain, but they are intimidated. They are all
the honest people. I do not the less admit that your task is great and glorious. You ought
not to consider it extraordinary that you have to conquer your kingdom. Philip V. and
Henry IV. were obliged to conquer theirs. Be happy. Do not permit yourself to be easily
affected, and do not doubt for an instant that every thing will end sooner and more
happily than you think."
Again, on the 1st of August, Napoleon wrote, "Whatever reverses fortune may have in store
for you, do not be uneasy; in a short time you will have more than one hundred thousand
men. All is in motion, but it must have time. You will reign. You will have conquered your
subjects, in order to become their father. The best of kings have passed through this
school. Above all, health to you and happiness, that is to say, strength of mind."
 On the 3rd of August the Emperor again wrote, "You can not think, my friend, how much pain
the idea gives me, that you are struggling with events as much above what you are
accustomed to, as they are beneath your natural character. Tell me that you are well, in
good spirits, and are becoming accustomed to the soldier's trade. You have a fine
opportunity to study it."
General Junot, with a small French force, at that time held possession of Portugal. The
Cabinet of Saint James offered to the Spanish Junta at Seville to send an army of about
thirty thousand men to co-operate with the Spaniards in their struggle against the French.
For some unknown reason the offer was declined, and the troops were sent to Portugal.
These British troops, acting in vigorous co-operation with the Portuguese, greatly
outnumbered the French, and, after a severe battle at Torres Vedras, Junot capitulated at
the Convention of Cintra, and his army re-embarked, and was transported to France. This
event added greatly to the embarrassment of Joseph. Junot had afforded him much moral and
even material support. Now Junot was driven from the Peninsula, and a British army of over
 thirty thousand men, under the ablest officers, and flushed with victory, was on the
frontiers of Spain, ready in every way to co-operate with the Spaniards.
This roused Napoleon. He was the last man to recoil before difficulties. He had the honor
of his arms to avenge, and his policy to justify by success. Never before, in the history
of the world, was there such a display of energy, sagacity, and power. He well knew that
all dynastic Europe was hostile to those principles of popular liberty which were
represented by his name, and that, notwithstanding the obligations of treaties, they were
ever ready to spring to arms against him whenever they should see an opportunity to strike
him a fatal blow.
Napoleon at once ordered eighty thousand veteran troops of the grand army from the north
to assemble at Bayonne. He hastened to Erfurt to hold an interview with Alexander to
strengthen their alliance, and to prevent, if possible, a new coalition from being formed
against him while absent with his troops in Spain. The Spanish insurgents, as they were
called—for they had no established government—were everywhere triumphant. The
 army was driven out of Madrid, and, in a state of great destitution, was standing on the
defensive. Joseph and all his generals were thoroughly disheartened, and were only anxious
to devise some honorable way by which they could abandon the enterprise. The priests, with
a crucifix in one hand and a dagger in the other, had traversed the realms of Spain and
Portugal, rousing the religious fanaticism of the unenlightened masses almost to frenzy.
Charles IV., his Queen, and Ferdinand had all been intensely devoted to the interests of
the Church. The French were represented as infidels, and as the foes of the Church. The
whole nation was roused against them. Even the women took an active part in the conflict,
periling their own lives upon the field, and inspiring the men with the courage of
desperation. The English, victorious in Portugal, were now welcomed into Spain. They
lavished their gold in paying the Spanish armies. Their fleet was busy in transporting
supplies. To all Europe the position of Joseph seemed utterly hopeless.
On the 25th of October, Napoleon, on the eve of leaving Paris for Spain, said, at the
opening of the Legislative Corps:
 "A part of my troops are marching against the armies which England has formed or
disembarked in Spain. It is an especial favor of Providence, which has constantly
protected our arms, that passion has so blinded the counsels of the English, that they
have renounced the protection of the seas, and at length present their armies on the
"I leave in a few days, to place myself at the head of my army, and, with the aid of God,
to crown in Madrid the King of Spain, and to plant my eagles upon the forts of Lisbon.
"The Emperor of Russia and I have met at Erfurt. Our first thought has been of peace. We
have even resolved to make many sacrifices that, if possible, the hundred millions of men
whom we represent may enjoy the benefits of maritime commerce. We are in perfect harmony,
and unchangeably united for peace as for war."
In the mean time Joseph, struggling heroically against adversity, and exceedingly
embarrassed by the false position in which he found himself placed, received many
consoling messages of confidence and affection from prominent men in the Spanish nation.
We present the following extract from a letter
 addressed to him on the 2nd of September, 1808, by M. M. Azanza and Urquijo, as a specimen
of many others which might be quoted:
"We do not doubt that your Majesty contemplates, with deepest grief, the disasters with
which Spain is menaced, by the obstinacy of those people who will not know the true
interests of the realm. But at least no one is ignorant that your Majesty has done and is
doing every thing which is humanly possible to avoid such calamities for his subjects. The
day will come when they will recognize the benevolent intentions and paternal kindness of
your Majesty; and they will respond to it by testimonies of gratitude and of fidelity
which will fill with contentment the noble heart of your Majesty."
The almost supernatural power of the Emperor was never more conspicuously displayed than
in the brief, triumphant, overwhelming campaign which ensued. He wrote to Joseph from
Erfurt, "I leave to-morrow for Paris, and within a month shall be at Bayonne. Send me the
exact position of the army, that I may form a definite organization by making as little
displacement as possible. In the present state of affairs, we may conclude that the
pre-  sumption of the enemy will lead him to remain in the positions which he now occupies. The
nearer he remains to us the better it will be. The war can be terminated in a single blow
by a skillfully-combined manoeuvre, and for that it is necessary that I should be there."
The single blow Napoleon contemplated would unquestionably have annihilated his foes, but
for an inopportune movement of Marshal Lefebre. As it was, it required three or four
blows, which were delivered with stunning and bewildering power and rapidity. On the 29th
of October Napoleon took his carriage for Bayonne. Madrid was distant from Paris about
seven hundred miles. The rains of approaching winter had deluged the roads. He soon
abandoned his carriage, and mounted his horse. Apparently insensible to exposure or
fatigue, he pressed forward by night and by day, until, at two o'clock in the morning of
the 3rd of November, he reached Bayonne. He found that his orders had not been obeyed, and
that the troops, instead of being concentrated, had been dispersed. Instantly, at the very
hour of his arrival, new life was infused into every thing. He seemed by instinct to
comprehend the posture of affairs, to know
 just what was to be done. Orders were issued with amazing rapidity; couriers flew in all
directions. Barracks were erected; the troops were reviewed; unexecuted contracts were
thrown up; agents were sent in every direction to purchase all the cloths in the south of
France; hundreds of hands were busy in cutting and making garments; and at the close of a
day of such work as few mortals have ever accomplished, Napoleon leaped into his saddle
and galloped sixty miles over the mountains to Tolosa, on the Spanish side of the
Pyrenees. Here he indulged in an hour or two of rest, and then galloped on thirty miles
farther to Vittoria. He encamped with the Imperial Guard outside of the city.
The Spaniards have always been accused of a tendency to vainglorious boasting. The trivial
successes which they had attained, in alliance with the English, quite intoxicated them.
"We have conquered," they said, "the armies of the great Napoleon. We will soon trample
all his hosts in the dust. With an army of five hundred thousand indignant Spaniards we
will march upon Paris, and sack the city. The powers of Russia, Austria, and Prussia have
fallen before Napoleon; but
 Spanish peasants, headed by the priests and the monks, will roll back the tide of
victory." Such was the insane, boasting.
Napoleon was, at the same time, the boldest and the most cautious of generals. He ever
made provision for every possible reverse. Stationing two strong forces to guard his
flanks, he took fifty thousand of the elite of his army, and plunged upon the centre of
the Spanish troops. Such an onset none but veterans could withstand. There was scarcely
the semblance of a battle. The Spaniards fled, throwing down their arms, and leaping like
goats amidst the crags of the mountains. Pressing resistlessly forward, Napoleon reached
Burgos on the night of the 11th. Here the Spaniards attempted another stand upon some
strongly intrenched heights. A brief conflict scattered them in the wildest confusion,
defeated, disbanded,. leaving cannon, muskets, flags, and munitions of war.
Onward he swept, without a check, without delay, crushing, overwhelming, scattering his
foes, over the intrenched heights of Espinosa, through the smouldering streets of the
town, across the bridge of Trueba, choked with terrified fugitives, through the pass of
 in one of the most astounding achievements which war has ever witnessed, till he led his
victorious troops, with no foe within his reach, into the streets of Madrid. He commenced
the campaign at Vittoria on the 9th of November, and on the 4th of December his army was
encamped in the squares of the Spanish metropolis. Europe gazed upon this meteoric
phenomenon with astonishment and alarm.
The Spanish populace had been roused mainly by the priests. In their frenzy, burning and
assassinating, they overawed all who were in favor of regenerating Spain by a change of
dynasty. It is the undisputed testimony that the proprietors, the merchants, the
inhabitants generally who were rich, or in easy circumstances, and even the magistrates
and military chiefs, were quite disposed to listen to the propositions of the Emperor. But
overawed by the populace, who threatened to carry things to the last extremity, they dared
not manifest their sentiments.
As the French army took possession of the city, order was immediately restored. The
theatres were re-opened, the shops displayed their wares, the tides of business and
pleasure flowed unobstructed along the streets. Numerous
dep-  utations, embracing the most wealthy and respectable inhabitants of Madrid, waited upon
the Emperor with their congratulations, and renewed their protestations of fidelity to
Joseph. The Emperor then issued a proclamation to the Spanish nation, in which he said,
"I have declared, in a proclamation of the 2nd of June, that I wished to be the
regenerator of Spain. To the rights which the princes of the ancient dynasties have ceded
to me, you have wished that I should add the rights of conquest. That, however, shall not
change my inclination to serve you. I wish to encourage every thing that is noble in your
exertions. All that is opposed to your prosperity and your grandeur I wish to destroy. The
shackles which have enslaved the people I have broken. I have given you a liberal
constitution, and, in the place of an absolute monarchy, a monarchy mild and limited. It
depends upon yourselves whether that constitution shall still be your law."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics