Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/73

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23
THE RETREAT FROM RUSSIA.

The Bulletin.Napoleon collected his marshals around him at Smorgoni, on the 5th of December, 1812, and dictated a bulletin which developed the horrors of the retreat, and explained to them his reasons for returning to Paris. "I quit you," he said, "but go to seek three hundred thousand men." He then proceeded to lay the blame on the King of Westphalia, and his' trusted and tried friend the Due d'Abrantes; alleged that English torches had turned Moscow into a heap of ashes; and added (with greater truthfulness) that the cold had done the rest of the mischief. He entrusted the command to Murat, and bidding them farewell set out, accompanied only by Generals Coulaincourt. Duroc, and Mouton, the Mameluke Rustan, a captain of the Polish lancers, and an escort of Neapolitan horsemen. This event is referred to in a caricature, published by S. W. Fores on the 1st of January, 1813, entitled, Boney returning from Russia covered with Glory, leaving his army in comfortable winter quarters. Napoleon and Coulaincourt are seated in a sleigh driven by another general in jack boots, with a tremendous cocked hat on his head, a huge sword by his side, and a formidable whip in his hand. Coulaincourt inquires, "Will your Majesty write the bulletin?" "No," replies Napoleon; "you write it. Tell them we left the army all well, quite gay; in excellent quarters; plenty of provisions; that we travelled in great style; received everywhere with congratulations; and that I had almost completed the repose of Europe" (a favourite expression of his). By way of contrast to these grandiloquent phrases, the eye is attracted to the surroundings. The ground is thickly coated with snow; in the foreground, two famished wretches cut and devour raw flesh from a dead horse. On all sides lie dead and dying men and animals, while in the distance we behold the flying and demoralized troops chased by a cloud of Cossacks. The English caricaturists follow the emperor into the sanctity of his private life; they depict in their own homely but forcible fashion the astonishment of the empress at his unexpected return, and the disgust of young "Boney the Second," who not only expresses surprise that his imperial sire had forgotten his promise to "bring him some Russians to cut up," but suggests that they seem