September 30 1812: News of a Desperate War

On September 30, 1812, John Quincy Adams writes a long entry that contains information about the desperate war between Russia and France.  Adams writes:
I had some further conversation with Mr. Laval. He says there are dreadful accounts of the burning of Moscow since the French entered it. There were two attempts made to burn the houses next to that in which he (Napoleon) had taken his quarters, in consequence of which his troops set fire to the city in many places at once, and it is feared that the whole city may be destroyed. The Emperor Alexander, since the loss of Moscow, has said publicly at his own table, "II n'y a qu'un coquin qui puisse prononcer actuellement le mot de paix." His spirit stiffens with adversity. The situation of the French army in the midst of their triumphs is considered as absolutely desperate; it is supposed that Napoleon wishes to negotiate, and this is the strongest reason for the determination not to negotiate here. But the Emperor Alexander is not satisfied with the conduct of his Generals, nor pleased that he made Koutouzof a Field Marshal and gave him one hundred thousand rubles for a victory the immediate result of which was the loss of Moscow.... The time of real danger to the invader is now but just commencing, and it is a species of warfare to which Napoleon is not accustomed, and for which he may not be prepared. If, however, the system is good for the old Russian provinces, it is far more questionable for the recovery of Courland and of Poland".
The complete entry is reproduced below.

September 30 1812: Byron's Kidney Stone Attack

On September 30, 1812, Lord Byron is finishing the Address for the Opening of the Drury Lane Theatre. He writes a couple of letters to Lord Holland with some more revisions but also indicating that they will be meeting soon. Byron does suffer an attack of kidney stones today.  This is one of the reasons why he is in Cheltenham: to partake of its "medicinal" and "disgusting" waters.  Bryon writes: "I am just recovering from a smart attack of the stone (what a pleasing posthumous hope for a man to be able to have his monument carved out of his kidneys)."

Byron's letters are reproduced below.

September 29 1812: Lord Holland and the Stage

On September 29, 1812, Lord Holland and Lord Byron continue to exchanges letters with respect to the Address for the Opening of the Drury Lane Theatre.  Lord Holland is moved by Byron's poetry to a discuss how the stage can preserve the language but also allow for "conversing with past times". He writes:

The stage (with the exception of the church by the bye) is the only place where the same things are recited publicly to different ages & it becomes thus not only a receptacle to preserve the language but a sort of organ for conversing with past times past Characters and past manners – An old play especially if more time had actually elapsed since those which are our models were written, would produce on many a reflecting Spectator much of that delusion which you have so beautifully & truly described as arising from the view of the remains of antiquity – What would one not give to hear Sophocles recited in the same accent tone & action & with the same accompaniments as Pericles did – Now as long as English lasts & an English stage is preserved uninterrupted, so long will the audience hear what Queen Elizabeth & the wits of Charles the second and Queen Anne’s time heard. 
The two letters are reproduced below.

September 29 1812: Women! Women! Women!

On September 29, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg, asks Mr. Laval what was the the cause of the war with France and is told:
"...women! women! women! Women had been the cause of all the late disastrous wars against France. It was unquestionably the late Queen of Prussia who had caused the Prussian war; it was the late Empress of Austria who had produced the last Austrian war; and it was the Grand Duchess Catherine who had occasioned the present war. 
Adam's entry in his diary is reproduced below.

September 29 1812: British Parliament Dissolved

On September 29, 1812, the fourth United Kingdom Parliament was dissolved.  In 1812, the practice of having one election day had not yet developed. In fact, there were many election days as set by the local returning officers. The elections ran from October 5 to November 6. The new Parliament will meet on November 24, 1812. Voting could also take place over a number of days. For example, the voting for the constituency of Berkshire took place over fifteen days. It is also important to recall that the franchise was severely restricted. The Berkshire constituency had only 1,992 electors others had fewer. The results of the 1812 elections are summarized by the excellent History of Parliament site as follows:
The general election of 1812 ran from 5 Oct. to 6 Nov. Ninety-six constituencies (25 per cent) were contested. The issue of Catholic relief ensured that there was more  excitement in Ireland than elsewhere. The most spectacular contest was at Liverpool, where, after an intensive campaign of speechifying on Catholic relief, parliamentary reform and the prospect of war with the USA, the Tories George Canning and Isaac Gascoyne defeated the Whig pair of Henry Brougham and Thomas Creevey. Other prominent Whigs, including Francis Horner, William Lamb, Sir Samuel Romilly, Richard Sheridan and George Tierney, either failed to find a seat or were defeated. Of the 658 men returned, 119 (18 per cent) had no previous parliamentary experience. A further 120 novices came in during the life of the Parliament.  The government gained some 30 seats, which produced, in crude terms, a House made up of 419 supporters of government and 239 in opposition.

September 28 1812: Adams Discussion with Mr. Poletica

On September 28, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes the following entry in his diary:
28th. Had morning visits from Mr. Raimbert and from Mr. Pierre de Poletica, who was in America as Secretary of Legation to Count Pahlen. He was appointed to go with him to Brazil, but declined accepting the office, and returned home a few weeks since. He left the United States in May, and came through England. He is now appointed to go to Spain, and is to depart in ten days or a fortnight. I had a conversation of nearly two hours with him about the affairs of America, Russia, France, and England. His opinions and sentiments are those now prevailing here — of course anti-Gallican and Anglomanian.

That a Russian should abhor France and adhere to England at this time is very natural and very proper. With respect to American affairs, Mr. Poletica's opinions are favorable to the federalists, most of his acquaintances having been of that party. He said he had intended to publish here a statistical account of the United States, and had collected materials for the purpose, but that he should now be obliged to postpone it until after his return from Spain. He said there was an old ukase of Peter the Great forbidding any person employed in the Department of Foreign Affairs from associating with the foreign Ministers, and that he had asked Count Romanzoff whether he might visit me, to which he received for answer that he might see me, but not frequent me. He said the Chancellor had told him of the Emperor's offer of mediation between the United States and England, which he hoped would be successful.

September 28 1812: Susan Vaughan, In Disgrace

While Byron scribbles, on September 28 1812, Susan Vaughan writes to him "in disgrace" from London. Vaughan had been Byron's Welsh maid at Newstead Abbey. Byron had an affair with her from December, 1811 to January, 1812.  Unfortunately, Byron's page, Robert Rushton, also  had an affair with her. Byron had forgiven Rushton but had coldly dismissed Vaughan. My earlier posts can be found here, here, here and here .

In September, Vaughan appears to be destitute and living in London. She wants to sell an expensive dress that Byron had given her but she is afraid that she will be accused or may have already been accused of having stolen the dress. She writes to Byron to confirm that he had given her the dress. It is not known whether Byron responded. Susan's fate is also not known. Fiona MacCarthy [1], Byron's biographer, provides some clues: 
In 1811 she [Susan Vaughan] had given (or Byron had taken) a curl of Taffy's [his nickname for her] strawberry blond hair. Two years later, in 1813, she sent a large sample by post from Doncaster with a pencilled note:
"My dear Lord Byron -- I should have been exceedingly pleased to have been seen you before I had sailed. Indeed I take it very unkind I never saw any one else ashamed at me. It is impossible to say how happy it would make me to see you again at sweet Newstead or anywhere else." 
Where was Susan sailing to? Was she emigrating? Had she even been transported? We shall never know.
Vaughan's letter of September 28 is reproduced below.

September 28 1812: Byron Continues to Scribble Away

On September 28, 1812, Lord Byron continues to work on the Address for the Opening of the Drury Lane sending two letters to Lord Holland and receiving one in return. Byron appears a little frustrated with Samuel Whitbread's changes. "I fear it will not bear much curtailing without “chasms in the sense," he writes. The letters are reproduced below. 

September 28 1812: Byron and the Father of all Mischiefs

On September 28, 1812, Lord Byron is writing to an old friend from Cambridge, William Bankes. Fiona MacCarthy, Byron's biographer, describes Bankes:     
At Cambridge Byron discovered and already thriving subculture of sodomy, with its own rituals and codes, into which he was indoctrinated by William Bankes, later defined by Byron has "his collegiate pastor, and master", the "father of all mischiefs", and man who "ruled the roost or rather the roosting" of Byron's Cambridge years.
Bankes was two years Byron's senior, and in many ways the opposite of Long: loquacious, touchy and highly intelligent and arrogant, brought up in the great English house of Kingston Lacy owned by his ultra-Tory father Henry Bankes, a long serving MP who played an important role in directing government expenditure on the Napoleonic wars. Later a famous traveler and collector, William Bankes was to join the long line of English homosexual exiles. Already, at Cambridge his taste for the esoteric was developed. He had fitted up some of his college rooms as a quasi-Catholic chapel, importing Cambridge choristers to serenade him. 
Byron's letter to Bankes is reproduced below.

September 28 1812: Brock on Native Claims

On September 28 182, Major General Brock writes to Sir George Prevost trying diplomatically to dissuade his superior from the defensive posture he has ordered. Brock writes that the Americans have taken "defensive measures along the strait of Niagara" but there are reports that large reinforcements are on the march. "Should they arrive," Brock writes, "an attack cannot be long delayed". 

In addition, Brock speaks forcibly against abandoning the Native allies. Brock writes:
Should negotiations for peace be opened, I cannot be too earnest with your excellency to represent to the king's ministers the expediency of including the Indians as allies, and not leave them exposed to the unrelenting fury of their enemies.
At the same time, Brock is aware that the Native nations  have reason to be suspicious of the British. He refers to the "Miami affair, in 1793" which probably refers to the refusal of the British to aid the Native Western Conspiracy that fought American forces under General Anthony Wayne in 1794 in what is now Ohio. Brock appreciates that the Natives have their own interests that have to be part of any peace negotiations. In particular, any peace has to include "their claim to an extensive tract of country, fraudulently usurped from them, and opposing a frontier to the present unbounded views of the Americans." Brock writes: 
...the Indians, aware of our weakness and inability to carry on active warfare, would only think of entering into terms with the enemy. The Indians, since the Miami affair, in 1793, have been extremely suspicious of our conduct; but the violent wrongs committed by the Americans on their territory, have rendered it an act of policy with them to disguise their sentiments. Could they be persuaded that a peace between the belligerents would take place, without admitting their claim to an extensive tract of country, fraudulently usurped from them, and opposing a frontier to the present unbounded views of the Americans, I am satisfied in my own mind that they would immediately compromise with the enemy. I cannot conceive a connection so likely to lead to more awful consequences.
Brock's letter is reproduced below.

September 27 1812: Subdued Anniversary

On September 27, 1812, Tsar Alexander, in St Petersburg,  rides to church to celebrate the anniversary of his coronation. He rides slowly and in a closed carriage without the usual fanfare His entourage is fearful of popular unrest  as a result of the loss of Moscow. Countess Edling [1] writes: "We drove slowly in our glazed carriages through an immense crowd, whose mournful silence and angry faces were in stark contrast to the holiday we were celebrating...I shall never forget the moment when we ascended the steps to the church, between two walls made up by the people who did not utter one cheer. All one could hear at that moment were our steps and I have never for a moment doubted that it would have taken no more than a spark at that moment to produce a general explosion." 

John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes the following entry in his diary for that day: "Anniversary of the Emperor Alexander's coronation. There was one yacht upon the river dressed out with colors, and in the evening an illumination. No other notice of the day was publicly taken."

1. Adam Zamoyski, Moscow 1812. Napoleon’s Fatal March, (New York 2004) at pages 315 

September 27 1812: How Byron Scrawls

On September 27 1812, Lord Byron  continues to work on revisions to the Address for the opening of Drury Lane Theatre. He started a letter Lord Holland on September 26 and completes it on September 27.  The letters give some insight as to how Byron writes. For example, Byron explains:
I always scrawl in this way, and smoothe as much as I can but never sufficiently, & latterly I can weave a nine line stanza faster than a couplet, for which measure I have not the cunning. – When I began “Childe Harold” I had never tried Spenser’s measure, & now I cannot scribble in any other. 
The letters are reproduced below. 

September 26 1812: Lord Holland's Dislike of "Intellectual"

On September 26 1812, Lord Holland responds to Lord Byron's by providing his comments with respect to Byron's address for the Opening of the Drury Lane Theatre. Lord Holland appears particularly critical of the word "intellectual" that Byron had intended to use in one of his lines. Lord Holland writes: "Intellectual is a hea[v]y abstract Scotch metaphysical word & as such most repugnant to the language of the Muses – who have I suspect a very female dislike to moral philosophy and elements of criticism." Lord Holland's letter is reproduced below.

September 26 1812: A Continuous Four Hour Meal

On September 26 1812, John Cam Hobhouse and David  Baillie, travelling in Wales, have an epic meal. Hobhouse writes
Modesty would prevent me from recording my own exploits on this occasion if I had not been far surpassed by my fellow-traveller. As it is, I shall and must say that salmon, mutton, and partridges disappeared in succession before me and left no vestiges of what they were. The interval between dinner and bedtime was well filled up with muffins and honey, so that the last four hours of our yesterday’s existence might be said to be one continued meal. Never did Baillie so shine, and I, though at a distance, did things worthy of my great
prototype – to bed at ten.

September 25 1812 : Byron, A Charming Misogynist

On September 25, 1812, Lord Byron is writing to Lady Melbourne about Annabella. He is also working on the Address for the opening of the Drury Lane Theatre by sending Lord Holland some more revisions. Byron's letter to Lady Melbourne indicates that he is getting some resistance on the part of Annabella to the idea of marriage. Byron responds by suggesting to Lady Melbourne that he may decide to forget Annabella given  her requirements that he give her all his "time & and all the cardinal virtues". If that is the case,  Byron tells Lady Melbourne, he has another option in the person of a beautiful Italian lady with dark eyes, who will save him the "trouble of marrying by being married already". The only fault that this Italian beauty has is that she eats too much. Byron thinks that this is problem. He writes that a "woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad & Champagne the only truly feminine & becoming viands."  He writes:
As to Annabella she requires time & all the cardinal virtues, & in the <meantime> {interim} I am a little verging towards one who <reg> demands neither, & saves me besides the trouble of marrying by being married already. – – She besides does not speak English, & to me nothing but Italian, a great point, for from certain coincidences the very sound of that language is Music to me,  & she has black eyes & not a very white skin, & reminds me of many in the Archipelago I wished to forget, & makes me forget what I ought to remember, all which are against me. – I only wish she <ha> did not swallow so much supper, chicken wings – sweetbreads, – custards – peaches & Port wine – a woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster sallad & Champaigne the only truly feminine & becoming viands. – I recollect imploring one Lady not to eat more than a fowl at a sitting without effect, & have never yet made a single proselyte to Pythagoras. 
Byron's letter continues in the same charming sexist vein with some flattery of Lady Melbourne by writing:  
Now a word to yourself – a much more pleasing topic than any of the preceding. – I have no very high opinion of your sex, but when I do see a woman superior not only to all her own but to most of ours I worship her in proportion as I despise the rest. – And when I know that men of the first judgement & the most distinguished abilities have entertained & do entertain an opinion which my own humble observation without any great effort of discernment has enabled me to confirm on the same subject, you will not blame me for following the example of my elders & betters & admiring you certainly as much as you ever were admired. 
Byron's letters of September 25 1812 are reproduced below.

September 25 1811: John Quincy Adams

On September 25, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes the following entry in his diary:

25th. At nine o'clock this morning I went with Mr. Smith to Field-Marshal General Count Soltykofts house, and attended the funeral of his wife, Countess Natalie. The ceremonies were the same as I have seen them several times before. About ten the procession moved from the house, and was an hour and three-quarters in reaching the Monastery of St Alexander Newsky. The service, including a short sermon, was an hour and a half long, and it was about two in the afternoon when we got home. The procession was large, and the attendance numerous. The principal change that I perceived was in the Diplomatic Corps. Lord Cathcart, with a suite of seven gentlemen, attached to the British Embassy, Mr. Zea, as Spanish Minister, the young Duke of Serra Capriola, as attached to the Legation of the Two Sicilies, and Mr. Hochschild, as Charge d'Affaires from Sweden, were there. Count Maistre, Baron Blome, and myself formed the only remnants of the former diplomacy. The courtiers were as assiduous to the British Ambassador as eighteen months ago they had been to the Duke of Vicence. Mr. Fisher called upon me after I came home, much alarmed and anxious about his present situation here. The English are all preparing to leave the country; their fears are greater than I believe there is occasion for. My landlord, Strogofshikofl, also came to me much alarmed and mortified at the present condition of his country — hinting, but afraid expressly to say, that Moscow is in the hands of the French, and still reposing confidence in the cunning of General Koutouzof. Nothing official has yet been published by the Government concerning the occupation of Moscow and the rumors are innumerable. Several persons, it is said, have been made to sweep the streets for having said that Moscow was taken; so that the people are afraid of talking.

September 25 1812: Use of Huzzas to Fight "Indians"

On September 25, 1812, Colonel Willett writes to Major General Rensselaer to offer some advice on how to fight "Indians" with  the use of  "huzzas." Colonel Willet explains how a "vigilant and smart officer" can defeat them: 
He is with rapidity to place himself conspicuously in front; off with his hat, wave it around his head, and order his men to rush among the Indians with loud and repeated huzzas. The Indians, who have no compactness to oppose to such force, and losing the noise of their yells, by the superior noise of the huzzas, are sure to set running; when, by having some good marksmen, you may hit some of them; But tho' I never found it difficult to drive them, I could not kill many; for it is not often that a fair shot can be had at them.
Colonel Willett's letter is reproduced below.

September 24 1812: Byron Scribbles and Scribbles

On September 24, 1812, Lord Byron is anxiously revising his address for the opening of  the Drury Lane Theatre. He writes three letters to Lord Holland with suggested changes to the lines of poetry that he has already sent.  Lord Holland is in on the Committee of the Drury Lane Theatre. The opening day is October 10, 1812. Byron writes: "I am anxious to do the little I can as desirably as Time & the Cheltenham waters will allow – to say nothing of my want of practice in this line of rhyming." Byron's letters are reproduced below.

September 24 1812: Rumors that Moscow Captured

On September 24, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes the following entry in his diary: "The reports that the French are in possession of Moscow continue to obtain credit, and it was said there was a formal capitulation, but nothing has yet been officially published by the Government respecting it"

September 24 1812: Prince Bagration Dies

On September 24 1812, Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration, a descendant of the Bagrationi Georgian royal dynasty, dies of the wounds sustained at the Battle of Borodino on September 7 1812. Count Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langeron describes Bagration in his memoirs this way: 
"Nature had given a great deal to Prince Bagration, but education had added nothing. He was born with great bravery and a good military eye; great energy and was instinctively a good soldier. He had acquired the habit of war. [...] Bagration knew only one language, Russian, and even then he could write neither a report nor dispatch without grammatical faults. He had never read a book in his life, but he had a talent for consulting others, and his unerring, canny intelligence always lead him to choose the best path from amongst those suggested to him. [...] He also had one other very valuable talent, that of being able to inspire the adoration of all those who served under him. [...] He was a very precious man for Russia."
Alexander Mikaberidze provides a fine summary of Babration's achievements in 1812 when he writes: 
Bagration’s skillful withdrawal in the face of superior French forces in the initial stages of the invasion, his adroit escape from Napoleon’s entrapment before Moghilev, his brilliant concentration with the 1st Western Army at Smolensk and his heroic defense of the fléches at Borodino, ensured the survival of the Russian army and the ultimate success of the homeland defense. Probably, the greatest recommendation for Prince Bagration and his abilities is that Napoléon considered him to be the finest general of the Russian army.

September 23 1812: Rumor that Napoleon is Mortally Wounded

On September 23, 1812, John Quincy Adams, reports conflicting rumors as to the success of the French and the fate of  Moscow. Some claim the city had been taken while others say Napoleon has been mortally wounded. Adams writes the following entry in his diary:
23d. Captain Bates called upon me this morning for a passport. He was in great anxiety on account of debts due to him in Moscow, and from rumors that the French are in possession  of that city. These rumors have been prevailing these three days, and with them other reports, that the French had been repulsed and the Emperor Napoleon mortally wounded. Mr. Harris paid us a visit in the evening, and told us that official accounts were now received that the Russian army had retired behind Moscow fifteen wersts, on the road to Kazan, and that Moscow had been surrendered by a sort of capitulation to the French; that the King of Naples (Murat) with eight thousand men took possession of the city on the fifteenth or sixteenth of this month, and that the Emperor Alexander was informed of it three days afterwards. The French Emperor with his great army had not entered Moscow, but was still in pursuit of the Russians. There has been no battle since that of the seventh which Prince Koutouzof reported as a splendid victory, for which he was made a Field Marshal and received from the Emperor a present of a hundred thousand roubles. The result of this great Russian victory was to put the French in possession of Moscow.

September 23 1812: Lord Byron: Ecco!

On September 23 1812, Lord Byron sends to Lord Holland a draft of his address for the Opening of the Drury Lane Theatre. He asks Lord Holland to choose between some words. Byron also offers some advice on who should read out his address. Byron's letter is reproduced below.

Cheltenham, September 23. 1812.

Ecco! — I have marked some passages with double readings—choose between them —cut—add—reject—or destroy—do with them as you will—I leave it to you and the Committee—you cannot say so called 'a non committendo.' What will they do (and I do) with the hundred and one rejected Troubadours ?' With trumpets, yea, and with shawms,' will you be assailed in the most diabolical doggerel. I wish my name not to transpire till the day is decided. I shall not be in town, so it. won't much matter; but let us have a good deliverer. I think Euiston should be the man, or Pope; not Raymond, I implore you, by the love of Rhythmus!

September 22 1812: Byron Prepares an Address

On September 22 1812, Lord Byron is now working on an address for the opening of the Drury-Lane Theatre.  He has made enough progress to write to Lord Holland:

My dear Lord, - In a day or two I will send you something which you will still have the liberty to reject if you dislike it. I should like to have had more time, but will do my best,— but too happy if I can oblige you, though I may offend a hundred scribblers and the discerning public. Ever yours.
Keep my name a secret; or I shall be beset by all the rejected, and, perhaps, damned by a party.

September 22 1812: We shall Invade Canada [Again]

On September 22, 1812, John Lovett, a poet, lawyer and now an army Major, is still stationed in Lewiston with the American Army of the Center. On this day he writes to his friend Joseph Alexander. Lovett is also the secretary to the commanding officer Major General Van Rensselaer. The general is being pressed to attack. Lovett writes:
"General Van Rensselaer is well aware of the critical situation he is in: it has been announced to him from all quarters; from the highest to the lowest authority: he sees it, feels it every hour. But, after all, having taken into consideration the incalculable consequences which must result from falling back from his present position, he has determined to risk events. In the last general deliberation which was had upon the subject, he sat and heard all that was said, then rising up he said " No, what will the world think we are made of? No: I'll Die before I'll quit this ground, and there's no more to be said about it." 
Lovett ends his letter by writing:"I think, I begin to see how the crisis is forming. We shall invade Canada."  Lovett's letter is reproduced below. 

September 21 1812: Tsar Offers Mediation

On September 21 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg, is approached by Count Romanzoff, the High Chancellor of Russia, with an offer from Tsar Alexander. The Tsar was offering to mediate the dispute between the United States and Great Britain. Adams writes the following entry in his diary that day:
21 St. At seven this evening I called by appointment upon Count Romanzoff, who told me that he had asked to see me by the Emperor's command; that, having made peace an re-established the relations of amity and commerce with England, the Emperor was much concerned and disappointed to find the whole benefit which he expected his subjects would derive commercially from that event defeated and lost by the new war that had arisen between the United States and England; that he had thought there were various indications that there was on both sides a reluctance at engaging and prosecuting this war, and it had occurred to the Emperor that perhaps an amicable arrangement of the differences between the parties might be accomplished more easily and speedily by indirect than by a direct negotiation; that his Majesty had directed him to see me and to enquire whether I was aware of any difficulty or obstacle on the part of the Government of the United States if he should offer his mediation for the purpose of effecting a pacification.

September 20 1812: Napoleon Asks for Negotiations

On September 20 1812, after considering whether to attack St. Petersburg, Napoleon decides to try and see if Tsar Alexander will agree to peace negotiations. He convinces himself that Alexander will be amenable to such negotiations. Napoleon reasons that he has, for all practical purposes, won the war. He has won every major battle. Large parts of Russia are under his control. He has captured Moscow. The Russian Army has not been destroyed but is too weak to engage in any battle. In short, the Russian refusal to admit defeat is simply unreasonable. Napoleon believes that if he deals directly with Alexander he can convince him to see reason. Napoleon thus writes directly to Alexander and asks him for negotiations. He asks Ivan Alekseevich Yakovlev, who is in Moscow, to deliver the letter. Napoleon tells Yakovlev: "I have no reason to be in Russia. I do not want anything from her, as long as the treaty of Tilsit is respected. I want to leave here as my only quarrel is with England. Ah. If only I could take London!  I would not leave that. Yes, I wish to go home. If the Emperor Alexander wants peace, he only has to let me know." Napoleon's letter to Alexander  expresses his regret over the Moscow fire, which he blames on the orders of Governor Rostpochin, and his hope that hostilities can come to an end. Napoleon is especially concerned that Russians not blame him for the Moscow fire. He uses such propaganda tools as his Twentieth Bulletin De La Grande Armée, published on September 20, to get his message out. The Bulletin is reproduced below.  

On the same day, Alexander receives a letter from  Kutuzov his commander in chief. This letter is  personally delivered by Colonel Michaud. The letter and Michaud bring news that Moscow has been captured, news that Alexander already knows, and that Moscow has been ravaged by fire, which he did not know. Alexander is enraged. Michaud assures him that the morale of the Russian army is good and that the only concern is that the Tsar will negotiate a peace treaty with Napoleon. Alexander is supposed to have replied: 
"From all this I see that Providence expects great sacrifices from us, particularly me, and I am prepared to bow to her will....Go back to the army and tell our brave warriors, tell my faithful subjects everywhere you go that even when I do not have a single soldier left, I shall put myself at the head of my beloved nobility and good peasants, I will command them myself and will use all the means of my whole empire!" Alexander replied that he would never sign a peace with Napoleon, and would rather end his days as a beggar in Siberia than to come to terms with him..."Napoleon or me, him or me - but we cannot reign together." [1]
The "unreasonable" rejection by Alexander to any negotiations dooms Napoleon. 

September 19 1812: Shelleys are Gone!

On September 19, 1812, William Godwin had traveled to Lynmouth to visit the Shelleys only to find they are gone. They were now living in Tan-yr-alt in North Wales and appear to have plans to go to London. William Godwin writes to his wife with the news.

William Godwin to Mrs Godwin.

MY DEAR LOVE,--The Shelleys are gone! have been gone these three weeks. I hope you hear the first from me; I dread lest every day may have brought you a letter from them, conveying this strange intelligence. I know you would conjure up a thousand frightful ideas of my situation under this disappointment. I have myself a disposition to take quietly any evil, when it can no longer be avoided, when it ceases to be attended with uncertainty, and when I can already compute the amount of it. I heard this news instantly on my arrival at this place, and therefore walked immediately (that is, as soon as I had dined) to the Valley of Stones, that, if I could not have what was gone away, I might at least not fail to visit what remained.

September 18 1812: Byron and Marriage

On September 18, 1812, Lord Byron is again writing to Lady Melbourne about marriage and her niece, Lady Milbanke. Lady Melbourne has asked if he is sure. Byron responds:
You ask “am I sure of myself?” I answer – no – but you are, which I take to be a much better thing. –  Miss M. I admire because she is a clever woman, an amiable woman & of high blood, for I have still a few Norman & Scotch inherited prejudices on the last score, were I to marry. – As to Love, that is done in a week, (provided the Lady has a reasonable share) besides marriage goes on better with esteem & confidence than romance, & she is quite pretty enough to be loved by her husband, without being so glaringly beautiful as to attract too many rivals.
Byron's letter is reproduced below.

September 18 1812: Brock Writes to Brother Savery

On September 18, 1812, Major-General Brock is also writing to his brother Savery in Britain. He updates him on the state of the war. He provides a quite objective account of his success in surmounting great difficulties but he is also aware that American incompetence has aided his hand. Brock writes:
Were the Americans of one mind, the opposition I could make would be unavailing; but I am not without hope that their divisions may be the saving of this province. A river of about 500 yards broad divides the troops. My instructions oblige me to adopt defensive measures, and I have evinced greater forbearance than was ever practised on any former occasion. It is thought that, without the aid of the sword, the American people may be brought to a due sense of their own interests. I firmly believe I could at this moment sweep every thing before me between Fort Niagara and Buffalo--but my success would be transient.
Brock's letter is reproduced below. 

September 18 1812: Napoleon Returns to Moscow

On September 18 1812, Napoleon rides back into Moscow as the fire that has been raging for three days begins to abate. The fire is dying down since there is now little left that can be burned.  A battalion of  Napoleon's Imperial guard was able, by heroic efforts, to  save the Kremlin but the fire destroyed large parts of Moscow. Napoleon's soldiers had looted many homes in the interval. De Segur describes the Moscow that Napoleon found: 
The camps which he traversed on his way thither presented an extraordinary sight. In the fields, amidst thick and cold mud, large fires were kept up with mahogany furniture, windows, and gilded doors. Around these fires, on a litter of damp straw, imperfectly sheltered by a few boards, were seen the soldiers, and their officers, splashed all over with mud, and blackened with smoke, seated in arm-chairs or reclined on silken couches. At their feet were spread or heaped Cashmere shawls, the rarest furs of Siberia, the gold stuffs of Persia, and silver plates, off which they had nothing to eat but a black dough baked in the ashes, and half broiled and bloody horse-flesh. Singular assemblage of abundance and want, of riches and filth, of luxury and wretchedness!

September 18 1812: Brock Gives His Word

On September 18, 1812, Major General Brock in Fort George is writing to his superior Sir George Preovost in Montreal.  Brock has some explaining. He writes that he has "implicitly followed" Prevost's instructions not to take any offensive measures but Colonel Proctor did dispatch some troops from Detroit to assist in the siege of Fort Wayne. "I regret exceedingly," Brock writes, "that this service should be undertaken contrary to your excellency's wishes; but I beg leave to assure you, that the principal object in sending a British force to Fort Wayne is with the hope of preserving the lives of the garrison." 

Brock's primary concern is to retain the allegiance of the Native nations. He is worried that the armistice has strained these relations. Natives felt that the British had not taken their interests into account in unilaterally deciding to enter into an armistice with the Americans. Brock has been asked to pledge his word that "England" would not enter into any negotiations with the Americans that would not include the interests of the Native nations. Brock writes: 
The Indians were likewise looking to us for assistance: they heard of the armistice with every mark of jealousy, and, had we refused joining them in the expedition, it is impossible to calculate the consequences. I have already been asked to pledge my word that England would enter into no negociation in which their interests were not included, and, could they be brought to imagine that we should desert them, the consequences must be fatal.
Brock's letter is reproduced below. 

September 17 1812: Van Rensselaer writes to Dearborn

On September 17 1812, General Van Rensselaer writes to General Dearborn complaining again about  inadequate support. He writes: "My force bears no proportion to the duties required; besides, the discipline of the troops is not such as to warrant perfect reliance, and many of our arms are not fit for action." He is concerned that the British troops are also coming down from Fort Malden to Fort Erie. "Indeed there can be no possible doubt," he writes, "that the enemy are very actively engaged in concentrating their forces to act in this vicinity." The letter is reproduced below.

September 17 1812: Moscow Fire Continues

On September 17 1812, from the Petrovskoie palace, Napoleon looks towards Moscow hoping to see that the fire had subsided. The fire continues to burn with great violence. The whole city appeared like a vast spout of fire rising in whirling eddies to the sky. "It was the spectacle of a sea and billows of fire, a sky and clouds of flame; mountains of red rolling flames, like immense waves of the sea, alternately bursting forth and elevating themselves to skies of fire, and then sinking into the ocean of flame below. Oh, it was the most grand, the most sublime, and the most terrifying sight the world ever beheld," Napoleon would later recall while in exile in Saint Helena. Absorbed by this melancholy contemplation, he was silent for a long time until he exclaimed, "This forebodes great misfortunes to us!"

The post above is a pastiche of different sources but mostly from Defeat: Napoleon's Russian Campaign, the Gutenberg translation. The original French can be found here.  The image above is entitled "Napoleon Near Moscow, Waiting for a Boyar Deputation"  by Vasily Vereshchagin.

September 16 1812: Beethoven Tyrant

On September 16, 1812, Beethoven writes to Amalie Sebald, a singer from Berlin.  

Teplitz, September 16, 1812. 
For Amalie von Sebald: 

Tyrant — I? Your tyrant? Only a misapprehension can lead you to say this even if your judgment of me indicated no agreement of thought with me! But no blame to you on this account; it is rather a piece of good fortune for you — yesterday I was not wholly well, since this morning I have grown worse; something indigestible was the cause, and the irascible part of me appears to seize upon the bad as well as the good; but do not apply this to my moral nature; people say nothing, they are only people; they generally see only themselves in others, and that is nothing; away with this, the good, the beautiful needs no people. It is here without help and that, after all, appears to be the reason of our agreement. Farewell, dear Amalie; if the moon shines brighter for me this evening than the sun by day you will see with you the least of men. 

Your friend 


September 16 1812: Moscow Continues to Burn

On September 16, 1812, at about four in the morning, a sleeping Napoleon is stirred awake  because the fire consuming Moscow is approaching the Kremlin. After some time, Napoleon will move to the palace at Petrovskoie where he will watched Moscow burn. The fire offered a majestic sight to those in safety but within the city's limits many were dying in a horrible inferno. Wounded soldiers, too weak to escape, died in the flames. French soldiers continued to loot or worse now that many officers were not around to provide some restrain. Adam Zamoyski memorably writes "The roar of the fire was pierced by the screams of people beaten up  and women being raped, and by the howls of chained up dogs being burnt alive." 

Armand de Caulaincourt provides description of the the events of that night in this way: