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* Eloge funbre de Messire Fran?ois Xavier de Laval-Reproduced by Andr & Sleigh, Ld., Bushey, Herts.
Amongst the provinces employing themselves to carry out the recommendation of the Congress, by framing new constitutions, that of New York was emboldened by the presence of Washington and his army to disregard the Royalists, and to frame a perfectly independent system. Gouverneur Morris took the lead in the ultra party, and declared that the time was now come for asserting entire independence. On the 27th of May a resolution to that effect was passed. The delegates of the Assembly were instructed to support these principles in Congress. Dollier de Casson, A.D. 1641-42, MS.
Wellington arrived early in the forenoon at Quatre Bras, and then rode to Brie, to consult with Blucher. It appeared as if it was the intention of Buonaparte to bear down with his whole force on Blucher; and though Bulow's division, stationed between Lige and Hainault, was too far off to arrive in time, Blucher resolved to stand battle; and it was agreed that Wellington should, if possible, march to his assistance, and vice versa, should the attack be on Wellington. Ney, with a division of forty-five thousand, attacked the British at Quatre Bras and Frasnes, whilst Napoleon directed the rest of his force on Blucher at Ligny, and General D'Erlon lay with ten thousand men near Marchiennes, to act in favour of either French force, as might be required. Buonaparte did not attack Blucher till about three o'clock, and then he continued the battle with the utmost fury for two hours along his whole line. Buonaparte, finding that he could not break the Prussian line, sent for the division of D'Erlon, and then, contriving to get into the rear of Blucher's position at Ligny, threw the Prussians into disorder. Blucher made a desperate charge, at the head of his cavalry, to repel the French, but his horse was killed under him; and the French cuirassiers galloped over him, a Prussian officer having flung a cloak over him. He escaped with his life, and, remounting, led the retreat towards Tilly. The loss of the French in this battle is stated by General Gourgaud at seven thousand, but is supposed to exceed ten thousand. The Prussians admit the loss of as many, but the French declared that they lost fifteen thousand. It was, however, a severe blow for the Allies; and had Ney managed to defeat Wellington, the consequences would have been momentous. But Ney found that the British had evacuated Frasnes that morning, and lay across four roads at Quatre Brasone leading to St. Amand, the Prussian position. On another, leading from Charleroi to Brussels, was a wood, called the Bois de Bossu; and here the attack commenced on the Belgians. The wood was sharply contested, and about three o'clock the Belgians were driven out by the French, who, in their turn, were expelled by the British Guards. The battle then became general and severe, the 42nd Highlanders suffering greatly. Ney endeavoured to cut through the British by a furious charge of cavalry; but this was repelled by such a deadly fire as heaped the causeway with men and horses. Ney then sent for the division of D'Erlon, but that had been already summoned by Buonaparte. The battle was continued till it was dark, and the British remained on the field, hoping that the Prussians had also maintained their ground, and that they might form a junction in the morning. But the Prussians had retreated in the night to Wavre, about six leagues in the rear of Ligny, and had gone off in such silence that Napoleon was not even aware of it. But Wellington was aware of it, and, on the morning of the 17th, began a retreat also on Waterloo, where he and Blucher had concerted to form a junction and give battle. Blucher had made his retreat so artfully, that the French were at a loss to know which way he had taken. It appeared as if he had directed his march for Namur, and about three o'clock on the 17th Grouchy received orders to pursue Blucher, wherever he might have gone. This dispatch of Grouchy with thirty-two thousand men to deal with Blucher proved a serious mistake for Napoleon, who, not having Grouchy's division to support him at the battle of Waterloo, severely blamed him, and charged his own defeat upon him. But it was the ungenerous practice of Buonaparte, whenever he was defeated, to charge it upon some of his generals, even when they had been acting most meritoriously. This he did in Russia, and this he repeated in the retreat on Paris in 1814, and this we shall find him doing again in the battle of Waterloo, to the undaunted and indefatigable Ney. Grouchy has shown satisfactorily that he himself first brought to Napoleon the news of Blucher's retreat, and requested orders to pursue him with his cavalry, but that he could not obtain such order till noon on the 17th, and then the order was to follow him wherever he went. We shall soon see that Thielemann, by Blucher's orders, kept Grouchy well employed, and took care to prevent his return to Waterloo.