Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

Part 16 out of 24

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 3.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

At this critical moment Hamburg was menaced on all sides; the French even
occupied a portion of its territory. The French troops, fortunately for
the country, were attached to the corps commanded by the Prince de Ponte-
Corvo. This military occupation alarmed the town of Hamburg, to which,
indeed, it proved very injurious. I wrote to Marshal Bernadotte on the
subject. The grounds on which the Senate appealed for the evacuation of
their territory were such that Bernadotte could not but acknowledge their
justice. The prolonged stay of the French troops in the bailiwick of
Bergdorf, which had all the appearance of an occupation, might have led
to the confiscation of all Hamburg property in England, to the laying an
embargo on the vessels of the Republic, and consequently to the ruin of a
great part of the trade of France and Holland, which was carried on under
the flag of Hamburg. There was no longer any motive for occupying the
bailiwick of Bergdorf when there were no Prussians in that quarter. It
would have been an absurd misfortune that eighty men stationed in that
bailiwick should, for the sake of a few louis and a few ells of English
cloth, have occasioned the confiscation of Hamburg, French, and Dutch
property to the amount of 80,000,000 francs.

Marshal Bernadotte replied to me on the 16th of November, and said,
"I hasten to inform you that I have given orders for the evacuation of
the bailiwick of Bergdorf and all the Hamburg territory. If you could
obtain from the Senate of Hamburg, by the 19th of this month, two or
three thousand pairs of shoes, you would oblige me greatly. They shall
be paid for in goods or in money."

I obtained what Bernadotte required from the Senate, who knew his
integrity, while they were aware that that quality was not the
characteristic of all who commanded the French armies! What extortions
took place during the occupation of Prussia! I will mention one of the
means which, amongst others, was employed at Berlin to procure money.
Bills of exchange were drawn, on which endorsements were forged, and
these bills were presented to the bankers on whom they were purported to
be drawn. One day some of these forged bills to a large amount were
presented to Messrs. Mathiesen and Silleine of Hamburg, who, knowing the
endorsement to be forged, refused to cash them. The persons who
presented the bills carried their impudence so far as to send for the
gendarmes, but the bankers persisted in their refusal. I was informed of
this almost incredible scene, which had drawn together a great number of
people. Indignant at such audacious robbery, I instantly proceeded to
the spot and sent away the gendarmes, telling them it was not their duty
to protect robbers, and that it was my business to listen to any just
claims which might be advanced. Under Clarke's government at Berlin the
inhabitants were subjected to all kinds of oppression and exaction.
Amidst these exactions and infamous proceedings, which are not the
indispensable consequences of war, the Dutch generals distinguished
themselves by a degree of rapacity which brought to mind the period of
the French Republican peculations in Italy. It certainly was not their
new King who set the example of this conduct. His moderation was well
known, and it was as much the result of his disposition as of his honest
principles. Louis Bonaparte, who was a King in spite of himself,
afforded an example of all that a good man could suffer upon a usurped

When the King of Prussia found himself defeated at every point he
bitterly repented having undertaken a war which had delivered his States
into Napoleon's power in less time than that in which Austria had fallen
the preceding year. He wrote to the Emperor, soliciting a suspension of
hostilities. Rapp was present when Napoleon received the King of
Prussia's letter. "It is too late," said he; "but, no matter, I wish to
stop the effusion of blood; I am ready to agree to anything which is not
prejudicial to the honour or interests of the nation." Then calling
Duroc, he gave him orders to visit the wounded, and see that they wanted
for nothing. He added, "Visit every man on my behalf; give them all the
consolation of which they stand in need; afterwards find the King of
Prussia, and if he offers reasonable proposals let me know them."

Negotiations were commenced, but Napoleon's conditions were of a nature
which was considered inadmissible. Prussia still hoped for assistance
from the Russian forces. Besides, the Emperor's demands extended to
England, who at that moment had no reason to accede to the pretensions of
France. The Emperor wished England to restore to France the colonies
which she bad captured since the commencement of the war, that Russia
should restore to(o) the Porte Moldavia and Wallachia, which she then
occupied; in short, he acted upon the advice which some tragedy-king
gives to his ambassador: "Demand everything, that you may obtain
nothing." The Emperor's demands were, in fact, so extravagant that it
was scarcely possible he himself could entertain the hope of their being
accepted. Negotiations, alternately resumed and abandoned, were carried
on with coldness on both sides until the moment when England prevailed on
Russia to join Prussia against France; they then altogether ceased: and
it was for the sake of appearing to wish for their renewal, on bases
still more favourable to France, that Napoleon sent Duroc to the King of
Prussia. Duroc found the King at Osterode, on the other side of the
Vistula. The only answer he received from His Majesty was, "The time is
passed;" which was very much like Napoleon's observation; "It is too

Whilst Duroc was on his mission to the King of Prussia I was myself
negotiating at Hamburg. Bonaparte was very anxious to detach Sweden from
the coalition, and to terminate the war with her by a separate treaty.
Sweden, indeed, was likely to be very useful to him if Prussia, Russia,
and England should collect a considerable mass of troops in the north.
Denmark was already with us, and by gaining over Sweden also the union of
those two powers might create a diversion, and give serious alarm to the
coalition, which would be obliged to concentrate its principal force to
oppose the attack of the grand army in Poland. The opinions of M.
Peyron, the Swedish Minister at Hamburg, were decidedly opposed to the
war in which his sovereign was engaged with France. I was sorry that
this gentleman left Hamburg upon leave of absence for a year just at the
moment I received my instructions from the Emperor upon this subject.
M. Peyron was succeeded by M. Netzel, and I soon had the pleasure of
perceiving that his opinions corresponded in every respect with those
of his predecessor.

As soon as he arrived M. Netzel sought an interview to speak to me on the
subject of the Swedes, who had been taken prisoners on the Drave. He
entreated me to allow the officers to return to Sweden on their parole.
I was anxious to get Netzel's demand acceded to, and availed myself of
that opportunity to lead him gradually to the subject of my instructions.
I had good reason to be satisfied with the manner in which he received my
first overtures. I said nothing to him of the justice of which he was
not previously convinced. I saw he understood that his sovereign would
have everything to gain by a reconciliation with France, and he told me
that all Sweden demanded peace. Thus encouraged, I told him frankly that
I was instructed to treat with him. M. Netzel assured me that M. de
Wetterstedt, the King of Sweden's private secretary, with whom he was
intimate, and from whom he showed me several letters, was of the same
opinion on the subject as himself. He added, that he had permission to
correspond with the King, and that he would; write the same evening to
his sovereign and M.. de Wetterstedt to acquaint them with our

It will be perceived, from what I have stated, that no negotiation was
ever commenced under more favourable auspices; but who could foresee what
turn the King of Sweden would take? That unlucky Prince took M. Netzel's
letter in very ill part, and M. de Wetterstedt himself received
peremptory orders to acquaint M. Netzel with his sovereign's displeasure
at his having presumed to visit a French Minster, and, above all, to
enter into a political conversation with him, although it was nothing
more than conversation. The King did not confine himself to reproaches;
M. Netzel came in great distress to inform me he had received orders to
quit Hamburg immediately, without even awaiting the arrival of his
successor. He regarded his disgrace as complete. I had the pleasure of
seeing M. Netzel again in 1809 at Hamburg, where he was on a mission from
King Charles XIII.



The Continental system--General indignation excited by it--Sale of
licences by the French Government--Custom-house system at Hamburg--
My letter to the Emperor--Cause of the rupture with Russia--
Bernadotte's visit to me--Trial by court-martial for the purchase of
a sugar-loaf--Davoust and the captain "rapporteur"--Influence of the
Continental system on Napoleon's fall.

I have a few remarks to make on the famous Continental system, which was
a subject of such engrossing interest. I had, perhaps, better
opportunities than any other person of observing the fraud and estimating
the fatal consequences of this system. It took its rise during the war
in 1806, and was brought into existence by a decree; dated from Berlin.
The project was conceived by weak counsellors, who; perceiving the
Emperor's just indignation at the duplicity of England, her repugnance to
enter, into negotiations with him, and her constant endeavours to raise
enemies against France, prevailed upon him to issue the decree, which I
could only regard as an act of madness and tyranny. It was not a decree,
but fleets, that were wanting. Without a navy it was ridiculous to
declare the British Isles in a state of blockade, whilst the English
fleets were in fact blockading all the French ports. This declaration
was, however, made in the Berlin Decree. This is what was called the
Continental system! which, in plain terms, was nothing but a system of
fraud and pillage.

One can now scarcely conceive how Europe could for a single day endure
that fiscal tyranny which extorted exorbitant prices for articles which
the habits of three centuries had rendered indispensable to the poor as
well as to the rich. So little of truth is there in the pretence that
this system had for its sole and exclusive object to prevent the sale of
English goods, that licences for their disposal were procured at a high
price by whoever was rich enough to pay for them. The number and quality
of the articles exported from France were extravagantly exaggerated. It
was, indeed, necessary to take out some of the articles is compliance
with the Emperor's wishes, but they were only thrown into the sea. And
yet no one had the honesty to tell the Emperor that England sold on the
continent but bought scarcely anything. The speculation in licences was
carried to a scandalous extent only to enrich a few, and to satisfy the
short-sighted views of the contrivers of the system.

This system proves what is written in the annals of the human heart and
mind, that the cupidity of the one is insatiable, and the errors of the
other incorrigible. Of this I will cite an example, though it refers to
a period posterior to the origin of the Continental system. In Hamburg,
in 1811, under Davoust's government, a poor man had well-nigh been shot
for having introduced into the department of the Elbe a small loaf of
sugar for the use of his family, while at the same moment Napoleon was
perhaps signing a licence for the importation of a million of sugar-

--[In this same year (1811) Murat, as King of Naples, not only
winked at the infringement of the Continental system, but almost
openly broke the law himself. His troops in Calabria and all round
his immense line sea coast, carried on an active trade with Sicilian
and English smugglers. This was so much the case that an officer
never set out from Naples to join, without, being, requested by his
wife, his relations or friends, to bring them some English muslins,
some sugar and coffee, together with a few needles, pen-knives, and
razors. Some of the Neapolitan officers embarked in really large
commercial operations, going shares with the custom house people who
were there to enforce the law, and making their soldiers load and
unload the contraband vessels. The Comte de -----, a French officer
on Murat's staff, was very noble, but very poor, and excessively
extravagant. After making several vain efforts to set him up in the
world, the King told him one day he would give him the command of
the troops round the Gulf of Salerno; adding that the devil was in
it if he could not make a fortune in such a capital smuggling
district, in a couple of years.--The Count took the hint, and did
make a fortune.--Editor 1836 edition.]--

Smuggling on a small scale was punished with death, whilst the Government
themselves carried it on extensively. The same cause filled the Treasury
with money, and the prisons with victims:

The custom-house laws of this period, which waged open war against
rhubarb, and armed the coasts of the Continent against the introduction
of senna, did not save the Continental system from destruction. Ridicule
attended the installation of the odious prevotal courts. The president
of the Prevotal Court at Hamburg, who was a Frenchman, delivered an
address, in which he endeavoured to prove that in the time of the
Ptolemies there had existed extraordinary fiscal tribunals, and that it
was to those Egypt owed her prosperity. Terror was thus introduced by
the most absurd folly. The ordinary customhouse officers, formerly so
much abhorred in Hamburg, declared with reason that they would soon be
regretted, and than the difference between them and the prevotal courts
would soon be felt. Bonaparte's counsellors led him to commit the folly
of requiring that a ship which had obtained a licence should export
merchandise equivalent to that of the colonial produce to be imported
under the authority of the licence. What was the consequence? The
speculators bought at a low price old stores of silk-which change of
fashion had made completely unsaleable, and as those articles were
prohibited in England they were thrown into the sea without their loss
being felt. The profits of the speculation made ample amends for the
sacrifice. The Continental system was worthy only of the ages of
ignorance and barbarism, and had it been admissible in theory, was
impracticable in application.

--[Sydney Smith was struck with the, ridiculous side of the war of
tariffs: "We are told that the Continent is to be reconquered by the
want of rhubarb and plums." (Essays of Sydney Smith, p. 533, edition
of 1861).]--

It cannot be sufficiently stigmatised. They were not the friends of the
Emperor who recommended a system calculated to rouse the indignation of
Europe, and which could not fail to create reaction. To tyrannize over
the human species, and to exact uniform admiration and submission, is to
require an impossibility. It would seem that fate, which had still some
splendid triumphs in store for Bonaparte, intended to prepare beforehand
the causes which were to deprive him of all his triumphs at once, and
plunge him into reverses even greater than the good fortune which had
favoured his elevation.

The prohibition of trade, the habitual severity in the execution of this
odious system, made it operate like a Continental impost. I will give a
proof of this, and I state nothing but what came under my own
observation. The fiscal regulations were very rigidly enforced at
Hamburg, and along the two lines of Cuxhaven and Travemunde. M. Eudel,
the director of that department, performed his duty with zeal and
disinterestedness. I feel gratified in rendering him this tribute.
Enormous quantities of English merchandise and colonial produce were
accumulated at Holstein, where they almost all arrived by way of Kiel and
Hudsum, and were smuggled over the line at the expense of a premium of 33
and 40 per cent. Convinced of this fact by a thousand proofs, and weary
of the vexations of the preventive system, I took upon myself to lay my
opinions on the subject before the Emperor. He had given me permission
to write to him personally, without any intermediate agency, upon
everything that I might consider essential to his service. I sent an
extraordinary courier to Fontainebleau, where he then was, and in my
despatch I informed him that, notwithstanding his preventive guard, every
prohibited article was smuggled in because the profits on the sale in
Germany, Poland, Italy, and even France, into which the contrabrand goods
found their way, were too considerable not to induce persons to incur all
risks to obtain them. I advised him, at the very time he was about to
unite the Hanse Towns to the French Empire, to permit merchandise to be
imported subject to a duty of 33 per cent., which was about equal to the
amount of the premium for insurance. The Emperor adopted my advice
without hesitation, and in 1811 the regulation produced a revenue of
upwards of 60,000,000 francs in Hamburg alone.

This system, however, embroiled us with Sweden and Russia, who could not
endure that Napoleon should enact a strict blockade from them, whilst he
was himself distributing licences in abundance. Bernadotte, on his way
to Sweden, passed through Hamburg in October 1810. He stayed with me
three days, during which time he scarcely saw any person but myself. He
asked my opinion as to what he should do in regard to the Continental
system. I did not hesitate to declare to him, not as a French Minister,
but as a private individual to his friend, that in his place, at the head
of a poor nation, which could only subsist by the exchange of its
territorial productions with England, I would open my ports, and give the
Swedes gratuitously that general licence which Bonaparte sold in detail
to intrigue and cupidity.

The Berlin decree could not fail to cause a reaction against the
Emperor's fortune by raising up whole nations against him. The hurling
of twenty kings from their thrones would have excited less hatred than
this contempt for the wants of nations. This profound ignorance of the
maxims of political economy caused general privation and misery, which in
their turn occasioned general hostility. The system could only succeed
in the impossible event of all the powers of Europe honestly endeavouring
to carry it into effect. A single free port would have destroyed it.
In order to ensure its complete success it was necessary to conquer and
occupy all countries, and never to evacuate them. As a means of ruining
England it was contemptible. It was necessary that all Europe should be
compelled by force of arms to join this absurd coalition, and that the
same force should be constantly employed to maintain it. Was this
possible? The captain "rapporteur" of a court-martial allowed a poor
peasant to escape the punishment due to the offence of having bought a
loaf of sugar beyond the custom-house barrier. This officer was some
time afterwards at a dinner given by Marshal Davoust; the latter said to
him, "You have a very scrupulous conscience, sir; go to headquarters and
you will find an order there for you." This order sent him eighty
leagues from Hamburg. It is necessary to have witnessed, as I have, the
numberless vexations and miseries occasioned by the unfortunate
Continental system to understand the mischief its authors did in Europe,
and how much that mischief contributed to Napoleon's fall.

--[The so-called Continental system was framed by Napoleon in
revenge for the English very extended system of blockades, after
Trafalgar had put it out of his power to attempt to keep the seas.
By these decrees all ports occupied by the French were closed to the
English, and all English goods were to be destroyed wherever found
in any country occupied by the French. All States under French
influence had to adopt this system. It must be remembered that
Napoleon eventually held or enforced his system on all the
coastlines of Europe, except that of Spain and Turkey; but as
Bourrienne shows the plan of giving licences to break his own system
was too lucrative to be resisted by him, or, still more, by his
officers. For the working of the system in the occupied lands,
Laffite the banker told Savary it was a grand idea, but
impracticable (Savary, tome v. p. 110). The Emperor Alexander is
reported to have said, after visiting England in 1814, that he
believed the system would have reduced England if it had lasted
another year. The English, who claimed the right of blockading any
coast with but little regard to the effectiveness of the blockade,
retaliated by orders in Council, the chief of which are dated 7th
January 1807, and 11th November 1807, by which no ships of any power
were allowed to trade between any French ports, or the ports of any
country closed to England. Whatever the real merits of the system,
and although it was the cause of war between the United States and
England, its execution did most to damage France and Napoleon, and
to band all Europe against it. It is curious that even in 1831 a
treaty had to be made to settle the claims of the United States on
France for unjust seizures under these decrees.]--



New system of war--Winter quarters--The Emperor's Proclamation--
Necessity of marching to meet the Russians--Distress in the Hanse
Towns--Order for 50,000 cloaks--Seizure of Russian corn and timber--
Murat's entrance into Warsaw--Re-establishment of Poland--Duroc's
accident--M. de Talleyrand's carriage stopped by the mud--Napoleon's
power of rousing the spirit of his troops--His mode of dictating--
The Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin--His visits to Hamburg--The Duke of
Weimar--His letter and present--Journey of the Hereditary Prince of
Denmark to Paris--Batter, the English spy--Traveling clerks--Louis
Bonaparte and the Berlin decree--Creation of the Kingdom of Saxony--
Veneration of Germany for the King of Saxony--The Emperor's
uncertainty respecting Poland--Fetes and reviews at Warsaw--The
French Government at the Emperor's head quarters--Ministerial
portfolios sent to Warsaw.--Military preparations during the month
of January--Difference of our situation daring the campaigns of
Vienna and Prussia--News received and sent--Conduct of the Cabinet
of Austria similar to that of the Cabinet of Berlin--Battle of
Eylau--Unjust accusation against Bernadotte--Death of General
d'Hautpoult--Te Deum chanted by the Russians--Gardanne's mission to

Bonaparte was not only beyond all comparison the greatest captain of
modern times, but he may be said to have wrought a complete change in the
art of war. Before his time the most able generals regulated the
fighting season by the almanac. It was customary in Europe to brave the
cannon's mouth only from the first fine days of spring to the last fine
days of autumn; and the months of rain, snow, and frost were passed in
what were called winter quarters. Pichegru, in Holland, had set the
example of indifference to temperature. At Austerlitz, too, Bonaparte
had braved the severity of winter; this answered his purpose well, and he
adopted the same course in 1806. His military genius and activity seemed
to increase, and, proud of his troops, he determined to commence a winter
campaign in a climate more rigorous than any in which he had yet fought.
The men, chained to his destiny, were now required to brave the northern
blast, as they had formerly braved the vertical sun of Egypt. Napoleon,
who, above all generals, was remarkable for the choice of his fields of
battle, did not wish to wait tranquilly until the Russian army, which was
advancing towards Germany, should come to measure its strength with him
in the plains of conquered Prussia; he resolved to march to meet it, and
to reach it before it should arose the Vistula; but before he left Berlin
to explore and conqueror, Poland and the confines of Russia; he addressed
a proclamation to his troops, in which he stated all that had hitherto
been achieved by the French army, and at the same time announced his
future intentions. It was especially advisable that he should march
forward, for, had he waited until the Russians had passed the Vistula,
there could probably have been no winter campaign, and he would have been
obliged either to take up miserable winter quarters between the Vistula
and the Oder, or to recross the Oder to combat the enemy in Prussia.
Napoleon's military genius and indefatigable activity served him
admirably on this occasion, and the proclamation just alluded to, which
was dated from Berlin before his departure from Charlottenburg; proves
that he did not act fortuitously, as he frequently did, but that his
calculations were well-made.

--[Before leaving the capital of Prussia Bonaparte stole from the
monument, of Frederick the Great his sword and military orders. He
also plundered the galleries of Berlin and Potsdam of their best
pictures and statues, thus continuing the system he had began is
Italy. All those things he sent to Paris as trophies of victory and
glory.--Editor of as 1836 edition.]

A rapid and immense impulse given to great masses of men by the, will of
a single individual may produce transient lustre and dazzle the eyes of
the multitude; but when, at a distance from the theatre of glory, we flee
only the melancholy results which have been produced. The genius of
conquest can only be regarded as the genius of destruction. What a sad
picture was often presented to my eyes! I was continually doomed to hear
complaints of the general distress, and to execute orders which augmented
the immense sacrifices already made by the city of Hamburg. Thus, for
example, the Emperor desired me to furnish him with 50,000 cloaks which I
immediately did. I felt the importance of such an order with the
approach of winter, and in a climate--the rigour of which our troops had
not yet encountered. I also received orders to seize at Lubeck (Which
town, as I have already stated, had been alternately taken and retaken
try Blucher and Bernadotte) 400,000 lasts of corn,--[A last weighs 2000
kilogrammes]--and to send them to Magdeburg. This corn belonged to
Russia. Marshal Mortier, too, had seized some timber for building, which
also belonged to Russia; and which was estimated at 1,400,000 francs.

Meanwhile our troops continued to advance with such rapidity that before
the end of November Murat arrived at Warsaw, at the head of the advanced
guard of the Grand Army, of which, he had the command. The Emperor's
headquarters, were then at Posen, and, he received deputations from all
parts soliciting the re-establishment and independence of the Kingdom of

Rapp informed me that after receiving the deputation from Warsaw the
Emperor said to him, "I love the Poles; their enthusiastic character
pleases me; I should like to make them independent, but that is a
difficult matter. Austria, Russia, and Prussia have all had a slice of
the cake; when the match is once kindled who knows where, the
conflagration may stop? My first duty, is towards France, which I must
not sacrifice to Poland; we must refer this matter to the sovereign of
all things--Time, he will presently show us what we must do." Had
Sulkowsky lived Napoleon might have recollected what he had said to him
in Egypt, and, in all probability he would have raised up a power, the
dismemberment of which; towards the close of the last century, began to
overturn the political equilibrium which had subsisted in Europe since
the peace of Westphalia in 1648.

It was at the headquarters at Posen that Duroc rejoined the Emperor after
his mission to the King of Prussia. His carriage overturned on the way,
and he had the misfortune to break his collar-bone. All the letters I
received were nothing but a succession of complaints on the bad state of
the roads. Our troops were absolutely fighting in mud, and it was with
extreme difficulty that the artillery and caissons of the army could be
moved along. M. de Talleyrand had been summoned to headquarters by the
Emperor, in the expectation of treating for peace, and I was informed
that his carriage stuck in the mud and he was detained on his journey for
twelve hours. A soldier having asked one of the persons in M. de
Talleyrand's suite who the traveller was, was informed that he was the
Minister for Foreign Affairs. "Ah! bah!" said the soldier, "why does he
come with his diplomacy to such a devil of a country as this?"

The Emperor entered Warsaw on the 1st of January 1807. Most of the
reports which he had received previous to his entrance had concurred in
describing the dissatisfaction of the troops, who for some time had had
to contend with bad roads, bad weather, and all aorta of privations.'
Bonaparte said to the generals who informed him that the enthusiasm of
his troops had been succeeded by dejection and discontent, "Does their
spirit fail them when they come in sight of the enemy?"--"No, Sire."--
"I knew it; my troops are always the same." Then turning to Rapp he
said, "I must rouse them;" and he dictated the following proclamation:

SOLDIERS--It is a year this very hour since you were on the field of
Austerlitz, where the Russian battalions fled in disorder, or
surrendered up their arms to their conquerors. Next day proposals,
of peace were talked of; but they were deceptive. No sooner had the
Russians escaped, by perhaps, blamable generosity from the disasters
of the third coalition than they contrived a fourth. But the ally
on whose tactics they founded their principal hope was no more. His
capital, his fortresses; his magazines; his arsenals, 280 flags, and
700 field-pieces have fallen into our power. The Oder, the Wartha,
the deserts of Poland, and the inclemency of the season have not for
a moment retarded your progress. You have braved all; surmounted
all; every obstacle has fled at your approach. The Russians have in
vain endeavoured to defend the capital of ancient and illustrious
Poland. The French eagle hovers over the Vistula. The brave and
unfortunate Poles, on beholding you, fancied they saw the legions of
Sobieski, returning from their memorable expedition.

Soldiers, we will not lay down our arms until a general peace has
secured the power of our allies and restored to us our colonies and
our freedom of trade. We have gained on the Elbe and the Oder,
Pondicherry, our Indian establishments, the Cape of Good Hope, and
the Spanish colonies. Why should the Russians have the right of
opposing destiny and thwarting our just designs? They and we are
still the soldiers who fought at Austerlitz.

Rapp thus describes the entrance of the French into Warsaw, and adds a
few anecdotes connected with that event:

"At length we entered the Polish capital. The King of Naples had
preceded us, and had driven the Russians from the city. Napoleon
was received with enthusiasm. The Poles thought that the moment of
their regeneration had arrived, and that their wishes were
fulfilled. It would be difficult to describe the joy thus evinced,
and the respect with which they treated us. The French troops,
however, were not quite so well pleased; they manifested the
greatest repugnance to crossing the Vistula. The idea of want and
bad weather had inspired them with the greatest aversion to Poland,
and they were inexhaustible, in their jokes on the country."

When Bonaparte dictated his proclamations--and how many have I not
written from his dictation!--he was for the moment inspired, and he
evinced all the excitement which distinguishes the Italian improvisatori.
To follow him it was necessary to write with inconceivable rapidity. When
I have read over to him what he has dictated I have often known him to
smile triumphantly at the effect which he expected any particular phrase
would produce. In general his proclamations turned on three distinct
points--(1) Praising his soldiers for what they had done; (2) pointing
out to them what they had yet to do; and (3) abusing his enemies. The
proclamation to which I have just now alluded was circulated profusely
through Germany, and it is impossible to conceive the effect it produced.
on the whole army. The corps stationed in the rear burned too pass, by
forced marches, the space which still separated them from headquarters;
and those who were nearer the Emperor forgot their fatigues and
privations and were only anxious to encounter the enemy. They frequently
could not understand what Napoleon said in these proclamations; but no
matter for that, they would have followed him cheerfully barefooted and
without provisions. Such was the enthusiasm, or rather the fanaticism,
which Napoleon could inspire among his troops when he thought proper to
rouse them, as he termed it.

When, on a former occasion, I spoke of the Duke of, Mecklenburg-Schwerin
and his family, I forgot a circumstance respecting my intercourse with
him which now occurs to my memory. When, on his expulsion from his
States, after the battle of Jena, he took refuge in Altona, he requested,
through the medium of his Minister at Hamburg, Count von Plessen, that I
would give him permission occasionally to visit that city. This
permission I granted without hesitation; but the Duke observed no
precaution in his visits, and I made some friendly observations to him on
the subject. I knew the object of his visits. It was a secret
connection in Hamburg; but in consequence of my observations he removed
the lady to Altona, and assured me that he adopted that determination to
avoid committing me. He afterwards came very seldom to Hamburg; but as
we were on the best understanding with Denmark I frequently saw his
daughter, and son-in-law, who used to visit me at a house I had in
Holstein, near Altona.

There I likewise saw, almost every day, the Duke of Weimar, an excellent
old man. I had the advantage of being on such terms of intimacy with him
that my house was in some measure his. He also had lost his States. I
was so happy as to contribute to their restitution, for my situation
enabled me to exercise some influence on the political indulgences or
severities of the Government. I entertained a sincere regard for the
Duke of Weimar, and I greatly regretted his departure. No sooner had he
arrived in Berlin than he wrote me a letter of, thanks, to which he added
the present of a diamond, in token of his grateful remembrance of me.
The Duke of Mecklenburg was not so fortunate as the Duke of Weimar, in
spite of his alliance with the reigning family of Denmark. He was
obliged to remain at Altona until the July following, for his States were
restored only by the Treaty of Tilsit. As soon as it was known that the
Emperor had returns to Paris the Duke's son, the Hereditary Prince,
visited me in Hamburg, and asked me whether I thought he could present
himself to the Emperor, for the purpose of expressing his own and his
father's gratitude. He was a very well-educated young man. He set out,
accompanied by M. Oertzen and Baron von Brandstaten. Some time
afterwards I saw his name in the Moniteur, in one of the lists of
presentations to Napoleon, the collection of which, during the Empire,
might be regarded as a general register of the nobility of Europe.

It is commonly said that we may accustom ourselves to anything, but to me
this remark is subject to an exception; for, in spite of the necessity to
which I was reduced of employing spies, I never could surmount the
disgust I felt at them, especially when I saw men destined to fill a
respectable rank in society degrade themselves to that infamous
profession. It is impossible to conceive the artifices to which these
men resort to gain the confidence of those whom they wish to betray. Of
this the following example just now occurs to my mind.

One of those wretches who are employed in certain circumstances, and by
all parties, came to offer his services to me. His name was Butler, and
he had been sent from England to the Continent as a spy upon the French
Government. He immediately came to me, complaining of pretended enemies
and unjust treatment. He told me he had the greatest wish to serve the
Emperor, and that he would make any sacrifice to prove his fidelity.
The real motive of his change of party was, as it is with all such men,
merely the hope of a higher reward. Most extraordinary were the schemes
he adopted to prevent his old employers from suspecting that he was
serving new ones. To me he continually repeated how happy he was to be
revenged on his enemies in London. He asked me to allow him to go to
Paris to be examined by the Minister of Police. The better to keep up
the deception he requested that on his arrival in Paris he might be
confined in the Temple, and that there might be inserted in the French
journals an announcement in the following terms:

"John Butler, commonly called Count Butler, has just been arrested
and sent to Paris under a good escort by the French Minister at

At the expiration of a few weeks Butler, having received his
instruction's, set out for London, but by way of precaution he said it
would be well to publish in the journals another announcement; which was
as follows:

"John Butler, who has been arrested in Hamburg as an English agent,
and conveyed to Paris, is ordered to quit France and the territories
occupied by the French armies and their allies, and not to appear
there again until the general peace."

In England Butler enjoyed the honours of French prosecution. He was
regarded as a victim who deserved all the confidence of the enemies of
France. He furnished Fouche with a considerable amount of information,
and he was fortunate enough to escape being hanged.

Notwithstanding the pretended necessity of employing secret agents,
Bonaparte was unwilling that, even under that pretext, too many
communications should be established between France and England: Fouche,
nevertheless, actively directed the evolutions of his secret army. Ever
ready to seize on anything that could give importance to the police and
encourage the suspicions of the Emperor, Fouche wrote to me that the
government had received certain--information that many Frenchmen
traveling for commercial houses in France were at Manchester purchasing
articles of English manufacture. This was true; but how was it to be
prevented? These traveling clerks passed through Holland, where they
easily procured a passage to England.

Louis Bonaparte, conceiving that the King of Holland ought to sacrifice
the interests of his new subjects to the wishes of his brother, was at
first very lenient as to the disastrous Continental system. But at this
Napoleon soon manifested his displeasure, and about the end of the year
1806 Louis was reduced to the necessity of ordering the strict observance
of the blockade. The facility with which the travelers of French
commercial houses passed from Holland to England gave rise to other
alarms on the part of the French Government. It was said that since
Frenchmen could so easily pass from the Continent to Great Britain, the
agents of the English Cabinet might, by the same means, find their way to
the Continent. Accordingly the consuls were directed to keep a watchful
eye, not only upon individuals who evidently came from England, but upon
those who might by any possibility come from that country. This plan was
all very well, but how was it to be put into execution ? . . . The
Continent was, nevertheless, inundated with articles of English
manufacture, for this simple reason, that, however powerful may be the
will of a sovereign, it is still less powerful and less lasting than the
wants of a people. The Continental system reminded me of the law created
by an ancient legislator, who, for a crime which he conceived could not
possibly be committed, condemned the person who should be guilty of it to
throw a bull over Mount Taurus.

It is not my present design to trace a picture of the state of Europe at
the close of 1806. I will merely throw together a few facts which came to
my knowledge at the time, and which I find in my correspondence. I have
already mentioned that the Emperor arrived at Warsaw on the 1st of
January. During his stay at Posen he had, by virtue of a treaty
concluded with the Elector of Saxony, founded a new kingdom, and
consequently extended his power in Germany, by the annexation of the new
Kingdom of Saxony to the Confederation of the Rhine. By the terms of
this treaty Saxony, so justly famed for her cavalry, was to furnish the
Emperor with a contingent of 20,000 men and horses.

It was quite a new spectacle to the Princes of Germany, all accustomed to
old habits of etiquette, to see an upstart sovereign treat them as
subjects, and even oblige them to consider themselves as such. Those
famous Saxons, who had made Charlemagne tremble, threw themselves on the
protection of the Emperor; and the alliance of the head of the House of
Saxony was not a matter of indifference to Napoleon, for the new King
was, on account of his age, his tastes, and his character, more revered
than any other German Prince.

From the moment of Napoleon's arrival at Warsaw until the commencement of
hostilities against the Russians he was continually solicited to
reestablish the throne of Poland, and to restore its chivalrous
independence to the ancient empire of the Jagellons. A person who was at
that time in Warsaw told me that the Emperor was in the greatest
uncertainty as to what he should do respecting Poland. He was entreated
to reestablish that ancient and heroic kingdom; but he came to no
decision, preferring, according to custom, to submit to events, that he
might appear to command them. At Warsaw, indeed, the Emperor passed a
great part of his time in fetes and reviews, which, however, did not
prevent him from watching, with his eagle eye, every department of the
public service, both interior and exterior. He himself was in the capital
of Poland, but his vast influence was present everywhere. I heard Duroc
say, when we were conversing together about the campaign of Tilsit, that
Napoleon's activity and intelligence were never more conspicuously

One very remarkable feature of the imperial wars was, that, with the
exception of the interior police, of which Fouche was the soul, the whole
government of France was at the headquarters of the Emperor. At Warsaw
Napoleon's attention was not only occupied with the affairs of his army,
but he directed the whole machinery of the French Government just the
same as if he had been in Paris. Daily estafettes, and frequently the
useless auditors of the Council of State, brought him reports more or
less correct, and curious disclosures which were frequently the invention
of the police. The portfolios of the Ministers arrived every week, with
the exception of those of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the
Minister of the War Department; the former had first stopped at Mayence
with the Empress, but had been called on to Warsaw; and the latter,
Clarke, was, for the misfortune of Berlin, governor of that city. This
state of things lasted during the ten months of the Emperor's absence
from Paris. Louis XIV. said, "I am myself the State." Napoleon did not
say this; but, in fact, under his reign the Government of France was
always at his headquarters. This circumstance had well-nigh proved fatal
to him, on the occasion of the extraordinary conspiracy of Malet, with
some points of which I alone, perhaps, am thoroughly acquainted. The
Emperor employed the month of January in military preparations for the
approaching attack of the Russians, but at the same time he did not
neglect the business of the cabinet: with him nothing was suffered to
linger in arrear.

While Napoleon was at Warsaw a battle was not the only thing to be
thought about; affairs were much more complicated than during the
campaign of Vienna. It was necessary, on the one hand, to observe
Prussia, which was occupied; and on the other to anticipate the Russians,
whose movements indicated that they were inclined to strike the first
blow. In the preceding campaign Austria, before the taking of Vienna,
was engaged alone. The case was different now: Austria had had only
soldiers; and Prussia, as Blucher declared to me, was beginning to have
citizens. There was no difficulty in returning from Vienna, but a great
deal in returning from Warsaw, in case of failure, notwithstanding the
creation of the Kingdom of Saxony, and the provisional government given
to Prussia, and to the other States of Germany which we had conquered.
None of these considerations escaped the penetration of Napoleon: nothing
was omitted in the notes, letters, and official correspondence which came
to me from all quarters. Receiving, as I did, accurate information from
my own correspondents of all that was passing in Germany, it often
happened that I transmitted to the Government the same news which it
transmitted to me, not supposing that I previously knew it. Thus, for
example, I thought I was apprising the Government of the arming of
Austria, of which I received information from headquarters a few days

During the Prussian campaign Austria played precisely the same waiting
game which Prussia had played clueing the campaign of Austria. As
Prussia had, before the battle of Austerlitz, awaited the success or
defeat of the French to decide whether she should remain neutral or
declare herself against France, so Austria, doubtless supposing that
Russia would be more fortunate as the ally of Prussia than she had been
as her ally, assembled a corps of 40,000 men in Bohemia. That corps was
called an army of observation; but the nature of these armies of
observation is well known; they belong to the class of armed
neutralities, like the ingenious invention of sanitary cordons. The fact
is, that the 40,000 men assembled in Bohemia were destined to aid and
assist the Russians in case they should be successful (and who can blame
the Austrian Government for wishing to wash away the shame of the Treaty
of Presburg?). Napoleon had not a moment to lose, but this activity
required no spur; he had hastened the battle of Austerlitz to anticipate
Prussia, and he now found it necessary to anticipate Russia in order to
keep Austria in a state of indecision.

The Emperor, therefore, left Warsaw about the end of January, and
immediately gave orders for engaging the Russian army in the beginning of
February; but, in spite of his desire of commencing the attack, he was
anticipated. On the 8th of February, at seven in the morning, he was
attacked by the Russians, who advanced during a terrible storm of snow,
which fell in large flakes. They approached Preussich-Eylau, where the
Emperor was, and the Imperial Guard stopped the Russian column. Nearly
the whole French army was engaged in that battle-one of the most
sanguinary ever fought in Europe. The corps commanded by Bernadotte was
not engaged, in the contest; it had been stationed on the left at
Mohrungen, whence it menaced Dantzic. The issue of the battle would have
been very different had the four, divisions of infantry and the two of
cavalry composing Bernadotte's corps arrived in time; but unfortunately
the officer instructed to convey orders to Bernadotte to march without
delay on Preussich-Eylau was taken by a body of Cossacks; Bernadotte,
therefore, did not arrive. Bonaparte, who always liked to throw blame on
some one if things did not turn out exactly as he wished, attributed the
doubtful success of the day to the absence of Bernadotte; in this he was
right; but to make his absence a reproach to that Marshal was a gross
injustice. Bernadotte was accused of not having been willing to march on
Preussich-Eylau, though, as it was alleged, General d'Hautpoult had
informed him of the necessity of his presence. But how can that fact be
ascertained, since General d'Hautpoult was killed on that same day? Who
can assure us that that General had been able to communicate with the

Those who knew Bonaparte, his cunning, and the artful advantage he would
sometimes take of words which he attributed to the dead, will easily
solve the enigma. The battle of Eylau was terrible. Night came on-
Bernadotte's corps was instantly, but in vain, expected; and after a
great loss the French army had the melancholy honour of passing the night
on the field of battle. Bernadotte at length arrived, but too late. He
met the enemy, who were retreating without the fear of being molested
towards Konigsberg, the only capital remaining to Prussia. The King of
Prussia was then at Memel, a small port on the Baltic, thirty leagues
from Konigsberg.

After the battle of Eylau both sides remained stationary, and several
days elapsed without anything remarkable taking place. The offers of
peace made by the Emperor, with very little earnestness it is true, were
disdainfully rejected, as if a victory disputed with Napoleon was to be
regarded as a triumph. The battle of Eylau seemed to turn the heads of
the Russians, who chanted Te Deum on the occasion. But while the Emperor
was making preparations to advance, his diplomacy was taking effect in a
distant quarter, and raising up against Russia an old and formidable
enemy. Turkey declared war against her. This was a powerful diversion,
and obliged Russia to strip her western frontiers to secure a line of
defence on the south.

Some time after General Gardanne set out on the famous embassy to Persia;
for which the way had been paved by the success of the mission of my
friend, Amedee Jaubert. This embassy was not merely one of those pompous
legations such as Charlemagne, Louis XIV., and Louis XVI. received from
the Empress Irene, the King of Siam, and Tippoo Saib. It was connected
with ideas which Bonaparte had conceived at the very dawn of his power.
It was, indeed, the light from the East which fast enabled him to see his
greatness in perspective; and that light never ceased to fix his
attention and dazzle his imagination. I know well that Gardanne's
embassy was at first conceived on a much grander scale than that on which
it was executed. Napoleon had resolved to send to the Shah of Persia
4000 infantry, commanded by chosen and experienced officers, 10,000
muskets, and 50 pieces, of cannon; and I also know that orders were given
for the execution of this design. The avowed object of the Emperor was
to enable the Shah of Persia to make an important diversion, with 80,000
men, in, the eastern provinces of Russia. But there was likewise
another, an old and constant object, which was always, uppermost in
Napoleon's mind, namely the wish to strike at England in the very heart
of her Asiatic possessions. Such vas the principal motive of Gardanne's
mission, but circumstances did not permit the Emperor, to, give, it, all
the importance he desired. He contented himself with sending a few
officers of engineers and artillery, to Persia, who, on their arrival,
were astonished at the number of English they found there.


Always proposing what he knew could not be honourably acceded to
Cause of war between the United States and England
Conquest can only be regarded as the genius of destruction
Demand everything, that you may obtain nothing
Submit to events, that he might appear to command them
Tendency to sell the skin of the bear before killing him
When a man has so much money he cannot have got it honestly



His Private Secretary

Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery





Abuse of military power--Defence of diplomatic rights--Marshal Brune
--Army supplies--English cloth and leather--Arrest on a charge of
libel--Dispatch from M. Talleyrand--A page of Napoleon's glory--
Interview between the two Emperors at Tilsit,--Silesia restored to
the Queen of Prussia--Unfortunate situation in Prussia--
Impossibility of reestablishing Poland in 1807--Foundation of the
Kingdom of Westphalia--The Duchy of Warsaw and the King of Saxony.

Meanwhile the internal affairs of the towns over which my diplomatic
jurisdiction extended soon gave me more employment than ever. The
greatest misfortune of the Empire was, perhaps, the abuse of the right
arrogated by the wearers of epaulettes. My situation gave me an
opportunity of observing all the odious character of a military
government. Another in my place could not have done all that I did. I
say this confidently, for my, situation was a distinct and independent
one, as Bonaparte had told me: Being authorised to correspond directly
with the Emperor; the military chiefs feared, if they did not yield to my
just representations, that I would made private reports; this
apprehension was wonderfully useful in enabling me to maintain the rights
of the towns, which had adopted me as their first citizen.

A circumstance occurred in which I had to defend the rights of the
diplomatic and commercial agents against the pretensions of military
power. Marshal Brune during his government at Hamburg, went to Bremman.
to watch the strict execution of the illusive blockade against England.
The Marshal acting no doubt, in conformity with the instructions of
Clarke, then Minister of War and Governor of Berlin, wished to arrogate
the right of deciding on the captures made by our cruisers.

He attempted to prevent the Consul Lagau from selling the confiscated
ships in order to sell them himself. Of this M. Lagau complained to me.
The more I observed a disposition to encroach on the part of the military
authorities, the more I conceived it necessary to maintain the rights of
the consuls, and to favour their influence, without which they would have
lost their consideration. To the complaints of M. Lagau I replied,
"That to him alone belonged the right of deciding, in the first instance,
on the fate of the ships; that he could not be deprived of that right
without changing the law; that he was free to sell the confiscated
Prussian ships; that Marshall Brune was at Bremen only for the execution
of the decree respecting the blockade of England, and that he ought not
to interfere in business unconnected with that decree." Lagau showed
this letter to Brune, who then allowed him to do as he wished; but it was
an affair of profit, and the Marshal for a long time owed me a grudge.

Bernadotte was exceedingly disinterested, but he loved to be talked
about. The more the Emperor endeavoured to throw accusations upon him,
the more he was anxious to give publicity to all his actions. He sent to
me an account of the brilliant affair of Braunsburg, in which a division
of the first corps had been particularly distinguished. Along with this
narrative he sent me a note in the following terms:--"I send you, my
dear. Minister, an account of the affair of Braunsburg. You will,
perhaps, think proper to publish it. In that case I shall be obliged by
your getting it inserted in the Hamburg journals," I did so. The
injustice of the Emperor, and the bad way in which he spoke of
Bernadotte, obliged the latter,--for the sake of his own credit, to make
the truth known to the world.

I have already mentioned that I received an order from the Emperor to
supply 50,000 cloaks for the army. With this order, which was not the
only one I received of the same kind, some circumstances were connected
which I may take the present opportunity of explaining.

The Emperor gave me so many orders for army clothing that all that could
be supplied by the cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck would have been
insufficient for executing the commissions. I entered into a treaty with
a house in Hamburg, which I authorised, in spite of the Berlin decree,
to bring cloth and leather from England. Thus I procured these articles
in a sure and cheap way. Our troops might have perished of cold had the
Continental system and the absurd mass of inexecutable decrees relative
to English merchandise been observed.

The Director of the Customs at Hamburg got angry, but I held firm: my
cloths and my leather arrived; cloaks, coats; boots, all were promptly
made, and our soldiers thus were sheltered from the severity of the
season. To preserve peace with the Imperial Custom-house I wrote to M.
Collie, then Director-General, that M. Eudel having wished to put in
execution the law of the 10th Brumaire and complaints had been made on
every side. Marshal Brune asked for my opinion on this matter, and I
gave it to him. I declared to M. Collie that the full execution of the
decree of 31st October 1796 was impracticable, injurious to France, and
to the Hanseatic Towns, without doing harm to England. Indeed, what said
article 5 of this law? "All goods imported from foreign countries,
whatever may be their origin, are to be considered as coming from English
manufacturers." According to this article France was a foreign country
for the Hanseatic Towns, and none of the objects enumerated in this
article ought to enter Hamburg! But the town received from England a
large quantity of fine cloths, buttons; ironmongery, toys, china; and
from France only clocks, bronzes, jewellery, ribbons, bonnets, gauzes and
gloves. "Let," said I to M. Eudel, "the Paris Duane be asked what that
town alone exports in matters of this sort and it will be seen how
important it is not to stop a trade all the more profitable to France,
as the workmanship forms the greatest part of the price of the goods
which make up this trade. What would happen if the importation of these
goods were absolutely prohibited in Hamburg? The consignments would
cease, and one of the most productive sources of trade for France, and
especially for Paris would be cut off."

At this time neither Hamburg nor its territory had any manufacture of
cloth. All woollen stuffs were prohibited, according to M. Eudel, and
still my duty was to furnish, and I had furnished, 50,000 cloaks for the
Grand Army. In compliance with a recent Imperial decree I had to have
made without delay 16,000 coats, 37,000 waistcoats, and the Emperor
required of me 200,000 pairs of boots, besides the 40,000 pairs I had
sent in. Yet M. Eudel said that tanned and worked leather ought not to
enter Hamburg! If such a ridiculous application of the law of 1796 had
been made it would have turned the decree of 21st November 1796 against
France, without fulfilling its object.

These reflections, to which I added other details, made the Government
conclude that I was right, and I traded with England to the great
advantage of the armies, which were well clothed and shod. What in the
world can be more ridiculous than commercial laws carried out to one's
own detriment?

At the beginning of 1807 my occupations at Hamburg were divided between
the furnishing of supplies for the army and the inspection of the
emigrants, whom Fouche pretended to dread in order to give greater
importance to his office.

I never let slip an opportunity of mitigating the rigour of Fouche's
orders, which, indeed, were sometimes so absurd that I did not attempt to
execute them. Of this an instance occurs to my recollection. A printer
at Hamburg had been arrested on the charge of having printed a libel in
the German language. The man was detained in prison because, very much
to his honour, he would not disclose the name of the writer of the
pamphlet. I sent for him and questioned him. He told me, with every
appearance of sincerity, that he had never but once seen the man who had
brought him the manuscript. I was convinced of the truth of what he
said, and I gave an order for his liberation. To avoid irritating the
susceptibility of the Minister of Police I wrote to him the following few
lines:--"The libel is the most miserable rhapsody imaginable. The author,
probably with the view of selling his pamphlet in Holstein, predicts that
Denmark will conquer every other nation and become the greatest kingdom
in the world. This alone will suffice to prove to you how little clanger
there is in rubbish written in the style of the Apocalypse."

After the battle of Eylau I received a despatch from M. de Talleyrand, to
which was added an account in French of that memorable battle, which was
more fatal to the conqueror than to the other party,--I cannot say the
conquered in speaking of the Russians, the more especially when I
recollect the precautions which were then taken throughout Germany to
make known the French before the Russian version. The Emperor was
exceedingly anxious that every one should view that event as he himself
viewed it. Other accounts than his might have produced an unfavourable
impression in the north. I therefore had orders to publish that account.
I caused 2000 copies of it to be issued, which were more than sufficient
for circulation in the Hanse Towns and their territories.

The reader will perhaps complain that I have been almost silent with
respect to the grand manoeuvres of the French army from the battle of
Eylau to that of Friedland, where, at all events, our success was
indisputable. There was no necessity for printing favourable versions of
that event, and, besides, its immense results were soon felt throughout
Europe. The interview at Tilsit is one of the culminating points of
modern history, and the waters of the Niemen reflected the image of
Napoleon at the height of his glory. The interview between the two
Emperors at Tilsit, and the melancholy situation of the King of Prussia,
are generally known. I was made acquainted with but few secret details
relative to those events, for Rapp had gone to Dantzic, and it was he who
most readily communicated to me all that the Emperor said and did, and
all that was passing around him.--

--[Savory gives the following account of the interview between
Napoleon and Alexander at Tilsit.

"The Emperor Napoleon, whose courtesy was manifest in all his
actions, ordered a large raft to be floated in the middle of the
river, upon which was constructed a room well covered in and
elegantly decorated having two doors on opposite aides, each of
which opened into an antechamber. The work could not have been
better executed in Paris. The roof was surmounted by two
weathercocks: one displaying the eagle of Russia, and the other the
eagle of France. The two outer doors were also surmounted by the
eagles of the two countries.

"The raft was precisely in the middle of the river, with the two
doors of the salon facing the two opposite banks.

"The two sovereigns appeared on the banks of the river, and embarked
at the same moment But the Emperor Napoleon having a good boat,
manned by marines of the Guard, arrived first on the raft, entered
the room, and went to the opposite door, which he opened, and then
stationed himself on the edge of the raft to receive the Emperor
Alexander, who had not yet arrived, not having each good rowers as
the Emperor Napoleon.

"The two Emperors met in the most amicable way, et least to all
appearance. They remained together for a considerable time, and
then took leave of each other with as friendly an air as that with
which they had met.

"Next day the Emperor of Russia established himself at Tilsit with a
battalion of his Guard. Orders were given for evacuating that part
of the town where he and his battalion were to be quartered; and,
though we were very much pressed for room, no encroachment on the
space allotted to the Russians was thought of.

"On the day the Emperor Alexander, entered Tilsit the whole army was
under arms. The Imperial Guard was drawn out in two lines of three
deep from the landing-place to the Emperor Napoleon's quarters, and
from thence to the quarters of the Emperor of Russia. A salute of
100 guns was fired the moment Alexander stepped ashore on the spot
where the Emperor Napoleon was waiting to receive him. The latter
carried his attention to his visitor so far as to send from his
quarters the furniture for Alexander's bedchamber. Among the
articles sent was a camp-bed belonging to the Emperor, which he
presented to Alexander, who appeared much pleased with the gift.

"This meeting; the first which history records of the same kind and
of equal importance, attracted visitors to Tilsit from 100 leagues
round. M. de Talleyrand arrived, and after the observance of the
usual ceremonies business began to be discussed." (Memoirs of the
Due de Rovigo, tome iii. p. 117).

"When," said Napoleon, "I was at Tilsit with the Emperor Alexander
and the King of Prussia, I was the most ignorant of the three in
military affairs. These two sovereigns, especially the King of
Prussia, were completely 'au fait' as to the number of buttons there
ought to be in front of a jacket, how many behind, and the manner in
which the skirts ought to be cut. Not a tailor in the army knew
better than King Frederick how many measures of cloth it took to
make a jacket. In fact," continued he laughing, "I was nobody in
comparison with them. They continually tormented me about matters
belonging to tailors, of which I was entirely ignorant, although, in
order not to affront them, I answered just as gravely as if the fate
of an army depended upon the cut of a jacket. When I went to see
the King of Prussia, instead of a library, I found that he had a
large room, like an arsenal, furnished with shelves and pegs; on
which were hung fifty or sixty jackets of different patterns. Every
day he changed his fashion and put on a different one. He attached
more importance to this than was necessary for the salvation of a
kingdom." (O'Meara's Napoleon in Exile.)]--

I, however, learned one circumstance peculiarly worthy of remark which
occurred in the Emperor's apartments at Tilsit the first time he received
a visit from the King of Prussia. That unfortunate monarch, who was
accompanied by Queen Louisa, had taken refuge in a mill beyond the town.
This was his sole habitation, whilst the Emperors occupied the two
portions of the town, which is divided by the Niemen. The fact I am
about to relate reached me indirectly through the medium of an offices of
the Imperial Guard, who was on duty in Napoleon's apartments and was an
eye-witness of it. When the Emperor Alexander visited Napoleon they
continued for a long time in conversation on a balcony below, where as
immense crowd hailed their meeting with enthusiastic shouts. Napoleon
commenced the conversation, as he did the year preceding with the Emperor
of Austria, by speaking of the uncertain fate of war. Whilst they were
conversing the King of Prussia was announced. The King's emotion was
visible, and may easily be imagined; for as hostilities were suspended,
and his territory in possession of the French, his only hope was in the
generosity of the conqueror. Napoleon himself, it is said, appeared
moved by his situation, and invited him, together with the Queen, to
dinner. On sitting down to table Napoleon with great gallantry told the
beautiful Queen that he would restore to her Silesia, a province which
she earnestly wished should be retained in the new arrangements which
were necessarily about to take place.

--[Las Cases mentions that at the time of the treaty of Tilsit
Napoleon wrote to the Empress Josephine as follows:

"'The Queen of Prussia is really a charming woman. She is fond of
coquetting with me; but do not be jealous: I am like oilcloth, along
which everything of this sort elides without penetrating. It would
cost me too dear to play the gallant'

"On this subject an anecdote was related in the salon of Josephine.
It was said that the Queen of Prussia one day had a beautiful rose
in her hand, which the Emperor asked her to give him. The Queen
hesitated for a few moments, and then presented it to him, saying,
'Why should I so readily grant what you request, while you remain
deaf to all my entreaties?' (She alluded to the fortress of
Magdeburg, which she had earnestly solicited)." (Memorial de St.

The treaty of peace concluded at Tilsit between France and Russia, on the
7th of July, and ratified two days after, produced no less striking a
change in the geographical division of Europe than had been effected the
year preceding by the Treaty of Presburg. The treaty contained no
stipulation dishonourable to Russia, whose territory was preserved
inviolate; but how was Prussia treated? Some historians, for the vain
pleasure of flattering by posthumous praises the pretended moderation of
Napoleon, have almost reproached him for having suffered some remnants of
the monarchy of the great Frederick to survive. There is, nevertheless,
a point on which Napoleon has been wrongfully condemned, at least with
reference to the campaign of 1807. It has been said that he should at
that period have re-established the kingdom of Poland; and certainly
there is every reason to regret, for the interests of France and Europe,
that it was not re-established. But when a desire, even founded on
reason, is not carried into effect, should we conclude that the wished-
for object ought to be achieved in defiance of all obstacles? At that
time, that is to say, during the campaign of Tilsit, insurmountable
obstacles existed.

If, however, by the Treaty of Tilsit, the throne of Poland was not
restored to serve as a barrier between old Europe and the Empire of the
Czars, Napoleon founded a Kingdom of Westphalia, which he gave to the
young 'ensigne de vaisseau' whom he had scolded as a schoolboy, and whom
he now made a King, that he might have another crowned prefect under his
control. The Kingdom of Westphalia was composed of the States of Hesse-
Cassel, of a part of the provinces taken from Prussia by the moderation
of the Emperor, and of the States of Paderborn, Fulda, Brunswick, and a
part of the Electorate of Hanover. Napoleon, at the same time, though he
did not like to do things by halves, to avoid touching the Russian and
Austrian provinces of old Poland, planted on the banks of the Vistula the
Grand Duchy of Warsaw, which he gave to the King of Saxony, with the
intention of increasing or destroying it afterwards as he might find
convenient. Thus he allowed the Poles to hope better things for the
future, and ensured to himself partisans in the north should the chances
of fortune call him thither. Alexander, who was cajoled even more than
his father had been by what I may call the political coquetry of
Napoleon, consented to all these arrangements, acknowledged 'in globo'
all the kings crowned by the Emperor, and accepted some provinces which
had belonged to his despoiled ally, the King of Prussia, doubtless by way
of consolation for not having been able to get more restored to Prussia.
The two Emperors parted the best friends in the world; but the
Continental system was still in existence.



Effect produced at Altona by the Treaty of Tilsit--The Duke of
Mecklenburg-Schwerin's departure from Hamburg--English squadron in
the Sound--Bombardment of Copenhagen--Perfidy of England--Remark of
Bonaparte to M. Lemercier--Prussia erased from the map--Napoleon's
return to Paris--Suppression of the Tribunate--Confiscation of
English merchandise--Nine millions gained to France--M. Caulaincourt
Ambassador to Russia--Repugnance of England to the intervention of
Russia--Affairs of Portugal--Junot appointed to command the army--
The Prince Regent's departure for the Brazils--The Code Napoleon--
Introduction of the French laws into Germany--Leniency of Hamburg
Juries--The stolen cloak and the Syndic Doormann.

The Treaty of Tilsit, as soon as it was known at Altona, spread
consternation amongst the emigrants. As to the German Princes, who were
awaiting the issue of events either at Altolna or Hamburg, when they
learned that a definitive treaty of peace had been signed between France
and Russia, and that two days after the Treaty of Tilsit the Prussian
monarchy was placed at the mercy of Napoleon, every courier that arrived
threw them into indescribable agitation. It depended on the Emperor's
will whether they were to be or not to be. The Duke of Mecklenburg-
Schwerin had not succeeded in getting himself re-established in his
states, by an exceptional decision, like the Duke of Weimar; but at
length he obtained the restitution of his territory at the request of the
Emperor Alexander, and on the 28th of July he quitted Hamburg to return
to his Duchy.

The Danish charge d'affaires communicated to me about the same time an
official report from his Government. This report announced that on
Monday, the 3d of August, a squadron consisting of twelve ships of the
line and twelve frigates, commanded by Admiral Gambier, had passed the
Sound. The rest of the squadron was seen in the Categat. At the same
time the English troops which were in the island of Rugen had reembarked.
We could not then conceive what enterprise this considerable force had
been sent upon. But our uncertainty was soon at an end. M. Didelot, the
French Ambassador at Copenhagen, arrived at Hamburg, at nine o'clock in
the evening of the 12th of August. He had been fortunate enough to pass
through the Great Belt, though in sight of the English, without being
stopped. I forwarded his report to Paris by an extraordinary courier.

The English had sent 20,000 men and twenty-seven vessels into the Baltic;
Lord Cathcart commanded the troops. The coast of Zealand was blockaded
by ninety vessels. Mr. Jackson, who had been sent by England to
negotiate with Denmark, which she feared would be invaded by the French
troops, supported the propositions he was charged to offer to Denmark by
a reference to this powerful British force. Mr. Jackson's proposals had
for their object nothing less than to induce the King of Denmark to place
in the custody of England the whole of his ships and naval stores. They
were, it is true, to be kept in deposit, but the condition contained the
words, "until the conclusion of a general peace," which rendered the
period of their restoration uncertain. They were to be detained until
such precautions should be no longer necessary. A menace and its
execution followed close upon this demand. After a noble but useless
resistance, and a terrific bombardment, Copenhagen surrendered, and the
Danish fleet was destroyed. It would be difficult to find in history a
more infamous and revolting instance of the abuse of power against

Sometime after this event a pamphlet entitled "Germania" appeared, which
I translated and sent to the Emperor. It was eloquently written, and
expressed the indignation which the conduct of England had excited in the
author as in every one else.

--["That expedition," said Napoleon at St. Helena, "showed great
energy on the part of your Ministers: but setting aside the
violation of the laws of, nations which you committed--for in fact
it was nothing but a robbery--I think that it was; injurious to your
interests, as it made the Danish nation irreconcilable enemies to
you, and in fact shut you out of the north for three years. When I
heard of it I said, I am glad of it, as it will embroil England
irrecoverably with the Northern Powers. The Danes being able to
join me with sixteen sail of the line was of but little consequence.
I had plenty of ships, and only wanted seamen, whom you did not
take, and whom I obtained afterwards, while by the expedition your
Ministers established their characters as faithless, and as persons
with whom no engagements, no laws were binding." (Voice from St.

I have stated what were the principal consequences of the Treaty of
Tilsit; it is more than probable that if the bombardment of Copenhagen
had preceded the treaty the Emperor would have used Prussia even worse
than he did. He might have erased her from the list of nations; but he
did not do so, out of regard to the Emperor Alexander. The destruction
of Prussia was no new project with Bonaparte. I remember an observation
of his to M. Lemercier upon that subject when we first went to reside at
Malmaison. M. Lemercier had been reading to the First Consul some poem
in which Frederick the Great was spoken of. "You seem to admire him
greatly," said Bonaparte to M. Lemercier; "what do you find in him so
astonishing? He is not equal to Turenne."--"General," replied M.
Lemercier, "it is not merely the warrior that I esteem in Frederick; it
is impossible to refrain from admiring a man who was a philosopher even
on the throne." To this the First Consul replied, in a half ill-humoured
tone, "Certainly, Lemercier; but Frederick's philosophy shall not prevent
me from erasing his kingdom from the map of Europe." The kingdom of
Frederick the Great was not, however, obliterated from the map, because
the Emperor of Russia would not basely abandon a faithful ally who had
incurred with him the chances of fortune. Prussia then bitterly had to
lament the tergiversations which had prevented her from declaring herself
against France during the campaign of Austerlitz.

Napoleon returned to Paris about the end of July after an absence of ten
months, the longest he had yet made since he had been at the head of the
French Government, whether as Consul or Emperor. The interview at
Tilsit, the Emperor Alexander's friendship, which was spoken of
everywhere in terms of exaggeration, and the peace established on the
Continent, conferred on Napoleon a moral influence in public opinion
which he had not possessed since his coronation. Constant in his hatred
of deliberative assemblies, which he had often termed collections of
babblers, ideologists, and phrasemongers, Napoleon, on his return to
Paris, suppressed the Tribunate, which had been an annoyance to him ever
since the first day of his elevation. The Emperor, who was 'skillful
above all men in speculating on the favourable disposition of opinion,
availed himself at this conjuncture of the enthusiasm produced by his
interview on the Niemen. He therefore discarded from the fundamental
institutions of the government that which still retained the shadow of a
popular character. But it was necessary that he should possess a Senate
merely to vote men; a mute Legislative Body to vote money; that there
should be no opposition in the one and no criticism in the other; no
control over him of any description; the power of arbitrarily doing
whatever he pleased; an enslaved press;--this was what Napoleon wished,
and this be obtained. But the month of March 1814 resolved the question
of absolute power!

In the midst of these great affairs, and while Napoleon was dreaming of
universal monarchy, I beheld in a less extensive sphere the inevitable
consequences of the ambition of a single man. Pillage and robbery were
carried on in all parts over which my diplomatic jurisdiction extended.
Rapine seemed to be legally authorised, and was perpetrated with such
fury, and at the same time with such ignorance, that the agents were
frequently unacquainted with the value of the articles which they seized.
Thus, for example, the Emperor ordered the seizure at Hamburg, Bremen,
and Lubeck of all English merchandise, whatever might be its nature or
origin. The Prince of Neufchatel (Berthier) wrote to me from the Emperor
that I must procure 10,000,000 francs from the Hanse Towns. M. Daru, the
Intendant-General, whose business it was to collect this sort of levy,
which Napoleon had learned to make in Egypt, wrote to urge me to obtain a
prompt and favourable decision. The unfortunate towns which I was thus
enjoined to oppress had already suffered sufficiently. I had obtained,
by means of negotiation, more than was demanded for the ransom of the
English merchandise, which had been seized according to order. Before I
received the letters of M. Darn and the Prince of Neufchatel I had
obtained from Hamburg 16,000,000 instead of 10,000,000, besides nearly
3,000,000 from Bremen and Lubeck. Thus I furnished the Government with
9,000,000 more than had been required, and yet I had so managed that
those enormous sacrifices were not overoppressive to those who made them.
I fixed the value of the English merchandise because I knew that the high
price at which it sold on the Continent would not only cover the proposed
ransom but also leave a considerable profit. Such was the singular
effect of the Continental system that when merchandise was confiscated,
and when afterwards the permission to sell it freely was given, the price
fetched at the sale was so large that the loss was covered, and even
great advantage gained.

Peace being concluded with Russia it was necessary to make choice of an
Ambassador, not only to maintain the new relations of amity between
Napoleon and Alexander, but likewise to urge on the promised intervention
of Russia with England,--to bring about reconciliation and peace between
the Cabinets of Paris and London. The Emperor confided this mission to
Caulaincourt, with respect to whom there existed an unfounded prejudice
relating to some circumstances which preceded the death of the Duc
d'Enghien. This unfortunate and unjust impression had preceded
Caulaincourt to St. Petersburg, and it was feared that he would not
experience the reception due to the French Ambassador and to his own
personal qualities. I knew at the time, from positive information, that
after a short explanation with Alexander that monarch retained no
suspicion unfavourable to our Ambassador, for whom he conceived and
maintained great esteem and friendship.

Caulaincourt's mission was not, in all respects, easy of fulfilment, for
the invincible repugnance and reiterated refusal of England to enter into
negotiations with France through the medium of Russia was one of the
remarkable circumstances of the period of which I am speaking. I knew
positively that England was determined never to allow Napoleon to possess
himself of the whole of the Continent,--a project which he indicated too
undisguisedly to admit of any doubt respecting it. For two years he had
indeed advanced with rapid strides; but England was not discouraged. She
was too well aware of the irritation of the sovereigns and the discontent
of the people not be certain that when she desired it, her lever of gold
would again raise up and arm the Continent against the encroaching power
of Napoleon. He, on his part, perceiving that all his attempts were
fruitless, and that England would listen to no proposals, devised fresh
plans for raising up new enemies against England.

It probably is not forgotten that in 1801 France compelled Portugal to
make common cause with her against England. In 1807 the Emperor did
again what the First Consul had done. By an inexplicable fatality Junot
obtained the command of the troops which were marching against Portugal.
I say against Portugal, for that was the fact, though France represented
herself as a protector to deliver Portugal from the influence of England.
Be that as it may, the choice which the Emperor made of a commander
astonished everybody. Was Junot, a compound of vanity and mediocrity,
the fit man to be entrusted with the command of an army in a distant
country, and under circumstances in which great political and military
talents were requisite? For my own part, knowing Junot's incapacity, I
must acknowledge that his appointment astonished me. I remember one day,
when I was speaking on the subject to Bernadotte, he showed me a letter
he had received from Paris, in which it was said that the Emperor had
sent Junot to Portugal only for the sake of depriving him of the
government of Paris. Junot annoyed Napoleon by his bad conduct, his
folly, and his incredible extravagance. He was alike devoid of dignity-
either in feeling or conduct. Thus Portugal was twice the place of exile
selected by Consular and Imperial caprice: first, when the First Consul
wished to get rid of the familiarity of Lannes; and next, when the
Emperor grew weary of the misconduct of a favourite.

The invasion of Portugal presented no difficulty. It was an armed
promenade and not a war; but how many events were connected with the
occupation of that country! The Prince Regent of Portugal, unwilling to
act dishonourably to England, to which he was allied by treaties; and
unable to oppose the whole power of Napoleon, embarked for Brazil,
declaring that all defence was useless. At the same time he recommended
his subjects to receive the French troops in a friendly manner, and said
that he consigned to Providence the consequences of an invasion which was
without a motive. He was answered in the Emperor's name that, Portugal
being the ally of England, we were only carrying on hostilities against,
the latter country by invading his dominions.

It was in the month of November that the code of French jurisprudence,
upon which the most learned legislators had indefatigably laboured, was
established as the law of the State, under the title of the Code
Napoleon. Doubtless this legislative monument will redound to Napoleon's
honour in history; but was it to be supposed that the same laws would be
equally applicable throughout so vast an extent as that comprised within
the French Empire? Impossible as this was, as soon as the Code Napoleon
way promulgated I received orders to establish it in the Hanse Towns.

--[This great code of Civil Law was drawn up under Napoleon's orders
and personal superintendence. Much had been prepared under the
Convention, and the chief merits of it were due to the labours of
such men as Tronchet; Partatis, Bigot de Preameneu, Maleville,
Cambaceres, etc. But it was debated under and by Napoleon, who took
a lively interest in it. It was first called the "Code Civil," but
is 1807 was named "Code Napoleon," or eventually "Les Cinq Codes de
Napoleon." When completed in 1810 it included five Codes--the Code
Civil, decreed March 1803; Code de Procedure Civile, decreed April
1806; Code de Commerce, decreed September 1807; Code d'Instruction
Criminelle, decreed November 1808; and the Code Penal, decreed
February 1810. It had to be retained by the Bourbons, and its
principles have worked and are slowly working their way into the law
of every nation. Napoleon was justly proud of this work. The
Introduction of the Code into the conquered countries was, as
Bourrienne says, made too quickly. Puymaigre, who was employed in
the administration of Hamburg after Bourrienne left, says, "I shall
always remember the astonishment of the Hamburgers when they were
invaded by this cloud of French officials, who, under every form,
made researches is their houses, and who came to apply the
multiplied demands of the fiscal system. Like Proteus, the
administration could take any shape. To only speak of my
department, which certainly was not the least odious one, for it was
opposed to the habits of the Hamburgers and annoyed all the
industries, no idea can be formed of the despair of the inhabitants,
subjected to perpetual visits, and exposed to be charged with
contraventions of the law, of which they knew nothing.

"Remembering their former laws, they used to offer to meet a charge
of fraud by the proof of their oath, and could not imagine that such
a guarantee could be repulsed. When they were independent they paid
almost nothing, and such was the national spirit, that in urgent
cases when money was wanted the senate taxed every citizen s certain
proportion of his income, the tenth or twentieth. A donator
presided over the recovery of this tax, which was done in a very
strange manner. A box, covered with a carpet, received the offering
of every citizen, without any person verifying the sum, and only on
the simple moral guarantee of the honesty of the debtor, who himself
judged the sum he ought to pay. When the receipt was finished the
senate always obtained more than it had calculated on." (Puymaigre,
pp, 181.)]--

The long and frequent conversations I had on this subject with the
Senators and the most able lawyers of the country soon convinced me of
the immense difficulty I should have to encounter, and the danger of
suddenly altering habits and customs which had been firmly established by

The jury system gave tolerable satisfaction; but the severe punishments
assigned to certain offences by the Code were disapproved of. Hence
resulted the frequent and serious abuse of men being acquitted whose
guilt was evident to the jury, who pronounced them not guilty rather than
condemn them to a punishment which was thought too severe. Besides,
their leniency had another ground, which was, that the people being
ignorant of the new law were not aware of the penalties attached to
particular offences. I remember that a man who was accused of stealing a
cloak at Hamburg justified himself on the ground that he committed the
offence in a fit of intoxication. M. Von Einingen, one of the jury,
insisted that the prisoner was not guilty, because, as he said, the
Syndic Doormann, when dining with him one day, having drunk more wine
than usual, took away his cloak. This defence per Baccho was completely
successful. An argument founded on the similarity between the conduct of
the Syndic and the accused, could not but triumph, otherwise the little
debauch of the former would have been condemned in the person of the
latter. This trial, which terminated so whimsically, nevertheless proves
that the best and the gravest institutions may become objects of ridicule
when suddenly introduced into a country whose habits are not prepared to
receive them.

The Romans very wisely reserved in the Capitol a place for the gods of
the nations they conquered. They wished to annex provinces and kingdoms
to their empire. Napoleon, on the contrary, wished to make his empire
encroach upon other states, and to realise the impossible Utopia of ten
different nations, all having different customs and languages, united
into a single State. Could justice, that safeguard of human rights, be
duly administered in the Hanse Towns when those towns were converted into
French departments? In these new departments many judges had been
appointed who did not understand a word of German, and who had no
knowledge of law. The presidents of the tribunals of Lilbeck, Stade,
Bremerlehe, and Minden were so utterly ignorant of the German language
that it was necessary to explain to them all the pleadings in the
council-chamber. Was it not absurd to establish such a judicial system,
and above all, to appoint such men in a country so important to France as
Hamburg and the Hanse Towns? Add to this the impertinence of some
favourites who were sent from Paris to serve official and legal
apprenticeships in the conquered provinces, and it may be easily
conceived what was the attachment of the people to Napoleon the Great.



Disturbed state of Spain--Godoy, Prince of the Peace--Reciprocal
accusations between the King of Spain and his son--False promise of
Napoleon--Dissatisfaction occasioned by the presence of the French
troops--Abdication of Charles IV.--The Prince of the Peace made
prisoner--Murat at Madrid--Important news transmitted by a
commercial letter--Murat's ambition--His protection of Godoy--
Charles IV, denies his voluntary abdication--The crown of Spain
destined for Joseph--General disapprobation of Napoleon's conduct--
The Bourbon cause apparently lost--Louis XVIII. after his departure
from France--As Comte de Provence at Coblentz--He seeks refuge in
Turin and Verona--Death of Louis XVII--Louis XVIII. refused an
asylum in Austria, Saxony, and Prussia--His residence at Mittan and
Warsaw--Alexander and Louis XVIII--The King's departure from Milan
and arrival at Yarmouth--Determination of the King of England--M.
Lemercier's prophecy to Bonaparte--Fouche's inquiries respecting
Comte de Rechteren--Note from Josephine--New demands on the Hanse
Towns--Order to raise 3000 sailors in Hamburg.

The disorders of Spain, which commenced about the close of the year 1807,
in a short time assumed a most complicated aspect. Though far from the
theatre of events I obtained an intimate knowledge of all the important
facts connected with the extraordinary transactions in the Peninsula.
However, as this point of history is one of the most generally, though I
cannot say the best, known, I shall omit in my notes and memoranda many
things which would be but repetitions to the reading portion of the
public. It is a remarkable fact that Bonaparte, who by turns cast his
eyes on all the States of Europe, never directed his attention to Spain
as long as his greatness was confined to mere projects. Whenever he
spoke of his future destiny he alluded to Italy, Germany, the East, and
the destruction of the English power; but never to Spain. Consequently,
when he heard of the first symptoms of disorder in the Peninsula he paid
but little attention to the business, and some time elapsed before he
took any part in events which subsequently had so great an influence on
his fate.

Godoy reigned in Spain under the name of the imbecile Charles IV. He was
an object of execration to all who were not his creatures; and even those
whose fate depended upon him viewed him with the most profound contempt.
The hatred of a people is almost always the just reward of favourites.
What sentiments, therefore, must have been inspired by a man who, to the
knowledge of all Spain, owed the favour of the king only to the favours
of the queen!

--[Manuel Godoy, originally a private in the guards, became the
paramour of Charles IV.'s Queen; then a grandee; and then the
supreme ruler of the State.--Editor of 1836 edition.]--

Godoy's ascendancy over the royal family was boundless; his power was
absolute: the treasures, of America were at his command, and he made the
most infamous use of them. In short, he had made the Court of Madrid one
of those places to which the indignant muse of Juvenal conducts the
mother of Britanicus. There is no doubt that Godoy was one of the
principal causes of all the misfortunes which have overwhelmed Spain
under so many various forms.

The hatred of the Spaniards against the Prince of the Peace was general.
This hatred was shared by the Prince the Asturias,--[Afterwards Ferdinand
VII.]-- who openly declared himself the enemy of Godoy. The latter
allied himself with France, from which he hoped to obtain powerful
protection against his enemies. This alliance gave rise to great
dissatisfaction in Spain, and caused France to be regarded with an
unfavourable eye. The Prince of the Asturias was encouraged and
supported by the complaints of the Spaniards, who wished to see the
overthrow of Godoy's power. Charles IV., on his part, regarded all
opposition to the Prince of the Peace as directed against himself, and in
November 1807 he accused his son of wishing to dethrone him.

The King of Spain did not confine himself to verbal complaints. He, or
rather the Prince of the Peace, acting in his name, arrested the warmest
partisans of the Prince of the Asturias. The latter, understanding the
sentiments of his father, wrote to Napoleon, soliciting his support.
Thus the father and son, at open war, were appealing one against another
for the support of him who wished only to get rid of them both, and to
put one of his brothers in their place, that he might have one junior
more in the college of European kings: but, as I have already mentioned,
this new ambition was not premeditated; and if he gave the throne of
Spain to his brother Joseph it was only on the refusal of his brother
Louis (King of Holland) to accept it.

The Emperor had promised to support Charles IV against his son; and, not
wishing to take part in these family quarrels, he had not answered the
first letters of the Prince of the Asturias. But finding that the
intrigues of Madrid were taking a serious turn, he commenced
provisionally by sending troops to Spain. This gave offence to the
people, who were averse to the interference of France. In the provinces
through which the French troops passed it was asked what was the object:
of the invasion. Some attributed it to the Prince of the Peace, others
to the Prince of the Asturias; but it excited general indignation, and
troubles broke out at Madrid accompanied by all the violence peculiar to
the Spanish character.

In these fearful circumstances Godoy proposed that Charles IV. should
remove to Seville, where he would be the better enabled to visit the
factious with punishment. A proposition from Godoy to his master was, in
fact, a command, and Charles IV. accordingly resolved to depart. The
people now looked upon Godoy as a traitor. An insurrection broke out,
the palace was, surrounded, and the, Prince of the Peace was on the point
of being massacred in an upper apartment, where he had taken refuge.

--[French troops had appeared in again some months before, on their
way to Portugal, the conquest of which country by Junot was to be
aided by Godoy and a Spanish force of 27,000 men, according to a
treaty (more disgraceful to the Court of Spain than to Bonaparte)
which had been ratified at Fontainebleau on the 27th of October
1807. Charles IV. was little better than an idiot, and Godoy and
the French made him believe that Bonaparte world give part, or the
whole of Portugal, to Spain. At the time of Junot's march on Lisbon
a reserve of 40,000 French troops were assembled at Bayonne--
a pretty clear indication, though the factious infatuated Court of
Madrid would not see it, that Bonaparte intended to seize the whole
of the Peninsula.--Editor of 1838 edition.]--

One of the mob had the presence of mind to invoke in his favour the name
of the Prince of the Asturias: this saved his life.

Charles IV. did not preserve his crown; he was easily intimidated, and
advantage was taken of a moment of alarm to demand that abdication which
he had not spirit to refuse. He surrendered up his rights to his son,
and thus was overthrown the insolent power of the Prince of the Peace;
the favourite was made prisoner, and the Spaniards, who, like all
ignorant people, are easily excited, manifested their joy on the occasion
with barbarous enthusiasm. Meanwhile the unfortunate King, who had
escaped from imaginary rather than real dangers, and who was at first
content with having exchanged the right of reigning for the right of
living, no sooner found himself in safety than he changed, his mind.
He wrote to the Emperor protesting against his abdication, and appealed.
to him as the arbiter of his future fate.

During these internal dissensions the French army was continuing its
march towards the Pyrenees. Those barriers were speedily crossed, and
Murat entered Madrid in the beginning of April 1808. Before I received
any despatch from our Government I learned that Murat's presence in
Madrid, far from producing a good effect, had only increased the
disorder. I obtained this information from a merchant of Lubeck who came
to Hamburg on purpose to show me a letter he had received from his
correspondent in Madrid. In this letter Spain was said to be a prey
which Murat wished to appropriate to himself; and all that afterwards
came to my knowledge served only to prove the accuracy of the writer's
information. It was perfectly true that Murat wished to conquer Spain
for himself, and it is not astonishing that the inhabitants of Madrid
should have understood his designs, for he carried his indiscretion so
far as openly to express his wish to become King of Spain. The Emperor
was informed of this, and gave him to understand, in very significant
terms, that the throne of Spain was not destined for him, but that he
should not be forgotten in the disposal of other crowns.

However, Napoleon's remonstrances were not sufficient to restrain the
imprudence of Murat; and if he did not gain the crown of Spain for
himself he powerfully contributed to make Charles IV. lose it. That
monarch, whom old habits attached to the Prince of the Peace, solicited
the Emperor to liberate his favourite, alleging that he and his family
would be content to live in any place of security provided Godoy were
with them. The unfortunate Charles seemed to be thoroughly disgusted
with greatness.

Both the King and Queen so earnestly implored Godoy's liberation that
Murat, whose vanity was flattered by these royal solicitations, took the
Prince of the Peace under his protection; but he at the same time
declared that, in spite of the abdication of Charles IV., he would
acknowledge none but that Prince as King of Spain until he should receive
contrary orders from the Emperor. This declaration placed Murat in
formal opposition to the Spanish people, who, through their hatred of
Godoy, embraced the cause of the heir of the throne; in whose favour
Charles IV. had abdicated.

It has been remarked that Napoleon stood in a perplexing situation in
this conflict between the King and his son. This is not correct. King
Charles, though he afterwards said that his abdication had been forced
from him by violence and threats, had nevertheless tendered it. By this
act Ferdinand was King, but Charles declared it was done against his
will, and he retracted. The Emperor's recognition was wanting, and he,
could give or withhold it as he pleased.

In this state of things Napoleon arrived at Bayonne. Thither Ferdinand
was also invited to go, under pretence of arranging with the Emperor the
differences between his father and himself. It was some time before he
could form his determination, but at length his ill-advised friends
prevailed on him to set off, and he was caught in the snare. What
happened to him, as well as to his father, who repaired to Bayonne with
his inseparable friend the Prince of the Peace is well known. Napoleon,
who had undertaken to be arbiter between the father and son, thought the
best way of settling the difference was to give the disputed throne to
his brother Joseph, thus verifying the fable of the "Two Lawyers and the
Oyster." The insurrection in Madrid on the 2d of May accelerated the
fate of Ferdinand, who was accused of being the author of it; at least
this suspicion fell on his friends and adherents.

Charles IV., it was said, would not return to Spain, and solicited an
asylum in France. He signed a renunciation of his rights to the crown of
Spain, which renunciation was also signed by the Infantas.

Napoleon now issued a decree, appointing "his dearly beloved brother
Joseph Napoleon, King of Naples and Sicily, to the crowns of Spain and
the Indies." By a subsequent decree, 15th of July, he appointed "his
dearly-beloved cousin, Joachim Murat, Grand Duke of Berg, to the throne
of Naples and Sicily, which remained vacant by the accession of Joseph
Napoleon to the kingdoms of Spain and the Indies." Both these documents
are signed Napoleon, and countersigned by the Minister Secretary of
State, Maret.

The Prince Royal of Sweden, who was at Hamburg at this time, and the
Ministers of all the European power, loudly condemned the conduct of
Napoleon with respect to Spain. I cannot say whether or not M. de
Talleyrand advised the Emperor not to attempt the overthrow of a branch
of the house of Bourbon; his good sense and elevated views might
certainly have suggested that advice. But the general opinion was that,
had he retained the portfolio of foreign affairs, the Spanish revolution
would have terminated with more decorum and good faith than was exhibited
in the tragi-comedy acted at Madrid and Bayonne.

After the Treaty of Tilsit and the bonds of friendship which seemed
likely to produce a permanent union between the Emperors of France and
Russia, the cause of the Bourbons must have been considered irretrievably
lost. Indeed, their only hope consisted in the imprudence and folly of
him who had usurped their throne, and that hope they cherished. I will
here relate what I had the opportunity of learning respecting the conduct
of Louis XVIII. after his departure from France; this will naturally
bring me to the end of November 1807, at which time I read in the Abeille
du Nord published on the 9th of the same month, that the Comte de Lille
and the Due d'Angouleme had set off for England.

The Comte de Provence, as Louis' title then went, left Paris on the 21st
of June 1791. He constantly expressed his wish of keeping as near as
possible to the frontiers of France. He at first took up his abode at
Coblentz, and I knew from good authority that all the emigrants did not
regard him with a favourable eye. They could not pardon the wise.
principles he had professed at a period when there was yet time to
prevent, by reasonable concession, the misfortunes which imprudent
irritation brought upon France. When the emigrants, after the campaign
of 1792, passed the Rhine, the Comte de Provence resided in the little
town of Ham on the Lippe, where he remained until he was persuaded that
the people of Toulon had called him to Provence. As he could not, of
course, pass through France, Monsieur repaired to the Court of his
father-in-law, the King of Sardinia, hoping to embark at Genoa, and from
thence to reach the coast of Provence. But the evacuation of Toulon,
where the name of Bonaparte was for the first time sounded by the breath
of fame, having taken place before he was able to leave Turin, Monsieur
remained there four months, at the expiration of which time his father-
in-law intimated to him the impossibility of his remaining longer in the
Sardinian States. He was afterwards permitted to reside at Verona, where
he heard of Louis XVI.'s death. After remaining two years in that city
the Senate of Venice forbade his presence in the Venetian States. Thus
forced to quit Italy the Comte repaired to the army of Conde.

The cold and timid policy of the Austrian Cabinet afforded no asylum to
the Comte de Provence, and he was obliged to pass through Germany; yet,
as Louis XVIII. repeated over and over again, ever since the Restoration,
"He never intended to shed French blood in Germany for the sake of
serving foreign interests." Monsieur had, indeed, too much penetration
not to see that his cause was a mere pretext for the powers at war with
France. They felt but little for the misfortunes of the Prince, and
merely wished to veil their ambition and their hatred of France under the
false pretence of zeal for the House of Bourbon.

When the Dauphin died, Louis XVIII. took the title of King of France, and
went to Prussia, where he obtained an asylum.

--[His brother, Charles X., the youngest of the three grandsons of
Louis XV. (Louis XVI., Louis XVIII. Charles X.), the Comte
d'Artois, afterwards Charles X. emigrated in 1789, and went to
Turin and Mantas for 1789 and 1790. In 1791 and 1792 he lived at
Coblenta, Worms, Brussels, Vienna, and at Turin. From 1792 to 1812
he lived at Ham on the Lippe at Westphalia at London, and for most
of the time at Holyrood, Edinburgh. During this time he visited
Russia and Germany, and showed himself on the coast of France. In
1818 he went to Germany, and in 1814 entered France in rear of the
allies. In risking his person in the daring schemes of the
followers who were giving their lives for the cause of his family he
displayed a circumspection which was characterised by them with
natural warmth.

"Sire, the cowardice of your brother has ruined all;" so Charette is
said to have written to Louis XVIII.]--

But the pretender to the crown of France had not yet drained his cup of
misfortune. After the 18th Fructidor the Directory required the King of
Prussia to send away Louis XVIII., and the Cabinet of Berlin, it must be
granted, was not in a situation to oppose the desire of the French
Government, whose wishes were commands. In vain Louis XVIII. sought an
asylum in the King of Saxony's States. There only remained Russia that
durst offer a last refuge to the descendant of Louis XIV. Paul I., who
was always in extremes, and who at that time entertained a violent
feeling of hatred towards France, earnestly offered Louis XVIII., a
residence at Mittau. He treated him with the honours of a sovereign,
and loaded him with marks of attention and respect. Three years had
scarcely passed when Paul was seized with mad enthusiasm for the man who
twelve years later, ravaged his ancient capital, and Louis XVIII. found
himself expelled from that Prince's territory with a harshness equal to
the kindness with which he had at first been received.

It was during, his three, years' residence at Mittau that Louis XVIII.,
who was then known by the title of Comte de Lille, wrote to the First
Consul those letters which have been referred to in these Memoirs.
Prussia, being again solicited, at length consented that Louis XVIII.
should reside at Warsaw; but on the accession of Napoleon to the Empire
the Prince quitted that residence in order to consult respecting his new
situation with the only sovereign who had not deserted him in his
misfortune, viz. the King of Sweden. They met at Colmar, and from that
city was dated the protest which I have already noticed. Louis XVIII.
did not stay long in the States of the King of Sweden. Russia was now on
the point of joining her eagles with those of Austria to oppose the new
eagles of imperial France. Alexander offered to the Comte de Lille the
asylum which Paul had granted to him and afterwards withdrawn. Louis
XVIII. accepted the offer, but after the peace of Tilsit, fearing lest
Alexander might imitate the second act of his father as well as the
first, he plainly saw that he must give up all intention of residing on
the Continent; and it was then that I read in the 'Abeille du Nord' the
article before alluded to. There is, however, one fact upon which I must
insist, because I know it to be true, viz. that it was of his own free
will that Louis XVIII. quitted Mittau; and if he was afraid that
Alexander would imitate his father's conduct that fear was without
foundation. The truth is, that Alexander was ignorant even of the King's
intention to go away until he heard from Baron von Driesen, Governor of
Mittau, that he had actually departed. Having now stated the truth on
this point I have to correct another error, if indeed it be only an
error, into which some writers have fallen. It has been falsely alleged
that the King left Mittau for the purpose of fomenting fresh troubles in
France. The friends of Louis XVIII., who advised him to leave Mittau,
had great hopes from the last war. They cherished still greater hopes
from the new wars which Bonaparte's ambition could not fail to excite,
but they were not so ill-informed respecting the internal condition of
France as to expect that disturbances would arise there, or even to
believe in the possibility of fomenting them. The pear was not yet ripe
for Louis XVIII.

On the 29th of November the contents of a letter which had arrived from
London by way of Sweden were communicated to me. This letter was dated
the 3d of November, and contained some particulars respecting the Comte
de Lille's arrival in England. That Prince had arrived at Yarmouth on
the 31st of October 1807, and it was stated that the King was obliged to
wait some time in the port until certain difficulties respecting his
landing and the continuance of his journey should be removed. It
moreover appeared from this letter that the King of England thought
proper to refuse the Comte de Lille permission to go to London or its
neighbourhood. The palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh was assigned as his
place of residence; and Mr. Ross, secretary to Mr. Canning, conveyed the
determination of the King of England to Louis XVIII., at Yarmouth.

The precaution of the English Ministry in not permitting the refugee King
to go near London appeared to me remarkable, considering the relative
position of the Governments of France and England, and I regarded it as a
corroboration of what the Prince Wittgenstein had told me respecting Mr.
Canning's inclination for an amicable arrangement. But the moment was
approaching when the affairs of Spain were to raise an invincible
obstacle to peace, to complicate more than ever the interests of the
powers of Europe, and open to Napoleon that vast career of ambition which
proved his ruin. He did not allow the hopes of the emigrants to remain
chimerical, and the year 1814 witnessed the realization of the prophetic
remark made by M. Lemereier, in a conversation with Bonaparte a few days
before the foundation of the Empire: "If you get into the bed of the
Bourbons, General, you will not lie in it ten year." Napoleon occupied
it for nine years and nine months.

Fouche, the grand investigator of the secrets of Europe, did not fail, on
the first report of the agitations in Spain, to address to me question on
question respecting the Comte de Rechteren, the Spanish Minister at
Hamburg, who, however, had left that city, with the permission of his
Court, four months after I had entered on my functions. This was going
back very far to seek information respecting the affairs of the day. At
the very moment when I transmitted a reply to Fouche which was not
calculated to please him, because it afforded no ground for suspicion as
to the personal conduct of M. de Rechteren, I received from the amiable
Josephine a new mark of her remembrance. She sent me the following note:

"M. Milon, who is now in Hamburg, wishes me, my dear Bourrienne, to
request that you will use your interest in his favour. I feel the more
pleasure in making this request as it affords me an opportunity of
renewing the assurance of my regard for you."

Josephine's letter was dated from Fontainebleau, whither the Emperor used
to make journeys in imitation of the old Court of France. During these
excursions he sometimes partook of the pleasures of the chase, but merely
for the sake of reviving an old custom, for in that exercise he found as
little amusement as Montaigne did in the game of chess,

At Fontainebleau, as everywhere else, his mind was engaged with the means
of augmenting his greatness, but, unfortunately, the exactions he imposed
on distant countries were calculated to alienate the affections of the
people. Thus, for example, I received an order emanating from him, and
transmitted to me by M. Daru, the Intendant-General of the army, that the
pay of all the French troops stationed in the Hanse Towns should be
defrayed by these towns. I lamented the necessity of making such a
communication to the Senates of Bremen, Lubeck, and Hamburg; but my duty
compelled me to do so, and I had long been accustomed to fulfil duties
even more painful than this. I tried every possible means with the three
States, not collectively but separately, to induce them to comply with
the measure, in the hope that the assent of one would help me to obtain
that of the two others. But, as if they, had been all agreed, I only
received evasive expressions of regret.

Knowing as I did, and I may say better than any one else, the hopes and
designs of Bonaparte respecting the north of Germany, it was not without
pain, nor even without alarm, that I saw him doing everything calculated
to convert into enemies the inhabitants of a country which would always
have remained quiet had it only been permitted to preserve its
neutrality. Among the orders I received were often many which could only
have been the result of the profoundest ignorance. For example, I was
one day directed to press 3000 seamen in the Hanse Towns. Three thousand
seamen out of a population of 200,000! It was as absurd as to think of
raising 500,000 sailors in France. This project being impossible, it was
of course not executed; but I had some difficulty in persuading the
Emperor that a sixth of the number demanded was the utmost the Hanse
Towns could supply. Five hundred seamen were accordingly furnished, but
to make up that number it was necessary to include many men who were
totally unfit for war service.



Departure of the Prince of Ponte-Corvo--Prediction and superstition
--Stoppage of letters addressed to the Spanish troops--La Romana and
Romanillos--Illegible notifications--Eagerness of the German Princes
to join the Confederation of the Rhine--Attack upon me on account of
M. Hue--Bernadotte's successor in Hamburg--Exactions and tyrannical
conduct of General Dupas--Disturbance in Hamburg--Plates broken in a
fit of rage--My letter to Bernadotte--His reply--Bernadotte's return
to Hamburg, and departure of Dupas for Lubeck--Noble conduct of the
'aide de camp' Barrel.

In the spring of 1808 a circumstance occurred which gave, me much
uneasiness; it was the departure of Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte-Corvo,
who received orders to repair to Copenhagen. He left Hamburg on the 8th
of March, as he was to reach his destination on the 14th of the same
month. The Danish charge d'affaires also received orders to join the
Prince, and discharge the functions of King's commissary. It was during
his government at Hamburg and his stay in Jutland that Bernadotte
unconsciously paved his way to the throne of Sweden. I recollect that he
had also his presages and his predestinations. In short, he believed in
astrology, and I shall never forget the serious tone in which he one day
said to me, "Would you believe, my dear friend, that it was predicted at
Paris that I should be a King, but that I must cross the sea to reach my
throne?" I could not help smiling with him at this weakness of mind,
from which Bonaparte was not far removed. It certainly was not any
supernatural influence which elevated Bernadotte to sovereign rank.
That elevation was solely due to his excellent character. He had no
other talisman than the wisdom of his government, and the promptitude
which he always, showed to oppose unjust measures. This it was that
united all opinions in his favour.

The bad state of the roads in the north prolonged Bernadotte's journey
one day. He set out on the 8th of March; he was expected to arrive at
Copenhagen on the l4th, but did not reach there till the 15th. He
arrived precisely two hours before the death of Christian, King of
Denmark, an event with which he made me acquainted by letter written two
days after his arrival.

On the 6th of April following I received a second letter from Bernadotte,
in which he desired me to order the Grand Ducal postmaster to keep back
all letters addressed to the Spanish troops, who had been placed under
his command, and of which the corps of Romana formed part. The
postmaster was ordered to keep the letters until he received orders to
forward them to their destinations. Bernadotte considered this step
indispensable, to prevent the intrigues which he feared might be set on
foot in order to shake the fidelity of the Spaniards he commanded. I saw
from his despatch that he feared the plotting of Romanillos, who,
however, was not a person to cause much apprehension. Romanillos was as
commonplace a man as could well be conceived; and his speeches, as well
as his writings, were too innocent to create any influence on public

In addition to the functions with which the Emperor at first invested me,
I had to discharge the duties of French Consul-General at Hamburg, and in
that character I was obliged to present to the Minister for Foreign
Affairs a very singular request, viz. that the judicial notifications,
which as Consul-General I had to make known to the people of Hamburg,
might be written in a more legible hand. Many of these notifications had
been disregarded on account of the impossibility of reading them: With
respect to one of them it was declared that it was impossible to discover
whether the writing was German, French, or Chinese.

I shall not record all the acts of spoliation committed by second-rate
ambitious aspirants who hoped to come in for their share in the division
of the Continent: The Emperor's lieutenants regarded Europe as a
twelfthcake, but none of them ventured to dispute the best bit with
Napoleon. Long would be the litany were I to enregister all the fraud
and treachery which they committed, either to augment their fortunes or

Book of the day: