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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, v1 by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

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This etext was produced by David Widger



His Private Secretary

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


Notes and Introduction
Chapter I. to Chapter IV., 1797



In introducing the present edition of M. de Bourrienne's Memoirs to the
public we are bound, as Editors, to say a few Words on the subject.
Agreeing, however, with Horace Walpole that an editor should not dwell
for any length of time on the merits of his author, we shall touch but
lightly on this part of the matter. We are the more ready to abstain
since the great success in England of the former editions of these
Memoirs, and the high reputation they have acquired on the European
Continent, and in every part of the civilised world where the fame of
Bonaparte has ever reached, sufficiently establish the merits of M. de
Bourrienne as a biographer. These merits seem to us to consist chiefly
in an anxious desire to be impartial, to point out the defects as well as
the merits of a most wonderful man; and in a peculiarly graphic power of
relating facts and anecdotes. With this happy faculty Bourrienne would
have made the life of almost any active individual interesting; but the
subject of which the most favourable circumstances permitted him to treat
was full of events and of the most extraordinary facts. The hero of his
story was such a being as the world has produced only on the rarest
occasions, and the complete counterpart to whom has, probably, never
existed; for there are broad shades of difference between Napoleon and
Alexander, Caesar, and Charlemagne; neither will modern history furnish
more exact parallels, since Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick the Great,
Cromwell, Washington, or Bolivar bear but a small resemblance to
Bonaparte either in character, fortune, or extent of enterprise. For
fourteen years, to say nothing of his projects in the East, the history
of Bonaparte was the history of all Europe!

With the copious materials he possessed, M. de Bourrienne has produced a
work which, for deep interest, excitement, and amusement, can scarcely be
paralleled by any of the numerous and excellent memoirs for which the
literature of France is so justly celebrated.

M. de Bourrienne shows us the hero of Marengo and Austerlitz in his
night-gown and slippers--with a 'trait de plume' he, in a hundred
instances, places the real man before us, with all his personal habits
and peculiarities of manner, temper, and conversation.

The friendship between Bonaparte and Bourrienne began in boyhood, at the
school of Brienne, and their unreserved intimacy continued during the
moat brilliant part of Napoleon's career. We have said enough, the
motives for his writing this work and his competency for the task will be
best explained in M. de Bourrienne's own words, which the reader will
find in the Introductory Chapter.

M. de Bourrienne says little of Napoleon after his first abdication and
retirement to Elba in 1814: we have endeavoured to fill up the chasm thus
left by following his hero through the remaining seven years of his life,
to the "last scenes of all" that ended his "strange, eventful history,"
--to his deathbed and alien grave at St. Helena. A completeness will
thus be given to the work which it did not before possess, and which we
hope will, with the other additions and improvements already alluded to,
tend to give it a place in every well-selected library, as one of the
most satisfactory of all the lives of Napoleon.

LONDON, 1836.



The Memoirs of the time of Napoleon may be divided into two classes--
those by marshals and officers, of which Suchet's is a good example,
chiefly devoted to military movements, and those by persons employed in
the administration and in the Court, giving us not only materials for
history, but also valuable details of the personal and inner life of the
great Emperor and of his immediate surroundings. Of this latter class
the Memoirs of Bourrienne are among the most important.

Long the intimate and personal friend of Napoleon both at school and from
the end of the Italian campaigns in 1797 till 1802--working in the same
room with him, using the same purse, the confidant of most of his
schemes, and, as his secretary, having the largest part of all the
official and private correspondence of the time passed through his hands,
Bourrienne occupied an invaluable position for storing and recording
materials for history. The Memoirs of his successor, Meneval, are more
those of an esteemed private secretary; yet, valuable and interesting as
they are, they want the peculiarity of position which marks those of
Bourrienne, who was a compound of secretary, minister, and friend. The
accounts of such men as Miot de Melito, Raederer, etc., are most
valuable, but these writers were not in that close contact with Napoleon
enjoyed by Bourrienne. Bonrrienne's position was simply unique, and we
can only regret that he did not occupy it till the end of the Empire.
Thus it is natural that his Memoirs should have been largely used by
historians, and to properly understand the history of the time, they must
be read by all students. They are indeed full of interest for every one.
But they also require to be read with great caution. When we meet with
praise of Napoleon, we may generally believe it, for, as Thiers
(Consulat., ii. 279) says, Bourrienne need be little suspected on this
side, for although be owed everything to Napoleon, he has not seemed to
remember it. But very often in passages in which blame is thrown on
Napoleon, Bourrienne speaks, partly with much of the natural bitterness
of a former and discarded friend, and partly with the curious mixed
feeling which even the brothers of Napoleon display in their Memoirs,
pride in the wonderful abilities evinced by the man with whom he was
allied, and jealousy at the way in which be was outshone by the man he
had in youth regarded as inferior to himself. Sometimes also we may even
suspect the praise. Thus when Bourrienne defends Napoleon for giving, as
he alleges, poison to the sick at Jaffa, a doubt arises whether his
object was to really defend what to most Englishmen of this day, with
remembrances of the deeds and resolutions of the Indian Mutiny, will seem
an act to be pardoned, if not approved; or whether he was more anxious to
fix the committal of the act on Napoleon at a time when public opinion
loudly blamed it. The same may be said of his defence of the massacre of
the prisoners of Jaffa.

Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne was born in 1769, that is, in the
same year as Napoleon Bonaparte, and he was the friend and companion of
the future Emperor at the military school of Brienne-le-Chateau till
1784, when Napoleon, one of the sixty pupils maintained at the expense of
the State, was passed on to the Military School of Paris. The friends
again met in 1792 and in 1795, when Napoleon was hanging about Paris, and
when Bourrienne looked on the vague dreams of his old schoolmate as only
so much folly. In 1796, as soon as Napoleon had assured his position at
the head of the army of Italy, anxious as ever to surround himself with
known faces, he sent for Bourrienne to be his secretary. Bourrienne had
been appointed in 1792 as secretary of the Legation at Stuttgart, and
had, probably wisely, disobeyed the orders given him to return, thus
escaping the dangers of the Revolution. He only came back to Paris in
1795, having thus become an emigre. He joined Napoleon in 1797, after the
Austrians had been beaten out of Italy, and at once assumed the office of
secretary which he held for so long. He had sufficient tact to forbear
treating the haughty young General with any assumption of familiarity in
public, and he was indefatigable enough to please even the never-resting
Napoleon. Talent Bourrienne had in abundance; indeed he is careful to
hint that at school if any one had been asked to predict greatness for
any pupil, it was Bourrienne, not Napoleon, who would have been fixed on
as the future star. He went with his General to Egypt, and returned with
him to France. While Napoleon was making his formal entry into the
Tuileries, Bourrienne was preparing the cabinet he was still to share
with the Consul. In this cabinet--our cabinet, as he is careful to call
it--lie worked with the First Consul till 1802.

During all this time the pair lead lived on terms of equality and
friendship creditable to both. The secretary neither asked for nor
received any salary: when he required money, he simply dipped into the
cash-box of the First Consul. As the whole power of the State gradually
passed into the hands of the Consul, the labours of the secretary became
heavier. His successor broke down under a lighter load, and had to
receive assistance; but, perhaps borne up by the absorbing interest of
the work and the great influence given by his post, Bourrienne stuck to
his place, and to all appearance might, except for himself, have come
down to us as the companion of Napoleon during his whole life. He had
enemies, and one of them--[Boulay de la Meurthe.]--has not shrunk from
describing their gratification at the disgrace of the trusted secretary.
Any one in favour, or indeed in office, under Napoleon was the sure mark
of calumny for all aspirants to place; yet Bourrienne might have
weathered any temporary storm raised by unfounded reports as successfully
as Meneval, who followed him. But Bourrienne's hands were not clean in
money matters, and that was an unpardonable sin in any one who desired to
be in real intimacy with Napoleon. He became involved in the affairs of
the House of Coulon, which failed, as will be seen in the notes, at the
time of his disgrace; and in October 1802 he was called on to hand over
his office to Meneval, who retained it till invalided after the Russian

As has been said, Bourrienne would naturally be the mark for many
accusations, but the conclusive proof of his misconduct--at least for any
one acquainted with Napoleon's objection and dislike to changes in
office, whether from his strong belief in the effects of training, or his
equally strong dislike of new faces round him--is that he was never again
employed near his old comrade; indeed he really never saw the Emperor
again at any private interview, except when granted the naval official
reception in 1805, before leaving to take up his post at Hamburg, which
he held till 1810. We know that his re-employment was urged by Josephine
and several of his former companions. Savary himself says he tried his
advocacy; but Napoleon was inexorable to those who, in his own phrase,
had sacrificed to the golden calf.

Sent, as we have said, to Hamburg in 1805, as Minister Plenipotentiary to
the Duke of Brunswick, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and to the Hanse
towns, Bourrienne knew how to make his post an important one. He was at
one of the great seats of the commerce which suffered so fearfully from
the Continental system of the Emperor, and he was charged to watch over
the German press. How well he fulfilled this duty we learn from
Metternich, who writes in 1805: "I have sent an article to the newspaper
editors in Berlin and to M. de Hofer at Hamburg. I do not know whether
it has been accepted, for M. Bourrienne still exercises an authority so
severe over these journals that they are always submitted to him before
they appear, that he may erase or alter the articles which do not please

His position at Hamburg gave him great opportunities for both financial
and political intrigues. In his Memoirs, as Meneval remarks, he or his
editor is not ashamed to boast of being thanked by Louis XVIII. at St.
Ouen for services rendered while he was the minister of Napoleon at
Hamburg. He was recalled in 1810, when the Hanse towns were united, or,
to use the phrase of the day, re-united to the Empire. He then hung
about Paris, keeping on good terms with some of the ministers--Savary,
not the most reputable of them, for example. In 1814 he was to be found
at the office of Lavallette, the head of the posts, disguising, his
enemies said, his delight at the bad news which was pouring in, by
exaggerated expressions of devotion. He is accused of a close and
suspicious connection with Talleyrand, and it is odd that when Talleyrand
became head of the Provisional Government in 1814, Bourrienne of all
persons should have been put at the head of the posts. Received in the
most flattering manner by Louis XVIII, he was as astonished as poor
Beugnot was in 1815, to find himself on 13th May suddenly ejected from
office, having, however, had time to furnish post-horses to Manbreuil for
the mysterious expedition, said to have been at least known to
Talleyrand, and intended certainly for the robbery of the Queen of
Westphalia, and probably for the murder of Napoleon.

In the extraordinary scurry before the Bourbons scuttled out of Paris in
1814, Bourrienne was made Prefet of the Police for a few days, his tenure
of that post being signalised by the abortive attempt to arrest Fouche,
the only effect of which was to drive that wily minister into the arms of
the Bonapartists.

He fled with the King, and was exempted from the amnesty proclaimed by
Napoleon. On the return from Ghent he was made a Minister of State
without portfolio, and also became one of the Council. The ruin of his
finances drove him out of France, but he eventually died in a madhouse at

When the Memoirs first appeared in 1829 they made a great sensation.
Till then in most writings Napoleon had been treated as either a demon or
as a demi-god. The real facts of the case were not suited to the tastes
of either his enemies or his admirers. While the monarchs of Europe had
been disputing among themselves about the division of the spoils to be
obtained from France and from the unsettlement of the Continent, there
had arisen an extraordinarily clever and unscrupulous man who, by
alternately bribing and overthrowing the great monarchies, had soon made
himself master of the mainland. His admirers were unwilling to admit the
part played in his success by the jealousy of his foes of each other's
share in the booty, and they delighted to invest him with every great
quality which man could possess. His enemies were ready enough to allow
his military talents, but they wished to attribute the first success of
his not very deep policy to a marvellous duplicity, apparently considered
by them the more wicked as possessed by a parvenu emperor, and far
removed, in a moral point of view, from the statecraft so allowable in an
ancient monarchy. But for Napoleon himself and his family and Court
there was literally no limit to the really marvellous inventions of his
enemies. He might enter every capital on the Continent, but there was
some consolation in believing that he himself was a monster of
wickedness, and his Court but the scene of one long protracted orgie.

There was enough against the Emperor in the Memoirs to make them
comfortable reading for his opponents, though very many of the old
calumnies were disposed of in them. They contained indeed the nearest
approximation to the truth which had yet appeared. Metternich, who must
have been a good judge, as no man was better acquainted with what he
himself calls the "age of Napoleon," says of the Memoirs: "If you want
something to read, both interesting and amusing, get the Memoires de
Bourrienne. These are the only authentic Memoirs of Napoleon which have
yet appeared. The style is not brilliant, but that only makes them the
mere trustworthy." Indeed, Metternich himself in his own Memoirs often
follows a good deal in the line of Bourrienne: among many formal attacks,
every now and then he lapses into half involuntary and indirect praise of
his great antagonist, especially where he compares the men he had to deal
with in aftertimes with his former rapid and talented interlocutor. To
some even among the Bonapartists, Bourrienne was not altogether
distasteful. Lucien Bonaparte, remarking that the time in which
Bourrienne treated with Napoleon as equal with equal did not last long
enough for the secretary, says he has taken a little revenge in his
Memoirs, just as a lover, after a break with his mistress, reveals all
her defects. But Lucien considers that Bourrienne gives us a good enough
idea of the young officer of the artillery, of the great General, and of
the First Consul. Of the Emperor, says Lucien, he was too much in
retirement to be able to judge equally well. But Lucien was not a fair
representative of the Bonapartists; indeed he had never really thought
well of his brother or of his actions since Lucien, the former "Brutus"
Bonaparte, had ceased to be the adviser of the Consul. It was well for
Lucien himself to amass a fortune from the presents of a corrupt court,
and to be made a Prince and Duke by the Pope, but he was too sincere a
republican not to disapprove of the imperial system. The real
Bonapartists were naturally and inevitably furious with the Memoirs.
They were not true, they were not the work of Bourrienne, Bourrienne
himself was a traitor, a purloiner of manuscripts, his memory was as bad
as his principles, he was not even entitled to the de before his name.
If the Memoirs were at all to be pardoned, it was because his share was
only really a few notes wrung from him by large pecuniary offers at a
time when he was pursued by his creditors, and when his brain was already

The Bonapartist attack on the Memoirs was delivered in full form, in two
volumes, 'Bourrienne et ses Erreurs, Volontaires et Involontaires'
(Paris, Heideloff, 1830), edited by the Comte d'Aure, the Ordonnateur en
Chef of the Egyptian expedition, and containing communications from
Joseph Bonaparte, Gourgaud, Stein, etc.'

--[In the notes in this present edition these volumes are referred
to in brief 'Erreurs'.]--

Part of the system of attack was to call in question the authenticity of
the Memoirs, and this was the more easy as Bourrienne, losing his
fortune, died in 1834 in a state of imbecility. But this plan is not
systematically followed, and the very reproaches addressed to the writer
of the Memoirs often show that it was believed they were really written
by Bourrienne. They undoubtedly contain plenty of faults. The editor
(Villemarest, it is said) probably had a large share in the work, and
Bourrienne must have forgotten or misplaced many dates and occurrences.
In such a work, undertaken so many years after the events, it was
inevitable that many errors should be made, and that many statements
should be at least debatable. But on close investigation the work stands
the attack in a way that would be impossible unless it had really been
written by a person in the peculiar position occupied by Bourrienne. He
has assuredly not exaggerated that position: he really, says Lucien
Bonaparte, treated as equal with equal with Napoleon during a part of his
career, and he certainly was the nearest friend and confidant that
Napoleon ever had in his life.

Where he fails, or where the Bonapartist fire is most telling, is in the
account of the Egyptian expedition. It may seem odd that he should have
forgotten, even in some thirty years, details such as the way in which
the sick were removed; but such matters were not in his province; and it
would be easy to match similar omissions in other works, such as the
accounts of the Crimea, and still more of the Peninsula. It is with his
personal relations with Napoleon that we are most concerned, and it is in
them that his account receives most corroboration.

It may be interesting to see what has been said of the Memoirs by other
writers. We have quoted Metternich, and Lucien Bonaparte; let us hear
Meneval, his successor, who remained faithful to his master to the end:
"Absolute confidence cannot be given to statements contained in Memoirs
published under the name of a man who has not composed them. It is known
that the editor of these Memoirs offered to M. de Bourrienne, who had
then taken refuge in Holstein from his creditors, a sum said to be thirty
thousand francs to obtain his signature to them, with some notes and
addenda. M. de Bourrienne was already attacked by the disease from which
he died a few years latter in a maison de sante at Caen. Many literary
men co-operated in the preparation of his Memoirs. In 1825 I met M. de
Bourrienne in Paris. He told me it had been suggested to him to write
against the Emperor. 'Notwithstanding the harm he has done me,' said he,
'I would never do so. Sooner may my hand be withered.' If M. de
Bourrienne had prepared his Memoirs himself, he would not have stated
that while he was the Emperor's minister at Hamburg he worked with the
agents of the Comte de Lille (Louis XVIII.) at the preparation of
proclamations in favour of that Prince, and that in 1814 he accepted the
thanks of the King, Louis XVIII., for doing so; he would not have said
that Napoleon had confided to him in 1805 that he had never conceived the
idea of an expedition into England, and that the plan of a landing, the
preparations for which he gave such publicity to, was only a snare to
amuse fools. The Emperor well knew that never was there a plan more
seriously conceived or more positively settled. M. de Bourrienne would
not have spoken of his private interviews with Napoleon, nor of the
alleged confidences entrusted to him, while really Napoleon had no longer
received him after the 20th October 1802. When the Emperor, in 1805,
forgetting his faults, named him Minister Plenipotentiary at Hamburg, he
granted him the customary audience, but to this favour he did not add the
return of his former friendship. Both before and afterwards he
constantly refused to receive him, and he did not correspond with him
"(Meneval, ii. 378-79). And in another passage Meneval says: "Besides,
it would be wrong to regard these Memoirs as the work of the man whose
name they bear. The bitter resentment M. de Bourrienne had nourished for
his disgrace, the enfeeblement of his faculties, and the poverty he was
reduced to, rendered him accessible to the pecuniary offers made to him.
He consented to give the authority of his name to Memoirs in whose
composition he had only co-operated by incomplete, confused, and often
inexact notes, materials which an editor was employed to put in order."
And Meneval (iii. 29-30) goes on to quote what he himself had written in
the Spectateur Militaire, in which he makes much the same assertions, and
especially objects to the account of conversations with the Emperor after
1802, except always the one audience on taking leave for Hamburg.
Meneval also says that Napoleon, when he wished to obtain intelligence
from Hamburg, did not correspond with Bourrienne, but deputed him,
Meneval, to ask Bourrienne for what was wanted. But he corroborates
Bourrienne on the subject of the efforts made, among others by Josephine,
for his reappointment.

Such are the statements of the Bonaparists pure; and the reader, as has
been said, can judge for himself how far the attack is good. Bourrienne,
or his editor, may well have confused the date of his interviews, but he
will not be found much astray on many points. His account of the
conversation of Josephine after the death of the Due d'Eughien may be
compared with what we know from Madame de Remusat, who, by the way, would
have been horrified if she had known that he considered her to resemble
the Empress Josephine in character.

We now come to the views of Savary, the Due de Rovigo, who avowedly
remained on good terms with Bourrienne after his disgrace, though the
friendship of Savary was not exactly a thing that most men would have
much prided themselves on. "Bourrienne had a prodigious memory; he spoke
and wrote in several languages, and his pen ran as quickly as one could
speak. Nor were these the only advantages he possessed. He knew the
routine of public business and public law. His activity and devotion
made him indispensable to the First Consul. I knew the qualities which
won for him the unlimited confidence of his chief, but I cannot speak
with the same assurance of the faults which made him lose it. Bourrienne
had many enemies, both on account of his character and of his place"
(Savary, i. 418-19).

Marmont ought to be an impartial critic of the Memoirs. He says,
"Bourrienne . . . had a very great capacity, but he is a striking
example of the great truth that our passions are always bad counsellors.
By inspiring us with an immoderate ardour to reach a fixed end, they
often make us miss it. Bourrienne had an immoderate love of money. With
his talents and his position near Bonaparte at the first dawn of
greatness, with the confidence and real good-will which Bonaparte felt
for him, in a few years he would have gained everything in fortune and in
social position. But his eager impatience mined his career at the moment
when it might have developed and increased" (Marmont, i. 64). The
criticism appears just. As to the Memoirs, Marmont says (ii. 224), "In
general, these Memoirs are of great veracity and powerful interest so
long as they treat of what the author has seen and heard; but when he
speaks of others, his work is only an assemblage of gratuitous
suppositions and of false facts put forward for special purposes."

The Comte Alexandre de Puymaigre, who arrived at Hamburgh soon after
Bourrienne had left it in 1810, says (page 135) of the part of the
Memoirs which relates to Hamburg, "I must acknowledge that generally his
assertions are well founded. This former companion of Napoleon has only
forgotten to speak of the opinion that they had of him in this town.

"The truth is, that he was believed to have made much money there."

Thus we may take Bourrienne as a clever, able man, who would have risen
to the highest honours under the Empire had not his short-sighted
grasping after lucre driven him from office, and prevented him from ever
regaining it under Napoleon.

In the present edition the translation has been carefully compared with
the original French text. Where in the original text information is
given which has now become mere matter of history, and where Bourrienne
merely quotes the documents well enough known at this day, his possession
of which forms part of the charges of his opponents, advantage has been
taken to lighten the mass of the Memoirs. This has been done especially
where they deal with what the writer did not himself see or hear, the
part of the Memoirs which are of least valve and of which Marmont's
opinion has just been quoted. But in the personal and more valuable part
of the Memoirs, where we have the actual knowledge of the secretary
himself, the original text has been either fully retained, or some few
passages previously omitted restored. Illustrative notes have been added
from the Memoirs of the successor of Bourrienne, Meneval, Madame de
Remusat, the works of Colonel Iung on 'Bonaparte et Son Temps', and on
'Lucien Bonaparte', etc., and other books. Attention has also been paid
to the attacks of the 'Erreurs', and wherever these criticisms are more
than a mere expression of disagreement, their purport has been recorded
with, where possible, some judgment of the evidence. Thus the reader
will have before him the materials for deciding himself how far,
Bourrienne's statements are in agreement with the facts and with the
accounts of other writers.

At the present time too much attention has been paid to the Memoirs of
Madame de Remusat. She, as also Madame Junot, was the wife of a man on
whom the full shower of imperial favours did not descend, and, womanlike,
she saw and thought only of the Court life of the great man who was never
less great than in his Court. She is equally astonished and indignant
that the Emperor, coming straight from long hours of work with his
ministers and with his secretary, could not find soft words for the
ladies of the Court, and that, a horrible thing in the eyes of a
Frenchwoman, when a mistress threw herself into his arms, he first
thought of what political knowledge he could obtain from her.
Bourrienne, on the other hand, shows us the other and the really
important side of Napoleon's character. He tells us of the long hours in
the Cabinet, of the never-resting activity of the Consul, of Napoleon's
dreams, no ignoble dreams and often realised, of great labours of peace
as well as of war. He is a witness, and the more valuable as a reluctant
one, to the marvellous powers of the man who, if not the greatest, was at
least the one most fully endowed with every great quality of mind and
body the world has ever seen.

R. W. P.


The trading upon an illustrious name can alone have given birth to the
multitude of publications under the titles of historical memoirs, secret
memoirs, and other rhapsodies which have appeared respecting Napoleon.
On looking into them it is difficult to determine whether the impudence
of the writers or the simplicity of certain readers is most astonishing.
Yet these rude and ill digested compilations, filled with absurd
anecdotes, fabricated speeches, fictitious crimes or virtues, and
disfigured by numerous anachronisms, instead of being consigned to just
contempt and speedy oblivion, have been pushed into notice by
speculators, and have found zealous partisans and enthusiastic

--[This Introduction has been reprinted as bearing upon the
character of the work, but refers very often to events of the
day at the time of its first appearance.]--

For a time I entertained the idea of noticing, one by one, the numerous
errors which have been written respecting Napoleon; but I have renounced
a task which would have been too laborious to myself, and very tedious to
the reader. I shall therefore only correct those which come within the
plan of my work, and which are connected with those facts, to a more
accurate knowledge of which than any other person can possess I may lay
claim. There are men who imagine that nothing done by Napoleon will ever
be forgotten; but must not the slow but inevitable influence of time be
expected to operate with respect to him? The effect of that influence
is, that the most important event of an epoch soon sinks, almost
imperceptibly and almost disregarded, into the immense mass of historical
facts. Time, in its progress, diminishes the probability as well as the
interest of such an event, as it gradually wears away the most durable

I attach only a relative importance to what I am about to lay before the
public. I shall give authentic documents. If all persons who have
approached Napoleon, at any time and in any place, would candidly record
what they saw and heard, without passion, the future historian would be
rich in materials. It is my wish that he who may undertake the difficult
task of writing the history of Napoleon shall find in my notes
information useful to the perfection of his work. There he will at least
find truth. I have not the ambition to wish that what I state should be
taken as absolute authority; but I hope that it will always be consulted.

I have never before published anything respecting Napoleon. That
malevolence which fastens itself upon men who have the misfortune to be
somewhat separated from the crowd has, because there is always more
profit in saying ill than good, attributed to me several works on
Bonaparte; among others, 'Les Memoires secrets d'un Homnae qui ne l'a pas
quitte', par M. B-------, and 'Memoires secrets sur Napoleon Bonaparte,
par M. de B------, and 'Le Precis Historique sur Napoleon'. The initial
of my name has served to propagate this error. The incredible ignorance
which runs through those memoirs, the absurdities and inconceivable
silliness with which they abound, do not permit a man of honour and
common sense to allow such wretched rhapsodies to be imputed to him. I
declared in 1816, and at later periods in the French
and foreign journals, that I had no hand in those publications, and I
here formally repeat this declaration.

But it may be said to me, Why should we place more confidence in you than
in those who have written before you?

My reply shall be plain. I enter the lists one of the last I have read
all that my predecessors have published confident that all I state is
true. I have no interest in deceiving, no disgrace to fear, no reward to
expect. I ether wish to obscure nor embellish his glory. However great
Napoleon may have been, was he not also liable to pay his tribute to the
weakness of human nature? I speak of Napoleon such as I have seen him,
known him, frequently admired and sometimes blamed him. I state what I
saw, heard, wrote, and thought at the time, under each circumstance that
occurred. I have not allowed myself to be carried away by the illusions
of the imagination, nor to be influenced by friendship or hatred. I
shall not insert a single reflection which did not occur to me at the
very moment of the event which gave it birth. How many transactions and
documents were there over which I could but lament!--how many measures,
contrary to my views, to my principles, and to my character!--while the
best intentions were incapable of overcoming difficulties which a most
powerful and decided will rendered almost insurmountable.

I also wish the future historian to compare what I say with what others
have related or may relate. But it will be necessary for him to attend
to dates, circumstances, difference of situation, change of temperament,
and age,--for age has much influence over men. We do not think and act
at fifty as at twenty-five. By exercising this caution he will be able
to discover the truth, and to establish an opinion for posterity.

The reader must not expect to find in these Memoirs an uninterrupted
series of all the events which marked the great career of Napoleon; nor
details of all those battles, with the recital of which so many eminent
men have usefully and ably occupied themselves. I shall say little about
whatever I did not see or hear, and which is not supported by official

Perhaps I shall succeed in confirming truths which have been doubted, and
in correcting errors which have been adopted. If I sometimes differ from
the observations and statements of Napoleon at St. Helena, I am far from
supposing that those who undertook to be the medium of communication
between him and the public have misrepresented what he said. I am well
convinced that none of the writers of St. Helena can be taxed with the
slightest deception; disinterested zeal and nobleness of character are
undoubted pledges of their veracity. It appears to me perfectly certain
that Napoleon stated, dictated, or corrected all they have published.
Their honour is unquestionable; no one can doubt it. That they wrote
what he communicated must therefore be believed; but it cannot with equal
confidence be credited that what he communicated was nothing but the
truth. He seems often to have related as a fact what was really only an
idea,--an idea, too, brought forth at St. Helena, the child of
misfortune, and transported by his imagination to Europe in the time of
his prosperity. His favourite phrase, which was every moment on his
lips, must not be forgotten--"What will history say--what will posterity
think?" This passion for leaving behind him a celebrated name is one
which belongs to the constitution of the human mind; and with Napoleon
its influence was excessive. In his first Italian campaign he wrote thus
to General Clarke: "That ambition and the occupation of high offices were
not sufficient for his satisfaction and happiness, which he had early
placed in the opinion of Europe and the esteem of posterity." He often
observed to me that with him the opinion of posterity was the real
immortality of the soul.

It may easily be conceived that Napoleon wished to give to the documents
which he knew historians would consult a favourable colour, and to
direct, according to his own views, the judgment of posterity on his
actions: But it is only by the impartial comparison of periods,
positions, and age that a well founded decision will be given. About his
fortieth year the physical constitution of Napoleon sustained
considerable change; and it may be presumed that his moral qualities were
affected by that change. It is particularly important not to lose sight
of the premature decay of his health, which, perhaps, did not permit him
always to, possess the vigour of memory otherwise consistent enough with
his age. The state of our organisation often modifies our recollections,
our feelings, our manner of viewing objects, and the impressions we
receive. This will be taken into consideration by judicious and thinking
men; and for them I write.

What M. de Las Casas states Napoleon to have said in May 1816 on the
manner of writing his history corroborates the opinion I have expressed.
It proves that all the facts and observations he communicated or dictated
were meant to serve as materials. We learn from the Memorial that M. de
Las Casas wrote daily, and that the manuscript was read over by Napoleon,
who often made corrections with his own hand. The idea of a journal
pleased him greatly. He fancied it would be a work of which the world
could afford no other example. But there are passages in which the order
of events is deranged; in others facts are misrepresented and erroneous
assertions are made, I apprehend, not altogether involuntarily.

I have paid particular attention to all that has been published by the
noble participators of the imperial captivity. Nothing, however, could
induce me to change a word in these Memoirs, because nothing could take
from me my conviction of the truth of what I personally heard and saw.
It will be found that Napoleon in his private conversations often
confirms what I state; but we sometimes differ, and the public must judge
between us. However, I must here make one observation.

When Napoleon dictated or related to his friends in St. Helena the facts
which they have reported he was out of the world,--he had played his
part. Fortune, which, according to his notions, had conferred on him all
his power and greatness, had recalled all her gifts before he sank into
the tomb. His ruling passion would induce him to think that it was due
to his glory to clear up certain facts which might prove an unfavourable
escort if they accompanied him to posterity. This was his fixed idea.
But is there not some ground for suspecting the fidelity of him who
writes or dictates his own history? Why might he not impose on a few
persons in St. Helena, when he was able to impose on France and Europe,
respecting many acts which emanated from him during the long duration of
his power? The life of Napoleon would be very unfaithfully written were
the author to adopt as true all his bulletins and proclamations, and all
the declarations he made at St. Helena. Such a history would frequently
be in contradiction to facts; and such only is that which might be
entitled, 'The History of Napoleon, written by Himself'.

I have said thus much because it is my wish that the principles which
have guided me in the composition of these Memoirs may be understood.
I am aware that they will not please every reader; that is a success to
which I cannot pretend. Some merit, however, may be allowed me on
account of the labour I have undergone. It has neither been of a slight
nor an agreeable kind. I made it a rule to read everything that has been
written respecting Napoleon, and I have had to decipher many of his
autograph documents, though no longer so familiar with his scrawl as
formerly. I say decipher, because a real cipher might often be much more
readily understood than the handwriting of Napoleon. My own notes, too,
which were often very hastily made, in the hand I wrote in my youth, have
sometimes also much embarrassed me.

My long and intimate connection with Bonaparte from boyhood, my close
relations with him when General, Consul, and Emperor, enabled me to see
and appreciate all that was projected and all that was done during that
considerable and momentous period of time. I not only had the
opportunity of being present at the conception and the execution of the
extraordinary deeds of one of the ablest men nature ever formed, but,
notwithstanding an almost unceasing application to business, I found
means to employ the few moments of leisure which Bonaparte left at my
disposal in making notes, collecting documents, and in recording for
history facts respecting which the truth could otherwise with difficulty
be ascertained; and more particularly in collecting those ideas, often
profound, brilliant, and striking, but always remarkable, to which
Bonaparte gave expression in the overflowing frankness of confidential

The knowledge that I possessed much important information has exposed me
to many inquiries, and wherever I have resided since my retirement from
public affairs much of my time has been spent in replying to questions.
The wish to be acquainted with the most minute details of the life of a
man formed on an unexampled m del [?? D.W.] is very natural; and the
observation on my replies by those who heard them always was,
"You should publish your Memoirs!"

I had certainly always in view the publication of my Memoirs; but, at the
same time, I was firmly resolved not to publish them until a period
should arrive in which I might tell the truth, and the whole truth.
While Napoleon was in the possession of power I felt it right to resist
the urgent applications made to me on this subject by some persons of
the highest distinction. Truth would then have sometimes appeared
flattery, and sometimes, also, it might not have been without danger.
Afterwards, when the progress of events removed Bonaparte to a far
distant island in the midst of the ocean, silence was imposed on me by
other considerations,-by considerations of propriety and feeling.

After the death of Bonaparte, at St. Helena, reasons of a different
nature retarded the execution of my plan. The tranquillity of a secluded
retreat was indispensable for preparing and putting in order the abundant
materials in my possession. I found it also necessary to read a great
number of works, in order to rectify important errors to which the want
of authentic documents had induced the authors to give credit. This
much-desired retreat was found. I had the good fortune to be introduced,
through a friend, to the Duchesse de Brancas, and that lady invited me to
pass some time on one of her estates in Hainault. Received with the most
agreeable hospitality, I have there enjoyed that tranquillity which could
alone have rendered the publication of these volumes practicable.



The Editor of the 1836 edition had added to the Memoirs several chapters
taken from or founded on other works of the time, so as to make a more
complete history of the period. These materials have been mostly
retained, but with the corrections which later publications have made
necessary. A chapter has now been added to give, a brief account of the
part played by the chief historical personages during the Cent Tours, and
another at the end to include the removal of the body of Napoleon from
St. Helena to France.

Two special improvements have, it is hoped, been made in this edition.
Great care has been taken to get names, dates, and figures rightly
given,--points much neglected in most translations, though in some few
cases, such as Davoust, the ordinary but not strictly correct spelling
has been followed to suit the general reader. The number of references
to other works which are given in the notes wall, it is believed, be of
use to any one wishing to continue the study of the history of Napoleon,
and may preserve them from many of the errors too often committed. The
present Editor has had the great advantage of having his work shared by
Mr. Richard Bentley, who has brought his knowledge of the period to bear,
and who has found, as only a busy man could do, the time to minutely
enter into every fresh detail, with the ardour which soon seizes any one
who long follows that enticing pursuit, the special study of an
historical period.

January 1885
R. W. P.




Authentic date of Bonaparte's birth--His family rained by the
Jesuits--His taste for military amusements--Sham siege at the
College of Brienne--The porter's wife and Napoleon--My intimacy with
Bonaparte at college--His love for the mathematics, and his dislike
of Latin--He defends Paoli and blames his father--He is ridiculed by
his comrades--Ignorance of the monks--Distribution of prizes at
Brienne--Madame de Montesson and the Duke of Orleans--Report of M.
Keralio on Bonaparte--He leaves Brienne.

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE was born at Ajaccio, in Corsica, on the 15th of August
1769; the original orthography of his name was Buonaparte, but he
suppressed the during his first campaign in Italy. His motives for so
doing were merely to render the spelling conformable with the
pronunciation, and to abridge his signature. He signed Buonaparte even
after the famous 13th Vendemiaire.

It has been affirmed that he was born in 1768, and that he represented
himself to be a year younger than he really was. This is untrue. He
always told me the 9th of August was his birthday, and, as I was born on
the 9th of July 1769, our proximity of age served to strengthen our union
and friendship when we were both at the Military College of Brienne.

The false and absurd charge of Bonaparte having misrepresented his age,
is decidedly refuted by a note in the register of M. Berton, sub-
principal of the College of Brienne, in which it is stated that
M. Napoleon de Buonaparte, ecuyer, born in the city of Ajaccio, in
Corsica, on the 15th of August 1769, left the Royal Military College of
Brienne on the 17th October 1784.

The stories about his low extraction are alike devoid of foundation. His
family was poor, and he was educated at the public expense, an advantage
of which many honourable families availed themselves. A memorial
addressed by his father, Charles Buonaparte, to the Minister of War
states that his fortune had been reduced by the failure of some
enterprise in which he had engaged, and by the injustice of the Jesuits,
by whom he had been deprived of an inheritance. The object of this
memorial was to solicit a sub-lieutenant's commission for Napoleon, who
was then fourteen years of age, and to get Lucien entered a pupil of the
Military College. The Minister wrote on the back of the memorial, "Give
the usual answer, if there be a vacancy;" and on the margin are these
words--"This gentleman has been informed that his request is inadmissible
as long as his second son remains at the school of Brienne. Two brothers
cannot be placed at the same time in the military schools." When
Napoleon was fifteen he was sent to Paris until he should attain the
requisite age for entering the army. Lucien was not received into the
College of Brienne, at least not until his brother had quitted the
Military School of Paris.

Bonaparte was undoubtedly a man of good family. I have seen an authentic
account of his genealogy, which he obtained from Tuscany. A great deal
has been said about the civil dissensions which forced his family to quit
Italy and take refuge in Corsica. On this subject I shall say nothing.

Many and various accounts have been given of Bonaparte's youth.

--[The following interesting trait of Napoleon's childhood is
derived from the 'Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Arbranes':--"He was one
day accused by one of his sisters of having eaten a basketful of
grapes, figs, and citrons, which had come from the garden of his
uncle the Canon. None but those who were acquainted with the
Bonaparte family can form any idea of the enormity of this offence.
To eat fruit belonging to the uncle the Canon was infinitely more
criminal than to eat grapes and figs which might be claimed by
anybody else. An inquiry took place. Napoleon. denied the fact,
and was whipped. He was told that if he would beg pardon he should
be forgiven. He protested that he was innocent, but he was not
believed. If I recollect rightly, his mother was at the time on a
visit to M. de Marbeuf, or some other friend. The result of
Napoleon's obstinacy was, that he was kept three whole days on bread
and cheese, and that cheese was not 'broccio'. However, be would
not cry: he was dull, but not sulky. At length, on the fourth day
of his punishment a little friend of Marianne Bonaparte returned
from the country, and on hearing of Napoleon's disgrace she
confessed that she and Marianne had eaten the fruit. It was now
Marianne's turn to be punished. When Napoleon was asked why he had
not accused his sister, he replied that though he suspected that she
was guilty, yet out of consideration to her little friend, who had
no share in the falsehood, he had said nothing. He was then only
seven years of age" (vol. i. p. 9, edit. 1883).]--

He has been described in terms of enthusiastic praise and exaggerated
condemnation. It is ever thus with individuals who by talent or
favourable circumstances are raised above their fellow-creatures.
Bonaparte himself laughed at all the stories which were got up for the
purpose of embellishing or blackening his character in early life.
An anonymous publication, entitled the 'History of Napoleon Bonaparte',
from his Birth to his last abdication, contains perhaps the greatest
collection of false and ridiculous details about his boyhood. Among
other things, it is stated that he fortified a garden to protect himself
from the attacks of his comrades, who, a few lines lower down, are
described as treating him with esteem and respect. I remember the
circumstances which, probably, gave rise to the fabrication inserted in
the work just mentioned; they were as follows.

During the winter of 1783-84, so memorable for heavy falls of snow,
Napoleon was greatly at a loss for those retired walks and outdoor
recreations in which he used to take much delight. He had no alternative
but to mingle with his comrades, and, for exercise, to walk with them up
and down a spacious hall. Napoleon, weary of this monotonous promenade,
told his comrades that he thought they might amuse themselves much better
with the snow, in the great courtyard, if they would get shovels and make
hornworks, dig trenches, raise parapets, cavaliers, etc. "This being
done," said he, "we may divide ourselves into sections, form a siege, and
I will undertake to direct the attacks." The proposal, which was
received with enthusiasm, was immediately put into execution. This
little sham war was carried on for the space of a fortnight, and did not
cease until a quantity of gravel and small stones having got mixed with
the snow of which we made our bullets, many of the combatants, besiegers
as well as besieged, were seriously wounded. I well remember that I was
one of the worst sufferers from this sort of grapeshot fire.

It is almost unnecessary to contradict the story about the ascent in the
balloon. It is now very well known that the hero of that headlong
adventure was not young Bonaparte, as has been alleged, but one of his
comrades, Dudont de Chambon, who was somewhat eccentric. Of this his
subsequent conduct afforded sufficient proofs.

Bonaparte's mind was directed to objects of a totally different kind.
He turned his attention to political science. During some of his
vacations he enjoyed the society of the Abby Raynal, who used to converse
with him on government, legislation, commercial relations, etc.

On festival days, when the inhabitants of Brienne were admitted to our
amusements, posts were established for the maintenance of order. Nobody
was permitted to enter the interior of the building without a card signed
by the principal, or vice-principal. The rank of officers or sub-
officers was conferred according to merit; and Bonaparte one day had the
command of a post, when the following little adventure occurred, which
affords an instance of his decision of character.

The wife of the porter of the school,

--[This woman, named Haute, was afterwards placed at Malmaison, with
her husband. They both died as concierges of Malmaison. This shows
that Napoleon had a memory.--Bourrienne.]--

who was very well known, because she used to sell milk, fruit, etc., to
the pupils, presented herself one Saint Louis day for admittance to the
representation of the 'Death of Caesar, corrected', in which I was to
perform the part of Brutus. As the woman had no ticket, and insisted on
being admitted without one, some disturbance arose. The serjeant of the
post reported the matter to the officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, who in an
imperious tone of voice exclaimed: "Send away that woman, who comes here
with her camp impudence." This was in 1782.

Bonaparte and I were eight years of, age when our friendship commenced.
It speedily became very intimate, for there was a certain sympathy of
heart between us. I enjoyed this friendship and intimacy until 1784,
when he was transferred from the Military College of Brienne to that of
Paris. I was one among those of his youthful comrades who could best
accommodate themselves to his stern character. His natural reserve, his
disposition to meditate on the conquest of Corsica, and the impressions
he had received in childhood respecting the misfortunes of his country
and his family, led him to seek retirement, and rendered his general
demeanour, though in appearance only, somewhat unpleasing. Our equality
of age brought us together in the classes of the mathematics and 'belles
lettres'. His ardent wish to acquire knowledge was remarkable from the
very commencement of his studies. When he first came to the college he
spoke only the Corsican dialect, and the Sieur Dupuis,

--[He afterwards filled the pout of librarian to Napoleon at

who was vice-principal before Father Berton, gave him instructions in the
French language. In this he made such rapid progress that in a short
time he commenced the first rudiments of Latin. But to this study he
evinced such a repugnance that at the age of fifteen he was not out of
the fourth class. There I left him very speedily; but I could never get
before him in the mathematical class, in which he was undoubtedly the
cleverest lad at the college. I used sometimes to help him with his
Latin themes and versions in return for the aid he afforded me in the
solution of problems, at which he evinced a degree of readiness and
facility which perfectly astonished me.

When at Brienne, Bonaparte was remarkable for the dark color of his
complexion (which, subsequently, the climate of France somewhat changed),
for his piercing and scrutinising glance, and for the style of his
conversation both with his masters and comrades. His conversation almost
always bore the appearance of ill-humour, and he was certainly not very
amiable. This I attribute to the misfortunes his family had sustained
and the impressions made on his mind by the conquest of his country.

The pupils were invited by turns to dine with Father Berton, the head of
the school. One day, it being Bonaparte's turn to enjoy this indulgence,
some of the professors who were at table designedly made some
disrespectful remarks on Paoli, of whom they knew the young Corsican was
an enthusiastic admirer. "Paoli," observed Bonaparte, "was a great man;
he loved his country; and I will never forgive my father, who was his
adjutant, for having concurred in the union of Corsica with France. He
ought to have followed Paoli's fortune, and have fallen with him."

--[The Duchesse d'Abrantes, speaking of the personal characteristics
of Bonaparte in youth and manhood, says, "Saveria told me that
Napoleon was never a pretty boy, as Joseph was, for example: his
head always appeared too large for his body, a defect common to the
Bonaparte family. When Napoleon grew up, the peculiar charm of his
countenance lay in his eye, especially in the mild expression it
assumed in his moments of kindness. His anger, to be sure, was
frightful, and though I am no coward, I never could look at him in
his fits of rage without shuddering. Though his smile was
captivating, yet the expression of his month when disdainful or
angry could scarcely be seen without terror. But that forehead
which seemed formed to bear the crowns of a whole world; those
hands, of which the most coquettish women might have been vain, and
whose white skin covered muscles of iron; in short, of all that
personal beauty which distinguished Napoleon as a young man, no
traces were discernible in the boy. Saveria spoke truly when she
said, that of all the children of Signora Laetitia, the Emperor was
the one from whom future greatness was least to be prognosticated"
(vol. i. p. 10, edit. 1883)]--

Generally speaking, Bonaparte was not much liked by his comrades at
Brienne. He was not social with them, and rarely took part in their
amusements. His country's recent submission to France always caused in
his mind a painful feeling, which estranged him from his schoolfellows.
I, however, was almost his constant companion. During play-hours he used
to withdraw to the library, where he-read with deep interest works of
history, particularly Polybius and Plutarch. He was also fond of
Arrianus, but did not care much for Quintus Gurtius. I often went off to
play with my comrades, and left him by himself in the library.

The temper of the young Corsican was not improved by the teasing he
frequently experienced from his comrades, who were fond of ridiculing him
about his Christian name Napoleon and his country. He often said to me,
"I will do these French all the mischief I can;" and when I tried to
pacify him he would say, "But you do not ridicule me; you like me."

Father Patrauld, our mathematical professor, was much attached to
Bonaparte. He was justly proud of him as a pupil. The other professors,
in whose classes he was not distinguished, took little notice of him.
He had no taste for the study of languages, polite literature, or the
arts. As there were no indications of his ever becoming a scholar, the
pedants of the establishment were inclined to think him stupid. His
superior intelligence was, however, sufficiently perceptible, even
through the reserve under which it was veiled. If the monks to whom the
superintendence of the establishment was confided had understood the
organisation of his mind, if they had engaged more able mathematical
professors, or if we had had any incitement to the study of chemistry,
natural philosophy, astronomy, etc., I am convinced that Bonaparte would
have pursued these sciences with all the genius and spirit of
investigation which he displayed in a career, more brilliant it is true,
but less useful to mankind. Unfortunately, the monks did not perceive
this, and were too poor to pay for good masters. However, after
Bonaparte left the college they found it necessary to engage two
professors from Paris, otherwise the college would have fallen to
nothing. These two new professors, MM. Durfort and Desponts, finished my
education; and I regretted that they did not come sooner. The often-
repeated assertion of Bonaparte having received a careful education at
Brienne is therefore untrue. The monks were incapable of giving it him;
and, for my own part, I must confess that the extended information of the
present day is to me a painful contrast with the limited course of
education I received at the Military College. It is only surprising that
the establishment should have produced a single able man.

Though Bonaparte had no reason to be satisfied with the treatment he
received from his comrades, yet he was above complaining of it; and when
he had the supervision of any duty which they infringed, he would rather
go to prison than denounce the criminals.

I was one day his accomplice in omitting to enforce a duty which we were
appointed to supervise. He prevailed on me to accompany him to prison,
where we remained three days. We suffered this sort of punishment
several times, but with less severity.

In 1783 the Duke of Orleans and Madame de Montesson visited Brienne; and,
for upwards of a month, the magnificent chateau of the Comte de Brienne
was a Versailles in miniature. The series of brilliant entertainments
which were given to the august travellers made them almost forget the
royal magnificence they had left behind them.

The Prince and Madame de Montesson expressed a wish to preside at the
distribution of the prizes of our college. Bonaparte and I won the
prizes in the class of mathematics, which, as I have already observed,
was the branch of study to which he confined his attention, and in which
he excelled. When I was called up for the seventh time Madame de
Montesson said to my mother, who had come from Sens to be present at the
distribution, "Pray, madame, crown your son this time; my hands are a-

There was an inspector of the military schools, whose business it was to
make an annual report on each pupil, whether educated at the public
expense or paid for by his family. I copied from the report of 1784 a
note which was probably obtained surreptitiously from the War Office. I
wanted to purchase the manuscript, but Louis Bonaparte bought it. I did
not make a copy of the note which related to myself, because I should
naturally have felt diffident in making any use of it. It would,
however, have served to show how time and circumstances frequently
reversed the distinctions which arise at school or college. Judging from
the reports of the inspector of military schools, young Bonaparte was
not, of all the pupils at Brienne in 1784, the one most calculated to
excite prognostics of future greatness and glory.

The note to which I have just alluded, and which was written by M. de
Kerralio, then inspector of the military schools, describes Bonaparte in
the following terms:


M. de Buonaparte (Napoleon), born 15th August 1769, height 4 feet 10
inches 10 lines, is in the fourth class, has a good constitution,
excellent health, character obedient, upright, grateful, conduct
very regular; has been always distinguished by his application to
mathematics. He knows history and geography very passably. He is
not well up in ornamental studies or in Latin in which he is only in
the fourth class. He will be an excellent sailor. He deserves to
be passed on to the Military School of Paris.

Father Berton, however, opposed Bonaparte's removal to Paris, because he
had not passed through the fourth Latin class, and the regulations
required that he should be in the third. I was informed by the vice-
principal that a report relative to Napoleon was sent from the College of
Brienne to that of Paris, in which he was described as being domineering,
imperious, and obstinate.

--[Napoleon remained upwards of five years at Brienne, from April
1779 till the latter end of 1784. In 1783 the Chevalier Keralio,
sub-inspector of the military schools, selected him to pass the year
following to the military school at Paris, to which three of the
best scholars were annually sent from each of the twelve provincial
military schools of France. It is curious as well as satisfactory
to know the opinion at this time entertained of him by those who
were the best qualified to judge. His old master, Le Guille,
professor of history at Paris, boasted that, in a list of the
different scholars, he had predicted his pupil's subsequent career.
In fact, to the name of Bonaparte the following note is added: "a
Corsican by birth and character--he will do something great, if
circumstances favour him." Menge was his instructor in geometry,
who also entertained a high opinion of him. M. Bauer, his German
master, was the only one who saw nothing in him, and was surprised
at being told he was undergoing his examination for the artillery.--

I knew Bonaparte well; and I think M. de Keralio's report of him was
exceedingly just, except, perhaps, that he might have said he was very
well as to his progress in history and geography, and very backward in
Latin; but certainly nothing indicated the probability of his being an
excellent seaman. He himself had no thought of the navy.

--[Bourrienne is certainly wrong as to Bonaparte having no thought
of the navy. In a letter of 1784 to the Minister of War his father
says of Napoleon that, "following the advice of the Comte de
Marbeuf, he has turned his studies towards the navy; and so well has
he succeeded that be was intended by M. de Keralio for the school of
Paris, and afterwards for the department of Toulon. The retirement
of the former professor (Keralio) has changed the fate of my son."
It was only on the failure of his intention to get into the navy
that his father, on 15th July 1784 applied for permission for him to
enter the artillery; Napoleon having a horror of the infantry, where
he said they did nothing. It was on the success of this application
that he was allowed to enter the school of Parts (Iung, tome i. pp.
91-103). Oddly enough, in later years, on 30th August 1792, having
just succeeded in getting himself reinstated as captain after his
absence, overstaying leave, he applied to pass into the Artillerie
de la Marine. "The application was judged to be simply absurd, and
was filed with this note, 'S. R.' ('sans reponse')" (Iung, tome ii.
p. 201)]--

In consequence of M. de Keralio's report, Bonaparte was transferred to
the Military College of Paris, along with MM. Montarby de Dampierre, de
Castres, de Comminges, and de Laugier de Bellecourt, who were all, like
him, educated at the public expense, and all, at least, as favorably

What could have induced Sir Walter Scott to say that Bonaparte was the
pride of the college, that our mathematical master was exceedingly fond
of him, and that the other professors in the different sciences had equal
reason to be satisfied with him? What I have above stated, together with
the report of M. de Keralio, bear evidence of his backwardness in almost
every branch of education except mathematics. Neither was it, as Sir
Walter affirms, his precocious progress in mathematics that occasioned
him to be removed to Paris. He had attained the proper age, and the
report of him was favourable, therefore he was very naturally included
among the number of the five who were chosen in 1784.

In a biographical account of Bonaparte I have read the following
anecdote:--When he was fourteen years of age he happened to be at a party
where some one pronounced a high eulogium on Turenne; and a lady in the
company observed that he certainly was a great man, but that she should
like him better if he had not burned the Palatinate. "What signifies
that," replied Bonaparte, "if it was necessary to the object he had in

This is either an anachronism or a mere fabrication. Bonaparte was
fourteen in the year 1783. He was then at Brienne, where certainly he
did not go into company, and least of all the company of ladies.



Bonaparte enters the Military College of Paris--He urges me to
embrace the military profession--His report on the state of the
Military School of Paris--He obtains a commission--I set off for
Vienna--Return to Paris, where I again meet Bonaparte--His singular
plans for raising money--Louis XVI, with the red cap on his head--
The 10th of August--My departure for Stuttgart--Bonaparte goes to
Corsica--My name inscribed on the list of emigrants--Bonaparte at
the siege of Toulon--Le Souper de Beaucaire--Napoleon's mission to
Genoa--His arrest--His autographical justification
--Duroc's first connection with Bonaparte.

Bonaparte was fifteen years and two months old when he went to the
Military College of Paris.

--[Madame Junot relates some interesting particulars connected with
Napoleon's first residence in Paris:
"My mother's first care," says she, "on arriving in Paris was to
inquire after Napoleon Bonaparte. He was at that time in the
military school at Paris, having quitted Brienne in the September of
the preceding year.

"My uncle Demetrius had met him just after he alighted from the coach
which brought him to town; 'And truly.' said my uncle, 'he had the
appearance of a fresh importation. I met him in the Palms Royal,
where he was gaping and staring with wonder at everything he saw.
He would have been an excellent subject for sharpers, if, indeed, he
had had anything worth taking!' My uncle invited him to dine at his
house; for though my uncle was a bachelor, he did not choose to dine
at a 'traiteur' (the name 'restaurateur' was not then introduced).
He told my mother that Napoleon was very morose. 'I fear,' added
he, 'that that young man has more self-conceit than is suitable to
his condition. When he dined with me he began to declaim violently
against the luxury of the young men of the military school. After a
little he turned the conversation on Mania, and the present
education of the young Maniotes, drawing a comparison between it and
the ancient Spartan system of education. His observations on this
head be told me he intended to embody in a memorial to be presented
to the Minister of War. All this, depend upon it, will bring him
under the displeasure of his comrades; and it will be lucky if he
escape being run through.' A few days afterwards my mother saw
Napoleon, and then his irritability was at its height. He would
scarcely bear any observations, even if made in his favour, and I am
convinced that it is to this uncontrollable irritability that be
owed the reputation of having been ill-tempered in his boyhood, and
splenetic in his youth. My father, who was acquainted with almost
all the heads of the military school, obtained leave for him
sometimes to come out for recreation. On account of an accident (a
sprain, if I recollect rightly) Napoleon once spent a whole week at
our house. To this day, whenever I pass the Quai Conti, I cannot
help looking up at a 'mansarde' at the left angle of the house on
the third floor. That was Napoleon's chamber when he paid us a
visit, and a neat little room it was. My brother used to occupy the
one next to it. The two young men were nearly of the same age: my
brother perhaps had the advantage of a year or fifteen months. My
mother had recommended him to cultivate the friendship of young
Bonaparte; but my brother complained how unpleasant it was to find
only cold politeness where be expected affection. This
repulsiveness on the part of Napoleon was almost offensive, and must
have been sensibly felt by my brother, who was not only remarkable
for the mildness of his temper and the amenity and grace of his
manner, but whose society was courted in the most distinguished
circles of Paris on account of his accomplishments. He perceived in
Bonaparte a kind of acerbity and bitter irony, of which he long
endeavoured to discover the cause. 'I believe,' said Albert one day
to my mother, 'that the poor young man feels keenly his dependent
situation.'" ('Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Abrantes, vol. i. p. 18,
edit. 1883).]--

I accompanied him in a carriole as far as Nogent Sur Seine, whence the
coach was to start. We parted with regret, and we did not meet again
till the year 1792. During these eight years we maintained an active
correspondence; but so little did I anticipate the high destiny which,
after his elevation, it was affirmed the wonderful qualities of his
boyhood plainly denoted, that I did not preserve one of the letters
he wrote to me at that period, but tore them up as soon as they were

--[I remember, however, that in a letter which I received from him
about a year after his arrival in Paris he urged me to keep my
promise of entering the army with him. Like him, I had passed
through the studies necessary for the artillery service; and in 1787
I went for three months to Metz, in order to unite practice with
theory. A strange Ordinance, which I believe was issued in 1778 by
M. de Segur, required that a man should possess four quarterings of
nobility before he could be qualified to serve his king and country
as a military officer. My mother went to Paris, taking with her the
letters patent of her husband, who died six weeks after my birth.
She proved that in the year 1640 Louis XIII. had, by letters
patent, restored the titles of one Fauvelet de Villemont, who in
1586 had kept several provinces of Burgundy subject to the king's
authority at the peril of his life and the loss of his property; and
that his family had occupied the first places in the magistracy
since the fourteenth century. All was correct, but it was observed
that the letters of nobility had not been registered by the
Parliament, and to repair this little omission, the sum of twelve
thousand francs was demanded. This my mother refused to pay, and
there the matter rested.]--

On his arrival at the Military School of Paris, Bonaparte found the
establishment on so brilliant and expensive a footing that he immediately
addressed a memorial on the subject to the Vice-Principal Berton of

--[A second memoir prepared by him to the same effect was intended
for the Minister of War, but Father Berton wisely advised silence to
the young cadet (Iung, tome i. p. 122). Although believing in the
necessity of show and of magnificence in public life, Napoleon
remained true to these principles. While lavishing wealth on his
ministers and marshals, "In your private life," said be, "be
economical and even parsimonious; in public be magnificent"
(Meneval, tome i. p. 146).]--

He showed that the plan of education was really pernicious, and far from
being calculated to fulfil the object which every wise government must
have in view. The result of the system, he said, was to inspire the
pupils, who were all the sons of poor gentlemen, with a love of
ostentation, or rather, with sentiments of vanity and self-sufficiency;
so that, instead of returning happy to the bosom of their families, they
were likely to be ashamed of their parents, and to despise their humble
homes. Instead of the numerous attendants by whom they were surrounded,
their dinners of two courses, and their horses and grooms, he suggested
that they should perform little necessary services for themselves, such
as brushing their clothes, and cleaning their boots and shoes; that they
should eat the coarse bread made for soldiers, etc. Temperance and
activity, he added, would render them robust, enable them to bear the
severity of different seasons and climates, to brave the fatigues of war,
and to inspire the respect and obedience of the soldiers under their
command. Thus reasoned Napoleon at the age of sixteen, and time showed
that he never deviated from these principles. The establishment of the
military school at Fontainebleau is a decided proof of this.

As Napoleon was an active observer of everything passing around him, and
pronounced his opinion openly and decidedly, he did not remain long at
the Military School of Paris. His superiors, who were anxious to get rid
of him, accelerated the period of his examination, and he obtained the
first vacant sub-lieutenancy in a regiment of artillery.

I left Brienne in 1787; and as I could not enter the artillery,
I proceeded in the following year to Vienna, with a letter of
recommendation to M. de Montmorin, soliciting employment in the French
Embassy at the Court of Austria.

I remained two months at Vienna, where I had the honour of twice seeing
the Emperor Joseph. The impression made upon me by his kind reception,
his dignified and elegant manners, and graceful conversation, will never
be obliterated from my recollection. After M. de Noailles had initiated
me in the first steps of diplomacy, he advised me to go to one of the
German universities to study the law of nations and foreign languages.
I accordingly repaired to Leipsic, about the time when the French
Revolution broke out.

I spent some time at Leipsic, where I applied myself to the study of the
law of nations, and the German and English languages. I afterwards
travelled through Prussia and Poland, and passed a part of the winter of
1791 and 1792 at Warsaw, where I was most graciously received by Princess
Tyszicwiez, niece of Stanislaus Augustus, the last King of Poland, and
the sister of Prince Poniatowski. The Princess was very well informed,
and was a great admirer of French literature: At her invitation I passed
several evenings in company with the King in a circle small enough to
approach to something like intimacy. I remember that his Majesty
frequently asked me to read the Moniteur; the speeches to which he
listened with the greatest pleasure were those of the Girondists. The
Princess Tyszicwiez wished to print at Warsaw, at her own expense, a
translation I had executed of Kotzebue's 'Menschenhass and Reue, to which
I gave the title of 'L'Inconnu'.

--[A play known on the English stage as The Stranger.]--

I arrived at Vienna on the 26th of March 1792, when I was informed of the
serious illness of the Emperor, Leopold II, who died on the following
day. In private companies, and at public places, I heard vague
suspicions expressed of his having been poisoned; but the public, who
were admitted to the palace to see the body lie in state, were soon
convinced of the falsehood of these reports. I went twice to see the
mournful spectacle, and I never heard a word which was calculated to
confirm the odious suspicion, though the spacious hall in which the
remains of the Emperor were exposed was constantly thronged with people.

In the month of April 1792 I returned to Paris, where I again met

--[Bonaparte is said, on very doubtful authority, to have spent five
or six weeks in London in 1791 or 1792, and to have "lodged in a
house in George Street, Strand. His chief occupation appeared to be
taking pedestrian exercise in the streets of London--hence his
marvellous knowledge of the great metropolis which used to astonish
any Englishmen of distinction who were not aware of this visit. He
occasionally took his cup of chocolate at the 'Northumberland,'
occupying himself in reading, and preserving a provoking taciturnity
to the gentlemen in the room; though his manner was stern, his
deportment was that of a gentleman." The story of his visit is
probably as apocryphal as that of his offering his services to the
English Government when the English forces wore blockading the coast
of Corsica,]--

and our college intimacy was fully renewed. I was not very well off, and
adversity was hanging heavily on him; his resources frequently failed
him. We passed our time like two young fellows of twenty-three who have
little money and less occupation. Bonaparte was always poorer than I.
Every day we conceived some new project or other. We were on the look-
out for some profitable speculation. At one time he wanted me to join
him in renting several houses, then building in the Rue Montholon, to
underlet them afterwards. We found the demands of the landlords
extravagant--everything failed.

At the same time he was soliciting employment at the War Office, and I at
the office of Foreign Affairs. I was for the moment the luckier of the

While we were spending our time in a somewhat vagabond way,

--[It was before the 20th of June that in our frequent excursions
around Paris we went to St. Cyr to see his sister Marianne (Elisa).
We returned to dine alone at Trianon.--Bourrienne.]--

the 20th of June arrived. We met by appointment at a restaurateur's in
the Rue St. Honore, near the Palais Royal, to take one of our daily
rambles. On going out we saw approaching, in the direction of the
market, a mob, which Bonaparte calculated at five or six thousand men.
They were all in rags, ludicrously armed with weapons of every
description, and were proceeding hastily towards the Tuilleries,
vociferating all kinds of gross abuse. It was a collection of all that
was most vile and abject in the purlieus of Paris. "Let us follow the
mob," said Bonaparte. We got the start of them, and took up our station
on the terrace of the banks of the river. It was there that he witnessed
the scandalous scenes which took place; and it would be difficult to
describe the surprise and indignation which they excited in him. When
the King showed himself at the windows overlooking the garden, with the
red cap, which one of the mob had put on his head, he could no longer
repress his indignation. "Che coglione!"
he loudly exclaimed. "Why have they let in all that rabble! They should
sweep off four or five hundred of them with the cannon; the rest would
then set off fast enough."

When we sat down to dinner, which I paid for, as I generally did, for I
was the richer of the two, he spoke of nothing but the scene we had
witnessed. He discussed with great good sense the causes and
consequences of this unrepressed insurrection. He foresaw and developed
with sagacity all that would ensue. He was not mistaken. The 10th of
August soon arrived. I was then at Stuttgart, where I was appointed
Secretary of Legation.

At St. Helena Bonaparte said, "On the news of the attack of the
Tuilleries, on the 10th of August, I hurried to Fauvelet, Bourrienne's
brother, who then kept a furniture warehouse at the Carrousel." This is
partly correct. My brother was connected with what was termed an
'enterprise d'encan national', where persons intending to quit France
received an advance of money, on depositing any effects which they wished
to dispose of, and which were sold for them immediately. Bonaparte had
some time previously pledged his watch in this way.

After the fatal 10th of August Bonaparte went to Corsica, and did not
return till 1793. Sir Walter Scott says that after that time he never
saw Corsica again. This is a mistake, as will be shown when I speak of
his return from Egypt.

--[Sir Walter appears to have collected his information for the Life
of Napoleon only from those libels and vulgar stories which
gratified the calumnious spirit and national hatred. His work is
written with excessive negligence, which, added to its numerous
errors, shows how much respect he must have entertained for his
readers. It would appear that his object was to make it the inverse
of his novels, where everything is borrowed from history. I have
been assured that Marshal Macdonald having offered to introduce
Scott to some generals who could have furnished him with the most
accurate, information respecting military events, the glory of which
they had shared, Sir Walter replied, "I thank you, but I shall
collect my information from unprofessional reports."--Bourrienne.]--

Having been appointed Secretary of Legation to Stuttgart, I set off for
that place on the 2d of August, and I did not again see my ardent young
friend until 1795. He told me that my departure accelerated his for
Corsica. We separated, as may be supposed, with but faint hopes of ever
meeting again.

By a decree of the 28th of March of 1793, all French agents abroad were
ordered to return to France, within three months, under pain of being
regarded as emigrants. What I had witnessed before my departure for
Stuttgart, the excitement in which I had left the public mind, and the
well-known consequences of events of this kind, made me fear that I
should be compelled to be either an accomplice or a victim in the
disastrous scenes which were passing at home. My disobedience of the law
placed my name on the list of emigrants.

It has been said of me, in a biographical publication, that "it was as
remarkable as it was fortunate for Bourrienne that, on his return, he got
his name erased from the list of emigrants of the department of the
Yonne, on which it had been inscribed during his first journey to
Germany. This circumstance has been interpreted in several different
ways, which are not all equally favourable to M. de Bourrienne."

I do not understand what favourable interpretations can be put upon a
statement entirely false. General Bonaparte repeatedly applied for the
erasure of my name, from the month of April 1797, when I rejoined him at
Leoben, to the period of the signature of the treaty of Campo-Formio; but
without success. He desired his brother Louis, Berthier, Bernadotte, and
others, when he sent them to the Directory, to urge my erasure; but in
vain. He complained of this inattention to his wishes to Bottot, when he
came to Passeriano, after the 18th Fructidor. Bottot, who was secretary
to Barras, was astonished that I was not erased, and he made fine
promises of what he would do. On his return to France he wrote to
Bonaparte: "Bourrienne is erased." But this was untrue. I was not
erased until November 1797, upon the reiterated solicitations of General

It was during my absence from France that Bonaparte, in the rank of 'chef
de bataillon', performed his first campaign, and contributed so
materially to the recapture of Toulon. Of this period of his life I have
no personal knowledge, and therefore I shall not speak of it as an eye-
witness. I shall merely relate some facts which fill up the interval
between 1793 and 1795, and which I have collected from papers which he
himself delivered to me. Among these papers is a little production,
entitled 'Le Souper de Beaucaire', the copies of which he bought up at
considerable expense, and destroyed upon his attaining the Consulate.
This little pamphlet contains principles very opposite to those he wished
to see established in 1800, a period when extravagant ideas of liberty
were no longer the fashion, and when Bonaparte entered upon a system
totally the reverse of those republican principles professed in
'Le Souper de Beaucaire.

--[This is not, as Sir Walter says, a dialogue between Marat and a
Federalist, but a conversation between a military officer, a native
of Nismes, a native of Marseilles, and a manufacturer from
Montpellier. The latter, though he takes a share in the
conversation, does not say much. 'Le Souper de Beaucaire' is given
at full length in the French edition of these Memoirs, tome i. pp.
319-347; and by Iung, tome ii. p. 354, with the following remarks:
"The first edition of 'Le Souper de Beaucaire' was issued at the
cost of the Public Treasury, in August 1798. Sabin Tournal, its
editor, also then edited the 'Courrier d'Avignon'. The second
edition only appeared twenty-eight years afterwards, in 1821,
preceded by an introduction by Frederick Royou (Paris: Brasseur
Aine, printer, Terrey, publisher, in octavo). This pamphlet did not
make any sensation at the time it appeared. It was only when
Napoleon became Commandant of the Army of Italy that M. Loubet,
secretary and corrector of the press for M. Tournal, attached some
value to the manuscript, and showed it to several persona. Louis
Bonaparte, later, ordered several copies from M. Aurel. The
pamphlet, dated 29th duly 1793, is in the form of a dialogue between
an officer of the army, a citizen of Nismes, a manufacturer of
Montpellier, and a citizen of Marseilles. Marseilles was then in a
state of insurrection against the Convention. Its forces had seized
Avignon, but had been driven out by the army of Cartesna, which was
about to attack Marseilles itself." In the dialogue the officer
gives most excellent military advice to the representative of
Marseilles on the impossibility of their resisting the old soldiers
of Carteaux. The Marseilles citizen argues but feebly, and is
alarmed at the officer's representations; while his threat to call
in the Spaniards turns the other speakers against him. Even Colonel
Iung says, tome ii. p. 372, "In these concise judgments is felt the
decision of the master and of the man of war..... These marvellous
qualities consequently struck the members of the Convention, who
made much of Bonaparte, authorised him to have it published at the
public expense, and made him many promises." Lanfrey, vol. i. pp.
201, says of this pamphlets "Common enough ideas, expressed in a
style only remarkable for its 'Italianisms,' but becoming singularly
firm and precise every time the author expresses his military views.
Under an apparent roughness, we find in it a rare circumspection,
leaving no hold on the writer, even if events change."]--

It may be remarked, that in all that has come to us from St. Helena, not
a word is said of this youthful production. Its character sufficiently
explains this silence. In all Bonaparte's writings posterity will
probably trace the profound politician rather than the enthusiastic

Some documents relative to Bonaparte's suspension and arrest, by order of
the representatives Albitte and Salicetti, serve to place in their true
light circumstances which have hitherto been misrepresented. i shall
enter into some details of this event, because I have seen it stated that
this circumstance of Bonaparte's life has been perverted and
misrepresented by every person who has hitherto written about him; and
the writer who makes this remark, himself describes the affair
incorrectly and vaguely. Others have attributed Bonaparte's misfortune
to a military discussion on war, and his connection with Robespierre the

--[It will presently be seen that all this is erroneous, and that
Sir Walter commits another mistake when he says that Bonaparte's
connection with Robespierre was attended with fatal consequences to
him, and that his justification consisted in acknowledging that his
friends were very different from what he had supposed them to be.--

It has, moreover, been said that Albitte and Salicetti explained to the
Committee of Public Safety the impossibility of their resuming the
military operations unaided by the talents of General Bonaparte. This is
mere flattery. The facts are these:

On the 13th of July 1794 (25th Messidor, year II), the representatives of
the people with the army of Italy ordered that General Bonaparte should
proceed to Genoa, there, conjointly with the French 'charge d'affaires',
to confer on certain subjects with the Genoese Government. This mission,
together with a list of secret instructions, directing him to examine the
fortresses of Genoa and the neighbouring country, show the confidence
which Bonaparte, who was then only twenty-five, inspired in men who were
deeply interested in making a prudent choice of their agents.

Bonaparte set off for Genoa, and fulfilled his mission. The 9th
Thermidor arrived, and the deputies, called Terrorists, were superseded
by Albitte and Salicetti. In the disorder which then prevailed they were
either ignorant of the orders given to General Bonaparte, or persons
envious of the rising glory of the young general of artillery inspired
Albitte and Salicetti with suspicions prejudicial to him. Be this as it
may, the two representatives drew up a resolution, ordering that General
Bonaparte should be arrested, suspended from his rank, and arraigned
before the Committee of Public Safety; and, extraordinary as it may
appear, this resolution was founded in that very journey to Genoa which
Bonaparte executed by the direction of the representatives of the people.

--[Madame Junot throws some light on this Persecution of Bonaparte
by Salicetti. "One motive (I do not mean to say the only one),"
remarks this lady, "of the animosity shown by Salicetti to
Bonaparte, in the affair of Loano, was that they were at one time
suitors to the same lady. I am not sure whether it was in Corsica
or in Paris, but I know for a fact that Bonaparte, in spite of his
youth, or perhaps I should rather say on account of his youth, was
the favoured lover. It was the opinion of my brother, who was
secretary to Salicetti, that Bonaparte owed his life to a
circumstance which is not very well known. The fact is, that
Salicetti received a letter from Bonaparte, the contents of which
appeared to make a deep impression on him. Bonaparte's papers had
been delivered into Salicetti's hands, who, after an attentive
perusal of them, laid them aside with evident dissatisfaction. He
then took them up again, and read them a second time. Salicetti
declined my brother's assistance is the examination of the papers,
and after a second examination, which was probably as unsatisfactory
as the first, he seated himself with a very abstracted air. It
would appear that he had seen among the papers some document which
concerned himself. Another curious fact is, that the man who had
the care of the papers after they were sealed up was an inferior
clerk entirely under the control of Salicetti; and my brother, whose
business it was to have charge of the papers, was directed not to
touch them. He has often spoken to me of this circumstance, and I
mention it here as one of importance to the history of the time.
Nothing that relates to a man like Napoleon can be considered
useless or trivial.

"What, after all, was the result of this strange business which
might have cost Bonaparte his head?--for, had he been taken to Paris
and tried by the Committee of Public Safety, there is little doubt
that the friend of Robespierre the younger would have been condemned
by Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois. The result was the
acquittal of the accused. This result is the more extraordinary,
since it would appear that at that time Salicetti stood in fear of
the young general. A compliment is even paid to Bonaparte in the
decree, by which he was provisionally restored to liberty. That
liberation was said to be granted on the consideration that General
Bonaparte might he useful to the Republic. This was foresight; but
subsequently when measures were taken which rendered Bonaparte no
longer an object of fear, his name was erased from the list of
general officers, and it is a curious fact that Cambaceres, who was
destined to be his colleague in the Consulate, was one of the
persons who signed the act of erasure" (Memoirs of the Duchesse
d'Abrantes, vol. i, p. 69, edit. 1843).]--

Bonaparte said at St. Helena that he was a short time imprisoned by order
of the representative Laporte; but the order for his arrest was signed by
Albitte, Salicetti, and Laporte.

--[Albitte and Laporte were the representatives sent from the
Convention to the army of the Alps, and Salicetti to the army of

Laporte was not probably the most influential of the three, for Bonaparte
did not address his remonstrance to him. He was a fortnight under

Had the circumstance occurred three weeks earlier, and had Bonaparte been
arraigned before the Committee of Public Safety previous to the 9th
Thermidor, there is every probability that his career would have been at
an end; and we should have seen perish on the scaffold, at the age of
twenty-five, the man who, during the twenty-five succeeding years, was
destined to astonish the world by his vast conceptions, his gigantic
projects, his great military genius, his extraordinary good fortune, his
faults, reverses, and final misfortunes.

It is worth while to remark that in the post-Thermidorian resolution just
alluded to no mention is made of Bonaparte's association with Robespierre
the younger. The severity with which he was treated is the more
astonishing, since his mission to Genoa was the alleged cause of it.
Was there any other charge against him, or had calumny triumphed over the
services he had rendered to his country? I have frequently conversed
with him on the subject of this adventure, and he invariably assured me
that he had nothing to reproach himself with, and that his defence, which
I shall subjoin, contained the pure expression of his sentiments, and the
exact truth.

In the following note, which he addressed to Albitte and Salicetti, he
makes no mention of Laporte. The copy which I possess is in the
handwriting of, Junot, with corrections in the General's hand. It
exhibits all the characteristics of Napoleon's writing: his short
sentences, his abrupt rather than concise style, sometimes his elevated
ideas, and always his plain good sense.


You have suspended me from my duties, put me under arrest, and declared
me to be suspected.

Thus I am disgraced before being judged, or indeed judged before being

In a revolutionary state there are two classes, the suspected and the

When the first are aroused, general measures are adopted towards them for
the sake of security.

The oppression of the second class is a blow to public liberty. The
magistrate cannot condemn until after the fullest evidence and a
succession of facts. This leaves nothing to arbitrary decision.

To declare a patriot suspected is to deprive him of all that he most
highly values--confidence and esteem.

In what class am I placed?

Since the commencement of the Revolution, have I not always been attached
to its principles?

Have I not always been contending either with domestic enemies or foreign

I sacrificed my home, abandoned my property, and lost everything for the

I have since served with some distinction at Toulon, and earned a part of
the laurels of the army of Italy at the taking of Saorgio, Oneille, and

On the discovery of Robespierre's conspiracy, my conduct was that of a
man accustomed to look only to principles.

My claim to the title of patriot, therefore cannot be disputed.

Why, then, am I declared suspected without being heard, and arrested
eight days after I heard the news of the tyrant's death

I am declared suspected, and my papers are placed under seal.

The reverse of this course ought to have been adopted. My papers should
first have been sealed; then I should have been called on for my
explanation; and, lastly, declared suspected, if there was reason for
coming to, such a decision.

It is wished that I should go to Paris with an order which declares me
suspected. It will naturally be presumed that the representatives did
not draw up this decree without accurate information, and I shall be
judged with the bias which a man of that class merits.

Though a patriot and an innocent and calumniated man, yet whatever
measures may be adopted by the Committee I cannot complain.

If three men declare that I have committed a crime, I cannot complain of
the jury who condemns me.

Salicetti, you know me; and I ask whether you have observed anything in
my conduct for the last five years which can afford ground of suspicion?

Albitte, you do not know me; but you have received proof of no fact
against me; you have not heard me, and you know how artfully the tongue
of calumny sometimes works.

Must I then be confounded with the enemies of my country and ought the
patriots inconsiderately to sacrifice a general who has not been useless
to the Republic? Ought the representatives to reduce the Government to
the necessity of being unjust and impolitic?

Hear me; destroy the oppression that overwhelms me, and restore me to the
esteem of the patriots.

An hour after, if my enemies wish for my life, let them take it. I have
often given proofs how little I value ft. Nothing but the thought that I
may yet be useful to my country makes me bear the burden of existence
with courage.

It appears that this defence, which is remarkable for its energetic
simplicity, produced an effect on Albitte and Salicetti. Inquiries more
accurate, and probably more favourable to the General, were instituted;
and on the 3d Fructidor (20th August 1794) the representatives of the
people drew up a decree stating that, after a careful examination of
General Bonaparte's papers, and of the orders he had received relative to
his mission to Genoa, they saw nothing to justify any suspicion of his
conduct; and that, moreover, taking into consideration the advantage that
might accrue to the Republic from the military talents of the said
General Bonaparte, it was resolved that he should be provisionally set at

--[With reference to the arrest of Bonaparte (which lasted thirteen
days) see 'Bourrienne et ses Erreurs', tome i. pp. 16-28, and Iung,
tome ii. pp. 443-457. Both, in opposition to Bourrienne, attribute
the arrest to his connection with the younger Robespierre.
Apparently Albitte and Salicetti wets not acquainted with the secret
plan of campaign prepared by the younger Robespierre and by
Bonaparte, or with the real instructions given for the mission to
Genoa. Jealousy between the representatives in the staff of the
army of the Alps and those with the army of Italy, with which
Napoleon was, also played a part in the affair. Iung looks on
Salicetti as acting as the protector of the Bonapartes; but Napoleon
does not seem to have regarded him in that light; see the letter
given in Tunot, vol. i. p. l06, where in 1795 he takes credit for
not returning the ill done to him; see also the same volume, p. 89.
Salicetti eventually became Minister of Police to Joseph, when King
of Naples, in 1806; but when he applied to return to France,
Napoleon said to Mathieu Dumas, "Let him know that I am not powerful
enough to protect the wretches who voted for the death of Louis XVI.
from the contempt and indignation of the public" (Dumas, tome iii.
p. 318). At the same time Napoleon described Salicetti as worse
than the lazzaroni.]--

Salicetti afterwards became the friend and confidant of young Bonaparte;
but their intimacy did not continue after his elevation.

What is to be thought of the motives for Bonaparte's arrest and
provisional liberation, when his innocence and the error that had been
committed were acknowledged? The importance of the General's military
talents, though no mention is made about the impossibility of dispensing
with them, is a pretence for restoring him to that liberty of which he
had been unjustly deprived.

It was not at Toulon, as has been stated, that Bonaparte took Duroc into
the artillery, and made him his 'aide de camp'.

--[Michel Duroc (1773-1813) at first only aide de camp to Napoleon,
was several times entrusted with special diplomatic missions (for
example, to Berlin, etc.) On the formation of the Empire he became
Grand Marechal du Palais, and Duc de Frioul. He always remained in
close connection with Napoleon until he was killed in 1813. As he
is often mentioned in contemporary memoirs under his abbreviated
title of 'Marshal', he has sometimes been erroneously included in
the number of the Marshals of the Empire--a military rank he never
attained to.]--

The acquaintance was formed at a subsequent period, in Italy. Duroc's
cold character and unexcursive mind suited Napoleon, whose confidence he
enjoyed until his death, and who entrusted him with missions perhaps
above his abilities. At St. Helena Bonaparte often declared that he was
much attached to Duroc. I believe this to be true; but I know that the
attachment was not returned. The ingratitude of princes is proverbial.
May it not happen that courtiers are also sometimes ungrateful?--[It is
only just to Duroc to add that this charge does not seem borne out by the
impressions of those more capable than Bourrienne of judging in the



Proposal to send Bonaparte to La Vendee--He is struck off the list
of general officers--Salicetti--Joseph's marriage with Mademoiselle
Clary--Bonaparte's wish to go to Turkey--Note explaining the plan of
his proposed expedition--Madame Bourrienne's character of Bonaparte,
and account of her husband's arrest--Constitution of the year III--
The 13th Vendemiaire--Bonaparte appointed second in command of the
army of the interior--Eulogium of Bonaparte by Barras, and its
consequences--St. Helena manuscript.

General Bonaparte returned to Paris, where I also arrived from Germany
shortly after him. Our intimacy was resumed, and he gave me an account
of, all that had passed in the campaign of the south. He frequently
alluded to the persecutions he had suffered, and he delivered to me the
packet of papers noticed in the last chapter, desiring me to communicate
their contents to my friends. He was very anxious, he said, to do away
with the supposition that he was capable of betraying his country, and,
under the pretence of a mission to Genoa, becoming a SPY on the interests
of France. He loved to talk over his military achievements at Toulon and
in Italy. He spoke of his first successes with that feeling of pleasure
and gratification which they were naturally calculated to excite in him.

The Government wished to send him to La Vendee, with the rank of
brigadier-general of infantry. Bonaparte rejected this proposition on
two grounds. He thought the scene of action unworthy of his talents, and
he regarded his projected removal from the artillery to the infantry as a
sort of insult. This last was his most powerful objection, and was the
only one he urged officially. In consequence of his refusal to accept
the appointment offered him, the Committee of Public Safety decreed that
he should be struck off the list of general officers.

--[This statement as to the proposed transfer of Bonaparte to the
infantry, his disobedience to the order, and his consequent
dismissal, is fiercely attacked in the 'Erreurs', tome i. chap. iv.
It is, however, correct in some points; but the real truths about
Bonaparte's life at this time seem so little known that it may be
well to explain the whole matter. On the 27th of March 1795
Bonaparte, already removed from his employment in the south, was
ordered to proceed to the army of the west to command its artillery
as brigadier-general. He went as far as Paris, and then lingered
there, partly on medical certificate. While in Paris he applied, as
Bourrienne says, to go to Turkey to organise its artillery. His
application, instead of being neglected, as Bourrienne says, was
favourably received, two members of the 'Comite de Saint Public'
putting on its margin most favorable reports of him; one, Jean
Debry, even saying that he was too distinguished an officer to be
sent to a distance at such a time. Far from being looked on as the
half-crazy fellow Bourrienne considered him at that time, Bonaparte
was appointed, on the 21st of August 1795, one of four generals
attached as military advisers to the Committee for the preparation
of warlike operations, his own department being a most important
one. He himself at the time tells Joseph that he is attached to the
topographical bureau of the Comite de Saint Public, for the
direction of the armies in the place of Carnot. It is apparently
this significant appointment to which Madame Junot, wrongly dating
it, alludes as "no great thing" (Junot, vol. i, p. 143). Another
officer was therefore substituted for him as commander of Roches
artillery, a fact made use of in the Erreurs (p. 31) to deny his
having been dismissed--But a general re-classification of the
generals was being made. The artillery generals were in excess of
their establishment, and Bonaparte, as junior in age, was ordered on
13th June to join Hoche's army at Brest to command a brigade of
infantry. All his efforts to get the order cancelled failed, and as
he did not obey it he was struck off the list of employed general
officers on the 15th of September 1795, the order of the 'Comite de
Salut Public' being signed by Cambaceres, Berber, Merlin, and
Boissy. His application to go to Turkey still, however, remained;
and it is a curious thing that, on the very day he was struck off
the list, the commission which had replaced the Minister of War
recommended to the 'Comite de Saint Public' that he and his two
aides de camp, Junot and Livrat, with other officers, under him,
should be sent to Constantinople. So late as the 29th of September,
twelve days later, this matter was being considered, the only
question being as to any departmental objections to the other
officers selected by him, a point which was just being settled. But
on the 13th Vendemiaire (5th October 1795), or rather on the night
before, only nineteen days after his removal, he was appointed
second in command to Barras, a career in France was opened to him,
and Turkey was no longer thought of.

Thiers (vol. iv, p. 326) and most writers, contemporary and
otherwise, say that Aubry gave the order for his removal from the
list. Aubry, himself a brigadier-general of artillery, did not
belong to the 'Comite de Salut Public' at the time Bonaparte was
removed from the south; and he had left the Comite early is August,
that is, before the order striking Bonaparte off was given. Aubry
was, however, on the Comite in June 1795, and signed the order,
which probably may have originated from him, for the transfer of
Bonaparte to the infantry. It will be seen that, in the ordinary
military sense of the term, Napoleon was only in Paris without
employment from the 15th of September to the 4th or 6th of October
1796; all the rest of the time in Paris he had a command which he
did not choose to take up. The distress under which Napoleon is
said to have laboured in pecuniary matters was probably shared by
most officers at that time; see 'Erreurs', tome i. p. 32. This
period is fully described in Iung, tome ii. p. 476, and tome iii.
pp. 1-93.]--

Deeply mortified at this unexpected stroke, Bonaparte retired into
private life, and found himself doomed to an inactivity very uncongenial
with his ardent character. He lodged in the Rue du Mail, in an hotel
near the Place des Victoires, and we recommenced the sort of life we had
led in 1792, before his departure for Corsica. It was not without a
struggle that he determined to await patiently the removal of the
prejudices which were cherished against him by men in power; and he hoped
that, in the perpetual changes which were taking place, those men might
be superseded by others more favourable to him. He frequently dined and
spent the evening with me and my elder brother; and his pleasant
conversation and manners made the hours pass away very agreeably. I
called on him almost every morning, and I met at his lodgings several
persons who were distinguished at the time; among others Salicetti, with
whom he used to maintain very animated conversations, and who would often
solicit a private interview with him. On one occasion Salicetti paid him
three thousand francs, in assignats, as the price of his carriage, which
his straitened circumstances obliged him to dispose of.

--[Of Napoleon's poverty at this time Madame Junot says, "On
Bonaparte's return to Paris, after the misfortunes of which he
accused Salicetti of being the cause, he was in very destitute
circumstances. His family, who were banished from Corsica, found an
asylum at Marseilles; and they could not now do for him what they
would have done had they been in the country whence they derived
their pecuniary resources. From time to time he received
remittances of money, and I suspect they came from his excellent
brother Joseph, who had then recently married 'Mademoiselle Clary;
but with all his economy these supplies were insufficient.
Bonaparte was therefore in absolute distress. Junot often used to
speak of the six months they passed together in Paris at this time.
When they took an evening stroll on the Boulevard, which used to be
the resort of young men, mounted on fine horses, and displaying ell
the luxury which they were permitted to show at that time, Bonaparte
would declaim against fate, and express his contempt for the dandies
with their whiskers and their 'orielles de chiene', who, as they
rode Past, were eulogising in ecstasy the manner in which Madame
Scio sang. And it is on such beings as these,' he would say, 'that
Fortune confers her favours. Grand Dieu! how contemptible is human
nature!'" (Memoirs of the Duchesse d'Abrantes, vol. i. p. 80,
edit. 1883.)]--

I could, easily perceive that our young friend either was or wished to be
initiated in some political intrigue; and I moreover suspected that
Salicetti had bound him by an oath not to disclose the plans that were

He became pensive, melancholy, and anxious; and he always looked with
impatience for Salicetti's daily visit.

--[Salicetti was implicated in the insurrection of the 20th May
1795, 1st Prairial, Year III., and was obliged to fly to Venice.]--

Sometimes, withdrawing his mind from political affairs, he would envy the
happiness of his brother Joseph, who
had just then married Mademoiselle Clary, the daughter of a rich and
respectable merchant of Marseilles. He would often say, "That Joseph is
a lucky rogue."

Meanwhile time passed away, and none of his projects succeeded--none of
his applications were listened to. He was vexed by the injustice with
which he was treated, and tormented by the desire of entering upon some
active pursuit. He could not endure the thought of remaining buried in
the crowd. He determined to quit France; and the favourite idea, which
he never afterwards relinquished, that the East is a fine field for
glory, inspired him with the wish to proceed to Constantinople, and to
enter the service of the Grand Seignior. What romantic plans, what
stupendous projects he conceived! He asked me whether I would go with
him? I replied in the negative. I looked upon him as a half-crazy young
fellow, who was driven to extravagant enterprises and desperate
resolutions by his restless activity of mind, joined to the irritating
treatment he had experienced, and, perhaps, it may be added, his want of
money. He did not blame me for my refusal to accompany him; and he told
me that Junot, Marmont, and some other young officers whom he had known
at Toulon, would be willing to follow his fortunes.

He drew up a note which commenced with the words 'Note for . . .'
It was addressed to no one, and was merely a plan. Some days after he
wrote out another, which, however, did not differ very materially from
the first, and which he addressed to Aubert and Coni. I made him a fair
copy of it, and it was regularly for forwarded. It was as follows:--


At a moment when the Empress of Russia has strengthened her union with
the Emperor of Germany (Austria), it is the interest of France to do
everything in her power to increase the military power of Turkey.

That power possesses a numerous and brave militia but is very backward in
the scientific part of the art of war.

The organization and the service of the artillery, which, in our modern
tactics, so powerfully facilitate the gaining of battles, and on which,
almost exclusively, depend the attack and defence of fortresses, are
especially the points in which France excels, and in which the Turks are
most deficient.

They have several times applied to us for artillery officers, and we have
sent them some; but the officers thus sent have not been sufficiently
powerful, either in numbers or talent, to produce any important result.

General Bonaparte, who, from his youth, has served in the artillery, of
which he was entrusted with the command at the siege of Toulon, and in
the two campaigns of Italy, offers his services to proceed to Turkey,
with a mission from the (French) Government.

He proposes to take along with him six or seven officers, of different
kinds, and who may be, altogether, perfect masters of the military art.

He will have the satisfaction of being useful to his country in this new
career, if he succeed in rendering the Turkish power more formidable, by
completing the defence of their principal fortresses, and constructing
new ones.

This note shows the error of the often-repeated assertion, that he
proposed entering the service of the Turks against Austria. He makes no
mention of such a thing; and the two countries were not at war.

--[The Scottish biographer makes Bonaparte say that it would be
strange if a little Corsican should become King of Jerusalem. I
never heard anything drop from him which supports the probability of
such a remark, and certainly there is nothing in his note to warrant
the inference of his having made it.--Bourrienne.]--

No answer was returned to this note. Turkey remained unaided, and
Bonaparte unoccupied. I must confess that for the failure of this
project, at least I was not sorry. I should have regretted to see a
young man of great promise, and one for whom I cherished a sincere
friendship, devote himself to so uncertain a fate. Napoleon has less
than any man provoked the events which have favoured him; no one has more
yielded to circumstances from which he was so skilful to derive
advantages. If, however, a clerk of the War Office had but written on
the note, "Granted," that little word would probably have changed the
fate of Europe.

Bonaparte remained in Paris, forming schemes for the gratification of his
ambition, and his desire of making a figure in the world; but obstacles
opposed all he attempted.

Women are better judges of character than men. Madame de Bourrienne,
knowing the intimacy which subsisted between us, preserved some notes
which she made upon Bonaparte, and the circumstances which struck her as
most remarkable, during her early connection with him. My wife did not
entertain so favourable an opinion of him as I did; the warm friendship I
cherished for him probably blinded me to his faults. I subjoin Madame de
Bourrienne's notes, word for word:

On the day after our second return from Germany, which was in May 1795,
we mat Bonaparte in the Palais Royal, near a shop kept by a man named
Girardin. Bonaparte embraced Bourrienne as a friend whom he loved and
was glad to see. We went that evening to the Theatre Francais. The
performance consisted of a tragedy; and 'Le Sourd, ou l'Auberge pleine'.
During the latter piece the audience was convulsed with laughter. The
part of Dasnieres was represented by Batiste the younger, and it was
never played better. The bursts of laughter were so loud and frequent
that the actor was several times obliged to stop in the midst of his
part. Bonaparte alone (and it struck me as being very extraordinary) was
silent, and coldly insensible to the humour which was so irresistibly
diverting to everyone else. I remarked at this period that his character
was reserved, and frequently gloomy. His smile was hypocritical, and
often misplaced; and I recollect that a few days after our return he gave
us one of these specimens of savage hilarity which I greatly disliked,
and which prepossessed me against him. He was telling us that, being
before Toulon, where he commanded the artillery, one of his officers was
visited by his wife, to wham he had been but a short time married, and
whom he tenderly loved. A few days after, orders were given for another
attack upon the town, in which this officer was to be engaged. His wife
came to General Bonaparte, and with tears entreated him to dispense with
her husband's services that day. The General was inexorable, as he
himself told us, with a sort of savage exaltation. The moment for the
attack arrived, and the officer, though a very brave man, as Bonaparte
him self-assured us, felt a presentiment of his approaching death. He
turned pale and trembled. Ha was stationed beside the General, and
during an interval when the firing from the town was very heavy,
Bonaparte called out to him, "Take care, there is a shell coming!" The
officer, instead of moving to one side, stooped down, and was literally
severed in two. Bonaparte laughed loudly while he described the event
with horrible minuteness. At this time we saw him almost every day. He
frequently came to dine with us. As there was a scarcity of bread, and
sometimes only two ounces per head daily were distributed in the section,
it was customary to request one's guests to bring their own bread, as it
could not be procured for money. Bonaparte and his brother Louis (a
mild, agreeable young man, who was the General's aide de army) used to
bring with them their ration bread, which was black, and mixed with bran.
I was sorry to observe that all this bad bread fell to the share of the
poor aide de camp, for we provided the General with a finer kind, which
was made clandestinely by a pastrycook, from flour which we contrived to
smuggle from Sens, where my husband had some farms. Had we been
denounced, the affair might have cost us our heads.

We spent six weeks in Paris, and we went frequently with Bonaparte to the
theatres, and to the fine concerts given by Garat in the Rue St. Marc.
These were the first brilliant entertainments that took place after the
death of Robespierre. There was always something original in Bonaparte's
behaviour, for he often slipped away from us without saying a word; and
when we were supposing he had left the theatre, we would suddenly
discover him in the second or third tier, sitting alone in a box, and
looking rather sulky.

Before our departure for Sens, where my husband's family reside, and
which was fixed upon for the place of my first accouchement, we looked
out for more agreeable apartments than we had in the Rue Grenier St.
Lazare, which we only had temporarily. Bonaparte used to assist us in
our researches. At last we took the first floor of a handsome new house,
No. 19 Rue des Marais. Bonaparte, who wished to stop in Paris, went to
look at a house opposite to ours. Ha had thoughts of taking it for
himself, his uncle Fesch (afterwards Cardinal Fesch), and a gentleman
named Patrauld, formerly one of his masters at the Military School. One
day he said, "With that house over there, my friends in it, and a
cabriolet, I shall be the happiest fellow in the world."

We soon after left town for Sens. The house was not taken by him, for
other and great affairs were preparing. During the interval between our
departure and the fatal day of Vendemiaire several letters passed between
him and his school companion. These letters were of the most amiable and
affectionate description. They have been stolen. On our return, in
November of the same year, everything was changed. The college friend
was now a great personage. He had got the command of Paris in return for
his share in the events of Vendemiaire. Instead of a small house in the
Rue des Marais, he occupied a splendid hotel in the Rue des Capucines;
the modest cabriolet was converted into a superb equipage, and the man
himself was no longer the same. But the friends of his youth were still
received when they made their morning calls. They were invited to grand
dejeuners, which were sometimes attended by ladies; and, among others, by
the beautiful Madame Tallien and her friend the amiable Madame de
Beauharnais, to whom Bonaparte had begun to pay attention. He cared
little for his friends, and ceased to address them in the style of
familiar equality.

After the 13th of Vendemiaire M. de Bourrienne saw Bonaparte only at
distant periods. In the month of February 1796 my husband was arrested,
at seven in the morning, by a party of men, armed with muskets, on the
charge of being a returned emigrant. He was torn from his wife and his
child, only six months old, being barely allowed time to dress himself.
I followed him. They conveyed him to the guard-house of the Section, and
thence I know not whither; and, finally, in the evening, they placed him
in the lockup-house of the prefecture of police, which, I believe, is now
called the central bureau. There he passed two nights and a day, among
men of the lowest description, some of whom were even malefactors. I and
his friends ran about everywhere, trying to find somebody to rescue him,
and, among the rest, Bonaparte was applied to. It was with great
difficulty he could be seen. Accompanied by one of my husband's friends,
I waited for the commandant of Paris until midnight, but he did not come
home. Next morning I returned at an early hour, and found him. I stated
what had happened to my husband, whose life was then at stake. He
appeared to feel very little for the situation of his friend, but,
however; determined to write to Merlin, the Minister of Justice. I
carried the letter according to its address, and met the Minister as he
was coming downstairs, on his way to the Directory. Being in grand
costume, he wore a Henri IV. hat, surmounted with a multitude of plumes,
a dress which formed a singular contrast with his person. He opened the
letter; and whether it was that he cared as little for the General as for
the cause of M. do Bourrienne's arrest, he replied that the matter was no
longer in his hands, and that it was now under the cognisance of the
public administrators of the laws. The Minister then stepped into his
carriage, and the writer was conducted to several offices in his hotel.
She passed through them with a broken heart, for she met with none but
harsh men, who told her that the prisoner deserved death. From them she
learned that on the following day he would be brought before the judge of
the peace for his Section, who would decide whether there was ground for
putting him on his trial. In fact, this proceeding took place next day.
He was conveyed to the house of the judge of the peace for the Section of
Bondy, Rue Grange-sue-Belles, whose name was Lemaire. His countenance
was mild; and though his manner was cold, he had none of the harshness
and ferocity common to the Government agents of that time. His
examination of the charge was long, and he several times shook his head.
The moment of decision had arrived, and everything seemed to indicate
that the termination would be to place the prisoner under accusation.
At seven o'clock be desired me to be called. I hastened to him, and
beheld a most heart rending scene. Bourrienne was suffering under a
hemorrhage, which had continued since two o'clock, and had interrupted
the examination. The judge of the peace, who looked sad, sat with his
head resting on his hand. I threw myself at his feet and implored his
clemency. The wife and the two daughters of the judge visited this scene
of sorrow, and assisted me in softening him. He was a worthy and feeling
man, a good husband and parent, and it was evident that he struggled
between compassion and duty. He kept referring to the laws on the
subject, and, after long researches said to me, "To-morrow is Decadi, and
no proceedings can take place on that day. Find, madams, two responsible
persons, who will answer for the appearance of your husband, and I will
permit him to go home with you, accompanied by the two guardians." Next
day two friends were found, one of whom was M. Desmaisons, counsellor of
the court, who became bail for M. de Bourrienne. He continued under
these guardians six months, until a law compelled the persons who were
inscribed on the fatal list to remove to the distance of ten leagues from
Paris. One of the guardians was a man of straw; the other was a knight
of St. Louis. The former was left in the antechamber; the latter made,
every evening, one of our party at cards. The family of M. de
Bourrienne have always felt the warmest gratitude to the judge of the
peace and his family. That worthy man saved the life of M. de
Bourrienne, who, when he returned from Egypt, and had it in his power to
do him some service, hastened to his house; but the good judge was no

The letters mentioned in the narrative were at this time stolen from me
by the police officers.

Everyone was now eager to pay court to a man who had risen from the crowd
in consequence of the part he had acted at an, extraordinary crisis, and
who was spoken of as the future General of the Army of Italy. It was
expected that he would be gratified, as he really was, by the restoration
of some letters which contained the expression of his former very modest
wishes, called to recollection his unpleasant situation, his limited
ambition, his pretended aversion for public employment, and finally
exhibited his intimate relations with those who were, without hesitation,
characterised as emigrants, to be afterwards made the victims of
confiscation and death.

The 13th of Vendemiaire (5th October 1795) was approaching. The National
Convention had been painfully delivered of a new constitution, called,
from the epoch of its birth, "the Constitution of Year III." It was
adopted on the 22d of August 1795. The provident legislators did not
forget themselves. They stipulated that two-thirds of their body should
form part of the new legislature. The party opposed to the Convention
hoped, on the contrary, that, by a general election, a majority would be
obtained for its opinion. That opinion was against the continuation of
power in the hands of men who had already so greatly abused it.

The same opinion was also entertained by a great part of the most
influential Sections of Paris, both as to the possession of property and
talent. These Sections declared that, in accepting the new constitution,
they rejected the decree of the 30th of August, which required the re-
election of two-thirds The Convention, therefore, found itself menaced in
what it held moat dear--its power;--and accordingly resorted to measures
of defence. A declaration was put forth, stating that the Convention, if
attacked, would remove to Chalons-sur-Marne; and the commanders of the
armed force were called upon to defend that body.

The 5th of October, the day on which the Sections of Paris attacked the
Convention, is certainly one which ought to be marked in the wonderful
destiny of Bonaparte.

With the events of that day were linked, as cause and effect, many great
political convulsions of Europe. The blood which flowed ripened the
seeds of the youthful General's ambition. It must be admitted that the
history of past ages presents few periods full of such extraordinary
events as the years included between 1795 and 1815. The man whose name
serves, in some measure, as a recapitulation of all these great events
was entitled to believe himself immortal.

Living retired at Sens since the month of July, I only learned what had
occasioned the insurrection of the Sections from public report and the
journals. I cannot, therefore, say what part Bonaparte may have taken in
the intrigues which preceded that day. He was officially characterised
only as secondary actor in the scene. The account of the affair which
was published announces that Barras was, on that very day, Commander-in-
chief of the Army of the Interior, and Bonaparte second in command.
Bonaparte drew up that account. The whole of the manuscript was in his
handwriting, and it exhibits all the peculiarity of his style and
orthography. He sent me a copy.

Those who read the bulletin of the 13th Vendemiaire, cannot fail to
observe the care which Bonaparte took to cast the reproach of shedding
the first blood on the men he calls rebels. He made a great point of
representing his adversaries as the aggressors. It is certain he long
regretted that day. He often told me that he would give years of his
life to blot it out from the page of his history. He was convinced that
the people of Paris were dreadfully irritated against him, and he would
have been glad if Barras had never made that Speech in the Convention,
with the part of which, complimentary to himself, he was at the time so
well pleased. Barras said, "It is to his able and prompt dispositions
that we are indebted for the defence of this assembly, around which he
had posted the troops with so much skill." This is perfectly true, but
it is not always agreeable that every truth should be told. Being out of
Paris, and a total stranger to this affair, I know not how far he was
indebted for his success to chance, or to his own exertions, in the part
assigned to him by the miserable Government which then oppressed France.
He represented himself only as secondary actor in this sanguinary scene
in which Barras made him his associate. He sent to me, as already
mentioned, an account of the transaction, written entirely in his own
hand, and distinguished by all the peculiarities of--his style and

--[Joseph Bonaparte, in a note on this peerage, insinuates that the
account of the 13th Vendemiaire was never sent to Sens, but was
abstracted by Bourrienne, with other documents, from Napoleon's
Cabinet (Erreurs, tome i. p. 239).]--

"On the 13th," says Bonaparte, "at five o'clock in the morning, the
representative of the people, Barras, was appointed Commander-in-chief of
the Army of the Interior, and General Bonaparte was nominated second in

"The artillery for service on the frontier was still at the camp of
Sablons, guarded solely by 150 men; the remainder was at Marly with 200
men. The depot of Meudon was left unprotected. There were at the
Feuillans only a few four-pounders without artillerymen, and but 80,000
cartridges. The victualling depots were dispersed throughout Paris.
In many Sections the drums beat to arms; the Section of the Theatre
Francais had advanced posts even as far as the Pont Neuf, which it had

"General Barras ordered the artillery to move immediately from the camp
of Sablons to the Tuileries, and selected the artillerymen from the
battalions of the 89th regiment, and from the gendarmerie, and placed
them at the Palace; sent to Meudon 200 men of the police legion whom he
brought from Versailles, 50 cavalry, and two companies of veterans; he
ordered the property which was at Marly to be conveyed to Meudon; caused
cartridges to be brought there, and established a workshop at that place
for the manufacture of more. He secured means for the subsistence of the
army and of the Convention for many days, independently of the depots
which were in the Sections.

"General Verdier, who commanded at the Palais National, exhibited great
coolness; he was required not to suffer a shot to be fired till the last
extremity. In the meantime reports reached him from all quarters
acquainting him that the Sections were assembled in arms, and had formed
their columns. He accordingly arrayed his troops so as to defend the
Convention, and his artillery was in readiness to repulse the rebels.
His cannon was planted at the Feuillans to fire down the Rue Honore.
Eight-pounders were pointed at every opening, and in the event of any
mishap, General Verdier had cannon in reserve to fire in flank upon the
column which should have forced a passage. He left in the Carrousel
three howitzers (eight-pounders) to batter down the houses from which the
Convention might be fired upon. At four o'clock the rebel columns
marched out from every street to unite their forces. It was necessary to
take advantage of this critical moment to attack the insurgents, even had
they been regular troops. But the blood about to flow was French; it was
therefore for these misguided people, already guilty of rebellion, to
embrue their hands in the blood of their countrymen by striking the first

"At a quarter before five o'clock the insurgents had formed. The attack
was commenced by them on all sides. They were everywhere routed. French
blood was spilled: the crime, as well as the disgrace, fell this day upon
the Sections.

"Among the dead were everywhere to be recognized emigrants, landowners,
and nobles; the prisoners consisted for the most part of the 'chouans' of

"Nevertheless the Sections did not consider themselves beaten: they took
refuge in the church of St. Roch, in the theatre of the Republic, and in
the Palais Egalite; and everywhere they were heard furiously exciting the
inhabitants to arms. To spare the blood which would have been shed the
next day it was necessary that no time should be given them to rally, but
to follow them with vigour, though without incurring fresh hazards. The
General ordered Montchoisy, who commanded a reserve at the Place de la
Resolution, to form a column with two twelve-pounders, to march by the
Boulevard in order to turn the Place Vendome, to form a junction with the
picket stationed at headquarters, and to return in the same order of

"General Brune, with two howitzers, deployed in the streets of St.
Nicaise and St. Honore. General Cartaux sent two hundred men and a four-
pounder of his division by the Rue St. Thomas-du-Louvre to debouch in the
square of the Palais Egalite. General Bonaparte, who had his horse
killed under him, repaired to the Feuillans.

"The columns began to move, St. Roch and the theatre of the Republic were
taken, by assault, when the rebels abandoned them, and retreated to the
upper part of the Rue de la Loi, and barricaded themselves on all sides.
Patrols were sent thither, and several cannon-shots were fired during the
night, in order to prevent them from throwing up defences, which object
was effectually accomplished.

"At daybreak, the General having learned that some students from the St.
Genevieve side of the river were marching with two pieces of cannon to
succour the rebels, sent a detachment of dragoons in pursuit of them, who
seized the cannon and conducted them to the Tuileries. The enfeebled
Sections, however, still showed a front. They had barricaded the Section
of Grenelle, and placed their cannon in the principal streets. At nine
o'clock General Beruyer hastened to form his division in battle array in
the Place Vendome, marched with two eight-pounders to the Rue des Vieux-
Augustins, and pointed them in the direction of the Section Le Pelletier.
General Vachet, with a corps of 'tirailleurs', marched on his right,
ready to advance to the Place Victoire. General Brune marched to the
Perron, and planted two howitzers at the upper end of the Rue Vivienne.
General Duvigier, with his column of six hundred men, and two twelve-
pounders, advanced to the streets of St. Roch and Montmartre. The
Sections lost courage with the apprehension of seeing their retreat cut
off, and evacuated the post at the sight of our soldiers, forgetting the
honour of the French name which they had to support. The Section of
Brutus still caused some uneasiness. The wife of a representative had
been arrested there. General Duvigier was ordered to proceed along the
Boulevard as far as the Rue Poissonniere. General Beruyer took up a
position at the Place Victoire, and General Bonaparte occupied the Pont-

"The Section of Brutus was surrounded, and the troops advanced upon the
Place de Greve, where the crowd poured in from the Isle St. Louis, from
the Theatre Francais, and from the Palace. Everywhere the patriots had
regained their courage, while the poniards of the emigrants, armed
against us, had disappeared. The people universally admitted their

"The next day the two Sections of Ls Pelletier and the Theatre Francais
were disarmed."

The result of this petty civil war brought Bonaparte forward; but the
party he defeated at that period never pardoned him for the past, and
that which he supported dreaded him in the future. Five years after he
will be found reviving the principles which he combated on the 5th of
October 1795. On being appointed, on the motion of Barras, Lieutenant-
General of the Army of the Interior, he established his headquarters in
the Rue Neuve des Capucines. The statement in the 'Manuscrit de Sainte
Helene, that after the 13th Brumaire he remained unemployed at Paris, is
therefore obviously erroneous. So far from this, he was incessantly
occupied with the policy of the nation, and with his own fortunes.
Bonaparte was in constant, almost daily, communication with every one
then in power, and knew how to profit by all he saw or heard.

To avoid returning to this 'Manuscrit de Sainte Helene', which at the
period of its appearance attracted more attention than it deserved, and
which was very generally attributed to Bonaparte, I shall here say a few
words respecting it. I shall briefly repeat what I said in a note when
my opinion was asked, under high authority, by a minister of Louis XVIII.

No reader intimately acquainted with public affairs can be deceived by
the pretended authenticity of this pamphlet. What does it contain?
Facts perverted and heaped together without method, and related in an
obscure, affected, and ridiculously sententious style. Besides what
appears in it, but which is badly placed there, it is impossible not to
remark the omission of what should necessarily be there, were Napoleon
the author. It is full of absurd and of insignificant gossip, of
thoughts Napoleon never had, expressions unknown to him, and affectations
far removed from his character. With some elevated ideas, more than one
style and an equivocal spirit can be seen in it. Professed coincidences
are put close to unpardonable anachronisms, and to the most absurd
revelations. It contains neither his thoughts, his style, his actions,
nor his life. Some truths are mimed up with an inconceivable mass of
falsehoods. Some forms of expression used by Bonaparte are occasionally
met with, but they are awkwardly introduced, and often with bad taste.

It has been reported that the pamphlet was written by M. Bertrand,
formerly an officer of the army of the Vistula, and a relation of the
Comte de Simeon, peer of France.

--['Manuscrit de Sainte Helene d'une maniere inconnue', London.
Murray; Bruxelles, De Mat, 20 Avril 1817. This work merits a note.
Metternich (vol, i. pp. 312-13) says, "At the time when it appeared
the manuscript of St. Helena made a great impression upon Europe.
This pamphlet was generally regarded as a precursor of the memoirs
which Napoleon was thought to be writing in his place of exile. The
report soon spread that the work was conceived and executed by
Madame de Stael. Madame de Stael, for her part, attributed it to
Benjamin Constant, from whom she was at this time separated by some
disagreement. Afterwards it came to be known that the author was
the Marquis Lullin de Chateauvieux, a man in society, whom no one
had suspected of being able to hold a pen: Jomini (tome i. p. 8
note) says. "It will be remarked that in the course of this work
[his life of Napoleon] the author has used some fifty pages of the
pretended 'Manuscrit de Sainte Helene'. Far from wishing to commit
a plagiarism, he considers he ought to render this homage to a
clever and original work, several false points of view in which,
however, he has combated. It would have been easy for him to
rewrite these pages in other terms, but they appeared to him to be
so well suited to the character of Napoleon that he has preferred to
preserve them." In the will of Napoleon occurs (see end of this
work): "I disavow the 'Manuscrit de Sainte Helene', and the other
works under the title of Maxims, Sentences, etc., which they have
been pleased to publish during the last six years. Such rules are
not those which have guided my life: This manuscript must not be
confused with the 'Memorial of Saint Helena'.]--



On my return to Paris I meet Bonaparte--His interview with Josephine
--Bonaparte's marriage, and departure from Paris ten days after--
Portrait and character of Josephine--Bonaparte's dislike of national
property--Letter to Josephine--Letter of General Colli, and
Bonaparte's reply--Bonaparte refuses to serve with Kellerman--
Marmont's letters--Bonaparte's order to me to join the army--My
departure from Sens for Italy--Insurrection of the Venetian States.

After the 13th Vendemiaire I returned to Paris from Sens. During the
short time I stopped there I saw Bonaparte less frequently than formerly.
I had, however, no reason to attribute this to anything but the pressure
of public business with which he was now occupied. When I did meet him
it was most commonly at breakfast or dinner. One day he called my
attention to a young lady who sat opposite to him, and asked what I
thought of her. The way in which I answered his question appeared to
give him much pleasure. He then talked a great deal to me about her, her
family, and her amiable qualities; he told me that he should probably
marry her, as he was convinced that the union would make him happy. I
also gathered from his conversation that his marriage with the young
widow would probably assist him in gaining the objects of his ambition.
His constantly-increasing influence with her had already brought him into
contact with the most influential persons of that epoch. He remained in
Paris only ten days after his marriage, which took place on the 9th of
March 1796. It was a union in which great harmony prevailed,
notwithstanding occasional slight disagreements. Bonaparte never, to my
knowledge, caused annoyance to his wife. Madame Bonaparte possessed
personal graces and many good qualities.

--["Eugene was not more than fourteen years of age when he ventured
to introduce himself to General Bonaparte, for the purpose of
soliciting his father's sword, of which he understood the General
had become possessed. The countenance, air, and frank manner of
Eugene pleased Bonaparte, and he immediately granted him the boon he
sought. As soon as the sword was placed in the boy's hands tie
burst into tears, and kissed it. This feeling of affection for his
father's memory, and the natural manner in which it was evinced,
increased the interest of Bonaparte in his young visitor. Madame de
Beauharnais, on learning the kind reception which the General had
given her son, thought it her duty to call and thank him. Bonaparte
was much pleased with Josephine on this first interview, and he
returned her visit. The acquaintance thus commenced speedily led to
their marriage."--Constant]--

--[Bonaparte himself, at St. Helena, says that he first met
Josephine at Barras' (see Iung's Bonaparte, tome iii. p. 116).]--

--["Neither of his wives had ever anything to complain of from
Napoleon's personal manners" (Metternich, vol. 1 p. 279).]--

--[Madame de Remusat, who, to paraphrase Thiers' saying on
Bourrienne himself, is a trustworthy witness, for if she received
benefits from Napoleon they did not weigh on her, says, "However,
Napoleon had some affection for his first wife; and, in fact, if he
has at any time been touched, no doubt it has been only for her and
by her" (tome i. p. 113). "Bonaparte was young when he first knew
Madame de Beauharnais. In the circle where he met her she had a
great superiority by the name she bore and by the extreme elegance
of her manners . . . . In marrying Madame de Beauharnais,
Bonaparte believed he was allying himself to a very grand lady; thus
this was one more conquest" (p. 114). But in speaking of
Josephine's complaints to Napoleon of his love affairs, Madame de
Remusat says, "Her husband sometimes answered by violences, the
excesses of which I do not dare to detail, until the moment when,
his new fancy having suddenly passed, he felt his tenderness for his
wife again renewed. Then he was touched by her sufferings, replaced
his insults by caresses which were hardly more measured than his
violences and, as she was gentle and untenacious, she fell back into
her feeling of security" (p. 206).]--

--[Miot de Melito, who was a follower of Joseph Bonaparte, says, "No
woman has united go much kindness to so much natural grace, or has
done more good with more pleasure than she did. She honoured me
with her friendship, and the remembrance of the benevolence she has
shown me, to the last moment of her too short existence, will never
be effaced from my heart" (tome i. pp.101-2).]--

--[Meneval, the successor of Bourrienne is his place of secretary to
Napoleon, and who remained attached to the Emperor until the end,
says of Josephine (tome i. p. 227), "Josephine was irresistibly
attractive. Her beauty was not regular, but she had 'La grace, plus
belle encore que la beaute', according to the good La Fontaine. She
had the soft abandonment, the supple and elegant movements, and the
graceful carelessness of the creoles.--(The reader must remember
that the term "Creole" does not imply any taint of black blood, but
only that the person, of European family, has been born in the West
Indies.)--Her temper was always the same. She was gentle and

I am convinced that all who were acquainted with her must have felt bound
to speak well of her; to few, indeed, did she ever give cause for
complaint. In the time of her power she did not lose any of her friends,
because she forgot none of them. Benevolence was natural to her, but she
was not always prudent in its exercise. Hence her protection was often
extended to persons who did not deserve it. Her taste for splendour and
expense was excessive. This proneness to luxury became a habit which
seemed constantly indulged without any motive. What scenes have I not
witnessed when the moment for paying the tradesmen's bills arrived! She
always kept back one-half of their claims, and the discovery of this
exposed her to new reproaches. How many tears did she shed which might
have been easily spared!

When fortune placed a crown on her head she told me that the event,
extraordinary as it was, had been predicted: It is certain that she put
faith in fortune-tellers. I often expressed to her my astonishment that
she should cherish such a belief, and she readily laughed at her own
credulity; but notwithstanding never abandoned it: The event had given
importance to the prophecy; but the foresight of the prophetess, said to
be an old regress, was not the less a matter of doubt.

Not long before the 13th of Vendemiaire, that day which opened for
Bonaparte his immense career, he addressed a letter to me at Sens, in
which, after some of his usually friendly expressions, he said, "Look out
a small piece of land in your beautiful valley of the Yonne. I will
purchase it as soon as I can scrape together the money. I wish to retire
there; but recollect that I will have nothing to do with national

Bonaparte left Paris on the 21st of March 1796, while I was still with my
guardians. He no sooner joined the French army than General Colli, then
in command of the Piedmontese army, transmitted to him the following
letter, which, with its answer, I think sufficiently interesting to
deserve preservation:

GENERAL--I suppose that you are ignorant of the arrest of one of my
officers, named Moulin, the bearer of a flag of truce, who has been
detained for some days past at Murseco, contrary to the laws of war,
and notwithstanding an immediate demand for his liberation being
made by General Count Vital. His being a French emigrant cannot
take from him the rights of a flag of truce, and I again claim him
in that character. The courtesy and generosity which I have always
experienced from the generals of your nation induces me to hope that
I shall not make this application in vain; and it is with regret
that I mention that your chief of brigade, Barthelemy, who ordered
the unjust arrest of my flag of truce, having yesterday by the
chance of war fallen into my hands, that officer will be dealt with
according to the treatment which M. Moulin may receive.

I most sincerely wish that nothing may occur to change the noble and
humane conduct which the two nations have hitherto been accustomed
to observe towards each other. I have the honour, etc.,
(Signed) COLLI.

CEVA. 17th April 1796.

Bonaparte replied as follows:

GENERAL--An emigrant is a parricide whom no character can render
sacred. The feelings of honour, and the respect due to the French
people, were forgotten when M. Moulin was sent with a flag of truce.
You know the laws of war, and I therefore do not give credit to the
reprisals with which you threaten the chief of brigade, Barthelemy.
If, contrary to the laws of war, you authorise such an act of
barbarism, all the prisoners taken from you shall be immediately
made responsible for it with the most deplorable vengeance, for I
entertain for the officers of your nation that esteem which is due
to brave soldiers.

The Executive Directory, to whom these letters were transmitted, approved
of the arrest of M. Moulin; but ordered that he should be securely
guarded, and not brought to trial, in consequence of the character with
which he had been invested.

About the middle of the year 1796 the Directory proposed to appoint
General Kellerman, who commanded the army of the Alps, second in command
of the army of Italy.

On the 24th of May 1796 Bonaparte wrote to, Carnot respecting, this plan,
which was far from being agreeable to him. He said, "Whether I shall be
employed here or anywhere else is indifferent to me: to serve the
country, and to merit from posterity a page in our history, is all my
ambition. If you join Kellerman and me in command in Italy you will undo
everything. General Kellerman has more experience than I, and knows how
to make war better than I do; but both together, we shall make it badly.
I will not willingly serve with a man who considers himself the first
general in Europe."

Numbers of letters from Bonaparte to his wife have been published.
I cannot deny their, authenticity, nor is it my wish to do so. I will,
however, subjoin one which appears to me to differ a little from the
rest. It is less remarkable for exaggerated expressions of love, and a
singularly ambitious and affected style, than most of the correspondence
here alluded to. Bonaparte is announcing the victory of Arcola to

VERONA, the 29th, noon.

At length, my adored Josephine, I live again. Death is no longer
before me, and glory and honour are still in my breast. The enemy
is beaten at Arcola. To-morrow we will repair the blunder of
Vaubois, who abandoned Rivoli. In eight days Mantua will be ours,
and then thy husband will fold thee in his arms, and give thee a
thousand proofs of his ardent affection. I shall proceed to Milan
as soon as I can: I am a little fatigued. I have received letters
from Eugene and Hortense. I am delighted with the children. I will
send you their letters as soon as I am joined by my household, which
is now somewhat dispersed.

We have made five thousand prisoners, and killed at least six
thousand of the enemy. Adieu, my adorable Josephine. Think of me
often. When you cease to love your Achilles, when your heart grows
cool towards him, you wilt be very cruel, very unjust. But I am
sure you will always continue my faithful mistress, as I shall ever
remain your fond lover ('tendre amie'). Death alone can break the
union which sympathy, love, and sentiment have formed. Let me have
news of your health. A thousand and a thousand kisses.

It is impossible for me to avoid occasionally placing myself in the
foreground in the course of these Memoirs. I owe it to myself to answer,
though indirectly, to certain charges which, on various occasions, have
been made against me. Some of the documents which I am about to insert
belong, perhaps, less to the history of the General-in-Chief of the army
of-Italy than to that of his secretary; but I must confess I wish to show
that I was not an intruder, nor yet pursuing, as an obscure intriguer,
the path of fortune. I was influenced much more by friendship than by
ambition when I took a part on the scene where the rising-glory of the
future Emperor already shed a lustre on all who were attached to his
destiny. It will be seen by the following letters with what confidence
I was then honoured; but these letters, dictated by friendship, and not
written for history, speak also of our military achievements; and
whatever brings to recollection the events of that heroic period must
still be interesting to many.

20th Prairial, year IV. (8th June 1796).

The General-in-Chief has ordered me, my dear Bourrienne, to make
known to you the pleasure he experienced on hearing of you, and his
ardent desire that you should join us. Take your departure, then,
my dear Bourrienne, and arrive quickly. You may be certain of
obtaining the testimonies of affection which are your due from all
who know you; and we much regret that you were not with us to have a
share in our success. The campaign which we have just concluded
will be celebrated in the records of history. With less than 30,000
men, in a state of almost complete destitution, it is a fine thing
to have, in the course of less than two months, beaten, eight
different times, an army of from 65 to 70,000 men, obliged the King
of Sardinia to make a humiliating peace, and driven the Austrians
from Italy. The last victory, of which you have doubtless had an
account, the passage of the Mincio, has closed our labours. There
now remain for us the siege of Mantua and the castle of Milan; but
these obstacles will not detain us long. Adieu, my dear Bourrienne:
I repeat General Bonaparte's request that you should repair hither,
and the testimony of his desire to see you.
Receive, etc., (Signed) MARMONT.
Chief of Brigade (Artillery) and Aide de camp to the

I was obliged to remain at Sens, soliciting my erasure from the emigrant
list, which I did not obtain, however, till 1797, and to put an end to a
charge made against me of having fabricated a certificate of residence.
Meanwhile I applied myself to study, and preferred repose to the
agitation of camps. For these reasons I did not then accept his friendly
invitation, notwithstanding that I was very desirous of seeing my young
college friend in the midst of his astonishing triumphs. Ten months
after, I received another letter from Marmont, in the following terms:--

2d Germinal, year V. (22d March 1797).

The General-in-Chief, my dear Bourrienne, has ordered me to express
to you his wish for your prompt arrival here. We have all along
anxiously desired to see you, and look forward with great pleasure
to the moment when we shall meet. I join with the General, my dear
Bourrienne, in urging you to join the army without loss of time.
You will increase a united family, happy to receive you into its
bosom. I enclose an order written by the General, which will serve
you as a passport. Take the post route and arrive as soon as you
can. We are on the point of penetrating into Germany. The language
is changing already, and in four days we shall hear no more Italian.
Prince Charles has been well beaten, and we are pursuing him. If
this campaign be fortunate, we may sign a peace, which is so
necessary for Europe, in Vienna. Adieu, my dear Bourrienne: reckon
for something the zeal of one who is much attached to you.
(Signed) MARMONT.


Headquarters, Gorizia, 2d Germinal, year V.

The citizen Bourrienne is to come to me on receipt
of the present order.

The odious manner in which I was then harassed, I know not why, on the
part of the Government respecting my certificate of residence, rendered
my stay in France not very agreeable. I was even threatened with being
put on my trial for having produced a certificate of residence which was
alleged to be signed by nine false witnesses. This time, therefore, I
resolved without hesitation to set out for the army. General Bonaparte's
order, which I registered at the municipality of Sens, answered for a
passport, which otherwise would probably have been refused me. I have
always felt a strong sense of gratitude for his conduct towards me on
this occasion.

Notwithstanding the haste I made to leave Sens, the necessary formalities
and precautions detained me some days, and at the moment I was about to
depart I received the following letter:

19th Germinal, Year V. (8th April 1797).

The General-in-Chief again orders me, my dear Bourrienne, to urge
you to come to him quickly. We are in the midst of success and
triumphs. The German campaign begins even more brilliantly than did
the Italian. You may judge, therefore, what a promise it holds out
to us. Come, my dear Bourrienne, immediately--yield to our
solicitations--share our pains and pleasures, and you will add to
our enjoyments.

I have directed the courier to pass through Sens, that he may
deliver this letter to you, and bring me back your answer.
(Signed) MARMONT.

To the above letter this order was subjoined:

The citizen Fauvelet de Bourrienne is ordered to leave Sens, and
repair immediately by post to the headquarters of the army of Italy.

I arrived at the Venetian territory at the moment when the insurrection
against the French was on the point of breaking out. Thousands of
peasants were instigated to rise under the pretext of appeasing the
troubles of Bergamo and Brescia. I passed through Verona on the 16th of
April, the eve of the signature of the preliminaries of Leoben and of the
revolt of Verona. Easter Sunday was the day which the ministers of Jesus
Christ selected for preaching "that it was lawful, and even meritorious,
to kill Jacobins." Death to Frenchmen!--Death to Jacobins! as they
called all the French, were their rallying cries. At the time I had not
the slightest idea of this state of things, for I had left Sens only on
the 11th of April.

After stopping two hours at Verona, I proceeded on my journey without
being aware of the massacre which threatened that city. When about a
league from the town I was, however, stopped by a party of insurgents on
their way thither, consisting, as I estimated, of about two thousand men.
They only desired me to cry 'El viva Santo Marco', an order with which I
speedily complied, and passed on. What would have become of me had I
been in Verona on the Monday? On that day the bells were rung, while the
French were butchered in the hospitals. Every one met in the streets was
put to death. The priests headed the assassins, and more than four
hundred Frenchmen were thus sacrificed. The forts held out against the
Venetians, though they attacked them with fury; but repossession of the
town was not obtained until after ten days. On the very day of the
insurrection of Verona some Frenchmen were assassinated between that city
and Vicenza, through which I passed on the day before without danger; and
scarcely had I passed through Padua, when I learned that others had been
massacred there. Thus the assassinations travelled as rapidly as the

I shall say a few words respecting the revolt of the Venetian States,
which, in consequence of the difference of political opinions, has been
viewed in very contradictory lights.

The last days of Venice were approaching, and a storm had been brewing
for more than a year. About the beginning of April 1797 the threatening
symptoms of a general insurrection appeared. The quarrel commenced when
the Austrians entered Peschiera, and some pretext was also afforded by
the reception given to Monsieur, afterwards Louis XVIII. It was certain
that Venice had made military preparations during the siege of Mantua in
1796. The interests of the aristocracy outweighed the political
considerations in our favour. On, the 7th of June 1796 General Bonaparte
wrote thus to the Executive Directory:

The Senate of Venice lately sent two judges of their Council here to
ascertain definitively how things stand. I repeated my complaints.
I spoke to them about the reception given to Monsieur. Should it be
your plan to extract five or six millions from Venice, I have
expressly prepared this sort of rupture for you. If your intentions
be more decided, I think this ground of quarrel ought to be kept up.
Let me know what you mean to do, and wait till the favourable
moment, which I shall seize according to circumstances; for we must
not have to do with all the world at once.

The Directory answered that the moment was not favourable; that it was
first necessary to take Mantua, and give Wurmser a sound beating.
However, towards the end of the year 1796 the Directory began to give
more credit to the sincerity of the professions of neutrality made on the
part of Venice. It was resolved, therefore, to be content with obtaining
money and supplies for the army, and to refrain from violating the
neutrality. The Directory had not then in reserve, like Bonaparte,
the idea of making the dismemberment of Venice serve as a compensation
for such of the Austrian possessions as the French Republic might retain.

In 1797 the expected favourable moment had arrived. The knell of Venice
was rung; and Bonaparte thus wrote to the Directory on the 30th of April:
"I am convinced that the only course to be now taken is to destroy this
ferocious and sanguinary Government." On the 3d of May, writing from
Palma Nuova, he says: "I see nothing that can be done but to obliterate
the Venetian name from the face of the globe."

Towards the end of March 1797 the Government of Venice was in a desperate
state. Ottolini, the Podesta of Bergamo, an instrument of tyranny in the
hands of the State inquisitors, then harassed the people of Bergamo and
Brescia, who, after the reduction of Mantua, wished to be separated from
Venice. He drew up, to be sent to the Senate, a long report respecting
the plans of separation, founded on information given him by a Roman
advocate, named Marcelin Serpini; who pretended to have gleaned the facts
he communicated in conversation with officers of the French army. The
plan of the patriotic party was, to unite the Venetian territories on the
mainland with Lombardy, and to form of the whole one republic. The
conduct of Ottolini exasperated the party inimical to Venice, and
augmented the prevailing discontent. Having disguised his valet as a
peasant, he sent him off to Venice with the report he had drawn up on
Serpini's communications, and other information; but this report never
reached the inquisitors. The valet was arrested, his despatches taken,
and Ottolini fled from Bergamo. This gave a beginning to the general
rising of the Venetian States. In fact, the force of circumstances alone
brought on the insurrection of those territories against their old
insular government. General La Hoz, who commanded the Lombard Legion,
was the active protector of the revolution, which certainly had its
origin more in the progress of the prevailing principles of liberty than
in the crooked policy of the Senate of Venice. Bonaparte, indeed, in his
despatches to the Directory, stated that the Senate had instigated the
insurrection; but that was not quite correct, and he could not wholly
believe his own assertion.

Pending the vacillation of the Venetian Senate, Vienna was exciting the
population of its States on the mainland to rise against the French. The
Venetian Government had always exhibited an extreme aversion to the
French Revolution, which had been violently condemned at Venice. Hatred
of the French had been constantly excited and encouraged, and religious
fanaticism had inflamed many persons of consequence in the country. From
the end of 1796 the Venetian Senate secretly continued its armaments, and
the whole conduct of that Government announced intentions which have been
called perfidious, but the only object of which was to defeat intentions
still more perfidious. The Senate was the irreconcilable enemy of the
French Republic. Excitement was carried to such a point that in many
places the people complained that they were not permitted to arm against
the French. The Austrian generals industriously circulated the most
sinister reports respecting the armies of the Sombre-et-Meuse and the
Rhine, and the position of the French troops in the Tyrol. These
impostures, printed in bulletins, were well calculated to instigate the
Italians, and especially the Venetians, to rise in mass to exterminate
the French, when the victorious army should penetrate into the Hereditary

The pursuit of the Archduke Charles into the heart of Austria encouraged
the hopes which the Venetian Senate had conceived, that it would be easy
to annihilate the feeble remnant of the French army, as the troops were
scattered through the States of Venice on the mainland. Wherever the
Senate had the ascendency, insurrection was secretly fomented; wherever
the influence of the patriots prevailed, ardent efforts were made to
unite the Venetian terra firma to the Lombard Republic.

Bonaparte skillfully took advantage of the disturbances, and the
massacres consequent on them, to adopt towards the Senate the tone of an
offended conqueror. He published a declaration that the Venetian
Government was the moat treacherous imaginable. The weakness and cruel
hypocrisy of the Senate facilitated the plan he had conceived of making a
peace for France at the expense of the Venetian Republic. On returning
from Leoben, a conqueror and pacificator, he, without ceremony, took
possession of Venice, changed the established government, and, master of
all the Venetian territory, found himself, in the negotiations of Campo
Formio, able to dispose of it as he pleased, as a compensation for the
cessions which had been exacted from Austria. After the 19th of May he
wrote to the Directory that one of the objects of his treaty with Venice
was to avoid bringing upon us the odium of violating the preliminaries
relative to the Venetian territory, and, at the same time, to afford
pretexts and to facilitate their execution.

At Campo Formio the fate of this republic was decided. It disappeared
from the number of States without effort or noise. The silence of its
fall astonished imaginations warmed by historical recollections from the
brilliant pages of its maritime glory. Its power, however, which had
been silently undermined, existed no longer except in the prestige of
those recollections. What resistance could it have opposed to the man
destined to change the face of all Europe?

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