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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, v12 by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

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"General," said he, patting him on the shoulder, "we only want a hundred
men like you, and we should succeed." Drouot replied, with great
presence of mind and modesty, "Rather say a hundred thousand, Sire."
This anecdote was related to me by the two principal persons who were
present on the occasion.

Napoleon soon began to have other subjects of disquietude besides the
fate of battles. He was aware that since the beginning of February the
Duc d'Angouleme had arrived at St. Jean de Luz, whence he had addressed s
proclamation to the French armies in the name of his uncle, Louis XVIII.;
and he speedily heard of the Comte d'Artois' arrival at Yesoul, on the
21st of February, which place he did not leave until the 16th of March

Meanwhile hostilities were maintained with increased vigor over a vast
line of operations. How much useless glory did not our soldiers gain in
these conflicts! In spite of prodigies of valour the enemy's masses
advanced, and gradually concentrated, so that this war might be compared
to the battles of the ravens and the eagle in the Alps. The eagle slays
hundreds of his assailants--every blow of his beak is the death of an
enemy, but still the vultures return to the charge, and press upon the
eagle until they destroy him.

As the month of February drew to its close the Allies were in retreat on
several points, but their retreat was not a rout. After experiencing
reverses they fell back without disorder, and retired behind the Aube,
where they rallied and obtained numerous reinforcements, which daily
arrived, and which soon enabled them to resume the offensive.

Still Napoleon continued astonishing Europe, leagued as it was against
him. At Craonne, on the 7th of March, he destroyed Blucher's corps in a
severe action, but the victory was attended by great loss to the
conqueror. Marshal Victor was seriously wounded, as well as Generals
Grouchy and La Ferriere.

While Napoleon was resisting the numerous enemies assembled to destroy
him it might be said that he was also his own enemy, either from false
calculation or from negligence with respect to his illustrious prisoners,
who, on his departure from Paris, had not yet been sent to their States.
The Pope was then at Fontainebleau, and the Princes of Spain at Valencay.
The Pope, however, was the first to be allowed to depart. Surely
Bonaparte could never have thought of the service which the Pope might
have rendered him at Rome, into which Murat's troops would never have
dared to march had his Holiness been present there. With regard to the
Spanish Princes Napoleon must have been greatly blinded by confidence in
his fortune to have so long believed it possible to retain in France
those useless trophies of defeated pretensions. It was, besides, so easy
to get rid of the exiles of Valencay by sending them back to the place
from whence they had been brought! It was so natural to recall with all
speed the troops from the south when our armies in Germany began to be
repulsed on the Rhine and even driven into France! With the aid of these
veteran troops Napoleon and his genius might have again turned the scale
of fortune. But Napoleon reckoned on the nation, and he was wrong, for
the nation was tired of him. His cause had ceased to be the cause of

The latter days of March were filled up by a series of calamities to
Napoleon. On the 23d the rear-guard of the French army suffered
considerable loss. To hear of attacks on his rear-guard must indeed have
been mortifying to Napoleon, whose advanced guards had been so long
accustomed to open the path of victory! Prince Schwartzenberg soon
passed the Aube and marched upon Vitry and Chalons. Napoleon, counting
on the possibility of defending Paris, threw himself, with the velocity
of the eagle, on Schwartzenberg's rear by passing by Doulevant and Bar-
sur-Aube. He pushed forward his advanced guards to Chaumont, and there
saw the Austrian army make a movement which he took to be a retreat; but
it was no such thing. The movement was directed on Paris, while Blucher,
who had re-occupied Chalons-sur-Maine, marched to meet Prince
Schwartzenberg, and Napoleon, thinking to cut off their retreat, was
himself cut off from the possibility of returning to Paris. Everything
then depended on the defence of Paris, or, to speak more correctly, it
seemed possible, by sacrificing the capital, to prolong for a few days
the existence of the phantom of the Empire which was rapidly vanishing.
On the 26th was fought the battle of Fere Champenoise, where, valour
yielding to numbers, Marshals Marmont and Mortier were obliged to retire
upon Sezanne after sustaining considerable loss.

It was on the 26th of March, and I beg the reader to bear this date in
mind, that Napoleon suffered a loss which, in the circumstances in which
he stood, was irreparable. At the battle of Fere Champenoise the Allies
captured a convoy consisting of nearly all the remaining ammunition and
stores of the army, a vast quantity of arms, caissons, and equipage of
all kinds. The whole became the prey of the Allies, who published a
bulletin announcing this important capture. A copy of this order of the
day fell into the hands of Marshal Macdonald, who thought that such news
ought immediately to be communicated to the Emperor. He therefore
repaired himself to the headquarters of Napoleon, who was then preparing
to recover Vitre-le-Francais, which was occupied by the Prussians. The
Marshal, with the view of dissuading the Emperor from what he considered
a vain attempt, presented him with the bulletin.

This was on the morning of the 27th: Napoleon would not believe the news.
"No!" said he to the Marshal, "you are deceived, this cannot be true."
Then perusing the bulletin with more attention. "Here," said he, "look
yourself. This is the 27th, and the bulletin is dated the 29th. You see
the thing is impossible. The bulletin is forged!" The Marshal, who had
paid more attention to the news than to its date, was astounded. But
having afterwards shown the bulletin to Drouot, that General said, "Alas!
Marshal, the news is but too true. The error of the date is merely a
misprint, the 9 is a 6 inverted!" On what trifles sometimes depend the
most important events. An inverted cipher sufficed to flatter
Bonaparte's illusion, or at least the illusions which he wished to
maintain among his most distinguished lieutenants, and to delay the
moment when they should discover that the loss they deplored was too
certain. On that very day the Empress left Paris.



The men of the Revolution and the men of the Empire--The Council of
Regency--Departure of the Empress from Paris--Marmont and Mortier--
Joseph's flight--Meeting at Marmont's hotel--Capitulation of Paris--
Marmont's interview with the Emperor at Fontainebleau--Colonels
Fabvier and Denys--The Royalist cavalcade--Meeting at the hotel of
the Comte de Morfontaine--M. de Chateaubriand and his pamphlet--
Deputation to the Emperor Alexander--Entrance of the Allied
sovereigns into Paris--Alexander lodged in M. Talleyrand's hotel--
Meetings held there--The Emperor Alexander's declaration--
My appointment as Postmaster-General--Composition of the Provisional
Government--Mistake respecting the conduct of the Emperor of
Austria--Caulaincourt's mission from Napoleon--His interview with
the Emperor Alexander--Alexander's address to the deputation of the
Senate--M. de Caulaincourt ordered to quit the capital.

The grandees of the Empire and the first subjects of Napoleon were
divided into two classes totally distinct from each other. Among these
patronised men were many who had been the first patrons of Bonaparte and
had favoured his accession to Consular power. This class was composed of
his old friends and former companions-in-arms. The others, who may be
called the children of the Empire, did not carry back their thoughts to a
period which they had not seen. They had never known anything but
Napoleon and the Empire, beyond which the sphere of their ideas did not
extend, while among Napoleon's old brothers-in-arms it was still
remembered that there was once a country, a France, before they had
helped to give it a master. To this class of men France was not confined
to the narrow circle of the Imperial headquarters, but extended to the
Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the two oceans.

On the other hand, numbers of ardent and adventurous young men, full of
enthusiasm for Bonaparte, had passed from the school to the camp. They
were entirely opposed to Napoleon's downfall, because with his power
would vanish those dreams of glory and fortune which had captivated their
imaginations. These young men, who belonged to the class which I have
denominated children of the Empire, were prepared to risk and commit
everything to prolong the political life of their Emperor.

The distinction I have drawn between what may be called the men of France
and the men of the Empire was not confined to the army, but was equally
marked among the high civil functionaries of the State. The old
Republicans could not possibly regard Napoleon with the same eyes as
those whose elevation dated only from Napoleon; and the members of
assemblies anterior to the 18th Brumaire could not entertain the same
ideas as those whose notions of national franchises and public rights
were derived from their seats as auditors in the Council of State. I
know not whether this distinction between the men of two different
periods has been before pointed out, but it serves to explain the conduct
of many persons of elevated rank during the events of 1814. With regard
to myself, convinced as I was of the certainty of Napoleon's fall, I
conceived that the first duty of every citizen was claimed by his
country; and although I may incur censure, I candidly avow that
Napoleon's treatment of me during the last four years of his power was
not without some influence on my prompt submission to the Government
which succeeded his. I, however, declare that this consideration was not
the sole nor the most powerful motive of my conduct. Only those who were
in Paris at the period of the capitulation can form an idea of the
violence of party feeling which prevailed there both for and against
Napoleon, but without the name of the Bourbons ever being pronounced.
They were almost unknown to the new generation, forgotten by many of the
old, and feared by the conventionalists; at that time they possessed only
the frail support of the coteries of the Faubourg St. Germain, and some
remains of the emigration. But as it is certain that the emigrants could
offer only vain demonstrations and wishes in support of the old family of
our Kings, they did little to assist the restoration of the Bourbons.
Another thing equally certain is, that they alone, by their follies and
absurd pretensions, brought about the return of Bonaparte and the second
exile of Louis XVIII. in the following year.

On the 28th of March was convoked an extraordinary Council of Regency,
at which Maria Louisa presided. The question discussed was, whether the
Empress should remain in Paris or proceed to Blois. Joseph Bonaparte
strongly urged her departure, because a letter from the Emperor had
directed that in case of Paris being threatened the Empress-Regent and
all the Council of Regency should retire to Blois. The Arch-Chancellor
and the majority of the Council were of the same opinion, but one of the
most influential members of the Council observed to Joseph that the
letter referred to had been written under circumstances very different
from those then existing, and that it was important the Empress should
remain in Paris, where she would, of course, obtain from the Emperor her
father and the Allied sovereigns, more advantageous conditions than if
she were fifty leagues from Paris. The adoption of this opinion would
only have retarded for a few days a change which had become inevitable;
nevertheless it might have given rise to great difficulties. It must be
admitted that for the interests of Napoleon it was the wisest counsel
that could be suggested. However, it was overruled by Joseph's advice.

M. de Talleyrand, as a member of the Council of Regency, also received
the order to quit Paris on the 30th of March. At this period I was at
his house every day. When I went to him that day I was told he had
started. However I went up, and remained some time in his hotel with
several of his friends who had met there. We soon saw him return, and
for my part I heard with satisfaction that they had not allowed him to
pass the barriers. It was said then, and it has been repeated since,
that M. de Talleyrand was not a stranger to the gentle violence used
towards him. The same day of this visit to M. de Talleyrand I also went
to see the Duc de Rovigo (Savary), with the friendly object of getting
him to remain, and to profit by his position to prevent disturbances.
He refused without hesitating, as he only thought of the Emperor.
I found him by his fireside, where there was a large file, in which he
was burning all the papers which might have compromised every one who had
served his ministry (Police). I congratulated him sincerely on this
loyal occupation: fire alone could purify the mass of filth and
denunciations which encumbered the police archives.

On the departure of the Empress many persons expected a popular movement
in favour of a change of Government, but the capital remained tranquil.
Many of the inhabitants, indeed, thought of defence, not for the sake of
preserving Napoleon's government, but merely from that ardour of feeling
which belongs to our national character. Strong indignation was excited
by the thought of seeing foreigners masters of Paris--a circumstance of
which there had been no example since the reign of Charles VII.
Meanwhile the critical moment approached. On the 29th of March Marshals
Marmont and Mortier fell back to defend the approaches to Paris. During
the night the barriers were consigned to the care of the National Guard,
and not a foreigner, not even one of their agents, was allowed to enter
the capital.

At daybreak on the 30th of March the whole population of Paris was
awakened by the report of cannon, and the plain of St. Denis was soon
covered with Allied troops, who were debouching upon it from all points.
The heroic valour of our troops was unavailing against such a numerical
superiority. But the Allies paid dearly for their entrance into the
French capital. The National Guard, under the command of Marshal Moncey,
and the pupils of the Polytechnic School transformed into artillery men,
behaved in a manner worthy of veteran troops. The conduct of Marmont on
that day alone would suffice to immortalise him. The corps he commanded
was reduced to between 7000 and 8000 infantry and 800 cavalry, with whom,
for the space of twelve hours he maintained his ground against an army of
55,000 men, of whom it is said 14,000 were killed, wounded, and taken.
Marshal Marmont put himself so forward in the heat of the battle that a
dozen of men were killed by the bayonet at his side, and his hat was
perforated by a ball. But what was to be done against overwhelming

In this state of things the Duke of Ragusa made known his situation to
Joseph Bonaparte, who authorised him to negotiate.

Joseph's answer is so important in reference to the events which
succeeded that I will transcribe it here.

If the Dukes of Ragusa and Treviso can no longer hold out, they are
authorised to negotiate with Prince Schwartzenberg and the Emperor
of Russia, who are before them.

They will fall back on the Loire.
(Signed) JOSEPH

Montmartre, 30th March 1814, 12 oclock

It was not until a considerable time after the receipt of this formal
authority that Marmont and Mortier ceased to make a vigorous resistance
against the Allied army, for the suspension of arms was not agreed upon
until four in the afternoon. It was not waited for by Joseph; at a
quarter past twelve--that is to say, immediately after he had addressed
to Marmont the authority just alluded to Joseph repaired to the Bois de
Boulogne to regain the Versailles road, and from thence to proceed to
Rambouillet. The precipitate flight of Joseph astonished only those who
did not know him. I know for a fact that several officers attached to
his staff were much dissatisfied at his alacrity on this occasion.

In these circumstances what was to be done but to save Paris, which there
was no possibility of defending two hours longer. Methinks I still see
Marmont when, on the evening of the 30th of March, he returned from the
field of battle to his hotel in the Rue de Paradis, where I was waiting
for him, together with about twenty other persons, among whom were MM.
Perregaua and Lafitte. When he entered he was scarcely recognisable: he
had a beard of eight days' growth; the greatcoat which covered his
uniform was in tatters, and he was blackened with powder from head to
foot. We considered what was best to be done, and all insisted on the
necessity of signing a capitulation. The Marshal must recollect that the
exclamation of every one about him was, "France must be saved."
MM. Perregaus and Lafitte delivered their opinions in a very decided way,
and it will readily be conceived how great was the influence of two men
who were at the head of the financial world. They alleged that the
general wish of the Parisians, which nobody had a better opportunity of
knowing than themselves, was decidedly averse to a protracted conflict,
and that France was tired of the yoke of Bonaparte. This last
declaration gave a wider range to the business under consideration.
The question was no longer confined to the capitulation of Paris, but a
change in the government was thought of, and the name of the Bourbons was
pronounced for the first time. I do not recollect which of us it was
who, on hearing mention made of the possible recall of the old dynasty,
remarked how difficult it would be to bring about a restoration without
retrograding to the past. But I think I am perfectly correct in stating
that M. Lafitte said, "Gentlemen, we shall have nothing to fear if we
have a good constitution which will guarantee the rights of all." The
majority of the meeting concurred in this wise opinion, which was not
without its influence on Marshal Marmont.

During this painful meeting an unexpected incident occurred. One of the
Emperor's aides de camp arrived at Marmont's. Napoleon, being informed
of the advance of the Allies on Paris, had marched with the utmost speed
from the banks of the Marne on the road of Fontainebleau. In the evening
he was in person at Froidmanteau, whence he despatched his envoy to
Marshal Marmont. From the language of the aide de camp it was easy to
perceive that the state of opinion at the Imperial headquarters was very
different from that which prevailed among the population of Paris. The
officer expressed indignation at the very idea of capitulating, and he
announced with inconceivable confidence the approaching arrival of
Napoleon in Paris, which he yet hoped to save from the occupation of the
enemy. The officer informed us that Napoleon trusted to the people
rising in spite of the capitulation, and that they would unpave the
streets to stone the Allies on their entrance. I ventured to dissent
from this absurd idea of defence, and I observed that it was madness to
suppose that Paris could resist the numerous troops who were ready to
enter on the following day; that the suspension of arms had been
consented to by the Allies only to afford time for drawing up a more
regular capitulation, and that the armistice could not be broken without
trampling on all the laws of honour. I added that the thoughts of the
people were directed towards a better future; that the French were tired
of a despotic Government and of the distress to which continual war had
reduced trade and industry; "for," said I, "when a nation is sunk to such
a state of misery its hopes can only be directed towards the future; it
is natural they should be so directed, even without reflection." Most of
the individuals present concurred in my opinion, and the decision of the
meeting was unanimous. Marshal Marmont has since said to me, "I have
been blamed, my dear Bourrienne: but you were with me on the 30th of
March. You were a witness to the wishes expressed by a portion of the
principal inhabitants of Paris. I acted as I was urged to do only
because I considered the meeting to be composed of men entirely
disinterested, and who had nothing to expect from the return of the

Such is a correct statement of the facts which some persons have
perverted with the view of enhancing Napoleon's glory. With respect to
those versions which differ from mine I have only one comment to offer,
which is, that I saw and heard what I describe.

The day after the capitulation of Paris--Marmont went in the evening to
see the Emperor at Fontainebleau. He supped with him. Napoleon praised
his defence of Paris.. After supper the Marshal rejoined his corps at
Essonne, and six hours after the Emperor arrived there to visit the
lines. On leaving Paris Marmont had left Colonels Fabvier and Dent's to
direct the execution of the capitulation. These officers joined the
Emperor and the Marshal as they were proceeding up the banks of the river
at Essonne. They did not disguise the effect which the entrance of the
Allies had produced in Paris. At this intelligence the Emperor was
deeply mortified, and he returned immediately to Fontainebleau, leaving
the Marshal at Essonne.

At daybreak on the 31st of March Paris presented a novel and curious
spectacle. No sooner had the French troops evacuated the capital than
the principal streets resounded with cries of "Down with Bonaparte!"--
"No conscription!"--"No consolidated duties (droits reunis)!" With these
cries were mingled that of "The Bourbons for ever!" but this latter cry
was not repeated so frequently as the others: in general I remarked that
the people gaped and listened with a sort of indifference. As I had
taken a very active part in all that had happened during some preceding
days I was particularly curious to study what might be called the
physiognomy of Paris. This was the second opportunity which had offered
itself for such a study, and I now saw the people applaud the fall of the
man whom they had received with enthusiasm after the 18th Brumaire. The
reason was, that liberty was then hoped for, as it was hoped for in 1814.
I went out early in the morning to see the numerous groups of people who
had assembled in the streets. I saw women tearing their handkerchiefs
and distributing the fragments as the emblems of the revived lily. That
same morning I met on the Boulevards, and some hours afterwards on the
Place Louis XV., a party of gentlemen who paraded the streets of the
capital proclaiming the restoration of the Bourbons and shouting, "Vive
le Roi!" and "Vive Louis XVIII!" At their head I recognised
MM. Sosthenes de la Rochefoucauld, Comte de Froissard, the Duc de
Luxembourg, the Duc de Crussol, Seymour, etc. The cavalcade distributed
white cockades in passing along, and was speedily joined by a numerous
crowd, who repaired to the Place Vendome. The scene that was acted there
is well known, and the enthusiasm of popular joy could scarcely excuse
the fury that was directed against the effigy of the man whose
misfortunes, whether merited or not, should have protected him from such
outrages. These excesses served, perhaps more than is generally
supposed, to favour the plans of the leaders of the Royalist party, to
whom M. Nesselrode had declared that before he would pledge himself to
further their views he must have proofs that they were seconded by the
population of Paris.

I was afterwards informed by an eye-witness of what took place on the
evening of the 31st of March in one of the principal meetings of the
Royalists, which was held in the hotel of the Comte de Morfontaine, who
acted as president on the occasion. Amidst a chaos of abortive
propositions and contradictory motions M. Sosthenes de la Rochefoucauld
proposed that a deputation should be immediately sent to the Emperor
Alexander to express to him the wish of the meeting. This motion was
immediately approved, and the mover was chosen to head the deputation.
On leaving the hotel the deputation met M. de Chateaubriand, who had that
very day been, as it were, the precursor of the restoration, by
publishing his admirable manifesto, entitled "Bonaparte and the
Bourbons." He was invited to join the deputation; but nothing could
overcome his diffidence and induce him to speak. On arriving at the
hotel in the Rue St. Florentin the deputation was introduced to Count
Nesselrode, to whom M. Sosthenes de la Rochefoucauld briefly explained
its object; he spoke of the wishes of the meeting and of the manifest
desire of Paris and of France. He represented the restoration of the
Bourbons as the only means of securing the peace of Europe; and observed,
in conclusion, that as the exertions of the day must have been very
fatiguing to the Emperor, the deputation would not solicit the favour of
being introduced to him, but would confidently rely on the good faith of
his Imperial Majesty. "I have just left the Emperor," replied M.
Nesselrode, "and can pledge myself for his intentions. Return to the
meeting and announce to the French people that in compliance with their
wishes his Imperial Majesty will use all his influence to restore the
crown to the legitimate monarch: his Majesty Louis XVIII. shall reascend
the throne of France." With this gratifying intelligence the deputation
returned to the meeting in the Rue d'Anjou.

There is no question that great enthusiasm was displayed on the entrance
of the Allies into Paris. It may be praised or blamed, but the fact
cannot be denied. I closely watched all that was passing, and I observed
the expression of a sentiment which I had long anticipated when, after
his alliance with the daughter of the Caesars, the ambition of Bonaparte
increased in proportion as it was gratified: I clearly foresaw Napoleon's
fall. Whoever watched the course of events during the last four years of
the Empire must have observed, as I did, that from the date of Napoleon's
marriage with Maria Louisa the form of the French Government became daily
more and more tyrannical and oppressive. The intolerable height which
this evil had attained is evident from the circumstance that at the end
of 1813 the Legislative Body, throwing aside the mute character which it
had hitherto maintained, presumed to give a lecture to him who had never
before received a lecture from any one. On the 31st of March it was
recollected what had been the conduct of Bonaparte on the occasion
alluded to, and those of the deputies who remained in Paris related how
the gendarmes had opposed their entrance into the hall of the Assembly.
All this contributed wonderfully to irritate the public mind against
Napoleon. He had become master of France by the sword, and the sword
being sheathed, his power was at an end, for no popular institution
identified with the nation the new dynasty which he hoped to found.
The nation admired but did not love Napoleon, for it is impossible to
love what is feared, and he had done nothing to claim the affections of

I was present at all the meetings and conferences which were held at M de
Talleyrand's hotel, where the Emperor Alexander had taken up his
residence. Of all the persons present at these meetings M. de Talleyrand
was most disposed to retain Napoleon at the head of the Government, with
restrictions on the exercise of his power. In the existing state of
things it was only possible to choose one of three courses: first, to
make peace with Napoleon, with the adoption of proper securities against
him; second, to establish a Regency; and third, to recall the Bourbons.

On the 13th of March I witnessed the entrance of the Allied sovereigns
into Paris, and after the procession had passed the new street of the
Luxembourg I repaired straight to M. de Talleyrand's hotel, which I
reached before the Emperor Alexander, who arrived at a quarter-past one.
When his Imperial Majesty entered M. de Talleyrand's drawing-room most of
the persons assembled, and particularly the Abbe de Pradt, the Abbe de
Montesquieu, and General Dessolles, urgently demanded the restoration of
the Bourbons. The Emperor did not come to any immediate decision.
Drawing me into the embrasure of a window, which looked upon the street,
he made some observations which enabled me to guess what would be his
determination. "M. de Bourrienne," said he, "you have been the friend of
Napoleon, and so have I. I was his sincere friend; but there is no
possibility of remaining at peace with a man of such bad faith." These
last words opened my eyes; and when the different propositions which were
made came under discussion I saw plainly that Bonaparte, in making
himself Emperor, had made up the bed for the Bourbons.

A discussion ensued on the three possible measures which I have above
mentioned, and which were proposed by the Emperor Alexander himself. I
thought, if I may so express myself, that his Majesty was playing a part,
when, pretending to doubt the possibility of recalling the Bourbons,
which he wished above all things, he asked M. de Talleyrand what means he
proposed to employ for the attainment of that object? Besides the
French, there were present at this meeting the Emperor Alexander, the
King of Prussia, Prince Schwartzenberg, M. Nesselrode, M. Pozzo-di-Borgo,
and Prince Liechtenstein. During the discussion Alexander walked about
with some appearance of agitation. "Gentlemen," said, he, addressing us
in an elevated tone of voice, "you know that it was not I who commenced
the war; you know that Napoleon came to attack me in my dominions. But
we are not drawn here by the thirst of conquest or the desire of revenge.
You have seen the precautions I have taken to preserve your capital, the
wonder of the arts, from the horrors of pillage, to which the chances of
war would have consigned it. Neither my Allies nor myself are engaged in
a war of reprisals; and I should be inconsolable if any violence were
committed on your magnificent city. We are not waging war against
France, but against Napoleon, and the enemies of French liberty.
William, and you, Prince" (here the Emperor turned towards the King of
Prussia and Prince Schwartzenberg, who represented the Emperor of
Austria), "you can both bear testimony that the sentiments I express are
yours." Both bowed assent to this observation of Alexander, which his
Majesty several times repeated in different words. He insisted that
France should be perfectly free; and declared that as soon as the wishes
of the country were understood, he and his Allies would support them,
without seeking to favour any particular government.

The Abbe de Pradt then declared, in a tone of conviction, that we were
all Royalists, and that the sentiments of France concurred with ours.
The Emperor Alexander, adverting to the different governments which might
be suitable to France, spoke of the maintenance of Bonaparte on the
throne, the establishment of a Regency, the choice of Bernadotte, and the
recall of the Bourbons. M. de Talleyrand next spoke, and I well remember
his saying to the Emperor of Russia, " Sire, only one of two things is
possible. We must either have Bonaparte or Louis XVIII. Bonaparte, if
you can support him; but you cannot, for you are not alone.... We will
not have another soldier in his stead. If we want a soldier, we will
keep the one we have; he is the first in the world. After him any other
who may be proposed would not have ten men to support him. I say again,
Sire, either Bonaparte or Louis XVIII. Anything else is an intrigue."
These remarkable words of the Prince de Benevento produced on the mind of
Alexander all the effect we could hope for. Thus the question was
simplified, being reduced now to only two alternatives; and as it was
evident that Alexander would have nothing to do with either Napoleon or
his family, it was reduced to the single proposition of the restoration
of the Bourbons.

On being pressed by us all, with the exception of M. de Talleyrand, who
still wished to leave the question undecided between Bonaparte and Louis
XVIII., Alexander at length declared that he would no longer treat with
Napoleon. When it was represented to him that that declaration referred
only to Napoleon personally, and did not extend to his family, he added,
"Nor with any member of his family." Thus as early as the 31st of March
the restoration of the Bourbons might be considered as decided.

I cannot omit mentioning the hurry with which Laborie, whom M. de
Talleyrand appointed Secretary to the Provisional Government, rushed out
of the apartment as soon as he got possession of the Emperor Alexander's
declaration. He got it printed with such expedition that in the space of
an hour it was posted on all the walls in Paris; and it certainly
produced an extraordinary effect. As yet nothing warranted a doubt that
Alexander would not abide by his word. The treaty of Paris could not be
anticipated; and there was reason to believe that France, with a new
Government, would obtain more advantageous conditions than if the Allies
had, treated with Napoleon. But this illusion speedily vanished.

On the evening of the 31st of March I returned to M. de Talleyrand's.
I again saw the Emperor Alexander, who, stepping up to me, said, "M. de
Bourrienne you must take the superintendence of the Post-office
department." I could not decline this precise invitation on the part of
the Czar; and besides, Lavalette having departed on the preceding day,
the business would have been for a time suspended; a circumstance which
would have been extremely prejudicial to the restoration which we wished
to favour.

I went at once to the hotel in the Rue J. J. Rousseau, where, indeed, I
found that not only was there no order to send out the post next day, but
that it had been even countermanded. I went that night to the
administrators, who yielded to my requests and, seconded by them, next
morning I got all the clerks to be at their post. I reorganised the
service, and the post went out on the 1st of April as usual. Such are my
remembrances of the 31st of March.

A Provisional Government was established, of which M. de Talleyrand was
appointed President. The other members were General Beurnonville, Comte
Francois de Jaucourt, the Due Dalberg, who had married one of Maria
Louisa's ladies of honour, and the Abby de Montesquieu. The place of
Chancellor of the Legion of Honour was given to the Abbe de Pradt. Thus
there were two abbes among the members of the Provisional Government, and
by a singular chance they happened to be the same who had officiated at
the mass which was performed in the Champ de Mars on the day of the first

Those who were dissatisfied with the events of the 31st of March now saw
no hope but in the possibility that the Emperor of Austria would separate
from his Allies, or at least not make common cause with them in favour of
the re-establishment of the Bourbons. But that monarch had been brought
up in the old policy of his family, and was imbued with the traditional
principles of his Cabinet. I know for a fact that the sentiments and
intentions of the Emperor of Austria perfectly coincided with those of
his Allies. Anxious to ascertain the truth on this subject, I ventured,
when in conversation with the Emperor Alexander, to hint at the reports
I had heard relative to the cause of the Emperor of Austria's absence.
I do not recollect the precise words of his Majesty's answer, but it
enabled me to infer with certainty that Francis II. was in no way averse
to the overthrow of his son-in-law, and that his absence from the scene
of the discussions was only occasioned by a feeling of delicacy natural
enough in his situation.

Caulaincourt, who was sent by Napoleon to the headquarters of the Emperor
Alexander, arrived there on the night of the 30th of March. He, however,
did not obtain an interview with the Czar until after his Majesty had
received the Municipal Council of Paris, at the head of which was M. de
Chabrol. At first Alexander appeared somewhat surprised to see the
Municipal Council, which he did not receive exactly in the way that was
expected; but this coldness was merely momentary, and he afterwards
addressed the Council in a very gracious way, though he dropped no hint
of his ulterior intentions.

Alexander, who entertained a personal regard for Caulaincourt, received
him kindly in his own character, but not as the envoy of Napoleon.
"You have come too late," said the Czar. "It is all over. I can say
nothing to you at present. Go to Paris, and I will see you there."
These words perfectly enlightened Caulaincourt as to the result of his
mission. His next interview with the Emperor Alexander at M. de
Talleyrand's did not take place until after the declaration noticed in my
last chapter. The conversation they had together remained a secret, for
neither Alexander nor the Duke of Vicenza mentioned it; but there was
reason to infer, from some words which fell from the Emperor Alexander,
that he had received Caulaincourt rather as a private individual than as
the ambassador of Napoleon, whose power, indeed, he could not recognise
after his declaration. The Provisional Government was not entirely
pleased with Caulaincourt's presence in Paris, and a representation was
made to the Russian Emperor on the subject. Alexander concurred in the
opinion of the Provisional Government, which was expressed through the
medium of the Abbe de Pradt. M. de Caulaincourt, therefore, at the wish
of the Czar, returned to the Emperor, then at Fontainebleau.



Situation of Bonaparte during the events of the 30th and 31st of
March--His arrival at Fontainebleau--Plan of attacking Paris--
Arrival of troops at Fontainebleau--The Emperor's address to the
Guard--Forfeiture pronounced by the Senate--Letters to Marmont--
Correspondence between Marmont and Schwartzenberg--Macdonald
informed of the occupation of Paris--Conversation between the
Emperor and Macdonald at Fontainebleau--Beurnonville's letter--
Abdication on condition of a Regency--Napoleon's wish to retract his
act of abdication--Macdonald Ney, and Caulaincourt sent to Paris--
Marmont released from his promise by Prince Schwartzenberg.

On the morning of the 30th of March, while the battle before the walls of
Paris was at its height, Bonaparte was still at Troyes. He quitted that
town at ten o'clock, accompanied only by Bertrand, Caulaincourt, two
aides de camp, and two orderly officers. He was not more than two hours
in traveling the first ten leagues, and he and his slender escort
performed the journey without changing horses, and without even
alighting. They arrived at Sens at one o'clock in the afternoon.
Everything was in such confusion that it was impossible to prepare a
suitable mode of conveyance for the Emperor. He was therefore obliged to
content himself with a wretched cariole, and in this equipage, about four
in the morning, he reached Froidmanteau, about four leagues from Paris.
It was there that the Emperor received from General Belliard, who arrived
at the head of a column of artillery, the first intelligence of the
battle of Paris. He heard the news with an air of composure, which was
probably affected to avoid discouraging those about him. He walked for
about a quarter of an hour on the high road, and it was after that
promenade that he sent Caulaincourt to Paris. Napoleon afterwards went
to the house of the postmaster, where he ordered his maps to be brought
to him, and, according to custom, marked the different positions of the
enemy's troops with pine, the heads of which were touched with wax of
different colours. After this description of work, which Napoleon did
every day, or sometimes several times a day, he repaired to
Fontainebleau, where he arrived at six in the morning. He did not order
the great apartments of the castle to be opened, but went up to his
favourite little apartment, where he shut himself up, and remained alone
during the whole of the 31st of March.

In the evening the Emperor sent for the Duke of Ragusa, who had just
arrived at Essonne with his troops. The Duke reached Fontainebleau
between three and four o'clock on the morning of the 1st of April.
Napoleon then received a detailed account of the events of the 30th from
Marmont, on whose gallant conduct before Paris he bestowed much praise.

All was gloom and melancholy at Fontainebleau, yet the Emperor still
retained his authority, and I have been informed that he deliberated for
some time as to whether he should retire behind the Loire, or immediately
hazard a bold stroke upon Paris, which would have been much more to his
taste than to resign himself to the chances which an uncertain
temporising might bring about. This latter thought pleased him; and he
was seriously considering his plan of attack when the news of the 31st,
and the unsuccessful issue of Caulaincourt's mission, gave him to
understand that his situation was more desperate than he had hitherto

Meanwhile the heads of his columns, which the Emperor had left at Troves,
arrived on the 1st of April at Fontainebleau, the troops having marched
fifty leagues in less than three days, one of the most rapid marches ever
performed. On the 2d of April Napoleon communicated the events of Paris
to the Generals who were about him, recommending them to conceal the news
lest it should dispirit the troops, upon whom he yet relied. That day,
during an inspection of the troops, which took place in the court of the
Palace, Bonaparte assembled the officers of his Guard, and harangued them
as follows:

Soldiers! the enemy has stolen three marches upon us, and has made
himself master of Paris. We must drive him thence. Frenchmen,
unworthy of the name, emigrants whom we have pardoned, have mounted
the white cockade, and joined the enemy. The wretches shall receive
the reward due to this new crime. Let us swear to conquer or die,
and to enforce respect to the tri-coloured cockade, which has for
twenty years accompanied us on the path of glory and honour.

He also endeavoured to induce the Generals to second his mad designs upon
Paris, by making them believe that he had made sincere efforts to
conclude peace. He assured them that he had expressed to the Emperor
Alexander his willingness to purchase it by sacrifices; that he had
consented to resign even the conquests made during the Revolution, and to
confine himself within the old limits of France. "Alexander," added
Napoleon, "refused; and, not content with that refusal, he has leagued
himself with a party of emigrants, whom, perhaps, I was wrong in
pardoning for having borne arms against France. Through their perfidious
insinuations Alexander has permitted the white cockade to be mounted on
the capital. We will maintain ours, and in a few days we will march upon
Paris. I rely on you."

When the boundless attachment of the Guards to the Emperor is considered
it cannot appear surprising that these last words, uttered in an
impressive tone, should have produced a feeling of enthusiasm, almost
electrical, in all to whom they were addressed. The old companions of
the glory of their chief exclaimed with one voice, "Paris! Paris!" But,
fortunately, during the night, the Generals having deliberated with each
other saw the frightful abyss into which they were about to precipitate
France. They therefore resolved to intimate in discreet terms to the
Emperor that they would not expose Paris to destruction, so that on the
3d of April, prudent ideas succeeded the inconsiderate enthusiasm of the
preceding day.

The wreck of the army assembled at Fontainebleau, which was the remnant
of 1,000,000 of troops levied during fifteen months, consisted only of
the corps of the Duke of Reggio (Oudinot), Ney, Macdonald, and General
Gerard, which 'altogether did not amount to 25,000 men, and which, joined
to the remaining 7000 of the Guard, did not leave the Emperor a
disposable force of more than 32,000 men. Nothing but madness or despair
could have suggested the thought of subduing, with such scanty resources,
the foreign masses which occupied and surrounded Paris.

On the 2d of April the Senate published a 'Senatus-consulte', declaring
that Napoleon had forfeited the throne, and abolishing the right of
succession, which had been established in favour of his family.
Furnished with this set, and without awaiting the concurrence of the
Legislative Body, which was given next day, the Provisional Government
published an address to the French armies. In this address the troops
were informed that they were no longer the soldiers of Napoleon, and that
the Senate released them from their oaths. These documents were widely
circulated at the time, and inserted in all the public journals.

The address of the Senate was sent round to the Marshals, and was of
course first delivered to those who were nearest the capital; of this
latter number was Marmont, whose allegiance to the Emperor, as we have
already seen, yielded only to the sacred interests of his country.
Montessuis was directed by the Provisional Government to convey the
address to Marmont, and to use such arguments as were calculated to
strengthen those sentiments which had triumphed over his dearest personal
affections. I gave Montessuis a letter to Marmont, in which I said:

"MY DEAR FRIEND--An old acquaintance of mine will convey to you the
remembrances of our friendship. He will, I trust, influence your
resolution: a single word will suffice to induce you to sacrifice
all for the happiness of your country. To secure that object you,
who are so good a Frenchman and so loyal a knight, will not fear
either dangers or obstacles. Your friends expect you, long for you,
and I trust will soon embrace you."

Montessuis also took one from General Dessolles, whom the Provisional
Government had appointed Governor of the National Guard in the room of
Marshal Moncey, who had left Paris on the occupation of the Allies.
General Dessolles and I did not communicate to each other our
correspondence, but when I afterwards saw the letter of Deasolles I could
not help remarking the coincidence of our appeal to Marmont's patriotism.
Prince Schwartzenberg also wrote to Marmont to induce him to espouse a
clause which had now become the cause of France. To the Prince's letter
Marmont replied, that he was disposed to concur in the union of the army
and the people, which would avert all chance of civil war, and stop the
effusion of French blood; and that he was ready with his troops to quit
the army of the Emperor Napoleon on the condition that his troops might
retire with the honours of war, and that the safety and liberty of the
Emperor were guaranteed by the Allies.

After Prince Schwartzenberg acceded to these conditions Marmont was
placed in circumstances which obliged him to request that he might be
released from his promise.

I happened to learn the manner in which Marshal Macdonald was informed of
the taking of Paris. He had been two days without any intelligence from
the Emperor, when he received an order in the handwriting of Berthier,
couched in the following terms: "The Emperor desires that you halt
wherever you may receive this order." After Berthier's signature the
following words were added as a postscript: "You, of course, know that
the enemy is in possession of Paris." When the Emperor thus announced,
with apparent negligence, an event which totally changed the face of
affairs, I am convinced his object was to make the Marshal believe that
he looked upon, that event as less important than it really was.
However, this object was not attained, for I recollect having heard
Macdonald say that Berthier's singular postscript, and the tone of
indifference in which it was expressed, filled him with mingled surprise
and alarm. Marshal Macdonald then commanded the rear-guard of the army
which occupied the environs of Montereau. Six hours after the receipt of
the order here referred to Macdonald received a second order directing
him to put his troops in motion, and he learned the Emperor's intention
of marching on Paris with all his remaining force.

On receiving the Emperor's second order Macdonald left his corps at
Montereau and repaired in haste to Fontainebleau. When he arrived there
the Emperor had already intimated to the Generals commanding divisions in
the corps assembled at Fontainebleau his design of marching on Paris.
Alarmed at this determination the Generals, most of whom had left in the
capital their wives, children, and friends, requested that Macdonald
would go with them to wait upon Napoleon and endeavour to dissuade him
from his intention. "Gentlemen," said the Marshal, "in the Emperor's
present situation such a proceeding may displease him. It must be
managed cautiously. Leave it to me, gentlemen, I will go to the

Marshal Macdonald accordingly went to the Palace of Fontainebleau, where
the following conversation ensued between him and the Emperor, and I beg
the reader to bear in mind that it was related to me by the Marshal
himself. As soon as he entered the apartment in which Napoleon was the
latter stepped up to him and said, "Well, how are things going on?"--
"Very badly, Sire."--"How? . . . badly! . . . What then are the
feelings of your army?"--"My army, Sire, is entirely discouraged . . .
appalled by the fate of Paris."--"Will not your troops join me in an
advance on Paris?"--"Sire, do not think of such a thing. If I were to
give such an order to my troops I should run the risk of being
disobeyed."--"But what is to be done? I cannot remain as I am; I have
yet resources and partisans. It is said that the Allies will no longer
treat with me. Well! no matter. I will march on Paris. I will be
revenged on the inconstancy of the Parisians and the baseness of the
Senate. Woe to the members of the Government they have patched up for
the return of their Bourbons; that is what they are looking forward to.
But to-morrow I shall place myself at the head of my Guards, and to-
morrow we shall be in the Tuileries."

The Marshal listened in silence, and when at length Napoleon became
somewhat calm he observed, "Sire, it appears, then, that you are not
aware of what has taken place in Paris--of the establishment of a
Provisional Government, and--"--"I know it all: and what then?"--"Sire,"
added the Marshal, presenting a paper to Napoleon, "here is something
which will tell you more than I can." Macdonald then presented to him a
letter from General Beurnonville, announcing the forfeiture of the
Emperor pronounced by the Senate, and the determination of the Allied
powers not to treat with Napoleon, or any member of his family.
"Marshal," said the Emperor, before he opened the letter, "may this be
read aloud?"--"Certainly, Sire." The letter was then handed to Barre,
who read it. An individual who was present on the occasion described to
me the impression which the reading of the letter produced on Napoleon.
His countenance exhibited that violent contraction of the features which
I have often remarked when his mind was disturbed. However, he did not
lose his self-command, which indeed never forsook him when policy or
vanity required that he should retain it; and when the reading of
Beurnonville's letter was ended he affected to persist in his intention
of marching on Paris. "Sire," exclaimed Macdonald, "that plan must be
renounced. Not a sword would be unsheathed to second you in such an
enterprise." After this conversation between the Emperor and Macdonald
the question of the abdication began to be seriously thought of.
Caulaincourt had already hinted to Napoleon that in case of his
abdicating personally there was a possibility of inducing the Allies to
agree to a Council of Regency. Napoleon then determined to sign the act
of abdication, which he himself drew up in the following terms:--

The Allied powers having declared that the Emperor Napoleon is the
only obstacle to the re-establishment of peace in Europe, the
Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he is ready to
descend from the throne, to leave France, and even to lay down his
life for the welfare of the country, which is inseparable from the
rights of his son, those of the Regency of the Empress, and the
maintenance of the laws of the Empire. Given at our Palace of
Fontainebleau, 2d April 1814.
(Signed) NAPOLEON.

After having written this act the Emperor presented it to the Marshals,
saying, "Here, gentlemen! are you satisfied?"

This abdication of Napoleon was certainly very useless, but in case of
anything occurring to render it a matter of importance the act might have
proved entirely illusory. Its meaning might appear unequivocal to the
generality of people, but not to me, who was so well initiated in the
cunning to which Napoleon could resort when it suited his purpose. It is
necessary to observe that Napoleon does not say that "he descends from
the throne," but that "he is ready to descend from the throne." This was
a subterfuge, by the aid of which he intended to open new negotiations
respecting the form and conditions of the Regency of his son, in case of
the Allied sovereigns acceding to that proposition. This would have
afforded the means of gaining time.

He had not yet resigned all hope, and therefore he joyfully received a
piece of intelligence communicated to him by General Allix. The General
informed the Emperor that he had met an Austrian officer who was sent by
Francis II. to Prince Schwartzenberg, and who positively assured him that
all which had taken place in Paris was contrary to the wish of the
Emperor of Austria. That this may have been the opinion of the officer
is possible, and even probable. But it is certain from the issue of a
mission of the Duc de Cadore (Champagny), of which I shall presently
speak, that the officer expressed merely his own personal opinion.
However, as soon as General Allix had communicated this good news, as he
termed it, to Napoleon, the latter exclaimed to the persons who were
about him, "I told you so, gentlemen. Francis II. cannot carry his
enmity so far as to dethrone his daughter. Vicenza, go and desire the
Marshals to return my act of abdication. I will send a courier to the
Emperor of Austria."

Thus Bonaparte in his shipwreck looked round for a saving plank, and
tried to nurse himself in illusions. The Duke of Vicenza went to
Marshals Ney and Macdonald, whom he found just stepping into a carriage
to proceed to Paris. Both positively refused to return the act to
Caulaincourt, saying, "We are sure of the concurrence of the Emperor of
Austria, and we take everything upon ourselves." The result proved that
they were better informed than General Allix.

During the conversation with Marshal Macdonald which has just been
described the Emperor was seated. When he came to the resolution of
signing the abdication he arose and walked once or twice up and down his
cabinet. After he had written and signed the act he said, "Gentlemen,
the interests of my son, the interests of the army, and above all, the
interests of France, must be defended. I therefore appoint as my
commissioners to the Allied powers the Duke of Vicenza, the Prince of the
Moskowa, and the Duke of Ragusa . . . . Are you satisfied?" added he,
after a pause. "I think these interests are consigned to good hands."
All present answered, as with one voice. "Yes, Sire." But no sooner was
this answer pronounced than the Emperor threw himself upon a small yellow
sofa, which stood near the window, and striking his thigh with his hand
with a sort of convulsive motion, he exclaimed, "No, gentlemen: I will
have no Regency! With my Guards and Marmont's corps I shall be in Paris
to-morrow." Ney and Macdonald vainly endeavoured to undeceive him
respecting this impracticable design. He rose with marked ill-humour,
and rubbing his head, as he was in the habit of doing when agitated, he
said in a loud and authoritative tone, "Retire."

The Marshals withdrew, and Napoleon was left alone with Caulaincourt. He
told the latter that what had most displeased him in the proceedings
which had just taken place was the reading of Beurnonville's letter.
"Sire," observed the Duke of Vicenza, "it was by your order that the
letter was read."--"That is true . . . . But why was it not addressed
directly to me by Macdonald?"--"Sire, the letter was at first addressed
to Marshal Macdonald, but the aide de camp who was the bearer of it had
orders to communicate its contents to Marmont on passing through Essonne,
because Beurnonville did not precisely know where Macdonald would be
found." After this brief explanation the Emperor appeared satisfied, and
he said to Caulaincourt, "Vicenza, call back Macdonald."

The Duke of Vicenza hastened after the Marshal, whom he found at the end
of the gallery of the Palace, and he brought him back to the Emperor.
When Macdonald returned to the cabinet the Emperor's warmth had entirely
subsided, and he said to him with great composure, "Well, Duke of
Tarantum, do you think that the Regency is the only possible thing?"--
"Yes, Sire."--"Then I wish you to go with Ney to the Emperor Alexander,
instead of Marmont; it is better that he should remain with his corps, to
which his presence is indispensable. You will therefore go with Ney. I
rely on you. I hope you have entirely forgotten all that has separated
us for so long a time."--"Yes, Sire, I have not thought of it since
1809."--"I am glad of it, Marshal, and I must acknowledge to you that I
was in the wrong." While speaking to the Marshal the Emperor manifested
unusual emotion. He approached him and pressed his hand in the most
affectionate way.

The Emperor's three Commissioners--that is to say, Marshals Macdonald and
Ney and the Duke of Vicenza had informed Marmont that they would dine
with him as they passed through Essonne, and would acquaint him with all
that had happened at Fontainebleau. On their arrival at Essonne the
three Imperial Commissioners explained to the Due of Ragusa the object of
their mission, and persuaded him to accompany them to the Emperor
Alexander. This obliged the Marshal to inform them how he was situated.
The negotiations which Marmont had opened and almost concluded with
Prince Schwartzenberg were rendered void by the mission which he had
joined, and which it was necessary he should himself explain to the
Commander of the Austrian army. The three Marshals and the Duke of
Vicenza repaired to Petit Bourg, the headquarters of Prince
Schwartzenberg, and there the Prince released Marmont from the promise he
had given.



Unexpected receipts in the Post-office Department--Arrival of
Napoleon's Commissioners at M. de Talleyrand's--Conference of the
Marshals with Alexander--Alarming news from Essonne--Marmont's
courage--The white cockade and the tri-coloured cockade--
A successful stratagem--Three Governments in France--The Duc de
Cadore sent by Maria Louisa to the Emperor of Austria--Maria
Louisa's proclamation to the French people--Interview between the
Emperor of Austria and the Duc de Cadore--The Emperor's protestation
of friendship for Napoleon--M. Metternich and M. Stadion--Maria
Louisa's departure for Orleans--Blucher's visit to me--Audience of
the King of Prussia--His Majesty's reception of Berthier, Clarke,
and myself--Bernadotte in Paris--Cross of the Polar Star presented
to me by Bernadotte.

After my nomination as Director-General of the Post office the business
of that department proceeded as regularly as before. Having learned that
a great many intercepted letters had been thrown aside I sent, on the 4th
of April, an advertisement to the 'Moniteur', stating that the letters to
and from England or other foreign countries which had been lying at the
Post-office for more than three years would be forwarded to their
respective addresses. This produced to the Post-office a receipt of
nearly 300,000 francs, a fact which may afford an idea of the enormous
number of intercepted letters.

On the night after the publication of the advertisement I was awakened by
an express from the Provisional Government, by which I was requested to
proceed with all possible haste to M. de Talleyrand's hotel. I rose, and
I set off immediately, and I got there some minutes before the arrival of
the Emperor's Commissioners. I went up to the salon on the first floor,
which was one of the suite of apartments occupied by the Emperor
Alexander. The Marshals retired to confer with the monarch, and it would
be difficult to describe the anxiety--or, I may rather say,
consternation--which, during their absence, prevailed among some of the
members of the Provisional Government and other persons assembled in the
salon where I was.

While the Marshals were with Alexander, I learned that they had
previously conversed with M. de Talleyrand, who observed to them, "If you
succeed in your designs you will compromise all who have met in this
hotel since the 1st of April, and the number is not small. For my part,
take no account of me, I am willing to be compromised." I had passed the
evening of this day with M. de Talleyrand, who then observed to the
Emperor Alexander in my presence, "Will you support Bonaparte? No, you
neither can nor will. I have already had the honour to tell your Majesty
that we can have no choice but between Bonaparte and Louis XVIII.;
anything else would be an intrigue, and no intrigue can have power to
support him who may be its object. Bernadotte, Eugene, the Regency, all
those propositions result from intrigues. In present circumstances
nothing but a new principle is sufficiently strong to establish the new
order of things which must be adopted. Louis XVIII. is a principle."

None of the members of the Provisional Government were present at this
conference, for no one was willing to appear to influence in any way the
determination of the chief of the coalition upon the subject of this
important mission. General Dessolles alone, in quality of commander of
the National Guard of Paris, was requested to be present. At length the
Marshals entered the salon where we were, and their appearance created a
sensation which it is impossible to describe; but the expression of
dissatisfaction which we thought we remarked in their countenances
restored the hopes of those who for some hours had been a prey to
apprehensions. Macdonald, with his head elevated, and evidently under
the influence of strong irritation, approached Beurnonville, and thus
addressed him, in answer to a question which the latter had put to him.
"Speak not to me, sir; I have nothing to say to you. You have made me
forget a friendship of thirty years!" Then turning to Dupont, "As for
you, sir," he continued in the same tone, "your conduct towards the
Emperor is not generous. I confess that he has treated you with
severity, perhaps he may even have been unjust to you with respect to the
affair of Baylen, but how long has it been the practice to avenge a
personal wrong at the expense of one's country?"

These remarks were made with such warmth, and in so elevated a tone of
voice, that Caulaincourt thought it necessary to interfere, and said,
"Do not forget, gentlemen, that this is the residence of the Emperor of
Russia." At this moment M. de Talleyrand returned from the interview
with the Emperor which he had had after the departure of the Marshals,
and approaching the group formed round Macdonald, "Gentlemen," said he,
"if you wish to dispute and discuss, step down to my apartments."--
"That would be useless," replied Macdonald; "my comrades and I do not
acknowledge the Provisional Government." The three Marshals, Ney,
Macdonald, and Marmont, then immediately retired with Caulaincourt, and
went to Ney's hotel, there to await the answer which the Emperor
Alexander had promised to give them after consulting the King of Prussia.

Such was this night-scene; which possessed more dramatic effect than many
which are performed on the stage. In it all was real: on its denouement
depended the political state of France, and the existence of all those
who had already declared themselves in favour of the Bourbons. It is a
remarkable fact, and one which affords a striking lesson to men who are
tempted to sacrifice themselves for any political cause, that most of
those who then demanded the restoration of the Bourbons at the peril of
their lives have successively fallen into disgrace.

When the Marshals and Caulaincourt had retired we were all anxious to
know what had passed between them and the Emperor of Russia. I learned
from Dessolles, who, as I have stated, was present at the conference in
his rank of commander of the National Guard of Paris, that the Marshals
were unanimous in urging Alexander to accede to a Regency. Macdonald
especially supported that proposition with much warmth; and among the
observations he made I recollect Dessolles mentioned the following:--
"I am not authorised to treat in any way for the fate reserved for the
Emperor. We have full powers to treat for the Regency, the army, and
France; but the Emperor has positively forbidden us to specify anything
personally regarding himself." Alexander merely replied, "That does not
astonish me." The Marshals then, resuming the conversation, dwelt much
on the respect which was due to the military glory of France. They
strongly manifested their disinclination to abandon the family of a man
who had so often led them to victory; and lastly, they reminded the
Emperor Alexander of his own declaration, in which he proclaimed, in his
own name as well as on the part of his Allies, that it was not their
intention to impose on France any government whatever.

Dessolles, who had all along declared himself in favour of the Bourbons,
in his turn entered into the discussion with as much warmth as the
partisans of the Regency. He represented to Alexander how many persons
would be compromised for merely having acted or declared their opinions
behind the shield of his promises. He repeated what Alexander had
already been told, that the Regency would, in fact, be nothing but
Bonaparte in disguise. However, Dessolles acknowledged that such was the
effect of Marshal Macdonald's powerful and persuasive eloquence that
Alexander seemed to waver; and, unwilling to give the Marshals a positive
refusal, he had recourse to a subterfuge, by which he would be enabled to
execute the design he had irrevocably formed without seeming to take on
himself alone the responsibility of a change of government. Dessolles
accordingly informed us that Alexander at last gave the following answer
to the Marshals: "Gentlemen, I am not alone; in an affair of such
importance I must consult the King of Prussia, for I have promised to do
nothing without consulting him. In a few hours you shall know my
decision." It was this decision which the Marshals went to wait for at

Most of the members of the Provisional Government attributed the evasive
reply of the Emperor Alexander to the influence of the speech of
Dessolles. For my part, while I do justice to the manner in which he
declared himself on this important occasion, I do not ascribe to his
eloquence the power of fixing Alexander's resolution, for I well know by
experience how easy it is to make princes appear to adopt the advice of
any one when the counsel given is precisely that which they wish to
follow. From the sentiments of Alexander at this time I had not the
slightest doubt as to the course he would finally pursue, and I
considered what he said about consulting the King of Prussia to be merely
a polite excuse, by which he avoided the disagreeable task of giving the
Marshals a direct refusal.

I therefore returned home quite satisfied as to the result of the Emperor
Alexander's visit to the King of Prussia. I knew, from the persons about
the Czar, that he cherished a hatred, which was but too well justified,
towards Bonaparte. Frederick William is of too firm a character to have
yielded to any of the considerations which might on this subject have
been pressed on him as they had been on the Emperor of Russia. But,
besides that the King of Prussia had legitimate reasons for disliking
Napoleon, policy would at that time have required that he should appear
to be his enemy, for to do so was to render himself popular with his
subjects. But the King of Prussia did not need to act under the dictates
of policy; he followed his own opinion in rejecting the propositions of
the Marshals, which he did without hesitation, and with much energy.

While the Marshals had gone to Paris Bonaparte was anxious to ascertain
whether his Commissioners had passed the advanced posts of the foreign
armies, and in case of resistance he determined to march on Paris, for he
could not believe that he had lost every chance. He sent an aide de camp
to desire Marmont to come immediately to Fontainebleau: such was
Napoleon's impatience that instead of waiting for the return of his aide
de camp he sent off a second and then a third officer on the same errand.
This rapid succession of envoys from the Emperor alarmed the general who
commanded the different divisions of Marmont's corps at Essonne. They
feared that the Emperor was aware of the Convention concluded that
morning with Prince Schwartzenberg, and that he had sent for Marmont with
the view of reprimanding him. The fact was, Napoleon knew nothing of the
matter, for Marmont, on departing for Paris with Macdonald and Ney, had
left orders that it should be said that he had gone to inspect his lines.
Souham; Lebrun des Essarts, and Bordessoulle, who had given their assent
to the Convention with Prince Schwartzenberg, deliberated in the absence
of Marmont, and, perhaps being ignorant that he was released from his
promise, and fearing the vengeance of Napoleon, they determined to march
upon Versailles. On arriving there the troops not finding the Marshal at
their head thought themselves betrayed, and a spirit of insurrection
broke out among them. One of Marmont's aides de camp, whom he had left
at Essonne, exerted every endeavour to prevent the departure of his
general's corps, but, finding all his efforts unavailing, he hastened to
Paris to inform the Marshal of what had happened. 'When Marmont received
this news he was breakfasting at Ney's with Macdonald and Caulaincourt:
they were waiting for the answer which the Emperor Alexander had promised
to send them. The march of his corps on Versailles threw Marmont into
despair. He said to the Marshals, "I must be off to join my corps and
quell this mutiny;" and without losing a moment he ordered his carriage
and directed the coachman to drive with the utmost speed. He sent
forward one of his aides de camp to inform the troops of his approach.

Having arrived within a hundred paces of the place where his troops were
assembled he found the generals who were under his orders advancing to
meet him. They urged him not to go farther, as the men were in open
insurrection. "I will go into the midst of them," said Marmont. "In a
moment they shall either kill me or acknowledge me as their chief:" He
sent off another aide de camp to range the troops in the order of battle.
Then, alighting from the carriage and mounting a horse, he advanced
alone, and thus harangued his troops: "How! Is there treason here? Is
it possible that you disown me? Am I not your comrade? Have I not been
wounded twenty times among you? . . . Have I not shared your fatigues
and privations? And am I not ready to do so again?" Here Marmont was
interrupted by a general shout of "Vive le Marechal! Vive le Marechal!"

The alarm caused among the members of the Provisional Government by the
mission of the Marshals was increased by the news of the mutiny of
Marmont's troops. During the whole of the day we were in a state of
tormenting anxiety. It was feared that the insurrectionary spirit might
spread among other corps of the army, and the cause of France again be
endangered. But the courage of Marmont saved everything: It would be
impossible to convey any idea of the manner in which he was received by
us at Talleyrand's when he related the particulars of what had occurred
at Versailles.

On the evening of the day on which Marmont had acted so nobly it was
proposed that the army should adopt the white cockade. In reply to this
proposition the Marshal said, "Gentlemen, I have made my troops
understand the necessity of serving France before all things. They have,
consequently, returned to order, and I can now answer for them. But what
I cannot answer for is to induce them to abandon the colours which have
led them to victory for the last twenty years. Therefore do not count
upon me for a thing which I consider to be totally hostile to the
interests of France. I will speak to the Emperor Alexander on the
subject." Such were Marmont's words. Every one appeared to concur in
his opinion, and the discussion terminated. For my own part, I find by
my notes that I declared myself strongly in favour of Marmont's

The Marshal's opinion having been adopted, at least provisionally, an
article was prepared for the Moniteur in nearly the following terms:

The white cockade has been, during the last four days, a badge for
the manifestation of public opinion in favour of the overthrow of an
oppressive Government: it has been the only means of distinguishing
the partisans of the restoration of the old dynasty, to which at
length we are to be indebted for repose. But as the late Government
is at an end, all colours differing from our national colours are
useless: let us, therefore, resume those which have so often led us
to victory.

Such was the spirit of the article, though possibly the above copy may
differ in a few words. It met with the unqualified approbation of every
one present. I was therefore extremely surprised, on looking at the
'Moniteur' next day, to find that the article was not inserted. I knew
not what courtly interference prevented the appearance of the article,
but I remember that Marmont was very ill pleased at its omission. He
complained on the subject to the Emperor Alexander, who promised to
write, and in fact did write, to the Provisional Government to get the
article inserted. However, it did not appear, and in a few days we
obtained a solution of the enigma, as we might perhaps have done before
if we had tried. The Emperor Alexander also promised to write to the
Comte d'Artois, and to inform him that the opinion of France was in
favour of the preservation of the three colours, but I do not know
whether the letter was written, or, if it was, what answer it received.

Marshal Jourdan, who was then at Rouen, received a letter, written
without the knowledge of Marmont, informing him that the latter had
mounted the white cockade in his corps. Jourdan thought he could not do
otherwise than follow Marmont's example, and he announced to the
Provisional Government that in consequence of the resolution of the Duke
of Ragusa he had just ordered his corps to wear the white cockade.
Marmont could now be boldly faced, and when he complained to the
Provisional Government of the non-insertion of the article in the
Moniteur the reply was, "It cannot now appear. You see Marshal Jourdan
has mounted the white cockade: you would not give the army two sets of

Marmont could make no answer to so positive a fact. It was not till some
time after that I learned Jourdan had determined to unfurl the white flag
only on the positive assurance that Marmont had already done so. Thus we
lost the colours which had been worn by Louis XVI., which Louis XVIII.,
when a Prince, had adopted, and in which the Comte d'Artois showed
himself on his return to the Parisians, for he entered the capital in the
uniform of the National Guard. The fraud played off by some members of
the Provisional Government was attended by fatal consequences; many evils
might have been spared to France had Marmont's advice been adopted.

At the period of the dissolution of the Empire there might be said to be
three Governments in France, viz. the Provisional Government in Paris,
Napoleon's at Fontainebleau, and the doubtful and ambulatory Regency of
"Maria Louisa." Doubtful and ambulatory the Regency might well be called,
for there was so little decision as to the course to be adopted by the
Empress that it was at first proposed to conduct her to Orleans, then to
Tours, and she went finally to Blois. The uncertainty which prevailed
respecting the destiny of Maria Louisa is proved by a document which I
have in my possession, and of which there cannot be many copies in
existence. It is a circular addressed to the prefects by M. de
Montalivet, the Minister of the Interior, who accompanied the Empress.
In it a blank is left for the seat of the Government, to which the
prefects are desired to send their communications. In the copy I possess
the blank is filled up with the word "Blois" in manuscript.

As soon as Maria Louisa was made acquainted with the events that had
taken place around Paris she sent for the Duc de Cadore, and gave him a
letter addressed to the Emperor of Austria, saying, "Take this to my
father, who must be at Dijon. I rely on you for defending the interests
of France, those of the Emperor, and above all those of my son."
Certainly Maria Louisa's confidence could not be better placed, and those
great interests would have been defended by the Duc de Cadore 'si defendi

After the departure of the Due de Cadore Maria Louisa published the
following proclamation, addressed to the French people:


A Proclamation

The events of the war have placed the capital in the power of
foreigners. The Emperor has marched to defend it at the head of his
armies, so often victorious. They are face to face with the enemy
before the walls of Paris. From the residence which I have chosen,
and from the Ministers of the Emperor, will emanate the only orders
which you can acknowledge. Every town in the power of foreigners
ceases to be free, and every order which may proceed from them is
the language of the enemy, or that which it suits his hostile views
to propagate. You will be faithful to your oaths. You will listen
to the voice of a Princess who was consigned to your good faith, and
whose highest pride consists in being s Frenchwoman, and in being
united to the destiny of the sovereign whom you have freely chosen.
My son was less sure of your affections in the time of our
prosperity; his rights and his person are under your safeguard.

BLOIS, 3d April 1814.

It is to be inferred that the Regency had within three days adopted the
resolution of not quitting Blois, for the above document presents no
blanks, nor words filled up in writing. The Empress' proclamation,
though a powerful appeal to the feelings of the French people, produced
no effect. Maria Louisa's proclamation was dated the 4th of April, on
the evening of which day Napoleon signed the conditional abdication, with
the fate of which the reader has already been made acquainted. M. de
Montalivet transmitted the Empress' proclamation, accompanied by another
circular, to the prefects, of whom very few received it.

M. de Champagny, having left Blois with the letter he had received from
the Empress, proceeded to the headquarters of the Emperor of Austria,
carefully avoiding those roads which were occupied by Cossack troops.
He arrived, not without considerable difficulty, at Chanseaux, where
Frances II. was expected. When the Emperor arrived the Duc de Cadore
was announced, and immediately introduced to his Majesty. The Duke
remained some hours with Francis II., without being able to obtain from
him anything but fair protestations. The Emperor always took refuge
behind the promise he had given to his Allies to approve whatever
measures they might adopt. The Duke was not to leave the Emperor's
headquarters that evening, and, in the hope that his Majesty might yet
reflect on the critical situation of his daughter, he asked permission to
take leave next morning. He accordingly presented himself to the
Emperor's levee, when he renewed his efforts in support of the claims of
Maria Louisa. "I have a great affection for my daughter, and also for my
son-in law," said the Emperor. "I bear them both in my heart, and would
shed my blood for them"--"Ah, Sire!" exclaimed M. de Champagny, "such a
sacrifice is not necessary."--"Yes, Duke, I say again I would shed my
blood, I would resign my life for them, but I have given my Allies a
promise not to treat without them, and to approve all that they may do.
Besides," added the Emperor, "my Minister, M. de Metternich, has gone to
their headquarters, and I will ratify whatever he may sign."

When the Duc de Cadore related to me the particulars of his mission, in
which zeal could not work an impossibility, I remarked that he regarded
as a circumstance fatal to Napoleon the absence of M. de Metternich and
the presence of M. Stadion at the headquarters of the Emperor of Austria.
Though in all probability nothing could have arrested the course of
events, yet it is certain that the personal sentiments of the two
Austrian Ministers towards Napoleon were widely different. I am not
going too far when I affirm that, policy apart, M. de Metternich was much
attached to Napoleon. In support of this assertion I may quote a fact of
which I can guarantee the authenticity:

When M. de Metternich was complimented on the occasion of Maria Louisa's
marriage he replied, "To have contributed to a measure which has received
the approbation of 80,000,000 men is indeed a just subject of
congratulation." Such a remark openly made by the intelligent Minister
of the Cabinet of Vienna was well calculated to gratify the ears of
Napoleon, from whom, however, M. de Metternich in his personal relations
did not conceal the truth. I recollect a reply which was made by M. de
Metternich at Dresden after a little hesitation. "As to you," said the
Emperor, "you will not go to war with me. It is impossible that you can
declare yourself against me. That can never be."--" Sire, we are not now
quite allies, and some time hence we may become enemies." This hint was
the last which Napoleon received from Metternich, and Napoleon must have
been blind indeed not to have profited by it. As to M. Stadion, he
entertained a profound dislike of the Emperor. That Minister knew and
could not forget that his preceding exclusion from the Cabinet of Vienna
had been due to the all-powerful influence of Napoleon.

Whether or not the absence of Metternich influenced the resolution of
Francis II., it is certain that that monarch yielded nothing to the
urgent solicitations of a Minister who conscientiously fulfilled the
delicate mission consigned to him. M. de Champagny rejoined the Empress
at Orleans, whither she had repaired on leaving Blois. He found Maria
Louisa almost deserted, all the Grand Dignitaries of the Empire having
successively returned to Paris after sending in their submissions to the
Provisional Government.

I had scarcely entered upon the exercise of my functions as Postmaster-
General when, on the morning of the 2d of April, I was surprised to see a
Prussian general officer enter my cabinet. I immediately recognised him
as General Blucher. He had commanded the Prussian army in the battle
which took place at the gates of Paris. "Sir," said he, "I consider it
one of my first duties on entering Paris to thank you for the attention I
received from you in Hamburg. I am sorry that I was not sooner aware of
your being in Pains. I assure you that had I been sooner informed of
this circumstance the capitulation should have been made without a blow
being struck. How much blood might then have been spared!"--"General,"
said I, "on what do you ground this assurance?"--"If I had known that you
were in Paris I would have given you a letter to the King of Prussia.
That monarch, who knows the resources and intentions of the Allies,
would, I am sure, have authorised you to decide a suspension of arms
before the neighbourhood of Paris became the theatre of the war."--
"But," resumed I, "in spite of the good intentions of the Allies, it
would have been very difficult to prevent resistance. French pride,
irritated as it was by reverses, would have opposed insurmountable
obstacles to such a measure."--"But, good heavens! you would have seen
that resistance could be of no avail against such immense masses."--
"You are right, General; but French honour would have been defended to
the last."--"I am fully aware of that; but surely you have earned glory
enough!"--"Yet our French susceptibility would have made us look upon
that glory as tarnished if Paris had been occupied without defence ...
But under present circumstances I am well pleased that you were satisfied
with my conduct in Hamburg, for it induces me to hope that you will
observe the same moderation in Paris that I exercised there. The days
are past when it could be said, Woe to the conquered."--" You are right;
yet," added he, smiling, "you know we are called the northern
barbarians."--" Then, General," returned I, "you have a fair opportunity
of showing that that designation is a libel."

Some days after Blucher's visit I had the honour of being admitted to a
private audience of the King of Prussia. Clarke and Berthier were also
received in this audience, which took place at the hotel of Prince
Eugene, where the King of Prussia resided in Paris. We waited for some
minutes in the salon, and when Frederick William entered from his cabinet
I remarked on his countenance an air of embarrassment and austerity which
convinced me that he had been studying his part, as great personages are
in the habit of doing on similar occasions. The King on entering the
salon first noticed Berthier, whom he addressed with much kindness,
bestowing praises on the French troops, and complimenting the Marshal on
his conduct during the war in Germany. Berthier returned thanks for
these well-merited praises, for though he was not remarkable for strength
of understanding or energy of mind, yet he was not a bad man, and I have
known many proofs of his good conduct in conquered countries.

After saluting Berthier the King of Prussia turned towards Clarke, and
his countenance immediately assumed an expression of dissatisfaction.
He had evidently not forgotten Clarke's conduct in Berlin. He reminded
him that he had rendered the Continental system more odious than it was
in itself, and that he had shown no moderation in the execution of his
orders. "In short," said his Majesty, "if I have any advice to give you,
it is that you never again return to Prussia." The King pronounced these
words in so loud and decided a tone that Clarke was perfectly confounded.
He uttered some unintelligible observations, which, however, Frederick
William did not notice, for suddenly turning towards me he said, with an
air of affability, "Ah! M. de Bourrienne, I am glad to see you, and I
take this opportunity of repeating what I wrote to you from Gonigsberg.
You always extended protection to the Germans, and did all you could to
alleviate their condition. I learned with great satisfaction what you
did for the Prussians whom the fate of war drove into Hamburg; and I feel
pleasure in telling you, in the presence of these two gentlemen, that if
all the French agents had acted as you did we should not, probably, be
here." I expressed, by a profound bow, how much I was gratified by this
complimentary address, and the king, after saluting us, retired.

About the middle of April Bernadotte arrived in Paris. His situation had
become equivocal, since circumstances had banished the hopes he might
have conceived in his interview with the Emperor Alexander at Abo.
Besides, he had been represented in some official pamphlets as a traitor
to France, and among certain worshippers of our injured glory there
prevailed a feeling of irritation, and which was unjustly directed
towards Bernadotte.

I even remember that Napoleon, before he had fallen from his power, had a
sort of national protest made by the police against the Prince Royal of
Sweden. This Prince had reserved an hotel in the Rue d'Anjou, and the
words, "Down with the traitor! down with the perjurer," were shouted
there; but this had no result, as it was only considered an outrage
caused by a spirit of petty vengeance.

While Bernadotte was in Paris I saw him every day. He but faintly
disguised from me the hope he had entertained of ruling France; and in
the numerous conversations to which our respective occupations led I
ascertained, though Bernadotte did not formally tell me so, that he once
had strong expectations of succeeding Napoleon.

Pressed at last into his final intrenchments he broke through all reserve
and confirmed all I knew of the interview of Abo.

I asked Bernadotte what he thought of the projects which were attributed
to Moreau; whether it was true that he had in him a competitor, and
whether Moreau had aspired to the dangerous honour of governing France:
"Those reports," replied the Prince Royal of Sweden, "are devoid of
foundation: at least I can assure you that in the conversations I have
had with the Emperor Alexander, that sovereign never said anything which
could warrant such a supposition. I know that the Emperor of Russia
wished to avail himself of the military talents of Moreau in the great
struggle that had commenced, and to enable the exiled general to return
to his country, in the hope that, should the war prove fortunate, he
would enjoy the honours and privileges due to his past services."

Bernadotte expressed to me astonishment at the recall of the Bourbons,
and assured me that he had not expected the French people would so
readily have consented to the Restoration. I confess I was surprised
that Bernadotte, with the intelligence I knew him to possess, should
imagine that the will of subjects has any influence in changes of

During his stay in Paris Bernadotte evinced for me the same sentiments of
friendship which he had shown me at Hamburg. One day I received from him
a letter, dated Paris, with which he transmitted to me one of the crosses
of the Polar Star, which the King of Sweden had left at his disposal.
Bernadotte was not very well satisfied with his residence in Paris, in
spite of the friendship which the Emperor Alexander constantly manifested
towards him. After a few days he set out for Sweden, having first taken
leave of the Comte d'Artois. I did not see him after his farewell visit
to the Count, so that I know not what was the nature of the conversation
which passed between the two Princes.


Treaties of peace no less disastrous than the wars
Yield to illusion when the truth was not satisfactory

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