Part 3 out of 3
acknowledge, as legislators of France, any but those who rally round
me. As for those who remain in the orangery, let force expel
them. They are not the representatives of the people, but the
representatives of the poniard. Let that be their title, and let it
follow them everywhere; and whenever they dare show themselves to
the people, let every finger point at them, and every tongue
designate them by the well-merited title of representatives of the
Vive la Republique!
Notwithstanding the cries of "Vive Bonaparte!" which followed this
harangue, the troops still hesitated. It was evident that they were not
fully prepared to turn their swords against the national representatives.
Lucien then drew his sword, exclaiming, "I swear that I will stab my own
brother to the heart if he ever attempt anything against the liberty of
Frenchmen." This dramatic action was perfectly successful; hesitation
vanished; and at a signal given by Bonaparte, Murat, at the head of his
grenadiers, rushed into the hall, and drove out the representatives.
Everyone yielded to the reasoning of bayonets, and thus terminated the
employment of the armed force on that memorable day.
At ten o'clock at night the palace of St. Cloud, where so many tumultuous
scenes had occurred, was perfectly tranquil. All the deputies were still
there, pacing the hall, the corridors, and the courts. Most of them had
an air of consternation; others affected to have foreseen the event, and
to appear satisfied with it; but all wished to return to Paris, which
they could not do until a new order revoked the order for the removal of
the Councils to St. Cloud.
At eleven o'clock Bonaparte, who had eaten nothing all day, but who was
almost insensible to physical wants in moments of great agitation, said
to me, "We must go and write, Bourrienne; I intend this very night to
address a proclamation to the inhabitants of Paris. To-morrow morning I
shall be all the conversation of the capital." He then dictated to me
the following proclamation, which proves, no less than some of his
reports from Egypt, how much Bonaparte excelled in the art of twisting
the truth to own advantage:
TO THE PEOPLE.
19th Brumaire, 11 o'clock, p.m.
Frenchmen!--On my return to France I found division reigning amongst
all the authorities. They agreed only on this single point, that
the Constitution was half destroyed, and was unable to protect
Each party in turn came to me, confided to me their designs,
imparted their secrets, and requested my support. I refused to be
the man of a party.
The Council of the Ancients appealed to me. I answered their
appeal. A plan of general restoration had been concerted by men
whom the nation has been accustomed to regard as the defenders of,
liberty, equality, and property. This plan required calm and free
deliberation, exempt from all influence and all fear. The Ancients,
therefore, resolved upon the removal of the legislative bodies to
St. Cloud. They placed at my disposal the force necessary to secure
their independence. I was bound, in duty to my fellow-citizens, to
the soldiers perishing in our armies, and to the national glory,
acquired at the cost of so much blood, to accept the command.
The Councils assembled at St. Cloud. Republican troops guaranteed
their safety from without, but assassins created terror within.
Many members of the Council of the Five Hundred, armed with
stilettoes and pistols, spread menaces of death around them.
The plans which ought to have been developed were withheld. The
majority of the Council was rendered inefficient; the boldest
orators were disconcerted, and the inutility of submitting any
salutary proposition was quite evident.
I proceeded, filled with indignation and grief, to the Council of
the Ancients. I besought them to carry their noble designs into
execution. I directed their attention to the evils of the nation,
which were their motives for conceiving those designs. They
concurred in giving me new proofs of their uniform goodwill, I
presented myself before the Council of the Five Hundred, alone,
unarmed, my head uncovered, just as the Ancients had received and
applauded me. My object was to restore to the majority the
expression of its will, and to secure to it its power.
The stilettoes which had menaced the deputies were instantly raised
against their deliverer. Twenty assassins rushed upon me and aimed
at my breast. The grenadiers of the legislative body, whom I had
left at the door of the hall, ran forward, and placed themselves
between me and the assassins. One of these brave grenadiers (Thome)
had his clothes pierced by a stiletto. They bore me off.
--[Thome merely had a small part of his coat torn by a deputy,
who took him by the collar. This constituted the whole of the
attempted assassinations of the 19th Brumaire.--Bourrienne]--
At the same moment cries of "Outlaw him!" were raised against the
defender of the law. It was the horrid cry of assassins against the
power destined to repress them.
They crowded round the President, uttering threats. With arms in
their hands they commanded him to declare "the outlawry." I was
informed of this. I ordered him to be rescued from their fury, and
six grenadiers of the legislative body brought him out. Immediately
afterwards some grenadiers of the legislative body charged into the
hall and cleared it.
The factions, intimidated, dispersed and fled. The majority, freed
from their assaults, returned freely and peaceably into the hall;
listened to the propositions made for the public safety,
deliberated, and drew up the salutary resolution which will become
the new and provisional law of the Republic.
Frenchmen, you doubtless recognise in this conduct the zeal of a
soldier of liberty, of a citizen devoted to the Republic.
Conservative, tutelary, and liberal ideas resumed their authority
upon the dispersion of the factions, who domineered in the Councils,
and who, in rendering themselves the most odious of men, did not
cease to be the most contemptible.
(Signed) BONAPARTE, General, etc.
The day had been passed in destroying a Government; it was necessary to
devote the night to framing a new one. Talleyrand, Raederer, and Sieyes
were at St. Cloud. The Council of the Ancients assembled, and Lucien set
himself about finding some members of the Five Hundred on whom he could
reckon. He succeeded in getting together only thirty; who, with their
President, represented the numerous assembly of which they formed part.
This ghost of representation was essential, for Bonaparte,
notwithstanding his violation of all law on the preceding day, wished to
make it appear that he was acting legally. The Council of the Ancients
had, however, already decided that a provisional executive commission
should be appointed, composed of three members, and was about to name the
members of the commission--a measure which should have originated with
the Five Hundred--when Lucien came to acquaint Bonaparte that his chamber
'introuvable' was assembled.
This chamber, which called itself the Council of the Five Hundred, though
that Council was now nothing but a Council of Thirty, hastily passed a
decree, the first article of which was as follows:
The Directory exists no longer; and the individuals hereafter named
are no longer members of the national representation, on account of
the excesses and illegal acts which they have constantly committed,
and more particularly the greatest part of them, in the sitting of
Then follow the names of sixty-one members expelled.
By other articles of the same decree the Council instituted a provisional
commission, similar to that which the Ancients had proposed to appoint,
resolved that the said commission should consist of three members, who
should assume the title of Consuls; and nominated as Consuls Sieyes,
Roger Ducos, and Bonaparte. The other provisions of the nocturnal decree
of St. Cloud had for their object merely the carrying into effect those
already described. This nocturnal sitting was very calm, and indeed it
would have been strange had it been otherwise, for no opposition could be
feared from the members of the Five Hundred, who were prepared to concur
with Lucien. All knew beforehand what they would have to do. Everything
was concluded by three o'clock in the morning; and the palace of St.
Cloud, which had been so agitated since the previous evening, resumed in
the morning its wonted stillness, and presented the appearance of a vast
All the hurrying about, the brief notes which I had to write to many
friends, and the conversations in which I was compelled to take part,
prevented me from dining before one o'clock in the morning. It was not
till then that Bonaparte, having gone to take the oath as Consul before
the Five Hundred, afforded me an opportunity of taking some refreshment
with Admires Bruix and some other officers.
At three o'clock in the morning I accompanied Bonaparte, in his carriage
to Paris. He was extremely fatigued after so many trials and fatigues.
A new future was opened before him. He was completely absorbed in
thought, and did not utter a single word during the journey. But when he
arrived at his house in the Rue de la Victoire, he had no sooner entered
his chamber and wished good morning to Josephine, who was in bed, and in
a state of the greatest anxiety on account of his absence, than he said
before her, "Bourrienne, I said many ridiculous things?"--"Not so very
bad, General"--"I like better to speak to soldiers than to lawyers.
Those fellows disconcerted me. I have not been used to public
assemblies; but that will come in time."
We then began, all three, to converse. Madame Bonaparte became calm, and
Bonaparte resumed his wonted confidence. The events of the day naturally
formed the subject of our conversation. Josephine, who was much attached
to the Gohier family, mentioned the name of that Director in a tone of
kindness. "What would you have, my dear?" said Bonaparte to her. "It
is not my fault. He is a respectable man, but a simpleton. He does not
understand me!--I ought, perhaps, to have him transported. He wrote
against me to the Council of the Ancients; but I have his letter, and
they know nothing about it. Poor man! he expected me to dinner
yesterday. And this man thinks himself a statesman!--Speak no more of
During our discourse the name of Bernadotte was also mentioned. "Have
you seen him, Bourrienne?" said Bonaparte to me.--"No, General"--
"Neither have I. I have not heard him spoken of. Would you imagine it?
I had intelligence to-day of many intrigues in which he is concerned.
Would you believe it? he wished nothing less than to be appointed my
colleague in authority. He talked of mounting his horse and marching
with the troops that might be placed under his command. He wished, he
said, to maintain the Constitution: nay, more; I am assured that he had
the audacity to add that, if it were necessary to outlaw me, the
Government might come to him and he would find soldiers capable of
carrying the decree into execution."--"All this, General, should give you
an idea how inflexible his principles are."--"Yes, I am well aware of it;
there is something in that: he is honest. But for his obstinacy, my
brothers would have brought him over. They are related to him. His
wife, who is Joseph's sister-in-law, has ascendency over him. As for me,
have I not, I ask you, made sufficient advances to him? You have
witnessed them. Moreau, who has a higher military reputation than he,
came over to me at once. However, I repent of having cajoled Bernadotte.
I am thinking of separating him from all his coteries without any one
being able to find fault with the proceeding. I cannot revenge myself in
any other manner. Joseph likes him. I should have everybody against me.
These family considerations are follies! Goodnight, Bourrienne.--By the
way, we will sleep in the Luxembourg to-morrow."
I then left the General, whom, henceforth, I will call the First Consul,
after having remained with him constantly during nearly twenty-four
hours, with the exception of the time when he was at the Council of the
Five Hundred. I retired to my lodging, in the Rue Martel, at five
o'clock in the morning.
It is certain that if Gohier had come to breakfast on the morning of the
18th Brumaire, according to Madame Bonaparte's invitation, he would have
been one of the members of the Government. But Gohier acted the part of
the stern republican. He placed himself, according to the common phrase
of the time, astride of the Constitution of the year III.; and as his
steed made a sad stumble, he fell with it.
It was a singular circumstance which prevented the two Directors Gohier
and Moulins from defending their beloved Constitution. It was from their
respect for the Constitution that they allowed it to perish, because they
would have been obliged to violate the article which did not allow less
than three Directors to deliberate together. Thus a king of Castile was
burned to death, because there did not happen to be in his apartment men
of such rank as etiquette would permit to touch the person of the
General approbation of the 18th Brumaire--Distress of the treasury--
M. Collot's generosity--Bonaparte's ingratitude--Gohier set at
Liberty--Constitution of the year VIII.--The Senate, Tribunate, and
Council of State--Notes required on the character of candidates--
Bonaparte's love of integrity and talent--Influence of habit over
him--His hatred of the Tribunate--Provisional concessions--The first
Consular Ministry--Mediocrity of La Place--Proscription lists--
Cambaceres report--M. Moreau de Worms--Character of Sieyes--
Bonaparte at the Luxembourg--Distribution of the day and visits--
Lebrun's opposition--Bonaparte's singing--His boyish tricks--
Assumption of the titles "Madame" and "Monseigneur"--The men of the
Revolution and the partisans of the Bourbons--Bonaparte's fears--
Confidential notes on candidates for office and the assemblies.
It cannot be denied that France hailed, almost with unanimous voice,
Bonaparte's accession to the Consulship as a blessing of Providence.
I do not speak now of the ulterior consequences of that event; I speak
only of the fact itself, and its first results, such as the repeal of the
law of hostages, and the compulsory loan of a hundred millions.
Doubtless the legality of the acts of the 18th Brumaire may be disputed;
but who will venture to say that the immediate result of that day ought
not to be regarded as a great blessing to France? Whoever denies this
can have no idea of the wretched state of every branch of the
administration at that deplorable epoch. A few persons blamed the 18th
Brumaire; but no one regretted the Directory, with the exception,
perhaps, of the five Directors themselves. But we will say no more of
the Directorial Government. What an administration! In what a state
were the finances of France! Would it be believed? on the second day of
the Consulate, when Bonaparte wished to send a courier to General
Championet, commander-in-chief of the army of Italy, the treasury had not
1200 francs disposable to give to the courier!
It may be supposed that in the first moments of a new Government money
would be wanted. M. Collot, who had served under Bonaparte in Italy, and
whose conduct and administration deserved nothing but praise, was one of
the first who came to the Consul's assistance. In this instance
M. Collot was as zealous as disinterested. He gave the Consul 500,000
francs in gold, for which service he was badly rewarded. Bonaparte
afterwards behaved to M. Collot as though he was anxious to punish him
for being rich. This sum, which at the time made so fine an appearance
in the Consular treasury, was not repaid for a long time after, and then
without interest. This was not, indeed, the only instance in which
M. Collot had cause to complain of Bonaparte, who was never inclined to
acknowledge his important services, nor even to render justice to his
On the morning of the 20th Brumaire Bonaparte sent his brother Louis to
inform the Director Gohier that he was free. This haste in relieving
Gohier was not without a reason, for Bonaparte was anxious to install
himself in the Luxembourg, and we went there that same evening.
Everything was to be created. Bonaparte had with him almost the whole of
the army, and on the soldiers he could rely. But the military force was
no longer sufficient for him. Wishing to possess a great civil power
established by legal forms, he immediately set about the composition of a
Senate and Tribunate; a Council of State and a new legislative body, and,
finally, a new Constitution.
--[The Constitution of the year VIII. was presented an the 18th of
December 1799 (22d Frimaire, year VIII.), and accepted by the people
on the 7th of February 1800 (18th Pluviose, year VIII.). It
established a Consular Government, composed of Bonaparte, First
Consul, appointed for ten years; Cambaceres, Second Consol, also for
ten Years; and Lebrun, Third Consul appointed for five years. It
established a conservative Senate, a legislative body of 800
members, and a Tribunate composed of 100 members. The establishment
of the Council of State took place on the 29th of December 1799.
The installation of the new legislative body and the Tribunate was
fixed for the 1st of January 1800.--Bourrienne. Lanfrey (tome i.
p. 329) sees this Constitution foreshadowed in that proposed by
Napoleon in 1797 for the Cisalpine Republic.]--
As Bonaparte had not time to make himself acquainted with the persons by
whom he was about to be surrounded; he requested from the most
distinguished men of the period, well acquainted with France and the
Revolution, notes respecting the individuals worthy and capable of
entering the Senate, the Tribunate, and the Council of State. From the
manner in which all these notes were drawn up it was evident that the
writers of them studied to make their recommendation correspond with what
they conceived to be Bonaparte's views, and that they imagined he
participated in the opinions which were at that time popular.
Accordingly they stated, as grounds for preferring particular candidates,
their patriotism, their republicanism, and their having had seats in
Of all qualities, that which most influenced the choice of the First
Consul was inflexible integrity; and it is but just to say that in this
particular he was rarely deceived. He sought earnestly for talent; and
although he did not like the men of the Revolution, he was convinced that
he could not do without them. He had conceived an extreme aversion for
mediocrity, and generally rejected a man of that character when
recommended to him; but if he had known such a man long, he yielded to
the influence of habit, dreading nothing so much as change, or, as he was
accustomed to say himself, new faces.'
--[Napoleon loved only men with strong passions and great weakness;
he judged the most opposite qualities in men by these defects
(Metternich, tome iii. p.589)]--
Bonaparte then proceeded to organise a complaisant Senate, a mute
legislative body, and a Tribunals which was to have the semblance of
being independent, by the aid of some fine speeches and high-sounding
phrases. He easily appointed the Senators, but it was different with the
Tribunats. He hesitated long before he fixed upon the candidates for
that body, which inspired him with an anticipatory fear. However, on
arriving at power he dared not oppose himself to the exigencies of the
moment, and he consented for a time to delude the ambitious dupes who
kept up a buzz of fine sentiments of liberty around him. He saw that
circumstances were not yet favourable for refusing a share in the
Constitution to this third portion of power, destined apparently to
advocate the interests of the people before the legislative body. But in
yielding to necessity, the mere idea of the Tribunate filled him with the
utmost uneasiness; and, in a word, Bonaparte could not endure the public
discussions on his projects.'
--[The Tribunate under this Constitution of the year VIII. was the
only body allowed to debate in public on proposed laws, the
legislative body simply hearing in silence the orators sent by the
Council of State and by the Tribunals to state reasons for or
against propositions, and then voting in silence. Its orators were
constantly giving umbrage to Napoleon. It was at first Purified,
early in 1802, by the Senate naming the members to go out in
rotation then reduced to from 100 to 50 members later in 1802, and
suppressed in 1807; its disappearance being regarded by Napoleon as
his last break with the Revolution.]--
Bonaparte composed the first Consular Ministry as follows: Berthier was
Minister of War; Gaudin, formerly employed in the administration of the
Post Office, was appointed Minister of Finance; Cambaceres remained
Minister of Justice; Forfait was Minister of Marine; La Place of the
Interior; Fouche of Police; and Reinhard of Foreign Affairs.
Reinhard and La Place were soon replaced, the former by the able M.
Talleyrand, the latter by Lucien Bonaparte.
--[When I quitted the service of the First Consul Talleyrand was
still at the head of the Foreign Department. I have frequently been
present at this great statesman's conferences with Napoleon, and I
can declare that I never saw him flatter his dreams of ambition;
but, on the contrary, he always endeavoured to make him sensible of
his true interests.--Bourrienne.]--
It maybe said that Lucien merely passed through the Ministry on his way
to a lucrative embassy in Spain. As to La Place, Bonaparte always
entertained a high opinion of his talents. His appointment to the
Ministry of the Interior was a compliment paid to science; but it was not
long before the First Consul repented of his choice. La Place, so
happily calculated for science, displayed the most inconceivable
mediocrity in administration. He was incompetent to the most trifling
matters; as if his mind, formed to embrace the system of the world, and
to interpret the laws of Newton and Kepler, could not descend to the
level of subjects of detail, or apply itself to the duties of the
department with which he was entrusted for a short, but yet, with regard
to him, too long a time.
On the 26th Brumaire (17th November 1799) the Consuls issued a decree,
in which they stated that, conformably with Article III. of the law of
the 19th of the same month, which especially charged them with the
reestablishment of public tranquillity, they decreed that thirty-eight
individuals, who were named, should quit the continental territory of the
Republic, and for that purpose should proceed to Rochefort, to be
afterwards conducted to, and detained in, the department of French
Guiana. They likewise decreed that twenty-three other individuals, who
were named, should proceed to the commune of Rochelle, in the department
of the lower Charente, in order to be afterwards filed and detained in
such part of that department as should be pointed out by the Minister of
General Police. I was fortunate enough to keep my friend M. Moreau de
Worms, deputy from the Youne, out of the fiat of exiles. This produced a
mischievous effect. It bore a character of wanton severity quite
inconsistent with the assurances of mildness and moderation given at St.
Cloud on the 19th Brumaire. Cambaceres afterwards made a report, in
which he represented that it was unnecessary for the maintenance of
tranquillity to subject the proscribed to banishment, considering it
sufficient to place them under the supervision of the superior police.
Upon receiving the report the Consuls issued a decree, in which they
directed all the individuals included in the proscription to retire
respectively into the different communes which should be fixed upon by
the Minister of Justice, and to remain there until further orders.
At the period of the issuing of these decrees Sieyes was still one of the
Consuls; conjointly with Bonaparte and Roger Ducos; and although
Bonaparte had, from the first moment, possessed the whole power of the
government, a sort of apparent equality was, nevertheless, observed
amongst them. It was not until the 25th of December that Bonaparte
assumed the title of First Consul, Cambaceres and Lebrun being then
joined in the office with him. He had fixed his eyes on them previously
to the 18th Brumaire, and he had no cause to reproach them with giving
him much embarrassment in his rapid progress towards the imperial throne.
I have stated that I was so fortunate as to rescue M. Moreau de Worms
from the list of proscription. Some days after Sieyes entered
Bonaparte's cabinet and said to him, "Well, this M. Moreau de Worms, whom
M. Bourrienne induced you to save from banishment, is acting very finely!
I told you how it would be! I have received from Sens, his native place,
a letter which informs me that Moreau is in that town, where he has
assembled the people in the market-place, and indulged in the most
violent declamations against the 18th Brumaire,"--"Can you, rely upon
your agent" asked Bonaparte.--"Perfectly. I can answer for the truth of
his communication." Bonaparte showed me the bulletin of Sieyes' agent,
and reproached me bitterly. "What would you say, General," I observed,
"if I should present this same M. Moreau de Worms, who is declaiming at
Sens against the 18th Brumaire, to you within an hour?"--"I defy you to
do it."--"I have made myself responsible for him, and I know what I am
about. He is violent in his politics; but he is a man of honour,
incapable of failing in his word."--" Well, we shall see. Go and find
him." I was very sure of doing what I had promised, for within an hour
before I had seen M. Moreau de Worms. He had been concealed since the
13th Brumaire, and had not quitted Paris. Nothing was easier than to
find him, and in three-quarters of an hour he was at the Luxembourg. I
presented him to Bonaparte, who conversed with him a long time concerning
the 18th Brumaire. When M. Moreau departed Bonaparte said to me, "You
are right. That fool Sieyes is as inventive as a Cassandra. This proves
that one should not be too ready to believe the reports of the wretches
whom we are obliged to employ in the police." Afterwards he added,
"Bourrienne, Moreau is a nice fellow: I am satisfied with him; I will do
something for him." It was not long before M. Moreau experienced the
effect of the Consul's good opinion. Some days after, whilst framing the
council of prizes, he, at my mere suggestion, appointed M. Moreau one of
the members, with a salary of 10,000 francs. On what extraordinary
circumstances the fortunes of men frequently depend! As to Sieyes, in
the intercourse, not very frequent certainly, which I had with him, he
appeared to be far beneath the reputation which he then--enjoyed.'
--[M. de Talleyrand, who is so capable of estimating men, and whose
admirable sayings well deserve to occupy a place in history, had
long entertained a similar opinion of Sieyes. One day, when he was
conversing with the Second Consul concerning Sieyes, Cambaceres said
to him. "Sieyes, however, is a very profound man."--"Profound?"
said Talleyrand. "Yes, he is, a cavity, a perfect cavity, as you
He reposed a blind confidence in a multitude of agents, whom he sent into
all parts of France. When it happened, on other occasions, that I proved
to him, by evidence as sufficient as that in the case of M. Moreau, the
falseness of the reports he had received, he replied, with a confidence
truly ridiculous, "I can rely on my men." Sieyes had written in his
countenance, "Give me money!" I recollect that I one day alluded to this
expression in the anxious face of Sieyes to the First Consul. "You are
right," observed he to me, smiling; "when money is in question, Sieyes is
quite a matter-of-fact man. He sends his ideology to the right about and
thus becomes easily manageable. He readily abandons his constitutional
dreams for a good round sum, and that is very convenient."
--[Everybody knows, in fact, that Sieyes refused to resign his
consular dignities unless he received in exchange a beautiful farm
situated in the park of Versailles, and worth about 15,000 livres a
year. The good abbe consoled himself for no longer forming a third
of the republican sovereignty by making himself at home in the
ancient domain of the kings of France.--Bourrienne.]--
Bonaparte occupied, at the Little Luxembourg, the apartments on the
ground floor which lie to the right on entering from the Rue de
Vaugirard. His cabinet was close to a private staircase, which conducted
me to the first floor, where Josephine dwelt. My apartment was above.
After breakfast, which was served at ten o'clock, Bonaparte would
converse for a few moments with his usual guests, that is to say, his
'aides de camp', the persons he invited, and myself, who never left him.
He was also visited very often by Deferment, Regnault (of the town of St.
Jean d'Angely), Boulay (de la Meurthe), Monge, and Berber, who were, with
his brothers, Joseph and Lucien, those whom he most delighted to see; he
conversed familiarly with them. Cambaceres generally came at mid-day,
and stayed some time with him, often a whole hour. Lebrun visited but
seldom. Notwithstanding his elevation, his character remained unaltered;
and Bonaparte considered him too moderate, because he always opposed his
ambitious views and his plans to usurp power. When Bonaparte left the
breakfast-table it was seldom that he did not add, after bidding
Josephine and her daughter Hortense good-day, "Come, Bourrienne, come,
let us to work."
After the morning audiences I stayed with Bonaparte all the day, either
reading to him, or writing to his dictation. Three or four times in the
week he would go to the Council. On his way to the hall of deliberation
he was obliged to cross the courtyard of the Little Luxembourg and ascend
the grand staircase. This always vexed him, and the more so as the
weather was very bad at the time. This annoyance continued until the
25th of December, and it was with much satisfaction that he saw himself
quit of it. After leaving the Council he used to enter his cabinet
singing, and God knows how wretchedly he sung! He examined whatever work
he had ordered to be done, signed documents, stretched himself in his
arm-chair, and read the letters of the preceding day and the publications
of the morning. When there was no Council he remained in his cabinet,
conversed with me, always sang, and cut, according to custom, the arm of
his chair, giving himself sometimes quite the air of a great boy. Then,
all at once starting up, he would describe a plan for the erection of a
monument, or dictate some of those extraordinary productions which
astonished and dismayed the world. He often became again the same man,
who, under the walls of St. Jean d'Acre, had dreamed of an empire worthy
At five o'clock dinner was served up. When that was over the First
Consul went upstairs to Josephine's apartments, where he commonly
received the visits of the Ministers. He was always pleased to see among
the number the Minister of Foreign Affairs, especially since the
portfolio of that department had been entrusted to the hands of M. de
Talleyrand. At midnight, and often sooner, he gave the signal for
retiring by saying in a hasty manner, "Allons nous coucher."
It was at the Luxembourg, in the salons of which the adorable Josephine
so well performed the honours, that the word 'Madame' came again into
use. This first return towards the old French politeness was startling
to some susceptible Republicans; but things were soon carried farther at
the Tuileries by the introduction of 'Votre Altesse' on occasions of
state ceremony, and Monseigneur in the family circle.
If, on the one hand, Bonaparte did not like the men of the Revolution, on
the other he dreaded still more the partisans of the Bourbons. On the
mere mention of the name of those princes he experienced a kind of inward
alarm; and he often spoke of the necessity of raising a wall of brass
between France and them. To this feeling, no doubt, must be attributed
certain nominations, and the spirit of some recommendations contained in
the notes with which he was supplied on the characters of candidates, and
which for ready reference were arranged alphabetically. Some of the
notes just mentioned were in the handwriting of Regnault de St. Jean
d'Angely, and some in Lucien Bonaparte's.
--[Among them was the following, under the title of "General
Observations": "In choosing among the men who were members of the
Constituent Assembly it is necessary to be on guard against the
Orleans' party, which is not altogether a chimera, and may one day
or other prove dangerous.
"There is no doubt that the partisans of that family are intriguing
secretly; and among many other proofs of this fact the following is
a striking one: the journal called the 'Aristargue', which
undisguisedly supports royalism, is conducted by a man of the name
of Voidel, one of the hottest patriots of the Revolution. He was
for several months president of the committee of inquiry which
caused the Marquis de Favras to be arrested and hanged, and gave so
much uneasiness to the Court. There was no one in the Constituent
Assembly more hateful to the Court than Voidel, so much on account
of his violence as for his connection with the Duke of Orleans,
whose advocate and counsel he was. When the Duke of Orleans was
arrested, Voidel, braving the fury of the revolutionary tribunals,
had the courage to defend him, and placarded all the walls of Paris
with an apology for the Duke and his two sons. This man, writing
now in favour of royalism, can have no other object than to advance
a member of the Orleans family to the throne."--Bourrienne.]--
At the commencement of the First Consul's administration, though he
always consulted the notes he had collected, he yet received with
attention the recommendations of persons with whom he was well
acquainted; but it was not safe for them to recommend a rogue or a fool.
The men whom he most disliked were those whom he called babblers, who are
continually prating of everything and on everything. He often said,--
"I want more head and less tongue." What he thought of the regicides will
be seen farther on, but at first the more a man had given a gage to the
Revolution, the more he considered him as offering a guarantee against
the return of the former order of things. Besides, Bonaparte was not the
man to attend to any consideration when once his policy was concerned.
As I have said a few pages back, on taking the government into his own
hands Bonaparte knew so little of the Revolution and of the men engaged
in civil employments that it was indispensably necessary for him to
collect information from every quarter respecting men and things. But
when the conflicting passions of the moment became more calm and the
spirit of party more prudent, and when order had been, by his severe
investigations, introduced where hitherto unbridled confusion had
reigned, he became gradually more scrupulous in granting places, whether
arising from newly-created offices, or from those changes which the
different departments often experienced. He then said to me,
"Bourrienne, I give up your department to you. Name whom you please for
the appointments; but remember you must be responsible to me."
What a list would have been which should contain the names of all the
prefects, sub-prefects, receivers-general, and other civil officers to
whom I gave places! I have kept no memoranda of their names; and indeed,
what advantage would there have been in doing so? It was impossible for
me to have a personal knowledge of all the fortunate candidates; but I
relied on recommendations in which I had confidence.
I have little to complain of in those I obliged; though it is true that,
since my separation from Bonaparte, I have seen many of them take the
opposite side of the street in which I was walking, and by that delicate
attention save me the trouble of raising my hat.