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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, v6 by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

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This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, at the end of several of the
files for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making
an entire meal of them. D.W.]



His Private Secretary

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





Proverbial falsehood of bulletins--M. Doublet--Creation of the
Legion of Honour--Opposition to it in the Council and other
authorities of the State--The partisans of an hereditary system--
The question of the Consulship for life.

The historian of these times ought to put no faith in the bulletins,
despatches, notes, and proclamations which have emanated from Bonaparte,
or passed through his hands. For my part, I believe that the proverb,
"As great a liar as a bulletin," has as much truth in it as the axiom,
two and two make four.

The bulletins always announced what Bonaparte wished to be believed true;
but to form a proper judgment on any fact, counter-bulletins must be
sought for and consulted. It is well known, too, that Bonaparte attached
great importance to the place whence he dated his bulletins; thus, he
dated his decrees respecting the theatres and Hamburg beef at Moscow.

The official documents were almost always incorrect. There was falsity
in the exaggerated descriptions of his victories, and falsity again in
the suppression or palliation of his reverses and losses. A writer, if
he took his materials from the bulletins and the official correspondence
of the time, would compose a romance rather than a true history. Of this
many proofs have been given in the present work.

Another thing which always appeared to me very remarkable was, that
Bonaparte, notwithstanding his incontestable superiority, studied to
depreciate the reputations of his military commanders, and to throw on
their shoulders faults which he had committed himself. It is notorious
that complaints and remonstrances, as energetic as they were well
founded, were frequently addressed to General Bonaparte on the subject of
his unjust and partial bulletins, which often attributed the success of a
day to some one who had very little to do with it, and made no mention of
the officer who actually had the command. The complaints made by the
officers and soldiers stationed at Damietta compelled General Lanusse,
the commander, to remonstrate against the alteration of a bulletin, by
which an engagement with a body of Arabs was represented as an
insignificant affair, and the loss trifling, though the General had
stated the action to be one of importance, and the loss considerable.
The misstatement, in consequence of his spirited and energetic
remonstrances, was corrected.

Bonaparte took Malta, as is well known, in forty-eight hours. The empire
of the Mediterranean, secured to the English by the battle of Aboukir,
and their numerous cruising vessels, gave them the means of starving the
garrison, and of thus forcing General Vaubois, the commandant of Malta,
who was cut off from all communication with France, to capitulate.
Accordingly on the 4th of September 1800 he yielded up the Gibraltar of
the Mediterranean, after a noble defence of two years. These facts
require to be stated in order the better to understand what follows.

On 22d February 1802 a person of the name of Doublet, who was the
commissary of the French Government at Malta when we possessed that
island, called upon me at the Tuileries. He complained bitterly that the
letter which he had written from Malta to the First Consul on the 2d
Ventose, year VIII. (9th February 1800), had been altered in the
'Moniteur'. "I congratulated him," said M. Doublet, "on the 18th
Brumaire, and informed him of the state of Malta, which was very
alarming. Quite the contrary was printed in the 'Moniteur', and that is
what I complain of. It placed me in a very disagreeable situation at
Malta, where I was accused of having concealed the real situation of the
island, in which I was discharging a public function that gave weight to
my words." I observed to him that as I was not the editor of the
'Moniteur' it was of no use to apply to me; but I told him to give me a
copy of the letter, and I would mention the subject to the First Consul,
and communicate the answer to him. Doublet searched his pocket for the
letter, but could not find it. He said he would send a copy, and begged
me to discover how the error originated. On the same day he sent me the
copy of the letter, in which, after congratulating Bonaparte on his
return, the following passage occurs:--"Hasten to save Malta with men and
provisions: no time is to be lost." For this passage these words were
substituted in the 'Moniteur': "His name inspires the brave defenders of
Malta with fresh courage; we have men and provisions."

Ignorant of the motives of so strange a perversion, I showed this letter
to the First Consul. He shrugged up his shoulders and said, laughing,
"Take no notice of him, he is a fool; give yourself no further trouble
about it."

It was clear there was nothing more to be done. It was, however, in
despite of me that M. Doublet was played this ill turn. I represented to
the First Consul the inconveniences which M. Doublet might experience
from this affair. But I very rarely saw letters or reports published as
they were received. I can easily understand how particular motives might
be alleged in order to justify such falsifications; for, when the path of
candour and good faith is departed from, any pretest is put forward to
excuse bad conduct. What sort of a history would he write who should
consult only the pages of the 'Moniteur'?

After the vote for adding a second ten years to the duration of
Bonaparte's Consulship he created, on the 19th of May, the order of the
Legion of Honour. This institution was soon followed by that of the new
nobility. Thus, in a short space of time, the Concordat to tranquillize
consciences and re-establish harmony in the Church; the decree to recall
the emigrants; the continuance of the Consular power for ten years, by
way of preparation for the Consulship for life, and the possession of the
Empire; and the creation, in a country which had abolished all
distinctions, of an order which was to engender prodigies, followed
closely on the heels of each other. The Bourbons, in reviving the
abolished orders, were wise enough to preserve along with them the Legion
of Honour.

It has already been seen how, in certain circumstances, the First Consul
always escaped from the consequences of his own precipitation, and got
rid of his blunders by throwing the blame on others--as, for example, in
the affair of the parallel between Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte. He
was indeed so precipitate that one might say, had he been a gardener, he
would have wished to see the fruits ripen before the blossoms had fallen
off. This inconsiderate haste nearly proved fatal to the creation of the
Legion of Honour, a project which ripened in his mind as soon as he
beheld the orders glittering at the button-holes of the Foreign
Ministers. He would frequently exclaim, "This is well! These are the
things for the people!"

I was, I must confess, a decided partisan of the foundation in France of
a new chivalric order, because I think, in every well-conducted State,
the chief of the Government ought to do all in his power to stimulate the
honour of the citizens, and to render them more sensible to honorary
distinctions than to pecuniary advantages. I tried, however, at the same
time to warn the First Consul of his precipitancy. He heard me not; but
I must with equal frankness confess that on this occasion I was soon
freed from all apprehension with respect to the consequences of the
difficulties he had to encounter in the Council and in the other
constituted orders of the State.

On the 4th of May 1801 lie brought forward, for the first time
officially, in the Council of State the question of the establishment of
the Legion of Honour, which on the 19th May 1802 was proclaimed a law of
the State. The opposition to this measure was very great, and all the
power of the First Consul, the force of his arguments, and the immense
influence of his position, could procure him no more than 14 votes out of
24. The same feeling was displayed at the Tribunate; where the measure
only passed by a vote of 56 to 38. The balance was about the same in the
Legislative Body, where the votes were 166 to 110. It follows, then,
that out of the 394 voters in those three separate bodies a majority only
of 78 was obtained. Surprised at so feeble a majority, the First Consul
said in the evening, "Ah! I see very clearly the prejudices are still
too strong. You were right; I should have waited. It was not a thing of
such urgency. But then, it must be owned, the speakers for the measure
defended it badly. The strong minority has not judged me fairly."--
"Be calm," rejoined I: "without doubt it would have been better to wait;
but the thing is done, and you will soon find that the taste for these
distinctions is not near gone by. It is a taste which belongs to the
nature of man. You may expect some extraordinary circumstances from this
creation--you will soon see them."

In April 1802 the First Consul left no stone unturned to get himself
declared Consul for life. It is perhaps at this epoch of his career that
he most brought into play those principles of duplicity and dissimulation
which are commonly called Machiavellian. Never were trickery, falsehood,
cunning, and affected moderation put into play with more talent or

In the month of March hereditary succession and a dynasty were in
everybody's mouths. Lucien was the most violent propagator of these
ideas, and he pursued his vocation of apostle with constancy and address.
It has already been mentioned that, by his brother's confession; he
published in 1800 a pamphlet enforcing the same ideas; which work
Bonaparte afterwards condemned as a premature development of his
projects. M. de Talleyrand, whose ideas could not be otherwise than
favourable to the monarchical form of government, was ready to enter into
explanations with the Cabinets of Europe on the subject. The words which
now constantly resounded in every ear were "stability and order," under
cloak of which the downfall of the people's right was to be concealed.
At the same time Bonaparte, with the view of disparaging the real friends
of constitutional liberty, always called them ideologues,

--[I have classed all these people under the denomination of
Ideologues, which, besides, is what specially and literally fits
them,--searchers after ideas (ideas generally empty). They have
been made more ridiculous than even I expected by this application,
a correct one, of the term ideologue to them. The phrase has been
successful, I believe, because it was mine (Napoleon in Iung's
Lucien, tome ii. p, 293). Napoleon welcomed every attack on this
description of sage. Much pleased with a discourse by Royer
Collard, he said to Talleyrand, "Do you know, Monsieur is Grand
Electeur, that a new and serious philosophy is rising in my
university, which may do us great honour and disembarrass us
completely of the ideologues, slaying them on the spot by
reasoning?" It is with something of the same satisfaction that
Renan, writing of 1898, says that the finer dreams had been
disastrous when brought into the domain of facts, and that human
concerns only began to improve when the ideologues ceased to meddle
with them (Souvenirs, p. 122).]--

or terrorists. Madame Bonaparte opposed with fortitude the influence of
counsels which she believed fatal to her husband. He indeed spoke
rarely, and seldom confidentially, with her on politics or public
affairs. "Mind your distaff or your needle," was with him a common
phrase. The individuals who applied themselves with most perseverance in
support of the hereditary question were Lucien, Roederer, Regnault de St.
Jean d'Angely, and Fontanel. Their efforts were aided by the conclusion
of peace with England, which, by re-establishing general tranquillity for
a time, afforded the First Consul an opportunity of forwarding any plan.

While the First Consul aspired to the throne of France, his brothers,
especially Lucien, affected a ridiculous pride and pretension. Take an
almost incredible example of which I was witness. On Sunday, the 9th of
May, Lucien came to see Madame Bonaparte, who said to him, "Why did you
not come to dinner last Monday?"--"Because there was no place marked for
me: the brothers of Napoleon ought to have the first place after him."--
"What am I to understand by that?" answered Madame Bonaparte. "If you
are the brother of Bonaparte, recollect what you were. At my house all
places are the same. Eugene world never have committed such a folly."

--[On such points there was constant trouble with the Bonapartist
family, as will be seen in Madame de Remusat's Memoirs. For an
instance, in 1812, where Joseph insisted on his mother taking
precedence of Josephine at a dinner in his house, when Napoleon
settled the matter by seizing Josephine's arm and leading her in
first, to the consternation of the party. But Napoleon, right in
this case, had his own ideas on such points, The place of the
Princess Elisa, the eldest of his sisters, had been put below that
of Caroline, Queen of Naples. Elisa was then only princess of
Lucca. The Emperor suddenly rose, and by a shift to the right
placed the Princess Elisa above the Queen. 'Now,' said he, 'do not
forget that in the imperial family I am the only King.' (Iung's
Lucien, tome ii. p. 251), This rule he seems to have adhered to,
for when he and his brothers went in the same carriage to the Champ
de Mai in 1815, Jerome, titular King of Westphalia, had to take the
front seat, while his elder brother, Lucien, only bearing the Roman
title of Prince de Canino, sat on one of the seats of honour
alongside Napoleon. Jerome was disgusted, and grumbled at a King
having to give way to a mere Roman Prince, See Iung's Lucien, tome
ii. p, 190.]--

At this period, when the Consulate for life was only in embryo,
flattering counsels poured in from all quarters, and tended to encourage
the First Consul in his design of grasping at absolute power.

Liberty rejected an unlimited power, and set bounds to the means he
wished and had to employ in order to gratify his excessive love of war
and conquest. "The present state of things, this Consulate of ten
years," said he to me, does not satisfy me; "I consider it calculated to
excite unceasing troubles." On the 7th of July 1801, he observed, "The
question whether France will be a Republic is still doubtful: it will be
decided in five or six years." It was clear that he thought this too
long a term. Whether he regarded France as his property, or considered
himself as the people's delegate and the defender of their rights, I am
convinced the First Consul wished the welfare of France; but then that
welfare was in his mind inseparable from absolute power. It was with
pain I saw him following this course. The friends of liberty, those who
sincerely wished to maintain a Government constitutionally free, allowed
themselves to be prevailed upon to consent to an extension of ten years
of power beyond the ten years originally granted by the constitution.
They made this sacrifice to glory and to that power which was its
consequence; and they were far from thinking they were lending their
support to shameless intrigues. They were firm, but for the moment only,
and the nomination for life was rejected by the Senate, who voted only
ten years more power to Bonaparte, who saw the vision of his ambition
again adjourned.

The First Consul dissembled his displeasure with that profound art which,
when he could not do otherwise, he exercised to an extreme degree. To a
message of the Senate on the subject of that nomination he returned a
calm but evasive and equivocating answer, in which, nourishing his
favourite hope of obtaining more from the people than from the Senate,
he declared with hypocritical humility, "That he would submit to this new
sacrifice if the wish of the people demanded what the Senate authorised."
Such was the homage he paid to the sovereignty of the people, which was
soon to be trampled under his feet!

An extraordinary convocation of the Council of State took place on
Monday, the 10th of May. A communication was made to them, not merely of
the Senate's consultation, but also of the First Consul's adroit and
insidious reply. The Council regarded the first merely as a
notification, and proceeded to consider on what question the people
should be consulted. Not satisfied with granting to the First Consul ten
years of prerogative, the Council thought it best to strike the iron
while it was hot, and not to stop short in the middle of so pleasing a
work. In fine, they decided that the following question should be put to
the people: "Shall the First Consul be appointed for life, and shall he
have the power of nominating his successor?" The reports of the police
had besides much influence on the result of this discussion, for they one
and all declared that the whole of Paris demanded a Consul for life, with
the right of naming a successor. The decisions on these two questions
were carried as it were by storm. The appointment for life passed
unanimously, and the right of naming the successor by a majority. The
First Consul, however, formally declared that he condemned this second
measure, which had not originated with himself. On receiving the
decision of the Council of State the First Consul, to mask his plan for
attaining absolute power, thought it advisable to appear to reject a part
of what was offered him. He therefore cancelled that clause which
proposed to give him the power of appointing a successor, and which had
been carried by a small majority.



General Bernadotte pacifies La vendee and suppresses a mutiny at
Tours--Bonaparte's injustice towards him--A premeditated scene--
Advice given to Bernadotte, and Bonaparte disappointed--The First
Consul's residence at St. Cloud--His rehearsals for the Empire--
His contempt of mankind--Mr. Fox and Bonaparte--Information of plans
of assassination--A military dinner given by Bonaparte--Moreau not
of the party--Effect of the 'Senates-consultes' on the Consulate for
life--Journey to Plombieres--Previous scene between Lucien and
Josephine--Theatrical representations at Neuilly and Malmaison--
Loss of a watch, and honesty rewarded--Canova at St. Cloud--
Bonaparte's reluctance to stand for a model.

Having arrived at nearly the middle of the career which I have undertaken
to trace, before I advance farther I must go back for a few moments, as I
have already frequently done, in order to introduce some circumstances
which escaped my recollection, or which I purposely reserved, that I
might place them amongst facts analogous to them: Thus, for instance, I
have only referred in passing to a man who, since become a monarch, has
not ceased to honour me with his friendship, as will be seen in the
course of my Memoirs, since the part we have seen him play in the events
of the 18th Brumaire. This man, whom the inexplicable combination of
events has raised to a throne for the happiness of the people he is
called to govern, is Bernadotte.

It was evident that Bernadotte must necessarily fall into a kind of
disgrace for not having supported Bonaparte's projects at the period of
the overthrow of the Directory. The First Consul, however, did not dare
to avenge himself openly; but he watched for every opportunity to remove
Bernadotte from his presence, to place him in difficult situations, and
to entrust him with missions for which no precise instructions were
given, in the hope that Bernadotte would commit faults for which the
First Consul might make him wholly responsible.

At the commencement of the Consulate the deplorable war in La Vendee
raged in all its intensity. The organization of the Chouans was
complete, and this civil war caused Bonaparte much more uneasiness than
that which he was obliged to conduct on the Rhine and in Italy, because,
from the success of the Vendeans might arise a question respecting
internal government, the solution of which was likely to be contrary to
Bonaparte's views. The slightest success of the Vendeans spread alarm
amongst the holders of national property; and, besides, there was no hope
of reconciliation between France and England, her eternal and implacable
enemy, as long as the flame of insurrection remained unextinguished.

The task of terminating this unhappy struggle was obviously a difficult
one. Bonaparte therefore resolved to impose it on Bernadotte; but this
general's conciliatory disposition, his chivalrous manners, his tendency
to indulgence, and a happy mixture of prudence and firmness, made him
succeed where others would have failed. He finally established good
order and submission to the laws.

Some time after the pacification of La Vendee a rebellious disposition
manifested itself at Tours amongst the soldiers of a regiment stationed
there. The men refused to march until they received their arrears of
pay. Bernadotte, as commander-in-chief of the army of the west, without
being alarmed at the disturbance, ordered the fifty-second demi-brigade--
the one in question--to be drawn up in the square of Tours, where, at the
very head of the corps, the leaders of the mutiny were by his orders
arrested without any resistance being offered. Carnot who was then
Minister of War, made a report to the First Consul on this affair, which,
but for the firmness of Bernadotte, might have been attended with
disagreeable results. Carnet's report contained a plain statement of the
facts, and of General Bernadotte's conduct. Bonaparte was, however,
desirous to find in it some pretext for blaming him, and made me write
these words on the margin of the report: "General Bernadotte did not act
discreetly in adopting such severe measures against the fifty-second
demi-brigade, he not having the means, if he head been unsuccessful, of
re-establishing order in a town the garrison of which was not strong
enough to subdue the mutineers."

A few days after, the First Consul having learned that the result of this
affair was quite different from that which he affected to dread, and
being convinced that by Bernadotte's firmness alone order had been
restored, he found himself in some measure constrained to write to the
General, and he dictated the following letter to me:

PARIS, 11th Vendemiaire. Year XI.

CITIZEN-GENERAL--I have read with interest the account of what you
did to re-establish order in the fifty-second demi-brigade, and
also the report of General Liebert, dated the 5th Vendemiaire.
Tell that officer that the Government is satisfied with his conduct.
His promotion from the rank of Colonel to that of General of brigade
is confirmed. I wish that brave officer to come to Paris. He has
afforded an example of firmness and energy which does honour to a

Thus in the same affair Bonaparte, in a few days, from the spontaneous
expression of blame dictated by hate, was reduced to the necessity of
declaring his approbation, which he did, as may be seen, with studied
coldness, and even taking pains to make his praises apply to Colonel
Liebert, and not to the general-in-chief.

Time only served to augment Bonaparte's dislike of Bernadotte. It might
be said that the farther he advanced in his rapid march towards absolute
power the more animosity he cherished against the individual who had
refused to aid his first steps in his adventurous career. At the same
time the persons about Bonaparte who practised the art of flattering
failed not to multiply reports and insinuations against Bernadotte.
I recollect one day, when there was to be a grand public levee, seeing
Bonaparte so much out of temper that I asked him the cause of it. "I can
bear it no longer," he replied impetuously. "I have resolved to have a
scene with Bernadotte to-day. He will probably be here. I will open the
fire, let what will come of it. He may do what he pleases. We shall
see! It is time there should be an end of this."

I had never before observed the First Consul so violently irritated.
He was in a terrible passion, and I dreaded the moment when the levee was
to open. When he left me to go down to the salon I availed myself of the
opportunity to get there before him, which I could easily do, as the
salon was not twenty steps from the cabinet. By good luck Bernadotte was
the first person I saw. He was standing in the recess of a window which
looked on the square of the Carrousel. To cross the salon and reach the
General was the work of a moment. "General!" said I, "trust me and
retire!--I have good reasons for advising it!" Bernadotte, seeing my
extreme anxiety, and aware of the sincere sentiments of esteem end
friendship which I entertained for him, consented to retire, and I
regarded this as a triumph; for, knowing Bernadotte's frankness of
character and his nice sense of honour, I was quite certain that he would
not submit to the harsh observations which Bonaparte intended to address
to him. My stratagem had all the success I could desire. The First
Consul suspected nothing, and remarked only one thing, which was that his
victim was absent. When the levee was over he said to me, "What do you
think of it, Bourrienne?---Bernadotte did not come."--"So much the better
for him, General," was my reply. Nothing further happened. The First
Consul on returning from Josephine found me in the cabinet, and
consequently could suspect nothing, and my communication with Bernadotte
did not occupy five minutes. Bernadotte always expressed himself much
gratified with the proof of friendship I gave him at this delicate
conjuncture. The fact is, that from a disposition of my mind, which I
could not myself account for, the more Bonaparte'a unjust hatred of
Bernadotte increased the more sympathy and admiration I felt for the
noble character of the latter.

The event in question occurred in the spring of 1802. It was at this
period that Bonaparte first occupied St. Cloud, which he was much pleased
with, because he found himself more at liberty there than at the
Tuileries; which palace is really only a prison for royalty, as there a
sovereign cannot even take the air at a window without immediately being
the object of the curiosity of the public, who collect in large crowds.
At St. Cloud, on the contrary, Bonaparte could walk out from his cabinet
and prolong his promenade without being annoyed by petitioners. One of
his first steps was to repair the cross road leading from St. Cloud to
Malmaison, between which places Bonaparte rode in a quarter of an hour.
This proximity to the country, which he liked, made staying at St. Cloud
yet pleasanter to him. It was at St. Cloud that the First Consul made,
if I may so express it, his first rehearsals of the grand drama of the
Empire. It was there he began to introduce, in external forms, the
habits and etiquette which brought to mind the ceremonies of sovereignty.
He soon perceived the influence which pomp of ceremony, brilliancy of
appearance, and richness of costume, exercise over the mass of mankind.
"Men," he remarked to me a this period, "well deserve the contempt I feel
for them. I have only to put some gold lace on the coats of my virtuous
republicans and they immediately become just what I wish them."

I remember one day, after one of his frequent sallies of contempt for
human kind, I observed to him that although baubles might excite vulgar
admiration, there were some distinguished men who did not permit
themselves to be fascinated by their allurements; and I mentioned the
celebrated Fox by way of example, who, previous to the conclusion of the
peace of Amiens, visited Paris, where he was remarked for his extreme
simplicity. The First Consul said, "Ah! you are right with respect to
him. Mr. Fox is a truly great man, and pleases me much."

In fact, Bonaparte always received Mr. Fox's visits with the greatest
satisfaction; and after every conversation they had together he never
failed to express to me the pleasure which he experienced in discoursing
with a man every way worthy of the great celebrity he had attained.
He considered him a very superior man, and wished he might have to treat
with him in his future negotiations with England. It may be supposed
that Mr. Fox, on his part, never forgot the terms of intimacy, I may say
of confidence, on which he had been with the First Consul. In fact, he
on several occasions informed him in time of war of the plots formed
against his life. Less could not be expected from a man of so noble a
character. I can likewise affirm, having more than once been in
possession of proofs of the fact, that the English Government constantly
rejected with indignation all such projects. I do not mean those which
had for their object the overthrow of the Consular or Imperial
Government, but all plans of assassination and secret attacks on the
person of Bonaparte, whether First Consul or Emperor. I will here
request the indulgence of the reader whilst I relate a circumstance which
occurred a year before Mr. Fox's journey to Paris; but as it refers to
Moreau, I believe that the transposition will be pardoned more easily
than the omission.

During the summer 1801 the First Consul took a fancy to give a grand
military dinner at a restaurateur's. The restaurateur he favoured with
his company was Veri, whose establishment was situated on the terrace of
the Feuillans with an entrance into the garden of the Tuileries.
Bonaparte did not send an invitation to Moreau, whom I met by chance that
day in the following manner:--The ceremony of the dinner at Veri's
leaving me at liberty to dispose of my time, I availed myself of it to go
and dine at a restaurateur's named Rose, who then enjoyed great celebrity
amongst the distinguished gastronomes. I dined in company with M.
Carbonnet, a friend of Moreau's family, and two or three other persons.
Whilst we were at table in the rotunda we were informed by the waiter who
attended on us that General Moreau and his wife, with Lacuee and two
other military men, were in an adjoining apartment. Suchet, who had
dined at Veri's, where he said everything was prodigiously dull, on
rising from the table joined Moreau's party. These details we learned
from M. Carbonnet, who left us for a few moments to see the General and
Madame Moreau.

Bonaparte's affectation in not inviting Moreau at the moment when the
latter had returned a conqueror from the army of the Rhine, and at the
same time the affectation of Moreau in going publicly the same day to
dine at another restaurateur's, afforded ground for the supposition that
the coolness which existed between them would soon be converted into
enmity. The people of Paris naturally thought that the conqueror of
Marengo might, without any degradation, have given the conqueror of
Hohenlinden a seat at his table.

By the commencement of the year 1802 the Republic had ceased to be
anything else than a fiction, or an historical recollection. All that
remained of it was a deceptive inscription on the gates of the Palace.
Even at the time of his installation at the Tuileries, Bonaparte had
caused the two trees of liberty which were planted in the court to be cut
down; thus removing the outward emblems before he destroyed the reality.
But the moment the Senatorial decisions of the 2d and 4th of August were
published it was evident to the dullest perceptions that the power of the
First Consul wanted nothing but a name.

After these 'Consultes' Bonaparte readily accustomed himself to regard
the principal authorities of the State merely as necessary instruments
for the exercise of his power. Interested advisers then crowded round
him. It was seriously proposed that he should restore the ancient
titles, as being more in harmony with the new power which the people had
confided to him than the republican forms. He was still of opinion,
however, according to his phrase, that "the pear was not yet ripe," and
would not hear this project spoken of for a moment. "All this," he said
to me one day, "will come in good time; but you must see, Bourrienne,
that it is necessary I should, in the first place, assume a title, from
which the others that I will give to everybody will naturally take their
origin. The greatest difficulty is surmounted. There is no longer any
person to deceive. Everybody sees as clear as day that it is only one
step which separates the throne from the Consulate for life. However, we
must be cautious. There are some troublesome fellows in the Tribunate,
but I will take care of them."

Whilst these serious questions agitated men's minds the greater part of
the residents at Malmaison took a trip to Plombieres. Josephine,
Bonaparte's mother, Madame Beauharnais-Lavallette, Hortense, and General
Rapp, were of this party. It pleased the fancy of the jocund company to
address to me a bulletin of the pleasant and unpleasant occurrences of
the journey. I insert this letter merely as a proof of the intimacy
which existed between the writers and myself. It follows, precisely as I
have preserved it, with the exception of the blots, for which it will be
seen they apologised.

To the Inhabitants of Malmaison.

The whole party left Malmaison in tears, which brought on such dreadful
headaches that all the amiable persons were quite overcome by the idea of
the journey. Madame Bonaparte, mere, supported the fatigues of this
memorable day with the greatest courage; but Madame Bonaparte,
Consulesse, did not show any. The two young ladies who sat in the
dormouse, Mademoiselle Hortense and Madame Lavallette, were rival
candidates for a bottle of Eau de Cologne; and every now and then the
amiable M. Rapp made the carriage stop for the comfort of his poor little
sick heart, which overflowed with bile: in fine, he was obliged to take
to bed on arriving at Epernay, while the rest of the amiable party tried
to drown their sorrows in champagne. The second day was more fortunate
on the score of health and spirits, but provisions were wanting, and
great were the sufferings of the stomach. The travellers lived on the
hope of a good supper at Toul; but despair was at its height when,
on arriving there, they found only a wretched inn, and nothing in it.
We saw some odd-looking folks there, which indemnified us a little for
spinach dressed in lamp-oil, and red asparagus fried with curdled milk.
Who would not have been amused to see the Malmaison gourmands seated at a
table so shockingly served!

In no record of history is there to be found a day passed in distress so
dreadful as that on which we arrived at Plombieres. On departing from
Toul we intended to breakfast at Nancy, for every stomach had been empty
for two days; but the civil and military authorities came out to meet us,
and prevented us from executing our plan. We continued our route,
wasting away, so that you might, see us growing thinner every moment.
To complete our misfortune, the dormouse, which seemed to have taken a
fancy to embark on the Moselle for Metz, barely escaped an overturn.
But at Plombieres we have been well compensated for this unlucky journey,
for on our arrival we were received with all kinds of rejoicings. The
town was illuminated, the cannon fired, and the faces of handsome women
at all the windows give us reason to hope that we shall bear our absence
from Malmaison with the less regret.

With the exception of some anecdotes, which we reserve for chit-chat on
our return, you have here a correct account of our journey, which we, the
undersigned, hereby certify.


The company ask pardon for the blots.
21st Messidor.

It is requested that the person who receives this journal will show it to
all who take an interest in the fair travellers.

This journey to Plombieres was preceded by a scene which I should abstain
from describing if I had not undertaken to relate the truth respecting
the family of the First Consul. Two or three days before her departure
Madame Bonaparte sent for me. I obeyed the summons, and found her in
tears. "What a man-what a man is that Lucien!" she exclaimed in accents
of grief. "If you knew, my friend, the shameful proposals he has dared
to make to me! 'You are going to the waters,' said he; 'you must get a
child by some other person since you cannot have one by him.' Imagine
the indignation with which I received such advice. 'Well,' he continued,
'if you do not wish it, or cannot help it, Bonaparte must get a child by
another woman, and you must adopt it, for it is necessary to secure an
hereditary successor. It is for your interest; you must know that.'--
'What, sir!' I replied, 'do you imagine the nation will suffer a bastard
to govern it? Lucien! Lucien! you would ruin your brother! This is
dreadful! Wretched should I be, were any one to suppose me capable of
listening, without horror, to your infamous proposal! Your ideas are
poisonous; your language horrible!'--'Well, Madame,' retorted he, 'all I
can say to that is, that I am really sorry for you!'"

The amiable Josephine was sobbing whilst she described this scene to me,
and I was not insensible to the indignation which she felt. The truth
is, that at that period Lucien, though constantly affecting to despise
power for himself, was incessantly labouring to concentrate it in the
hands of his brother; and he considered three things necessary to the
success of his views, namely, hereditary succession, divorce, and the
Imperial Government.

Lucien had a delightful house near Neuilly. Some days before the
deplorable scene which I have related he invited Bonaparte and all the
inmates at Malmaison to witness a theatrical representation. 'Alzire'
was the piece performed. Elise played Alzire, and Lucien, Zamore. The
warmth of their declarations, the energetic expression of their gestures,
the too faithful nudity of costume, disgusted most of the spectators, and
Bonaparte more than any other. When the play was over he was quite
indignant. "It is a scandal," he said to me in an angry tone; "I ought
not to suffer such indecencies--I will give Lucien to understand that I
will have no more of it." When his brother had resumed his own dress,
and came into the salon, he addressed him publicly, and gave him to
understand that he must for the future desist from such representations.
When we returned to Malmaison; he again spoke of what had passed with
dissatisfaction. "What!" said he, "when I am endeavouring to restore
purity of manners, my brother and sister must needs exhibit themselves
upon the boards almost in a state of nudity! It is an insult!"

Lucien had a strong predilection for theatrical exhibitions, to which he
attached great importance. The fact is, he declaimed in a superior
style, and might have competed with the best professional actors. It was
said that the turban of Orosmane, the costume of America, the Roman toga,
or the robe of the high priest of Jerusalem, all became him equally well;
and I believe that this was the exact truth. Theatrical representations
were not confined to Neuilly. We had our theatre and our company of
actors at Malmaison; but there everything was conducted with the greatest
decorum; and now that I have got behind the scenes, I will not quit them
until I have let the reader into the secrets of our drama.

By the direction of the First Consul a very pretty little theatre was
built at Malmaison. Our usual actors were Eugene BEAUHARNAIS, Hortense,
Madame Murat, Lauriston, M. Didelot, one of the prefects of the Palace,
some other individuals belonging to the First Consul's household, and
myself. Freed from the cares of government, which we confined as much as
possible to the Tuileries, we were a very happy colony at Malmaison; and,
besides, we were young, and what is there to which youth does not add
charms? The pieces which the First Consul most liked to see us perform
were, 'Le Barbier de Seville' and 'Defiance et Malice'. In Le Barbier
Lauriston played the part of Count Almaviva; Hortense, Rosins; Eugene,
Basil; Didelot, Figaro; I, Bartholo; and Isabey, l'Aveille. Our other
stock pieces were, Projets de Mariage, La Gageltre, the Dapit Anloureux,
in which I played the part of the valet; and L'Impromptu de Campagne, in
which I enacted the Baron, having for my Baroness the young and handsome
Caroline Murat.

Hortense's acting was perfection, Caroline was middling, Eugene played
very well, Lauriston was rather heavy, Didelot passable, and I may
venture to assert, without vanity, that I was not quite the worst of the
company. If we were not good actors it was not for want of good
instruction and good advice. Talma and Michot came to direct us, and
made us rehearse before them, sometimes altogether and sometimes
separately. How many lessons have I received from Michot whilst walking
in the beautiful park of Malmaison! And may I be excused for saying,
that I now experience pleasure in looking back upon these trifles, which
are matters of importance when one is young, and which contrasted so
singularly with the great theatre on which we did not represent
fictitious characters? We had, to adopt theatrical language, a good
supply of property. Bonaparte presented each of us with a collection of
dramas very well bound; and, as the patron of the company, he provided us
with rich and elegant dresses.

--[While Bourrienne, belonging to the Malmaison company, considered
that the acting at Neuilly was indecent, Lucien, who refused to act at
Malmaison, naturally thought the Malmaison troupe was dull. "Hortense
and Caroline filled the principal parts. They were very commonplace. In
this they followed the unfortunate Marie Antoinette and her companions.
Louis XVI., not naturally polite, when seeing them act, had said that it
was royally badly acted" (see Madame Campan's Life of Marie Antoinette,
tome i. p. 299). "The First Consul said of his troupe that it was
sovereignly badly acted". . . Murat, Lannes, and even Caroline ranted.
Elisa, who, having been educated at Saint Cyr, spoke purely and without
accent, refused to act. Janot acted well the drunken parts, and even the
others he undertook. The rest were decidedly bad. Worse than bad--
ridiculous" (Iung's Lucien's, tome ii. p. 256). Rival actors are not
fair critics. Let us hear Madame Junot (tome ii. p. 103). "The
cleverest of our company was M. de Bourrienne. He played the more
dignified characters in real perfection, and his talent was the more
pleasing as it was not the result of study, but of a perfect
comprehension of his part." And she goes on to say that even the best
professional actors might have learnt from him in some parts. The
audience was not a pleasant one to face. It was the First Consul's habit
to invite forty persons to dinner, and a hundred and fifty for the
evening, and consequently to hear, criticise, and banter us without
mercy" (Memoirs of Duchesse d'Abrantes, tome ii. p. 108). ]--

Bonaparte took great pleasure in our performances. He liked to see plays
acted by persons with whom he was familiar. Sometimes he complimented us
on our exertions. Although I was as much amused with the thing as
others, I was more than once obliged to remind him that my occupations
left me but little time to learn my parts. Then he would assume his
coaxing manner and say, "Come, do not vex me! You have such a memory!
You know that it amuses me. You see that these performances render
Malmaison gay and animated; Josephine takes much pleasure in them. Rise
earlier in the morning.--In fact, I sleep too much; is not that the
cafe--Come, Bourrienne, do oblige me. You make me laugh so heartily!
Do not deprive me of this pleasure. I have not over much amusement, as
you well know."--"All, truly! I would not deprive you of any pleasure.
I am delighted to be able to contribute to your amusement." After a
conversation of this sort I could not do less than set about studying my

At this period, during summer, I had half the Sunday to myself. I was,
however, obliged to devote a portion of this precious leisure to pleasing
Bonaparte by studying a new part as a surprise for him. Occasionally,
however, I passed the time at Ruel. I recollect that one day, when I had
hurried there from Malmaison, I lost a beautiful watch made by Breguet.
It was four o'clock in the afternoon, and the road was that day thronged
with people. I made my loss publicly known by means of the crier of
Ruel. An hour after, as I was sitting down to table, a young lad
belonging to the village brought me my watch. He had found it on the
high road in a wheel rut. I was pleased with the probity of this young
man, and rewarded both him and his father, who accompanied him. I
reiterated the circumstance the same evening to the First Consul, who was
so struck with this instance of honesty that he directed me to procure
information respecting the young man and his family. I learned that they
were honest peasants. Bonaparte gave employment to three brothers of
this family; and, what was most difficult to persuade him to, he exempted
the young man who brought me the watch from the conscription.

When a fact of this nature reached Bonaparte's ear it was seldom that he
did not give the principal actor in it some proof of his satisfaction.
Two qualities predominated in his character--kindness and impatience.
Impatience, when he was under its influence, got the better of him; it
was then impossible for him to control himself. I had a remarkable proof
of it about this very period.

Canova having arrived in Paris came to St. Cloud to model the figure of
the First Consul, of whom he was about to make a colossal statue. This
great artist came often, in the hope of getting his model to stand in the
proper attitude; but Bonaparte was so tired, disgusted, and fretted by
the process, that he very seldom put himself in the required attitude,
and then only for a short time. Bonaparte notwithstanding had the
highest regard for Canova. Whenever he was announced the First Consul
sent me to keep him company until he was at leisure to give him a
sitting; but he would shrug up his shoulders and say, "More modeling!
Good Heavens, how vexatious!" Canova expressed great displeasure at not
being able to study his model as he wished to do, and the little anxiety
of Bonaparte on the subject damped the ardour of his imagination.
Everybody agrees in saying that he has not succeeded in the work, and I
have explained the reason. The Duke of Wellington afterwards possessed
this colossal statue, which was about twice his own height.



Bonaparte's principle as to the change of Ministers--Fouche--His
influence with the First Consul--Fouche's dismissal--The departments
of Police and Justice united under Regnier--Madame Bonaparte's
regret for the dismissal of Fouche--Family scenes--Madame Louis
Bonaparte's pregnancy--False and infamous reports to Josephine--
Legitimacy and a bastard--Raederer reproached by Josephine--Her
visit to Ruel--Long conversation with her--Assertion at St. Helena
respecting a great political fraud.

It is a principle particularly applicable to absolute governments that a
prince should change his ministers as seldom as possible, and never
except upon serious grounds. Bonaparte acted on this principle when
First Consul, and also when he became Emperor. He often allowed unjust
causes to influence him, but he never dismissed a Minister without cause;
indeed, he more than once, without any reason, retained Ministers longer
than he ought to have done in the situations in which he had placed them.
Bonaparte's tenacity in this respect, in some instances, produced very
opposite results. For instance, it afforded M. Gaudin' time to establish
a degree of order in the administration of Finance which before his time
had never existed; and on the other hand, it enabled M. Decres to reduce
the Ministry of Marine to an unparalleled state of confusion.

Bonaparte saw nothing in men but helps and obstacles. On the 18th
Brumaire Fouche was a help. The First Consul feared that he would become
an obstacle; it was necessary, therefore, to think of dismissing him.
Bonaparte's most sincere friends had from the beginning been opposed to
Fouche's having any share in the Government. But their disinterested
advice produced no other result than their own disgrace, so influential a
person had Fouche become. How could it be otherwise? Fouche was
identified with the Republic by the death of the King, for which he had
voted; with the Reign of Terror by his sanguinary missions to Lyons and
Nevers; with the Consulate by his real though perhaps exaggerated
services; with Bonaparte by the charm with which he might be said to have
fascinated him; with Josephine by the enmity of the First Consul's
brothers. Who would believe it? Fouche ranked the enemies of the
Revolution amongst his warmest partisans. They overwhelmed him with
eulogy, to the disparagement even of the Head of the State, because the
cunning Minister, practising an interested indulgence, set himself up as
the protector of individuals belonging to classes which, when he was
proconsul, he had attacked in the mass. Director of public opinion, and
having in his hands the means at his pleasure of inspiring fear or of
entangling by inducements, it was all in his favour that he had already
directed this opinion. The machinery he set in motion was so calculated
that the police was rather the police of Fouche than that of the Minister
of the General Police. Throughout Paris, and indeed throughout all
France, Fouche obtained credit for extraordinary ability; and the popular
opinion was correct in this respect, namely, that no man ever displayed
such ability in making it be supposed that he really possessed talent.
Fouche's secret in this particular is the whole secret of the greater
part of those persons who are called statesmen.

Be this as it may, the First Consul did not behold with pleasure the
factitious influence of which Fouche had possessed himself. For some
time past, to the repugnance which at bottom he had felt towards.
Fouche, were added other causes of discontent. In consequence of having
been deceived by secret reports and correspondence Bonaparte began to
shrug up his shoulders with an expression of regret when he received
them, and said, "Would you believe, Bourrienne, that I have been imposed
on by these things? All such denunciations are useless--scandalous.
All the reports from prefects and the police, all the intercepted
letters, are a tissue of absurdities and lies. I desire to have no more
of them." He said so, but he still received them. However, Fouche's
dismissal was resolved upon. But though Bonaparte wished to get rid of
him, still, under the influence of the charm, he dared not proceed
against him without the greatest caution. He first resolved upon the
suppression of the office of Minister of Police in order to disguise the
motive for the removal of the Minister. The First Consul told Fouche
that this suppression, which he spoke of as being yet remote, was
calculated more than anything else to give strength to the Government,
since it would afford a proof of the security and internal tranquillity
of France. Overpowered by the arguments with which Bonaparte supported
his proposition, Fouche could urge no good reasons in opposition to it,
but contented himself with recommending that the execution of the design,
which was good in intention, should, however, be postponed for two years.
Bonaparte appeared to listen favourably to Fouche's recommendation, who,
as avaricious for money as Bonaparte of glory, consoled himself by
thinking that for these two years the administration of the gaming tables
would still be for him a Pactolus flowing with gold. For Fouche, already
the possessor of an immense fortune, always dreamed of increasing it,
though he himself did not know how to enjoy it. With him the ambition of
enlarging the bounds of his estate of Pont-Carre was not less felt than
with the First Consul the ambition of extending the frontier of France.

Not only did the First Consul not like Fouche, but it is perfectly true
that at this time the police wearied and annoyed him. Several times he
told me he looked on it as dangerous, especially for the possessor of
power. In a Government without the liberty of the press he was quite
right. The very services which the police had rendered to the First
Consul were of a nature to alarm him, for whoever had conspired against
the Directory in favour of the Consulate might also conspire against the
Consulate in favour of any other Government. It is needless to say that
I only allude to the political police, and not to the municipal police,
which is indispensable for large towns, and which has the honourable
mission of watching over the health and safety of the citizens.

Fouche, as has been stated, had been Minister of Police since the 18th
Brumaire. Everybody who was acquainted with, the First Consul's
character was unable to explain the ascendency which he had suffered
Fouche to acquire over him, and of which Bonaparte himself was really
impatient. He saw in Fouche a centre around which all the interests of
the Revolution concentrated themselves, and at this he felt indignant;
but, subject to a species of magnetism, he could not break the charm
which enthralled him. When he spoke of Fouche in his absence his
language was warm, bitter, and hostile. When Fouche was present,
Bonaparte's tone was softened, unless some public scene was to be acted
like that which occurred after the attempt of the 3d Nivose.

The suppression of the Ministry of Police being determined on, Bonaparte
did not choose to delay the execution of his design, as he had pretended
to think necessary. On the evening of the 12th of September we went to
Mortfontaine. We passed the next day, which was Monday, at that place,
and it was there, far removed from Fouche, and urged by the combined
persuasions of Joseph and Lucien, that the First Consul signed the decree
of suppression. The next morning we returned to Paris. Fouche came to
Malmaison, where we were, in the regular execution of his duties. The
First Consul transacted business with him as usual without daring to tell
him of his dismissal, and afterwards sent Cambaceres to inform him of it.
After this act, respecting which he had hesitated so long, Bonaparte
still endeavoured to modify his rigour. Having appointed Fouche a
Senator, he said in the letter which he wrote to the Senate to notify the

"Fouche, as Minister of Police, in times of difficulty, has by his
talent, his activity, and his attachment to the Government done all
that circumstances required of him. Placed in the bosom of the
Senate, if events should again call for a Minister of Police the
Government cannot find one more worthy of its confidence."

From this moment the departments of Justice and Police united were
confided to the hands of Regnier.' Bonaparte's aversion for Fouche
strangely blinded him with respect to the capabilities of his successor.
Besides, how could the administration of justice, which rests on fixed,
rigid, and unchangeable bases, proceed hand in hand with another
administration placed on the quicksand of instantaneous decisions, and
surrounded by stratagems and deceptions? Justice should never have
anything to do with secret police, unless it be to condemn it.

--[M. Abrial, Minister of Justice, was called to the Senate at the
same time as Fouche. Understanding that the assimilation of the two
men was more a disgrace to Abrial than the mere loss of the
Ministry, the First Consul said to M. Abrial: "In uniting the
Ministry of Police to that of Justice I could not retain yon in the
Ministry, you are too upright a man to manage the police." Not a
flattering speech for Regnier.--Bourrienne.]--

What could be expected from Regnier, charged as he was with incompatible
functions? What, under such circumstances, could have been expected even
from a man gifted with great talents? Such was the exact history of
Fouche's disgrace. No person was more afflicted at it than Madame
Bonaparte, who only leaned the news when it was announced to the public.
Josephine, on all occasions, defended Fouche against her husband's
sallies. She believed that he was the only one of his Ministers who told
him the truth. She had such a high opinion of the way in which Fouche
managed the police that the first time I was alone with her after our
return from Mortfontaine she said to me, "My dear Bourrienne; speak
openly to me; will Napoleon know all about the plots from the police of
Moncey, Duroc, Junot, and of Davoust? You know better than I do that
these are only wretched spies. Has not Savary also eventually got his
police? How all this alarms me. They take away all my supports, and
surround me only with enemies."--"To justify your regrets we should be
sure that Fouche has never been in agreement with Lucien in favour of the
divorce."--"Oh, I do not believe that. Bonaparte does not like him, and
he would have been certain to tell me of it when I spoke favourably to
him of Fouche. You will see that his brothers will end by bringing him
into their plan."

I have already spoken of Josephine's troubles, and of the bad conduct of
Joseph, but more particularly of Lucien, towards her; I will therefore
describe here, as connected with the disgrace of Fouche, whom Madame
Bonaparte regretted as a support, some scenes which occurred about this
period at Malmaison. Having been the confidant of both parties, and an
involuntary actor in those scenes, now that twenty-seven years have
passed since they occurred what motive can induce me to disguise the
truth in any respect?

Madame Louis Bonaparte was enceinte. Josephine, although she tenderly
loved her children, did not seem to behold the approaching event which
the situation of her daughter indicated with the interest natural to the
heart of a mother. She had long been aware of the calumnious reports
circulated respecting the supposed connection between Hortense and the
First Consul, and that base accusation cost her many tears. Poor
Josephine paid dearly for the splendour of her station! As I knew how
devoid of foundation these atrocious reports were, I endeavoured to
console her by telling her what was true, that I was exerting all my
efforts to demonstrate their infamy and falsehood. Bonaparte, however,
dazzled by the affection which was manifested towards him from all
quarters, aggravated the sorrow of his wife by a silly vanity. He
endeavoured to persuade her that these reports had their origin only in
the wish of the public that he should have a child, so that these seeming
consolations offered by self-love to Josephine's grief gave force to
existing conjugal alarms, and the fear of divorce returned with all its
horrors. Under the foolish illusion of his vanity Bonaparte imagined
that France was desirous of being governed even by a bastard if supposed
to be a child of his,--a singular mode truly of founding a new

Josephine, whose susceptibility appears to me even now excusable, well
knew my sentiments on the subject of Bonaparte's founding a dynasty, and
she had not forgotten my conduct when two years before the question had
been agitated on the occasion of Louis XVIII.'s letters to the First
Consul. I remember that one day, after the publication of the parallel
of Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte, Josephine having entered our cabinet
without being announced, which she sometimes did when from the good
humour exhibited at breakfast she reckoned upon its continuance,
approached Bonaparte softly, seated herself on his knee, passed her hand
gently through his hair and over his face, and thinking the moment
favourable, said to him in a burst of tenderness, "I entreat of you,
Bonaparte, do not make yourself a King! It is that wretch Lucien who
urges you to it. Do not listen to him!" Bonaparte replied, without
anger, and even smiling as he pronounced the last words, "You are mad,
my poor Josephine. It is your old dowagers of the Faubourg St. Germain,
your Rochefoucaulds, who tell you all these fables!...... Come now, you
interrupt me--leave me alone."

What Bonaparte said that day good-naturedly to his wife I have often
heard him declare seriously. I have been present at five or six
altercations on the subject. That there existed, too, an enmity
connected with this question between the family of BEAUHARNAIS and the
family of Bonaparte cannot be denied.

Fouche, as I have stated, was in the interest of Josephine, and Lucien
was the most bitter of her enemies. One day Raederer inveighed with so
much violence against Fouche in the presence of Madame Bonaparte that she
replied with extreme warmth, "The real enemies of Bonaparte are those who
feed him with notions of hereditary descent, of a dynasty, of divorce,
and of marriage!" Josephine could not check this exclamation, as she
knew that Roederer encouraged those ideas, which he spread abroad by
Lucien's direction. I recollect one day when she had been to see us at
our little house at Ruel: as I walked with her along the high road to her
carriage, which she had sent forward, I acknowledged too unreservedly my
fears on account of the ambition of Bonaparte, and of the perfidious
advice of his brothers. "Madame," said I, "if we cannot succeed in
dissuading the General from making himself a King, I dread the future for
his sake. If ever he re-establishes royalty he will in all probability
labour for the Bourbons, and enable them one day to re-ascend the throne
which he shall erect. No one, doubtless, without passing for a fool, can
pretend to say with certainty what series of chances and events such a
proceeding will produce; but common sense alone is sufficient to convince
any one that unfavourable chances must long be dreaded. The ancient
system being re-established, the occupation of the throne will then be
only a family question, and not a question of government between liberty
and despotic power. Why should not France, if it ceases to be free,
prefer the race of her ancient kings? You surely know it. You had not
been married two years when, on returning from Italy, your husband told
me that he aspired to royalty. Now he is Consul for life. Would he but
resolve to stop there! He already possesses everything but an empty
title. No sovereign in Europe has so much power as he has. I am sorry
for it, Madame, but I really believe that, in spite of yourself, you will
be made Queen or Empress."

Madame Bonaparte had allowed me to speak without interruption, but when I
pronounced the words Queen and Empress she exclaimed, "My God!
Bourrienne, such ambition is far from my thoughts. That I may always
continue the wife of the First Consul is all I desire. Say to him all
that you have said to me. Try and prevent him from making himself
King."--"Madame," I replied, "times are greatly altered. The wisest men,
the strongest minds, have resolutely and courageously opposed his
tendency to the hereditary system. But advice is now useless. He would
not listen to me. In all discussions on the subject he adheres
inflexibly to the view he has taken. If he be seriously opposed his
anger knows no bounds; his language is harsh and abrupt, his tone
imperious, and his authority bears down all before him."--"Yet,
Bourrienne, he has so much confidence in you that of you should try once
more!"--"Madame, I assure you he will not listen to me. Besides, what
could I add to the remarks I made upon his receiving the letters of Louis
XVIII., when I fearlessly represented to him that being without children
he would have no one to whom to bequeath the throne--that, doubtless,
from the opinion which be entertained of his brothers, he could not
desire to erect it for them?" Here Josephine again interrupted me by
exclaiming, "My kind friend, when you spoke of children did he say
anything to you? Did he talk of a divorce?"--"Not a word, Madame, I
assure you."--"If they do not urge him to it, I do not believe he will
resolve to do such a thing. You know how he likes Eugene, and Eugene
behaves so well to him. How different is Lucien. It is that wretch
Lucien, to whom Bonaparte listens too much, and of whom, however, he
always speaks ill to me."--"I do not know, Madame, what Lucien says to
his brother except when he chooses to tell me, because Lucien always
avoids having a witness of his interviews with your husband, but I can
assure you that for two years I have not heard the word 'divorce' from
the General's mouth."--"I always reckon on you, my dear Bourrienne; to
turn him away from it; as you did at that time."--"I do not believe he is
thinking of it, but if it recurs to him, consider, Madame, that it will
be now from very different motives: He is now entirely given up to the
interests of his policy and his ambition, which dominate every other
feeling in him. There will not now be any question of scandal, or of a
trial before a court, but of an act of authority which complaisant laws
will justify and which the Church perhaps will sanction."--"That's true.
You are right. Good God! how unhappy I am."

--[When Bourrienne complains of not knowing what passed between
Lucien and Napoleon, we can turn to Lucien's account of Bourrienne,
apparently about this very time. "After a stormy interview with
Napoleon," says Lucien, "I at once went into the cabinet where
Bourrienne was working, and found that unbearable busybody of a
secretary, whose star had already paled more than once, which made
him more prying than ever, quite upset by the time the First Consul
had taken to come out of his bath. He must, or at least might, have
heard some noise, for enough had been made. Seeing that he wanted
to know the cause from me, I took up a newspaper to avoid being
bored by his conversation" (Iung's Lucien, tome ii. p.156)]--

Such was the nature of one of the conversations I had with Madame
Bonaparte on a subject to which she often recurred. It may not perhaps
be uninteresting to endeavour to compare with this what Napoleon said at
St. Helena, speaking of his first wife. According to the Memorial
Napoleon there stated that when Josephine was at last constrained to
renounce all hope of having a child, she often let fall allusions to a
great political fraud, and at length openly proposed it to him. I make
no doubt Bonaparte made use of words to this effect, but I do not believe
the assertion. I recollect one day that Bonaparte, on entering our
cabinet, where I was already seated, exclaimed in a transport of joy
impossible for me to describe, "Well, Bourrienne, my wife is at last
enceinte!" I sincerely congratulated him, more, I own, out of courtesy
than from any hope of seeing him made a father by Josephine, for I well
remembered that Corvisart, who had given medicines to Madame Bonaparte,
had nevertheless assured me that he expected no result from them.
Medicine was really the only political fraud to which Josephine had
recourse; and in her situation what other woman would not have done as
much? Here, then, the husband and the wife are in contradiction, which
is nothing uncommon. But on which side is truth? I have no hesitation
in referring it to Josephine. There is indeed an immense difference
between the statements of a women--trusting her fears and her hopes to
the sole confidant of her family secrets, and the tardy declaration of a
man who, after seeing the vast edifice of his ambition leveled with the
dust, is only anxious, in his compulsory retreat, to preserve intact and
spotless the other great edifice of his glory. Bonaparte should have
recollected that Caesar did not like the idea of his wife being even



Citizen Fesch created Cardinal Fesch--Arts and industry--Exhibition
in the Louvre--Aspect of Paris in 1802--The Medicean Venus and the
Velletrian Pallas--Signs of general prosperity--Rise of the funds--
Irresponsible Ministers--The Bourbons--The military Government--
Annoying familiarity of Lannes--Plan laid for his disgrace--
Indignation of Lannes--His embassy to Portugal--The delayed
despatch--Bonaparte's rage--I resign my situation--Duroc--
I breakfast with Bonaparte--Duroc's intercession--Temporary

Citizen Fesch, who, when we were forced to stop at Ajaccio on our return
from Egypt, discounted at rather a high rate the General-in-Chief's
Egyptian sequins, became again the Abbe Fesch, as soon as Bonaparte by
his Consular authority re-erected the altars which the Revolution had
overthrown. On the 15th of August 1802 he was consecrated Bishop, and
the following year received the Cardinal's hat. Thus Bonaparte took
advantage of one of the members of his family being in orders to elevate
him to the highest dignities of the Church. He afterwards gave Cardinal
Fesch the Archbishopric of Lyons, of which place he was long the titular.

--[Like Cambaceres the Cardinal was a bit of a gourmet, and on one
occasion had invited a large party of clerical magnates to dinner.
By a coincidence two turbots of singular beauty arrived as presents
to his Eminence on the very morning of the feast. To serve both
would have appeared ridiculous, but the Cardinal was most anxious to
have the credit of both. He imparted his embarrassment to his chef:

"'Be of good faith, your Eminence,' was the reply, 'both shall appear
and enjoy the reception so justly their due.' The dinner was
served: one of the turbots relieved the soup. Delight was on every
face--it was the moment of the 'eprouvette positive'. The 'maitre
a'hotel' advances; two attendants raise the turbot and carry him off
to cut him up; but one of them loses his equilibrium: the attendants
and the turbot roll together on the floor. At this sad sight the
assembled Cardinals became as pale as death, and a solemn silence
reigned in the 'conclave'--it was the moment of the 'eprouvette
negative'; but the 'maitre a'hotel' suddenly turns to one of the
attendants, Bring another turbot,' said he, with the most perfect
coolness. The second appeared, and the eprouvette positive was
gloriously renewed." (Hayward's Art of Dining, P. 65.)]--

The First Consul prided himself a good deal on his triumph, at least in
appearance, over the scruples which the persons who surrounded him had
manifested against the re-establishment of worship. He read with much
self-satisfaction the reports made to him, in which it was stated that
the churches were well frequented: Indeed, throughout the year 1802, all
his attention wad directed to the reformation of manners, which had
become more dissolute under the Directory than even during the Reign of

In his march of usurpation the First Consul let slip no opportunity of
endeavouring to obtain at the same time the admiration of the multitude
and the approbation of judicious men. He was very fond of the arts, and
was sensible that the promotion of industry ought to be the peculiar care
of the head of the Government. It must, however, at the same time be
owned that he rendered the influence of his protection null and void by
the continual violations he committed on that liberty which is the
animating principle of all improvement.

During the supplementary days of the year X., that is to say, about the
beginning of the autumn of 1802, there was held at the Louvre an
exhibition of the products of industry. The First Consul visited the
exhibition, and as even at that period he had begun to attribute every
good result to himself, he seemed proud of the high degree of perfection
the manufacturing arts had attained in France. He was, above all,
delighted with the admiration this exhibition excited among the numerous
foreigners who resorted to Paris during the peace.

In fact, throughout the year 1802 the capital presented an interesting
and animating-spectacle. The appetite for luxury and pleasure had
insinuated itself into manners--which were no longer republican, and the
vast number of Russians and English who drove about everywhere with
brilliant equipages contributed not a little to this metamorphosis.
All Paris flocked to the Carrousel on review days, and regarded with eyes
of delight the unusual sight of rich foreign liveries and emblazoned
carriages. The parties at the Tuileries were brilliant and numerous, and
nothing was wanting but the name of levees. Count Markoff, who succeeded
M. de Kalitscheff as Russian ambassador; the Marquis de Lucchesini, the
Prussian ambassador; and Lord Whitworth, the Minister from England, made
numerous presentations of their countrymen to the First Consul, who was
well pleased that the Court he was forming should have examples set by
foreign courtiers. Never since the meeting of the States-General had the
theatres been so frequented, or fetes so magnificent; and never since
that period had Paris presented so cheering an aspect. The First Consul,
on his part, spared no exertion to render the capital more and more
worthy the admiration of foreigners. The statue of the Venus de Medicis,
which had been robbed from the gallery of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, now
decorated the gallery of the Louvre, and near it was placed that of the
Velletrian Pallas, a more legitimate acquisition, since it was the result
of the researches of some French engineers at Velletri. Everywhere an
air of prosperity was perceptible, and Bonaparte proudly put in his claim
to be regarded as the author of it all. With what heartfelt satisfaction
did he likewise cast his eye upon what he called the grand thermometer of
opinion, the price of the funds! For if he saw them doubled in value in
consequence of the revolution of the 18th Brumaire, rising as they did at
that period from seven to sixteen francs, this value was even more than
tripled after the vote of Consulship for life and the 'Senates-consulte'
of the 4th of August,--when they rose to fifty-two francs.

While Paris presented so satisfactory an aspect the departments were in a
state of perfect tranquillity; and foreign affairs had every appearance
of security. The Court of the Vatican, which since the Concordat may be
said to have become devoted to the First Consul, gave, under all
circumstances, examples of submission to the wishes of France. The
Vatican was the first Court which recognised the erection of Tuscany into
the Kingdom of Etruria, and the formation of the Helvetic, Cisalpine, and
Batavian Republics. Prussia soon followed the example of the Pope, which
was successively imitated by the other powers of Europe.

The whole of these new states, realms, or republics were under the
immediate influence of France. The Isle of Elba, which Napoleon's first
abdication afterwards rendered so famous, and Piedmont, divided into six
departments, were also united to France, still called it Republic.
Everything now seemed to concur in securing his accession to absolute
power. We were now at peace with all the world, and every circumstance
tended to place in the hands of the First Consul that absolute power
which indeed was the only kind of government be was capable of forming
any conception of. Indeed, one of the characteristic signs of Napoleon's
government, even under the Consular system, left no doubt as to his real
intentions. Had he wished to found a free Government it is evident that
he world have made the Ministers responsible to the country, whereas he
took care that there should be no responsibility but to himself. He
viewed them, in fact, in the light of instruments which he might break as
be pleased. I found this single index sufficient to disclose all his
future designs In order to make the irresponsibility of his Ministers to
the public perfectly clear, he had all the acts of his Government signed
merely by M. Maret, Secretary of State. Thus the Consulship for life was
nothing but an Empire in disguise, the usufruct of which could not long
satisfy the First Consul's ambition. His brothers influenced him, and it
was resolved to found a new dynasty.

It was not in the interior of France that difficulties were likely first
to arise on Bonaparte's carrying his designs into effect, but there was
some reason to apprehend that foreign powers, after recognising and
treating with the Consular Government, might display a different feeling,
and entertain scruples with regard to a Government which had resumed its
monarchical form. The question regarding the Bourbons was in some
measure kept in the background as long as France remained a Republic, but
the re-establishment of the throne naturally called to recollection the
family which had occupied it for so many ages. Bonaparte fully felt the
delicacy of his position, but he knew how to face obstacles, and had been
accustomed to overcome them: he, however, always proceeded cautiously, as
when obstacles induced him to defer the period of the Consulship for

Bonaparte laboured to establish iii France not only an absolute
government, but, what is still worse, a military one. He considered a
decree signed by his hand possessed of a magic virtue capable of
transforming his generals into able diplomatists, and so he sent them on
embassies, as if to show the Sovereigns to whom they were accredited that
he soon meant to take their thrones by assault. The appointment of
Lannes to the Court of Lisbon originated from causes which probably will
be read with some interest, since they serve to place Bonaparte's
character in, its true light, and to point out, at the same time, the
means he disdained not to resort to, if he wished to banish his most
faithful friends when their presence was no longer agreeable to him.

Bonaparte had ceased to address Lannes in the second person singular; but
that general continued the familiarity of thee and thou in speaking to
Napoleon. It is hardly possible to conceive how much this annoyed the
First Consul. Aware of the unceremonious candour of his old comrade,
whose daring spirit he knew would prompt him to go as great lengths in
civil affairs as on the field of battle, Bonaparte, on the great occasion
of the 18th Brumaire, fearing his reproaches, had given him the command
of Paris in order to ensure his absence from St. Cloud.

After that time, notwithstanding the continually growing greatness of the
First Consul, which, as it increased, daily exacted more and more
deference, Lannes still preserved his freedom of speech, and was the only
one who dared to treat Bonaparte as a comrade, and tell him the truth
without ceremony. This was enough to determine Napoleon to rid himself
of the presence of Lannes. But under what pretest was the absence of the
conqueror of Montebello to be procured? It was necessary to conjure up
an excuse; and in the truly diabolical machination resorted to for that
purpose, Bonaparte brought into play that crafty disposition for which he
was so remarkable.

Lannes, who never looked forward to the morrow, was as careless of his
money as of his blood. Poor officers and soldiers partook largely of his
liberality. Thus he had no fortune, but plenty of debts when he wanted
money, and this was not seldom, he used to come, as if it were a mere
matter of course, to ask it of the First Consul, who, I must confess,
never refused him. Bonaparte, though he well knew the general's
circumstances, said to him one day, "My friend, you should attend a
little more to appearances. You must have your establishment suitable to
your rank. There is the Hotel de Noailles--why don't you take it, and
furnish it in proper style?" Lannes, whose own candour prevented him
from suspecting the artful designs of others, followed the advice of the
First Consul The Hotel de Noailles was taken and superbly fitted up.
Odiot supplied a service of plate valued at 200,000 francs.

General Lannes having thus conformed to the wishes of Bonaparte came to
him and requested 400,000 francs, the amount of the expense incurred, as
it were, by his order. "But," said the First Consul, "I have no money."
--"You have no money! What the devil am I to do, then?"

"But is there none in the Guard's chest? Take what you require, and we
will settle it, hereafter."

Mistrusting nothing, Lannes went to the treasurer of the Guards, who made
some objections at first to the advance required, but who soon yielded on
learning that the demand was made with the consent of the First Consul.

Within twenty-four hours after Lannes had obtained the 400,000 francs the
treasurer received from the head commissary an order to balance his
accounts. The receipt for the 400,000 francs advanced to Lannes, was not
acknowledged as a voucher. In vain the treasurer alleged the authority
of the First Consul for the transaction. Napoleon's memory had suddenly
failed him; he had entirely forgotten all about it. In a word, it was
incumbent on Lannes to refund the 400,000 francs to the Guards' chest;
and, as I have already said, he had no property on earth, but debts in
abundance. He repaired to General Lefebre, who loved him as his son, and
to him he related all that had passed. "Simpleton," said Lefebvre,
"why did you not come to me? Why did you go and get into debt with that
-----? Well, here are the 400,000 francs; take them to him, and let him
go to the devil!"

Lannes hastened to the First Consul. "What!"--he exclaimed, "is it
possible you can be guilty of such baseness as this? To treat me in such
a manner! To lay such a foul snare for me after all that I have done for
you; after all the blood I have shed to promote your ambition! Is this
the recompense you had in store for me? You forget the 13th Vendemiaire,
to the success of which I contributed more than you! You forget
Millesimo: I was colonel before you! For whom did I fight at Bassano?
You were witness of what I did at Lodi and at Governolo, where I was
wounded; and yet you play me such a trick as this! But for me, Paris
would have revolted on the 18th Brumaire. But for me, you would have
lost the battle of Marengo. I alone, yes, I alone, passed the Po, at
Montebello, with my whole division. You gave the credit of that to
Berthier, who was not there; and this is my reward--humiliation. This
cannot, this shall not be. I will----" Bonaparte, pale with anger,
listened without stirring, and Lannes was on the point of challenging him
when Junot, who heard the uproar, hastily entered. The unexpected
presence of this general somewhat reassured the First Consul, and at the
same time calmed, in some degree, the fury of Lannes. "Well," said
Bonaparte, "go to Lisbon. You will get money there; and when you return
you will not want any one to pay your debts for you." Thus was
Bonaparte's object gained. Lannes set out for Lisbon, and never
afterwards annoyed the First Consul by his familiarities, for on his
return he ceased to address him with thee and thou.

Having described Bonaparte's ill-treatment of Lannes I may here subjoin a
statement of the circumstances which led to a rupture between the First
Consul and me. So many false stories have been circulated on the subject
that I am anxious to relate the facts as they really were.

Nine months had now passed since I had tendered my resignation to the
First Consul. The business of my office had become too great for me,
and my health was so much endangered by over-application that my
physician, M. Corvisart, who had for a long time impressed upon me the
necessity of relaxation, now formally warned me that I should not long
hold out under the fatigue I underwent. Corvisart had no doubt spoken to
the same effect to the First Consul, for the latter said to me one day,
in a tone which betrayed but little feeling, "Why, Corvisart says you
have not a year to live." This was certainly no very welcome compliment
in the mouth of an old college friend, yet I must confess that the doctor
risked little by the prediction.

I had resolved, in fact, to follow the advice of Corvisart; my family
were urgent in their entreaties that I would do so, but I always put off
the decisive step. I was loath to give up a friendship which had
subsisted so long, and which had been only once disturbed: on that
occasion when Joseph thought proper to play the spy upon me at the table
of Fouche. I remembered also the reception I had met with from the
conqueror of Italy; and I experienced, moreover, no slight pain at the
thought of quitting one from whom I had received so many proofs of
confidence, and to whom I had been attached from early boyhood. These
considerations constantly triumphed over the disgust to which I was
subjected by a number of circumstances, and by the increasing vexations
occasioned by the conflict between my private sentiments and the nature
of the duties I had to perform.

I was thus kept in a state of perplexity, from which some unforeseen
circumstance alone could extricate me. Such a circumstance at length
occurred, and the following is the history of my first rupture with

On the 27th of February 1802, at ten at night, Bonaparte dictated to me a
despatch of considerable importance and urgency, for M. de Talleyrand,
requesting the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to the Tuileries next
morning at an appointed hour. According to custom, I put the letter into
the hands of the office messenger that it might be forwarded to its

This was Saturday. The following day, Sunday, M. de Talleyrand came as
if for an audience about mid-day. The First Consul immediately began to
confer with him on the subject of the letter sent the previous evening,
and was astonished to learn that the Minister had not received it
until the morning. He immediately rang for the messenger, and ordered me
to be sent for. Being in a very. bad humour, he pulled the bell with so
much fury that he struck his hand violently against the angle of the
chimney-piece. I hurried to his presence. "Why," he said, addressing me
hastily, "why was not my letter delivered yesterday evening?"--"I do not
know: I put it at once into the hands of the person whose duty it was to
see that it was sent."--"Go and find the cause of the delay, and come
back quickly." Having rapidly made my inquiries, I returned to the
cabinet. "Well?" said the First Consul, whose irritation seemed to have
increased. "Well, General, it is not the fault of anybody, M. de
Talleyrand was not to be found, either at the office or at his own
residence, or at the houses of any of his friends where he was thought
likely to be." Not knowing with whom to be angry, restrained by the
coolness of M. de Talleyrand, yet at the same time ready to burst with
rage, Bonaparte rose from his seat, and proceeding to the hall, called
the messenger and questioned him sharply. The man, disconcerted by the
anger of the First Consul, hesitated in his replies, and gave confused
answers. Bonaparte returned to his cabinet still more irritated than he
had left it.

I had followed him to the hall, and on my way back to the cabinet I
attempted to soothe him, and I begged him not to be thus discomposed by a
circumstance which, after all, was of no great moment. I do not know
whether his anger was increased by the sight of the blood which flowed
from his hand, and which he was every moment looking at; but however that
might be, a transport of furious passion, such as I had never before
witnessed, seized him; and as I was about to enter the cabinet after him
he threw back the door with so much violence that, had I been two or
three inches nearer him, it must infallibly have struck me in the face.
He accompanied this action, which was almost convulsive, with an
appellation, not to be borne; he exclaimed before M. de Talleyrand,
"Leave me alone; you are a fool." At an insult so atrocious I confess
that the anger which had already mastered the First Consul suddenly
seized on me. I thrust the door forward with as much impetuosity as he
had used in throwing it back, and, scarcely knowing what I said,
exclaimed, "You are a hundredfold a greater fool than I am!" I then
banged the door and went upstairs to my apartment, which was situated
over the cabinet.

I was as far from expecting as from wishing such an occasion of
separating from the First Consul. But what was done could not be undone;
and therefore, without taking time for reflection, and still under the
influence of the anger that had got the better of me, I penned the
following positive resignation:

GENERAL--The state of my health no longer permits me to continue in your
service. I therefore beg you to accept my resignation.

Some moments after this note was written I saw Bonaparte's saddle-horses
brought up to the entrance of the Palace. It was Sunday morning, and,
contrary to his usual custom on that day, he was going to ride out.

Duroc accompanied him. He was no sooner done than I, went down into his
cabinet, and placed my letter on his table. On returning at four o'clock
with Duroc Bonaparte read my letter. "Ah! ah!" said he, before opening
it, "a letter from Bourrienne." And he almost immediately added, for the
note was speedily perused, "He is in the sulks.--Accepted." I had left
the Tuileries at the moment he returned, but Duroc sent to me where I was
dining the following billet:

The First Consul desires me, my dear Bourrienne, to inform you that he
accepts your resignation, and to request that you will give me the
necessary information respecting your papers.--Yours,

P.S.:--I will call on you presently.

Duroc came to me at eight o'clock the same evening. The First Consul was
in his cabinet when we entered it. I immediately commenced giving my
intended successor the necessary explanations to enable him to enter upon
his new duties. Piqued at finding that I did not speak to him, and at
the coolness with which I instructed Duroc, Bonaparte said to me in a
harsh tone, "Come, I have had enough of this! Leave me." I stepped down
from the ladder on which I had mounted for the purpose of pointing out to
Duroc the places in which the various papers were deposited and hastily
withdrew. I too had quite enough of it!

I remained two more days at the Tuileries until I had suited myself with
lodgings. On Monday I went down into the cabinet of the First Consul to
take my leave of him. We conversed together for a long time, and very
amicably. He told me he was very sorry I was going to leave him, and
that he would do all he could for me. I pointed out several places to
him; at last I mentioned the Tribunate. "That will not do for you," he
said; "the members are a set of babblers and phrasemongers, whom I mean to
get rid of. All the troubles of States proceed from such debatings. I
am tired of them." He continued to talk in a strain which left me in no
doubt as to his uneasiness about the Tribunate, which, in fact, reckoned
among its members many men of great talent and excellent character.

--[In 1802 the First Consul made a reduction of fifty members of the
Tribunate, and subsequently the whole body was suppressed.

The following day, Tuesday, the First Consul asked me to breakfast with
him. After breakfast, while he was conversing with some other person,
Madame Bonaparte and Hortense pressed me to make advances towards
obtaining a re-instalment in my office, appealing to me on the score of
the friendship and kindness they had always shown me. They told me that
I had been in the wrong, and that I had forgotten myself. I answered
that I considered the evil beyond remedy; and that, besides, I had really
need of repose. The First Consul then called me to him, and conversed a
considerable time with me, renewing his protestations of goodwill towards

At five o'clock I was going downstairs to quit the Tuileries for good
when I was met by the office messenger, who told me that the First Consul
wished to see me. Duroc; who was in the room leading to the cabinet,
stopped me as I passed, and said, "He wishes you to remain. I beg of you
not to refuse; do me this favour. I have assured him that I am incapable
of filling your office. It does not suit my habits; and besides, to tell
you the truth, the business is too irksome for me." I proceeded to the
cabinet without replying to Duroc. The First Consul came up to me
smiling, and pulling me by the ear, as he did when he was in the best of
humours, said to me, "Are you still in the sulks?" and leading me to my
usual seat he added, "Come, sit down."

Only those who knew Bonaparte can judge of my situation at that moment.
He had at times, and when he chose, a charm in his manners which it was
quite impossible to resist. I could offer no opposition, and I resumed
my usual office and my accustomed labours. Five minutes afterwards it
was announced that dinner was on table. "You will dine with me?" he
said. "I cannot; I am expected at the place where I was going when Duroc
called me back. It is an engagement that I cannot break."--"Well, I have
nothing to say, then. But give me your word that you will be here at
eight o'clock."--"I promise you." Thus I became again the private
secretary of the First Consul, and I believed in the sincerity of our



The Concordat and the Legion of Honour--The Council of State and the
Tribunate--Discussion on the word 'subjects'--Chenier--Chabot de
l'Allier's proposition to the Tribunate--The marked proof of
national gratitude--Bonaparte's duplicity and self-command--Reply to
the 'Senatus-consulte'--The people consulted--Consular decree--
The most, or the least--M. de Vanblanc's speech--Bonaparte's reply--
The address of the Tribunate--Hopes and predictions thwarted.

It may truly be said that history affords no example of an empire founded
like that of France, created in all its parts under the cloak of a
republic. Without any shock, and in the short space of four years, there
arose above the ruins of the short-lived Republic a Government more
absolute than ever was Louis XIV.'s. This extraordinary change is to be
assigned to many causes; and I had the opportunity of observing the
influence which the determined will of one man exercised over his fellow-

The great object which Bonaparte had at heart was to legitimate his
usurpations by institutions. The Concordat had reconciled him with the
Court of Rome; the numerous erasures from the emigrant list gathered
round him a large body of the old nobility; and the Legion of Honour,
though at first but badly received, soon became a general object of
ambition. Peace, too, had lent her aid in consolidating the First
Consul's power by affording him leisure to engage in measures of internal

The Council of State, of which Bonaparte had made me a member, but which
my other occupations did not allow me to attend, was the soul of the
Consular Government. Bonaparte felt much interest in the discussions of
that body, because it was composed of the most eminent men in the
different branches of administration; and though the majority evinced a
ready compliance with his wishes, yet that disposition was often far from
being unanimous. In the Council of State the projects of the Government
were discussed from the first with freedom and sincerity, and when once
adopted they were transmitted to the Tribunate, and to the Legislative
Body. This latter body might be considered as a supreme Legislative
Tribunal, before which the Tribunes pleaded as the advocates of the
people, and the Councillors of State, whose business it was to support
the law projects, as the advocates of the Government. This will at once
explain the cause of the First Consul's animosity towards the Tribunate,
and will show to what the Constitution was reduced when that body was
dissolved by a sudden and arbitrary decision.

During the Consulate the Council of State was not only a body politic
collectively, but each individual member might be invested with special
power; as, for example, when the First Consul sent Councillors of State
on missions to each of the military divisions where there was a Court of
Appeal, the instructions given them by the First Consul were extensive,
and might be said to be unlimited. They were directed to examine all the
branches of the administration, so that their reports collected and
compared together presented a perfect description of the state of France.
But this measure, though excellent in itself, proved fatal to the State.
The reports never conveyed the truth to the First Consul, or at least if
they did, it was in such a disguised form as to be scarcely recognisable;
for the Councillors well knew that the best way to pay their court to
Bonaparte was not to describe public feeling as it really was, but as he
wished it to be. Thus the reports of the councillors of State only
furnished fresh arguments in favour of his ambition.

I must, however, observe that in the discussions of the Council of State
Bonaparte was not at all averse to the free expression of opinion. He,
indeed, often encouraged it; for although fully resolved to do only what
he pleased, he wished to gain information; indeed, it is scarcely
conceivable how, in the short space of two years, Bonaparte adapted his
mind so completely to civil and legislative affairs. But he could not
endure in the Tribunate the liberty of opinion which he tolerated in the
Council; and for this reason--that the sittings of the Tribunate were
public, while those of the Council of State were secret, and publicity
was what he dreaded above all things. He was very well pleased when he
had to transmit to the Legislative Body or to the Tribunate any proposed
law of trifling importance, and he used then to say that he had thrown
them a bone to gnaw.

Among the subjects submitted to the consideration of the Council and the
Tribunate was one which gave rise to a singular discussion, the ground of
which was a particular word, inserted in the third article of the treaty
of Russia with France. This word seemed to convey a prophetic allusion
to the future condition of the French people, or rather an anticipated
designation of what they afterwards became. The treaty spoke of "the
subjects of the two Governments." This term applied to those who still
considered themselves citizens, and was highly offensive to the
Tribunate. Chenier moat loudly remonstrated against the introduction of
this word into the dictionary of the new Government. He said that the
armies of France had shed their blood that the French people might be
citizens and not subjects. Chenier's arguments, however, had no effect
on the decision of the Tribunate, and only served to irritate the First
Consul. The treaty was adopted almost unanimously, there being only
fourteen dissentient voices, and the proportion of black balls in the
Legislative Body was even less.

Though this discussion passed off almost unnoticed, yet it greatly
displeased the First Consul, who expressed his dissatisfaction in the
evening. "What is it," said he, "these babblers want? They wish to be
citizens--why did they not know how to continue so? My government must
treat on an equal footing with Russia. I should appear a mere puppet in
the eyes of foreign Courts were I to yield to the stupid demands of the
Tribunate.. Those fellows tease me so that I have a great mind to end
matters at once with them." I endeavoured to soothe his anger, and
observed, that one precipitate act might injure him. "You are right," he
continued; "but stay a little, they shall lose nothing by waiting."

The Tribunate pleased Bonaparte better in the great question of the
Consulate for life, because he had taken the precaution of removing such
members as were most opposed to the encroachments of his ambition. The
Tribunate resolved that a marked proof of the national gratitude should
be offered to the First Consul, and the resolution was transmitted to the
Senate. Not a single voice was raised against this proposition, which
emanated from Chabot de l'Allier, the President of the Tribunate. When
the First Consul came back to his cabinet after receiving the deputation
of the Tribunate he was very cheerful, and said to me, "Bourrienne, it is
a blank cheque that the Tribunate has just offered me; I shall know how
to fill it up. That is my business."

The Tribunate having adopted the indefinite proposition of offering to
the First Consul a marked proof of the national gratitude, it now only
remained to determine what that proof should be. Bonaparte knew well
what he wanted, but he did not like to name it in any positive way.
Though in his fits of impatience, caused by the lingering proceedings of
the Legislative Body and the indecision of some of its members, he often
talked of mounting on horseback and drawing his sword, yet he so far
controlled himself as to confine violence to his conversations with his
intimate friends. He wished it to be thought that he himself was
yielding to compulsion; that he was far from wishing to usurp permanent
power contrary to the Constitution; and that if he deprived France of
liberty it was all for her good, and out of mere love for her. Such
deep-laid duplicity could never have been conceived and maintained in any
common mind; but Bonaparte's was not a mind of the ordinary cast. It
must have required extraordinary self-command to have restrained so long
as he did that daring spirit which was so natural to him, and which was
rather the result of his temperament than his character. For my part, I
confess that I always admired him more for what he had the fortitude not
to do than for the boldest exploits he ever performed.

In conformity with the usual form, the proposition of the Tribunate was
transmitted to the Senate. From that time the Senators on whom Bonaparte
most relied were frequent in their visits to the Tuileries. In the
preparatory conferences which preceded the regular discussions in the
Senate it has been ascertained that the majority was not willing that the
marked proof of gratitude should be the Consulate for life; it was
therefore agreed that the reporter should limit his demand to a temporary
prolongation of the dignity of First Consul in favour of Bonaparte. The
reporter, M. de Lacepede, acted accordingly, and limited the prolongation
to ten years, commencing from the expiration of the ten years granted by
the Constitution. I forget which of the Senators first proposed the
Consulate for life; but I well recollect that Cambaceres used all his
endeavours to induce those members of the Senate whom he thought he could
influence to agree to that proposition. Whether from flattery or
conviction I know not, but the Second Consul held out to his colleague,
or rather his master, the hope of complete success Bonaparte on hearing
him shook his head with an air of doubt, but afterwards said to me, "They
will perhaps make some wry faces, but they must come to it at last!"

It was proposed in the Senate that the proposition of the Consulate for
life should take the priority of that of the decennial prolongation; but
this was not agreed to; and the latter proposition being adopted, the
other, of course, could not be discussed.

There was something very curious in the 'Senatus-consulte' published on
the occasion. It spoke in the name of the French people, and stated
that, "in testimony of their gratitude to the Consuls of the Republic,"
the Consular reign was prolonged for ten years; but that the prolongation
was limited to the First Consul only.

Bonaparte, though much dissatisfied with the decision of the Senate,
disguised his displeasure in ambiguous language. When Tronchet, then
President of the Senate, read to him, in a solemn audience, at the head
of the deputation, the 'Senatus-consulte' determining the prorogation,
he said in reply that he could not be certain of the confidence of the
people unless his continuance in the Consulship were sanctioned by their
suffrages. "The interests of my glory and happiness," added he, "would
seem to have marked the close of my public life at the moment when the
peace of the world is proclaimed. But the glory and the happiness of the
citizen must yield to the interests of the State and wishes of the
public. You, Senators, conceive that I owe to the people another
sacrifice. I will make it if the voice of the people commands what your
suffrage authorises."

The true meaning of these words was not understood by everybody, and was
only manifest to those who were initiated in the secret of Bonaparte's
designs. He did not accept the offer of the Senate, because he wished
for something more. The question was to be renewed and to be decided by
the people only; and since the people had the right to refuse what the
Senate offered, they possessed, for the same reason, the right to give
what the Senate did not offer.

The moment now arrived for consulting the Council of State as to the mode
to be adopted for invoking and collecting the suffrages of the people.
For this purpose au extraordinary meeting of the Council of State was
summoned on the 10th of May. Bonaparte wished to keep himself aloof from
all ostensible influence; but his two colleagues laboured for him more
zealously than he could have worked for himself, and they were warmly
supported by several members of the Council. A strong majority were of
opinion that Bonaparte should not only be invested with the Consulship
for life, but that he should be empowered to nominate his successor. But
he, still faithful to his plan, affected to venerate the sovereignty of
the people, which he held in horror, and he promulgated the following
decree, which was the first explanation of his reply to the Senate

The Consuls of the Republic, considering that the resolution of the
First Consul is an homage rendered to the sovereignty of the People,
and that the People, when consulted on their dearest interests, will
not go beyond the limits of those interests, decree as follows:-
First, that the French people shall be consulted on the question
whether Napoleon Bonaparte is to be made Consul for life, etc.

The other articles merely regulated the mode of collecting the votes.

This decree shows the policy of the First Consul in a new point of view,
and displays his art in its fullest extent. He had just refused the less
for the sake of getting the greater; and now he had contrived to get the
offer of the greater to show off his moderation by accepting only the
less. The Council of State sanctioned the proposition for conferring on
the First Consul the right of nominating his successor, and, of his own
accord, the First Consul declined this. Accordingly the Second Consul,
when he, the next day, presented the decree to the Council of State, did
not fail to eulogise this extreme moderation, which banished even the
shadow of suspicion of any ambitious after-thought. Thus the Senate
found itself out-manoeuvred, and the decree of the Consuls was
transmitted at once to the Legislative Body and to the Tribunate.

In the Legislative Body, M. de Vaublanc was distinguished among all the
deputies who applauded the conduct of the Government; and it was he who
delivered the apologetic harangue of the deputation of the Legislative
Body to the First Consul. After having addressed the Government
collectively he ended by addressing the First Consul individually--a sort
of compliment which had not hitherto been put in practice, and which was
far from displeasing him who was its object. As M. de Vaublanc's speech
had been communicated beforehand to the First Consul, the latter prepared
a reply to it which sufficiently showed how much it had gratified him.
Besides the flattering distinction which separated him from the
Government, the plenitude of praise was not tempered by anything like
advice or comment. It was not so with the address of the Tribunate.
After the compliments which the occasion demanded, a series of hopes were
expressed for the future, which formed a curious contrast with the events
which actually ensued. The Tribunate, said the address, required no
guarantee, because Bonaparte's elevated and generous sentiments would
never permit him to depart from those principles which brought about the
Revolution and founded the Republic;--he loved real glory too well ever
to stain that which he had acquired by the abuse of power;--the nation
which he was called to govern was free and generous he would respect and
consolidate her liberty; he would distinguish his real friends, who spoke
truth to him, from flatterers who might seek to deceive him. In short,
Bonaparte would surround himself with the men who, having made the
Revolution, were interested in supporting it.

To these and many other fine things the Consul replied, "This testimony
of the affection of the Tribunate is gratifying to the Government. The
union of all bodies of the State is a guarantee of the stability and
happiness of the nation. The efforts of the Government will be
constantly directed to the interests of the people, from whom all power
is derived, and whose welfare all good men have at heart."

So much for the artifice of governments and the credulity of subjects!
It is certain that, from the moment Bonaparte gained his point in
submitting the question of the Consulate for life to the decision of the
people, there was no longer a doubt of the result being in his favour.
This was evident, not only on account of the influential means which a
government always has at its command, and of which its agents extend the
ramifications from the centre to the extremities, but because the
proposition was in accordance with the wishes of the majority. The
Republicans were rather shy in avowing principles with which people were
now disenchanted;--the partisans of a monarchy without distinction of
family saw their hopes almost realised in the Consulate for life; the
recollection of the Bourbons still lived in some hearts faithful to
misfortune but the great mass were for the First Consul, and his external
acts in the new step he had taken towards the throne had been so
cautiously disguised as to induce a belief in his sincerity. If I and a
few others were witness to his accomplished artifice and secret ambition,
France beheld only his glory, and gratefully enjoyed the blessings of
peace which he had obtained for her. The suffrages of the people
speedily realised the hopes of the First Consul, and thus was founded the



Departure for Malmaison--Unexpected question relative to the
Bourbons--Distinction between two opposition parties--New intrigues
of Lucien--Camille Jordan's pamphlet seized--Vituperation against
the liberty of the press--Revisal of the Constitution--New 'Senatus-
consulte--Deputation from the Senate--Audience of the Diplomatic
Body--Josephine's melancholy--The discontented--Secret meetings--
Fouche and the police agents--The Code Napoleon--Bonaparte's regular
attendance at the Council of State--His knowledge of mankind, and
the science of government--Napoleon's first sovereign act--His visit
to the Senate--The Consular procession--Polite etiquette--The Senate
and the Council of State--Complaints against Lucien--The deaf and
dumb assembly--Creation of senatorships.

When nothing was wanting to secure the Consulate for life but the votes
of the people, which there was no doubt of obtaining, the First Consul
set off to spend a few days at Malmaison.

On the day of our arrival, as soon as dinner was ended, Bonaparte said to
me, "Bourrienne, let us go and take a walk." It was the middle of May,
so that the evenings were long. We went into the park: he was very
grave, and we walked for several minutes without his uttering a syllable.
Wishing to break silence in a way that would be agreeable to him, I
alluded to the facility with which he had nullified the last 'Senatus-
consulte'. He scarcely seemed to hear me, so completely was his mind
absorbed in the subject on which he was meditating. At length, suddenly
recovering from his abstraction, he said, "Bourrienne, do you think that
the pretender to the crown of France would renounce his claims if I were
to offer him a good indemnity, or even a province in Italy?" Surprised
at this abrupt question on a subject which I was far from thinking of,
I replied that I did not think the pretender would relinquish his claims;
that it was very unlikely the Bourbons would return to France as long as
he, Bonaparte, should continue at the head of the Government, though they
would look forward to their ultimate return as probable. "How so?"
inquired he. "For a very simple reason, General. Do you not see every
day that your agents conceal the truth from you, and flatter you in your
wishes, for the purpose of ingratiating themselves in your favour? are
you not angry when at length the truth reaches your ear?"--"And what
then?"--"why, General, it must be just the same with the agents of Louis
XVIII. in France. It is in the course of things, in the nature of man,
that they should feed the Bourbons with hopes of a possible return, were
it only to induce a belief in their own talent and utility."--"That is
very true! You are quite right; but I am not afraid. However, something
might perhaps be done--we shall see." Here the subject dropped, and our
conversation turned on the Consulate for life, and Bonaparte spoke in
unusually mild terms of the persons who had opposed the proposition.
I was a little surprised at this, and could not help reminding him of the
different way in which he had spoken of those who opposed his accession
to the Consulate. "There is nothing extraordinary in that," said he.
"Worthy men may be attached to the Republic as I have made it. It is a
mere question of form. I have nothing to say against that; but at the
time of my accession to the Consulate it was very different. Then, none
but Jacobins, terrorists, and rogues resisted my endeavours to rescue
France from the infamy into which the Directory had plunged her. But now
I cherish no ill-will against those who have opposed me."

During the intervals between the acts of the different bodies of the
State, and the collection of the votes, Lucien renewed his intrigues, or
rather prosecuted them with renewed activity, for the purpose of getting
the question of hereditary succession included in the votes. Many
prefects transmitted to M. Chaptal anonymous circulars which had been
sent to them: all stated the ill effect produced by these circulars,
which had been addressed to the principal individuals of their
departments. Lucien was the originator of all this, though I cannot
positively say whether his brother connived with him, as in the case of
the pamphlet to which I have already alluded. I believe, however, that
Bonaparte was not entirely a stranger to the business; for the circulars
were written by Raederer at the instigation of Lucien, and Raederer was
at that time in favour at the Tuileries. I recollect Bonaparte speaking
to me one day very angrily about a pamphlet which had just, been
published by Camille Jordan on the subject of the national vote on the
Consulate for life. Camille Jordan did not withhold his vote, but gave
it in favour of the First Consul; and instead of requiring preliminary
conditions, he contented himself, like the Tribunate, with enumerating
all the guarantees which he expected the honour of the First Consul would
grant. Among these guarantees were the cessation of arbitrary
imprisonments, the responsibility of the agents of Government, and the
independence of the judges. But all these demands were mere peccadilloes
in comparison with Camille Jordan's great crime of demanding the liberty
of the press.

The First Consul had looked through the fatal pamphlet, and lavished
invectives upon its author. "How!" exclaimed he, "am I never to have
done with these fire brands?--These babblers, who think that politics may
be shown on a printed page like the world on a map? Truly, I know not
what things will come to if I let this go on. Camille Jordan, whom I
received so well at Lyons, to think that he should--ask for the liberty
of the press!

Were I to accede to this I might as well pack up at once and go and live
on a farm a hundred leagues from Paris." Bonaparte's first act in favour
of the liberty of the press was to order the seizure of the pamphlet in
which Camille Jordan had extolled the advantages of that measure.
Publicity, either by words or writing, was Bonaparte's horror.
Hence his aversion to public speakers and writers.

Camille Jordan was not the only person who made unavailing efforts to
arrest Bonaparte in the first steps of his ambition. There were yet in
France many men who, though they had hailed with enthusiasm the dawn of
the French Revolution, had subsequently been disgusted by its crimes, and
who still dreamed of the possibility of founding a truly Constitutional
Government in France. Even in the Senate there were some men indignant
at the usual compliance of that body, and who spoke of the necessity of
subjecting the Constitution to a revisal, in order to render it
conformable to the Consulate for life.

The project of revising the Constitution was by no means unsatisfactory
to Bonaparte. It afforded him an opportunity of holding out fresh
glimmerings of liberty to those who were too shortsighted to see into the
future. He was pretty certain that there could be no change but to his
advantage. Had any one talked to him of the wishes of the nation he
would have replied, "3,577,259 citizens have voted. Of these how many
were for me? 3,368,185. Compare the difference! There is but one vote
in forty-five against me. I must obey the will of the people!" To this
he would not have failed to add, "Whose are the votes opposed to me?
Those of ideologists, Jacobins, and peculators under the Directory." To
such arguments what could have been answered? It must not be supposed
that I am putting these words into Bonaparte's mouth. They fell from him
oftener than once.

As soon as the state of the votes was ascertained the Senate conceived
itself under the necessity of repairing the only fault it had committed
in the eyes of the First Consul, and solemnly presented him with a new
'Senatus-consulte', and a decree couched in the following terms:

ARTICLE I. The French people nominate and the Senate proclaim Napoleon
Bonaparte Consul for life.

ARTICLE II. A statue representing Peace, holding in one hand the laurel
of victory, and in the other the decree of the senate, shall commemorate
to posterity the gratitude of the Nation.

ARTICLE III. The Senate will convey to the First Consul the expression
of the confidence, the love, and the admiration of the French people.

Bonaparte replied to the deputation from the Senate, in the presence of
the Diplomatic Body, whose audience had been appointed for that day in
order that the ambassadors might be enabled to make known to their
respective Courts that Europe reckoned one King more. In his reply he
did not fail to introduce the high-sounding words "liberty and equality."
He commenced thus: "A citizen's life belongs to his country. The French
people wish that mine should be entirely devoted to their service. I

On the day this ceremony took place, besides the audience of the
Diplomatic Body there was an extraordinary assemblage of general officers

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