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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, v9 by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

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the Emperor the idea of pillaging that fine establishment must have been
profoundly ignorant of its importance. They thought only of the
90,000,000 of marks banco deposited in its cellars.

By the famous decree of Berlin, dated 21st November 1806, Mortier was
compelled to order the seizure of all English merchandise in the Hanse
Towns, but he enforced the decree only so far as to preserve the
appearance of having obeyed his orders.

Mortier, on leaving Hamburg for Mecklenburg, was succeeded by General
Michaud, who in his turn was succeeded by Marshal Brune in the beginning
of 1807. I am very glad to take the present opportunity of correcting
the misconceptions which arose through the execution of certain acts of
Imperial tyranny. The truth is, Marshal Brune, during his government,
constantly endeavoured to moderate, as far as he could, the severity of
the orders he received. Bernadotte became Governor of Hamburg when the
battle of Jena rendered Napoleon master of Prussia and the north of

The Prince of Ponte-Corvo lightened, as far as possible, the unjust
burdens and vexations to which that unfortunate town was subject. He
never refused his assistance to any measures which I adopted to oppose a
system of ruin and persecution. He often protected Hamburg against
exorbitant exactions, The Hanse Towns revived a little under his
government, which continued longer than that of Mortier, Michaud, and
Brune. The memory of Bernadotte will always be dear to the Hamburgers;
and his name will never be pronounced without gratitude. His attention
was especially directed to moderate the rigour of the custom-houses; and
perhaps the effect which his conduct produced on public opinion may be
considered as having, in some measure, led to the decision which, four
years after, made him Hereditary Prince of Sweden.



Ukase of the Emperor of Russia--Duroc's mission to Weimar--
Napoleon's views defeated--Triumphs of the French armies--Letters
from Murat--False report respecting Murat--Resemblance between
Moreau and M. Billand--Generous conduct of Napoleon--His interview
with Madame Hatzfeld at Berlin--Letter from Bonaparte to Josephine--
Blucher my prisoner--His character--His confidence in the future
fate of Germany--Prince Paul of Wurtemberg taken prisoner--His wish
to enter the French service--Distinguished emigrants at Altona--
Deputation of the Senate to the Emperor at Berlin--The German
Princes at Altona--Fauche-Boiel and the Comte de Gimel.

In September 1806 it became very manifest that, as soon as war should
break out between France and Prussia, Russia would not be slow in forming
an alliance with the latter power. Peace had, however, been
reestablished between Napoleon and Alexander by virtue of a treaty just
signed at Paris. By that treaty Russia was to evacuate the Bouches du
Cattaro,--[The Bouches do Cattaro, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic,
had formed part of the Dalmatian possessions of Venice.]--a condition
with which she was in no hurry to comply. I received a number of the
Court Gazette of St. Petersburg, containing a ukase of the Emperor of
Russia, in which Alexander pointed out the danger which again menaced
Europe, showed the necessity of adopting precautions for general
tranquillity and the security of his own Empire, and declared his
determination of not only completing but augmenting his army. He
therefore ordered a levy of four men out of every 500 inhabitants.

Before the commencement of hostilities Duroc was sent to the King of
Prussia with the view of discovering whether there was any possibility of
renewing negotiations; but affairs were already too much embarrassed.
All Duroc's endeavours were in vain, and perhaps it was no longer in the
power of the King of Prussia to avoid war with France. Besides, he had
just grounds of offence against the Emperor. Although the latter had
given him Hanover in exchange for the two Margravates, he had,
nevertheless, offered to England the restoration of that province as one
of the terms of the negotiations commenced with Mr. Fox. This underhand
work was not unknown to the Berlin Cabinet, and Napoleon's duplicity
rendered Duroc's mission useless. At this time the King of Prussia was
at Weimar.

Victory everywhere favoured the French arms. Prince Hohenlohe, who
commanded a corps of the Prussian army, was forced to capitulate at
Prentzlau. After this capitulation General Blucher took the command of
the remains of the corps, to which he joined the troops whose absence
from Prentzlau exempted them from the capitulation. These corps, added
to those which Blucher had at Auerstadt, were then almost the only
ramparts of the Prussian monarchy. Soult and Bernadotte received orders
from Murat to pursue Blucher, who was using all his efforts to draw from
Berlin the forces of those two generals. Blucher marched in the
direction of Lubeck.

General Murat pursued the wreck of the Prussian army which had escaped
from Saxony by Magdeburg. Blucher was driven upon Lubeck. It was very
important to the army at Berlin that this numerous corps should be
destroyed, commanded as it was by a skillful and brave general, who drew
from the centre of the military operations numerous troops, with which he
might throw himself into Hanover, or Hesse, or even Holland, and by
joining the English troops harass the rear of the Grand Army. The Grand
Duke of Berg explained to me his plans and expectations, and soon after
announced their fulfilment in several letters which contained, among
other things, the particulars of the taking of Lubeck.

In two of these letters Murat, who was probably deceived by his agents,
or by some intriguer, informed me that General Moreau had passed through
Paris on the 12th of October, and had arrived in Hamburg on the 28th of
October. The proof which Murat possessed of this circumstance was a
letter of Fauche-Borel, which he had intercepted. I recollect a curious
circumstance which serves to show the necessity of mistrusting the vague
intelligence furnished to persons in authority. A fortnight before I
received Murat's first letter a person informed me that General Moreau
was in Hamburg. I gave no credit to this intelligence, yet I endeavoured
to ascertain whether it had any foundation, but without effect. Two days
later I was assured that an individual had met General Moreau, that he
had spoken to him, that he knew him well from having served under him--
together with various other circumstances, the truth of which there
appeared no reason to doubt. I immediately sent for the individual in
question, who told me that he knew Moreau, that he had met him, that the
General had inquired of him the way to the Jungfersteige (a promenade at
Hamburg), that he had pointed it out to him, and then said, "Have I not
the honour to speak to General Moreau?" upon which the General answered,
"Yes, but say nothing about having seen me; I am here incognito." All
this appeared to me so absurd that, pretending not to know Moreau, I
asked the person to describe him to me. He described a person bearing
little resemblance to Moreau, and added that he wore a braided French
coat and the national cockade in his hat. I instantly perceived the
whole was a mere scheme for getting a little money. I sent the fellow
about his business. In a quarter of an hour after I had got rid of him
M. la Chevardiere called on me, and introduced M. Billaud, the French
Consul at Stettin. This gentleman wore a braided coat and the national
cockade in his hat. He was the hero of the story I had heard from the
informer. A slight personal resemblance between the Consul and the
General had caused several persons to mistake them for each other.

During the Prussian campaign nothing was talked of throughout Germany but
Napoleon's generous conduct with respect to Prince Hatzfeld. I was
fortunate enough to obtain a copy of a letter which the Emperor wrote to
Josephine on the subject, and which I shall presently lay before the
reader. In conformity with the inquisitorial system which too frequently
characterised the Emperor's government, and which he extended to every
country of which he had military possession, the first thing done on
entering a town was to take possession of the post-office, and then,
Heaven knows how little respect was shown to the privacy of
correspondence. Among the letters thus seized at Berlin and delivered to
Napoleon was one addressed to the King of Prussia by Prince Hatzfeld, who
had imprudently remained in the Prussian capital. In this letter the
Prince gave his Sovereign an account of all that had occurred in Berlin
since he had been compelled to quit at; and at the same time he informed
him of the force and situation of the corps of the French army. The
Emperor, after reading this letter, ordered that the Prince should be
arrested, and tried by a court-martial on the charge of being a spy.

The Court was summoned, and little doubt could be entertained as to its
decision when Madame Hatzfeld repaired to Duroc, who on such occasions
was always happy when he could facilitate communication with the Emperor.
On that day Napoleon had been at a review. Duroc knew Madame Hatzfeld,
whom he had several times seen on his visits to Berlin. When Napoleon
returned from the review he was astonished to see Duroc at the palace at
that hour, and inquired whether he had brought any news. Duroc answered
in the affirmative, and followed the Emperor into his Cabinet, where he
soon introduced Madame Hatzfeld. The remainder of the scene is described
in Napoleon's letter. It may easily be perceived that this letter is an
answer to one from Josephine reproaching him for the manner in which he
spoke of women, and very probably of the beautiful and unfortunate Queen
of Prussia, respecting whom he had expressed himself with too little
respect in one of his bulletins. The following is Napoleon's letter:--

I have received your letter, in which you seem to reproach me for
speaking ill of women. It is true that I dislike female intriguers
above all things. I am used to kind, gentle, and conciliatory
women. I love them, and if they have spoiled me it is not my fault,
but yours. However, you will see that I have done an act of
kindness to one deserving woman. I allude to Madame de Hatzfeld.
When I showed her her husband's letter she stood weeping, and in a
tone of mingled grief and ingenuousness said, "It is indeed his
writing!" This went to my heart, and I said, "Well, madame, throw
the letter into the fire, and then I shall have no proof against
your husband." She burned the letter, and was restored to
happiness. Her husband now is safe: two hours later, and he would
have been lost. You see, therefore, that I like women who are
simple, gentle, and amiable; because they alone resemble you.

November 6, 1806, 9 o'clock P.M.

When Marshal Bernadotte had driven Blucher into Lubeck and made him
prisoner, he sent to inform me of the circumstance; but I was far from,
expecting that the prisoner would be confided to my charge. Such,
however, was the case. After his capitulation he was sent to Hamburg,
where he had the whole city for his prison.

I was curious to become acquainted with this celebrated man, and I saw
him very frequently. I found that he was an enthusiastic Prussian
patriot--a brave man, enterprising even to rashness, of limited
education, and almost to an incredible degree devoted to pleasure, of
which he took an ample share while he remained in Hamburg. He sat an
enormous time at table, and, notwithstanding his exclusive patriotism,
he rendered full justice to the wines of France. His passion for women
was unbounded, and one of his most favourite sources of amusement was the
gaming-table, at which he spent a considerable portion of his time.
Blucher was of an extremely gay disposition; and considered merely as a
companion he was very agreeable. The original style of his conversation
pleased me much. His confidence in the deliverance of Germany remained
unshaken in spite of the disasters of the Prussian army. He often said
to me, "I place great reliance on the public spirit of Germany--on the
enthusiasm which prevails in our universities. The events of war are
daily changing, and even defeats con tribute to nourish in a people
sentiments of honour and national glory. You may depend upon it that
when a whole nation is determined to shake off a humiliating yoke it will
succeed. There is no doubt but we shall end by having a landwehr very
different from any militia to which the subdued spirit of the French
people could give birth. England will always lend us the support of her
navy and her subsidies, and we will renew alliances with Russia and
Austria. I can pledge myself to the truth of a fact of which I have
certain knowledge, and you may rely upon it; namely, that none of the
allied powers engaged in the present war entertain views of territorial
aggrandisement. All they unanimously desire is to put an end to the
system of aggrandisement which your Emperor has established and acts upon
with such alarming rapidity. In our first war against France, at the
commencement of your Revolution, we fought for questions respecting the
rights of sovereigns, for which, I assure you, I care very little; but
now the case is altered, the whole population of Prussia makes common
cause with its Government. The people fight in defence of their homes,
and reverses destroy our armies without changing the spirit of the
nation. I rely confidently on the future because I foresee that fortune
will not always favour your Emperor. It is impossible; but the time will
come when all Europe, humbled by his exactions, and impatient of his
depredations, will rise up against him. The more he enslaves nations,
the more terrible will be the reaction when they break their chains.
It cannot be denied that he is tormented with an insatiable desire of
acquiring new territories. To the war of 1805 against Austria and Russia
the present war has almost immediately succeeded. We have fallen.
Prussia is occupied; but Russia still remains undefeated. I cannot
foresee what will be the termination of the war; but, admitting that the
issue should be favourable to you, it will end only to break out again
speedily. If we continue firm, France, exhausted by her conquests, must
in the end fall. You may be certain of it. You wish for peace.
Recommend it! By so doing You will give strong proofs of love for your

In this strain Blucher constantly spoke to me; and as I never thought it
right to play the part of the public functionary in the drawing-room I
replied to him with the reserve necessary in my situation. I could not
tell him how much my anticipations frequently coincided with his; but I
never hesitated to express to him how much I wished to see a reasonable
peace concluded.

Blucher's arrival at Hamburg was preceded by that of Prince Paul of
Wutrtemberg, the second son of one of the two kings created by Napoleon,
whose crowns were not yet a year old. This young Prince, who was imbued
with the ideas of liberty and independence which then prevailed in
Germany, had taken a headlong step. He had quitted Stuttgart to serve in
the Prussian campaign without having asked his father's permission, which
inconsiderate proceeding might have drawn Napoleon's anger upon the King
of Wurtemberg. The King of Prussia advanced Prince Paul to the rank of
general, but he was taken prisoner at the very commencement of
hostilities. Prince Paul was not, as has been erroneously stated,
conducted to Stuttgart by a captain of gendarmerie. He came to Hamburg,
where I received many visits from him. He did not yet possess very
definite ideas as to what he wished; for after he was made prisoner he
expressed to me his strong desire to enter the French service, and often
asked me to solicit for him an interview with the Emperor. He obtained
this interview, and remained for a long time in Paris, where I know he
has frequently resided since the Restoration.

The individuals whom I had to observe in Hamburg gave me much less
trouble than our neighbours at Altona. The number of the latter had
considerably augmented, since the events of the war had compelled a great
number of emigrants who had taken refuge at Munster to leave that town.
They all proceeded to Altona. Conquered countries became as dangerous to
them as the land which they had forsaken. The most distinguished amongst
the individuals assembled at Altona were Vicomte de Sesmaisons, the
Bailly d'Hautefeuille, the Duchess of Luxembourg, the Marquis de Bonnard,
the Due d'Aumont (then Due de Villequier), the wife of Marshal de Brogue
and her daughter, Cardinal de Montmorency, Madame de Cosse, her two
daughters and her son (and a priest), and the Bishop of Boulogne.

Bonaparte stayed long enough at Berlin to permit of the arrival of a
deputation from the French Senate to congratulate him on his first
triumphs. I learned that in this instance the Senatorial deputation,
departing from its accustomed complaisance, ventured not to confine
itself to compliments and felicitations, but went so far as to interfere
with the Emperor's plan of the campaign, to speak of the danger that
might be incurred and finally to express a desire to in passing the Oder,
see peace concluded. Napoleon received this communication with a very
bad grace. He thought the Senators very bold to meddle with his affairs,
treated the conscript fathers of France as if they had been inconsiderate
youths, protested, according to custom, his sincere love of peace, and
told the deputation that it was Prussia, backed by Russia, and not he,
who wished for war!

All the German Princes who had taken part against Napoleon fled to Altona
after the battle of Jena with as much precipitation as the emigrants
themselves. The Hereditary Prince of Weimar, the Duchess of Holstein,
Prince Belmonte-Pignatelli, and a multitude of other persons
distinguished for rank and fortune, arrived there almost simultaneously.
Among the persons who took refuge in Altona were some intriguers, of whom
Fauche-Borel was one. I remember receiving a report respecting a violent
altercation which Fauche had the audacity to enter into with Comte de
Gimel because he could not extort money from the Count in payment of his
intrigues. Comte de Gimel had only funds for the payment of pensions,
and, besides, he had too much sense to suppose there was any utility in
the stupid pamphlets of Fauche-Borel, and therefore he dismissed him with
a refusal. Fauche was insolent, which compelled Comte de Gimel to send
him about his business as he deserved. This circumstance, which was
first communicated to me in a report, has since been confirmed by a
person who witnessed the scene. Fauche-Borel merely passed through
Hamburg, and embarked for London on board the same ship which took Lord
Morpeth back to England.

--[Louis Fauche-Borel (1762-1829), a Swiss who devoted himself to
the cause of the Royalists. As Louis stepped on the shore of France
in 1814, Fauche-Borel was ready to assist him from the boat, and was
met with the gracious remark that he was always at hand when a
service was required. His services were however left unrewarded]--



Alarm of the city of Hamburg--The French at Bergdorf--Favourable
orders issued by Bernadotte--Extortions in Prussia--False
endorsements--Exactions of the Dutch--Napoleon's concern for his
wounded troops--Duroc's mission to the King of Prussia--Rejection of
the Emperor's demands--My negotiations at Hamburg--Displeasure of
the King of Sweden--M. Netzel and M. Wetteratedt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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