Part 11 out of 12
most faithful and honest servant of our house, who frequently
carried Napoleon Bonaparte for whole days in her arms, and when he
was sick sat at his bedside and nursed him with the tenderness of a
mother. I will tell Cordelia to take this basket away, and inform
the cook that we have a guest." She rang the bell; the door of the
adjoining room opened immediately, and old Cordelia entered. She
stood still at the door, and cast mournful glances, now on Madame
Letitia, now on the emperor.
"Well, Cordelia, do you not greet my son?" asked madame. "He is not
the emperor to-day, but comes incognito as my son to ask dinner of
"And listen, dear Delia," said the emperor, speaking to her in the
voice of a child--"listen, dear old Cordelia; afterward let us go
and play, and gather shells on the sea-shore. Shall we do so, 'Lia?"
An air of unutterable happiness illuminated the face of old Cordelia
when Napoleon repeated to her, in the voice of his childhood, the
words which he had so often addressed to her. She rushed toward him,
and, sinking down before him, seized both his hands and pressed them
to her lips. "Now do with me what you like, Napoleon," she cried, in
the language of her native country, while the tears were rolling
down her cheeks, "I belong to you again, with every drop of my
heart's blood. Trample me under foot, strike me, kick me, as you
often did during your childhood--I shall never murmur. I am as a
faithful dog, who allows himself to be beaten, and yet loves his
master to the last!"
"Yes, she is as constant as the sea that washes the shores of our
native country," said madame, with a tear in her eye. "You may count
on both of us, Napoleon, and if there is power in our prayers you
will always be victorious."
The emperor's face--darkened. He had forgotten every thing for a
moment; but he soon recollected himself. In order to be victorious
and prosperous he needed not only soldiers but money, and he had
come for the purpose of obtaining this from his mother. He
disengaged his hands from those of old Cordelia, and motioned her to
rise. She obeyed in silence, quietly took up the clothes, and
carried them off in the basket.
"See that we soon have dinner," said madame to her. Cordelia turned
and looked inquiringly at her mistress, who nodded to her; Cordelia
nodded, too, and went out smiling.
A quarter of an hour afterward, the emperor conducted his loving
mother to the dining-table, at which none other than themselves were
to be seated. When they entered, the emperor's eyes glided with a
strange, searching look along the paintings hanging on the walls,
and rested for a moment on the landscape which, in a broad gilded
frame, was directly opposite; then a faint smile flitted over his
features, and he turned toward his mother to address a few pleasant
words to her.
The dinner commenced, as the emperor anticipated, with Corsican rice
dumplings baked in oil. He partook of them with great relish, and
this favorite dish of his childhood seemed to have restored his good
humor. "I believe." he said, gayly, "I am still able to read as well
in your face, mother, as I could when I was a boy, and took pains to
discover whether or not I had deserved punishment for some naughty
prank. I believe I have understood your mute dialogue with Cordelia.
Will you confess the truth to me if I tell you what Cordelia's
glances and your nod signified?"
"Yes, if you guess it."
"Well, then, mother, did not Cordelia inquire by her glances whether
she was to send to the baker for bread, and whether the remnant of
yesterday's dinner should not be served again in honor of my
presence? And did not your nod reply, 'Yes?' Was not that the
meaning of it? Do I guess right?"
"Yes, my son," said madame, smiling; "I see that my haughty
daughters Pauline and Eliza have made you familiar with the habits
of my household."
"They have," exclaimed Napoleon. "They told me Madame Mere had every
day only three loaves of white bread brought from the baker for
herself and Cordelia."
"They told you the truth; all my officers and servants receive their
board-money, and three loaves are sufficient for us two. Ah, my son,
how happy would you have often been, when still a lieutenant, had
you had only one of the three loaves every day!"
"Eliza told me still other things," said Napoleon, casting a glance
toward the large oil painting. "She told me you had, like all honest
bourgeoises, your water-carrier, who furnished every day six buckets
"Eliza told you the truth again. It is still the same water-carrier
whom we employed when we lived in the Faubourg St. Honore; he is a
faithful and honest man; why, then should I withdraw this little
patronage from him?"
"But you pay him no more for his water, now that you are the
emperor's mother, than you did when you were a poor widow with nine
"God makes the water flow, and it is the same now as then. Why
should I, then, pay more for it?"
"Eliza told me, also," added the emperor, dwelling with singular
perseverance on the same subject, "that, instead of collecting a
library, and buying the books you read, you have subscribed to the
bookseller Renard's circulating library."
"There are very few books that deserve the honor of being bought,"
said madame, in a dignified tone.
"And is it true, too," asked the emperor, "that you have the books
brought by the bookseller's clerk to you every week the year round,
and that you have the same exchanged by your servants during only
New-Year's week, in order thereby to avoid giving a New-Year's
present to the clerk?"
"It is true," said madame, calmly. "This clerk is not poor, nor the
father of a family; I avoid, therefore, giving him the money which I
prefer giving to poor men."
"But, madame," cried Napoleon, angrily, "you really surpass
Harpagon, and Moliere has cause to complain that he did not know
you." [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Vide Le Normand, vol. ii., p.
"Moliere has assuredly cause to deplore that he did not live at the
present time," said madame, quietly, "for if he lived now, he would
have seen on the throne of France a prince who is even greater and
more illustrious than his own Louis XIV. And he would have certainly
been glad to make my acquaintance, as I am the mother of this great
"The mother of an emperor, and yet living so parsimoniously that one
might believe your son suffered you to starve! And still, if I am
not mistaken, you receive a million francs a year for defraying the
expenses of your court. Am I right, mother?"
"Yes, my son; I receive a million francs a year."
"Ah, madame," cried the emperor, "then you must, considering your
economy, lay by riches every year?"
Madame Letitia's face was serious; the emperor had touched a chord
unpleasant to her ear.
"No," she said, abruptly, "I lay by no riches, for my expenses are
"But your income is larger," exclaimed Napoleon. "I am satisfied
that you spend far less than you receive. Whom do you economize for,
"Whom?" asked madame, in an angry voice. "I might say for myself,
for my future, for that is uncertain, and one is never able to know
what may happen. But, in addition to myself, I have to take care of
your brother Lucien, for your majesty knows well that he is poor,"
"Because he would not accept the kingdom which I offered to him."
"Because, as a king, he would not be a dependent vassal, the mere
lieutenant of his brother. What, sire! Would you accept a kingdom
offered to you on condition that you should never have a will of
your own, but always obey that of another?"
"I would not," said the emperor, smiling; "but I am the emperor."
"You are Lucien's brother, and he is no less proud than the emperor.
Let us say no more about it. He is poor; that was all I wished to
say. He is unable to endow his daughters, and I have, therefore,
taken this upon myself. You know now, my son, what my savings are
"But I am just as well your son as Lucien," said the emperor, in a
bland voice; "you may very well have laid by money for both of your
sons. I am in the same predicament as my brother. I am poor, and
need money. Hence I come to you, to my mother, and pray you, let me
have some of your savings. I know you have money; I need it, and you
would place me under the greatest obligations if you would lend me a
Madame Letitia gravely shook her head. "You are mistaken, sire," she
said; "I have only as much as I need."
The emperor's forehead darkened more and more. "Madame," he cried,
in a tone of irritation, "I repeat to you, it is a great favor which
I ask of you!"
"And I repeat that I have no money to spare; I had some, but sent it
recently to Lucien, who needs it."
"Well, then, let us say no more about it," replied the emperor,
rising, and, as if to overcome his vexation, turning toward the
paintings, and closely inspecting one after another. "You have very
fine paintings, madame," he said, after a pause.
"Yes, the work of great masters," replied madame, composedly. "You
reproach me with being very parsimonious, sire; I have, however,
paid very large sums to artists."
"I am especially delighted with this landscape," said the emperor,
standing in front of the Swiss landscape, on which he had repeatedly
cast furtive glances.
"Well, it is very fine and costly," said madame.
The emperor was silent, and looked up again attentively to the
painting. He then turned toward his mother, who stood near him.
"Mother," he exclaimed, "I asked money of you, and you refused it.
Will you refuse my request, too, if I ask you to present me with
this fine landscape?"
"On the contrary," said madame, "I am glad to be able to fulfil your
majesty's wish. I shall have the painting conveyed to the Tuileries
this very day."
"No," exclaimed the emperor, smiling, "it will be better to take it
at once with me in my carriage. You are so economical, mother, you
might repent of having given me so costly a present, and might want
to keep it."
"Sire," said madame, solemnly, "the emperor's mother pledges you her
word that you shall receive the painting this very day."
"Madame," replied her proud son, no less solemnly, "the emperor's
mother also pledged me her word that she has no money to lend me,
and yet I venture to believe that she has laid by a great deal.
Pardon me, therefore, if I persist in taking the painting with me,--
Delia, Delia!" The door of the corridor opened, and old Cordelia
looked in. "Run, Cordelia, and tell my two valets de chambre,
Constant and Roustan, to come hither at once."
Cordelia disappeared, and Napoleon now turned his head slowly toward
his mother. Madame Letitia became pale; large drops stood on her
forehead; her eyes were flashing with angry excitement, and her lips
were quivering. But overcoming her agitation she forced herself to
smile, and offered her hand to the emperor. "Come, my son, let us go
into my cabinet and take coffee. It is unnecessary for us to be
present with the servants. Come, sire."
The emperor did not take her hand, but, slightly bowing, drew back.
"Permit me to stay, madame, till my servants have taken the painting
from the wall."
Madame could not suppress a sigh, and clutched a chair, as if she
needed a support.
The door opened, and the two imperial valets de chambre, Constant
and Roustan, entered. "Come here," cried the emperor, "take this
down and carry it into my carriage." The valets hastened to take the
painting carefully from the wall. The emperor's glance passed over
the spot which it had covered. He saw that part of the silk hangings
looked somewhat fresher and darker than the rest. "One would think
the wall here were wet, and had moistened the hangings," he said,
laying his hand on the dark spot. "No," he then exclaimed, "the wall
is hollow here! Let us see what it means."
Madame uttered a cry, and, sinking into a chair, closed her eyes.
The emperor now hastily tore off the dark piece covering the wall,
and behind it was a deep square hole, in which stood a rather large-
sized iron box. "Ah! do you see, madame," cried the emperor, smiling
gayly, "I discover here a secret which you yourself were ignorant
of. It is evidently a box which the former proprietors of this
palace concealed here during the revolution from the rapacious hands
of the Jacobins."
Madame made no reply; her eyes were still closed, and she sat pale
"The box is heavy!" added the emperor, trying to lift it up.
"Constant, fetch the footmen to assist you in carrying it into my
carriage.--I will take it with me, madame," he said, turning toward
his mother, "I will personally examine its contents." At this moment
Constant returned with four footmen, and the six men succeeded at
length in lifting the iron box. "Now carry it immediately into my
carriage," commanded the emperor.
Panting under their heavy load, the men left the room. The emperor
looked after them until the door closed. He then turned again toward
his mother, who sat motionless and with her eyes closed. "Farewell,
mother," he said; "I am anxious to examine the contents of the box
which I was lucky enough to find. But I must not dare now to deprive
you of your beautiful painting. This hole in the wall must be
covered, and your imperial highness might not at once have another
picture worthy of replacing this landscape. I thank you, therefore,
for your present, and take the will for the deed. Farewell, madame!"
He bowed and walked slowly toward the door. [Footnote: Le Normand,
"Memoires," vol. ii., p. 448.]
Madame Letitia said nothing, and made no movement to return the
emperor's salutation. As he departed, she groaned and wept. "Five
millions!" she murmured, after a pause--"the savings of long years
has my son taken from me. Five millions!--the dower that I had laid
by for Lucien's daughters--that I had economized for the time when
these days of prosperity will end." She buried her face in her hands
and sobbed aloud. At length her grief seemed somewhat calmed, and
she raised her head again. "Well," she said, aloud, "I formerly
supported my family of nine children on an income of less than a
hundred louis d'ors a year; if need be, I can do so again, and I
hope I shall have at least so much left that Lucien and his
daughters will not starve. I must be even more parsimonious."
[Footnote: Lucien, the ablest and noblest of Napoleon's brothers,
lived in constant dissension with him, for he would not submit to
his will. He declined the throne of Naples because the emperor
imposed the condition that he should govern in precise accordance
with the orders given him. He married a distinguished and beautiful
Roman lady, and when Napoleon afterward offered him the throne of
Tuscany on condition that he should get a divorce from his wife,
Lucien refused, and preferred to live in obscurity outside of
France, and to dispense with the splendor surrounding his family.]
Two days afterward, on the 25th of January, the emperor left Paris
for his army, and entered upon the last struggle. He was fully aware
of the dangers threatening him. Hence, prior to leaving Paris, he
put his house in order. The regency by letters-patent was conferred
on the Empress Maria Louisa, but with her was conjoined his brother
Joseph, under the title of lieutenant-general of the empire; and
Cambaceres, the arch-chancellor, was placed at the head of the
council of state. The emperor then received the officers of the
National Guard of Paris in the apartments of the Tuileries. The
empress preceded him on entering the apartments, carrying the King
of Rome in her arms. Greeting the officers, the emperor said:
"Gentlemen of the National Guard of Paris, I am glad to see you
assembled here. I am about to set out for the army. I intrust to you
what I hold dearest in the world--my wife and my son. Let there be
no political divisions; let the respect for property, the
maintenance of order, and, above all, the love of France, animate
every heart. I do not disguise that, in the course of the military
operations to ensue, the enemy may approach in force to Paris; it
will be an affair of only a few days: before they are passed I will
be on the flanks and rear, and annihilate those who have dared to
invade our country. Efforts will be made to cause you to waver in
your allegiance and the fulfilment of your duty; but I firmly rely
on your resisting such perfidious temptations. Farewell, and God
bless us all!" [Footnote: Constant, "Memoires," vol. vl., p. 7.]
Then, taking his son in his arms, he went through the ranks of the
officers, and, presenting him to them as their future sovereign, he
exclaimed, in a voice tremulous with emotion: "I intrust him to you;
I intrust him to the love of my loyal city of Paris!"
The National Guard responded by protestations of fidelity and
devotedness. Cries of enthusiasm rent the apartments; tears were
shed, and a sense of the solemnity of the moment penetrated every
mind. All shouted, "Long live the emperor! Long live the empress!"
Maria Louisa, pale with emotion, her face bathed in tears, leaned
her head on the emperor's shoulder; and, holding his son in his left
arm, he placed his right around the trembling form of his consort.
At the sight of this touching group the enthusiasm of the National
Guard knew no bounds. They wept, cheered, and swore they would die
to a man rather than forsake the emperor--that they would allow
Paris to be laid in ruins by the artillery of the enemy rather than
surrender the empress and the King of Rome.
But this enthusiasm of the National Guard met with no response
beyond the Tuileries. Paris maintained an ominous silence, and, when
the emperor rode through the city at night, the streets were
deserted; no one had awaited him to pay homage on his departure.
Paris was asleep--its sleep that of exhaustion--and the people were
dreaming, perhaps, that adversity was hastening upon them.
FALL OF PARIS.
THE BATTLE OF LA ROTHIERE.
The morning of the 1st of February dawned cold and gloomy; heavy
gusts, driving the snow across the plain, gave to the landscape a
sad and dreary aspect. Silence reigned in the camps of the hostile
armies. In that of Napoleon at Brienne, and farther down the valley
at the village of La Rothiere, on this side of the Aube, the camp-
fires of the night were flickering in the gray morning, and far away
on the horizon were seen the dark outlines of the castle of Brienne.
There Napoleon had passed the last night of January, and in the
vicinity encamped his troops, scarcely thirty thousand strong, the
remnant of that "grand army" which the emperor had so often led to
In the camp of the Silesian army, too, all was quiet. It encamped
beyond the Aube, on the heights of Trannes and Felance, in the
vineyards and the forests of Beaulieu; it was enjoying repose after
a prolonged exposure and privation. But its commander-in-chief,
Field-Marshal Blucher, seemed to have no need of rest. Scarcely had
daylight dawned when he was already on horseback, and rode to the
crest of the mountain, by the side of his faithful adviser and
friend General Gneisenau, and followed by his pipe-master. From the
crest he was able to survey the whole valley of La Rothiers and
Brienne, lying at a distance of scarcely four miles.
Blucher raised his right arm toward the city and heaved a deep sigh.
"Gneisenau," he said, "I am deeply mortified at the defeat which
Bonaparte inflicted on us two days ago. I cannot get over it, and
can imagine what a hue-and-cry the distinguished gentlemen at
headquarters have raised, and how the trubsalsspritzen are croaking
again: Blucher is a crazy hussar who always wants to drive his head
through a wall, and yet cannot get through it, and only causes us
all a vast deal of trouble.' I can imagine how the peace apostles
are raising their voices again, crying that war ought to cease, and
we should run home because we did not gain the battle of Brienne. It
is indispensable, therefore, for us, Gneisenau, to strike a good
blow and get even with Napoleon. Yonder the fellow stands, with his
few thousand men, showing his teeth, as if he were still the lion
that needed only to shake his mane to frighten us off as flies. I
will show him that I am no fly, but a man who is able at any time to
cope with him and such as are with him. Gneisenau, we cannot help
it; we must attack him this very day. We must silence the
trubsalsspritzen, in order to accelerate our operations against
"You are right, field-marshal," said Gneisenau; "we must strike a
decisive blow, and compel the gentlemen at headquarters to
discontinue their present system of procrastination. We must show
Napoleon that we have also passed through a military school, though
not at Brienne."
"It makes me feel angry, Gneisenau, that we were unable to show him
that at the very city of Brienne. I had thought how well it would be
for me to prove to him, at the place where he passed his examination
and received his first commission, that I had also passed my
examination and learned something. Well, it is no use crying about
it now; we must, try to get over it, and only think of the best
manner in which we may be even with him. General Wrede must join us
with his troops at noon to-day, when we shall be--stronger than
Bonaparte, Marment, and all his marshals together."
"See!" cried Gneisenou, whose eyes were directed to the camp of the
enemy, "the troops yonder have put themselves in motion; I see it
quite distinctly now that the view is clearer. But they are not
"No," cried Blucher, "they are retreating; they intend to escape us;
Bonaparte wishes to avoid a battle. But that will not do; I must
have my battle here! How am I to get to Paris if I do not rout his
forces? how am I to pull him down if the present state of affairs
goes on as heretofore? A blow must be struck now; we must take
revenge for Brienne today!"
"Wrede will be here with his troops at noon," said Gneisenau,
thoughtfully; "let us, therefore, attack the enemy at twelve
o'clock, and make all necessary dispositions for it. Above all,
couriers should be sent to headquarters."
"Yes, Gneisenau, it is your province to attend to all that, for you
know well that you are the head and I am the arm. Consider all that
is necessary; I know only that Bonaparte contemplates a retreat, and
that I must compel him to accept battle. I have felt sad enough for
the past three days; for, say yourself, Gneisenau, is it not sheer
arrogance for Bonaparte to remain here so long quietly in front of
us, as though he intended to give us time for uniting our forces,
and thought we were after all, too cowardly to defeat him?"
"It is, perhaps, not arrogance, but disgust and weariness," said
Gneisenau, thoughtfully. "The prince of battles seems to be
exhausted, and to have lost confidence."
"A pretty fellow he is whom misfortunes at once exhaust," grumbled
Blucher, "and who is courageous only as long as he is successful!
But I do not object to this disposition of Bonaparte, for every
thing turns out now highly advantageous to us. The Austrians, the
Wurtembergers, and the Bavarians, have come up, and will cooperate
with us. Gneisenau, dispatch your couriers to headquarters, that the
monarchs may come. Take out your note-book; I will dictate to you
what occurs to me, and what are my plans in regard to the battle.--
Halloo, Christian! give me a pipe! I can think much better when
Christian galloped up, and with a grave air handed the short pipe to
his master. "Pipe-master," said Blucher, "hold a good many pipes in
readiness to-day, for there will be a fight, and you know that our
gunners fire more steadily when my pipe is burning well.--Well,
write now, Gneisenau: 'Precisely at twelve the troops will be put in
motion, and descend from Trannes into the plain. In the centre,
Sacken's infantry will advance upon La Rothiere in two columns. The
Austrians form the left, and will march on the town of Dionville.
The hereditary Prince of Wurtemberg's corps, composing the right
wing, will penetrate through the forest of Beaulieu, and take the
village of La Gibrin. Olsuwiew's infantry and Wassilchikow's
cavalry, Sacken's reserves, will follow the two columns of the
centre. Two divisions of Russian cuirassiers and Rajewski's corps of
grenadiers will remain in reserve on the heights of Trannes. The
Bavarian corps, under Wrede, will be stationed on the extreme right
wing.' [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. iii., p. 118] Well, that is enough;
close your note-book," said Blucher, blowing a large cloud of smoke
from his mouth. "Every thing else will come of itself after the
fight has begun. I have said what I had to say, and now commences
your work, Gneisenau. Dispatch couriers quickly to the headquarters
of the sovereigns, and may they arrive here in time, and not again,
by their hesitation and timidity, spoil our game, coming too late
from fear of coming too early! Let me tell you that I am not afraid
of Bonaparte, with his young guard and his army of conscripts. We
are twice as strong, for we have eighty thousand men, and his
forces, I believe, are not forty thousand. Besides, we have allies
whom Bonaparte cannot have--the good God and His angel, Queen
Louisa. He has sent us to put an end to the tyranny of the robber of
crowns, and Queen Louisa is looking down and praying for us and
Prussia's honor. The enemy, however, whom I am afraid of is, in our
own flesh and blood; he is creeping around the headquarters of the
monarchs, and singing peace-hymns, and raising a hue-and-cry about
the greatness of Bonaparte, representing him as Invincible, and
ourselves as insignificant. In that way are all our arms paralyzed!
Gneisenau, should they hesitate to act in an energetic manner, and
fail to be on hand in time, it would be dreadful, and I believe my
rage would kill me!"
But Blucher's apprehensions were not to be verified. All the corps
on which he had counted in drawing up his plan of operations arrived
at the stated hour, and precisely at noon appeared the Emperor of
Russia, the King of Prussia, and Prince Schwartzenberg, with their
numerous and brilliant suites. The monarchs surveyed the position of
the two armies from the heights of Trannes, and had Blucher explain
his plan to them in his brief and energetic manner.
The Emperor Alexander then turned with a gentle smile toward Prince
Schwartzenberg, commander-in-chief of the allied forces. "And what
do you think of this plan of the brave field-marshal?"
"It is as well conceived as it is bold," said Schwartzenberg, "and I
beg leave to intrust the command of the whole army to Field-Marshal
Blucher. I renounce the privilege of directing the operations of to-
day, and leave every thing to the discretion of the field-marshal."
Blucher's eyes sparkled with delight, and a glow suffused his
cheeks. "Prince," he exclaimed, offering his hand to Schwartzenberg,
"this is an honor for which I shall always be grateful to you. You
have a generous heart, and know that I must take revenge for the
disastrous affair of Brienne. I thank you, prince, for giving me an
opportunity. Now I shall prove to their majesties that Bonaparte is
not invincible, or, if I cannot prove it to them, I shall die!
Hurrah! Let us begin!" He galloped with the impatience and ardor of
a youth to the front of the troops, which put themselves rapidly in
motion, and rushed like a torrent down the heights of Trannes.
Soon the artillery commenced to boom, and transmitted Blucher's
battle-cry to Napoleon. The emperor, who had intended to retreat
with his small army, in order to avoid a fight, now halted his
troops, and formed them into line. As the allies were advancing with
great impetuosity, a further retreat would have been equivalent to
flight. Napoleon, therefore, accepted the battle, and his cannon
soon responded. The engagement raged with murderous energy; the
balls hissed in every direction; the allies rushed forward in strong
columns, but the French did not fall back before them. In the midst
of the fearful carnage they stood like heroes, sometimes repulsing
the superior enemy with sublime valor; and when they gave way, they
rallied and advanced to reconquer their positions. It was easy to
see that it was Napoleon's presence that inspired the French with
irresistible courage. Hour after hour vast numbers were slain on
both sides, and while the earth was trembling beneath the strife,
the snow fell to such a depth as to shroud the dead from view.
The contest was most furious in and around the village of La
Rothiere. The French held it with the utmost obstinacy, and vainly
did Sacken's corps, which had been repeatedly repulsed, return to
the charge; the French stood like a wall, and their cannon hurled
death into the ranks of their adversaries.
Blucher witnessed this doubtful struggle for some time with growing
impatience; his loud "Forward!" encouraged the troops to charge, but
their assaults were in vain. "Gneisenau," he cried, "we must take
the village, for La Rothiere is the key of the position.--Halloo,
pipe-master!" Hennomann was by his master's side. "There," said
Blucher, taking the pipe from his mouth, and handing it to
Christian, "take this pipe, and stay, do you hear, on this spot! I
shall soon be back, and you will see to it that I then get a lighted
pipe. I have to say a word or two to the French."
"You may depend on it, field-marshal, I shall stay here," said
Christian, gravely; "you will find me and the pipe here."
"Very well; and now come, Gneiseuau," said Blucher, galloping to the
head of the assaulting columns. Turning his face, full of warlike
ardor, toward his soldiers, he shouted: "You call me Marshal
Forward! Now I will show you what that means!" He turned his horse,
and, brandishing his sword, rushed toward the village. The soldiers
followed him with deafening cheers.
Christian Hennemann looked composedly after them, and, putting the
field-marshal's pipe into his mouth, he murmured, "Well, I wonder if
this will burn until the field-marshal returns, or if I shall have
to light another!" At this moment a bullet whizzed through the air,
carrying away the pipe from his mouth, and slightly wounding him.
"Well," he murmured, calmly, "the first one is gone, and a piece of
my head to boot! Let us immediately dress the wound, and then light
another pipe; for if he should return, and it is not ready for him--
thunder and lightning!" After giving vent to his feelings, the pipe-
master took oat his little dressing-pouch, stanched the blood,
applied a plaster to the wound, and wrapped a linen handkerchief
around his head. "Now I am all right again, and will do my duty,"
said Christian, closing the pouch, and opening the box, which was
fastened to the pommel of his saddle.
The fight was still raging. Night came, accompanied by a violent
snow-storm, so as to render the muskets useless. As on the Katzbach,
Blucher's soldiers had to attack the enemy with their swords and
bayonets. At length the allies were successful; the French were
overpowered and driven back. The soldiers, headed by Blucher, rushed
exultingly into the village of La Rothiere. "Forward!" shouted the
field-marshal. "Forward!" repeated the soldiers. They halted in the
middle of the village. The French still occupied the houses on both
sides of the principal street, and, converting every building into a
fortress, they fought like lions against the impetuous enemy.
Blucher was in the midst of the flying bullets, but he did not
notice them. The position had to be taken, and he knew that his
presence inspired his soldiers to heroic efforts. The village was
soon on fire, for the wind carried the flames from house to house,
and the snowy plain reflected the red glare far and wide. The French
rushed from the houses in hurried flight, hotly pursued by Blucher's
soldiers. The battle was gained! The enemy evacuated La Rothiere,
and retreated in disorder to Brienne and across the Aube.
Blucher could now return to his headquarters and inform the monarchs
of a victory. He rode back, thoughtfully; and Gneisenau, who was by
his side, was also grave and silent.
"Gneisenau," he exclaimed, "I believe we have done very well to-
"Your excellency must not say we, but _I_ have done very well to-
day," said Gneisenau, smiling. "You alone conceived the plan of
battle, and directed it;--for La Rothiere was the key of the whole
position, and it was Marshal Forward who took it. This time your
deeds must give the name to the battle, and it must be called 'the
battle of La Rothiere.'"
"Well, I do not care," said Blucher. "We have gained today, then,
the battle of La Rothiere, and, what is still better, we have shown
the French in their own country that Napoleon's invincibility is a
myth, and that he can be beaten as well as any other general.--But
what is that? See there, Gneisenau! what sentinel is posted on the
In fact, a dark form on horseback halted by the roadside; the flames
of the burning village rose higher, and shed a light on the
stranger. It was a man dressed in the uniform of a hussar; a white,
blood-stained handkerchief was wrapped around his head and half his
face; his right arm was also bandaged, and in his mouth was a clay
"It is the pipe-master!" cried Blucher, quickly galloping up.
"Yes, it is I--who should it be?" grumbled Christian.
"But, Christian," exclaimed Blucher, "how in Heaven's name do you
look! And what are you doing here?"
"I am waiting for Field-Marshal Blucher. Did you not tell me that I
was to wait for you here, and keep the pipe in order? Well, I did
wait for you, field-marshal. And you ask, too, how I look? Just like
one around whom the blue beans have been whizzing for hours past,
and whose head and arm have been scratched a great deal. You kept me
waiting a long time, field-marshal--more than four hours! The French
have shot pipe after pipe from my mouth, and this is the last I
have. If you had not come soon, it would have been smashed, too."
"No," said Blucher, smiling, "the French will not break another pipe
of mine to-day, Christian, for they have taken to their heels. It is
true, however, I have kept you waiting a long time. But that was the
fault of the French; they resisted with the greatest obstinacy, For
the rest, Christian, you had a pipe of tobacco at least during the
whole time that you were waiting, and did not fare so badly after
all; as for your wounds, I shall have them well attended to, my boy.
You have behaved as a brave man, and stood fire as a genuine soldier
ought to do. When we get home I will relate it to your old father,
and he will rejoice over it. Now, give me the pipe; it will be the
last that you will fill for me for some time to come, for you are
disabled; your right arm is shattered, and you must be cured."
"Well," exclaimed Christian, "with my left hand I can fill your
pipes. I am and must be Field-Marshal Blucher's pipe-master, and, if
they do not shoot off my head, I will not give up my position!"
On the following day Blucher received at the castle of Brienne the
congratulations and thanks of the allied monarchs. The Emperor
Alexander embraced him, and his eyes were filled with tears of
joyful emotion. "Field-marshal," he said, "you have crowned all your
former efforts by this glorious triumph. I do not know how we are to
reward you for this. But I know we must admire and love you."
King Frederick William shook hands with Blucher, and a smile
illuminated his features. "Blucher," he said, mildly, "you have kept
your word; you have fulfilled all that you promised us at Frankfort,
when I informed you of your appointment to the command-in-chief. To-
day you have blotted out the disgrace of Jena. Have you any wish
which I am able to fulfil? Pray let me know it, for I should like to
prove to you my gratitude and love."
"I have a wish, and before it is gratified, I shall neither sleep
well by night nor be calm by day. Now your majesties are quite able
to grant this wish of mine, and therefore I urgently pray both of
you to do so."
"Tell us what it is!" exclaimed the emperor; "I am anxious to grant
it as far as I am concerned, for an heroic head like yours must not
lie uneasy at night, and a childlike heart like yours must be
content. Speak, then!"
"Ah, sire," said the king, smiling, and fixing a searching look on
Blucher's bold face, "sire, beware of promising, for then he will
leave us no rest; he will not even let us sleep at night until he
has driven us to Paris.--That is your wish, Blucher, is it not?"
"It is!" exclaimed Blucher, ardently. "That is my wish; and, as your
majesty has called upon me to tell you something that you could
grant, and as his majesty the emperor tells me, too, that he would
like to gratify me--I say, let us now set out by forced marches for
Paris. Let us advance with all our armies on the capital, for then
the war will soon be over. I implore your majesties, let us proceed
quickly. Let us give Bonaparte no time for heading us off; but let
us outstrip him moving on Paris, and, if need be, take the city by
storm. When Paris falls all France is ours, and the war is over!"
"Well, what says your majesty?" asked Alexander, turning toward the
king. "Shall we comply with the wish of our young madcap?"
"Sire, as far as I am concerned, I have pledged him my word," said
Frederick William; "hence, I must keep it."
"And I assent with the greatest pleasure, sire," exclaimed
Alexander; "let us march on Paris, then; but we should agree as to
the best way of doing so."
"Well, we have invited our generals to hold a council of war, and I
believe they are waiting for us now," said the king. "Come,
therefore, sire; and you, Blucher, pray accompany us. One thing is
settled: we shall march on Paris in accordance with your wish--only
we have to select the routes which the various columns of the army
are to take, for they are too large to move by the same road; they
could not find the necessary supplies in the same section of
country. We must divide them, and that is the question which we
shall now discuss with our generals."
"I do not care about that," replied Blucher, merrily; "if the chief
point is settled, all the rest is indifferent to me; I shall obey
the orders of my king, and be content with the route selected for me
and my corps. The point is--we must profit by our victory and
outstrip Bonaparte! We must take Paris!"
THE DISEASED EYES.
Upward of a month had elapsed since the victory of La Rothiere, and
Blucher's ardent wish had not yet been fulfilled; the allies were
not in Paris. The system of procrastination had again obtained the
upper hand at the headquarters of the allies. Austria hesitated to
use her power in a decisive manner against Napoleon, the emperor's
son-in-law; the crown prince of Sweden wished to spare France, and
was still in hope that the congress, which had been in session at
Chatillon since the 4th of February, would conclude a treaty of
peace. Among the very attendants of the Emperor of Russia and the
King of Prussia this peace party had its active supporters, who
opposed an energetic policy, and wished the congress of Chatillon,
and not the army, to put an end to the war.
Blucher once had dared openly to oppose these "peace apostles," and
disregarded the instructions received from the allied monarchs to
move farther back from Paris, and, instead of crossing the Seine,
retreat with his army to Chaumont and Langres. This order filled the
field-marshal with anger, and his generals and staff-officers shared
it. Great as he was in all his actions, Blucher took the bold
resolution to pay no attention to the retrograde movements of
Schwartzenberg and the crown prince of Sweden, but to continue his
march, even at the risk of appearing in front of Paris without
But it was not as a rebel that he had wished to take so daring a
step; on the contrary, before moving, he wrote to King Frederick
William, and implored him to fulfil his wish, and allow him to
advance. He did not wait, however, for the king's answer, but,
though he knew that the commander-in-chief, Prince Schwartzenberg,
had already commenced retreating, continued to march with his
Silesian army alone upon the capital of France.
The monarchs themselves were of Blucher's opinion, and gave him full
power, having his army reenforced by the corps of Bulow and
Winzingerode. With his forces thus increased to twice their original
strength, he was able to confront Napoleon, and attack Paris even
without Schwartzenberg's assistance. But the fortune of war is
fickle, and he did not continue his march without experiencing this.
On the 7th of March he fought a bloody battle with Napoleon and his
marshals between Soissons and Craonne, and, to his profound regret,
was defeated, and forced to retreat.
He took revenge at Laon, where he and his brave Silesian army gained
a victory on the 9th of March. This was followed by still another.
He at length silenced the "trubsalsspritzen" and "peace apostles,"
who had up to this time raised their influential voices at
headquarters. All felt that a retreat, after this great victory, was
entirely out of the question, and even Schwartzenberg and Bernadotte
joined in Blucher's "Forward!" and marched their armies to Paris.
But the brave field-marshal himself was at this time unable to join
in the movement. Since the battle of Laon he had been affected with
a violent inflammation of the eyes, aggravated by a fever. Confined
to his dark room, he was obliged to remain ten days at Laon,
suffering not only physical but mental pain. For how could he redeem
his pledge--how achieve a final victory over Napoleon--if, half-
blind and doomed to the captivity of a sick-room, he could not march
with his troops, and lead them in person into battle? Regardless of
the warnings of his physicians, he tried to brave his sufferings,
and, putting himself at the head of his troops, again advanced with
them. Finally, on the 24th of March, by way of Rheims, he arrived at
Chalons. But the inflammation of his eyes had grown worse on the
road, and gave him intolerable pain; the fever sent his blood like
fire through his veins, and what neither age, nor defeat, nor
disappointed hope, had been able to accomplish, was accomplished by
sickness. He grew faint-hearted--his disease destroyed his
enthusiasm. Longing for tranquillity, he remembered how beautiful
and peaceful his dear Kunzendorf was, how kind and mild the sweet
face of his Amelia, and with what soft hands she would wash his
inflamed eyes, and apply the remedies.
During the last march from Rheims to Chalons he constantly thought
of this. At length he made up his mind, and no sooner had he arrived
at Chalons than he sent for Hennemann, and locked himself in his
room with him.
"Christian," said Blucher, in a subdued voice, "I am going to see
whether you are really a faithful fellow, and whether I may confide
something to you."
"Very well, field-marshal, put me to the test."
"Not so loud!" cried Biucher, anxiously. "Let us first discover
whether any one can hear us here." He opened the door, and looked
into the antechamber. No one was there. He then examined the dark
alcove adjoining the sitting-room, which was empty, too. "We are
alone; no one can overhear us," said Blucher, returning from his
reconnoissance to the sitting-room. "Now, pipe-master, listen to me.
First, however, look at my eyes, do you hear; look closely at them.
Well, how do they look?"
"Very sore," said Christian, mournfully.
"And they have not grown better, though Voelzke, the surgeon-general
has been doctoring them every day; and, by his salves, mixtures,
leeches, and blisters, causing me almost as much pain as the eyes
themselves. Nay, they grow rather worse from day to day, and if I
remain here longer, and allow the physicians to torment me, I shall
finally lose my eyesight altogether, and when I am blind, I shall be
of no account--unable to use my sword and fight Bonaparte. I am
afraid the good God will not permit me to pull down Bonaparte from
his throne. He knows I should then be too happy, and therefore says,
'Gotthold Leberecht Blucher, I have permitted thee to bring
Bonaparte to the brink of ruin; now thine armies are close to Paris,
and will, without thee, get into the city. Go, therefore, old boy,
and have thine eyes cured!' Well, I will comply with God's will, and
go to some place and have myself healed, where they know better how
to do it than our doctors here. I have been told that there are
excellent oculists at Brussels, and Brussels is not very far from
here. I will, therefore, go there."
"The field-marshal intends to retreat, then?" said Christian,
"Retreat!" cried Blucher, angrily. "Who takes the liberty of saying
that Field-Marshal Blucher intends to retreat?"
"I take that liberty," said Christian. "The field-marshal intends to
retreat from the inflammation of his eyes."
"Why, yes; that is an enemy from which it is no disgrace to
"A retreat is always a retreat," said Christian, with a shrug, "and
if you carry out your intention you will no longer be called Marshal
"I do not care to be called so now!" exclaimed Blucher. "The
inflammation of my eyes has made me desperate; I shall lose my sight
if I stay here, and then they will lead me by the nose like a blind
bear. There is no use in talking any more about it; I will and must
go. If you do not wish to accompany me say so, and you may stay
"If you go, then I will too," said Christian, with his usual
calmness, "for where the field-marshal is the pipe-master must be;
that is a matter of course. I have pledged my word to my father, to
Madame von Blucher, and to the good God, that I would never leave my
general, and it makes no difference if he is field-marshal now. If
they do not shoot me, I shall stay with my field-marshal."
"Christian," said Blucher, offering him his hand, "you are a dear
boy; your heart is in the right place, and it is always the best
thing in a man. When we get back to Kunzendorf you shall lead a very
pleasant life, for I can never forget what a faithful and excellent
young fellow you have been. Then you will go with me?"
"Yes, to the end of the world, general!"
"Well, we shall not go so far as that--only to Brussels, where there
are good oculists; and when they have cured me, I will see whether
they still need me here, and whether every thing has then been done
to my liking."
"Oh, I believe it will be then as it is now," said Christian, in a
contemptuous tone. "When Marshal Forward is no longer here, things
will go backward, that is sure. But we need not care, for we shall
go forward to Brussels."
"Yes, to Brussels," said Blucher; "we set out to-night; but no one
must know it; I will leave as quietly as possible. I cannot stand
bidding them all farewell, and listening to their fine speeches; I
will leave, therefore, so that no one shall discover it before I am
"A secret flight!" said Christian, laconically.
"Secret flight? how stupid!" grumbled Blucher. "It is strange what
ridiculous words the boy uses! How a flight? I believe I am no
"No, but you are field-marshal."
Blucher's red eyes cast an angry glance on the bold pipe-master.
"You talk as you understand it," he cried; "when I am a poor blind
fellow, swallowing powders and using salves all day I am no longer a
field-marshal and had better resign, not waiting to be deposed by a
few polite phrases. That is the reason why I am going to leave."
"And I leave, too," said Christian; "but as the field-marshal does
not wish me to say any thing about it, of course I shall not. But
how are we to get away, if no one is to be informed?"
"Well, listen! I will tell you. I have already devised the whole
plan of operations, and--but, hark! something seems moving in the
alcove, as if a door opened."
"There is no door in the alcove," said Christian; "it was, perhaps,
a mouse, and it tells no tales. Inform me, field-marshal, what I
have to do."
"Well, listen, Christian!" And the field-marshal began to explain to
him, in his vivacious manner, the whole plan of his departure.
Christian comprehended it, and entered very seriously into the
duties of quartermaster-general to his field-marshal.
"Do you remember it all now?" asked Blucher, at the conclusion of
their conference. "Do you know all that you have to do?"
"I know all," said Christian. "In the first place, I am to go to
General Gneisenau and inform him that the field-marshal is sick and
confined to his bed to-day, and refuses to see any one. General
Gneisenau will mention it, of course, to Surgeon-General Dr.
Voelzke, who will come to see the field-marshal. I am to tell him
that he is in so much pain from his inflamed eyes that he had
ordered me to admit no one--that he is trying to sleep. Then I am to
come back to you, and your excellency will give me the farewell
letters to General Gneisenau, whereupon I am to pack up your things
and lock the bags. When it grows dark, I am to carry them secretly
into our carriage. Then it will suddenly occur to your excellency to
take an airing, the sun having set, and therefore unable to hurt
your eyes. I am to accompany you, and we shall not come back."
"No, we shall not come back," said Blucher, thoughtfully. "Well,
every thing is settled now; run, and attend to what I told you. We
shall set out at seven o'clock to-night."
Christian hastened away. Blucher looked after him with a mournful
glance and a deep sigh. "The die is cast," he murmured to himself;
"now I am indeed a poor old invalid, no longer of any use. God has
refused to fulfil my dearest wish; He would not let me hurl
Bonaparte from his stolen throne. I must face about at the gates of
Paris, and creep back into obscurity. Well, let God's will be done!
I have labored as long as there was daylight; now comes the night,
when I can work no more. Ah, my poor sore eyes! I--but there is,
after all, some one in the alcove," cried Blucher, springing to his
feet. Again he heard a noise as of footsteps, and an opening door.
He bounded into the alcove, but all was still; no one was there, and
no door to be seen. "I was mistaken," he said. "A bad conscience is
a very queer thing. Because I am about to do something secret, I am
thinking that eavesdroppers are watching me and trying to forestall
It was seven in the evening; the sun had set. Field-Marshal Blucher,
who was very sick all day, now intended to take an airing. The pipe-
master had, therefore, ordered the coachman; and the field-marshal's
carriage, drawn by four black horses, had just come to the door.
Blucher was still in his room, but all his preparations were
completed. On the table lay two letters--one addressed to the king,
the other to General Gneisenau; the carpet-bags had already been
conveyed into the carriage, together with his pipe-box. The invalid
had only to wrap himself in his military cloak, leave the room, and
enter the carriage; but he still hesitated. An anxiety, such as he
had never known before, had crept over him; and, what had never
before happened to him, his heart beat with fear. "That was just
wanting to me," he murmured. "I have become a white-livered coward,
whose legs are trembling, and whose heart is throbbing! What am I
afraid of, then? Is that wrong which I am about to do? My heart has
never acted thus even in the storm of battle. What does it mean?
Bah! it is folly; no attention should be paid to it. I hope,
however, that no one will meet me when I go down-stairs, or at the
carriage when I enter it. Let me see if there is any one in the
street." He quickly stepped to the window and looked out; there was
no one in the street, or near his carriage. "I will go now," said
Blucher, turning again toward the room. "I--" He paused, and a blush
suffused his cheeks. There, in the middle of the room, stood General
Gneisenau, and gazed at him with a strange, mournful air.
"Gneisenau, is it you?" asked Blucher, in a faltering voice. "How
did you get in?"
"Simply by the door, your excellency," said Gneisenau, smiling.
"Your pipe-master kept the door closed all day, and turned me away
by informing me the field-marshal had ordered him to admit no one,
because he wished to sleep; but my desire to see you brought me back
again and again, and so I have come, fortunately at the opportune
hour, when the Cerberus is no longer at the door, but is standing
below at the carriage, waiting for the field-marshal, who intends to
take an airing."
"Yes, I do," said Blucher, casting an anxious glance on the two
letters lying on the table. "I do intend to take an airing; good-by,
then, Gneisenau!" He turned toward the door, but Gneisenau kept him
back. "Your excellency must not ride out to-night," he said; "I
implore you not to do so. There is a cold wind, and you must not
expose your inflamed eyes to it. You are not careful enough of your
health; Surgeon-General Voelzke complains of the little attention
you pay to his proscriptions, and that your eyes, instead of getting
better, are growing worse and worse."
"Yes, that is true," grumbled Blucher, "they are burning like fire.
I will go out, therefore; the night-wind will cool them."
He turned again toward the door, but at this moment it was thrust
open, and Surgeon-General Voelzke entered the room. "I am told your
excellency intends to take an airing," said the physician, almost
indignantly. "But I declare that I cannot permit it. You have
intrusted yourself to my treatment; I am responsible to God, to the
king, to the whole world--nay, to history, if I allow you to rush so
recklessly to destruction; I will not suffer it; your excellency
must not ride out!"
"I should like to see who is to prevent me!" cried Blucher, striding
toward the door.
"The physician will prevent you," said Voelzke, standing in the
doorway with his large, tall form. "The physician has the right of
giving orders to kings and emperors, and Marshal Forward has to
submit to his commands, too."
"I do not think of it," said Blucher; "I do not permit any one to
give me orders."
"Not even your disease--your inflamed eyes?" asked Voelzke,
solemnly. "Did you not obey when your fever and inflamed eyes
commanded you to remain idle at Laon for ten days, although you were
in a towering passion, and were bent on advancing with the army?
Well, your excellency, I tell you, if you do not now obey me. and
consent to desist from taking an airing--if you are determined to
ride out in the cold night-air, one more powerful than I am will
compel you to obey; and that one is your disease. You may ride out
today, but to-morrow it will command you to keep your bed, the
inflammation of your eyes will make you a prisoner, and you will be
unable to flee from it, notwithstanding your imperious will, or your
"Well, well," said Blucher, "you put on such solemn airs as almost
to frighten me. It is true, my disease is very powerful, and this
soreness of my eyes has already rendered me so desperate that--"
"That your excellency has written letters," interposed Gneisenau,
pointing to the table. "But, what do I see? There is one addressed
"No, give it to me," cried Blucher, embarrassed; "now that you are
here, I can tell you every thing verbally, and it is unnecessary for
you to read what I have written."
He was about to seize the letter, but Gneisenau drew hack a step,
and, bowing deeply said, "Your excellency has done me the honor of
writing to me. Permit me, therefore, to read." He stepped quickly
into the window-niche, and opened the letter.
"Well, stand back there, doctor," cried Blucher, "let me out! Do not
make me angry; leave the door!"
"I do not care if you are angry, your excellency," said the surgeon-
general, folding his arms, "but in order to get me out of this
doorway you will have to kill me."
At this moment, Gneisenau uttered a cry of terror, and hastened
toward Blucher. "What! your excellency," he exclaimed, "you intend
to leave us? To set out secretly?"
"What do you say?" thundered the physician. "What did my patient
intend to do?"
"He intends to forsake us--his army that worships him, his friends
who idolize him, his king who hopes in him--he intends to leave us
all!" said Gneisenau, mournfully. "It is written here, doctor; I may
mention it to you, for you are one of our most devoted friends."
"And he intends also to leave his physician; he will go, and get
blind!" exclaimed Voelzke, reproachfully.
"Well, it is precisely because I do not wish to get blind that I
must move from here," said Blucher, who had now recovered his
firmness, and felt relieved, since his secret had been disclosed.
"What am I, a poor blind old man, to do longer in the field? I am
fit for nothing. In the end I shall perhaps fare like old Kutusoff,
whom they dragged along with the army. Thus would they drag me when
I am no longer myself." [Footnote: Blucher's words.--Vide Varnhagun,
"Prince Blucher of Wahlstatt," p. 373]
"But," said the physician, "your excellency is not blind; you will
be well in two weeks if you only resolve to comply with my
prescriptions, use the remedies I give you, and punctually obey my
instructions. You intend to go to Brussels, where you will certainly
find celebrated physicians; but they do not know you; they will only
doctor your eyes, not suspecting that the seat of your disease is in
your nerves, and that your eyes are unhealthy because your mind is
suffering. And it will suffer still more when you have deserted your
army, your friends--nay, I may say, your duty. The strange
surroundings, the want of care, the unknown physicians, your anxiety
at being ignorant of what the army is doing--all this will torture
your soul, and aggravate the disease of your eyes."
"It is true, I shall be very lonely in a foreign city," said
Blucher, thoughtfully; "but it is, after all, better than to stay
here as a useless, blind old man. I can never again command an army
or direct a battle."
"If you cannot command an army in person, you can by your words,"
exclaimed Gneisenau; "and if you cannot direct the battle with your
arms, you can do so with your spirit; for that fires our hearts as
long as you are with us, and bids defiance to the adversaries and
hesitating diplomatists. If your person leaves us, your spirit does
also, and with Marshal Forward we lose all prospect of marching
forward. Consider this, your excellency; consider that you endanger
not only the welfare of your army, but the success of the war; for
when you are not present, all will go wrong."
"Well, you will be here, Gneisenau," said Blucher; "you are half
myself; you know my thoughts just as well as I do--nay, you often
know them much better! You will, therefore, carry on all just as
though I were still here."
"But shall I have the power to do so?" asked Gneisenau. "Your
excellency did not take into the account that when you leave the
army, and give up your position as commander-in-chief, another
general must be appointed in your stead. Who will receive this
nomination? The senior general is Langeron, and do you consider him
qualified to replace you?"
"Well, that would be a pretty thing, if HE should become commander-
in-chief!" cried Blucher. "The confusion and wrangling that would
ensue would baffle description; for York and Bulow would be even
more disobedient to him than they are to me."
"But he would have to take command of the army until orders from
headquarters arrived appointing another general-in-chief. We might
have to wait a long time; for we are distant from the allied
monarchs now, and they, moreover, will not hasten to make that
appointment. Until this is done, Langeron will command the army, and
thereby I, the quartermaster-general, as well as Colonels Muffling
and Grolman, will be completely paralyzed in the discharge of our
duties, or even lose our positions, which your excellency has always
said we filled to your satisfaction, and in a manner conducive to
the welfare of the army. If you go now, you thereby deprive three
men of their places, although they feel strong enough yet to serve
"It is true, I have not thought of that," said Blucher, embarrassed.
"It did not occur to me that I should have a successor here, and
that he might be so stupid as to be unable to appreciate my
Gneisenau, and the brave Colonels Muffling and Grolman. No, no, that
will not do; Langeron must not become commander-in-chief."
"If you leave us, he will surely have that position, and our brave
Silesian army will then be headed by a Russian. No, field-marshal,
you must not go. You have no right to quit the army so arbitrarily,
and without the king's permission!"
"Well, I should like to see who would prevent me!" cried Blucher,
"Your noble soul, your devotion to duty, and your love of country,
will prevent you," said Gneisenau. "You will refuse to abandon your
work before it is completed. You will not incur the disgrace of
confessing to all the world that you are unable to fulfil your word-
-not to rest before having overthrown Napoleon, and made your
entrance into Paris. Nor will you tarnish your glory on account of
your eyes. You will not become a faithless father and friend to your
soldiers, whom you have so often greeted as your children, and who
have always confided in you; nor will you break our courage and
paralyze our souls by deserting us in this manner."
"It is true, I did not think sufficiently on this matter," murmured
Blucher to himself--"Voelzke," he then cried aloud, "you pledge me
your word of honor that you can cure me?"
"I swear it to your excellency by all that is sacred that, if you
take care of yourself, and comply with my prescriptions, you will be
cured in the course of two weeks."
"Well," said Blucher, after a short reflection, "in that case I will
yield, and stay."
"Heaven be praised, your excellency!" cried Gneisenau, tenderly
embracing Blucher, "you are still my noble field-marshal, who will
not desert his army, his fatherland, and his friends, for the sake
of his individual comfort."
"Yes, I will stay," said Blucher; "but as I have to obey the grim
doctor there, and submit to his treatment thoroughly, as a matter of
course I cannot work and make the necessary dispositions, but leave
this to my head--to Gneisenau alone. I lend you my name for two
weeks, and know that you will make good use of it. But if at the end
of that time, doctor, I am not yet well, then, beware! May the Lord
have mercy on your soul! for you will certainly get yourself into
"Your excellency," cried a loud voice outside, at this moment--"your
excellency, are you not coming at all?" The door of the anteroom was
violently thrust open, and the pipe-master appeared on the
threshold. "It is past eight o'clock," he exclaimed, "and--" He
paused on perceiving the two gentlemen, and was about to retire very
"Come here, pipe-master," exclaimed Blucher, "come here and look at
me. Now tell me, pipe-master, have you been a chatterbox, after all,
and told these two gentlemen what was the object of our airing?"
"No, your excellency; I have not uttered a word about it to any
one," replied the pipe-master, solemnly. "I have been as dumb as a
fish; only in secret have I complained of my distress; and, when
that did not relieve me, and I still felt as though my heart would
burst, I did what I have learned to do from the field-marshal: I
went to my room, closed the door, and swore in the most fearful
manner! That relieved my heart, and I proceeded to do all your
excellency charged me with."
"First, therefore, you had to swear?" asked Blucher, drawing his
long mustache through his fingers. "You were, then, greatly
dissatisfied with my departure?"
"I did not conceal it from your excellency. I told you honestly that
you would no longer be called Marshal Forward if you retreated."
"Yes, retreat--that is just what he said," exclaimed Blucher,
laughing, and turning again toward the two gentlemen; "and when I
told him I would leave the army and set out for Brussels he remarked
that it was a secret flight."
"The pipe-master is an honest man, who loves his master," said
Gneisenau, kindly smiling on him. "I have often and urgently begged
him to-day to announce me to the field-marshal; but he persisted in
replying that he was not allowed to do so, and that he was ordered
to admit no one."
"And I would have given my little-finger, if I could have admitted
General Gneisenau, and Dr. Voelzke, too; for I knew that, as soon as
they would be with the field-marshal, his departure would not be
very soon. As they are here now--though I do not know how they got
here so unexpectedly--I suppose, field-marshal, we shall not set
out, and I may send the horses back to the stable?"
"Yes, you may," said Blucher. "But wait, Christian, do not go yet; I
have first to say a few words to these gentlemen, and you may
listen. I will stay here, then, but on one condition. Will you
"Yes, your excellency," cried Gneisenau and Voelzke at the same
"Well, tell me, then, how did you discover that I intended to start
to-day, the pipe-master having said nothing about it to you? For I
shall never believe that both of you could happen to come to me at
so unusual an hour, and without any reason. Reply--who told you that
I was about to leave?"
"You yourself, your excellency," said Surgeon-General Voelzke.
"What, I! What nonsense is this!" cried Blucher, laughing.
"Yes, I heard it from yourself. Do you not remember that you heard a
mouse rustle in your alcove?"
"To be sure, I did; I heard it twice."
"Well, then, the mouse was myself! I discovered a small secret side-
door in your room, and desired to know whither it led. I therefore
thrust it open, and was in your alcove; just as I entered I heard
your voice, saying, 'It is settled, then, Christian, I shall set out
for Brussels to-night, but no one must know a word about it!' Your
excellency, I confess my crime: I stood and listened; only when the
pipe-master left your room did I softly creep away, too, and hasten
to General Gneisenau to inform him of what I had heard."
"Let us examine the alcove more carefully, pipe-master," said
Blucher, "and see whether there is not somewhere else a secret door.
Well, you may go now, Hennemann, and send the horses back to the
"Heaven be praised!" exclaimed Christian, hastening out of the room.
But scarcely had he closed the door, when he thrust it open again.
"Field-marshal," he said, "General von Pietrowitch, adjutant of the
Emperor of Russia, wishes to see your excellency immediately."
"Come in, general," exclaimed Blucher; and offering his hand to the
officer, he asked hastily, "tell me, in the first place, general,
whether you bring good or bad news?"
"I believe I bring what Marshal Forward would call good news," said
the general, smiling. "I come as a messenger from the emperor my
master, and the king your master, and am commissioned to inform you
of the determination taken at headquarters, and to obtain your
consent and cooperation."
"Is it a secret mission?" asked Gneisenau.
"On the contrary, the whole army will have to hear it tonight," said
the general. "My first news, then, is, that the congress of
Chatillou was dissolved on the 19th of March."
"Without leading to any results?" asked Blucher, breathlessly.
"Without agreeing on a treaty of peace, or an armistice?"
"Nothing of the kind, your excellency. The congress has had an
entirely opposite result--the speedy and energetic prosecution of
the war. All the diplomatists, and the Emperor Francis with them,
after the dissolution of the congress, retired southward to Dijon."
"And Schwartzenberg?" cried Blucher.
"Prince Schwartzenberg remained, and held a council of war with the
monarchs yesterday near Vitry. The result of this I am commissioned
to communicate to you. The resumption of the offensive against Paris
has been decided upon. Prince Schwartzenberg agrees with the
sovereigns that Paris is the decisive point, and that it is all-
important for us to cut off Napoleon from the capital, and take the
city before he is able to reach it. Prince Schwartzenberg,
therefore, sends word to your excellency that from this day all his
standards are turned toward Paris, and that the army of Bohemia is
marching in three columns. To-night they encamp at Fere Champeuoise,
where the headquarters of the allies are to be. Now, Prince
Schwartzenberg invites you to participate with the Silesian army in
this advance, starting at once, and advancing by the road of
Montmirail and La Ferte-sous-Jonarre, and then form a connection
with the army of Bohemia." [Footnote: Beitzke, vol. iii., p. 431.]
"Yes, I shall certainly do so," joyfully cried Blucher. "Hurrah!
This is good news; now the word is not only with us, but everywhere,
'Forward!' Tell their majesties, and, above all, Prince
Schwartzenberg, that they have made me very happy, and have
performed a truly miraculous cure. I was sick and desponding; now,
since you have come, I am again well and in good spirits. I feel no
longer any pain, and my eyes will be all right again, now that they
know that they are to see the city of Paris. I thought that it would
come to this--that my brave brother Schwartzenberg would at length
agree with me. We shall soon now put an end to the war. Bonaparte
must be dethroned, and that speedily." [Footnote: Blucher's own
words.--Vide Varnhagen von Ense, "Blucher," p. 375.]
ON TO PARIS!
Napoleon's courage was not yet paralyzed; he had not yet given up
the struggle. His indomitable heart was still wrestling with
adversity, and hoping that he would be able to overcome it. It is
true, the disastrous battle of Bar-sur-Aube, where the army of
Bohemia had gained a victory on the 20th of March, had greatly
weighed him down; but a few days sufficed to restore his
determination and energy. On the 26th, when he arrived with his army
at St. Dizier, he had already devised new plans, and was again
resolved to give battle to the allies. "We are still strong," he
said to Caulaincourt, who had just joined him at St. Dizier. "We
have upward of fifty thousand men here. I have issued orders to
Marshals Marmont and Victor, as well as to all reinforcements that
are on the road from Paris, to join our army. When they arrive, my
forces will be eighty thousand, and the allies will not dare march
on Paris, where they will find me. If I can now induce them to
hesitate, and retard their operations a short time, by drawing
reinforcements from the neighboring fortresses of the Meuse and the
Moselle, I shall increase my army to upward of one hundred thousand,
and it will then be easy for me to delay the progress of the enemy
by constantly renewed attacks, and thus prolong the war."
"But I am afraid, sire, you labor under a delusion as to one point:
that it is still possible for you to delay the progress of the
allies by any means whatever," sighed Caulaincourt. "I have examined
every thing on my trip to your majesty's headquarters; I have
conversed with every prisoner fallen into the hands of our troops,
and I do not believe that the army of Bohemia is in the rear of your
majesty, but that it has outstripped you, and is already on the road
Napoleon shrugged his shoulders and stepped to the door, which he
opened, shouting, "The mayor of St. Dizier!" The corpulent form of
the mayor, who greeted the emperor with awkward obeisances, appeared
immediately. "Pray repeat your statements," said the emperor, "The
enemy's troops were here yesterday, were they not?"
"They were, sire; all St. Dizier was occupied by them. It was
General Winzingerode, with the soldiers of the allies. They stated
that they were the vanguard of the principal army. General
Winzingerode inspected all the large houses in the city, and
reserved the best, adding that the Emperor of Russia and the King of
Prussia would arrive here tomorrow, and take up their quarters at
those houses; [Footnote: This was a stratagem, resorted to by
Winzingerode, in order to mislead Napoleon as to the march of the
allies.] but when the approach of your majesty was reported, the
enemy quickly left the city."
"Very well; you may go," said Napoleon, motioning to the mayor to
leave the room.--"Well, Caulaincourt, have you satisfied yourself
now? Do you see now that the allies are not in our front, but still
in our rear?"
"Sire, suppose it were a delusion, after all?" sighed Caulaincourt:
"Suppose the allies had devised this stratagem, to mislead your
majesty?--if none but Winzingerode's corps follow us, while the
principal army is hastening toward Paris by different routes? Oh, I
implore your majesty, do not suffer your keen eyes to be blinded by
false hopes! Look around and examine the evidences that confirm my
views, All the prisoners report that the armies of Bohemia and
Silesia have united, and are now marching on Paris. Besides, on our
way from Bar-sur-Aube to this place, we have nowhere met with large
columns of troops, and nothing whatever indicates the approach of
the enemy in force."
"Well," cried Napoleon, vehemently, "if we have not met with the
enemy's forces, it may be because they are in full retreat toward
Lorraine, and that they are at last tired of carrying on a fruitless
struggle with me." [Footnote: Fain, "Manuscrit de 18l4," p. 142.]
"Ah, your majesty still thinks that you are opposed only by the
timid and desponding enemies of former times!" said Caulaincourt,
sighing; "but this is a mistake, which will prove disastrous."
"Ah!" cried Napoleon, vehemently, "you dare tell me that?"
"Sire," said Caulaincourt, calmly, "it is my duty to tell you the
truth, and you are in duty bound to listen to it. [Footnote:
Caulaincourt's words,--"Memoires d'un Homme d'Etat," vol. xii., p.
292] Now, the truth is, that the allies are firmly determined to
carry on the war to the last extremity, and that, at the best, they
will leave to your majesty the frontiers of France as they were
under the Bourbons. I venture, therefore, once more to implore your
majesty to make peace; sire, peace at any cost! Perhaps it may be
time yet. Send me once more to the allied monarchs! Tell them that
you will now accept the ultimatum offered us at the congress of
Chatillon, and that you will content yourself with the frontiers of
France, as they were previous to the rise of the empire. Send me
with this declaration to the Emperor Alexander of Russia, who, at
the bottom of his heart, is still your friend!"
"And whose devoted friend you are!" cried Napoleon. "Yes, you are
Alexander's servant, and not mine! You are a thorough Russian!"
"No, sire, I am a Frenchman!" said Caulaincourt, proudly, looking
the emperor full in the face, "and I believe I prove it by imploring
your majesty to give peace to France and save your crown."
"Ah, save my crown!" exclaimed Napoleon. "Who dares, then, threaten
"Sire, the allies and the Bourbons. The former have issued a
proclamation, stating that they come to this country to make war on
the Emperor Napoleon, and not on France; and the Bourbons, who are
now in France, at the headquarters of the allies, have issued
another proclamation, calling upon the nation to return to its duty
and to the allegiance due to its legitimate king."
"I am neither afraid of the allies nor of the Bourbons," said
Napoleon. "The French nation knows no Bourbons; it knows none but
ME, its emperor, and we two shall not break the faith we have
plighted to each other. We shall conquer together. Dare no longer
ask me to accept the ignominious terms of the congress of Chatillon.
It is better to die beneath the ruins of my throne than be at the
mercy of my enemies. The allies are in my rear, and the arrival of
reinforcements will soon enable me to give them battle; I shall win,
and it will be for me to dictate terms. Under the walls of Paris the
grave of the Russians will be dug. My dispositions have been made,
and I shall not fail." [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--Vide Constant,
"Memoires," vol. vi., p. 48.]
Caulaincourt sighed, and gazed with an air of painful astonishment
on the serene face of the emperor. "Sire," he said, solemnly, "I
call Heaven to witness that I have tried my best to incline your
majesty to my prayers! You have refused to listen to me."
"Because I am not at liberty to do so, Caulaincourt; and, besides, I
do not believe in your apprehensions. Suppose that Alexander and
Frederick William should determine to continue the war, there is a
third sovereign who will decide the matter--the Emperor Francis, my
father-in-law, and grand-father of the King of Rome. You see,
therefore, that, though the present prospects were unfavorable to
me, I should at least have nothing to fear from the Bourbons; for
the emperor will not permit his daughter to be robbed of her crown,
nor his grandson of his rightful inheritance."
"Sire," said Caulaincourt, in a low voice, "do not rely too much on
the attachment of the Emperor Francis. I know that, though he is
your father-in-law, he has never forgotten the day when, after the
battle of Austerlitz, he met you as an humble supplicant at your
camp-fire, and begged you to spare him and make peace with him. I
know that that recollection has greater power over him than any
bonds of relationship. I know that Metternich, who is still devoted
to your majesty, vainly tried a few days ago to prevail upon the
Emperor Francis to intercede energetically with the other monarchs
for his son-in-law and daughter, and that he unsuccessfully urged
him to take into consideration the future of his grandson, the King
"And what did the emperor reply?" asked Napoleon, quickly.
"Sire, the emperor replied, in his strong Austrian dialect, 'Do not
always talk to me about the child! I have at home many children of
whom I ought to think first.'" [Footnote: The Emperor Francis said:
"Rodt's mier nit alleweil von dem Kind; bei mier z' Haus hab' ich
gar vielle Kinder, an die ich z'erst denken muess."--Hormayr,
"Lebensbllder," vol. i., p. 98.]
"That is not true; he did not say so!" cried Napoleon.
"Sire, he did; Prince Metternich told me so."
Napoleon paused a moment. A low knocking at the door interrupted his
meditation. One of the adjutants entered, and reported that the
emperor's equerry, Count Saint-Aignan, whom the emperor had
intrusted with a mission, had returned, and requested an audience of
his majesty. The emperor himself hastened to the door, and eagerly
motioned to the count to approach. "Well, Saint-Aignan," he asked,
"what did you find? How is the disposition of the people in the
south of France?"
"Sire," said the count, mournfully, "I bring no news that will
gladden your majesty's heart. Southern France is discontented; the
people are complaining of the duration of the war; they desire peace
at any price, and are disposed to resort to extreme measures in
order to reestablish it."
"What does that mean?" asked the emperor. "I do not understand you;
express yourself more distinctly."
"Well, then, sire, the people there have read the proclamation of
the Bourbons, and think of reinstating them, for the purpose of
putting an end to the war."
"They will not dare to do that," cried Napoleon, casting an angry
glance on Saint-Aignan.
"They have already, sire," said the count. "The city of Bordeaux has
declared for the Bourbons, and the Count d'Artois, as well as the
Duke and Duchess d'Angouleme, have made their entrance into the
"And have been received with enthusiasm by the population!" cried
Napoleon. "Pray, finish your sentence, and tell me so. Add that the
inhabitants of Bordeaux have returned to their duty, and that you,
too, have discovered what your duty is, and that you intend to
return to the legitimate rulers of France! Go! I permit you; I
relieve you of the duties of your office! Go to the Bourbons!"
Count Saint-Aignan did not stir; pallor overspread his cheeks; his
eyes, fixed on the emperor with an indescribable expression of
grief, filled with tears, and his quivering lips were unable to
"Sire," said the Duke de Vicenza, "your majesty does injustice to
the count. You commanded him to give a reliable report of his
mission; he was not at liberty, therefore, to conceal any thing, but
was obliged to tell you the whole truth."
"The truth!" cried Napoleon, violently stamping, "that which you
fear or desire you call the truth! You all see through the colored
spectacles of your anxiety, and would compel me to do so, too; but I
will not; my eyes are open, and see things as they are. Go, Count
Saint-Aignan; your report is finished!" The count, with a sigh,
approached the door, and, slowly walking backward, left the room.
"The Bourbons!" murmured Napoleon to himself; "they shall not dare
to threaten me with this spectre! There are no Bourbons! I am the
Emperor of France, and it is to me alone that the French nation owes
allegiance!" He looked thoughtfully, with a dark and wrinkled
forehead, but, presently lifting his head--"Oh, Caulaincourt," he
exclaimed, "I will personally satisfy myself whether the army of the
allies is really in our rear, or whether your fears are well
grounded. Let us set out for Vitry!"
"Heaven be praised!" replied the Duke de Vicenza, joyfully. "All is
not yet lost; for Vitry is on the road to Paris."
On the following morning the emperor moved with his forces toward
Vitry, and took up his quarters at Marolles, a short distance from
the little fortress. Here at length he was to find out the true
state of affairs. He was met by inhabitants of Fere Champenoise, who
had fled to Marolles, and informed him that Marshals Marmont and
Mortier had suffered decisive defeats at the hands of the allies;
that the divisions of General Pacthod and Aurey had been
annihilated, and that the united armies of Bohemia and Silesia were
in rapid march on Paris.
An expression of terror passed over the face of Napoleon, and his
equanimity seemed to be shaken; but he soon overcame the effect of
this news, calmly remarking, "Well, if the allies are marching on
Paris, we must march too."
"Yes, on to Paris!" cried the marshals. "That is the most important
point in present circumstances, and it can be defended, if the
emperor hasten with his army."
"On to Paris, then!" exclaimed Napoleon. "But we must move with the
speed of the wind!" He appeared to have regained his whole energy;
his eyes beamed again, his face resumed its old determination, and
he issued his orders in a firm and cheerful voice.
It was all-important to defend the emperor's throne at Paris, and to
protect the inheritance of the King of Rome from the allies and the
Bourbons. Forward, then, by forced marches! Napoleon's headquarters
were soon at Montier-en-Der--much nearer the capital. On the 28th of
March he reached Doulerant, when a horseman, covered with dust, pale
and breathless, coming from the direction of the capital, galloped
up to the head of the column. "Where is the emperor?" he cried.
Having been conducted to him, "Sire," he whispered, "I am sent by
the postmaster-general, your faithful Count La Valette, to deliver
The emperor unfolded the paper and read. A slight tremor pervaded
his frame, and his eyes grew gloomier. He cast another glance on the
paper, and then, seizing it with his teeth, he tore it to pieces.
None but himself was to learn the contents of that paper, which
read: "The adherents of the invaders, encouraged by the defection of
Bordeaux, are raising their heads; secret intrigues are helping
them. The emperor's presence is necessary, if he wishes to prevent
his capital from being delivered into the hands of the enemy. We
must march immediately. Not a moment is to be lost." [Footnote:
Fain, "Manuscrit de 1814."]
"Forward!" shouted the emperor. "We must hasten to Paris, and be
there to-morrow!" The emperor, with the cavalry of his guard, headed
the column. His countenance was still calm and impenetrable; but at
times a gleam lit up his sombre eyes, as he moved on in a violent
Another courier galloped up and asked for the emperor. "Announce me
to him. The lieutenant-general of the empire, King Joseph, the
emperor's brother, sends me."
He was conducted to Napoleon, who received him with the words, "News
from my brother in Paris? Give me your dispatch!"
"Sire, I have no dispatch to deliver; dispatches may be lost, or
revealed if their bearer should be arrested; but memory betrays
nothing. I have ridden from Paris in fourteen hours. Here are my
credentials, King Joseph's signet-ring."
"I recognize it. Speak!" By a wave of his hand Napoleon ordered the
marshals to retire, and, bending his head toward his brother's
messenger, he repeated calmly, "Speak!"
"Sire," whispered the messenger, "the king informs your majesty that
the allies are near Paris; that Marshals Marmont and Mortier, though
determined to defend the capital, have no hope of holding their
positions. The king implores your majesty most urgently to leave
nothing undone to hasten to the assistance of your capital."
[Footnote: Fain, "Manuscrit de 1814."]
Having heard this message, the emperor's face was unveiled; it was
quivering with anguish, and his eyes turned to heaven in despair.
"Oh, if I had wings!" he cried, in an outburst of grief; "if I could
be in Paris at this hour!" Then he became silent, and his head sank
on his breast. His generals surrounded him, when he lifted his head
again with drops of sweat on his forehead, but his face resumed its
wonted calmness. "General Dejean," he cried, in a powerful voice,
"ride to Paris as fast as you can. Inform my brother that I am
making a forced march to the capital. Hasten then to Marmont and
Mortier; tell them to resist to the last, and leave nothing untried
in order to hold out but for two days. In that time I shall be in
front of Paris, and it is safe! Marmont is to dispatch a courier to
Prince Schwartzenberg, and inform him that I have sent an envoy to
the Emperor Francis with propositions leading to peace.
Schwartzenberg will hesitate, and we shall gain time. Haste, Dejean,
and remember that the fate of my capital rests with you!"
When General Dejean rode off, Napoleon sought his faithful friend,
the Duke de Vicenza. He was by his side before the emperor had
uttered his name. "Caulaincourt," he said, in a gentle voice, "you
were right. I have lost two days. I might now be in Paris. Fate is
behind me, intent on crushing me, and death itself refuses to take
me! At the battle of Bar-sur-Aube I did all I could to die while
defending my country. I plunged into the thickest of the fight; the
balls tore my clothes, and yet not one of them injured me. I am a
man doomed to live [Footnote: Napoleon's words.--"Vide Bausset's
Memoires," vol. ii., p. 246.]--a man that, for the welfare of his
people, is to subscribe his own humiliation and disgrace!
Caulaincourt, go to the Emperor Francis of Austria. Tell him I
accept the ultimatum which the allies offered me at Chatillon. I
sign the death-warrant of my glory! Hasten! And now, forward! In two
days we must reach Paris!"
DEPARTURE OF MARIA LOUISA.
On the same day, and nearly at the same hour of the 29th of March,
while the emperor was moving with his troops toward Paris, a scene
of an entirely different description took place at the rooms of the
empress, his consort, in the Tuileries. Napoleon, in his despair,
wished for wings to fly to Paris; Maria Louisa, in her anguish,
wished for wings to fly away from Paris; for the enemy was at its
gates, and it was plain that the city must either capitulate or run
the risk of an assault.
As yet Maria Louisa called the allies threatening the throne of her
husband, and the inheritance of her son, her enemies, although her
own father was among them. She deemed herself in duty bound to stand
by her husband, to brave the vicissitudes of fortune jointly with
him, and obey his will. The emperor desired that his consort and his
son should not remain in the city if any danger should menace them.
When the news reached the Tuileries that the allies had arrived at
the walls of Paris, and it became obvious that the corps of Marmont
and Mortier were not strong enough to withstand the armies of the
enemy, King Joseph, the lieutenant of the emperor, summoned the
regent, Maria Louisa, and the council of state, to deliberate on the
grave question whether or not the empress and the King of Rome
should remain, or be withdrawn to a place of safety beyond the
The decision was left with Maria Louisa; but the regent had declared
it was not for her to settle this question; it was for the very
purpose of advising her and guiding her steps that the emperor had
associated the council of state with her. King Joseph produced a
letter from Napoleon of a nature to indicate his wishes. It was
dated Rheims, 15th of March, and read:
"In accordance with the verbal instructions which I have
given, and with the spirit of all my letters, you are in no
event to permit the empress and the King of Rome to fall into
the hands of the enemy. I am about to manoeuvre in such a
manner that you may possibly be several days without hearing
from me. Should the enemy advance upon Paris with such
forces as to render all resistance impossible, send off in the
direction of the Loire the empress, the King of Rome, the
great dignitaries, the ministers, the officers of the senate,
the president of the council of state, the great officers of
the crown, and the treasure. Never quit my son; and keep in
mind that I would rather see him in the Seine than in the
hands of the enemies of France! The fate of Astyanax, a
prisoner in the hands of the Greeks, has always appeared to
me the most deplorable in history."
"Your brother, NAPOLEON."
[Footnote: Baron de Meneval, "Marie Louise et Napoleon," vol. ii.,
This, of course, put an end to all debate. The emperor's precise and
final order, providing for the very case which had occurred, could
not be disregarded, and Maria Louisa accordingly determined to leave
with her son and her suite for Rambouillet. The morning of the 29th
of March was fixed for the departure. The travelling-carriages,
loaded with baggage, stood in the court-yard of the Tuileries; but
Maria Louisa still hesitated. Her travelling-toilet was completed;
her ladies were with her in the reception-room, filled with persons
forming the cortege of the empress. All entered in mournful silence,
and to their bows the empress responded only with a nod. Her eyes,
red with weeping, were fixed on the door; she awaited in suspense
the return of King Joseph, who had left the Tuileries at daybreak,
and had gone to the gates of Paris to reconnoitre the enemy's
position. At first the departure was to have taken place at eight in
the morning; now it was past nine, and King Joseph had not yet
This unexpected delay increased the anxiety. None dared interrupt
the breathless silence reigning in the apartment; only here and
there some one whispered, and, whenever a door opened, all started
and turned anxiously toward it, as if expecting a bearer of sad
tidings. The face of the empress was pale and agitated; her form
trembled; at times she turned toward her ladies, who stood behind
her, and addressed to them some almost inaudible question, not
waiting for a reply, but looking again toward the door, or inclining
her head on her bosom.
Suddenly the door was opened, and on the threshold appeared the
little King of Rome, followed by his governess, Madame de
Montesquieu. The boy's face did not exhibit today its air of
childlike mirth, which usually beamed like sunshine from his
beautiful features. No smile was on his fresh lips, and his lustrous
eyes were dimmed. With a sullen face and without looking at any one,
the child, so intelligent for his years, stepped through the room
directly toward his mother. "Mamma empress," he said, in his silvery
voice, "my 'Quiou says that we are about to leave Paris, and shall
no longer live at the Tuileries. Is that true, mamma?"
"Yes, my son, we must leave," said the empress, in a low voice, "but
we shall return."
"We MUST leave?" inquired the little king. "But my papa once said to
me, the word 'must' is not for me, and I do not want it either, and
I pray my dear mamma not to leave Paris with me."
"But the emperor himself wishes us to leave, Napoleon," said the
empress, sighing, and with some displeasure. "Your papa has ordered
us to depart if the enemy should come."
"The enemy!" cried the boy; "I am not afraid of the enemy. If he,
comes, we do as my papa emperor always does--we beat the enemy, and
then he runs away."
But these words of the brave child, which would have delighted his
father's heart, seemed to make a disagreeable impression upon his
mother. She murmured a few inaudible words, and slightly shrugged
Madame de Montesquiou took the child by the hand, "Come, sire," she
said, in a low voice, "do not disturb her majesty. Come!"
"No, no," cried the boy, violently disengaging himself, "I am sure
you want to carry me down to the carriage, and I tell you I will not
go! Let me stay here with my mother, dear 'Quiou; I do not disturb
her, for you see she is not busy, and she does not want to be alone
either, for there are a great many persons with her. Therefore, I
may stay here, too, may I not, dear mamma empress!"
"Yes, my son, stay here," said the empress, abstractedly, looking
again at the door.
"I am not afraid of the enemy," cried the little king, proudly
throwing back his head. "My papa will soon come and drive him away.
But tell me, mamma, what is the name of the enemy who wants to rob
us of our beautiful palace? What is his name?"
"Hush, Napoleon!" said the empress, almost indignantly; "what good
would it do you to hear what you do not understand?"
"Oh, dear mamma," cried the child, with a triumphant air, "I can
understand very well, for my papa has often played war on the floor
with me, and we have built fortresses. And not long ago, papa
emperor told me, too, that he was going to the army, and he spoke of
his enemies. I remember them very well; they are the Emperor of
Russia--who once kissed my papa's hand, and thanked God that papa
emperor consented to be his friend; the King of Prussia, from whom
my papa could have taken all his states; the crown prince of Sweden,
who learned the art of war from my papa, and is a faithless servant;
and last, the Emperor of Austria. But tell me, mamma, is not he your
father? And did you not tell me that I ought to pray every night for
my grandfather, the Emperor of Austria?"
"I did tell you so, Napoleon," whispered the empress, whose eyes
filled with tears.
The boy looked down for a moment musingly; and then, lifting his
large blue eyes to his mother, "Mamma," he said, "henceforth I shall
never again pray for the Emperor of Austria, for he is now my papa's
enemy, and, therefore, no longer my grandfather. No, no, I shall not
pray for him, but only as my papa likes me to do." And the boy knelt
down, lifting up his hands, and exclaiming in a loud voice, "Good
God, I pray to Thee for France and for my father!"
Expressions of deep emotion were heard in the room. The empress
covered her face with her handkerchief, and wept bitterly. The
little king was still on his knees, with his eyes raised toward
heaven. Suddenly the door at which the empress had looked so long
and anxiously, opened. It was not King Joseph who entered, but the
adjutant of General Clarke, the regent's minister of war.
Approaching the empress, he begged leave to communicate a message
from the minister.
"Speak," said Maria Louisa, hastily, "and loud enough for every one
to hear the news."
"His excellency, the minister of war, has commissioned me to implore
your majesty in his name to leave without a moment's delay. He
believes that every minute increases the danger, and that an hour
hence it might be impossible for you to get away, because your
majesty would then run the risk of falling into the hands of roving
bands of Cossacks. The Russian corps are already near, and we shall
soon hear their cannon thunder at the very gates of Paris."
[Footnote: Meneval, "Marie Louise," vol. II., p. 266.]
"Well, then," said Maria Louisa, with quivering lips, "be it so! Let
us set out."
All felt that the decisive hour was at hand. The empress quickly
advanced a few steps. "Come!" she exclaimed, in feverish agitation.
"Let us set out for Rambouillet!"
Suddenly her son grasped her hand and endeavored to draw her back.
"Dear mamma," he cried, anxiously, "do not go! Rambouillet is an
ugly old castle. Let us not go, but stay here!" [Footnote: The
little king's words. Ibid.]
"It cannot be, my son; we must go!"
But little Napoleon pushed back her hand with a gesture of
indignation. "Well, then, mamma," he said, "go! I will not go. I
will not leave my house! As papa is not here, I am the master! and I
say I WILL not go!" [Footnote: Meneval, "Marie Louise."]
The empress motioned to the equerry on service. "M. de Comisy," she
ordered, "take the prince in your arms and carry him to the
"The prince! I am no prince, I am the King of Rome," cried the boy,
in the most violent anger. "I will not go! I will not leave my
house; I do not want you to betray my dear papa!" [Footnote: The
king's words.--Vide "Memoires du Due de Rovigo," vol. vii., p. 5.]
The empress took no longer any notice of him; M. de Comisy lifted
the crying, struggling boy into his arms. "'Quiou, dear 'Quiou!"
cried the child, "oh, come to my assistance! I will not leave my
"Sire," said Madame de Montesquieu, weeping, "we must leave: the
emperor has ordered us to do so!"
"It is false!" cried the prince, bursting into a flood of tears, and
still trying to disengage himself. "My papa never ordered any such
thing, for he says that one ought never to flee from the enemy. I
will not go, I will not flee!"
"Come, sire; come!" exclaimed M. de Comisy.
"I will not go!" said the boy, and clung to the door. But Madame de
Montesqnion, vainly trying to comfort the prince by gentle words,
disengaged his tiny hands, and M. de Comisy hurried on. The whole
court, the whole travelling cortege thronged, forward, following the
empress and the King of Rome.
Soon the brilliant apartment was empty; but the deserted rooms
echoed the distant cries of the little King of Rome. All his
struggles were in vain. M. de Comisy was not allowed to have pity on
him; the will of the empress had to be fulfilled.
At length the preparations were completed, and all had taken their
seats. The large clock on the tower of the Tuileries struck eleven
as the empress's carriage rolled slowly across the spacious court-
yard. The crying of the little king, who sat by the side of his
mother, was still heard. With them were also the mistress of
ceremonies, the Duchess de Montebello, and the governess. Nine other
carriages followed, decorated with the imperial coat-of-arms, and
numerous baggage-wagons, and the whole train of a brilliant court.
The procession filled the whole length of the court-yard of the
When the carriage of the empress drove through the large iron
enclosure, a small crowd of spectators stood near, and gazed in
mournful silence. Not a hand was raised to salute the fugitives; not
a voice shouted farewell. The sad train passed along, while the
people looked after it, as if the funeral procession of the empire.
The imperial party disappeared among the trees of the Champs
Elysees, and left Paris by the "Gate of Victory."
THE CAPITULATION OF PARIS.
The roar of cannon, which continued all the day long of the 30th of
March, began now to cease; but the great battle which the allies
fought under the walls of Paris with the corps of Marmont and
Mortier, was not finished. Before resorting to a bombardment, and an
assault on the city, conciliation was once more to be tried.
Delegates of the monarchs, therefore, repaired to the marshals, and
requested them to consent to an honorable capitulation.
"This is another instance of our foolish generosity!" growled
Blucher, leaning back in his carriage. "The whole rats'-nest ought
to be demolished; Bonaparte and the French would then have to
submit. But I see already how it will be. The peace will be
unsatisfactory, and our demands will be as modest as possible, lest
we incur the displeasure of the dear French.--Pipe-master, hand me a
short pipe! I must smoke, to stifle my anger."
"Your excellency," said Christian, riding up to the carriage, "you
have promised the surgeon general not to smoke much, and least of
all a short pipe, because the hot smoke is injurious to the eyes.
Your excellency has smoked six pipes to-day!"
"And it seems to me that is very little! What are six pipes for a
general-in-chief, who has to reflect so much as I have to-day? Give
me a pipe, Christian; it is bad enough that I have to sit in such a
monkey-box of a carriage, instead of riding on horseback at the head
of my troops."
"Nevertheless, every thing passed off very well," said Christian,
calmly. "You shouted your orders out of the carriage like a madman,
and the generals and adjutants heard and executed all as if you had
been on horseback among them. In fact, it would have been only