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The Court of the Empress Josephine by Imbert de Saint-Amand

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"Two-thirds of my life is passed, why should I so distress myself about
what remains? The most brilliant fortune does not deserve all the trouble
I take, the pettiness I detect in myself, or the humiliations and shame I
endure; thirty years will destroy those giants of power which can be seen
only by raising the head; we shall disappear, I who am so petty, and those
whom I regard so eagerly, from whom I expected all my greatness. The most
desirable of all blessings is repose, seclusion, a little spot we can call
our own." When La Bruyère expressed himself so bitterly, when he spoke of
the court "which satisfies no one," but "prevents one from being satisfied
anywhere else," of the court, "that country where the joys are visible but
false, and the sorrows hidden, but real," he had before him the brilliant
Palace of Versailles, the unrivalled glory of the Sun King, a monarchy
which thought itself immovable and eternal. What would he say in this
century when dynasties fail like autumn leaves, and it takes much less
than thirty years to destroy the giants of power; when the exile of to-day
repeats to the exile of the morrow the motto of the churchyard: _Hodie
mihi, eras tibi?_ What would this Christian philosopher say at a time when
royal and imperial palaces have been like caravansaries through which
sovereigns have passed like travellers, when their brief resting-places
have been consumed by the blaze of petroleum and are now but a heap of

The study of any court is sure to teach wisdom and indifference to human
glories. In our France of the nineteenth century, fickle as it has been,
inconstant, fertile in revolutions, recantations, and changes of every
sort, this lesson is more impressive than it has been at any period of our
history. Never has Providence shown more clearly the nothingness of this
world's grandeur and magnificence. Never has the saying of Ecclesiastes
been more exactly verified: "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!" We have
before us the task of describing one of the most sumptuous courts that has
ever existed, and of reviewing splendors all the more brilliant for their
brevity. To this court of Napoleon and Josephine, to this majestic court,
resplendent with glory, wealth, and fame, may well be applied Corneille's

"All your happiness
Subject to instability
In a moment falls to the ground,
And as it has the brilliancy of glass
It also has its fragility."

We shall evoke the memory of the dead to revive this vanished court, and
we shall consult, one after another, the persons who were eye-witnesses of
these short-lived wonders. A prefect of the palace, M. de Bausset, wrote:
"When I recall the memorable times of which I have just given a faint
idea, I feel, after so many years, as if I had been taking part in the
gorgeous scenes of the _Arabian Tales_ or of the _Thousand and One
Nights_. The magic picture of all those splendors and glories has
disappeared, and with it all the prestige of ambition and power." One of
the ladies of the palace of the Empress Josephine, Madame de Rémusat, has
expressed the same thought: "I seem to be recalling a dream, but a dream
resembling an Oriental tale, when I describe the lavish luxury of that
period, the disputes for precedence, the claims of rank, the demands of
every one." Yes, in all that there was something dreamlike, and the actors
in that fairy spectacle which is called the Empire, that great show piece,
with its scenery, now brilliant, now terrible, but ever changing, must
have been even more astonished than the spectators. Aix-la-Chapelle and
the court of Charlemagne, the castle of Fontainebleau and the Pope, Notre
Dame and the coronation, the Champ de Mars and the distribution of eagles,
the Cathedral of Milan and the Iron Crown, Genoa the superb and its naval
festival, Austerlitz and the three emperors,--what a setting! what
accessories! what personages! The peal of organs, the intoning of priests,
the applause of the multitude and of the soldiers, the groans of the
dying, the trumpet call, the roll of the drum, ball music, military bands,
the cannon's roar, were the joyful and mournful harmonies heard while the
play went on. What we shall study amid this tumult and agitation is one
woman. We have already studied her as the Viscountess of Beauharnais, as
Citizeness Bonaparte, and as the wife of the First Consul. We shall now
study her in her new part, that of Empress.

Let us go back to May 18, 1804, to the Palace of Saint Cloud. The Emperor
had just been proclaimed by the Senate before the _plébiscite_ which was
to ratify the new state of things. The curtain has risen, the play begins,
and no drama is fuller of contrasts, of incidents, of movement. The
leading actor, Napoleon, was already as familiar with his part as if he
had played it since his childhood. Josephine is also at home in hers. As a
woman of the world, she had learned, by practice in the drawing-room, to
win even greater victories. For a fashionable beauty there is no great
difference between an armchair and a throne. The minor actors are not so
accustomed to their new position. Nothing is more amusing than the
embarrassment of the courtiers when they have to answer the Emperor's
questions. They begin with a blunder; then, in correcting themselves, they
fall into still worse confusion; ten times a minute was repeated, Sire,
General, Your Majesty, Citizen, First Consul. Constant, the Emperor's
valet de chambre, has given us a description of this 18th of May, 1804, a
day devoted to receptions, presentations, interviews, and congratulations:
"Every one," he says, "was filled with joy in the Palace of Saint Cloud;
every one imagined that he had risen a step, like General Bonaparte, who,
from First Consul, had become a monarch. Men were embracing and
complimenting one another; confiding their share of hopes and plans for
the future; there was no official so humble that he was not fired with
ambition." In a word, the ante-chamber, barring the difference of persons,
presented an exact imitation of what was going on in the drawing-room. It
seemed like a first performance which had long been eagerly expected,
arousing the same eager excitement among the players and the public. The
day which had started bright grew dark; for a long time there were
threatenings of a thunder-storm; but none looked on this as an evil omen.
All were inclined to cheery views. The courtiers displayed their zeal with
all the ardor, the passion, the _furia francese_, which is a national
characteristic, and appears on the battle-field as well as in the ante-
chamber. The French fight and flatter with equal enthusiasm.

Amid all these manifestations of devotion and delight, the members of the
Imperial family alone, who should have been the most satisfied, and
certainly the most astonished by their greatness, wore an anxious, almost
a grieved look. They alone appeared discontented with their master. Their
pride knew no bounds; their irritability was extreme. Nothing seemed good
enough, for them. In the way of honors privileges, and when we recall
their father's modest at Ajaccio, it is hard to keep from smiling at the
vanity of these new Princes of the blood. Of Napoleon's four brothers, two
were absent and on bad terms with him: Lucien, on account of his marriage
with Madame Jouberton; Jerome, on account of his marriage with Miss
Paterson. His mother, Madame Letitia Bonaparte, an able woman, who
combined great courage with uncommon good sense, had not lost her head
over the wonderful good fortune of the modern Caesar. Having a
presentiment that all this could not last, she economized from motives of
prudence, not of avarice. While the courtiers were celebrating the
Emperor's new triumphs, she lingered in Rome with her son Lucien, whom she
had followed in his voluntary exile, having pronounced in his favor in his
quarrel with Napoleon. As for Joseph and Louis, who, with their wives, had
been raised to the dignity of Grand Elector and Constable, respectively,
one might think that they were overburdened with wealth and honors, and
would be perfectly satisfied. But not at all! They were indignant that
they were not personally mentioned, in the _plébiscite_, by which their
posterity was appointed to succeed to the French crown. This _plébiscite_
ran thus: "The French people desire the Inheritance of the Imperial
dignity in the direct, natural, or adoptive line of descent from Napoleon
Bonaparte, and in the direct, natural, legitimate line of descent from
Joseph Bonaparte and from Louis Bonaparte, as is determined by the organic
_senatus-consultum_ of the twenty-eighth Floréal, year XII." For the
Emperor's family, these stipulations were the cause of incessant squabbles
and recriminations. Lucien and Jerome regarded their exclusion as an act
of injustice. Joseph and Louis asked indignantly why their descendants
were mentioned when they themselves were excluded. They were very jealous
of Josephine, and of her son, Eugene de Beauharnais, and much annoyed by
the Emperor's reservation of the right of adoption, which threatened them
and held out hopes for Eugene. Louis Bonaparte, indignant with the
slanderous story, according to which his wife, Hortense, had been
Napoleon's mistress, treated her ill, and conceived a dislike for his own
son, who was reported to be that of the Emperor. As for Elisa Bacciochi,
Caroline Murat, and Pauline Borghese, they could not endure the
mortification of being placed below the Empress, their sister-in-law, and
the thought that they had not yet been given the title of Princesses of
the blood, which had been granted to the wife of Joseph and the wife of
Louis, filled them with actual despair.

Madame de Rémusat, who was present at the first Imperial dinner at St.
Cloud, May 18, 1804, describes this curious repast. General Duroc, Grand
Marshal of the Palace, told all the guests in succession of the titles of
Prince and Princess to be given to Joseph and Louis, and their wives, but
not to the Emperor's sisters, or to their husbands. This fatal news
prostrated Elisa, Caroline, and Pauline. When they sat down at table,
Napoleon was good-humored and merry, possibly at heart enjoying the slight
constraint that this novel formality enforced upon his guests. Madame
Murat, when she heard the Emperor saying frequently _Princess_ Louis,
could not hide her mortification or her tears. Every one was embarrassed,
while Napoleon smiled maliciously.

The next day the Emperor went to Paris to hold a grand reception at the
Tuileries, for he was not a man to postpone the enjoyment of the splendor
which his satisfied ambition could draw from his new title. In this
palace, where had ruled the Committee of Public Safety, where the
Convention had sat, whence Robespierre had departed in triumph to preside
over the festival in honor of the Supreme Being, nothing was heard but the
titles of Emperor, Empress, My Lord, Prince, Princess, Imperial Highness,
Most Serene Highness. It was asserted that Bonaparte had cut up the red
caps to make the ribbons of the Legions of Honor. The most fanatical
Revolutionists had become conservative as soon as they had anything to
preserve. The Empire was but a few hours old, and already the new-born
court was alive with the same rivalries, jealousies, and vanities that
fill the courts of the oldest monarchies. It was like Versailles, in the
reign of Louis XIV., in the Gallery of Mirrors, or in the drawing-room of
the Oeil de Boeuf. It would have taken a Dangeau to record, hour by hour,
the minute points of etiquette. The Emperor walked, spoke, thought, acted,
like a monarch of an old line. To nothing does a man so readily adapt
himself as to power. One who has been invested with the highest rank is
sure to imagine himself eternal; to think that he has always held it and
will always keep it. Indeed, how is it possible to escape intoxication by
the fumes of perpetual incense? How can a man tell the truth to himself
when there is no one about him courageous enough to tell it to him? When
the press is muzzled, and public power rests only on general approval,
when there is no slave even to remind the triumphant hero, as in the
ancient ovations, that he is only a man, how is it possible to avoid being
infatuated by one's greatness and not to imagine one's self the absolute
master of one's destiny? The new Caesar met with no resistance. He was to
publish scornfully in the _Moniteur_ the protest of Louis XVIII. against
his accession. He was to be adored both by fierce Revolutionists and by
great lords, by regicides and by Royalists and ecclesiastics. It seemed as
if with him everything began, or rather started anew. "The old world was
submerged," says Chateaubriand; "when the flood of anarchy withdrew,
Napoleon appeared at the beginning of a new world, like those giants
described by profane and sacred history at the beginning of society,
appearing on earth after the Deluge."

The former general of the Revolution enjoyed his situation as absolute
sovereign. He studied the laws of etiquette as closely as he studied the
condition of his troops. He saw that the men of the old régime were more
conversant in the art of flattery, more eager than the new men. As Madame
de Staël says: "Whenever a gentleman of the old court recalled the ancient
etiquette, suggested an additional bow, a certain way at knocking at the
door of an ante-chamber, a ceremonious method of presenting a despatch, of
folding a letter, of concluding it with this or that formula, he greeted
as if he had helped on the happiness of the human race." Napoleon
attached, or pretended to attach, great importance to the thousand
nothings which up the life of courts. He established in the palace the
same discipline as in the camps. Everything became a matter of rule.
Courtiers studied formalities as officers studied the art of war.
Regulations were as closely observed in the drawing-rooms as in the tents.
At the end of a few months Napoleon was to have the most brilliant, the
most rigid court of Europe. At times the whirl of vanities surrounded him
filled with impatience the great central sun, without whom his satellites
would have been nothing. At other times, however, his pride was gratified
by the thought that it was his will, his fancy, which evoked from nothing
all the grandees of the earth. He was not pained at seeing such eagerness
in behalf of trifles that he had invented. He liked to fill his courtiers
with raptures or with despair, by a smile or a frown. He thought his
sisters' ambition childish, but it amused him; and if they had to cry a
little at first, he finally granted them what they wanted.

May 19, after the family dinner, Madame Murat was more and more distressed
at not being a Princess, when she was a Bonaparte by birth, while Madame
Joseph and Madame Louis, one of whom was a Clary, the other a Beauharnais,
bore that title, and burst out into complaints and reproaches. "Why," she
asked of her all-powerful brother, "why condemn me and my sisters to
obscurity, to contempt, while covering strangers with honors and
dignities?" At first these words annoyed Napoleon. "In fact," he
exclaimed, "judging from your pretensions, one would suppose that we
inherited the crown from the late King our father." At the end of the
interview, Madame Murat, not satisfied with crying, fainted away. Napoleon
softened at once, and a few days later there appeared a notification in
the _Moniteur_ that henceforth the Emperor's sisters should be called
Princesses and Imperial Highnesses.

The Empress's Maid of Honor was Madame de La Rochefoucauld; her Lady of
the Bedchamber was Madame de Lavalette. Her Ladies of the Palace, whose
number was soon raised to twelve, and later still more augmented, were at
first only four: Madame de Talhouët, Madame de Luçay, Madame de Lauriston,
and Madame de Rémusat. These ladies, too, aroused the hottest jealousies,
and soon they gave rise to a sort of parody of the questions of vanity
that agitated the Emperor's family. The women who were admitted to the
Empress's intimacy could never console themselves for the privileges
accorded to the Ladies of the Palace.

In essentials all courts are alike. On a greater or smaller scale they are
rank with the same pettinesses, the same chattering gossip, the same
trivial squabbles as the porter's lodge, ante-chambers, and servants'
quarters. If we examine these things from the standpoint of a philosopher,
we shall find but little difference between a steward and a chamberlain,
between a chambermaid and a lady of the palace. We may go further and say
that as soon as they have places and money at their disposal, republicans
have courtesies, as much as monarchs, and everywhere and always there are
to be found people ready to bow low if there is anything on the ground
that they can pick up. Revolutions alter the forms of government, but not
the human heart; afterwards, as before, there exist the same pretensions,
the same prejudices, the same flatteries. The incense may be burned before
a tribune, a dictator, or a Caesar, there are always the same flattering
genuflections, the same cringing.

The new Empire began most brilliantly, but there was no lack of morose
criticism. The Faubourg Saint Germain was for the most part hostile and
scornful. It looked upon the high dignitaries of the Empire and on the
Emperor himself as upstarts, and all the men of the old régime who went
over to him they branded as renegades. The title of "Citizen" was
suppressed and that of "Monsieur" restored, after having been abandoned in
conversation and writing for twelve years. Miot de Mélito tells us in his
Memoirs that at first public opinion was opposed to this change; even
those who at the beginning had shown the greatest repugnance to being
addressed as Citizen, disliked conferring the title of Monsieur upon
Revolutionists and the rabble, and they pretended to address as Citizen
those whom they saw fit to include in this class. Many turned the new
state of affairs to ridicule. The Parisians, always of a malicious humor,
made perpetual puns and epigrams in abundance.

The Faubourg Saint Germain, in spite of a few adhesions from personal
motives, preserved an ironical attitude. General de Ségur, then a captain
under the orders of the Grand Marshal of the Palace, observed that in
1804, with the exception of several obscure nobles, either poor or ruined,
and others already attached to Napoleon's civil and military fortune, many
negotiations and various temptations were required to persuade well-known
persons to appear at the court as it was at first constituted. He goes on:
"As a spectator and confidant of the means employed, I witnessed in those
early days many refusals, and some I had to announce myself. I even heard
many bitter complaints on this subject. I remember that in reply I
mentioned to the Empress my own case, and told her what it had cost me to
enlist under the tricolor, and then to enter the First Consul's military
household. The Empress understood me so well that she made to me a similar
confidence, confessing her own struggles, her almost invincible
repugnance, at the end of 1795, in spite of her feeling for Bonaparte,
before she could make up her mind to marry the man whom at that time she
herself used to call General Vendémiaire."

Although Josephine had become Empress, she remained a Legitimist, and saw
clearly the weak points in the Empire. At the Tuileries, in the chamber of
Marie Antoinette, she felt out of place; she was surprised to have for
Lady of Honor a duchess of an old family, and her sole ambition was to be
pardoned by the Royalists for her elevation, to the highest rank.
Napoleon, too, was much concerned about the Bourbons, in whom he foresaw
his successors, "One of his keenest regrets," wrote Prince Metternich,
"was his inability to invoke legitimacy as the foundation of his power.
Few men have felt more deeply than he the precariousness and fragility of
power when it lacks this foundation, its susceptibility to attack."

After recalling the Emperor's attempt to induce Louis XVIII. to abandon
his claims to the throne, Prince Metternich goes on: "In speaking to me of
this matter, Napoleon said: 'His reply was noble, full of noble
traditions. In those Legitimists there is something outside of mere
intellectual force.'" The Emperor, who, at the beginning of his career,
displayed such intense Republican enthusiasm, was by nature essentially a
lover of authority and of the monarchy. He would have liked to be a
sovereign of the old stamp. His pleasure in surrounding himself with
members of the old aristocracy attests the aristocratic instincts of the
so-called crowned apostle of democracy. The few Republicans who remained
faithful to the principles were indignant with these tendencies; it was
with grief that they saw the reappearance of the throne; and thus, from
different motives the unreconciled Jacobins and the men of Coblentz who
had not joined the court, showed the same feeling of bitterness and of
hostility to the Empire.

The trial of General Moreau made clear the germs of opposition which
existed in a latent condition. It is difficult to form an idea of the
enormous throng that blocked all the approaches to the Palace of Justice
the day the trial opened, and continued to crowd them during the twelve
days that the trial lasted, which was as interesting to Royalists as to
Republicans. The most fashionable people of Paris made a point of being
present. Sentence was pronounced June 10. Georges Cadoudal and nineteen of
the accused, among whom were M. Armand de Polignac, and M. de Rivière,
were condemned to death.

To the Emperor's great surprise, Moreau was sentenced to only two years of
prison. This penalty was remitted, and he was allowed to betake himself to
the United States. To facilitate his establishing himself there, the
Emperor bought his house in the rue d'Anjou Saint Honoré, paying for it
eight hundred thousand francs, much more than it was worth, and then he
gave it to Bernadotte, who did not scruple to accept it. The sum was paid
to Moreau out of the secret fund of the police before he left for Cadiz.
Josephine's urgent solicitations saved the life of the Duke Armand de
Polignac, whose death-sentence was commuted to four years' imprisonment
before being transported. Madame Murat secured a modification of the
sentence of the Marquis de Rivière; and these two acts of leniency, to
which great publicity was given, were of great service in diminishing the
irritation of the Royalists. After Moreau's trial, the opposition, having
become discouraged, and conscious of its weakness, laid down its arms, at
least for a time. Napoleon was everywhere master.

The Republic was forgotten. Its name still appeared on the coins: "French
Republic, Napoleon, Emperor"; but it survived as a mere ghost.
Nevertheless, the Emperor was anxious to celebrate in 1804 the Republican
festival of July 14; but the object of this festival was so modified that
it would have been hard to see in it the anniversary of the taking of the
Bastille and of the first federation. In the celebration, not a single
word was said about these two events. The official eulogy of the
Revolution was replaced by a formal distribution of crosses of the Legion
of Honor.

This was the first time that the Emperor and Empress appeared in public in
full pomp. It was also the first time that they availed themselves of the
privilege of driving through the broad road of the garden of the
Tuileries. Accompanied by a magnificent procession, they went in great
splendor to the Invalides, which the Revolution had turned into a Temple
of Mars, and the Empire had turned again to a Catholic Church. At the door
they were received by the Governor and M. de Ségur, Grand Master of
Ceremonies, and at the entrance to the church by the Cardinal du Belloy at
the head of numerous priests. Napoleon and Josephine listened attentively
to the mass; then, after a speech was uttered by the Grand Chancellor of
the Legion of Honor, M. de Lacépède, the Emperor recited the form of the
oath; at the end of which all the members of the Legion shouted "I swear."
This sight aroused the enthusiasm of the crowd, and the applause was loud.
In the middle of the ceremony, Napoleon called up to him Cardinal Caprara,
who had taken a very important part in the negotiations concerning the
Concordat, and was soon to help to persuade the Pope to come to Paris for
the coronation. The Emperor took from his own neck the ribbon of the
Legion of Honor, and gave it to the worthy and aged prelate. Then the
knights of the new order passed in line before the Imperial throne, while
a man of the people, wearing a blouse, took his station on the steps of
the throne. This excited some surprise, and he was asked what he wanted;
he took out his appointment to the Legion. The Emperor at once called him
up, and gave him the cross with the usual kiss.

The Empress's beauty made a great impression, as we learn from Madame de
Rémusat, who generally prejudiced against her, but on this occasion was
forced to recognize that Josephine, by her tasteful and careful dressing,
succeeded in appearing young and charming amid the many young and pretty
women by whom she was for the first time surrounded. "She stood there,"
Madame de Rémusat goes on, "in the full light of the setting sun, wearing
a dress of pink tulle, adorned with silver stars, cut very low after the
fashion of the time, and crowned by a great many diamond clusters; and
this fresh and brilliant dress, her graceful bearing, her delightful
smile, her gentle expression produced such an effect that I heard a number
of persons who had been present at the ceremony say that she effaced all
her suite." Three days later the Emperor started for the camp at Boulogne.

In spite of the enthusiasm of the people and the army, one thing became
clear to every thoughtful observer, and that was that the new régime,
lacking strength to resist misfortunes, must have perpetual success in
order to live. Napoleon was condemned, by the form of his government, not
merely to succeed, but to dazzle, to astonish, to subjugate. His Empire
required extraordinary magnificence, prodigious effects, Babylonian
festivities, gigantic adventures, colossal victories. His Imperial
escutcheon, to escape contempt, needed rich coats of gilding, and demanded
glory to make up for the lack of antiquity. In order to make himself
acceptable to the European, monarchs, his new brothers, and to remove the
memory of the venerable titles of the Bourbons, this former officer of the
armies of Louis XVI., the former second-lieutenant of artillery, who had
suddenly become a Caesar, a Charlemagne, could make this sudden and
strange transformation comprehensible only through unprecedented fame and
splendor. He desired to have a feudal, majestic court, surrounded by all
the pomp and ceremony of the Middle Ages. He saw how hard was the part he
had to play, and he knew very well how much a nation needs glory to make
it forget liberty. Hence a perpetual effort to make every day outshine the
one before, and first to equal, then to surpass, the splendors of the
oldest and most famous dynasties. This insatiable thirst for action and
for renown was to be the source of Napoleon's strength and also of his
weakness. But only a few clear-sighted men made these reflections when the
Empire began. The masses, with their easy optimism, looked upon the new
Emperor as an infallibly impeccable being, and thought that since he had
not yet been beaten, he was invincible. Josephine indulged in no such
illusions; she knew the defects in her husband's character, and dreaded
the future for him as well as for herself. Singularly enough for one so
surrounded by flatteries, in her whole life her head was never for a
moment turned by pride or infatuation.



Before having himself crowned by the Pope, after the example of
Charlemagne, Napoleon was anxious to go to meditate at the tomb of the
great Carlovingian Emperor, of whom he regarded himself as the worthy
successor. A journey on the banks of the Rhine, a triumphal tour in the
famous German cities which the France of the Revolution had been so proud
to conquer, seemed to the new sovereign a fitting prologue to the pomp of
the coronation. Napoleon was desirous of impressing the imaginations of
people in his new Empire and in the old Empire of Germany. He wished the
trumpets of fame to sound in his honor on both banks of the famous and
disputed river.

The Empress, who had gone to Aix-la-Chapelle to take the waters, arrived
there a few days before her husband. Napoleon wrote to her, August 6,

"MY DEAR: I have been here at Calais since midnight; I am thinking of
leaving this evening for Dunkirk. I am satisfied with what I see, and I am
tolerably well. I hope that you will get as much good from the waters as I
get from going about and from seeing the camps and the sea. Eugene has
left for Blois. Hortense is well. Louis is at Plombières. I am very
anxious to see you. You are always essential to my happiness. A thousand
kind messages."

The Emperor wrote again from Ostend, August 14, 1804:--

"MY DEAR: I have not heard from you for several days, though I should have
been glad to hear that the waters have done you good and how you pass your
time. I have been here a week. Day after to-morrow I shall be at Boulogne
for a tolerably brilliant festival. Send me word by the messenger what you
mean to do, and when you shall have finished your baths. I am much
satisfied with the army and the fleet. Eugene is still at Blois. I hear no
more about Hortense than if she were at the Congo. I am writing to scold
her. Many kind wishes for all."

Napoleon reached Aix-la-Chapelle September 3. The Emperor Francis had, on
the 10th of August, assumed the Imperial title accorded to his house, of
Emperor-elect of Germany, Hereditary Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia
and Hungary. He had then given orders to M. de Cobentzel to go to Aix-la-
Chapelle to present his credentials to Napoleon. Napoleon received the
Austrian diplomatist very kindly, and was soon surrounded by a multitude
of foreign ambassadors who came to pay their respects. He re-established
the annual honors long before paid to the memory of Charlemagne, went down
into the vault, and gave the priests of the Cathedral convincing proofs of
his munificence. The Empress was shown a piece of the true cross which the
Carlovingian Emperor had long worn on his breast as a talisman. She was
offered a holy relic, almost the whole arm of that hero, but she declined
it, saying that she did not wish to deprive Aix-la-Chapelle of so precious
a memorial, especially when she had the arm of a man as great as
Charlemagne to support her.

From Aix-la-Chapelle, Napoleon and Josephine went to Cologne, then to
Coblentz, then to Mayence, travelling separately. The Emperor left Cologne
September 16 at four in the afternoon, and reached Bonn a little before
nightfall, to start again the next morning. The town pleased her very
much, and she was sorry she could not remain there longer. She stayed at a
fine house with a garden opening on a terrace that looked out over the
Rhine. After supper she walked on the terrace. The delight of the people
assembled below, the peacefulness of the night, and the beauty of the
river in the moonlight, made the evening most enjoyable. At four the next
morning the Empress started off again in her travelling carriage, and at
ten she entered Coblentz. The Emperor did not get there until six in the
evening, having left Cologne the same day. At Bonn he got on horseback to
examine for himself everything that demanded close inspection. From
Coblentz, where a ball was given them, Napoleon and Josephine went to
Mayence, each by a different route. The Emperor followed the highway on
the edge of the Rhine; the Empress ascended the river in a yacht which the
Prince of Nassau Weilburg had placed at her disposal. It was a picturesque

The morning mist soon cleared away. Josephine, who had breakfast served on
deck, admired the many charming scenes between Boppard and Bacharach, the
fertile fields, the towns perched on the steep banks; in the distance, the
mountains covered with forests; then the narrowing river, the bounded
view, the cliffs crowded together, where nothing can be seen but the
river, the sky, and the crags crowned by the mirrored towns of mediaeval
castles. The light boat, as it glided smoothly over the stream, with its
gilded Neptune at the bow, recalled Cleopatra's barge. At times the
silence was profound, then the church-bells would be heard, as well as the
cheers of the peasants on the river-banks. The pettiest villages had sent
guards of honor, had hoisted flags, and raised triumphal arches. Curiously
enough, the right bank, which did not belong to France, seemed to display
quite as much zeal and enthusiasm as the left bank, the French one; on
both sides were the same shouts of welcome, the same demonstrations, the
same salutes. When she reached Saint Goar, on the left bank, the Empress
saw the authorities of the town coming out to meet her, with military
music, in boats decorated with branches of trees; and on the other side of
the river, on the terrace of the castle of Hesse Rheinfels, the Hessian
garrison was presenting arms, and their salutes joined with those of the
inhabitants of Saint Goar, Further on, they shouted through a speaking-
trumpet to hear the famous echo of the Lorelei, with its wonderfully
distinct and frequent repetitions. Then they passed the fantastic castle
of the Palatinate, built in the middle of the stream, and in old times the
refuge of the Countesses Palatine, where their children were born and kept
in security during their babyhood. The Empress landed at Bingen, where she
spent the night, starting again the next morning. Towards three in the
afternoon she reached Mayence, where twelve young girls belonging to the
best families of the city were awaiting her. Almost simultaneously, the
cannon at the other gate announced the Emperor's arrival.

On his way, Napoleon had noticed on an island in the Rhine, at the very
extremity of the French Empire, the convent of Rolandswerth. He was told
that the nuns who lived there had refused to leave it during the last war,
that very often the cannon-balls of the contending armies had often fallen
on the island without damaging the convent where those holy women were
praying. The Emperor became interested in their fate, and made over to
them the forty or fifty acres of which the little island consisted.

On their arrival at Mayence, September 21, Napoleon Josephine were most
warmly greeted. In the evening all the streets and public buildings were
illuminated. The Prince Archchancellor of the Germanic Empire, who owed to
the French sovereign the preservation of his wealth and of his title,
desired to pay his respects. The Emperor was surrounded by a real court of
German Princes. The Princess of the House of Hesse, the Duke and Duchess
of Bavaria, the Elector of Baden, who was more than seventy-five years
old, and had come with his son and grandson, appeared as if vassals of the
new Charlemagne, the second Théâtre Français had been summoned from Paris,
and played before this public of Highnesses. Every one was struck by the
celerity with which this crowned soldier had acquired the appearance of a
sovereign belonging to an old line, while he still preserved the language
and appearance of a soldier. One day he asked the hereditary Prince of
Baden: "What did you do yesterday?" The young Prince replied with some
embarrassment that he had strolled about the streets. "You did very
wrong," said Napoleon. "What you ought to have done was to visit the
fortifications and inspect them carefully. How can you tell? Perhaps some
day you will have to besiege Mayence. Who would have told me when I was a
simple artillery officer walking about Toulon that I should be destined to
take that city?" It was at Mayence that the treasures unjustly extorted
from the German Princes were restored to them. It was at Mayence that
Gutenberg's name for the first time received formal homage.

General de Ségur, In his Memoirs, narrates an anecdote about Napoleon's
stay in this old German city. The Emperor had gone incognito and without
escort to an island in the Rhine, not far from the town. As he was walking
in this almost deserted island, he noticed a wretched hut in which a poor
woman was lamenting that her son had been drafted. "Console yourself,"
said Napoleon, without letting her know who he was, and giving her an
assumed name: "Come to Mayence to-morrow and ask for me; I have some
influence with the ministers and I will try to help you." The poor woman
appeared punctually. With delight and surprise she saw that the stranger
was the Emperor of the French. Napoleon delighted to tell her that her
house which had been destroyed by the war should be rebuilt, that he would
give her a little herd and several acres of land, and that her son should
be restored to her.

A letter in the _Moniteur_ thus described the departure of Napoleon and
Josephine: "Mayence, 11 Vendémiaire (October 3). The Empress left
yesterday for Paris, by way of Saverne and Nancy. The Emperor is just
leaving; he means to visit Frankenthal, Kaiserslanten, and Kreutznach;
then he will take the road to Trèves. The stay of Their Majesties has been
for us a source of lasting pleasure and advantage. The most important
interests of our department have been favorably regulated. We have nothing
now to wish for except an opportunity to show our gratitude, our devotion,
and our fidelity, and the sincerity of the good wishes our citizens
expressed by their unanimous cheers. The Electors, the Princes, and the
many distinguished strangers who have given our city the appearance of a
great capital, are now taking their departure."

This journey on the banks of the Rhine made a deep impression in France
and throughout Europe. It must be confessed that no one has ever equalled
the Emperor in the art of keeping himself picturesquely before the public.
Napoleon in the crypt at Aix-la-Chapelle, face to face with the shade of
Charlemagne is a subject to inspire a painter or a poet! At Brussels, in
the church of Saint Gudule, Napoleon evoked the memory of Charles V.; at
Aix-la-Chapelle in the Cathedral vault he questioned the shade of
Charlemagne. And as he meditated on the tomb of the Carlovingian hero, so
now do monarchs on their way through Paris meditate in their turn over his
tomb beneath the gilded dome of the Invalides. They go down into the
crypt, look at the porch upheld by twelve great statues of white marble,
each one commemorating a victory, at the mosaic pavement representing a
huge crown with fillets, the sarcophagus of red granite from Finland,
placed on a foundation of green granite from the Vosges. Then they enter
the subterranean chamber, the black marble sanctuary, which contains,
among numerous relics, the sword that Napoleon carried at Austerlitz, the
decorations he wore on his uniform, the gold crown voted him by the city
of Cherbourg, and finally sixty flags won in his victories. The church of
the Invalides Inspires the same thoughts as the Cathedral of
Aix-la-Chapelle. In the two temples kings and great men may make the same
reflection about glory, about death, about the handful of dust which is
all that is left of heroes.



The time for the coronation was drawing near. Napoleon, who had already
received the official recognition of foreign powers, was anxious to have
his Imperial title consecrated by a great religious ceremony, the fame of
which should resound throughout the whole Catholic world. The first date
proposed for the solemnity was the 26th Messidor, Year XII. (July 14,
1804), then that of the 18th Brumaire, Year XIII. (Nov. 9, 1804). But the
choice in each case was unfortunate. It was hard to combine the memory of
the taking of the Bastille with the coronation of a sovereign, and the
18th Brumaire would have recalled the regrets of Republicans and the
services of Lucien Bonaparte, who, after being the main aid of his
brother's fortune, was living at Rome, in disgrace and exile. On the other
hand, the Pope's hesitation, for it was with the greatest difficulty that
he could make up his mind to go to Paris, had further postponed the date,
which was at last fixed for the beginning of December.

Josephine awaited with impatience and fear an event on which, she felt,
her future fate depended. The Pope, that mysterious and holy person, had
started. Was he to prove her saviour? Was she to be a repudiated wife or a
crowned Empress? The clergy were untiring in their laudations of
Napoleon's glory. Bishops, in their charges, spoke of him as God's elect.
One prelate, speaking of the Empire, had said: "One God and one monarch!
As the God of the Christians is the only one deserving to be adored and
obeyed, you, Napoleon, are the only man worthy to rule the French!"
Another had said: "Napoleon, whom God called from the deserts of Egypt,
like another Moses, will bring peace between the wise Empire of France and
the divine Empire of Christ. The finger of God is here. Let us pray the
Most High to protect with his powerful hand the man he has chosen. May the
new Augustus live and rule forever! Submission is his due because he is
ordered by Providence!" Yet in spite of these extravagant outbursts which
came from every pulpit in the whole French Empire, this restorer of the
altars, this saviour of religion was married only by civil right! From the
ecclesiastic point of view, he was living in concubinage. He had had his
brother Louis's marriage with Hortense de Beauharnais, and his sister
Caroline's with Murat blessed by Cardinal Caprara, but in spite of
Josephine's entreaties, he had denied her this pious satisfaction. It was
on the Pope that the Empress put all her hope; she thought that he would
take pity on her, and by bringing her into conformity with the rules of
the church, would put an end to a condition of things humiliating to her
as a sovereign, and painful to her as a Catholic.

At the same time Josephine was anxiously wondering whether she was to be
crowned. Her brothers-in-law became more venomous in their intrigues
against her, and desired not only that she be excluded from any part in
the coronation, but also that she should be condemned to divorce on the
pretext of barrenness. Joseph Bonaparte was never tired of saying that
Napoleon ought to marry some foreign Princess, or at least some daughter
of an old French family, and he skilfully laid stress on his own
unselfishness in urging a plan which would necessarily remove himself and
his descendants from the line of inheritance. The Emperor's sisters showed
the same hostility towards Josephine, whom they hated, although she well
deserved their love. Since Napoleon maintained an absolute silence about
his intentions concerning the coronation, the Bonapartes already imagined
that she was going to be divorced, and hence exhibited an untimely delight
which displeased the Emperor and brought him closer to his wife. At last,
tired with family bickerings, he suddenly put an end to them and filled
Josephine with joy by telling her that she was to be crowned at Notre

The reader should turn to the curious account in Miot de Mélito's Memoirs
of the council held at Saint Cloud, November 17, 1804, to arrange the
formalities of the coronation. Of Napoleon's four brothers, two were in
disgrace, Lucien and Jerome, and they were not to be present at the
ceremony. As for Joseph and Louis, it was decided that they should appear,
not as Princes of the blood, but only as high dignitaries of the Empire.
Joseph, it will be remembered, was Grand Elector, and Louis was Constable.

This decision once taken, Joseph said in the council of November 17:
"Since it has been recognized that, with the exception of the Head of the
State, no one else, whatever his rank, can be regarded as partaking the
honors of sovereignty, and that we especially are not treated as Princes,
but only as high dignitaries, it would not be right that our wives, who
henceforth are only wives of high dignitaries, should as Princesses carry
the train of the Empress's robe, which consequently must be carried by
Ladies of Honor or of the Palace." This remark displeased the Emperor, and
many members of the council cited many examples to refute it, notably that
of Maria de' Medici. Joseph, who had foreseen their arguments, displayed
unexpected erudition: "Maria de' Medici," he said, "was accompanied only
by Queen Margaret, the first wife of Henri IV., and by Madame (Catherine
of Bourbon), the King's sister. The train was carried by a very distant
relative. Queen Margaret had, indeed, offered a fine example of generosity
by being present at the coronation of the woman who took her place and
who, more fortunate than herself, had borne heirs to Henri IV. But she was
not asked to carry the train of Maria de' Medici, and yet Maria de' Medici
had a right to every honor, because she was a mother." This very
transparent allusion to Josephine's barrenness so exasperated Napoleon
that he arose suddenly from his chair and addressed his brother with the
intensest bitterness and violence. After the meeting Joseph proposed to
his brother retiring to Germany. Napoleon relented and, November 27, he
said to his brother: "I have given a great deal of thought to the
difference that has arisen between you and me, and I will confess that
during the six days that this quarrel has lasted, I have not had a
moment's peace. I have even lost my sleep over it, and you are the only
person who has this power over me; I know nothing that disturbs me to this
degree. This influence comes from my old affection for you and from my
recollection of what you did for me in my boyhood, and I am much more
dependent than you think on feelings of that sort.... Take your position
in an hereditary monarchy and be the first of my subjects. That is a fine
enough position, to be the second man in France, perhaps in Europe....
Comply with my wishes; follow my ideas; do not flatter the patriots when I
drive them away; do not oppose the nobles when I summon them; form your
household according to the principles that have guided me. In a word, be a
Prince, and do not disturb yourself about the importance of the title."

Joseph at last yielded, and promised that his wife should conform without
a murmur to the ceremonies established for the coronation. Only this
concession was made to their susceptibilities: that in the rules the
phrase, _bear the cloak_ was substituted for _carry the train_, "for," as
Miot de Mélito says, "Vanity will clutch at a straw."

As for Madame Bonaparte, Napoleon's mother, she persisted in remaining at
Rome with Lucien. In spite of frequent messages from Paris, she was not to
get there until some days after the coronation, a fact which did not
prevent her appearing in the great picture commemorating the event,
painted by David, who was successively Jacobin and Imperialist, and
beginning with the apotheosis of Marat, celebrated that of Napoleon.

Pope Pius VII., then sixty-two years old, had left Rome November 2, after
praying for a long time at the altar of Saint Peter's, The populace had
followed his carriage for a long distance, weeping with terror at his
undertaking a journey to revolutionary France. At Florence he had been
received by the Queen of Etruria, then a widow and her son's Regent. At
Lyons he became less anxious; a number of the inhabitants crowded about
him, and fell on their knees, asking for the blessing of the Vicar of
Christ. Meanwhile, Napoleon was putting the last touches to the repairs be
had commenced at the Palace of Fontainebleau, to put it in a suitable
condition to receive the Sovereign Pontiff. In less than twenty days the
furnishing of the palace had been completed, and the castle had, as if by
magic, resumed its old-time splendor.

Every one wondered how the first meeting between the Pope and the Emperor
would take place. Many points of etiquette arose which Napoleon managed to
elude. Pius VII. was to arrive through the forest of Fontainebleau, and
the Emperor was to go to meet him through the forest of Nemours. To
prevent all formality, Napoleon made an excuse of a hunting party. All the
huntsmen, with their carriages, met in the forest. Napoleon was on
horseback, in hunting dress. When he knew that the Pope and his suite were
due at the cross of Saint Hérene--at noon, Sunday, November 25, 1804--he
turned his horse in that direction, and as soon as he reached the half-
moon at the top of the hill, he saw the Pope's carriage arriving.

According to the account given in the Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo, the
carriage of Pius VII. stopped, and the pontiff in his white robes got out
by the left-hand door. The road was muddy, and he was averse to stepping
into it with his white silk slippers; but there was nothing to be done.
Napoleon got off his horse to receive him, and sprang cordially into his
arms. These two famous men, who, although they were entire strangers, had
already thought so often of each other, and were to exercise such great
influence over each other's destiny, now met with deep emotion. As they
were embracing, one of the Emperor's carriages, which had been ordered to
drive up, pushed on a few steps as if by an oversight of the coachman; the
footmen held both doors open; the Emperor took that on the right; a court
official pointed to that on the left for the Pope, so that the two
sovereigns entered the same carriage simultaneously by the two doors. The
Emperor sat down naturally on the right-hand side, and this first step
established the etiquette for the whole time of the Pope's stay, without

At the entrance of the Palace of Fontainebleau, the Empress, the high
dignitaries of the Empire, the generals, were formed in a circle to
receive and salute Pius VII. He was welcomed with the utmost reverence.
His fine, noble face, his air of angelic kindness, his soft, yet sonorous
voice, produced a deep impression. Josephine was especially moved by the
presence of the Vicar of Christ. After resting a few moments in his
private apartment, to which he had been conducted by M. de Talleyrand,
High Chamberlain, by General Duroc, Grand Marshal of the Palace, and by M.
de Ségur, Grand Master of Ceremonies, the Pope paid a visit to Napoleon,
who, after an interview of about half an hour, conducted him back to the
hall that was at that time called that of the High Officers. The two
sovereigns dined together, and the Pope went early to bed, to rest himself
after the fatigues of his long journey. The next evening some singers had
been summoned to the Empress's apartment, but Pius VII. withdrew just as
the concert was about to begin.

In the course of the day Josephine had had a private interview with the
Pope, and had confided to him the secret which so distressed her. She who
was reigning over the greatest of Catholic nations, the consort of the
successor of the very Christian Kings, the wife of a ruler about to be
crowned by the Pope, was married only by civil rite! She entreated Pius
VII. to use all his influence with Napoleon to put an end to a situation
which was a continual torture and reproach to her as a wife and as a
Christian. The Pope appeared touched by the confidence of his dear
daughter, as he always called the Empress, and promised to demand, and, if
necessary, to insist, upon the celebration of the Emperor's religious
marriage, as a condition of the coronation, and this promise filled
Josephine with joy.

The presence of the Pope and the Emperor, the throng of prelates,
generals, courtiers, and beautiful women, the combination of religious and
Imperial pomp gave to the Castle of the Valois, a few days before
dilapidated and abandoned, new splendor and magnificence. Never in the
most brilliant days of the reign of Francis I., or Henri II., or of Louis
XIV., had this sumptuous residence appeared in greater state. This
wonderful palace is renowned for its superb and picturesque architecture,
its majestic façades, its five courts: that of the White Horse, of the
Fountain, of the Dungeon, of the Princes, of Henri IV. The Festival Hall
is very beautiful, with its rich and abundant ornamentation, its walnut
floor, divided into octagonal panels richly outlined with inlaid gold and
silver, its monumental mantelpiece, with its figures, emblems, and
fantastic frescoes, the brilliant masterpieces of Primaticcio, and of
Nicolo d'Abati.

Alas! this splendid Fontainebleau, the gorgeous palace where Pope and
Emperor were then living in triumph, was later to be to both an accursed
spot. The Pope was to return to it a prisoner, maltreated though old,
though a priest, though the Vicar of Christ, and there the Emperor was to
drink the cup of humiliation, of despair, to the dregs. It was there that,
conquered, broken, betrayed by fortune, he was to sign his abdication. It
was there that he was to utter those heart-rending words: "It is right; I
receive what I have deserved. I wanted no statues, for I knew that there
was no safety in receiving them at any other hands than those of
posterity. A man to keep them while he lives, needs constant good fortune.
I think of France, which it is terrible to leave in this state, without
frontiers when it had such wide ones!--that is the bitterest of the
humiliations that overwhelm me. To leave France so small when I wished to
make it so great!" It was there that, overcome by immeasurable grief, the
conqueror of so many battles wished to seek in suicide a refuge from the
tortures of thought, and that he was to fail to find death, he who on the
battle-field had squandered so many lives. O mortals, ignorant of your own
fates, how happy you are not to have foreknowledge of them!



The Empress left Fontainebleau, Thursday, November 29, 1804, in company
with Madame de La Rochefoucauld, Maid of Honor, and Madame d'Arberg, Lady
of the Palace, and reached Paris the same day, a few hours before the
Emperor and the Pope, who left Fontainebleau in the same carriage and
entered the Tuileries at eight in the evening. A platoon of Mamelukes
escorted the Imperial carriage, and it was a singular sight to see the
Mussulman escorting the Vicar of Christ. The Pope was installed at the
Tuileries in the Pavilion of Flora. There were attached to his person M.
de Viry, the Emperor's Chamberlain; M. de Luçay, Prefect of the Palace,
and Colonel Durosnel, Equerry.

All Paris was excited by the approach of the great event. The hotels were
crowded; the population of the capital was nearly doubled, so vast was the
throng of provincials and foreigners. Tradesmen were working night and day
to prepare the dresses and uniforms. In every workshop there was
unparalleled activity. Leroy, who previously had been only a milliner, had
decided for this occasion to undertake dressmaking, and had made Madame
Raimbault, a celebrated dressmaker of the time, his partner. From their
shop came the magnificent robes to be worn by the Empress on Coronation
Day. Her jewels, consisting of a crown, a diadem, and a girdle, were the
work of the jeweller Margueritte. The crown was formed of eight branches
meeting under a gold globe surmounted by a cross. The branches were set
with diamonds, four in the shape of a palm leaf, four in the shape of a
myrtle leaf. Around the curve was a ribbon, inlaid with eight enormous
emeralds. The frontlet was bright with amethysts. The diadem was formed of
four rows of pearls interlaced with diamond leaves, with many large
brilliants, one alone weighing one hundred and forty-nine grains. The
girdle was a gold band, enriched with thirty-nine pink gems. The Emperor's
sceptre had been made by Odiot; it was of solid silver, enlaced by a gold
serpent, and surmounted by a globe on which was a miniature figure of
Charlemagne seated. The hand of justice, the crown, and the sword came
from the workshops of Biennais. The dress of the courtiers was to be very
magnificent; it consisted of a French coat of different colors according
to the duties of the wearer under the Grand Marshal, the High Chamberlain,
and the Grand Equerry, with silver embroidery for all; a cloak worn over
one shoulder, of velvet, lined with satin: a scarf, a lace band, and the
hat caught up in front, and adorned with a feather. The women were to
appear in ball dress, with a train, with a collar of blond-lace, called a
_chérusque_, which was fastened on both shoulders and rose high behind the
head, recalling the fashions of the time of Catherine de' Medici.

There were rehearsals of the coronation as if it were a spectacular play.
Every one, from the principal actors to the most insignificant assistants,
studied his part most conscientiously; the Masters of Ceremonies were to
act as prompters to those who might forget. The Imperial carriages and
those of the Princes and Princesses one morning were all driven empty to
the neighborhood of Notre Dame, that coachman, postilions, and grooms
might know the route they were to take, and when they were to draw up. The
carriages were superb, the horses magnificent, the liveries sumptuous.
Never in the most extravagant days of the monarchy had such luxury been

M. de Bausset says that a week before the coronation the Emperor commanded
of the artist Isabey seven drawings representing the seven principal
ceremonies to take place at Notre Dame, which, however, could not be
rehearsed in the Cathedral on account of the number of workmen busy day
and night in decorating it. To ask at once for seven drawings each
containing more than a hundred persons in action, was asking for the
impossible. Isabey skilfully eluded the difficulty. He bought at the toy
shops all the little dolls he could find, dressed them up as Pope,
Emperor, Empress, Princes, high dignitaries, Chamberlains, Equerries,
Ladies of Honor, Ladies of the Palace, These dolls thus arrayed he
arranged on a plan in relief of the Interior of Notre Dame, and carrying
it to the Emperor, said: "Sire, I bring Your Majesty something better than
the drawings." Napoleon thought the idea ingenious, and used the dolls and
the plan to make every official understand his place and his duty.

The _Moniteur_ of the 9th Brumaire, Year XIII, (November 30, 1804),
published in advance all the details of the ceremony, which the Emperor
had fixed with as much care as if it had been the plan of a battle. A
difficulty arose on this occasion. The Pope had wished Napoleon to receive
the holy communion in public on the day of the coronation, and Napoleon
had given the matter thought. The Grand Master of Ceremonies, M. de Ségur,
brought up against the proposition the necessity of a preliminary
confession and the possibility that absolution might be denied him.
"That's not the difficulty," said the Emperor, "the Holy Father knows how
to distinguish between the sins of Caesar and those of the man," Then he
added: "I know that I ought to give an example of respect for religion and
its ministers; so you see that I treat the priests well, go regularly to
mass, and listen to it with all due seriousness and solemnity. But every
one knows me, and how would it be for me, and for others, if I should go
too far? Would not that be setting an example of hypocrisy, and committing
a sacrilege?" The Pope did not insist upon it. This dread of committing
sacrilege Napoleon referred to again at Saint Helena, in 1816: "Everything
was done," he said then, "to persuade me to go in great pomp to communion
at Notre Dame, after the fashion of our kings; I absolutely refused; I did
not believe enough, I said, to get any good from it, and yet I believed
too much to consent to be guilty of sacrilege."

Another difficulty which gave the Pope much anxiety, and was not settled
in the formalities of the coronation, was whether the Emperor should
receive the crown from the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff. Pius VII. had
brought up the question before leaving Rome, and Cardinal Consalvi had
written on this matter, to which the Vatican attached great importance, as
follows: "All the French Emperors, all those of Germany, who have been
crowned by the Popes, have accepted the crown from them. The Holy Father,
before undertaking this journey, requires to receive from Paris the
assurance that there will be no innovation made in the present case, in
the way of a diminution of the honor and dignity of the Sovereign
Pontiff." At Rome only vague and dilatory answers had been received. In
Paris the Emperor, leaving the matter to be decided on the spur of the
moment, had only said: "I will arrange that myself."

The preparations at Notre Dame had come to an end. They had been very
considerable. Several houses that hid the north façade had been destroyed.
Before the great entrance, still scarred by the ravages of the
Revolutionists, there had been set up a decoration of painted wood,
representing a vast Gothic porch with three arches upholding the statues
of the thirty-six good cities, the mayors of which were to be present at
the coronation. To the right and the left stood images of Clovis and
Charlemagne, sceptre in hand. Above, between two golden eagles, appeared
the Imperial coat-of-arms. This was intended for the sole entrance of the
Pope and the Emperor. It was connected with the Archbishop's palace by
large, covered, wooden galleries, adorned within by gobelin tapestry. This
palace, to which Pius VII. and Napoleon were to go before they entered the
Cathedral, no longer exists; it was destroyed, February 14, 1831, in an
insurrection. It used to stand just by the side of the church. It was
built in 1161 by Maurice de Sully, rebuilt in 1697 by the Cardinal of
Noailles, embellished in 1750 by the Archbishop de Beaumont, and was the
meeting-place of the Constituent Assembly from October 19 to November 9,
1789. There the Pope and the Emperor were to alight on their way from the
Tuileries and put on their grand coronation robes before entering the

The whole church of Notre Dame had been hung with crimson stuffs adorned
with gold fringe, with the arms of the Empire embroidered on the corners.
On each side of the nave and around the choir had been built three rows of
galleries, decorated alike with silk and velvet stuffs fringed with gold,
and flags had been arranged like a trophy about each pillar. Above the
trophies were winged and gilded victories, holding candelabra with a vast
number of candles. There were, besides, twenty-four chandeliers hanging
from the roof. The galleries kept out the light, especially at the season
when the days were short; consequently it had been decided that the
Cathedral should be artificially lit during the ceremony, thus augmenting
the pomp and beauty of the spectacle. The choir, shut off by a railing,
was reserved for the clergy. To the right of the high altar, on a platform
with eleven steps, had been raised the pontifical throne, above which was
a golden dome adorned with the arms of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman
Church. In front and on each side of the pontifical throne were benches
with backs for the cardinals and prelates. For the Emperor and the Empress
had been prepared what was called the great and the little throne. The
little throne was formed of two armchairs, one for Napoleon, the other for
Josephine. These two chairs stood on a platform with four steps, opposite
the high altar. The Emperor and Empress were to occupy them during the
first part of the ceremony. The grand throne was at the other end of the
church, with its back against the great door, which was thus closed. This
great throne stood on a large semicircular platform, and was reached by
twenty-four steps. It stood under a canopy in the shape of a triumphal
arch, upheld by eight columns, and it overlooked the whole church. The
Emperor and the Empress were not to ascend this throne till after the

For the coronation Napoleon had given to the Cathedral a number of holy
vessels in silver-gilt, enriched with diamonds, and very valuable lace
albs, a processional cross, chandeliers, and incense-burners. At the same
time he restored to the Cathedral a great number of relics with which the
piety of Saint Louis had endowed the Sainte Chapelle. In 1791 they had
been deposited in the treasury of Saint Denis, by order of Louis XVI.,
thence in 1793 they had been transferred to the cabinet of curiosities in
the National Library, and had been exposed under the Directory, in the
Hall of Antiquities. The Emperor restored them to the worship of the

The preparations were completed, and the ceremony promised to be
magnificent. Madame Junot, afterwards the Duchess of Abrantès, breakfasted
with the Empress at the Tuileries, December 1, 1804, the day before the
coronation. Josephine was much excited and radiantly happy. At breakfast
she told how amiably the Emperor had talked with her that morning and how
he had tried on her head the crown which she was to put on the next day at
Notre Dame. As she said that she shed tears of gratitude. She spoke then
of her pain when Napoleon had refused her request for Lucien's return. "I
wanted to plead this great day," she said, "but Bonaparte spoke so harshly
that I had to keep silent. I wanted to show Lucien that I could return
good for evil; if you have a chance, let him know it."

In the evening the Senate came to the Tuileries to announce to the Emperor
the result of the _plébiscite_ which approved of the Empire and the matter
of inheritance; 3,521,660 citizens having voted for, and 2,579 against.
Napoleon replied to the President of the Senate with the infatuation that
springs from success and the consciousness of strength: "I ascend the
throne to which I have been called by the unanimous voices of the Senate,
the people, and the army, with my heart full of feeling of the great
destinies of this people whom, from the midst of camps, I first saluted
with the name of great. Since my youth all my thoughts have been devoted
to it, and I must say here, my pleasures and my pains now are nothing but
the pleasures and the pains of my people. My descendants will long fill
this throne. They will never forget that contempt of laws and the
overthrow of the social order are only the results of the weakness and
indecision of rulers."

The hour of disaster was approaching, but it had not yet struck; the
morrow was to be radiant. Salvos of artillery were fixed every hour from
six in the evening till midnight; at each salvo, the towers, spires, and
public buildings were illuminated for a few minutes by Bengal lights.
Imperial insignia, among others the sword of Charlemagne, were already in
the Church of Notre Dame. General de Ségur, then a captain under the
command of the Grand Marshal of the Palace, was charged to watch that
precious relic during the night. He records one thing about it which
clearly shows the bellicose spirit of the men of the time. One of the
officers guarding the Imperial sword conceived the mad idea of using it
against one of his comrades, who defended himself with his own sabre, and
consoled himself for his defeat and for a slight wound with the thought
that he was beaten by so glorious a weapon.

That same night, the one before the coronation, Josephine's wishes were
granted. Her union with Napoleon was blessed by the church. An altar was
mysteriously raised in the Tuileries, and there, in the presence of M. de
Talleyrand and the Marshal Berthier, who were the only witnesses, Cardinal
Fesch celebrated, in the profoundest secrecy, the religious marriage of
the Emperor and Empress. The scruples of Pius VII. were thus allayed.
Josephine could be crowned the next day.



It was December 2, 1804. Since early morning all Paris had been alive. It
was very cold; the sky was covered, but no one thought of the unpleasant
weather. All the streets through which the procession was to pass had been
carefully swept and sprinkled with sand. The inhabitants had decorated the
fronts of their houses according to their tastes and means, with
draperies, tapestry, artificial flowers, and branches of evergreens. Two
lines of infantry were drawn up for a space of about half a league. Long
before the hour of the departure of the Pope and the Emperor from the
Tuileries, a vast throng had gathered in the streets, was crowding every
window, and assembling on every roof. Marshal Murat, Governor of Paris,
offered at an early hour a sumptuous breakfast to the Princes of Germany
who had come to Paris for the coronation--the Elector Archchancellor of
the German Empire, the Princes of Nassau, of Hesse, and of Baden. After
the breakfast they drove to Notre Dame in four superb carriages, drawn by
six horses each, with an escort under the command of one of his aides-de-
camp, and he himself mounted his horse to take his place at the head of
the twenty squadrons of cavalry which were to go in front of the Emperor's

At the Tuileries Napoleon put on what was called the undress attire; this
he was to wear on his way from the palace to the Archbishop's. He was not
to put on full dress, that is to say, the Imperial robes and cloak, until
he was to enter the church. The undress is thus described by Constant, the
Emperor's valet: silk stockings embroidered with gold; low boots of white
velvet, embroidered with gold on the seams; with diamond buttons and
buckles on his garters; a coat of crimson velvet faced with white velvet:
a short cloak of crimson lined with white satin, covering the left
shoulder and fastened on the right-hand side by a double clasp of
diamonds; a black velvet cap, surmounted by two aigrets, a diamond loop,
and for button, the most celebrated of the crown jewels, the Regent.

The Empress's costume was no less magnificent. She wore a dress, with a
train, of silver brocade covered with gold bees; her shoulders were bare,
but on her arms were tight sleeves embroidered with gold, the upper part
adorned, with diamonds, and fastened to them was a lace ruff worked with
gold which rose behind half up her head. The tight-fitting dress had no
waist, after the fashion of the time, but she wore a gold ribbon as a
girdle, set with thirty-nine pink gems. Her bracelets, ear-rings, and
necklace were formed of precious stones and antique cameos. Her diadem
consisted of four rows of pearls interlaced with clusters of diamonds. The
Empress, whose hair was curled, after the fashion of the reign of Louis
XIV., although forty-one years old, looked, according to Madame de
Rémusat, no more than twenty-five. The Emperor was much struck by
Josephine's beauty in this sumptuous attire; all this luxury impressed
him. He recalled the days of his childhood, and turning to his favorite
brother, he said: "Joseph, if father could see us!"

Nine o'clock sounded, the hour set for the departure of the Pope, who was
to reach Notre Dame before the Emperor. The Sovereign Pontiff, clad in
white, went down the staircase of the Pavilion of Flora and entered his
carriage, which was drawn by eight horses; above it was a large tiara. At
Rome it was the custom that when the Pope went forth to officiate at one
of the great churches,--for instance, to Saint John Lateran,--for one of
his chamberlains to start a moment before him, mounted on a mule, and
carrying a great processional cross. Pius VII. asked that the same thing
might be done at Paris; consequently the pontifical procession was headed
by a chamberlain whose mule did not fail to amuse the vast crowd that
lined the quays; yet when the Pope passed, all knelt down and received his
blessing with due respect. With cavalry in front and behind, the Pope's
carriage and the eight carriages in which were the cardinals, Italian
prelates and officers who had come from Rome with him, drove slowly along
the quays to the Archbishop's Palace. There were awaiting him all the
French cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, and he was received by the
Cardinal du Belloy, the Archbishop of Paris, as he entered to put on his
pontifical robes. The pontifical procession entered Notre Dame in the
following order; a priest, carrying the apostolic cross; seven acolytes,
carrying the seven golden candlesticks; more than a hundred bishops,
archbishops or cardinals, in cope and mitre, marching two by two; and last
of all the Holy Father, his tiara on his head, under a canopy between two
cardinals who held up the ends of his golden cope. The clergy intoned the
hymn _Tu es Petrus_, which was very impressive, and the Sovereign Pontiff,
after kneeling for a few moments before the high altar, took his seat in
the middle of the choir on the pontifical throne, above which was a dome
adorned with the coat-of-arms of the church.

The Emperor and the Empress, who were to leave the Tuileries at ten, did
not start till half past ten. They got into the magnificent coronation
carriage which excited the hearty admiration of the crowd, always fond of
show. It was drawn by eight superb horses, splendidly harnessed; upon it
was a golden crown upheld by four eagles with outstretched wings. The four
sides of the coach were of glass, set in slender carved uprights, so that
there was an unobstructed view of Napoleon and Josephine on the back seat,
with Joseph and Louis Bonaparte opposite them. Salvos of artillery
announced the Emperor's departure from the Tuileries. Twenty squadrons of
cavalry, with Marshal Murat at their head, led the procession. Eighteen
carriages, with six horses each, followed, conveying the high dignitaries
and the courtiers. Bands played triumphal marches, and all along the way a
vast crowd saluted this sovereign. The procession starting from the
Tuileries by the Carrousel went along the rue Saint Honoré as far as the
rue de Lombards, crossed the Pont au Change, and then along the quay to
the rue du Parvis Notre Dame and the Archbishop's Palace. Just as the
Emperor and the Empress were entering the palace courtyard, the mist,
which had been thick all the morning, cleared away, and the sun came out
glistening on the gilded decorations of the Imperial coach. The
_Moniteur_, with its official enthusiasm, spoke of "the orb of day
escaping, against every expectation, from the rigid rule of a stormy
season to light up the festal day."

At the Archbishop's Palace, Napoleon changed his dress, putting on his
coronation robes. This differed entirely from the costume he had worn from
the Tuileries to the palace, and consisted of a tight-fitting gown of
white satin, embroidered with gold on every seam, and of an Imperial
mantle of crimson velvet, all over which were golden bees; it was bordered
by worked branches of olive-tree, laurels, and oak, in circles enclosing
the letter N, with a crown above each one; the lining, the border, and the
cape were of ermine. This cloak, fastened on the right shoulder, while
leaving the arm free, reacted to just above the knee, and weighed no less
than eighty pounds, and though it was held by four persons, Prince Joseph,
Prince Louis, the Archchancellor Cambacérès, the Archtreasurer Lebrun, was
for the Emperor, who was a short man, a sumptuous, but heavy load. He
carried it, however, with fitting majesty. On his head he had put a crown
of golden laurel, the laurel of Caesar; around his neck he wore the
diamond necklace of the Legion of Honor; on his left side he carried a
sword with a large handle--the scabbard was of blue enamel adorned with
gold eagles and bees. At the same time Josephine completed her dressing,
putting on a long red velvet cloak, sprinkled with gold bees, and lined
with ermine; its skirts were upheld by Princesses Joseph, Louis, Elisa,
Pauline, and Charlotte.

The Imperial procession proceeded from the Archbishop's Palace to Notre
Dame through the wooden gallery, and entered the church, not through the
middle entrance, which was blocked by the great throne, but through one of
the side-doors. They advanced in the following order, with an interval of
ten paces between each group: the ushers, four abreast, the heralds at
arms, two abreast; the Chief Herald at Arms; the pages, four abreast; the
aides of the masters of ceremonies; the masters of ceremonies; the Grand
Master of Ceremonies, M. de Ségur; Marshal Sérurier, carrying on a cushion
the Empress's ring; Marshal Moncey, carrying the basket which was to
receive her cloak; Marshal Murat, carrying her crown on a cushion; the
Empress, with her First Equerry on her right, and her First Chamberlain on
her left; she wore the Imperial cloak, which was supported by the five
Princesses, the cloak of each one of these being supported by an officer
of her household; Madame de La Rochefoucauld, Maid of Honor, and Madame de
Lavalette, the Empress's Lady of the Bedchamber; Marshal Kellermann,
carrying the crown of Charlemagne, a diadem with six branches adorned with
valuable cameos; Marshal Perignon, carrying Charlemagne's sceptre, at the
end of which was a ball representing the world, with a small figure of the
great Carlovingian Emperor; Marshal Lefebvre, carrying Charlemagne's
sword; Marshal Bernadotte, carrying Napoleon's necklace; Colonel General
Eugene de Beauharnais, the Emperor's ring; Marshal Berthier, the Imperial
globe; M. de Talleyrand, the basket destined to receive the Emperor's
cloak. Then came the Emperor, the crown of golden laurel on his head,
holding in one hand his silver sceptre, topped by an eagle, and encircled
by a golden serpent, and in the other his hand of justice. His cloak was
supported by his two brothers, Joseph, Grand Elector, and Louis,
Constable, as well as by the Archchancellor Cambacérès and the
Archtreasurer Lebrun. Then followed the Grand Equerry, the Colonel General
of the Guard, and the Grand Marshal of the Palace, the three abreast, the
ministers, four abreast, and the high officers of the army.

As Napoleon entered the church, the twenty thousand spectators shouted,
"Long live the Emperor!" A cardinal gave holy water to Josephine; the
Cardinal, the Archbishop of Paris, presented it to Napoleon; and the two
prelates, after complimenting the Emperor and the Empress, conducted them
in a procession, under a canopy held by canons, to the smaller throne in
the middle of the choir. There they were to sit during the first part of
the ceremony, near the high altar, on a platform with four steps. As the
Emperor and the Empress entered the choir, the Pope came down from the
pontifical chair, and intoned the _Veni Creator_. The Emperor handed to
the Archchancellor his hand of justice; to the Archtreasurer, his sceptre;
to Prince Joseph, his crown; to Prince Louis, his sword; to the Grand
Chamberlain, his Imperial cloak; to Colonel General Eugene de Beauharnais,
his ring. The six objects formed what were called "the Emperor's
ornaments." They were placed on the altar by the representative
dignitaries, and were to be handed again to the Emperor by the Pope in the
course of the ceremony. The same was true of the "Empress's ornaments,"
her ring, cloak, and crown, which, were placed on the altar; the ring, by
Marshal Sérurier; the cloak, by Marshal Moncey; the crown, by Marshal
Murat. Charlemagne's insignia, his crown, sceptre, and sword, remained
during the whole ceremony in the hands of Marshals Kellermann, Perignon,
and Lefebvre, who stood at the right of the small throne in the choir.

As soon as the ornaments of the Emperor and Empress had been placed on the
altar, the Pope asked the Emperor in Latin if he promised to use every
effort to have law, justice, and peace rule in the church and among his
people; Napoleon touched the gospels with both hands, as it was held out
to him by the Grand Almoner, and answered _Profiteor_. Then the Pope, the
bishops, archbishops, and cardinals knelt before the altar and began the
litany. When they reached the three verses used only at coronations, the
Emperor and Empress also knelt.

After the litany, the Grand Almoner, another cardinal, and two bishops
advanced towards the small throne, and bowed low before Napoleon and
Josephine, and conducted them to the foot of the altar to receive sacred
unction. The Emperor and Empress knelt on blue velvet cushions placed on
the first step of the altar. The Pope anointed Napoleon on the head and
his two hands, uttering the prayer of consecration: "Mighty and Eternal
God, who didst appoint Hazael to be king over Syria, and Jehu to be king
over Israel, making known thy wishes through the prophet Elijah; and who
didst pour holy oil of kings upon the head of Saul and of David, through
the prophet Samuel, send down through my hands, the treasures of thy grace
and of thy blessings upon thy servant Napoleon, whom, in spite of our
unworthiness, we consecrate to-day as Emperor, in thy name."

Then the Pope anointed the Empress in the same way, reciting this prayer:
"May the Father of eternal glory be thy aid; and may the Omnipotent bless
thee; may he hear thy prayers, and give thee a long life, ever confirming
this blessing and maintaining it forever with all thy people; may he
confound thy enemies; may the sanctification of Christ and the anointing
of this oil ever aid thee, so that he who on earth has given thee his
blessing may give thee in heaven the happiness of the angels, and that
thou mayst be blessed and guarded for eternal life by Jesus Christ, our
Saviour, who lives and reigns forever and ever."

The Emperor and Empress were then conducted to the small throne, that is
to say, to their two chairs; before each one was a praying-stand. Then
high mass began; it was said by the Pope; the music had been composed by
Paesiello, the Abbé Rose, and Lesueur. There were three hundred
performers, singers, and musicians; among the soloists were the great
singer Laïs, and two famous violinists, Kreutzer and Baillot. At the
_Gradual_ the mass was interrupted for the blessing of the ornaments which
the Emperor and Empress then put on.

Napoleon, followed by the Archchancellor, the Archtreasurer, the Grand
Chamberlain, the Grand Equerry, and two chamberlains, and Josephine,
accompanied by her Lady of Honor, her Lady of the Bedchamber, her First
Chamberlain, and her First Equerry, advanced towards the altar, and
ascended the steps at the same time; the Sovereign Pontiff, with his back
to the altar, was sitting on a sort of folding-chair. He blessed the
Imperial ornaments, reciting a special prayer for each one. His Holiness
then handed them to the Emperor in the following order: first the ring,
which Napoleon placed on his finger; then the sword, which he put in its
scabbard; the cloak, which his chamberlains fastened on his shoulders,
then the hand of justice and the sceptre which he handed to the
Archchancellor and the Archtreasurer.

The only ornament left to be given to the Emperor was the crown. It will
be remembered that there had been a long negotiation at Rome to ascertain
whether the Emperor would be crowned by the Pope or would crown himself.
The question was left uncertain, and Napoleon had said that he would
settle it himself at Notre Dame when the time came. Still Pius VII. was
convinced that he was going to place the crown on the sovereign's head. He
had just handed him the ring, the sword, the cloak, the hand of justice,
and the sceptre, and was preparing to do the same thing with the crown.
But the Emperor, who had ascended the last step of the altar, and was
following every motion of the Pope, grasped from his hands the sign of
sovereign power and proudly placed it on his own head. Pius VII.,
outwitted and surprised, made no attempt at resistance.

After thus crowning himself, Napoleon proceeded to crown the Empress. This
was the most solemn moment in Josephine's life; the moment which dispelled
all her incessant dread of divorce, the brilliant verification of her
fondest hopes, the completion of her triumph. Napoleon advanced with
emotion to this companion of his happiest days, to the woman who had
brought him happiness; she was kneeling before him, shedding tears of joy
and gratitude, with her hands clasped and trembling. He recalled all that
he owed her: his happiness, for, thanks to her, he had been blessed with a
requited love; his glory, for it was she who, in 1796, had secured for him
the command of the Army of Italy, the origin of all his triumphs. He must
have been glad at this moment that he had not followed his brother's
malicious suggestions and had not separated from his dear Josephine! The
affection of the young General Bonaparte revived in the heart of the
sovereign. He thought Josephine more gracious, more touching, more lovable
than ever, and it was with an outburst of happiness that he placed the
Imperial diadem on her charming and cherished head.

The Emperor and Empress, once crowned, proceeded to the great throne, at
the entrance of the church, by the great door, being solemnly led there by
the Pope and the Cardinals. The Imperial procession then formed again in
the order in which it had come to Notre Dame, the Empress going before the
Emperor. At this moment the Princesses seemed to hesitate about carrying
the skirt of the Empress's cloak; Napoleon noticed this, and said a few
severe, firm words to his sisters, and all was smoothed. The procession
reached the foot of the great throne; the Emperor ascended the twenty-four
steps and sat down in full majesty, wearing his crown and Imperial cloak,
holding the hand of justice and the sceptre. At his right, on a seat like
his, but one step lower, the Empress placed herself. Another step lower,
sat the Princesses on simple seats. At the Emperor's left, two steps below
him, were the Princes and high dignitaries. On each side of the platform
the marshals, high officers, and ladies of the court took their places.
The sight was most impressive. The Pope in his turn ascended the twenty-
four steps, and thus commanding the whole Cathedral, extended his hands
over the Emperor and the Empress, and uttered these Latin words, the
formula used for taking the throne: "_In hoc solio confirmare vos Deus, et
in regno aeterno secum regnare faciat Christus!_"--"May God establish you
on your throne, and may Christ cause you to reign with him in his eternal
kingdom!" Then he kissed the Emperor on the cheek, and turning towards the
assembled multitude, said: "_Vivat Imperator in aeternum!_"--"May the
Emperor live forever!" This was what had been said ten centuries before at
Saint Peter's in Rome when the ruler of the same people, Charlemagne, had
been proclaimed Emperor of the West.

Applause broke forth and three hundred musicians intoned the _Vivat
Imperator_, a hymn composed by the Abbé Rose. The pontifical procession
and the Imperial procession returned to the choir; the Emperor and Empress
resumed their places on the chairs, and the Pope began, the _Te Deum_.
After this, which was sung by four choirs and two orchestras, the mass,
which had been interrupted by the ceremony with the ornaments and the
taking possession of the throne, went on. At the offertory, Napoleon and
Josephine, followed by the two Princes and the five Princesses, went to
lay their offerings before the Pope; these consisted of a silver-gilt
vase, a lump of gold, a lump of silver, and a candle about which were
inlaid thirteen pieces of money. At the elevation Prince Joseph removed
the Emperor's crown, and Madame de La Rochefoucauld, Maid of Honor, that
of the Empress. Napoleon and Josephine knelt before the Host, and when
they rose, put their crowns on again.

When mass was over, the Emperor took the political oath prescribed by the
constitution, which had aroused much opposition in Rome. The presidents of
the great bodies of the state brought him the formula, and with one hand
held over the gospels, the Emperor swore to maintain, the principles of
the Revolution, to preserve the integrity of the territory, and to rule
with an eye to the interest, happiness, and glory of the French people.
The First Herald-at-Arms then called forth in a loud voice: "The most
glorious and most august Emperor Napoleon, Emperor of the French, is
crowned and enthroned: Long live the Emperor!" That was the end of the
ceremony. Salvos of artillery mingled with the applause.

The solemnity had been most successful, and Napoleon could say with truth
to his brother Joseph: "For me it is a battle won; by my art and the
measures I took, I have succeeded beyond my expectations." Had he not
prophesied accurately when he said to his secretary at the signing of the
Concordat: "Bourrienne, you will see what use I shall make of the
priests!" The golden chasubles had made a brilliant spectacle by the side
of the uniforms; the crosses and the tiara by the side of the swords and
the sceptre. Napoleon, always a master of theatrical effect, had known how
to lend antiquity to his newborn glory by borrowing from the past all its
majesty and pomp, and by skilfully decking himself with what was most
brilliant in the chronicles of remote centuries. From Charlemagne he took
his insignia; from Caesar his golden laurel. The head of a nation that had
grown great by the cross and the sword, he desired to make his coronation
the festival of the church and of the army.

The Imperial and the pontifical processions returned to the Archbishop's
Palace, and half an hour later proceeded to the Tuileries, through the New
Market, the Place du Châtelet, the rue Saint Denis, the boulevards, the
rue and the Place de la Concorde, the Pont Tournant, and the grand roadway
of the castle. Night had fallen; the houses were illuminated. Five hundred
torches cast their light on the two processions, and by their imposing and
strange brilliancy, the crowd gazed with interest on the new Charlemagne
and the Vicar of Christ.

Napoleon and Josephine re-entered the Tuileries at half past six; the Pope
at about seven. The Emperor, who was somewhat tired by all this ceremony,
gladly resumed his modest uniform of Colonel of the Chasseurs of the
Guard. He dined alone with Josephine, asking her to keep on her head the
becoming diadem which she wore so gracefully. That evening he chatted
pleasantly with the ladies-in-waiting, and praised the rich dresses they
had worn in such splendor at Notre Dame; he said to them, laughing: "It's
I who deserve the credit for your charming appearance." Then they looked
out of the windows on the illuminated garden, the large flower-garden
surrounded with porches covered with lights, the long alley adorned with
shining colonnades, on the terraces of orange-trees all aglow, with a
number of glasses of various colors on every tree, and finally on the
Place de la Concorde, one blazing star. It was like a sea of flame.

It was the painter who had been a member of the Convention, the
_montagnard_, the regicide who had insulted Louis XVI., who had painted
the apotheosis of Marat, and with a malicious hand had drawn the features
of Marie Antoinette on her way to the scaffold; it was this artist, this
fierce demagogue, the ardent Revolutionist, who was commissioned with
painting the official representation of the coronation. He carried his
gallantry so far as to choose for his subject, not the moment when
Napoleon crowned himself, but that of the coronation of the Empress; and
when a critic accused him of making Josephine too young, he said: "Go and
say that to her!" When the picture was finished, the Emperor and the court
went to see it in the artist's studio. Napoleon walked up and down for
half an hour, bareheaded, before the canvas, which is about twenty feet
high, about thirty long, and contains one hundred portraits. (It is now at
Versailles in the Hall of the Guards, at the top of the marble staircase.)
The Emperor examined it with the closest attention, while David and all
who were present maintained a respectful silence. This long waiting made
the artist very anxious. At last Napoleon turned towards him and said:
"It's good, David, very good. You have divined all my thought; you have
made me a French knight. I thank you for transmitting to ages to come the
proof of affection I wanted to give to her who shares with me the pains of
government." Then taking two steps towards the artist, he raised his hat
and said, in a loud voice: "David, I salute you."

Sometimes at Notre Dame in Holy Week, at evening service, when the
Cathedral is lit up as at the coronation, I recall the various ceremonies
of this church: the royal baptisms and marriages there celebrated; the
banners hung from its roof; the _Te Deums_ and _De Profundis_ so often
sung there; Bossuet uttering the funeral oration of the Prince of Condé;
the shameless goddess of Reason profaning the sanctuary. I close my eyes
in meditation, and seem to be present at the coronation, to see Pius VII.
on his pontifical throne, and, before the altar, Napoleon crowning
Josephine with his own hands, I hear the echo of distant litanies, of the
trumpets, of the organ, and of the applause. Then I think of the
nothingness of all human glory and grandeur. Of all the illustrious
persons who have knelt in this old basilica, what is left? Scarcely a few
handfuls of dust. I open my eyes. The days are silent; the crowd has
quietly withdrawn. The lights are out, and at the end of the church, in
the shadow, like a timid star in a cloudy day, burns a solitary lamp.



The coronation was the signal for a succession of festivities. Napoleon
was anxious that all classes of society should take part in the
rejoicings; that commerce should be benefited; that luxury should do
wonders; and that Paris should take the position of the first city in the
world, the capital of capitals. The day after the coronation was to be the
popular holiday, and the day when the flags were distributed was to be the
festival of the army. Monday, December 3, booths were open on every side
for the entertainment of the crowd. Adulation assumed every guise, even
the humblest; and every form of language, even that of the markets, was
employed to flatter the new sovereign. There was sung, "The joyous round
on the lottery of thirteen thousand fowls, with an accompaniment of
fountains of wine." It was a description of the food distributed to the
poor people of Paris. This song was sung in every street and place, as the
_Ça ira_ was sung in '93.

The compliment of the marketmen and of their ladies ran thus: "I have
reasoned it out with my wife that a house a thousand times as large as
Notre Dame would not be able to hold all those who have reason to bless
you." In the way of incense, nothing was too gross for the sovereign. One
district said of Napoleon:--

"He received for us when God formed him,
The arm of Romulus, the mind of Numa."

The Empress too was praised:--

"Spouse of the hero whom the universe regards,
The Graces accompany you to the temple,
Every one sees in your face the bounty
Of which you distribute the gifts."

In allusion to her love of flowers this quatrain was composed:--

"Josephiniana! this is the new flower
Whose beauty catches my eye.
To join the laurels of Caesar
Nothing less is needed than an immortal flower."

The Emperor was sung, too, in mythological language, for his flatterers
tried to exhaust all sorts of adulation. On Coronation Day the Prefect of
Police had distributed a poem entitled _The Crown of Napoleon brought from
Olympus command of Jupiter_:--

"Mounting one of the coursers of the proud Bellona,
Mercury brings a crown from Olympus;
The king of the gods sends it to the hero of the French
As the reward of his success.
Ye whom he guided a hundred times in the fields of glory,
Phalanx of warriors, children of victory,
Braving the impotent fury of the English,
Sing Napoleon, sing your Emperor."

December 3 the public rejoicings organized by the government extended from
the Place de la Concorde to the Arsenal. Heralds-at-arms walked through
the city, distributing medals struck to commemorate the coronation. These
medals bore on one side the head of the Emperor, his brow wearing the
crown of the Caesars; on the other, the image of a magistrate, and of an
ancient warrior, supporting on a buckler a crowned hero, wearing an
Imperial mantle. Beneath was the inscription: "The Senate and the People."

As soon as the heralds-at-arms had passed by, the merry-making began,
continuing till late in the night. There was a distribution of food, as
well as sports of all kinds, reminding one of the times of the Roman
Emperors: _panem et circenses_. On the Place de la Concorde had been built
four large wooden halls for public balls. The cold was severe; there was a
hard frost, but this did not check the universal enjoyment. On the
boulevards there were at every step puppet shows, wandering singers, rope
dancers, greased poles, bands of music. From the Place de la Concorde to
the end of the boulevard Saint Antoine sparkled a double row of colored
lights arrayed like garlands. The Garde Meuble and the Palace of the
Legislative Body were ablaze with lights. The arches of Saint Denis and of
Saint Martin were all covered with lights; the crowd was enraptured with
the fireworks, which had never been so fine.

The people of Paris had been invited to illuminate the fronts of their
houses, and moved either by enthusiasm or self-interest, they had spent
large sums for this purpose. Among the notable illuminations was that of
the engineer Chevalier, on the Pont Neuf. There was a transparency in
which, amid encircling laurels and myrtles, was to be seen an optician
turning his glass up to the sky towards a bright star, around which was
this inscription: "_In hoc signo salus_!"--"In this sign is safety!"

December 3 was the first day of the coronation festivities. The third day
was devoted to what the _Moniteur_ called, "arms, valor, fidelity." This
was the day when Napoleon formally presented to the army and to the
National Guard of the Empire the eagles, "which they were always to find
on the field of honor." This ceremony took place on the Champ de Mars. To
quote once more from the _Moniteur_: "This vast field, crowded with
deputations representing France and the army, bore the aspect of a brave
family assembled under the eyes of its chief." The main front of the
Military School had been decorated with a huge gallery, with several tents
as high as the apartments on the first floor. The middle one, resting on
four columns which supported winged victories, covered the thrones of the
Emperor and the Empress. The Princes, the high dignitaries, the ministers,
the marshals of the Empire, the high officers of the crown, the civil
officers, the ladies of the court, were to take their places at the right
of the throne. The gallery, in the middle of which was the Imperial tent,
was in front of the Military School, and was divided into sixteen parts,
eight on each side, representing the sixteen cohorts of the Legion of
Honor. A broad staircase led from this gallery to the Champ de Mars; the
first step was for the presidents of cantons, the prefects, sub-prefects,
and the members of the municipal councils. On the other steps, there
stationed themselves colonels of regiments and presidents of the electoral
colleges of the departments, holding flags surmounted with eagles. On each
side of the staircase were colossal figures of France, one at war, the
other at peace. Twenty-five thousand soldiers, in faultless trim, had been
under arms since six in the morning.

Unfortunately, the weather was terrible; a thaw had begun and it was
raining in torrents. The Champ de Mars was a sea of mud. The courtiers
who, on the 2d of December, had so belauded the sun, representing it as a
sharer in the festival, a docile slave of the Emperor, were obliged to
acknowledge that it was raining. Madame de Rémusat made a very true remark
about this; she said with truth that one of the commonest, though one of
the absurdest, flatteries of every time, was that of pretending that a
sovereign's need of fine weather was sure to bring it. "At the Tuileries,"
she said, "I noticed the opinion that the Emperor needed only to appoint a
review or a hunt for a certain day, and that day would be pleasant.
Whenever that happened, a great deal was said about it, while silence was
kept about rainy or foggy weather. This is exactly what used to happen
under Louis XIV. For the honor of sovereigns I should prefer that they
accepted this childish flattery with indifference or disgust, and that no
one would think of offering it. It was impossible to deny that it rained
during the distribution of the eagles at the Champ de Mars; but how many
people I met the next day, who assured me that the rain had not wet them!"

In spite of the bad weather, an enormous crowd lined the road through
which the Imperial procession was to pass. The terraces of the Tuileries,
the Place de la Concorde, the _quais_ were thronged. Numberless spectators
covered the slopes of the Champ de Mars. The ever obsequious _Moniteur_,
in its official account of the ceremony, said; "If the spectators were
uncomfortable, there was not one who was not consoled by the feeling that
held him there, and by the expression of his wishes which the applause
made very clear."

At noon the Emperor and the Empress, followed by their suite, left the
Tuileries in the order observed at the coronation, passed down the broad
road, over the Pont Tournant, through the Place de la Concorde, to the
Champ de Mars. Before their carriage rode the Chasseurs of the Guard and a
squadron of Mamelukes; behind it came the mounted grenadiers and the
chosen Legion. On reaching the Military School, Napoleon and Josephine
received the compliments of the Diplomatic Body; then they put on their
coronation robes, and took their place in the gallery in front of the
building. As soon as the Emperor had seated himself on the throne, cannon
were fired, drums beat, bands played. The deputations from the army, who
were assembled in the Champ de Mars, formed in close columns and came
forward. Then Napoleon arose and said in a loud voice: "Soldiers! These
are your flags; these eagles will always be your rallying point; they will
be wherever your Emperor may think necessary for the defence of his throne
and of his people. You will swear to offer your life in their defence, and
by your courage to keep them always on the path to victory. You swear it?"
Officers and men replied: "We swear it!"

Alas! these flags were to be always on the path of honor, but not always
on the path of victory, for victory is a female goddess and a fickle one.
Against how many enemies these flags were to be defended, beneath
scorching suns, under avalanches of ice and snow! What heroism, what
miracles of bravery, were to be witnessed by these standards on many a
battle-field! What fatigue, what suffering, what sacrifices, dangers,
wounds, how many glorious deaths, what seas of blood, to come at last to
the most lamentable disasters I Had the future been seen, those drums
would have been draped in black. But the army imagined itself invincible.
The thought of defeat would have called forth a smile of pity. Proud of
itself, of its commander, it shouted with joy and pride as it passed
before the throne.

A single incident disturbed this martial ceremony. Suddenly an unknown
young man approached the Imperial gallery, and shouted: "Down with the
Emperor! Liberty or death!" This ardent Republican was at once arrested.
His voice had been lost in the music and clatter of arms.

The rain continued, and soon soaked through the canvas and stuffs
sheltering the throne, The Empress was obliged to leave, with her
daughter, who had recently given birth to a child. The other Princesses
followed this example, with the exception of Madame Murat, who, although
lightly clad, remained exposed to the showers. She said that she was
learning how to endure the inevitable discomforts of the highest rank.

At five o'clock Napoleon and Josephine were once more at the Tuileries
where a state dinner was given in the Gallery of Diana. In the middle of
this gallery the table of the Emperor and the Empress was placed beneath a
magnificent canopy, on a platform. The Empress sat there with the Emperor
on the right and the Pope on her left. The high officers of the crown, as
well as a colonel-general of the Guard and a prefect of the palace,
remained standing near the Imperial table.

Pages waited on the tables. The Archchancellor of the German Empire took
his place at that of the Emperor. In the same gallery were set other
tables for the French Princes and for the hereditary Prince of Baden, for
the ministers, for the ladies and officers of the Imperial household.
After the dinner was a concert, at which the Pope consented to be present.
When that was over Pius VII. withdrew, and the evening ended with a ballet
danced by the dancers of the opera in the great hall called since the
Empire the Hall of the Marshals.



The winter of 1804-5 was very brilliant. Napoleon was anxious to give the
beginning of his reign an air of splendor. He allowed his officials
generous salaries, but he insisted on their spending all they received in
sumptuous living, in entertaining freely, and receiving distinguished
foreigners. Luxury became compulsory, and trade flourished beyond all
expectations. Paris had never, even in the grandest days of the old
monarchy, known greater social animation. This martial generation,
accustomed to desire a short but merry life, aware that the festivities of
day would be interrupted by the battles of the next, were as eager in the
ball-room as on the battlefield. They hastened to enjoy their present
prosperity as if they foresaw the disasters to come. French gallantry,
which had been forgotten during the Revolution, resumed its sway. The
women were like the fair mistresses of castles in the Middle Ages who gave
their hearts to the bravest knights. Love and glory both became the
fashion. The former Lady of the Bedchamber to Marie Antoinette, Madame
Campan, who taught most of the young women of the court in her school at
Saint Germain, had formed a group of beauties, trained in aristocratic
manners, at the head of whom was her ablest, most intelligent pupil,
Hortense de Beauharnais, who had been married to Prince Louis Bonaparte.
The Grand Chamberlain, M. de Talleyrand, a poor bishop but an excellent
specimen of a grand lord, and the Grand Master of Ceremonies, M. de Ségur,
whose success as ambassador of Louis XVI. at the court of Catherine was
very great, set the tone in the households of the Emperor and the Empress.

Napoleon set an example of luxury and elegance. Grand dinners, concerts,
official entertainments succeeded one another with startling rapidity.
Josephine, who was wildly fond of dress, was glad of an excuse to indulge
her extravagant tastes. The Emperor's three sisters lived like real
princesses, rivalling one another in magnificence. Princes Joseph and
Louis displayed the pomp of future kings.

Almost all the women of the court were young and pretty. It would have
been hard to confer on any one, to the exclusion of the rest, the palm of
beauty. There were three who were especially distinguished: Madame Maret
(later the Duchess of Bassano); Madame Savary (later the Duchess of
Rovigo); and Madame de Canisy (later the Duchess of Vicenza). The last
named had married M. de Canisy, the Emperor's equerry. Later, she got a
divorce and married M. de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza and Grand Equerry.

At Saint Helena Napoleon thus recounted the origin of this famous beauty:
"Madame de Loméne, the Cardinal's niece, before being put to death in the
Revolution, entrusted to Father Patrault her two young daughters. When the
terror was over, Madame de Brienne, their aunt, who had weathered the
storm and still possessed a large fortune, demanded them of Father
Patrault, who refused to give them up for a long time, on the ground that
their mother had urged him to bring them up as peasants." And Napoleon
went on: "I was then General of the Army of the Interior; and was able to
secure the return of the two children, though with some difficulty, for
Patrault resisted in every way in his power. They were the women whom you
afterwards knew as Madame de Marnésia, and as the beautiful Madame de

The Duchess of Abrantès, in recalling the brilliant winter of 1804-5,
says, in her Memoirs: "One especially impressive beauty, particularly in
the ball-room, was Madame de Canisy, I have often compared her to a muse.
It would be impossible for a single face to present a fuller combination
of charms than hers: she possessed regular features, a delightful
expression, an attractive smile; her hair was silky and glossy. Seldom
have I seen anything more charming than Madames de Canisy, Maret, and
Savary in entering a ball-room together,"

There was no lack of entertainments at which these beauties shone. The one
given at the Hotel de Ville, December 16, 1804, to the Emperor and the
Empress, was so costly that it kept the city of Paris for many years in
debt. Napoleon, Josephine, Princes Joseph and Louis drove to it in the
coronation coach. Batteries of artillery, stationed on the Pont Neuf,
announced the moment of their arrival, while tables covered with poultry,
and fountains of wine, attracted an enormous crowd to the place; almost
every one had a share in this distribution of food, thanks to the
precautions taken by the authorities of delivering it only to those who
presented a ticket. The front of the Hotel de Ville was illuminated with
colored lanterns. When the Empress entered the apartments reserved for
her, she found there a complete and magnificent gold toilet-service: it
was a present from the City Council. The President of the Council thus
addressed her: "Madame: How could the Parisians, who are so capable of
distinguishing what is good, delicate, and noble, let slip this
opportunity of paying their homage to the profound tenderness, the
touching grace, the true dignity that characterize Your Majesty? The happy
influence of these rare qualities already makes itself felt in all classes
of society, and while your august spouse elevates France in glory, you
inspire it to resume the first rank among the races most renowned for
urbanity." The hall in which the Imperial banquet was to be given was
called the Hall of Victories. On the door was the inscription _Fasti
Napoleoni_, and at intervals, separated by military trophies and
standards, were Latin inscriptions in honor of Napoleon. Before dinner he
was presented with a table-service of silver-gilt by the city of Paris.
Then he took his seat, with the Empress, on a platform beneath a canopy,
and the meal began. During dinner, a band, hidden behind green foliage,
played a symphony of Haydn's, and then was sung a cantata full of flattery
for the Emperor and the Empress.

After the dinner there were magnificent fireworks. As the first rockets
rose, a second cantata was sung. One of the pieces of fireworks
represented a man-of-war with eighty guns: its decks, masts, sails, and
rigging were represented by glowing lights. Another, which the Emperor
himself set off, represented Mount Saint Bernard sending forth a volcanic
eruption from snow-covered rocks. In the centre appeared the image of
Napoleon at the head of his army, riding up the steep slope of the

This entertainment, which closed with a ball at which seven hundred
persons were present, was a real apotheosis. Madame de Rémusat, speaking
of the extravagant adulation devised for this occasion, says: "A great
deal has been said about the fulsome flatteries of Louis XIV. during his
reign; I am sure that altogether they would not amount to a tenth part of
those that Bonaparte received. I remember that at another festivity given
by the city to the Emperor a few years later, since all inscription had
been exhausted, there were placed above the throne on which he was to sit,
these words from Scripture, in gold letters: _Ego sum qui sum_,--and no
one was shocked."

The Senate and the Legislative Body also gave grand entertainments in
honor of the coronation. That of the Legislative Body was particularly
brilliant. This assembly, which rivalled the Senate in obsequiousness, had
decided that a marble statue should be raised to the Emperor in the room
where it sat, in honor of the drawing up of the civil code. The day when
this statue was to be inaugurated was chosen for the festivity. The
Empress, followed by a magnificent suite, reached the Palace of the
Legislative Body at about seven in the evening. As she entered, musicians
intoned Glück's famous chorus, which used to be sung on formal occasions
in the reign of Louis XVI., in honor of Marie Antoinette:--

"What charms! What majesty!"

Unanimous applause emphasized the allusions. Then on the President's
invitation, Marshals Murat and Masséna raised the veils that covered the
statue, and all eyes beheld the figure of Napoleon, wearing on his brow a
laurel wreath, in which were mingled oak and olive leaves. Later, at the
time of his abdication at Fontainebleau, Napoleon expressed a regret that
he had permitted his statue to be made during his lifetime.

Then M. de Vaublanc ascended the tribune, and made a speech full of
extravagant praise; it ended thus: "You live, all of you, threatened by
the perils of the times; you live, and you owe your life to him whose
statue you behold. You return unfortunate exiles; you breathe once more
the delicious air of your own country; you embrace your fathers, your
children, your wives, your friends; all this you owe to him whose statue
you behold. There is no longer any question of his glory; I say nothing
about it; I invoke humanity on one side, gratitude on the other; I ask you
to whom you are indebted for this great, extraordinary, unexpected good
fortune. You all answer with me, It is to the great man whose statue you
behold." Throughout the whole speech, a perfect masterpiece of official
composition, adulation came in like a chorus. The President in his turn
uttered a similar eulogy: "Very few at the time," says Constant, who
describes this occasion, "found this praise extravagant; possibly their
opinions have changed since then."

After the speeches, dinner was served to three hundred guests, followed by
a magnificent ball. Though, in the middle of the winter, there was a great
show of shrubs and flowers. The Halls of Lucretia and of the Reunion, in
which there was dancing, were like one large bed of roses, laurels,
lilacs, jonquils, lilies, and jasmine.

Perhaps the finest of all the entertainments was that given to the Emperor
and Empress by the marshals of the Empire in the Opera House. It cost
each, marshal ten thousand francs. The Opera House at that time was in the
rue de Richelieu, where it had been since 1794. (It was the one torn down
during the Restoration, on account of the murder of the Duke of Berry, who
was killed on the threshold.) By means of a floor placed level with the
stage over the orchestra and the pit, there was made a magnificent ball-
room. Twenty-four chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and candelabra were
set on each side of every box. The decorations consisted of silver gauze,
and wreaths of flowers. The uniforms of the men and the dresses of the
women were almost equally magnificent. The eyes of the spectators were
dazzled by dresses trimmed with precious stones. Never had there been seen
such profusion of light, flowers, perfumes, and diamonds. In this magical
setting, fashionable beauties, with their dresses worked with silver and
gold foil, their turbans of Eastern stuffs, their jewels and ancient
cameos, appeared like sultanas. It was a most sumptuous and fairy-like

The marshals arrived at eight in the evening, the Empress at ten, the
Emperor at eleven; as he entered the ball-room, the applause was so
violent that it was feared that the candles would be put out. A military
march was played, and then there was a concert, closing with the Abbé
Rose's _Vivat Imperator_, which had made such an impression on the
Coronation Day. After the concert, Prince Louis Bonaparte, Marshal Murat,
Eugene de Beauharnais, and Marshal Berthier opened the ball with the
Princesses. The Emperor walked twice around the hall, as if he were
reviewing troops. Then he sat down by the side of the Empress on a raised
platform, and withdrew before the end of the ball.

Besides all these entertainments there were the grand levees and concerts
at the Tuileries. The Hall of the Marshals was an impressive sight on
those evenings, filled, as it was, with young and pretty women, in
gorgeous dresses, and with men resplendent with stars, epaulettes,
feathered hats, and sword-belts set with diamonds. After the concert the
company would go to the Gallery of Diana, where the supper-tables were
set: that of the Empress, those of the Princesses, of the Lady of Honor,
of the Lady of the Bedchamber, of the Ladles of the Palace. "All these
tables," says the Duchess of Abrantès, "were occupied by women with roses
on their heads, and smiles on their lips, and often with tears in their
eyes; for vanity, everywhere triumphant, holds its court especially at
court. There, favor is everything, disgrace is everything. A chance word
or glance of the Emperor or Empress is a blow and a serious one. What,
then, must be the result of an invitation sent or withheld?"

During the concert the Empress made up the supper-table; that is to say,
chose the women who were to sit at her table, commissioning her
chamberlain to notify those she had selected. The Princesses did the same,
and the officers of their households likewise informed the women whom they
had chosen. There were but twelve places at the Empress's table; eight or
ten at those of the Princesses. When the chamberlains came to bring these
most welcome invitations, there fluttered through the eight hundred or
thousand women present at the concerts and grand levees an anxious emotion
which amused observers. The aspect of the Gallery of Diana was most
impressive. On the Empress's table shone a golden service amid glass and
Sèvres ware. During the supper the men strolled up and down the gallery,
but as soon as the Emperor appeared, awe and fear appeared on every face.
It seemed as if the times of Louis XIV. had returned, of which La Bruyère
said: "Nothing so disfigures certain courtiers as the presence of their
Prince; I can sometimes scarcely recognize them, so altered are their
features, so degraded their faces. The proud and haughty ones are the most
disturbed, for they change the most; and the upright and modest man comes
out best; he has nothing to change." The Duchess of Abrantès, recalling
the intimidation caused by Napoleon's approach, wrote: "Even those who
nowadays talk about the Corsican with a great show of scorn, those very
ones (I have seen them, and I am not the only one,) were the most timid
before the very shadow of his hat." The women trembled even more. They
dreaded the questions the Emperor might put to them, and, according to
Madame de Rémusat, there was not one who would not gladly have been
anywhere else. During the First Empire, everything, even the festivities,
wore a military air. The sovereign always had the air of a commanding
general. Discipline prevailed, at a ball as well as in a camp, and the
young men took part in those pleasures only to return with renewed zeal
and courage to the battle-field.



By the beginning of 1805 the court was definitely formed. After laborious
studies on the part of a special commission, and long discussions in which
Napoleon took as interested a part as he did in the preparation of the
civil code, all the wheels of etiquette had been arranged, and the
machinery worked with perfect regularity. The Emperor attached great
importance to the subject, from both a political and a social point of
view. In his eyes, etiquette had the great advantage of drawing between
him and those who had recently been his superiors, a distinct line of
separation. He looked upon it as a useful tool of government, as an
accompaniment of glory absolutely essential for a sovereign, especially
for one of recent origin. He was very proud of his court, of the wealth it
displayed, and of the vast results he obtained at a comparatively small
expense, and at Saint Helena he liked to recall its agreeable memory.

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