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The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete by Constant

Part 9 out of 15

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placed in a box of which I alone had the key. One day there was a great
commotion in the private apartments over a paper which could not be
found. These were the circumstances:

Near the Emperor's cabinet was a small room in which the secretaries
stayed, furnished with a desk, on which notes or petitions were--often
placed. This room was usually occupied by the cabinet usher, and the
Emperor was accustomed to enter it if he wished to hold a private
conversation without being overheard by the secretaries. When the
Emperor entered this room the usher withdrew and remained outside the
door; he was responsible for everything in this room, which was never
opened except by express orders from his Majesty.

Marshal Bessieres had several days before presented to the Emperor a
request for promotion from a colonel of the army which he had warmly
supported. One morning the marshal entered the little room of which I
have just spoken, and finding his petition already signed lying on the
desk, he carried it off, without being noticed by my wife's uncle who was
on duty. A few hours after, the Emperor wished to examine this petition
again, and was very sure he had left it in this small room; but it was
not there, and it was thought that the usher must have allowed some one
to enter without his Majesty's orders. Search was made everywhere in
this room and in the Emperor's cabinet, and even in the apartments of the
Empress, and at last it was necessary to announce to his Majesty that the
search had been in vain; whereupon the Emperor gave way to one of those
bursts of anger which were so terrible though fortunately so rare, which
terrified the whole chateau, and the poor usher received orders never to
appear in his sight again. At last Marshal Bessieres, having been told
of this terrible commotion, came to accuse himself. The Emperor was
appeased, the usher restored to favor, and everything forgotten; though
each one was more careful than ever that nothing should be disturbed, and
that the Emperor should find at his finger's end whatever papers he

The Emperor would not allow any one to be introduced without his
permission, either into the Empress's apartments or his own; and this was
the one fault for which the people of the household could not expect
pardon. Once, I do not exactly remember when, the wife of one of the
Swiss Guard allowed one of her lovers to enter the apartments of the
Empress; and this unfortunate woman, without the knowledge of her
imprudent mistress, took in soft wax an impression of the key of the
jewel-box which I have already mentioned as having belonged to Queen
Marie Antoinette, and, by means of a false key made from this impression,
succeeded in stealing several articles of jewelry. The police soon
discovered the author of the robbery who was punished as he deserved,
though another person was also punished who did not deserve it, for the
poor husband lost his place.


After his divorce from the Empress Josephine, the Emperor appeared much
preoccupied; and as it was known that he thought of marrying again, all
persons at the chateau and in his Majesty's service were greatly
concerned about this marriage, though all our conjectures concerning the
princess destined to share the Imperial crown proved to be wrong. Some
spoke of a Russian princess, while others said the Emperor would marry
none but a French woman; but no one thought of an Austrian archduchess.
When the marriage had been decided, nothing was spoken of at the court
but the youth, grace, and native goodness of the new Empress. The
Emperor was very gay, and paid more attention to his toilet, giving me
orders to renew his wardrobe, and to order better fitting coats, made in
a more modern style. The Emperor also sat for his portrait, which the
Prince de Neuchatel carried to Marie Louise; and the Emperor received at
the same time that of his young wife, with which he appeared delighted.

The Emperor, in order to win Marie Louise's affection, did more
undignified things than he had ever done for any woman. For instance,
one day when he was alone with Queen Hortense and the Princess Stephanie,
the latter mischievously asked him if he knew how to waltz; and his
Majesty replied that he had never been able to go beyond the first
lesson, because after two or three turns he became so dizzy that he was
compelled to stop. "When I was at l'ecole militaire," added the Emperor,
"I tried again and again to overcome dizziness which waltzing produced,
but I could not succeed. Our dancing-master having advised us, in
learning to waltz, to take a chair in our arms instead of a lady, I never
failed to fall with the chair, which I pressed so lovingly that it broke;
and thus the chairs in my room, and that of two or three of my
companions, were destroyed, one after the other." This tale told in the
most animated and amusing manner by his Majesty excited bursts of
laughter from the two princesses.

When this hilarity had somewhat subsided, Princess Stephanie returned to
the charge, saying, "It really is a pity that your Majesty does not know
how to waltz, for the Germans are wild over waltzing, and the Empress
will naturally share the taste of her compatriots; she can have no
partner but the Emperor, and thus she will be deprived of a great
pleasure through your Majesty's fault."--"You are right!" replied the
Emperor; "well, give me a lesson, and you will have a specimen of my
skill." Whereupon he rose, took a few turns with Princess Stephanie,
humming the air of the Queen of Prussia; but he could not take more than
two or three turns, and even this he did so awkwardly that it increased
the amusement of these ladies. Then the Princess of Baden stopped,
saying, "Sire, that is quite enough to convince me that you will never be
anything but a poor pupil. You were made to give lessons, not to take

Early in March the Prince de Neuchatel set out for Vienna commissioned to
officially request the hand of the Empress in marriage. The Archduke
Charles, as proxy of the Emperor, married the Archduchess Marie Louise,
and she set out at once for France, the little town of Brannan, on the
frontier between Austria and Bavaria, having been designated as the place
at which her Majesty was to pass into the care of a French suite. The
road from Strasburg was soon filled with carriages conveying to Brannan.
the household of the new Empress. Most of these ladies had passed from
the household of the Empress Josephine into that of Marie Louise.

The Emperor wished to see for himself if the trousseau and wedding
presents intended for his new wife were worthy of him and of her,
consequently all the clothing and linen were brought to the Tuileries,
spread out before him, and packed under his own eyes. The good taste and
elegance of each article were equaled only by the richness of the
materials. The furnishers and modistes of Paris had worked according to
models sent from Vienna; and when these models were presented to the
Emperor he took one of the shoes, which were remarkably small, and with
it gave me a blow on the cheek in the form of a caress. "See, Constant,"
said his Majesty, "that is a shoe of good augury. Have you ever seen a
foot like that? This is made to be held in the hand."

Her Majesty the Queen of Naples had been sent to Brannan, by the Emperor
to receive the Empress. Queen Caroline, of whom the Emperor once said
that she was a man among her sisters, as Prince Joseph was a woman among
his brothers, mistook, it is said, the timidity of Marie Louise for
weakness, and thought that she would only have to speak and her young
sister-in-law would hasten to obey. On her arrival at Brannan the formal
transfer was solemnly made; and the Empress bade farewell to all her
Austrian household, retaining in her service only her first lady of
honor, Madame de Lajanski, who had reared her and never been absent from
her. Etiquette required that the household of the Empress should be
entirely French, and the orders of the Emperor were very precise in this
regard; but I do not know whether it is true, as has been stated, that
the Empress had demanded and obtained from the Emperor permission to
retain for a year this lady of honor. However that may be, the Queen of
Naples thought it to her interest to remove a person whose influence over
the mind of the Empress she so much feared; and as the ladies of the
household of her Imperial Majesty were themselves eager to be rid of the
rivalry of Madame de Lajanski, and endeavored to excite still more the
jealousy of her Imperial highness, a positive order was demanded from the
Emperor, and Madame de Lajanski was sent back from Munich to Vienna.
The Empress obeyed without complaint, but knowing who had instigated the
blow, cherished a profound resentment against her Majesty the Queen of
Naples. The Empress traveled only by short stages, and was welcomed by
fetes in each town through which she passed. Each day the Emperor sent
her a letter from his own hand, and she replied regularly. The first
letters of the Empress were very short, and probably cold, for the
Emperor said nothing about them; but afterwards they grew longer and
gradually more affectionate, and the Emperor read them in transports of
delight, awaiting the arrival of these letters with the impatience of a
lover twenty years of age, and always saying the couriers traveled
slowly, although they broke down their horses.

The Emperor returned from the chase one day holding in his hands two
pheasants which he had himself killed, and followed by footmen bearing in
their hands the rarest flowers from the conservatory of Saint-Cloud. He
wrote a note, and immediately said to his first page, "In ten minutes be
ready to enter your carriage. You will find there this package which you
will give with your own hand to her Majesty the Empress, with the
accompanying letter. Above all do not spare the horses; go as fast as
possible, and fear nothing. The Duke of Vicenza shall say nothing to
you." The young man asked nothing better than to obey his Majesty; and
strong in this authority, which gave him perfect liberty, he did not
grudge drink money to the postilions, and in twenty-four hours had
reached Strasburg and delivered his message.

I do not know whether he received a reprimand from the grand equerry on
his return; but if there was any cause for this, the latter would not
have failed to bestow it, in spite of the Emperor's assurance to the
first page. The Duke of Vicenza had organized and kept in admirable
order the service of the stables, where nothing was done except by his
will, which was most absolute; and it was only with the greatest
difficulty that the Emperor himself could change an order which the grand
equerry had given. For instance, his Majesty was one day en route to
Fontainebleau, and being very anxious to arrive quickly, gave orders to
the outrider who regulated the gait of the horses, to go faster. This
order he transmitted to the Duke of Vicenza whose carriage preceded that
of the Emperor; and finding that the grand equerry paid no attention to
this order, the Emperor began to swear, and cried to the outrider through
the door, "Let my carriage pass in front, since those in front will not
go on." The outriders and postilions were about to execute this maneuver
when the grand equerry also put his head out of the door and exclaimed,
"Keep to a trot, the first man who gallops I will dismiss on arriving."
It was well known that he would keep his word, so no one dared to pass,
and his carriage continued to regulate the pace of the others. On
reaching Fontainebleau the Emperor demanded of the Duke of Vicenza an
explanation of his conduct. "Sire," replied the duke to his Majesty,
"when you allow me a larger sum for the expenses of the stables, you can
kill your horses at your pleasure."

The Emperor cursed every moment the ceremonials and fetes which delayed
the arrival of his young wife. A camp had been formed near Soissons for
the reception of the Empress. The Emperor was now at Compiegne, where he
made a decree containing several clauses of benefits and indulgences on
the occasion of his marriage, setting at liberty many condemned, giving
Imperial marriage dowries to six thousand soldiers, amnesties,
promotions, etc. At length his Majesty learned that the Empress was not
more than ten leagues from Soissons, and no longer able to restrain his
impatience, called me with all his might, "Ohe ho, Constant! order a
carriage without livery, and come and dress me." The Emperor wished to
surprise the Empress, and present himself to her without being announced;
and laughed immoderately at the effect this would produce. He attended
to his toilet with even more exquisite care than usual, if that were
possible, and with the coquetry of glory dressed himself in the gray
redingote he had worn at Wagram; and thus arrayed, the Emperor entered a
carriage with the King of Naples. The circumstances of this first
meeting of their Imperial Majesties are well known.

In the little village of Courcelles, the Emperor met the last courier,
who preceded by only a few moments the carriages of the Empress; and as
it was raining in torrents, his Majesty took shelter on the porch of the
village church. As the carriage of the Empress was passing, the Emperor
made signs to the postilions to stop; and the equerry, who was at the
Empress's door, perceiving the Emperor, hastily lowered the step, and
announced his Majesty, who, somewhat vexed by this, exclaimed, "Could you
not see that I made signs to you to be silent?" This slight ill-humor,
however, passed away in an instant; and the Emperor threw himself on the
neck of Marie Louise, who, holding in her hand the picture of her
husband, and looking attentively first at it, then at him, remarked with
a charming smile, "It is not flattered." A magnificent supper had been
prepared at Soissons for the Empress and her cortege; but the Emperor
gave orders to pass on, and drove as far as Compiegne, without regard to
the appetites of the officers and ladies in the suite of the Empress.


On their Majesties' arrival at Compiegne, the Emperor presented his hand
to the Empress, and conducted her to her apartment. He wished that no
one should approach or touch his young wife before himself; and his
jealousy was so extreme on this point that he himself forbade the senator
de Beauharnais, the Empress's chevalier of honor, to present his hand to
her Imperial Majesty, although this was one of the requirements of his
position. According to the programme, the Emperor should have occupied a
different residence from the Empress, and have slept at the hotel of the
Chancellerie; but he did nothing of the sort, since after a long
conversation with the Empress, he returned to his room, undressed,
perfumed himself with cologne, and wearing only a nightdress returned
secretly to the Empress.

The next morning the Emperor asked me at his toilet if any one noticed
the change he had made in the programme; and I replied that I thought
not, though at the risk of falsehood. Just then one of his Majesty's
intimate friends entered who was unmarried, to whom his Majesty, pulling
his ears, said, "My dear fellow, marry a German. They are the best wives
in the world; gentle, good, artless, and fresh as roses." From the air
of satisfaction with which the Emperor said this, it was easy to see that
he was painting a portrait, and it was only a short while since the
painter had left the model. After making his toilet, the Emperor
returned to the Empress, and towards noon had breakfast sent up for her
and him, and served near the bed by her Majesty's women. Throughout the
day he was in a state of charming gayety, and contrary to his usual
custom, having made a second toilet for dinner, wore the coat made by the
tailor of the King of Naples; but next day he would not allow it to be
put on again, saying it was much too uncomfortable.

The Emperor, as may be seen from the preceding details, loved his new
wife most tenderly. He paid her constant attentions, and his whole
conduct was that of a lover deeply enamoured. Nevertheless, it is not
true, as some one has said, that he remained three months almost without
working, to the great astonishment of his ministers; for work was not
only a duty with the Emperor, it was both a necessity and an enjoyment,
from which no other pleasure, however great, could distract him; and on
this occasion, as on every other, he knew perfectly well how to combine
the duties he owed to his empire and his army with those due to his
charming wife.

The Empress Marie Louise was only nineteen years old at the period of her
marriage. Her hair was blond, her eyes blue and expressive, her carriage
noble, and her figure striking, while her hand and foot might have served
as models; in fact, her whole person breathed youth, health, and
freshness. She was diffident, and maintained a haughty reserve towards
the court; but she was said to be affectionate and friendly in private
life, and one fact I can assert positively is that she was very
affectionate toward the Emperor, and submissive to his will. In their
first interview the Emperor asked her what recommendations were made to
her on her departure from Vienna. "To be entirely devoted to you, and to
obey you in all things," which instructions she seemed to find no
difficulty in obeying.

No one could resemble the first Empress less than the second, and except
in the two points of similarity of temperament, and an extreme regard for
the Emperor, the one was exactly the opposite of the other; and it must
be confessed the Emperor congratulated himself on this difference, in
which he found both novelty and charm. He himself drew a parallel
between his two wives in these terms: "The one [Josephine] was all art
and grace; the other [Marie Louise] innocence and natural simplicity. At
no moment of her life were the manners or habits of the former other than
agreeable and attractive, and it would have been impossible to take her
at a disadvantage on these points; for it was her special object in life
to produce only advantageous impressions, and she gained her end without
allowing this effort to be seen. All that art can furnish to supplement
attractions was practiced by her, but so skillfully that the existence of
this deception could only be suspected at most. On the contrary, it
never occurred to the mind of the second that she could gain anything by
innocent artifices. The one was always tempted to infringe upon the
truth, and her first emotion was a negative one. The other was ignorant
of dissimulation, and every deception was foreign to her. The first
never asked for anything, but she owed everywhere. The second did not
hesitate to ask if she needed anything, which was very rarely, and never
purchased anything without feeling herself obliged to pay for it
immediately. To sum it all up, both were good, gentle wives, and much
attached to their husband." Such, or very nearly these, were the terms
in which the Emperor spoke of his Empresses. It can be seen that he drew
the comparison in favor of the second; and with this idea he gave her
credit for qualities which she did not possess, or at least exaggerated
greatly those really belonging to her.

The Emperor granted Marie Louise 500,000 francs for her toilet, but she
never spent the entire amount. She had little taste in dress, and would
have made a very inelegant appearance had she not been well advised.
The Emperor was present at her toilet those days on which he wished her
to appear especially well, and himself tried the effect of different
ornaments on the head, neck, and arms of the Empress, always selecting
something very handsome. The Emperor was an excellent husband, of which
he gave proof in the case of both his wives. He adored his son, and both
as father and husband might have served as a model for all his subjects;
yet in spite of whatever he may have said on the subject himself, I do
not think he loved Marie Louise with the same devoted affection as
Josephine. The latter had a charming grace, a kindness, an intelligence,
and a devotion to her husband which the Emperor knew and appreciated at
its full value; and though Marie Louise was younger, she was colder, and
had far less grace of manner. I think she was much attached to her
husband; but she was reserved and reticent, and by no means took the
place of Josephine with those who had enjoyed the happiness of being near
the latter.

Notwithstanding the apparent submission with which she had bidden
farewell to her Austrian household, it is certain that she had strong
prejudices, not only against her own household, but also against that of
the Emperor, and never addressed a gracious word to the persons in the
Emperor's personal service. I saw her frequently, but not a smile, a
look, a sign, on the part of the Empress showed me that I was in her eyes
anything more than a stranger. On my return from Russia, whence I did
not arrive until after the Emperor, I lost no time in entering his room,
knowing that he had already asked for me, and found there his Majesty
with the Empress and Queen Hortense. The Emperor condoled with me on the
sufferings I had recently undergone, and said many flattering things
which proved his high opinion of me; and the queen, with that charming
grace of which she is the only model since the death of her august
mother, conversed with me for some time in the kindest manner. The
Empress alone kept silence; and noticing this the Emperor said to her,
"Louise, have you nothing to say to poor Constant?"--"I had not
perceived him," said the Empress. This reply was most unkind, as it was
impossible for her Majesty not to have "perceived" me, there being at
that moment present in the room only the Emperor, Queen Hortense, and I.

The Emperor from the first took the severest precautions that no one, and
especially no man, should approach the Empress, except in the presence of

During the time of the Empress Josephine, there were four ladies whose
only duty was to announce the persons received by her Majesty. The
excessive indulgence of Josephine prevented her repressing the jealous
pretensions of some persons of her household, which gave rise to endless
debates and rivalries between the ladies of the palace and those of
announcement. The Emperor had been much annoyed by all these bickerings,
and, in order to avoid them in future, chose, from the ladies charged
with the education of the daughters of the Legion of Honor in the school
at Rouen, four new ladies of announcement for the Empress Marie Louise.
Preference was at first given to the daughters or widows of generals; and
the Emperor decided that the places becoming vacant belonged by right to
the best pupils of the Imperial school of Rouen, and should be given as a
reward for good conduct. A short time after, the number of these ladies
now being as many as six, two pupils of Madame de Campan were named, and
these ladies changed their titles to that of first ladies of the Empress.

This change, however, excited the displeasure of the ladies of the
palace, and again aroused their clamors around the Emperor; and he
consequently decided that the ladies of announcement should take the
title of first ladies of the chamber. Great clamor among the ladies of
announcement in their turn, who came in person to plead their cause
before the Emperor; and he at last ended the matter by giving them the
title of readers to the Empress, in order to reconcile the requirements
of the two belligerent parties.

These ladies of announcement, or first ladies of the chamber, or readers,
as the reader may please to call them, had under their orders six femmes
de chambre, who entered the Empress's rooms only when summoned there by a
bell. These latter arranged her Majesty's toilet and hair in the
morning; and the six first ladies took no part in her toilet except the
care of the diamonds, of which they had special charge. Their chief and
almost only employment was to follow the steps of the Empress, whom they
left no more than her shadow, entering her room before she arose, and
leaving her no more till she was in bed. Then all the doors opening into
her room were closed, except that leading into an adjoining room, in
which was the bed of the lady on duty, and through which, in order to
enter his wife's room, the Emperor himself must pass.

With the exception of M. de Meneval, secretary of orders of the Empress,
and M. Ballouhai, superintendent of expenses, no man was admitted into
the private apartments of the Empress without an order from the Emperor;
and the ladies even, except the lady of honor and the lady of attire,
were received only after making an appointment with the Empress. The
ladies of the private apartments were required to observe these rules,
and were responsible for their execution; and one of them was required to
be present at the music, painting, and embroidery lessons of the Empress,
and wrote letters by her dictation or under her orders.

The Emperor did not wish that any man in the world should boast of having
been alone with the Empress for two minutes; and he reprimanded very
severely the lady on duty because she one day remained at the end of the
saloon while M. Biennais, court watchmaker, showed her Majesty a secret
drawer in a portfolio he had made for her. Another time the Emperor was
much displeased because the lady on duty was not seated by the side of
the Empress while she took her music-lesson with M. Pier.

These facts prove conclusively the falsity of the statement that the
milliner Leroy was excluded from the palace for taking the liberty of
saying to her Majesty that she had beautiful shoulders. M. Leroy had the
dresses of the Empress made at his shop by a model which was sent him;
and they were never tried on her Majesty, either by him, or any person of
her Majesty's household, and necessary alterations were indicated by her
femmes de chambre. It was the same with the other merchants and
furnishers, makers of corsets, the shoemaker, glovemaker, etc.; not one
of whom ever saw the Empress or spoke to her in her private apartments.


Their Majesties' civil marriage was celebrated at Saint-Cloud on Sunday,
the 1st of April, at two o'clock in the afternoon. The religious
ceremony was solemnized the next day in the grand gallery of the Louvre.
A very singular circumstance in this connection was the fact that Sunday
afternoon at Saint-Cloud the weather was beautiful, while the streets of
Paris were flooded with a heavy shower lasting some time, and on Monday
there was rain at Saint-Cloud, while the weather was magnificent in
Paris, as if the fates had decreed that nothing should lessen the
splendor of the cortege, or the brilliancy of the wonderful illuminations
of that evening. "The star of the Emperor," said some one in the
language of that period, "has borne him twice over equinoctial winds."

On Monday evening the city of Paris presented a scene that might have
been taken from the realms of enchantment: the illuminations were the
most brilliant I have ever witnessed, forming a succession of magic
panorama in which houses, hotels, palaces, and churches, shone with
dazzling splendor, the glittering towers of the churches appeared like
stars and comets suspended in the air. The hotels of the grand
dignitaries of the empire, the ministers, the ambassadors of Austria and
Russia, and the Duke d'Abrantes, rivaled each other in taste and beauty.
The Place Louis XV. was like a scene from fairyland; from the midst of
this Place, surrounded with orange-trees on fire, the eye was attracted
in succession by the magnificent decorations of the Champs-Elysees, the
Garde Meuble, the Temple of Glory, the Tuileries, and the Corps
Legislatif. The palace of the latter represented the Temple of Hymen,
the transparencies on the front representing Peace uniting the august
spouses. Beside them stood two figures bearing shields, on which were
represented the arms of the two empires; and behind this group came
magistrates, warriors, and the people presenting crowns. At the two
extremities of the transparencies were represented the Seine and the
Danube, surrounded by children-image of fecundity. The twelve columns of
the peristyle and the staircase were illuminated; and the columns were
united by garlands of colored lights, the statues on the peristyle and
the steps also bearing lights. The bridge Louis XV., by which this
Temple of Hymen was reached, formed in itself an avenue, whose double
rows of lamps, and obelisks and more than a hundred columns, each
surmounted by a star and connected by spiral festoons of colored lights,
produced an effect so brilliant that it was almost unendurable to the
naked eye. The cupola of the dome of Saint Genevieve was also
magnificently lighted, and each side outlined by a double row of lamps.
At each corner were eagles, ciphers in colored glass, and garlands of
fire suspended between torches of Hymen. The peristyle of the dome was
lighted by lamps placed between each column, and as the columns were not
lighted they seemed as if suspended in the air. The lantern tower was a
blaze of light; and all this mass of brilliancy was surmounted by a
tripod representing the altar of Hymen, from which shot tongues of flame,
produced by bituminous materials. At a great elevation above the
platform of the observatory, an immense star, isolated from the platform,
and which from the variety of many-colored glasses composing it sparkled
like a vast diamond, under the dome of night. The palace of the senate
also attracted a large number of the curious; but I have already extended
too far the description of this wonderful scene which unfolded itself at
every step before us.

The city of Paris did homage to her Majesty the Empress by presenting her
with a toilet set even more magnificent than that formerly presented to
the Empress Josephine. Everything was in silver gilt, even the arm chair
and the cheval glass. The paintings on the exquisite furniture had been
made by the first artists, and the elegance and finish of the ornaments
surpassed even the rich ness of the materials.

About the end of April their Majesties set out together to visit the
departments of the North; and the journey was an almost exact repetition
of the one I made in 1804 with the Emperor, only the Empress was no
longer the good, kind Josephine. While passing again through all these
towns, where I had seen her welcomed with so much enthusiasm, and who now
addressed the same adoration and homage to a new sovereign, and while
seeing again the chateaux of Lacken, Brussels, Antwerp, Boulogne, and
many other places where I had seen Josephine pass in triumph, as at
present Marie Louise passed, I thought with chagrin of the isolation of
the first wife from her husband, and the suffering which must penetrate
even into her retreat, as she was told of the honors rendered to the one
who had succeeded her in the Emperor's heart and on the Imperial throne.

The King and Queen of Westphalia and Prince Eugene accompanied their
Majesties. We saw a vessel with eighty cannon launched at Antwerp, which
received, before leaving the docks, the benediction of M. de Pradt,
Archbishop of Malines. The King of Holland, who joined the Emperor at
Antwerp, felt most unkindly towards his Majesty, who had recently
required of him the cession of a part of his states, and soon after
seized the remainder. He was, however, present in Paris at the marriage
fetes of the Emperor, who had even sent him to meet Marie Louise; but the
two brothers had not ceased their mutual distrust of each other, and it
must be admitted that that of King Louis had only too good foundation.
What struck me as very singular in their altercations was that the
Emperor, in the absence of his brother, gave vent to the most terrible
bursts of rage, and to violent threats against him, while if they had an
interview they treated each other in the most amicable and familiar and
brotherly manner. Apart they were, the one, Emperor of the French, the
other, King of Holland, with opposite interests and views; together they
were no more than, if I may be permitted to so express myself, Napoleon
and Louis, companions and friends from childhood.

Prince Louis was habitually sad and melancholy. The annoyances he
experienced on the throne, where he had been placed against his will,
added to his domestic troubles, made him evidently very unhappy, and all
who knew him pitied him sincerely; for King Louis was an excellent
master, and an honest man of much merit. It has been said that when the
Emperor had decided on the union of Holland and France, King Louis
resolved to defend himself in the town of Amsterdam to the last
extremity, and to break the dikes and inundate the whole country if
necessary, in order to arrest the invasion of the French troops. I do
not know whether this is true; but from what I have seen of this prince's
character, I am very sure that, while having enough personal courage to
expose his own person to all the chances of this desperate alternative,
his naturally kind heart and his humanity would have prevented the
execution of this project.

At Middleburg the Emperor embarked on board the Charlemagne to visit the
mouth of the Scheldt and the port and island of Flushing. During this
excursion we were assailed by a terrible tempest, three anchors were
broken in succession; we met with other accidents, and encountered great

The Emperor was made very sick, and every few moments threw himself on
his bed, making violent but unsuccessful efforts to vomit, which rendered
his sickness more distressing. I was fortunate enough not to be at all
inconvenienced, and was thus in a position to give him all the attention
he required; though all the persons of his suite were sick, and my uncle,
who was usher on duty, and obliged to remain standing at the door of his
Majesty's cabin, fell over continually, and suffered agony. During this
time of torment, which lasted for three days, the Emperor was bursting
with impatience. "I think," said he, "that I would have made a pretty

A short time after our return from this voyage, the Emperor wished her
Majesty the Empress to learn to ride on horseback; and for this purpose
she went to the riding-hall of Saint-Cloud. Several persons of the
household were in the gallery to see her take her first lesson, I among
the number; and I noticed the tender solicitude of the Emperor for his
young wife, who was mounted on a gentle, well-broken horse, while the
Emperor held her hand and walked by her side, M. Jardin, Sr., holding the
horse's bridle. At the first step the horse made, the Empress screamed
with fright, whereupon the Emperor said to her, "Come, Louise, be brave.
What have you to fear? Am I not here?" And thus the lesson passed, in
encouragement on one side and fright on the other. The next day the
Emperor ordered the persons in the gallery to leave, as they embarrassed
the Empress; but she soon overcame her timidity, and ended by becoming a
very good horsewoman, often racing in the park with her ladies of honor
and Madame the Duchess of Montebello, who also rode with much grace. A
coach with some ladies followed the Empress, and Prince Aldobrandini, her
equerry, never left her in her rides.

The Empress was at an age in which one enjoys balls and fetes; but the
Emperor feared above all things her becoming tired, and consequently
rejoicings and amusements were given up at the court and in the city.
A fete given in honor of their Majesties by the Prince of Schwartzenberg,
ambassador from Austria, ended in a frightful accident.

The prince occupied the former Hotel de la Montesson in the rue de la
Chaussee d'Antin; and in order to give this ball had added to this
residence a broad hall and wooden gallery, decorated with quantities of
flowers, banners, candelabra, etc. Just as the Emperor, who had been
present at the fete for two or three hours, was about to retire, one of
the curtains, blown by the breeze, took fire from the lights, which had
been placed too near the windows, and was instantly in flames. Some
persons made ineffectual efforts to extinguish the fire by tearing down
the drapery and smothering the flames with their hands; but in the
twinkling of an eye the curtains, papers, and garlands caught, and the
wood-work began to burn.

The Emperor was one of the first to perceive the rapid progress of the
fire, and foresee the results. He approached the Empress, who had
already risen to join him, and got out with her, not without some
difficulty, on account of the crowd which rushed towards the doors; the
Queens of Holland, Naples, Westphalia, the Princess Borghese, etc.,
following their Majesties, while the Vice-queen of Italy, who was
pregnant, remained in the hall, on the platform containing the Imperial
boxes. The vice-king, fearing the crowd as much as the fire for his
wife, took her out through a little door that had been cut in the
platform in order to serve refreshments to their Majesties. No one had
thought of this opening before Prince Eugene, and only a few persons went
out with him. Her Majesty the Queen of Westphalia did not think herself
safe, even when she had reached the terrace, and in her fright rushed
into the rue Taitbout, where she was found by a passer-by.

The Emperor accompanied the Empress as far as the entrance of the
Champs-Elysees, where he left her to return to the fire, and did not
re-enter Saint-Cloud until four o'clock in the morning. From the time
of the arrival of the Empress we were in a state of terrible
apprehension, and every one in the chateau was a prey to the greatest
anxiety in regard to the Emperor. At last he arrived unharmed, but very
tired, his clothing all in disorder, and his face blackened with smoke,
his shoes and stockings scorched and burned by the fire. He went
directly to the chamber of the Empress to assure himself if she had
recovered from the fright she had experienced; and then returned to his
room, and throwing his hat on the bed, dropped on a sofa, exclaiming,
"Mon Dieu! What a fete!" I remarked that the Emperor's hands were all
blackened, and he had lost his gloves at the fire. He was much
dejected, and while I was undressing him, asked if I had attended the
prince's fete, and when I replied in the negative, deigned to give me
some details of this deplorable event. The Emperor spoke with an
emotion which I saw him manifest only two or three times in his life,
and which he never showed in regard to his own misfortunes. "The fire,"
said his Majesty, "has to-night devoured a heroic woman. The
sister-in-law of the Prince of Schwartzenberg, hearing from the burning
hall cries which she thought were uttered by her eldest daughter, threw
herself into the midst of the flames, and the floor, already nearly
burned through, broke under her feet, and she disappeared. After all
the poor mother was mistaken, and all her children were out of danger.
Incredible efforts were made, and at last she was recovered from the
flames; but she was entirely dead, and all the attentions of the
physicians have been unsuccessful in restoring her to life." The
emotion of the Emperor increased at the end of this recital. I had
taken care to have his bath in readiness, foreseeing he would need it on
his return; and his Majesty now took it, and after his customary
rubbing, found himself in much better condition. Nevertheless, I
remember his expressing fear that the terrible accident of this night
was the precursor of some fatal event, and he long retained these
apprehensions. Three years after, during the deplorable campaign of
Russia, it was announced to the Emperor one day, that the army-corps
commanded by the Prince of Schwartzenberg had been destroyed, and that
the prince himself had perished; afterwards he found fortunately that
these tidings were false, but when they were brought to his Majesty, he
exclaimed as if replying to an idea that had long preoccupied him, "Then
it was he whom the bad omen threatened."

Towards morning the Emperor sent pages to the houses of all those who had
suffered from the catastrophe with his compliments, and inquiries as to
their condition. Sad answers were brought to his Majesty. Madame the
Princess de la Layen, niece of the Prince Primate, had died from her
wounds; and the lives of General Touzart, his wife, and daughter were
despaired of,--in fact, they died that same day. There were other
victims of this disaster; and among a number of persons who recovered
after long-continued sufferings were Prince Kourakin and Madame Durosnel,
wife of the general of that name.

Prince Kourakin, always remarkable for the magnificence as well as the
singular taste of his toilet, wore at the ball a coat of gold cloth, and
it was this which saved his life, as sparks and cinders slipped off his
coat and the decorations with which he was covered like a helmet; yet,
notwithstanding this, the prince was confined to his bed for several
months. In the confusion he fell on his back, was for some time,
trampled under foot and much injured, and owed his life only to the
presence of mind and strength of a musician, who raised him in his arms
and carried him out of the crowd.

General Durosnel, whose wife fainted in the ball-room, threw himself in
the midst of the flames, and reappeared immediately, bearing in his arms
his precious burden. He bore Madame Durosnel into a house on the
boulevard, where he placed her until he could find a carriage in which to
convey her to his hotel. The Countess Durosnel was painfully burned, and
was ill more than two years. In going from the ambassador's hotel to the
boulevard he saw by the light of the fire a robber steal the comb from
the head of his wife who had fainted in his arms. This comb was set with
diamonds, and very valuable.

Madame Durosnel's affection for her husband was equal to that he felt for
her; and when at the end of a bloody combat, in the second campaign of
Poland, General Durosnel was lost for several days, and news was sent to
France that he was thought to be dead, the countess in despair fell ill
of grief, and was at the point of death. A short time after it was
learned that the general was badly but not mortally wounded, and that he
had been found, and his wounds would quickly heal. When Madame Durosnel
received this happy news her joy amounted almost to delirium; and in the
court of her hotel she made a pile of her mourning clothes and those of
her people, set fire to them, and saw this gloomy pile turn to ashes amid
wild transports of joy and delight.

Two days after the burning of the hotel of the Prince of Schwartzenberg,
the Emperor received the news of the abdication of his brother Louis, by
which event his Majesty seemed at first much chagrined, and said to some
one who entered his room just as he had been informed of it, "I foresaw
this madness of Louis, but I did not think he would be in such haste."
Nevertheless, the Emperor soon decided what course to take; and a few
days afterwards his Majesty, who during the toilet had not opened his
mouth, came suddenly out of his preoccupation just as I handed him his
coat, and gave me two or three of his familiar taps. "Monsieur
Constant," said he, "do you know what are the three capitals of the
French Empire?" and without giving me time to answer, the Emperor
continued, "Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam. That sounds well, does it not?"


In the latter part of July large crowds visited the Church of the Hotel
des Invalides, in which were placed the remains of General Saint-Hilaire
and the Duke de Montebello, the remains of the marshal being placed near
the tomb of Turenne. The mornings were spent in the celebration of
several masses, at a double altar which was raised between the nave and
the dome; and for four days there floated from the spire of the dome a
long black banner or flag edged with white.

The day the remains of the marshal were removed from the Invalides to the
Pantheon, I was sent from Saint-Cloud to Paris with a special message for
the Emperor. After this duty was attended to, I still had a short time
of leisure, of which I availed myself to witness the sad ceremony and bid
a last adieu to the brave warrior whose death I had witnessed. At noon
all the civil and military authorities assembled at the Invalides; and
the body was transferred from the dome into the church, and placed on a
catafalque in the shape of a great Egyptian pyramid, raised on an
elevated platform, and approached through four large arches, the posts of
which were entwined with garlands of laurels interlaced with cypress.
At the corners were statues in the attitude of grief, representing Force,
Justice, Prudence, and Temperance, virtues characteristic of the hero.
This pyramid ended in a funeral urn surmounted by a crown of fire. On
the front of the pyramid were placed the arms of the duke, and medallions
commemorating the most remarkable events of his life borne by genii.
Under the obelisk was placed the sarcophagus containing the remains of
the marshal, at the corners of which were trophies composed of banners
taken from his enemies, and innumerable silver candelabra were placed on
the steps by which the platform was reached. The oaken altar, in the
position it occupied before the Revolution, was double, and had a double
tabernacle, on the doors of which were the commandments, the whole
surmounted by a large cross, from the intersection of which was suspended
a shroud. At the corners of the altar were the statues of St. Louis and
St. Napoleon. Four large candelabra were placed on pedestals at the
corners of the steps, and the pavement of the choir and that of the nave
were covered with a black carpet. The pulpit, also draped in black and
decorated with the Imperial eagle, and from which was pronounced the
funeral oration over the marshal, was situated on the left in front of
the bier; on the right was a seat of ebony decorated with Imperial arms,
bees, stars, lace, fringes, and other ornaments in silver, which was
intended for the prince arch-chancellor of the Empire, who presided at
the ceremony. Steps were erected in the arches of the aisles, and
corresponded to the tribunes which were above; and in front of these
steps were seats and benches for the civil and military authorities, the
cardinals, archbishops, bishops, etc. The arms, decorations, baton, and
laurel crown of the marshal were placed on the bier.

All the nave and the bottom of the aisles were covered with black with a
white bordering, as were the windows also, and the draperies displayed
the marshal's arms, baton, and cipher.

The organ was entirely concealed by voluminous hangings which in no wise
lessened the effect of its mournful tones. Eighteen sepulchral silver
lamps were suspended by chains from lances, bearing on their points flags
taken from the enemy. On the pilasters of the nave were fastened
trophies of arms, composed of banners captured in the numerous
engagements which had made the marshal's life illustrious. The railing
of the altar on the side of the esplanade was draped in black, and above
this were the arms of the duke borne by two figures of Fame holding palms
of victory; above was written: "Napoleon to the Memory of the Duke of
Montebello, who died gloriously on the field of Essling, 22d. May, 1809."

The conservatory of music executed a mass composed of selections from the
best of Mozart's sacred pieces. After the ceremony the body was carried
as far as the door of the church and placed on the funeral car, which was
ornamented with laurel and four groups of the banners captured from the
enemy by his army-corps in the numerous battles in which the marshal had
taken part, and was preceded by a military and religious procession,
followed by one of mourning and honor. The military cortege was composed
of detachments from all branches of the army, cavalry, and light
infantry, and the line, and artillery both horse and foot; followed by
cannon, caissons, sappers, and miners, all preceded by drums, trumpets,
bands, etc.; and the general staff, with the marshal, Prince of Wagram,
at its head, formed of all the general officers, with the staff of the
division and of the place.

The religious procession was composed of children and old men from the
hospitals, clergy from all the parishes and from the metropolitan church
of Paris, bearing crosses and banners, with singers and sacred music, and
his Majesty's chaplain with his assistants. The car on which was placed
the marshal's body followed immediately after. The marshals, Duke of
Conegliano, Count Serrurier, Duke of Istria, and Prince of Eckmuhl, bore
the corners of the pall. On each side of the car two of the marshal's
aides-de-camp bore a standard, and on the bier were fastened the baton of
the marshal and the decorations of the Duke of Montebello.

After the car came the cortege of mourning and of honor; the marshal's
empty carriage, with two of his aides-de-camp on horseback at the door,
four mourning carriages for the marshal's family, the carriages of the
princes, grand dignitaries, marshals, ministers, colonel-generals, and
chief inspectors. Then came a detachment of cavalry preceded by
trumpets, and bands on horseback followed the carriages and ended the
procession. Music accompanied the chants, all the bells of the churches
tolled, and thirteen cannon thundered at intervals.

On arriving at the subterranean entrance of the church of
Saint-Genevieve, the body was removed from the car by grenadiers who had
been decorated and wounded in the same battles as the marshal. His
Majesty's chaplain delivered the body to the arch-priest. The Prince of
Eckmuhl addressed to the new Duke of Montebello the condolences of the
army, and the prince arch-chancellor deposited on the bier the medal
destined to perpetuate the memory of these funeral honors of the warrior
to whom they were paid, and of the services which so well merited them.
Then all the crowd passed away, and there remained in the church only a
few old servants of the marshal, who honored his memory as much and even
more by the tears which they shed in silence than did all this public
mourning and imposing ceremony. They recognized me, for we had been
together on the campaign. I remained some time with them, and we left
the Pantheon together.

During my short excursion to Paris, their Majesties had left Saint-Cloud
for Rambouillet, so I set out to rejoin them with the equipages of the
marshal, Prince de Neuchatel, who had left court temporarily to be
present at the obsequies of the brave Duke of Montebello.

It was, if I am not mistaken, on arriving at Rambouillet that I learned
the particulars of a duel which had taken place that day between two
gentlemen, pages of his Majesty. I do not recall the subject of the
quarrel; but, though very trivial in its origin, it became very serious
from the course of conduct to which it led. It was a dispute between
schoolboys; but these school-boys wore swords, and regarded each other,
not without reason, as more than three-fourths soldiers, so they had
decided to fight. But for this fight, two things were necessary,--time
and secrecy; as to their time, it was employed from four or five in the
morning till nine in the evening, almost constantly, and secrecy was not

M. d'Assigny, a man of rare merit and fine character, was then
sub-governor of the pages, by whom his faithfulness, kindness, and
justice had caused him to be much beloved. Wishing to prevent a
calamity, he called before him the two adversaries; but these young men,
destined for army service, would hear of no other reparation than the
duel. M. d'Assigny had too much tact to attempt to argue with them,
knowing that he would not have been obeyed; but he offered himself as
second, was accepted by the young men, and being given the selection of
arms, chose the pistol, and appointed as the time of meeting an early
hour next morning, and everything was conducted in the order usual to
such affairs. One of the pages shot first, and missed his adversary; the
other discharged his weapon in the air, upon which they immediately
rushed into each other's arms, and M. d'Assigny took this opportunity of
giving them a truly paternal lecture. Moreover, the worthy sub-governor
not only kept their secret, but he kept his own also; for the pistols
loaded by M. d'Assigny contained only cork balls; a fact of which the
young men are still ignorant.

Some persons saw the 25th of August, which was the fete day of the
Empress, arrive with feelings of curiosity. They thought that from a
fear of exciting the memories of the royalists, the Emperor would
postpone this solemnity to another period of the year, which he could
easily have done by feting his august spouse under the name of Marie.
But the Emperor was not deterred by such fears, and it is also very
probable that he was the only one in the chateau to whom no such idea
occurred. Secure in his power, and the hopes that the French nation then
built upon him, he knew well that he had nothing to dread from exiled
princes, or from a party which appeared dead without the least chance of
resurrection. I have heard it asserted since, and very seriously too,
that his Majesty was wrong to fete Saint Louis, which had brought him
misfortune, etc.; but these prognostications, made afterwards, did not
then occupy the thoughts of any one, and Saint Louis was celebrated in
honor of the Empress Marie Louise with almost unparalleled pomp and

A few days after these rejoicings, their Majesties held in the Bois de
Boulogne a review of the regiments of the Imperial Guard of Holland,
which the Emperor had recently ordered to Paris. In honor of their
arrival his Majesty had placed here and there in the walks of the Bois
casks of wine with the heads knocked in, so that each soldier could drink
at will; but this imperial munificence had serious results which might
have become fatal. The Holland soldiery more accustomed to strong beer
than to wine, nevertheless found the latter much to their taste, and
imbibed it in such great quantities, that in consequence their heads were
turned to an alarming extent. They began at first with some encounters,
either among themselves or with the curious crowd who observed them too
closely. Just then a storm arose suddenly, and the promenaders of
Saint-Cloud and its environs hastened to return to Paris, passing
hurriedly through the Bois de Boulogne; and these Hollanders, now in an
almost complete state of intoxication, began fighting with each other in
the woods, stopping all the women who passed, and threatening very,
rudely the men by whom, most of them were accompanied. In a flash the
Bois resounded with cries of terror, shouts, oaths, and innumerable
combats. Some frightened persons ran as far as Saint-Cloud, where the
Emperor then was; and he was no sooner informed of this commotion, than
he ordered squad after squad of police to march on the Hollanders and
bring them to reason. His Majesty was very angry, and said, "Has any
one ever seen anything equal to these big heads? See them turned
topsy-turvy by two glasses of wine!" but in spite of this jesting, the
Emperor was not without some anxiety and placed himself at the grating
of the park, opposite the bridge, and in person gave directions to the
officers and soldiers sent to restore order. Unfortunately the darkness
was too far advanced for the soldiers to see in what direction to march;
and there is no knowing how it would have ended if an officer of one of
the patrol guards had not conceived the happy idea of calling out, "The
Emperor! there is the Emperor!" And the sentinels repeated after him,
"There is the Emperor," while charging the most mutinous Hollanders. And
such was the terror inspired in these soldiers by the simple name of his
Majesty, that thousands of armed men, drunken and furious, dispersed
before this name alone, and regained their quarters as quickly and
secretly as they could. A few were arrested and severely punished.

I have already said that the Emperor often superintended the toilet of
the Empress, and even that of her ladies. In fact, he liked all the
persons surrounding him to be well and even richly dressed.

But about this time he gave an order the wisdom of which I much admired.
Having often to hold at the baptismal font the children of his grand
officers, and foreseeing that the parents would not fail to dress their
new-born babes in magnificent toilets, the Emperor ordered that children
presented for baptism should wear only a simple long linen robe.
This prudent measure spared at the same time the purse and the vanity of
the parents. I remarked during this ceremony that the Emperor had some
trouble in paying the necessary attention to the questions of the
officiating priest. The Emperor was usually very absentminded during the
services at church, which were not long, as they never lasted more than
ten or fifteen minutes; and yet I have been told that his Majesty asked
if it were not possible to perform them in less time.--He bit his nails,
took snuff oftener than usual, and looked about him constantly, while a
prince of the church uselessly took the trouble to turn the leaves of his
Majesty's book, in order to follow the service.


The pregnancy of Marie Louise had been free from accident, and promised a
happy deliverance, which was awaited by the Emperor with an impatience in
which France had joined for a long while. It was a curious thing to
observe the state of the public mind, while the people formed all sorts
of conjectures, and made unanimous and ardent prayers that the child
should be a son, who might receive the vast inheritance of Imperial
glory. The 19th of March, at seven o'clock in the evening, the Empress
was taken ill; and from that moment the whole palace was in commotion.
The Emperor was informed, and sent immediately for M. Dubois, who had
been staying constantly at the chateau for some time past, and whose
attentions were so valued at such a time.

All the private household of the Empress, as well as Madame de
Montesquieu, were gathered in the apartment, the Emperor, his mother,
sisters, Messieurs Corvisart, Bourdier, and Yvan in an adjoining room.

The Emperor came in frequently, and encouraged his young wife. In the
interior of the palace, the attention was eager, impassioned, clamorous;
and each vied with the other as to who should first have the news of the
birth of the child. At five o'clock in the morning, as the situation of
the Empress continued the same, the Emperor ordered every one to retire,
and himself withdrew in order to take his bath; for the anxiety he had
undergone made a moment of repose very necessary to him in his great
agitation. After fifteen minutes spent in the bath he was hastily
summoned, as the condition of the Empress had become both critical and
dangerous. Hastily throwing on his dressing-gown, he returned to the
apartment of the Empress, and tenderly encouraged her, holding her hand.
The physician, M. Dubois, informed him that it was improbable both mother
and child could be saved; whereupon he cried, "Come, M. Dubois, keep your
wits about you! Save the mother, think only of the mother, I order you."

As the intense suffering continued, it became necessary to use
instruments; and Marie Louise, perceiving this, exclaimed with
bitterness, "Is it necessary to sacrifice me because I am an Empress?"
The Emperor overcome by his emotions had retired to the dressing-room,
pale as death, and almost beside himself. At last the child came into
the world; and the Emperor immediately rushed into the apartment,
embracing the Empress with extreme tenderness, without glancing at the
child, which was thought to be dead; and in fact, it was seven minutes
before he gave any signs of life, though a few drops of brandy were blown
into his mouth and many efforts made to revive him. At last he uttered a

The Emperor rushed from the Empress's arms to embrace this child, whose
birth was for him the last and highest favor of fortune, and seemed
almost beside himself with joy, rushing from the son to the mother, from
the mother to the son, as if he could not sufficiently feast his eyes on
either. When he entered his room to make his toilet, his face beamed
with joy; and, seeing me, he exclaimed, "Well, Constant, we have a big
boy! He is well made to pinch ears for example;" announcing it thus to
every one he met. It was in these effusions of domestic bliss that I
could appreciate how deeply this great soul, which was thought
impressible only to glory, felt the joys of family life.

From the moment the great bell of Notre Dame and the bells of the
different churches of Paris sounded in the middle of the night, until the
hour when the cannon announced the happy delivery of the Empress, an
extreme agitation was felt throughout Paris. At break of day the crowd
rushed towards the Tuileries, and filled the streets and quays, all
awaiting in anxious suspense the first discharge of the cannon. But this
curious sight was not only seen in the Tuileries and neighboring
districts, but at half-past nine in streets far removed from the chateau,
and in all parts of Paris, people could be seen stopping to count with
emotion the discharges of the cannon.

The twenty-second discharge which announced the birth of a boy was hailed
with general acclamations. To the silence of expectation, which had
arrested as if by enchantment the steps of all persons scattered over all
parts of the city, succeeded a burst of enthusiasm almost indescribable.
In this twenty-second [It had been announced in the papers that if it,
was a girl a salute of twenty-one guns would be fired; if a boy, one
hundred guns.] boom of the cannon was a whole dynasty, a whole future,
and simultaneously hats went up in the air; people ran over each other,
and embraced those to whom they were strangers amid shouts of "Vive
l'Empereur!" Old soldiers shed tears of joy, thinking that they had
contributed by their labors and their fatigues to prepare the heritage of
the King of Rome, and that their laurels would wave over the cradle of a

Napoleon, concealed behind a curtain at one of the windows of the
Empress's room, enjoyed the sight of the popular joy, and seemed deeply
touched. Great tears rolled from his eyes, and overcome by emotion he
came again to embrace his son. Never had glory made him shed a tear; but
the happiness of being a father had softened this heart on which the most
brilliant victories and the most sincere testimonials of public
admiration seemed hardly to make an impression. And in truth Napoleon
had a right to believe in his good fortune, which had reached its height
on the day when an archduchess of Austria made him the father of a king,
who had begun as a cadet in a Corsican family. At the end of a few hours
the event which was awaited with equal impatience by France and Europe
had become the personal joy of every household.

At half-past ten Madame Blanchard set out from L'Ecole Militaire in a
balloon for the purpose of carrying into all the towns and villages
through which she passed, the news of the birth of the King of Rome.

The telegraph carried the happy news in every direction; and at two
o'clock in the afternoon replies had already been received from Lyons,
Lille, Brussels, Antwerp, Brest, and many other large towns of the
Empire, which replies, as may well be imagined were in perfect accord
with the sentiments entertained at the capital.

In order to respond to the eagerness of the crowd which pressed
continually around the doors of the palace to learn of the welfare of the
Empress and her august child, it was decided that one of the chamberlains
should stand from morning till evening in the first saloon of the state
apartments, to receive those who came, and inform them of the bulletins
which her Majesty's physicians issued twice a day. At the end of a few
hours, special couriers were sent on all roads leading to foreign courts,
bearing the news of the delivery of the Empress; the Emperor's pages
being charged with this mission to the Senate of Italy, and the municipal
bodies of Milan and Rome. Orders were given in the fortified towns and
ports that the same salutes should be fired as at Paris, and that the
fleets should be decorated. A beautiful evening favored the special
rejoicings at the capital where the houses were voluntarily illuminated.
Those who seek to ascertain by external appearances the real feelings of
a people amid events of this kind, remarked that the topmost stories of
houses in the faubourgs were as well lighted as the most magnificent
hotels and finest houses of the capital. Public buildings, which under
other circumstances are remarkable from the darkness of the surrounding
houses, were scarcely seen amid this profusion of lights with which
public gratitude had lighted every window. The boatmen gave an impromptu
fete which lasted part of the night, and to witness which an immense
crowd covered the shore, testifying the most ardent joy. This people,
who for thirty years had passed through so many different emotions, and
who had celebrated so many victories, showed as much enthusiasm as if it
had been their first fete, or a happy change in their destiny. Verses
were sung or recited at all the theaters; and there was no poetic
formula, from the ode to the fable, which was not made use of to
celebrate the event of the 20th of March, 1811. I learned from a
well-informed person that the sum of one hundred thousand francs from the
private funds of the Emperor was distributed by M. Dequevauvilliers,
secretary of the treasury of the chamber, among the authors of the poetry
sent to the Tuileries; and finally, fashion, which makes use of the least
events, invented stuffs called roi-de-Rome, as in the old regime they had
been called dauphin. On the evening of the 20th of March at nine o'clock
the King of Rome was anointed in the chapel of the Tuileries. This was a
most magnificent ceremony. The Emperor Napoleon, surrounded by the
princes and princesses of his whole court, placed him in the center of
the chapel on a sofa surmounted by a canopy with a Prie-Dieu. Between
the altar and the balustrade had been placed on a carpet of white velvet
a pedestal of granite surmounted by a hand some silver gilt vase to be
used as a baptismal font. The Emperor was grave; but paternal tenderness
diffused over his face an expression of happiness, and it might have been
said that he felt himself half relieved of the burdens of the Empire on
seeing the august child who seemed destined to receive it one day from
the hands of his father. When he approached the baptismal font to
present the child to be anointed there was a moment of silence and
religious contemplation, which formed a touching contrast to the
vociferous gayety which at the same moment animated the crowd outside,
whom the spectacle of the brilliant fireworks had drawn from all parts of
Paris to the Tuileries.

Madame Blanchard, who as I have said had set out in her balloon an hour
after the birth of the King of Rome, to carry the news into all places
she passed, first descended at Saint-Tiebault near Lagny, and from there,
as the wind had subsided, returned to Paris. Her balloon rose after her
departure, and fell at a place six leagues farther on, and the
inhabitants, finding in this balloon only clothing and provisions, did
not doubt that the intrepid aeronaut had been killed; but fortunately
just as her death was announced at Paris, Madame Blanchard herself
arrived and dispelled all anxiety.

Many persons had doubted Marie Louise's pregnancy. Some believed it
assumed, and I never could comprehend the foolish reasons given by these
persons on this subject which malevolence tried to 'gular' fact which
carries its great number of these evil-thinking, suspicious persons, one
part accused the Emperor of being a libertine, supposing him the father
of many natural children, and the other thought him incapable of
obtaining children even by a young princess only nineteen years of age,
their hatred thus blinding their judgment. If Napoleon had natural
children, why could he not have legitimate ones, especially with a young
wife who was known to be in most flourishing health. Besides, it was not
the first, as it was not the last, shaft of malice aimed at Napoleon; for
his position was too high, his glory too brilliant, not to inspire
exaggerated sentiments whether of joy or hatred.

There were also some ill-wishers who took pleasure in saying that
Napoleon was incapable of tender sentiments, and that the happiness of
being a father could not penetrate this heart so filled with ambition as
to exclude all else. I can cite, among many others in my knowledge, a
little anecdote which touched me exceedingly, and which I take much
pleasure in relating, since, while it triumphantly answers the calumnies
of which I have spoken, it also proves the special consideration with
which his Majesty honored me, and consequently, both as a father and a
faithful servant, I experience a mild satisfaction in placing it in these
Memoirs. Napoleon was very fond of children; and having one day asked me
to bring mine to him, I went to seek him. Meanwhile Talleyrand was
announced to the Emperor; and as the interview lasted a long time, my
child grew weary of waiting, and I carried him back to his mother. A
short time after he was taken with croup, which cruel disease, concerning
which his Majesty had made a special appeal to the faculty of Paris, [on
the occasion of the death from croup in 1807 of his heir presumptive, the
young son of the King of Holland]. It snatched many children from their
families. Mine died at Paris. We were then at the chateau of Compiegne,
and I received the sad news just as I was preparing to go to the toilet.
I was too much overcome by my loss to perform my duties; and when the
Emperor asked what prevented my coming, and was told that I had just
heard of the death of my son, said kindly, "Poor Constant! what a
terrible sorrow! We fathers alone can know what it is!"

A short time after, my wife went to see the Empress Josephine at
Malmaison; and this lovely princess deigned to receive her alone in the
little room in front of her bedroom. There she seated herself beside
her, and tried in touching words of sympathy to console her, saying that
this stroke did not reach us alone, and that her grandson, too, had died
of the same disease. As she said this she began to weep; for this
remembrance reopened in her soul recent griefs, and my wife bathed with
tears the hands of this excellent princess. Josephine added many
touching remarks, trying to alleviate her sorrow by sharing it, and thus
restore resignation to the heart of the poor mother. The remembrance of
this kindness helped to calm our grief, and I confess that it is at once
both an honor and a consolation to recall the august sympathy which the
loss of this dear child excited in the hearts of Napoleon and Josephine.
The world will never know how much sensibility and compassion Josephine
felt for the sorrows of others, and all the treasures of goodness
contained in her beautiful soul.


Napoleon was accustomed to compare Marie Louise with Josephine,
attributing to the latter all the advantages of art and grace, and to the
former all the charms of simplicity, modesty, and innocence. Sometimes,
however, this simplicity had in it something childish, an instance of
which I received from good authority. The young Empress, thinking
herself sick, consulted M. Corvisart, who, finding that her imagination
alone was at fault, and that she was suffering simply from the
nervousness natural to a young woman, ordered, as his only prescription,
a box of pills composed of bread and sugar, which the Empress was to take
regularly; after doing which Marie Louise found herself better, and
thanked M. Corvisart, who did not think proper, as may well be believed,
to enlighten her as to his little deception. Having been educated in a
German court, and having learned French only from masters, Marie Louise
spoke the language with the difficulty usually found in expressing one's
self in a foreign tongue. Among the awkward expressions she often used,
but which in her graceful mouth were not without a certain charm, the one
which struck me especially, because it often recurred, was this:
"Napoleon qu'est ce que veux-to?" The Emperor showed the deepest
affection for his young wife, and at the same time made her conform to
all the rules of etiquette, to which the Empress submitted with the
utmost grace. In the month of May, 1811, their Majesties made a journey
into the departments of Calvados and La Manche, where they were received
with enthusiasm by all the towns; and the Emperor made his stay at Caen
memorable by his gifts, favors, and acts of benevolence. Many young men
belonging to good families received sub-lieutenancies, and one hundred
and thirty thousand francs were devoted to various charities. From Caen
their Majesties went to Cherbourg. The day after their arrival the
Emperor set out on horseback early in the morning, visited the heights of
the town, and embarked on several vessels, while the populace pressed
around him crying "Vive l'Empereur!" The following day his Majesty held
several Councils, and in the evening visited all the marine buildings,
and descended to the bottom of the basin which is cut out of the solid
rock in order to allow the passage of vessels of the line, and which was
to be covered with fifty-five feet of water. On this brilliant journey
the Empress received her share of the enthusiasm of the inhabitants, and
in return, at the different receptions which took place, gave a graceful
welcome to the authorities of the country. I dwell purposely on these
details, as they prove that joy over the birth of the King of Rome was
not confined to Paris alone, but, on the contrary, the provinces were in
perfect sympathy with the capital.

The return of their Majesties to Paris brought with them a return of
rejoicings and fetes on the occasion of the baptismal ceremony of the
King of Rome, and the fetes by which it was accompanied were celebrated
at Paris with a pomp worthy of their object. They had as spectators the
entire population of Paris, increased by a prodigious crowd of strangers
of every class.

At four o'clock the Senate left its palace; the Council of State, the
Tuileries; the Corps Legislatif, its palace; the Court of Cassation, the
Court of Accounts, the Council of the University, and the Imperial Court,
the ordinary places of their sittings; the municipal corps of Paris and
the deputations from the forty-nine good towns, the Hotel de Ville. On
their arrival at the Metropolitan Church these bodies were placed by the
master of ceremonies with his aides, according to their rank, on the
right and left of the throne, reaching from the choir to the middle of
the nave. The diplomatic corps at five o'clock took their place on the
platform erected for this purpose.

At half-past five cannon announced the departure of their Majesties from
the Tuileries. The Imperial procession was dazzlingly magnificent; the
fine bearing of the troops, the richness and elegance of the carriages,
the brilliant costumes, made up a ravishing spectacle. The acclamations
of the people which resounded on their Majesties' route, the houses hung
with garlands and drapery, the banners streaming from the windows, the
long line of carriages, the trappings and accouterments of which
progressively increased in magnificence, following each other as in the
order of a hierarchy, this immense paraphernalia of a fete which inspired
true feeling and hopes for the future-all this is profoundly engraved on
my memory, and often occupies the long leisure hours of the old servitor
of a family which has disappeared. The baptismal ceremony took place
with unusual pomp and solemnity. After the baptism the Emperor took his
august son in his arms, and presented him to the clergy present.
Immediately the acclamations, which had been repressed till then from
respect to the ceremony and the sanctity of the place, burst forth on all
sides. The prayers being ended, their Majesties, at eight o'clock in the
evening, went to the Hotel de Ville, and were there received by the
municipal corps. A brilliant concert and a sumptuous banquet had been
tendered them by the city of Paris. The decorations of the banquet hall
showed the, arms of the forty-nine good cities, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam,
being placed first, and the forty-six others in alphabetical order.
After the banquet their Majesties took their places in the concert hall;
and at the conclusion of the concert they repaired to the throne room,
where all invited persons formed a circle. The Emperor passed round this
circle, speaking affably, sometimes even familiarly, to most of the
persons who composed it, each of whom responded in the most cordial

At last, before retiring, their Majesties were invited to pass into the
artificial garden which had been made in the court of the Hotel de Ville,
the decorations of which were very elegant. At the bottom of the garden,
the Tiber was represented by flowing water, the course of which was
directed most artistically, and diffused a refreshing coolness. Their
Majesties left the Hotel de Ville about half-past eleven, and returned to
the Tuileries by the light of most beautiful illuminations and luminous
emblems, designed in most exquisite taste. Perfect weather and a
delightful temperature favored this memorable day.

The aeronaut Garnerin left Paris at half-past six in the evening, and
descended the morning of the next day at Maule, in the department of
Seine-et-Oise. After resting there a short while, he re-entered his
balloon and continued his journey.

The provinces vied in magnificence with the capital in celebrating the
fetes of the birth and baptism of the King of Rome. Every imaginable
device, both in emblems and illuminations, had been made use of in order
to add still more pomp to these fetes; and each town had been governed in
the form of homage it rendered to the new king, either by its
geographical position or by its especial industry. For instance, at
Clermont-Ferrand an immense fire had been lighted at ten o'clock in the
evening on the summit of the Puy-de-Dome, at a height of more than five
thousand feet; and several departments could enjoy during the whole night
this grand and singular sight. In the port of Flushing the vessels were
covered with flags and banners of all colors. In the evening the whole
squadron was illuminated; thousands of lanterns hung from the masts,
yards, and rigging, forming a beautiful scene. Suddenly, at the signal
of a gun fired from the admiral's vessel, all the vessels sent forth at
once tongues of flame, and it seemed as if the most brilliant day
succeeded to the darkest night, outlining magnificently those imposing
masses reflected in the water of the sea as in a glass.

We passed so continually from one fete to another it was almost
confusing. The rejoicings over the baptism were followed by a fete given
by the Emperor in the private park of Saint-Cloud, and from early in the
morning the road from Paris to Saint-Cloud was covered with carriages and
men on foot. The fete took place in the inclosed park and the orangery,
all the boxes of which and the front of the chateau were decorated with
rich hangings, while temples and kiosks rose in the groves, and the whole
avenue of chestnut-trees was hung with garlands of colored glass.
Fountains of barley water and currant wine had been distributed so that
all persons attending the fete might refresh themselves, and tables,
elegantly arranged, had been placed in the walks. The whole park was
illuminated by pots-a-feu concealed among the shrubbery and groups of

Madame Blanchard had received orders to hold herself in readiness to set
out at half-past nine at a given signal.

At nine o'clock, the balloon being filled, she entered the basket, and
was carried to the end of the basin of the swans, in front of the
chateau; and until the moment of departure she remained in this position,
above the height of the tallest trees, and thus for more than half an
hour could be seen by all the spectators present at the fete. At
half-past nine, a gun fired from the chateau having given the expected
signal, the cords which held the balloon were cut; and immediately the
intrepid aeronaut could be seen rising majestically into the air before
the eyes of the crowd assembled in the throne room. Having arrived at a
certain height, she set off an immense star constructed around the
basket, the center of which she thus occupied; and this star for seven
or eight moments threw from its points and angles numerous other small
stars, producing a most extraordinary effect. It was the first time a
woman had been seen to rise boldly into the air surrounded by fireworks,
and she appeared as if sailing in a chariot of fire at an immense
height. I imagined myself in fairyland.

The whole of the garden which their Majesties traversed presented a view
of which it is impossible to give an idea. The illuminations were
designed in perfect taste; there were a variety of amusements, and
numerous orchestras concealed amid the trees added yet more to the
enchantment. At a given signal three doves flew from the top of a column
surmounted with a vase of flowers, and offered to their Majesties
numerous and most ingenious devices. Farther on German peasants danced
waltzes on a charming lawn, and crowned with flowers the bust of her
Majesty the Empress, and shepherds and nymphs from the opera executed
dances, Finally, a theater had been erected in the midst of the trees, on
which was represented a village fete, a comedy composed by M. Ittienne,
and set to music by Nicolo. The Emperor and Empress were seated under a
dais during this play, when suddenly a heavy shower fell, throwing all
the spectators into commotion. Their Majesties did not notice the rain
at first, protected as they were by the dais, and the Emperor being
engaged in conversation with the mayor of the town of Lyons. The latter
was complaining of the sales of the cloths of that town, when Napoleon,
noticing the frightful rain which was falling, said to this functionary,
"I answer for it that to-morrow you will have large orders."

The Emperor kept his position during most of the storm, while the
courtiers, dressed in silk and velvet, with uncovered heads, received the
rain with a smiling face. The poor musicians, wet to the skin, at last
could no longer draw any sound from their instruments, of which the rain
had snapped or stretched the cords, and it was time to put an end to this
state of affairs. The Emperor gave the signal for departure, and they

On that day Prince Aldobrandini, who in his quality of first equerry of
Marie Louise accompanied the Empress, was very happy to find and borrow
an umbrella in order to shelter Marie Louise; but there was much
dissatisfaction in the group where this borrowing was done because the
umbrella was not returned. That evening the Prince Borghese and Princess
Pauline nearly fell into the Seine in their carriage while returning to
their country house at Neuilly. Those persons who took pleasure in
finding omens, and those especially (a very small number) who saw with
chagrin the rejoicings of the Empire, did not fail to remark that every
fete given to Marie Louise had been attended by some accident. They
spoke affectedly of the ball given by the Prince of Schwartzenberg on the
occasion of the espousals, and of the fire which consumed the
dancing-hall, and the tragic death of several persons, notably of the
sister of the prince. They drew from this coincidence bad auguries;
some from ill-will, and in order to undermine the enthusiasm inspired by
the high fortunes of Napoleon; others from a superstitious credulity, as
if there could have been any serious connection between a fire which cost
the lives of several persons, and the very usual accident of a storm in
June, which ruined the toilets, and wet to the skin thousands of

It was a very amusing scene for those who had no finery to spoil, and who
ran only the risk of taking cold, to see these poor women drenched with
the rain, running in every direction, with or without a cavalier, and
hunting for shelter which could not be found.

A few were fortunate enough to find modest umbrellas; but most of them
saw the flowers fall from their heads, beaten down by the rain, or their
finery dripping with water, dragging on the ground, in a pitiable state.
When it was time to return to Paris the carriages were missing, as the
coachmen, thinking that the fete would last till daylight, had prudently
thought that they would not take the trouble to wait all night. Those
persons with carriages could not use them, as the press was so great that
it was almost impossible to move. Several ladies got lost, and returned
to Paris on foot; others lost their shoes, and it was a pitiable sight to
see the pretty feet in the mud. Happily there were few or no accidents,
and the physician and the bed repaired everything. But the Emperor
laughed heartily at this adventure, and said that the merchants would
gain by it.

M. de Remusat, so good and ready to render a service, always forgetting
himself for others, had succeeded in procuring an umbrella, when he met
my wife and mother-in-law, who were escaping like the others, took them
on his arm, and conducted them to the palace without their having
received the least injury. For an hour he traveled back and forth from
the palace to the park, and from the park to the garden, and had the
happiness to be useful to a great number of ladies whose toilets he saved
from entire ruin. It was an act of gallantry which inspired infinite
gratitude, because it was performed in a manner evincing such kindness of


This seemed to be a year of fetes, and I dwell upon it with pleasure
because it preceded one filled with misfortunes. The years 1811 and 1812
offered a striking contrast to each other. All those flowers lavished on
the fetes of the King of Rome and his august mother covered an abyss, and
all this enthusiasm was changed to mourning a few months later. Never
were more brilliant fetes followed by more overwhelming misfortunes. Let
us, then, dwell a little longer upon the rejoicings which preceded 1812.
I feel that I need to be fortified before entering upon reminiscences of
that time of unprofitable sacrifices, of bloodshed without preserving or
conquering, and of glory without result. On the 25th of August, the
Empress's fete was celebrated at Trianon; and from early in the morning
the road from Paris to Trianon was covered with an immense number of
carriages and people on foot, the same sentiment attracting the court,
the citizens, the people, to the delightful place at which the fete was
held. All ranks were mingled, all went pell-mell; and I have never seen
a crowd more singularly variegated, or which presented a more striking
picture of all conditions of society. Ordinarily the multitude at fetes
of this kind is composed of little more than one class of people and a
few modest bourgeois that is all; very rarely of people with equipages,
more rarely still people of the court; but here there were all, and there
was no one so low that he could not have the satisfaction of elbowing a
countess or some other noble inhabitant of the Faubourg St. Germain, for
all Paris seemed to be at Versailles. That town so beautiful, but yet so
sadly beautiful, which seemed since the last king to be bereft of its
inhabitants, those broad streets in which no one was to be seen, those
squares, the least of which could hold all the inhabitants of Versailles,
and which could hardly contain the courtiers of the Great King, this
magnificent solitude which we call Versailles, had been populated
suddenly by the capital. The private houses could not contain the crowd
which arrived from every direction. The park was inundated with a
multitude of promenaders of every sex and all ages; in these immense
avenues one walked on foot, one needed air on this vast plateau which was
so airy, one felt cramped on this theater of a great public fete, as at
balls given in those little saloons of Paris built for about a dozen
persons, and where fashion crams together a hundred and fifty.

Great preparations had been made for four or five days in the delightful
gardens of Trianon; but the evening before, the sky became cloudy, and
many toilets which had been eagerly prepared were prudently laid aside;
but the next day a beautiful blue sky reassured every one, and they set
out for Trianon in spite of the recollections of the storm which had
dispersed the spectators at the fete of Saint Cloud. Nevertheless, at
three o'clock a heavy shower made every one fear for a short while that
the evening might end badly. "Afternoon shower making its obeisance," as
the proverb says; but, on the contrary, this only made the fete
pleasanter, by refreshing the scorching air of August, and laying the
dust which was most disagreeable. At six o'clock the sun had reappeared,
and the summer of 1811 had no softer or more agreeable evening.

All the outlines of the architecture of the Grand Trianon were ornamented
with lamps of different colors. In the gallery could be seen six hundred
women, brilliant with youth and adornments; and the Empress addressed
gracious words to several among them, and all were charmed by the cordial
and affable manners of a young princess who had lived in France only
fifteen months.

At this fete, as at all the fetes of the Empire, there were not wanting
poets to sing praises of those in whose honor they were given. There was
a play which had been composed for the occasion, the author of which I
remember perfectly was M. Alissan de Chazet; but I have forgotten the
title. At the end of the piece, the principal artists of the opera
executed a ballet which was considered very fine. When the play was
over, their Majesties commenced a promenade in the park of the
Petit-Trianon, the Emperor, hat in hand, giving his arm to the Empress,
and being followed by all his court. They first visited the Isle of
Love, and found all the enchantments of fairyland and its illusions
there united. The temple, situated in the midst of the lake, was
splendidly. illuminated, and the water reflected its columns of fire.
A multitude of beautiful boats furrowed this lake, which seemed on fire,
manned by a swarm of Cupids, who appeared to sport with each other in
the rigging. Musicians concealed on board played melodious airs; and
this harmony, at once gentle and mysterious, which seemed to spring from
the bosom of the waves, added still more to the magic of the picture and
the charms of the illusion. To this spectacle succeeded scenes of
another kind, taken from rural life,--a Flemish living picture, with its
pleasant-faced, jolly people, and its rustic ease; and groups of
inhabitants from every province of France, giving an impression that all
parts of the Empire were convened at this fete. In fine, a wonderful
variety of attractions in turn arrested the attention of their
Majesties. Arrived at the saloon of Polhymnie, they were welcomed by a
charming choir, the music composed, I think, by Paer, and the words by
the same M. Alissan de Chazet. At last, after a magnificent supper,
which was served in the grand gallery, their Majesties retired at one
o'clock in the morning.

There was only one opinion in this immense assembly as to the grace and
perfect dignity of Marie Louise. This young princess was really
charming, but with peculiarities rather than traits of character. I
recall some occurrences in her domestic life which will not be without
interest to the reader.

Marie Louise talked but little with the people of her household; but
whether this arose from a habit brought with her from the Austrian court,
whether she feared to compromise her dignity by her foreign accent before
persons of inferior condition, or whether it arose from timidity or
indifference, few of these persons could remember a word she had uttered.
I have heard her steward say that in three years she spoke to him only

The ladies of the household agreed in saying that in private she was kind
and agreeable. She did not like Madame de Montesquieu. This was wrong;
since there were no cares, endearments, attentions of all sorts, which
Madame de Montesquieu did not lavish on the King of Rome.

The Emperor, however, appreciated highly this excellent lady who was so
perfect in every respect. As a man he admired the dignity, perfect
propriety, and extreme discretion of Madame de Montesquieu; and as a
father he felt an infinite gratitude for the cares she lavished on his
son. Each one explained in his own way the coolness which the young
Empress showed to this lady; and there were several reasons assigned for
this, all more or less untrue, though the leisure moments of the ladies
of the palace were much occupied with it. What appeared to me the most
likely solution, and most in accordance with the artless simplicity of
Marie Louise, was this: The Empress had as lady of honor Madame de
Montebello, a charming woman of perfect manners. Now, there was little
friendship between Madame de Montesquieu and Madame de Montebello, as the
latter feared it is said to have a rival in the heart of her august
friend; and, in fact, Madame de Montesquieu would have proved a most
dangerous rival for this lady, as she combined all those qualities which
please and make one beloved. Born of an illustrious family, she had
received a distinguished education, and united the tone and manners of
the best society with a solid and enlightened piety. Never had calumny
dared to attack her conduct, which was as noble as discreet. I must
admit that she was somewhat haughty; but this haughtiness was tempered by
such elegant politeness, and such gracious consideration, that it might
be considered simple dignity. She was attentive and assiduous in her
devotion to the King of Rome, and was entitled to the deep gratitude of
the Empress; for she afterwards, actuated by the most generous devotion,
tore herself from her country, her friends, her family, to follow the
fate of a child whose every hope was blasted.

Madame de Montebello was accustomed to rise late. In the morning when
the Emperor was absent, Marie Louise went to converse with her in her
room; and in order not to go through the saloon where the ladies of the
palace were assembled, she entered the apartment of her lady of honor
through a very dark closet, and this conduct deeply wounded the feelings
of the other ladies. I have heard Josephine say that Madame de
Montebello was wrong to initiate the young Empress into the scandalous
adventures, whether true or false, attributed to some of these ladies,
and which a young, pure, simple woman like Marie Louise should not have
known; and that this was one cause of her coldness towards the ladies of
her court, who on their side did not like her, and confided their
feelings to their neighbors and friends.

Josephine tenderly loved Madame de Montesquieu, and when they were parted
wrote to her often; this correspondence lasted till Josephine's death.
One day Madame de Montesquieu received orders from the Emperor to take
the little king to Bagatelle, where Josephine then was. She had obtained
permission to see this child, whose birth had covered Europe with fetes.
It is well known how disinterested Josephine's love for Napoleon was, and
how she viewed everything that could increase his glory and render it
more durable; and there entered into the prayers she made for him since
the burning disgrace of the divorce, even the hope that he might be happy
in his private life, and that his new wife might bear this child, this
firstborn of his dynasty, to him whom she herself could not make a

This woman of angelic goodness, who had fallen into a long swoon on
learning her sentence of repudiation, and who since that fatal day had
dragged out a sad life in the brilliant solitude of Malmaison; this
devoted wife who had shared for fifteen years the fortunes of her
husband, and who had assisted so powerfully in his elevation, was not the
last to rejoice at the birth of the King of Rome. She was accustomed to
say that the desire to leave a posterity, and to be represented after our
death by beings who owe their life and position to us, was a sentiment
deeply engraved in the heart of man; that this desire, which was so
natural, and which she had felt so deeply as wife and mother, this desire
to have children to survive and continue us on earth, was still more
augmented when we had a high destiny to transmit to them; that in
Napoleon's peculiar position, as founder of a vast empire, it was
impossible he should long resist a sentiment which is at the bottom of
every heart, and which, if it is true that this sentiment increases in
proportion to the inheritance we leave our children, no one could
experience more fully than Napoleon, for no one had yet possessed so
formidable a power on the earth; that the course of nature having made
her sterility a hopeless evil, it was her duty to be the first to
sacrifice the sentiments of her heart to the good of the state, and the
personal happiness of Napoleon sad but powerful reasoning, which policy
invoked in aid of the divorce, and of which this excellent princess in
the illusion of her devotion thought herself convinced in the depths of
her heart.

The royal child was presented to her. I know nothing in the world which
could be more touching than the joy of this excellent woman at the sight
of Napoleon's son. She at first regarded him with eyes swimming in
tears; then she took him in her arms, and pressed him to her heart with a
tenderness too deep for words. There were present no indiscreet
witnesses to take pleasure in indulging irreverent curiosity, or observe
with critical irony the feelings of Josephine, nor was there ridiculous
etiquette to freeze the expression of this tender soul; it was a scene
from private life, and Josephine entered into it with all her heart.
From the manner in which she caressed this child, it might have been said
that it was some ordinary, child, and not a son of the Caesars, as
flatterers said, not the son of a great man, whose cradle was surrounded
with so many honors, and who had been born a king. Josephine bathed him
with her tears, and said to him some of those baby words with which a
mother makes herself understood and loved by her new born. It was
necessary at last to separate them. The interview had been short, but it
had been well employed by the loving soul of Josephine. In this scene
one could judge from her joy of the sincerity of her sacrifice, while at
the same time her stifled sighs testified to its extent. Madame de
Montesquieu's visits were made only at long intervals, which distressed
Josephine greatly; but the child was growing larger, an indiscreet word
lisped by him, a childish remembrance, the least thing, might offend
Marie Louise, who feared Josephine. The Emperor wished to avoid this
annoyance, which would have affected his domestic happiness; so he
ordered that the visits should be made more rarely, and at last they were
stopped. I have heard Josephine say that the birth of the King of Rome
repaid her for all sacrifices, and surely never was the devotion of a
woman more disinterested or more complete.

Immediately after his birth the King of Rome was confided to the care of
a nurse of a healthy, robust constitution, taken from among the people.
This woman could neither leave the palace nor receive a visit from any
man; the strictest precautions were observed in this respect. She was
taken out to ride for her health in a carriage, and even then she was
accompanied by several women.

These were the habits of Marie Louise with her son. In the morning about
nine o'clock the king was brought to his mother; she took him in her arms
and caressed him a few moments, then returned him to his nurse, and began
to read the papers. The child grew tired, and the lady in charge took
him away. At four o'clock the mother went to visit her son; that is to
say, Marie Louise went down into the king's apartments, carrying with her
some embroidery, on which she worked at intervals. Twenty minutes after
she was informed that M. Isabey or M. Prudhon had arrived for the lesson
in painting or drawing, whereupon the Empress returned to her apartments.

Thus passed the first months which followed the birth of the King of
Rome. In the intervals between fetes, the Emperor was occupied with
decrees, reviews, monuments, and plans, constantly employed, with few
distractions, indefatigable in every work, and still not seeming to have
anything to occupy his powerful mind, and happy in his private life with
his young wife, by whom he was tenderly beloved. The Empress led a very
simple life, which suited her disposition well. Josephine needed more
excitement; her life had been also more in the outside world, more
animated, more expansive; though this did not prevent her being very
faithful to the duties of her domestic life, and very tender and loving
towards her husband, whom she knew how to render happy in her own way.

One day Bonaparte returned from a hunt worn out with fatigue, and begged
Marie Louise to come to him. She came, and the Emperor took her in his
arms and gave her a sounding kiss on the cheek. Marie Louise took her
handkerchief and wiped her cheek. "Well, Louise, you are disgusted with
me?"--"No," replied the Empress, "I did it from habit; I do the same with
the King of Rome." The Emperor seemed vexed. Josephine was very
different; she received her husband's caresses affectionately, and even
met him half way. The Emperor sometimes said to her, "Louise, sleep in
my room."--"It is too warm there," replied the Empress. In fact, she
could not endure the heat, and Napoleon's apartments were constantly
warmed. She had also an extreme repugnance to odors, and in her own
rooms allowed only vinegar or sugar to be burnt.



In September, 1811, the Emperor decided to make a journey into Flanders
in company with the Empress, that he might personally ascertain if his
orders had been carried out in all matters concerning both the civil and
religious administration. Their Majesties left Compiegne on the 19th,
and arrived at Montreuil-sur-Mer at nine o'clock in the evening.
I accompanied the Emperor on this journey. I have read in O'Meara's
Memorial that M. Marchand was at that time in the service of Napoleon.
This is incorrect; for M. Marchand did not enter the Emperor's private
service until 1814, at Fontainebleau. His Majesty at that time ordered
me to select from the domestics of the service an intelligent young man
to assist me in my duties near his person, since none of the ordinary
'valets de chambre' were to remain on the island of Elba. I mentioned
the name of M. Marchand, son of a nurse of the King of Rome, as a
suitable person for the place. He was accepted by his Majesty, and from
that time M. Marchand formed a part of the private service of the
Emperor. He may have been on this journey to Holland; but Napoleon was
not aware of it, as his duties did not bring him near his Majesty's

I will now relate some of the circumstances which occurred on this
journey, and are not generally known to the public, and at the same time
take advantage of the opportunity to refute other assertions similar to
those I have just mentioned, and which I have read with surprise,
sometimes mixed with indignation, in the Contemporary Memoirs. I deem
it important that the public should have correct information as to
everything pertaining to this journey, in order that light may thus be
thrown on certain incidents, by means of which calumny has attacked the
honor of Napoleon, and even my own. A devoted though humble servant of
the Emperor, it is natural that I should be deeply interested in
explaining all that seems doubtful, in refuting all falsehoods, and in
giving minute corrections of many incorrect statements which might
influence the judgment of the public concerning my master and myself.
I shall fulfil this duty with perfect frankness, as I have sufficiently
proved in the foregoing volumes of these Memoirs.

A little incident occurred at Montreuil, which I take pleasure in
narrating, since it proves how carefully Napoleon examined both the
fortifications and improvements being made in the towns, either by his
personal orders, or from the impulse given by him to these important
departments of public service. After investigating the work done in the
past year on the fortifications of Montreuil, and having made a tour of
all the ramparts, the Emperor returned to the citadel, whence he again
emerged to visit the exterior works. An arm of the river Canche, which
lies at the foot of the wall on one side of the city, intercepted his
route. The whole suite set to work to construct a temporary bridge of
planks and logs; but the Emperor, impatient at the delay, walked through
the stream in water up to his knees. The owner of a mill on the opposite
shore took his Majesty by the arm to assist him in mounting the bank, and
profited by this opportunity to explain to the Emperor that his mill,
being in the line of the projected fortifications, would necessarily be
torn down; whereupon the Emperor turned to the engineers and said, "This
brave man must be indemnified for any loss he may sustain." He then
continued his rounds, and did not re-enter his carriage until he had
examined everything at leisure, and held a long interview with the civil
and military authorities of Montreuil. On the route a soldier who had
been wounded at Ratisbon was presented to him; and his Majesty ordered
that a present should be made him on the spot, and that his petition
should be presented to him on his arrival at Boulogne on the 20th.

This was the second time Boulogne had received the Emperor within its
walls. Immediately on his arrival he went on board the flotilla and held
a review. As an English frigate was evidently preparing to approach in
order to observe more closely what was taking place in the roadstead, his
Majesty immediately sent out a French frigate under full sail against the
hostile ship, whereupon the latter, taking the alarm, at once
disappeared. On the 29th of September his Majesty reached Flushing, and
from Flushing went to visit the fortifications at Tervueren. As he was
overlooking the various works at that place, a young woman threw herself
at his feet, her cheeks wet with tears, .and extended a petition to the
Emperor with a trembling hand. Napoleon most graciously assisted her to
rise, and inquired the object of her petition. "Sire," said the poor
woman between her sobs, "I am the mother of three children, whose father
is conscripted by your Majesty; the children and the mother are in the
deepest distress."--"Monsieur," said his Majesty to some one of his
suite, "make a note of this man's name; I will make him an officer." The
young woman tried to express her gratitude, but her emotion and tears
prevented the utterance of a word, and the Emperor went on his way.

Another kind act marked his departure from Ostend. On leaving that town
he followed the course of the Estrau, and as he did not care to pass
through the locks, in order to cross the Swine, entered a fishing-boat in
company with the Duke of Vicenza, his grand equerry, Count Lobau, one of
his aides-de-camp, and two chasseurs of the guard. This boat, which was
owned by two poor fishermen, was worth only about one hundred and fifty
florins, including its equipment, and was their only source of wealth.
The crossing required about half an hour, and his Majesty alighted at
Fort Orange, on the island of Cadsand, where the prefect with his suite
awaited him; and as he was wet and suffering with the cold, a large fire
was kindled, by which he warmed himself with evident enjoyment. The
fishermen were then asked how much they charged for the passage, and upon
their replying a florin for each passenger, Napoleon ordered that a
hundred napoleons should be counted out to them, and they should be
granted a pension of three hundred francs for life. It is impossible to
give an idea of the joyful surprise of these poor men, who had not in the
least suspected the exalted rank of their passenger; but no sooner were
they informed than the whole country was told, and thus many hearts were
won for Napoleon; while at the same time the Empress Marie Louise was
being welcomed on his account at the theater, and whenever she appeared
on the streets, with sincere and vociferous applause.

Preparations had been made everywhere in Holland two months before the
arrival of their Majesties, in order that they might be suitably
received; and there was no village on the Emperor's route so small that
it was not eager to earn his approbation by the proportional magnificence
of the welcome accorded his Majesty. Almost the whole court of France
accompanied him on this journey, and grand dignitaries, ladies of honor,
superior officers, aides-de-camp, chamberlains, equerries, ladies of
attire, quartermasters, valets de chambre, regulators of soldiers'
quarters, the kitchen service--nothing was wanting. Napoleon intended to
dazzle the eyes of the good Dutchmen by the magnificence of his court;
and, in truth, his gracious manner, his affability, and the recital of
the numerous benefits he scattered around his path, had already had their
effect in conquering this population, in spite of the frowning brows of a
few, who, as they smoked their pipes, murmured against the impediments to
commerce caused by the Continental system.

The city of Amsterdam, where the Emperor had decided to remain some time,
found itself suddenly in a condition of peculiar embarrassment, owing to
the following circumstance: This town had a very extensive palace, but no
coaches nor stables attached to them, which for the suite of Napoleon was
a prime necessity; and the stables of King Louis, besides their
insufficiency, were placed too far from the palace to be occupied by even
a portion of the Emperor's service. Consequently there was great
embarrassment in the city, and much difficulty was experienced in
quartering the Emperor's horses; since to improvise stables in a few
days, almost in a moment, was impossible, and to build carriage-houses in
the midst of courts would have had a ludicrous effect. But fortunately
this difficult situation was ended by one of the quartermasters of the
palace named M. Emery, a man of great intelligence, and an old soldier,
who, having learned from Napoleon and the force of circumstances never to
be overcome by difficulties, conceived the happy thought of converting
the flower-market into stables and coach-houses, and placing the
equipages of the Emperor there under immense tents.

The Emperor at last rejoined his august spouse at Brussels, where the
enthusiasm excited by his presence was unanimous. On a suggestion from
him, which was as delicate as politic, Marie Louise during her stay
bought laces to the value of one hundred and fifty thousand francs, in
order to encourage the manufacturers. The introduction into France of
English merchandise was at that time severely prohibited, and all that
was found was indiscriminately burned.

Of the whole system of offensive policy maintained by Napoleon against
the maritime tyranny of England, nothing more nearly aroused open
opposition than the vigorous observance of prohibitory decrees. Belgium
then contained a quantity of English merchandise, which was most
carefully concealed, and which every one was anxious to obtain, as is
ever the case with forbidden fruit. All the ladies in the suite of the
Empress made large purchases of these articles; and one even filled
several carriages with them, not without fear, however, that Napoleon
might be informed of this, and might seize everything on its arrival in
France. These carriages, bearing the arms of the Emperor, passed the
Rhine filled with this precious luggage, and arrived at the gates of
Coblentz, which furnished an occasion of painful uncertainty to the
officers of the custom-house, while they deliberated whether they should
arrest and examine the carriages, or should permit a convoy to pass
unmolested because it professed to belong to the Emperor. After mature
deliberation, the majority adopted this alternative; and the carriages
successfully passed the first line of French custom-houses, and reached
port in safety,--that is to say, Paris,--with its cargo of prohibited
merchandise. If the carriages had been stopped, it is probable that
Napoleon would have highly applauded the courage of the inspectors of
customs, and would have pitilessly burned the confiscated articles.

Their Majesties arrived at Utrecht the 6th of October, and found every
house on the quays as well as the streets decorated with ribbons and
garlands. The rain was falling in torrents; but this did not prevent the
authorities being on foot from early in the morning, and the population
filling the streets. As soon as he alighted from his carriage, Napoleon,
in spite of the weather, mounted his horse, and went to hold a review of
several regiments stationed at the gates of Utrecht, accompanied by a
numerous staff, and a large number of curious persons, most of them wet
to the skin. After the review Napoleon entered the palace, where the
entire deputation awaited him in an immense hall, still unfurnished,
though it had been built by King Louis, and without changing his clothing
gave audience to all who were eager to congratulate him, and listened
with most exemplary patience to the harangues addressed to him.

The entrance of their Majesties into Amsterdam was most brilliant.
The Empress, in a chariot drawn by splendid horses, was a few hours in
advance of the Emperor, who made his entry on horseback, surrounded by
a brilliant staff, glittering with gold and embroideries, who advanced
at a slow pace amid shouts of admiration and astonishment from the good
Hollanders. Through his simple and unaffected bearing there shone a
profound satisfaction, and perhaps even a natural sentiment of pride, in
seeing the welcome accorded to his glory here as elsewhere, and the
universal sympathy aroused in the masses by his presence alone. Drapery
in three colors, which produced a very fine effect, hung from posts
erected at regular intervals and formed the decoration of the streets
through which his Majesty was to pass; and he who three years later was
to enter the palace of the Tuileries by night, and as a fugitive, after
having with much difficulty gained admission through the gates of the
chateau, passed then under arches of triumph, with a glory yet unsullied
by defeat, and a fortune still faithful. These reminiscences are painful
to me, but they recur to my mind even against my will; for no year of the
Empire was marked by more fetes, more triumphant entries, or more popular
rejoicings, than that which preceded the disastrous year of 1812.

Some of the actors of the French Theater at Paris had accompanied the
court to Holland, and Talma there played the roles of Bayard and
d'Orosmane; and M. Alissan de Chazet directed at Amsterdam the
performance by French comedians of a vaudeville in honor of their
Majesties, the title of which I have forgotten. Here, again, I wish to
refute another assertion no less false made by the author of these
'Contemporary Memoirs', concerning a fictitious liaison between the
Emperor and Mademoiselle Bourgoin. I cite the passage in question:
"Mademoiselle Bourgoin, one of the delegates from the court of Thalia,
in order to be permitted to accompany the party on this journey, had
thoughtlessly succumbed to the temptation of making indiscreet
revelations; even boasting aloud that she attracted the Emperor to the
theater in which she played; and these boasts, which were by no means
virtuous, having reached the Emperor's ears, he would no longer attend
the theater. He charged Talma, for whom he had much consideration, to
urge the pretty actress to be silent; and to inform her that on the
slightest indiscretion she would be reconducted to France under good

This by no means agrees with what his Majesty said one day in regard to
this actress while at Erfurt. These words, which the author of the
Memoirs would do well to recall, prove that the Emperor had no views in
regard to her; and the most important proof of all, is the great
discretion which the Emperor always exercised in regard to his amours.

During the entire passage through Holland, the Emperor showed himself
cordial and affable, welcoming every one most kindly, and accosting each
in a suitable manner, and at no time was he ever more amiable or anxious
to please. He visited the manufactures, inspected dock-yards, reviewed
troops, addressed the sailors, and attended the ball's given in his honor
in all the towns through which he passed; and amid this life of seeming
pleasure and distraction, he exerted himself almost more than in the
quiet, monotonous life of the camp, and was affable, gracious, and
accessible to all his subjects. But in these processions, in the very
midst of these fetes, amid all this acclamation of whole cities rushing
out to meet him, eager to serve as his escort, under these arches of
triumph which were erected to him sometimes even at the entrance of an
obscure village, his abstraction was deeper than ever, and his heart more
oppressed with care; for his thoughts were from this time filled with the
expedition to Russia. And perhaps into this amenity of manner, this
friendliness, and these acts of benevolence, most of which were foreign
to his character, there entered the design of lessening in advance the
discontent which this expedition would produce; and perhaps in attaching
all hearts to himself, in exhausting every means of pleasing, he imagined
he was obtaining pardon in advance, by means of the enthusiasm of his
subjects, for a war which, whatever might be the result, was to cost the
Empire so much blood and so many tears.

During their Majesties' stay at Amsterdam, there was placed in the
apartments of the Empress a piano so constructed as to appear like a desk
with a division in the middle, and in this space was placed a small bust
of the Emperor of Russia. Soon after, the Emperor wished to see if the
apartments of the Empress were suitable, and while visiting them
perceived this bust, which he placed under his arm without a word.
He afterwards said to one of the ladies of the Empress, that he wished
this bust removed; and he was obeyed, though this caused considerable
astonishment, as it was not then known that any coolness had arisen
between the two Emperors.

A few days after his arrival at Amsterdam, the Emperor made several
excursions into the country, accompanied by a somewhat numerous suite.
He visited at Saardam the thatched cottage which sheltered Peter the
Great when he came to Holland under the name of Pierre Michaeloff to
study ship-building; and after remaining there half an hour, the Emperor,
as he left, remarked to the grand marshal of the palace. "That is the
finest monument in Holland." The evening before, her Majesty the Empress
had visited the village of Broek, which is the pride of the whole north
of Holland. Almost all the houses of the village are built of wood, and
are of one story, the fronts ornamented with numerous paintings in
accordance with the caprice of the owners. These paintings are cared for
most zealously, and preserved in a state of perfect freshness. Through
the windows of clearest glass are seen curtains of embroidered China
silk, and of painted muslin and beautiful India stuffs. The streets are
paved with brick and very clean, and are washed and rubbed daily, and
covered with fine white sand, in which various figures are imitated,
especially flowers. Placards at the end of each street forbid the
entrance of carriages into the village, the houses of which resemble
children's toys. The cattle are cared for by hirelings at some distance
from the town; and there is, outside the village, an inn for strangers,
for they are not permitted to lodge inside. In front of some houses I
remarked either a grass plot or an arrangement of colored sand and
shells, sometimes little painted wooden statues, sometimes hedges oddly
cut. Even the vessels and broom-handles were painted various colors, and
cared for like the remainder of the establishment; the inhabitants
carrying their love of cleanliness so far as to compel those who entered
to take off their shoes, and replace them with slippers, which stood at
the door for this singular purpose. I am reminded on this subject of an
anecdote relating to the Emperor Joseph the Second. That prince, having
presented himself in boots at the door of a house in Broek, and being
requested to remove them before entering, exclaimed, "I am the Emperor!"
--"Even if you were the burgomaster of Amsterdam, you should not enter in
boots," replied the master of the dwelling. The good Emperor thereupon
put on the slippers.

During the journey to Holland their Majesties were informed that the
first tooth of the King of Rome had just made its appearance, and that
the health of this august child was not impaired thereby.

In one of the little towns in the north of Holland, the authorities
requested the Emperor's permission to present to him an old man aged one
hundred and one years, and he ordered him brought before him. This more
than centenarian was still vigorous, and had served formerly in the
guards of the Stadtholder; he presented a petition entreating the Emperor
to exempt from conscription one of his grandsons, the support of his old
age. His Majesty assured him, through an interpreter, that he would not
deprive him of his grandson, and Marshal Duroc was ordered to leave with
the old man a testimonial of Imperial liberality. In another little town
in Friesland, the authorities made the Emperor this singular address:
"Sire, we were afraid you would come with the whole court; you are almost
alone, and thereby we see you the better, and the more at our ease." The
Emperor applauded this loyal compliment, and honored the orator by most
touching thanks. After this long journey, passed in fetes, reviews, and
displays of all kinds, where the Emperor, under the guise of being
entertained, had made profound observations on the moral, commercial, and
military situation of Holland, observations which bore fruit after his
return to Paris, and even while in the country, in wise and useful
decrees, their Majesties left Holland, passing through Haarlem, The
Hague, and Rotterdam, where they were welcomed, as they had been in the
whole of Holland, by fetes. They crossed the Rhine, visited Cologne and
Aix-la-Chapelle, and arrived at Saint-Cloud early in November, 1811.


Marie Louis was a very handsome woman. She had a majestic figure and
noble bearing, fresh complexion, blond hair, and blue eyes full of
expression; her hands and feet were the admiration of the court.
Her figure was, perhaps, a trifle too stout; but she lost some of this
superfluous flesh during her stay in France, though thereby she gained as
much in grace and beauty. Such was her appearance. In her intercourse
with those immediately around her she was affable and cordial; and the
enjoyment she felt in the freedom of these conversations was depicted on
her countenance, which grew animated, and took on an infinite grace.
But when she was obliged to appear in public she became extremely timid;
formal society served of itself to isolate her; and as persons who are
not naturally haughty always appear so with a poor grace, Marie Louise,
being always much embarrassed on reception days, was often the subject of
unjust criticism; for, as I have said, her coldness in reality arose from
an excessive timidity.

Immediately after her arrival in France, Marie Louise suffered from this
embarrassment to a very great degree, which can be easily understood in a
young princess who found herself so suddenly transported into an entirely
new society, to whose habits and tastes she felt obliged to conform, and
in which, although her high position must naturally attract the world to
her, the circumstances of this position rendered it necessary that she
should take the initiative in any advances made, a fact which explains
the awkwardness of her early relations with the ladies of her court.
After intimacies had been formed, and the young Empress had chosen her

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