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The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, v3 by Constant

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This etext was produced by David Widger







The First Consul left Boulogne to return to Paris, in order to be present
at the marriage of one of his sisters. Prince Camille Borghese,
descendant of the noblest family of Rome, had already arrived at Paris
to--marry Madame Pauline Bonaparte, widow of General Leclerc, who had
died of yellow fever in San Domingo. I recollect having seen this
unfortunate general at the residence of the First Consul some time before
his departure on the ill-starred expedition which cost him his life, and
France the loss of many brave soldiers and much treasure. General
Leclerc, whose name is now almost forgotten, or held in light esteem, was
a kind and good man. He was passionately in love with his wife, whose
giddiness, to put it mildly, afflicted him sorely, and threw him into a
deep and habitual melancholy painful to witness. Princess Pauline (who
was then far from being a princess) had married him willingly, and of her
own choice; but this did not prevent her tormenting her husband by her
innumerable caprices, and repeating to him a hundred times a day that he
was indeed a fortunate man to marry the sister of the First Consul. I am
sure that with his simple tastes and quiet disposition General Leclerc
would have preferred less distinction and more peace. The First Consul
required his sister to accompany her husband to San Domingo. She was
forced to obey, and to leave Paris, where she swayed the scepter of
fashion, and eclipsed all other women by her elegance and coquetry, as
well as by her incomparable beauty, to brave a dangerous climate, and the
ferocious companions of Christophe and Dessalines. At the end of the
year 1801 the admiral's ship, The Ocean, sailed from Brest, carrying to
the Cape (San Domingo) General Leclerc, his wife, and their son. After
her arrival at the Cape, the conduct of Madame Leclerc was beyond praise.
On more than one occasion, but especially that which I shall now attempt
to describe, she displayed a courage worthy of her name and the position
of her husband. I obtained these details from an eye-witness whom I had
known at Paris in the service of Princess Pauline.

The day of the great insurrection of the blacks in September, 1802, the
bands of Christophe and Dessalines, composed of more than twelve thousand
negroes, exasperated by their hatred against the whites, and the
certainty that if they yielded no quarter would be given, made an assault
on the town of the Cape, which was defended by only one thousand
soldiers; for only this small number remained of the large army which had
sailed from Brest a year before, in brilliant spirits and full of hope.
This handful of brave men, the most of them weakened by fever, led by the
general-in-chief of the expedition, who was even then suffering from the
malady which caused his death, repulsed by unheard of efforts and heroic
valor the repeated attacks of the blacks.

During this combat, in which the determination, if not the number and
strength, was equal on both sides, Madame Leclerc, with her son, was
under the guard of a devoted friend who had subject to his orders only a
weak company of artillery, which still occupied the house where her
husband had fixed his residence, at the foot of the low hills which
bordered the coast. The general-in-chief, fearing lest this residence
might be surprised by a party of the enemy, and being unable to foresee
the issue of the struggle which he was maintaining on the heights of the
Cape, and against which the blacks made their most furious assaults, sent
an order to convey his wife and son on board the fleet. Pauline would
not consent to this. Always faithful to the pride with which her name
inspired her (but this time there was in her pride as much greatness as
nobility), she spoke to the ladies of the city who had taken refuge with
her, and begged them to go away, giving them a frightful picture of the
horrible treatment to which they would be exposed should the negroes
defeat the troops. "You can leave. You are not the sisters of

However, as the danger became more pressing every moment, General Leclerc
sent an aide-de-camp to his residence, and enjoined on him, in case
Pauline still persisted in her refusal, to use force, and convey her on
board against her will. The officer was obliged to execute this order to
the letter. Consequently Madame Leclerc was forcibly placed in an arm-
chair which was borne by four soldiers, while a grenadier marched by her
side, carrying in his arms the general's son. During this scene of
flight and terror the child, already worthy of its mother, played with
the plume of the soldier who was carrying him. Followed by
her cortege of trembling, tearful women, whose only source of strength
during this perilous passage was in her courage, she was thus conveyed to
the seashore. Just as they were going to place her in the sloop,
however, another aide-de-camp of her husband brought news of the defeat
of the blacks. "You see now," said she, returning to her residence, "I
was right in not wishing to embark." She was not yet out of danger,
however; for a troop of negroes, forming part of the army which had just
been so miraculously repulsed, in trying to make good their retreat to
the dikes, met the small escort of Madame Leclerc. As they appeared
disposed to attack, it was necessary to scatter them by shots at short
range. Throughout this skirmish Pauline preserved a perfect equanimity.
All these circumstances, which reflected so much honor on Madame Leclerc,
were reported to the First Consul.

His self-love was flattered by it; and I believe that it was to Prince
Borghese that he said one day at his levee, "Pauline is predestined to
marry a Roman, for from head to foot she is every inch a Roman."

Unfortunately this courage, which a man might have envied, was not united
in the Princess Pauline with those virtues which are less brilliant and
more modest, and also more suitable for a woman, and which we naturally
expect to find in her, rather than boldness and contempt of danger.

I do not know if it is true, as has been written somewhere, that Madame
Leclerc, when she was obliged to set out for San Domingo, had a fancy for
an actor of the Theatre Francais. Nor am I able to say whether it is
true that Mademoiselle Duchesnois had the naivete to exclaim before a
hundred people in reference to this departure, "Lafon will never be
consoled; it will kill him!" but what I myself know of the frailty of
this princess leads me to believe that the anecdote is true.

All Paris knew the special favor with which she honored M. Jules de
Canouville, a young and brilliant colonel who was handsome and brave,
with a perfect figure, and an assurance which was the cause of his
innumerable successes with certain women, although he used little
discretion in respect to them. The liaison of Princess Pauline with this
amiable officer was the most lasting that she ever formed; and as,
unfortunately, neither of them was discreet, their mutual tenderness
acquired in a short while a scandalous publicity. I shall take occasion
later to relate in its proper place the incident which caused the
disgrace, banishment, and perhaps even the death, of Colonel de
Canouville. A death so premature, and above all so cruel, since it was
not an enemy's bullet which struck him, was deplored by the whole army.

[Monsieur Bousquet was called to Neuilly (residence of the
Princess Pauline) in order to examine the beautiful teeth of her
Imperial Highness. Presented to her, he prepared to begin work.
"Monsieur," said a charming young man in a wrapper, negligently
lying on a sofa, "take care, I pray, what you do. I feel a great
interest in the teeth of my Paulette, and I hold you responsible for
any accident."--" Be tranquil, my Prince; I can assure your Imperial
Highness that there is no danger." During all the time that
Bousquet was engaged in working on the pretty mouth, these
recommendations continued. At length, having finished what he had
to do, he passed into the waiting-room, where he found assembled the
ladies of the palace, the chamberlains, etc., who were awaiting to
enter the apartments of the Princess.

They hastened to ask Bousquet news of the princess, "Her Imperial
Highness is very well, and must be happy in the tender attachment
her august husband feels for her, which he has shown in my presence
in so touching a manner. His anxiety was extreme. It was only with
difficulty I could reassure him as to the result of the simplest
thing in the world; I shall tell everywhere what I have just
witnessed. It is pleasant to be able to cite such an example of
conjugal tenderness in so high a rank. I am deeply impressed with
it." They did not try to stop good M. Bousquet in these expressions
of his enthusiasm. The desire to laugh prevented a single word; and
he left convinced that nowhere existed a better household than that
of the Prince and Princess Borghese. The latter was in Italy, and
the handsome young man was M. de Canouville.

I borrow this curious anecdote from the "Memoirs of Josephine," the
author of which, who saw and described the Court of Navarre and
Malmaison with so much truth and good judgment, is said to be a
woman, and must be in truth a most intellectual one, and in a better
position than any other person to know the private affairs of her
Majesty, the Empress.--CONSTANT.

He was slain by a ball from a French cannon, which was discharged
after the close of an action in which he had shown the most
brilliant courage.--CONSTANT.]

Moreover, however great may have been the frailty of Princess Pauline in
regard to her lovers, and although most incredible instances of this can
be related without infringing on the truth, her admirable devotion to the
person of the Emperor in 1814 should cause her faults to be treated with

On innumerable occasions the effrontery of her conduct, and especially
her want of regard and respect for the Empress Marie Louise, irritated
the Emperor against the Princess Borghese, though he always ended by
pardoning her; notwithstanding which, at the time of the fall of her
august brother she was again in disgrace, and being informed that the
island of Elba had been selected as a prison for the Emperor, she
hastened to shut herself up there with him, abandoning Rome and Italy,
whose finest palaces were hers. Before the battle of Waterloo, his
Majesty at the critical moment found the heart of his sister Pauline
still faithful. Fearing lest he might be in need of money, she sent him
her handsomest diamonds, the value of which was enormous; and they were
found in the carriage of the Emperor when it was captured at Waterloo,
and exhibited to the curiosity of the inhabitants of London. But the
diamonds have been lost; at least, to their lawful owner.


On the day of General Moreau's arrest the First Consul was in a state of
great excitement.

[Jean Victor Moreau, born at Morlaix in Brittany, 1763, son of a
prominent lawyer. At one time he rivaled Bonaparte in reputation.
He was general-in-chief of the army of the Rhine, 1796, and again in
1800, in which latter year he gained the battle of Hohenlinden.
Implicated in the conspiracy of Pichegru, he was exiled, and went to
the United States. He returned to Europe in 1813, and, joining the
allied armies against France, was killed by a cannon-shot in the
attack on Dresden in August of that year.]

The morning was passed in interviews with his emissaries, the agents of
police; and measures had been taken that the arrest should be made at the
specified hour, either at Gros-Bois, or at the general's house in the
street of the Faubourg Saint-Honore. The First Consul was anxiously
walking up and down his chamber, when he sent for me, and ordered me to
take position opposite General Moreau's house (the one in Paris), to see
whether the arrest had taken place, and if there was any tumult, and to
return promptly and make my report. I obeyed; but nothing extraordinary
took place, and I saw only some police spies walking along the street,
and watching the door of the house of the man whom they had marked for
their prey. Thinking that my presence would probably be noticed, I
retired; and, as I learned while returning to the chateau that General
Moreau had been arrested on the road from his estate of Gros-Bois, which
he sold a few months later to Marshal Berthier, before leaving for the
United States, I quickened my pace, and hastened to announce to the First
Consul the news of the arrest. He knew this already, made no response,
and still continued thoughtful, and in deep reflection, as in the

Since I have been led to speak of General Moreau, I will recall by what
fatal circumstances he was led to tarnish his glory. Madame Bonaparte
had given to him in marriage Mademoiselle Hulot, her friend, and, like
herself, a native of the Isle of France. This young lady, gentle,
amiable, and possessing those qualities which make a good wife and
mother, loved her husband passionately, and was proud of that glorious
name which surrounded her with respect and honor; but, unfortunately, she
had the greatest deference for her mother, whose ambition was great, and
who desired nothing short of seeing her daughter seated upon a throne.
The influence which she exercised over Madame Moreau soon extended to the
general himself, who, ruled by her counsels, became gloomy, thoughtful,
melancholy, and forever lost that tranquillity of mind which had
distinguished him. From that time the general's house was open to
intrigues and conspiracies; and it was the rendezvous of all the
discontented, of which there were many. The general assumed the task of
disapproving all the acts of the First Consul; he opposed the
reestablishment of public worship, and criticised as childish and
ridiculous mummery the institution of the Legion of Honor. These grave
imprudences, and indeed many others, came to the ears of the First
Consul, who refused at first to believe them; but how could he remain
deaf to reports which were repeated each day with more foundation, though
doubtless exaggerated by malice?

In proportion as the imprudent speeches of the general were depriving him
of the esteem of the First Consul, his mother-in-law, by a dangerous
obstinacy, was encouraging him in his opposition, persuaded, she said,
that the future would do justice to the present. She did not realize
that she spoke so truly; and the general rushed headlong into the abyss
which opened before him. How greatly his conduct was in opposition to
his character! He had a pronounced aversion to the English, and he
detested the Chouans, and everything pertaining to the old nobility; and
besides, a man like General Moreau, who had served his country so
gloriously, was not the one to bear arms against her. But he was
deceived, and he deceived himself, in thinking that he was fitted to play
a great political part; and he was destroyed by the flatteries of a party
which excited all possible hostility against the First Consul by taking
advantage of the jealousy of his former comrades in arms. I witnessed
more than one proof of affection shown by the First Consul to General
Moreau. In the course of a visit of the latter to the Tuileries, and
during an interview with the First Consul, General Carnot arrived from
Versailles with a pair of pistols of costly workmanship, which the
manufactory of Versailles had sent as a gift to the First Consul. He
took these handsome weapons from the hands of General Carnot, admired
them a moment, and immediately offered them to General Moreau, saying to
him, "Take them, truly they could not have come at a better time." All
this was done quicker than I can write it; the general was highly
flattered by this proof of friendship, and thanked the First Consul

The name and trial of General Moreau recall to me the story of a brave
officer who was compromised in this unfortunate affair, and who after
many years of disgrace was pardoned only on account of the courage with
which he dared expose himself to the anger of the Emperor. The
authenticity of the details which I shall relate can be attested, if
necessary, by living persons, whom I shall have occasion to name in my
narrative, and whose testimony no reader would dream of impeaching.

The disgrace of General Moreau extended at first to all those who
surrounded him; and as the affection and devotion felt for him by all the
officers and soldiers who had served under him was well known, his aides-
de-camp were arrested, even those who were not then in Paris. One of
them, Colonel Delelee, had been many months on furlough at Besancon,
resting after his campaigns in the bosom of his family, and with a young
wife whom he had recently married. Besides, he was at that time
concerning himself very little with political matters, very much with his
pleasures, and not at all with conspiracies. Comrade and brother in arms
of Colonels Guilleminot, Hugo, Foy,--all three of whom became generals
afterwards,--he was spending his evenings gayly with them at the
garrison, or in the quiet pleasures of his family circle. Suddenly
Colonel Delelee was arrested, placed in a postchaise, and it was not
until he was rolling along in a gallop on the road to Paris, that he
learned from the officer of the gendarmes who accompanied him, that
General Moreau had conspired, and that in his quality as aide-de-camp he
was counted among the conspirators.

Arrived at Paris, the colonel was put in close confinement, in La Force
I believe. His wife, much alarmed, followed his footsteps; but it was
several days before she obtained permission to communicate with the
prisoner, and then could do so only by signs from the courtyard of the
prison while he showed himself, for a few moments, and put his hands
through the bars of the window. However, the rigor of these orders was
relaxed for the colonel's young child three or four years of age, and his
father obtained the favor of embracing him. He came each morning in his
mother's arms, and a turnkey carried him in to the prisoner, before which
inconvenient witness the poor little thing played his role with all the
skill of a consummate actor. He would pretend to be lame, and complain
of having sand in his shoes which hurt him and the colonel, turning his
back on the jailer, and taking the child in his lap to remove the cause
of the trouble, would find in his son's shoe a note from his wife,
informing him in a few words of the state of the trial, and what he had
to hope or fear for himself. At length, after many months of captivity,
sentence having been pronounced against the conspirators, Colonel
Delelee, against whom no charge had been made, was not absolved as he had
a right to expect, but was struck off the army list, arbitrarily put
under surveillance, and prohibited from coming within forty leagues of
Paris. He was also forbidden to return to Besancon, and it was more than
a year after leaving prison before he was permitted to do so.

Young and full of courage, the Colonel saw, from the depths of his
retirement, his friends and comrades make their way, and gain upon the
battlefield fame, rank, and glory, while he himself was condemned to
inaction and obscurity, and to pass his days in following on the map the
triumphant march of those armies in which he felt himself worthy to
resume his rank. Innumerable applications were addressed by him and his
friends to the head of the Empire, that he might be allowed to go even as
a common volunteer, and rejoin his former comrades with his knapsack on
his shoulder; but these petitions were refused, the will of the Emperor
was inflexible, and to each new application he only replied, "Let him
wait." The inhabitants of Besancon, who considered Colonel Delelee as
their fellow-citizen, interested themselves warmly in the unmerited
misfortunes of this brave officer; and when an occasion presented itself
of recommending him anew to the clemency, or rather to the justice, of
the Emperor, they availed themselves of it.

It was, I believe, on the return from Prussia and Poland that from all
parts of France there came deputations charged with congratulating the
Emperor upon his several victories. Colonel Delelee was unanimously
elected member of the deputation of Doubs, of which the mayor and prefect
of Besancon were also members, and of which the respectable Marshal
Moncey was president, and an opportunity was thus at last offered Colonel
Delelee of procuring the removal of the long sentence which had weighed
him down and kept his sword idle. He could speak to the Emperor, and
complain respectfully, but with dignity, of the disgrace in which he had
been so long kept without reason. He could render thanks, from the
bottom of his heart, for the generous affection of his fellow-citizens,
whose wishes, he hoped would plead for him with his Majesty.

The deputies of Besancon, upon their arrival at Paris, presented
themselves to the different ministers. The minister of police took the
president of the deputation aside, and asked him the meaning of the
presence among the deputies of a man publicly known to be in disgrace,
and the sight of whom could not fail to be disagreeable to the chief of
the Empire.

Marshal Moncey, on coming out from this private interview, pale and
frightened, entered the room of Colonel Delelee:

"My friend," said he, "all is lost, for I have ascertained at the bureau
that they are still hostile to you. If the Emperor sees you among us, he
will take it as an open avowal of disregard for his orders, and will be

"Ah, well, what have I to do with that?"

"But in order to avoid compromising the department, the deputation, and,
indeed, in order to avoid compromising yourself, you would perhaps do
well "--the Marshal hesitated. "I will do well?" demanded the Colonel.

"Perhaps to withdraw without making any display"--

Here the colonel interrupted the president of the deputation: "Marshal,
permit me to decline this advice; I have not come so far to be
discouraged, like a child, before the first obstacle. I am weary of a
disgrace which I have not deserved, and still more weary of enforced
idleness. Let the Emperor be irritated or pleased, he shall see me; let
him order me to be shot, if he wishes. I do not count worth having such
a life as I have led for the last four years. Nevertheless, I will be
satisfied with whatever my colleagues, the deputies of Besancon, shall

These latter did not disapprove of the colonel's resolution, and he
accompanied them to the Tuileries on the day of the solemn reception of
all the deputations of the Empire. All the halls of the Tuileries were
packed with a crowd in richly embroidered coats and brilliant uniforms.
The military household of the Emperor, his civil household, the generals
present at Paris, the diplomatic corps, ministers and chiefs of the
different administrations, the deputies of the departments with their
prefects, and mayors decorated with tricolored scarfs, were all assembled
in numerous groups, and conversed in a low tone while awaiting the
arrival of his Majesty.

In one of these groups was seen a tall officer dressed in a very simple
uniform, cut in the fashion of several years past. He wore neither on
his collar, nor even on his breast the decoration which no officer of his
grade then lacked. This was Colonel Delelee. The president of the
deputation of which he was a member appeared embarrassed and almost
distressed. Of the former comrades of the colonel, very few dared to
recognize him, and the boldest gave him a distant nod which expressed at
the same time anxiety and pity, while the more prudent did not even
glance at him.

As for him, he remained unconcerned and resolute.

At last the folding doors were opened, and an usher cried "The Emperor,

The groups separated, and a line was formed, the colonel placing himself
in the first rank.

His Majesty commenced his tour of the room, welcoming the president of
each delegation with a few flattering words. Arrived before the
delegation from Doubs, the Emperor, having addressed a few words to the
brave marshal who was president, was about to pass on to the next, when
his eyes fell upon an officer he had not yet seen. He stopped in
surprise, and addressed to the deputy his familiar inquiry, "Who are

"Sire, I am Colonel Delelee, former aide-de-camp of General Moreau."

These words were pronounced in a firm voice, which resounded in the midst
of the profound silence which the presence of the sovereign imposed.

The Emperor stepped back, and fastened both eyes on the colonel. The
latter showed no emotion, but bowed slightly.

Marshal Moncey was pale as death.

The Emperor spoke. "What do you come to ask here?"

"That which I have asked for many years, Sire: that your Majesty will
deign to tell me wherein I have been in fault, or restore to me my rank."

Among those near enough to hear these questions and replies, few could
breathe freely. At last a smile half opened the firmly closed lips of
the Emperor; he placed his finger on his mouth, and, approaching the
colonel, said to him in a softened and almost friendly tone, "You have
reason to complain a little of that, but let us say no more about it,"
and continued his round. He had gone ten steps from the group formed by
the deputies of Bescancon, when he came back, and, stopping before the
colonel, said, "Monsieur Minister of War, take the name of this officer,
and be sure to remind me of him. He is tired of doing nothing, and we
will give him occupation."

As soon as the audience was over, the struggle was, who should be most
attentive to the colonel. He was surrounded, congratulated, embraced,
and pulled about. Each of his old comrades wished to carry him off, and
his hands were not enough to grasp all those extended to him. General
Savary, who that very evening had added to the fright of Marshal Moncey,
by being astonished that any one could have the audacity to brave the
Emperor, extended his arm over the shoulders of those who pressed around
the colonel, and shaking his hand in the most cordial manner possible,
"Delelee," cried he, "do not forget that I expect you to-morrow to

Two days after this scene at court, Colonel Delelee received his
appointment as chief of staff of the army of Portugal, commanded by the
Duke d'Abrantes. His preparations were soon made; and just before
setting out he had a last interview with the Emperor, who said to him,
"Colonel, I know that it is useless to urge you to make up for lost time.
In a little while I hope we shall both be satisfied with each other."

On coming out from this last audience, the brave Delelee said there was
nothing wanting to make him happy except a good opportunity to have
himself cut to pieces for a man who knew so well how to close the wounds
of a long disgrace. Such was the sway that his Majesty exercised over
the minds of men.

The colonel had soon crossed the Pyrenees, passed through Spain, and been
received by Junot with open arms. The army of Portugal had suffered much
in the two years during which it had struggled against both the
population and the English with unequal forces. Food was secured with
difficulty, and the soldiers were badly clothed, and half-shod. The new
chief of staff did all that was possible to remedy this disorder; and the
soldiers had just begun to feel the good effects of his presence, when he
fell sick from overwork and fatigue, and died before being able,
according to the Emperor's expression, to "make up for lost time."

I have said elsewhere that upon each conspiracy against the life of the
First Consul all the members of his household were at once subjected to a
strict surveillance; their smallest actions were watched; they were
followed outside the chateau; their conduct was reported even to the
smallest details. At the time the conspiracy of Pichegru was discovered,
there was only a single guardian of the portfolio, by the name of
Landoire; and his position was very trying, for he must always be present
in a little dark corridor upon which the door of the cabinet opened, and
he took his meals on the run, and half-dressed. Happily for Landoire,
they gave him an assistant; and this was the occasion of it.

Angel, one of the doorkeepers of the palace, was ordered by the First
Consul to place himself at the barrier of Bonshommes during the trial of
Pichegru, to recognize and watch the people of the household who came and
went in the transaction of their business, no one being allowed to leave
Paris without permission. Augel's reports having pleased the First
Consul, he sent for him, was satisfied with his replies and intelligence,
and appointed him assistant to Landoire in the custody of the portfolio.
Thus the task of the latter became lighter by half. In 1812 Angel was in
the campaign of Russia, and died on the return, when within a few leagues
of Paris, in consequence of the fatigue and privations which we shared
with the army.

However, it was not only those attached to the service of the First
Consul, or the chateau, who were subject to this surveillance.

When Napoleon became Emperor, the custodians of all the imperial palaces
were furnished with a register upon which all persons from outside, and
all strangers who came to visit any one in the palace were obliged to
inscribe their names, with that of the persons whom they came to see.
Every evening this register was carried to the grand marshal of the
palace, and in his absence to the governor, and the Emperor often
consulted it. He once found there a certain name which, as a husband, he
had his reasons, and perhaps good ones, to suspect. His Majesty had
previously ordered the exclusion of this person; and finding this unlucky
name again upon the custodian's register, he was angry beyond measure,
believing that they had dared on both sides to disobey his orders.
Investigation was immediately made; and it was fortunately ascertained
that the visitor was a most insignificant person, whose only fault was
that of bearing a name which was justly compromised.


The year 1804, which was so full of glory for the Emperor, was also the
year which brought him more care and anxiety than all others, except
those of 1814 and 1815. It is not my province to pass judgment on such
grave events, nor to determine what part was taken in them by the
Emperor, or by those who surrounded and counseled him, for it is my
object to relate only what I saw and heard. On the 21st of March of that
year I entered the Emperor's room at an early hour, and found him awake,
leaning on his elbow. He seemed gloomy and tired; but when I entered he
sat up, passed his hand many times over his forehead, and said to me,
"Constant, I have a headache." Then, throwing off the covering, he
added, "I have slept very badly." He seemed extremely preoccupied and
absorbed, and his appearance evinced melancholy and suffering to such a
degree that I was surprised and somewhat anxious. While I was dressing
him he did not utter a word, which never occurred except when something
agitated or worried him. During this time only Roustan and I were
present. His toilet being completed, just as I was handing him his
snuff-box, handkerchief, and little bonbon box, the door opened suddenly,
and the First Consul's wife entered, in her morning negligee, much
agitated, with traces of tears on her cheeks. Her sudden appearance
astonished, and even alarmed, Roustan and myself; for it was only an
extraordinary circumstance which could have induced Madame Bonaparte to
leave her room in this costume, before taking all necessary precautions
to conceal the damage which the want of the accessories of the toilet did
her. She entered, or rather rushed, into the room, crying, "The Duke
d'Enghien is dead! Ah, my friend! what have you done?" Then she fell
sobbing into the arms of the First Consul, who became pale as death, and
said with extraordinary emotion, "The miserable wretches have been too
quick!" He then left the room, supporting Madame Bonaparte, who could
hardly walk, and was still weeping. The news of the prince's death
spread consternation in the chateau; and the First Consul remarked this
universal grief, but reprimanded no one for it. The fact is, the
greatest chagrin which this mournful catastrophe caused his servants,
most of whom were attached to him by affection even more than by duty,
came from the belief that it would inevitably tarnish the glory and
destroy the peace of mind of their master.

The First Consul probably understood our feelings perfectly; but however
that may be, I have here related all that I myself saw and know of this
deplorable event. I do not pretend to know what passed in the cabinet
meeting, but the emotion of the First Consul appeared to me sincere and
unaffected; and he remained sad and silent for many days, speaking very
little at his toilet, and saying only what was necessary.

During this month and the following I noticed constantly passing,
repassing, and holding frequent interviews with the First Consul, many
persons whom I was told were members of the council of state, tribunes,
or senators. For a long time the army and a great number of citizens,
who idolized the hero of Italy and Egypt, had manifested openly their
desire to see him wear a title worthy of his renown and the greatness of
France. It was well known, also, that he alone performed all the duties
of government, and that his nominal colleagues were really his
subordinates. It was thought proper, therefore, that he should become
supreme head of the state in name, as he already was in fact. I have
often since his fall heard his Majesty called an usurper: but the only
effect of this on me is to provoke a smile of pity; for if the Emperor
usurped the throne, he had more accomplices than all the tyrants of
tragedy and melodrama combined, for three-fourths of the French people
were in the conspiracy. As is well known, it was on May 18 that the
Empire was proclaimed, and the First Consul (whom I shall henceforward
call the Emperor) received at Saint-Cloud the Senate, led by Consul
Cambaceres, who became, a few hours later, arch-chancellor of the Empire;
and it was by him that the Emperor heard himself for the first time
saluted with the title of Sire. After this audience the Senate went to
present its homage to the Empress Josephine. The rest of the day was
passed in receptions, presentations, interviews, and congratulations;
everybody in the chateau was drunk with joy; each one felt that he had
been suddenly promoted in rank, so they embraced each other, exchanged
compliments, and confided to each other hopes and plans for the future.
There was no subaltern too humble to be inspired with ambition; in a
word, the antechamber, saving the difference of persons, furnished an
exact repetition of what passed in the saloon. Nothing could be more
amusing than the embarrassment of the whole service when it was necessary
to reply to his Majesty's questions. They would begin with a mistake,
then would try again, and do worse, saying ten times in the same minute,
"Sire, general, your Majesty, citizen, First Consul." The next morning
on entering as usual the First Consul's room, to his customary questions,
"What o'clock is it? What is the weather? "I replied, "Sire, seven
o'clock; fine weather." As I approached his bed, he seized me by the
ear, and slapped me on the cheek, calling me "Monsieur le drole," which
was his favorite expression when especially pleased with me. His Majesty
had kept awake, and worked late into the night, and I found him serious
and preoccupied, but well satisfied. How different this awakening to
that of the 21st of March preceding! On this day his Majesty went to
hold his first grand levee at the Tuileries, where all the civil and
military authorities were presented to him. The brothers and sisters of
the Emperor were made princes and princesses, with the exception of
Lucien, who had quarreled with his Majesty on the occasion of his
marriage with Madame Jouberton. Eighteen generals were raised to the
dignity of marshals of the empire. Dating from this day, everything
around their Majesties took on the appearance of a court and royal power.
Much has been said of the awkwardness of the first courtiers, not yet
accustomed to the new duties imposed upon them, and to the ceremonials of
etiquette; and there was, indeed, in the beginning some embarrassment
experienced by those in the immediate service of the Emperor, as I have
said above; but this lasted only a short while, and the chamberlains and
high officials adapted themselves to the new regime almost as quickly as
the valets de chambre. They had also as instructors many personages of
the old court, who had been struck out of the list of emigres by the
kindness of the Emperor, and now solicited earnestly for themselves and
their wives employment in the new imperial court.

His majesty had no liking for the anniversaries of the Republic; some of
which had always seemed to him odious and cruel, others ridiculous; and I
have heard him express his indignation that they should have dared to
make an annual festival of the anniversary of the 21st of January, and
smile with pity at the recollection of what he called the masquerades of
the theo-philanthropists, who, he said, "would have no Jesus Christ, and
yet made saints of Fenelon and Las Casas--Catholic prelates."

Bourrienne, in his Memoirs, says that it was not one of the least
singular things in the policy of Napoleon, that during the first years of
his reign he retained the festival of 14th July. I will observe, as to
this, that if his Majesty used this annual solemnity to appear in pomp in
public, on the other hand, he so changed the object of the festival that
it would have been difficult to recognize in it the anniversary of the
taking of the Bastile and of the First Federation. I do not think that
there was one word in allusion to these two events in the whole ceremony;
and to confuse still further the recollections of the Republicans, the
Emperor ordered that the festival should be celebrated on the 15th,
because that was Sunday, and thus there would result no loss of time to
the inhabitants of the capital. Besides, there was no allusion made to
honoring the, captors of the Bastile, this being made simply the occasion
of a grand distribution of the cross of the Legion of Honor.

It was the first occasion on which their Majesties showed themselves to
the people in all the paraphernalia of power.

The cortege crossed the grand alley of the Tuileries on their way to the
Hotel des Invalides, the church of which (changed during the Revolution
into a Temple of Mars) had been restored by the Emperor to the Catholic
worship, and was used for the magnificent ceremonies of the day. This
was also the first time that the Emperor had made use of the privilege of
passing in a carriage through the garden of the Tuileries. His cortege
was superb, that of the Empress Josephine not less brilliant; and the
intoxication of the people reached such a height, that it was beyond
expression. By order of the Emperor I mingled in the crowd, to learn in
what spirit the populace would take part in the festival; and I heard not
a murmur, so great was the enthusiasm of all classes for his Majesty at
that time, whatever may have been said since. The Emperor and Empress
were received at the door of the Hotel des Invalides by the governor and
by Count de Segur, grand-master of ceremonies, and at the entrance of the
church by Cardinal du Belloy at the head of a numerous clergy. After the
mass, de Lacepede, grand chancellor of the Legion of Honor, delivered a
speech, followed by the roll-call of the grand officers of the Legion,
after which the Emperor took his seat, and putting on his hat, repeated
in a firm voice the formula of the oath, at the end of which all the
members of the Legion cried, "Je le jure!" (I swear it); and immediately
shouts of "Vive l'Empereur," repeated a thousand times, were heard in the
church and outside.

A singular circumstance added still more to the interest which the
ceremony excited. While the chevaliers of the new order were passing one
by one before the Emperor, who welcomed them, a man of the people,
wearing a roundabout, placed himself on the steps of the throne. His
Majesty showed some astonishment, and paused an instant, whereupon the
man, being interrogated, showed his warrant. The Emperor at once and
with great cordiality bade him advance, and gave him the decoration,
accompanied by a sharp accolade. The cortege, on its return, followed
the same route, passing again through the garden of the Tuileries.

On the 18th of July, three days after this ceremony, the Emperor set out
from Saint-Cloud for the camp of Boulogne. Believing that his Majesty
would be willing to dispense with my presence for a few days, and as it
was a number of years since I had seen my family, I felt a natural desire
to meet them again, and to review with my parents the singular
circumstances through which I had passed since I had left them.

I should have experienced, I confess, great joy in talking with them of
my present situation and my hopes; and I felt the need of freely
expressing myself, and enjoying the confidences of domestic privacy, in
compensation for the repression and constraint which my position imposed
on me. Therefore I requested permission to pass eight days at Perueltz.
It was readily granted, and I lost no time in setting out; but my
astonishment may be imagined when, the very day after my arrival, a
courier brought me a letter from the Count de Remusat, ordering me to
rejoin the Emperor immediately, adding that his Majesty needed me, and I
should have no other thought than that of returning without delay. In
spite of the disappointment induced by such orders, I felt flattered
nevertheless at having become so necessary to the great man who had
deigned to admit me into his service, and at once bade adieu to my
family. His Majesty had hardly reached Boulogne, when he set out again
immediately on a tour of several days in the departments of the north.
I was at Boulogne before his return, and had organized his Majesty's
service so that he found everything ready on his arrival; but this did
not prevent his saying to me that I had been absent a long time.

While I am on this subject, I will narrate here, although some years in
advance, one or two circumstances which will give the reader a better
idea of the rigorous confinement to which I was subjected. I had
contracted, in consequence of the fatigues of my continual journeyings in
the suite of the Emperor, a disease of the bladder, from which I suffered
horribly. For a long time I combated the disease with patience and
dieting; but at last, the pain having become entirely unbearable, in 1808
I requested of his Majesty a month's leave of absence in order to be
cured, Dr. Boyer having told me that a month was the shortest time
absolutely necessary for my restoration, and that without it my disease
would become incurable. I went to Saint-Cloud to visit my wife's family,
where Yvan, surgeon of the Emperor, came to see me every day. Hardly a
week had passed, when he told me that his Majesty thought I ought to be
entirely well, and wished me to resume my duties. This wish was
equivalent to an order; it was thus I understood it, and returned to the
Emperor, who seeing me pale, and suffering excruciatingly, deigned to say
to me many kind things, without, however, mentioning a new leave of
absence. These two were my only absences for sixteen years; therefore,
on my return from Moscow, and during the campaign of France, my disease
having reached its height, I quitted the Emperor at Fontainebleau,
because it was impossible for me, in spite of all my attachment to so
kind a master, and all the gratitude which I felt towards him, to perform
my duties longer. Even after this separation, which was exceedingly
painful to me, a year hardly sufficed to cure me, and then not entirely.
But I shall take occasion farther on to speak of this melancholy event.
I now return to the recital of facts, which prove that I could, with more
reason than many others, believe myself a person of great importance,
since my humble services seemed to be indispensable to the master of
Europe, and many frequenters of the Tuileries would have had more
difficulty than I in proving their usefulness. Is there too much vanity
in what I have just said? and would not the chamberlains have a right to
be vexed by it? I am not concerned with that, so I continue my
narrative. The Emperor was tenacious of old habits; he preferred, as we
have already seen, being served by me in preference to all others;
nevertheless, it is my duty to state that his servants were all full of
zeal and devotion, though I had been with him longest, and had never left
him. One day the Emperor asked for tea in the middle of the day. M.
Seneschal was on duty, consequently made the tea, and presented it to his
Majesty, who declared it to be detestable, and had me summoned. The
Emperor complained to me that they were trying to poison him (this was
his expression when he found a bad taste in anything); so going into the
kitchen, I poured out of the same teapot, a cup, which I prepared and
carried to his Majesty, with two silver-gilt spoons as usual, one to
taste the tea in the presence of the Emperor, and the other for him.
This time he said the tea was excellent, and complimented me on it with a
kind familiarity which he deigned at times to use towards his servants.
On returning the cup to me, he pulled my ears, and said, "You must teach
them how to make tea; they know nothing about it." De Bourrienne, whose
excellent Memoirs I have read with the greatest pleasure, says somewhere,
that the Emperor in his moments of good humor pinched the tip of the ears
of his familiars. I myself think that he pinched the whole ear, often,
indeed, both ears at once, and with the hand of a master. He also says
in these same Memoirs, that the Emperor gave little friendly slaps with
two fingers, in which De Bourrienne is very moderate, for I can bear
witness in regard to this matter, that his Majesty, although his hand was
not large, bestowed his favors much more broadly; but this kind of
caress, as well as the former, was given and received as a mark of
particular favor, and the recipients were far from complaining then. I
have heard more than one dignitary say with pride, like the sergeant in
the comedy,--

"Sir, feel there, the blow upon my cheek is still warm."

In his private apartments the Emperor was almost always cheerful and
approachable, conversing freely with the persons in his service,
questioning them about their families, their affairs, and even as to
their pleasures. His toilet finished, his appearance suddenly changed;
he became grave and thoughtful, and assumed again the bearing of an
emperor. It has been said, that he often beat the people of his
household, which statement is untrue. I saw him once only give himself
up to a transport of this kind; and certainly the circumstances which
caused it, and the reparation which followed, ought to render it, if not
excusable, at least easily understood: This is the incident, of which I
was a witness, and which took place in the suburbs of Vienna, the day
after the death of Marshal Lannes. The Emperor was profoundly affected,
and had not spoken a word during his toilet. As soon as he was dressed
he asked for his horse; and as an unlucky chance would have it, Jardin,
superintendent of the stables, could not be found when the horse was
saddled, and the groom did not put on him his regular bridle, in
consequence of which his Majesty had no sooner mounted, than the animal
plunged, reared, and the rider fell heavily to the ground. Jardin
arrived just as the Emperor was rising from the ground, beside himself
with anger; and in his first transport of rage, he gave Jardin a blow
with his riding-whip directly across his face. Jardin withdrew,
overwhelmed by such cruel treatment, so unusual in his Majesty; and: few
hours after, Caulaincourt, grand equerry, finding himself alone with his
Majesty, described to him Jardin's grief and mortification. The Emperor
expressed deep regret for his anger, sent for Jardin, and spoke to him
with a kindness which effaced the remembrance of his ill treatment, and
sent him a few days afterward three thousand francs. I have been told
that a similar incident happened to Vigogne, senior, in Egypt. But
although this may be true, two such instances alone in the entire life of
the Emperor, which was passed amid surroundings so well calculated to
make a man, even though naturally most amiable, depart from his usual
character, should not be sufficient to draw down upon Napoleon the odious
reproach of beating cruelly those in his service.


In his headquarters at the Pont des Briques the Emperor worked as
regularly as in his cabinet at the Tuileries. After his rides on
horseback, his inspections, his visits, his reviews, he took his meals in
haste, and retired into his cabinet, where he often worked most of the
night, thus leading the same life as at Paris. In his horseback rides
Roustan followed him everywhere, always taking with him a little silver
flask of brandy for the use of his Majesty, who rarely asked for it.

The army of Boulogne was composed of about one hundred and fifty thousand
infantry and ninety thousand cavalry, divided into four principal camps,
the camp of the right wing, the camp of the left wing, the camp of
Wimereux, and the camp of Ambleteuse.

His Majesty the Emperor had his headquarters at Pont de Briques; thus
named, I was told, because the brick foundations of an old camp of
Caesar's had been discovered there. The Pont de Briques, as I have said
above, is about half a league from Boulogne; and the headquarters of his
Majesty were established in the only house of the place which was then
habitable, and guarded by a detachment of the cavalry of the Imperial

The four camps were on a very high cliff overlooking the sea, so situated
that in fine weather the coast of England could be seen.

In the camp on the right they had established barracks for the Emperor,
Admiral Bruix, Marshal Soult, and Decres, who was then minister of the

The Emperor's barrack was constructed under the direction of Sordi,
engineer, performing the functions of engineer-in-chief of military
roads; and his nephew, Lecat de Rue, attached at that time to the staff
of Marshal Soult as aide-de-camp, has been kind enough to furnish me with
information which did not come within my province.

The Emperor's barrack was built of plank, like the booths of a country
fair; with this difference, that the planks were neatly planed, and
painted a grayish white. In form it was a long square, having at each
end two pavilions of semicircular shape. A fence formed of wooden
lattice inclosed this barrack, which was lighted on the outside by lamps
placed four feet apart, and the windows were placed laterally. The
pavilion next to the sea consisted of three rooms and a hall, the
principal room, used as a council-chamber, being decorated with silver-
gray paper. On the ceiling were painted golden clouds, in the midst of
which appeared, upon the blue vault of the sky, an eagle holding the
lightning, and guided towards England by a star, the guardian star of the
Emperor. In the middle of this chamber was a large oval table with a
plain cover of green cloth; and before this table was placed only his
Majesty's armchair, which could be taken to pieces, and was made of
natural wood, unpainted, and covered with green morocco stuffed with
hair, while upon the table was a boxwood writing-desk. This was the
entire furniture of the council-chamber, in which his Majesty alone could
be seated. The generals stood before him, and had during these councils,
which sometimes lasted three or four hours, no other support than the
handles of their sabers.

The council-chamber was entered from a hall. On the right of this hall
was his Majesty's bedroom, which had a glass door, and was lighted by a
window which looked out upon the camp of the right wing, while the sea
could be seen on the left. In this room was the Emperor's iron bed, with
a large curtain of plain green sarsenet fastened to the ceiling by a
gilded copper ring; and upon this bed were two mattresses, one made of
hair, two bolsters, one at the head, the other at the foot, no pillow,
and two coverlets, one of white cotton, the other of green sarsenet,
wadded and quilted; by the side of the bed two very simple folding-seats,
and at the window short curtains of green sarsenet.

This room was papered with rose-colored paper, stamped with a pattern in
lace-work, with an Etruscan border.

Opposite the-bedroom was a similar chamber, in which was a peculiar kind
of telescope which had cost twelve thousand francs. This instrument was
about four feet long, and about a foot in diameter, and was mounted on a
mahogany support, with three feet, the box in which it was kept being
almost in the shape of a piano. In the same room, upon two stools, was a
little square chest, which contained three complete suits and the linen
which formed the campaign wardrobe of his Majesty. Above this was a
single extra hat, lined with white satin, and much the worse for wear;
for the Emperor, as I shall say later in speaking of his personal
peculiarities, having a very tender scalp, did not like new hats, and
wore the same a long time.

The main body of the imperial barrack was divided into three rooms, a
saloon, a vestibule, and a grand dining-room, which communicated with the
kitchens by a passage parallel to that I have just mentioned. Outside
the barrack, and connected with the kitchen, was a little shed, covered
with thatch, which served as a washroom, and which was also used as a
butler's pantry.

The barrack of Admiral Bruix was arranged like that of the Emperor, but
on a smaller scale.

Near this barrack was the semaphore of the signals, a sort of marine
telegraph by which the fleet was maneuvered. A little farther on was the
Tour d'Ordre, with a powerful battery composed of six mortars, six
howitzers, and twelve twenty-four pounders.

These six mortars, the largest that had ever been made, were six inches
thick, used forty-five pounds of powder at a charge, and threw bombs
fifteen hundred toises [A toise is six feet, and a league is three
miles] in the air, and a league and a half out to sea, each bomb thrown
costing the state three hundred francs. To fire one of these fearful
machines they used port-fires twelve feet long; and the cannoneer
protected himself as best he could by bowing his head between his legs,
and, not rising until after the shot was fired. The Emperor decided to
fire the first bomb himself.

To the right of the headquarters battery was the barrack of Marshal
Soult, which was constructed in imitation of the but of a savage, and
covered with thatch down to the ground, with glass in the top, and a door
through which. you descended into the rooms, which were dug out like
cellars. The principal chamber was round; and in it was a large work-
table covered with green cloth, and surrounded with small leather

The last barrack was that of Decres, minister of the navy, which was
furnished like that of Marshal Soult. From his barrack the Emperor could
observe all the maneuvers at sea; and the telescope, of which I have
spoken, was so good that Dover Castle, with its garrison, was, so to
speak, under the very eyes of his Majesty. The camp of the right wing,
situated upon the cliff, was divided into streets, each of which bore the
name of some distinguished general; and this cliff bristled with
batteries from Cologne to Ambleteuse, a distance of more than two

In order to go from Boulogne to the camp of the right wing, there was
only one road, which began in the Rue des Vieillards, and passed over the
cliff, between the barrack of his Majesty and those of Bruix, Soult, and
Decres, so that if at low tide the Emperor wished to go down upon the
beach, a long detour was necessary. One day when he was complaining
greatly of this, it occurred to Bonnefoux, maritime prefect of Boulogne,
to apply to Sordi, engineer of military roads, and ascertain if it was
not possible to remedy this great inconvenience.

The engineer replied that it was feasible to provide a road for his
Majesty directly from his barrack to the beach; but that in view of the
great height of the cliff it would be necessary to moderate the rapidity
of the descent by making the road zigzag. "Make it as you wish," said
the Emperor, "only let it be ready for use in three days." The skillful
engineer went to work, and in three days and three nights the road was
constructed of stone, bound together with iron clamps; and the Emperor,
charmed with so much diligence and ingenuity, had the name of Sordi
placed on the list for the next distribution of the cross of the Legion
of Honor, but, owing to the shameful negligence of some one, the name of
this man of talent was overlooked. The port of Boulogne contained about
seventeen hundred vessels, such as flatboats, sloops, turkish boats,
gunboats, prairies, mortar-boats, etc.; and the entrance to the port was
defended by an enormous chain, and by four forts, two on the right, and
two on the left.

Fort Husoir, placed on the left, was armed with three formidable
batteries ranged one above the other, the lower row bearing twenty-four
pounders, the second and third, thirty-six pounders. On the right of
this fort was the revolving bridge, and behind this bridge an old tower
called Castle Croi, ornamented with batteries which were both handsome
and effective. To the left, about a quarter of a league from Fort
Musoir, was Fort La Creche, projecting boldly into the sea, constructed
of cut stone, and crowned by a terrible battery; and finally, on the
right of Fort La Creche, was the Fort en Bois, perfectly manned, and
pierced by a large opening which was uncovered at low tide.

Upon the cliff to the left of the town, at nearly the same elevation as
the other, was the camp of the left wing. Here was situated the barrack
of Prince Joseph, at that time colonel of the Fourth Regiment of the
line; this barrack was covered with thatch. Below the camp, at the foot
of the cliff, the Emperor had a basin hollowed out, in which work a part
of the troops were employed.

It was in this basin that one day a young soldier of the Guard, who had
stuck in the mud up to his knees, tried with all his strength to pull out
his wheelbarrow, which was even worse mired than himself; but he could
not succeed, and covered with sweat, swore and stormed like an angry
grenadier. By chance lifting his eyes, he suddenly perceived the
Emperor, who was passing by the works on his way to visit his brother
Joseph in the camp on the left. The soldier looked at him with a
beseeching air and gesture, singing in a most sentimental tone, "Come,
oh, come, to my aid." His Majesty could not help smiling, and made signs
to the soldier to approach, which the poor fellow did, after extricating
himself with great difficulty. "What is your regiment"--"Sire, the First
of the Guard."--"How long have you been a soldier?"--"Since you have been
Emperor, Sire."--"Indeed, that is not a long time! It is not long enough
for me to make you an officer, is it? But conduct yourself well, and I
will have you made sergeant-major. After that, the cross and epaulets on
the first battlefield. Are you content?"--"Yes, Sire."--"Chief of
Staff," continued the Emperor, addressing General Berthier, "take the
name of this young man. You will give him three hundred francs to clean
his pantaloons and repair his wheelbarrow." And his Majesty rode on in
the midst of the acclamations of the soldiers.

At the inside extremity of the port, there was a wooden bridge which they
called the Service bridge. The powder magazines were behind it,
containing an immense amount of ammunition; and after nightfall no one
was allowed to go upon this bridge without giving the countersign to the
second sentinel, for the first always allowed him to pass. He was not
allowed to pass back again, however; for if any person entering the
bridge was ignorant of the countersign, or had happened to forget it, he
was stopped by the second sentinel, and the first sentinel at the head of
the bridge had express orders to pass his bayonet through the body of the
rash man if he was unable to answer the questions of this last sentinel.
These rigorous precautions were rendered necessary by the vicinity of
these terrible powder magazines, which a single spark might blow up, and
with it the town, the fleet, and the two camps.

At night the port was closed with the big chain I have mentioned, and the
wharves were picketed by sentinels placed fifteen paces from each other.
Each quarter of an hour they called, "Sentinels, look out!" And the
soldiers of the marine, placed in the topsails, replied to this by,
"All's well," pronounced in a drawling, mournful tone. Nothing could be
more monotonous or depressing than this continual murmur, this lugubrious
mingling of voices all in the same tone, especially as those making these
cries endeavored to make them as inspiring as possible.

Women not residing in Boulogne were prohibited from remaining there
without a special permit from the minister of police. This measure had
been judged necessary on account of the army; for otherwise each soldier
perhaps would have brought a woman to Boulogne, and the disorder would
have been indescribable. Strangers were admitted into the town with
great difficulty.

In spite of all these precautions, spies from the English fleet each day
penetrated into Boulogne. When they were discovered no quarter was
given; and notwithstanding this, emissaries who had landed, no one knew
where, came each evening to the theater, and carried their imprudence so
far as to write their opinion of the actors and actresses, whom they
designated by name, and to post these writings on the walls of the
theater, thus defying the police. One day there were found on the shore
two little boats covered with tarpaulin, which these gentry probably used
in their clandestine excursions.

In June, 1804, eight Englishmen, perfectly well dressed, in white silk
stockings, etc., were arrested, and on them was found sulphurated
apparatus with which they had intended to burn the fleet. They were shot
within an hour, without any form of trial.

There were also traitors in Boulogne. A schoolmaster, the secret agent
of Lords Keith and Melville, was surprised one morning on the cliff above
the camp of the right wing, making telegraphic signals with his arms; and
being arrested almost in the act by the sentinels, he protested his
innocence, and tried to turn the incident into a jest, but his papers
were searched, and correspondence with the English found, which clearly
proved his guilt. He was delivered to the council of war, and shot the
next day.

One evening between eleven o'clock and midnight, a fire-ship, rigged like
a French ship, flying French colors, and in every respect resembling a
gunboat, advanced towards the line of battle and passed through. By
unpardonable negligence the chain had not been stretched that evening.
This fire-ship was followed by a second, which exploded, striking a
sloop, which went down with it. This explosion gave the alarm to the
whole fleet; and lights instantly shone in every direction, revealing the
first fire-ship advancing between the jetties, a sight which was
witnessed with inexpressible anxiety. Three or four pieces of wood
connected by cables fortunately stopped her progress; but she blew up
with such a shock that the glasses of all the windows in town were
shattered, and a great number of the inhabitants, who for want of beds
were sleeping upon tables, were thrown to the floor, and awakened by the
fall without comprehending what had happened. In ten minutes everybody
was stirring, as it was thought that the English were in the port; and
there ensued such confusion, such a mingled tumult of noises and screams,
that no one could make himself understood, until criers preceded by drums
were sent through the town to reassure the inhabitants, and inform them
that all danger was past.

The next day songs were composed on this nocturnal alarm, and were soon
in every mouth.

Another alarm, but of an entirely different kind, upset all Boulogne in
the autumn of 1804. About eight o'clock in the evening a chimney caught
fire on the right of the port; and the light of this fire, shining
through the masts of the flotilla, alarmed the commandant of a post on
the opposite shore. At this time all the vessels had powder and
ammunition on board; and the poor commandant, beside himself with terror,
cried, "Boys, the fleet is on fire;" and immediately had the alarm
beaten. The frightful news spread like lightning; and in less than half
an hour more than sixty thousand men appeared upon the wharves, the
tocsin was sounded in all the churches, the forts fired alarm guns, while
drums and trumpets sounded along the streets, the whole making an
infernal tumult.

The Emperor was at headquarters when this terrible cry, "The fleet is on
fire," came to his ears. "It is impossible!" he immediately exclaimed,
but, nevertheless, rushed out instantly.

On entering the town, what a frightful spectacle we beheld. Women in
tears, holding their children in their arms, ran like lunatics, uttering
cries of despair, while men abandoned their houses, carrying off whatever
was most valuable, running against and knocking each other over in the
darkness. On all sides was heard, "Mauve qui peat; we are going to be
blown up, we are all lost;" and the maledictions, lamentations,
blasphemies, were sufficient to make your hair stand on end.

The aides-de-camp of his Majesty and those of Marshal Soult galloped in
every direction, forcing their way through the crowds, stopping the
drummers, and asking them, "Why do you beat the alarm? Who has ordered
you to beat the alarm?"--"We don't know," they replied; and the drums
continued to beat, while the tumult kept on increasing, and the crowd
rushed to the gates, struck by a terror which a moment's reflection would
have dissipated. But, unfortunately, fear gives no time for reflection.

It is true, however, that a considerable number of inhabitants, less
excitable than these I have described, remained quietly at home, well
knowing that if the fleet had really been on fire, there would have been
no time to give an alarm. These persons made every effort to quiet the
excited crowd. Madame F----, the very pretty and very amiable wife of a
clockmaker, was in her kitchen making preparations for supper, when a
neighbor, thoroughly frightened, entered, and said to her, "Save yourself
Madame; you have not a moment to lose!"--"What is the matter?"--"The
fleet is on fire!"--"Ah-pshaw!"--"Fly then, Madame, fly! I tell you the
fleet is on fire." And the neighbor took Madame F---- by the arm, and
endeavored to pull her along. Madame F---- held at the moment a frying-
pan in which she was cooking some fritters. "Take care; you will make me
burn my fritters," said she, laughing. And with a few half serious, half
jesting words she reassured the poor fellow, who ended by laughing at

At last the tumult was appeased, and to this great fright a profound calm
succeeded. No explosion had been heard; and they saw that it must have
been a false alarm, so each returned home, thinking no longer of the
fire, but agitated by another fear. The robbers may have profited by the
absence of the inhabitants to pillage the houses, but as luck would have
it no mischance of this kind had taken place.

The next day the poor commandant who had so inopportunely taken and given
the alarm was brought before the council of war. He was guilty of no
intentional wrong; but the law was explicit, and he was condemned to
death. His judges, however, recommended him to the mercy of the Emperor,
who pardoned him.


Many of the brave soldiers who composed the army of Boulogne had earned
the cross (of the Legion of Honor) in these last campaigns, and his
Majesty desired that this distribution should be made an impressive
occasion, which should long be remembered. He chose the day after his
fete, Aug. 16, 1804. Never has there been in the past, nor can there be
in the future, a more imposing spectacle.

At six o'clock in the morning, more than eighty thousand men left the
four camps,--at their head drums beating and bands playing,--and advanced
by divisions towards the "Hubertmill" field, which was on the cliff
beyond the camp of the right wing. On this plain an immense platform had
been erected, about fifteen feet above the ground, and with its back
toward the sea. It was reached by three flights of richly carpeted
steps, situated in the middle and on each side. From the stage thus
formed, about forty feet square, rose three other platforms, the central
one bearing the imperial armchair, decorated with trophies and banners,
while that on the left held seats for the brothers of the Emperor, and
for the grand dignitaries, and that on the right bore a tripod of antique
form, surmounted by a helmet (the helmet of Duguesclin, I think), covered
with crosses and ribbons. By the side of the tripod had been placed a
seat for the arch-chancellor.

About three hundred steps from the throne, the land rose in a slight and
almost circular ascent; and on this ascent the troops were arranged as in
an amphitheater. To the right of the throne, on an eminence, were placed
sixty or eighty tents made of naval flags; these tents were intended for
the ladies of the city, and made a charming picture, but they were so far
from the throne that the spectators who filled them were obliged to use
glasses. Between these tents and the throne a part of the Imperial Guard
was ranged in line of battle.

The weather was perfect; there was not a cloud in the sky; the English
cruisers had disappeared; and on the sea could be seen only our line of
vessels handsomely decorated with flags.

At ten o'clock in the morning, a discharge of artillery announced the
departure of the Emperor; and his Majesty left his barrack, surrounded by
more than eighty generals and two hundred aides-decamp, all his household
following him. The Emperor was dressed in the uniform of the colonel-
general of the infantry of the guard. He rode at a gallop to the foot of
the throne, in the midst of universal acclamations and the most deafening
uproar made by drums, trumpets, and cannon, beating, blowing, and roaring
all together.

His Majesty mounted the throne, followed by his brothers and the grand
dignitaries; and when he was seated each one took his designated place,
and the distribution of the crosses began in the following manner:
An aide-de-camp of the Emperor called by name the soldiers to be honored,
who one by one stopped at the foot of the throne, bowed, and mounted the
steps on the right. There they were received by the arch-chancellor, who
delivered to them their commissions; and two pages, placed between the
Emperor and the tripod, took the decoration from the helmet of
Duguesclin, and handed it to his Majesty, who fastened it himself on the
breast of the brave fellow. Instantly more than eight hundred drums beat
a tattoo; and when the soldier thus decorated descended from the throne
by the steps on the left, as he passed before the brilliant staff of the
Emperor a burst of music from more than twelve hundred musicians signaled
the return to his company of the Knight of the Legion of Honor. It is
needless to say that the cry of 'Vive l'Empereur' was repeated twice at
each decoration.

The distribution began at ten o'clock, and ended about three. Then,
according to orders borne by the aides-decamp to the divisions, a volley
of artillery was heard, and eighty thousand men advanced in close columns
to within twenty or thirty steps of the throne. The most profound
silence succeeded the noise of drums; and, the Emperor having given his
orders, the troops executed maneuvers for about an hour, at the end of
which each division defiled before the throne as they returned to the
camp. Each chief, on passing, saluted by lowering the point of his
sword. Specially noticeable among them was Prince Joseph, newly
appointed colonel of the Fourth Regiment of the line, who made his
brother a salute more graceful than military. The Emperor frowned
slightly at the somewhat critical remarks which his old companions in
arms seemed inclined to make on this subject; but except for this slight
cloud, the countenance of his Majesty was never more radiant.

Just as the troops were filing off, the wind, which for two or three
hours had been blowing violently, became a perfect gale, and an orderly
officer came in haste to inform his Majesty that four or five gunboats
had just been driven ashore. The Emperor at once left the plain at a
gallop, followed by some of the marshals, and took his position on the
shore until the crews of the gunboats were saved, and the Emperor then
returned to the Pont des Briques.

This immense army could not regain its quarters before eight o'clock in
the evening. The next day the camp of the left wing gave a military
fete, at which the Emperor was present.

From early in the morning, launches mounted on wheels ran at full speed
through the streets of the camp, driven by a favorable wind. Officers
amused themselves riding after them at a gallop, and rarely overtaking
them. This exercise lasted an hour or two; but, the wind having changed,
the launches upset, amid shouts of laughter.

This was followed by a horseback race, the prize being twelve hundred
francs. A lieutenant of dragoons, very popular in his company, asked as
a favor to be allowed to compete; but the haughty council of superior
officers refused to admit him, under the pretext that his rank was not
sufficiently high, but, in reality, because he had the reputation of
being a splendid horseman. Stung to the quick by this unjust refusal,
the lieutenant of dragoons applied to the Emperor, who gave him
permission to race with the others, after having learned that this brave
officer supported by his own exertions a numerous family, and that his
conduct was irreproachable.

At a given signal the races began. The lieutenant of dragoons soon
passed his antagonists, and had almost reached the goal, when, by an
unfortunate mischance, a little poodle ran between the legs of his horse,
and threw him down. An aide-de-camp who came immediately after was
proclaimed victor. The lieutenant picked himself up as well as he could,
and was preparing, very sadly, to retire, somewhat consoled by the signs
of interest which the spectators manifested, when the Emperor summoned
him, and said, "You deserve the prize, and you shall have it; I make you
captain." And addressing himself to the grand marshal of the palace,
"You will pay twelve hundred francs to the Captain" (the name does not
occur to me), while all cried, "Vive l'Empereur," and congratulated the
new captain on his lucky fall.

In the evening there were fireworks, which could be seen from the coast
of England. Thirty thousand soldiers executed all sorts of maneuvers,
firing sky-rockets from their guns. The crowning piece, which
represented the arms of the Empire, was so fine that for five minutes
Boulogne, the country, and all the coast, were lighted up as if it were
broad daylight.

A few days after these fetes, as the Emperor was passing from one camp to
the other, a sailor who was watching for him in order to hand him a
petition was obliged, as the rain was falling in torrents, and he was
afraid of spoiling the sheet of paper, to place himself under shelter in
an isolated barrack on the shore, used to store rigging. He had been
waiting a long time, and was wet to the skin, when he saw the Emperor
coming from the camp of the left wing at a gallop. Just as his Majesty,
still galloping, was about to pass before the barrack, the brave sailor,
who was on the lookout, sprang suddenly from his hiding place, and threw
himself before the Emperor, holding out his petition in the attitude of a
fencing-master defending himself. The Emperor's horse, startled by this
sudden apparition, stopped short; and his Majesty, taken by surprise,
gave the sailor a disapproving glance, and passed on without taking the
petition which was offered him in so unusual a manner.

It was on this day, I think, that Monsieur Decres, minister of the navy,
had the misfortune to fall into the water, to the very great amusement of
his Majesty. To enable the Emperor to pass from the quay to a gunboat,
there had been a single plank thrown from the boat to the quay. Napoleon
passed, or rather leaped, over this light bridge, and was received on
board in 'the arms of a soldier of the guard; but M. Decres, more stout,
and less active than the Emperor, advanced carefully over the plank that
he found to his horror was bending under his feet, until just as he
arrived in the middle, the weight of his body broke the plank, and the
minister of the navy was precipitated into the water, midway between the
quay and the boat. His Majesty turned at the noise that M. Decres made
in falling, and leaning over the side of the boat, exclaimed, "What! Is
that our minister of the navy who has allowed himself to fall in the
water? Is it possible it can be he?" The Emperor during this speech
laughed most uproariously. Meanwhile, two or three sailors were engaged
in getting M. Decres out of his embarrassing position. He was with much
difficulty hoisted on the sloop, in a sad state, as may be believed,
vomiting water through his nose, mouth, and ears, and thoroughly ashamed
of his accident, which the Emperor's jokes contributed to render still
more exasperating.

Towards the end of our stay the generals gave a magnificent ball to the
ladies of the city, at which the Emperor was present.

For this purpose a temporary hall had been erected, which was tastefully
decorated with garlands, flags, and trophies.

General Bertrand was appointed master of ceremonies by his colleagues;
and General Bisson. I was put in charge of the buffet, which employment
suited General Bisson perfectly, for he was the greatest glutton in camp,
and his enormous stomach interfered greatly with his walking. He drank
not less than six or seven bottles of wine at dinner, and never alone;
for it was a punishment to him not to talk while eating, consequently he
usually invited his aides-de-camp, whom, through malice no doubt, he
chose always from among the most delicate and abstemious in the army.
The buffet was worthy of the one who had it in charge.

The orchestra was composed of musicians from twenty regiments, who played
in turn. But on the opening of the ball the entire orchestra executed a
triumphal march, during which the aides-de-Camp, most elegantly attired,
received the ladies invited, and presented them with bouquets.

In order to be admitted to this ball, it was necessary to have at least
the rank of commandant. It is, impossible to give an idea of the scene
presented by this multitude of uniforms, each vying in brilliancy with
the other. The fifty or sixty generals who gave the ball had ordered
from Paris magnificently embroidered uniforms, and the group they formed
around his Majesty as he entered glittered with gold and diamonds. The
Emperor remained an hour at this fete, and danced the Boulanyere with
Madame Bertrand. He wore the uniform of colonel-general of the cavalry
of the guard.

The wife of Marshal Soult was queen of the ball. She wore a black velvet
dress besprinkled with the kind of diamonds called rhinestones.

At midnight a splendid supper was served, the preparation of which
General Bisson had superintended, which is equivalent to saying that
nothing was wanting thereto.

The ladies of Boulogne, who had never attended such a fete, were filled
with amazement, and when supper was served advised each other to fill up
their reticules with dainties and sweets. They would have carried away,
I think, the hall, with the musicians and dancers; and for more than a
month this ball was the only subject of their conversation.

About this time his Majesty was riding on horseback near his barracks,
when a pretty young girl of fifteen or sixteen, dressed in white, her
face bathed in tears, threw herself on her knees in his path. The
Emperor immediately alighted from his horse, and assisted her to rise,
asking most compassionately what he could do for her. The poor girl had
come to entreat the pardon of her father, a storekeeper in the commissary
department, who had been condemned to the galleys for grave crimes. His
Majesty could not resist the many charms of the youthful suppliant, and
the pardon was granted.


At Boulogne, as everywhere else, the Emperor well knew how to win all
hearts by his moderation, his justice, and the generous grace with which
he acknowledged the least service. All the inhabitants of Boulogne, even
all the peasants of the suburbs, would have died for him, and the
smallest particulars relating to him were constantly repeated. One day,
however, his conduct gave rise to serious complaints, and he was
unanimously blamed; for his injustice was the cause of a terrible
tragedy. I will now relate this sad event, an authentic account of which
I have never seen in print.

One morning, as he mounted his horse, the Emperor announced that he would
that day review the naval forces, and gave orders that the boats which
occupied the line of defense should leave their position, as he intended
to hold the review in the open sea. He set out with Roustan for his
morning ride, and expressed a wish that all should be ready on his
return, the hour of which he designated. Every one knew that the
slightest wish of the Emperor was law; and the order was transmitted,
during his absence, to Admiral Bruix, who replied with imperturbable
'sang froid', that he much regretted it, but the review would not take
place that day, and in consequence no boat stirred.

On his return from his ride, the Emperor asked if everything was ready,
and the admiral's answer was reported to him. Astonished by its tone, so
different from what he was accustomed to, he had it repeated to him
twice, and then, with a violent stamp of his foot, ordered the admiral to
be summoned. He obeyed instantly; but the Emperor, thinking he did not
come quickly enough, met him half-way from his barracks. The staff
followed his Majesty, and placed themselves silently around him, while
his eyes shot lightning.

"Admiral Bruix," said the Emperor in a tone showing great excitement,
"why have you not obeyed my orders?"

"Sire," responded Bruix with respectful firmness, "a terrible storm is
gathering. Your Majesty can see this as well as I; are you willing to
uselessly risk the lives of so many brave men?" In truth, the heaviness
of the atmosphere, and the low rumbling which could be heard in the
distance, justified only too well the admiral's fears. "Monsieur,"
replied the Emperor, more and more irritated, "I gave the orders; once
again, why have you not executed them? The consequences concern me
alone. Obey!"--"Sire, I will not obey!"--"Monsieur, you are insolent!"
And the Emperor, who still held his riding-whip in his hand, advanced on
the admiral, making a threatening gesture. Admiral Bruix retreated a
step, and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword: "Sire," said he,
growing pale, "take care!" All those present were paralyzed with terror.
The Emperor remained for some time immovable, with his hand raised, and
his eyes fixed on the admiral, who still maintained his defiant attitude.
At last the Emperor threw his whip on the ground. Admiral Bruix relaxed
his hold on his sword, and, with uncovered head, awaited in silence the
result of this terrible scene.

"Rear-admiral Magon!" said the Emperor, "you will see that the orders
which I have given are executed instantly. As for you, sir," continued
he, turning to Admiral Bruix, "you will leave Boulogne within. twenty-
four hours, and retire to Holland. Go!" His Majesty returned at once to
headquarters; some of the officers, only a small number, however, pressed
in parting the hand that the admiral held out to them.

Rear-admiral Magon immediately ordered the fatal movement commanded by
the Emperor; but hardly had the first dispositions been made when the sea
became frightful to behold, the sky, covered with black clouds, was
furrowed with lightning, the thunder roared incessantly, and the wind
increased to a gale. In fact, what Admiral Bruix had foreseen occurred;
a frightful tempest scattered the boats in every direction, and rendered
their condition desperate. The Emperor, anxious and uneasy, with lowered
head and crossed arms, was striding up and down the shore, when suddenly
terrible cries were heard. More than twenty gunboats, filled with
soldiers and sailors, had just been driven on the shore; and the poor
unfortunates who manned them, struggling against furious waves, were
imploring help which none could venture to render. The Emperor was
deeply touched by this sight, while his heart was torn by the
lamentations of an immense crowd which the tempest had collected on the
shore and the adjoining cliffs. He beheld his generals and officers
stand in shuddering horror around him, and wishing to set an example of
self-sacrifice, in spite of all efforts made to restrain him, threw
himself into a lifeboat, saying, "Let me alone; let me alone! They must
be gotten out of there." In an instant the boat filled with water, the
waves dashed over it, and the Emperor was submerged, one wave stronger
than the others threw his Majesty on the shore, and his hat was swept

Electrified by such courage, officers, soldiers, sailors, and citizens
now began to lend their aid, some swimming, others in boats; but, alas!
they succeeded in saving--only a very small number of the unfortunate men
who composed the crews of the gunboats, and the next day the sea cast
upon the shore more than two hundred men, and with them the hat of the
conqueror of Marengo.

The next was a day of mourning and of grief, both in Boulogne and the
camp. The inhabitants and soldiers covered the beach, searching
anxiously among the bodies which the waves incessantly cast upon the
shore; and the Emperor groaned over this terrible calamity, which in his
inmost heart he could not fail to attribute to his own obstinacy. By his
orders agents entrusted with gold went through the city and camp,
stopping the murmurs which were ready to break forth.

That day I saw a drummer, who had been among the crew of the shipwrecked
vessels, washed upon the shore upon his drum, which lie had used as a
raft. The poor fellow had his thigh broken, and had remained more than
twenty hours in that horrible condition.

In order to complete in this place my recollections of the camp of
Boulogne, I will relate the following, which did not take place, however,
until the month of August, 1805, after the return of the Emperor from his
journey to Italy, where he had been crowned.

Soldiers and sailors were burning with impatience to embark for England,
but the moment so ardently desired was still delayed. Every evening they
said to themselves, "Tomorrow there will be a good wind, there will also
be a fog, and we shall start," and lay down with that hope, but arose
each day to find either an unclouded sky or rain.

One evening, however, when a favorable wind was blowing, I heard two
sailors conversing together on the wharf, and making conjectures as to
the future. "The Emperor would do well to start tomorrow morning," said
one; "he will never have better weather, and there will surely be a fog."
--"Bah!" said the other, "only he does not think so. We have now waited
more than fifteen days, and the fleet has not budged; however, all the
ammunition is on board, and with one blast of the whistle we can put to

The night sentinels came on, and the conversation of the old sea-wolves
stopped there; but I soon had to acknowledge that their nautical
experience had not deceived them. In fact, by three o'clock in the
morning, a light fog was spread over the sea, which was somewhat stormy,
the wind of the evening before began to, blow again, and at daylight the
fog was so thick as to conceal the fleet from the English, while the most
profound silence reigned everywhere. No hostile sails had been signaled
through the night, and, as the sailors had predicted, everything favored
the descent.

At five o'clock in the morning, signals were made from the semaphore; and
in the twinkling of an eye all the sailors were in motion, and the port
resounded with cries of joy, for the order to depart had just been
received. While the sails were being hoisted, the long roll was beaten
in the four camps, and the order was given for the entire army to take
arms; and they marched rapidly into the town, hardly believing what they
had just heard. "We are really going to start," said all the soldiers;
"we are actually going to say a few words to those Englishmen," and the
joy which animated them burst forth in acclamations, which were silenced
by a roll of the drums. The embarkation then took place amid profound
silence, and in such perfect order that I can hardly give an idea of it.
At seven o'clock two hundred thousand soldiers were on board the fleet;
and when a little after midday this fine army was on the point of
starting amidst the adieus and good wishes of the whole city, assembled
upon the walls and upon the surrounding cliffs, and at the very moment
when all the soldiers standing with uncovered heads were about to bid
farewell to the soil of France, crying, "Vive l'Empereur!" a message
arrived from the imperial barrack, ordering the troops to disembark, and
return to camp. A telegraphic dispatch just then received by his Majesty
had made it necessary that he should move his troops in another
direction; and the soldiers returned sadly to their quarters, some
expressing in a loud tone, and in a very energetic manner, the
disappointment which this species of mystification caused them.

They had always regarded the success of the enterprise against England as
assured, and to find themselves stopped on the eve of departure was, in
their eyes, the greatest misfortune which could happen to them.

When order had again been restored, the Emperor repaired to the camp of
the right wing, and made a proclamation to the troops, which was sent
into the other camps, and posted everywhere. This was very nearly the
tenor of it: "Brave soldiers of the camp of Boulogne! you will not go to
England. English gold has seduced the Emperor of Austria, who has just
declared war against France. His army has passed the line which he
should have respected, and Bavaria is invaded. Soldiers! new laurels
await you beyond the Rhine. Let us hasten to defeat once more enemies
whom you have already conquered." This proclamation called forth
unanimous acclamations of joy, and every face brightened, for it mattered
little to these intrepid men whether they were to be led against Austria
or England; they simply thirsted for the fray, and now that war had been
declared, every desire was gratified.

Thus vanished all those grand projects of descent upon England, which had
been so long matured, so wisely planned. There is no doubt now that with
favorable weather and perseverance the enterprise would have been crowned
with the greatest success; but this was not to be.

A few regiments remained at Boulogne; and while their brethren crushed
the Austrians, they erected upon the seashore a column destined to recall
for all time the memory of Napoleon and his immortal army.

Immediately after the proclamation of which I have just spoken, his
Majesty gave orders that all should prepare for immediate departure; and
the grand marshal of the palace was charged to audit and pay all the
expenses which the Emperor had made, or which he had ordered to be made,
during his several visits, not without cautioning him, according to
custom, to be careful not to pay for too much of anything, nor too high a
price. I believe that I have already stated that the Emperor was
extremely economical in everything which concerned him personally, and
that he was afraid of spending twenty francs unless for some directly
useful purpose. Among many other accounts to be audited, the grand
marshal of the palace received that of Sordi, engineer of military roads,
whom he had ordered to decorate his Majesty's barrack, both inside and
out. The account amounted to fifty thousand francs. The grand marshal
exclaimed aloud at this frightful sum. He was not willing to approve the
account of Sordi, and sent it back to him, saying that he could not
authorize the payment without first receiving the orders of the Emperor.
The engineer assured the grand marshal that he had overcharged nothing,
and that he had closely followed his instructions, and added, that being
the case, it was impossible for him to make the slightest reduction. The
next day Sordi received instructions to attend his Majesty. The Emperor
was in his barrack, which was the subject under discussion, and spread
out before him was, not the account of the engineer, but a map, upon
which he was tracing the intended march of his army. Sordi came, and was
admitted by General Caffarelli. The half-open door permitted the
general, as well as myself, to hear the conversation which followed.
"Monsieur," said his Majesty, "you have spent far too much money in
decorating this miserable barrack. Yes; certainly far too much. Fifty
thousand francs! Just think of it, monsieur! That is frightful; I will
not pay you!" The engineer, silenced by this abrupt entrance upon
business, did not at first know how to reply. Happily the Emperor, again
casting his eyes on the map which lay unrolled before him, gave him time
to recover himself; and he replied, "Sire, the golden clouds which
ornament this ceiling" (for all this took place in the council-chamber),
"and which surround the guardian star of your Majesty, cost twenty
thousand francs in truth; but if I had consulted the hearts of your
subjects, the imperial eagle which is again about to strike with a
thunderbolt the enemies of France and of your throne, would have spread
its wings amid the rarest diamonds."--"That is very good," replied the
Emperor, laughing, "very good; but I will not have you paid at present,
and since you tell me that this eagle which costs so dear will strike the
Austrians with a thunderbolt, wait until he has done so, and I will then
pay your account in rix dollars of the Emperor of Germany, and the gold
frederics of the King of Prussia." His Majesty, resuming his compass,
began to move his armies upon the map; and truth to tell, the account of
the engineer was not paid until after the battle of Austerlitz, and then,
as the Emperor had said, in rix dollars and frederics.

About the end of July (1804), the Emperor left Boulogne in order to make
a tour through Belgium before rejoining the Empress, who had gone direct
to Aix-la-Chapelle. Everywhere on this tour he was welcomed, not only
with the honors reserved for crowned heads, but with hearty acclamations,
addressed to him personally rather than to his official position. I will
say nothing of the fetes which were given in his honor during this
journey, nor of the remarkable things which occurred. Descriptions of
these can easily be found elsewhere; and it is my purpose to relate only
what came peculiarly under my own observation, or at least details not
known to the general public. Let it suffice, then, to say that our
journey through Arras, Valenciennes, Mons, Brussels, etc., resembled a
triumphal progress. At the gate of each town the municipal council
presented to his Majesty the wine of honor and the keys of the place.
We stopped a few days at Lacken; and being only five leagues from Alost,
a little town where my relatives lived, I requested the Emperor's
permission to leave him for twenty-four hours, and it was granted, though
reluctantly. Alost, like the remainder of Belgium at this time,
professed the greatest attachment for the Emperor, and consequently I had
hardly a moment to myself. I visited at the house of Monsieur D----, one
of my friends, whose family had long held positions of honor in the
government of Belgium. There I think all the town must have come to meet
me; but I was not vain enough to appropriate to myself all the honor of
this attention, for each one who came was anxious to learn even the most
insignificant details concerning the great man near whom I was placed.
On this account I was extraordinarily feted, and my twenty-four hours
passed only too quickly. On my return, his Majesty deigned to ask
innumerable questions regarding the town of Alost and its inhabitants,
and as to what was thought there of his government and of himself. I was
glad to be able to answer without flattery, that he was adored. He
appeared gratified, and spoke to me most kindly of my family and of my
own small interests.

We left the next day for Lacken, and passed through Alost; and had I
known this the evening before, I might perhaps have rested a few hours
longer. However, the Emperor found so much difficulty in granting me
even one day, that I would not probably have dared to lose more, even had
I known that the household was to pass by this town.

The Emperor was much pleased with Lacken; he ordered considerable repairs
and improvements to be made there, and the palace, owing to this
preference, became a charming place of sojourn.

This journey of their Majesties lasted nearly three months; and we did
not return to Paris, or rather to Saint-Cloud, until November. The
Emperor received at Cologne and at Coblentz the visits of several German
princes and princesses; but as I know only from hearsay what passed in
these interviews, I shall not undertake to describe them.


Nothing is too trivial to narrate concerning great men; for posterity
shows itself eager to learn even the most insignificant details
concerning their manner of life, their tastes, their slightest
peculiarities. When I attended the theater, whether in my short
intervals of leisure or in the suite of his Majesty, I remarked how
keenly the spectators enjoyed the presentation on the stage, of some
grand historic personage; whose costume, gestures, bearing, even his
infirmities and faults, were delineated exactly as they have been
transmitted to us by contemporaries. I myself always took the greatest
pleasure in seeing these living portraits of celebrated men, and well
remember that on no occasion did I ever so thoroughly enjoy the stage as
when I saw for the first time the charming piece of The Two Pages.
Fleury in the role of Frederick the Great reproduced so perfectly the
slow walk, the dry tones, the sudden movements, and even the short-
sightedness of this monarch, that as soon as he appeared on the stage the
whole house burst into applause. It was, in the opinion of persons
sufficiently well informed to judge, a most perfect and faithful
presentation; and though for my own part, I was not able to say whether
the resemblance was perfect or not, I felt that it must be. Michelot,
whom I have since seen in the same role, gave me no less pleasure than
his predecessor; and it is evident that both these talented actors must
have studied the subject deeply, to have learned so thoroughly and
depicted so faithfully the characteristics of their model.

I must confess a feeling of pride in the thought that these memoirs may
perhaps excite in my readers some of the same pleasurable emotions which
I have here attempted to describe; and that perhaps in a future, which
will inevitably come, though far distant now perhaps, the artist who will
attempt to restore to life, and hold up to the view of the world, the
greatest man of this age, will be compelled, in order to give a faithful
delineation, to take for his model the portrait which I, better than any
one else, have been able to draw from fife. I think that no one has done
this as yet; certainly not so much in detail.

On his return from Egypt the Emperor was very thin and sallow, his skin
was copper-colored, his eyes sunken, and his figure, though perfect, also
very thin. The likeness is excellent in the portrait which Horace Vernet
drew in. his picture called "A Review of the First Consul on the Place
du Carrousel." His forehead was very high, and bare; his hair thin,
especially on the temples, but very fine and soft, and a rich brown
color; his eyes deep blue, expressing in an almost incredible manner the
various emotions by which he was affected, sometimes extremely gentle and
caressing, sometimes severe, and even inflexible. His mouth was very
fine, his lips straight and rather firmly closed, particularly when
irritated. His teeth, without being very regular, were very white and
sound, and he never suffered from them. His nose of Grecian shape, was
well formed, and his sense of smell perfect. His whole frame was
handsomely proportioned, though at this time his extreme leanness
prevented the beauty of his features being especially noticed, and had an
injurious effect on his whole physiognomy.

It would be necessary to describe his features separately, one by one, in
order to form a correct idea of the whole, and comprehend the perfect
regularity and beauty of each. His head was very large, being twenty-two
inches in circumference; it way a little longer than broad, consequently
a little flattened on the temples; it was so extremely sensitive, that I
had his hats padded, and took the trouble to wear them several days in my
room to break them. His ears were small, perfectly formed, and well set.
The Emperor's feet were also very tender; and I had his shoes broken by a
boy of the wardrobe, called Joseph, who wore exactly the same size as the

His height was five feet, two inches, three lines. He had a rather short
neck, sloping shoulders, broad chest, almost free from hairs, well shaped
leg and thigh, a small foot, and well formed fingers, entirely free from
enlargements or abrasions; his arms were finely molded, and well hung to
his body; his hands were beautiful, and the nails did not detract from
their beauty. He took the greatest care of them, as in fact of his whole
person, without foppishness, however. He often bit his nails slightly,
which was a sign of impatience or preoccupation.

Later on he grew much stouter, but without losing any of the beauty of
his figure; on the contrary, he was handsomer under the Empire than under
the Consulate; his skin had become very white, and his expression

The Emperor, during his moments, or rather his long hours, of labor and
of meditation, was subject to a peculiar spasmodic movement, which seemed
to be a nervous affection, and which clung to him all his life. It
consisted in raising his right shoulder frequently and rapidly; and
persons who were not acquainted with this habit sometimes interpreted
this as a gesture of disapprobation and dissatisfaction, and inquired
with anxiety in what way they could have offended him. He, however, was
not at all affected by it, and repeated the same movement again and again
without being conscious of it.

One most remarkable peculiarity was that the Emperor never felt his heart
beat. He mentioned this often to M. Corvisart, as well as to me; and
more than once he made us pass our hands over his breast, in order to
prove this singular exception. Never did we feel the slightest
pulsation. [Another peculiarity was that his pulse was only forty to the

The Emperor ate very fast, and hardly spent a dozen minutes at the table.
When he had finished he arose, and passed into the family saloon; but the
Empress Josephine remained, and made a sign to the guests to do the same.
Sometimes, however, she followed his Majesty; and then, no doubt, the
ladies of the palace indemnified themselves in their apartments, where
whatever they wished was served them.

One day when Prince Eugene rose from the table immediately after the
Emperor, the latter, turning to him, said, "But you have not had time to
dine, Eugene."--"Pardon me," replied the Prince, "I dined in advance!"
The other guests doubtless found that this was not a useless precaution.
It was before the Consulate that things happened thus; for afterwards the
Emperor, even when he was as yet only First Consul, dined tete-a-tete
with the Empress, except when he invited some of the ladies of the
household, sometimes one, sometimes another, all of whom appreciated
highly this mark of favor. At this time there was already a court.

Most frequently the Emperor breakfasted alone, on a little mahogany
candle-stand with no cover, which meal, even shorter than the other,
lasted only eight or ten minutes.

I will mention, later on, the bad effects which the habit of eating too
quickly often produced on the Emperor's health. Besides this, and due in
a great measure to his haste, the Emperor lacked much of eating decently;
and always preferred his fingers to a fork or spoon. Much care was taken
to place within his reach the dish he preferred, which he drew toward him
in the manner I have just described, and dipped his bread in the sauce or
gravy it contained, which did not, however, prevent the dish being handed
round, and those eating from it who could; and there were few guests who
could not.

I have seen some who even appeared to consider this singular act of
courage a means of making their court. I can easily understand also that
with many their admiration for his Majesty silenced all repugnance, for
the same reason that we do not scruple to eat from the plate, or drink
from the glass, of a person whom we love, even though it might be
considered doubtful on the score of refinement; this is never noticed
because love is blind. The dish which the Emperor preferred was the kind
of fried chicken to which this preference of the conqueror of Italy has
given the name of poulet a la Marengo. He also ate with relish beans,
lentils, cutlets, roast mutton, and roast chicken. The simplest dishes
were those he liked best, but he was fastidious in the article of bread.
It is not true, as reported, that he made an immoderate use of coffee,
for he only took half a cup after breakfast, and another after dinner;
though it sometimes happened when he was much preoccupied that he would
take, without noticing it, two cups in succession, though coffee taken in
this quantity always excited him and kept him from sleeping.

It also happened frequently that he took it cold, or without sugar, or
with too much sugar. To avoid all which mischances, the Empress
Josephine made it her duty to pour out the Emperor's coffee herself; and
the Empress Marie Louise also adopted the same custom. When the Emperor
had risen from the table and entered the little saloon, a page followed
him, carrying on a silvergilt waiter a coffee-pot, sugar-dish and cup.
Her Majesty the Empress poured out the coffee, put sugar in it, tried a
few drops of it, and offered it to the Emperor.

The Emperor drank only Chambertin wine, and rarely without water; for he
had no fondness for wine, and was a poor judge of it. This recalls that
one day at the camp of Boulogne, having invited several officers to his
table, his Majesty had wine poured for Marshal Augereau, and asked him
with an air of satisfaction how he liked it. The Marshal tasted it,
sipped it critically, and finally replied, "There is better," in a tone
which was unmistakable. The Emperor, who had expected a different reply,
smiled, as did all the guests, at the Marshal's candor.

Every one has heard it said that his Majesty used great precautions
against being poisoned, which statement must be placed beside that
concerning the cuirass proof against bullet and dagger. On the contrary,
the Emperor carried his want of precaution only too far. His breakfast
was brought every day into an antechamber open to all to whom had been
granted a private audience, and who sometimes waited there for several
hours, and his Majesty's breakfast also waited a long time. The dishes
were kept as warm as possible until he came out of his cabinet, and took
his seat at the table. Their Majesties' dinner was carried from the
kitchen to the upper rooms in covered, hampers, and there was every
opportunity of introducing poison; but in spite of all this, never did
such an idea enter the minds of the people in his service, whose devotion
and fidelity to the Emperor, even including the very humblest, surpassed
any idea I could convey.

The habit of eating rapidly sometimes caused his Majesty violent pains in
his stomach, which ended almost always in a fit of vomiting.

One day the valet on duty came in great haste to tell me that the Emperor
desired my presence immediately. His dinner had caused indigestion, and
he was suffering greatly. I hurried to his Majesty's room, and found him
stretched at full length on the rug, which was a habit of the Emperor
when he felt unwell. The Empress Josephine was seated by his side, with
the sick man's head on her lap, while he groaned or stormed alternately,
or did both at once: for the Emperor bore this kind of misfortune with
less composure than a thousand graver mischances which the life of a
soldier carries with it; and the hero of Arcola, whose life had been
endangered in a hundred battles, and elsewhere also, without lessening
his fortitude, showed himself unequal to the endurance of the slightest
pain. Her Majesty the Empress consoled and encouraged him as best she
could; and she, who was so courageous herself in enduring those headaches
which, on account of their excessive violence, were a genuine disease,
would, had it been possible, have taken on herself most willingly the
ailment of her husband, from which she suffered almost as much as he did,
in witnessing his sufferings. "Constant," said she, as I entered, "come
quick; the Emperor needs you; make him some tea, and do not go out till
he is better." His Majesty had scarcely taken three cups before the pain
decreased, while she continued to hold his head on her knees, pressing
his brow with her white, plump hands, and also rubbing his breast. "You
feel better, do you not? Would you like to lie down a little while? I
will stay by your bed with Constant." This tenderness was indeed
touching, especially in one occupying so elevated a rank.

My intimate service often gave me the opportunity of enjoying this
picture of domestic felicity. While I am on the subject of the Emperor's
ailments, I will say a few words concerning the most serious which he
endured, with the exception of that which caused his death.

At the siege of Toulon, in 1793, the Emperor being then only colonel of
artillery, a cannoneer was killed at his gun; and Colonel Bonaparte
picked up the rammer and rammed home the charge several times. The
unfortunate artilleryman had an itch of the most malignant kind, which
the Emperor caught, and of which he was cured only after many years; and
the doctors thought that his sallow complexion and extreme leanness,
which lasted so long a time, resulted from this disease being improperly
treated. At the Tuileries he took sulphur baths, and wore for some time
a blister plaster, having suffered thus long because, as he said, he had
not time to take care of himself. Corvisart warmly insisted on a
cautery; but the Emperor, who wished to preserve unimpaired the
shapeliness of his arm, would not agree to this remedy.

It was at this same siege that he was promoted from the rank of chief of
battalion to that of colonel in consequence of a brilliant affair with
the English, in which he received a bayonet wound in the left thigh, the
scar of which he often showed me. The wound in the foot which he
received at the battle of Ratisbonne left no trace; and yet, when the
Emperor received it, the whole army became alarmed.

We were about twelve hundred yards from Ratisbonne, when the Emperor,
seeing the Austrians fleeing on all sides, thought the combat was over.
His dinner had been brought in a hamper to a place which the Emperor had
designated; and as he was walking towards it, he turned to Marshal
Berthier, and exclaimed, "I am wounded!" The shock was so great that the
Emperor fell in a sitting posture, a bullet having, in fact, struck his
heel. From the size of this ball it was apparent that it had been fired
by a Tyrolean rifleman, whose weapon easily carried the distance we were
from the town. It can well be understood that such an event troubled and
frightened the whole staff.

An aide-de-camp summoned me; and when I arrived I found Dr. Yvan cutting
his Majesty's boot, and assisted him in dressing the wound. Although the
pain was still quite severe, the Emperor was not willing to take time to
put on his boot again; and in order to turn the enemy, and reassure the
army as to his condition, he mounted his horse, and galloped along the
line accompanied by his whole staff. That day, as may be believed, no
one delayed to take breakfast, but all dined at Ratisbonne.

His Majesty showed an invincible repugnance to all medicine; and when he
used any, which was very rarely, it was chicken broth, chicory, or cream
of tartar.

Corvisart recommended him to refuse every drink which had a bitter or
disagreeable taste, which he did, I believe, in the fear that an attempt
might be made to poison him.

At whatever hour the Emperor had retired, I entered his room at seven or
eight o'clock in the morning; and I have already said that his first
questions invariably were as to the hour and the kind of weather.
Sometimes he complained to me of looking badly; and if this was true, I
agreed with him, and if it were not, I told him the truth. In this case
he pulled my ears, and called me, laughing, "grosse bete," and asked for
a mirror, sometimes saying he was trying to fool me and that he was very
well. He read the daily papers, asked the names of the people in the
waiting-room, named those he wished to see, and conversed with each one.
When Corvisart came, he entered without waiting for orders; and the
Emperor took pleasure in teasing him by speaking of medicine, which he
said was only a conjectural art, that the doctors were charlatans, and
cited instances in proof of it, especially in his own experience, the
doctor never yielding a point when he thought he was right. During these
conversations, the Emperor shaved himself; for I had prevailed on him to
take this duty on himself, often forgetting that he had shaved only one
side of his face, and when I called his attention to this, he laughed,
and finished his work. Yvan, doctor-in-ordinary, as well as Corvisart,
came in for his share in the criticisms and attacks on his profession;
and these discussions were extremely amusing. The Emperor was very gay
and talkative at such times, and I believe, when he had at hand no
examples to cite in support of his theories, did not scruple to invent
them; consequently these gentlemen did not always rely upon his
statements. One day his Majesty pulled the ears of one of his physicians
(Halle, I believe). The doctor abruptly drew himself away, crying,
"Sire, you hurt me." Perhaps this speech was tinged with some
irritation, and perhaps, also, the doctor was right. However that may
be, his ears were never in danger again.

Sometimes before beginning my labors, his Majesty questioned me as to
what I had done the evening before, asked me if I had dined in the city,
and with whom, if I had enjoyed myself, and what we had for dinner. He
often inquired also what such or such a part of my clothing cost me; and
when I told him he would exclaim at the price, and tell me that when he
was a sub-lieutenant everything was much cheaper, and that he had often
during that time taken his meals at Roze's restaurant, and dined very
well for forty cents. Several times he spoke to me of my family, and of
my sister, who was a nun before the Revolution, and who had been
compelled to leave her convent; and one day asked me if she had a
pension, and how much it was. I told him, and added, that this not being
sufficient for her wants, I myself gave an allowance to her, and also to
my mother. His Majesty told me to apply to the Duke of Bassano, and
report the matter to him, as he wished to treat my family handsomely.
I did not avail myself of this kind intention of his Majesty; for at that
time I had sufficient means to be able to assist my relatives, and did
not foresee the future, which I thought would not change my condition,
and felt a delicacy in putting my people, so to speak, on the charge of
the state. I confess that I have been more than once tempted to repent
this excessive delicacy, which I have seen few persons above or below my
condition imitate. On rising, the Emperor habitually took a cup of tea
or orange water; and if he desired a bath, had it immediately on getting
out of bed, and while in it had his dispatches and newspapers read to him
by his secretary (Bourrienne till 1804). If he did not take a bath, he
seated himself by the fire, and had them read to him there, often reading
them himself. He dictated to the secretary his replies, and the
observations which the reading of these suggested to him; as he went
through each, throwing it on the floor without any order. The secretary
afterwards gathered them all up, and arranged them to be carried into the
Emperor's private room. His Majesty, before making his toilet, in
summer, put on pantaloons of white pique and a dressing-gown of the same,
and in winter, pantaloons and dressing-gown of swanskin, while on his
head was a turban tied in front, the two ends hanging down on his neck
behind. When the Emperor donned this headdress, his appearance was far
from elegant. When he came out of the bath, we gave him another turban;
for the one he wore was always wet in the bath, where he turned and
splashed himself incessantly. Having taken his bath and read his
dispatches, he began his toilet, and I shaved him before he learned to
shave himself. When the Emperor began this habit, he used at first, like
every one, a mirror attached to the window; but he came up so close to
it, and lathered himself so vigorously with soap, that the mirror,
window-panes, curtains, his dressing-gown, and the Emperor himself, were
all covered with it. To remedy this inconvenience, the servants
assembled in council, and it was decided that Roustan should hold the
looking-glass for his Majesty. When the Emperor had shaved one side, he
turned the other side to view, and made Roustan pass from left to right,
or from right to left, according to the side on which he commenced.
After shaving, the Emperor washed his face and hands, and had his nails
carefully cleaned; then I took off his flannel vest and shirt, and rubbed
his whole bust with an extremely soft silk brush, afterwards rubbing him
with eau-de-cologne, of which he used a great quantity, for every day he
was rubbed and dressed thus. It was in the East he had acquired this
hygienic custom, which he enjoyed greatly, and which is really excellent.
All these preparations ended, I put on him light flannel or cashmere
slippers, white silk stockings, the only kind he ever wore, and very fine
linen or fustian drawers, sometimes knee-breeches of white cassimere,

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