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The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, v7 by Constant

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This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]







His Majesty remained only ten days at Saint-Cloud, passed two or three of
these in Paris at the opening of the session of the Corps Legislatif, and
at noon on the 29th set out a second time for Bayonne.

The Empress, who to her great chagrin could not accompany the Emperor,
sent for me on the morning of his departure, and renewed in most touching
accents the same recommendations which she made on all his journeys, for
the character of the Spaniards made her timid and fearful as to his

Their parting was sad and painful; for the Empress was exceedingly
anxious to accompany him, and the Emperor had the greatest difficulty in
satisfying her, and making her understand that this was impossible. Just
as he was setting out he returned to his dressing-room a moment, and told
me to unbutton his coat and vest; and I saw the Emperor pass around his
neck between his vest and shirt a black silk ribbon on which was hung a
kind of little bag about the size of a large hazel-nut, covered with
black silk. Though I did not then know what this bag contained, when he
returned to Paris he gave it to me to keep; and I found that this bag had
a pleasant feeling, as under the silk covering was another of skin. I
shall hereafter tell for what purpose the Emperor wore this bag.

I set out with a sad heart. The recommendations of her Majesty the
Empress, and fears which I could not throw off, added to the fatigue of
these repeated journeys, all conspired to produce feelings of intense
sadness, which was reflected on almost all the countenances of the
Imperial household; while the officers said among themselves that the
combats in the North were trifling compared with those which awaited us
in Spain.

We arrived on the 3d of November at the chateau of Marrac, and four days
after were at Vittoria in the midst of the French army, where the Emperor
found his brother and a few grandees of Spain who had not yet deserted
his cause.

The arrival of his Majesty electrified the troops; and a part of the
enthusiasm manifested, a very small part it is true, penetrated into the
heart of the king, and somewhat renewed his courage. They set out almost
immediately, in order to at once establish themselves temporarily at
Burgos, which had been seized by main force and pillaged in a few hours,
since the inhabitants had abandoned it, and left to the garrison the task
of stopping the French as long as possible.

The Emperor occupied the archiepiscopal palace, a magnificent building
situated in a large square on which the grenadiers of the Imperial Guard
bivouacked. This bivouac presented a singular scene. Immense kettles,
which had been found in the convents, hung, full of mutton, poultry,
rabbits, etc., above a fire which was replenished from time to time with
furniture, guitars, or mandolins, and around which grenadiers, with pipes
in their mouths, were gravely seated in gilded chairs covered with
crimson damask, while they intently watched the kettles as they simmered,
and communicated to each other their conjectures on the campaign which
had just opened.

The Emperor remained ten or twelve days at Burgos, and then gave orders
to march on Madrid, which place could have been reached by way of
Valladolid, and the road was indeed safer and better; but the Emperor
wished to seize the Pass of Somo-Sierra, an imposing position with
natural fortifications which had always been regarded as impregnable.
This pass, between two mountain peaks, defended the capital, and was
guarded by twelve thousand insurgents, and twelve pieces of cannon placed
so advantageously that they could do as much injury as thirty or forty
elsewhere, and were, in fact, a sufficient obstacle to delay even the
most formidable army; but who could then oppose any hindrance to the
march of the Emperor?

On the evening of the 29th of November we arrived within three leagues of
this formidable defile, at a village called Basaguillas; and though the
weather was very cold, the Emperor did not lie down, but passed the night
in his tent, writing, wrapped in the pelisse which the Emperor Alexander
had given him. About three o'clock in the morning he came to warm
himself by the bivouac fire where I had seated myself, as I could no
longer endure the cold and dampness of a cellar which had been assigned
as my lodging, and where my bed was only a few handfuls of straw, filled
with manure.

At eight o'clock in the morning the position was attacked and carried,
and the next day we arrived before Madrid.

The Emperor established his headquarters at the chateau of Champ-Martin,
a pleasure house situated a quarter of a league from the town, and
belonging to the mother of the Duke of Infantado; and the army camped
around this house. The day after our arrival, the owner came in tears to
entreat of his Majesty a revocation of the fatal decree which put her son
outside the protection of the law; the Emperor did all he could to
reassure her, but he could promise her nothing, as the order was general.

We had some trouble in capturing this town; in the first place, because
his Majesty recommended the greatest moderation in making the attack, not
wishing, as he said, to present to his brother a burned-up city; in the
second place, because the Grand Duke of Berg during his stay at Madrid
had fortified the palace of Retiro, and the Spanish insurgents had
intrenched themselves there, and defended it most courageously. The town
had no other defense, and was surrounded only by an old wall, almost
exactly similar to that of Paris, consequently at the end of three days
it was taken; but the Emperor preferred not to enter, and still resided
at Champ-Martin, with the exception of one day when he came incognito and
in disguise, to visit the queen's palace and the principal districts.

One striking peculiarity of the Spaniards is the respect they have always
shown for everything relating to royalty, whether they regard it as
legitimate or not. When King Joseph left Madrid the palace was closed,
and the government established itself in a passably good building which
had been used as the post-office. From this time no one entered the
palace except the servants, who had orders to clean it from time to time;
not a piece of furniture even, not a book, was moved. The portrait of
Napoleon on Mont St. Bernard, David's masterpiece, remained hanging in
the grand reception hall, and the queen's portrait opposite, exactly as
the king had placed them; and even the cellars were religiously
respected. The apartments of King Charles had also remained untouched,
and not one of the watches in his immense collection had been removed.

The act of clemency which his Majesty showed toward the Marquis of Saint-
Simon, a grandee of Spain, marked in an especial manner the entrance of
the French troops into Madrid. The Marquis of Saint-Simon, a French
emigrant, had been in the service of Spain since the emigration, and had
the command of a part of the capital. The post which he defended was
exactly in front of that which the Emperor commanded at the gates of
Madrid, and he had held out long after all the other leaders had

The Emperor, impatient at being so long withstood at this point, gave
orders to make a still more vigorous charge; and in this the marquis was
taken prisoner. In his extreme anger the Emperor sent him to be tried
before a military commission, who ordered him to be shot; and this order
was on the point of being executed, when Mademoiselle de Saint-Simon, a
charming young person, threw herself at his Majesty's feet, and her
father's pardon was quickly granted.

The king immediately re-entered his capital; and with him returned the
noble families of Madrid, who had withdrawn from the stirring scenes
enacted at the center of the insurrection; and soon balls, fetes,
festivities, and plays were resumed as of yore.

The Emperor left Champ-Martin on the 22d of December, and directed his
march towards Astorga, with the intention of meeting the English, who had
just landed at Corunna; but dispatches sent to Astorga by a courier from
Paris decided him to return to France, and he consequently gave orders to
set out for Valladolid.

We found the road from Benavente to Astorga covered with corpses, slain
horses, artillery carriages, and broken wagons, and at every step met
detachments of soldiers with torn clothing, without shoes, and, indeed,
in a most deplorable condition. These unfortunates were all fleeing
towards Astorga, which they regarded as a port of safety, but which soon
could not contain them all. It was terrible weather, the snow falling so
fast that it was almost blinding; and, added to this, I was ill, and
suffered greatly during this painful journey.

The Emperor while at Tordesillas had established his headquarters in the
buildings outside the convent of Saint-Claire, and the abbess of this
convent was presented to his Majesty. She was then more than sixty-five
years old, and from the age of ten years back never left this place. Her
intelligent and refined conversation made a most agreeable impression on
the Emperor, who inquired what were her wishes, and granted each one.

We arrived at Valladolid the 6th of January, 1809, and found it in a
state of great disorder. Two or three days after our arrival, a cavalry
officer was assassinated by Dominican monks; and as Hubert, one of our
comrades, was passing in the evening through a secluded street, three men
threw themselves on him and wounded him severely; and he would doubtless
have been killed if the grenadiers of the guard had not hastened to his
assistance, and delivered him from their hands. It was the monks again.
At length the Emperor, much incensed, gave orders that the convent of the
Dominicans should be searched; and in a well was found the corpse of the
aforesaid officer, in the midst of a considerable mass of bones, and the
convent was immediately suppressed by his Majesty's orders; he even
thought at one time of issuing the same rigorous orders against all the
convents of the city. He took time for reflection, however, and
contented himself by appointing an audience, at which all the monks of
Valladolid were to appear before him. On the appointed day they came;
not all, however, but deputations from each convent, who prostrated
themselves at the Emperor's feet, while he showered reproaches upon them,
called them assassins and brigands, and said they all deserved to be
hung. These poor men listened in silence and humility to the terrible
language of the irritated conqueror whom their patience alone could
appease; and finally, the Emperor's anger having exhausted itself, he
grew calmer, and at last, struck by the reflection that it was hardly
just to heap abuse on men thus prostrate on their knees and uttering not
a word in their own defense, he left the group of officers who surrounded
him, and advanced into the midst of the monks, making them a sign to rise
from their supplicating posture; and as these good men obeyed him, they
kissed the skirts of his coat, and pressed around him with an eagerness
most alarming to the persons of his Majesty's suite; for had there been
among these devotees any Dominican, nothing surely could have been easier
than an assassination.

During the Emperor's stay at Valladolid, I had with the grand marshal a
disagreement of which I retain most vivid recollections, as also of the
Emperor's intervention wherein he displayed both justice and good-will
towards me. These are the facts of the case: one morning the Duke de
Frioul, encountering me in his Majesty's apartments, inquired in a very
brusque tone (he was very much excited) if I had ordered the carriage to
be ready, to which I replied in a most respectful manner that they were
always ready. Three times the duke repeated the same question, raising
his voice still more each time; and three times I made him the same
reply, always in the same respectful manner. "Oh, you fool!" said he at
last, "you do not understand, then."--"That arises evidently,
Monseigneur, from your Excellency's imperfect explanations!" Upon which
he explained that he was speaking of a new carriage which had come from
Paris that very day, a fact of which I was entirely ignorant. I was on
the point of explaining this to his Excellency; but without deigning to
listen, the grand marshal rushed out of the room exclaiming, swearing,
and addressing me in terms to which I was totally unaccustomed. I
followed him as far as his own room in order to make an explanation; but
when he reached his door he entered, and slammed it in my face.

In spite of all this I entered a few moments later; but his Excellency
had forbidden his valet de chambre to introduce me, saying that he had
nothing to say to me, nor to hear from me, all of which was repeated to
me in a very harsh and contemptuous manner.

Little accustomed to such experiences, and entirely unnerved, I went to
the Emperor's room; and when his Majesty entered I was still so agitated
that my face was wet with tears. His Majesty wished to know what had
happened, and I related to him the attack which had just been made upon
me by the grand marshal. "You are very foolish to cry," said the
Emperor; "calm yourself, and say to the grand marshal that I wish to
speak to him."

His Excellency came at once in response to the Emperor's invitation, and
I announced him. "See," said he, pointing to me, "see into what a state
you have thrown this fellow! What has he done to be thus treated?" The
grand marshal bowed without replying, but with a very dissatisfied air;
and the Emperor went on to say that he should have given me his orders
more clearly, and that any one was excusable for not executing an order
not plainly given. Then turning toward me, his Majesty said, "Monsieur
Constant, you may be certain this will not occur again."

This simple affair furnishes a reply to many false accusations against
the Emperor. There was an immense distance between the grand marshal of
the palace and the simple valet de chambre of his Majesty, and yet the
marshal was reprimanded for a wrong done to the valet de chambre.

The Emperor showed the utmost impartiality in meting out justice in his
domestic affairs; and never was the interior of a palace better governed
than his, owing to the fact that in his household he alone was master.

The grand marshal felt unkindly toward me for sometime after; but, as I
have already said, he was an excellent man, his bad humor soon passed
away, and so completely, that on my return to Paris he requested me to
stand for him at the baptism of the child of my father-in-law, who had
begged him to be its godfather; the godmother was Josephine, who was kind
enough to choose my wife to represent her. M. le Duke de Frioul did
things with as much nobility and magnanimity as grace; and afterwards I
am glad to be able to state in justice to his memory, he eagerly seized
every occasion to be useful to me, and to make me forget the discomfort
his temporary excitement had caused me.

I fell ill at Valladolid with a violent fever a few days before his
Majesty's departure. On the day appointed for leaving, my illness was at
its height; aid as the Emperor feared that the journey might increase, or
at any rate prolong, my illness, he forbade my going, and set out without
me, recommending to the persons whom he left at Valladolid to take care
of my health. When I had gotten somewhat better I was told that his
Majesty had left, whereupon I could no longer be controlled, and against
my physician's orders, and in spite of my feebleness, in spite of
everything, in fact, had myself placed in a carriage and set out. This
was wise; for hardly had I put Valladolid two leagues behind me, than I
felt better, and the fever left me. I arrived at Paris five or six days
after the Emperor, just after his Majesty had appointed the Count
Montesquiou grand chamberlain in place of Prince Talleyrand, whom I met
that very day, and who seemed in no wise affected by this disgrace,
perhaps he was consoled by the dignity of vice-grand elector which was
bestowed on him in exchange.


The Emperor arrived at Paris on the 23d of January, and passed the
remainder of the winter there, with the exception of a few days spent at
Rambouillet and Saint-Cloud.

On the very day of his arrival in Paris, although he must have been much
fatigued by an almost uninterrupted ride from Valladolid, the Emperor
visited the buildings of the Louvre and the rue de Rivoli.

His mind was full of what he had seen at Madrid, and repeated suggestions
to M. Fontaine and the other architects showed plainly his desire to make
the Louvre the finest palace in the world. His Majesty then had a report
made him as to the chateau of Chambord, which he wished to present to the
Prince of Neuchatel. M. Fontaine found that repairs sufficient to make
this place a comfortable residence would amount to 1,700,000 francs, as
the buildings were in a state of decay, and it had hardly been touched
since the death of Marshal Sage.

His Majesty passed the two months and a half of his stay working in his
cabinet, which he rarely left, and always unwillingly; his amusements
being, as always, the theater and concerts. He loved music passionately,
especially Italian music, and like all great amateurs was hard to please.
He would have much liked to sing had he been able, but he had no voice,
though this did not prevent his humming now and then pieces which struck
his fancy; and as these little reminiscences usually recurred to him in
the mornings, he regaled me with them while he was being dressed. The
air that I have heard him thus mutilate most frequently was that of The
Marseillaise. The Emperor also whistled sometimes, but very rarely; and
the air, 'Malbrook s'en va-t-en guerre', whistled by his Majesty was an
unerring announcement to me of his approaching departure for the army.
I remember that he never whistled so much, and was never so gay, as just
before he set out for the Russian campaign.

His Majesty's, favorite singer were Crescentini and Madame Grassini.
I saw Crescentini's debut at Paris in the role of Romeo, in Romeo and
Juliet. He came preceded by a reputation as the first singer of Italy;
and this reputation was found to be well deserved, notwithstanding all
the prejudices he had to overcome, for I remember well the disparaging
statements made concerning him before his debut at the court theater.
According to these self-appointed connoisseurs, he was a bawler without
taste, without method, a maker of absurd trills, an unimpassioned actor
of little intelligence, and many other things besides. He knew, when he
appeared on the stage, how little disposed in his favor his audience
were, yet he showed not the slightest embarrassment; this, and his noble,
dignified mien, agreeably surprised those who expected from what they had
been told to behold an awkward man with an ungainly figure. A murmur of
approbation ran through the hall on his appearance; and electrified by
this welcome, he gained all hearts from the first act. His movements
were full of grace and dignity; he had a perfect knowledge of the scene,
modest gestures perfectly in harmony with the dialogue, and a countenance
on which all shades of passion were depicted with the most astonishing
accuracy; and all these rare and precious qualities combined to give to
the enchanting accents of this artist a charm of which it is impossible
to give an idea.

At each scene the interest he inspired became more marked, until in the
third act the emotion and delight of the spectator were carried almost to
frenzy. In this act, played almost solely by Crescentini, this admirable
singer communicated to the hearts of his audience all that is touching
and, pathetic in a love expressed by means of delicious melody, and by
all that grief and despair can find sublime in song.

The Emperor was enraptured, and sent Crescentini a considerable
compensation, accompanied by most flattering testimonials of the pleasure
he had felt in hearing him.

On this day, as always when they played together afterwards, Crescentini
was admirably supported by Madame Grassini, a woman of superior talent,
and who possessed the most astonishing voice ever heard in the theater.
She and Madame Barilli then divided the admiration of the public.

The very evening or the day after the debut of Crescentini, the French
stage suffered an irreparable loss in the death of Dazincourt, only sixty
years of age. The illness of which he died had begun on his return from
Erfurt, and was long and painful; and yet the public, to whom this great
comedian had so long given such pleasure, took no notice of him after it
was found his sickness was incurable and his death certain. Formerly
when a highly esteemed actor was kept from his place for some time by
illness (and who deserved more esteem than Dazincourt?), the pit was
accustomed to testify its regret by inquiring every day as to the
condition of the afflicted one, and at the end of each representation the
actor whose duty it was to announce the play for the next day gave the
audience news of his comrade. This was not done for Dazincourt, and the
pit thus showed ingratitude to him.

I liked and esteemed sincerely Dazincourt, whose acquaintance I had made
several years before his death; and few men better deserved or so well
knew how to gain esteem and affection. I will not speak of his genius,
which rendered him a worthy successor of Preville, whose pupil and
friend he was, for all his contemporaries remember Figaro as played by
Dazincourt; but I will speak of the nobility of his character, of his
generosity, and his well-tested honor. It would seem that his birth and
education should have kept him from the theater, where circumstances
alone placed him; but he was able to protect himself against the
seductions of his situation, and in the greenroom, and in the midst of
domestic intrigues, remained a man of good character and pure manners.
He was welcomed in the best society, where he soon became a favorite by
his piquant sallies, as much as by his good manners and urbanity, for he
amused without reminding that he was a comedian.

At the end of February his Majesty went to stay for some time at the
palace of the Elysee; and there I think was signed the marriage contract
of one of his best lieutenants, Marshal Augereau, recently made Duke of
Castiglione, with Mademoiselle Bourlon de Chavanges, the daughter of an
old superior officer; and there also was rendered the imperial decree
which gave to the Princess Eliza the grand duchy of Tuscany, with the
title of grand duchess.

About the middle of March, the Emperor passed several days at
Rambouillet; there were held some exciting hunts, in one of which his
Majesty himself brought to bay and killed a stag near the pool of Saint-
Hubert. There was also a ball and concert, in which appeared
Crescentini, Mesdames Grassini, Barelli, and several celebrated
virtuosos, and lastly Talma recited.

On the 13th of April, at four o'clock in the morning, the Emperor having
received news of another invasion of Bavaria by the Austrians, set out
for Strasburg with the Empress, whom he left in that city; and on the
15th, at eleven o'clock in the morning, he passed the Rhine at the head
of his army. The Empress did not long remain alone, as the Queen of
Holland and her sons, the Grand Duchess of Baden and her husband, soon
joined her.

The splendid campaign of 1809 at once began. It is known how glorious it
was, and that one of its least glorious victories was the capture of

At Ratisbon, on the 23d of April, the Emperor received in his right foot
a spent ball, which gave him quite a severe bruise. I was with the
service when several grenadiers hastened to tell me that his Majesty was
wounded, upon which I hastened to him, and arrived while M. Yvan was
dressing the contusion. The Emperor's boot was cut open, and laced up,
and he remounted his horse immediately; and, though several of the
generals insisted on his resting, he only replied: "My friends, do you
not know that it is necessary for me to see everything?" The enthusiasm
of the soldiers cannot be expressed when they learned that their chief
had been wounded, though his wound was not dangerous. "The Emperor is
exposed like us," they said; "he is not a coward, not he." The papers
did not mention this occurrence.

Before entering a battle, the Emperor always ordered that, in case he was
wounded, every possible measure should be taken to conceal it from his
troops. "Who knows," said he, "what terrible confusion might be produced
by such news? To my life is attached the destiny of a great Empire.
Remember this, gentlemen; and if I am wounded, let no one know it, if
possible. If I am slain, try to win the battle without me; there will be
time enough to tell it afterwards."

Two weeks after the capture of Ratisbon, I was in advance of his Majesty
on the road to Vienna, alone in a carriage with an officer of the
household, when we suddenly heard frightful screams in a house on the
edge of the road. I gave orders to stop at once, and we alighted; and,
on entering the house, found several soldiers, or rather stragglers, as
there are in all armies, who, paying no attention to the alliance between
France and Bavaria, were treating most cruelly a family which lived in
this house, and consisted of an old grandmother, a young man, three
children, and a young girl.

Our embroidered coats had a happy effect on these madmen, whom we
threatened with the Emperor's anger; and we succeeded in driving them out
of the house, and soon after took our departure, overwhelmed with thanks.
In the evening I spoke to the Emperor of what I had done; and he approved
highly, saying, "It cannot be helped. There are always some cowardly
fellows in the army; and they are the ones who do the mischief. A brave
and good soldier would blush to do such things!"

I had occasion, in the beginning of these Memoirs, to speak of the
steward, M. Pfister, one of his Majesty's most faithful servants, and
also one of those to whom his Majesty was most attached. M. Pfister had
followed him to Egypt, and had faced countless dangers in his service.
The day of the battle of Landshut, which either preceded or followed very
closely the taking of Ratisbon this poor man became insane, rushed out of
his tent, and concealed himself in a wood near the field of battle, after
taking off all his clothing. At the end of a few hours his Majesty asked
for M. Pfister. He was sought for, and every one was questioned; but no
one could tell what had become of him. The Emperor, fearing that he
might have been taken prisoner, sent an orderly officer to the Austrians
to recover his steward, and propose an exchange; but the officer
returned, saying that the Austrians had not seen M. Pfister. The
Emperor, much disquieted, ordered a search to be made in the
neighborhood; and by this means the poor fellow was discovered entirely
naked, as I have said, cowering behind a tree, in a frightful condition,
his body torn by thorns. He was brought back, and having become
perfectly quiet, was thought to be well, and resumed his duties; but a
short time after our return to Paris he had a new attack. The character
of his malady was exceedingly obscene; and he presented himself before
the Empress Josephine in such a state of disorder, and with such indecent
gestures, that it was necessary to take precautions in regard to him.
He was confided to the care of the wise Doctor Esquirol, who, in spite of
his great skill, could not effect a cure. I went to see him often. He
had no more violent attacks; but his brain was diseased, and though he
heard and understood perfectly, his replies were those of a real madman.
He never lost his devotion to the Emperor, spoke of him incessantly, and
imagined himself on duty near him. One day he told me with a most
mysterious air that he wished to confide to me a terrible secret, the
plot of a conspiracy against his Majesty's life, handing me at the same
time a note for his Majesty, with a package of about twenty scraps of
paper, which he had scribbled off himself, and thought were the details
of the plot. Another time he handed me, for the Emperor, a handful of
little stones, which he called diamonds of great value. "There is more
than a million in what I hand you," said he. The Emperor, whom I told of
my visits, was exceedingly touched by the continued monomania of this
poor unfortunate, whose every thought, every act, related to his old
master, and who died without regaining his reason.

On the 10th of May, at nine o'clock in the morning, the first line of
defense of the Austrian capital was attacked and taken by Marshal Oudinot
the faubourgs surrendering at discretion. The Duke of Montebello then
advanced on the esplanade at the head of his division; but the gates
having been closed, the garrison poured a frightful discharge from the
top of the ramparts, which fortunately however killed only a very small
number. The Duke of Montebello summoned the garrison to surrender the
town, but the response of the Archduke Maximilian was that he would
defend Vienna with his last breath; which reply was conveyed to the

After taking counsel with his generals, his Majesty charged Colonel
Lagrange to bear a new demand to the archduke; but the poor colonel had
hardly entered the town than he was attacked by the infuriated populace.
General O'Reilly saved his life by having him carried away by his
soldiers; but the Archduke Maximilian, in order to defy the Emperor still
further, paraded in triumph in the midst of the national guard the
individual who has struck the first blow at the bearer of the French
summons. This attempt, which had excited the indignation of many of the
Viennese themselves, did not change his Majesty's intentions, as he
wished to carry his moderation and kindness as far as possible; and he
wrote to the archduke by the Prince of Neuchatel the following letter, a
copy of which accidentally fell into my hands:

"The Prince de Neuchatel to his Highness the Archduke Maximilian,
commanding the town of Vienna,

"His Majesty the Emperor and King desires to spare this large and
worthy population the calamities with which it is threatened, and
charges me to represent to your Highness, that if he continues the
attempt to defend this place, it will cause the destruction of one
of the finest cities of Europe. In every country where he has waged
war, my sovereign has manifested his anxiety to avoid the disasters
which armies bring on the population. Your Highness must be
persuaded that his Majesty is much grieved to see this town, which
he has the glory of having already saved, on the point of being
destroyed. Nevertheless, contrary to the established usage of
fortresses, your Highness has fired your cannon from the city walls,
and these cannon may kill, not an enemy of your sovereign, but the
wives or children of his most devoted servants. If your Highness
prolongs the attempt to defend the place, his Majesty will be
compelled to begin his preparations for attack; and the ruin of this
immense capital will be consummated in thirty-six hours, by the
shells and bombs from our batteries, as the outskirts of the town
will be destroyed by the effect of yours. His Majesty does not
doubt that these considerations will influence your Highness to
renounce a determination which will only delay for a short while the
capture of the place. If, however, your Highness has decided not to
pursue a course which will save the town from destruction, its
population plunged by your fault into such terrible misfortunes will
become, instead of faithful subjects, the enemies of your house."

This letter did not deter the grand duke from persisting in his defense;
and this obstinacy exasperated the Emperor to such a degree that he at
last gave orders to place two batteries in position, and within an hour
cannonballs and shells rained upon the town. The inhabitants, with true
German indifference, assembled on the hillsides to watch the effect of
the fires of attack and defense, and appeared much interested in the
sight. A few cannonballs had already fallen in the court of the Imperial
palace when a flag of truce came out of the town to announce that the
Archduchess Marie Louise had been unable to accompany her father, and was
ill in the palace, and consequently exposed to danger from the artillery;
and the Emperor immediately gave orders to change the direction of the
firing so that the bombs and balls would pass over the palace. The
archduke did not long hold out against such a sharp and energetic attack,
but fled, abandoning Vienna to the conquerors.

On the 12th of May the Emperor made his entrance into Vienna, one month
after the occupation of Munich by the Austrians. This circumstance made
a deep impression, and did much to foster the superstitious ideas which
many of the troops held in regard to the person of their chief. "See,"
said one, "he needed only the time necessary for the journey. That man
must be a god."--"He is a devil rather," said the Austrians, whose
stupefaction was indescribable. They had reached a point when many
allowed the arms to be taken out of their hands without making the least
resistance, or without even attempting to fly, so deep was their
conviction that the Emperor and his guard were not men, and that sooner
or later they must fall into the power of these supernatural enemies.


The Emperor did not remain in Vienna, but established his headquarters at
the chateau of Schoenbrunn, an imperial residence situated about half a
league from the town; and the ground in front of the chateau was arranged
for the encampment of the guard. The chateau of Schoenbrunn, erected by
the Empress Maria Theresa in 1754, and situated in a commanding position,
is built in a very irregular, and defective, but at the same time
majestic, style of architecture. In order to reach it, there has been
thrown over the little river, la Vienne, a broad and well-constructed
bridge, ornamented with four stone sphinxes; and in front of the bridge
is a large iron gate, opening on an immense court, in which seven or
eight thousand men could be drilled. This court is square, surrounded by
covered galleries, and ornamented with two large basins with marble
statues; and on each side of the gateway are two large obelisks in rose-
colored stone, surmounted by eagles of gilded lead.

'Schoenbrunn', in German, signifies beautiful fountain; and this name
comes from a clear and limpid spring, which rises in a grove in the park,
on a slight elevation, around which has been built a little pavilion,
carved on the inside to imitate stalactites. In this pavilion lies a
sleeping Naiad, holding in her hand a shell, from which the water gushes
and falls into a marble basin. This is a delicious retreat in summer.

We can speak only in terms of admiration regarding the interior of the
palace, the furniture of which was handsome and of an original and
elegant style. The Emperor's sleeping-room, the only part of the
building in which there was a fireplace, was ornamented with wainscoting
in Chinese lacquer work, then very old, though the painting and gilding
were still fresh, and the cabinet was decorated like the bedroom; and all
the apartments, except this, were warmed in winter by immense stoves,
which greatly injured the effect of the interior architecture. Between
the study and the Emperor's room was a very curious machine, called the
flying chariot, a kind of mechanical contrivance, which had been made for
the Empress Maria Theresa, and was used in conveying her from one story
to the other, so that she might not be obliged to ascend and descend
staircases like the rest of the world. This machine was operated by
means of cords, pulleys, and weights, like those at the theater.

The beautiful grove which serves as park and garden to the palace of
Schoenbrunn is much too small to belong to an imperial residence; but,
on the other hand, it would be hard to find one more beautiful or better
arranged. The park of Versailles is grander and more imposing; but it
has not the picturesque irregularity, the fantastic and unexpected
beauties, of the park of Schoenbrunn, and more closely resembles the park
at Malmaison. In front of the interior facade of the palace was a
magnificent lawn, sloping down to a broad lake, decorated with a group of
statuary representing the triumph of Neptune. This group is very fine;
but French amateurs (every Frenchman, as you are aware, desires to be
considered a connoisseur) insisted that the women were more Austrian than
Grecian, and that they did not possess the slender grace belonging to
antique forms; and, for my part, I must confess that these statues did
not appear to me very remarkable.

At the end of the grand avenue, and bounding the horizon, rose a hill,
which overlooked the park, and was crowned by a handsome building, which
bore the name of la Gloriette. This building was a circular gallery,
inclosed with glass, supported by a charming colonnade, between the
arches of which hung various trophies. On entering the avenue from the
direction of Vienna, la Gloriette rose at the farther end, seeming almost
to form a part of the palace; and the effect was very fine.

What the Austrians especially admired in the palace of Schoenbrunn was a
grove, containing what they called the Ruins, and a lake with a fountain
springing from the midst, and several small cascades flowing from it; by
this lake were the ruins of an aqueduct and a temple, fallen vases,
tombs, broken bas-reliefs, statues without heads, arms, or limbs, while
limbs, arms, and heads lay thickly scattered around; columns mutilated
and half-buried, others standing and supporting the remains of pediments
and entablatures; all combining to form a scene of beautiful disorder,
and representing a genuine ancient ruin when viewed from a short
distance. Viewed more closely, it is quite another thing: the hand of
the modern sculptor is seen; it is evident that all these fragments are
made from the same kind of stone; and the weeds which grow in the hollows
of these columns appear what they really are, that is to say, made of
stone, and painted to imitate verdure.

But if the productions of art scattered through the park of Schoenbrunn
were not all irreproachable, those of nature fully made up the
deficiency. What magnificent trees! What thick hedges! What dense and
refreshing shade! The avenues were remarkably high and broad, and
bordered with trees, which formed a vault impenetrable to the sun, while
the eye lost itself in their many windings; from these other smaller
walks diverged, where fresh surprises were in store at every step. At
the end of the broadest of these was placed the menagerie, which was one
of the most extensive and varied in Europe, and its construction, which
was very ingenious, might well serve as a model; it was shaped like a
star, and in the round center of this star had been erected a small but
very elegant kiosk, placed there by the Empress Maria Theresa as a
resting-place for herself, and from which the whole menagerie could be
viewed at leisure.

Each point of this star formed a separate garden, where there could be
seen elephants, buffaloes, camels, dromedaries, stags, and kangaroos
grazing; handsome and substantial cages held tigers, bears, leopards,
lions, hyenas, etc; and swans and rare aquatic birds and amphibious
animals sported in basins surrounded by iron gratings. In this menagerie
I specially remarked a very extraordinary animal, which his Majesty had
ordered brought to France, but which had died the day before it was to
have started. This animal was from Poland, and was called a 'curus'; it
was a kind of ox, though much larger than an ordinary ox, with a mane
like a lion, horns rather short and somewhat curved, and enormously large
at the base.

Every morning, at six o'clock, the drums beat, and two or three hours
after the troops were ordered to parade in the court of honor; and at
precisely ten o'clock his Majesty descended, and put himself at the head
of his generals.

It is impossible to give an idea of these parades, which in no particular
resembled reviews in Paris. The Emperor, during these reviews,
investigated the smallest details, and examined the soldiers one by one,
so to speak, looked into the eyes of each to see whether there was
pleasure or work in his head, questioned the officers, sometimes also the
soldiers themselves; and it was usually on these occasions that the
Emperor made his promotions. During one of these reviews, if he asked a
colonel who was the bravest officer in his regiment, there was no
hesitation in his answer; and it was always prompt, for he knew that the
Emperor was already well informed on this point. After the colonel had
replied, he addressed himself to all the other officers, saying, "Who is
the bravest among you?"--"Sire, it is such an one; "and the two answers
were almost always the same. "Then," said the Emperor, "I make him a
baron; and I reward in him, not only his own personal bravery, but that
of the corps of which he forms a part. He does not owe this favor to me
alone, but also to the esteem of his comrades." It was the same case
with the soldiers; and those most distinguished for courage or good
conduct were promoted or received rewards, and sometimes pensions, the
Emperor giving one of twelve hundred francs to a soldier, who, on his
first campaign, had passed through the enemy's squadron, bearing on his
shoulders his wounded general, protecting him as he would his own father.

On these reviews the Emperor could be seen personally inspecting the
haversacks of the soldiers, examining their certificates, or taking a gun
from the shoulders of a young man who was weak, pale; and suffering, and
saying to him, in a sympathetic tone, "That is too heavy for you." He
often drilled them himself; and when he did not, the drilling was
directed by Generals Dorsenne, Curial, or Mouton. Sometimes he was
seized with a sudden whim; for example, one morning, after reviewing a
regiment of the Confederation, he turned to the ordnance officers, and
addressing Prince Salm, who was among them, remarked "M. de Salm, the
soldiers ought to get acquainted with you; approach, and order them to
make a charge in twelve movements." The young prince turned crimson,
without being disconcerted, however, bowed, and drawing his sword most
gracefully, executed the orders of the Emperor with an ease and precision
which charmed him.

Another day, as the engineer corps passed with about forty wagons, the
Emperor cried, "Halt!" and pointing out a wagon to General Bertrand,
ordered him to summon one of the officers. "What does that wagon
contain?"--"Sire, bolts, bags of nails, ropes, hatchets, and saws."--
"How much of each?" The officer gave the exact account. His Majesty, to
verify this report, had the wagon emptied, counted the pieces, and found
the number correct; and in order to assure himself that nothing was left
in the wagon, climbed up into it by means of the wheel, holding on to the
spokes. There was a murmur of approbation and cries of joy all along the
line. "Bravo!" they said; "well and good! that is the way to make sure
of not being deceived." All these things conspired to make the soldiers
adore the Emperor.


At one of the reviews which I have just described, and which usually
attracted a crowd of curious people from Vienna and its suburbs, the
Emperor came near being assassinated. It was on the 13th of October,
his Majesty had just alighted from his horse, and was crossing the court
on foot with the Prince de Neuchatel and General Rapp beside him, when a
young man with a passably good countenance pushed his way rudely through
the crowd, and asked in bad French if he could speak to the Emperor. His
Majesty received him kindly, but not understanding his language, asked
General Rapp to see what the young man wanted, and the general asked him
a few questions; and not satisfied apparently with his answers, ordered
the police-officer on duty to remove him. A sub-officer conducted the
young man out of the circle formed by the staff, and drove him back into
the crowd. This circumstance had been forgotten, when suddenly the
Emperor, on turning, found again near him the pretended suppliant, who
had returned holding his right hand in his breast, as if to draw a
petition from the pocket of his coat. General Rapp seized the man by the
arm, and said to him, "Monsieur, you have already been ordered away; what
do you want?" As he was about to retire a second time the general,
thinking his appearance suspicious, gave orders to the police-officer to
arrest him, and he accordingly made a sign to his subalterns. One of
them seizing him by the collar shook him slightly, when his coat became
partly unbuttoned, and something fell out resembling a package of papers;
on examination it was found to be a large carving knife, with several
folds of gray paper wrapped around it as a sheath; thereupon he was
conducted to General Savary.

This young man was a student, and the son of a Protestant minister of
Naumbourg; he was called Frederic Stabs, and was about eighteen or
nineteen years old, with a pallid face and effeminate features. He did
not deny for an instant that it was his intention to kill the Emperor;
but on the contrary boasted of it, and expressed his intense regret that
circumstances had prevented the accomplishment of his design.

He had left his father's house on a horse which the want of money had
compelled him to sell on the way, and none of his relatives or friends
had any knowledge of his plan. The day after his departure he had
written to his father that he need not be anxious about him nor the
horse; that he had long since promised some one to visit Vienna, and his
family would soon hear of him with pride. He had arrived at Vienna only
two days before, and had occupied himself first in obtaining information
as to the Emperor's habits, and finding that he held a review every
morning in the court of the chateau, had been there once in order to
acquaint himself with the locality. The next day he had undertaken to
make the attack, and had been arrested.

The Duke of Rovigo, after questioning Stabs, sought the Emperor, who had
returned to his apartments, and acquainted him with the danger he had
just escaped. The Emperor at first shrugged his shoulders, but having
been shown the knife which had been taken from Stabs, said, "Ah, ha!
send for the young man; I should like very much to talk with him." The
duke went out, and returned in a few moments with Stabs. When the latter
entered, the Emperor made a gesture of pity, and said to the Prince de
Neuchatel, "Why, really, he is nothing more than a child!
"An interpreter was summoned and the interrogation begun.

His Majesty first asked the assassin if he had seen him, anywhere before
this. "Yes; I saw you," replied Stabbs, "at Erfurt last year."--"It
seems that a crime is nothing in your eyes. Why did you wish to kill
me?"--"To kill you is not a crime; on the contrary, it is the duty of
every good German. I wished to kill you because you are the oppressor of
Germany."--"It is not I who commenced the war; it is your nation. Whose
picture is this?" (the Emperor held in his hands the picture of a woman
that had been found on Stabs). "It is that of my best friend, my
father's adopted daughter."--" What! and you are an assassin! and have
no fear of afflicting and destroying beings who are so dear to you?"--"I
wished to do my duty, and nothing could have deterred me from it."--"But
how would you have succeeded in, striking me? "--"I would first have
asked you if we were soon to have peace; and if you had answered no, I
should have stabbed you."--"He is mad!" said the Emperor; "he is
evidently mad! And how could you have hoped to escape, after you had
struck me thus in the midst of my soldiers?"--"I knew well to what I was
exposing myself, and am astonished to be still alive." This boldness
made such a deep impression on the Emperor that he remained silent for
several moments, intently regarding Stabs, who remained entirely unmoved
under this scrutiny. Then the Emperor continued, "The one you love will
be much distressed."--"Oh, she will no doubt be distressed because I did
not succeed, for she hates you at least as much as I hate you myself."--
"Suppose I pardoned you?"--"You would be wrong, for I would again try to
kill you." The Emperor summoned M. Corvisart and said to him, "This
young man is either sick or insane, it cannot be otherwise."--"I am
neither the one nor the other," replied the assassin quickly.
M. Corvisart felt Stabs's pulse. "This gentleman is well," he said.
"I have already told you so," replied Stabs with a triumphant air.--
"Well, doctor," said his Majesty, "this young man who is in such good
health has traveled a hundred miles to assassinate me."

Notwithstanding this declaration of the physician and the avowal of
Stabs, the Emperor, touched by the coolness and assurance of the
unfortunate fellow, again offered him his pardon, upon the sole condition
of expressing some repentance for his crime.; but as Stabs again asserted
that his only regret was that he had not succeeded in his undertaking,
the Emperor reluctantly gave him up to punishment.

After he was conducted to prison, as he still persisted in his
assertions, he was immediately brought before a military commission,
which condemned him to death. He did not undergo his punishment till the
17th; and after the 13th, the day on which he was arrested, took no food,
saying that he would have strength enough to go to his death. The
Emperor had ordered that the execution should be delayed as long as
possible, in the hope that sooner or later Stabs would repent; but he
remained unshaken. As he was being conducted to the place where he was
to be shot, some one having told him that peace had just been concluded,
he cried in a loud voice, "Long live liberty! Long live Germany!"
These were his last words.


During his stay at Schoenbrunn the Emperor was constantly engaged in
gallant adventures. He was one day promenading on the Prater in Vienna,
with a very numerous suite (the Prater is a handsome promenade situated
in the Faubourg Leopold), when a young German, widow of a rich merchant,
saw him, and exclaimed involuntarily to the ladies promenading with her,
"It is he!" This exclamation was overheard by his Majesty, who stopped
short, and bowed to the ladies with a smile, while the one who had spoken
blushed crimson; the Emperor comprehended this unequivocal sign, looked
at her steadfastly, and then continued his walk.

For sovereigns there are neither long attacks nor great difficulties, and
this new conquest of his Majesty was not less rapid than the others. In
order not to be separated from her illustrious lover, Madame B----
followed the army to Bavaria, and afterwards came to him at Paris, where
she died in 1812.

His Majesty's attention was attracted by a charming young person one
morning in the suburbs of Schoenbrunn; and some one was ordered to see
this young lady, and arrange for a rendezvous at the chateau the
following evening. Fortune favored his Majesty on this occasion. The
eclat of so illustrious a name, and the renown of his victories, had
produced a deep impression on the mind of the young girl, and had
disposed her to listen favorably to the propositions made to her. She
therefore eagerly consented to meet him at the chateau; and at the
appointed hour the person of whom I have spoken came for her, and I
received her on her arrival, and introduced her to his Majesty. She did
not speak French, but she knew Italian well, and it was consequently easy
for the Emperor to converse with her; and he soon learned with
astonishment that this charming young lady belonged to a very honorable
family of Vienna, and that in coming to him that evening she was inspired
alone by a desire to express to him her sincere admiration. The Emperor
respected the innocence of the young girl, had her reconducted to her
parents' residence, and gave orders that a marriage should be arranged
for her, and that it should be rendered more advantageous by means of a
considerable dowry.

At Schoenbrunn, as at Paris, his Majesty dined habitually at six o'clock;
but since he worked sometimes very far into the night, care was taken to
prepare every evening a light supper, which was placed in a little locked
basket covered with oil-cloth. There were two keys to this basket; one
of which the steward kept, and I the other. The care of this basket
belonged to me alone; and as his Majesty was extremely busy, he hardly
ever asked for supper. One evening Roustan, who had been busily occupied
all day in his master's service, was in a little room next to the
Emperor's, and meeting me just after I had assisted in putting his
Majesty to bed, said to me in his bad French, looking at the basket with
an envious eye, "I could eat a chicken wing myself; I am very hungry."
I refused at first; but finally, as I knew that the Emperor had gone to
bed, and had no idea he would take a fancy to ask me for supper that
evening, I let Roustan have it. He, much delighted, began with a leg,
and next took a wing; and I do not know if any of the chicken would have
been left had I not suddenly heard the bell ring sharply. I entered the
room, and was shocked to hear the Emperor say to me, "Constant, my
chicken." My embarrassment may be imagined. I had no other chicken; and
by what means, at such an hour, could I procure one! At last I decided
what to do. It was best to cut up the fowl, as thus I would be able to
conceal the absence of the two limbs Roustan had eaten; so I entered
proudly with the chicken replaced on the dish Roustan following me, for I
was very willing, if there were any reproaches, to share them with him.
I picked up the remaining wing, and presented it to the Emperor; but he
refused it, saying to me, "Give me the chicken; I will choose for
myself." This time there was no means of saving ourselves, for the
dismembered chicken must pass under his Majesty's eyes. "See here," said
he, "since when did chickens begin to have only one wing and one leg?
That is fine; it seems that I must eat what others leave. Who, then,
eats half of my supper?" I looked at Roustan, who in confusion replied,
"I was very hungry, Sire, and I ate a wing and leg."--"What, you idiot!
so it was you, was it?"

"Ah, I will punish you for it." And without another word the Emperor ate
the remaining leg and wing.

The next day at his toilet he summoned the grand marshal for some
purpose, and during the conversation said, "I leave you to guess what I
ate last night for my supper. The scraps which M. Roustan left. Yes,
the wretch took a notion to eat half of my chicken." Roustan entered at
that moment. "Come here, you idiot," continued the Emperor; "and the
next time this happens, be sure you will pay for it." Saying this, he
seized him by the ears and laughed heartily.


On the 22d of May, ten days after the triumphant entry of the Emperor
into the Austrian capital, the battle of Essling took place, a bloody
combat lasting from four in the morning till six in the evening. This
battle was sadly memorable to all the old soldiers of the Empire, since
it cost the life of perhaps the bravest of them all,--the Duke of
Montebello, the devoted friend of the Emperor, the only one who shared
with Marshal Augereau the right to speak to him frankly face to face.

The evening before the battle the marshal entered his Majesty's
residence, and found him surrounded by several persons. The Duke of----
always undertook to place himself between the Emperor and persons who
wished to speak with him. The Duke of Montebello, seeing him play his
usual game, took him by the lappet of his coat, and, wheeling him around,
said to him: "Take yourself away from here! The Emperor does not need
you to stand guard. It is singular that on the field of battle you are
always so far from us that we cannot see you, while here we can say
nothing to the Emperor without your being in the way." The duke was
furious. He looked first at the marshal, then at the Emperor, who simply
said, "Gently Lannes."

That evening in the domestic apartments they were discussing this
apostrophe of the marshal's. An officer of the army of Egypt said that
he was not surprised, since the Duke of Montebello had never forgiven the
Duke of ---- for the three hundred sick persons poisoned at Jaffa.

Dr. Lannefranque, one of those who attended the unfortunate Duke of
Montebello, said that as he was mounting his horse on starting to the
island of Lobau, the duke was possessed by gloomy presentiments. He
paused a moment, took M. Lannefranque's hand, and pressed it, saying to
him with a sad smile, "Au revoir; you will soon see us again, perhaps.
There will be work for you and for those gentlemen to-day," pointing to
several surgeons and doctors standing near. "M. le Duc," replied
Lannefranque, "this day will add yet more to your glory."--"My glory,"
interrupted the marshal eagerly; "do you wish me to speak frankly? I do
not approve very highly of this affair; and, moreover, whatever may be
the issue, this will be my last battle." The doctor wished to ask the
marshal his reasons for this conviction; but he set off at a gallop, and
was soon out of sight.

On the morning of the battle, about six or seven o'clock, the Austrians
had already advanced, when an aide-de-camp came to announce to his
Majesty that a sudden rise in the Danube had washed down a great number
of large trees which had been cut down when Vienna was taken, and that
these trees had driven against and broken the bridges which served as
communication between Essling and the island of Lobau; and in consequence
of this the reserve corps, part of the heavy cavalry, and Marshal
Davoust's entire corps, found themselves forced to remain inactive on the
other side. This misfortune arrested the movement which the Emperor was
preparing to make, and the enemy took courage.

The Duke of Montebello received orders to hold the field of battle, and
took his position, resting on the village of Essling, instead of
continuing the pursuit of the Austrians which he had already begun, and
held this position from nine o'clock in the morning till the evening; and
at seven o'clock in the evening the battle was gained. At six o'clock
the unfortunate marshal, while standing on an elevation to obtain a
better view of the movements, was struck by a cannon-ball, which broke
his right thigh and his left knee.

He thought at first that he had only a few moments to live, and had
himself carried on a litter to the Emperor, saying that he wished to
embrace him before he died. The Emperor, seeing him thus weltering in
his blood, had the litter placed on the ground, and, throwing himself on
his knees, took the marshal in his arms, and said to him, weeping,
"Lannes, do you know me?"--"Yes, Sire; you are losing your best friend."
--"No! no! you will live. Can you not answer for his life, M.
Larrey?" The wounded soldiers hearing his Majesty speak thus, tried to
rise on their elbows, and cried, "Vive l'Empereur!"

The surgeons carried the marshal to a little village called Ebersdorf, on
the bank of the river, and near the field of battle. At the house of a
brewer they found a room over a stable where the heat was stifling, and
was rendered still more unendurable from the odor of the corpses by which
the house was surrounded.

But as no other place could be found, it was necessary to make the best
of it. The marshal bore the amputation of his limb with heroic courage;
but the fever which came on immediately was so violent that, fearing he
would die under the operation, the surgeons postponed cutting off his
other leg. This fever was caused partly by exhaustion, for at the time
he was wounded the marshal had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours.
Finally Messieurs Larrey,

[Baron Dominique Jean Larrey, eminent surgeon, born at Bagneres-de
-Bigorre, 1766. Accompanied Napoleon to Egypt. Surgeon-in-chief of
the grand army, 1812. Wounded and taken prisoner at Waterloo. In
his will the Emperor styles him the best man he had ever known.
Died 1842.]

Yvan, Paulet, and Lannefranque decided on the second amputation; and
after this had been performed the quiet condition of the wounded man made
them hopeful of saving his life. But it was not to be. The fever
increased, and became of a most alarming character; and in spite of the
attentions of these skillful surgeons, and of Doctor Frank, then the most
celebrated physician in Europe, the marshal breathed his last on the 31st
of May, at five o'clock in the morning, barely forty years of age.

During his week of agony (for his sufferings may be called by that name)
the Emperor came often to see him, and always left in deep distress. I
also went to see the marshal each day for the Emperor, and admired the
patience with which he endured these sufferings, although he had no hope;
for he knew well that he was dying, and saw these sad tidings reflected
in every face. It was touching and terrible to see around his house, his
door, in his chamber even, these old grenadiers of the guard, always
stolid and unmoved till now, weeping and sobbing like children. What an
atrocious thing war seems at such moments.

The evening before his death the marshal said to me, "I see well, my dear
Constant, that I must die. I wish that your master could have ever near
him men as devoted as I. Tell the Emperor I would like to see him." As
I was going out the Emperor entered, a deep silence ensued, and every one
retired; but the door of the room being half open we could hear a part of
the conversation, which was long and painful. The marshal recalled his
services to the Emperor, and ended with these words, pronounced in tones
still strong and firm: "I do not say this to interest you in my family; I
do not need to recommend to you my wife and children. Since I die for
you, your glory will bid you protect them; and I do not fear in
addressing you these last words, dictated by sincere affection, to change
your plans towards them. You have just made a great mistake, and
although it deprives you of your best friend you will not correct it.
Your ambition is insatiable, and will destroy you. You sacrifice
unsparingly and unnecessarily those men who serve you best; and when they
fall you do not regret them. You have around you only flatterers; I see
no friend who dares to tell you the truth. You will be betrayed and
abandoned. Hasten to end this war; it is the general wish. You will
never be more powerful, but you may be more beloved. Pardon these truths
in a dying man--who, dying, loves you."

The marshal, as he finished, held out his hand to the Emperor, who
embraced him, weeping, and in silence.

The day of the marshal's death his body was given to M. Larrey and M.
Cadet de Gassicourt, ordinary chemist to the Emperor, with orders to
preserve it, as that of Colonel Morland had been, who was killed at the
battle of Austerlitz. For this purpose the corpse was carried to
Schoenbrunn, and placed in the left wing of the chateau, far from the
inhabited rooms. In a few hours putrefaction became complete, and they
were obliged to plunge the mutilated body into a bath filled with
corrosive sublimate. This extremely dangerous operation was long and
painful; and M. Cadet de Gassicourt deserves much commendation for the
courage he displayed under these circumstances; for notwithstanding every
precaution, and in spite of the strong disinfectants burned in the room,
the odor of this corpse was so fetid, and the vapor from the sublimate so
strong, that the distinguished chemist was seriously indisposed.

Like several other persons, I had a sad curiosity to see the marshal's
body in this condition. It was frightful. The trunk, which had been
covered by the solution, was greatly swollen; while on the contrary, the
head, which had been left outside the bath, had shrunk remarkably, and
the muscles of the face had contracted in the most hideous manner, the
wide-open eyes starting out of their sockets. After the body had
remained eight days in the corrosive sublimate, which it was necessary to
renew, since the emanations from the interior of the corpse had
decomposed the solution, it was put into a cask made for the purpose, and
filled with the same liquid; and it was in this cask that it was carried
from Schoenbrunn to Strasburg. In this last place it was taken out of
the strange coffin, dried in a net, and wrapped in the Egyptian style;
that is, surrounded with bandages, with the face uncovered. M. Larrey
and M. de Gassicourt confided this honorable task to M. Fortin, a young
chemist major, who in 1807 had by his indefatigable courage and
perseverance saved from certain death nine hundred sick, abandoned,
without physicians or surgeons, in a hospital near Dantzic, and nearly
all suffering from an infectious malady. In the month of March, 1810
(what follows is an extract from the letter of M. Fortin to his master
and friend M. Cadet de Gassicourt), the Duchess of Montebello, in passing
through Strasburg, wished to see again the husband she loved so tenderly.

"Thanks to you and M. Larrey (it is M. Fortin who speaks), the embalming
of the marshal has succeeded perfectly. When I drew the body from the
cask I found it in a state of perfect preservation. I arranged a net in
a lower hall of the mayor's residence, in which I dried it by means of a
stove, the heat being carefully regulated. I then had a very handsome
coffin made of hard wood well oiled; and the marshal wrapped in bandages,
his face uncovered, was placed in an open coffin near that of General
Saint-Hilaire in a subterranean vault, of which I have the key. A
sentinel watches there day and night. M. Wangen de Gueroldseck, mayor of
Strasburg, has given me every assistance in my work.

"This was the state of affairs when, an hour after her Majesty the
Empress's arrival, Madame, the Duchess of Montebello, who accompanied her
as lady of honor, sent M. Cretu, her cousin at whose house she was to
visit, to seek me. I came in answer to her orders; and the duchess
questioned and complimented me on the honorable mission with which I was
charged, and then expressed to me, with much agitation, her desire to see
for the last time the body of her husband. I hesitated a few moments
before answering her, and foreseeing the effect which would be produced
on her by the sad spectacle, told her that the orders which I had
received would prevent my doing what she wished; but she insisted in such
a pressing manner that I yielded. We agreed (in order not to compromise
me, and that she might not be recognized) that I would-go for her at
midnight, and that she would be accompanied by one of her relatives.

"I went to the duchess at the appointed hour; and as soon as I arrived,
she rose and said that she was ready to accompany me. I waited a few
moments, begging her to consider the matter well. I warned her of the
condition in which she would find the marshal, and begged her to reflect
on the impression she would receive in the sad place she was about to
visit. She replied that she was well, prepared for this, and felt that
she had the necessary, courage, and she hoped to find in this last visit
some amelioration of the bitter sorrow she endured. While speaking thus,
her sad and beautiful countenance was calm and pensive. We then started,
M. Cretu giving his arm to his cousin. The duchess's carriage followed
at a distance, empty; and two servants followed us.

"The city was illuminated; and the good inhabitants were all taking
holiday, and in many houses gay music was inspiriting them to the
celebration of this memorable day. What a contrast between this gayety
and the quest in which we were engaged! I saw that the steps of the
duchess dragged now and then, while she sighed and shuddered; and my own
heart seemed oppressed, my ideas confused.

"At last we arrived at the mayor's residence, where Madame de Montebello
gave her servants orders to await her, and descended slowly, accompanied
by her cousin and myself, to the door of the lower hall. A lantern
lighted our way, and the duchess trembled while she affected a sort of
bravery; but when she entered a sort of cavern, the silence of the dead
which reigned in this subterranean vault, the mournful light which filled
it, the sight of the corpse extended in its coffin, produced a terrible
effect on her; she gave a piercing scream, and fainted. I had foreseen
this, and had watched her attentively; and as soon as I saw her strength
failing, supported her in my arms and seated her, having in readiness
everything necessary to restore her. I used these remedies, and she
revived at the end of a few moments; and we then begged her to withdraw,
but she refused; then rose, approached the coffin, and walked around it
slowly in silence; then stopping and letting her folded hands fall by her
side, she remained for some time immovable, regarding the inanimate
figure of her husband, and watering it with her tears. At last she in a
measure regained her self-control and exclaimed in stifled tones through
her sobs, Mon Dieu, mon Dieu! how he is changed!' I made a sign to M.
Cretu that it was time to retire; but we could drag the duchess away only
by promising her to bring her back next day,--a promise which could not
be kept. I closed the door quickly, and gave my arm to the duchess,
which she gratefully accepted. When we left the mayoralty I took leave
of her; but she insisted on my entering her carriage, and gave orders to
carry me to my residence. In this short ride she shed a torrent of
tears; and when the carriage stopped, said to me with inexpressible
kindness, 'I shall never forget, Monsieur, the important service you have
just rendered me.'"

Long after this the Emperor and Empress Marie Louise visited together
the manufacture of Sevres porcelain, and the Duchess of Montebello
accompanied the Empress as lady of honor. The Emperor, seeing a fine
bust of the marshal, in bisque, exquisitely made, paused, and, not
noticing the pallor which overspread the countenance of the duchess,
asked her what she thought of this bust, and if it was a good likeness.
The widow felt as if her old wound was reopened; she could not reply, and
retired, bathed in tears, and it was several days before she reappeared
at court. Apart from the fact that this unexpected question renewed her
grief, the inconceivable thoughtlessness the Emperor had shown wounded
her so deeply that, her friends had much difficulty in persuading her to
resume her duties near the Empress.


The battle of Essling was disastrous in every respect. Twelve thousand
Frenchmen were slain; and the source of all this trouble was the
destruction of the bridges, which could have been prevented, it seems to
me, for the same accident had occurred two or three days before the
battle. The soldiers complained loudly, and several corps of the
infantry cried out to the generals to dismount and fight in their midst;
but this ill humor in no wise affected their courage or patience, for
regiments remained five hours under arms, exposed to the most terrible
fire. Three times during the evening the Emperor sent to inquire of
General Massena if he could hold his position; and the brave captain, who
that day saw his son on the field of battle for the first time, and his
friends and his bravest officers falling by dozens around him, held it
till night closed in. "I will not fall back," said he, "while there is
light. Those rascally Austrians would be too glad." The constancy of
the marshal saved the day; but, as he himself said, he was always blessed
with good luck. In the beginning of the battle, seeing that one of his
stirrups was too long, he called a soldier to shorten it, and during this
operation placed his leg on his horse's neck; a cannon-ball whizzed by,
killed the soldier, and cut off the stirrup, without touching the marshal
or his horse. "There," said he, "now I shall have to get down and change
my saddle;" which observation the marshal made in a jesting tone.

The surgeon and his assistants conducted themselves admirably on this
terrible day, and displayed a zeal equal to every emergency, combined
with an activity which delighted the Emperor so much, that several times,
in passing near them, he called them "my brave surgeons." M. Larrey
above all was sublime. After having attended to all the wounded of the
guard, who were crowded together on the Island of Lobau, he asked if
there was any broth to give them. "No," replied the assistants. "Have
some made," said he, "have some made of that group," pointing to several
horses near him; but these horses belonged to a general, and when it was
attempted to carry out M. Larrey's orders, the owner indignantly refused
to allow them to be taken. "Well, take mine then," said the brave
soldier, "and have them killed, in order that my comrades may have
broth." This was done; and as no pots could be found on the island it
was boiled in helmets, and salted with cannon powder in place of salt.
Marshal Massena tasted this soup, and thought it very good. One hardly
knows which to admire most,--the zeal of the surgeons, the courage with
which they confronted danger in caring for the wounded on the field of
battle, and even in the midst of the conflict; or the stoical constancy
of the soldiers, who, lying on the ground, some without an arm, some
without a leg, talked over their campaigns with each other while waiting
to be operated on, some even going so far as to show excessive
politeness. "M. Docteur, begin with my neighbor; he is suffering more
than I. I can wait."

A cannoneer had both legs carried away by a ball; two of his comrades
picked him up and made a litter with branches of trees, on which they
placed him in order to convey him to the island. The poor mutilated
fellow did not utter a single groan, but murmured, "I am very thirsty,"
from time to time, to those who bore him. As they passed one of the
bridges, he begged them to stop and seek a little wine or brandy to
restore his strength. They believed him, and did as he requested, but
had not gone twenty steps when the cannoneer called to them, "Don't go so
fast, my comrades; I have no legs, and I will reach the end of my journey
sooner than you. 'Vive la France;'" and, with a supreme effort, he
rolled off into the Danube.

The conduct of a surgeon-major of the guard, some time after, came near
compromising the entire corps in his Majesty's opinion. This surgeon, M.
M----, lodged with General Dorsenne and some superior officers in a
pretty country seat, belonging to the Princess of Lichtenstein, the
concierge of the house being an old German who was blunt and peculiar,
and served them with the greatest repugnance, making them as
uncomfortable as possible. In vain, for instance, they requested of him
linen for the beds and table; he always pretended not to hear.

General Dorsenne wrote to the princess, complaining of this condition of
affairs; and in consequence she no doubt gave orders, but the general's
letter remained unanswered, and several days passed with no change of
affairs. They had had no change of napkins for a month, when the general
took a fancy to give a grand supper, at which Rhenish and Hungarian wine
were freely indulged in, followed by punch. The host was highly
complimented; but with these praises were mingled energetic reproaches on
the doubtful whiteness of the napery, General Dorsenne excusing himself
on the score of the ill-humor and sordid economy of the concierge, who
was a fit exponent of the scant courtesy shown by the princess. "That is
unendurable!" cried the joyous guests in chorus. "This hostess who so
completely ignores us must be called to order. Come, M----, take pen and
paper and write her some strong epigrams; we must teach this princess of
Germany how to live. French officers and conquerors sleeping in rumpled
sheets, and using soiled napkins! What an outrage!" M. M was only too
faithful an interpreter of the unanimous sentiments of these gentlemen;
and under the excitement of the fumes of these Hungarian wines wrote the
Princess of Lichtenstein a letter such as during the Carnival itself one
would not dare to write even to public women. How can I express what
must have been Madame Lichtenstein's horror on reading this production,--
an incomprehensible collection of all the low expressions that army slang
could furnish! The evidence of a third person was necessary to convince
her that the signature, M----, Surgeon-major of the Imperial French
Guard, was not the forgery of some miserable drunkard. In her profound
indignation the princess hastened to General Andreossy, his Majesty's
Governor of Vienna, showed him this letter, and demanded vengeance.
Whereupon the general, even more incensed than she, entered his carriage,
and, proceeding to Schoenbrunn, laid the wonderful production before the
Emperor. The Emperor read it, recoiled three paces, his cheeks reddened
with anger, his whole countenance was disturbed, and in a terrible tone
ordered the grand marshal to summon M. M----, while every one waited in
trembling suspense.

"Did you write this disgusting letter?"--"Sire."--"Reply, I order you;
was it you?"--"Yes, Sire, in a moment of forgetfulness, after a supper."
--"Wretch!" cried his Majesty, in such a manner as to terrify all who
heard him. "You deserve to be instantly shot! Insult a woman so basely!
And an old woman too. Have you no mother? I respect and honor every old
woman because she reminds me of my mother!"--"Sire, I am guilty, I admit,
but my repentance is great. Deign to remember my services. I have
followed you through eighteen campaigns; I am the father of a family."
These last words only increased the anger of his Majesty. "Let him be
arrested! Tear off his decorations; he is unworthy to wear them. Let
him be tried in twenty-four hours." Then turning to the generals, who
stood stupefied and immovable around him, he exclaimed, "Look, gentlemen!
read this! See how this blackguard addresses a princess, and at the very
moment when her husband is negotiating a peace with me."

The parade was very short that day; and as soon as it was ended, Generals
Dorsenne and Larrey hastened to Madame Lichtenstein, and, describing to
her the scene which had just taken place, made her most humble apologies,
in the name of the Imperial Guard, and at the same time entreated her to
intercede for the unfortunate fellow, who deserved blame, no doubt, but
who was not himself when he wrote the offensive epistle. "He repents
bitterly, Madame," said good M. Larrey; "he weeps over his fault, and
bravely awaits his punishment, esteeming it a just reparation of the
insult to you. But he is one of the best officers of the army; he is
beloved and esteemed; he has saved the life of thousands, and his
distinguished talents are the only fortune his family possesses. What
will become of them if he is shot?"--"Shot!" exclaimed the princess;
"shot! Bon-Dieu! would the matter be carried as far as that?" Then
General Dorsenne described to her the Emperor's resentment as
incomparably deeper than her own; and the princess, much moved,
immediately wrote the Emperor a letter, in which she expressed herself as
grateful, and fully satisfied with the reparation which had already been
made, and entreated him to pardon M. M----

His Majesty read the letter, but made no reply. The princess was again
visited; and she had by this time become so much alarmed that she
regretted exceedingly having shown the letter of M. M---- to the general;
and, having decided at any cost to obtain the surgeon's pardon, she
addressed a petition to the Emperor, which closed with this sentence,
expressing angelic forgiveness: "Sire, I am going to fall on my knees in
my oratory, and will not rise until I have obtained from Heaven your
Majesty's pardon." The Emperor could no longer hold out; he granted the
pardon, and M. M---- was released after a month of close confinement.
M. Larrey was charged by his Majesty to reprove him most severely, with a
caution to guard more carefully the honor of the corps to which he
belonged; and the remonstrances of this excellent man were made in so
paternal a manner that they doubled in M. M----'s eyes the value of the
inestimable service M. Larrey had rendered him.

M. le Baron Larrey was always most disinterested in his kind services, a
fact which was well known and often abused. General d'A----, the son of
a rich senator, had his shoulder broken by a shell at Wagram; and an
exceedingly delicate operation was found necessary, requiring a skilled
hand, and which M. Larrey alone could perform. This operation was a
complete success; but the wounded man had a delicate constitution, which
had been much impaired, and consequently required the most incessant care
and attention. M. Larrey hardly ever left his bedside, and was assisted
by two medical students, who watched by turns, and assisted him in
dressing the wound. The treatment was long and painful, but a complete
cure was the result; and when almost entirely recovered, the general took
leave of the Emperor to return to France. A pension and decorations
canceled the debt of the head of the state to him, but the manner in
which he acquitted his own towards the man who had saved his life is
worthy of consideration.

As he entered his carriage he handed to one of his friends a letter and a
little box, saying to this general, "I cannot leave Vienna without
thanking M. Larrey; do me the favor of handing to him for me this mark of
my gratitude. Good Larrey, I will never forget the services he has
rendered me." Next day the friend performed his commission; and a
soldier was sent with the letter and the present, and, as he reached
Schoenbrunn during the parade, sought M. Larrey in the line. "Here is a
letter and a box which I bring from General A----." M. Larrey put both
in his pocket, but after the parade examined them, and showed the package
to Cadet de Gassicourt, saying, "Look at it, and tell me what you think
of it." The letter was very prettily written; as for the box, it
contained a diamond worth about sixty francs.

This pitiful recompense recalls one both glorious and well-earned which
M. Larrey received from the Emperor during the campaign in Egypt. At the
battle of Aboukir, General Fugieres was operated on by M. Larrey under
the enemies' fire for a dangerous wound on the shoulder; and thinking
himself about to die, offered his sword to General Bonaparte, saying to
him, "General, perhaps one day you may envy my fate." The general-in-
chief presented this sword to M. Larrey, after having engraved on it the
name of M. Larrey and that of the battle. However, General Fugieres did
not die; his life was saved by the skillful operation he had undergone,
and for seventeen years he commanded the Invalids at Avignon.


It is not in the presence of the enemy that differences in the manner and
bearing of soldiers can be remarked, for the requirements of the service
completely engross both the ideas and time of officers, whatever their
grade, and uniformity of occupation produces also a kind of uniformity of
habit and character; but, in the monotonous life of the camp, differences
due to nature and education reassert themselves. I noted this many times
after the truces and treaties of peace which crowned the most glorious
campaigns of the Emperor, and had occasion to renew my observations on
this point during the long sojourn which we made at Schoenbrunn with the
army. Military tone in the army is a most difficult thing to define, and
differs according to rank, time of service, and kind of service; and
there are no genuine soldiers except those who form part of the line, or
who command it. In the soldiers' opinion, the Prince de Neuchatel and
his brilliant staff, the grand marshal, Generals Bertrand, Bacler d'Albe,
etc., were only men of the cabinet council, whose experience might be of
some use in such deliberations, but to whom bravery was not

The chief generals, such as Prince Eugene, Marshals Oudinot, Davoust,
Bessieres, and his Majesty's aides-decamp, Rapp, Lebrun, Lauriston,
Mouton, etc., were exceedingly affable, and every one was most politely
received by them; their dignity never became haughtiness, nor their ease
an excessive familiarity, though their manners were at all times slightly
tinged by the austerity inseparable from the character of a warrior.
This was not the idea held in the army in regard to a few of the ordnance
and staff officers (aides-de-camp); for, while according them all the
consideration due both to their education and their courage, they called
them the jay-birds of the army; receiving favors which others deserved;
obtaining cordons and promotions for carrying a few letters into camp,
often without having even seen the enemy; insulting by their luxury the
modest temperance of the braver officers; and more foppish in the midst
of their battalions than in the boudoirs of their mistresses. The
silver-gilt box of one of these gentlemen was a complete portable
dressing-case, and contained, instead of cartridges, essence bottles,
brushes, a mirror, a tongue-scraper, a shell-comb, and--I do not know
that it lacked even a pot of rouge. It could not be said that they were
not brave, for they would allow themselves to be killed for a glance;
but they were very, rarely exposed to danger. Foreigners would be right
in maintaining the assertion that the French soldier is frivolous,
presumptuous, impertinent, and immoral, if they formed their judgment
alone from these officers by courtesy, who, in place of study and
faithful service, had often no other title to their rank than the merit
of having emigrated.

The officers of the line, who had served in several campaigns and had
gained their epaulettes on the field of battle, held a very different
position in the army. Always grave, polite, and considerate, there was a
kind of fraternity among them; and having known suffering and misery
themselves, they were always ready to help others; and their
conversation, though not distinguished by brilliant information, was
often full of interest. In nearly every case boasting quitted them with
their youth, and the bravest were always the most modest. Influenced by
no imaginary points of honor, they estimated themselves at their real
worth; and all fear of being suspected of cowardice was beneath them.
With these brave soldiers, who often united to the greatest kindness of
heart a mettle no less great, a flat contradiction or even a little hasty
abuse from one of their brothers in arms was not obliged to be washed out
in blood; and examples of the moderation which true courage alone has a
right to show were not rare in the army. Those who cared least for
money, and were most generous, were most exposed, the artillerymen and
the hussars, for instance. At Wagram I saw a lieutenant pay a louis for
a bottle of brandy, and immediately divide it among the soldiers of his
company; and brave officers often formed such an attachment to their
regiment, especially if it had distinguished itself, that they sometimes
refused promotion rather than be separated from their children, as they
called them. In them we behold the true model of the French soldier; and
it is this kindness, mingled with the austerity of a warrior, this
attachment of the chief to the soldier, which the latter is so capable of
appreciating, and an impregnable honor, which serve to distinguish our
soldiers from all others, and not, as foreigners think, presumption,
braggadocio, and libertinage, which latter are ever the characteristics
of the parasites of glory alone.

In the camp of Lobau on the evening before the battle of Wagram, the
Emperor, as he was walking outside his tent, stopped a moment watching
the grenadiers of his guard who were breakfasting. "Well, my children,
what do you think of the wine?"--"It will not make us tipsy, Sire; there
is our cellar," said a soldier pointing to the Danube. The Emperor, who
had ordered a bottle of good wine to be distributed to each soldier, was
surprised to see that they were so abstemious the evening before a
battle. He inquired of the Prince de Neuchatel the cause of this; and
upon investigation, it was learned that two storekeepers and an employee
in the commissary department had sold forty thousand bottles of the wine
which the Emperor had ordered to be distributed, and had replaced it with
some of inferior quality. This wine had been seized by the Imperial
Guard in a rich abbey, and was valued at thirty thousand florins. The
culprits were arrested, tried, and condemned to death.

There was in the camp at Lobau a dog which I think all the army knew by
the name of corps-de-garde. He was old, emaciated, and ugly; but his
moral qualities caused his exterior defects to be quickly lost sight of.
He was sometimes called the brave dog of the Empire; since he had
received a bayonet stroke at Marengo, and had a paw broken by a gun at
Austerlitz, being at that time attached to a regiment of dragoons. He
had no master. He was in the habit of attaching himself to a corps, and
continuing faithful so long as they fed him well and did not beat him.
A kick or a blow with the flat of a sword would cause him to desert this
regiment, and pass on to another. He was unusually intelligent; and
whatever position of the corps in which he might be the was serving, he
did not abandon it, or confound it with any other, and in the thickest of
the fight was always near the banner he had chosen; and if in the camp he
met a soldier from the regiment he had deserted, he would droop his ears,
drop his tail between his legs, and scamper off quickly to rejoin his new
brothers in arms. When his regiment was on the march he circled as a
scout all around it, and gave warning by a bark if he found anything
unusual, thus on more than one occasion saving his comrades from ambush.

Among the officers who perished at the battle of Wagram, or rather in a
small engagement which took place after the battle had ended, one of
those most regretted by the soldiers was General Oudet. He was one of
the bravest generals of the army; but what brings his name especially to
mind, among all those whom the army lost on that memorable day, is a note
which I have preserved of a conversation I held several years after this
battle with an excellent officer who was one of my sincerest friends.

In a conversation with Lieutenant-colonel B---- in 1812, he remarked, "I
must tell you, my dear Constant, of a strange adventure which happened to
me at Wagram. I did not tell you at the time, because I had promised to
be silent; but since at the present time no one can be compromised by my
indiscretion, and since those who then had most to fear if their singular
ideas (for I can call them by no other name) had been revealed, would now
be first to laugh at them, I can well inform you of the mysterious
discovery I made at that period.

"You well know that I was much attached to poor F---- whom we so much
regretted; and he was one of our most popular and attractive officers,
his good qualities winning the hearts of all, especially of those who
like himself had an unfailing fund of frankness and good humor. All at
once I noticed a great change in his manner, as well as in that of his
habitual companions; they appeared gloomy, and met together no more for
gay conversation, but on the contrary spoke in low tones and with an air
of mystery. More than once this sudden change had struck me; and if by
chance I met them in retired places, instead of receiving me cordially as
had always been their custom, they seemed as if trying to avoid me. At
last, weary of this inexplicable mystery, I took F---- aside, and asked
him what this strange conduct meant. 'You have forestalled me, my dear
friend,' said he. 'I was on the point of making an important disclosure;
I trust you will not accuse me of want of confidence, but swear to me
before I confide in you that you will tell no living soul what I am now
going to reveal.' When I had taken this oath, which he demanded of me in
a tone of gravity which surprised me inexpressibly, he continued, 'If I
have not already told you of the 'Philadelphi', it is only because I knew
that reasons which I respect would prevent your ever joining them; but
since you have asked this secret, it would be a want of confidence in
you, and at the same time perhaps an imprudence, not to reveal it. Some
patriots have united themselves under the title of 'Philadelphi', in
order to save our country from the dangers to which it is exposed. The
Emperor Napoleon has tarnished the glory of the First Consul Bonaparte;
he had saved our liberty, but he has since destroyed it by the
reestablishment of the nobility and by the Concordat. The society of the
'Philadelphi' has as yet no well-defined plans for preventing the evils
with which ambition will continue to overwhelm France; but when peace is
restored we shall see if it is impossible to force Bonaparte to restore
republican institutions, and meanwhile we are overcome by grief and
despair. The brave chief of the 'Philadelphi', the pure Oudet, has been
assassinated, and who is worthy to take his place? Poor Oudet! never
was one braver or more eloquent than he! With a noble haughtiness and an
immovable firmness of character, he possessed an excellent heart. His
first battle showed his intrepid spirit. When cut down at Saint
Bartholomew by a ball, his comrades wished to bear him away, "No, no,"
cried he; "don't waste time over me. The Spaniards! the Spaniards!"--
"Shall we leave you to the enemy?" said one of those who had advanced
towards him. "Well, drive them back if you do not wish me to be left
with them." At the beginning of the campaign of Wagram, he was colonel
of the Ninth regiment of the line, and was made general of brigade on the
evening before the battle, his corps forming part of the left wing
commanded by Massena. Our line was broken on this side for a moment, and
Oudet made heroic efforts to reform it; and after he had been wounded by
three bayonet strokes, with the loss of much blood, and dragged away by
those of us who were forced to fall back, still had himself fastened on
his horse in order that he might not be forced to leave the battlefield.

"'After the battle, he received orders to advance to the front, and to
place himself with his regiment in an advantageous position for
observation, and then return immediately to headquarters, with a certain
number of his officers, to receive new orders. He executed these orders,
and was returning in the night, when a discharge of musketry was suddenly
heard, and he fell into an ambush; he fought furiously in the darkness,
knowing neither the number nor character of his adversaries, and at break
of day was found, covered with wounds, in the midst of twenty officers
who had been slain around him. He was still breathing, and lived three
days; but the only words he pronounced were those of commiseration for
the fate of his country. When his body was taken from the hospital to
prepare it for burial, several of the wounded in their despair tore the
bandages from their wounds, a sergeant-major threw himself on his sword
near the grave, and a lieutenant there blew out his brains. Behold,'
said F----, 'a death that plunges us into the deepest despair!' I tried
to prove to him that he was mistaken, and that the plans of the
'Philadelphi' were mad, but succeeded very imperfectly; and though he
listened to my advice, he again earnestly recommended secrecy."

The day after the battle of Wagram, I think, a large number of officers
were breakfasting near the Emperor's tent, the generals seated on the
grass, and the officers standing around them. They discussed the battle
at length, and related numerous remarkable anecdotes, some of which
remain engraven on my memory. A staff-officer of his Majesty said, "I
thought I had lost my finest horse. As I had ridden him on the 5th and
wished him to rest, I gave him to my servant to hold by the bridle; and
when he left him one moment to attend to his own, the horse was stolen in
a flash by a dragoon, who instantly sold him to a dismounted captain,
telling him he was a captured horse. I recognized him in the ranks, and
claimed him, proving by my saddle-bags and their contents that he was not
a horse taken from the Austrians, and had to repay the captain the five
louis which he had paid to the dragoon for this horse which had cost me

The best anecdote, perhaps, of the day was this: M. Salsdorf, a Saxon,
and surgeon in Prince Christian's regiment, in the beginning of the
battle had his leg fractured by a shell. Lying on the ground, he saw,
fifteen paces from him, M. Amedee de Kerbourg, who was wounded by a
bullet, and vomiting blood. He saw that this officer would die of
apoplexy if something was not done for him, and collecting all his
strength, dragged himself along in the dust, bled him, and saved his

M. de Kerbourg had no opportunity to embrace the one who had saved his
life; for M. de Salsdorf was carried to Vienna, and only survived the
amputation four days.


At Schoenbrunn, as elsewhere, his Majesty marked his presence by his
benefactions. I still retain vivid recollections of an occurrence which
long continued to be the subject of conversation at this period, and the
singular details of which render it worthy of narration.

A little girl nine years old, belonging to a very wealthy and highly
esteemed family of Constantinople, was carried away by bandits as she was
promenading one day with her attendant outside the city. The bandits
carried their two captives to Anatolia, and there sold them. The little
girl, who gave promise of great beauty, fell to the lot of a rich
merchant of Broussa, the harshest, most severe, and intractable man of
the town; but the artless grace of this child touched even his ferocious
heart. He conceived a great affection for her, and distinguished her
from his other slaves by giving her only light employment, such as the
care of flowers, etc. A European gentleman who lived with this merchant
offered to take charge of her education; to which the man consented, all
the more willingly since she had gained his heart, and he wished to make
her his wife as soon as she reached a marriageable age. But the European
had the same idea; and as he was young, with an agreeable and intelligent
countenance, and very rich, he succeeded in winning the young slave's
affection; and she escaped one day from her master, and, like another
Heloise, followed her Abelard to Kutahie, where they remained concealed
for six months.

She was then ten years old. Her preceptor, who became more devoted to
her each day, carried her to Constantinople, and confided her to the care
of a Greek bishop, charging him to make her a good Christian, and then
returned to Vienna, with the intention of obtaining the consent of his
family and the permission of his government to marry a slave.

Two years then passed, and the poor girl heard nothing from her future
husband. Meanwhile the bishop had died, and his heirs had abandoned
Marie (this was the baptismal name of the convert); and she, with no
means and no protector, ran the risk of being at any moment discovered by
some relation or friend of her family--and it is well known that the
Turks never forgive a change of religion.

Tormented by a thousand fears, weary of her retreat and the deep
obscurity in which she was buried, she took the bold resolution of
rejoining her benefactor, and not deterred by dangers of the road set out
from Constantinople alone on foot. On her arrival in the capital of
Austria, she learned that her intended husband had been dead for more
than a year.

The despair into which the poor girl was plunged by this sad news can be
better imagined than described. What was to be done? What would become
of her? She decided to return to her family, and for this purpose
repaired to Trieste, which town she found in a state of great commotion.
It had just received a French garrison; but the disturbances inseparable
from war were not yet ended, and young Marie consequently entered a Greek
convent to await a suitable opportunity of returning to Constantinople.
There a sub-lieutenant of infantry, named Dartois, saw her, became madly
in love, won her heart, and married her at the end of a year.

The happiness which Madame Dartois now enjoyed did not cause her to
renounce her plan of visiting her own family; and, as she now had become
a Frenchwoman, she thought this title would accelerate her return to her
parents' favor. Her husband's regiment received orders to leave Trieste;
and this gave Madame Dartois the opportunity to renew her entreaties to
be allowed to visit Constantinople, to which her husband gave his
consent, not without explaining to her, however, all she had to fear, and
all the dangers to which this journey would again expose her. At last
she started, and a few days after her arrival was on the point of making
herself known to her family, when she recognized on the street through
her veil, the Broussan merchant, her former master, who was seeking her
throughout Constantinople, and had sworn to kill her on sight.

This terrible 'rencontre' threw her into such a fright, that for three
days she lived in constant terror, scarcely daring to venture out, even
on the most urgent business, and always fearing lest she should see again
the ferocious Anatolian. From time to time she received letters from her
husband, who still marched with the French army; and, as it was now
advancing, he conjured her in his last letters to return to France,
hoping to be able soon to rejoin her there.

Deprived of all hope of a reconciliation with her family, Madame Dartois
determined to comply with her husband's request; and, although the war
between Russia and Turkey rendered the roads very unsafe, she left
Constantinople in the month of July, 1809.

After passing through Hungary and the midst of the Austrian camp, Madame
Dartois bent her steps towards Vienna, where she had the sorrow to learn
that her husband had been mortally wounded at the battle of Wagram, and
was now in that town; she hastened to him, and he expired in her arms.

She mourned her husband deeply, but was soon compelled to think of the
future, as the small amount of money remaining to her when she left
Constantinople had been barely sufficient for the expenses of her
journey, and M. Dartois had left no property. Some one having advised
the poor woman to go to Schoenbrunn and ask his Majesty's assistance, a
superior officer gave her a letter of recommendation to M. Jaubert,
interpreting secretary of the Emperor.

Madame Dartois arrived as his Majesty was preparing to leave Schoenbrunn,
and made application to M. Jaubert, the Duke of Bassano, General Lebrun,
and many other persons who became deeply interested in her misfortunes.

The Emperor, when informed by the Duke of Bassano of the deplorable
condition of this woman, at once made a special order granting Madame
Dartois an annual pension of sixteen hundred francs, the first year of
which was paid in advance. When the Duke of Bassano announced to the
widow his Majesty's decision, and handed her the first year's pension,
she fell at his feet, and bathed them with her tears.

The Emperor's fete was celebrated at Vienna with much brilliancy; and as
all the inhabitants felt themselves obliged to illumine their windows,
the effect was extraordinarily brilliant. They had no set illuminations;
but almost all the windows had double sashes, and between these sashes
were placed lamps, candles, etc., ingeniously arranged, the effect of
which was charming. The Austrians appeared as gay as our soldiers; they
had not feted their own Emperor with so much ardor, and, though deep down
in their hearts they must have experienced a feeling of constraint at
such unaccustomed joy, appearances gave no sign of this.

On the evening of the fete, during the parade, a terrible explosion was
heard at Schoenbrunn, the noise of which seemed to come from the town;
and a few moments afterwards a gendarme appeared, his horse in a gallop.
"Oh, oh!" said Colonel Mechnem, "there must be a fire at Vienna, if a
gendarme is galloping." In fact, he brought tidings of a very deplorable
event. While an artillery company had been preparing, in the arsenal of
the town, numerous fireworks to celebrate his Majesty's fete, one of
them, in preparing a rocket, accidentally set the fuse on fire, and
becoming frightened threw it away from him. It fell on the powder which
the shop contained, and eighteen cannoneers were killed by the explosion,
and seven wounded.

During his Majesty's fete, as I entered his cabinet one morning, I found
with him M. Charles Sulmetter, commissary general of the police of
Vienna, whom I had seen often before. He had begun as head spy for the
Emperor; and this had proved such a profitable business that he had
amassed an income of forty thousand pounds. He had been born at
Strasburg; and in his early life had been chief of a band of smugglers,
to which vocation he was as wonderfully adapted by nature as to that
which he afterwards pursued. He admitted this in relating his
adventures, and maintained that smuggling and police service had many
points of similarity, since the great art of smuggling was to know how to
evade, while that of a spy was to know how to seek. He inspired such
terror in the Viennese that he was equal to a whole army-corps in keeping
them in subjection. His quick and penetrating glance, his air of
resolution and severity, the abruptness of his step and gestures, his
terrible voice, and his appearance of great strength, fully justified his
reputation; and his adventures furnish ample materials for a romance.
During the first campaigns of Germany, being charged with a message from
the French government to one of the most prominent persons in the
Austrian army, he passed among the enemy disguised as a German peddler,
furnished with regular passports, and provided with a complete stock of
diamonds and jewelry. He was betrayed, arrested, and searched; and the
letter concealed in the double bottom of a gold box was found, and very
foolishly read before him. He was tried and condemned to death, and
delivered to the soldiers by whom he was to be executed; but as night had
arrived by this time, they postponed his execution till morning. He
recognized among his guards a French deserter, talked with him, and
promised him a large sum of money: he had wine brought, drank with the
soldiers, intoxicated them, and disguised in one of their coats, escaped
with the Frenchman. Before re-entering the camp, however, he found means
to inform the person for whom the letter was intended, of its contents,
and of what had happened.

Countersigns difficult to remember were often given in the army in order
to attract the soldiers' attention more closely. One day the word was
Pericles, Persepolis; and a captain of the guard who had a better
knowledge of how to command a charge than of Greek history and geography,
not hearing it distinctly, gave as the countersign, 'perce l'eglise',
which mistake furnished much amusement. The old captain was not at all
angry, and said that after all he was not very far wrong.

The secretary of General Andreossy, Governor of Vienna, had an
unfortunate passion for gambling; and finding that he did not gain enough
to pay his debts, sold himself to the enemy. His correspondence was
seized; he admitted his treachery, and was condemned to death, and
in confronting death evinced astonishing self-possession. "Come nearer,"
said he to the soldiers who were to shoot, "so that you may see me
better, and I will have less to suffer."

In one of his excursions in the environs of Vienna, the Emperor met a
very young conscript who was rejoining his corps. He stopped him, asked
his name, his age, regiment, and country. "Monsieur," said the soldier,
who did not know him, "my name is Martin; I am seventeen years old, and
from the Upper Pyrenees."--"you are a Frenchman, then?"--"yes, Monsieur."
--"Ah, you are a miserable' Frenchman. Disarm this man, and hang him!"--
"Yes, you fool, I am French," repeated the conscript; "and Vive
l'Empereur!" His Majesty was much amused; the conscript was undeceived,
congratulated, and hastened to rejoin his comrades, with the promise of a
reward,--a promise which the Emperor was not slow to perform.

Two or three days before his departure from Schoenbrunn, the Emperor
again came near being assassinated. This time the attack was to have
been made by a woman.

The Countess at this time was well known, both on account of her
astonishing beauty and the scandal of her liaisons with Lord Paget, the
English ambassador.

It would be hard to find words which would truthfully describe the grace
and charms of this lady, whom the best society of Vienna admitted only
with the greatest repugnance, but who consoled herself for their scorn by
receiving at her own house the most brilliant part of the French army.

An army contractor conceived the idea of procuring this lady for the
Emperor, and, without informing his Majesty, made propositions to the
countess through one of his friends, a cavalry officer attached to the
military police of the town of Vienna.

The cavalry officer thought he was representing his Majesty, and in good
faith said to the countess that his Majesty was exceedingly anxious to
see her at Schoenbrunn. One morning, accordingly, he made propositions
for that evening, which, appearing somewhat abrupt to the countess, she
did not decide at once, but demanded a day for reflection, adding that
she must have good proof that the Emperor was really sincere in this
matter. The officer protested his sincerity, promised, moreover, to give
every proof she required, and made an appointment for that evening.
Having given the contractor an account of his negotiation, the latter
gave orders that a carriage, escorted by the cavalry officer, should be
ready for the countess on the evening indicated. At the appointed hour
the officer returned to the countess, expecting her to accompany him, but
she begged him to return next day, saying that she had not yet decided,
and needed the night for longer reflection. At the officer's
solicitations she decided, however, and appointed the next day, giving
her word of honor to be ready at the appointed hour.

The carriage was then sent away, and ordered for the next evening at the
same hour. This time the contractor's envoy found the countess well
disposed; she received him gayly, eagerly even, and told him that she had
given orders in regard to her affairs as if she were going on a journey;
then, regarding him fixedly, said, tutoying him, "You may return in an
hour and I will be ready; I will go to him, you may rely upon it.
Yesterday I had business to finish, but to-day I am free. If you are a
good Austrian, you will prove it to me; you know how much harm he has
done our country! This evening our country will be avenged! Come for
me; do not fail!"

The cavalry officer, frightened at such a confidence as this, was
unwilling to accept the responsibility, and repeated everything at the
chateau; in return for which the Emperor rewarded him generously, urged
him for his own sake not to see the countess again, and expressly forbade
his having anything more to do with the matter. All these dangers in no
wise-depressed the Emperor; and he had a habit of saying, "What have I to
fear? I cannot be assassinated; I can die only on the field of battle."
But even on the field of battle he took no care of himself, and at
Essling, for example, exposed himself like a chief of battalion who wants
to be a colonel; bullets slew those in front, behind, beside him, but he
did not budge. It was then that a terrified general cried, "Sire, if
your Majesty does not retire, it will be necessary for me to have you
carried off by my grenadiers." This anecdote proves took any precautions
in regard to himself. The signs of exasperation manifested by the
inhabitants of Vienna made him very watchful, however, for the safety of
his troops, and he expressly forbade their leaving their cantonments in
the evening. His Majesty was afraid for them.

The chateau of Schoenbrunn was the rendezvous of all the illustrious
savants of Germany; and no new work, no curious invention, appeared, but
the Emperor immediately gave orders to have the author presented to him.
It was thus that M. Maelzel, the famous inventor of metronomy, was
allowed the honor of exhibiting before his Majesty several of his own
inventions. The Emperor admired the artificial limbs intended to replace
more comfortably and satisfactorily than wooden ones those carried off by
balls, and gave him orders to have a wagon constructed to convey the
wounded from the field of battle. This wagon was to be of such a kind
that it could be folded up and easily carried behind men on horseback,
who accompanied the army, such as surgeons, aides, servants, etc. M.
Maelzel had also built an automaton known throughout Europe under the
name of the chess player, which he brought to Schoenbrunn to show to his
Majesty, and set it up in the apartments of the Prince de Neuchatel. The
Emperor visited the Prince; and I, in company with several other persons,
accompanied him, and found this automaton seated before a table on which
the chessmen were arranged. His Majesty took a chair, and seating himself
in front of the automaton, said, with a laugh, "Come, my comrade, we are
ready." The automaton bowed and made a sign with his hand to the
Emperor, as if to tell him to begin, upon which the game commenced. The
Emperor made two or three moves, and intentionally made a wrong one. The
automaton bowed, took the piece, and put it in its proper place. His
Majesty cheated a second time; the automaton bowed again, and took the
piece. "That is right," said the Emperor; and when he cheated a third
time, the automaton, passing his hand over the chess-board, spoiled the

The Emperor complimented the inventor highly. As we left the room,
accompanied by the Prince de Neuchatel we found in the antechamber two
young girls, who presented to the prince, in the name of their mother, a
basket of beautiful fruit. As the prince welcomed them with an air of
familiarity, the Emperor, curious to find out who they were, drew near
and questioned them; but they did not understand French: Some one then
told his Majesty that these two pretty girls were daughters of a good
woman, whose life Marshal Berthier had saved in 1805. On this occasion
he was alone on horseback, the cold was terrible, and the ground covered
with snow, when he perceived, lying at the foot of a tree, a woman who
appeared to be dying, and had been seized with a stupor. The marshal
took her in his arms, and placed her on his horse with his cloak wrapped
around her, and thus conveyed her to her home, where her daughters were
mourning her absence. He left without making himself known; but they
recognized him at the capture of Vienna, and every week the two sisters
came to see their benefactor, bringing him flowers or fruit as a token of
their gratitude.


Fear of being suspected of cowardice was beneath them
Like all great amateurs was hard to please
Self-appointed connoisseurs

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