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The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, v12 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.]







After the brilliant successes obtained by the Emperor in such a short
time, and with forces so exceedingly inferior to the great masses of the
enemy, his Majesty, realizing the necessity of allowing his troops to
take a rest of some days at Troyes, entered into negotiations for an
armistice with the Prince von Schwarzenberg.

At this juncture it was announced to the Emperor that General Blucher,
who had been wounded at Mery, was descending along both banks of the
Maine, at the head of an army of fresh troops, estimated at not less than
one hundred thousand men, and that he was marching on Meaux. The Prince
von Schwarzenberg, having been informed of this movement of Blucher's,
immediately cut short the negotiations, and assumed the offensive at Bar-
sur-Seine. The Emperor, whose genius followed by a single glance all the
marches and, operations of the enemy, though he could not be everywhere
at once, resolved to confront Blucher in person, while by means of a
stratagem he made it appear that he was present opposite Schwarzenberg;
and two army corps, commanded, one by Marshal Oudinot, the other by
Marshal Macdonald, were then sent to meet the Austrians. As soon as the
troops approached the enemy's camp they made the air resound with the
shouts of confidence and cheers with which they usually announced the
presence of his Majesty, though at this very moment he was repairing in
all haste to meet General Blucher.

We halted at the little village of Herbisse, where we passed the night in
the manse; and the curate, seeing the Emperor arrive with his marshals,
aides-de-camp, ordnance officers, service of honor, and the other
services, almost lost his wits. His Majesty on alighting said to him,
"Monsieur le Cure, we come to ask your hospitality for a night. Do not
be frightened by this visit; we shall disturb you as little as possible."
The Emperor, conducted by the good curate, beside himself with eagerness
and embarrassment, established himself in the only apartment the house
contained, which served at the same time as kitchen, diningroom, bedroom,
cabinet, and reception-room. In an instant his Majesty had his maps and
papers spread out before him, and prepared himself for work with as much
ease as in his cabinet at the Tuileries. But the persons of his suite
needed somewhat more time to install themselves, for it was no easy thing
for so many persons to find a place in a bakehouse which, with the room
occupied by his Majesty, composed the entire manse of Herbisse; but these
gentlemen, although there were among them more than one dignitary and
prince of the Empire, were uncomplaining, and readily disposed to
accommodate themselves to circumstances. The gay good humor of these
gallant soldiers, in spite of all the combats they had to sustain each
day, while events every instant took a more alarming turn, was most
noteworthy, and depicts well the French character.

The youngest officers formed a circle around the curate's niece, who sang
to them the songs of the country. The good curate, in the midst of
continual comings and goings, and the efforts he made to play worthily
his role of master of the mansion, found himself attacked on his own
territory, that is to say, on his breviary, by Marshal Lefebvre, who had
studied in his youth to be a priest, and said that he had preserved
nothing from his first vocation except the shaven head, because it was so
easy to comb. The worthy marshal intermingled his Latin quotations with
those military expressions he so freely used, causing those present to
indulge in bursts of laughter, in which even the curate himself joined,
and said, "Monseigneur, if you had continued your studies for the
priesthood you would have become a cardinal at least."--"Very likely,"
observed one of the officers; "and if the Abbe Maury had been a sergeant-
major in '89, he might to-day be marshal of France."--"Or dead," added
the Duke of Dantzic, using a much more energetic expression; "and so much
the better for him, since in that case he would not see the Cossacks
twenty leagues from Paris."--"Oh, bah! Monseigneur, we will drive them
away," said the same officer. "Yes," the marshal muttered between his
clinched teeth; "we shall see what we shall see."

At this moment the mule arrived bearing the sutler's supplies, which had
been long and impatiently expected. There was no table; but one was made
of a door placed on casks, and seats were improvised with planks. The
chief officers seated themselves, and the others ate standing. The
curate took his place at this military table on which he had himself
placed his best bottles of wine, and with his native bonhomie continued
to entertain the guests. At length the conversation turned on Herbisse
and its surroundings, and the host was overcome with astonishment on
finding that his guests knew the country so thoroughly.

"Ah, I have it!" exclaimed he, considering them attentively one after the
other; "you are Champenois!" And in order to complete his surprise these
gentlemen drew from their pockets plans on which they made him read the
names of the very smallest localities. Then his astonishment only
changed its object, for he had never dreamed that military science
required such exact study. "What labor!" replied the good curate, "what
pains! and all this in order the better to shoot cannon-balls at each
other! "The supper over, the next thought was the arrangements for
sleeping; and for this purpose we found in the neighboring barns a
shelter and some straw. There remained outside, and near the door of the
room occupied by the Emperor, only the officers on duty, Roustan and
myself, each of whom had a bundle of straw for his bed. Our worthy host,
having given up his bed to his Majesty, remained with us, and rested like
us from the fatigues of the day, and was still sleeping soundly when the
staff left the manse; for the Emperor arose, and set off at break of day.
The curate when he awoke expressed the deepest chagrin that he had not
been able to make his adieux to his Majesty. A purse was handed him
containing the sum the Emperor was accustomed to leave private
individuals of limited means at whose residences he halted as indemnity
for their expense and trouble; and we resumed our march in the steps of
the Emperor, who hastened to meet the Prussians.

The Emperor wished to reach Soissons before the allies; but although they
had been obliged to traverse roads which were practically impassable,
they had arrived before our troops, and as he entered La Ferte his
Majesty saw them retiring to Soissons. The Emperor was rejoiced at this
sight. Soissons was defended by a formidable garrison, and could delay
the enemy, while Marshals Marmont and Mortier and his Majesty in person
attacked Blucher in the rear and on both flanks, and would have inclosed
him as in a net. But this time again the enemy escaped from the snare
the Emperor had laid for him at the very moment he thought he had seized
him, for Blucher had hardly presented himself in front of Soissons before
the gates were opened. General Moreau, commandant of the place, had
already surrendered the town to Billow, and thus assured to the allies
the passage of the Aisne. On receiving this depressing news the Emperor
exclaimed, "The name of Moreau has always been fatal to me!"

Meanwhile his Majesty, continuing his pursuit of the Prussians, was
occupied in delaying the passage of the Aisne. On the 5th of March he
sent General Nansouty in advance, who with his cavalry took the bridge,
drove the enemy back as far as Corbeny, and made a Russian colonel
prisoner. After passing the night at Bery-au-Bac, the Emperor was
marching towards Laon when it was announced to him that the enemy was
coming to meet us; these were not Prussians, but an army corps of
Russians commanded by Sacken. On advancing farther, we found the
Russians established on the heights of Craonne, and covering the road to
Laon in what appeared to be an impregnable position; but nevertheless the
advance guard of our army, commanded by Marshal Ney, rushed forward and
succeeded in taking Craonne. That was enough glory for this time, and
both sides then passed the night preparing for the battle of next day.
The Emperor spent it at the village of Corbeny, but without sleeping,
as inhabitants of the neighboring villages arrived at all hours to give
information as to the position of the enemy and the geography of the
country. His Majesty questioned them himself, praised them or
recompensed their zeal, and profited by their information and services.
Thus, having recognized in the mayor of one of the communes in the
suburbs of Craonne one of his former comrades in the regiment of La Fere,
he placed him in the number of his aides-de-camp, and arranged that he
should serve as guide through this country, which no one knew better than
he. M. de Bussy (that was the officer's name) had left France during the
reign of terror, and on his return had not re-entered the army, but lived
in retirement on his estates.

The Emperor met again this same night one of his old companions in arms
in the regiment of La Fere, an Alsatian named Wolff, who had been a
sergeant of artillery in the regiment in which the Emperor and M. de
Bussy had been his superior officers. He came from Strasburg, and
testified to the good disposition of the inhabitants through the whole
extent of the country he had traversed. The dismay caused in the allied
armies by the first attacks of the Emperor made itself felt even to the
frontiers; and on each road the peasants rose, armed themselves, and cut
off the retreat, and killed many, of the enemy. Corps of the Emperor's
adherents were formed in the Vosges, with officers of well-proved bravery
at their head, who were accustomed to this species of warfare. The
garrisons of the cities and fortified places of the east were full of
courage and resolution; and it would have well suited the wishes of the
population of this part of the Empire had France become, according to the
wish expressed by the Emperor, the tomb of the foreign armies. The brave
Wolff, after having given this information to the Emperor, repeated it
before many other persons, myself among the number. He took only a few
hours' repose, and set out again immediately; but the Emperor did not
dismiss him until he had been decorated with the cross of honor, as the
reward of his devotion.

The battle of Craonne commenced, or I should say recommenced, on the 7th
at break of day, the infantry commanded by the Prince of Moskwa--
[Marshall Ney] and the Duke of Belluno, who was wounded on this day.
Generals Grouchy and Nansouty, the first commanding the cavalry of the
army, the second at the head of the cavalry of the guard, also received
severe wounds. The difficulty was not so much to take the heights, as to
hold them when taken. Meanwhile the French artillery, directed by the
modest and skillful General Drouot, forced the enemy's artillery to yield
their ground foot by foot. This was a terribly bloody struggle; for the
sides of the heights were too steep to allow of attacking the Russians on
the flank, and the retreat was consequently slow and murderous. They
fell back at length, however, and abandoned the field of battle to our
troops, who pursued them as far as the inn of the Guardian Angel,
situated on the highroad from Soissons to Laon, when they wheeled about,
and held their position in this spot for several hours.

The Emperor, who in this battle as in every other of this campaign, had
exposed his person and incurred as many dangers as the most daring
soldiers, now transferred his headquarters to the village of Bray. As
soon as he entered the room which served as his cabinet, he had me
summoned, and I pulled off his boots, while he leaned on my shoulder
without uttering a word, threw his hat and sword on the table, and threw
himself on his bed, uttering a deep sigh, or rather one of those
exclamations which we cannot tell whether they arise from discouragement
or simply from fatigue. His Majesty's countenance was sad and careworn,
nevertheless he slept from sheer weariness for many hours. I awoke him
to announce the arrival of M. de Rumigny, who was the bearer of
dispatches from Chatillon. In the condition of the Emperor's mind at
this moment he seemed ready to accept any reasonable conditions which
might be offered him; therefore I admit I hoped (in which many joined me)
that we were approaching the moment when we should obtain the peace which
we so ardently desired. The Emperor received M. de Rumigny without
witnesses, and the interview lasted a long while. Nothing transpired of
what had been said, and it occurred to me that this mystery argued
nothing good. The next day early M. de Rumigny returned to Chatillon,
where the Duke of Vicenza awaited him; and from the few words his Majesty
uttered as he mounted his horse to return to his advance posts, it was
easy to see that he had not yet resigned himself to the idea of making a
peace which he regarded as dishonorable.

While the Duke of Vicenza was at Chatillon or Lusigny for the purpose of
treating for a peace, the orders of the Emperor delayed or hastened the
conclusion of the treaty according to his successes or repulses. On the
appearance of a ray of hope he demanded more than they were willing to
grant, imitating in this respect the example which the allied sovereigns
had set him, whose requirements since the armistice of Dresden increased
in proportion as they advanced towards France. At last everything was
finally broken off, and the Duke of Vicenza rejoined his Majesty at
Saint-Dizier. I was in a small room so near his sleeping-room that I
could not avoid hearing their conversation. The Duke of Vicenza
earnestly besought the Emperor to accede to the proposed conditions,
saying that they were reasonable now, but later would no longer be so.
As the Duke of Vicenza still returned to the charge, arguing against the
Emperor's postponing his positive decision, his Majesty burst out
vehemently, "You are a Russian, Caulaincourt!"--"No, Sire," replied the
duke with spirit, "no; I am a Frenchman! I think that I have proved this
by urging your Majesty to make peace."

The discussion thus continued with much warmth in terms which
unfortunately I cannot recall. But I remember well that every time the
Duke of Vicenza insisted and endeavored to make his Majesty appreciate
the reasons on account of which peace had become indispensable, the
Emperor replied, "If I gain a battle, as I am sure of doing, I will be in
a situation to exact the most favorable conditions. The grave of the
Russians is under the walls of Paris! My measures are all taken, and
victory cannot fail."

After this conversation, which lasted more than an hour, and in which the
Duke of Vicenza was entirely unsuccessful, he left his Majesty's room,
and rapidly crossed the saloon where I was; and I remarked as he passed
that his countenance showed marks of agitation, and that, overcome by his
deep emotion, great tears rolled from his eyes. Doubtless he was deeply
wounded by what the Emperor had said to him of his partiality for Russia;
and whatever may have been the cause, from that day I never saw the Duke
of Vicenza except at Fontainebleau.

The Emperor, meanwhile, marched with the advance guard, and wished to
reach Laon on the evening of the 8th; but in order to gain this town it
was necessary to pass on a narrow causeway through marshy land. The
enemy was in possession of this road, and opposed our passage. After a
few cannon-shots were exchanged his Majesty deferred till next day the
attempt to force a passage, and returned, not to sleep (for at this
critical time he rarely slept), but to pass the night in the village of

In the middle of this night General Flahaut

[Count Auguste Charles Joseph Flahaut de la Billarderie, born in
Paris, 1785; colonel in 1809; aide-de-camp to the Emperor, 1812; and
made a general of division for conduct at Leipzig; was at Waterloo.
Ambassador to Vienna, 1841-1848, and senator, 1853; died 1870. He
was one of the lovers of Queen Hortense, and father by her of the
late Duc de Morny.--TRANS.]

came to announce to the Emperor that the commissioners of the allied
powers had broken the conferences at Lusigny. The army was not informed
of this, although the news would probably have surprised no one. Before
daylight General Gourgaud set out at the head of a detachment selected
from the bravest soldiers of the army, and following a cross road which
turned to the left through the marshes, fell unexpectedly on the enemy,
slew many of them in the darkness, and drew the attention and efforts of
the allied generals upon himself, while Marshal Ney, still at the head of
the advance guard, profited by this bold maneuver to force a passage of
the causeway. The whole army hastened to follow this movement, and on
the evening of the 9th was in sight of Laon, and ranged in line of battle
before the enemy who occupied the town and its heights. The army corps
of the Duke of Ragusa had arrived by another road, and also formed in
line of battle before the Russian and Prussian armies. His Majesty
passed the night expediting his orders, and preparing everything for the
grand attack which was to take place next morning at daylight.

The appointed hour having arrived, I had just finished in haste the
toilet of the Emperor, which was very short, and he had already put his
foot in the stirrup, when we saw running towards us on foot, with the
utmost speed and all out of breath, some cavalrymen belonging to the army
corps of the Duke of Ragusa. His Majesty had them brought before him,
and inquired angrily the meaning of this disorder. They replied that
their bivouacs had been attacked unexpectedly by the enemy; that they and
their comrades had resisted to the utmost these overwhelming forces,
although they had barely time to seize their arms; that they had at last
been compelled to yield to numbers, and it was only by a miracle they had
escaped the massacre. "Yes," said the Emperor knitting his brow, "by a
miracle of agility, as we have just seen. What has become of the
marshal?" One of the soldiers replied that he saw the Duke of Ragusa
fall dead, another that he had been taken prisoner. His Majesty sent his
aide-de-camp and orderly officers to ascertain, and found that the report
of the cavalrymen was only too true. The enemy had not waited to be
attacked, but had fallen on the army corps of the Duke of Ragusa,
surrounded it, and taken a part of his artillery. The marshal, however,
had been neither wounded nor taken prisoner, but was on the road to
Rheims, endeavoring to arrest and bring back the remains of his army

The news of this disaster greatly increased his Majesty's chagrin; but
nevertheless the enemy was driven back to the gates of Laon, though the
recapture of the city was impossible. After a few fruitless attempts, or
rather after some false attacks, the object of which was to conceal his
retreat from the enemy, the Emperor returned to Chavignon and passed the
night. The next day, the 11th, we left this village, and the army fell
back to Soissons. His Majesty alighted at the bishopric, and immediately
commanded Marshal Mortier, together with the principal officials of the
place, to take measures to put the town in a state of defense. For two
days the Emperor shut himself up at work in his cabinet, and left it only
to examine the locality, visit the fortifications, and everywhere give
orders and see that they were executed. In the midst of these
preparations for defense, his Majesty learned that the town of Rheims had
been taken by the Russian general, Saint-Priest, notwithstanding the
vigorous resistance of General Corbineau, of whose fate we were
ignorant, but it was believed that he was dead or had fallen into the
hands of the Russians. His Majesty confided the defense of Soissons to
the Marshal Duke of Treviso, and himself set out for Rheims by forced
marches; and we arrived the same evening at the gates of the city, where
the Russians were not expecting his Majesty. Our soldiers entered this
battle without having taken any repose, but fought with the resolution
which the presence and example of the Emperor never failed to inspire.
The combat lasted the whole evening, and was prolonged far into the
night; but after General Saint-Priest had been grievously wounded the
resistance of his troops became less vigorous, and at two o'clock in the
morning they abandoned the town. The Emperor and his army entered by one
gate while the Russians were emerging from the other; and as the
inhabitants pressed in crowds around his Majesty, he inquired before
alighting from his horse what havoc the enemy was supposed to have made.
It was answered that the town had suffered only the amount of injury
which was the inevitable result of a bloody nocturnal struggle, and that
moreover the enemy had maintained severe discipline among the troops
during their stay and up to the moment of retreat. Among those who
pressed around his Majesty at this moment was the brave General
Corbineau. He wore a citizen's coat, and had remained disguised and
concealed in a private house of the town. On the morning of the next day
he again presented himself before the Emperor, who welcomed him
cordially, and complimented him on the courage he had displayed under
such trying circumstances. The Duke of Ragusa had rejoined his Majesty
under the walls of Rheims, and had contributed with his army corps to the
capture of the town. When he appeared before the Emperor, the latter
burst out in harsh and severe reproaches regarding the affair at Laon;
but his anger was not of long duration, and his Majesty soon resumed
towards the marshal the tone of friendship with which he habitually
honored him. They held a long conference, and the Duke of Ragusa
remained to dine with the Emperor.

His Majesty spent three days at Rheims in order to give his troops time
to rest and recuperate before continuing this arduous campaign. They
were in sore need of this; for even old soldiers would have had great
difficulty in enduring such continued forced marches, which often ended
only in a bloody battle; nevertheless, the greater part of the brave men
who obeyed with such unwearied ardor the Emperor's orders, and who never
refused to endure any fatigue or any danger, were conscripts who had been
levied in haste, and fought against the most warlike and best disciplined
troops in Europo. The greater part had not had even sufficient time to
learn the drill, and took their first lessons in the presence of the
enemy, brave young fellows who sacrificed themselves without a murmur,
and to whom the Emperor once only did injustice,--in the circumstance
which I have formerly related, and in which M. Larrey played such a
heroic part. It is a well-known fact that the wonderful campaign of 1814
was made almost entirely with conscripts newly levied.

During the halt of three days which we made at Rheims, the Emperor saw
with intense joy, which he openly manifested, the arrival of an army
corps of six thousand men, whom the brave Dutch General Janssens brought
to his aid. This re-enforcement of experienced troops could not have
come more opportunely. While our soldiers were taking breath before
recommencing a desperate struggle, his Majesty was giving himself up to
the most varied labors with his accustomed ardor. In the midst of the
cares and dangers of war the Emperor neglected none of the affairs of the
Empire, but worked for several hours each day with the Duke of Bassano,
received couriers from Paris, dictated his replies, and fatigued his
secretaries almost as much as his generals and soldiers. As for himself,
he was indefatiable as of yore.


Affairs had reached a point where the great question of triumph or defeat
could not long remain undecided. According to one of the habitual
expressions of the Emperor, the pear was ripe; but who was to gather it?
The Emperor while at Rheims appeared to have no doubt that the result
would be in his favor. By one of those bold combinations which astonish
the world, and change in a single battle the face of affairs, although
the enemy had approached the capital, his Majesty being unable to prevent
it, he nevertheless resolved to attack them in the rear, compel them to
wheel about, and place themselves in opposition to the army which he
commanded in person, and thus save Paris from their invasion. With the
intention of executing this bold combination the Emperor left Rheims.
Meanwhile, being anxious concerning his wife and son, the Emperor, before
attempting this great enterprise, wrote in the greatest secrecy to his
brother, Prince Joseph, lieutenantgeneral of the Empire, to have them
conveyed to a place of safety in case the danger became imminent. I knew
nothing of this order the day it was sent, as the Emperor kept it a
secret from every one; but when I learned afterwards that it was from
Rheims that this command had been addressed to Prince Joseph, I thought
that I could without fear of being mistaken fix the date at March 15th.
That evening, in fact, his Majesty had talked to me as he retired of the
Empress and the King of Rome; and as usual, whenever he had during the
day been deeply impressed with any idea, it always recurred to him in the
evening; and for that reason I conclude that this was the day on which
his mind had been occupied with putting in a place of shelter from the
dangers of the war the two objects of his most devoted affection.

From Rheims we directed our course to Epernay, the garrison and
inhabitants of which had just repulsed the enemy, who the evening before
had attempted to capture it. There the Emperor learned of the arrival at
Troyes of the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia. His Majesty, in
order to testify to the inhabitants of Epernay his satisfaction with
their admirable conduct, rewarded them in the person of their mayor by
giving him the cross of the Legion of Honor. This was M. Moet, whose
reputation has become almost as European as that of Champagne wine.

During this campaign, without being too lavish of the cross of honor, his
Majesty presented it on several occasions to those of the inhabitants who
were foremost in resisting the enemy. Thus, for example, I remember that
before leaving Rheims he gave one to a simple farmer of the village of
Selles whose name I have forgotten. This brave man, on learning that a
detachment of Prussians was approaching his commune, put himself at the
head of the National Guard, whom he encouraged both by word and example;
and the result of his enterprise was forty-five prisoners, among them
three officers, whom he brought into the town.

How many deeds similar to this occurred which it is impossible to
remember! However all that may be, the Emperor on leaving Epernay
marched towards Fere-Champenoise, I will not say in all haste, for that
is a term which might be used concerning all his Majesty's movements, who
sprang with the rapidity of an eagle on the point where his presence
seemed most necessary. Nevertheless, the enemy's army, which had crossed
the Seine at Pont and Nogent, having learned of the re-occupation of
Rheims by the Emperor, and understanding the movement he wished to make
on their rear, began their retreat on the 17th, and retook successively
the bridges which he had constructed at Pont, Nogent, and Arcis-sur-Aube.
On the 18th occurred the battle of Fere-Champenoise, which his Majesty
fought to clear the road intervening between him and Arcis-sur-Aube,
where were the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia, who, on
learning of this new success of the Emperor, quickly fell back to Troyes.
The pronounced intention of his Majesty was then to go as far as Bar-sur-
Aube. We had already passed the Aube at Plancy, and the Seine at Mery,
but it was necessary to return to Plancy. This was on the 19th, the same
day on which the Count d'Artois arrived at Nancy, and on which the
rupture of the Congress of Chatillon occurred, which I mentioned in the
preceding chapter, following the order in which my souvenirs recurred to
my mind.

The 20th March was, as I have said, an eventful date in the Emperor's
life, and was to become still more so one year later. The 20th March,
1814, the King of Rome completed his third year, while the Emperor was
exposing himself, if it were possible, even more than was his usual
custom. At the battle of Arcis-sur-Aube, which took place on that day,
his Majesty saw that at last he would have new enemies to encounter. The
Austrians themselves entered the line of battle; and an immense army,
under the command of the Prince von Schwarzenberg, spread itself out
before him, when he supposed he had only an advance guard to resist. The
coincidence may not perhaps appear unimportant that the Austrian army did
not begin to fight seriously or attack the Emperor in person until the
day after the rupture of the Congress of Chatillon. Was this the result
of chance, or did the Emperor of Austria indeed prefer to remain in the
second line, and spare the person of his son-in-law, so long as peace
appeared possible to him? This is a question which it is not my province
to answer.

The battle of Arcis-sur-Aube was terrible, and ended only with the close
of day. The Emperor still occupied the city in spite of the combined
efforts of an army of one hundred and thirty thousand fresh troops, who
attacked thirty thousand worn out by fatigue. The battle still continued
during the night, while the fire of the faubourgs lighted our defenses
and the works of the besieging-party. It was at last found impossible to
hold our position longer, and only one bridge remained by which the army
could effect its retreat. The Emperor had another constructed; and the
retreat commenced, but in good order, in spite of the numerous masses
which closely threatened us. This unfortunate affair was the most
disastrous his Majesty had experienced during the whole campaign, since
the roads leading to the capital had been left uncovered; and the
prodigies of his genius and valor were unavailing against such
overwhelming numbers. An instance which furnishes an excellent proof of
the presence of mind which the Emperor preserved in the most critical
positions was, that before evacuating Arcis he committed to the Sisters
of Charity a sum sufficient for the first needs of the wounded.

On the evening of the 21st we arrived at Sommepuis, where the Emperor
passed the night. There I heard him for the first time pronounce the
name of the Bourbons. His Majesty was extremely agitated, and spoke in
such broken tones that I understood only these words, which he repeated
many times: "Recall them myself--recall the Bourbons! What would the
enemy say? No, no? it is impossible! Never!" These words which
escaped the Emperor in one of those attacks of preoccupation to which he
was subject whenever his soul was deeply moved astonished me
inexpressibly; for the idea had never once entered my mind that there
could be any other government in France than that of his Majesty.
Besides, it may be easily understood that in the position I then occupied
I had scarcely heard the Bourbons mentioned, except to the Empress
Josephine in the early days of the Consulate, while I was still in her

The various divisions of the French army and the masses of the enemy were
then so closely pressed against each other, that the enemy occupied each
point the moment we were compelled to abandon it; thus, on the 22d the
allies seized Epernay, and, in order to punish this faithful town for the
heroic defense it had previously made, orders were given that it should
be pillaged. Pillage? The Emperor called it the crime of war; and I
heard him often express in most vehement terms the horror with which it
inspired him, which was so extreme that at no time did he authorize it
during his long series of triumphs. Pillage! And yet every proclamation
of our devastators declared boldly that they made war only on the
Emperor; they had the audacity to repeat this statement, and some were
foolish enough to believe them. On this point I saw too plainly what
actually occurred to have ever believed in the ideal magnanimity which
has since been so much vaunted.

On the 23d we were at Saint-Dizier, where the Emperor returned to his
first plan of attacking the enemy's rear. The next day, just as his
Majesty mounted his horse to go to Doulevent, a general officer of the
Austrians was brought to him, whose arrival caused a great sensation at
headquarters, as it delayed the Emperor's departure for a few moments.
I soon learned that it was Baron de Weissemberg, ambassador from Austria
to London, who was returning from England. The Emperor ordered that he
should follow him to Doulevent, where his Majesty gave him a verbal
message to the Emperor of Austria, while Colonel Galbois was charged with
a letter which the Emperor had the Duke of Vicenza write. But after a
movement by the French army towards Chaumont, by the road of Langres, the
Emperor of Austria, finding himself separated from the Emperor Alexander,
was forced to fall back as far as Dijon. I remember that on his arrival
at Doulevent his Majesty received secret information from his faithful
director-general of the post, M. de Lavalette. This information, the
purport of which I did not know, appeared to produce the deepest
impression on the Emperor; but he soon resumed before the eyes of those
around his accustomed serenity, though for some time past I had seen that
this was only assumed. I have learned since that M. de Lavalette
informed the Emperor that there was not a moment to lose if he would save
the capital. Such an opinion from such a man could only be an expression
of the real truth, and it was this conviction which contributed to
increase the Emperor's anxiety. Until then the news from Paris had been
favorable; and much had been said of the zeal and devotion of the
National Guard, which nothing could dismay. At the various theaters
patriotic pieces had been played, and notably the 'Oriflamme' at the
Opera, a very trivial circumstance apparently, but which nevertheless
acted very powerfully on the minds of enthusiasts, and for this reason
was not to be disdained. Indeed, the small amount of news that we had
received represented Paris as entirely devoted to his Majesty, and ready
to defend itself against any attacks. And in fact, this news was not
untrue; and the handsome conduct of the National Guard under the orders,
of Marshal Moncey, the enthusiasm of the different schools, and the
bravery of the pupils of the polytechnic schools, soon furnished proof of
this. But events were stronger than men. Meanwhile, time passed on, and
we were approaching the fatal conclusion; each day, each moment, saw
those immense masses collecting from the extremities of Europe, inclosing
Paris, and pressing it with a thousand arms, and during these last days
it might well be said that the battle raged incessantly. On the 26th the
Emperor, led by the noise of a fierce cannonade, again repaired to Saint-
Dizier, where his rear-guard was attacked by very superior forces, and
compelled to evacuate the town; but General Milhaud and General
Sebastiani repulsed the enemy on the Marne at the ford of Valcourt; the
presence of the Emperor produced its accustomed effect, and we re-entered
Saint-Dizier, while the enemy fled in the greatest disorder over the road
to Vitry-le-Francais and that of Bar-sur-Ornain. The Emperor moved
towards the latter town, thinking that he now had the Prince of
Schwarzenberg in his power; but just as he arrived there learned that it
was not the Austrian general-in-chief whom he had fought, but only one of
his lieutenants, Count Witzingerode. Schwarzenberg had deceived him; on
the 23d he had made a junction with General Blucher, and these two
generals at the head of the coalition had rushed with their masses of
soldiers upon the capital.

However disastrous might be the news brought to headquarters, the Emperor
wished to verify its truth in person, and on his return from Saint-Dizier
made a detour to Vitry, in order to assure himself of the march of the
allies on Paris; and all his doubts were dissipated by what he saw.
Could Paris hold out long enough for him to crush the enemy against its
walls? Thereafter this was his sole and engrossing thought. He
immediately placed himself at the head of his army, and we marched on
Paris by the road to Troyes. At Doulencourt he received a courier from
King Joseph, who announced to him the march of the allies on Paris. That
very moment he sent General Dejean in haste to his brother to inform him
of his speedy arrival. If he could defend himself for two days, only two
days, the allied armies would enter Paris, only to find there a tomb.
In what a state of anxiety the Emperor then was! He set out with his
headquarters squadrons. I accompanied him, and left him for the first
time at Troyes, on the morning of the 30th, as will be seen in the
following chapter.


What a time was this! How sad the period and events of which I have now
to recall the sad memory! I have now arrived at the fatal day when the
combined armies of Europe were to sully the soil of Paris, of that
capital, free for so many years from the presence of the invader. What a
blow to the Emperor! And what cruel expiation his great soul now made
for his triumphant entries into Vienna and Berlin! It was, then, all in
vain that he had displayed such incredible activity during the admirable
campaign of France, in which his genius had displayed itself as
brilliantly as during his Italian campaign. The first time I saw him on
the day after a battle was at Marengo; and what a contrast his attitude
of dejection presented when I saw him again on the 31st of March at

Having accompanied His Majesty everywhere, I was near him at Troyes on
the morning of the 30th of March.

The Emperor set out at ten o'clock, accompanied only by the grand marshal
and the Duke of Vicenza. It was then known at headquarters that the
allied troops were advancing on Paris; but we were far from suspecting
that at the very moment of the Emperor's hurried departure the battle
before Paris was being most bitterly waged. At least I had heard nothing
to lead me to believe it. I received an order to move to Essonne, and,
as means of transportation had become scarce and hard to obtain, did not
arrive there until the morning of the 31st, and had been there only a
short time when the courier brought me an order to repair to
Fontainebleau, which I immediately did. It was then I learned that the
Emperor had gone from Troyes to Montereau in two hours, having made the
journey of ten leagues in that short space of time. I also learned that
the Emperor and his small suite had been obliged to make use of a chaise
on the road to Paris, between Essonne and Villejuif. He advanced as far
as the Cour de France with the intention of marching on Paris; but there,
verifying the news and the cruel certainty of the surrender of Paris, had
sent to me the courier whom I mentioned above.

I had been at Fontainebleau only a short while when the Emperor arrived.
His countenance was pale and harassed to a greater degree than I had ever
seen it; and he who knew so well how to control all the emotions of his
soul did not seem to attempt to conceal the dejection which was so
manifest both in his attitude and in his countenance. It was evident how
greatly he was suffering from all the disastrous events which had
accumulated one after the other in terrible progression. The Emperor
said nothing to any one, and closeted himself immediately in his cabinet,
with the Dukes of Bassano and Vicenza and the Prince of Neuchatel. These
generals remained a long while with the Emperor, who afterwards received
some general officers. His Majesty retired very late, and appeared to me
entirely crushed. From time to time I heard stifled sighs escape from
his breast, with which were mingled the name of Marmont, which I could
not then understand, as I had heard nothing of the terms of the
surrender, and knew that the Duke of Ragusa was a marshal to whom the
Emperor seemed always deeply attached. I saw that evening, at
Fontainebleau, Marshal Moncey, who the evening before had bravely
commanded the national guard at the barricade of Clichy, and also the
Duke of Dantzic.

A gloomy and silent sadness which is perfectly indescribable reigned at
Fontainebleau during the two days which followed. Overcome by so many
repeated blows, the Emperor seldom entered his cabinet, where he usually
passed so many hours engaged in work. He was so absorbed in his
conflicting thoughts, that often he did not notice the arrival of persons
whom he had summoned, looked at them, so to speak, without seeing them,
and sometimes remained nearly half an hour without addressing them; then,
as if awaking from this state of stupefaction, asked them questions
without seeming to hear the reply; and even the presence of the Duke of
Bassano and the Duke of Vicenza, whom he summoned more frequently, did
not interrupt this condition of preoccupation or lethargy, so to speak.
The hours for meals were the same, and they were served as usual; but all
took place amid complete silence, broken only by the necessary noise of
the service. At the Emperor's toilet the same silence; not a word issued
from his lips; and if in the morning I suggested to him one of the drinks
that he usually took, he not only did not reply, but nothing in his
countenance which I attentively observed could make me believe that he
had heard me. This situation was terrible for all the persons attached
to his Majesty.

Was the Emperor really so overwhelmed by his evil fortune? Was his
genius as benumbed as his body? I must admit, in all candor, that seeing
him so different from what he appeared after the disasters of Moscow, and
even when I had left him at Troyes a few days before, I strongly believed
it. But this was by no means the case; his soul was a prey to one fixed
idea that of taking the offensive and marching on Paris. And though,
indeed, he remained overwhelmed with consternation in his intimate
intercourse with his most faithful ministers and most skillful generals,
he revived at sight of his soldiers, thinking, doubtless, that the one
would suggest only prudent counsels while the others would never reply
aught but in shouts of "Vive l'Empereur!" to the most daring orders he
might give. For instance, on the 2d of April he momentarily, so to
speak, shook off his dejection, and in the court of the palace held a
review of his guard, who had just rejoined him at Fontainebleau. He
addressed his soldiers in a firm voice, saying:

"Soldiers! the enemy has stolen three marches on us, and has taken
possession of Paris; we must drive them out. Unworthy Frenchmen,
emigres to whom we have extended pardon, have donned the white
cockade, and gone over to our enemies. The cowards! They will reap
the reward of this new treason. Let us swear to conquer or to die,
and to have respect shown to this tricolored cockade, which for
twenty-five years we have borne on the road to glory and honor."

The troops were roused to enthusiasm at the sound of their chief's voice,
and shouted in unison, "Paris! Paris!" But the Emperor, nevertheless,
resumed his former dejection on crossing the threshold of the palace,
which arose no doubt from the fear, only too well founded, of seeing his
desire to march on Paris thwarted by his lieutenants. It is only since,
that reflecting on the events of that time, I am enabled to conjecture as
to the struggles which passed in the soul of the Emperor; for then, as
during my entire period of service, I would not have dared to think of
going outside the limits of my ordinary duties and functions.

Meanwhile, the situation became more and more unfavorable to the wishes
and plans of the Emperor. The Duke of Vicenza had been sent to Paris,
where a provisional government had been formed under the presidency of
the Prince of Benevento, without having succeeded in his mission to the
Emperor Alexander; and each day his Majesty with deep grief witnessed the
adhesion of the marshals and a large number of generals to the new
government. He felt the Prince de Neuchatel's desertion deeply; and I
must say that, unaccustomed as we were to political combinations, we were
overcome with astonishment.

Here I find that I am compelled to speak of myself, which I have done as
little as possible in the course of these memoirs, and I think this is a
justice which all my readers will do me; but what I have to say is too
intimately connected with the last days I passed with the Emperor, and
concerns my personal honor too nearly, for me to suppose that I can be
reproached for so doing. I was, as may well be supposed, very anxious as
to the fate of my family, of whom I had received no news for a long
while; and, at the same time, the cruel disease from which I had long
suffered had made frightful progress, owing to the fatigue of the last
campaign. Nevertheless, the mental suffering to which I saw the Emperor
a victim so entirely absorbed all my thoughts, that I took no precautions
against the physical suffering which I endured; and I had not even
thought of asking for a safeguard for the country-house I possessed in
the environs of Fontainebleau. A free corps having seized it, had
established themselves there, after having pillaged and destroyed
everything, even the little flock of merino sheep which I owed to the
kindness of the Empress Josephine. The Emperor, having been informed of
it by others than myself, said to me one morning at his toilet,
"Constant, I owe you indemnity."--"Sire?"--"Yes, my child, I know that
your place has been pillaged, I know that you have incurred considerable
losses in the Russian campaign; I have given an order that fifty thousand
francs should be handed you to cover the whole." I thanked his Majesty,
who more than indemnified me for my losses.

This occurred during the first days of our last stay at Fontainebleau.
At the same period the Emperor's removal to the Island of Elba having
been already discussed, the grand marshal of the palace asked me if I
would follow his Majesty to this residence. God is my witness that I had
no other wish than to consecrate all my life to the service of the
Emperor; therefore I did not need a moment's reflection to reply that
this could not be a matter of doubt; and I occupied myself almost
immediately with preparations for the sojourn, which proved to be not a
long one, but the duration of which no human intelligence could then have
been able to foretell.

Meanwhile, in the retirement of his chamber, the Emperor became each day
more sad and careworn; and when I saw him alone, which often occurred,
for I tried to be near him as much as possible, I remarked the extreme
agitation which the reading of the dispatches he received from Paris
caused him; this agitation was many times so great that I noticed he had
torn his leg with his nails until the blood flowed, without being aware
of it. I then took the liberty of informing him of the fact as gently as
possible, with the hope of putting an end to this intense preoccupation,
which cut me to the heart. Several times also the Emperor asked Roustan
for his pistols; fortunately I had taken the precaution, seeing his
Majesty so unnerved, to recommend him not to give them to him, however
much the Emperor might insist. I thought it my duty to give an account
of all this to the Duke of Vicenza, who entirely approved of my conduct.
One morning, I do not recall whether it was the 10th or 11th of April,
but it was certainly on one of those days, the Emperor, who had said
nothing to me in the morning, had me called during the day. I had hardly
entered his room when he said to me, in a tone of most winning kindness,
"My dear Constant, there is a hundred thousand francs waiting for you at
Peyrache's; if your wife arrives before our departure, you will give them
to her; if she should not, put them in the corner of your country-place,
note the exact location of the spot, which you will send to her by some
safe person. When one has served me well he should not be in want. Your
wife will build a farm, in which she will invest this money; she will
live with your mother and sister, and you will not have the fear of
leaving her in need." Even more moved by the provident kindness of the
Emperor, who thus deigned to consider the interests of my family affairs,
than delighted with the great value of the present he had made me, I
could hardly find words to express to him my gratitude; and such was,
besides, my carelessness of the future, so far from me had been the
thought that this great Empire could come to an end, that this was the
first time I had really considered the embarrassed condition in which I
would have left my family, if the Emperor had not thus generously
provided for them. I had, in fact, no fortune, and possessed in all the
world only my pillaged house, and the fifty thousand francs destined to
repair it.

Under these circumstances, not knowing when I should see my wife again, I
made arrangements to follow the advice his Majesty had been kind enough
to give me; converted my hundred thousand francs into gold, which I put
into five bags; and taking with me the wardrobe boy Denis, whose honesty
was above suspicion, we followed the road through the forest to avoid
being seen by any of the persons who occupied my house. We cautiously
entered a little inclosure belonging to me, the gate of which could not
be seen on account of the trees, although they were now without foliage;
and with the aid of Denis I succeeded in burying my treasure, after
taking an exact note of the place, and then returned to the palace, being
certainly very far from foreseeing how much chagrin and tribulation those
hundred thousand francs would cause me, as we shall see in the succeeding


Here more than ever I must beg the indulgence of my readers as to the
order in which I relate the events I witnessed during the Emperor's stay
at Fontainebleau, and those connected with them which did not come to my
knowledge until later. I must also apologize for any inaccuracy in dates
of which I may be guilty, though I remember collectively, so to speak,
all that occurred during the unhappy twenty days which ensued between the
occupation of Paris and the departure of his Majesty for the Island of
Elba; for I was so completely absorbed in the unhappy condition of my
good master that all my faculties hardly sufficed for the sensations I
experienced every moment. We suffered in the Emperor's sufferings; it
occurred to none of us to imprint on his memory the recollection of so
much agony, for we lived, so to speak, only provisionally.

During the first days of our stay at Fontainebleau the idea that the
Emperor would soon cease to reign over France was very far from entering
the minds of any of those around him, for every one was possessed with
the conviction that the Emperor of Austria would not consent that his
son-in-law, daughter, and grandson should be dethroned; in this they were
strangely mistaken. I remarked during these first days that even more
petitions than usual were addressed to his Majesty; but I am ignorant
whether he responded favorably, or even if he replied at all. The
Emperor often took up the daily papers, but after casting his eyes over
them threw them down angrily; and if we recall the shameless abuse in
which those writers indulged who had so often lavished fulsome praises on
him, it may well be understood that such a transition would naturally
excite his Majesty's disgust. The Emperor usually remained alone; and
the person whom he saw most frequently was the Duke of Bassano, the only
one of his ministers then at Fontainebleau; for the Duke of Vicenza,
being charged continually with missions, was, so to speak, constantly on
the wing, especially as long as his Majesty retained the hope of seeing a
regency in favor of his son succeed him in the government. In seeking to
recall the varied feelings whose impress I remarked on his Majesty's
countenance, I think I may affirm that he was even more deeply affected
by being compelled to renounce the throne for his son than in resigning
it for himself. When the marshals or the Duke of Vicenza spoke to his
Majesty of arrangements relating to his person, it was easy to see that
he forced himself to listen to them only with the greatest repugnance.
One day when they spoke of the Island of Elba, and I do not know what sum
per year, I heard his Majesty reply vehemently: "That is too much, much
too much for me. If I am no longer anything more than a common soldier,
I do not need more than one louis per day."

Nevertheless, the time arrived when, pressed on every side, his Majesty
submitted to sign the act of abdication pure and simple, which was
demanded of him. This memorable act was conceived in these terms:

"The allied powers having proclaimed that the Emperor Napoleon is
the only obstacle to the re-establishment of peace in Europe, the
Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces
for himself and his heirs the thrones of France and Italy, and that
there is no personal sacrifice, even his life, which he is not
willing to make for the interests of France.

Done at the palace of Fontainebleau, 11th of April, 1814.


I do not need to say that I then had no knowledge of the act of
abdication above given; it was one of those state secrets which emanated
from the cabinet, and hardly entered into the confidence of the bedroom.
I only recall that there was some discussion of the matter, though very
vague, that same day in the household; and, besides, it was evident that
something extraordinary was taking place, and the whole day his Majesty
seemed more depressed than at any previous time; but, nevertheless, I was
far from anticipating the agony which followed this fatal day!

I beg the reader in advance to give earnest attention to the event which
I shall now relate. I now become a historian, since I inscribe the
painful remembrance of a striking act in the career of the Emperor; of an
event which has been the subject of innumerable controversies, though it
has been necessarily only a matter of surmise, since I alone knew all the
painful details. I refer to the poisoning of the Emperor at
Fontainebleau. I trust I do not need to protest my perfect truthfulness;
I feel too keenly the great importance of such a revelation to allow
myself to omit or add the least circumstance to the truth. I shall
therefore relate events just as they occurred, just as I saw them, and as
memory, has engraved the painful details indelibly on my mind.

On the 11th of April I undressed the Emperor as usual, I think rather
earlier than usual; for, if I remember aright, it was not quite half-past
ten. As he retired he appeared to me better than during the day, and in
nearly the same condition he had been on previous evenings. I slept in a
room on the next floor, situated behind the Emperor's room, with which it
communicated by a small, dark staircase. For some time past I had slept
in my clothes, in order to attend the Emperor more promptly if he should
call me; and I was sleeping soundly, when at midnight I was awaked by
M. Pelard, who was on duty. He told me that the Emperor had asked for
me, and on opening my eyes I saw on his face an expression of alarm which
astounded me. I threw myself out of the bed, and rapidly descended the
staircase, as M. Pelard added, "The Emperor has poured something in a
glass and drunk it." I entered his Majesty's room, a prey to
indescribable anxiety. The Emperor had lain down; but in advancing
towards his bed I saw on the floor between the fireplace and the bed the
little bag of black silk and skin, of which I spoke some time since. It
was the same he had worn on his neck since the campaign in Spain, and
which I had guarded so carefully from one campaign to another. Ah! if I
had suspected what it contained. In this terrible moment the truth was
suddenly revealed to me!

Meanwhile, I was at the head of the Emperor's bed. "Constant," said he,
in a voice painfully weak and broken, "Constant, I am dying! I cannot
endure the agony I suffer, above all the humiliation of seeing myself
surrounded by foreign emissaries! My eagles have been trailed in the
dust! I have not been understood! My poor Constant, they will regret me
when I am no more! Marmont dealt me the finishing stroke. The wretch!
I loved him! Berthier's desertion has ruined me! My old friends, my old
companions in arms! "The Emperor said to me many other things which I
fear I might not repeat correctly; and it may well be understood that,
overwhelmed as I was with despair, I did not attempt to engrave in my
memory the words which at intervals escaped the Emperor's lips; for he
did not speak continuously, and the complaints I have related were
uttered only between intervals of repose, or rather of stupor. While my
eyes were fastened on the Emperor's countenance, I noticed on it a sudden
contraction, which was the premonition of a convulsion which frightened
me terribly; fortunately this convulsion brought on a slight attack of
vomiting, which gave me some hope. The Emperor, amidst his complicated
physical and mental sufferings, maintained perfect selfpossession, and
said to me, after the first vomiting spell, "Constant, call M. Yvan and
Caulaincourt." I half opened the door, and gave the order to M. Pelard,
without leaving the Emperor's room, and returning to his bed, besought
and entreated him to take a soothing potion; but all my efforts were in
vain, so strong was his determination to die, even when in the presence
of death.

In spite of the obstinate refusal of the Emperor, I was still entreating
him when M. de Caulaincourt and M. Yvan entered the room. His Majesty
made a sign to the Duke of Vicenza to approach his bed, and said to him,
"Caulaincourt, I recommend to you my wife and child; serve them as you
have served me. I have not long to live!" At this moment the Emperor
was interrupted by another fit of vomiting, but slighter than the first,
during which I tried to tell the duke that the Emperor had taken poison;
he understood rather than heard me, for sobs stifled my voice to such an
extent that I could not pronounce a word distinctly. M. Yvan drew near,
and the Emperor said to him, "Do you believe the dose was strong enough?"
These words were really an enigma to M. Yvan; for he was not aware of the
existence of this sachet, at least not to my knowledge, and therefore
answered, "I do not know what your Majesty means;" to which his Majesty
made no reply.

The Duke of Vicenza, M. Yvan, and I, having united our entreaties to the
Emperor, were so fortunate at length as to induce him, though not without
much difficulty, to drink a cup of tea, which he had refused when I had
made it in much haste and presented it to him, saying, "Let me alone,
Constant; let me alone." But, as a result of our redoubled efforts, he
drank it at last, and the vomiting ceased. Soon after taking the tea the
Emperor appeared calmer and fell asleep. These gentlemen quietly
retired; and I remained alone in his room, where I awaited until he woke.

After a sleep of a few hours the Emperor awoke, seeming almost as usual,
although his face still bore traces of what he had suffered, and while I
assisted him in his morning toilet did not utter a word relating in the
most indirect manner to the frightful night he had just passed. He
breakfasted as usual, only a little later than ordinary. His appearance
had resumed its usual calm, and he seemed more cheerful than for a long
time past. Was it the result of his satisfaction at having escaped
death, which a momentary despair had made him desire? Or did it not
rather arise from the certainty of no longer fearing it in his bed more
than on the battlefield? However that may be, I attribute the remarkable
preservation of the Emperor's life to the fact that the poison contained
in the bag had lost its efficacy.

When everything had returned to its usual order, without any one in the
palace except those I have named suspecting what had occurred, I learned
that M. Yvan had left Fontainebleau. Overwhelmed by the question the
Emperor had addressed to him in the presence of the Duke of Vicenza, and
fearing that he might suspect that he had given his Majesty the means of
attempting his life, this skillful physician, so long and so faithfully
attached to the Emperor's person, had, so to speak, lost his head in
thinking of the responsibility resting on him. Hastily descending the
stairs from the Emperor's apartments, and finding a horse ready saddled
and bridled in one of the courts of the palace, he threw himself upon it,
and hastily took the road to Paris. This was the morning of the same day
that Roustan left Fontainebleau.

On the 12th of April, the Emperor also received the last adieux of
Marshal Macdonald. When he was introduced, the Emperor was still feeling
the effects of the events of the preceding night; and I am sure the Duke
of Tarentum perceived, without divining the cause, that his Majesty was
not in his usual condition. He was accompanied by the Duke of Vicenza;
and at this moment the Emperor was still so much depressed, and seemed so
entirely absorbed in thought, that he did not at first perceive these
gentlemen, although he was perfectly wide awake. The Duke of Tarentum
brought to the Emperor the treaty with the allies, and I left the room as
he was preparing to sign it. A few moments after the Duke of Vicenza
summoned me; and his Majesty said, "Constant, bring me the saber which
Mourad-Bey presented to me in Egypt. You know which it is?"--"Yes,
Sire." I went out, and immediately returned with this magnificent sword,
which the Emperor had worn at the battle of Mount Tabor, as I have heard
many times. I handed it to the Duke of Vicenza, from whose hands the
Emperor took it, and presented it to Marshal Macdonald; and as I retired
heard the Emperor speaking to him most affectionately, and calling him
his worthy friend.

These gentlemen, according to my recollection, were present at the
Emperor's breakfast, where he appeared calmer and more cheerful than for
a long time past; and we were all surprised to see him converse
familiarly and in the most amiable manner with persons to whom for some
time past he had usually addressed very brief and distant remarks.
However, this gayety was only momentary; and, indeed, the manner in which
the Emperor's mood varied from one moment to another during the whole
time of our stay at Fontainebleau was perfectly indescribable. I have
seen him on the same day plunged for several hours into the most terrible
depression; then, a moment after, walking with great strides up and down
his room, whistling or humming La Monaco; after which he suddenly fell
into a kind of stupor, seeing nothing around him, and forgetting even the
orders he had given. A fact which impressed me forcibly was the
remarkable effect produced on him by letters addressed to him from Paris.
As soon as he perceived them his agitation became extreme,--I might say
convulsive, without fear of being taxed with exaggeration.

In support of what I have said of the incredible preoccupation of the
Emperor, I will mention an occurrence which comes to my memory. During
our sojourn at Fontainebleau the Countess Walewska, of whom I have
heretofore spoken, came, and having summoned me, told me how anxious she
was to see the Emperor. Thinking that this would be sure to distract his
Majesty, I mentioned it to him that very evening, and received orders to
have her come at ten o'clock. Madame Walewska was, as may well be
believed, promptly on hand at the appointed hour, and I entered the
Emperor's room to announce her arrival. He was lying on his bed, and
plunged so deeply in meditation that it was only on a second reminder
from me he replied, "Ask her to wait." She then waited in the apartment
in front of his Majesty's, and I remained to keep her company. Meanwhile
the night passed on, and the hours seemed long to the beautiful visitor;
and her distress that the Emperor did not summon her became so evident
that I took pity on her, and reentered the Emperor's room to remind him
again. He was not asleep, but was so deeply absorbed in thought that he
made no reply. At last day began to break; and the countess, fearing to
be seen by the people of the household, withdrew in despair at not having
bidden adieu to the object of her affections; and she had been gone more
than an hour when the Emperor remembered that she was waiting, and asked
for her. I told his Majesty how it was, and did not conceal the state of
despair in which the countess took her departure. The Emperor was much
affected. "Poor woman, she thinks herself humiliated! Constant, I am
really grieved. If you see her again, tell her so. But I have so many
things there!" added he in a, very energetic tone, striking his brow with
his hand.

The visit of this lady to Fontainebleau recalls another of almost the
same kind, but to describe which it is necessary that I take up the
thread of events a little further back.

[I have learned since that the Countess de Walewska went with her
son to visit the Emperor on the Island of Elba. This child
resembled his Majesty so greatly that the report was started that
the King of Rome had visited his father. Madame de Walewska
remained only a short time at the Island of Elba.--CONSTANT.]

A short time after his marriage with the Archduchess Marie Louise,
although she was a young and beautiful woman, and although he really
loved her devotedly, the Emperor was no more careful than in the time of
the Empress Josephine to scrupulously observe conjugal fidelity. During
one of our stays at Saint-Cloud he took a fancy to Madamoiselle L----,
whose mother's second husband was a chief of squadron. These ladies then
stayed at Bourg-la-Reine, where they were discovered by M. de ----, one
of the most zealous protectors of the pretty women who were presented to
his Majesty, and who spoke to him of this young person, then seventeen
years old. She was a brunette of ordinary height, but with a beautiful
figure, and pretty feet and hands, her whole person full of grace, and
was indeed perfectly charming in all respects, and, besides, united with
most enticing coquetry every accomplishment, danced with much grace,
played on several instruments, and was full of intelligence; in fact, she
had received that kind of showy education which forms the most charming
mistresses and the worst wives. The Emperor told me one day, at eight
o'clock in the evening, to seek her at her mother's, to bring her and
return at eleven o'clock at latest. My visit caused no surprise; and I
saw that these ladies had been forewarned, no doubt by their obliging
patron, for they awaited me with an impatience they did not seek to
conceal. The young person was dazzling with ornaments and beauty, and
the mother radiant with joy at the idea of the honor destined for her
daughter. I saw well that she imagined the Emperor could not fail to be
captivated by so many charms, and that he would be seized with a great
passion; but all this was only a dream, for the Emperor was amorous only
when all things suited. However, we arrived at Saint-Cloud at eleven
o'clock, and entered the chateau by the orangery, for fear of indiscreet
eyes. As I had a pass-key to all the gates of the chateau, I conducted
her into the Emperor's apartments without being seen by any one, where
she remained about three hours. At the end of this time I escorted her
to her home, taking the same precautions on leaving the chateau.

This young person, whom the Emperor had since seen three or four times at
most, also came to Fontainebleau, accompanied by her mother; but, being
unable to see his Majesty, this lady, like the Countess Walewska,
determined to make the voyage to the Island of Elba, where it is said the
Emperor married Mademoiselle L---- to a colonel of artillery.

What I have just written has carried me back almost unconsciously to
happier times. It is necessary, however, to return to the sad stay at
Fontainebleau; and, after what I have said of the dejection in which the
Emperor lived, it is not surprising that, overwhelmed by such crushing
blows, his mind was not disposed to gallantry. It seems to me I can
still see the evidences of the gloomy melancholy which devoured him; and
in the midst of so many sorrows the kindness of heart of the man seemed
to increase in proportion to the sufferings of the dethroned sovereign.
With what amenity he spoke to us in these last days! He then frequently
deigned to question me as to what was said of recent events. With my
usual artless candor I related to him exactly what I had heard; and I
remember that one day, having told him I had heard many persons remark
that the continuation of the last wars which had been so fatal to us was
generally attributed to the Duke of Bassano, "They do poor Maret gross
injustice," said he. "They accuse him wrongfully. He has never done
anything but execute orders which I gave." Then, according to his usual
habit, when he had spoken to me a moment of these serious affairs, he
added, "What a shame! what humiliation! To think that I should have in
my very palace itself a lot of foreign emissaries!"


After the 12th of April there remained with the Emperor, of all the great
personages who usually surrounded him, only the grand marshal of the
palace and Count Drouot. The destination reserved for the Emperor, and
the fact that he had accepted it, was not long a secret in the palace.
On the 16th we witnessed the arrival of the commissioners of the allies
deputed to accompany his Majesty to the place of his embarkment for the
Island of Elba. These were Count Schuwaloff, aide-de-camp of the Emperor
Alexander from Russia; Colonel Neil Campbell from England; General
Kohler from Austria; and finally Count of Waldburg-Truchsess for Prussia.
Although his Majesty had himself demanded that he should be accompanied
by these four commissioners, their presence at Fontainebleau seemed to
make a most disagreeable impression on him. However, each of these
gentlemen received from the Emperor a different welcome; and after a few
words that I heard his Majesty say, I was convinced on this, as on many
previous occasions, that he esteemed the English far more than all his
other enemies, and Colonel Campbell was, therefore, welcomed with more
distinction than the other ministers; while the ill-humor of the Emperor
vented itself especially on the commissioner of the King of Prussia, who
took no notice of it, and put on the best possible countenance.

With the exception of the very slight apparent change made at
Fontainebleau by the presence of these gentlemen, no remarkable incident,
none at least in my knowledge, came to disturb the sad and monotonous
life of the Emperor in the palace. Everything remained gloomy and silent
among the inhabitants of this last imperial residence; but, nevertheless,
the Emperor personally seemed to me more calm since he had come to a
definite conclusion than at the time he was wavering in painful
indecision. He spoke sometimes in my presence of the Empress and his
son, but not as often as might have been expected. But one thing which
struck me deeply was, that never a single time did a a word escape his
lips which could recall the act of desperation of the night of the 11th,
which fortunately, as we have seen, had not the fatal results we feared.
What a night! What a night! In my whole life since I have never been
able to think of it without shuddering.

After the arrival of the commissioners of the allied powers, the Emperor
seemed by degrees to acclimate himself, so to speak, to their presence;
and the chief occupation of the whole household consisted of duties
relating to our preparations for departure. One day, as I was dressing
his Majesty, he said to me smiling, "Ah, well, my son, prepare your cart;
we will go and plant our cabbages." Alas! I was very far from thinking,
as I heard these familiar words of his Majesty, that by an inconceivable
concurrence of events, I should be forced to yield to an inexplicable
fatality, which did not will that in spite of my ardent desire I should
accompany the Emperor to his place of exile.

The evening before the day fixed for our departure the grand marshal of
the palace had me called. After giving me some orders relative to the
voyage, he said to me that the Emperor wished to know what was the sum of
money I had in charge for him. I immediately gave an account to the
grand marshal; and he saw that the sum total was about three hundred
thousand francs, including the gold in a bog which Baron Fain had sent
me, since he would not be on the journey. The grand marshal said he
would present the account to the Emperor. An hour after he again
summoned me, and said that his Majesty thought he had one hundred
thousand francs more. I replied that I had in my possession one hundred
thousand francs, which the Emperor had presented to me, telling me to
bury it in my garden; in fact, I related to him all the particulars I
have described above, and begged him to inquire of the Emperor if it was
these one hundred thousand francs to which his Majesty referred. Count
Bertrand promised to do this, and I then made the great mistake of not
addressing myself directly to the Emperor. Nothing would have been
easier in my position; and I had often found that it was always better,
when possible, to go directly to him than to have recourse to any
intermediate person whatever. It would have been much better for me to
act thus, since, if the Emperor had demanded the one hundred thousand
francs which he had given me, which, after all, was hardly possible, I
was more than disposed to restore them to him without a moment's
hesitation. My astonishment may be imagined when the grand marshal
reported to me that the Emperor did not remember having given me the sum
in question. I instantly became crimson with anger. What! the Emperor
had allowed it to be believed by Count Bertrand that I had attempted--
I, his faithful servant--to appropriate a sum which he had given me under
all the circumstances I have related! I was beside myself at this
thought. I left in a state impossible to be described, assuring the
grand marshal that in an hour at most I would restore to him the fatal
present of his Majesty.

While rapidly crossing the court of the palace I met M. de Turenne, to
whom I related all that had occurred. "That does not astonish me," he
replied, "and we will see many other similar cases." A prey to a sort of
moral fever, my head distracted, my heart oppressed, I sought Denis, the
wardrobe boy, of whom I have spoken previously; I found him most
fortunately, and hastened with him to my country place; and God is my
witness that the loss of the hundred thousand francs was not the cause of
my distress, and I hardly thought of it. As on the first occasion, we
passed along the side of the woods in order not to be seen; and began to
dig up the earth to find the money we had placed there; and in the
eagerness with which I hunted for this miserable gold, in order to
restore it to the grand marshal, I dug up more than was necessary. I
cannot describe my despair when I saw that we had found nothing; I
thought that some one had seen and followed us, in fact, that I had been
robbed. This was a more crushing blow to me than the first, and I
foresaw the consequences with horror; what would be said, what would be
thought, of me? Would my word be taken? The grand marshal, already
prejudiced by the inexplicable reply of the Emperor, would consider me a
person totally devoid of honor. I was overwhelmed by these fatal
thoughts when Denis suggested to me that we had not dug in the right
spot, and had made a mistake of some feet. I eagerly embraced this ray
of hope; we began again to dig up the earth with more eagerness than
ever, and I can say without exaggeration that my joy bordered almost on
delirium when I saw the first of the bags. We drew out in succession all
the five; and with the assistance of Denis I carried them to the palace,
and placed them without delay in the hands of the grand marshal, with the
keys of the Emperor's trunk, and the casket which M. Fain had committed
to me. I said to him as I left, "Monseigneur, be good enough to say to
his Majesty that I will not accompany him."--"I will tell him."

After this cold and laconic reply I immediately left the palace, and was
soon after in Rue du Coq-Gris, with M. Clement, a bailiff, who for a long
time had been charged with my small affairs, and had given the necessary
attention to my farm during the long absences which the journeys and
campaigns of the Emperor necessitated. Then I gave full vent to my
despair. I was choking with rage as I remembered that my honesty had
been suspected,--I, who for fourteen years had served the Emperor with a
disinterestedness which was so scrupulous, and even carried to such a
point that many persons called it silliness; I, who had never demanded
anything of the Emperor, either for myself or my people! My brain reeled
as I tried to explain to myself how the Emperor, who knew all this so
well, could have allowed me to appear to a third person as a dishonorable
man; the more I thought of it the more extreme became my irritation, and
yet it was not possible to find the shadow of a motive for the blow aimed
at me. My despair was at its height, when M. Hubert, ordinary valet de
chambre of the Emperor, came to tell me that his Majesty would give me
all I wished if I would follow him, and that three hundred thousand
francs would be immediately handed me. In these circumstances, I ask of
all honest men, what could I do, and what would they have done in my
place? I replied that when I had resolved to consecrate my whole life to
the service of the unfortunate Emperor, it was not from views of vile
interest; but I was in despair at the thought that he should have made me
appear before Count Bertrand as an impostor and a dishonest man. Ah!
how happy would it then have been for me had the Emperor never thought of
giving me those accursed one hundred thousand francs! These ideas
tortured me. Ah! if I could only have taken twenty-four hours for
reflection, however just might have been my resentment, how gladly would
I have sacrificed it! I would have thought of the Emperor alone, and
would have followed him; but a sad and inexplicable fatality had not
decreed this.

This took place on the 19th of April, the most miserable day of my life.
What an evening, what a night I passed! What was my grief on learning
the next day that the Emperor had departed at noon, after making his
adieux to his guard! When I awoke that morning, all my resentment had
been appeased in thinking of the Emperor. Twenty times I wished to
return to the palace; twenty times after his departure I wished to take
post horses and overtake him; but I was deterred by the offer he had made
me through M. Hubert. "Perhaps," I thought, "he will think it is the
money which influences me; this will, doubtless, be said by those around
him; and what an opinion he will have of me!" In this cruel perplexity I
did not dare to decide. I suffered all that it is possible for a man to
suffer; and, at times, that which was only too true seemed like a dream
to me, so impossible did it seem that I could be where the Emperor was
not. Everything in this terrible situation contributed to aggravate my
distress. I knew the Emperor well enough to be aware that even had I
returned to him then, he would never have forgotten that I had wished to
leave him; I felt that I had not the strength to bear this reproach from
his lips. On the other side, the physical suffering caused by my disease
had greatly increased, and I was compelled to remain in bed a long while.
I could, indeed, have triumphed over these physical sufferings however
cruel they might have been, but in the frightful complications of my
position I was reduced to a condition of idiocy; I saw nothing of what
was around me; I heard nothing of what was said; and after this statement
the reader will surely not expect that I shall have anything to say about
the farewell of the Emperor to his old and faithful guard, an account of
which, moreover, has been often enough published for the facts to be well
known concerning this event, which, besides, took place in public. Here
my Memoirs might well close; but the reader, I well believe, cannot
refuse me his attention a few moments longer, that I may recall some
facts which I have a right to explain, and to relate some incidents
concerning the return from the Island of Elba. I, therefore, now
continue my remarks on the first of these heads, and the second will be
the subject of the next chapter.

The Emperor had then already started; and as for myself, shut up alone,
my country house became henceforth a sad residence to me. I held no
communication with any one whatever, read no news, and sought to learn
none. At the end of a short time I received a visit from one of my
friends from Paris, who said to me that the journals spoke of my conduct
without understanding it, and that they condemned it severely. He added
that it was M. de Turenne who had sent to the editors the note in which
I had been so heavily censured. I must say that I did not believe this;
I knew M. de Turenne too well to think him capable of a proceeding so
dishonorable, inasmuch as I had frankly explained everything to him, when
he made the answer I gave above. But however the evil came, it was
nevertheless done; and by the incredible complications of my position I
found myself compelled to keep silence. Nothing certainly would have
been easier than to repel the calumny by an exact rehearsal of the facts;
but should I justify myself in this manner by, so to speak, accusing the
Emperor at a moment especially when the Emperor's enemies manifested much
bitterness? When I saw such a great man made a mark for the shafts of
calumny, I, who was so contemptible and insignificant among the crowd,
could surely allow a few of these envenomed shafts to fall on me. To-day
the time has come to tell the truth, and I have done so without
restriction; not to excuse myself, for on the contrary I blame myself for
not having completely sacrificed myself, and for not having accompanied
the Emperor to the Island of Elba regardless of what might have been
said. Nevertheless, I may be allowed to say in my own defense, that in
this combination of physical and mental sufferings which overwhelmed me
all at once, a person must be very sure of infallibility himself to
condemn completely this sensitiveness so natural in a man of honor when
accused of a fraudulent transaction. This, then, I said to myself, is
the recompense for all my care, for the endurance of so much suffering,
for unbounded devotion, and a refinement of feeling for which the Emperor
had often praised me, and for which he rendered me justice later, as will
be seen when I shall have occasion to speak of certain circumstances
occurring about the 20th of March of the following year.

But gratuitously, and even malevolently, interested motives have been
attributed to me for the decision I made to leave the Emperor. The
simplest common-sense, on the contrary, would suffice to see that, had I
allowed myself to be guided by my interests, everything would have
influenced me to accompany his Majesty. In fact, the chagrin which the
incident I have mentioned caused me, and the manner in which I was
completely overwhelmed by it, have injured my fortune more than any
determination to follow the Emperor could possibly have done. What could
I hope for in France, where I had no right to anything? Is it not,
besides, very evident to whoever would recall my position, which was one
of confidence near the Emperor, that, if I had been actuated by a love of
money, this position would have given me an opportunity to reap an
abundant harvest without injuring my reputation; but my disinterestedness
was so well known that, whatever may be said to the contrary, I can
assert that during the whole time my favor with the Emperor continued, I
on no occasion used it to render any other but unselfish services, and
often I refused to support a demand for the sole reason that the petition
had been accompanied by offers of money, which were often of very
considerable amount. Allow me to cite one example among many others of
the same nature. I received one day an offer of the sum of four hundred
thousand francs, which was made me by a lady of a very noble family, if I
would influence the Emperor to consider favorably a petition in which she
claimed indemnity for a piece of property belonging to her, on which the
port of Bayonne had been constructed. I had succeeded in obtaining
favorable answers to applications more difficult than this, but I refused
to agree to support her petition solely on account of the offer which had
been made to me; I would have been glad to oblige this lady, but only for
the pleasure of being obliging, and it was for this reason alone I
allowed myself to solicit of the Emperor the pardons which he nearly
always granted. Neither can it be said that I ever demanded of the
Emperor licenses for lottery drawings, or anything else of this kind, in
which, as is well known, a scandalous commerce is often made, and which,
no doubt, if I had demanded them of the Emperor he would have readily

The confidence in me which the Emperor had always shown was such that
even at Fontainebleau, when it had been decided that none of the ordinary
valets de chambre were to accompany him to the Island of Elba, the
Emperor left to my choice the selection of a young man to assist me in my
duties. I selected a boy of the apartments, whose upright character was
well known to me, and who was, moreover, the son of Madame Marchand, the
head nurse of the King of Rome. I spoke of him to the Emperor, who
accepted him; and I went immediately to inform M. Marchand, who received
the position most gratefully, and proved to me, by his thanks, how
delighted he would be to accompany us. I say us, for at this moment I
was very far from foreseeing the succession of fatal events which I have
faithfully narrated; and it may be seen afterwards, from the manner in
which M. Marchand expressed himself concerning me at the Tuileries during
the Hundred Days, that I had not bestowed my confidence unworthily.


I became a stranger to all the world after the departure of the Emperor
for the Island of Elba, and, filled with a deep sense of gratitude for
the kindness with which his Majesty had overwhelmed me during the
fourteen years I had passed in his service, thought incessantly of this
great man, and took pleasure in renewing in memory all the events, even
the most trivial, of my life with him. I thought it best suited my
former position to live in retirement, and passed my time most tranquilly
in the bosom of my family in the country-house belonging to me. At the
same time a fatal idea preoccupied my mind involuntarily; for I feared
that persons who were jealous of my former favor might succeed in
deceiving the Emperor as to my unalterable devotion to his person, and
strengthen in his mind the false opinion that they had for a time
succeeded in giving him of me. This opinion, although my conscience told
me that it was unjust, was not the less painful to me; but, as will soon
be seen, I was fortunate enough to obtain the certainty that my fears in
this respect were without foundation.

Although an entire stranger to politics, I had read with deep interest
the newspapers I received in my retreat, since the great political change
to which the name of the Restoration was given; and it seemed to me to
need only the simplest common-sense to see the marked difference which
existed between the government which had been overthrown and the new. In
all departments I saw a succession of titled men take the places of the
long list of distinguished men who had given under the Empire so many
proofs of merit and courage; but I was far from thinking, notwithstanding
the large number of discontented, that the fortunes of the Emperor and
the wishes of the army would ever restore him to that throne which he had
voluntarily abdicated in order that he might not be the cause of a civil
war in Dance. Therefore, it would be impossible to describe my
astonishment, and the multiplicity of varied feelings which agitated me,
when I received the first news of the landing of the Emperor on the coast
of Provence. I read with enthusiasm the admirable proclamation in which
he announced that his eagles would fly from steeple to steeple, and that
he himself would follow so closely in his triumphal march from the Bay of
Juan to Paris.

Here I must make a confession, which is, that only since I had left the
Emperor, had I fully comprehended the immensity of his greatness.
Attached to his service almost from the beginning of the Consulate, at a
time when I was still very young, he had grown, so to speak, without my
having perceived it, and I had above all seen in him, from the nature of
my duties, the excellent master rather than the great man; consequently,
in this instance the effects of distance were very different from what it
usually produces. It was with difficulty I could realize, and I am often
astonished to-day in recalling the frank candor with which I had dared to
defend to the Emperor what I knew to be the truth; his kindness, however,
seemed to encourage me in this, for often, instead of becoming irritated
by my vehemence, he said to me gently, with a benevolent smile, "Come,
come! M. Constant, don't excite yourself." Adorable kindness in a man
of such elevated rank! Ah, well I this was the only impression it made
on me in the privacy of his chamber, but since then I have learned to
estimate it at its true value.

On learning that the Emperor was to be restored to us, my first impulse
was to repair at once to the palace, that I might be there on his
arrival; but more mature reflection and the advice of my family made me
realize that it would be more suitable for me to await his orders, in
case he wished to recall me to my former service. I congratulated myself
on deciding to take the latter course, since I had the happiness to learn
that his Majesty had been kind enough to express his approval of my
former conduct. I learned from most reliable authority, that he had
hardly arrived at the Tuileries, when he condescended to inquire of M.
Eible, then concierge of the palace, "Well, what is Constant doing? How
is he succeeding? Where is he?"--"Sire, he is at his country-place,
which he has not left."--"Ah, very good. He is happy raising his
cabbages." I learned also that, during the first days of the Emperor's
return, his Majesty had been investigating the list of pensions, and had
been good enough to make a note that mine should be increased. Finally,
I experienced an intense satisfaction of another kind, no doubt, but none
the less sincere in the certainty of not being considered an ingrate.
I have stated that I had been fortunate enough to procure a position for
M. Marchand with the Emperor; and this is what was related to me by an
eye-witness. M. Marchand, in the beginning of the Hundred Days, happened
to be in one of the saloons of the palace of the Tuileries, where several
persons were assembled, and some of them were expressing themselves most
unkindly in regard to me. My successor with the Emperor interrupted them
brusquely, saying that there was not a word of truth in the calumnies
which were asserted of me; and added that, while I held the position, I
had uniformly been most obliging to all persons of the household who had
addressed themselves to me, and had done no injury to any one. In this
respect I can affirm that M. Marchand told only the truth; but I was none
the less deeply grateful to him for so honorably defending me, especially
in my absence.

Not being in Paris on the 20th of March, 1815, as we have just seen, I
could have nothing to say of the circumstances of this memorable epoch,
had I not collected from some of my friends particulars of what occurred
on the night following the re-entrance of the Emperor into the palace,
once again become Imperial; and it may be imagined how eager I was to
know everything relating to the great man whom we regarded at this moment
as the savior of France.

I will begin by repeating exactly the account which was given me by one
of my friends, a brave and excellent man, at that time sergeant in the
National Guard of Paris, who happened to be on duty at the Tuileries
exactly on the 20th of March. "At noon," he said, "three companies of
National Guards entered the court of the Tuileries, to occupy all the
interior and exterior posts of the palace. I belonged to one of these
companies, which formed a part of the fourth legion. My comrades and I
were struck with the inexpressible sadness produced by the sight of an
abandoned palace. Everything, in fact, was deserted. Only a few men
were seen here and there in the livery of the king, occupied in taking
down and removing portraits of the various members of the Bourbon family.
Outside could be heard the clamorous shouts of a frantic mob, who climbed
on the gates, tried to scale them, and pressed against them with such
force that at last they bent in several places so far that it was feared
they would be thrown down. This multitude of people presented a
frightful spectacle, and seemed as if determined to pillage the palace.

"Hardly a quarter of an hour after we entered the interior court an
accident occurred which, though not serious in itself, threw
consternation into our ranks, as well as among those who were pressing
against the grating of the Carrousel. We saw flames issuing from the
chimney of the King's apartments, which had been accidentally set on fire
by a quantity of papers which had just been burned therein. This
accident gave rise to most sinister conjectures, and soon the rumor
spread that the Tuileries had been undermined ready for an explosion
before the departure of Louis XVIII. A patrol was immediately formed of
fifteen men of the National Guard, commanded by a sergeant; they explored
the chateau most thoroughly, visited each apartment, descended into the
cellars, and assured themselves that there was nowhere the slightest
indication of danger.

"Reassured on this point, we were nevertheless not without anxiety. In
returning to our posts we had heard numerous groups shouting, 'Vive le
Roi! Vivent les Bourbons!' and we soon had proofs of the exasperation
and fury of a part of the people against Napoleon; for we witnessed the
arrival in our midst, in a most pitiable condition, of a superior officer
who had imprudently donned too soon the tricolored cockade, and
consequently had been pursued by the mob from the Rue Saint-Denis. We
took him under our protection, and made him enter the interior of the
palace, as he was almost exhausted. At this moment we received orders to
force the people to withdraw, as they had become still more determined to
scale the gates; and in order to accomplish this we were compelled to
have recourse to arms.

"We had occupied the post at the Tuileries an hour at most when General
Excelmans, who had received the chief command of the guard at the
chateau, gave orders to raise the tricolored banner over the middle

"The reappearance of the national colors excited among us all emotions of
the most intense satisfaction; and immediately the populace substituted
the cry of 'Vive l'Empereur' for that of 'Vive le Roi,' and nothing else
was heard the whole day. As for us, when we were ordered to don the
tricolored cockade it was a very easy performance, as a large number of
the guard had preserved their old ones, which they had simply covered
with a piece of white cambric. We were ordered to stack arms in front of
the arch of triumph, and nothing extraordinary occurred until six
o'clock; then lights began to shine on the expected route of the Emperor,
and a large number of officers on half pay collected near the pavilion of
Flora; and I learned from one of them, M. Saunier, a decorated officer,
that it was on that side the Emperor would re-enter the palace of the
Tuileries. I repaired there in all haste; and as I was hurrying to place
myself on his route, I was so fortunate as to meet a commanding officer,
who assigned me to duty at the very door of Napoleon's apartment, and to
this circumstance I owe the fact that I witnessed what now remains to be

"I had for some time remained in expectation, and in almost perfect
solitude, when, at fifteen minutes before nine, an extraordinary noise
that I heard outside announced to me the Emperor's arrival; and a few
moments after I saw him appear, amidst cries of enthusiasm, borne on the
arms of the officers who had escorted him from the island of Elba. The
Emperor begged them earnestly to let him walk; but his entreaties were
useless, and they bore him thus to the very door of his apartment, where
they deposited him near me. I had not seen the Emperor since the day of
his farewell to the National Guard in the great court of the palace; and
in spite of the great agitation into which I was thrown by all this
commotion, I could not help noticing how much stouter he had become.

"The Emperor had hardly entered his apartments than I was assigned to
duty in the interior. Marshal Bertrand, who had just replaced General
Excelmans in the command of the Tuileries, gave me an order to allow no
one to enter without informing him, and to give him the names of all who
requested to see the Emperor. One of the first to present himself was
Cambaceres, who appeared to me even more pallid than usual. A short time
after came the father of General Bertrand; and as this venerable old man
attempted to pay his respects first to the Emperor, Napoleon said to him,
'No, monsieur! nature first;' and in saying this, with a movement as
quick as his words, the Emperor, so to speak, threw him into the arms of
his son. Next came Queen Hortense, accompanied by her two children;
then, Count Regnault de Saint-Jean d'Angely, and many other persons whose
names have escaped me. I did not see again those I announced to Marshal
Bertrand, as they all went out by another door. I continued this duty
till eleven o'clock in the evening, at which time I was relieved of my
duties, and was invited to supper at an immense table of about three
hundred covers. All the persons presented at the palace took their
places at this table, one after the other. I there saw the Duke of
Vicenza, and found myself placed opposite General Excelmans. The Emperor
supped alone in his room with Marshal Bertrand, and their supper was by
no means so splendid as ours, for it consisted only of a roast chicken
and a dish of lentils; and yet I learned from an officer who fad attended
him constantly since he left Fontainebleau, that his Majesty had eaten
nothing since morning. The Emperor was exceedingly fatigued; I had
opportunity to mark this each time his door was opened. He was seated on
a chair in front of the fire, with his feet on the mantelpiece.

"As we all remained at the Tuileries, word was sent us about one o'clock
that the Emperor had just retired, and that in case any soldiers should
arrive during the night who had accompanied him, he had given orders that
they should be on duty at the palace conjointly with the National Guard.
The poor creatures were hardly in a condition to obey such an order. At
two o'clock in the morning we saw two of them arrive in a most pitiable
condition; they were perfectly emaciated, and their feet blistered. All
that they could do was to throw themselves on their bags, on which they
fell sound asleep; and they did not even awake while the duty of
bandaging their feet was attended to in the room which they had reached
with so much difficulty. All were eager to lavish every attention on
them; and I admit that I have always regretted not having inquired the
names of these two brave grenadiers, who inspired in all of us an
interest I cannot describe.

"After retiring at one o'clock, the Emperor was on his feet at five
o'clock in the morning; and the order was immediately given to the
soldiers on half pay to hold themselves ready for a review, and at break
of day they were ranged in three ranks. At this moment I was deputed to
watch over an officer who was pointed out as suspicious, and who, it was
said, had come from Saint-Denis. This was M. de Saint-Chamans. At the
end of a quarter of an hour of arrest, which had nothing disagreeable in
it, he was simply asked to leave. Meanwhile, the Emperor had descended
from the palace, and passed through the ranks of the soldiers on half
pay, speaking to each one, taking many of them by the hand, and saying to
them, "My friends, I need your services; I rely on you as you may rely on
me." Magic words on the lips of Napoleon, and which drew tears of
emotion from all those brave soldiers whose services had been ignored for
a year.

"From the morning the crowd increased rapidly on all the approaches to
the Tuileries, and a mass of people asseriabled under the windows of the
chateau, demanding with loud shouts to see Napoleon. Marshal Bertrand
having informed him of this, the Emperor showed himself at the window,
where he was saluted by the shouts which his presence had so often
excited. After showing himself to the people, the Emperor himself
presented to them Marshal Bertrand, his arm resting on the marshal's
shoulder, whom he pressed to his heart with demonstrations of the
liveliest affection. During this scene, which deeply affected all the
witnesses, who cheered with all their might, officers, standing behind
the Emperor and his friend, held above their heads banners surmounted by
their eagles, of which they formed a kind of national canopy. At eleven
o'clock the Emperor mounted his horse, and reviewed the various regiments
which were arriving from every direction, and the heroes of the island of
Elba who had returned to the Tuileries during the night. All seemed
deeply impressed with the appearance of these brave men, whom the sun of
Italy had tanned, and who had traveled nearly two hundred leagues in
twenty days."

These are the curious details which were given to me by a friend; and I
can guarantee the truth of his recital the same as if I myself had been
an eye-witness of all that occurred during the memorable night of the
20th and 21st March, 1815. Continuing in my retreat during the hundred
days, and long after, I have nothing to say which all the world would not
know as well as I concerning this important epoch in the life of the
Emperor. I have shed many tears over his sufferings at the time of his
second abdication, and the tortures inflicted on him at St. Helena by the
miserable Hudson Lowe, whose infamy will go down through the ages side by
side with the glory of the Emperor. I will simply content myself by
adding to the preceding a certain document which was confided to me by
the former Queen of Westphalia, and saying a word in conclusion as to the
destination I thought best to give to the first cross of the Legion of
Honor which the First Consul had worn.

Princess Catharine of Wurtemberg, the wife of Prince Jerome, is, as is
well known, a woman of great beauty, gifted at the same time with more
solid qualities, which time increases instead of diminishing. She joins,
to much natural intelligence, a highly cultivated mind, a character truly
worthy of a sister-in-law of the Emperor, and carries even to enthusiasm
her love of duty. Events did not allow her to become a great queen, but
they have not prevented her remaining an accomplished wife. Her
sentiments are noble and elevated; but she shows haughtiness to none, and
all who surround her take pleasure in boasting of the charms of her
kindness towards her household, and she possesses the happiest gift of
nature, which consists in making herself beloved by every one. Prince
Jerome is not without a certain grandeur of manner and formal generosity,
which he learned while on the throne of Cassel, but he is generally very
haughty. Although in consequence of the great changes which have taken
place in Europe since the fall of the Emperor, Prince Jerome owes the
comfortable maintenance which he still enjoys to the love of the
princess, she does not any the less show a truly exemplary submission to
his will. Princess Catharine occupies herself almost exclusively with
her three children, two boys and one girl, all of whom are very
beautiful. The eldest was born in the month of August, 1814. Her
daughter, the Princess Mathilde, owes her superior education to the care
her mother exercised over it; she is pretty, but less so than her
brothers, who all have their mother's features.

After the description, which is not at all flattered, which I have just
given of Princess Catharine, it may seem surprising that, provided as she
is with so many solid qualities, she has never been able to conquer an
inexplicable weakness regarding petty superstitions. Thus, for instance,
she is extremely afraid to seat herself at a table where there are
thirteen guests. I will relate an anecdote of which I can guarantee the
authenticity, and which, perhaps, may foster the weakness of persons
subject to the same superstitions as the Princess of Wurtemberg. One day
at Florence, being present at a family dinner, she perceived that there
were exactly thirteen plates, suddenly grew pale, and obstinately refused
to take her seat. Princess Eliza Bacciochi ridiculed her sister-in-law,
shrugged her shoulders, and said to her, smiling, "There is no danger,
there are in truth fourteen, since I am enceinte." Princess Catharine
yielded, but with extreme repugnance. A short time after she had to put
on mourning for her sister-in-law; and the death of the Princess Eliza,
as may well be believed, contributed no little to render her more
superstitious than ever as to the number thirteen. Well! let strong
minds boast themselves as they may; but I can console the weak, as I dare
to affirm that, if the Emperor had witnessed such an occurrence in his
own family, an instinct stronger than any other consideration, stronger
even than his all-powerful reason, would have caused him some moments of
vague anxiety.

Now, it only remains for me to render an account of the bestowal I made
of the first cross of honor the First Consul wore. The reader need not
be alarmed; I did not make a bad use of it; it is on the breast of a
brave soldier of our old army. In 1817 I made the acquaintance of M.
Godeau, a former captain in the Imperial Guard. He had been severely
wounded at Leipzig by a cannon-ball, which broke his knee. I found in
him an admiration for the Emperor so intense and so sincere, he urged me
so earnestly to give him something, whatever it might be, which had
belonged to his Majesty, that I made him a present of the cross of honor
of which I have spoken, as he had long ago been decorated with that
order. This cross is, I might say, a historical memento, being the
first, as I have stated, which his Majesty wore. It is of silver, medium
size, and is not surmounted with the imperial crown. The Emperor wore it
a year; it decorated his breast for the last time the day of the battle
of Austerlitz. From that day, in fact, his Majesty wore an officer's
cross of gold with the crown, and no longer wore the cross of a simple
member of the legion.

Here my souvenirs would end if, in re-reading the first volumes of my
memoirs, the facts I have there related had not recalled to me some
others which may be of interest. With the impossibility of presenting
them in the proper order and connection, I have decided, in order that
the reader may not be deprived of them, to offer them as detached
anecdotes, which I have endeavored to class as far as possible, according
to the order of time.



As I have often-had occasion to remark, the Emperor's tastes were
extremely simple in everything relating to his person; moreover, he
manifested a decided aversion to the usages of fashion; he did not like,
so to speak, to turn night into day, as was done in the most of the
brilliant circles of society in Paris under the Consulate, and at the
commencement of the Empire. Unfortunately, the Empress Josephine did not
hold the same views, and being a submissive slave of fashion, liked to
prolong her evenings after the Emperor had retired.

She had the habit of then collecting around her her most intimate ladies
and a few friends, and giving them tea. Gaming was entirely precluded
from these nocturnal reunions, of which conversation was the only charm.
This conversation of the highest circles of society was a most agreeable
relaxation to the Empress; and this select circle assembled frequently
without the Emperor being aware of it, and was, in fact, a very innocent
entertainment. Nevertheless, some obliging person was so indiscreet as
to make the Emperor a report concerning these assemblies, containing
matters which roused his displeasure. He expressed his dissatisfaction
to the Empress Josephine, and from that time she retired at the same time
as the Emperor.

These teas were then abandoned, and all persons attached to the service
of the Emperor received orders not to sit up after the Emperor retired.

As well as I remember, this is how I heard his Majesty express himself on
the occasion. "When the masters are asleep, the valets should retire to
bed; and when the masters are awake, the valets should be on their feet."
These words produced the intended effect; and that very evening, as soon
as the Emperor was in bed, all at the palace retired, and at half-past
eleven no one was awake but the sentinels.

By degrees, as always occurs, the strict observance of the Emperor's
orders was gradually relaxed, still without the Empress daring to resume
her nocturnal gatherings. The words of his Majesty were not forgotten,
however, and were well remembered by M. Colas, concierge of the pavilion
of Flora.

One morning about four o'clock, M. Colas heard an unaccustomed noise,
and a continued movement in the interior of the palace, and supposed from
this that the Emperor was awake, in which he was not mistaken. He
dressed in all haste, and had been ten minutes at his post when the
Emperor, descending the staircase with Marshal Duroc, perceived him.
His Majesty usually took pleasure in showing that he remarked exactness
in fulfilling his orders; therefore he stopped a moment, and said to M.
Colas, "Ah! already awake, Colas?"--"Yes, Sire; I have not forgotten that
valets should be on foot when the masters are awake."--"You have a good
memory, Colas; an excellent thing."

All this was very well, and the day began for M. Colas under most
favorable auspices; but in the evening the medal of the morning was
obliged to show the opposite side. The Emperor went that morning to
visit the works on the canal of the Ourcq. He was apparently much
dissatisfied; for he returned to the palace in such evident illhumor,
that M. Colas, perceiving it, let these words escape his lips, "Il y a de
l'oignon." Although he spoke in a low tone, the Emperor heard him, and
turning abruptly to him, repeated angrily, "Yes, Monsieur, you are not
mistaken; il y a de l'oignon." He then rapidly remounted the staircase,
while the concierge, fearing he had said too much, approached the grand
marshal, begging him to excuse him to his Majesty; but he never had an
idea of punishing him for the liberty he had taken, and the expression
which had escaped his lips one would hardly expect to find in the
imperial vocabulary.

The coming of the Pope to Paris for the purpose of crowning the Emperor
is one of those events which suffice to mark the grandeur of a period.
The Emperor never spoke of it except with extreme satisfaction, and he
wished his Holiness to be received with all the magnificence which should
attend the founder of a great empire. With this intention his Majesty
gave orders that, without any comment, everything should be furnished not
only that the Pope, but also all that the persons of his suite, might
demand. Alas! it was not by his own personal expenses that the Holy
Father assisted to deplete the imperial treasury

Pius VII. drank only water, and his sobriety was truly apostolic; but
this was not the case with the abbes attached to his service, for these
gentlemen each day required five bottles of Chambertin wine, without
counting those of other kinds and most expensive liquors.

This recalls another occurrence, which, however, relates only indirectly
to the Pope's stay in Paris. It is known that David was ordered by the
Emperor to execute the picture of the coronation, a work which offered an
incredible number of almost insurmountable difficulties, and which was,
in fact, one of the masterpieces of the great painter.

At all events, the preparation of this picture gave rise to controversies
in which the Emperor was compelled to interfere; and the case was
serious, as we shall see, since a Cardinal's wig was in question. David
persisted in not painting the head of Cardinal Caprara with a wig; and on
his part the Cardinal was not willing to allow him to paint his head
without the wig. Some took sides with the painter, some with the model;
and though the affair was treated with much diplomacy, no concession
could be obtained from either of the contracting parties, until at last
the Emperor took the part of his first painter against the Cardinal's
wig. This recalls the story of the artless man who would not allow his
head to be painted bare because he took cold so easily, and his picture
would be hung in a room without a fire.

When M. de Bourrienne left the Emperor, as is well known, he was replaced
by M. de Meneval, who had been formerly in the service of Prince Joseph.
The Emperor became more and more attached to his new private secretary in
proportion as he came to know him better. By degrees the work of the
cabinet, in which was transacted the greater part of the most important
business, became so considerable that it was impossible for one man alone
to perform it; and from the year 1805 two young men, proteges of M.
Maret, secretary of state, were admitted to the honor of working in the
Emperor's cabinet; and though initiated by the nature of their duties
into the most important state secrets, there was never the slightest
reason to suspect their perfect discretion. They were, besides, very
diligent, and endowed with much talent, so that his Majesty formed an
excellent opinion of them. Their position was most enviable. Lodged in
the palace, and consequently supplied with fuel and lights, they were
also fed, and received each a salary of eight thousand francs. It might
well have been thought that this sum would be sufficient for these
gentlemen to live most comfortably; but this was not the case. For if
they were assiduous during the hours of labor, they were not less so
during those devoted to pleasure; whence it arose that the second quarter
had hardly passed before the whole year's salary was spent, part of it in
gambling, and the rest among low companions.

Among the two secretaries added to the Emperor's service, there was one
especially who had contracted so many debts, and whose creditors were so
pitiless, that, had there been no other reason, he would infallibly have
been dismissed from the private cabinet if the report of this had reached
his Majesty's ears.

After passing an entire night reflecting on his embarrassing position,
searching his imagination to secure some means of obtaining the sum
necessary to satisfy those creditors who were most importunate, the new
spendthrift sought distraction in work, and went to his desk at five
o'clock in the morning in order to drive away his painful thoughts; not
thinking that at this hour any one would hear him, and while working
began to whistle La Linotte with all his might. Now, this morning, as
often before, the Emperor had already been working a whole hour in his
cabinet, and had just gone out as the young man entered, and, hearing
this whistling, immediately returned.

"Already here, Monsieur," said his Majesty. "Zounds! Why, that is
remarkable! Maret should be well satisfied with you. What is your
salary?"--"Sire, I have eight thousand francs a year, and besides am
boarded and lodged in the palace."--"That is well, Monsieur, and you
ought to be very happy."

The young man, seeing that his Majesty was in a very good humor, thought
that fortune had sent him a favorable opportunity of being relieved of
his embarrassment, and resolved to inform the Emperor of his trying
situation. "Alas, Sire!" said he, "no doubt I ought to be happy, but I
am not."--"Why is that?"--"Sire, I must confess to your Majesty that I
have so many English to carry, and besides I have to support an old
father, two sisters, and a brother."--"You are only doing your duty.
But what do you mean by your English? Are you supporting them also?"--
"No, Sire; but it is they who have fed my pleasures, with the money they
have lent me, and all who have creditors now call them the English."--
"Stop! stop, Monsieur! What! you have creditors, and in spite of your
large salary you have made debts! That is enough, Monsieur. I do not
wish to have any longer near me a man who has recourse to the gold of the
English, when on what I give him he can live honorably. In an hour you
will receive your discharge."

The Emperor, having expressed himself as we have just heard, picked up
some papers from the desk, threw a severe glance at the young secretary,
and left him in such a state of despair that, when some one else
fortunately entered the cabinet, he was on the point of committing
suicide with a long paper-cutter he held in his hand. This person was
the aide-de-camp on duty, who brought him a letter from the Emperor,
couched in the following terms:

"Monsieur, you deserve to be dismissed from my service, but I have
thought of your family, and I pardon you on their account; and since
it is they who would suffer from your misconduct, I consequently
send you with my pardon ten thousand francs in bank-notes. Pay with
this sum all the English who torment you, and, above all, do not
again fall into their clutches; for in that case I shall abandon

An enormous "Vive l'Empereur!" sprang spontaneously to the lips of the
young man, who darted out like lightning to announce to his family this
new proof of imperial tyranny.

This was not the end, however; for his companion, having been informed of
what had taken place, and also desiring some bank-notes to pacify his
English, redoubled his zeal and activity in work, and for several days in
succession repaired to the cabinet at four in the morning, and also
whistled La Linotte; but it was all in vain, the Emperor did not seem to
hear him.

Much was said at Paris and in the Court in ridicule of the ludicrous
sayings of the wife of Marshal Lefebvre, and a collection could be made
of her queer speeches, many of which are pure fabrications; but a volume
would also be necessary to record all the acts by which she manifested
her kindness of heart.

One day, at Malmaison (I think a short time after the Empire was
founded), the Empress Josephine had given explicit orders that no one
should be admitted. The Marechale Lefebvre presented herself; but the
usher, compelled by his orders, refused to allow her to enter. She
insisted, and he still refused. During this discussion, the Empress,
passing from one apartment to the other, was seen through a glass door
which separated this apartment from that in which the duchess then was.
The Empress, having also seen her, hastily advanced to meet her, and
insisted on her entering. Before passing in, Madame Lefebvre turned to
the usher, and said to him in a mocking tone, "Well, my good fellow, you
see I got in!" The poor usher blushed up to his ears, and withdrew in

Marshal Lefebvre was not less good, less excellent, than his wife; and it
might well be said of them that high honors had made no change in their
manners. The good they both did could not be told. It might have been
said that this was their only pleasure, the only compensation for a great
domestic misfortune. They had only one son, who was one of the worst men
in the whole Empire. Each day there were complaints against him; the
Emperor himself frequently admonished him on account of the high esteem
he had for his brave father. But there resulted no improvement, and his
natural viciousness only manifested itself the more. He was killed in
some battle, I forget which; and as little worthy of regret as he was,
his death was a deep affliction to his excellent mother, although he even
forgot himself so far as to speak disrespectfully of her in his coarse
speeches. She usually made M. de Fontanes the confidant of her sorrows;
for the grand master of the university, notwithstanding his exquisite
politeness and his admirable literary style, was very intimately
associated with the household of Marshal Lefebvre.

In this connection I recall an anecdote which proves better than anything
that could be said the kindness and perfect simplicity of the marshal.
One day it was announced to him that some one whose name was not given
wished to speak to him. The marshal left his cabinet, and recognized his
old captain in the French Guards, in which, as we have said, the marshal
had been a sergeant. The marshal begged permission to embrace him,
offered his services, his purse, his house; treated him almost exactly as
if he had been under his orders. The old captain was an emigre, and had
returned undecided what he would do. Through the efforts of the marshal
his name was promptly struck out of the list of emigres; but he did not
wish to re-enter the army, and yet was in much need of a position.
Having supported himself during his emigration by giving lessons in
French and Latin, he expressed a desire to obtain a position in the
university. "Well, my colonel," said the marshal with his German accent,
"I will take you at once to my friend M. de Fontanes." The marshal's
carriage is soon at the door, and the respectful protector and his
protoge enter the apartments of the grand master of the university.
M. de Fontanes hastens to meet the marshal, who, I have been informed,
made his presentation speech in this style:

"My dear friend, I present to you the Marquis of ----.

"He was my former captain, my good captain. He would like to obtain a
place in the university. Ah! he is not a man of nothing, a man of the
Revolution like you and me. He is my old captain, the Marquis of ---- ."
Finally the marshal closed by saying, "Ah, the good, excellent man! I
shall never forget that when I went for orders to my good captain, he
never failed to say: 'Lefebvre, my child, pass on to the kitchen; go and
get something to eat.' Ah, my good, my excellent captain!"

All the members of the imperial family had a great fondness for music,
and especially the Italian; but they were not musicians, and most of them
sang as badly as his Majesty himself, with the exception of the Princess
Pauline, who had profited by the lessons of Blangini, and sang tolerably
well. In respect of his voice, Prince Eugene showed himself worthy to be
the adopted son of the Emperor; for, though he was a musician and sang
with fervor, it was not in such a manner as to satisfy his auditors.
In compensation, however, Prince Eugene's voice was magnificent for
commanding military evolutions, an advantage which Count Lobau and
General Dorsenne also possessed; and it was consequently always one of
these whom his Majesty appointed to command under his orders on great

Notwithstanding the severe etiquette of the Emperor's court, there were
always a few privileged persons who had the right to enter his apartment,
even when he was in bed, though the number was small. They consisted of
the following persons:--

M. de Talleyrand, vice grand elector; de Montesquiou, grand chamberlain;
de Remusat, first chamberlain; Maret, Corvisart, Denon, Murat, Yvan;
Duroc, grand marshal; and de Caulaincourt, grand equerry.

For a long time all these personages came to the Emperor's apartment
almost every morning, and their visits were the origin of what was
afterwards called 'le petit lever'. M. de Lavalette also came
frequently, and also M. Real and Messieurs Fouche and Savary while each
of them was minister of police.

The princes of the imperial family also enjoyed the right to enter the
Emperor's apartment in the morning. I often saw the Emperor's mother.
The Emperor kissed her hand with much respect and tenderness, but I have
many times heard him reproach her for her excessive economy. Madame Mere
listened, and then gave as excuse for not changing her style of living
reasons which often vexed his Majesty, but which events have
unfortunately justified.

Madame Mere had been a great beauty, and was still very pretty,
especially when I saw her for the first time. It was impossible to find
a better mother; devoted to her children; she lavished on them the sagest
counsels, and always intervened in family quarrels to sustain those whom
she thought in the right; for a long time she took Lucien's part, and I
have often heard her warmly defend Jerome when the First Consul was most
severe towards his young brother. The only fault in Madame Mere's
character was her excessive economy, and on this point astonishing things
could be said without fear of exaggeration, but she was beloved by every
one in the palace for her kindness and affability.

I recall in reference to Madame Mere an incident which greatly amused the
Empress Josephine. Madame was spending several days at Malmaison, when
one day one of her ladies, whom she had caused to be sent for, found, on
entering the room, to her great astonishment, Cardinal Fesch discharging
the duty of a lady's maid by lacing up his sister, who had on only her
underclothing and her corset.

One of the subjects on which the Emperor would listen to no raillery was
that of custom-house duties, and towards all contraband proceeding he
showed inflexible severity; and this reached such a point, that one day
M. Soiris, director of the custom-house at Verceil, having seized a
package of sixty cashmere shawls, sent from Constantinople to the
Empress, the Emperor approved his action, and the cashmeres were sold for
the benefit of the state. In such cases the Emperor always said, "How
can a sovereign have the laws respected if he does not respect them
himself?" I recall another occasion, and I think the only instance in
which he permitted an infraction of the custom-house regulations; but we
shall see the question was not that of ordinary smuggling.

The grenadiers of the Old Guard, under the orders of General Soules,
returned to France after the peace of Tilsit. On their arrival at
Mayence, the custom-house officers endeavored to perform their duty, and
consequently inspected the chests of the Guard and those of the general.
Meanwhile, the director of the custom-house, in doubt what proceedings to
take, sought the general to inform him of the necessity he was under of
executing the laws, and of carrying out the direct orders of the Emperor.
The general's reply to this courteous overture was plain and energetic:
"If a single officer dares to place his hand on the boxes of my old
mustaches, I'll throw him into the Rhine!" The officer insisted. The
custom-house employees were quite numerous, and were preparing to proceed
with the inspection, when General Soules had the boxes put in the middle
of the square, and a regiment detailed to guard them. The director of
the custom-house, not daring to proceed further, sent to the director-
general a report to be submitted to the Emperor. Under any other
circumstances the case would have been serious; but the Emperor had just
returned to Paris, where he had been welcomed more heartily than ever
before by the acclamations of the people on the occasion of the fetes
celebrated in honor of peace, and this old Guard was returning home
resplendent with glory, and after most admirable behavior at Eylau. All
these things combined to quell the Emperor's anger; and having decided
not to punish, he wished to reward them, and not to take seriously their
infraction of his custom-house regulations. General Soules, on reaching
Paris, presented himself before the Emperor, who received him cordially,
and, after some remarks relative to the Guard, added: "By the by, what is
this you have been doing? I heard of you. What! you really threatened
to throw my custom-house officers into the Rhine! Would you have done
it?"--"Yes, Sire," replied the general, with his German accent, "yes; I
would have done it. It was an insult to my old grenadiers to attempt
to inspect their boxes."--"Come, now," said the Emperor very affably,
"I see just how it is. You have been smuggling."--"I, Sire?"--"Yes, I
say. You have been smuggling. You bought linen in Hanover. You wanted
to furnish your house handsomely, as you imagined I would appoint you
senator. You were not mistaken. Go and have your senator's coat made,
but do not repeat this performance, for next time I will have you shot."

During our stay at Bayonne, in 1808, every one was struck with the
awkward manners of the King and Queen of Spain, and the poor taste
displayed in their toilets, the disgraceful appearance of their
equipages, and a certain air of constraint and embarrassment which was
general among all the persons of their suite. The elegant manners of the
French and the magnificence of the imperial equipages furnished such a
contrast to all this that it rendered them indescribably ridiculous. The
Emperor, who had such exquisite tact in all matters, was not one of the
last to perceive this, but, nevertheless, was not pleased that an
opportunity should be found to ridicule crowned heads. One morning at
his toilet he said to me, "I say, then, Monsieur le drole, you, who are
so well versed in these matters, give a few hints to the valet de chambre
of the King and Queen of Spain. They appear so awkward they really
excite my pity." I eagerly did what his Majesty suggested; but he did
not content himself with this, but also communicated to the Empress
Josephine his observations on the queen and her ladies. The Empress
Josephine, who was the embodiment of taste, gave orders accordingly; and
for two days her hairdressers and women were occupied exclusively in
giving lessons in taste and elegance to their Spanish brethren. This is
a striking evidence of how the Emperor found time for everything, and
could descend from his elevated duties to the most insignificant affairs.

The grand marshal of the palace (Duroc) was almost the same height as the
Emperor. He walked badly and ungracefully, but had a tolerably good head
and features. He was quick tempered, impulsive, and swore like a
soldier; but he had much administrative ability, of which he gave more
than one proof in the organization of the imperial household, which was
ably and wisely regulated. When the enemy's cannon deprived his Majesty
of this devoted servitor and sincere friend, the Empress Josephine said
that she knew only two men capable of filling his place; these were
General Drouot and M. de Flahaut, and the whole household hoped that one
of these two gentlemen would be nominated; this, however, was not the

M. de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, was extremely severe towards the
household; but he was just and of a chivalrous loyalty, and his word was
as good as a contract: He was feared and yet beloved. He had a piercing
eye, spoke quickly and with great ease. The Emperor's regard for him was
well known, and certainly no one was more worthy of it than he.

The Count de Remusat was of medium height, with a smooth, white face,
obliging, amiable, and with natural politeness and good taste; but he was
extravagant, lacked order in managing his own affairs and consequently
those of the Emperor. This lavish expenditure, which is admirable from
one point of view, might have suited any other sovereign; but the Emperor
was economical, and though, much attached to M. de Remusat, dismissed him
from the head of the wardrobe bureau, and put in his place Monsieur de
Turenne, who exercised the strictest economy. M. de Turenne possessed
perhaps a little too much of what his predecessor lacked, but it was
exactly this that pleased the Emperor. M. de Turenne was quite a pretty
man, thinking perhaps a little too much of himself, a great talker and
Anglo-maniac, which led the Emperor to give him the name of my lord
Kinsester (who cannot be silent); but he told a story well, and sometimes
his Majesty took pleasure in making him relate the chronicles of Paris.

When the Count of Turenne replaced the Count of Remusat in the office of
grand master of the wardrobe, in order not to exceed the sum of twenty
thousand francs which his Majesty allowed for his toilet, he exercised
the greatest possible economy in the quantity, price, and quality of
things indispensable to the household. I have been told, but I do not
know whether it is true, that, in order to ascertain exactly what were
the profits of the Emperor's furnishers, he went to the various factories
of Paris with samples of gloves, silk stockings, aloes wood, etc.; but,
even if this is true, it only does honor to the zeal and probity of M. de

I knew very little of Count Segur, grand master of ceremonies. It was
said in the household that he was haughty and somewhat abrupt, but
perfectly polite and intelligent, with a delicate and refined face.

It would be necessary to have witnessed the perfect order which reigned
in the Emperor's household to comprehend it fully. From the time of the
Consulate, General Duroc had brought into the administration of the
interior affairs of the palace that spirit of order and economy which
especially characterized him. But, great as was the Emperor's confidence
in General Duroc, he did not disdain to throw the glance of a master over
things which seemed insignificant, and with which, in general, sovereigns
rarely occupy themselves. Thus, for example, in the beginning of the
Empire there was some little extravagance in certain parts of the palace,
notably at Saint-Cloud, where the aides-de-camp kept open table; but this
was, nevertheless, far from equaling the excessive prodigality of the
ancient regime. Champagne and other wines especially were used in great
quantities, and it was very necessary that the Emperor should establish
regulations as to his cellar. He summoned the chief of the household
service, Soupe Pierrugues, and said to him, "Monsieur, I commit to you
the keys of my imperial cellars; you will there have charge of the wines
of all kinds; some are needed in my palaces of the Tuileries, Saint-
Cloud, Compiegne, Fontainebleau, Marrac, Lacken, and Turin. Establish a
moderate price at all these residences, and you alone will furnish wines
to my household." This arrangement was made, and all kinds of fraud were
impossible, as the deputy of M. Soupe Pierrugues delivered wines only on
a note signed by the controller of the kitchen; all the bottles not
opened were returned, and each evening an account was given of what had
been used for that day.

The service had the same regulations while we were on campaigns. During
the second campaign of Vienna, I recollect that the house deputy of Soupe
Pierrugues was M. Eugene Pierrugues, frank, gay, witty, and much beloved
by us all. An imprudence cost him dear, for in consequence of a
heedlessness natural at his age he had his arm broken. We were then at
Schoenbrunn. Those who have seen this imperial residence know that
splendid avenues extend in front of the palace, leading to the road to
Vienna. As I often took horseback rides through the town, M. Eugene
Pierrugues wished to accompany me one day, and borrowed a horse from one
of the quartermasters of the palace. He was forewarned that the horse
was very fiery; but he paid no attention to that, and immediately put him
into a gallop. I reined mine in, in order not to excite my companion's;
but in spite of this precaution the horse ran away, dashed into the
woods, and broke the arm of his unfortunate and imprudent rider.
M. Eugene Pierrugues was, however, not unhorsed by the blow, and kept his
seat a short while after the injury; but it was very serious, and it was
necessary to carry him back to the palace. I, more than any one else,
was distressed by this frightful accident; and we established a regular
attendance on him, so that one at least could always be with him when our
duties allowed. I have never seen suffering borne with more fortitude;
and it was carried to such a remarkable degree, that, finding his arm
badly set, at the end of a few days he had it again fractured, an
operation which caused him horrible suffering.

My uncle, who was usher of the Emperor's cabinet, related to me an
anecdote which is probably entirely unknown; since everything, as we
shall see, occurred under cover of the most profound mystery. "One
evening," he said to me, "Marshal Duroc gave me in person orders to
extinguish the lights in the saloon in front of his Majesty's cabinet,
and to leave only a few candles lighted. I was surprised at such a novel
order, especially as the grand marshal was not accustomed to give them
thus directly, but, nevertheless, executed it precisely, and waited at my
post. At ten o'clock Marshal Duroc returned, accompanied by a personage
whose features it was impossible to distinguish, as he was entirely
wrapped in a large cloak, his head covered, and his hat pulled down over
his eyes. I withdrew, leaving the two alone, but had hardly left the
saloon when the Emperor entered, and Marshal Duroc also retired, leaving
the stranger alone with his Majesty. From the tone in which the Emperor
spoke it was easy to see that he was greatly irritated. He spoke very
loud; and I heard him say, 'Well, Monsieur, you will never change then.
It is gold you want, always gold. You draw on all foreign banks, and
have no confidence in that of Paris. You have ruined the bank of
Hamburg; you have caused M. Drouet (or Drouaut, for the name was
pronounced very quickly) to lose two millions:

"The Emperor," my uncle continued, "conversed in this strain for a long
while, though the stranger did not reply, or replied in so low a tone
that it was impossible to hear a word; and the scene, which must have
been most trying to the mysterious personage, lasted about twenty
minutes. At last he was permitted to leave, which he did with the same
precautions as on his arrival, and retired from the palace as secretly as
he had come."

Nothing of this scene was known in Paris; and, moreover, neither my uncle
nor I have ever sought to ascertain the name of the person whom the
Emperor overwhelmed with such numerous and severe reproaches.

Whenever circumstances allowed, the Emperor's habits of life were very
regular, his time being almost uniformly divided as follows. Every
morning, at nine o'clock precisely, the Emperor left the imperial
apartments; his exactness in observing hours was carried to an extreme,
and I have sometimes seen him wait two or three moments in order that no
one might be taken by surprise. At nine o'clock his toilet was made for
the whole day. When he had reached the reception-room, the officers on
duty were first admitted, and received his Majesty's orders for their
time of service.

Immediately after this, what was called the grandes entrees took place.
That is to say, personages of high rank were admitted, who had this right
on account of their duties, or by the special favor of the Emperor; and I
can assert that this favor was much envied. It was granted generally to
all the officers of the imperial household, even if they were not on
duty; and every one remained standing, as did the Emperor also. He made
the tour of all the persons present, nearly always addressed a remark or
a question to each one; and it was amusing to see afterwards, during the
whole day, the proud and haughty bearing of those to whom the Emperor had
spoken a little longer than to others. This ceremony usually lasted a
half-hour, and as soon as it was finished the Emperor bowed and each

At half-past nine the Emperor's breakfast was served, usually on a small
mahogany stand; and this first repast commonly lasted only seven or eight
minutes, though sometimes it was prolonged, and even lasted quite a long
while. This, however, was only on rare occasions, when the Emperor was
in unusually good-humor, and wished to indulge in the pleasure of a
conversation with men of great merit, whom he had known a long while, and
who happened to be present at his breakfast. There he was no longer the
formal Emperor of the levee; he was in a manner the hero of Italy, the
conqueror of Egypt, and above all the member of the Institute. Those who
came most habitually were Messieurs Monge, Berthollet, Costaz
(superintendent of crown buildings), Denon, Corvisart, David, Gerard,
Isabey, Talma, and Fontaine (his first architect). How many noble
thoughts, how many elevated sentiments, found vent in these conversations
which the Emperor was accustomed to open by saying, "Come, Messieurs, I
close the door of my cabinet." This was the signal, and it was truly
miraculous to see his Majesty's aptitude in putting his genius in
communication with these great intellects with such diversities of

I recall that, during the days preceding the Emperor's coronation, M.
Isabey attended regularly at the Emperor's breakfast, and was present
almost every morning; and strange, too, it did not seem an absurd thing
to see children's toys used to represent the imposing ceremony which was
to exert such a great influence over the destinies of the world. The
intelligent painter of his Majesty's cabinet portraits caused to be
placed on a large table a number of small figures representing all the
personages who were to take part in the ceremony of the coronation; each
had his designated place; and no one was omitted, from the Emperor to the
Pope, and even to the choristers, each being dressed in the costume he
was expected to wear.

These rehearsals took place frequently, and all were eager to consult the
model in order to make no mistake as to the place each was to occupy. On
those days, as may be imagined, the door of the cabinet was closed, and
in consequence the ministers sometimes, waited awhile. Immediately after
the breakfast the Emperor admitted his ministers and director generals;
and these audiences, devoted to the special work of each minister and of
each director, lasted until six o'clock in the evening, with the
exception of those days on which his Majesty occupied himself exclusively
with governmental affairs, and presided over the council of state, or the
ministerial councils.

At the Tuileries and at Saint-Cloud dinner was served at six o'clock; and
the Emperor dined each day alone with the Empress, except on Sunday, when
all the family were admitted to dinner. The Emperor, Empress, and Madame
Mere only were seated in armchairs; all others, whether kings or queens,
having only ordinary chairs. There was only one course before the
dessert. His Majesty usually drank Chambertin wine, but rarely without
water, and hardly more than one bottle. To dine with the Emperor was
rather an honor than a pleasure to those who were admitted; for it was
necessary, to use the common expression, to swallow in post haste, as his
Majesty never remained at table more than fifteen or eighteen minutes.
After his dinner, as after breakfast, the Emperor habitually took a cup
of coffee, which the Empress poured out. Under the Consulate Madame
Bonaparte began this custom, because the General often forgot to take his
coffee; she continued it after she became Empress, and the Empress Marie
Louise retained the same custom.

After dinner the Empress descended to her apartments, where she found
assembled her ladies and the officers on duty; and the Emperor sometimes
accompanied her, but remained only a short while. Such was the customary
routine of life in the palace at the Tuileries on those days when there
was neither the chase in the morning, nor concert nor theater in the
evening; and the life at Saint-Cloud differed little from that at the
Tuileries. Sometimes rides were taken in coaches when the weather
permitted; and on Wednesday, the day set for the council of ministers,
these officials were invariably honored by an invitation to dine with
their Majesties. When there was a hunt at Fontainebleau, Rambouillet, or
Compiegne, the usual routine was omitted; the ladies followed in coaches,
and the whole household dined with the Emperor and Empress under a tent
erected in the forest. It sometimes happened, though rarely, that the
Emperor invited unexpectedly some members of his family to remain to dine
with him; and this recalls an anecdote which should have a place in this
connection. The King of Naples came one day to visit the Emperor, and
being invited to dine, accepted, forgetting that he was in morning dress,
and there was barely time for him to change his costume, and consequently
none to return to the Elysee, which he then inhabited. The king ran
quickly up to my room, and informed me of his embarrassment, which I
instantly relieved, to his great delight. I had at that time a very
handsome wardrobe, almost all the articles of which were then entirely
new; so I gave him a shirt, vest, breeches, stockings, and shoes, and
assisted him to dress, and fortunately everything fitted as if it had
been made especially for him. He showed towards me the same kindness and
affability he always manifested, and thanked me in the most charming
manner. In the evening the King of Naples, after taking leave of the
Emperor, returned to my room to resume his morning dress, and begged me
to come to him next day at the laysee, which I did punctually after
relating to the Emperor all that had occurred, much to his amusement.
On my arrival at the Elysee I was immediately introduced into the king's
apartments, who repeated his thanks in the most gracious manner, and gave
me a pretty Breguet watch.

[Abraham Louis Breguet, the celebrated watchmaker, was born at
Neuchatel, 1747; died 1823. He made numerous improvements in
watches and in nautical and astronomical instruments.]

During our campaigns I sometimes had occasion to render little services
of the same nature to the King of Naples; but the question was not then,
as at Saint-Cloud, one of silk stockings, for more than once on the
bivouac I shared with him a bundle of straw, which I had been fortunate
enough to procure. In such cases I must avow the sacrifice was much
greater on my part than when I had shared my wardrobe with him. The king
was not backward in expressing his gratitude; and I thought it a most
remarkable thing to see a sovereign, whose palace was filled with all
that luxury can invent to add to comfort, and all that art can create
which is splendid and magnificent, only too happy in procuring half of a
bundle of straw on which to rest his head.

I will now give some fresh souvenirs which have just recurred to my mind
concerning the Court theater. At Saint-Cloud, in order to reach the
theater hall, it was necessary to cross the whole length of the Orangery;
and nothing could be more elegant than the manner in which it was
decorated on these occasions. Rows of rare plants were arranged in
tiers, and the whole lighted by lamps; and during the winter the boxes
were hidden by covering them with moss and flowers, which produced a
charming effect under the lights.

The parterre of the theater was usually filled with generals, senators,
and councilors of state; the first boxes were reserved for the princes
and princesses of the imperial family, for foreign princes, marshals,
their wives, and ladies of honor. In the second tier were placed all
persons attached to the Court. Between the acts, ices and refreshments
were served; but the ancient etiquette had been re-established in one
particular, which greatly displeased the actors,--no applause was
allowed; and Talma often told me that the kind of coldness produced by
this silence was very detrimental at certain parts where the actor felt
the need of being enthused. Nevertheless, it sometimes happened that the
Emperor, in testimony of his satisfaction, made a slight signal with his
hand; and then and also at the grandest periods we heard, if not
applause, at least a flattering murmur which the spectators were not
always able to repress.

The chief charm of these brilliant assemblies was the presence of the
Emperor; and consequently an invitation to the theater of Saint-Cloud was
an honor much desired. In the time of the Empress Josephine there were
no representations at the palace in the absence of the Emperor; but when
Marie Louise was alone at Saint-Cloud during the campaign of Dresden, two
representations a week were given, and the whole repertoire of Gretry was
played in succession before her Majesty. At the end of each piece there
was always a little ballet.

The theater of Saint-Cloud was, so to speak, on more than one occasion
the theater of first attempts. For instance, M. Raynouard played there
for the first time the 'Etats de Blois', a work which the Emperor would
not allow to be played in public, and which was not done, in fact, until
after the return of Louis XVIII.

'The Venetians' by M. Amand also made its first appearance on the theater
of Saint-Cloud, or rather of Malmaison. This was not highly considered
at the time; but the infallible judgment the Emperor displayed in his
choice of plays and actors was most remarkable. He generally gave M.
Corvisart the preference in deciding these matters, on which he descanted
with much complacence when his more weighty occupations allowed. He was
usually less severe and more just than Geoffroy; and it is much to be
desired that the criticisms and opinions of the Emperor concerning
authors and actors could have been preserved. They would have been of
much benefit to the progress of art.

In speaking of the retreat from Moscow, I related previously in my
memoirs that I had the good fortune to offer a place in my carriage to
the young Prince of Aremborg, and assisted him in continuing his journey.
I recall another occasion in the life of this prince, when one of my
friends was very useful to him, some particulars of which may not be
without interest.

The Prince of Aremberg, an ordnance officer of the Emperor, had, as we
know, married Mademoiselle Tascher, niece of the Empress Josephine.
Having been sent into Spain, he was there taken by the English, and
afterwards carried a prisoner to England. His captivity was at first
very disagreeable; and he told me himself that he was very unhappy, until
he made the acquaintance of one of my friends, M. Herz, commissary of
war, who possessed a fine mind, was very intelligent, spoke several
languages, and was, like the prince, a prisoner in England. The
acquaintance formed at once between the prince and M. Herz soon became so
intimate that they were constantly together; and thus passed the time as
happily as it can with one far from his native land and deprived of his

They were living thus, ameliorating for each other the ennui of
captivity, when M. Herz was exchanged, which was, perhaps, a great
misfortune for him, as we shall afterwards see. At all events, the
prince was deeply distressed at being left alone; but, nevertheless, gave
M. Herz several letters to his family, and at the same time sent his
mother his mustache, which he had mounted in a medallion with a chain.
One day the Princess of Aremberg arrived at Saint-Cloud and demanded a
private audience of the Emperor.

"My son," said she, "demands your Majesty's permission to attempt his
escape from England."--"Madame," said the Emperor, "your request is most
embarrassing! I do not forbid your son, but I can by no means authorize

It was at the time I had the honor of saving the Prince of Aremberg's
life that I learned from him these particulars. As for my poor friend
Herz, his liberty became fatal to him, owing to an inexplicable
succession of events. Having been sent by Marshal Augereau to Stralsund
to perform a secret mission, he died there, suffocated by the fire of a
brass stove in the room in which he slept. His secretary and his servant
nearly fell victims to the same accident; but, more fortunate than he,
their lives were saved. The Prince of Aremberg spoke to me of the death
of M. Herz with real feeling; and it was easy to see that, prince as he
was and allied to the Emperor, he entertained a most sincere friendship
for his companion in captivity.



I have collected under the title of Military Anecdotes some facts which
came to my knowledge while I accompanied the Emperor on his campaigns,
and the authenticity of which I guarantee. I might have scattered them
through my memoirs, and placed them in their proper periods; my not
having done so is not owing to forgetfulness on my part, but because I
thought that these incidents would have an added interest by being
collected together, since in them we see the direct influence of the
Emperor upon his soldiers, and thus can more easily form an exact idea of
the manner in which his Majesty treated them, his consideration for them,
and their attachment to his person.

During the autumn of 1804, between the time of the creation of the empire
and the coronation of the Emperor, his Majesty made several journeys to
the camp of Boulogne; and from this fact rumors arose that the expedition
against England would soon set sail. In one of his frequent tours of
inspection, the Emperor, stopping one day near the end of the camp on the
left, spoke to a cannoneer from a guard ship, and while conversing with
him, asked him several questions, among others, the following, "What is
thought here of the Emperor?"--"That 'sacre tondu' puts us out of breath
as soon as he arrives. Each time he comes we have not a moment's repose
while he is here. It might be thought he was enraged against those dogs
of English who are always beating us, not much to our own credit."

"You believe in glory, then?" said the Emperor. The cannoneer then
looked at him fixedly: "Somewhat, I think. Do you doubt it?"--"No, I do
not doubt it, but money, do you believe in that also?"--"Ah! what--I see
--do you mean to insult me, you questioner? I know no other interest
than that of the state."--"No, no, my brave soldier; I do not intend to
insult you, but I bet that a twenty-franc piece would not be disagreeable
to you in drinking a cup to my health." While speaking thus the Emperor
had drawn a Napoleon from his pocket, which he presented to the
cannoneer, whereupon the latter uttered a shout loud enough to be heard
by the sentinel at the west post some distance off; and even threw
himself on the Emperor, whom he took for a spy, and was about to seize
him by the throat when the Emperor suddenly opened his gray overcoat and
revealed his identity. The soldier's astonishment may be imagined! He
prostrated himself at the feet of the Emperor, overcome with confusion at
his mistake; but the latter, extending his hand, said, "Rise, my brave
fellow, you have done your duty; but you will not keep your word, I am
very sure; you will accept this piece, and drink to the health of the
'sacre tondo', will you not? "The Emperor then continued his rounds as
if nothing had occurred.

Every one admits to-day that never, perhaps, has any man been gifted to
the same degree as the Emperor with the art of addressing soldiers. He
appreciated this talent highly in others; but it was not fine phrases
which pleased him, and accordingly he held that a master-piece of this
kind was the very short harangue of General Vandamme to the soldiers he
commanded the day of the battle of Austerlitz. When day began to break
General Vandamme said to the troops, "My brave fellows! There are the
Russians! Load your pieces, pick your flints, put powder in the pan, fix
bayonets, ready and--forward!" I remember one day the Emperor spoke of
this oration before Marshal Berthier, who laughed at it. "That is like
you," he said. "Well, all the advocates of Paris would not have said it
so well; the soldier understands this, and that is the way battles are

When after the first campaign of Vienna, so happily terminated by the
peace of Presburg, the Emperor was returning to Paris, many complaints
reached him against the exactions of certain generals, notably General
Vandamme. Complaint was made, amongst other grievances, that in the
little village of Lantza this general had allowed himself five hundred
florins per day, that is to say, eleven hundred and twenty-five francs,
simply for the daily expenses of his table. It was on this occasion the
Emperor said of him: "Pillages like a madman, but brave as Caesar."
Nevertheless, the Emperor, indignant at such exactions, and determined to
put an end to them, summoned the general to Paris to reprimand him; but
the latter, as soon as he entered the Emperor's presence, began to speak
before his Majesty had time to address him, saying, "Sire, I know why you
have summoned me; but as you know my devotion and my bravery I trust you
will excuse some slight altercations as to the furnishing of my table,
matters too petty, at any rate, to occupy your Majesty." The Emperor
smiled at the oratorical skillfulness of General Vandamme, and contented
himself with saying, "Well, well! say no more, but be more circumspect
in future."

General Vandamme, happy to have escaped with so gentle an admonition,
returned to Lantza to resume his command. He was indeed more circumspect
than in the past; but he found and seized the occasion to revenge himself
on the town for the compulsory self-denial the Emperor had imposed on
him. On his arrival he found in the suburbs a large number of recruits
who had come from Paris in his absence; and it occurred to him to make
them all enter the town, alleging that it was indispensable they should
be drilled under his own eyes. This was an enormous expense to the town,
which would have been very willing to recall its complaints, and continue
his expenses at the rate of five hundred florins per day.

The Emperor does not figure in the following anecdote. I will relate it,
however, as a good instance of the manners and the astuteness of our
soldiers on the campaign.

During the year 1806, a part of our troops having their quarters in
Bavaria, a soldier of the fourth regiment of the line, named Varengo, was
lodged at Indersdorff with a joiner. Varengo wished to compel his host
to pay him two florins, or four livres ten sous, per day for his
pleasures. He had no right to exact this. To succeed in making it to
his interest to comply he set himself to make a continual racket in the
house. The poor carpenter, not being able to endure it longer, resolved
to complain, but thought it prudent not to carry his complaints to the
officers of the company in which Varengo served. He knew by his own
experience, at least by that of his neighbors, that these gentlemen were
by no means accessible to complaints of this kind. He decided to address
himself to the general commanding, and set out on the road to Augsburg,
the chief place of the arrondissement.

On his arrival at the bureau of the town, he was met by the general, and
began to submit to him an account of his misfortunes; but unfortunately
the general did not know the German language, so he sent for his
interpreter, told the carpenter to explain himself, and inquired of what
he complained. Now, the general's interpreting secretary was a
quartermaster who had been attached to the general's staff since the
Peace of Presburg, and happened to be, as luck would have it, the first
cousin of this Varengo against whom the complaint was made. Without
hesitation the quartermaster, as soon as he heard his cousin's name, gave
an entirely incorrect translation of the report, assuring the general
that this peasant, although in very comfortable circumstances, disobeyed
the order of the day, in refusing to furnish fresh meat for the brave
soldier who lodged with him; and this was the origin of the disagreement
on which the complaint was based, no other motive being alleged for
demanding a change. The general was much irritated, and gave orders to
his secretary to require the peasant, under severe penalties, to furnish
fresh meat for his guest. The order was written; but instead of
submitting it to the supervision of the general, the interpreting
secretary wrote out at length that the carpenter should pay two florins
per day to Varengo. The poor fellow, having read this in German, could
not restrain a movement of anger, seeing which, the general, thinking he
had resisted the order, ordered him out, threatening him with his riding-
whip. Thus, thanks to his cousin, the interpreter, Varengo regularly
received two florins per day, which enabled him to be one of the jolliest
soldiers in his company.

The Emperor did not like duelling. He often pretended to be ignorant of
duels; but when he had to admit his knowledge of one, loudly expressed
his dissatisfaction. I recall in this connection two or three
circumstances which I shall attempt to relate.

A short time after the foundation of the Empire, a duel occurred, which
created much stir in Paris, on account of the rank of the two
adversaries. The Emperor had just authorized the formation of the first
foreign regiment which he wished to admit into the service of France,--
the regiment of Aremberg. Notwithstanding the title of this corps, most
of the officers who were admitted were French; and this was a good
opening, discreetly made, for rich and titled young men, who, in
purchasing companies by the authority of the minister of war, could thus
pass more rapidly through the first grades. Among the officers of the
Aremberg regiment, were M. Charles de Sainte-Croix, who had recently
served in the ministry of foreign affairs, and a charming young man whom
I saw often at Malmaison, M. de Mariolles, who was nearly related to the
Empress Josephine. It seems that the same position had been promised
both, and they resolved to settle the dispute by private combat. M. de
Mariolles fell, and died on the spot, and his death created consternation
among the ladies of the salon at Malmaison.

His family and relations united in making complaint to the Emperor, who
was very indignant, and spoke of sending M. de Sainte-Croix to the Temple
prison and having him tried for murder. He prudently concealed himself
during the first outburst over this affair; and the police, who were put
on his track, would have had much difficulty in finding him, as he was
especially protected by M. Fouche, who had recently re-entered the
ministry, and was intimately connected with his mother, Madame de Sainte-
Croix. Everything ended with the threats of his Majesty; since M. Fouche
had remarked to him that by such unaccustomed severity the malevolent
would not fail to say that he was performing less an act of sovereignty
than one of personal vengeance, as the victim had the honor of being
connected with himself.

The affair was thus suffered to drop; and I am here struck with the
manner in which one recollection leads on to another, for I remember that
in process of time the Emperor became much attached to M. de Sainte-
Croix, whose advancement in the army was both brilliant and rapid; since,
although he entered the service when twenty-two years of age, he was only
twenty-eight when he was killed in Spain, being already then general of
division. I often saw M. de Sainte-Croix at the Emperor's headquarters.
I think I see him still, small, delicate, with an attractive countenance,
and very little beard. He might have been taken for a young woman,
rather than the brave young soldier he was; and, in fact, his features
were so delicate, his cheeks so rosy, his blond hair curled in such
natural ringlets, that when the Emperor was in a good humor he called him
nothing but Mademoiselle de Sainte-Croix!

Another circumstance which I should not omit is a duel which took place
at Burgos, in 1808, between General Franceschi, aide-de-camp to King
Joseph, and Colonel Filangieri, colonel of his guard, both of whom were
equerries of his Majesty. The subject of the quarrel was almost the same
as that between M. de Mariolles and de Sainte-Croix; since both disputed
for the position of first equerry to King Joseph, both maintaining that
it had been promised them.

We had hardly been in the palace of Burgos five minutes when the Emperor
was informed of this duel, which had taken place almost under the walls
of the palace itself, and only a few hours before. The Emperor learned
at the same time that General Franceschi had been killed, and on account
of the difference in their rank, in order not to compromise military
etiquette, they had fought in their uniforms of equerry. The Emperor was
struck with the fact that the first news he received was bad news; and
with his ideas of fatality, this really excited a great influence over
him. He gave orders to have Colonel Filangieri found and brought to him,
and he came in a few moments. I did not see him, as I was in another
apartment; but the Emperor spoke to him in so loud and sharp a tone that
I heard distinctly all he said. "Duels! duels! always duels!" cried
the Emperor. "I will not allow it. I will punish it! You know how I
abhor them!"--"Sire, have me tried if you will, but hear me."--"What can
you have to say to me, you crater of Vesuvius? I have already pardoned
your affair with Saint Simon; I will not do the like again. Moreover, I
cannot, at the very beginning of the campaign, when all should be
thoroughly united! It produces a most unfortunate effect!" Here the
Emperor kept silence a moment; then he resumed, although in a somewhat
sharper tone: "Yes! you have a head of Vesuvius. See what a fine
condition of affairs I arrive and find blood in my palace!" After
another pause, and in a somewhat calmer tone: "See what you have done!
Joseph needs good officers; and here you have deprived him of two by a
single blow,--Franceschi, whom you have killed, and yourself, who can no
longer remain in his service." Here the Emperor was silent for some
moments, and then added: "Now retire, leave! Give yourself up as a
prisoner at the citadel of Turin. There await my orders, or rather place
yourself in Murat's hands; he will know what to do with you; he also has
Vesuvius in his head, and he will give you a warm welcome. Now take
yourself off at once."

Colonel Filangieri needed no urging, I think, to hasten the execution of
the Emperor's orders. I do not know the conclusion of thus adventure;
but I do know that the affair affected his Majesty deeply, for that
evening when I was undressing him he repeated several times, "Duels!
What a disgraceful thing! It is the kind of courage cannibals have!"
If, moreover; the Emperor's anger was softened on this occasion, it was
on account of his affection for young Filangieri; at first on account of
his father, whom the Emperor highly esteemed, and also, because the young
man having been educated at his expense, at the French Prytanee, he
regarded him as one of his children by adoption, especially since he knew
that M. Filangieri, godson of the queen of Naples, had refused a
regiment, which the latter had offered him while he was still only a
simple lieutenant in the Consular Guard, and further, because he had not
consented to become a Neapolitan again until a French prince had been
called to the throne of Naples.

What remains to be said on the subject of duels under the Empire, and the
Emperor's conduct regarding them which came to my knowledge, somewhat
resembles the little piece which is played on the theater after a
tragedy. I will now relate how it happened that the Emperor himself
played the role of peacemaker between two sub-officers who were enamored
of the same beauty.

When the French army occupied Vienna, some time after the battle of
Austerlitz, two sub-officers belonging to the forty-sixth and fiftieth
regiments of the line, having had a dispute, determined to fight a duel,
and chose for the place of combat a spot situated at the extremity of a
plain which adjoined the palace of Schoenbrunn, the Emperor's place of
residence. Our two champions had already unsheathed and exchanged blows
with their short swords, which happily each had warded off, when the
Emperor happened to pass near them, accompanied by several generals.
Their stupefaction at the sight of the Emperor may be imagined. Their
arms fell, so to speak; from their hands.

The Emperor inquired the cause of their quarrel, and learned that a woman
who granted her favors to both was the real motive, each of them desiring
to have no rival.

These two champions found by chance that they were known to one of the
generals who accompanied his Majesty, and informed him that they were two
brave soldiers of Marengo and Austerlitz, belonging to such and such
regiments, whose names had already been put on the list for the Cross of
Honor; whereupon the Emperor addressed them after this style: "My
children, woman is capricious, as fortune is also; and since you are
soldiers of Marengo and Austerlitz, you need to give no new proofs of
your courage. Return to your corps, and be friends henceforth, like good
knights." These two soldiers lost all desire to fight, and soon
perceived that their august peacemaker had not forgotten them, as they
promptly received the Cross of the Legion of Honor.

In the beginning of the campaign of Tilsit, the Emperor, being at Berlin,
one day took a fancy to make an excursion on foot to the quarter where
our soldiers in the public houses indulged in the pleasures of the dance.
He saw a quartermaster of the cavalry of his guard walking with a coarse,
rotund German woman, and amused himself listening to the gallant remarks
made by this quartermaster to his beautiful companion. "Let us enjoy
ourselves, my dear," said he; "it is the 'tondu' who pays the musicians
with the 'kriches' of your sovereign. Let us take our own gait; long
live joy! and forward"--"Not so fast," said the Emperor, approaching
him. "Certainly it must always be forward, but wait till I sound the
charge." The quartermaster turned and recognized the Emperor, and,
without being at all disconcerted, put his hand to his shako, and said,
"That is useless trouble. Your Majesty does not need to beat a drum to
make us move." This repartee made the Emperor smile, and soon after
gained epaulets for the sub-officer, who perhaps might have waited a long
while except for this fancy of his Majesty. But, at all events, if
chance sometimes contributed thus to the giving of rewards, they were
never given until after he had ascertained that those on whom he bestowed
them were worthy.

At Eylau provisions failed; for a week, the bread supply being exhausted,
the soldiers fed themselves as they could. The evening before the first
attack, the Emperor, who wished to examine everything himself, made a
tour of the bivouacs, and reaching one where all the men were asleep, saw
some potatoes cooking, took a fancy to eat them, and undertook to draw
them out of the fire with the point of his sword. Instantly a soldier
awoke, and seeing some one usurping part of his supper, "I say, you are
not very ceremonious, eating our potatoes!"--"My comrade, I am so hungry
that you must excuse me."--"Well, take one or two then, if that is the
case; but get off." But as the Emperor made no haste in getting off, the
soldier insisted more strongly, and soon a heated discussion arose
between him and the Emperor. From words they were about to come to
blows, when the Emperor thought it was time to make himself known. The
soldier's confusion was indescribable. He had almost struck the Emperor.
He threw himself at his Majesty's feet, begging his pardon, which was
most readily granted. "It was I who was in the wrong," said the Emperor;
"I was obstinate. I bear you no illwill; rise and let your mind be at
rest, both now and in the future."

The Emperor, having made inquiries concerning this soldier, learned that-
he was a good fellow, and not unintelligent. On the next promotion he
was made sub-lieutenant. It is impossible to give an idea of the effect
of such occurrences on the army. They were a constant subject of
conversation with the soldiers, and stimulated them inexpressibly. The
one who enjoyed the greatest distinction in his company was he of whom it
could be said: "The Emperor has spoken to him."

At the battle of Essling the brave General Daleim, commanding a division
of the fourth corps, found himself during the hottest part of the action
at a spot swept by the enemy's artillery. The Emperor, passing near him,
said: "It is warm in your locality!"--"Yes, Sire; permit me to extinguish
the fire."--"Go." This one word sufficed; in the twinkling of an eye the
terrible battery was taken. In the evening the Emperor, seeing General
Daleim, approached him, and said, "It seems you only had to blow on it."
His Majesty alluded General Daleim's habit of incessant whistling.

Among the brave general officers around the Emperor, a few were not
highly educated, though their other fine qualities recommended them; some
were celebrated for other reasons than their military merit. Thus
General Junot and General Fournier were known as the best pistol shots;
General Lasellette was famous for his love of music, which he indulged to
such an extent as to have a piano always in one of his baggage wagons.
This general drank only water; but, on the contrary, it was very
different with General Bisson. Who has not heard of the hardest drinker
in all the army? One day the Emperor, meeting him at Berlin, said to
him, "Well, Bisson, do you still drink much?"--"Moderately, Sire; not
more than twenty-five bottles." This was, in fact, a great improvement,
for he had more than once reached the number of forty without being made
tipsy. Moreover, with General Bisson it was not a vice, but an imperious
need. The Emperor knowing this, and being much attached to him, allowed
him a pension of twelve thousand francs out of his privy purse, and gave
him besides frequent presents.

Among the officers who were not very well educated, we may be permitted
to mention General Gros; and the manner in which he was promoted to the
grade of general proves this fact. But his bravery was equal to every
proof, and he was a superb specimen of masculine beauty. The pen alone
was an unaccustomed weapon to him, and he could hardly use it to sign his
name; and it was said that he was not much more proficient in reading.
Being colonel of the guard, he found himself one day alone at the
Tuileries in an apartment where he waited until the Emperor could be
seen. There he delighted himself with observing his image reflected in
the glass, and readjusting his cravat; and the admiration he felt at his
own image led him to converse aloud with himself or rather with his
reflection. "Ah!" said he, "if you only knew 'bachebachiques'
(mathematics), such a man as you, with a soldier's heart like yours, ah!
the Emperor would make you a general!"--"You are one," said the Emperor,
striking him on the shoulder. His Majesty had entered the saloon without
being heard, and had amused himself with listening to the conversation
Colonel Gros had carried on with himself. Such were the circumstances of
his promotion to the rank of general, and what is more to be a general in
the guard.

I have now arrived at the end of my list of military anecdotes. I have
just spoken of a general's promotion, and will close with the story of a
simple drummer, but a drummer renowned throughout the army as a perfect
buffoon, in fact, the famous Rata, to whom General Gros, as we shall see;
was deeply attached.

The army marched on Lintz during the campaign of 1809. Rata, drummer of
the grenadiers of the fourth regiment of the line, and famous as a
buffoon, having learned that the guard was to pass, and that it was
commanded by General Gros; desired to see this officer who had been his
chief of battalion, and with whom he had formerly taken all sorts of
liberties. Rata thereupon waged his mustache, and went to salute the
general, addressing him thus: "Ah, here you are, General. How are you?"
--"Very well, indeed, Rata; and you?"--"Always well, but not so well as
you, it seems to me. Since you are doing so very well, you no longer
think of poor Rata; for if he did not come to see you, you would not even
think of sending him a few sous to buy tobacco." While saying, "You do
so well," Rata had quickly seized General Gross hat, and put it on his
head in place of his own. At this moment the Emperor passed, and seeing
a drummer wearing the hat of a general of his guard, he could hardly
believe his eyes. He spurred up his horse, and inquired the cause.
General Gros then said, laughing, and in the frank speech he so often
used even to the Emperor, "It is a brave soldier from my old battalion,
accustomed to play pranks to amuse his comrades. He is a brave fellow,
Sire, and every inch a man, and I recommend him to your Majesty.
Moreover, Sire, he can himself do more than a whole park of artillery.
Come, Rata, give us a broad side, and no quarter." The Emperor listened,
and observed almost stupefied what was passing under his very eyes, when
Rata, in no wise intimidated by the presence of the Emperor, prepared to
execute the general's order; then, sticking his finger in his mouth, he
made a noise like first the whistling and then the bursting of a shell.
The imitation was so perfect that the Emperor was compelled to laugh, and
turning to General Gros, said, "Come, take this man this very evening
into the guard, and remind me of him on the next occasion." In a short
while Rata had the cross, which those who threw real shells at the enemy
often had not; so largely does caprice enter into the destiny of men!



The life of any one who has played a distinguished part offers many
points of view, the number of which increases in proportion to the
influence he has wielded upon the movement of events. This has been
greater in the case of Napoleon than of any other personage in history.
The product of an era of convulsions, in all of whose changes he took
part, and which he at last closed by subjecting all ideas under a rule,
which at one time promised to be lasting, he, like Catiline, requires a
Sallust; like Charlemagne, an Eginhard; and like Alexander, a Quintus
Curtius. M. de Bourrienne has, indeed, after the manner of Commines,
shown him to us undisguised in his political manipulations and in the
private life of his Court. This is a great step towards a knowledge of
his individuality, but it is not enough. It is in a thorough
acquaintance with his private life that this disillusioned age will find
the secret springs of the drama of his marvelous career. The great men
of former ages were veiled from us by a cloud of prejudice which even the
good sense of Plutarch scarcely penetrated. Our age, more analytical and
freer from illusions, in the great man seeks to find the individual. It
is by this searching test that the present puts aside all illusions, and
that the future will seek to justify its judgments. In the council of
state, the statesman is in his robe, on the battlefield the warrior is
beneath his armor, but in his bedchamber, in his undress, we find the

It has been said that no man is, a hero to his valet. It would give wide
latitude to a witty remark, which has become proverbial, to make it the
epigraph of these memoirs. The valet of a hero by that very fact is
something more than a valet. Amber is only earth, and Bologna stone only
a piece of rock; but the first gives out the perfume of the rose, and the
other flashes the rays of the sun. The character of a witness is
dignified by the solemnity of the scene and the greatness of the actor.
Even before reading the manuscript of M. Constant, we were strongly
persuaded that impressions so unusual and so striking would raise him to
the level of the occasion.

The reader can now judge of this for himself. These are the memoirs of
M. Constant,--autographic memoirs of one still living, who has written
them to preserve his recollections. It is the private history, the
familiar life, the leisure moments, passed in undress, of Napoleon, which
we now present to the public. It is Napoleon taken without a mask,
deprived of his general's sword, the consular purple, the imperial
crown,--Napoleon resting from council and from battle, forgetful of power
and of conquest, Napoleon unbending himself, going to bed, sleeping the
slumber of a common man, as if the world did not hang upon his dreams.

These are striking facts, so natural and of such simplicity, that though
a biased judgment may, perhaps, exaggerate their character, and amplify
their importance, they will furnish to an impartial and reflective mind a
wealth of evidence far superior to the vain speculations of the
imagination or the prejudiced judgments of political parties.

In this light the author of these memoirs is not an author, but simply a
narrator, who has seen more closely and intimately than any one else the
Master of the West, who was for fifteen years his master also; and what
he has written he has seen with his own eyes.


Most charming mistresses and the worst wives
No man is, a hero to his valet
The pear was ripe; but who was to gather it?

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