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The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete by Constant

Part 13 out of 15

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of all future generations. Let it not be said of us: 'They
sacrificed the first interests of their country; they submitted to
the control which England has sought in vain for four centuries to
impose on France.'

"My people need not fear that the policy of their Emperor will ever
betray the glory of the nation; and on my part I have the conviction
that the French people will ever prove worthy of themselves and of

This address was received with unanimous shouts of "Vive l'Empereur;"
and, when his Majesty returned to the. Tuileries, he had an air of
intense satisfaction, although he had a slight headache, which
disappeared after half an hour's repose. In the evening it was entirely
gone, and the Emperor questioned me on what I had heard people say. I
told, him truthfully that the persons of my acquaintance unanimously
agreed that the desire for peace was universal. "Peace, peace!" said
the Emperor, "who can desire it more than I? Go, my son, go." I
withdrew, and his Majesty went to the Empress.

It was about this time, I do not remember the exact day, that the Emperor
gave a decision on a matter in which I had interested myself with him;
and I affirm that it will be seen from this decision what a profound
respect his Majesty had for the rights of a legitimate marriage, and his
excessive antipathy to divorced persons. But, in order to support this
assertion, I will give an anecdote which recurs to my memory at this

During the Russian campaign General Dupont-Derval was slain on the
battlefield, fighting valiantly. His widow, after his Majesty's return
to Paris, had often, but always in vain, endeavored to present a petition
to his Majesty describing her unfortunate condition. At length some one
advised her to secure my services; and, touched by her unhappiness, I
presented her demand to the Emperor. His Majesty but rarely refused my
solicitations of this kind, as I conducted them with the utmost
discretion; and consequently I was fortunate enough to obtain for Madame
Dupont-Derval a very considerable pension. I do not remember how the
Emperor discovered that General Dupont-Derval had been divorced, and had
left a daughter by a former marriage, who, as well as her mother, was
still living. He learned besides that General Dupont-Derval's second
wife was the widow of a general officer by whom she had two daughters.
None of these circumstances, as may be imagined, had been cited in the
petition; but, when they came to the Emperor's knowledge, he did not
withdraw the pension, for which the order had not yet been given, but
simply changed its destination, and gave it to the first wife of--General
Dupont-Derval, making it revertible to her daughter, though she was
sufficiently wealthy not to need it, and the other Madame Dupont-Derval
was in actual need. Meanwhile, as one is always pleased to be the bearer
of good tidings, I had lost no time in informing my petitioner of the
Emperor's favorable decision. When she learned what had taken place, of
which I was still in entire ignorance, she returned to me, and from what
she said I imagined she was the victim of some mistake. In this belief I
took the liberty of again speaking to his Majesty on the subject, and my
astonishment may be imagined when his Majesty himself condescended to
relate to me the whole affair. Then he added: "My poor child, you have
allowed yourself to be taken for a simpleton. I promised a pension, and
I gave it to the wife of General Derval, that is to say, to his real
wife, the mother of his daughter." The Emperor was not at all angry with
me. I know very well that the matter would not have been permitted to
continue thus without my interesting myself further in it; but events
followed each other in rapid succession until the abdication of his
Majesty, and the affair finally remained as thus settled.


It was not only by force of arms that the enemies of France endeavored at
the end of 1813 to overthrow the power of the Emperor. In spite of our
defeats the Emperor's name still inspired a salutary terror; and it was
apparent that although so numerous, the foreigners still despaired of
victory as long as there existed a common accord between the Emperor and
the French people. We have seen in the preceding chapter in what
language he expressed himself to the great united bodies of the state,
and events have proved whether his Majesty concealed the truth from the
representatives of the nation as to the real condition of France. To
this discourse which history has recorded, I may be allowed to oppose
here another made at the same period. This is the famous declaration of
Frankfort, copies of which the enemies of the Emperor caused to be
circulated in Paris; and I would not dare to wager that persons of his
court, while performing their duties near him, did not have a copy in
their pockets. If there still remains any doubt as to which party was
acting in good faith, the reading of what follows is sufficient to dispel
these; for there is no question here of political considerations, but
simply the comparison of solemn promises with the actions which

"The French government has just ordered a new levy of three hundred
thousand men; the proclamations of the senate contain a challenge to
the allied powers. They find themselves called on again to
promulgate to the world the views by which they are guided in this
present war, the principles which form the basis of their conduct,
their wishes, and their intentions. The allied powers are not
making war on France, but on the openly admitted preponderance
which, to the great misfortune of Europe and France, the Emperor
Napoleon has too long maintained outside the limits of his Empire.

Victory has brought the allied armies to the Rhine. The first use
their imperial and royal Majesties have made of victory has been to
offer peace to his Majesty the Emperor of the French. A position
reenforced by the accession of all the sovereigns and princes of
Germany has had no influence on the conditions of this peace, for
these conditions are founded on the independence of the other states
of Europe. The objects of these powers are just in their aims,
generous and liberal in their application, reassuring to all, and
honorable to each.

The allied sovereigns desire that France should be great, strong,
and happy, since its greatness and power is one of the foundations
of the social edifice. They desire that France should be happy,
that French commerce should revive, that the arts, those blessings
of peace, should flourish, because a great people are tranquil only
when satisfied. The powers confirm the French Empire in the
possession of an extent of territory which France has never attained
under her kings, since a generous nation should not be punished
because it has experienced reverses in a bloody and well-contested
struggle in which it has fought with its accustomed bravery.

But the powers themselves also wish to be happy and peaceful. They
desire a condition of peace which, by a wise partition of force, by
a just equilibrium, may hereafter preserve their people from the
innumerable calamities which have for twenty years overwhelmed

"The allied powers will not lay down their arms until they have
obtained this grand and beneficent result, the worthy object of all
their efforts. They will not lay down their arms until the
political condition of Europe is again secure; until immutable
principles have regained their ascendency over new pretensions, and
the sanctity of treaties has finally assured a genuine peace to

It needs only common sense to ascertain whether the allied powers were
sincere in this declaration, the object of which evidently was to
alienate from the Emperor the affections of his people by holding up his
Majesty before them as an obstacle to peace, and separating his cause
from that of France; and on this point I am glad to support my own
opinion by that of M. de Bourrienne, whom surely no one will accuse of
partiality for his Majesty.

Several passages of his Memoirs, above all those in which he blames the
Emperor, have pained me, I must confess; but on this occasion he does not
hesitate to admit the insincerity of the allies, which opinion is of much
weight according to my poor judgment.

M. de Bourrienne was then at Paris under the special surveillance of the
Duke of Rovigo. I frequently heard this minister mention him to the
Emperor, and always favorably; but the enemies of the former secretary of
the First Consul must have been very powerful, or his Majesty's
prejudices very strong, for M. de Bourrienne never returned to favor.
The Emperor, who, as I have said, sometimes condescended to converse
familiarly with me, never spoke to me of M. de Bourrienne, whom I had not
seen since the Emperor had ceased to receive him. I saw him again for
the first time among the officers of the National Guard, the day these
gentlemen were received at the palace, as we shall see later, and I have
never seen him since; but as we were all much attached to him on account
of his kind consideration for us, he was often the subject of
conversation, and, I may add, of our regrets. Moreover, I was long
ignorant that at the period of which I am now speaking, his Majesty had
offered him the mission to Switzerland, as I learned this circumstance
only from reading his Memoirs. I would not conceal, however, that I was
painfully affected by reading this, so greatly would I have desired that
Bourrienne should overcome his resentment against his Majesty, who in the
depths of his heart really loved him.

Whatever was done, it is evident now to all that the object of the
declaration of Frankfort was to cause alienation between the Emperor and
the French people, and subsequent events have shown that this was fully
understood by the Emperor, but unfortunately it was soon seen that the
enemy had partly obtained their object. Not only in private society
persons could be heard expressing themselves freely in condemnation of
the Emperor, but dissensions openly arose even in the body of the Corps

After the opening session, the Emperor having rendered a decree that a
commission should be named composed of five senators and five members of
the Corps Legislatif, these two bodies consequently assembled. This
commission, as has been seen from his Majesty's address, had for its
object the consideration of articles submitted relative to pending
negotiations between France and the allied powers. Count Regnault de
Saint Jean d'Angely bore the decree to the Corps Legislatif, and
supported it with his usual persuasive eloquence, recalling the victories
of France and the glory of the Emperor; but the ballot elected as members
of the commission five deputies who had the reputation of being more
devoted to the principles of liberty than to the Emperor. These were M.
Raynouard, Laine, Gallois, Flaugergues, and Maine de Biran. The Emperor
from the first moment appeared much dissatisfied with this selection, not
imagining, however, that this commission would soon show itself so
entirely hostile. I remember well that I heard his Majesty say in my
presence to the Prince of Neuchatel, with some exasperation though
without anger, "They have appointed five lawyers."

Nevertheless, the Emperor did not allow the least symptoms of his
dissatisfaction to be seen; and as soon as he had officially received the
list of commissioners, addressed to the President of the Corps Legislatif
the following letter bearing the date of the 23d of December:

"MONSIEUR, Duke of Massa, President of the Legislative Corps:
We address you the inclosed letter to make known to you our
intention that you report to-morrow, the 24th instant, at the
residence of our cousin the prince archchancellor of the Empire, in
company with the commission appointed yesterday by the Legislative
Corps in compliance with our decree of the 20th instant, and which
is composed of the following gentlemen: Raynouard, Lain, Galiois,
Flaugergues, and Maine de Biran, for the purpose of considering the
articles relative to the negotiations, and also the declaration of
the confederated powers, which will be communicated by Count
Regnault minister of state, and Count d'Hauterive councilor of state
attached to the department of foreign relations, who will be the
bearer of the aforesaid articles and declaration.

"Our intention also is that our cousin aforesaid should preside over
this commission. With this etc."

The members of the senate appointed on this commission were M. de
Fontanel, M. the Prince of Benevent, M. de Saint Marsan, M. de Barbe-
Marbois, and M. de Beurnonville.

With the exception of one of these gentlemen, whose disgrace and
consequent opposition were publicly known, the others were thought to be
sincerely attached to the Emperor; and whatever may have been their
opinions and their subsequent conduct they had done nothing then to
deserve the same distrust from the Emperor as the members of the
committee from the Corps Legislatif. No active opposition, no signs of
discontent, had been shown by the conservative senate.

At this time the Duke of Rovigo came frequently, or I might rather say
every day, to the Emperor. His Majesty was much attached to him, and
that alone suffices to prove that he was not afraid to hear the truth;
for since he had been minister, the Duke of Rovigo had never concealed
it; which fact I can affirm, having been frequently an eyewitness. In
Paris there was nevertheless only unanimous opposition to this minister.
I can, however, cite one anecdote that the Duke of Rovigo has not
included in his Memoirs, and of which I guarantee the authenticity; and
it will be seen from this incident whether or not the minister of police
sought to increase the number of persons who compromised themselves each
day by their gratings against the Emperor.

Among the employees of the treasury was a former receiver of the finances
who led a retired and contented life in this modest employment. He was a
very enthusiastic man of much intelligence. His devotion to the Emperor
amounted to a passion, and he never mentioned him without a sort of
idolatry. This employee was accustomed to pass his evenings with a
circle of friends who met in the Rue de Vivienne. The regular attendants
of this place, whom the police very naturally had their eyes upon, did
not all hold the same opinion as the person of whom I have just spoken,
and began openly to condemn the acts of government, the opposing party
allowing their discontent to be plainly manifest; and the faithful adorer
of his Majesty became proportionately more lavish of his expressions of
admiration, as his antagonists showed themselves ready with reproaches.
The Duke of Rovigo was informed of these discussions, which each day
became more eager and animated; and one fine day our honest employee
found on returning to his home a letter bearing the seal of the general
of police. He could not believe his eyes. He, a good, simple, modest
man living his retired life, what could the minister of general police
desire of him? He opens the letter, and finds that the minister orders
him to appear before him the next morning. He reports there as may be
imagined with the utmost punctuality, and then a dialogue something like
this ensued between these gentlemen. "It appears, Monsieur," said the
Duke of Rovigo, "that you are very devoted to the Emperor."--"Yes, I love
him; I would give him my blood, my life."--"You admire him greatly?"--
"Yes, I admire him! The Emperor has never been so great, his glory has
never--"--"That is all very well, Monsieur; your sentiments do you honor,
and I share those sentiments with you; but I urge on you to reserve the
expression of them for yourself, for, though I should regret it very
much, you may drive me to the necessity of having you arrested."--"I, my
Lord, have me arrested? Ah! but doubtless--why?"--"Do you not see that
you cause the expression of opinions that might remain concealed were it
not for your enthusiasm; and finally, you will force, many good men to
compromise themselves to a certain extent, who will return to us when
things are in better condition. Go, Monsieur, let us continue to love,
serve, and admire the Emperor; but at such a time as this let us not
proclaim our fine sentiments so loudly, for fear of rendering many guilty
who are only a little misguided." The employee of the treasury then left
the minister, after thanking him for his advice and promising to follow
it. I would not dare to assert that he kept his word scrupulously, but I
can affirm that all I have just said is the exact truth; and I am sure
that if this passage in my Memoirs falls under the eyes of the Duke of
Rovigo it will remind him of an occurrence which he may perhaps have
forgotten, but which he will readily recall.

Meanwhile the commission, composed as I have said of five senators and
five members of the Corps Legislatif, devoted itself assiduously to the
duty with which it was charged. Each of these two grand bodies of the
state presented to his Majesty a separate address. The senate had
received the report made by M. de Fontanes; and their address contained
nothing which could displease the Emperor, but was on the contrary
expressed in most proper terms. In it a peace was indeed demanded, but a
peace which his Majesty could obtain by an effort worthy of him and of
the French people. "Let that hand so many times victorious," they said,
"lay down its arms after having assured the repose of the world." The
following passage was also noteworthy: "No, the enemy shall not destroy
this beautiful and noble France, which for fourteen hundred years has
borne itself gloriously through such diverse fortunes, and which for the
interest of the neighboring nations themselves should always bear
considerable weight in the balance of power in Europe. We have as
pledges of this your heroic constancy and the national honor." Then
again, "Fortune does not long fail nations which do not fail in their
duty to themselves."

This language, worthy of true Frenchmen, and which the circumstances at
least required, was well pleasing to the Emperor, as is evident from the
answer he made on the 29th of December to the deputation from the senate
with the prince archchancellor at its head:

"Senators," said his Majesty, "I am deeply sensible of the sentiments you
express. You have seen by the articles which I have communicated to you
what I am doing towards a peace. The sacrifices required by the
preliminary basis which the enemy had proposed to me I have accepted; and
I shall make them without regret, since my life has only one object,--the
happiness of the French people.

"Meanwhile Bearn, Alsace, Franche-Comte, and Brabant have been entered,
and the cries of that part of my family rend my soul. I call the French
to the aid of the French! I call the Frenchmen of Paris, Brittany,
Normandy, Champagne, Burgundy, and the other departments to the aid of
their brothers. Will they abandon them in misfortune? Peace and the
deliverance of our territory should be our rallying cry. At the sight of
this whole people in arms the foreigner will flee, or will consent to
peace on the terms I have proposed to him. The question is no longer the
recovery of the conquests we have made."

It was necessary to be in a position to thoroughly know the character of
the Emperor to understand how much it must have cost him to utter these
last words; but from a knowledge of his character also resulted the
certainty that it would have cost him less to do what he promised than to
say them. It would seem that this was well understood in Paris; for the
day on which the 'Moniteur' published the reply of his Majesty to the
senate, stocks increased in value more than two francs, which the Emperor
did not fail to remark with much satisfaction; for as is well known, the
rise and decline of stocks was with him the real thermometer of public

In regard to the conduct of the Corps Legislatif, I heard it condemned by
a man of real merit deeply imbued with republican principles. He uttered
one day in my presence these words which struck me: "The Corps Legislatif
did then what it should have done at all times, except under these
circumstances." From the language used by the spokesman of the
commission, it is only too evident that the speaker believed in the false
promises of the declaration of Frankfort. According to him, or rather
according to the commission of which he was after all only the organ,
the intention of the foreigners was not to humiliate France; they only
wished to keep us within our proper limits, and annul the effects of an
ambitious activity which had been so fatal for twenty years to all the
nations of Europe. "The propositions of the confederated powers," said
the commission, "seem to us honorable for the nation, since they prove
that foreigners both fear and respect us." Finally the speaker,
continuing his reading, having reached a passage in which allusion was
made to the Empire of the Lily, added in set phrase that the Rhine, the
Alps, the Pyrenees, and the two seas inclosed a vast territory, several
provinces of which had not belonged to ancient France, and that
nevertheless the crown royal of France shone brilliantly with glory and
majesty among all other diadems.

At these words the Duke of Massa interrupted the speaker, exclaiming,
"What you say is unconstitutional;" to which the speaker vehemently
replied, "I see nothing unconstitutional here except your presence," and
continued to read his report. The Emperor was each day informed of what
took place in the sitting of the Corps Legislatif; and I remember that
the day on which their report was read he, appeared much disturbed, and
before retiring walked up and down the room in much agitation, like one
trying to make some important decision. At last he decided not to allow
the publication of the address of the Corps Legislatif, which had been
communicated to him according to custom. Time pressed; the next day
would have been too late, as the address would be circulated in Paris,
where the public mind was already much disturbed. The order was
consequently given to the minister of general police to have the copy of
the report and the address seized at the printing establishment, and to
break the forms already set up. Besides this the order was also given to
close the doors of the Corps Legislatif, which was done, and the
legislature thus found itself adjourned.

I heard many persons at this time deeply regret that his Majesty had
taken these measures, and, above all, that having taken them he had not
stopped there. It was said that since the Corps Legislatif was now
adjourned by force, it was better, whatever might be the result, to
convoke another chamber, and that the Emperor should not recognize the
members of the one he had dismissed. His Majesty thought otherwise, and
gave the deputies a farewell audience. They came to the Tuileries; and
there his only too just resentment found vent in these words:

"I have suppressed your address, as it was incendiary. Eleven-twelfths
of the Corps Legislatif are composed of good citizens whom I know and for
whom I have much regard; the other twelfth is composed of seditious
persons who are devoted to England. Your Commission and its chairman,
M. Laine, are of this number. He corresponds with the Prince Regent,
through the lawyer Deseze. I know it, and have proof of it. The other
four are of the same faction. If there are abuses to be remedied, is
this a time for remonstrances, when two hundred thousand Cossacks are
crossing our frontiers? Is this the moment to dispute as to individual
liberty and safety, when the question is the preservation of political
liberty and national independence? The enemy must be resisted; you must
follow the example of the Alsatians, Vosges, and inhabitants of Franche-
Comte, who wish to march against them, and have applied to me-for arms.
You endeavor in your address to separate the sovereign from the nation.
It is I who here represent the people, who have given me four million of
their suffrages. If I believed you I should cede to the enemy more than
he demands. You shall have peace in three months or I shall perish.
Your address was an insult to me and to the Corps Legislatif."

Although the journals were forbidden to repeat the details of this scene,
the rumors of it spread through Paris with the rapidity of lightning.
The Emperor's words were repeated and commented on; the dismissed
deputies sounded them through all the departments. I remember seeing the
prime arch-chancellor next day come to the Emperor and request an
audience; it was in favor of M. Deseze, whose protector he then was. In
spite of the threatening words of his Majesty, he found him not disposed
to take severe measures; for his anger had already exhausted itself, as
was always the case with the Emperor when he had abandoned himself to his
first emotions of fury. However, the fatal misunderstanding between the
Corps Legislatif and the Emperor, caused by the report of the committee
of that body, produced the most grievous effects; and it is easy to
conceive how much the enemy must have rejoiced over this, as they never
failed to be promptly informed by the numerous agents whom they employed
in France. It was under these sad circumstances that the year 1813
closed. We will see in future what were the consequences of it, and in
fact the history, until now unwritten, of the Emperor's inner life at
Fontainebleau; that is to say, of the most painful period of my life.


In order to neutralize the effects which might be produced in the
provinces by the reports of the members of the Corps Legislatif and the
correspondence of the alarmists, his Majesty appointed from the members
of the conservative senate a certain number of commissioners whom he
charged to visit the departments and restore public confidence. This was
a most salutary measure, and one which circumstances imperiously
demanded; for discouragement began to be felt among the masses of the
population, and as is well known in such cases the presence of superior
authority restores confidence to those who are only timid. Nevertheless,
the enemy were advancing at several points, and had already pressed the
soil of Old France. When this news reached the Emperor, it afflicted him
deeply without overcoming him. At times, however, his indignation broke
forth; above all, when he learned from the reports that French emigrants
had entered the enemy's ranks, whom he stigmatized by the name of
traitors, infamous and wretched creatures, unworthy of pity. I remember
that on the occasion of the capture of Huningen he thus characterized a
certain M. de Montjoie, who was now serving in the Bavarian army after
taking a German name, which I have forgotten. The Emperor added,
however: "At least, he has had the modesty not to keep his French name."
In general easy to conciliate on nearly all points, the Emperor was
pitiless towards all those who bore arms against their country; and
innumerable times I have heard him say that there was no greater crime in
his eyes.

In order not to add to the complication of so many conflicting interests
which encountered and ran contrary to each other still more each day, the
Emperor already had the thought of sending Ferdinand VII. back into
Spain. I have the certainty that his Majesty had even made some
overtures to him on this subject during his last stay in Paris; but it
was the Spanish prince who objected to this, not ceasing, on the
contrary, to demand the Emperor's protection. He desired most of all to
become the ally, of his Majesty, and it was well known that in his
letters to his Majesty he urged him incessantly to give him a wife of the
Emperor's selection. The Emperor had seriously thought of marrying him
to the eldest daughter of King Joseph, which seemed a means of
conciliating at the same time the rights of Prince Joseph and those of
Ferdinand VII., and King Joseph asked nothing better than to be made a
party to this arrangement; and from the manner in which he had used his
royalty since the commencement of his reign, we may be permitted to think
that his Majesty did not greatly object to this. Prince Ferdinand had
acquiesced in this alliance, which appeared very agreeable to him, when
suddenly at the end of the year 1813 he demanded time; and the course of
events placed this affair among the number of those which existed only in
intention. Prince Ferdinand left Valencay at last, but later than the
Emperor had authorized him to do, and for some time his presence had been
only an additional embarrassment. However, the Emperor had no reason to
complain of his conduct towards him until after the events of

At any rate, in the serious situation of affairs, matters concerning the
Prince of Spain were only an incidental matter, no more important than
the stay of the Pope at Fontainebleau; the great point, the object which
predominated everything, was the defense of the soil of France, which the
first days of January found invaded at many points. This was the one
thought of his Majesty, which did not prevent him, nevertheless, from
entering according to custom into all the duties of his administration;
and we will soon see the measures he took to re-establish the national
guard of Paris. I have on this subject certain documents and particulars
which are little known, from a person whose name I am not permitted to
give, but whose position gave him the opportunity of learning all the
intricacies of its formation. As all these duties still required for
more than a month the presence of his Majesty at Paris, he remained there
until the 25th of January.

But what fatal news he received during those twenty-five days!

First the Emperor learned that the Russians, as unscrupulous as the
Austrians in observing the conditions of a capitulation which are usually
considered sacred, had just trampled under their feet the stipulations
made at Dantzic. In the name of the Emperor Alexander, the Prince of
Wurtemberg who commanded the siege had acknowledged and guaranteed to
General Rapp and the troops placed under his command the right to return
to France, which agreement was no more respected than had been a few
months before that made with Marshal Saint-Cyr by the Prince of
Schwarzenberg; thus the garrison of Dantzic were made prisoners with the
same bad faith as that of Dresden had been. This news, which reached him
at almost the same time as that of the surrender of Torgau, distressed
his Majesty so much the more as it contributed to prove to him that these
powerful enemies wished to treat of peace only in name, with a resolution
to retire always before a definite conclusion was reached.

At the same period the news from Lyons was in no wise reassuring. The
command of this place had been confided to Marshal Augereau, and he was
accused of having lacked the energy necessary to foresee or arrest the
invasion of the south of France. Further I will not now dwell on this
circumstance, proposing in the following chapter to collect my souvenirs
which relate more especially to the beginning of the campaign in France,
and some circumstances which preceded it. I limit myself consequently to
recalling, as far as my memory serves, events which occurred during the
last days the Emperor passed in Paris.

From the 4th of January his Majesty, although having lost, as I said a
while since, all hope of inducing the invaders to conclude a peace, which
the whole world so much needed, gave his instructions to the Duke of
Vicenza, and sent him to the headquarters of the allies; but he was
compelled to wait a long time for his passports. At the same time
special orders were sent to the prefects of departments in the invaded
territory as to the conduct they should pursue under such difficult
circumstances. Thinking at the same time that it was indispensable to
make an example in order to strengthen the courage of the timid, the
Emperor ordered the creation of a commission of inquiry, charged to
inquire into the conduct of Baron Capelle, prefect of the department of
the Leman at the time of the entrance of the enemy into Geneva. Finally
a decree mobilized one hundred and twenty battalions of the National
Guard of the Empire, and ordered a levy en masse on all the departments
of the east of all men capable of bearing arms. Excellent measures
doubtless, but vain! Destiny was stronger than even the genius of a
great man.

Meanwhile on the 8th of January appeared the decree which called out for
active duty thirty thousand men of the National Guard of Paris on the
very day when by a singular and fatal coincidence the King of Naples
signed a treaty of alliance with Great Britain. The Emperor reserved for
himself the chief command of the National Parisian Guard, and constituted
the staff as follows: a vice-commander-in-chief, four aides who were
major-generals, four adjutant commandants, and eight assistant captains.
A legion was formed in each district, and each legion was divided into
four battalions subdivided into five companies.--Next the Emperor
appointed the following to superior grades:

General vice-commander-in-chief.--Marshal de Moncey, Duke of Conegliano.

Aides--major-generals.--General of division, Count Hullin; Count
Bertrand, grand marshal of the palace; Count of Montesquieu, grand
chamberlain; Count de Montmorency, chamberlain of the Emperor.

Adjutant-commandants.--Baron Laborde, adjutant-commandant of the post of
Paris; Count Albert de Brancas, chamberlain of the Emperor; Count
Germain, chamberlain of the Emperor; M. Tourton.

Assistant captains.--Count Lariboisiere; Chevalier Adolphe de Maussion;
Messieurs Jules de Montbreton, son of the equerry of the Princess
Borghese; Collin, junior, the younger; Lecordier, junior; Lemoine,
junior; Cardon, junior; Malet, junior.

Chiefs of the twelve Legions.--First legion, Count de Gontaut, senior;
second legion, Count Regnault de Saint Jean d'Angely; third legion, Baron
Hottinguer, banker; fourth legion, Count Jaubert, governor of the bank of
France; fifth legion, M. Dauberjon de Murinais; sixth legion, M. de
Fraguier; seventh legion, M. Lepileur de Brevannes; eighth legion, M.
Richard Lenoir; ninth legion, M. Devins de Gaville; tenth legion, the
Duke of Cadore; eleventh legion, Count de Choiseul-Praslin, chamberlain
of the Emperor; twelfth legion, M. Salleron.

From the names we have just read, we may judge of the incredible insight
by which his Majesty was enabled to choose, among the most distinguished
persons of the different classes of society, those most popular and most
influential from their positions. By the side of the names which had
gained glory under the eyes of the Emperor, and by seconding him in his
great undertakings, could be found those whose claim to distinction was
more ancient and recalled noble memories, and finally the heads of the
principal industries in the capital. This species of amalgamation
delighted the Emperor greatly; and he must have attached to it great
political importance, for this idea occupied his attention to such an
extent that I have often heard him say, "I wish to confound all classes,
all periods, all glories. I desire that no title may be more glorious
than the title of Frenchman." Why is it fate decreed that the Emperor
should not be allowed time to carry out his extensive plans for the glory
and happiness of France of which he so often spoke? The staff of the
National Guard and the chiefs of the twelve legions being appointed, the
Emperor left the nomination of the other officers, as well as the
formation of the legions, to the selection of M. de Chabrol, prefect of
the Seine. This worthy magistrate, to whom the Emperor was much
attached, displayed under these circumstances the greatest zeal and
activity, and in a short time the National Guard presented an imposing
appearance. They were armed, equipped, and clothed in the best possible
manner; and this ardor, which might be called general, was in these last
days one of the consolations which most deeply touched the heart of the
Emperor, since he saw in it a proof of the attachment of the Parisians to
his person, and an additional motive for feeling secure as to the
tranquillity of the capital during his approaching absence. Be that as
it may, the bureau of the National Guard was soon formed, and established
in the residence which Marshal Moncey inhabited on the Rue du Faubourg
Saint-Honore, near the square Beauveau; and one master of requests and
two auditors of the council of state were attached to it. The master of
requests, a superior officer of engineers, the Chevalier Allent, soon be
came the soul of the whole administration of the National Guard, no one
being more capable than he of giving a lively impulse to an organization
which required great promptness. The person from whom I obtained this
information, which I intermingle with my personal souvenirs, has assured
me that following upon, that is to say, after our departure for Chalons-
sur-Marne, M. Allent became still more influential in the National Guard,
of which he was the real head. In fact, when King Joseph had received
the title of lieutenant-general to the Emperor, which his Majesty
conferred on him during the time of his absence, M. Allent found himself
attached on one hand to the staff of King Joseph as officer of engineers,
and on the other to the vice-general-in-chief in his quality of master of
requests. It resulted that he was the mediator and counselor in all
communications which were necessarily established between the lieutenant-
general of the Emperor and Marshal Moncey, and the promptness of his
decisions was a source of great benefit to that good and grave marshal.
He signed all letters, "The Marshal, Duke de Conegliano;" and wrote so
slowly that M. Allent had, so to speak, time to write the correspondence
while the marshal was signing his name. The auditors to the council of
state duties of the two were nothing, or nearly so; but these men were by
no means nobodies, as has been asserted, though a few of that character
of course slipped into the council, since the first condition for holding
this office was simply to prove an income of at least six thousand
francs. These were Messieurs Ducancel, the dean of the auditors, and M.
Robert de Sainte-Croix. A shell had broken the latter's leg during the
return from Moscow; and this brave young man, a captain of cavalry, had
returned, seated astride a cannon, from the banks of the Beresina to
Wilna. Having little physical strength, but gifted with a strong mind,
M. Robert de Sainte-Croix owed it to his moral courage not to succumb;
and after undergoing the amputation of his leg, left the sword for the
pen, and it was thus he became auditor to the council of state.

The week after the National Guard of the city of Paris had been called
into service, the chiefs of the twelve legions and the general staff were
admitted to take the oath of fidelity at the Emperor's hands. The
National Guard had already been organized into legions; but the want of
arms was keenly felt, and many citizens could procure only lances, and
those who could not obtain guns or buy them found themselves thereby
chilled in their ardor to equip themselves. Nevertheless, the Citizen
Guard soon enrolled the desired number of thirty thousand men, and by
degrees it occupied the different posts of the capital; and whilst
fathers of families and citizens employed in domestic work were enrolled
without difficulty, those who had already paid their debts to their
country on the battlefield also demanded to be allowed to serve her
again, and to shed for her the last drop of their blood. Invalided
soldiers begged to resume their service. Hundreds of these brave
soldiers forgot their sufferings, and covered with honorable wounds went
forth again to confront the enemy. Alas! very few of those who then
left the Hotel des Invalides were fortunate enough to return.

Meanwhile the moment of the Emperor's departure approached; but before
setting out he bade a touching adieu to the National Guard, as we shall
see in the next chapter, and confided the regency to the Empress as he
had formerly intrusted it to her during the campaign in Dresden. Alas
this time it was not necessary to make a long journey before the Emperor
was at the head of his army.


We are now about to begin the campaign of miracles; but before relating
the events which I witnessed on this campaign, during which I, so to
speak, never left the Emperor, it is necessary that I here inscribe some
souvenirs which may be considered as a necessary introduction. It is
well known that the Swiss cantons had solemnly declared to the Emperor
that they would not allow their territory to be violated, and that they
would do everything possible to oppose the passage of the allied armies
who were marching on the frontiers of France by way of the Breisgau. The
Emperor, in order to stop them on their march, relied upon the
destruction of the bridge of Bale; but this bridge was not destroyed,
and Switzerland, instead of maintaining her promised neutrality, entered
into the coalition against France. The foreign armies passed the Rhine
at Bale, at Schaffhausen, and at Mannheim. Capitulations made with the
generals of the confederated troops in regard to the French garrisons of
Dantzic, Dresden, and other strong towns had been, as we have seen,
openly violated. Thus Marshal Gouvion Saint-Cyr and his army corps had
been, contrary to the stipulations contained in the treaties, surrounded
by superior forces, disarmed, and conducted as prisoners to Austria; and
twenty thousand men, the remains of the garrison of Dantzic, were thus
arrested by order of the Emperor Alexander, and conveyed to the Russian
deserts. Geneva opened its gates to the enemy in the following January.
Vesoul, Epinal, Nancy, Langres, Dijon, Chalons-sur-Saone, and Bar-sur-
Aube were occupied by the allies.

The Emperor, in proportion as the danger became more pressing, displayed
still more his energy and indefatigable activity. He urged the
organization of new levies, and in order to pay the most urgent expenses
drew thirty millions from his secret treasury in the vaults of the
pavilion Marsan. The levies of conscripts were, however, made with
difficulty; for in the course of the year 1813 alone, one million forty
thousand soldiers had been summoned to the field, and France could no
longer sustain such enormous drains. Meanwhile veterans came from all
parts to be enrolled; and General Carnot offered his services to the
Emperor, who was much touched by this proceeding, and confided to him the
defense of Antwerp. The zeal and courage with which the general
acquitted himself of this important mission is well known. Movable
columns and corps of partisans placed themselves under arms in the
departments of the east, and a few rich proprietors levied and organized
companies of volunteers, while select cavalry formed themselves into
corps, the cavaliers of which equipped themselves at their own expense.

In the midst of these preparations the Emperor received news which moved
him deeply,--the King of Naples had just joined the enemies of the
French. On a previous occasion, when his Majesty had seen the Prince
Royal of Sweden, after having been marshal and prince of the Empire,
enter into a coalition against his native country, I heard him break
forth into reproaches and exclamations of indignation, although the King
of Sweden had more than one reason to offer in his own defense, being
alone in the north, and shut in by powerful enemies against whom he was
entirely unable to struggle, even had the interests of his new country
been inseparable from those of France. By refusing to enter into the
coalition he would have drawn on Sweden the anger of her formidable
neighbors, and with the throne he would have sacrificed and fruitlessly
ruined the nation which had adopted him. It was not to the Emperor he
owed his elevation. But King Joachim, on the contrary, owed everything
to the Emperor; for it was he who had given him one of his sisters as a
wife, who had given him a throne, and had treated him as well as, and
even better than, if he had been a brother. It was consequently the duty
of the King of Naples as well as his interest not to separate his cause
from that of France; for if the Emperor fell, how could the kings of his
own family, whom he had made, hope to stand? Both King Joseph and Jerome
had well understood this, and also the brave and loyal Prince Eugene, who
supported courageously in Italy the cause of his adopted father. If the
King of Naples had united with him they could together have marched on
Vienna, and this audacious but at the same time perfectly practicable
movement would have infallibly saved France.

These are some of the reflections I heard the Emperor make in speaking of
the treachery of the King of Naples, though in the first moments,
however, he did not reason so calmly. His anger was extreme, and with it
was mingled grief and emotions near akin to pity: "Murat !" cried he,
"Murat betray me! Murat sell himself to the English! The poor creature!
He imagines that if the allies succeed in overthrowing me they would
leave him the throne on which I have seated him. Poor fool! The worst
fate that can befall him is that his treachery should succeed; for he
would have less pity to expect from his new allies than from me."

The evening before his departure for the army, the Emperor received the
corps of officers of the National Parisian Guard, and the reception was
held in the great hall of the Tuileries. This ceremony was sad and
imposing. His Majesty presented himself before the assembly with her
Majesty the Empress, who held by the hand the King of Rome, aged three
years lacking two months. Although his speech on this occasion is
doubtless already well known, I repeat it here, as I do not wish that
these beautiful and solemn words of my former master should be wanting in
my Memoirs:

"GENTLEMEN, Officers of the National Guard,--It is with much
pleasure I see you assembled around me. I leave to-night to place
myself at the head of the army. On leaving the capital I place with
confidence in your care my wife and my son on whom rests so many
hopes. I owe you this proof of my confidence, in return for all the
innumerable proofs you have repeatedly given me in the important
events of my life. I shall depart with my mind free from anxiety,
since they will be under your faithful protection. I leave with you
what is dearest to me in the world, next to France, and I freely
commit it to your care.

"It may occur that in consequence of the maneuvers I am about to
make, the enemy may find the opportunity of approaching your walls.
If this should take place, remember that it will be an affair of
only a few days, and I will soon come to your assistance. I
recommend to you to preserve unity among yourselves, and to resist
all the insinuations by which efforts will be made to divide you.
There will not be wanting endeavors to shake your fidelity to duty,
but I rely upon you to repel these perfidious attempts."

At the end of this discourse, the Emperor bent his looks on the Empress
and the King of Rome, whom his august mother held in her arms, and
presenting both by his looks and gestures to the assembly this child
whose expressive countenance seemed to reflect the solemnity of the
occasion, he added in an agitated voice, "I confide him to you,
Messieurs; I confide him to the love of my faithful city of Paris!" At
these words of his Majesty innumerable shouts were heard, and innumerable
arms were raised swearing to defend this priceless trust. The Empress,
bathed in tears and pale with the emotion by which she was agitated,
would have fallen if the Emperor had not supported her in his arms. At
this sight the enthusiasm reached its height, tears flowed from all eyes,
and there was not one present who did not seem willing as he retired to
shed his blood for the Imperial family. On this occasion I again saw for
the first time M. de Bourrienne at the palace; he wore, if I am not
mistaken, the uniform of captain in the National Guard.

On the 25th of January the Emperor set out for the army, after conferring
the regency on her Majesty the Empress; and that night we reached
Chalons-sur-Marne. His arrival stopped the progress of the enemy's army
and the retreat of our troops. Two days after he, in his turn, attacked
the allies at Saint-Dizier. His Majesty's entrance into this town was
marked by most touching manifestations of enthusiasm and devotion. The
very moment the Emperor alighted, a former colonel, M. Bouland, an old
man more than seventy years old, threw himself at his Majesty's feet,
expressing to him the deep grief which the sight of foreign bayonets had
caused him, and his confidence that the Emperor would drive them from the
soil of France. His Majesty assisted the old veteran to rise, and said
to him cheerfully that he would spare nothing to accomplish such a
favorable prediction. The allies conducted themselves in the most
inhuman manner at Saint-Dizier: women and old men died or were made ill
under the cruel treatment which they received; and it may be imagined
what a cause of rejoicing his Majesty's arrival was to the country.

The enemy having been repulsed at Saint-Dizier, the Emperor learned that
the army of Silesia was being concentrated on Brienne, and immediately
set out on the march through the forest of Deo, the brave soldiers who
followed him appearing as indefatigable as he. He halted at the village
of Eclaron, where his Majesty paid a certain sum to the inhabitants to
repair their church, which the enemy had destroyed. The surgeon of this
town advanced to thank the Emperor; and his Majesty examining him
attentively said to him, "You have served in the army, Monsieur?"--"Yes,
Sire; I was in the army of Egypt."--"Why have you no cross?"--"Sire,
because I have never asked for it."--"Monsieur, you are only the more
worthy of it. I hope you will wear the one I shall give you." And in a
few moments his certificate was signed by the Emperor, and handed to the
new chevalier, whom the Emperor recommended to give the most careful
attention to the sick and wounded of our army who might be committed to
his care.

[It is known that the Emperor was not lavish in the distribution
of the Cross of Honor. Of this fact I here give an additional
proof. He was much pleased with the services of M. Veyrat,
inspector general of police, and he desired the Cross. I presented
petitions to this effect to his Majesty, who said to me one day,
"I am well satisfied with Veyrat. He serves me well, and I will
give him as much money as he wishes; but the Cross, never!"

On entering Mezieres his Majesty was received by the authorities of the
city, the clergy, and the National Guard. "Messieurs," said the Emperor
to the National Guard who pressed around him, "we fight to day for our
firesides; let us defend them in such a manner that the Cossacks may not
come to warm themselves beside them. They are bad guests, who will leave
no place for you. Let us show them that every Frenchman is born a
soldier, and a brave one!" His Majesty on receiving the homage of the
curate, perceiving that this ecclesiastic regarded him with extreme
interest and agitation, consequently considered the good priest more
attentively, and soon recognized in him one of the former regents of the
college of Brienne. "What! is it you, my dear master?" cried the
Emperor. "You have, then, never left your retirement! So much the
better, since for that reason you will be only the better able to serve
the cause of your native land. I need not ask if you know the country
around here."--"Sire," replied the curate, "I could find my way with my
eyes shut."--"Come with us, then; you will be our guide, and we will
converse." The worthy priest immediately saddled his well-broken horse,
and placed himself in the center of the Imperial staff.

The same day we arrived before Brienne. The Emperor's march had been so
secret and so rapid that the Prussians had heard nothing of it until he
suddenly appeared before their eyes. A few general officers were made
prisoners; and Blucher himself, who was quietly coming out of the
chateau, had only time to turn and fly as quickly as he could, under a
shower of balls from our advance guard. The Emperor thought for a moment
that the Prussian general had been taken, and exclaimed, "We have got
that old swash-buckler. Now the campaign will not be long." The
Russians who were established in the village set it on fire, and an
engagement took place in the midst of the flames. Night arrived, but the
combat still continued; and in the space of twelve hours the village was
taken and retaken many times. The Emperor was furious that Blucher
should have escaped. As he returned to headquarters, which had been
established at Mezieres, his Majesty narrowly escaped being pierced
through with the lance of a Cossack; but before the Emperor perceived the
movement of the wretch, the brave Colonel Gourgaud, who was marching
behind his Majesty, shot the Cossack dead with his pistol.

The Emperor had with him only fifteen thousand men, and they had waged an
equal struggle with eighty thousand foreign soldiers. At the close of
the combat the Prussians retreated to Bar-sur-Aube; and his Majesty
established himself in the chateau of Brienne, where he passed two
nights. I recalled during this stay the one that I had made ten years
before in this same chateau of Brienne, when the Emperor was on his way
to Milan with the intention of adding the title of King of Italy to that
of Emperor of the French. "To-day," I said to myself, "not only is Italy
lost to him, but here in the center of the French Empire, and a few
leagues from his capital, the Emperor is defending himself against
innumerable enemies!" The first time I saw Brienne, the Emperor was
received as a sovereign by a noble family who fifteen years before had
welcomed him as a protege. He had there revived the happiest
remembrances of his childhood and youth; and in comparing himself in 1805
with what he had been at the Ecole Militaire had spoken with pride of the
path he had trod. In 1814, on the 31st of January, the end to which this
path was tending began to be seen. It is not that I wish to announce
myself as having foreseen the Emperor's fall, for I did not go so far as
that. Accustomed to see him trust to his star, the greater part of those
who surrounded him trusted it no less than he; but nevertheless we could
not conceal from ourselves that great changes had taken place. To delude
ourselves in this respect it would have been necessary to close our eyes
that we might neither see nor hear this multitude of foreigners, whom we
had until now seen only in their own country, and who, in their turn,
were now in our midst.

At each step, in fact, we found terrible proofs of the enemy's presence.
After taking possession of the towns and villages, they had arrested the
inhabitants, maltreated them with saber-strokes and the butt ends of
their guns, stripping them of their clothing, and compelling those to
follow them whom they thought capable of serving as guides on their
march; and if they were not guided as they expected they killed with the
sword or shot their unfortunate prisoners. Everywhere the inhabitants
were made to furnish provisions, drink, cattle, forage, in a word,
everything that could be useful to an army making enormous requisitions;
and when they had exhausted all the resources of their victims, they
finished their work of destruction by pillage and burning. The
Prussians, and above all the Cossacks, were remarkable for their brutal
ferocity. Sometimes these hideous savages entered the houses by main
force, shared among themselves everything that fell into their hands,
loaded their horses with the plunder, and broke to pieces what they could
not carry away. Sometimes, not finding sufficient to satisfy their
greed, they broke down the doors and windows, demolished the ceiling in
order to tear out the beams, and made of these pieces and the furniture,
which was too heavy to be carried away, a fire, which being communicated
to the roofs of neighboring houses consumed in a moment the dwellings of
the unhappy inhabitants, and forced them to take refuge in the woods.

Sometimes the more wealthy inhabitants gave them what they demanded,
especially brandy, of which they drank eagerly, thinking by this
compliance to escape their ferocity; but these barbarians, heated by
drink, then carried their excesses to the last degree. They seized
girls, women, and servants, and beat them unmercifully, in order to
compel them to drink brandy until they fell in a complete state of
intoxication. Many women and young girls had courage and strength to
defend themselves against these brigands; but they united three or four
against one, and often to avenge themselves for the resistance of these
poor creatures mutilated and slew them, after having first violated them,
or threw them into the midst of the bivouac fires. Farms were burned up,
and families recently opulent or in comfortable circumstances were
reduced in an instant to despair and poverty. Husbands and old men were
slain with the sword while attempting to defend the honor of their wives
and daughters; and when poor mothers attempted to approach the fires to
warm the children at their breasts, they were burned or killed by the
explosion of packages of cartridges, which the Cossacks threw
intentionally into the fire; and the cries of pain and agony were stifled
by the bursts of laughter from these monsters.

I should never end if I attempted to relate all the atrocities committed
by these foreign hordes. It was the custom at the time of the
Restoration to say that the complaints and narrations of those who were
exposed to these excesses were exaggerated by fear or hatred. I have
even heard very dignified persons jest pleasantly over the pretty ways of
the Cossacks. But these wits always kept themselves at a distance from
the theater of war, and had the good fortune to inhabit departments which
suffered neither from the first nor second invasion. I would not advise
them to address their pleasantries to the unfortunate inhabitants of
Champagne, or of the departments of the east in general. It has been
maintained also that the allied sovereigns and the general officers of
the Russian and Prussian army severely forbade all violence in their
regular troops, and that the atrocities were committed by undisciplined
and ungovernable bands of Cossacks. I have been in a position to learn,
on many occasions, especially at Troves, proofs to the contrary. This
town has not forgotten, doubtless, how the Princes of Wurtemberg and
Hohenlohe and the Emperor Alexander himself justified the burnings,
pillage, violations, and numerous assassinations committed under their
very eyes, not only by the Cossacks, but also by regularly enlisted and
disciplined soldiers. No measures were taken by the sovereigns or by
their generals to put an end to such atrocities, and nevertheless when
they left a town there was needed only an order from them to remove at
once the hordes of Cossacks who devastated the country.

The field of the La Rothiere was, as I have said, the rendezvous of the
pupils of the military school of Brienne. It was there that the Emperor,
when a child, had foreshadowed in his engagement with the scholars his
gigantic combats. The engagement at La Rothiere was hotly contested; and
the enemy obtained, only at the price of much blood, an advantage which
they owed entirely to their numerical superiority. In the night which
followed this unequal struggle, the Emperor ordered the retreat from
Troves. On returning to the chateau after the battle, his Majesty
narrowly escaped an imminent danger. He found himself surrounded by a
troop of uhlans, and drew his sword to defend himself. M. Jardin,
junior, his equerry, who followed the Emperor closely, received a ball in
his arm. Several chasseurs of the escort were wounded, but they at last
succeeded in extricating his Majesty. I can assert that his Majesty
showed the greatest self-possession in all encounters of this kind. On
that day, as I unbuckled his sword-belt, he drew it half out of the
scabbard, saying, "Do you know, Constant, the wretches have made me cut
the wind with this? The rascals are too impudent. It is necessary to
teach them a lesson, that they may learn to hold themselves at a
respectful distance."

It is not my intention to write the history of this campaign in France,
in which the Emperor displayed an activity and energy which excited to
the highest point the admiration of those who surrounded him.
Unfortunately, the advantages which he had obtained gradually exhausted
his own troops, while only creating losses in the enemy's, which they
easily repaired. It was, as M. Bourrienne has well said, a combat of an
Alpine eagle with a flock of ravens: "The eagle may kill them by
hundreds. Each blow of his beak is the death of an enemy; but the ravens
return in still greater numbers, and continue their attack on the eagle
until they at last overcome him." At Champ-Aubert, at Montmirail, at
Nangis, at Montereau, and at Arcis, and in twenty other engagements, the
Emperor obtained the advantage by his genius and by the courage of our
army; but it was all in vain. Hardly had these masses of the enemy been
scattered, before fresh ones were formed again in front of our soldiers,
exhausted by continuous battles and forced marches. The army, especially
that which Blucher commanded, seemed to revive of itself, and whenever
beaten reappeared with forces equal, if not superior, to those which had
been destroyed or dispersed. How can such an immense superiority of
numbers be indefinitely resisted?


The Emperor had never shown himself so worthy of admiration as during
this fatal campaign in France, when, struggling against misfortunes, he
performed over again the prodigies of his first wars in Italy, when
fortune smiled on him. His career had begun with an attack, and the end
was marked by the most magnificent defense recorded in the annals of war.
And it may be said with truth that at all times and everywhere his
Majesty showed himself both the perfect general and the soldier, under
all circumstances furnishing an example of personal courage to such an
extent, indeed, that all those who surrounded him, and whose existence
was dependent on his own, were seriously alarmed. For instance, as is
well known, the Emperor, at the battle of Montereau, pointed the pieces
of artillery himself, recklessly exposed himself to the enemy's fire, and
said to his soldiers, who were much alarmed at his danger and attempted
to remove him, "Let me alone, my friends; the bullet which is to kill me
has not yet been molded."

At Arcis the Emperor again fought as a common soldier, and more than once
drew his sword in order to cut his way through the midst of the enemy who
surrounded him. A shell fell a few steps from his horse. The animal,
frightened, jumped to one side, and nearly unhorsed the Emperor, who,
with his field-glass in his hand, was at the moment occupied in examining
the battlefield. His Majesty settled himself again firmly in his saddle,
stuck his spurs in the horse's sides, forced him to approach and put his
nose to it. Just then the shell burst, and, by an almost incredible
chance, neither the Emperor nor his horse was even wounded.

In more than one similar circumstance the Emperor seemed, during this
campaign, to put his life at a venture; and yet it was only in the last
extremity that he abandoned the hope of preserving his throne. It was a
painful sacrifice to him to treat with the enemy so long as they occupied
French territory; for he wished to purge the soil of France of the
presence of foreigners before entering into any agreement with them
whatever. And this feeling was the reason of his hesitation and refusal
to accept the peace which was offered him on various occasions.

On the 8th of February, the Emperor, at the end of a long discussion with
two or three of his intimate advisers, retired very late, and in a state
of extreme preoccupation. He woke me often during the night, complaining
of being unable to sleep, and made me extinguish and relight his lamp
again and again. About five o'clock in the morning I was called again.
I was almost fainting with fatigue, which his Majesty noticed, and said
to me kindly, "You are worn out, my poor Constant; we are making a
severe campaign, are we not? But hold out only a little longer; you will
soon rest."

Encouraged by the sympathizing tones of his Majesty, I took the liberty
of replying that no one could think of complaining of the fatigue or
privations he endured, since they were shared by his Majesty; but that,
nevertheless, the desire and hope of every one were for peace. "Ah,
yes," replied the Emperor, with a kind of subdued violence, "they will
have peace; they will realize what a dishonorable peace is!" I kept
silence; his Majesty's chagrin distressed me deeply; and I wished at this
moment that his army could have been composed of men of iron like
himself, then he would have made peace only on the frontiers of France.

The tone of kindness and familiarity in which the Emperor spoke to me on
this occasion recalls another circumstance which I neglected to relate in
its proper place, and which I must not pass over in silence, since it
furnishes such a fine example of his Majesty's conduct towards the
persons of his service, and especially myself. Roustan witnessed the
occurrence, and it was from him I learned the opening details.

In one of his campaigns beyond the Rhine (I do not remember which), I had
passed several nights in succession without sleep, and was exhausted.
The Emperor went out at eleven o'clock, and remained three or four hours;
and I seated myself in his armchair, near his table, to await his return,
intending to rise and retire as soon as I heard him enter, but was so
exhausted with fatigue that sleep suddenly overtook me, and I dropped
into a deep slumber, my head resting on my arm, and my arm on his
Majesty's table. The Emperor returned at last with Marshal Berthier, and
followed by Roustan. I heard nothing. The Prince de Neuchatel wished to
approach and shake me that I might awake and resign to his Majesty his
seat and table; but the Emperor stopped him, saying, "Let the poor fellow
sleep; he has passed many nights with none." Then, as there was no other
chair in the apartment, the Emperor seated himself on the edge of the
bed, made the marshal also seat himself there, and they held a long
conversation while I continued to sleep. At length, needing one of the
maps from the table on which my arm rested, his Majesty, although he drew
it out most cautiously, awoke me; and I immediately sprang to my feet,
overwhelmed with confusion, and excusing myself for the liberty I had so
involuntarily taken. "Monsieur Constant," the Emperor then said with an
exceedingly kind smile, "I am distressed to have disturbed you. Pray,
excuse me." I trust that this, in addition to what I have already
related of the same nature, may serve as an answer to those who have
accused him of harshness to his servants. I resume my recital of the
events of 1814.

On the night of the 8th the Emperor seemed to have decided on making
peace; and the whole night was spent in preparing dispatches, which on
the morning of the 9th at nine o'clock were brought to him to sign; but
he had changed his mind. At seven o'clock he had received news from the
Russian and Prussian army; and when the Duke of Bassano entered, holding
in his hand the dispatches to be signed, his Majesty was asleep over the
maps where he had stuck his pens. "Ah, it is you," said he to his
minister; "we will no longer need those. We are now laying plans to
attack Blucher; he has taken the road from Montmirail. I am about to
start. To-morrow I will fight, and again the next day. The aspect of
affairs is on the point of changing, as we shall see. Let us not be
precipitate; there is time enough to make such a peace as they propose."
An hour after we were on the road to Sezanne.

For several days in succession after this, the heroic efforts of the
Emperor and his brave soldiers were crowned with brilliant success.
Immediately on their arrival at Champ-Aubert, the army, finding itself in
presence of the Russian army corps, against which they had already fought
at Brienne, fell on it without even waiting to take repose, separated it
from the Prussian army, and took the general-in-chief and several general
officers prisoners. His Majesty, whose conduct towards his conquered
foes was always honorable and generous, made them dine at his table, and
treated them with the greatest consideration.

The enemy were again beaten at the Farm des Frenaux by Marshals Ney and
Mortier, and by the Duke of Ragusa at Vaux-Champs, where Blucher again
narrowly escaped being made prisoner. At Nangis the Emperor dispersed
one hundred and fifty thousand men commanded by the Prince von
Schwarzenberg, and ordered in pursuit of them Marshals Oudinot,
Kellermann, Macdonald, and Generals Treilhard and Gerard.

The eve of the battle of Wry, the Emperor inspected all the surroundings
of this little town; and his observing glasses rested on an immense
extent of marshy ground in the midst of which is the village of Bagneux,
and at a short distance the village of Anglure, past which the Aube
flows. After rapidly passing over the unsafe ground of these dangerous
marshes, he set foot on solid ground, and seated himself on a bundle of
reeds, and there, leaning against the wall of a night-hunter's hut, he
unrolled his map of the campaign; and, after examining it a few moments,
remounted his horse and set off at a gallop.

At this moment a flock of teal and snipe flew up before his Majesty; and
he exclaimed laughingly: "Go, go, my beauties; make room for other game."
His Majesty said to those around him, "This time we have them!"

The Emperor was galloping towards Anglure, in order to see if the hill of
Baudemont, which is near this village, was occupied by the artillery,
when the noise of cannon heard in the direction of Wry compelled him to
retrace his steps; and he accordingly returned to Wry, saying to the
officers who accompanied him, "Let us gallop, gentlemen, our enemies are
in a hurry; we should not keep them waiting." A half hour after he was
on the battlefield. Enormous clouds of smoke from the burning of Wry
were driven in the faces of the Russian and Prussian columns, and partly
hid the maneuvers of the French army. At that moment everything
indicated the success of the plans the Emperor had formed that morning in
the marshes of Bagneux, for all went well. His Majesty foresaw the
defeat of the allies, and France saved, while at Anglure all were given
up to despair. The population of many villages shuddered at the approach
of the enemy; for not a piece of cannon was there to cut off their
retreat, not a soldier to prevent them from crossing the river.

The position of the allies was so exceedingly critical that the whole
French army believed them destroyed, as they had plunged with all their
artillery into the marshes, and would have been mowed down by the shower
of balls from our cannon if they had remained there. But suddenly they
were seen to make a new effort, place themselves in line of battle, and
prepare to pass the Aube. The Emperor, who could pursue them no farther
without exposing his army to the danger of being swallowed up in the
marshes, arrested the impetuosity of his soldiers, believing that the
heights of Baudemont were covered with artillery ready to overwhelm the
enemy; but hearing not a single shot in this direction, he hurried to
Sezanne to hasten the advance of the troops, only to learn that those he
expected to find there had been sent toward Fere Champenoise.

During this interval, a man named Ansart, a land owner at Anglure,
mounted his horse, and hurried at the utmost speed to Sezanne in order to
inform the marshal that the enemy were pursued by the Emperor, and about
to cross the Aube. Having reached the Duke, and seeing that the corps he
commanded was not taking the road to Anglure, he hastened to speak.
Apparently the Emperor's, orders had not been received; for the marshal
would not listen to him, treated him as a spy, and it was with much
difficulty this brave man escaped being shot.

While this scene was taking place, his Majesty had already reached
Sezanne; and seeing many inhabitants of this village around him, he
requested some one to guide him to Fere Champenoise, whereupon a bailiff
presented himself. The Emperor immediately set out, escorted by the
officers who had accompanied him to Sezanne, and left the town, saying to
his guide, "Go in front, monsieur, and take the shortest road." Arrived
at a short distance from the battlefield of Fere Champenoise, his Majesty
saw that every report of the artillery made the poor bailiff start. "You
are afraid," said the Emperor to him. "No, Sire."--"Then, what makes you
dodge your head?"--"It is because I am not accustomed like your Majesty
to hearing all this uproar."--"One should accustom himself to everything.
Fear nothing; keep on." But the guide, more dead than alive, reined in
his horse, and trembled in every limb. "Come, come; I see you are really
afraid. Go behind me." He obeyed, turned his horse's head, and galloped
as far as Sezanne without stopping, promising himself most faithfully
never again to serve as guide to the Emperor on such an occasion.

At the battle of Mery, the Emperor, under the very fire of the enemy, had
a little bridge thrown over the river which flows near the town. This
bridge was constructed in an hour by means of ladders fastened together,
and supported by wooden beams; but as this was not sufficient, it was
necessary that planks should be placed on this. None could be found,
however; for those who might have been able to procure them did not dare
to approach the exposed spot his Majesty occupied at this moment.
Impatient, and even angry, because he could not obtain the planks for
this bridge, his Majesty had the shutters of several large houses a short
distance from the river taken down, and had them placed and nailed down
under his own eyes. During this work he was tormented by intense thirst,
and was about to dip water up in his hand to slake it, when a young girl,
who had braved danger in order to draw near the Emperor, ran to a
neighboring house, and brought him a glass of water and some wine, which
he eagerly drank.

Astonished to see this young girl in so perilous a place, the Emperor
said to her, smiling, "You would make a brave soldier, Mademoiselle; and
if you are willing to wear epaulets you shall be one of my aides-de-
camp." The young girl blushed, and made a courtesy to the Emperor, and
was going away, when he held out his hand to her, and she kissed it.
"Later," he said, "come to Paris, and remind me of the service you have
rendered me to-day. You will be satisfied of my gratitude." She thanked
the Emperor and withdrew, very proud of his words of commendation.

The day of the battle of Nangis an Austrian officer came in the evening
to headquarters, and had a long, secret conference with his Majesty.
Forty-eight hours after, at the close of the engagement at Mery, appeared
a new envoy from the Prince von Schwarzenberg, with a reply from the
Emperor of Austria to the confidential letter which his Majesty had
written two days before to his father-in-law. We had left Mery in
flames; and in the little hammock of Chatres, where headquarters had been
established, there could no shelter be found for his Majesty except in
the shop of a wheelwright; and the Emperor passed the night there,
working, or lying on the bed all dressed, without sleeping. It was there
also he received the Austrian envoy, the Prince of Lichtenstein. The
prince long remained in conversation with his Majesty; and though nothing
was known of the subject of their conversation, no one doubted that it
related to peace. After the departure of the prince, the Emperor was in
extraordinarily high spirits, which affected all those around him.

Our army had taken from the enemy thousands of prisoners; Paris had just
received the Russian and Prussian banners taken at Nangis and Montereau;
the Emperor had put to flight the foreign sovereigns, who even feared for
a time that they might not be able to regain the frontiers; and the
effect of so much success had been to restore to his Majesty his former
confidence in his good fortune, though this was unfortunately only a
dangerous illusion.

The Prince of Lichtenstein had hardly left headquarters when M. de Saint-
Aignan, the brother-in-law of the Duke of Vicenza, and equerry of the
Emperor, arrived. M. de Saint-Aignan went, I think, to his brother-in-
law, who was at the Congress of Chatillon, or at least had been; for the
sessions of this congress had been suspended for several days. It seems
that before leaving Paris M. de Saint-Aignan held an interview with the
Duke of Rovigo and another, minister, and they had given him a verbal
message to the Emperor. This mission was both delicate and difficult.
He would have much preferred that these gentlemen should have sent in
writing the communications which they insisted he should bear to his
Majesty, but they refused; and as a faithful servant M. de Saint-Aignan
performed his duty, and prepared to speak the whole truth, whatever
danger he might incur by so doing.

When he arrived at the wheelwright's shop at Chatres, the Emperor, as we
have just seen, was abandoning himself to most brilliant dreams; which
circumstance was most unfortunate for M. de Saint-Aignan, since he was
the bearer of disagreeable news. He came, as we have learned since, to
announce to his Majesty that he should not count upon the public mind at
the capital, since they were murmuring at the prolongation of the war,
and desired that the Emperor should seize the occasion of making peace.
It has even been stated that the word disafection was uttered during this
secret conference by the sincere and truthful lips of M. de Saint-Aignan.
I cannot assert that this is true; for the door was closely shut, and M.
de Saint-Aignan spoke in a low tone. It is certain, however, that his
report and his candor excited his Majesty's anger to the highest degree;
and in dismissing him with an abruptness he had certainly not merited,
the Emperor raised his voice to such a pitch as to be heard outside.
When M. de Saint-Aignan withdrew, and his Majesty summoned me to my
duties near him, I found him much agitated, and pale with anger. A few
hours after this scene the Emperor ordered his horse, and M. de Saint-
Aignan, who had resumed his duties as equerry, approached to hold his
stirrup; but as soon as the Emperor perceived him he threw on him an
angry glance, made him a sign to withdraw, exclaiming loudly,
"Mesgrigny!" This was Baron de Mesgrigny, another of his Majesty's
squires. In compliance with his Majesty's wishes, M. de Mesgrigny
performed the duties of M. de Saint-Aignan, who withdrew to the rear of
the army to wait till the storm should be past. At the end of a few days
his disgrace was ended, and all who knew him rejoiced; for the Baron de
Saint-Aignan was beloved by all for his affability and loyalty.

From Chatres the Emperor marched on Troyes. The enemy who occupied this
town seemed at first disposed to defend themselves there, but soon
yielded, and evacuated it at the close of a capitulation. During the
short time the, allies passed at Troyes, the Royalists had publicly
announced their hatred to the Emperor, and their adherence to the allied
powers, who came, they said, only to establish the Bourbons on the
throne, and even had the imprudence to display the white flag and white
cockade; and the foreign troops had consequently protected them, while
exercising extreme harshness and severity towards those inhabitants who
held contrary opinions.

Unfortunately for the Royalists they were in a very feeble minority, and
the favor shown to them by the Russians and Prussians led the populace
oppressed by the latter to hate the proteges as much as their protectors.

Even before the entrance of the Emperor into Troyes, Royalist
proclamations addressed to the officers of his household or the army had
fallen into his hands. He had showed no anger, but had urged those who
had received, or who might receive, communications of this nature, to
destroy them, and to inform no one of the contents. On his arrival at
Troyes his Majesty rendered a decree proclaiming penalty of death against
all Frenchmen in the service of the enemy, and those who wore the emblems
and decorations of the ancient dynasty. An unfortunate emigre, accused
before a council of war, was convicted of having worn the cross of St.
Louis and the white cockade during the stay of the allies at Troyes, and
of having furnished to the foreign generals all the information in his

The council pronounced sentence of death, for the proofs were positive,
and the law not less so; and Chevalier Gonault fell a victim to his ill-
judged devotion to a cause which was still far from appearing national,
especially in the departments occupied by the allied armies, and was
executed according to military usage.


A sad sort of consolation that is drawn from reprisals
Borrowing, which uses up the resources of the future
For a retreating enemy it is necessary to make a bridge of gold
Make a bridge of gold, or oppose a wall of brass
Paper money, which is the greatest enemy of social order
Rise and decline of stocks was with him the real thermometer
The more I concede the more they demand







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

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