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The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete by Constant

Part 8 out of 15

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is a large iron gate, opening on an immense court, in which seven or
eight thousand men could be drilled. This court is square, surrounded by
covered galleries, and ornamented with two large basins with marble
statues; and on each side of the gateway are two large obelisks in rose-
colored stone, surmounted by eagles of gilded lead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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







Towards the end of September the Emperor made a journey to Raab; and, as
he was mounting his horse to return to his residence at Schoenbrunn, he
saw the bishop a few steps from him. "Is not that the bishop?" said he
to M. Jardin, who was holding his horse's head. "No, Sire, it is
Soliman."--"I asked you if that was not the bishop," repeated his
Majesty, pointing to the prelate. M. Jardin, intent on business, and
thinking only of the Emperor's horse which bore the name of Bishop, again
replied, "Sire, you forget that you rode him on the last relay." The
Emperor now perceived the mistake, and broke into a laugh. I was witness
at Wagram of an act which furnished a fine illustration of the Emperor's
kindness of heart and consideration for others, of which I have already
given several instances; for, although in the one I shall now relate, he
was forced to refuse an act of clemency, his very refusal challenges
admiration as an exhibition of the generosity and greatness of his soul.

A very rich woman, named Madame de Combray, who lived near Caen, allowed
her chateau to be occupied by a band of royalists, who seemed to think
they upheld their cause worthily by robbing diligences on the highway.
She constituted herself treasurer of this band of partisans, and
consigned the funds thus obtained to a pretended treasurer of Louis
XVIII. Her daughter, Madame Aquet, joined this troop, and, dressed in
men's clothing, showed most conspicuous bravery. Their exploits,
however, were not of long duration; and pursued and overcome by superior
forces, they were brought to trial, and Madame Aquet was condemned to
death with her accomplices. By means of a pretended illness she obtained
a reprieve, of which she availed herself to employ every means in her
power to obtain a pardon, and finally, after eight months of useless
supplications, decided to send her children to Germany to intercede with
the Emperor. Her physician, accompanied by her sister and two daughters,
reached Schoenbrunn just as the Emperor had gone to visit the field of
Wagram, and for an entire day awaited the Emperor's return on the steps
of the palace; and these children, one ten, the other twelve, years old,
excited much interest. Notwithstanding this, their mother's crime was a
terrible one; for although in political matters opinions may not be
criminal, yet under every form of government opinions are punished, if
thereby one becomes a robber and an assassin. The children, clothed in
black, threw themselves at the Emperor's feet, crying, "Pardon, pardon,
restore to us our mother." The Emperor raised them tenderly, took the
petition from the hands of the aunt, read every word attentively, then
questioned the physician with much interest, looked at the children,
hesitated--but just as I, with all who witnessed this touching scene,
thought he was going to pronounce her pardon, he recoiled several steps,
exclaiming, "I cannot do it!" His changing color, eyes suffused with
tears, and choking voice, gave evidence of the struggle through which he
was passing; and witnessing this, his refusal appeared to me an act of
sublime courage.

Following upon the remembrance of these violent crimes, so much the more
worthy of condemnation since they were the work of a woman, who, in order
to abandon herself to them, was forced to begin by trampling under foot
all the gentle and modest virtues of her sex, I find recorded in my notes
an act of fidelity and conjugal tenderness which well deserved a better
result. The wife of an infantry colonel, unwilling to be parted from her
husband, followed the march of his regiment in a coach, and on the days
of battle mounted a horse and kept herself as near as possible to the
line. At Friedland she saw the colonel fall, pierced by a ball, hastened
to him with her servant, carried him from the ranks, and bore him away in
an ambulance, though too late, for he was already dead. Her grief was
silent, and no one saw her shed a tear. She offered her purse to a
surgeon, and begged him to embalm her husband's corpse, which was done as
well as possible under the circumstances; and she then had the corpse
wrapped in bandages, placed in a box with a lid, and put in a carriage,
and seating herself beside it, the heart-broken widow set out on her
return to France. A grief thus repressed soon affected her mind; and at
each halt she made on the journey, she shut herself up with her precious
burden, drew the corpse from its bog, placed it on a bed, uncovered its
face, and lavished on it the most tender caresses, talking to it as if it
was living, and slept beside it. In the morning she replaced her husband
in the box, and, resuming her gloomy silence, continued her route. For
several days her secret remained unknown, and was discovered only a few
days before she reached Paris.

The body had not been embalmed in such a manner as to preserve it long
from decay; and this soon reached such a point, that, when she arrived at
an inn, the horrible odor from the box aroused suspicion, and the unhappy
wife's room was entered that evening, and she was found clasping in her
arms the already sadly disfigured corpse of her husband. "Silence," she
cried to the frightened innkeeper. "My husband is asleep, why do you
come to disturb his glorious rest?" With much difficulty the corpse was
removed from the arms of the insane woman who had guarded it with such
jealous care, and she was conveyed to Paris, where she afterward died,
without recovering her reason for an instant.

There was much astonishment at the chateau of Schoenbrunn because the
Archduke Charles never appeared there; for he was known to be much
esteemed by the Emperor, who never spoke of him except with the highest
consideration. I am entirely ignorant what motives prevented the prince
from coming to Schoenbrunn, or the Emperor from visiting him; but,
nevertheless, it is a fact, that, two or three days before his departure
from Munich, his Majesty one morning attended a hunting-party, composed
of several officers and myself; and that we stopped at a hunting-box
called la Venerie on the road between Vienna and Bukusdorf, and on our
arrival we found the Archduke Charles awaiting his Majesty, attended by a
suite of only two persons. The Emperor and the archduke remained for a
long while alone in the pavilion; and we did not return to Schoenbrunn
until late in the evening.

On the 16th of October at noon the Emperor left this residence with his
suite, composed of the grand marshal, the Duke of Frioul; Generals Rapp,
Mouton, Savary, Nansouty, Durosnell and Lebrun; of three chamberlains; of
M. Labbe, chief of the topographical bureau; of M. de Meneval, his
Majesty's secretary, and M. Yvan; and accompanied by the Duke of Bassano,
and the Duke of Cadore, then minister of foreign relations.

We arrived at Passau on the morning of the 18th; and the Emperor passed
the entire day in visiting Forts Maximilian and Napoleon, and also seven
or eight redoubts whose names recalled the principal battles of the
campaign. More than twelve thousand men were working on these important
fortifications, to whom his Majesty's visit was a fete. That evening we
resumed our journey, and two days after we were at Munich.

At Augsburg, on leaving the palace of the Elector of Treves, the Emperor
found in his path a woman kneeling in the dust, surrounded by four
children; he raised her up and inquired kindly what she desired. The
poor woman, without replying, handed his Majesty a petition written in
German, which General Rapp translated. She was the widow of a German
physician named Buiting, who had died a short time since, and was well
known in the army from his faithfulness in ministering to the wounded
French soldiers when by chance any fell into his hands. The Elector of
Treves, and many persons of the Emperor's suite, supported earnestly this
petition of Madame Buiting, whom her husband's death had reduced almost
to poverty, and in which she besought the Emperor's aid for the children
of this German physician, whose attentions had saved the lives of so many
of his brave soldiers. His Majesty gave orders to pay the petitioner the
first year's salary of a pension which he at once allowed her; and when
General Rapp had informed the widow of the Emperor's action, the poor
woman fainted with a cry of joy.

I witnessed another scene which was equally as touching. When the
Emperor was on the march to Vienna, the inhabitants of Augsburg, who had
been guilty of some acts of cruelty towards the Bavarians, trembled lest
his Majesty should take a terrible revenge on them; and this terror was
at its height when it was learned that a part of the French army was to
pass through the town.

A young woman of remarkable beauty, only a few months a widow, had
retired to this place with her child in the hope of being more quiet than
anywhere else, but, frightened by the approach of the troops, fled with
her child in her arms. But, instead of avoiding our soldiers as she
intended, she left Augsburg by the wrong gate, and fell into the midst of
the advance posts of the French army. Fortunately, she encountered
General Decourbe, and trembling, and almost beside herself with terror,
conjured him on her knees to save her honor, even at the expense of her
life, and immediately swooned away. Moved even to tears, the general
showed her every attention, ordered a safe-conduct given her, and an
escort to accompany her to a neighboring town, where she had stated that
several of her relatives lived. The order to march was given at the same
instant; and, in the midst of the general commotion which ensued, the
child was forgotten by those who escorted the mother, and left in the
outposts. A brave grenadier took charge of it, and, ascertaining where
the poor mother had been taken, pledged himself to restore it to her at
the earliest possible moment, unless a ball should carry him off before
the return of the army. He made a leather pocket, in which he carried
his young protege, arranged so that it was sheltered from the weather.
Each time he went into battle the good grenadier dug a hole in the
ground, in which he placed the little one, and returned for it when the
battle was over; and though his comrades ridiculed him the first day,
they could not but fail to admire the nobility of his conduct. The child
escaped all danger, thanks to the incessant care of its adopted father;
and, when the march to Munich was again begun, the grenadier, who was
singularly attached to the little waif, almost regretted to see the
moment draw near when he must restore it to its mother.

It may easily be understood what this poor woman suffered after losing
her child. She besought and entreated the soldiers who escorted her to
return; but they had their orders, which nothing could cause them to
infringe. Immediately on her arrival she set out again on her return to
Augsburg, making inquiries in all directions, but could obtain no
information of her son, and at last being convinced that he was dead,
wept bitterly for him. She had mourned thus for nearly six months, when
the army re-passed Augsburg; and, while at work alone in her room one
day, she was told that a soldier wished to see her, and had something
precious to commit to her care; but he was unable to leave his corps, and
must beg her to meet him on the public square. Little suspecting the
happiness in store for her, she sought the grenadier, and the latter
leaving the ranks, pulled the "little good man" out of his pocket, and
placed him in the arms of the poor mother, who could not believe the
evidence of her own eyes. Thinking that this lady was probably not rich,
this excellent man had collected a sum of money, which he had placed in
one of the pockets of the little one's coat.

The Emperor remained only a short time at Munich; and the day of his
arrival a courier was sent in haste by the grand marshal to M. de Lucay
to inform him that his Majesty would be at Fontainebleau on the 27th of
October, in the evening probably, and that the household of the Emperor,
as well as that of the Empress, should be at this residence to receive
his Majesty. But, instead of arriving on the evening of the 27th, the
Emperor had traveled with such speed, that, on the 26th at ten o'clock in
the morning, he was at the gates of the palace of Fontainebleau; and
consequently, with the exception of the grand marshal, a courier, and the
gate-keeper of Fontainebleau, he found no one to receive him on his
descent from the carriage. This mischance, which was very natural, since
it had been impossible to foresee an advance of more than a day in the
time appointed, nevertheless incensed the Emperor greatly. He was
regarding every one around him as if searching for some one to scold,
when, finding that the courier was preparing to alight from his horse, on
which he was more stuck than seated, he said to him: "You can rest to-
morrow; hasten to Saint-Cloud and announce my arrival," and the poor
courier recommenced his furious gallop.

This accident, which vexed his Majesty so greatly, could not be
considered the fault of any one; for by the orders of the grand marshal,
received from the Emperor, M. de Lucay had commanded their Majesties'
service to be ready on the morning of the next day. Consequently, that
evening was the earliest hour at which the service could possibly be
expected to arrive; and he was compelled to wait until then.

During this time of waiting, the Emperor employed himself in visiting the
new apartments that had been added to the chateau. The building in the
court of the Cheval-Blanc, which had been formerly used as a military
school, had been restored, enlarged, and decorated with extraordinary
magnificence, and had been turned entirely into apartments of honor, in
order, as his Majesty said, to give employment to the manufacturers of
Lyons, whom the war deprived of any, outside market. After repeated
promenades in all directions, the Emperor seated himself with every mark
of extreme impatience, asking every moment what time it was, or looking
at his watch; and at last ordered me to prepare writing materials, and
took his seat all alone at a little table, doubtless swearing internally
at his secretaries, who had not arrived.

At five o'clock a carriage came from Saint-Cloud; and as the Emperor
heard it roll into the court he descended the stairs rapidly, and while a
footman was opening the door and lowering the steps, he said to the
persons inside: "Where is the Empress?" The answer was given that her
Majesty the Empress would arrive in a quarter of an hour at most. "That
is well," said the Emperor; and turning his back, quickly remounted the
stairs and entered a little study, where he prepared himself for work.

At last the Empress arrived, exactly at six o'clock. It was now dark.
The Emperor this time did not go down; but listening until he learned
that it was her Majesty, continued to write, without interrupting himself
to go and meet her. It was the first time he had acted in this manner.
The Empress found him seated in the cabinet. "Ah!" said his Majesty,
"have you arrived, Madame? It is well, for I was about to set out for
Saint-Cloud." And the Emperor, who had simply lifted his eyes from his
work to glance at her Majesty, lowered them again, and resumed his
writing. This harsh greeting, distressed Josephine exceedingly, and she
attempted to excuse herself; but his Majesty replied in such a manner as
to bring tears to her eyes, though he afterwards repented of this, and
begged pardon of the Empress, acknowledging that he had been wrong.


It is not, as has been stated in some Memoirs, because and as a result of
the slight disagreement which I have related above, that the first idea
of a divorce came to his Majesty. The Emperor thought it necessary for
the welfare of France that he should have an heir of his own line; and as
it was now certain that the Empress would never bear him one, he was
compelled to think of a divorce. But it was by most gentle means, and
with every mark of tender consideration, that he strove to bring the
Empress to this painful sacrifice. He had no recourse, as has been said,
to either threats or menaces, for it was to his wife's reason that he
appealed; and her consent was entirely voluntary. I repeat that there
was no violence on the part of the Emperor; but there was courage,
resignation, and submission on that of the Empress. Her devotion to the
Emperor would have made her submit to any sacrifice, she would have given
her life for him; and although this separation might break her own heart,
she still found consolation in the thought that by this means she would
save the one she loved more than all beside from even one cause of
distress or anxiety. And when she learned that the King of Rome was
born, she lost sight of her own disappointment in sympathizing with the
happiness of her friend; for they had always treated each other with all
the attention and respect of the most perfect friendship.

The Emperor had taken, during the whole day of the 26th, only a cup of
chocolate and a little soup; and I had heard him complain of hunger
several times before the Empress arrived. Peace being restored, the
husband and wife embraced each other tenderly, and the Empress passed on
into her apartments in order to make her toilet. During this time the
Emperor received Messieurs Decres and De Montalivet, whom he had
summoned in the morning by a mounted messenger; and about half-past seven
the Empress reappeared, dressed in perfect taste. In spite of the cold,
she had had her hair dressed with silver wheat and blue flowers, and wore
a white satin polonaise, edged with swan's down, which costume was
exceedingly becoming. The Emperor interrupted his work to regard her:
"I did not take long at my toilet, did I?" said she, smiling; whereupon
his Majesty, without replying, showed her the clock, then rose, gave her
his hand, and was about to enter the dining-room, saying to Messieurs De
Montalivet and Decres, "I will be with you in five minutes."--"But," said
the Empress, "these gentlemen have perhaps not yet dined, as they have
come from Paris."--"Ah, that is so!....." and the ministers entered the
dining-room with their Majesties. But hardly had the Emperor taken his
seat, than he rose, threw aside his napkin, and re-entered his cabinet,
where these gentlemen were compelled to follow him, though much against
their inclinations.

The day ended better than it had begun. In the evening there was a
reception, not large, but most agreeable, at which the Emperor was very
gay, and in excellent humor, and acted as if anxious to efface the memory
of the little scene with the Empress. Their Majesties remained at
Fontainebleau till the 14th of November. The King of Saxony had arrived
the evening before at Paris; and the Emperor, who rode on horseback
nearly all the way from Fontainebleau to Paris, repaired on his arrival
to the Palace de l'Elysee. The two monarchs appeared very agreeably
impressed with each other, and went in public together almost every day,
and one morning early left the Tuileries on foot, each accompanied by a
single escort. I was with the Emperor. They directed their steps,
following the course of the stream, towards the bridge of Jena, the work
on which was being rapidly carried to completion, and reached the Place
de la Revolution, where fifty or sixty persons collected with the
intention of accompanying the two sovereigns; but as this seemed to annoy
the Emperor, agents of the police caused them to disperse. When he had
reached the bridge, his Majesty examined the work attentively; and
finding some defects in the construction, had the architect called, who
admitted the correctness of his observations, although, in order to
convince him, the Emperor had to talk for some time, and often repeated
the same explanations. His Majesty, turning then towards the King of
Saxony, said to him, "You see, my cousin, that the master's eye is
necessary everywhere."--"Yes," replied the King of Saxony; "especially an
eye so well trained as your Majesty's."

We had not been long at Fontainebleau, when I noticed that the Emperor in
the presence of his august spouse was preoccupied and ill at ease. The
same uneasiness was visible on the countenance of the Empress; and this
state of constraint and mutual embarrassment soon became sufficiently
evident to be remarked by all, and rendered the stay at Fontainebleau
extremely sad and depressing. At Paris the presence of the King of
Saxony made some diversion; but the Empress appeared more unhappy than
ever, which gave rise to numerous conjectures, but as for me, I knew only
too well the cause of it all. The Emperor's brow became more furrowed
with care each day, until the 30th of November arrived.

On that day the dinner was more silent than ever. The Empress had wept
the whole day; and in order to conceal as far as possible her pallor, and
the redness of her eyes, wore a large white hat tied under her chin, the
brim of which concealed her face entirely. The Emperor sat in silence,
his eyes fastened on his plate, while from time to time convulsive
movements agitated his countenance; and if he happened to raise his eyes,
glanced stealthily at the Empress with unmistakable signs of distress.
The officers of the household, immovable as statues, regarded this
painful and gloomy scene with sad anxiety; while the whole repast was
simply a form, as their Majesties touched nothing, and no sound was heard
but the regular movement of plates placed and carried away, varied sadly
by the monotonous tones of the household officers, and the tinkling sound
made by the Emperor's striking his knife mechanically on the edge of his
glass. Once only his Majesty broke the silence by a deep sigh, followed
by these words addressed to one of the officers: "What time is it?" An
aimless question of the Emperor's, it seemed, for he did not hear, or at
any rate did not seem to hear, the answer; but almost immediately he rose
from the table, and the Empress followed him with slow steps, and her
handkerchief pressed against her lips as if to suppress her sobs. Coffee
was brought, and, according to custom, a page presented the waiter to the
Empress that she might herself pour it out; but the Emperor took it
himself, poured the coffee in the cup, and dissolved the sugar, still
regarding the Empress, who remained standing as if struck with a stupor.
He drank, and returned the cup to the page; then gave a signal that he
wished to be alone, and closed the door of the saloon. I remained
outside seated by the door; and soon no one remained in the dining-room
except one of the prefects of the palace, who walked up and down with
folded arms, foreseeing, as well as I, terrible events. At the end of a
few moments I heard cries, and sprang up; just then the Emperor opened
the door quickly, looked out, and saw there no one but us two. The
Empress lay on the floor, screaming as if her heart were breaking: "No;
you will not do it! You would not kill me!" The usher of the room had
his back turned. I advanced towards him; he understood, and went out.
His Majesty ordered the person who was with me to enter, and the door was
again closed. I have since learned that the Emperor requested him to
assist him in carrying the Empress to her apartment. "She has," he said,
"a violent nervous attack, and her condition requires most prompt
attention." M. de B----- with the Emperor's assistance raised the
Empress in his arms; and the Emperor, taking a lamp from the mantel,
lighted M. de B----- along the passage from which ascended the little
staircase leading to the apartments of the Empress. This staircase was
so narrow, that a man with such a burden could not go down without great
risk of falling; and M. de B-----, having called his Majesty's attention
to this, he summoned the keeper of the portfolio, whose duty it was to be
always at the door of the Emperor's cabinet which opened on this
staircase, and gave him the light, which was no longer needed, as the
lamps had just been lighted. His Majesty passed in front of the keeper,
who still held the light, and carrying the feet of the Empress himself,
descended the staircase safely with M. de B-----; and they thus reached
the bedroom. The Emperor rang for her women, and when they entered,
retired with tears in his eyes and every sign of the deepest emotion.
This scene affected him so deeply that he said to M. de B----- in a
trembling, broken tone, some words which he must never reveal under any
circumstances. The Emperor's agitation must have been very great for him
to have informed M. de B----- of the cause of her Majesty's despair, and
to have told him that the interests of France and of the Imperial Dynasty
had done violence to his heart, and the divorce had become a duty,
deplorable and painful, but none the less a duty.

Queen Hortense and M. Corvisart soon reached the Empress, who passed a
miserable night. The Emperor also did not sleep, and rose many times to
ascertain Josephine's condition. During the whole night her Majesty did
not utter a word. I have never witnessed such grief.

Immediately after this, the King of Naples, the King of Westphalia, the
King of Wurtemberg, and the king and princesses of the Imperial family,
arrived at Paris to be present at the fetes given by the city of Paris to
his Majesty in commemoration of the victories and the pacification of
Germany, and at the same time to celebrate the anniversary of the
coronation. The session of the legislative corps was also about to open.
It was necessary, in the interval between the scene which I have just
described and the day on which the decree of divorce was signed, that the
Empress should be present on all these occasions, and attend all these
fetes, under the eyes of an immense crowd of people, at a time when
solitude alone could have in any degree alleviated her sorrow; it was
also necessary that she should cover up her face with rouge in order to
conceal her pallor and the signs of a month passed in tears. What
tortures she endured, and how much she must have bewailed this elevation,
of which nothing remained to her but the necessity of concealing her

On the 3d of December their Majesties repaired to Notre Dame, where a
'Te Deum' was sung; after which the Imperial cortege marched to the
palace of the Corps Legislatif, and the opening of the session was held
with unusual magnificence. The Emperor took his place amidst
inexpressible enthusiasm, and never had his appearance excited such
bursts of applause: even the Empress was more cheerful for an instant,
and seemed to enjoy these proofs of affection for one who was soon to be
no longer her husband; but when he began to speak she relapsed into her
gloomy reflections.

It was almost five o'clock when the cortege returned to the Tuileries,
and the Imperial banquet was to take place at half-past seven. During
this interval, a reception of the ambassadors was held, after which the
guests passed on to the gallery of Diana.

The Emperor held a grand dining in his coronation robes, and wearing his
plumed hat, which he did not remove for an instant. He ate more than was
his custom, notwithstanding the distress under which he seemed to be
laboring, glanced around and behind him every moment, causing the grand
chamberlain continually to bend forward to receive orders which he did
not give. The Empress was seated in front of him, most magnificently
dressed in an embroidered robe blazing with diamonds; but her face
expressed even more suffering than in the morning.

On the right of the Emperor was seated the King of Saxony, in a white
uniform with red facings, and collar richly embroidered in silver,
wearing a false cue of prodigious length.

By the side of the King of Saxony was the King of Westphalia, Jerome
Bonaparte, in a white satin tunic, and girdle ornamented with pearls and
diamonds, which reached almost up to his arms. His neck was bare and
white, and he wore no whiskers and very little beard; a collar of
magnificent lace fell over his shoulders; and a black velvet cap
ornamented with white plumes, which was the most elegant in the assembly,
completed this costume. Next him was the King of Wurtemberg with his
enormous stomach, which forced him to sit some distance from the table;
and the King of Naples, in so magnificent a costume that it might almost
be considered extravagant, covered with crosses and stars, who played
with his fork, without eating or drinking.

On the right of the Empress was Madame Mere, the Queen of Westphalia, the
Princess Borghese, and Queen Hortense, pale as the Empress, but rendered
only more beautiful by her sadness, her face presenting a striking
contrast on this occasion to that of the Princess Pauline, who never
appeared in better spirits. Princess Pauline wore an exceedingly
handsome toilet; but this did not increase the charms of her person
nearly so much as that worn by the Queen of Holland, which, though
simple, was elegant and full of taste.

Next day a magnificent fete was held at the Hotel de Ville, where the
Empress displayed her accustomed grace and kind consideration. This was
the last time she appeared on occasions of ceremony.

A few days after all these rejoicings, the Vice-king of Italy, Eugene de
Beauharnais, arrived, and learned from the lips of the Empress herself
the terrible measure which circumstances were about to render necessary.
This news overcame him: agitated and despairing, he sought his Majesty;
and, as if he could not believe what he had just heard asked the Emperor
if it was true that a divorce was about to take place. The Emperor made
a sign in the affirmative, and, with deep grief depicted on his
countenance, held out his hand to his adopted son. "Sire, allow me to
quit your service."--"What!"--"Yes, Sire; the son of one who is no longer
Empress cannot remain vice-king. I wish to accompany my mother to her
retreat, and console her."--"Do you wish to leave me, Eugene? You? Ah,
you do not know how imperious are the reasons which force me to pursue
such a course. And if I obtain this son, the object of my most cherished
wishes, this son who is so necessary to me, who will take my place with
him when I shall be absent? Who will be a father to him when I die? Who
will rear him, and who will make a man of him?" Tears filled the
Emperor's eyes as he pronounced these words; he again took Eugene's hand,
and drawing him to his arms, embraced him tenderly. I did not hear the
remainder of this interesting conversation.

At last the fatal day arrived; it was the 16th of December. The Imperial
family were assembled in ceremonial costume, when the Empress entered in
a simple white dress, entirely devoid of ornament; she was pale, but
calm, and leaned on the arm of Queen Hortense, who was equally as pale,
and much more agitated than her august mother. The Prince de Beauharnais
stood beside the Emperor, and trembled so violently that it was thought
he would fall every moment. When the Empress entered, Count Regnaud de
Saint-Jean d'Angely read the act of separation.

This was heard in the midst of profound silence, and the deepest concern
was depicted on every face. The Empress appeared calmer than any one
else in the assemblage, although tears incessantly flowed from her eyes.
She was seated in an armchair in the midst of the saloon, resting her
elbow on a table, while Queen Hortense stood sobbing behind her. The
reading of the act ended, the Empress rose, dried her eyes, and in a
voice which was almost firm, pronounced the words of assent, then seated
herself in a chair, took a pen from the hand of M. Regnaud de Saint-Jean
d'Angely, and signed the act. She then withdrew, leaning on the arm of
Queen Hortense; and Prince Eugene endeavored to retire at the same moment
through the cabinet, but his strength failed, and he fell insensible
between the two doors. The cabinet usher immediately raised him up, and
committed him to the care of his aide-de-camp, who lavished on him every
attention which his sad condition demanded.

During this terrible ceremony the Emperor uttered not a word, made not a
gesture, but stood immovable as a statue, his gaze fixed and almost wild,
and remained silent and gloomy all day. In the evening, when he had just
retired, as I was awaiting his last orders, the door opened, and the
Empress entered, her hair in disorder, and her countenance showing great
agitation. This sight terrified me. Josephine (for she was now no more
than Josephine) advanced towards the Emperor with a trembling step, and
when she reached him, paused, and weeping in the most heartrending
manner, threw herself on the bed, placed her arms around the Emperor's
neck, and lavished on him most endearing caresses. I cannot describe my
emotions. The Emperor wept also, sat up and pressed Josephine to his
heart, saying to her, "Come, my good Josephine, be more reasonable!
Come, courage, courage; I will always be your friend." Stifled by her
sobs, the Empress could not reply; and there followed a silent scene, in
which their tears and sobs flowed together, and said more than the
tenderest expressions could have done. At last his Majesty, recovering
from this momentary forgetfulness as from a dream, perceived that I was
there, and said to me in a voice choked with tears, "Withdraw, Constant."
I obeyed, and went into the adjoining saloon; and an hour after Josephine
passed me, still sad and in tears, giving me a kind nod as she passed.
I then returned to the sleeping-room to remove the light as usual; the
Emperor was silent as death, and so covered with the bedclothes that his
face could not be seen.

The next morning when I entered the Emperor's room he did not mention
this visit of the Empress; but I found him suffering and dejected, and
sighs which he could not repress issued from his breast. He did not
speak during the whole time his toilet lasted, and as soon as it was
completed entered his cabinet. This was the day on which Josephine was
to leave the Tuileries for Malmaison, and all persons not engaged in
their duties assembled in the vestibule to see once more this dethroned
empress whom all hearts followed in her exile. They looked at her
without daring to speak, as Josephine appeared, completely veiled, one
hand resting on the shoulder of one of her ladies, and the other holding
a handkerchief to her eyes. A concert of inexpressible lamentations
arose as this adored woman crossed the short space which separated her
from her carriage, and entered it without even a glance at the palace she
was--quitting--quitting forever;--the blinds were immediately lowered,
and the horses set off at full speed.


The marriage of the Emperor to Marie Louise was the first step in a new
career. He flattered himself that it would be as glorious as that he had
just brought to a close, but it was to be far otherwise. Before entering
on a recital of the events of the year 1810, I shall narrate some
recollections, jotted down at random, which, although I can assign them
no precise date, were, nevertheless, anterior to the period we have now

The Empress Josephine had long been jealous of the beautiful Madame
Gazani, one of her readers, and treated her coldly; and when she
complained to the Emperor, he spoke to Josephine on the subject, and
requested her to show more consideration for her reader, who deserved it
on account of her attachment to the person of the Empress, and added that
she was wrong in supposing that there was between Madame Gazani and
himself the least liaison. The Empress, without being convinced by this
last declaration of the Emperor, had nevertheless become much more
cordial to Madame Gazani, when one morning the Emperor, who apparently
was afraid the beautiful Genoese might obtain some ascendency over her,
suddenly entered the Empress's apartment, and said to her, "I do not wish
to see Madame Gazani here longer; she must return to Italy." This time
it was the good Josephine who defended her reader. There were already
rumors of a divorce; and the Empress remarked to his Majesty, "You know
well, my friend, that the best means of being rid of Madame Gazani's
presence is to allow her to remain with me. Let me keep her, then.
We can weep together; she and I understand each other well."

From this time the Empress was a firm friend of Madame Gazani, who
accompanied her to Malmaison and Navarre. What increased the kind
feelings of the Empress for this lady was that she thought her distressed
by the Emperor's inconstancy. For my part, I have always believed that
Madame Gazani's attachment to the Emperor was sincere, and her pride must
have suffered when she was dismissed; but she had no difficulty in
consoling herself in the midst of the homage and adoration which
naturally surrounded such a pretty woman.

The name of the Empress Josephine recalls two anecdotes which the Emperor
himself related to me. The outrageous extravagance in the Empress's
household was a continual vexation to him, and he had dismissed several
furnishers of whose disposition to abuse Josephine's ready credulity he
had ample proof.

One morning he entered the Empress's apartments unannounced, and found
there assembled several ladies holding a secret toilet council, and a
celebrated milliner making an official report as to all the handsomest
and most elegant novelties. She was one of the very persons whom the
Emperor had expressly forbidden to enter the palace; and he did not
anticipate finding her there. Yet he made no outburst; and Josephine,
who knew him better than any one else, was the only one who understood
the irony of his look as he retired, saying, "Continue ladies; I am sorry
to have disturbed you." The milliner, much astonished that she was not
put rudely out of the door, hastened to retire; but when she reached the
last step of the stairs leading to the apartments of her Majesty the
Empress, she encountered an agent of the police, who requested her as
politely as possible to enter a cab which awaited her in the Court of the
Carrousel. In vain she protested that she much preferred walking; the
agent, who had received precise instructions, seized her arm in such a
manner as to prevent all reply, and she was obliged to obey, and to take
in this unpleasant company the road to Bicetre.

Some one related to the Emperor that this arrest had caused much talk in
Paris, and that he was loudly accused of wishing to restore the Bastile;
that many persons had visited the prisoner, and expressed their sympathy,
and there was a procession of carriages constantly before the prison.

His Majesty took no notice of this, and was much amused by the interest
excited in this seller of topknots, as he called her. "I will," said his
Majesty on this subject, "let the gossips talk, who think it a point of
honor to ruin themselves for gewgaws; but I want this old Jewess to learn
that I put her inside because she had forgotten that I told her to stay

Another celebrated milliner also excited the surprise and anger of his
Majesty one day by observations which no one in France except this man
would have had the audacity to make. The Emperor, who was accustomed, as
I have said, to examine at the end of every month the accounts of his
household, thought the bill of the milliner in question exorbitant, and
ordered me to summon him. I sent for him; and he came in less than ten
minutes, and was introduced into his Majesty's apartment while he was at
his toilet. "Monsieur," said the Emperor, his eyes fixed on the account,
"your prices are ridiculous, more ridiculous, if possible, than the
silly, foolish people who think they need your goods. Reduce this to a
reasonable amount or I will do it myself." The merchant, who held in his
hand the duplicate of his bill, began to explain article by article the
price of his goods, and concluded the somewhat long narration with a mild
surprise that the sum total was no more. The Emperor, whom I was
dressing during all this harangue, could hardly restrain his impatience;
and I had already foreseen that this singular scene would end
unpleasantly, when the milliner filled up the measure of his assurance by
taking the unparalleled liberty of remarking to his Majesty that the sum
allowed for her Majesty's toilet was insufficient, and that there were
simple citizens' wives who spent more than that. I must confess that at
this last impertinence I trembled for the shoulders of this imprudent
person, and watched the Emperor's movements anxiously. Nevertheless, to
my great astonishment, he contented himself with crumpling in his hand
the bill of the audacious milliner, and, his arms folded on his breast,
made two steps towards him, pronouncing this word only, "Really!" with
such an accent and such a look that the merchant rushed to the door, and
took to his heels without waiting for a settlement.

The Emperor did not like me to leave the chateau, as he wished always to
have me within call, even when my duties were over and he did not need

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