This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, at the end of several of the files for those who may wish to sample the author’s ideas before making an entire meal of them. D.W.]
MEMOIRS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, VOLUME 13.
By LOUIS ANTOINE FAUVELET DE BOURRIENNE
His Private Secretary
Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery
CHAPTER I. to CHAPTER VI. 1814-1815
Unalterable determination of the Allies with respect to Napoleon– Fontainebleau included in the limits to be occupied by the Allies– Alexander’s departure from Paris–Napoleon informed of the necessity of his unconditional abdication–Macdonald and Ney again sent to Paris–Alleged attempt of Napoleon to poison himself–Farewell interview between Macdonald and Napoleon–The sabre of Murad Bey– Signature of the act of unconditional abdication–Tranquillity of Paris during the change of Government–Ukase of the Emperor of Russia relative to the Post-office–Religious ceremony on the Place Louis XV.–Arrival of the Comte d’Artois–His entrance into Paris– Arrival of the Emperor of Austria–Singular assemblage of sovereigns in France–Visit of the Emperor of Austria to Maria Louisa–Her interview with the Emperor Alexander–Her departure for Vienna.
When Marmont left Paris on the receipt of the intelligence from Essonne, Marshals Macdonald and Ney and the Duke of Vicenza waited upon the Emperor Alexander to learn his resolution before he could have been informed of the movement of Marmont’s troops. I myself went during the morning to the hotel of M. de Talleyrand, and it was there I learnt how what we had hoped for had become fact: the matter was completely decided. The Emperor Alexander had walked out at six in the morning to the residence of the King of Prussia in the Rue de Bourbon. The two sovereigns afterwards proceeded together to M. de Talleyrand’s, where they were when Napoleon’s Commissioners arrived. The Commissioners being introduced to the two sovereigns, the Emperor Alexander, in answer to their proposition, replied that the Regency was impossible, as submissions to the Provisional Government were pouring in from all parts, and that if the army had formed contrary wishes those should have been sooner made known. “Sire,” observed Macdonald, “that–was–impossible, as none of the Marshals were in Paris, and besides, who could foresee the turn which affairs have taken? Could we imagine that an unfounded alarm would have removed from Essonne the corps of the Duke of Ragusa, who has this moment left us to bring his troops back to order?” These words produced no change in the determination of the sovereigns, who would hear of nothing but the unconditional abdication of Napoleon. Before the Marshals took leave of the Emperor Alexander they solicited an armistice of forty-eight hours, which time they said was indispensable to negotiate the act of abdication with Napoleon. This request was granted without hesitation, and the Emperor Alexander, showing Macdonald a map of the environs of Paris, courteously presented him with a pencil, saying, “Here, Marshal, mark yourself the limits to be observed by the two armies.”–“No, Sire,” replied Macdonald, “we are the conquered party, and it is for you to mark the line of demarcation.” Alexander determined that the right bank of the Seine should be occupied by the Allied troops, and the left bank by the French; but it was observed that this arrangement would be attended with inconvenience, as it would cut Paris in two, and it was agreed that the line should turn Paris. I have been informed that on a map sent to the Austrian staff to acquaint Prince Schwartzenberg with the limits definitively agreed on, Fontainebleau, the Emperor’s headquarters, was by some artful means included within the line. The Austrians acted so implicitly on this direction that Marshal Macdonald was obliged to complain on the subject to Alexander, who removed all obstacles.
When, in discussing the question of the abdication conformably with the instructions he had received, Macdonald observed to the Emperor Alexander that Napoleon wished for nothing for himself, “Assure him,” replied Alexander, “that a provision shall be made for him worthy of the rank he has occupied. Tell him that if he wishes to reside in my States he shall be well received, though he brought desolation there. I shall always remember the friendship which united us. He shall have the island of Elba, or something else.” After taking leave of the Emperor Alexander, on the 5th of April, Napoleon’s Commissioners returned to Fontainebleau to render an account of their mission. I saw Alexander that same day, and it appeared to me that his mind was relieved of a great weight by the question of the Regency being brought to an end. I was informed that he intended to quit Paris in a few days, and that he had given full powers to M. Pozzo-di-Borgo, whom he appointed his Commissioner to the Provisional Government.
On the same day, the 5th of April, Napoleon inspected his troops in the Palace yard of Fontainebleau. He observed some coolness among his officers, and even among the private soldiers, who had evinced such enthusiasm when he inspected them on the 2d of April. He was so much affected by this change of conduct that he remained but a short time on the parade, and afterwards retired to his apartments.
About one o’clock on the morning of the 6th of April Ney, Macdonald, and Caulaincourt arrived at Fontainebleau to acquaint the Emperor with the issue of their mission, and the sentiments expressed by Alexander when they took leave of him. Marshal Ney was the first to announce to Napoleon that the Allies required his complete and unconditional abdication, unaccompanied by any stipulation, except that of his personal safety, which should be guaranteed. Marshal Macdonald and the Duke of Vicenza then spoke to the same effect, but in more gentle terms than those employed by Ney, who was but little versed in the courtesies of speech. When Marshal Macdonald had finished speaking Napoleon said with some emotion, “Marshal, I am sensible of all that you have done for me, and of the warmth with which you have pleaded the cause of my son. They wish for my complete and unconditional abdication . . . . Very well. I again empower you to act on my behalf. You shall go and defend my interests and those of my family.” Then, after a moment’s pause, he added, still addressing Macdonald, “Marshal, where shall I go?” Macdonald then informed the Emperor what Alexander had mentioned in the hypothesis of his wishing to reside in Russia. “Sire,” added he, “the Emperor of Russia told me that he destined for you the island of Elba, or something else.”–“Or something else!” repeated Napoleon hastily,” and what is that something else?”–“Sire, I know not.”–“Ah! it is doubtless the island of Corsica, and he refrained from mentioning it to avoid embarrassment! Marshal, I leave all to you.”
The Marshals returned to Paris as soon as Napoleon furnished them with new powers; Caulaincourt remained at Fontainebleau. On arriving in Paris Marshal Ney sent in his adhesion to the Provisional Government, so that when Macdonald returned to Fontainebleau to convey to Napoleon the definitive treaty of the Allies, Ney did not accompany him, and the Emperor expressed surprise and dissatisfaction at his absence. Ney, as all his friends concur in admitting, expended his whole energy in battle, and often wanted resolution when out of the field, consequently I was not surprised to find that he joined us before some other of his comrades. As to Macdonald, he was one of those generous spirits who may be most confidently relied on by those who have wronged them. . Napoleon experienced the truth of this. Macdonald returned alone to Fontainebleau, and when he entered the Emperor’s chamber he found him seated in a small armchair before the fireplace. He was dressed in a morning-gown of white dimity, and lie wore his slippers without stockings. His elbows rested on his knees and his head was supported by his hands. He was motionless, and seemed absorbed in profound reflection. Only two persons were in the apartment, the Duke of Bassano; who was at a little distance from the Emperor, and Caulaincourt, who was near the fireplace. So profound was Napoleon’s reverie that he did not hear Macdonald enter, and the Duke of Vicenza was obliged to inform him of the Marshal’s presence. “Sire,” said Caulaincourt, “the Duke of Tarantum has brought for your signature the treaty which is to be ratified to-morrow.” The Emperor then, as if roused from a lethargic slumber, turned to Macdonald, and merely said, “Ah, Marshal! so you are here!” Napoleon’s countenance was so altered that the Marshal, struck with the change, said, as if it were involuntarily, “Is your Majesty indisposed?”–“Yes,” answered Napoleon, “I have passed a very bad night.”
The Emperor continued seated for a moment, then rising, he took the treaty, read it without making any observation, signed it, and returned it to the Marshal, saying; “I am not now rich enough to reward these last services.”–“Sire, interest never guided my conduct.”–“I know that, and I now see how I have been deceived respecting you. I also see the designs of those who prejudiced me against you.”–“Sire, I have already told you, since 1809 I am devoted to you in life and death.”–“I know it. But since I cannot reward you as I would wish, let a token of remembrance, inconsiderable though it be, assure you that I shall ever bear in mind the services you have rendered me.” Then turning to Caulaincourt Napoleon said, “Vicenza, ask for the sabre which was given me by Murad Bey in Egypt, and which I wore at the battle of Mount Thabor.” Constant having brought the sabre, the Emperor took it from the hands of Caulaincourt and presented it to the Marshal “Here, my faithful friend,” said he, “is a reward which I believe will gratify you.” Macdonald on receiving the sabre said, “If ever I have a son, Sire, this will be his most precious inheritance. I will never part with it as long as I live.”–” Give me your hand,” said the Emperor, “and embrace me.” At these words Napoleon and Macdonald affectionately rushed into each other’s arms, and parted with tears in their eyes. Such was the last interview between Macdonald and Napoleon. I had the above particulars from the Marshal himself in 1814., a few days after he returned to Paris with the treaty ratified by Napoleon.
After the clauses of the treaty had been guaranteed Napoleon signed, on the 11th of April, at Fontainebleau, his act of abdication, which was in the following terms:–
“The Allied powers having proclaimed that the Emperor Napoleon is the only obstacle to the re-establishment of peace in Europe, the Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces for himself and his heirs the thrones of France and Italy, and that there is no personal sacrifice, even that of life, which he is not ready to make for the interests of France.”
It was not until after Bonaparte had written and signed the above act that Marshal Macdonald sent to the Provisional Government his recognition, expressed in the following dignified and simple manner:–
“Being released from my allegiance by the abdication of the Emperor Napoleon, I declare that I conform to the acts of the Senate and the Provisional Government.”
It is worthy of remark that Napoleon’s act of abdication was published in the ‘Moniteur’ on the 12th of April, the very day on which the Comte d’Artois made his entry into Paris with the title of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom conferred on him by Louis XVIII. The 12th of April was also the day on which the Imperial army fought its last battle before Toulouse, when the French troops, commanded by Soult, made Wellington purchase so dearly his entrance into the south of France.–[The battle of Toulouse was fought on the 10th not 12th April D.W.]
Political revolutions are generally stormy, yet, during the great change of 1814 Paris was perfectly tranquil, thanks to the excellent discipline maintained by the commanders of the Allied armies, and thanks also to the services of the National Guard of Paris, who every night patrolled the streets. My duties as Director-General of the Post-office had of course obliged me to resign my captain’s epaulette.
When I first obtained my appointment I had been somewhat alarmed to hear that all the roads were covered with foreign troops, especially Cossacks, who even in time of peace are very ready to capture any horses that may fall in their way. On my application to the Emperor Alexander his Majesty immediately issued a ukase, severely prohibiting the seizure of horses or anything belonging to the Post-office department. The ukase was printed by order of the Czar, and filed up at all the poet-offices, and it will be seen that after the 20th of March, when I was placed in an embarrassing situation, one of the postmasters on the Lille road expressed to me his gratitude for my conduct while I was in the service.
On the 10th of April a ceremony took place in Paris which has been much spoken of; and which must have had a very imposing effect on those who allow themselves to be dazzled by mere spectacle. Early in the morning some regiments of the Allied troops occupied the north side of the Boulevard, from the site of the old Bastille to the Place Louis XV., in the middle of which an altar of square form was erected. Thither the Allied sovereigns came to witness the celebration of mass according to the rites of the Greek Church. I went to a window of the hotel of the Minister of the Marine to see the ceremony. After I had waited from eight in the morning till near twelve the pageant commenced by the arrival of half a dozen Greek priests, with long beards, and as richly dressed as the high priests who figure in the processions of the opera. About three-quarters of an hour after this first scene the infantry, followed by the cavalry, entered the place, which, in a few moments was entirely covered with military. The Allied sovereigns at length appeared, attended by brilliant staffs. They alighted from their horses and advanced to the altar. What appeared to me most remarkable was the profound silence of the vast multitude during the performance of the mass. The whole spectacle had the effect of a finely-painted panorama. For my own part, I must confess I was heartily tired of the ceremony, and was very glad when it was over. I could not admire the foreign uniforms, which were very inferior to ours. Many of them appeared fanciful, and even grotesque, and nothing can be more unsoldier-like than to see a man laced in stays till his figure resembles a wasp. The ceremony which took place two days after, though less pompous, was much more French. In the retinue which, on the 12th of April, momentarily increased round the Comte d’Artos, there were at least recollections for the old, and hopes for every one.
When, on the departure of the Commissioners whom Napoleon had sent to Alexander to treat for the Regency, it was finally determined that the Allied sovereigns would listen to no proposition from Napoleon and his family, the Provisional Government thought it time to request that Monsieur would, by his presence, give a new impulse to the partisans of the Bourbons. The Abby de Montesquiou wrote to the Prince a letter, which was carried to him by Viscount Sosthenes de la Rochefoucauld, one of the individuals who, in these difficult circumstances, most zealously served the cause of the Bourbons. On the afternoon of the 11th Monsieur arrived at a country-house belonging to Madame Charles de Dames, where he passed the night. The news of his arrival spread through Paris with the rapidity of lightning, and every one wished to solemnise his entrance into the capital. The National Guard formed a double line from the barrier of Bondy to Notre Dame, whither the Prince was first to proceed, in observance of an old custom, which, however, had become very rare in France during the last twenty years.
M. de Talleyrand, accompanied by the members of the Provisional Government, several Marshals and general officers, and the municipal body, headed by the prefect of the Seine, went in procession beyond the barrier to receive Monsieur. M. de Talleyrand, in the name of the Provisional Government, addressed the Prince, who in reply made that observation which has been so often repeated, “Nothing is changed in France: there is only one Frenchman more.”
–[These words were never really uttered by the Comte d’Artois, and we can in this case follow the manufacture of the phrase. The reply actually made to Talleyrand was, “Sir, and gentlemen, I thank you; I am too happy. Let us get on; I am too happy.” When the day’s work was done, “Let us see,” said Talleyrand; “what did Monsieur say? I did not hear much: be seemed much moved, and desirous of hastening on, but if what he did say will not suit you (Beugnot), make an answer for him, . . and I can answer that Monsieur will accept it, and that so thoroughly that by the end of a couple of days he will believe he made it, and he will have made it: you will count for nothing.” After repeated attempts, rejected by Talleyraud, Beugnot at last produced, “No more divisions. Peace and France! At last I see her once more, and nothing in her is changed, except that here is one more Frenchman.” At last the great critic (Talleyrand) said, “This time I yield; that is realty Monsieur’s speech, and I will answer for you that he is the man who made it.” Monsieur did not disdain to refer to it in his replies, end the prophecy of M. de Talleyrand was completely realised (Beugnot, vol. ii, p. 119)]–
This remark promised much. The Comte Artois next proceeded on horseback to the barrier St. Martin. I mingled in the crowd to see the procession and to observe the sentiments of the spectators. Near me stood an old knight of St. Louis, who had resumed the insignia of the order, and who wept for joy at again seeing one of the Bourbons. The procession soon arrived, preceded by a band playing the air, “Vive Henri Quatre!” I had never before seen Monsieur, and his appearance had a most pleasing effect upon me. His open countenance bore the expression of that confidence which his presence inspired in all who saw him. His staff was very brilliant, considering it was got together without preparation. The Prince wore the uniform of the National Guard, with the insignia of the Order of the Holy Ghost.
I must candidly state that where I saw Monsieur pass, enthusiasm was chiefly confined to his own retinue, and to persons who appeared to belong to a superior class of society. The lower order of people seemed to be animated by curiosity and astonishment rather than any other feeling. I must add that it was not without painful surprise I saw a squadron of Cossacks close the procession; and my surprise was the greater when I learned from General Sacken that the Emperor Alexander had wished that on that day the one Frenchman more should be surrounded only by Frenchmen, and that to prove that the presence of the Bourbons was the signal of reconciliation his Majesty had ordered 20,000 of the Allied troops to quit Paris. I know not to what the presence of the Cossacks is to be attributed, but it was an awkward circumstance at the time, and one which malevolence did not fail to seize upon.
Two days only intervened between Monsieur’s entrance into Paris and the arrival of the Emperor of Austria. That monarch was not popular among the Parisians. The line of conduct he had adopted was almost generally condemned, for, even among those who lead most ardently wished for the dethronement of his daughter, through their aversion to the Bonaparte family, there were many who blamed the Emperor of Austria’s behaviour to Maria Louisa: they would have wished that, for the honour of Francis II., he had unsuccessfully opposed the downfall of the dynasty, whose alliance he considered as a safeguard in 1809. This was the opinion which the mass of the people instinctively formed, for they judged of the Emperor of Austria in his character of a father and not in his character of a monarch; and as the rights of misfortune are always sacred in France, more interest was felt for Maria Louisa when she was known to be forsaken than when she was in the height of her splendour. Francis II. had not seen his daughter since the day when she left Vienna to unite her destiny with that of the master of half of Europe, and I have already stated how he received the mission with which Maria Louisa entrusted the Duc de Cadore.
I was then too intent on what was passing in Paris and at Fontainebleau to observe with equal interest all the circumstances connected with the fate of Maria Louisa, but I will present to the reader all the information I was able to collect respecting that Princess during the period immediately preceding her departure from France. She constantly assured the persons about her that she could rely on her father. The following words, which were faithfully reported to me, were addressed by her to an officer who was at Blois during the mission of M. de Champagny. “Even though it should be the intention of the Allied sovereigns to dethrone the Emperor Napoleon, my father will not suffer it. When he placed me on the throne of France he repeated to me twenty times his determination to uphold me on it; and my father is an honest man.” I also know that the Empress, both at Blois and at Orleans, expressed her regret at not having followed the advice of the members of the Regency, who wished her to stay in Paris.
On leaving Orleans Maria Louisa proceeded to Rambouillet; and it was not one of the least extraordinary circumstances of that eventful period to see the sovereigns of Europe, the dethroned sovereigns of France, and those who had come to resume the sceptre, all crowded together within a circle of fifteen leagues round the capital. There was a Bourbon at the Tuileries, Bonaparte at Fontainebleau, his wife and son at Rambouillet, the repudiated Empress at Malmaison three leagues distant, and the Emperors of Russia and Austria and the King of Prussia in Paris.
When all her hopes had vanished Maria Louisa left Rambouillet to return to Austria with her son. She did not obtain permission to see Napoleon before her departure, though she had frequently expressed a wish to that effect. Napoleon himself was aware of the embarrassment which might have attended such a farewell, or otherwise he would no doubt have made a parting interview with Maria Louisa one of the clauses of the treaty of Paris and Fontainebleau, and of his definitive act of abdication. I was informed at the time that the reason which prevented Maria Louisa’s wish from being acceded to was the fear that, by one of those sudden impulses common to women, she might have determined to unite herself to Napoleon’s fallen fortune, and accompany him to Elba; and the Emperor of Austria wished to have his daughter back again.
Things had arrived at this point, and there was no possibility of retracting from any of the decisions which had been formed when the Emperor of Austria went to see his daughter at Rambouillet. I recollect it was thought extraordinary at the time that the Emperor Alexander should accompany him on this visit; and, indeed, the sight of the sovereign, who was regarded as the head and arbiter of the coalition, could not be agreeable to the dethroned Empress.
–[ Meneval (tome ii. p. 112), then with Maria Louisa as Secretary, who gives some details of her interview with the Emperor Francis on the 16th of April, says nothing about the Czar having been there; a fact he would have been sure to have remarked upon. It was only on the 19th of April that Alexander visited her, the King of Prussia coming in his turn on the 22d; but Bourrienne is right in saying that Maria Louisa complained bitterly of having to receive Alexander, and considered that she was forced by her father to do so. The poor little King of Rome, then only three years old, had also to be seen by the monarchs. He was not taken with his grandfather, remarking that he was not handsome. Maria Louisa seems, according to Meneval, to have been at this time really anxious to join Napoleon (Meneval, tome ii. p. 94). She left Rambouillet on the 28d of April stopped one day at Grossbois, receiving there her father and Berthier, and taking farewell of several persons who came from Paris for that purpose. On the 25th of April she started for Vienna, and later for Parma, which state she received under the treaty of 1814 and 1815. She yielded to the influence brought to bear on her, became estranged from Napoleon, and eventually married her chamberlain, the Comte de Neipperg, an Austrian general.]–
The two Emperors set off from Paris shortly after each other. The Emperor of Austria arrived first at Rambouillet, where he was received with respect and affection by his daughter. Maria Louisa was happy to see him, but the many tears she shed were not all tears of joy. After the first effusion of filial affection she complained of the situation to which she was reduced. Her father sympathised with her, but could offer her no consolution, since her misfortunes were irreparable. Alexander was expected to arrive immediately, and the Emperor of Austria therefore informed his daughter that the Russian monarch wished to see her. At first Maria Louisa decidedly refused to receive him, and she persisted for some time in this resolution. She said to her father, “Would he too make me a prisoner before your eyes? If he enters here by force I will retire to my chamber. There, I presume, he will not dare to follow me while you are here.” But there was no time to be lost; Francis II. heard the equipage of the Emperor of Russia rolling through the courtyard of Rambouillet, and his entreaties to his daughter became more and more urgent. At length she yielded, and the Emperor of Austria went himself to meet his ally and conduct him to the salon where Maria Louisa remained, in deference to her father. She did not, however, carry her deference so far as to give a favourable reception to him whom she regarded as the author of all her misfortunes. She listened with considerable coldness to the offers and protestations of Alexander, and merely replied that all she wished for was the liberty of returning to her family. A few days after this painful interview Maria Louisa and her son set off for Vienna.
–[A few days after this visit Alexander paid his respects to Bonaparte’s other wife, Josephine. In this great breaking up of empires and kingdoms the unfortunate Josephine, who had been suffering agonies on account of the husband who had abandoned her, was not forgotten. One of the first things the Emperor of Russia did on arriving at Paris was to despatch a guard for the protection of her beautiful little palace at Malmaison. The Allied sovereigns treated her with delicacy and consideration.
“As soon as the Emperor Alexander knew that the Empress Josephine had arrived at Malmaison he hastened to pay her a visit. It is not possible to be more amiable than he was to her. When in the course of conversation he spoke of the occupation of Paris by the Allies, and of the position of the Emperor Napoleon, it was always in perfectly measured language: he never forgot for a single instant that be was speaking before one who had been the wife of his vanquished enemy. On her side the ex-Empress did not conceal the tender sentiments, the lively affection she still entertained for Napoleon . . . . Alexander had certainly something elevated and magnanimous in his character, which would not permit him to say a single word capable of insulting misfortune; the Empress had only one prayer to make to him, and that was for her children.”]–
This visit was soon followed by those of the other Allied Princes.
“The King of Prussia and the Princes, his sons, came rather frequently to pay their court to Josephine; they even dined with her several times at Malmaison; but the Emperor Alexander come much more frequently. The Queen Hortense was always with her mother when she received the sovereigns, and assisted her in doing the honours of the house. The illustrious strangers exceedingly admired Malmaison, which seemed to them a charming residence. They were particularly struck with the fine gardens and conservatories.”
From this moment, however, Josephine’s health rapidly declined, and she did not live to see Napoleon’s return from Elba. She often said to her attendant, “I do not know what is the matter with me, but at times I have fits of melancholy enough to kill me.” But on the very brink of the grave she retained all her amiability, all her love of dress, and the graces and resources of a drawing-room society. The immediate cause of her death was a bad cold she caught in taking a drive in the park of Malmaison on a damp cold day. She expired on the noon of Sunday, the 26th of May, in the fifty-third year of her age. Her body was embalmed, and on the sixth day after her death deposited in a vault in the church of Ruel, close to Malmaison. The funeral ceremonies were magnificent, but a better tribute to the memory of Josephine was to be found is the tears with which her children, her servants, the neighbouring poor, and all that knew her followed her to the grave. In 1826 a beautiful monument was erected over her remains by Eugene Beauharnais and his sisters with this simple inscription:
Italy and Eugene–Siege of Dantzic-Capitulation concluded but not ratified-Rapp made prisoner and sent to Kiow–Davoust’s refusal to believe the intelligence from Paris–Projected assassination of one of the French Princes–Departure of Davoust and General Hogendorff from Hamburg–The affair of Manbreuil–Arrival of the Commissioners of the Allied powers at Fontainebleau–Preference shown by Napoleon to Colonel Campbell–Bonaparte’s address to General Kohler–His farewell to his troops–First day of Napoleon’s journey–The Imperial Guard succeeded by the Cossacks–Interview with Augerean– The first white cockades–Napoleon hanged in effigy at Orgon–His escape in the disguise of a courier–Scene in the inn of La Calade– Arrival at Aix–The Princess Pauline–Napoleon embarks for Elba–His life at Elba.
I must now direct the attention of the reader to Italy, which was the cradle of Napoleon’s glory, and towards which he transported himself in imagination from the Palace of Fontainebleau. Eugene had succeeded in keeping up his means of defence until April, but on the 7th of that month, being positively informed of the overwhelming reverses of France, he found himself constrained to accede to the propositions of the Marshal de Bellegarde to treat for the evacuation of Italy; and on the 10th a convention was concluded, in which it was stipulated that the French troops, under the command of Eugene, should return within the limits of old France. The clauses of this convention were executed on the 19th of April.
–[Lord William Bentinck and Sir Edward Pellew had taken Genoa on the 18th Of April. Murat was in the field with the Austrians against the French.]–
Eugene, thinking that the Senate of Milan was favourably disposed towards him, solicited that body to use its influence in obtaining the consent of the Allied powers to his continuance at the head of the Government of Italy; but this proposition was rejected by the Senate. A feeling of irritation pervaded the public mind in Italy, and the army had not proceeded three marches beyond Mantua when an insurrection broke out in Milan. The Finance Minister, Pizna, was assassinated, and his residence demolished, and nothing would have saved the Viceroy from a similar fate had he been in his capital. Amidst this popular excitement, and the eagerness of the Italians to be released from the dominion of the French, the friends of Eugene thought him fortunate in being able to join his father-in-law at Munich almost incognito.
–[Some time after Eugene visited France and had a long audience of Louis XVIII. He announced himself to that monarch by his father’s title of Marquis de Beauharnais. The King immediately saluted him by the title of Monsieur le Marechal, and proposed that he should reside in France with that rank. But this invitation Eugene declined, because as a French Prince under the fallen Government he had commanded the Marshals, and he therefore could not submit to be the last in rank among those illustrious military chiefs. Bourrienne.]–
Thus, at the expiration of nine years, fell the iron crown which Napoleon had placed on his head saying, “Dieu me l’a donne; gare a qui la touche.”
I will now take a glance at the affairs of Germany. Rapp was not in France at the period of the fall of the Empire. He had, with extraordinary courage and skill, defended himself against a year’s siege at Dantzic. At length, being reduced to the last extremity, and constrained to surrender, he opened the gates of the city, which presented nothing but heaps of ruins. Rapp had stipulated that the garrison of Dantzic should return to France, and the Duke of Wurtemberg, who commanded the siege, had consented to that condition; but the Emperor of Russia having refused to ratify it, Rapp, having no means of defence, was made prisoner with his troops; and conducted to Kiow, whence he afterwards returned to Paris, where I saw him.
Hamburg still held out, but at the beginning of April intelligence was received there of the extraordinary events which had delivered Europe from her oppressor. Davoust refused to believe this news, which at once annihilated all his hopes of power and greatness. This blindness was persisted in for some time at Hamburg. Several hawkers, who were marked out by the police as having been the circulators of Paris news, were shot. An agent of the Government publicly announced his design of assassinating one of the French Princes, in whose service he was said to have been as a page. He said he would go to his Royal Highness and solicit to be appointed one of his aides de camp, and that, if the application were refused, as it probably would be, the refusal would only confirm him in his purpose.
At length, when the state of things was beyond the possibility of doubt, Davoust assembled the troops, acquainted them with the dethronement of the Emperor, hoisted a flag of truce, and sent his adhesion to the Provisional Government. All then thought of their personal safety, without losing sight of their honestly-acquired wealth. Diamonds and other objects of value and small bulk were hastily collected and packed up. The Governor of Hamburg, Count Hogendorff, who, in spite of some signal instances of opposition, had too often co-operated in severe and vexatious measures, was the first to quit the city. He was, indeed, hurried off by Davoust; because he had mounted the Orange cockade and wished to take his Dutch troops away with him. After consigning the command to General Gerard, Davoust quitted Hamburg, and arrived at Paris on the 18th of June.
I have left Napoleon at Fontainebleau. The period of his departure for Elba was near at hand: it was fixed for the 17th of April.
On that day Maubreuil, a man who has become unfortunately celebrated, presented himself at the Post-office, and asked to speak with me. He showed me some written orders, signed by General Saeken, the Commander of the Russian troops in Palls, and by Baron Brackenhausen, chief of the staff. These orders set forth that Maubreuil was entrusted with an important mission, for the execution of which he was authorised to demand the assistance of the Russian troops; and the commanders of those men were enjoined to place at his disposal as many troops as he might apply for. Maubreuil was also the bearer of similar orders from General Dupont, the War Minister, and from M. Angles, the Provisional Commissary- General of the Police, who directed all the other commissaries to obey the orders they might receive from Maubreuil. On seeing these documents, of the authenticity of which there was no doubt, I immediately ordered the different postmasters to provide Maubreuil promptly with any number of horses he might require.
Some days after I was informed that the object of Maubreuil’s mission was to assassinate Napoleon. It may readily be imagined what was my astonishment on hearing this, after I had seen the signature of the Commander of the Russian forces, and knowing as I did the intentions of the Emperor Alexander. The fact is, I did not, and never can, believe that such was the intention of Mabreuil. This man has been accused of having carried off the jewels of the Queen of Westphalia.
Napoleon having consented to proceed to the island of Elba, conformably with the treaty he had ratified on the 13th, requested to be accompanied to the place of embarkation by a Commissioner from each of the Allied powers. Count Schouwaloff was appointed by Russia, Colonel Neil Campbell by England, General Kohler by Austria, and Count Waldbourg-Truchess by Prussia. On the 16th the four Commissioners came for the first time to Fontainebleau, where the Emperor, who was still attended by Generals Drouot and Bertrand, gave to each a private audience on the following day.
Though Napoleon received with coldness the Commissioners whom he had himself solicited, yet that coldness was far from being manifested in an equal degree to all. He who experienced the best reception was Colonel Campbell, apparently because his person exhibited traces of wounds. Napoleon asked him in what battles he had received them, and on what occasions he had been invested with the orders he wore. He next questioned him as to the place of his birth, and Colonel Campbell having answered that he was a Scotchman, Napoleon congratulated him on being the countryman of Ossian, his favourite author, with whose poetry, however, he was only acquainted through the medium of wretched translations. On this first audience Napoleon said to the Colonel, “I have cordially hated the English. I have made war against you by every possible means, but I esteem your nation. I am convinced that there is more generosity in your Government than in any other. I should like to be conveyed from Toulon to Elba by an English frigate.”
The Austrian and Russian Commissioners were received coolly, but without any marked indications of displeasure. It was not so with the Prussian Commissioner, to whom he said duly, “Are there any Prussians in my escort?”–“No, Sire.”–“Then why do you take the trouble to accompany me?”–“Sire, it is not a trouble, but an honour.”–“These are mere words; you have nothing to do here.”–“Sire, I could not possibly decline the honourable mission with which the King my master has entrusted me.” At these words Napoleon turned his back on Count Truchess.
The Commissioners expected that Napoleon would be ready to set out without delay; but they were deceived. He asked for a sight of the itinerary of his route, and wished to make some alterations in it. The Commissioners were reluctant to oppose his wish, for they had been instructed to treat him with all the respect and etiquette due to a sovereign. They therefore suspended the departure, and, as they could not take upon themselves to acquiesce in the changes wished for by the Emperor, they applied for fresh orders. On the night of the 18th of April they received these orders, authorising them to travel by any road the Emperor might prefer. The departure was then definitively fixed for the 20th.
Accordingly, at ten on the morning of the 20th, the carriages were in readiness, and the Imperial Guard was drawn up in the grand court of the Palace of Fontainebleau, called the Cour du Cheval Blanc. All the population of the town and the neighbouring villages thronged round the Palace. Napoleon sent for General Kohler, the Austrian Commissioner, and said to him, “I have reflected on what I ought to do, and I am determined not to depart. The Allies are not faithful to their engagements with me. I can, therefore, revoke my abdication, which was only conditional. More than a thousand addresses were delivered to me last night: I am conjured to resume the reins of government I renounced my rights to the crown only to avert the horrors of a civil war, having never had any other abject in view than the glory and happiness of France. But, seeing as I now do, the dissatisfaction inspired by the measures of the new Government, I can explain to my Guard the reasons which induced me to revoke my abdication. It is true that the number of troops on which I can count will scarcely exceed 30,000 men, but it will be easy for me to increase their numbers to 130,000. Know, then, that I can also, without injuring my honour, say to my Guard, that having nothing but the repose and happiness of the country at heart, I renounce all my rights, and exhort my troops to follow my example, and yield to the wish of the nation.”
I heard these words reported by General Kohler himself, after his return from his mission. He did not disguise the embarrassment which this unexpected address had occasioned; and I recollect having remarked at the time that had Bonaparte, at the commencement of the campaign of Paris, renounced his rights and returned to the rank of citizen, the immense masses of the Allies must have yielded to the efforts of France. General Kohler also stated that Napoleon complained of Maria Louisa not being allowed to accompany him; but at length, yielding to the reasons urged by those about him, he added, “Well, I prefer remaining faithful to my promise; but if I have any new ground of complaint, I will free myself from all my engagements.”
At eleven o’clock Comte de Bussy, one of the Emperor’s aides de camp, was sent by the Grand Marshal (General Bertrand) to announce that all was ready for departure. “Am I;” said Napoleon, “to regulate my actions by the Grand Marshal’s watch? I will go when I please. Perhaps I may not go at all. Leave me!”
All the forms of courtly etiquette which Napoleon loved so much were observed; and when at length he was pleased to leave his cabinet to enter the salon, where the Commissioners were waiting; the doors were thrown open as usual, and “The Emperor” was announced; but no sooner was the word uttered than he turned back again. However, he soon reappeared, rapidly crossed the gallery, and descended the staircase, and at twelve o’clock precisely he stood at the head of his Guard, as if at a review in the court of the Tuileries in the brilliant days of the Consulate and the Empire.
Then took place a really moving scene–Napoleon’s farewell to his soldiers. Of this I may abstain from entering into any details, since they are known everywhere, and by everybody, but I may subjoin the Emperor’s last address to his old companions-in-arms, because it belongs to history. This address was pronounced in a voice as firm and sonorous as that in which Bonaparte used to harangue his troops in the days of his triumphs. It was as follows:
“Soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you farewell. For twenty years I have constantly accompanied yon on the road to honour and glory. In these latter times, as in the days of our prosperity, you have invariably been models of courage and fidelity. With men such as you our cause could not be lost, but the war would have been interminable; it would have been civil war, and that would have entailed deeper misfortunes on France. I have sacrificed all my interests to those of the country. I go; but you, my friends, will continue to serve France. Her happiness was my only thought.. It will still be the object of my wishes. Do not regret my fate: if I have consented to survive, it is to serve your glory. I intend to write the history of the great achievements we have performed together. Adieu, my friends. Would I could press you all to my, heart!”
During the first day cries of “Vive l’Empereur!” resounded along the road, and Napoleon, resorting to his usual dissimulation, censured the disloyalty of the people to their legitimate sovereign, which he did with ill disguised irony. The Guard accompanied him as far as Briars. At that place Napoleon invited Colonel Campbell to breakfast with him. He conversed on the last war in Spain, and spoke in complimentary terms of the English nation and the military talents of Wellington. Yet by that time he must have heard of the battle of Toulouse.
On the night of the 21st Napoleon slept at Nevers, where he was received by the acclamations of the people, who here, as in several other towns, mingled their cries in favour of their late sovereign with imprecations against the Commissioners of the Allies. He left Nevers at six on the morning of the 22d. Napoleon was now no longer escorted by the Guards, who were succeeded by a corps of Cossacks: the cries of “Vive l’Empereur!” accordingly ceased, and he had the mortification to hear in its stead, “Vivent les Allies!” However, I have been informed that at Lyons, through which the Emperor passed on the 23d at eleven at night, the cry of “Vive l’Empereur!” was still echoed among the groups who assembled before the post-office during the change of horses.
Augereau, who was still a Republican, though he accepted the title of Duke of Castiglione from Napoleon, had always been among the discontented. On the downfall of the Emperor he was one of that considerable number of persons who turned Royalists not out of love for the Bourbons but out of hatred to Bonaparte. He held a command in the south when he heard of the forfeiture of Napoleon pronounced by the Senate, and he was one of the first to send his recognition to the Provisional Government. Augereau, who, like all uneducated men, went to extremes in everything, had published under his name a proclamation extravagantly violent and even insulting to the Emperor. Whether Napoleon was aware of this proclamation I cannot pretend to say, but he affected ignorance of the matter if he was informed of it, for on the 24th, having met Augereau at a little distance from Valence, he stopped his carriage and immediately alighted. Augereau did the same, and they cordially embraced in the presence of the Commissioners. It was remarked that in saluting Napoleon took off his hat and Augereau kept on his. “Where are you going?”, said the Emperor; “to Court?”–“No, I am going to Lyons.”–“You have behaved very badly to me.” Augereau, finding that the Emperor addressed him in the second person singular, adopted the same familiarity; so they conversed as they were accustomed to do when they were both generals in Italy. “Of what do you complain?” said he. “Has not your insatiable ambition brought us to this? Have you not sacrificed everything to that ambition, even the happiness of France? I care no more for the Bourbons than for you. All I care for is the country.” Upon this Napoleon turned sharply away from the Marshal, lifted his hat to him, and then stepped into his carriage. The Commissioners, and all the persons in Napoleon’s suite, were indignant at seeing Augereau stand in the road still covered, with his hands behind his back, and instead of bowing, merely making a contemptuous salutation to Napoleon with his hand. It was at the Tuileries that these haughty Republicans should have shown their airs. To have done so on the road to Elba was a mean insult which recoiled upon themselves.
–[The following letter, taken from Captain Bingham’s recently published selections from the Correspondence of the first Napoleon, indicates in emphatic language the Emperor’s recent dissatisfaction with Marshal Augereau when in command at Lyons daring the “death straggle” of 1814:
To Marshal Augereau.
NOGENT, 21st February, 1814,
….What! six hours after having received the first troops coming from Spain you were not in the field! Six hours repose was sufficient. I won the action of Naugis with a brigade of dragoons coming from Spain which, since it had left Bayonne, had not unbridled its horses. The six battalions of the division of Nimes want clothes, equipment, and drilling, say you? What poor reasons yon give me there, Augereau! I have destroyed 80,000 enemies with conscripts having nothing but knapsacks! The National Guards, say you, are pitiable; I have 4000 here in round hats, without knapsacks, in wooden shoes, but with good muskets, and I get a great deal out of them. There is no money, you continue; and where do you hope to draw money from! You want waggons; take them wherever you can. You have no magazines; this is too ridiculous. I order you twelve hours after the reception of this letter to take the field. If you are still Augereau of Castiglione, keep the command, but if your sixty years weigh upon you hand over the command to your senior general. The country is in danger; and can be saved by boldness and alacrity alone….
At Valence Napoleon, for the first time, saw French soldiers with the white cockade in their caps. They belonged to Augereau’s corps. At Orange the air resounded with tines of “Vive le Roi!” Here the gaiety, real or feigned, which Napoleon had hitherto evinced, began to forsake him.
Had the Emperor arrived at Avignon three hours later than he did there is no doubt that he would have been massacred.–[The Royalist mob of Avignon massacred Marshal Brune in 1816.]– He did not change horses at Avignon, through which he passed at five in the morning, but at St. Andiol, where he arrived at six. The Emperor, who was fatigued with sitting in the carnage, alighted with Colonel Campbell and General Bertrand, and walked with them up the first hill. His valet de chambre, who was also walking a little distance in advance, met one of the mail couriers, who said is him, “Those are the Emperor’s carriages coming this way?”–“No, they are the equipages of the Allies.”–“I say they are the Emperor’s carriages. I am an old soldier. I served in the campaign of Egypt, and I will save the life of my General.”–“I tell you again they are not the Emperor’s carriages.”–“Do not attempt to deceive me; I have just passed through Organ, where the Emperor has been hanged in effigy. The wretches erected a scaffold and hanged a figure dressed in a French uniform covered with blood. Perhaps I may get myself into a scrape by this confidence, but no matter. Do you profit by it.” The courier then set off at full gallop. The valet de chambre took General Drouot apart, and told him what he had heard. Drouot communicated the circumstance to General Bertrand, who himself related it to the Emperor in the presence of the Commissioners. The latter, justly indignant, held a sort of council on the highway, and it was determined that the Emperor should go forward without his retinue. The valet de chambre was asked whether he had any clothes in the carriage. He produced a long blue cloak and a round hat. It was proposed to put a white cockade in the hat, but to this Napoleon would not consent. He went forward in the style of a courier, with Amaudru, one of the two outriders who had escorted his carriage, and dashed through Orgon. When the Allied Commissioners arrived there the assembled population were uttering exclamations of “Down with the Corsican! Down with the brigand!” The mayor of Orgon (the, same man whom I had seen almost on his knees to General Bonaparte on his return from Egypt) addressed himself to Pelard, the Emperor’s valet de chambre, and said, “Do you follow that rascal?”–“No,” replied Pelard, “I am attached to the Commisairiers of the Allied powers.”–Ah! that is well! I should like to hang the villain with my own hands.
“Ah! if you knew, sir, how the scoundrel has deceived us! It was I who received him on his return from Egypt. We wished to take his horses out and draw his carriage. I should like to avenge myself now for the honours I rendered him at that time.”
The crowd augmented, and continued to vociferate with a degree of fury which may be imagined by those who have heard the inhabitants of the south manifest, by cries, their joy or their hatred. Some more violent than the rest wished to force Napoleon’s coachman to cry “Vive le Roi!” He courageously refused, though threatened with a stroke of a sabre, when, fortunately; the carriage being ready to start, he whipped the horses and set off at full gallop. The Commissioners would not breakfast at Orgon; they paid for what had been prepared, and took some refreshments away with them. The carriages did not overtake the Emperor until they came to La Calade, where he had arrived a quarter of an hour before with Amaudru.
They found him standing by the fire in the kitchen of the inn talking with the landlady. She had asked him whether the tyrant was soon to pass that way? “Ah! sir,” said she, “it is all nonsense to say we have got rid of him. I always, have said, and always will say, that we shall never be sure of being done with him until he be laid at the bottom of a well, covered over with stones. I wish we had him safe in the well in our yard. You see, sir, the Directory sent him to Egypt to get rid of him; but he came back again! And he will come back again, you maybe sure of that, sir; unless–” Here the good woman, having finished skimming her pot, looked up and perceived that all the party were standing uncovered except the individual to whom, she had been speaking. She was confounded, and the embarrassment she experienced at having spoken so ill of the Emperor to the Emperor himself banished all her anger, and she lavished every mark of attention, and respect on Napoleon and his retinue. A messenger was immediately sent to Aix to purchase ribbons for making white cockades. All the carriages were brought into the courtyard of the inn, and the gate was closed; the landlady informed Napoleon that it would not be prudent for him to venture on passing through Aix, where a population of more than 20,000 were waiting to stone him.
Meanwhile dinner was served, and Napoleon sat down to table. He admirably disguised the agitation which he could not fail to experience, and I have been assured, by some of the individuals who were present on that remarkable occasion, that he never made himself more agreeable. His conversation, which was enriched by the resources of his memory and his imagination, charmed every one, and he remarked, with an air of indifference which was perhaps affected, “I believe the new French Government has a design on my life.”
The Commissioners, informed of what was going on at Aix, proposed sending to the Mayor an order for closing the gates and adopting measures for securing the public tranquillity. About fifty individuals had assembled round the inn, and one among them offered to carry a letter to the Mayor of Aix The Commissioners accepted his services, and in their letter informed the Mayor that if the gates of the town were not closed within an hour they would advance with two regiments of uhlans and six pieces of artillery, and would fire upon all who might oppose them. This threat had the desired effect; and the Mayor returned for answer that the gates should be closed, and that he would take upon himself the responsibility of everything which might happen.
The danger which threatened the Emperor at Aix was thus averted; but there was another to be braved. During the seven or eight hours he passed at La Calade a considerable number of people had gathered round- the inn, and manifested every disposition to proceed to some excess. Most of them had in their hands five-franc pieces, in order to recognise the Emperor by his likeness on the coin. Napoleon, who had passed two nights without sleep, was in a little room adjoining the kitchen, where he had fallen into a slumber, reclining an the shoulder of his valet de chambre. In a moment of dejection he had said, “I now renounce the political world forever. I shall henceforth feel no interest about anything that may happen. At Porto-Ferrajo I may be happy–more happy than I have ever been! No!–if the crown of Europe were now offered to me I would not accept it. I will devote myself to science. I was right never to esteem mankind! But France and the French people–what ingratitude! I am disgusted with ambition, and I wish to rule no longer!”
When the moment for departure arrived it was proposed that he should put on the greatcoat and fur cap of General Kohler, and that he should go into the carriage of the Austrian Commissioner. The Emperor, thus disguised, left the inn of La Calade, passing between two lines of spectators. On turning the walls of Aix Napoleon had again the mortification to hear the cries of “Down with the tyrant! Down with Nicolas!” and these vociferations resounded at the distance of a quarter of a league from the town.
Bonaparte, dispirited by these manifestations of hatred, said, in a tone of mingled grief and contempt, “These Provencals are the same furious brawlers that they used to be. They committed frightful massacres at the commencement of the Revolution. Eighteen years ago I came to this part of the country with some thousand men to deliver two Royalists who were to be hanged. Their crime was having worn the white cockade. I saved them; but it was not without difficulty that I rescued them from the hands of their assailants; and now, you see, they resume the same excesses against those who refuse to wear the white cockade.”. At about a league from Aix the Emperor and his retinue found horses and an escort of gendarmerie to conduct them to the chateau of Luc.
The Princess Pauline was at the country residence of M. Charles, member of the Legislative Body, near the castle of Luc. On hearing of the misfortunes of her brother she determined to accompany him to the isle of Elba, and she proceeded to Frejus to embark with him. At Frejus the Emperor rejoined Colonel Campbell, who had quitted the convoy on the road, and had brought into the port the English frigate the ‘Undaunted’ which was appointed to convey the Emperor to the place of his destination. In spite of the wish he had expressed to Colonel Campbell he manifested considerable reluctance to go on board. However, on the 28th of April he sailed for the island of Elba in the English frigate, in which it could not then be said that Caesar and his fortune were embarked.
[It was on the 3d of May 1814 that Bonaparte arrived within sight of Porto-Ferrajo, the capital of his miniature empire; but he did not land till the nest morning. At first he paid a short visit incognito, being accompanied by a sergeant’s party of marines from the Undaunted. He then returned on board to breakfast, and at about two o’clock made his public entrance, the ‘Undaunted’ firing a royal salute.]
In every particular of his conduct he paid great attention to the maintenance of his Imperial dignity. On landing he received the keys of his city of Porto-Ferrajo, and the devoirs of the Governor, prefect, and other dignitaries, and he proceeded immediately under a canopy of State to the parish church, which served as a cathedral. There he heard Te Deum, and it is stated that his countenance was dark and melancholy, and that he even shed tears.
One of Bonaparte’s first cares was to select a flag for the Elbese Empire, and after some hesitation he fixed on “Argent, on a bend gules, or three bees,” as the armorial ensign of his new dominion. It is strange that neither he nor any of those whom he consulted should have been aware that Elba had an ancient and peculiar ensign, and it is still more remarkable that this ensign should be one singularly adapted to Bonaparte’s situation; being no more than “a wheel,–the emblem,” says M. Bernaud, “of the vicissitudes of human life, which the Elbese had borrowed from the Egyptian mysteries.” This is as curious a coincidence as any we ever recollect to have met; as the medals of Elba with the emblem of the wheel are well known, we cannot but suppose that Bonaparte was aware of the circumstance; yet he is represented as having in vain made several anxious inquiries after the ancient arms of the island.
During the first months of his residence there his life was, in general, one of characteristic activity and almost garrulous frankness. He gave dinners, went to balls, rode all day about his island, planned fortifications, aqueducts, lazarettos, harbours, and palaces; and the very second day after he landed fitted out an expedition of a dozen soldiers to take possession of a little uninhabited island called Pianosa, which lies a few leagues from Elba; on this occasion he said good-humouredly, “Toute l’Europe dira que j’ai deja fait une conqute” (All Europe will say I have already made a conquest). The cause of the island of Pianosa being left uninhabited was the marauding of the Corsairs from the coast of Barbary, against whom Bonaparte considered himself fully protected by the 4th Article of the Treaty of Fontainebleau.
The greatest wealth of Elba consists in its iron mines, for which the island was celebrated in the days of Virgil. Soon after his arrival Napoleon visited the mines in company with Colonel Campbell, and being informed that they produced annually about 500,000 francs he exclaimed joyfully, “These, then, are my own !” One of his followers, however, reminded him that he had long since disposed of that revenue, having given it to his order of the Legion of Honour, to furnish pensions, etc. “Where was my head when I made that grant?” said he, “but I have made many foolish decrees of that sort!”
Sir Walter Scott, in telling a curious fact, makes a very curious mistake. “To dignify his capital,” he says, “having discovered that the ancient name of Porto-Ferrajo was Comopoli (the city of Como), he commanded it to be called Cosmopoli, or the city of all nations.” Now the old name of Porto-Ferrajo was in reality not Comopoli, but Cosmopoli, and it obtained that name from the Florentine Cosmo de’ Medici, to whose ducal house Elba belonged, as an integral part of Tuscany. The name equally signified the city of Cosmo, or the city of all nations, and the vanity of the Medici had probably been flattered by the double meaning of the appellation. But Bonaparte certainly revived the old name, and did not add a letter to it to dignify his little capital.
The household of Napoleon, though reduced to thirty-five persons, still represented an Imperial Court. The forms and etiquette of the Tuileries and St, Cloud were retained on a diminished scale, but the furniture and internal accommodations of the palace are represented as having been meaner by far than those of an English gentleman of ordinary rank. The Bodyguard of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Elba consisted of about 700 infantry and 80 cavalry, and to this handful of troops Napoleon seemed to pay almost as much attention as he had formerly given to his Grande Armee. The men were constantly exercised, particularly in throwing shot and shells, and he soon began to look out for good recruits.
He early announced that he would hold a Court and receive ladies twice a week; the first was on the 7th of May, and a great concourse assembled. Bonaparte at first paid great attention to the women, particularly those who possessed personal attractions, and asked them, in his rapid way, whether they were married? how many children they had, and who their husbands were? To the last question he received one universal answer; it happened that every lady was married to a merchant, but when it came to be further explained that they were merchant butchers and merchant bakers, his Imperial Majesty permitted some expression of his dissatisfaction to escape him and hastily retired. On the 4th of June there was a ball on board the British frigate, in honour of the King’s birthday; the whole beauty and fashion of Elba were assembled, and dancing with great glee, when, about midnight, Bonaparte came in his barge, unexpectedly, and masked, to join the festivity. He was very affable, and visited every part of the ship, and all the amusements which had been prepared for the different classes of persons. On his birthday, the 15th of August, he ordered the mayor to give a ball, and for this purpose a temporary building, capable of holding 300 persons, was to be erected, and the whole entertainment, building and all, were to be at the expense of the inhabitants themselves. These were bad auspices, and accordingly the ball completely failed. Madame Mtire, Madame Bertrand, and the two ladies of honour, attended, but not above thirty of the fair islanders, and as the author of the IEineraire remarks, “Le bal ful triste quoique Bonaparte n’y parut pas.”
Having in an excursion reached the summit of one of the highest hills on the island, where the sea was visible all round him, he shook his head with affected solemnity, and exclaimed in a bantering tone, “Eh! il faut avouer que mon ile est bien petite.”
On this mountain one of the party saw a little church in an almost inaccessible situation, and observed that it was a most inconvenient site for a church, for surely no congregation could attend it. “It is on that account the more convenient to the parson,” replied Bonaparte, “who may preach what stuff he pleases without fear of contradiction.”
As they descended the hill and met some peasants with their goats who asked for charity, Bonaparte told a story which the present circumstances brought to his recollection, that when he was crossing the Great St. Bernard, previously to the battle of Marengo, he had met a goatherd, and entered into conversation with him. The goatherd, not knowing to whom he was speaking, lamented his own hard lot, and envied the riches of some persons who actually had cows and cornfields. Bonaparte inquired if some fairy were to offer to gratify all his wishes what he would ask? The poor peasant expressed, in his own opinion, some very extravagant desires, such as a dozen of cows and a good farmhouse. Bonaparte afterwards recollected the incident, and astonished the goatherd by the fulfilment of all his wishes.
But all his thoughts and conversations were not as light and pleasant as these. Sometimes he would involve himself in an account of the last campaign, of his own views and hopes, of the defection of his marshals, of the capture of Paris, and finally of his abdication; on these he would talk by the hour with great earnestness and almost fury, exhibiting in very rapid succession traits of eloquence, of military genius, of indignation; of vanity, and of selfishness. With regard to the audience to whom he addressed these tirades he was not very particular.
The chief violence of his rage seemed to be directed against Marshal Marmont whom, as well as Augereau, he sometimes called by names too gross for repetition, and charged roundly with treachery. Marmont, when he could no longer defend Paris by arms, saved it by an honourable capitulation; he preserved his army for the service of his country and when everything else was lost stipulated for the safety of Bonaparte. This last stipulation, however, Bonaparte affected to treat with contempt and indignation.–[Editor of 1836 edition.]
Changes produced by time–Correspondence between the Provisional Government and Hartwell–Louis XVIII’s reception in London– His arrival at Calais–Berthier’s address to the King at Compiegne– My presentation to his Majesty at St. Ouen-Louis–XVIII’s entry into Paris–Unexpected dismissal from my post–M. de Talleyrand’s departure for the Congress of Vienna–Signs of a commotion– Impossibility of seeing M. de Blacas–The Abby Fleuriel–Unanswered letters–My letter to M. de Talleyrand at Vienna.
No power is so great as that resulting from the changes produced by time. Wise policy consists in directing that power, but to do so it is requisite to know the wants of the age. For this reason Louis XVIII. appeared, in the eyes of all sensible persons, a monarch expressly formed for the circumstances in which we stood after the fall of Napoleon.
In the winter of 1813-14 some Royalist proclamations had been circulated in Paris, and as they contained the germs of those hopes which the Charter, had it been executed, was calculated to realise, the police opposed their circulation, and I recollect that, in order to multiply the number of copies, my family and I daily devoted some hours to transcribing them. After the definitive declaration of Alexander a very active correspondence ensued between the Provisional Government and Hartwell, and Louis XVIII. was even preparing to embark for Bordeaux when he learned the events of the 31st of March. That news induced the King to alter his determination, and he soon quitted his retirement to proceed to London. Louis XVIII. and the Prince Regent of England exchanged the orders of the Holy Ghost and the Garter, and I believe I may affirm that this was the first occasion on which any but a Catholic Prince was invested with the order of the Holy Ghost.
Louis XVIII. embarked at Dover on board the Royal Sovereign, and landed at Calais on the 24th of April. I need not enter into any description of the enthusiasm which his presence excited; that is generally known through the reports of the journals of the time. It is very certain that all rational persons saw with satisfaction the Princes of the House of Bourbon reascend the throne of their ancestors, enlightened by experience and misfortune, which, as some ancient philosopher observes, are the best counsellors of kings.
I had received a letter addressed to me from London by the Duc de Duras, pointing out the route which Louis XVIII. was to pursue from Calais to Paris: In this he said, “After the zeal, monsieur, you have shown for the service of the King, I do not doubt your activity to prevent his suffering in any way at a moment so happy and interesting for every Frenchman.” The King’s wishes on this subject were scrupulously fulfilled, and I recollect with pleasure the zeal with which my directions were executed by all the persons in the service of the Postoffice. His Majesty stopped for a short time at Amiens, and then proceeded to Compiegne, where the Ministers and Marshals had previously arrived to present to him their homage and the assurance of their fidelity. Berthier addressed the King in the name of the Marshals, and said, among other things, “that France, groaning for five and twenty years under the weight of the misfortunes that oppressed her, had anxiously looked forward to the happy day which she now saw dawning.” Berthier might justly have said for “ten years”; but at all events, even had he spoken the truth, it was ill placed in the mouth of a man whom the Emperor had constantly loaded with favours: The Emperor Alexander also went to Compiegne to meet Louis XVIII., and the two monarchs dined together.
I did not go to Compiegne because the business which I had constantly to execute did not permit me to leave Paris for so long an interval as that journey would have required, but I was at St. Ouen when Louis XVIII. arrived on the 2d of May. There I had to congratulate myself on being remembered by a man to whom I was fortunate enough to render some service at Hamburg. As the King entered the salon through which he had to pass to go to the dining-room M. Hue recognising me said to his Majesty, “There is M. de Bourrienne.” The King then stepping up to me said, “Ah! M. de Bourrienne, I am very glad to see you. I am aware of the services you have rendered me in Hamburg and Paris, and I shall feel much pleasure in testifying my gratitude.”
At St. Ouen Louis XVIII. promulgated the declaration which preceded the Charter, and which repeated the sentiments expressed by the King twenty years before, in the Declaration of Colmar. It was also at St, Ouen that project of a Constitution was presented to him by the Senate in which that body, to justify ‘in extremis’ its title of conservative, stipulated for the preservation of its revenues and endowments.
On the 3d of May Louis XVIII. made his solemn entrance into Paris, the Duchess d’Angouleme being in the carriage with the King. His Majesty proceeded first to Notre Dame. On arriving at the Pont Neuf he saw the model of the statue of Henri IV. replaced, on the pedestal of which appeared the following words: ‘Ludovico reduce, Henricus redivivus’, which were suggested by M. de Lally-Tollendal, and were greatly preferable to the long and prolix inscription composed for the bronze statue.
The King’s entrance into Paris did not excite so much enthusiasm as the entrance of Monsieur. In the places through which I passed on the 3d of May astonishment seemed to be the prevailing feeling among the people. The abatement of public enthusiasm was more perceptible a short time after, when Louis XVIII. restored “the red corps” which Louis XVI. had suppressed long before the Revolution.
It was not a little extraordinary to see the direction of the Government consigned to a man who neither had nor could have any knowledge of France. From the commencement M. de Blacas affected ministerial omnipotence. When I went on the 11th of May to the Tuileries to present, as usual, my portfolio to the King, in virtue of my privilege of transacting business with the sovereign, M. de Blacas wished to take the portfolio from me, which appeared to me the more surprising as, during the seven days I had the honour of coming in contact with Louis XVIII., his Majesty had been pleased to bestow many compliments upon me. I at first refused to give up the portfolio, but M. de Blacas told me the King had ordered him to receive it; I then, of course, yielded the point.
However, it, was not long before I had experience of a courtier’s revenge, for two days after this circumstance, that is to say, on the 13th of May, on entering my cabinet at the usual hour, I mechanically took up the ‘Moniteur’, which I found lying on my desk. On glancing hastily over it what was my astonishment to find that the Comte Ferrand had been appointed Director of the Post-office in my stead. Such was the strange mode in which M. de Blacas made me feel the promised gratitude of the sovereign. Certainly, after my proofs of loyalty, which a year afterwards procured for me the honour of being outlawed in quite a special way, I had reason to complain, and I might have said ‘Sic vos non vobis’ as justly as Virgil when he alluded to the unmerited favours lavished by Augustus on the Maevii and Bavii of his time.
The measures of Government soon excited complaints in every quarter. The usages of the old system were gradually restored, and ridicule being mingled with more serious considerations, Paris was speedily inundated with caricatures and pamphlets. However, tranquillity prevailed until the month of September, when M. de Talleyrand departed for the Congress of Vienna. Then all was disorder at the Tuileries. Every one feeling himself free from restraint, wished to play the statesman, and Heaven knows how many follies were committed in the absence of the schoolmaster.
Under a feeble Government there is but one step from discontent to insurrection, under an imbecile Government like that of France in 1814, after the departure of M. de Talleyrand, conspiracy has free Scope. During the summer of 1814 were initiated the events which reached their climax on the 20th of March 1815. I almost fancy I am dreaming when I look back on the miraculous incapacity of the persons who were then at the head of our Government. The emigrants, who, as it has been truly said, had neither learned nor forgotten anything, came back with all the absurd pretensions of Coblentz. Their silly vanity reminded one of a character in one of Voltaire’s novels who is continually saying, “Un homme comme moi!” These people were so engrossed with their pretended merit that they were blind to everything else. They not only disregarded the wishes and the wants of France; which in overthrowing the Empire hoped to regain liberty, but they disregarded every warning they had received.
I recollect one circumstance which was well calculated to excite suspicion. Prince Eugene proposed going to the waters of Plombieres to join his sister Hortense. The horses, the carriages, and one of the Prince’s aides de camp had already arrived at Plombieres, and his residence was prepared; but he did not go. Eugene had, no doubt, received intimation of his sister’s intrigues with some of the individuals of the late Court of Napoleon who were then at the waters, and as he had determined to reside quietly at the Court of his father-in- law; without meddling with public affairs, he remained at Munich. This fact, however, passed off unnoticed.
At the end of 1814 unequivocal indications of a great catastrophe were observable. About that time a man, whom I much esteem, and with whom I have always been on terms of friendship, said to me, “You see how things are going on: they are committing fault upon fault. You must be convinced that such a state of things cannot last long. Between ourselves, I am of opinion that all will be over in the month of March; that month will repair the disgrace of last March. We shall then, once for all, be delivered from fanaticism and the emigrants. You see the intolerable spirit of hypocrisy that prevails, and you know that the influence of the priests is, of all things, the most hateful to the nation. We have gone back a long way within the last eight months. I fear you will repent of having taken too active a part in affairs at the commencement of the present year. You see we have gone a very different way from what you expected. However, as I have often told you before, you had good reason to complain; and after all, you acted to the best of your judgment.”
I did not attach much importance to this prediction of a change in the month of March. I deplored, as every one did, the inconceivable errors of “Ferrand and Company,” and I hoped that the Government would gradually return to those principles which were calculated to conciliate the feelings of the people. A few days after another of my friends called on me. He had exercised important functions, and his name had appeared on a proscription list. He had claims upon the Government, which was by no means favourably disposed towards him. I asked him how things were going on, and he replied, “Very well; no opposition is made to my demands. I have no reason bo complain.” This reminded me of the man in the ‘Lettres Persanes’, who admired the excellent order of the finances under Colbert because his pension was promptly paid. I congratulated my friend on the justice which the Government rendered him, as well as on the justice which he rendered to the Government, and I remarked that if the same course were adopted towards every one all parties would speedily be conciliated. “I do not think so,” said my friend. “If the Government persist in its present course it cannot possibly stand, and we shall have the Emperor back again.”–“That,” said I, “would be a very great misfortune; and even if such were the wish of France, it would be opposed by Europe. You who are so devotedly attached to France cannot be indifferent to the danger that would threaten her if the presence of Bonaparte should bring the foreigners back again. Can you endure to think of the dismemberment of our country?”–“That they would never dare to attempt. But you and I can never agree on the question of the Emperor and your Bourbons. We take a totally different view of the matter. You had cause to complain of Bonaparte, but I had only reason to be satisfied with him. But tell me, what would you do if he were to return?”– “Bonaparte return!”–“Yes.”–“Upon my word, the best thing I could do would be to set off as speedily as I could, and that is certainly what I should do. I am thoroughly convinced that he would never pardon me for the part I have taken in the Restoration, and I candidly confess that I should not hesitate a moment to save my life by leaving France.”–“Well, you are wrong, for I am convinced that if you would range yourself among the number of his friends you might have whatever you wished–titles, honours, riches. Of this I could give you assurance.”–“All this, I must tell you, does not tempt me. I love France as dearly, as you do, and I am convinced that she can never be happy under Bonaparte. If he should return I will go and live abroad.”
This is only part of a conversation which lasted a considerable time, and, as is often the case after a long discussion, my friend retained his opinion, and I mine. However, this second warning, this hypothesis of the return of Bonaparte, made me reflect, and I soon received another hint which gave additional weight to the preceding ones. An individual with whom I was well acquainted, and whom I knew from his principles and connections to be entirely devoted to the royal cause, communicated to me some extraordinary circumstances which he said alarmed him. Among other things he said, “The day before yesterday I met Charles de Labedoyere, who, you know, is my intimate friend. I remarked that he had an air of agitation and abstraction. I invited him to come and dine with me, but he declined, alleging as an excuse that we should not be alone. He then asked me to go and dine with him yesterday, as he wanted to talk with me. I accepted his invitation, and we conversed a long time on political affair’s and the situation of France. You know my sentiments are quite the reverse of his, so we disputed and wrangled, though we are still very good friends. But what alarms me is, that at parting Charles pressed my hand, saying, ‘Adieu; to-morrow I set off for Grenoble. In a month you will hear something of Charles de Labedoyere.'”
These three successive communications appeared to me very extraordinary. The two first were made to me by persons interested in the event, and the third by one who dreaded it. They all presented a striking coincidence with the intrigues at Plombieres a few months before. In the month of January I determined to mention the business to M. de Blacas, who then engrossed all credit and all power, and through whose medium alone anything could reach the sovereign. I need scarcely add that my intention was merely to mention to him the facts without naming the individuals from whom I obtained them. After all, however, M. de Blacas did not receive me, and I only had the honour of speaking to his secretary, who, if the fact deserve to be recorded, was an abbe named Fleuriel. This personage, who was an extraordinary specimen of impertinence and self-conceit, would have been an admirable study for a comic poet. He had all the dignity belonging to the great secretary of a great Minister, and, with an air of indifference, he told me that the Count was not there; but M. de Blacas was there, and I knew it.
Devoted as I was to the cause of the Bourbons, I thought it my duty to write that very day to M. de Blacas to request an interview; I received no answer. Two days after I wrote a second letter, in which I informed M. de Blacas that I had something of the greatest importance to communicate to him; this letter remained unnoticed like the first. Unable to account for this strange treatment I again repaired to the Pavilion de Flore, and requested the Abbe Fleuriel to explain to me if he could the cause of his master’s silence. “Sir,” said he, “I received your two letters, and laid them before the Count; I cannot tell why he has not sent you an answer; but Monsieur le Comte is so much engaged . . . . Monsieur le Comte is so overwhelmed with business that”–“Monsieur le Comte may, perhaps, repent of it. Good morning, sir!”
I thus had personal experience of the truth of what I had often heard respecting M. de Blacas. That favourite, who succeeded Comte d’Avaray, enjoyed the full confidence of the King, and concentrated the sovereign power in his own cabinet. The only means of transmitting any communication to Louis XVIII. was to get it addressed to M. de Blacas by one of his most intimate friends.
Convinced as I was of the danger that threatened France, and unable to break through the blockade which M. de Blacas had formed round the person of the King, I determined to write to M. de Talleyrand at Vienna,’ and acquaint him with the communications that had been made to me. M. de Talleyrand corresponded directly with the King, and I doubt not that my information at length reached the ears of his Majesty. But when Louis XVIII. was informed of what was to happen it was too late to avert the danger.
Escape from Elba–His landing near Cannes–March on Paris.
About the middle of summer Napoleon was visited by his mother and his sister the Princess Pauline. Both these ladies had very considerable talents for political intrigue, and then natural faculties in this way had not lain dormant or been injured by want of practice. In Pauline this finesse was partially concealed by a languor and indecision of manner and an occasional assumption of ‘niaiserie’; or almost infantine simplicity; but this only threw people the more off their guard, and made her finesse the more sure in its operation. Pauline was handsome too, uncommonly graceful, and had all that power of fascination which has been attributed to the Bonaparte family. She could gain hearts with ease, and those whom her charms enslaved were generally ready to devote themselves absolutely to her brother. She went and came between Naples and Elba, and kept her brother-in-law, Murat, in mind of the fact that the lion was not yet dead nor so much as sleeping, but merely retiring the better to spring forward on his quarry.
Having taken this resolution and chosen his time, Napoleon kept the secret of his expedition until the last moment; and means were found to privately make the requisite preparations. A portion of the soldiers was embarked in a brig called the ‘Inconstant’ and the remainder in six small craft. It was not till they were all on board that the troops first conceived a suspicion of the Emperor’s purpose: 1000 or 1200 men had sailed to regain possession of an Empire containing a population of 30,000,000! He commenced his voyage on Sunday the 26th of February 1815, and the next morning at ten o’clock was not out of sight of the island, to the great annoyance of the few friends he had left behind. At this time Colonel Sir Neil Campbell was absent on a tour to Leghorn, but being informed by the French Consul and by Spanocchi, the Tuscan Governor of the town, that Napoleon was about to sail for the Continent, he hastened back, and gave chase to the little squadron in the Partridge sloop of war, which was cruising in the neighbourhood, but, being delayed by communicating with a French frigate, reached Antibes too late.
There were between 400 and 500 men on board the brig (the ‘Inconstant’) in which Bonaparte embarked. On the passage they met with a French ship of war, with which they spoke. The Guards were ordered to pull off their caps and lie down on the deck or go below while the captain exchanged some words with the commander of the frigate, whom he afterwards proposed to pursue and capture. Bonaparte rejected the idea as absurd, and asked why he should introduce this new episode into his plan.
As they stood over to the coast of France the Emperor was in the highest spirits. The die was cast, and he seemed to be quite himself again. He sat upon the deck and amused the officers collected round him with a narrative of his campaigns, particularly those of Italy and Egypt. When he had finished he observed the deck to be encumbered with several large chests belonging to him. He asked the maitre d’hotel what they contained. Upon being told they were filled with wine he ordered them to be immediately broken open, saying, “We will divide the booty.” The Emperor superintended the distribution himself, and presented bottle by bottle to his comrades, till tired of this occupation he called out to Bertrand, “Grand Marshal, assist me, if you please. Let us help these gentlemen. They will help us some day.” It was with this species of bonhomie that he captivated when he chose all around him. The following day he was employed in various arrangements, and among others in dictating to Colonel Raoul the proclamations to be issued on his landing In one of these, after observing, “we must forget that we have given law to the neighbouring nations,” Napoleon stopped. “What have I said?” Colonel Raoul read the passage. “Stop!” said Napoleon. “Omit the word ‘neighbouring;’ say simply ‘to nations.'” It was thus his pride revealed itself; and his ambition seemed to rekindle at the very recollections of his former greatness.
Napoleon landed without any accident on the 1st of March at Cannes, a small seaport in the Gulf of St. Juan, not far from Frejus, where he had disembarked on his return from Egypt sixteen years before, and where he had embarked the preceding year for Elba. A small party of the Guards who presented themselves before the neighbouring garrison of Antibes were made prisoners by General Corsin, the Governor of the place. Some one hinted that it was not right to proceed till they had released their comrades, but the Emperor observed that this was poorly to estimate the magnitude of the undertaking; before them were 30,000,000 men uniting to be set free! He, however, sent the Commissariat Officer to try what be could do, calling out after him, “Take care you do not get yourself made prisoner too!”
At nightfall the troops bivouacked on the beach. Just before a postillion, in a splendid livery, had been brought to Napoleon. It turned out that this man had formerly been a domestic of the Empress Josephine, and was now in the service of the Prince of Monaco, who himself had been equerry to the Empress. The postillion, after expressing his great astonishment at finding the Emperor there, stated, in answer to the questions that were put to him, that he had just come from Paris; that all along the road, as far as Avignon, he had heard nothing but regret for the Emperor’s absence; that his name was constantly echoed from mouth to mouth; and that, when once fairly through Provence, he would find the whole population ready to rally round him. The man added that his laced livery had frequently rendered him the object of odium and insult on the road. This was the testimony of one of the common class of society: it was very gratifying to the Emperor, as it entirely corresponded with his expectations. The Prince of Monaco himself, on being presented to the Emperor, was less explicit. Napoleon refrained from questioning him on political matters. The conversation therefore assumed a more lively character, and turned altogether on the ladies of the former Imperial Court, concerning whom the Emperor was very particular in his inquiries.
As soon as the moon had risen, which was about one or two in the morning of the 2d, the bivouacs were broken up, and Napoleon gave orders for proceeding to Grasse. There he expected to find a road which he had planned during the Empire, but in this he was disappointed, the Bourbons having given up all such expensive works through want of money. Bonaparte was therefore obliged to pass through narrow defiles filled with snow, and left behind him in the hands of the municipality his carriage and two pieces of cannon, which had been brought ashore. This was termed a capture in the bulletins of the day. The municipality of Grasse was strongly in favour of the Royalist cause, but the sudden appearance of the Emperor afforded but little time for hesitation, and they came to tender their submission to him. Having passed through the town be halted on a little height some way beyond it, where he breakfasted. He was soon surrounded by the whole population of the place; and he heard the same sentiments and the same prayers as before he quitted France. A multitude of petitions had already been drawn up, and were presented to him, just as though he had come from Paris and was making a tour through the departments. One complained that his pension had not been paid, another that his cross of the Legion of Honour had been taken from him. Some of the more discontented secretly informed Napoleon that the authorities of the town were very hostile to him, but that the mass of the people were devoted to him, and only waited till his back was turned to rid themselves of the miscreants. He replied, “Be not too hasty. Let them have the mortification of seeing our triumph without having anything to reproach us with.” The Emperor advanced with all the rapidity in his power. “Victory,” he said, “depended on my speed. To me France was in Grenoble. That place was a hundred miles distant, but I and my companions reached it in five days; and with what weather and what roads! I entered the city just as the Comte d’Artois, warned by the telegraph, was quitting the Tuileries.”
Napoleon himself was so perfectly convinced of the state of affairs that he knew his success in no way depended on the force he might bring with him. A ‘piquet’ of ‘gens d’armes’, he said, was all that was necessary. Everything turned out as he foresaw. At first he owned he was not without some degree of uncertainty and apprehension. As he advanced, however, the whole population declared themselves enthusiastically in his favour: but he saw no soldiers. It was not till he arrived between Mure and Vizille, within five or six leagues from Grenoble, and on the fifth day after his landing, that he met a battalion. The commanding officer refused to hold even a parley. The Emperor, without hesitation, advanced alone, and 100 grenadiers marched at some distance behind him, with their arms reversed. The sight of Napoleon, his well-known costume, and his gray military greatcoat, had a magical effect on the soldiers, and they stood motionless. Napoleon went straight up to them and baring his breast said, “Let him that has the heart kill his Emperor!” The soldiers threw down their arms, their eyes moistened with tears, and cries of “Vive l’Empereur!” resounded on every side. Napoleon ordered the battalion to wheel round to the right, and all marched on together.
At a short distance from Grenoble Colonel Labedoyere, who had been sent at the head of the 7th regiment to oppose his passage, came to join the Emperor. The impulse thus given in a manner decided the question. Labedoyere’s superior officer in vain interfered to restrain his enthusiasm and that of his men. The tri-coloured cockades, which had been concealed in the hollow of a drum, were eagerly distributed by Labedoyere among them, and they threw away the white cockade as a badge of their nation’s dishonour. The peasantry of Dauphiny, the cradle of the Revolution, lined the roadside: they were transported and mad with joy. The first battalion, which has just been alluded to, had shown some signs of hesitation, but thousands of the country people crowded round it, and by their shouts of “Vive l’Empereur!” endeavoured to urge the troops to decision, while others who followed in Napoleon’s rear encouraged his little troop to advance by assuring them that they would meet with success. Napoleon said he could have taken 2,000,000 of these peasants with him to Paris, but that then he would have been called “the King of the Jaequerie.”
Napoleon issued two proclamations on the road. He at first regretted that he had not had them printed before he left Elba; but this could not have been done without some risk of betraying his secret designs. He dictated them on board the vessel, where every man who could write was employed in copying them. These copies soon became very scarce; many of them were illegible; and it was of till he arrived at Gap, on the 5th of March, that he found means to have them printed. They were from that time circulated and read everywhere with the utmost avidity.
The address to the army was considered as being still more masterly and eloquent, and it was certainly well suited to the taste of French soldiers, who, as Bourrienne remarks, are wonderfully pleased with grandiloquence, metaphor, and hyperbole, though they do not always understand what they mean. Even a French author of some distinction praises this address as something sublime. “The proclamation to the army,” says he, “is full of energy: it could not fail to make all military imaginations vibrate. That prophetic phrase, ‘The eagle, with the national colours, will fly from church steeple to church steeple, till it settles on the towers of Notre Dame,’ was happy in the extreme.”
These words certainly produced an immense effect on the French soldiery, who everywhere shouted, “Vive l’Empereur!” “Vive le petit Caporal!” “We will die for our old comrade!” with the most genuine enthusiasm.
It was some distance in advance of Grenoble that Labedoyere joined, but he could not make quite sure of the garrison of that city, which was commanded by General Marchand, a man resolved to be faithful to his latest master. The shades of night had fallen when Bonaparte arrived in front of the fortress of Grenoble, where he stood for some minutes in a painful state of suspense and indecision.
It was on the 7th of March, at nightfall, that Bonaparte thus stood before the walls of Grenoble. He found the gates closed, and the commanding officer refused to open them. The garrison assembled on the ramparts shouted “Vive l’Empereur!” and shook hands with Napoleon’s followers through the wickets, but they could not be prevailed on to do more. It was necessary to force the gates, and this was done under the mouths of ten pieces of artillery, loaded with grapeshot. In none of his battles did Napoleon ever imagine himself to be in so much danger as at the entrance into Grenoble. The soldiers seemed to turn upon him with furious gestures: for a moment it might be supposed that they were going to tear him to pieces. But these were the suppressed transports of love and joy. The Emperor and his horse were both borne along by the multitude, and he had scarcely time to breathe in the inn where he alighted when an increased tumult was heard without; the inhabitants of Grenoble came to offer him the broken gates of the city, since they could not present him with the keys.
From Grenoble to Paris Napoleon found no further opposition. During the four days of his stay at Lyons, where he had arrived on the 10th, there were continually upwards of 20,000 people assembled before his windows; whose acclamations were unceasing. It would never have been supposed that the Emperor had even for a moment been absent from the, country. He issued orders, signed decrees, reviewed the troops, as if nothing had happened. The military corps, the public bodies, and all classes of citizens, eagerly came forward to tender their homage and their services. The Comte d’Artois, who had hastened to Lyons, as the Duc and Duchesse d’Augouleme had done to Bourdeaux, like them in vain attempted to make a stand. The Mounted National Guard (who were known Royalists) deserted him at this crisis, and in his flight only one of them chose to follow him. Bonaparte refused their services when offered to him, and with a chivalrous feeling worthy of being recorded sent the decoration of the Legion of Honour to the single volunteer who had thus shown his fidelity by following the Duke.
As soon as the Emperor quitted Lyons he wrote to Ney, who with his army was at Lons-le-Saulnier, to come and join him. Ney had set off from the Court with a promise to bring Napoleon, “like a wild beast in a cage, to Paris.” Scott excuses Ney’s heart at the expense of his head, and fancies that the Marshal was rather carried away by circumstances, by vanity, and by fickleness, than actuated by premeditated treachery, and it is quite possible that these protestations were sincerely uttered when Ney left Paris, but, infected by the ardour of his troops, he was unable to resist a contagion so much in harmony with all his antecedents, and to attack not only his leader in many a time of peril, but also the sovereign who had forwarded his career through every grade of the army.
The facts of the cane were these:–
On the 11th of March Ney, being at Besancon, learned that Napoleon was at Lyons. To those who doubted whether his troops would fight against their old comrades he said, “They shall fight! I will take a musket from a grenadier and begin the action myself! I will run my sword to the hilt in the body of the first man who hesitates to fire.” At the same time he wrote to the Minister of War at Paris that he hoped to see a fortunate close to this mad enterprise.
He then advanced to Lons-le-Saulnier, where, on the night between the 13th and 14th of March, not quite three days after his vehement protestations of fidelity, he received, without hesitation, a letter from Bonaparte, inviting him, by his old appellation of the “Bravest of the Brave,” to join his standard. With this invitation Ney complied, and published an order of the day that declared the cause of the Bourbons, which he had sworn to defend, lost for ever.
It is pleaded in extenuation of Ney’s defection that both his officers and men were beyond his control, and determined to join their old Master; but in that case he might have given up his command, and retired in the same honourable way that Marshals Macdonald and Marmont and several other generals did. But even among his own officers Ney had an example set him, for many of them, after remonstrating in vain, threw up their commands. One of them broke his sword in two and threw the pieces at Ney’s feet, saying, “It is easier for a man of honour to break iron than to break his word.”
Napoleon, when at St. Helena, gave a very different reading to these incidents. On this subject he was heard to say, “If I except Labedoyere, who flew to me with enthusiasm and affection, and another individual, who, of his own accord, rendered me important services, nearly all the other generals whom I met on my route evinced hesitation and uncertainty; they yielded only to the impulse about them, if indeed they did not manifest a hostile feeling towards me. This was the case with Ney, with Massena, St. Cyr, Soult, as well as with Macdonald and the Duke of Belluno, so that if the Bourbons had reason to complain of the complete desertion of the soldiers and the people, they had no right to reproach the chiefs of the army with conspiring against them, who had shown themselves mere children in politics, and would be looked upon as neither emigrants nor patriots.”
Between Lyons and Fontainebleau Napoleon often travelled several miles ahead of his army with no other escort than a few Polish lancers. His advanced guard now generally consisted of the troops (miscalled Royal) who happened to be before him on the road whither they had been sent to oppose him, and to whom couriers were sent forward to give notice of the Emperor’s approach, in order that they might be quite ready to join him with the due military ceremonies. White flags and cockades everywhere disappeared; the tri-colour resumed its pride of place. It was spring, and true to its season the violet had reappeared! The joy of the soldiers and the lower orders was almost frantic, but even among the industrious poor there were not wanting many who regretted this precipitate return to the old order of things–to conscription, war, and bloodshed, while in the superior classes of society there was a pretty general consternation. The vain, volatile soldiery, however, thought of nothing but their Emperor, saw nothing before them but the restoration of all their laurels, the humiliation of England, and the utter defeat of the Russians, Prussians, and Austrians.
On the night between the 19th and 20th of March Napoleon reached Fontainebleau, and again paused, as had formerly been his custom, with short, quick steps through the antiquated but splendid galleries of that old palace. What must have been his feelings on revisiting the chamber in which, the year before, it is said he had attempted suicide!
Louis XVIII., left the Palace of the Tuileries at nearly the same hour that Bonaparte entered that of Fontainebleau.
The most forlorn hope of the Bourbons was now in a considerable army posted between Fontainebleau and Paris. Meanwhile the two armies approached each other at Melun; that of the King was commanded by Marshal Macdonald. On the 20th his troops were drawn up in three lines to receive the invaders, who were said to be advancing from Fontainebleau. There was a long pause of suspense, of a nature which seldom fails to render men more accessible to strong and sudden emotions. The glades of the forest, and the acclivity which leads to it, were in full view of the Royal army, but presented the appearance of a deep solitude. All was silence, except when the regimental bands of music, at the command of the officers, who remained generally faithful, played the airs of “Vive Henri Quatre,” “O Richard,” “La Belle Gabrielle,” and other tunes connected with the cause and family of the Bourbons. The sounds excited no corresponding sentiments among the soldiers.
At length, about noon, a galloping of horse was heard. An open carriage appeared, surrounded by a few hussars, and drawn by four horses. It came on at full speed, and Napoleon, jumping from the vehicle, was in the midst of the ranks which had been formed to oppose him. His escort threw themselves from their horses, mingled with their ancient comrades, and the effect of their exhortations was instantaneous on men whose minds were already half made up to the purpose which they now accomplished. There was a general shout of “Vive Napoleon!” The last army of the Bourbons passed from their side, and no further obstruction existed betwixt Napoleon and the capital, which he was once more–but for a brief space–to inhabit as a sovereign.
Louis, accompanied only by a few household troops, had scarcely turned his back on the capital of his ancestors when Lavalette hastened from a place of concealment and seized on the Post-office in the name of Napoleon. By this measure all the King’s proclamations’ were intercepted, and the restoration of the Emperor was announced to all the departments. General Excelmans, who had just renewed his oath to Louis, pulled down with his own hands the white flag that was floating over the Tuileries, and hoisted the three-coloured banner.
It was late in the evening of the 20th that Bonaparte entered Paris in an open carriage, which was driven straight to the gilded gates of the Tuileries. He received the acclamations of the military and of the lower classes of the suburbs, but most of the respectable citizens looked on in silent wonderment. It was quite evident then that he was recalled by a party–a party, in truth, numerous and powerful, but not by the unanimous voice of the nation. The enthusiasm of his immediate adherents, however, made up for the silence and lukewarmness of others. They filled and crammed the square of the Carrousel, and the courts and avenues of the Tuileries; they pressed so closely upon him that he was obliged to cry out, “My friends, you stifle me!” and his aides de camp were compelled to carry him in their arms up the grand staircase, and thence into the royal apartments. It was observed, however, that amongst these ardent friends were many men who had been the first to desert him in 1814, and that these individuals were the most enthusiastic in their demonstrations, the loudest in their shouts!
And thus was Napoleon again at the Tuileries, where, even more than at Fontainebleau, his mind was flooded by the deep and painful recollections of the past! A few nights after his return thither he sent for M. Horan, one of the physicians who had attended Josephine during her last illness. “So, Monsieur Horan,” said he, “you did not leave the Empress during her malady?”–“No, Sire.”
What was the cause of that malady?”–“Uneasiness of mind . . .grief.”– “You believe that?” (and Napoleon laid a strong emphasis on the word believe, looking steadfastly in the doctor’s face). He then asked, “Was she long ill? Did she suffer much?”–“She was ill a week, Sire; her Majesty suffered little bodily pain.”–“Did she see that she was dying? Did she show courage?”–“A sign her Majesty made when she could no longer express herself leaves me no doubt that she felt her end approaching; she seamed to contemplate it without fear.”–” Well! . . well!” and then Napoleon much affected drew close to M. Horan, and added, “You say that she was in grief; from what did that arise?”–“From passing events, Sire; from your Majesty’s position last year.”–” Ah! she used to speak of me then?”–“Very often.” Here Napoleon drew his hand across his eyes, which seemed filled with tears. He then went on. “Good woman!–Excellent Josephine! She loved me truly–she–did she not? . . . Ah! She was a Frenchwoman!”–“Yes, Sire, she loved you, and she would have proved it had it not been for dread of displeasing you: she had conceived an idea.” –“How? … What would she have done?” She one day said that as Empress of the French she would drive through Paris with eight horses to her coach, and all her household in gala livery, to go and rejoin you at Fontainebleau, and never quit you mare.”–“She would have done it–she was capable of doing it!”
Napoleon again betrayed deep emotion, on recovering from which he asked the physician the most minute questions about the nature of Josephine’s disease, the friends and attendants who were around her at the hour of her death, and the conduct of her two children, Eugene and Hortense.
Message from the Tuileries–My interview with the King– My appointment to the office of Prefect of the Police–Council at the Tuileries–Order for arrests–Fouches escape–Davoust unmolested–Conversation with M. de Blacas–The intercepted letter, and time lost–Evident understanding between Murat and Napoleon– Plans laid at Elba–My departure from Paris–The post-master of Fins–My arrival at Lille–Louis XVIII. detained an hour at the gates–His majesty obliged to leave France–My departure for Hamburg–The Duc de Berri at Brussels.
Those who opposed the execution of the treaty concluded with Napoleon at the time of his abdication were guilty of a great error, for they afforded him a fair pretext for leaving the island of Elba. The details of that extraordinary enterprise are known to every one, and I shall not repeat what has been told over and over again. For my own part, as soon as I saw with what rapidity Bonaparte was marching upon Lyons, and the enthusiasm with which he was received by the troops and the people, I prepared to retire to Belgium, there to await the denouement of this new drama.
Every preparation for my departure was completed on the evening of the 13th of March, and I was ready to depart, to avoid the persecutions of which I expected I should be the object, when I received a message from the Tuileries stating that the King desired to see me. I of course lost no time in proceeding to the Palace, and went straight to M. Hue to inquire of him why I had been sent for. He occupied the apartments in which I passed the three most laborious and anxious years of my life. M. Hue, perceiving that I felt a certain degree of uneasiness at being summoned to the Tuileries at that hour of the night, hastened to inform me that the King wished to appoint me Prefect of the Police. He conducted me to the King’s chamber, where his Majesty thus addressed me kindly, but in an impressive manner, “M. de Bourrienne, can we rely upon you? I expect much from your zeal and fidelity.”–“Your Majesty,” replied I, “shall have no reason to complain of my betraying your confidence.”–” Well, I re-establish the Prefecture of the Police, and I appoint you Prefect. Do your best, M. de Bourrienne, in the discharge of your duties; I count upon you.”
By a singular coincidence, on the very day (the 13th of March) when I received this appointment Napoleon, who was at Lyons, signed the decree which excluded from the amnesty he had granted thirteen individuals, among whose names mine was inscribed. This decree confirmed me in the presentiments I had conceived as soon as I heard of the landing of Bonaparte. On returning home from the Tuileries after receiving my appointment a multitude of ideas crowded on my mind. At the first moment I had been prompted only by the wish to serve the cause of the King, but I was alarmed when I came to examine the extent of the responsibility I had taken upon myself. However, I determined to meet with courage the difficulties that presented themselves, and I must say that I had every reason to be satisfied with the manner in which I was seconded by M. Foudras, the Inspector-General of the Police.
Even now I am filled with astonishment when I think of the Council that was held at the Tuileries on the evening of the 13th of March in M. de Blacas’ apartments. The ignorance of the members of that Council respecting our situation, and their confidence in the useless measures they had adopted against Napoleon, exceed all conception.
Will it be believed that those great statesmen, who had the control of the telegraph, the post-office, the police and its agents, money-in short, everything which constitutes power–asked me to give them information respecting the advance of Bonaparte? What could I say to them? I could only repeat the reports which were circulated on the Exchange, and those which I had collected here and there during the last twenty-four hours. I did not conceal that the danger was imminent, and that all their precautions would be of no avail. The question then arose as to what course should be adapted by the King. It was impossible that the monarch could remain at the Capital, and yet, where was he to go? One proposed that he should go to Bordeaux, another to La Vendee, and a third to Normandy, and a fourth member of the Council was of opinion that the King should be conducted to Melun. I conceived that if a battle should take place anywhere it would probably be in the neighbourhood of that town, but the councillor who made this last suggestion assured us that the presence of the King in an open carriage and eight horses would produce a wonderful effect on the minds of the troops. This project was merely ridiculous; the others appeared to be dangerous and impracticable. I declared to the Council that, considering the situation of things, it was necessary to renounce all idea of resistance by force of arms; that no soldier would fire a musket, and that it was madness to attempt to take any other view of things. “Defection,” said I, “is inevitable. The soldiers are drinking in their barracks the money which you have been giving them for some days past to purchase their fidelity. They say Louis XVIII., is a very decent sort of man, but ‘Vive le petit Caporal!'”
Immediately on the landing of Napoleon the King sent an extraordinary courier to Marmont, who was at Chatillon whither he had gone to take a last leave of his dying mother. I saw him one day after he had had an interview with the King; I think it was on the 6th or 7th of March. After some conversation on the landing of Napoleon, and the means of preventing him from reaching Paris, Marmont said to me, “This is what I dwelt most strongly upon in the interview I have just had with the King. ‘Sire,’ said I, ‘I doubt not Bonaparte’s intention of coming to Paris, and the best way to prevent him doing so would be for your Majesty to remain here. It is necessary to secure the Palace of the Tuileries against a surprise, and to prepare it for resisting a siege, in which it would be indispensable to use cannon. You must shut yourself up in your palace, with the individuals of your household and the principal public functionaries, while the Due d’Angoulome should go to Bordeaux, the Duc de Berri to La Vendee, and Monsieur to, the Franche-Comte; but they must set off in open day, and announce that they are going to collect defenders for your Majesty.–[Monsieur, the brother of the King, the Comte d’Artois later Charles X.]
“. . This is what I said to the King this morning, and I added that I would answer for everything if my advice were followed. I am now going to direct my aide de camp, Colonel Fabvier, to draw up the plan of defence.” I did not concur in Marmont’s opinion. It is certainly probable that had Louis XVIII. remained in his palace the numerous defections which took place before the 20th of March would have been checked and some persons would not have found so ready an excuse for breaking their oaths of allegiance. There can be little doubt, too, but Bonaparte would have reflected well before he attempted the siege of the Tuileries.
–[Marmont (tome vii. p. 87) gives the full details of his scheme for provisioning and garrisoning the Tuileries which the King was to hold while his family spread themselves throughout the provinces. The idea had nothing strange in it, for the same advice was given by General Mathieu Dumas (Souvenirs, tome iii. p. 564), a man not likely to suggest any rash schemes. Jaucourt, writing to Talleyrand, obviously believed in the wisdom of the King’s remaining, as did the Czar; see Talleyrand’s Correspondence, vol. ii. pp. 94, 122, 129. Napoleon would certainly have been placed in a strange difficulty, but a king capable of adopting such a resolution would never have been required to consider it.]–
Marmont supported his opinion by observing that the admiration and astonishment excited by the extraordinary enterprise of Napoleon and his rapid march to Paris would be counterbalanced by the interest inspired by a venerable monarch defying his bold rival and courageously defending his throne. While I rendered full justice to the good intentions of the Duke of Ragusa, yet I did not think that his advice could be adopted. I opposed it as I opposed all the propositions that were made in the Council relative to the different places to which the King should retire. I myself suggested Lille as being the nearest, and as presenting the greatest degree of safety, especially in the first instance.
It was after midnight when I left the Council of the Tuileries. The discussion had terminated, and without coming to any precise resolution it was agreed that the different opinions which had been expressed should be submitted to Louis XVIII. in order that his Majesty might adopt that which should appear to him the best. The King adopted my opinion, but it was not acted upon until five days after.
My appointment to the Prefecture of the Police was, as will be seen, a late thought of measure, almost as late indeed as Napoleon’s proposition to send me as his Minister Plenipotentiary to Switzerland. In now accepting office I was well convinced of the inutility of any effort that might be made to arrest the progress of the fast approaching and menacing events. Being introduced into the King’s cabinet his Majesty asked me what I thought of the situation of affairs. “I think, Sire, that Bonaparte will be here in five or six days.”–“What, sir?”–“Yes, Sire.” –“But proper measures are taken, the necessary orders given, and the Marshals are faithful to me.”–“Sire, I suspect no man’s fidelity; but I can assure your Majesty that, as Bonaparte has landed, he will be here within a week. I know him, and your Majesty cannot know him as well as I do; but I can venture too assure your Majesty with the same confidence that he will not be here six months hence. He will be hurried into acts of folly which will ruin him.”–“De Bourrienne, I hope the best from events, but if misfortune again compel me to leave France, and your second prediction be fulfilled, you may rely on me.” During this short conversation the King appeared perfectly tranquil and resigned.
The next day I again visited the Tuileries, whither I had at those perilous times frequent occasion to repair. On that day I received a list of twenty-five persons whom I was ordered to arrest. I took the liberty to observe that such a proceeding was not only useless but likely to produce a very injurious effect at that critical moment. The reasons I urged had not all the effect I expected. However, some relaxation as to twenty-three of the twenty-five was conceded, but it was insisted that Fouche and Davoust should be arrested without delay. The King repeatedly said, “I wish you to arrest Fouche.”–” Sire, I beseech your Majesty to consider the inutility of such a measure.”–” I am resolved upon Fouches arrest. But I am sure you will miss him, for Andre could not catch him.”
My nocturnal installation as Prefect of the Police took place some time after midnight. I had great repugnance to the arrest of Fouche, but the order having been given, there was no alternative but to obey it. I communicated the order to M. Foudras, who very coolly observed, “Since we are to arrest him you need not be afraid, we shall have him fast tomorrow.”
The next day my agents repaired to the Duke of Otranto’s hotel, in the Rue d’Artois. On showing their warrant Fouche said, “What does this mean? Your warrant is of no force; it is mere waste-paper. It purports to come from the Prefect of the Police, but there is no such Prefect.” In my opinion Fouche was right, for my appointment, which took place during the night, had not been legally announced. Be that as it may, on his refusal to surrender, one of my agents applied to the staff of the National Guard, requesting the support, in case of need, of an armed force. General Dessolles repaired to the Tuileries to take the King’s orders on the subject. Meanwhile Fouche, who never lost his self- possession, after talking to the police officers who remained with him, pretended to step aside for some indispensable purpose, but the door which he opened led into a dark passage through which he slipped, leaving my unfortunate agents groping about in the obscurity. As for himself, he speedily gained the Rue Taitbout, where he stepped into a coach, and drove off. This is the whole history of the notable arrest of Fouche.
As for Davoust, I felt my hands tied with respect to him. I do not mean to affect generosity, for I acknowledge the enmity I bore him; but I did not wish it to be supposed that I was acting towards him from a spirit of personal vengeance. I therefore merely ordered him to be watched. The other twenty-three were to me in this matter as if they had never existed; and some of them, perhaps, will only learn in reading my Memoirs what dangerous characters they were thought to be.
On the 15th of March, after the conversation which, as I have already related, I had with Louis XVIII, I went to M. de Blacas and repeated to him what I had stated to the King on the certainty of Bonaparte’s speedy arrival in Paris. I told him that I found it necessary to devote the short time still in our power to prevent a reaction against the Royalists, and to preserve public tranquillity until the departure of the Royal family, and that I would protect the departure of all persons who had reasons for withdrawing themselves from the scene of the great and perhaps disastrous events that might ensue. “You may readily believe, Count,” added I, “that considering the great interests with which I am entrusted, I am not inclined to lose valuable time in arresting the persons of whose names I have received a list. The execution of such a measure would be useless; it would lead to nothing, or rather it would serve to irritate public feeling. My conviction of this fact has banished from me all idea of keeping under restraint for four or five days persons whose influence, whether real or supposed, is nil, since Bonaparte is at Auxerre. Mere supervision appears to me sufficient, and to that I propose confining myself.”–“The King,” replied M. de Blacas, “relies on you. He knows that though only forty-eight hours have elapsed since you entered upon your functions, you have already rendered greater services than you are perhaps aware of.” I then asked M. de Blacas whether he had not received any intimation of Bonaparte’s intended departure from the island of Elba by letters or by secret agents. “The only positive information we received,” answered the Minister, “was an intercepted letter, dated Elba, 6th February. It was addressed to M. —–, near Grenoble. I will show it you.” M. de Blacas opened a drawer of his writing-table and took out the letter, which he gave to me. The writer thanked his correspondent for the information he had transmitted to “the inhabitant of Elba.” He was informed that everything was ready for departure, and that the first favourable opportunity would be seized, but that it would be desirable first to receive answers to some questions contained in the letter. These questions related to the regiments which had been sent into the south, and the places of their cantonment. It was inquired whether the choice of the commanders was conformable to what had been agreed on in Paris, and whether Labedoyere was at his post. The letter was rather long and it impressed me by the way in which the plan of a landing on the coast of Provence was discussed. Precise answers were requested on all these points. On returning the letter to M. de Blacas I remarked that the contents of the letter called for the adoption of some decided measures, and I asked him what had been done. He answered, “I immediately sent a copy of the letter to M. d’Andre, that he might give orders for arresting the individual to whom it was addressed.”
Having had the opportunity of closely observing the machinery of a vigilant and active Government, I was, I must confess, not a little amazed at the insufficiency of the measures adopted to defeat this well- planned conspiracy. When M. de Blacas informed me of all that had been done, I could not repress an exclamation of surprise. “Well,” said he, “and what would you have done?”–“In the first place I would not have lost twenty-four hours, which were an age in such a crisis.” I then explained the plan I would have adopted. A quarter of an hour after the receipt of the letter I would have sent trustworthy men to Grenoble, and above all things I would have taken care not to let the matter fall into the hands of the police. Having obtained all information from the correspondent at Grenoble, I would have made him write a letter to his correspondent at Elba to quiet the eagerness of Napoleon, telling him that the movement of troops he spoke of had not been made, that it would take eight days to carry it out, and that it was necessary to the success of the enterprise to delay the embarkation for some days. While Bonaparte was thus delayed I would have sent to the coast of Provence a sufficient body of men devoted to the Royal cause, sending off in another direction the regiments whose chiefs were gained over by Napoleon, as the correspondence should reveal their names. “You are perhaps right, sir,” said M. de Blacas, “but what could I do? I am new here. I had not the control of the police, and I trusted to M. d’Andre.”–” Well,” said I, “Bonaparte will be here on the 20th of March.” With these words I parted from M. de Blacas. I remarked a great change in him. He had already lost a vast deal of that hauteur of favouritism which made him so much disliked.
When I entered upon my duties in the Prefecture of Police the evil was already past remedy. The incorrigible emigres required another lesson, and the temporary resurrection of the Empire was inevitable. But, if Bonaparte was recalled, it was not owing to any attachment to him personally; it was not from any fidelity to the recollections of the Empire. It was resolved at any price to get rid of those imbecile councillors, who thought they might treat France like a country conquered by the emigrants. The people determined to free themselves from a Government which seemed resolved to trample on all that was dear to France. In this state of things some looked upon Bonaparte as a liberator, but the greater number regarded him as an instrument. In this last character he was viewed by the old Republicans, and by a new generation, who thought they caught a glimpse of liberty in promises, and Who were blind enough to believe that the idol of France would be restored by Napoleon.
In February 1815, while everything was preparing at Elba for the approaching departure of Napoleon, Murat applied to the Court of Vienna for leave to march through the Austrian Provinces of Upper Italy an army directed on France. It was on the 26th of the same month that Bonaparte escaped from Elba. These two facts were necessarily connected together, for, in spite of Murat’s extravagant ideas, he never could have entertained the expectation of obliging the King of France, by the mere force of arms, to acknowledge his continued possession of the throne of Naples. Since the return of Louis XVIII. the Cabinet of the Tuileries had never regarded Murat in any other light than as a usurper, and I know from good authority that the French Plenipotentiaries at the Congress of Vienna were especially instructed to insist that the restoration of the throne of Naples in favour of the Bourbons of the Two Sicilies should be a consequence of the restoration of the throne of France. I also know that the proposition was firmly opposed on the part of Austria, who had always viewed with jealousy the occupation of three thrones of Europe by the single House of Bourbon.
According to information, for the authenticity of which I can vouch, the following were the plans which Napoleon conceived at Elba. Almost immediately after his arrival in France he was to order the Marshals on whom he could best rely to defend to the utmost the entrances to the French territory and the approaches to Paris, by pivoting on the triple line of fortresses which gird the north and east of France. Davoust was ‘in petto’ singled out for the defence of Paris. He, was to arm the inhabitants of the suburbs, and to have, besides, 20,000 men of the National Guard at his disposal. Napoleon, not being aware of the situation of the Allies, never supposed that they could concentrate their forces and march against him so speedily as they did. He hoped to take them by surprise, and defeat their projects, by making Murat march upon Milan, and by stirring up insurrections in Italy. The Po being once crossed, and Murat approaching the capital of Lombardy, Napoleon with the corps of Suchet, Brune, Grouchy, and Massena, augmented by troops sent, by forced marches, to Lyons, was to cross the Alps and revolutionise Piedmont. There, having recruited his army and joined the Neapolitans in Milan, he was to proclaim the independence of Italy, unite the whole country under a single chief, and then march at the head of 100,000 men on Vienna, by the Julian Alps, across which victory had conducted him in 1797. This was not all: numerous emissaries scattered through Poland and Hungary were to foment discord and raise the cry of liberty and independence, to alarm Russia and Austria. It must be confessed it would have been an extraordinary spectacle to see Napoleon giving liberty to Europe in revenge for not having succeeded in enslaving her.
By means of these bold manoeuvres and vast combinations Napoleon calculated that he would have the advantage of the initiative in military operations. Perhaps his genius was never more fully developed than in this vast conception. According to this plan he was to extend his operations over a line of 500 leagues, from Ostend to Vienna, by the Alps and Italy, to provide himself with immense resources of every kind, to prevent the Emperor of Austria from marching his troops against France, and probably force him to terminate a war from which the hereditary provinces would have exclusively suffered. Such was the bright prospect which presented itself to Napoleon when he stepped on board the vessel which was to convey him from Elba to France. But the mad precipitation of Murat put Europe on the alert, and the brilliant illusion vanished like a dream.
After being assured that all was tranquil, and that the Royal family was secure against every danger, I myself set out at four o’clock on the morning of the 20th of March, taking the road to Lille.–Nothing extraordinary occurred until I arrived at the post-office of Fins, in front of which were drawn up a great number of carriages, which had arrived before mine, and the owners of which, like myself, were impatiently waiting for horses. I soon observed that some one called the postmaster aside in a way which did not appear entirely devoid of mystery, and I acknowledge I felt some degree of alarm. I was in the room in which the travellers were waiting, and my attention was attracted by a large bill fixed against the wall. It was printed in French and Russian, and it proved to be the order of the day which I had been fortunate enough to obtain from the Emperor Alexander to exempt posthorses, etc., from the requisitions of the Allied troops.
I was standing looking at the bill when the postmaster came into the room and advanced towards me. “Sir,” said he, “that is an order of the day which saved me from ruin.”–“Then surely you would not harm the man by whom it is signed?”–“I know you, sir, I recognised you immediately. I saw you in Paris when you were Director of the Post-office, and you granted a just claim which I had upon you. I have now come to tell you that they are harnessing two horses to your calash, and you may set off at full speed.” The worthy man had assigned to my use the only two horses at his disposal; his son performed the office of postilion, and I set off to the no small dissatisfaction of some of the travellers who had arrived before me, and who, perhaps, had as good reasons as I to avoid the presence of Napoleon.
We arrived at Lille at eleven o’clock on the night of the 21st. Here I encountered another vexation, though not of an alarming kind. The gates of the town were closed, and I was obliged to content myself with a miserable night’s lodging in the suburb.
I entered Lille on the 22d, and Louis XVIII. arrived on the 23d. His Majesty also found the gates closed, and more than an hour elapsed before an order could be obtained for opening them, for the Duke of Orleans, who commanded the town, was inspecting the troops when his Majesty arrived. The King was perfectly well received at Lille. There indeed appeared some symptoms of defection, but it must be acknowledged that the officers of the old army had been so singularly sacrificed to the promotion of the returned emigrants that it was very natural the former should hail the return of the man who had so often led them to victory. I put up at the Hotel de Grand, certainly without forming any prognostic respecting the future residence of the King. When I saw his Majesty’s retinue I went down and stood at the door of the hotel, where as soon as Louis XVIII. perceived me he distinguished me from among all the persons who were awaiting his arrival, and holding out his hand for me to kiss he said, “Follow me, M. de Bourrienne.”
On entering the apartments prepared for him the King expressed to me his approval of my conduct since the Restoration, and especially during the short interval in which I had discharged the functions of Prefect of the Police. He did me the honour to invite me to breakfast with him. The conversation naturally turned on the events of the day, of which every one present spoke according to his hopes or fears. Observing that Louis XVIII. concurred in Berthier’s discouraging view of affairs, I ventured to repeat what I had already said at the Tuileries, that, judging from the disposition of the sovereigns of Europe and the information which I had received, it appeared very probable that his Majesty would be again seated on his throne in three months. Berthier bit his nails as he did when he wanted to leave the army of Egypt and return to Paris to the object of his adoration. Berthier was not hopeful; he was always one of those men who have the least confidence and the most depression. I could perceive that the King regarded my observation as one of those compliments which he was accustomed to receive, and that he had no great confidence in the fulfilment of my prediction. However, wishing to seem to believe it, he said, what he had more than hinted before, “M. de Bourrienne, as long as I am King you shall be my Prefect of the Police.”
It was the decided intention of Louis XVIII. to remain in France as long as he could, but the Napoleonic fever, which spread like an epidemic among the troops, had infected the garrison of Lille. Marshal Mortier, who commanded at Lille, and the Duke of Orleans, expressed to me their well-founded fears, and repeatedly recommended me to urge the King to quit Lille speedily, in order to avoid any fatal occurrence. During the two days I passed with his Majesty I entreated him to yield to the imperious circumstances in which he was placed. At length the King, with deep regret, consented to go, and I left Lille the day before that fixed for his Majesty’s departure.
In September 1814 the King had appointed me charge d’affaires from France to Hamburg, but not having received orders to repair to my post I have not hitherto mentioned this nomination. However, when Louis XVIII. was on the point of leaving France he thought that my presence in Hamburg might be useful for the purpose of making him acquainted with all that might interest him in the north of Germany. But it was not there that danger was to be apprehended. There were two points to be watched–the headquarters of Napoleon and the King’s Council at Ghent. I, however, lost no time in repairing to a city where I was sure of finding a great many friends. On passing through Brussels I alighted at the Hotel de Bellevue, where the Duc de Berri arrived shortly after me. His Royal Highness then invited me to breakfast with him, and conversed with me very confidentially. I afterwards continued my journey.
Message to Madame de Bourrienne on the 20th of March–Napoleon’s nocturnal entrance into Paris–General Becton sent to my family by Caulaincourt–Recollection of old persecutions–General Driesen– Solution of an enigma–Seals placed on my effects–Useless searches –Persecution of women–Madame de Stael and Madame de Recamier– Paris during the Hundred Days–The federates and patriotic songs– Declaration of the Plenipotentiaries at Vienna.
At Lille, and again at Hamburg, I received letters from my family, which I had looked for with great impatience. They contained particulars of what had occurred relative to me since Bonaparte’s return to Paris. Two hours after my departure Madame de Bourrienne also left Paris, accompanied by her children, and proceeded to an asylum which had been offered her seven leagues from the capital. She left at my house in Paris her sister, two of her brothers, and her friend the Comtesse de Neuilly, who had resided with us since her return from the emigration.
On the very morning of my wife’s departure (namely, the 20th of March) a person, with whom I had always been on terms of friendship, and who was entirely devoted to Bonaparte, sent to request that Madame de Bourrienne would call on him, as he wished to speak to her on most important and urgent business. My sister-in-law informed the messenger that my wife had left Paris, but, begging a friend to accompany her, she went herself to the individual, whose name will be probably guessed, though I do not mention it. The person who came with the message to my house put many questions to Madame de Bourrienne’s sister respecting my absence, and advised her, above all things, to conjure me not to follow the King, observing that the cause of Louis XVIII. was utterly lost, and that I should do well to retire quietly to Burgundy, as there was no doubt of my obtaining the Emperor’s pardon.
Nothing could be more gloomy than Bonaparte’s entrance into Paris. He arrived at night in the midst of a thick fog. The streets were almost deserted, and a vague feeling of terror prevailed almost generally in the capital.
At nine o’clock on the same evening, the very hour of Bonaparte’s arrival at the Tuileries, a lady, a friend, of my family, and whose son served in the Young Guard, called and requested to see Madame de Bourrienne. She refused to enter the house lest she should be seen, and my sister-in-law went down to the garden to speak to her without a light. This lady’s brother had been on the preceding night to Fontainebleau to see Bonaparte, and he had directed his sister to desire me to remain in Paris, and to retain my post in the Prefecture of the Police, as I was sure of a full and complete pardon.
On the morning of the 21st General Becton, who has since been the victim of his mad enterprises, called at my house and requested to speak with me and Madame de Bourrienne. He was received by my wife’s sister and brothers, and stated that he came from M. de Caulaincourt to renew the assurances of safety which had already been given to me. I was, I confess, very sensible of these proofs of friendship when they came to my knowledge, but I did not for a single moment repent the course I adopted. I could not forget the intrigues of which I had been the object since 1811, nor the continual threats of arrest which, during that year, had not left me a moment’s quiet; and since I now revert to that time, I may take the opportunity of explaining how in 1814 I was made acquainted with the real causes of the persecution to which I had been a prey. A person, whose name prudence forbids me mentioning, communicated to me the following letter, the original copy of which is in my possession:
MONSIEUR LE DUC DE BASSANO–I send you some very important documents respecting the Sieur Bourrienne, and beg you will make me a confidential report on this affair. Keep these documents for yourself alone. This business demands the utmost secrecy. Everything induces me to believe that Bourrienne has carried a series of intrigues with London. Bring me the report on Thursday. I pray God, etc.
(Signed) NAPOLEON PARIS, 25th December 1811.
I could now clearly perceive what to me had hitherto been enveloped in obscurity; but I was not, as yet, made acquainted with the documents mentioned in Napoleon’s epistle. Still, however, the cause of his animosity was an enigma which I was unable to guess, but I obtained its solution some time afterwards.
General Driesen, who was the Governor of Mittau while Louis XVIII. resided in that town, came to Paris in 1814. I had been well acquainted with him in 1810 at Hamburg, where he lived for a considerable time. While at Mittau he conceived a chivalrous and enthusiastic friendship for the King of France. We were at first distrustful of each other, but afterwards the most intimate confidence arose between us. General Driesen looked forward with certainty to the return of the Bourbons to France, and in the course of our frequent conversations on his favourite theme he gradually threw off all reserve, and at length disclosed to me that he was maintaining a correspondence with the King.
He told me that he had sent to Hartwell several drafts of proclamations, with none of which, he said, the King was satisfied. On allowing me the copy of the last of these drafts I frankly told him that I was quite of the King’s opinion as to its unfitness. I observed that if the King should one day return to France and act as the general advised he would not keep possession of his throne six months. Driesen then requested me to dictate a draft of a proclamation conformably with my ideas. This I consented to do on one condition, viz. that he would never mention my name in connection with the business, either in writing or conversation. General Driesen promised this, and then I dictated to him a draft which I would now candidly lay before the reader if I had a copy of it. I may add that in the different proclamations of Louis XVIII. I remarked several passages precisely corresponding with the draft I had dictated at Hamburg.
During the four years which intervened between my return to Paris and the downfall of the Empire it several times occurred to me that General Driesen had betrayed my secret, and on his very first visit to me after the Restoration, our conversation happening to turn on Hamburg, I asked him whether he had not disclosed what I wished him to conceal? “Well,” said he, “there is no harm in telling the truth now. After you had left Hamburg the King wrote to me inquiring the name of the author of the last draft I had sent him, which was very different from all that had preceded it. I did not answer this question, but the King having repeated it in a second letter, and having demanded an answer, I was compelled to break my promise to you, and I put into the post-office of Gothenberg in Sweden a letter for the King, in which I mentioned your name.”
The mystery was now revealed to me. I clearly saw what had excited in Napoleon’s mind the suspicion that I was carrying on intrigues with England. I have no doubt as to the way in which the affair came to his knowledge. The King must have disclosed my name to one of those persons whose situations placed them above the suspicion of any betrayal of confidence, and thus the circumstance must have reached the ear of Bonaparte. This is not a mere hypothesis, for I well know how promptly and faithfully Napoleon was informed of all that was said and done at Hartwell.
Having shown General Drieaen Napoleon’s accusatory letter, he begged that I would entrust him with it for a day or two, saying he would show it to the King at a private audience. His object was to serve me, and to excite Louis XVIII.’s interest in my behalf, by briefly relating to him the whole affair. The general came to me on leaving tile Tuileries, and assured me that the King after perusing the letter, had the great kindness to observe that I might think myself very happy in not having been shot. I know not whether Napoleon was afterwards informed of the details of this affair, which certainly had no connection with any intrigues with England, and which, after all, would have been a mere peccadillo in comparison, with the conduct I thought it my duty to adopt at the time of the Restoration.
Meanwhile Madame de Bourrienne informed me by an express that seals were to be placed on the effects of all the persons included in the decree of Lyons, and consequently upon mine. As soon as my wife received information of this she quitted her retreat and repaired to Paris to face the storm. On the 29th of March, at nine in the evening, the police agents presented themselves at my house. Madame de Bourrienne remonstrated against the measure and the inconvenient hour that was chosen for its execution; but all was in vain, and there was no alternative but to submit.
But the matter did not end with the first formalities performed by Fouche’s alguazils. During the month of May seven persons were appointed to examine, my papers, and among the inquisitorial septemvirate were two men well known and filling high situations. One of these executed his commission, but the other, sensible of the odium attached to it, wrote to say he was unwell, and never came. The number of my inquisitors, ‘in domo’, was thus reduced to six. They behaved with great rudeness, and executed their mission with a rigour and severity exceedingly painful to my family. They carried their search so far as to rummage the pockets of my old clothes, and even to unrip the linings. All this was done in the hope of finding something that would commit me in the eyes of the new master of France. But I was not to be caught in that way, and before leaving home I had taken such precautions as to set my mind perfectly at ease.
However, those who had declared themselves strongly against Napoleon were not the only persons who had reason to be alarmed at his return. Women even, by a system of inquisition unworthy of the Emperor, but unfortunately quite in unison with his hatred of all liberty, were condemned to exile, and had cause to apprehend further severity. It is for the exclusive admirers of the Chief of the Empire to approve of everything which proceeded from him, even his rigour against a defenceless sex; it is for them to laugh at the misery of a woman, and a writer of genius, condemned without any form of trial to the most severe punishment short of death. For my part, I saw neither justice nor pleasantry in the exile of Madame de Chevreuse for having had the courage (and courage was not common then even among men) to say that she was not made to be the gaoler of the Queen of Spain. On Napoleon’s return from. the isle of Elba, Madame de Stael was in a state of weakness, which rendered her unable to bear any sudden and violent emotion. This debilitated state of health had been produced by her flight from Coppet to Russia immediately after the birth of the son who was the fruit of her marriage with M. Rocca. In spite of the danger of a journey in such circumstances she saw greater danger in staying where she was, and she set out on her new exile. That exile was not of long duration, but Madame de Stael never recovered from the effect of the alarm and fatigue it occasioned her.
The name of the authoress of Corinne, naturally calls to mind that of the friend who was most faithful to her in misfortune, and who was not herself screened from the severity of Napoleon by the just and universal admiration of which she was the object. In 1815 Madame Recamier did not leave Paris, to which she had returned in 1814, though her exile was not revoked. I know positively that Hortense assured her of the pleasure she would feel in receiving her, and that Madame Recamier, as an excuse for declining the perilous honour, observed that she had determined never again to appear in the world as long as her friends should be persecuted. The memorial de Sainte Helene, referring to the origin of the ill-will of the Chief of the Empire towards the society of Madame de Stael and Madame Recamier, etc., seems to reproach Madame Recamier, “accustomed,” says the Memorial, “to ask for everything and to obtain everything,” for having claimed nothing less than the complete reinstatement of her father. Whatever may have been the pretensions of Madame Recamier, Bonaparte, not a little addicted to the custom he complains of in her, could not have, with a good grace, made a crime of her ingratitude if he on his side had not claimed a very different sentiment from gratitude. I was with the First Consul at the time M. Bernard, the father of Madame Reamier, was accused, and I have not forgotten on what conditions the re-establishment would have been granted.
The frequent interviews between Madame Recamier and Madame de Stael were not calculated to bring Napoleon to sentiments and measures of moderation. He became more and more irritated at this friendship between two women formed for each other’s society; and, on the occasion of one of Madame Recamier’s journeys to Coppet he informed her, through the medium of Fouche, that she was perfectly at liberty to go to Switzerland, but not to return to Paris. “Ah, Monseigneur! a great man may be pardoned for the weakness of loving women, but not for fearing them.” This was the only reply of Madame Recamier to Fouche when she set out for Coppet. I may here observe that the personal prejudices of the Emperor would not have been of a persevering and violent character if some of the people who surrounded him had not sought to foment them. I myself fell a victim to this. Napoleon’s affection for me would perhaps have got the upper hand if his relenting towards me had not been incessantly combated by my enemies around him.
I had no opportunity of observing the aspect of Paris during that memorable period recorded in history by the name of the Hundred Days, but the letters which I received at the time, together with all that, I afterwards heard, concurred in assuring me that the capital never presented so melancholy s picture as: during those three months. No one felt any confidence in Napoleon’s second reign, and it was said, without any sort of reserve, that Fouche, while serving the cause of usurpation, would secretly betray it. The future was viewed with alarm, and the present with dissatisfaction. The sight of the federates who paraded the faubourgs and the boulevards, vociferating, “The Republic for ever!” and “Death to the Royalists!” their sanguinary songs, the revolutionary airs played in our theatres, all tended to produce a fearful torpor in the public mind, and the issue of the impending events was anxiously awaited.
One of the circumstances which, at the commencement of the Hundred Days, most contributed to open the eyes of those who were yet dazzled by the past glory of Napoleon, was the assurance with which he declared that the Empress and his son would be restored to him, though nothing warranted that announcement. It was evident that he could not count on any ally; and in spite of the prodigious activity with which a new army was raised those persons must have been blind indeed who could imagine the possibility of his triumphing over Europe, again armed to oppose him. I deplored the inevitable disasters which Bonaparte’s bold enterprise would entail, but I had such certain information respecting the intentions of the Allied powers, and the spirit which animated the Plenipotentiaries at Vienna, that I could not for a moment doubt the issue of the conflict: Thus I was not at all surprised when I received at Hamburg the minutes of the conferences at Vienna in May 1815.
When the first intelligence of Bonaparte’s landing was received at Vienna it must be confessed that very little had been done at the Congress, for measures calculated to reconstruct a solid and durable order of things could only be framed and adopted deliberately, and upon mature reflection. Louis XVIII. had instructed his Plenipotentiaries to defend and support the principles of justice and the law of nations, so as to secure the rights of all parties and avert the chances of a new war. The Congress was occupied with these important objects when intelligence was received of Napoleon’s departure from Elba and his landing at the Gulf of Juan. The Plenipotentiaries then signed the protocol of the conferences to which I have above alluded.
[ANNEX TO THE PRECEDING CHAPTER.]
The following despatch of Napoleon’s to Marshal Davoust (given in Captain Bingham’s Translation, vo1 iii. p. 121), though not strictly bearing upon the subject of the Duke of Bassano’s inquiry (p. 256), may perhaps find a place here, as indicative of the private feeling of the Emperor towards Bourrienne. As the reader will remember, it has already been alluded to earlier in the work:
To MARSHAL DAVOUST.
COMPIEGNE, 3d September 1811.
I have received your letter concerning the cheating of Bourrienne at Hamburg. It will be important to throw light upon what he has done. Have the Jew, Gumprecht Mares, arrested, seize his papers, and place him in solitary confinement. Have some of the other principal agents of Bourrienne arrested, so as to discover his doings at Hamburg, and the embezzlements he has committed there.
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