Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, vol 9 by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne

This etext was produced by David Widger MEMOIRS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, VOLUME 9. By LOUIS ANTOINE FAUVELET DE BOURRIENNE His Private Secretary Edited by R. W. Phipps Colonel, Late Royal Artillery 1891 CONTENTS: CHAPTER I. to CHAPTER X. 1805-1807 CHAPTER I. 1805. Abolition of the Republican calendar–Warlike preparations in Austria–Plan for re-organizing the National Guard–Napoleon
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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.]



His Private Secretary

Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery


CHAPTER I. to CHAPTER X. 1805-1807



Abolition of the Republican calendar–Warlike preparations in Austria–Plan for re-organizing the National Guard–Napoleon in Strasburg–General Mack–Proclamation–Captain Bernard’s reconnoitering mission–The Emperor’s pretended anger and real satisfaction–Information respecting Ragusa communicated by Bernard –Rapid and deserved promotion–General Bernard’s retirement to the United States of America.

I had been three months at Hamburg when I learned that the Emperor had at last resolved to abolish the only remaining memorial of the Republic, namely, the revolutionary calendar. That calendar was indeed an absurd innovation, for the new denominations of the months were not applicable in all places, even in France; the corn of Provence did not wait to be opened by the sun of the month of Messidor. On the 9th of September a ‘Senates-consulte’ decreed that on the 1st of January following the months and days should resume their own names. I read with much interest Laplace’s report to the Senate, and must confess I was very glad to see the Gregorian calendar again acknowledged by law, as it had already been acknowledged in fact. Frenchmen in foreign countries experienced particular inconvenience from the adoption of a system different from all the rest of the world.

A few days after the revival of the old calendar the Emperor departed for the army. When at Hamburg it may well be supposed that I was anxious to obtain news, and I received plenty from the interior of Germany and from some friends in Paris. This correspondence enables me to present to my readers a comprehensive and accurate picture of the state of public affairs up to the time when Napoleon took the field. I have already mentioned how artfully he always made it appear that he was anxious for peace, and that he was always the party attacked; his, conduct previous to the first conquest of Vienna affords a striking example of this artifice. It was pretty evident that the transformation of the Cisalpine Republic into the kingdom of Italy, and the union of Genoa to France were infractions of treaties; yet the Emperor, nevertheless, pretended that all the infractions were committed by Austria. The truth is, that Austria was raising levies as secretly as possible, and collecting her troops on the frontiers of Bavaria. An Austrian corps even penetrated into some provinces of the Electorate; all this afforded Napoleon a pretest for going to the aid of his allies.

In the memorable sitting preceding his departure the Emperor presented a project of a ‘Senatus-consulte’ relative to the re-organisation of the National Guard. The Minister for Foreign Affairs read an explanation of the reciprocal conduct of France and Austria since the peace of Luneville, in which the offences of France were concealed with wonderful skill. Before the sitting broke up the Emperor addressed the members, stating that he was about to leave the capital to place himself at the head of the army to afford prompt succour to his allies, and defend the dearest interests of his people. He boasted of his wish to preserve peace, which Austria and Russia, as he alleged, had, through the influence of England, been induced to disturb.

This address produced a very powerful impression in Hamburg. For my part, I recognised in it Napoleon’s usual boasting strain; but on this occasion events seemed bent on justifying it. The Emperor may certainly have performed more scientific campaigns than that of Austerlitz, but never any more glorious in results. Everything seemed to partake of the marvellous, and I have often thought of the secret joy which Bonaparte must have felt on seeing himself at last an the point of commencing a great war in Germany, for which he had so often expressed an ardent desire. He proceeded first to Strasburg, whither Josephine accompanied him.

All the reports that I received agreed with the statements of my private correspondence in describing the incredible enthusiasm which prevailed in the army on learning that it was to march into Germany. For the first time Napoleon had recourse to an expeditious mode of transport, and 20,000 carriages conveyed his army, as if by enchantment, from the shores of the Channel to the banks of the Rhine. The idea of an active campaign fired the ambition of the junior part of the army. All dreamed of glory, and of speedy promotion, and all hoped to distinguish themselves before the eyes of a chief who was idolised by his troops. Thus during his short stay at Strasburg the Emperor might with reason prophesy the success which crowned his efforts under the walls of Vienna.

Rapp, who accompanied him, informed me that on leaving Strasburg he observed, in the presence of several persons, “It will be said that I made Mack’s plan of campaign for him. The Caudine Forks are at Ulm.”

–[This allusion to the Caudine Forks was always in Napoleon’s mouth when he saw an enemy’s army concentrated on a point, and foresaw its defeat–Bourrienne.]–

Experience proved that Bonaparte was not deceived; but I ought on this occasion to contradict a calumnious report circulated at that time, and since maliciously repeated. It has been said that there existed an understanding between Mack and Bonaparte, and that the general was bought over to deliver up the gates of Ulm. I have received positive proof that this assertion is a scandalous falsehood; and the only thing that could give it weight was Napoleon’s intercession after the campaign that Mack might not be put on his trial. In this intercession Napoleon was actuated only by humanity.

On taking the field Napoleon placed himself at the head of the Bavarians, with whom be opposed the enemy’s army before the arrival of his own troops. As soon as they were assembled he published the following proclamation, which still further excited the ardour of the troops.

SOLDIERS–The war of the third coalition is commenced. The Austrian army has passed the Inn, violated treaties, attacked and driven our ally from his capital. You yourselves have been obliged to hasten, by forced marches, to the defence of our frontiers. But you have now passed the Rhine; and we will not stop till we have secured the independence of the Germanic body, succoured our allies, and humbled the pride of our unjust assailants. We will not again make peace without a sufficient guarantee! Our generosity shall not again wrong our policy. Soldiers, your Emperor is among you! You are but the advanced guard of the great people. If it be necessary they will all rise at my call to confound and dissolve this new league, which has been created by the malice and the gold of England. But, soldiers, we shall have forced marches to make, fatigues and privations of every kind to endure. Still, whatever obstacles may be opposed to us, we will conquer them; and we will never rest until we have planted our eagles on the territory of our enemies!

In the confidential notes of his diplomatic agents, in his speeches, and in his proclamations, Napoleon always described himself as the attacked party, and perhaps his very earnestness in so doing sufficed to reveal the truth to all those who had learned to read his thoughts differently from what his words expressed them.

At the commencement of the campaign of Austerlitz a circumstance occurred from which is to be dated the fortune of a very meritorious man. While the Emperor was at Strasburg he asked General Marescot, the commander-in- chief of the engineers, whether he could recommend from his corps a brave, prudent, and intelligent young officer, capable of being entrusted with an important reconnoitering mission. The officer selected by General Marescot was a captain in the engineers, named Bernard, who had been educated in the Polytechnic School. He set off on his mission, advanced almost to Vienna, and returned to the headquarters of the Emperor at the capitulation of Ulm.

Bonaparte interrogated him himself, and was well satisfied with his replies; but, not content with answering verbally the questions put by Napoleon, Captain Bernard had drawn up a report of what he observed, and the different routes which might be taken. Among other things he observed that it would be a great advantage to direct the whole army upon Vienna, without regard to the fortified places; for that, once master of the capital of Austria, the Emperor might dictate laws to all the Austrian monarchy. “I was present,” said Rapp to me, “at this young officer’s interview with the Emperor. After reading the report, would you believe that the Emperor flew into a furious passion? ‘How!’ cried he, ‘you are very bold, very presumptuous! A young officer to take the liberty of tracing out a plan of campaign for me! Begone, and await my orders.'”

This, and some other circumstances which I shall have to add respecting Captain Bernard, completely reveal Napoleon’s character. Rapp told me that as soon as the young officer had left the Emperor all at once changed his tone. “That,” said he, “is a clever young man; he has taken a proper view of things. I shall not expose him to the chance of being shot. Perhaps I shall sometime want his services. Tell Berthier to despatch an order for his departure for Elyria.”

This order was despatched, and Captain Bernard, who, like his comrades, was ardently looking forward to the approaching campaign, regarded as a punishment what was, on the Emperor’s part, a precaution to preserve a young man whose merit he appreciated. At the close of the campaign, when the Emperor promoted those officers who had distinguished themselves, Bernard, who was thought to be in disgrace, was not included in Berthier’s list among the captains of engineers whom he recommended to the rank of chef de bataillon; but Napoleon himself inscribed Bernard’s name before all the rest. However, the Emperor forgot him for some time; and it was only an accidental circumstance that brought him to his recollection. I never had any personal acquaintance with Bernard, but I learned from Rapp, how he afterwards became his colleague as aide de camp to the Emperor; a circumstance which I shall now relate, though it refers to a later period.

Before the Emperor left Paris for the campaign of 1812 he wished to gain precise information respecting Ragusa and Elyria. He sent for Marmont, but was not satisfied with his answers. He then interrogated several other generals, but the result of his inquiries always was, “This is all very well; but it is not what I want. I do not know Ragusa.” He then sent for General Dejean, who had succeeded M. de Marescot as first inspector of the Engineers.

“Have you any one among your officers,” he asked, “who is well acquainted with Ragusa? “Dejean, after a little reflection, replied, “Sire, there is a chef de bataillon who has been a long time forgotten, but who knows Elyria perfectly.”–“What’s his name?”–“Bernard.”–“Ah! stop . . . Bernard! I remember that name. Where is he?”–“At Antwerp, Sire, employed on the fortifications.”–“Let a telegraphic despatch be immediately, transmitted,–[by semaphore arms.]–desiring him to mount his horse and come with all speed to Paris.”

The promptitude with which the Emperor’s orders were always executed is well known. A few days after Captain Bernard was in the Emperor’s cabinet in Paris. Napoleon received him very graciously. The first thing he said was, “Talk to me about Ragusa.” This was a favourite mode of interrogation with him in similar cases, and I have heard him say that it was a sure way of drawing out all that a man had observed in any country that he had visited. Be that as it may, he was perfectly satisfied with M. Bernard’s information respecting Elyria; and when the chef de bataillon had finished speaking Napoleon said, “Colonel Bernard, I am now acquainted with Ragusa.” The Emperor afterwards conversed familiarly with him, entered into details respecting the system of fortification adopted at Antwerp, referred to the plan of the works, criticised it, and showed how he would, if he besieged the town, render the means of defence unavailing. The new Colonel explained so well how he would defend the town against the Emperor’s attack that Bonaparte was delighted, and immediately bestowed upon, the young officer a mark of distinction which, as far as I know, he never granted but upon that single occasion. The Emperor was going to preside at the Council of State, and desired Colonel Bernard to accompany him, and many times during the sittings be asked him for his opinion upon the points which were under discussion. On leaving the Council Napoleon said, “Bernard, you are in future my aide de camp.” After the campaign he was made General of Brigade, soon after General of Division, and now he is acknowledged to be one of the ablest engineer officers in existence. Clarke’s silly conduct deprived France of this distinguished man, who refused the brilliant offers of several sovereigns of Europe for the sake of retiring to the United States of America, where he commands the Engineers, and has constructed fortifications on the coast of the Floridas which are considered by engineers to be masterpieces of military art.



Rapidity of Napoleon’s victories–Murat at Wertingen–Conquest of Ney’s duchy–The French army before Ulm–The Prince of Liechtenstein at the Imperial headquarters–His interview with Napoleon described by Rapp–Capitulation of Ulm signed by Berthier and Mack–Napoleon before and after a victory–His address to the captive generals– The Emperor’s proclamation–Ten thousand prisoners taken by Murat– Battle of Caldiero in Italy–Letter from Duroc–Attempts to retard the Emperor’s progress–Fruitless mission of M. de Giulay–The first French eagles taken by the Russians–Bold adventure of Lannes and Murat–The French enter Vienna–Savary’s mission to the Emperor Alexander.

To convey an idea of the brilliant campaign of 1805 from an abstract of the reports and letters I received at Hamburg I should, like the almanac- makers, be obliged to note down a victory for every day. Was not the rapidity of the Emperor’s first operations a thing hitherto unprecedented? He departed from Paris on the 24th of September, and hostilities commenced on the 2d of October. On the 6th and 7th the French passed the Danube, and turned the enemy’s army. On the 8th Murat, at the battle of Wertingen, on the Danube, took 2000 Austrian prisoners, amongst whom, besides other general officers, was Count Auffemberg. Next day the Austrians fell back upon Gunsburg, retreating before our victorious legions, who, pursuing their triumphal course, entered Augsburg on the 10th, and Munich on the 12th. When I received my despatches I could have fancied I was reading a fabulous narrative. Two days after the French entered Munich–that is to say, on the 14th–an Austrian corps of 6000 men surrendered to Marshal Soult at Memingen, whilst Ney conquered, sword in hand, his future Duchy of Elchingen. Finally, on the 17th of October, came the famous capitulation of General Mack at Ulm,’ and on the same day hostilities commenced in Italy between the French and Austrians, the former commanded by Massena and the latter by Prince Charles.

–[Prince Maurice Liechtenstein was sent by General Mack as a flag of truce to the Imperial headquarters before Ulm. He was, according to custom, led blindfold on horseback. Rapp, who was present, together with several of Napoleon’s aides de camp, afterwards spoke to me of the Prince’s interview with the Emperor. I think he told me that Berthier was present likewise. “Picture to yourself,” said Rapp, “the astonishment, or rather confusion, of the poor Prince when the bandage was removed from his eyes. He knew nothing of what had been going on, and did not even suspect that the Emperor had yet joined the army. When he understood that he was in the presence of Napoleon he could not suppress an exclamation of surprise, which did not escape the Emperor, and he ingenuously acknowledged that General Mack had no idea he was before the walls of Ulm.” Prince Liechtenstein proposed to capitulate on condition that the garrison of Ulm should be allowed to return into Austria. This proposal, in the situation in which the garrison stood, Rapp said, made the Emperor smile. “How can you expect,” said Napoleon, “that I can accede to such a proposition? What shall I gain by it? Eight days. In eight days you will be in my power without any condition. Do you suppose I am not acquainted with everything? . . You expect the Russians? . . . At the nearest they are in Bohemia. Were I to allow you to march out, what security can I have that you will not join them, and afterwards fight against me? Your generals have deceived me often enough, and I will no longer be duped. At Marengo I was weak enough to allow the troops of Melas to march out of Alessandria. He promised to treat for peace. What happened? Two months after Moreau had to fight with the garrison of Alessandria. Besides, this war is not an ordinary war. After the conduct of your Government I am not bound to keep any terms with it. I have no faith in its promises. You have attacked me. If I should agree to what you ask, Mack would pledge his word, I know. But, even relying on his good faith, would be he able to keep his promise? As far as regards himself–yes; but as regards his army–no. If the Archduke Ferdinand were still with you I could rely upon his word, because he would be responsible for the conditions, and he would not disgrace himself; but I know he has quitted Ulm and passed the Danube. I know how to reach him, however.”

Rapp said it was impossible to imagine the embarrassment of Prince Liechtenstein whilst the Emperor was speaking. He, however, somewhat regained his self-possession, and observed that, unless the conditions which he proposed were granted the army would not capitulate. “If that be the case,” said Napoleon. “you may as well go back to Mack, for I will never grant such conditions. Are you jesting with me? Stay; here is the capitulation of Memingen–show it to your General–let him surrender on the same conditions–I will consent to no others. Your officers may return to Austria, but the soldiers must be prisoners. Tell him to be speedy, for I have no time to lose. The more he delays the worse he will render his own condition and yours. To-morrow I shall have here the corps to which Memingen capitulated, and then we shall see what is to be done. Make Mack clearly understand that he has no alternative but to conform to my will.”

The imperious tones which Napoleon employed towards his enemies almost always succeeded, and it produced the accustomed effect upon Mack. On the same day that Prince Liechtenstein had been at our headquarters Mack wrote to the Emperor, stating that he would not have treated with any other on such terms; but that he yielded to the ascendency of Napoleon’s fortune; and on the following day Berthier was sent into Ulm, from whence he returned with the capitulation signed. Thus Napoleon was not mistaken respecting the Caudine Forks of the Austrian army. The garrison of Ulm marched out with what are called the honours of war, and were led prisoners into France.–Bourrienne.]–

Napoleon, who was so violently irritated by any obstacle which opposed him, and who treated with so much hauteur everybody who ventured to resist his inflexible will, was no longer the same man when, as a conqueror, he received the vanquished generals at Ulm. He condoled with them on their misfortune; and this, I can affirm, was not the result of a feeling of pride concealed beneath a feigned generosity. Although he profited by their defeat he pitied them sincerely. How frequently has he observed to me, “How much to be pitied is a general on the day after a lost battle.” He had himself experienced this misfortune when he was obliged to raise the siege of St. Jean d’Acre. At that moment he would, I believe, have strangled Djezzar; but if Djezzar had surrendered, he would have treated him with the same attention which he showed to Mack and the other generals of the garrison of Ulm. These generals were seventeen in number, and among them was Prince Liechtenstein. There were also General Klenau (Baron de Giulay), who had acquired considerable military reputation in the preceding wars, and General Fresnel, who stood in a more critical situation than his companions in misfortune, for he was a Frenchman, and an emigrant.

Rapp told me that it was really painful to see these generals. They bowed respectfully to the Emperor, having Mack at their head. They preserved a mournful silence, and Napoleon was the first to speak, which he did in the following terms: “Gentlemen, I feel sorry that such brave men as you are should be the victims of the follies of a Cabinet which cherishes insane projects, and which does not hesitate to commit the dignity of the Austrian nation by trafficking with the services of its generals. Your names are known to me–they are honourably known wherever you have fought. Examine the conduct of those who have committed you. What could be more iniquitous than to attack me without a declaration of war? Is it not criminal to bring foreign invasion upon a country? Is it not betraying Europe to introduce Asiatic barbarities into her disputes? If good policy had been followed the Aulic Council, instead of attacking me, would have sought my alliance in order to drive back the Russians to the north. The alliance which your Cabinet has formed will appear monstrous in history. It is the alliance of dogs, shepherds, and wolves against sheep–such a scheme could never have been planned in the mind of a statesman. It is fortunate for you that I have not been defeated in the unjust struggle to which I have been provoked; if I had, the Cabinet of Vienna would have soon perceived its error, for which, perhaps, it will yet one day pay dearly.”

What a change fifteen days of success, crowned by the capture of Ulm, had made in affairs! At Hamburg I knew through my agents to what a degree of folly the hopes of Napoleon’s enemies had risen before he began the campaign. The security of the Cabinet of Vienna was really inexplicable; not only did they not dream of the series of victories which made Napoleon master of all the Austrian monarchy, but the assistants of Drake and all the intriguers of that sort treated France already as a conquered country, and disposed of some of our provinces. In the excess of their folly, to only give one instance, they promised the town of Lyons to the King of Sardinia, to recompense him for the temporary occupation of Piedmont.

–[In the treaties and declarations (see Martens and Thiers, tome v. p. 355) there is rather a tendency to sell the skin of the bear before killing him.]–

While Napoleon flattered his prisoners at the expense of their Government he wished to express satisfaction at the conduct of his own army, and with this view he published a remarkable proclamation, which in some measure presented an abstract of all that had taken place since the opening of the campaign.

This proclamation was as follows:–

SOLDIERS OF THE GRAND ARMY–In a fortnight we have finished an entire campaign. What we proposed to do has been done. We have driven the Austrian troops from Bavaria, and restored our ally to the sovereignty of his dominions.

That army, which, with equal presumption and imprudence, marched upon our frontiers, is annihilated.

But what does this signify to England? She has gained her object. We are no longer at Boulogne, and her subsidy will be neither more nor less.

Of a hundred thousand men who composed that army, sixty thousand are prisoners. They will replace our conscripts in the labours of agriculture.

Two hundred pieces of cannon, the whole park of artillery, ninety flags, and all their generals are in our power. Fifteen thousand men only have escaped.

Soldiers! I announced to you the result of a great battle; but, thanks to the ill-devised schemes of the enemy, I was enabled to secure the wished-for result without incurring any danger, and, what is unexampled in the history of nations, that result has been gained at the sacrifice of scarcely fifteen hundred men killed and wounded.

Soldiers! this success is due to your unlimited confidence in your Emperor, to your patience in enduring fatigues and privations of every kind, and to your singular courage and intrepidity.

But we will not stop here. You are impatient to commence another campaign!

The Russian army, which English gold has brought from the extremities of the universe, shall experience the same fate as that which we have just defeated.

In the conflict in which we are about to engage the honour of the French infantry is especially concerned. We shall now see another decision of the question which has already been determined in Switzerland and Holland; namely, whether the French infantry is the first or the second in Europe.

Among the Russians there are no generals in contending against whom I can acquire any glory. All I wish is to obtain the victory with the least possible bloodshed. My soldiers are, my children.

This proclamation always appeared to me a masterpiece of military eloquence. While he lavished praises on his troops, he excited their emulation by hinting that the Russians were capable of disputing with them the first rank among the infantry of Europe, and he concluded his address by calling them his children.

The second campaign, to which Napoleon alleged they so eagerly looked forward, speedily ensued, and hostilities were carried on with a degree of vigour which fired the enthusiasm of the army. Heaven knows what accounts were circulated of the Russians, who, as Bonaparte solemnly stated in his proclamation, had come from the extremity of the world. They were represented as half-naked savages, pillaging, destroying and burning wherever they went. It was even asserted that they were cannibals, and had been seen to eat children. In short, at that period was introduced the denomination of northern barbarians which has since been so generally applied to the Russians. Two days after the capitulation of Ulm Murat obtained the capitulation of Trochtelfingen from General Yarneck, and made 10,000 prisoners, so that, without counting killed and wounded, the Austrian army had sustained a diminution of 50,000 men after a campaign of twenty days. On the 27th of October the French army crossed the Inn, and thus penetrated into the Austrian territory. Salzburg and Brannan were immediately taken. The army of Italy, under the command of Massena, was also obtaining great advantages. On the 30th of October, that is to say, the very day on which the Grand Army took the above-mentioned fortresses, the army of Italy, having crossed the Adige, fought a sanguinary battle at Caldiero, and took 5000 Austrian prisoners.

In the extraordinary campaign, which has been distinguished by the name of “the Campaign of Austerlitz,” the exploits of our troops succeeded each other with the rapidity of thought. I confess I was equally astonished and delighted when I received a note from Duroc, sent by an extraordinary courier, and commencing laconically with the words, “We are in Vienna; the Emperor is well.”

Duroc’s letter was dated the 13th November, and the words, “We are in Vienna,” seemed to me the result of a dream. The capital of Austria, which from time immemorial had not been occupied by foreigners–the city which Sobieski had saved from Ottoman violence, had become the prey of the Imperial eagle of France, which, after a lapse of three centuries, avenged the humiliations formerly imposed upon Francis I. by the ‘Aquila Grifagna’ of Charles V. Duroc had left the Emperor before the camp of Boulogne was raised; his mission to Berlin being terminated, he rejoined the Emperor at Lintz.

–[As soon as Bonaparte became Emperor he constituted himself the avenger of all the insults given to the sovereigns, whom he styled his predecessors. All that related to the honour of France was sacred to him. Thus he removed the column of Rosbach from the Prussian territory.–Bourrienne.]–

Before I noticed the singular mission of M. Haugwitz to the Emperor Napoleon, and the result of that mission, which circumstances rendered diametrically the reverse of its object, I will relate what came to my knowledge respecting some other negotiations on the part of Austria, the evident intent of which was to retard Napoleon’s progress, and thereby to dupe him. M. de Giulay, one of the generals included in the capitulation of Ulm, had returned home to acquaint his sovereign with the disastrous event. He did not conceal, either from the Emperor Francis or the Cabinet of Vienna, the destruction of the Austrian army, and the impossibility of arresting the rapid advance of the French. M. de Giulay was sent with a flag of truce to the headquarters of Napoleon, to assure him of the pacific intentions of the Emperor of Austria, and to solicit an armistice. The snare was too clumsy not to be immediately discovered by so crafty a man as Napoleon.

–[Metternich (tome ii. p. 346, compare French edition, tome ii. p. 287) says, “Let us hold always the sword in one hand and the olive branch in the other; always ready to negotiate, but only negotiating while advancing.” Here is Napoleons system.]–

He had always pretended a love for peace, though be was overjoyed at the idea of continuing a war so successfully commenced, and he directed General Giulay to assure the Emperor of Austria that he was not less anxious for peace than he, and that he was ready to treat for it, but without suspending the course of his operations. Bonaparte, indeed, could not, without a degree of imprudence of which he was incapable, consent to an armistice; for M. de Giulay, though entrusted with powers from Austria, had received none from Russia. Russia, therefore, might disavow the armistice and arrive in time to defend Vienna, the occupation of which was so important to the French army. The Russians, indeed, were advancing to oppose us, and the corps of our army, commanded by Mortier on the left bank of the Danube, experienced in the first engagement a check at Dirnstein, which not a little vexed the Emperor. This was the first reverse of fortune we had sustained throughout the campaign. It was trivial, to be sure, but the capture by the Russians of three French eagles, the first that had fallen into the hands of the enemy, was very mortifying to Napoleon, and caused him to prolong for some days his staff at St. Folten, where he then was.

The rapid occupation of Vienna was due to the successful temerity of Lannes and Murat, two men alike distinguished for courage and daring spirit. A bold artifice of these generals prevented the destruction of the Thabor bridge at Vienna, without which our army would have experienced considerable difficulty in penetrating into the Austrian capital. This act of courage and presence of mind, which had so great an influence on the events of the campaign, was described to me by Lannes, who told the story with an air of gaiety, unaccompanied by any self- complacency, and seemed rather pleased with the trick played upon the Austrians than proud of the brilliant action which had been performed. Bold enterprises were so natural to Lannes that he was frequently the only person who saw nothing extraordinary in his own exploits. Alas! what men were sacrificed to Napoleon’s ambition!

The following is the story of the Bridge of Thabor as I heard it from Lannes:–

–[I was one day walking with Murat, on the right bank of the Danube, and we observed on the left bank, which was occupied by the Austrians, some works going on, the evident object of which was to blow up the bridge on the approach of our troops. The fools had the impudence to make these preparations under our very noses; but we gave them a good lesson. Having arranged our plan, we returned to give orders, and I entrusted the command of my column of grenadiers to an officer on whose courage and intelligence I could rely. I then returned to the bridge, accompanied by Murat and two or three other officers. We advanced, unconcernedly, and entered into conversation with the commander of a post in the middle of the bridge. We spoke to him about an armistice which was to be speedily concluded: While conversing with the Austrian officers we contrived to make them turn their eyes towards the left bank, and then, agreeably to the orders we had given, my column of grenadiers advanced on the bridge. The Austrian cannoneers, on the left bank, seeing their officers in the midst of us, did not dare to fire, and my column advanced at a quick step. Murat and I, at the head of it, gained the left bank. All the combustibles prepared for blowing up the bridge were thrown into the river, and my men took possession of the batteries erected for the defence of the bridge head. The poor devils of Austrian officers were perfectly astounded when I told them they were my prisoners.]–

Such, as well as I can recollect, was the account given by Lannes, who laughed immoderately in describing the consternation of the Austrian officers when they discovered the trick that had been played upon them. When Lannes performed this exploit he had little idea of the, important consequences which would attend, it. He had not only secured to the remainder of the French army a sure and easy entrance to Vienna, but, without being aware of it, he created an insurmountable impediment to the junction of the Russian army with the Austrian corps, commanded by Prince Charles, who, being pressed by Massena, hastily advanced into the heart of the Hereditary States, where he fully expected a great battle would take place.

As soon as the corps of Murat and Lannes had taken possession of Vienna the Emperor ordered all the divisions of the army to march upon that capital.

–[The story to told in much the same way in Theirs (tome vi, p. 260), Rupp (p. 57), and Savory (tome ii. p. 162), but as Erreurs (tome i. p. 814) points out, Bourrienne makes an odd mistake in believing the Thabor Bridge gave the French access to Vienna. The capital is on the right bank, and was already in their power. The possession of the bridge enabled them to pass over to the left bank, and to advance towards Austerlitz before the Archduke Charles, coming from Italy, could make his junction with the allied army. See plan 48 of Thiers’ Atlas, or 58 of Alison’s. The immediate result of the success of this rather doubtful artifice would have been the destruction of the corps of Kutusoff; but Murat in his turn was deceived by Bagration into belief in an armistice. In fact, both sides at this time fell into curious errors.]–

Napoleon established his headquarters at Schoenbrunn, where he planned his operations for compelling the corps of Prince Charles to retire to Hungary, and also for advancing his own forces to meet the Russians. Murat and Lannes always commanded the advanced guard during the forced marches ordered by Napoleon, which were executed in a way truly miraculous.

To keep up the appearance of wishing to conclude peace as soon as reasonable propositions should be made to him, Napoleon sent for his Minister for foreign Affairs, who speedily arrived at Vienna, and General Savary was sent on a mission to the Emperor Alexander. The details of this mission I have learned only from the account of it given by the Duc de Rovigo in his apologetic Memoirs. In spite of the Duke’s eagerness to induce a belief in Napoleon’s pacific disposition, the very facts on which he supports his argument lead to the contrary conclusion. Napoleon wished to dictate his conditions before the issue of a battle the success of which might appear doubtful to the young Emperor of Russia, and these conditions were such as he might impose when victory should be declared in favour of our eagles. It must be clear to every reflecting person that by always proposing what he knew could not be honourably acceded to, he kept up the appearance of being a pacificator, while at the same time he ensured to himself the pleasure of carrying on the war.



My functions at Hamburg–The King of Sweden at Stralsund– My bulletin describing the situation of the Russian armies–Duroc’s recall from Berlin–General Dumouriez–Recruiting of the English in Hanover–The daughter of M. de Marbeof and Napoleon–Treachery of the King of Naples–The Sun of Austerlitz–Prince Dolgiorouki Rapp’s account of the battle of Austerlitz–Gerard’s picture– Eugene’s marriage.

I must now relate how, in conformity with my instructions, I was employed in Hamburg in aiding the success of the French army. I had sent an agent to observe the Russian troops, which were advancing by forced marches to the banks of the Elbe. This agent transmitted to me from Gadbusch an account of the routes taken by the different columns. It was then supposed that they would march upon Holland by the way of Bremen and Oldenburg. On the receipt of thus intelligence the Electorate of Hanover was evacuated by the French, and General Barbou, who had commanded there concentrated his forces in Hamelin.

On the 2d of November 1805 the King of Sweden arrived at Stralsund. I immediately intimated to our Government that this circumstance would probably give a new turn to the operations of the combined army, for hitherto the uncertainty of its movements and the successive counter- orders afforded no possibility of ascertaining any determined plan. The intention seemed to be, that all the Swedo-Russian troops should cross the Elbe at the same point; viz., Lauenburg, six miles from Hamburg.

There was not on the 5th of November a single Russian on the southern bank of the Elbe.

The first column of the grand Russian army passed through Warsaw on the 1st of November, and on the 2d the Grand-Duke Constantine was expected with the Guards. This column, which amounted to 6000 men, was the first that passed through Prussian Poland.

At this time we momentarily expected to see the Hanoverian army landed on the banks of the Weser or the Elbe, augmented by some thousands of English. Their design apparently was either to attack Holland, or to attempt some operation on the rear of our Grand Army.

The French Government was very anxious to receive accurate accounts of the march of the Swedo-Russian troops through Hanover, and of the Russian army through Poland. My agents at Warsaw and Stralsund, who were exceedingly active and intelligent, enabled me to send off a bulletin describing the state of Hanover, the movements of the Russians and Swedes, together with information of the arrival of English troops in the Elbe, and a statement of the force of the combined army in Hanover, which consisted of 15,000 Russians, 8000 Swedes, and 12,000 English; making in all 35,000 men.

It was probably on account of this bulletin that Napoleon expressed to Duroc his satisfaction with my services. The Emperor on recalling Duroc from Berlin did not manifest the least apprehension respecting Prussia. Duroc wrote to me the following letter on the occasion of his recall:

MY DEAR BOURRIENNE–The Emperor having thought my services necessary to the army has recalled me. I yesterday had a farewell audience of the King and Queen, who treated me very graciously. His Majesty presented me with his portrait set in diamonds. The Emperor Alexander will probably depart to morrow, and the Archduke Anthony vary speedily. We cannot but hope that their presence here will facilitate a good understanding.
(Signed) DUROC.

Whenever foreign armies were opposing France the hopes of the emigrants revived. They falsely imagined that the powers coalesced against Napoleon were labouring in their cause; and many of them entered the Russian and Austrian armies. Of this number was General Dumouriez. I received information that he had landed at Stade on the 21st of November; but whither he intended to proceed was not known. A man named St. Martin, whose wife lived with Dumouriez, and who had accompanied the general from England to Stade, came to Hamburg, where he observed great precautions for concealment, and bought two carriages, which were immediately forwarded to Stade. St, Martin himself immediately proceeded to the latter place. I was blamed for not having arrested this man; but he had a commission attesting that he was in the English service, and, as I have before mentioned; a foreign commission was a safeguard; and the only one which could not be violated in Hamburg.

In December 1805 the English recruiting in Hanover was kept up without interruption, and attended with extraordinary success. Sometimes a hundred men were raised in a day. The misery prevailing in Germany, which had been ravaged by the war, the hatred against the French, and the high bounty that was offered enabled the English to procure as many men as they wished.

The King of Sweden, meditating on the stir he should make in Hanover, took with him a camp printing-press to publish the bulletins of the grand Swedish army.–The first of these bulletins announced to Europe that his Swedish Majesty was about to leave Stralsund; and that his army would take up its position partly between Nelsen and Haarburg, and partly between Domitz and the frontiers of Hamburg.

Among the anecdotes of Napoleon connected with this campaign I find in my notes the following, which was related to me by Rapp. Some days before his entrance into Vienna Napoleon, who was riding on horseback along the road, dressed in his usual uniform of the chasseurs of the Guard, met an open carriage, in which were seated a lady and a priest. The lady was in tears, and Napoleon could not refrain from stopping to ask her what was the cause of her distress. “Sir,” she replied, for she did not know the Emperor, “I have been pillaged at my estate, two leagues from hence, by a party of soldiers, who have murdered my gardener. I am going to seek your Emperor, who knows my family, to whom he was once under great obligations.”–“What is your name?” inquired Napoleon.–“De Bunny,” replied the lady. “I am the daughter of M de Marbeuf, formerly Governor of Corsica.”–” Madame,” exclaimed Napoleon, “I am the Emperor. I am delighted to have the opportunity of serving you.”–“You cannot conceive,” continued Rapp, “the attention which the Emperor showed Madame de Bunny. He consoled her, pitied her, almost apologised for the misfortune she had sustained. ‘Will you have the goodness, Madame,’ said he, ‘to go and wait for me at my head-quarters? I will join you speedily; every member of M. de Marbeuf’s family has a claim on my respect.’ The Emperor immediately gave her a picquet of chasseurs of his guard to escort her. He saw her again during the day, when he loaded her with attentions, and liberally indemnified her for the losses she had sustained.”

For some time previous to the battle of Austerlitz the different corps of the army intersected every part of Germany and Italy, all tending towards Vienna as a central point. At the beginning of November the corps commanded by Marshal Bernadotte arrived at Saltzburg at the moment when the Emperor had advanced his headquarters to Braunau, where there were numerous magazines of artillery and a vast quantity of provisions of every kind. The junction of the corps commanded by Bernadotte in Hanover with the Grand Army was a point of such high importance that Bonaparte had directed the Marshal to come up with him as speedily as possible, and to take the shortest road. This order obliged Bernadotte to pass through the territory of the two Margravates.

At that time we were at peace with Naples. In September the Emperor had concluded with Ferdinand IV. a treaty of neutrality. This treaty enabled Carra St. Cyr, who occupied Naples, to evacuate that city and to join Massena in Upper Italy; both reached the Grand Army on the 28th of November. But no sooner had the troops commanded by Carra St. Cyr quitted the Neapolitan territory than the King of Naples, influenced by his Ministers, and above all by Queen Caroline, broke the treaty of neutrality, ordered hostile preparations against France, opened his ports to the enemies of the Emperor, and received into his States 12,000 Russians and 8000 English. It was on the receipt of this news that Bonaparte, in one of his most violent bulletins, styled the Queen of Naples a second Fredegonda. The victory of Austerlitz having given powerful support to his threats, the fall of Naples was decided, and shortly after his brother Joseph was seated on the Neapolitan throne.

At length came the grand day when, to use Napoleon’s expression, the Sun of Austerlitz rose. All our forces were concentrated on one point, at about 40 leagues beyond Vienna. There remained nothing but the wreck of the Austrian army, the corps of Prince Charles being by scientific manoeuvres kept at a distance from the line of operations; but the Russians alone were superior to us in numbers, and their army was almost entirely composed of fresh troops. The most extraordinary illusion prevailed in the enemy’s camp. The north of Europe has its Gascons as well as the south of France, and the junior portion of the Russian army at this period assumed an absurd braggadocio tone. On the very eve of the battle the Emperor Alexander sent one of his aides de camp, Prince Dolgorouki, as a flag of truce to Napoleon. The Prince could not repress his self-sufficiency even in the presence of the Emperor, and Rapp informed me that on dismissing him the Emperor said, “If you were on ‘the heights of Montmartre,’ I would answer such impertinence only by cannon- balls.” This observation was very remarkable, inasmuch as subsequent events rendered it a prophecy.

As to the battle itself, I can describe it almost as well as if I had witnessed it, for some time after I had the pleasure of seeing my friend Rapp, who was sent an a mission to Prussia. He gave me the following account:

“When we arrived at Austerlitz the Russians were not aware of the scientific plans which the Emperor had laid for drawing them upon the ground he had marked out; and seeing our advanced guards fall back before theirs they already considered themselves conquerors. They supposed that their Guard alone would secure an easy triumph. But the action commenced, and they experienced an energetic resistance on all points. At one o’clock the victory was yet uncertain, for they fought admirably. They wished to make a last effort by directing close masses against our centre. Their Imperial Guard deployed; their artillery, cavalry, and infantry marched upon a bridge which they attacked, and this movement, which was concealed by the rising and falling of the ground, was not observed by Napoleon. I was at that moment near the Emperor, awaiting his orders. We heard a well-maintained firing of musketry. The Russians were repulsing one of our brigades. The Emperor ordered me to take some of the Mamelukes, two squadrons of chasseurs, and one of grenadiers of the Guard, and to go and reconnoitre the state of things. I set off at full gallop, and soon discovered the disaster. The Russian cavalry had penetrated our squares, and was sabring our men. I perceived in the distance some masses of cavalry and infantry; which formed the reserve of the Russians. At that moment the enemy advanced to meet us, bringing with him four pieces of artillery, and ranged himself in order of battle. I had the brave Morland on my left, and General D’Allemagne on my right. ‘Forward, my lads!’ exclaimed I to my troop. ‘See how your brothers and friends are being cut to pieces. Avenge them! avenge our flag! Forward !’ These few words roused my men. We advanced as swiftly as our horses could carry us upon the artillery, which was taken. The enemy’s cavalry, which awaited us firmly, was repulsed by the same shock, and fled in disorder, galloping as we did over the wrecks of our squares. The Russians rallied but a squadron of horse grenadiers came up to reinforce me, and thus enabled me to hold ground against the reserves of the Russian Guard. We charged again, and this charge was terrible. The brave Morland was killed by my, side. It was downright butchery. We were opposed man to man, and were so mingled together that the infantry of neither one nor the other side could venture to fire for fear of killing its own men. At length the intrepidity of our troops overcame every obstacle, and the Russians fled in disorder, in sight of the two Emperors of Russia and Austria, who had stationed themselves on a height in order to witness the battle. They saw a desperate one,” said Rapp, “and I trust they were satisfied. For my part, my dear friend, I never spent so glorious a day. What a reception the Emperor gave me when I returned to inform him that we had won the battle! My sword was broken, and a wound which I received on my head was bleeding copiously, so that I was covered with blood! He made me a General of Division. The Russians did not return to the charge; we had taken all their cannon and baggage, and Prince Repnin was among the prisoners.”

Thus it was that Rapp related to me this famous battle of which he was the hero, as Kellerman had been the hero of Marengo. What now remains of Austerlitz? The recollection, the glory, and the magnificent picture of Gerard, the idea of which was suggested to the Emperor by the sight of Rapp with the blood streaming from his wound.

I cannot forbear relating here a few particulars which I learned from Rapp respecting his mission after the cure of his wound; and the marriage of Prince Eugene to the Princess Augusta of Bavaria. The friendship which Rapp cherished for me was of the most sincere kind. During my disgrace he did not even conceal it from Napoleon; and whoever knows anything of the Emperor’s Court will acknowledge that that was a greater mark of courage than the carrying of a redoubt or making the most brilliant charge of cavalry. Rapp possessed courage of every kind, an excellent heart, and a downright frankness, which for a time brought him into disgrace with Napoleon. The only thing for which Rapp could be reproached was his extreme prejudice against the nobility, which I am convinced was the sole reason why he was not created a Duke. The Emperor made him a Count because he wished that all his aides de camp should have titles.

“He had been a fortnight at Schoenbrunn,” said Rapp to me, “and I had not yet resumed my duties, when the Emperor sent for me. He asked me whether I was able to travel, and on my replying in the affirmative, he said, ‘Go then, and give an account of the battle of Austerlitz to Marmont, and vex him for not having been at it.’ I set off, and in conformity with the instructions I had received from the Emperor I proceeded to Gratz, where I found Marmont, who was indeed deeply mortified at not having had a share in the great battle. I told him, as the Emperor had directed me, that the negotiations were commenced, but that nothing was yet concluded, and that therefore, at all events, he must hold himself in readiness. I ascertained the situation of his army in Styria, and the amount of the enemy’s force before him: The Emperor wished him to send a number of spies into Hungary, and to transmit to him a detailed report from their communications. I next proceeded to Laybach, where I found Massena at the head of the eighth corps, and I informed him that the Emperor wished him to march in all haste upon Vienna, in case he should hear of the rupture of the negotiations. I continued the itinerary marked out for me until I reached Venice, and thence till I met the troops of Carra St. Cyr, who had received orders to march back upon Naples as soon as the Emperor heard of the treachery of the King of Naples and the landing of the English and Russians. Having fulfilled these different missions I proceeded to Klagenfurth, where I saw Marshal Ney, and I afterwards rejoined the Emperor at Munich. There I had the pleasure of finding our friends assembled, and among them Josephine, still as affable and amiable as ever. How delighted I was when, an my arrival, I learned that the Emperor had adopted Eugene. I was present at his marriage with the Princess Augusta of Bavaria. As to me, you know I am not very fond of fetes, and the Emperor might have dispensed with my performing the duties of Chamberlain; Eugene had no idea of what was going on when the Emperor sent to desire his presence at Munich with all possible speed. He, too, remains unchanged; he is still our old comrade. At first he was not much pleased with the idea of a political marriage; but when he saw his bride he was quite enchanted; and no wonder, for I assure you she is a very charming woman.”



Depreciation of the Bank paper–Ouvrard–His great discretion– Bonaparte’e opinion of the rich–Ouvrard’s imprisonment–His partnership with the King of Spain–His connection with Waalenberghe and Desprez–Bonaparte’s return to Paris after the campaign of Vienna–Hasty dismissal of M. Barbe Marbois.

At the moment when the Emperor had reason to hope that the news of his extraordinary success would animate public spirit he was informed that considerable disquietude prevailed, and that the Bank of France was assailed by demands for the payment of its paper, which had fallen, more than 5 per cent. I was not ignorant of the cause of this decline. I had been made acquainted, through the commercial correspondence between Hamburg and Paris, with a great financial operation, planned by M. Ouvrard, in consequence of which he was to obtain piastres from Spanish America at a price much below the real value; and I had learned that he was obliged to support this enterprise by the funds which he and his partners previously employed in victualling the forces. A fresh investment of capital was therefore necessary for this service, which, when on a large scale, requires extensive advances, and the tardy payment of the Treasury at that period was well known.

I was well acquainted with M. Ouvrard, and in what I am about to say I do not think there will be found anything offensive or disagreeable to him. I observed the greater number of the facts to which I shall refer in their origin, and the rest I learned from M. Ouvrard himself, who, when he visited Hamburg in 1808, communicated to me a variety of details respecting his immense transaction with the King of Spain. Among other things I recollect he told me that before the 18th Brumaire he was possessed of 60,000,000, without owing a franc to any person.

This celebrated financier has been the object of great public attention. The prodigious variations of fortune which he has experienced, the activity of his life, the immense commercial operations in which he has been engaged; the extent and the boldness of his enterprises, render it necessary, in forming a judgment of M. Ouvrard, to examine his conduct with due care and deliberation. The son of a stationer, who was able merely through his own resources to play so remarkable a part, could be no ordinary man. It may be said of M. Ouvrard what Beaumarchais said of himself, that his life was really a combat. I have known him long, and I saw much of him in his relations with Josephine. He always appeared to me to possess great knowledge of the world, accompanied by honourable principles, and a high degree of generosity, which added greatly to the value of his prudence and discretion. No human power, no consideration, not even the ingratitude of those whom he had obliged, could induce him to disclose any sacrifice which he had made at the time when, under the Directory, the public revenue may be said to have been always at the disposal of the highest bidder, and when no business could be brought to a conclusion except by him who set about it with his hands full of money. To this security, with which M. Ouvrard impressed all official persons who rendered him services, I attribute the facility with which be obtained the direction of the numerous enterprises in which he engaged, and which produced so many changes in his fortune. The discretion of M. Ouvrard was not quite agreeable to the First Consul, who found it impossible to extract from him the information he wanted. He tried every method to obtain from him the names of persons to whom he had given those kind of subsidies which in vulgar language are called sops in the pan, and by ladies pin money. Often have I seen Bonaparte resort to every possible contrivance to gain his object. He would sometimes endeavour to alarm M. Ouvrard by menaces, and at other times to flatter him by promises, but he was in no instance successful.

While we were at the Luxembourg, on, as I recollect, the 25th of January 1800, Bonaparte said to me during breakfast, “Bourrienne, my resolution is taken. I shall have Ouvrard arrested.”–“General, have you proofs against him?”–“Proofs, indeed! He is a money-dealer, a monopoliser; we must make him disgorge. All the contractors, the provision agents, are rogues. How have they made their fortunes? At the expense of the country, to be sure. I will not suffer such doings. They possess millions, they roll in an insolent luxury, while my soldiers have neither bread nor shoes! I will have no more of that! I intend to speak on the business to-day in the Council, and we shall see what can be done.”

I waited with impatience for his return from the Council to know what had passed. “Well, General?” said I “The order is given.” On hearing this I became anxious about the fate of M. Ouvrard, who was thus to be treated more like a subject of the Grand Turk than a citizen of the Republic; but I soon learned that the order had not been executed because he could not be found.

Next day I learned that a person, whom I shall not name, who was present at the Council, and who probably was under obligations to Ouvrard, wrote him a note in pencil to inform him of the vote for his arrest carried by the First Consul. This individual stepped out for a moment and despatched his servant with the note to Ouvrard. Having thus escaped the writ of arrest, Ouvrard, after a few days had passed over, reappeared, and surrendered himself prisoner. Bonaparte was at first furious on learning that he had got out of the way; but on hearing that Ouvrard had surrendered himself he said to me, “The fool! he does not know what is awaiting him! He wishes to make the public believe that he has nothing to fear; that his hands are clean. But he is playing a bad game; he will gain nothing in that way with me. All talking is nonsense. You may be sure, Bourrienne, that when a man has so much money he cannot have got it honestly, and then all those fellows are dangerous with their fortunes. In times of revolution no man ought to have more than 3,000,000 francs, and that is a great deal too much.”

Before going to prison Ouvrard took care to secure against all the searches of the police any of his papers which might have committed persons with whom he had dealings; and I believe that there were individuals connected with the police itself who had good reason for not regretting the opportunity which M. Ouvrard had taken for exercising this precaution. Seals, however, were put upon his papers; but on examining them none of the information Bonaparte so much desired to obtain was found. Nevertheless on one point his curiosity was satisfied, for on looking over the documents he found from some of them that Madame Bonaparte had been borrowing money from Ouvrard.

As Ouvrard had a great number of friends they bestirred themselves to get some person of influence to speak to the First Consul in his favour. But this was a commission no one was willing to undertake; because, prejudiced as Bonaparte was, the least hint of the kind would have appeared to him to be dictated by private interest. Berthier was very earnestly urged to interfere, but he replied, “That is impossible. He would say that it was underhand work to get money for Madame Visconti.”

I do not recollect to what circumstance Ouvrard was indebted for his liberty, but it is certain that his captivity did not last long. Sometime after he had left his prison Bonaparte asked him for 12,000,000, which M. Ouvrard refused.

On his accession to the Consulate Bonaparte found M. Ouvrard contractor for supplying the Spanish fleet under the command of Admiral Massaredo. This business introduced him to a correspondence with the famous Godoy, Prince of the Peace. The contract lasted three years, and M. Ouvrard gained by it a net profit of 15,000,000. The money was payable in piastres, at the rate of 3 francs and some centimes each, though the piastre was really worth 5 francs 40 centimes. But to recover it at this value it was necessary for M. Ouvrard to go and get the money in Mexico. This he was much inclined to do, but he apprehended some obstacle on the part of the First Consul, and, notwithstanding his habitual shrewdness, he became the victim of his over-precaution. On his application M. de Talleyrand undertook to ask the First Consul for authority to give him a passport. I was in the cabinet at the time, and I think I still hear the dry and decided “No,” which was all the answer M. de Talleyrand obtained. When we were alone the First Consul said to me, “Do you not see, Bourrienne, this Ouvrard must have made a good thing of his business with the Prince of the Peace? But the fool! Why did he get Talleyrand to ask me for a passport? That is the very thing that raised my suspicion. Why did he not apply for a passport as every one else does? Have I the giving of them? He is an ass; so much the worse for him.”

I was sorry for Ouvrard’s disappointment, and I own none the less so because he had intimated his willingness to give me a share in the business he was to transact its Spain; and which was likely to be very profitable. His brother went to Mexico in his stead.

In 1802 a dreadful scarcity afflicted France. M. Ouvrard took upon himself, in concert with Wanlerberghe, the task of importing foreign grain to prevent the troubles which might otherwise have been expected. In payment of the grain the foreign houses who sent it drew upon Ouvrard and Wanlerberghe for 26,000,000 francs in Treasury bills, which, according to the agreement with the Government, were to be paid. But when the bills of the foreign houses became due there was no money in the Treasury, and payment was refused. After six months had elapsed payment was offered, but on condition that the Government should retain half the profit of the commission! This Ouvrard and Wanlerberghe refused, upon which the Treasury thought it most economical to pay nothing, and the debt remained unsettled. Notwithstanding this transaction Ouvrard and Wanlerberghe engaged to victual the navy, which they supplied for six years and three months. After the completion of these different services the debt due to them amounted to 68,000,000.

In consequence of the long delay of, payment by the Treasury the disbursements for supplies of grain amounted at least to more than 40,000,000; and the difficulties which arose had a serious effect on the credit of the principal dealers with those persons who supplied them. The discredit spread and gradually reached the Treasury, the embarrassments of which augmented with the general alarm. Ouvrard, Wanlerberghe, and Seguin were the persons whose capital and credit rendered them most capable of relieving the Treasury, and they agreed to advance for that purpose 102,000,000, in return for which they were allowed bonds of the Receivers-General to the amount of 150,000,000. M. Desprez undertook to be the medium through which the 102,000,000 were to be paid into the Treasury, and the three partners transferred the bands to him.

Spain had concluded a treaty with France, by which she was bound to pay a subsidy of 72,000,000 francs, and 32,000,000 had become due without any payment being made: It was thought advisable that Ouvrard should be sent to Madrid to obtain a settlement, but he was afraid that his business in Paris would suffer during his absence, and especially the transaction in which he was engaged with Desprez. The Treasury satisfied him on this point by agreeing to sanction the bargain with Desprez, and Ouvrard proceeded to Madrid. It was on this occasion he entered into the immense speculation for trading with Spanish America.

Spain wished to pay the 32,000,000 which were due to France as soon as possible, but her coffers were empty, and goodwill does not ensure ability; besides, in addition to the distress of the Government, there was a dreadful famine in Spain. In this state of things Ouvrard proposed to the Spanish Government to pay the debt due to France, to import a supply of corn, and to advance funds for the relief of the Spanish Treasury. For this he required two conditions. (1.) The exclusive right of trading with America. (2.) The right of bunging from America on his own account all the specie belonging to the Crown, with the power of making loans guaranteed and payable by the Spanish Treasuries.

About the end of July 1805 the embarrassment which sometime before had begun to be felt in the finances of Europe was alarmingly augmented. Under these circumstances it was obviously the interest of Ouvrard to procure payment as soon as possible of the 32,000,000 which he had advanced for Spain to the French Treasury. He therefore redoubled his efforts to bring his negotiation to a favourable issue, and at last succeeded in getting a deed of partnership between himself and Charles IV. which contained the following stipulation:–“Ouvrard and Company are authorised to introduce into the ports of the New World every kind of merchandise and production necessary for the consumption of those countries, and to export from the Spanish Colonies, during the continuance of the war with England; all the productions and all specie derivable from them.” This treaty was only to be in force during the war with England, and it was stipulated that the profits arising from the transactions of the Company should be equally divided between Charles IV. and the rest of the Company; that is to say, one-half to the King and the other half to his partners.

The consequences of this extraordinary partnership between a King and a private individual remain to be stated. On the signing of the deed Ouvrard received drafts from the Treasury of Madrid to the extent of 52,500,000 piastres; making 262,500,000 francs; but the piastres were to be brought from America, while the terms of the treaty required that the urgent wants of the Spanish Government should be immediately supplied, and, above all, the progress of the famine checked. To accomplish this object fresh advances to an enormous amount were necessary, for M. Ouvrard had to begin by furnishing 2,000,000 of quintals of grain at the rate of 26 francs the quintal. Besides all this, before he could realise a profit and be reimbursed for the advances he had made to the Treasury of Paris, be had to get the piastres conveyed from America to Europe. After some difficulty the English Government consented to facilitate the execution of the transaction by furnishing four frigates for the conveyance of the piastres.

Ouvrard had scarcely completed the outline of his extraordinary enterprise when the Emperor suddenly broke up his camp at Boulogne to march to Germany. It will readily be conceived that Ouvrard’s interests then imperatively required his presence at Madrid; but he was recalled to Paris by the Minister of the Treasury, who wished to adjust his accounts. The Emperor wanted money for the war on which he was entering, and to procure it for the Treasury Ouvrard was sent to Amsterdam to negotiate with the House of Hope. He succeeded, and Mr. David Parish became the Company’s agent.

Having concluded this business Ouvrard returned in all haste to Madrid; but in the midst of the most flattering hopes and most gigantic enterprises he suddenly found himself threatened with a dreadful crisis. M. Desprez, as has been stated, had, with the concurrence of the Treasury, been allowed to take upon himself all the risk of executing the treaty, by which 150,000,000 were to be advanced for the year 1804, and 400,000,000 for the year 1805. Under the circumstances which had arisen the Minister of the Treasury considered himself entitled to call upon Ouvrard to place at his disposal 10,000,000 of the piastres which he had received from Spain. The Minister at the same time informed him that he had made arrangements on the faith of this advance, which he thought could not be refused at so urgent a moment.

The embarrassment of the Treasury, and the well-known integrity of the Minister, M. de Barbe Marbois, induced Ouvrard to remit the 10,000,000 piastres. But a few days after he had forwarded the money a Commissioner of the Treasury arrived at Madrid with a ministerial despatch, in which Ouvrard was requested to deliver to the Commissioner all the assets he could command, and to return immediately to Paris.

The Treasury was then in the greatest difficulty, and a general alarm prevailed. This serious financial distress was occasioned by the following circumstances. The Treasury had, by a circular, notified to the Receivers-General that Desprez was the holder of their bonds. They were also authorised to transmit to him all their disposable funds, to be placed to their credit in an account current. Perhaps the giving of this authority was a great error; but, be that as it may, Desprez, encouraged by the complaisance of the Treasury, desired the Receivers-General to transmit to him all the sums they could procure for payment of interest under 8 per cent., promising to allow them a higher rate of interest. As the credit of the house of Desprez stood high, it may be easily conceived that on such conditions the Receivers-General, who were besides secured by the authority of the Treasury, would enter eagerly into the proposed plan. In short, the Receivers-General soon transmitted very considerable sums. Chests of money arrived daily from every point of France. Intoxicated by this success, Desprez engaged in speculations which in his situation were extremely imprudent. He lent more than 50,000,000 to the merchants of Paris, which left him no command of specie. Being obliged to raise money, he deposited with the Bank the bonds of the Receivers- General which had been consigned to him, but which were already discharged by the sums transmitted to their credit in the account current. The Bank, wishing to be reimbursed for the money advanced to Desprez, applied to the Receivers-General whose bonds were held an security. This proceeding had become necessary on the part of the Bank, as Desprez, instead of making his payments in specie, sent in his acceptances. The Directors of the Bank, who conducted that establishment with great integrity and discretion, began to be alarmed, and required Desprez to explain the state of his affairs. The suspicions of the Directors became daily stronger, and were soon shared by the public. At last the Bank was obliged to stop payment, and its notes were soon at a discount of 12 per cent.

The Minister of the Treasury, dismayed, as well may be supposed, at such a state of things during the Emperor’s absence, convoked a Council, at which Joseph Bonaparte presided, and to which Desprez and Wanlerberghe were summoned. Ouvrard being informed of this financial convulsion made all possible haste from Madrid, and on his arrival at Paris sought assistance from Amsterdam. Hope’s house offered to take 15,000,000 piastres at the rate of 3 francs 75 centimes each. Ouvrard having engaged to pay the Spanish Government only 3 francs, would very willingly have parted with them at that rate, but his hasty departure from Madrid, and the financial events at Paris, affected his relations with the Spanish Treasury, and rendered it impossible for him to afford any support to the Treasury of France; thus the alarm continued, until the news of the battle of Austerlitz and the consequent hope of peace tranquillised the public mind. The bankruptcy of Desprez was dreadful; it was followed by the failure of many houses, the credit of which was previously undoubted.

To temper the exultation which victory was calculated to excite, the news of the desperate situation of the Treasury and the Bank reached the Emperor on the day after the battle of Austerlitz. The alarming accounts which he received hastened his return to France; and on the very evening on which he arrived in Paris he pronounced, while ascending the stairs of the Tuileries, the dismissal of M. de Barbs Marbois. This Minister had made numerous enemies by the strict discharge of his duty, and yet, notwithstanding his rigid probity, he sunk under the accusation of having endangered the safety of the State by weakness of character. At this period even Madame de Stael said, in a party where the firmness of M. Barbs Marbois was the topic of conversation–“What, he inflexible? He is only a reed bronzed!” But whatever may be the opinion entertained of the character of this Minister, it is certain that Napoleon’s rage against him was unbounded. Such was the financial catastrophe which occurred during the campaign of Vienna; but all was not over with Ouvrard, and in so great a confusion of affairs it was not to be expected that the Imperial hand, which was not always the hand of justice, should not make itself somewhere felt.

In the course of the month of February 1806 the Emperor issued two decrees, in which he declared Ouvrard, Wanlerberghe, and Michel, contractors for the service of 1804, and Desprez their agent, debtors to the amount of 87,000,000, which they had misapplied in private speculations, and in transactions with Spain “for their personal interests.” Who would not suppose from this phrase that Napoleon had taken no part whatever in the great financial operation between Spain and South America? He was, however, intimately acquainted with it, and was himself really and personally interested. But whenever any enterprise was unsuccessful he always wished to deny all connection with it. Possessed of title-deeds made up by himself–that is to say, his own decrees–the Emperor seized all the piastres and other property belonging to the Company, and derived from the transaction great pecuniary advantage,–though such advantage never could be regarded by a sovereign as any compensation for the dreadful state into which the public credit had been brought.



Declaration of Louis XVIII.–Dumouriez watched–News of a spy– Remarkable trait of courage and presence of mind–Necessity of vigilance at Hamburg–The King of Sweden–His bulletins–Doctor Gall –Prussia covets Hamburg–Projects on Holland–Negotiations for peace–Mr. Fox at the head of the British Cabinet–Intended assassination of Napoleon–Propositions made through Lord Yarmouth –Proposed protection of the Hanse towns–Their state– Aggrandisement of the Imperial family–Neither peace nor war– Sebastiani’s mission to Constantinople–Lord Lauderdale at Paris, and failure of the negotiations–Austria despoiled–Emigrant pensions–Dumouriez’s intrigues–Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin– Loizeau.

I have been somewhat diffuse respecting the vast enterprises of M. Ouvrard, and on the disastrous state of the finances during the campaign of Vienna. Now, if I may so express myself, I shall return to the Minister Plenipotentiary’s cabinet, where several curious transactions occurred. The facts will not always be given in a connected series, because there was no more relation between the reports which I received on a great variety of subjects than there is in the pleading of the barristers who succeed each other in a court of justice.

On the 2d of January 1806 I learned that many houses in Hamburg had received by post packets, each containing four copies of a declaration of Louis XVIII. Dumouriez had his carriage filled with copies of this declaration when he passed through Brunswick; and in that small town alone more than 3000 were distributed. The size of this declaration rendered its transmission by post very easy, even in France.

All my letters from the Minister recommended that I should keep a strict watch over the motions of Dumouriez; but his name was now as seldom mentioned as if he had ceased to exist. The part he acted seemed to be limited to disseminating pamphlets more or less insignificant.

It is difficult to conceive the great courage and presence of mind sometimes found in men so degraded as are the wretches who fill the office of spies. I had an agent amongst the Swedo-Russians, named Chefneux, whom I had always found extremely clever and correct. Having for a long time received no intelligence from him I became very anxious, –an anxiety which was not without foundation. He had, in fact, been arrested at Lauenburg, and conducted, bound, tied hand and foot, by some Cossacks to Luneburg. There was found on him a bulletin which he was about to transmit to me, and he only escaped certain death by having in his possession a letter of recommendation from a Hamburg merchant well known to M. Alopaeus, the Russian Minister in that city. This precaution, which I had taken before he set out, saved his life. M. Alopaeus replied to the merchant that, in consequence of his recommendation the spy should be sent back safe and sound, but that another time neither the recommended nor the recommender should escape so easily. Notwithstanding this, Chefneux would certainly have paid with his head for the dangerous business in which he was embarked but for the inconceivable coolness he displayed under the most trying circumstances. Though the bulletin which was found upon him was addressed to M. Schramm, merchant, they strongly suspected that it was intended for me. They demanded of the prisoner whether he knew me; to which he boldly replied that he had never seen me. They endeavoured, by every possible means, to extort a confession from him, but without success. His repeated denials, joined to the name of M. Schramm, created doubts in the minds of his interrogators; they hesitated lest they should condemn an innocent man. They, however, resolved to make a last effort to discover the truth, and Chefneux, condemned to be shot, was conducted to the plain of Luneburg. His eyes were bandaged, and he heard the command of preparation given to the platoon, which was to fire upon him; at that moment a man approaching him whispered in his ear, in a tone of friendship and compassion, “They are going to fire; but I am your friend; only acknowledge that you know M. de Bourrienne and you are safe.”–“No,” replied Chefneux in a firm tone; “if I said so I should tell a falsehood.” Immediately the bandage was removed from his eyes, and he was set at liberty. It would be difficult to cite a more extraordinary instance of presence of mind.

Much as I execrate the system of espionage I am nevertheless compelled to admit that the Emperor was under the necessity of maintaining the most unremitting vigilance amidst the intrigues which were going forward in the neighbourhood of Hamburg, especially when the English, Swedes, and Russians were in arms, and there were the strongest grounds for suspecting the sincerity of Prussia.

On the 5th of January 1806 the King of Sweden arrived before the gates of Hamburg. The Senate of that city, surrounded on all sides by English, Swedish, and Russian troops, determined to send a deputation to congratulate the Swedish monarch, who, however, hesitated so long about receiving this homage that fears were entertained lest his refusal should be followed by some act of aggression. At length, however, the deputies were admitted, and they returned sufficiently well satisfied with their reception.

The King of Sweden then officially declared, “That all the arrangements entered into with relation to Hanover had no reference to hint, as the Swedish army was under the immediate command of its august sovereign.”

The King, with his 6000 men, seemed inclined to play the part of the restorer of Germany, and to make himself the Don Quixote of the treaty of Westphalia. He threatened the Senate of Hamburg with the whole weight of his anger, because on my application the colours which used to be suspended over the door of the house for receiving Austrian recruits had been removed. The poor Senate of Hamburg was kept in constant alarm by so dangerous a neighbour.

The King of Sweden had his headquarters at Boetzenburg, on the northern bank of the Elbe. In order to amuse himself he sent for Dr. Gall, who was at Hamburg, where he delivered lectures on his system of phrenology, which was rejected in the beginning by false science and prejudice, and afterwards adopted in consequence of arguments, in my opinion, unanswerable. I had the pleasure of living some time with Dr. Gall, and I owe to the intimacy which subsisted between us the honour he conferred on me by the dedication of one of his works. I said to him, when he departed for the headquarters of the King of Sweden, “My dear doctor, you will certainly discover the bump of vanity.” The truth is, that had the doctor at that period been permitted to examine the heads of the sovereigns of Europe they would have afforded very curious craniological studies.

It was not the King of Sweden alone who gave uneasiness to Hamburg; the King of Prussia threatened to seize upon that city, and his Minister publicly declared that it would very soon belong to his master. The Hamburgers were deeply afflicted at this threat; in fact, next to the loss of their independence, their greatest misfortune would have been to fall under the dominion of Prussia, as the niggardly fiscal system of the Prussian Government at that time would have proved extremely detrimental to a commercial city. Hanover, being evacuated by the French troops, had become a kind of recruiting mart for the British army, where every man who presented himself was enrolled, to complete the Hanoverian legion which was then about to be embodied. The English scattered gold by handfuls. One hundred and fifty carriages, each with six horses, were employed in this service, which confirmed me in the belief I had previously entertained, that the English were to join with the Russians in an expedition against Holland. The aim of the Anglo-Russians was to make a diversion which might disconcert the movements of the French armies in Germany, the allies being at that time unacquainted with the peace concluded at Presburg. Not a moment was therefore to be lost in uniting the whole of our disposable force for the defence of Holland; but it is not of this expedition that I mean to speak at present. I only mention it to afford some idea of our situation at Hamburg, surrounded, as we then were, by Swedish, English, and Russian troops. At this period the Russian Minister at Hamburg, M. Forshmann, became completely insane; his conduct had been more injurious than advantageous to his Government. He was replaced by M. Alopcous, the Russian Minister at Berlin; and they could not have exchanged a fool for a more judicious and able diplomatist.

I often received from the Minister of Marine letters said packets to transmit to the Isle of France,(Mauritius) of which the Emperor was extremely anxious to retain possession; and I had much trouble in finding any vessels prepared for that colony by which I could forward the Minister’s communications. The death of Pitt and the appointment of Fox as his successor had created a hope of peace. It was universally known that Mr. Fox, in succeeding to his office, did not inherit the furious hatred of the deceased Minister against France and her Emperor. There moreover existed between Napoleon and Mr. Fox a reciprocal esteem, and the latter had shown himself really disposed to treat. The possibility of concluding a peace had always been maintained by that statesman when he was in opposition to Mr. Pitt; and Bonaparte himself might have been induced, from the high esteem he felt for Mr. Fox, to make concessions from which he would before have recoiled. But there were two obstacles, I may say almost insurmountable ones. The first was the conviction on the part of England that any peace which might be made would only be a truce, and that Bonaparte would never seriously relinquish his desire of universal dominion. On the other side, it was believed that Napoleon had formed the design of invading England. Had he been able to do so it would have been less with the view of striking a blow at her commerce and destroying her maritime power, than of annihilating the liberty of the press, which he had extinguished in his own dominions. The spectacle of a free people, separated only by six leagues of sea, was, according to him, a seductive example to the French, especially to those among them who bent unwillingly under his yoke.

At an early period of Mr. Fox’s ministry a Frenchman made the proposition to him of assassinating the Emperor, of which information was immediately transmitted to M. de Talleyrand. In this despatch the Minister said that, though the laws of England did not authorise the permanent detention of any individual not convicted of a crime, he had on this occasion taken it on himself to secure the miscreant till such time as the French Government could be put on its guard against his attempts. Mr. Fox said in his letter that he had at first done this individual “the honour to take him for a spy,” a phrase which sufficiently indicated the disgust with which the British Minister viewed him.

This information was the key which opened the door to new negotiations. M. de Talleyrand was ordered to express, in reply to the communication of Mr. Fox, that the Emperor was sensibly affected at the index it afforded of the principles by which the British Cabinet was actuated. Napoleon did not limit himself to this diplomatic courtesy; he deemed it a favourable occasion to create a belief that he was actuated by a sincere love of peace. He summoned to Paris Lord Yarmouth, one of the most distinguished amongst the English who had been so unjustly detained prisoners at Verdun on the rupture of the peace of Amiens. He gave his lordship instructions to propose to the British Government a new form of negotiations, offering to guarantee to England the Cape of Good Hope and Malta. Some have been inclined from this concession to praise the moderation of Bonaparte; others to blame him for offering to resign these two places, as if the Cape and Malta could be put in competition with the title of Emperor, the foundation of the Kingdom of Italy, the acquisition of Genoa and of all the Venetian States, the dethronement of the King of Naples and the gift of his kingdom to Joseph, and finally, the new partition of Germany. These transactions, of which Bonaparte said not a word, and from which he certainly had no intention of departing, were all long after the treaty of Amiens.

Every day brought with it fresh proofs of insatiable ambition. In fact, Napoleon longed to obtain possession of the Hanse Towns. I was, however, in the first place, merely charged to make overtures to the Senates of each of these towns, and to point out the advantages they would derive from the protection of Napoleon in exchange for the small sacrifice of 6,000,000 francs in his favour. I had on this subject numerous conferences with the magistrates: they thought the sum too great, representing, to me that the city was not so rich as formerly, because their commerce had been much curtailed by the war; in short, the Senate declared that, with the utmost goodwill, their circumstances would not permit them to accept the “generous proposal” of the Emperor.

I was myself, indeed, at a loss to conceive how the absurdity of employing me to make such a proposition was overlooked, for I had, really no advantage to offer in return to the Hanse Towns. Against whom did Bonaparte propose to protect them? The truth is, Napoleon then wished to seize these towns by direct aggression, which, however, he was not able to accomplish until four years afterwards.

During five years I witnessed the commercial importance of these cities, and especially of Hamburg. Its geographical situation, on a great river navigable by large vessels to the city, thirty leagues from the mouth of the Elbe; the complete independence it enjoyed; its municipal regulations and paternal government, were a few amongst the many causes which had raised Hamburg to its enviable height of prosperity. What, in fact, was the population of these remnants of the grand Hanseatic League of the Middle Ages? The population of Hamburg when I was there amounted to 90,000, and that of its small surrounding territory to 25,000. Bremen had 36,000 inhabitants, and 9000 in its territory; the city of Lubeck, which is smaller and its territory a little more extensive than that of Bremen, contained a population of 24,000 souls within and 16,000 without the walls. Thus the total population of the Hanse Towns amounted to only 200,000 individuals; and yet this handful of men carried on an extensive commerce, and their ships ploughed every sea, from the shores of India to the frozen regions of Greenland.

The Emperor arrived at Paris towards the end of January 1806. Having created kings in Germany he deemed the moment favourable for surrounding his throne with new princes. It was at this period that he created Murat, Grand Duke of Cleves and Berg; Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte-Corvo; M. de Talleyrand, Duke of Benevento; and his two former colleagues, Cambaceres and Lebrun, Dukes of Parma and Piacenza. He also gave to his sister Pauline, a short time after her second marriage with the Prince Borghese, the title of Duchess of Guastalla. Strange events! who could then have foreseen that the duchy of Cambaceres would become the refuge of a Princess of Austria, the widowed wife of Napoleon Bonaparte? In the midst of the prosperity of the Imperial family, when the eldest of the Emperor’s brothers had ascended the throne of Naples, when Holland was on the eve of being offered to Louis, and Jerome had exchanged his legitimate wife for the illegitimate throne of Westphalia, the Imperial pillow was still far from being free from anxiety. Hostilities did not actually exist with the Continental powers; but this momentary state of repose lacked the tranquillity of peace. France was at war with Russia and England, and the aspect of the Continent presented great uncertainty, while the treaty of Vienna had only been executed in part. In the meantime Napoleon turned his eyes towards the East. General Sebastiani was sent to Constantinople. The measures be pursued and his judicious conduct justified the choice of the Emperor. He was adroit and conciliating, and peace with Turkey was the result of his mission. The negotiations with England did not terminate so happily, although, after the first overtures made to Lord Yarmouth, the Earl of Lauderdale had been sent to Paris by Mr. Fox. In fact, these negotiations wholly failed. The Emperor had drawn enormous sums from Austria, without counting the vases, statues, and pictures. With which he decorated the Louvre, and the bronze with which he clothed the column of the Place Vendome,–in my opinion the finest monument of his reign and the most beautiful one in Paris. As Austria was exhausted all the contributions imposed on her could not be paid in cash, and they gave the Emperor bills in payment. I received one for about 7,000,000 on Hamburg on account of the stipulations of the treaty of Presburg.

The affairs of the Bourbon Princes became more and more unfavourable, and their finances, as well as their chances of success, were so much diminished that about this period it was notified to the emigrants in Brunswick that the pretender (Louis XVIII.) had no longer the means of continuing their pensions. This produced great consternation amongst those emigrants, many of whom had no other means of existence; and notwithstanding their devotion to the cause of royalty they found a pension very useful in strengthening their zeal.

–[When Louis XVIII. returned to France, and Fouche was his Minister of Police, the King asked Fouche whether during his (the King’s) exile, had not set spies over him, and who they were. Fouche hesitated to reply, but the King insisting he said: “If your Majesty presses for an answer, it was the Due de Blacas to whom this matter was confided.”–“And how much did you pay him?” said the King. “Deux cents mille livres de rents, Sire.”–“Ah, so!” said the King, “then he has played fair; we went halves.”–Henry Greville’s Diary, p. 430.]–

Amongst those emigrants was one whose name will occupy a certain place in history; I mean Dumouriez, of whom I have already spoken, and who had for some time employed himself in distributing pamphlets. He was then at Stralsund; and it was believed that the King of Sweden would give him a command. The vagrant life of this general, who ran everywhere begging employment from the enemies of his country without being able to obtain it, subjected him to general ridicule; in fact, he was everywhere despised.

To determine the difficulties which had arisen with regard to Holland, which Dumouriez dreamed of conquering with an imaginary army, and being discontented besides with the Dutch for not rigorously excluding English vessels from their ports, the Emperor constituted the Batavian territory a kingdom under his brother Louis. When I notified to the States of the circle of Lower Saxony the accession of Louis Bonaparte to the throne of Holland, and the nomination of Cardinal Fesch as coadjutor and successor of the Arch-chancellor of the Germanic Empire, along with their official communications, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was the only member of the circle who forebore to reply, and I understood be had applied to the Court of Russia to know “whether” and “how” he should reply. At the same time he made known to the Emperor the marriage of his daughter, the Princess Charlotte Frederica, with Prince Christian Frederick of Denmark.

At this period it would have been difficult to foresee the way in which this union would terminate. The Prince was young and handsome, and of an amiable disposition, which seemed to indicate that he would prove a good husband. As for the Princess, she was as beautiful as love; but she was heedless and giddy; in fact, she was a spoiled child. She adored her husband, and during several years their union proved happy. I had the honour of knowing them at the period when the Duke of Mecklenburg, with his family, sought refuge at Altona. Before leaving that town the Duchess of Mecklenburg, a Princess of Saxony, paid a visit to Madame de Bourrienne and loaded her with civilities. This Princess was perfectly amiable, and was therefore generally regretted when, two years afterwards, death snatched her from her family. Before leaving Altona the Duke of Mecklenburg gave some parties by way of bidding adieu to Holstein, where he had been so kindly received; and I can never forget the distinguished reception and many kindnesses Madame de Bourrienne and myself received from that illustrious family.

It consisted of the hereditary Prince, so distinguished by his talents and acquirements (he was at that time the widower of a Grand Duchess of Russia, a sister of the Emperor Alexander), of Prince Gustavus, so amiable and graceful, and of Princess Charlotte and her husband, the Prince Royal of Denmark.

This happy couple were far from foreseeing that in two years they would be separated for ever. The Princess was at this period in all the splendour of her beauty; several fetes were given on her account on the banks of the Elbe, at which the Prince always opened the ball with Madame de Bourrienne. Notwithstanding her amiability the Princess Charlotte was no favourite at the Danish Court. Intrigues were formed against her. I know not whether any foundation existed for the calumnies spread to her disadvantage, but the Court dames accused her of great levity of conduct, which, true or false, obliged her husband to separate from her; and at the commencement of 1809 he sent her to Altona, attended by a chamberlain and a maid of honour. On her arrival she was in despair; hers was not a silent grief, for she related her story to every one. This unfortunate woman really attracted pity, as she shed tears for her son, three years of age, whom she was doomed never again to behold. But her natural levity returned; she did not always maintain the reserve suitable to her rank, and some months afterwards was sent into Jutland, where I believe she still lives.

The enemies of the French Government did not confine themselves to writing and publishing invectives against it. More than one wretch was ready to employ daggers against the Emperor. Among this number was a man named Louis Loizeau, recently arrived from London. He repaired to Altona, there to enjoy the singular privilege which that city afforded of sheltering all the ruffians, thieves, and bankrupts who fled from the justice of their own Governments. On the 17th of July Loizeau presented himself to Comte de Gimel, who resided at Altona, as the agent of the Comte de Lille. He offered to repair to Paris and assassinate the Emperor. Comte de Gimel rejected the proposal with indignation; and replied, that if he had no other means of serving the Bourbons than cowardly assassination he might go elsewhere and find confederates. This fact, which was communicated to me by a friend of M. de Gimel, determined me to arrest Loizeau. Not being warranted, however, to take this step at Altona, I employed a trusty agent to keep watch, and draw him into a quarrel the moment he should appear on the Hamburg side of a public walk which divides that city from Altona, and deliver him up to the nearest Hamburg guard-house. Loizeau fell into the snare; but finding that he was about to be conducted from the guardhouse to the prison of Hamburg, and that it was at my request he had been arrested, he hastily unloosed his cravat, and tore with his teeth the papers it contained, part of which he swallowed. He also endeavoured to tear some other papers which were concealed under his arm, but was prevented by the guard. Furious at this disappointment, he violently resisted the five soldiers who had him in custody, and was not secured until he had been slightly wounded. His first exclamation on entering prison was, “I am undone!” Loizeau was removed to Paris, and, though I am ignorant of the ultimate fate of this wretch, I am pretty certain that Fouche would take effectual means to prevent him from doing any further mischief.



Menaces of Prussia–Offer for restoring Hanover to England–Insolent ultimatum–Commencement of hostilities between France and Prussia– Battle of Auerstadt–Death of the Duke of Brunswick–Bernadotte in Hamburg–Davonet and Bernadotte–The Swedes at Lubeck–Major Amiel– Service rendered to the English Minister at Hamburg–My appointment of Minister for the King of Naples–New regulation of the German post-office–The Confederation of the North–Devices of the Hanse Towns–Occupation of Hamburg in the name of the Emperor–Decree of Berlin–The military governors of Hamburg–Brune, Michaud, and Bernadotte.

The moment now approached when war was about to be renewed in Germany, and in proportion as the hopes of peace diminished Prussia redoubled her threats, which were inspired by the recollection of the deeds of the great Frederick. The idea of peace was hateful to Prussia. Her measures, which till now had been sufficiently moderate, suddenly assumed a menacing aspect on learning that the Minister of the King of England had declared in Parliament that France had consented to the restitution of Hanover. The French Ministry intimated to the Prussian Government that this was a preliminary step towards a general peace, and that a large indemnity would be granted in return. But the King of Prussia, who was well informed, and convinced that the House of Hanover clung to this ancient domain, which gave to England a certain preponderance in Germany, considered himself trifled with, and determined on war.

Under these circumstances Lord Lauderdale was recalled from Paris by his Government. War continued with England, and was about to commence with Prussia. The Cabinet of Berlin sent an ultimatum which could scarcely be regarded in any other light than a defiance, and from the well-known character of Napoleon we may judge of his irritation at this ultimatum.

–[The severity with which Bonaparte treated the press may be inferred from the case of Palm the publisher. In 1808 Johann Phillip Palm, of Nuremberg, was shot by Napoleon’s order for issuing a pamphlet against the rule of the French in Germany.]–

The Emperor, after his stay of eight months in Paris passed in abortive negotiations for peace, set out on the 25th of September for the Rhine.

Hostilities commenced on the 10th of October 1806 between France and Prussia, and I demanded of the Senate that a stop should be put to the Prussians recruiting. The news of a great victory gained by the Emperor over the Prussians on the 14th of October reached Hamburg on the 19th, brought by some fugitives, who gave such exaggerated accounts of the loss of the French army that it was not until the arrival of the official despatches on the 28th of October that we knew whether to mourn or to rejoice at the victory of Jena.

The Duke of Brunswick, who was dangerously wounded at the battle of Auerstadt, arrived on the 29th of October at Altona.–[This Prince was in the seventy-second year of his age, and extremely infirm.]–His entrance into that city afforded a striking example of the vicissitudes of fortune. That Prince entered Altona on a wretched litter, borne by ten men, without officers, without domestics, followed by a troop of vagabonds and children, who were drawn together by curiosity. He was lodged in a wretched inn, and so much worn out by fatigue and the pain of his eyes that on the day after his arrival a report of his death very generally prevailed. Doctor Unzer was immediately sent for to attend the unfortunate Duke, who, during the few days that he survived his wounds, saw no one else except his wife, who arrived on the 1st of November. He expired on the 10th of the same month.

–[For the mistimed but rather pathetic belief of the old dying Duke in the courtesy with which he and his States would be treated by the French, see Beugnot, tome 1. p. 80: “I feel sure that there is a courier of the Emperor’s on the road to know how I am.”]–

At this juncture Bernadotte returned to Hamburg. I asked him how I was to account for his conduct while he was with Davoust, who had left Nuremberg to attack the Prussian army; and whether it was true that he had refused to march with that general, and afterwards to aid him when he attacked the Prussians on the Weimar road. “The letters I received,” observed I, “state that you took no part in the battle of Auerstadt; that I did not believe, but I suppose you saw the bulletin which I received a little after the battle, and which stated that Bonaparte said at Nuremberg, in the presence of several officers, ‘Were I to bring him before a court-martial he would be shot. I shall say nothing to him about it, but I will take care he shall know what I think of his behaviour. He has too keen a sense of honour not to be aware that he acted disgracefully.”–“I think him very likely,” rejoined Bernadotte, “to have made these observations. He hates me because he knows I do not like him; but let him speak to me and he shall have his answer. If I am a Gascon, he is a greater one. I might have felt piqued at receiving something like orders from Davoust, but I did my duty.”

–[The complaints of Bernadotte’s conduct on the 14th of October 1806. when he gave no assistance to Davoust in repulsing the main body of the Prussians at Aneratadt, are well known. Jomini says that Davoust proposed to Bernadotte to march with him, and even offered him the command of the two corps. Bernadotte refused, and marched away to Dornburg, where he was of no use, “his obstinacy, difficult to explain, nearly compromised both Davoust and the success of the battle;” See also Thiers (tome vii. p. 172), who attributes Bernadotte’s conduct to a profound aversion for Davoust conceived on the most frivolous grounds. Bernadotte had frequently given cause of complaint to Napoleon in the two campaigns of 1806 and 1806. In the movement on Vienna Napoleon considered he showed want of activity and of zeal. These complaints seem to have been made in good faith, for in a letter to Bernadotte’s brother-in-law, Joseph, Napoleon suggests that health may have been the causes (Du Cases, tome i. p. 322). Bernadotte was equally unfortunate in putting in his appearance too late at Eylan (see Due de Rovigo’s Memoirs, tome ii. p. 48), and also incurred the displeasure of Napoleon at Wagram (see later on).]–

In the beginning of November the Swedes entered Lubeck; but on the 8th of that month the town was taken by assault, and the Swedes, as well as the rest of the corps which had escaped from Jena, were made prisoners.

A troop of Prussians had advanced within four leagues of Hamburg, and that town had already prepared for a vigorous resistance, in case they should attempt an entrance, when Major Amiel attacked them at Zollenspieker and made some prisoners. Hamburg was, however, threatened with another danger, for Major Amiel expressed his intention of entering with all his prisoners, notwithstanding the acknowledged neutrality of the town. Amiel was a partisan leader in the true sense of the word; he fought rather on his own account than with the intention of contributing to the success of the operations of the army. His troop did not consist of more than forty men, but that was more than sufficient to spread terror and devastation in the surrounding villages. He was a bold fellow, and when, with his handful of men, he threw himself upon Hamburg, the worthy inhabitants thought he had 20,000 troops with him. He had pillaged every place through which he passed, and brought with him 300 prisoners, and a great many horses he had taken on his road. It was night when he presented himself at the gates of the city, which he entered alone, having left his men and booty at the last village. He proceeded to the French Embassy. I was not there at the time, but I was sent for, and about seven o’clock in the evening I had my first interview with the Major. He was the very, beau ideal of a bandit, and would have been an admirable model for a painter. I was not at all surprised to hear that on his arrival his wild appearance and huge mustachios had excited some degree of terror among those who were in the salon. He described his exploits on the march, and did not disguise his intention of bringing his troops into Hamburg next day. He talked of the Bank and of pillage. I tried for some time to divert him from this idea, but without effect, and at length said to him, “Sir, you know that this is not the way the Emperor wishes to be served. During the seven years that I have been about him, I have invariably heard him express his indignation against those who aggravate the misery which war naturally brings in her train. It is the express wish of the Emperor that no damage, no violence whatever, shall be committed on the city or territory of Hamburg.” These few words produced a stronger effect than any entreaties I could have used, for the mere name of the Emperor made even the boldest tremble, and Major Amiel next thought of selling his booty. The Senate were so frightened at the prospect of having Amiel quartered upon them that to get rid of him they determined to purchase his booty at once, and even furnished him with guards for his prisoners. I did not learn till some time afterwards that among the horses Major Amiel had seized upon the road were those of the Countess Walmoden. Had I known this fact at the time I should certainly have taken care to have had them restored to her. Madame Walmoden was then a refugee at Hamburg, and between her and my family a close intimacy existed. On the very day, I believe, of the Major’s departure the Senate wrote me a letter of thanks for the protection I afforded the town.

Before the commencement of the Prussian campaign, while anxiety was entertained respecting the designs of the Cabinet of Berlin, my task was not an easy one. I exerted all my efforts to acquaint the French Government with what was passing on the Spree. I announced the first intelligence of an unexpected movement which had taken place among the Prussian troops cantoned in the neighbourhood of Hamburg. They suddenly evacuated Lauenburg, Platzburg, Haarburg, Stade, Twisenfelth, and Cuxhaven. This extraordinary movement gave rise to a multitude of surmises. I was not wrong when I informed the French Government that, according to every probability, Prussia was about to declare hostilities against France, and to enter into an alliance with England.

I much regretted that my situation did not allow me more frequent opportunities of meeting Mr. Thornton, the English Minister to the circle of Lower Saxony. However; I saw him sometimes, and had on two different occasions the opportunity of rendering him some service. Mr. Thornton had requested me to execute a little private business for him, the success of which depended on the Emperor. I made the necessary communication to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, adding in my letter that Mr. Thornton’s conduct towards the French who had come in any way in contact with him had ever been just and liberal, and that I should receive great pleasure in being able to announce to him the success of his application. His request was granted.

On another occasion Mr. Thornton applied to me for my services, and I had once more the pleasure of rendering them. He wished to procure some information respecting an Englishman named Baker, who had gone to Terracina, in the Campagna di Roma, for the benefit of sea-bathing. He was there arrested, without any cause assigned, by order of the commandant of the French troops in Terracina. The family of Mr. Baker, not having heard from him for some months, became very uneasy respecting him, for they had not the least idea of his arrest. His relations applied to Mr. Thornton, and that gentleman, notwithstanding the circumstances which, as I have stated, prevented our frequent intercourse, hesitated not a moment in requesting me to furnish him with some information respecting his countryman. I lost no time in writing to M. Alquier, our Ambassador at Rome, and soon enabled Mr. Thornton to ease the apprehension of Mr. Baker’s friends.

I had every opportunity of knowing what was passing in Italy, for I had just been invested with a new dignity. As the new King of Naples, Joseph, had no Minister in Lower Saxony, he wished that I should discharge the function of Minister Plenipotentiary for Naples. His Ministers accordingly received orders to correspond with me upon all business connected with his government and his subjects. The relations between Hamburg and Naples were nearly nil, and my new office made no great addition to my labours.

I experienced, however, a little more difficulty in combining all the post-offices of Hamburg in the office of the Grand Duchy of Berg, thus detaching them from the offices of Latour and Taxis, so named after the German family who for a length of time had had the possession of them, and who were devoted to Austria.

After some days of negotiation I obtained the suppression of these offices, and their union with the postoffice of the Grand Due de Berg (Murat), who thus received letters from Italy, Hungary, Germany, Poland, part of Russia, and the letters from England for these countries.

The affair of the post-offices gained for me the approbation of Napoleon. He expressed his satisfaction through the medium of a letter I received from Duroc, who at the same time recommended me to continue informing the Emperor of all that was doing in Germany with relation to the plans of the Confederation of the North. I therefore despatched to the Minister for Foreign Affairs a detailed letter, announcing that Baron Grote, the Prussian Minister at Hamburg, had set off on a visit to Bremen and Lubeck. Among those who accompanied him on this excursion was a person wholly devoted to me; and I knew that Baron Grote’s object was to offer to these towns verbal propositions for their union with the Confederation of the North, which the King of Prussia wished to form as a counterpoise to the Confederation of the Rhine, just created by Napoleon. Baron Grote observed the strictest secrecy in all his movements. He showed, in confidence, to those to whom he addressed himself, a letter from M. Haugwitz, the Minister of the King of Prussia,

–[In July 1806, after Austerlitz, Napoleon had formed the “Confederation du Rhin.” to include the smaller States of Germany, who threw off all connection with the German Empire, and formed a Confederation furnishing a considerable army. ]–

–[The Emperor of Germany, Francis IL, had already in 1804, on Napoleon taking the title of Emperor, declared himself Hereditary Emperor of Austria. After the formation of the Rhenish Confederation and Napoleon’s refusal to acknowledge the German Empire any longer, he released the States of the Holy Roman Empire from their allegiance, declared the Empire dissolved, and contented himself with the title of Emperor of Austria, as Francis I.]–

who endeavoured to point out to the Hanse Towns how much the Confederation of the North would turn to their advantage, it being the only means of preserving their liberty, by establishing a formidable power. However, to the first communication only an evasive answer was returned. M. Van Sienen, the Syndic of Hamburg, was commissioned by the Senate to inform the Prussian Minister that the affair required the concurrence of the burghers, and that before he could submit it to them it would be necessary to know its basis and conditions. Meanwhile the Syndic Doormann proceeded to Lubeck, where there was also a deputy from Bremen. The project of the Confederation, however, never came to anything.

I scrupulously discharged the duties of my functions, but I confess I often found it difficult to execute the orders I received, and more than once I took it upon myself to modify their severity. I loved the frank and generous character of the Hamburgers, and I could not help pity the fate of the Hanse Towns, heretofore so happy, and from which Bonaparte had exacted such immense sacrifices.

On the principal gate of the Hanse Towns is inscribed the following motto, well expressing the pacific spirit of the people: ‘Da nobis pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris’. The paternal and elected government, which did everything to secure the happiness of these towns, was led to believe that the sacrifices imposed on them would be recompensed by the preservation of their neutrality. No distrust was entertained, and hope was kept alive by the assurances given by Napoleon. He published in the Moniteur that the Hanse Towns could not be included in any particular Confederation. He thus strangled in its birth the Confederation of the North, to which those feeble States would otherwise have been obliged to consent. When in 1806 Napoleon marched against Prussia, he detached Marshal Mortier from the Grand Army when it had passed the Rhine, and directed him to invade the Electorate of Hesse, and march on Hamburg. On the 19th of November the latter town was occupied by the French army in the name of the Emperor, amidst the utmost order and tranquillity.

I must acknowledge that I was under much apprehension as to this event. At the intelligence of the approach of the French army consternation was great and universal in Hamburg, which was anxious to maintain its neutrality unimpaired. At the urgent request of the magistrates of the city I assumed functions more than diplomatic, and became, in some respects, the first magistrate of the town. I went to meet Marshal Mortier to endeavour to dissuade him from entering. I thought I should by this means better serve the interests of France than by favouring the occupation of a neutral town by our troops. But all my remonstrances were useless. Marshal Mortier had received formal orders from the Emperor.

No preparations having been made at Hamburg for the reception of Marshal Mortier, he quartered himself and his whole staff upon me. The few troops he had with him were disposed of in my courtyard, so that the residence of a Minister of peace was all at once converted into headquarters. This state of things continued until a house was got ready for the Marshal.

Marshal Mortier had to make very rigorous exactions, but my representations suspended for a while Napoleon’s orders for taking possession of the Bank of Hamburg. I am here bound to bear testimony to the Marshal’s honourable principles and integrity of character. The representations which I had sent to Marshal Mortier were transmitted by the latter to the Emperor at Berlin; and Mortier stated that he had suspended the execution of the orders until he should receive others. The Emperor approved of this. It was, indeed, a happy event for France and for Europe, even more so than for Hamburg. Those who suggested to