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Title: Memoirs of the Empress Josephine, Vol. II of II
Author: Rémusat, Claire Élisabeth Jeanne Gravier de
Language: English
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                           M E M O I R S  O F
                T H E  E M P R E S S  J O S E P H I N E

                        BY  MADAME  DE  RÉMUSAT
                    _Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress_

                            V O L U M E  I I

                     _With a Special Introduction_
                          _and Illustrations_


                             N E W  Y O R K
                     P  F  C O L L I E R  &  S O N
                          P U B L I S H E R S

                             Copyright 1879
                       BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

                             Copyright 1910
                         BY P. F. COLLIER & SON


                                VOLUME  II

  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS                                              408

                               CHAPTER  XVI
  State of Paris during the War—Cambacérès—Le Brun—Mme. Louis
    Bonaparte—Marriage of Eugène de Beauharnais—Bulletins and
    Proclamations—Admiration of the Emperor for the Queen of
    Bavaria—Jealousy of the Empress—M. de Nansouty—Mme. de
    ——.—Conquest of Naples—Position and Character of the Emperor     409

                              CHAPTER  XVII
  The Death of Pitt—Parliamentary Debates in England—Public
    Works—Industrial Exhibition—New Etiquette—Performances at the
    Opéra House and at the Comédie Française—Monotony of the
    Court—Opinions of the Empress—Mme. Louis Bonaparte—Mme.
    Murat—The Bourbons—New Ladies-in-Waiting—M. Molé—Mme.
    d’Houdetot—Mme. de Barante                                       428

                              CHAPTER  XVIII
  The Emperor’s Civil List—His Household and its Expenses—Dress of
    the Empress and of Mme. Murat—Louis Bonaparte—Prince
    Borghese—Fêtes at Court—The Empress’s Family—Marriage of
    Princess Stéphanie—Jealousy of the Empress—Theatricals at
    Malmaison                                                        452

                               CHAPTER  XIX
  The Emperor’s Court—His Ecclesiastical Household—His Military
    Household—The Marshals—The Ladies—Delille—Chateaubriand—Mme. de
    Genlis—Romances—Literature—Arts                                  474

                               CHAPTER  XX
  _Senatus Consultum_ of the 30th of March—Foundation of Monarchies
    and Duchies—Queen Hortense                                       506

                               CHAPTER  XXI
  I go to Cauterets—The King of Holland—Factitious Tranquillity of
    France—M. de Metternich—The New Catechism—The Germanic
    Confederation—Poland—Death of Mr. Fox—War is declared—Departure
    of the Emperor—M. Pasquier and M. Molé—Session of the
    Senate—The Opening of Hostilities—The Court—Reception of
    Cardinal Maury                                                   528

                              CHAPTER  XXII
  Death of Prince Louis of Prussia—Battle of Jena—The Queen of
    Prussia and the Emperor Alexander—The Emperor and the
    Revolution—Court Life at Mayence—Life in Paris—Marshal
    Brune—Taking of Lubeck—The Princess of Hatzfeld—The Auditors of
    the State Council—Sufferings of the Army—The King of
    Saxony—Battle of Eylau                                           553

                              CHAPTER  XXIII
  The Return of the Empress to Paris—The Imperial
    Family—Junot—Fouché—The Queen of Holland—Levy of the Conscripts
    of 1808—Theatricals at Court—Letter from the Emperor—Siege of
    Dantzic—Death of the Empress of Austria—Death of Queen
    Hortense’s Son—M. Decazes—The Emperor’s Want of Feeling          576

                              CHAPTER  XXIV
  The Duke of Dantzic—Fouché’s Police—Battle of Friedland—M. de
    Lameth—Treaty of Tilsit—Return of the Emperor—M. de
    Talleyrand—The Ministers—The Bishops                             595

                               CHAPTER  XXV
  Vexations at Court—Friendship with M. de Talleyrand—General
    Rapp—General Clarke—Session of the Legislative Bodies—The
    Emperor’s Speech—Fêtes of the 15th of August—Marriage of Jérôme
    Bonaparte—Death of Le Brun—The Abbé Delille—M. de
    Chateaubriand—Dissolution of the Tribunate—The Court removes to
    Fontainebleau                                                    613

                              CHAPTER  XXVI
  The Power of the Emperor—Resistance of the English—The Emperor’s
    Life at Fontainebleau—Plays—Talma—King Jérôme—The Princess of
    Baden—The Grand Duchess of Berg—Princess
    Borghese—Cambacérès—Foreign Princes—Spanish Affairs—Previsions
    of M. de Talleyrand—M. de Rémusat is made Superintendent of
    Theatres—The Fortunes and the Difficulties of the Marshals       635

                              CHAPTER  XXVII
  Projects of Divorce                                                674

                             CHAPTER  XXVIII

  Return from Fontainebleau—The Emperor’s Journey in Italy—The
    Youth of M. de Talleyrand—Fêtes at the Tuileries—The Emperor
    and the Artists—The Emperor’s Opinion of the English
    Government—The Marriage of Mlle. de Tascher—Count
    Romanzoff—Marriage of Marshal Berthier—The University—Affairs
    of Spain                                                         693

                              CHAPTER  XXIX
  The War with Spain—The Prince of the Peace—The Prince of the
    Asturias—The Abdication of King Charles IV.—The Departure of
    the Emperor—His Sojourn at Bayonne—Letter of the
    Emperor—Arrival of the Princes in France—Birth of the Second
    Son of the Queen of Holland—Abdication of the Prince of the
    Asturias                                                         723

  CONCLUSION                                                         742
  POSTSCRIPT                                                         760

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

                               VOLUME  II

           _from the painting by L. J. Pott_

           _from the painting by F. Schommer_

           _from the painting by R. Eichstadt_

                            MEMOIRS  OF  THE
                           EMPRESS  JOSEPHINE

                              CHAPTER  XVI


I HAVE already described the dullness and depression of Paris during
this campaign, and the sufferings of every class of society from the
renewal of war. Money had become still more scarce; in fact, it attained
such a price that, being obliged to send some in haste to my husband, I
had to pay ninety francs merely for obtaining gold for a thousand-franc
bank-note. Such an opportunity of spreading and increasing the general
anxiety was, of course, turned to advantage by the malcontents. Warned
by former experience, and alarmed by the imprudence of certain
utterances, I held aloof from every one, seeing only my own friends and
persons who could not involve me in any difficulty.

When the Princes or Princesses of the Imperial family held their
receptions, I went, as did others, to pay my respects to them, and also
to the Arch-Chancellor Cambacérès, who would have been highly displeased
at any neglect. He gave grand dinners, and held receptions twice a week.
He resided in a large house on the Carrousel, which has since been
converted into the Hôtel des Cent Suisses.[1] At seven in the evening a
line of carriages would generally stretch across the Carrousel, and
Cambacérès would note its length from his window with delight. Some time
was occupied in getting into the courtyard and reaching the foot of the
staircase. At the door of the first reception-room an attendant
announced the guest’s name in a loud voice; this was repeated until the
presence-chamber was reached. There an immense crowd would be collected;
there were two or three rows of women; the men stood close together,
forming a sort of passage from one angle of the room to the opposite
corner. Up and down this walked Cambacérès with great gravity, covered
with decorations, and usually wearing all his orders and diamonds; on
his head an enormous powdered wig. He kept on making civil little
speeches right and left. When we felt quite sure he had seen us,
especially if he had spoken, it was the custom to retire, and thus make
room for others. We frequently had to wait a long time for our
carriages, and the surest way to be agreeable to Cambacérès was to tell
him, the next time, of the inconvenience caused by the numberless
vehicles in the Place all crowding toward his house.

Fewer persons went to the receptions of the Arch-Treasurer Le Brun, who
seemed to attach less importance to these outward observances, and lived
quietly. But, although he had not the foibles of his colleague, he was
also deficient in some of his qualities. Cambacérès was a kind-hearted
man; he received petitions graciously, and, if he promised to support
them, his word could be relied on. Le Brun’s only care was to amass a
fortune, which became considerable. He was a selfish, cunning old man,
who never did any good to anybody.

The member of the Imperial family whom I saw most frequently was Mme.
Louis Bonaparte. People came to her house of an evening to hear the

In December, 1805, a report having been spread that the English were
likely to descend on the Dutch coast, Louis Bonaparte received commands
to travel through Holland, and to inspect the Army of the North. His
absence, which gave a little more freedom to his wife, and was a relief
to his household, who held him in awe and aversion, enabled Mme. Louis
to pass her evenings pleasantly. Music and drawing at a large table in
the center of the _salon_ were the chief amusements. Mme. Louis had a
great taste for the arts: she composed charming ballads; she painted
well; she liked the society of artists. Her only fault, perhaps, was in
not maintaining the ceremonious demeanor in her house demanded by the
rank to which she had been elevated. She always remained on intimate
terms with her school-fellows, and with the young married women who
habitually visited her, and her manners retained something of the
freedom of those school-days. This gave rise to remark and censure.

After a long silence respecting the movements of the army, which
produced general uneasiness, Le Brun, aide-de-camp to the Emperor, and a
son of the Arch-Treasurer, was dispatched from the battle-field of
Austerlitz, and arrived one evening with news of the victory, of the
succeeding armistice, and of the well-founded hope of peace. The news
was announced at all the theatres, and posted up everywhere on the
following day. It produced a great effect, and dispelled the gloom and
apathy of Paris.

It was impossible not to be elated by so great a success, and not to
take the side of glory and of fortune. The French were carried away by
the description of the victory, to which nothing was wanting, since it
terminated the war; and this time again there was no need to prescribe
public rejoicing: the nation identified itself with the success of its

I look upon this period as the zenith of Bonaparte’s good fortune, for
his mighty deeds were made their own by the bulk of his people.
Afterward, doubtless, he increased in power and in authority, but he had
to bespeak enthusiasm, and, though he sometimes succeeded in enforcing
it, the efforts he was obliged to make must have lessened the value of
the applause.

In the midst of the pride and delight displayed by the city of Paris, it
may well be believed that the great bodies of the State and the public
officers did not neglect the opportunity of expressing the general
admiration in high-flown language. When we now read the speeches
delivered on the occasion in the Senate and the Tribunate, the orations
of prefects and mayors, the pastoral letters of bishops, one wonders if
it be possible that a human head should not be turned by such excess of
praise. Every glory of the past was to fade before that of Bonaparte;
the greatest names were to drop into obscurity; fame would thenceforth
blush at what she had formerly proclaimed, etc., etc.

On the 31st of December the Tribunate was assembled, and Fabre de
l’Aude, the President, announced the return of a deputation which had
been sent to the Emperor. Its members had brought back a glowing account
of the marvels they had witnessed. A great number of flags had also
arrived. The Emperor bestowed eight on the city of Paris, eight on the
Tribunate, and fifty-four on the Senate; the entire Tribunate was to
present the latter.

On the conclusion of the President’s speech, a crowd of tribunes rushed
forward to propose what was called _des motions de vœux_. One of them
moved that a gold medal should be struck; another, that a public
monument should be erected; that the Emperor should receive the honors
of a triumph, after the old fashion of imperial Rome; that the whole
city of Paris should go forth to meet him. “Language,” said one member,
“can not attain such height of grandeur, nor express the emotions it
calls forth.”

Carrion-Nisas proposed that, on the proclamation of the general peace,
the sword worn by the Emperor at the battle of Austerlitz should be
solemnly consecrated. Each speaker endeavored to surpass the others, and
certainly, during this sitting, which lasted several hours, all that
flattery could suggest to the imagination was exhausted. And yet this
very Tribunate was a source of anxiety to the Emperor, because it
contained in itself a semblance of liberty; and he subsequently
abolished it in order to consolidate his despotic power, even in the
smallest outward signs. When Bonaparte “eliminated” the Tribunate (this
was the technical expression for that measure), he did not shrink from
using these words: “This is my final break with the Republic.”

The Tribunate, having arranged to carry the flags to the Senate on the
1st of January, 1806, decided that on the same occasion it should be
proposed to erect a column. The Senate hastened to pass a decree to this
effect, and also decreed that the Emperor’s letter, which had
accompanied the flags, should be engraved on marble and placed in the
Hall of Assembly. The senators on this occasion rose to the height
attained by the tribunes.

Preparations were now made for the rejoicings which were to take place
on the return of the Emperor. M. de Rémusat sent orders, through me, for
the performance of various pieces containing appropriate passages at the
theatres. The Théâtre Français having selected “Gaston et Bayard,” some
slight changes were made by the police in certain lines that were deemed
inadmissible. The Opéra House prepared a new piece.

Meanwhile the Emperor, after receiving the signature of the peace, was
preparing to quit Vienna, and addressed its inhabitants in a
proclamation full of compliments, both to themselves and to their
sovereign. It ended thus:

    “I have shown myself little among you, not from disdain or a
    vain pride, but I did not wish to interfere with the feelings
    due to your sovereign, with whom it was my intention to make a
    prompt peace.”

We have already seen what were the Emperor’s real motives for remaining
in retirement at Schönbrunn.

Although, in point of fact, the French army had been kept under
tolerable discipline while in Vienna, there can be no doubt that the
inhabitants were overjoyed at the departure of the guests they had been
obliged to receive, to lodge, and to feed liberally. To give an idea of
the consideration with which our vanquished enemies were forced to treat
us, it will be sufficient to state that Generals Junot and Bessières,
who were quartered on Prince Esterhazy, were daily supplied from Hungary
with every delicacy of the table, including Tokay. This was due to the
generosity of the Prince, who defrayed the whole cost.

I recollect hearing M. de Rémusat relate that, on the arrival of the
Emperor at Vienna, the Imperial cellars were explored in search of this
same Tokay, and much surprise was expressed that not a single bottle was
forthcoming; all had been carefully removed by the orders of Francis.

The Emperor reached Munich on the 31st of December, and on the next day
proclaimed the Elector of Bavaria King. He announced this in a letter to
the Senate, in which he also made known his adoption of Prince Eugène,
and the marriage of the latter, which was to take place before the
Emperor’s return to Paris.

Prince Eugène hastened to Munich, having first taken possession of the
States of Venice, and reassured his new subjects, as far as possible, by
dignified and moderate proclamations.

The Emperor felt himself bound also to bestow some praise on the army of
Italy. A bulletin says: “The Italians have displayed great spirit. The
Emperor has frequently said: ‘Why should not my Italian people appear
gloriously on the world’s stage? They are full of intelligence and
passion; it will be easy henceforth to give them soldierly qualities.’”
He made a few more proclamations to his army, in his usual turgid style,
but they are said to have produced a great effect on the army.

He issued one decree which would have been good if it had been put into
execution. “We adopt,” he said, “the children of those generals,
officers, and privates who lost their lives at the battle of Austerlitz.
They shall be brought up at Rambouillet and at St. Germain, and placed
out in the world, or suitably married by our care. To their own names
they shall add that of Napoleon.”

The Elector, or rather the King, of Bavaria, is a younger son of the
house of Deux-Ponts, who came to the Electorate through the extinction
of that branch of his family which was governing Bavaria. In the reign
of Louis XVI. he was sent to France and placed in the King’s service. He
soon obtained a regiment, and resided for a considerable time either in
Paris or in garrison at one of our towns. He became attached to France,
and left behind him the recollection of much kindness of disposition and
cordiality of manner. He was known as Prince Max. He declined, however,
to marry in France. The Prince de Condé offered him his daughter; but
his father and his uncle, the Elector, objected to the match on the
grounds that Prince Max, not being rich, would probably have to make
canonesses of some of his daughters, and that the admixture in their
veins of the blood of Louis XIV. with that of Mme. de Montespan would be
an obstacle to their admittance into certain chapters.

When, at a later period, this Prince succeeded to the Electorate, he
always retained an affectionate remembrance of France, and a sincere
attachment to her people. Having become King by the will of the Emperor,
he took pains to prove his gratitude by a splendid welcome, and he
received all the French with extreme kindness. It may well be imagined
that not for one moment did he dream of declining the proposed marriage
for his daughter. The young Princess was then seventeen or eighteen
years of age, and possessed attractive qualities, as well as personal
charms. The marriage, which was due to political reasons, became the
source of uninterrupted happiness to Eugène. Princess Augusta of Bavaria
attached herself warmly to the husband chosen for her; she aided him in
no small measure to win the hearts of the Italians. With beauty, sense,
piety, and amiability, she could not fail to be tenderly beloved by
Prince Eugène, and at the present day they are settled in Bavaria, and
enjoy the happiness of a perfect union.

During the Emperor’s stay at Munich, he took it into his head, by way of
recreation after his labors of the past months, to indulge a fancy,
partly political, partly amorous, for the Queen of Bavaria. That
Princess, who was the King’s second wife, without being very beautiful,
was of an elegant figure and pleasing though dignified manners. I think
the Emperor pretended to be in love with her. The lookers-on said it was
amusing to watch the struggle between his imperious temper and rude
manners and the desire to please a Princess accustomed to that kind of
etiquette which is never relaxed in Germany on any occasion whatever.
The Queen of Bavaria contrived to exact respect from her strange
admirer, and yet seemed to be amused with his devotion. The Empress
considered her to be more coquettish than was desirable, and the whole
business made her anxious to get away quickly from the Bavarian Court,
and spoilt the pleasure she would otherwise have felt in her son’s

At the same time, Mme. Murat took offense because the new Vice-Queen,
who had become the adopted daughter of Napoleon, took precedence of her
on ceremonial occasions. She feigned illness in order to avoid what
seemed to her an affront, and her brother was obliged to get into a rage
with her, to prevent her from too plainly exhibiting her discontent. Had
we not actually witnessed the rapid rise of certain pretensions in those
who are the favorites of fortune, we should have been astonished at
these sudden bursts of temper in princes of so recent a date that they
could scarcely yet have become accustomed to the advantages and rights
appertaining to their rank. This spectacle we have, however, beheld so
frequently that we are not surprised, but merely admit that no human
passion is so easily aroused, or grows so rapidly, as vanity.

Bonaparte had always been well aware of this, and he used the knowledge
as his surest method of governing. While at Munich, he made many
promotions in the army. He gave a regiment of Carbineers to his
brother-in-law, Prince Borghese. He rewarded several officers by
promotion, or by the Legion of Honor. Among others, he created M. de
Nansouty, my brother-in-law, grand officer of the order. He was a brave
man, esteemed in the army, straightforward, and endowed with a keen
sense of duty, not very common, unfortunately, among our military
chiefs. He left behind him in a foreign country a reputation which is
very honorable to his family.

The Emperor’s military Court, encouraged by their master’s example, and,
like him, flushed with victory, took great pleasure in the society of
the ladies who had accompanied the Empress. It seemed as if Love was now
to have his share of power in a world which had hitherto somewhat
neglected him; but it must be admitted that not much time was allowed to
him for the establishment of his reign, and his attacks were of
necessity rather brisk.

We may date from this period the passion which the beautiful Mme. de
C—— inspired in M. de Caulaincourt. She had been appointed
Lady-in-Waiting in the summer of 1805. When quite young she had married
her cousin, who was at that time equerry to the Emperor, and she drew
all eyes on herself by her striking beauty. M. de Caulaincourt fell
desperately in love with her, and this feeling, which was for several
years more or less reciprocal, deterred him from thinking of marriage.
Mme. de C—— became more and more estranged from her husband, and at
last took advantage of the law of divorce. When the return of the King
condemned M. de Caulaincourt, otherwise the Duke of Vicenza, to a life
of obscurity, she resolved to share his ill fortune, and married him.

I have already said that the Emperor announced during this campaign his
consent to the evacuation of the kingdom of Naples by our troops; but
before long he again quarreled with the sovereign of that kingdom,
either because the King did not exactly carry out the treaty that had
been concluded with him, and was too much under the influence of the
English, who were continually threatening his ports, or because the
Emperor wished to accomplish his project of subjecting the whole of
Italy to his own authority. He also thought, no doubt, that it would be
his best policy to eject the house of Bourbon by degrees from the
thrones of the Continent. Be this as it may, according to custom, and
without any previous communication, France learned by an order of the
day, dated from the Imperial camp at Schönbrunn, 6th Nivôse, year 14,
that the French army was marching to the conquest of the kingdom of
Naples, and would be under the command of Joseph Bonaparte, who
accordingly repaired thither.

“We will pardon no longer,” so runs the proclamation. “The dynasty of
Naples has ceased to reign. Its existence is incompatible with the
repose of Europe and the honor of my crown. Soldiers, forward! . . . and
delay not to tell me that all Italy is subject to my laws or those of my

It is in this summary tone that Bonaparte, fresh from signing treaties
of peace, began another war, gave new offense to the sovereigns of
Europe, and incited the English Government to stir up fresh enemies
against himself.

On the 25th of January the Court of Naples, under the pressure of a
skillful and victorious enemy, embarked for Palermo, abandoning the
capital to its new sovereign, who would soon take possession of it.
Meanwhile the Emperor, having been present at the marriage of Prince
Eugène on the 14th of January, left Munich, and, having received on his
way through Germany the honors that were invariably offered him in every
place, reached Paris on the night of the 26th to the 27th of January.

I have thought it well to conclude here the history of what was to me
Bonaparte’s second epoch, because, as I said before, I look upon the
close of this first campaign as the highest pitch of his glory; and for
this reason, that now the French people again consented to bear their
share in it.

Nothing, perhaps, in the history of circumstances and of men, can be
compared to the height of power to which he attained after the peace of
Tilsit; but, if at that time all Europe bent before him, the spell of
victory had been strangely weakened in France, and our armies, although
consisting of our own citizens, were beginning to be aliens to us.

The Emperor, who often appreciated things with mathematical accuracy,
was well aware of this; for, on his return from concluding the above
treaty, I heard him say, “Military glory, which lasts so long in
history, is that which fades the quickest among its contemporaries. All
our recent battles have not produced in France half the effect of the
one victory of Marengo.”

Had he carried his reflections further, he would have seen that the
people who are governed need eventually a glory that will be of solid
use, and that admiration for that which bears but a barren brilliancy is
soon exhausted.

In 1806 England was again accused, rightly or wrongly, of inciting
enmity against us. Supposing her to be with justice jealous of our
returning prosperity, we did not think it impossible that she might
endeavor to molest us, even if we had in perfect good faith shown every
sign of intended moderation. We did not think the Emperor had been the
cause of the last rupture which had destroyed the treaty of Amiens; and,
as it seemed impossible for a long time to come to compete with the
naval power of the English, it did not appear to us to be politically
wrong to endeavor to balance the weight which commerce gave to our
enemies by the constitution given to Italy—that is, by a powerful
influence on the Continent.

With such feelings as these, the marvels of this three months’ campaign
could not fail to impress us deeply. Austria had been conquered; the
united armies of the two greatest sovereigns of Europe had fled before
ours; the Czar had retreated; the Emperor Francis had personally sued
for peace—a peace as yet bearing signs of moderation; kings had been
created by our victories; the daughter of a crowned sovereign had been
given in marriage to a mere French gentleman; finally, the prompt return
of the conqueror, which gave hopes of permanent peace, and perhaps also
a desire to retain our illusions respecting our master—a desire
inspired by human vanity, for men do not like to blush for him by whom
they are ruled—all these things again roused national admiration, and
were only too favorable to the ambition of the victor. The Emperor
perceived the progress he had made in popularity, and he concluded, with
some appearance of probability, that glory would make up to us for all
the losses we were about to sustain at the hands of despotism. He
believed that Frenchmen would not murmur were but their slavery
brilliant, and that we would willingly barter all the liberty that the
Revolution had so hardly won for us, for his dazzling military success.

Finally, and this was the worst, he saw in war a means of stifling the
reflections which his mode of government was sure sooner or later to
evoke, and he reserved it to dazzle us, or at least to reduce us to
silence. As he felt himself perfectly master of the science of war, he
had no fear of its results; and, when he could engage in it with such
immense armies and such formidable artillery, he felt there was scarcely
any danger to himself. Although in this I may be mistaken, I do believe
that, after the campaign of Austerlitz, war was rather the result of his
system than the gratification of his taste. The first, the real ambition
of Napoleon was for power, and he would have preferred peace if it could
have increased his authority. There is a tendency in the human mind to
bring to perfection anything with which it is exclusively occupied. The
Emperor, who was continually bent on increasing his power by every
possible means, and who was becoming accustomed to the exercise of his
own will on every occasion, became more and more impatient of the
slightest opposition. The European phalanxes were gradually giving way
before him, and he began to believe that he was destined to regulate the
affairs of every continental kingdom. He looked with disdain on the
progress of the age, regarding the French Revolution, which was so
solemn a warning to sovereigns, only as an event whose results he might
use to his own advantage; and he came to despise the cry for liberty
which for twenty years had been uttered at intervals by the people. He
was persuaded that he could, at any rate, trick them by accomplishing
the destruction of what had existed, and replacing it by sudden
creations, which would appear to satisfy that longing for equality which
he believed with reason to be the ruling passion of the time.

He tried to turn the French Revolution into a mere freak of fortune, a
useless disturbance which had merely upset individuals. How often has he
not made use of these specious words, in order to allay apprehension:
“The French Revolution need fear nothing, since the throne of the
Bourbons is occupied by a soldier!” And at the same time he would assume
toward kings the attitude of a protector of thrones—“for,” he would
say, “I have abolished republics.” Meanwhile he was dreaming of I know
not what half-feudal project, the execution of which must inevitably be
full of danger, since it drove him to war, and had besides the
deplorable effect of diminishing the interest he ought to have taken in
France itself. Our country soon ceased to be anything more to him than
one large province of that empire which he desired to bring under his
rule. Less interested in our prosperity than in our grandeur, which, in
point of fact, was only his own, he conceived the idea of making every
foreign sovereign a feudatory of his own power. He believed he should
attain to this by placing members of his family on the various thrones
which at the time actually sprang from himself; and we may assure
ourselves that this was really his project, by attentively reading the
form of oath which he exacted from the kings or princes created by him.
He sometimes said: “It is my intention to reach such a point that the
kings of Europe shall be forced, each one of them, to have a palace in
Paris; and, at the time of the coronation of an Emperor of the French,
they shall take up their residence in it, be present at the ceremony,
and render it more imposing by their homage.” This, it seems to me, was
a sufficiently plain declaration of his intention of renewing in 1806
the empire of Charlemagne.

But times were changed, and, as the light of knowledge spread, the
people became capable of forming a judgment as to the mode in which they
ought to be governed. Besides this, the Emperor perceived that the
nobles could never again exercise influence over the people, which had
often been an obstacle to the authority of our kings; and he conceived
the idea that it was from popular encroachment he must defend himself,
and that the spirit of the age required him to take a contrary course to
that which for centuries past had been the custom of kings.

It was the fact that, whereas formerly the nobles had almost always
hampered the royal authority, at the present time some intermediary
creation was needed by that very authority, which, in this age of
liberal opinions, would naturally lean to the side of the sovereign, and
retard the march of pretensions which, from being merely popular, had
now become national. From this came the reëstablishment of a nobility,
and the renewal of certain privileges which were always prudently
distributed among distinguished members of the ancient nobility, and
plebeians who had been ennobled by an act of the Imperial will.

All these things are a proof that the Emperor entertained this project
of a new kind of feudality fashioned in accordance with his own ideas.
But, besides the obstacles which England continually placed in his way,
there was another, absolutely inherent in his own character. There would
seem to have been in him two different men. The one, rather gigantic
than great, but nevertheless prompt to conceive and also prompt to
execute, laid from time to time some of the foundations of the plan he
had formed. This man, actuated by one single idea, untouched by any
secondary impression likely to interfere with his projects, had he but
taken for his aim the good of mankind, would, with such abilities as he
displayed, have become the one greatest man of the earth; even now he
remains, through his perspicacity and his strength of will, the most

The other Bonaparte, forming a kind of uneasy conscience to the first,
was devoured by anxiety, agitated by continual suspicion, a slave to
passions which gave him no rest, distrustful, fearing every rival
greatness, even that which he had himself created. If the necessity of
political institutions was made plain to him, he was struck at the same
moment by the rights which they must confer on individuals, and then,
gradually becoming afraid of his own handiwork, he could not resist the
temptation to destroy it piecemeal. He has been heard to say, after he
had restored titles of nobility and given inalienable possessions[2] to
his marshals: “I have made these people independent; but I shall know
how to reach them and prevent them from being ungrateful.” When seized
upon by this spirit of distrust of other men, he gave himself up to it
entirely, and thought only of how to create divisions among them. He
weakened family ties, and applied himself to promote individual rather
than general interests. Sole center of an immense circle, he would have
liked it to contain as many radii as he had subjects, that they might
meet nowhere save in him. This suspicious jealousy, which incessantly
pursued him, fastened like a canker on all his undertakings, and
prevented him from establishing on a solid foundation any of the schemes
which his prolific imagination was continually inventing.

After the campaign of Austerlitz he was so inflated with success, and
with the worship which the people, half dazzled and half subjugated,
paid to him, that his despotism became more than ever intensified. Every
citizen felt the yoke that was laid on him heavier; heads were bowed
almost perforce before his glory, but it was discovered afterward that
he had taken means to prevent their being lifted again. He surrounded
himself with new splendor in order to put a greater distance between
himself and other men. He copied, from German customs which he had
carefully observed, the whole etiquette of courts, which he made a daily
slavery, and no one was exempt from minute observances which he brought
to the utmost perfection.

It must be owned, however, that immediately after a campaign he was
almost obliged to take measures which would silence the clamorous
pretensions of his followers; and, when he had put these down, it did
not occur to him that he ought to treat with greater consideration the
other classes of citizens, of far less importance in his eyes. Military
men, still flushed with victory, would assume a haughty position from
which it was difficult to bring them down. I have kept a letter from M.
de Rémusat, written from Schönbrunn, which describes very exactly the
inflation of the generals, and the prudence that was required in order
to live peaceably with them. “The military profession,” he writes,
“gives to a man’s character a certain blunt sincerity, so that he does
not try to hide the meanest passions. Our heroes, who are accustomed to
open war with their enemies, acquire a habit of disguising nothing, and
see a battle-field in any opposition they may meet with, of whatever
kind. It is curious to hear them speak of civilians, and indeed,
afterward, to hear them discuss each other—each depreciating the deeds
of the others, attributing a large share of their success to luck;
blackening reputations which we outsiders had thought firmly
established; and, in their behavior to us, so puffed up with their newly
acquired glory that one needs much tact and many sacrifices of pride,
even of proper pride, to procure toleration from them.”

The Emperor noticed this somewhat belligerent attitude of the officers
of his army. He cared little that it was annoying to civilians, but he
would not have it reach a point which might be inconvenient to himself.
Therefore, while still at Munich, he thought proper to rebuke the
arrogance of his marshals, and on this occasion self-interest induced
him to use the language of reason. “Recollect,” he said, “that you are
to be soldiers only when with the army. The title of marshal is merely a
civil distinction, which gives you the honorable rank at my Court that
is your due, but it carries with it no authority. On the battle-field
you are generals; at Court be merely great nobles, belonging to the
State by the civil position I created for you when I bestowed on you the
title which you bear.”

This warning would have produced a greater effect had the Emperor ended
it with such words as these: “In camp or in Court, recollect that your
first duty everywhere is to be good citizens.” He should have held
similar language to all classes, to whom he was bound to be a protector
as well as a master; he should have spoken the same words to all
Frenchmen, and so have united them in a new equality, not adverse to
distinctions won by valor. But Bonaparte, as we have seen, was always in
dread of natural and generous ties, and the iron chain of despotism is
the only bond he employed, because it binds each man, as it were,
separately, leaving him no commerce with his fellows.


[1] This hotel was pulled down in the reign of Louis Philippe.—P. R.

[2] Majorats.

                             CHAPTER  XVII


WHEN the Emperor arrived in Paris, at the end of January, 1806, the
death of Pitt, at the age of forty-seven, had just occurred in England.
His loss was deeply felt by the English, and a truly national regret did
honor to his memory. Parliament, which had just opened, voted a large
sum to defray his debts, for he died leaving no fortune, and he was
splendidly buried in Westminster Abbey. When the new Ministry was
formed, Mr. Fox, his opponent, was made Foreign Secretary. The Emperor
looked upon the death of Pitt as a fortunate event for him, but he soon
perceived that English policy had not changed, and that the British
Government would not relax its endeavors to excite enmity against him
among the continental Powers.

During the month of January, 1806, the debates in the English Parliament
had been very warm. The Opposition, led by Mr. Fox, asked the Government
for explanations as to the carrying out of the late war; it asserted
that the Emperor of Austria had not been faithfully assisted, and that
he had been left to the mercy of the conqueror. The Ministers then laid
on the table the text of the conditions of the treaty between the
various Powers at the beginning of the campaign. This treaty proved that
subsidies had been granted to the coalition which had undertaken to
drive the Emperor from Hanover, Germany, and Italy, to replace the King
of Sardinia on the throne of Piedmont, and to secure the independence of
Holland and Sweden. The rapid victories of our troops had upset these
plans. The Emperor of Austria was blamed for having begun the campaign
too precipitately, without waiting for the arrival of the Russians; and
the King of Prussia, whose neutrality had been the principal cause of
the failure of the coalition, was especially blamed. The Czar’s anger
was roused, and he might have been tempted to punish this fatal
inaction, had not the lovely and fascinating Queen of Prussia interceded
between the two sovereigns. A rumor then arose in Europe that her beauty
had disarmed the Emperor of Russia, and that to it he had sacrificed his
just displeasure. Napoleon, who had subdued the King of Prussia by the
fear of his arms, thought it well to reward him for his neutrality by
handing over Hanover to him until the very uncertain epoch of general
peace. On his side, the King ceded Anspach to Bavaria, and abandoned in
favor of France his claims to the duchies of Berg and of Cleves, which
were bestowed shortly afterward on Prince Joachim, otherwise Murat.

The report laid before the English Parliament on the treaty of which I
speak was published in our newspapers, and accompanied, as may be
imagined, by remarks hostile to the continental Powers. The weakness of
those kings who place themselves at the mercy of the _shopkeepers_ of
Europe was deplored.

“If England,” so ran the comment, “should succeed in forming a fourth
coalition, Austria, who lost Belgium by the first, Italy and the left
bank of the Rhine by the second, Tyrol, Swabia, and the Venetian States
by the third, would by the fourth lose her own crown.

    “The influence of the French Empire on the Continent will secure
    the well-being of Europe, for with it will have begun the age of
    civilization, of science, of light, and of law. The Emperor of
    Russia has imprudently embarked, like a young man, in a
    dangerous policy. As to Austria, we must forget her faults,
    since she has suffered for them. However, it is right to say
    that if the treaty now made public in England had been known,
    perhaps Austria might not have obtained the terms which have
    been granted to her; and we may remark, in passing, that Count
    de Stadion, who concluded this treaty of subsidies, is still at
    the head of affairs under the Emperor Francis.”

These remarks, which were the expression of an ill-concealed irritation,
began to cause some little uneasiness in the early part of February, and
to make attentive observers fear that peace would not be of long

No treaty had been concluded with the Czar. Under pretext that he had
only acted as auxiliary to the Austrians, he refused to be included in
the negotiations; and I have heard it said that the Emperor, impressed
by this conduct, looked upon him, from that time forth, as the veritable
antagonist who would dispute with him the empire of the world. He always
endeavored to depreciate him as much as possible.

There is an order in Russia which can only be worn by a general whose
services have on some great occasion been useful to the empire. When
Alexander returned to his capital, the knights of this order came to
offer him the decoration. The Emperor declined it, replying that he had
not held the chief command during the campaign, and therefore had not
merited the honor, as he had only imitated the intrepidity of his brave
soldiers to the best of his ability.

While our journals praised his modesty, they added: “The Czar deserved
this decoration if, in order to wear it, it is sufficient to be in
command without being victorious. It is well known that it was not the
Emperor Francis who decided on joining battle at Austerlitz, still less
did he direct operations. Certainly, by accepting the decoration,
Alexander would have taken on himself the oversights of his generals;
but that would have been better than to attribute the defeat of the
Russians to a small number of Austrians, who fought with courage. They
did all that could have been expected of them by their allies.”

It was on the 2d of February that this article appeared in our public
prints; on the preceding day they had published the proclamation to the
Army of Italy, which announced the invasion of the kingdom of Naples.
Joseph Bonaparte, seconded by Marshal Masséna, was very shortly to
occupy the capital; Prince Eugène was taking possession of Venice. Thus
the whole of Italy was becoming dependent on the French Empire. On
another side, northern Germany was subject to us, the kings whom we had
set up bound themselves to our interests, and we were shortly to witness
another marriage, which would be likely to further the projects in which
the Emperor was secretly indulging.

On the occasion of his journey from Munich, he had made a few hours’
stay at Augsburg. While there, the former Elector of Trèves, uncle to
the King of Saxony, had presented to him the young Hereditary Prince of
Baden, who, confused and almost trembling in the presence of Napoleon,
had humbly implored the honor of alliance with him by a marriage with
some member of his family. The Emperor accepted this respectful request,
and promised to bear it in mind on his return to his own states.

Finally, he had just dispatched his brother Louis on an expedition to
Holland, in order to establish some acquaintanceship between the Prince
and a country which was soon to receive the Imperial command to erect a
throne for Louis on the wreck of the republic.

Such was the political situation of the Emperor. Such a position would
surely have satisfied any views less ambitious than his own, nor can it
be denied that he had made full use of the eighteenth month of his
reign, now just expired.

In France, party spirit seemed absolutely to have died out. All bent
under the yoke; no class could be indifferent to so much glory; and the
Emperor endeavored to increase the prestige which surrounded him still
further by numerous public works, simultaneously undertaken. As soon as
it became possible for him to divert his attention for a moment from
foreign affairs, he devoted it to the improvement of the finances of the
country, which had suffered during his absence. M. Barbé-Marbois,
Minister of the Treasury, having incurred his displeasure, was replaced
by M. Mollien, who was a skillful financier. The Emperor was ably
seconded by his Minister of Finance, Gaudin, whose perfect integrity and
sound knowledge sustained credit and improved the system of taxation.
Indirect taxes were ventured on to a greater extent than before; luxury,
which would render these taxes more productive, was encouraged; and the
heavy contributions which the Emperor had everywhere levied upon his
conquered enemies afforded him the means, without burdening his people,
of keeping up the strength of his army, and undertaking all the
improvements which were begun throughout France, as if by magic, at his

Roads over Mont Cenis and the Simplon were actively pushed on; bridges
were built, roadways repaired; a town was founded in Vendée; canals were
dug at Ourcq and at Saint Quentin; telegraphs (i. e., signals) were
established to accelerate correspondence; Saint Denis was about to be
repaired; the Vendôme column and the triumphal arch at the Carrousel
were commenced. A plan for embanking the Seine with new quays, and for
embellishing the whole neighborhood lying between the Tuileries and the
Boulevards, was adopted, and the work of demolition had already made
some progress. The Rue de Rivoli was planned, the colonnade of the
Louvre nearly completed; Lemot, the sculptor, was intrusted with the
decoration of the pediment. We could observe the gradual rise of the
Pont des Arts, and the commencement of the bridge near the Jardin des
Plantes, which was to bear the name of Austerlitz. The conservatories in
these gardens had been enriched with spoils from those of Schönbrunn;
scientific men were encouraged in the pursuit of fresh discoveries;
painters received orders for pictures to commemorate our victories; the
Academy of Music was encouraged; the first musical artists in Italy came
to France to direct our vocal music; literary men received pensions, and
large grants were made to actors; military schools were founded at
Fontainebleau and at Saint Cyr; and the Emperor himself inspected the
public schools of Paris. Finally, in order that the industry of the
nation might be encouraged in every branch at once, he conceived the
idea of an exhibition, to be held in the spring, and in commemoration of
the campaign, in which every product of industry, of whatever kind,
should be represented.

M. de Champagny, the Minister of the Interior, wrote a circular letter
to all the prefects, directing them to inform the departments over which
they presided that, on the 1st of May, there would be exhibited on the
Place des Invalides, under tents erected for the occasion, everything
deserving of notice in articles of use and of luxury. Trade was in this
manner awakened from the torpor in which it had been plunged by the war.
The Emperor ordered the splendor and the cost of his Court to be
increased. He gave his approval to the growing elegance of the women’s
dress, to the sumptuous decoration of his own palaces, and to that of
the houses of his sisters and his great nobles. The French nation, which
is naturally prone to vanity and extravagance, gave itself up to the
comforts and luxuries of life; and as for us, whose fortunes were but
annuities depending not only on the life but on the caprice of our
master, with an utter disregard of prudence, influenced by the example
of others and by the fear of displeasing him, we were ruled by the will
of Bonaparte alone in the use to which we put the greater or less sums
he distributed to us, and which he gave with the intention of subduing
rather than of enriching us.

I say _we_, and yet at this time neither M. de Rémusat nor I had any
share in his gifts. The cross of Saint Hubert had been given to my
husband as a recompense for his recent journey, but he never stood in
the full light of Imperial favor. As for myself, I led an unobtrusive
life in the midst of the Court, whose numbers were greatly augmented. To
speak frankly, although I had taken pleasure in the prominence assigned
to me by my masters when I first entered their service, the little
experience I had acquired warned me not to endeavor to regain any
position of importance, now that the interior of the palace was no
longer the same. I shall devote the following chapter to the details of
Court life, as it was now regulated, but I will return for the present
to my narrative of events.

Immediately on the Emperor’s return to his capital, he was congratulated
by the respective bodies of the State.

During his stay at Munich he had witnessed a German ceremonial, in which
the King and Queen of Bavaria, having taken their places on the throne,
received all the persons belonging to their Court, who passed before
them in succession, each making a low salutation. He desired to
establish a similar custom in France, and we received orders to prepare
for this new “etiquette.”

The fact is that, at that time, everything had to be constructed afresh.
Revolutionary liberty had suppressed all the rules of politeness. People
no longer knew how to salute each other when they met, and all we court
ladies suddenly discovered that the art of making a courtesy had been
omitted in our education. Despréaux, who had been dancing-master to the
last Queen, was thereupon summoned to give us lessons. He taught us how
to walk and how to bow; and thus a little boundary-line, trifling enough
in itself, but which acquired some importance from its motive, was drawn
between the ladies of the Imperial Court and those belonging to other
circles. We took with us into society ceremonious manners, which
distinguished us everywhere; for a spirit of opposition caused those
women who kept aloof from the new Court to retain the free and rather
abrupt manners which the absence of the habits of society had given
them. In France, opinions make themselves felt everywhere; they now
showed themselves in the different way in which a lady-in-waiting and a
lady from the Faubourg Saint Germain would enter a drawing-room. But,
putting motives aside, it must be owned that the advantage was ours.
This was evident after the return of the King: those ladies who had a
real right to be about him, either from the habit of freedom of manner
which they had acquired, or from the relief they affected to feel at
finding themselves on what great people call _their own ground_,
introduced at the Tuileries a bold manner and loud tones of voice, which
contrasted sharply with the quiet and graceful behavior that Bonaparte’s
punctilious etiquette had made habitual to us.

On an appointed day, therefore, the Emperor placed himself on his
throne, having the Empress on his left, the Princesses and the Lady of
Honor seated on court tabourets, and the grand officers standing on
either side. The ladies-in-waiting, the wives of the marshals, of the
great officials, and of the ministers, all in full court dress, then
came in slow procession to the foot of the throne, where they courtesied
in silence. They were followed by the gentlemen.

The ceremony was very long. At first the Emperor was delighted. He took
pleasure in etiquette, especially when invented by himself; but he ended
by being mortally wearied. Toward the end, every one was hurried past;
there was some difficulty in inducing him to remain on the throne until
the close, and he was almost angry with us for our share in a ceremonial
which he himself had imposed on us, in the exercise of his own will.

A few nights afterward he went to the Opéra, and was received with
applause by an immense crowd. A piece by Esménard, author of the “Poème
de la Navigation,” was given.

The scenery at the Opéra represented the Pont Neuf. Persons of all
nationalities were rejoicing together, and singing verses in honor of
the conqueror. The pit joined in the choruses; branches of laurel were
distributed throughout the house, and waved aloft with cries of “Vive
l’Empereur!” He was touched, as well he might be. It was, perhaps, the
very last time that public enthusiasm for him was spontaneous.

Shortly afterward the Emperor received a similar ovation at the Comédie
Française, but an unforeseen circumstance threw a slight shadow over the
evening. Talma was acting the part of Abner in the tragedy of “Athalie.”
During the performance Bonaparte received a messenger bringing the news
of the entry of the French troops into Naples. He immediately dispatched
an aide-de-camp to Talma, with orders to interrupt the play, and to
announce the news from the foot-lights. Talma obeyed, and read the
bulletin aloud. The audience applauded, but I remember thinking that the
applause was not so spontaneous as that we had heard at the Opéra.

On the following day our newspapers announced the fall of her whom they
designated as the modern Athalie; and the vanquished Queen was grossly
insulted, with total disregard of the social propriety that generally
enforces respect toward misfortune.

It was remarked shortly afterward that, on the opening of the
Legislative Assemblies, M. de Fontanes displayed great tact, when he
praised Bonaparte, in avoiding any insult to the fallen sovereigns whom
he had dethroned. He dwelt chiefly, in his eulogium, on the moderation
which had promoted peace, and on the restoration of the tombs in St.
Denis. M. de Fontanes’s speeches during this reign are, on the whole,
distinguished by propriety and good taste.

After having thus shown himself to the public and exhausted every form
of adulation, the Emperor resumed his life of hard work at the
Tuileries, and we our life of etiquette, which was regulated with
extreme precision. He began from this period to surround himself with so
much ceremonial that none of us thenceforth could be said to have any
familiarity with him. In proportion as the Court became more numerous,
it assumed a greater appearance of monotony, each one doing his own task
by clockwork; but no one thought of emancipating himself from the one
groove of thought belonging to a narrow circle of small duties. A daily
growing despotism, the fear we all felt of it—a fear which consisted
simply in our dread of receiving a rebuke for the smallest fault—and
the silence we observed on every subject, placed the various inhabitants
of the Tuileries on the same level. It was useless to have either
opinions or talents, for there was never any possibility of experiencing
a feeling of any kind, nor of exchanging an idea.

The Emperor, feeling secure of France, gave himself up to his grand
projects, and kept his eyes fixed on Europe. His policy was no longer
directed to securing his power over the opinions of his fellow citizens.
In like manner, he disdained the little successes of private life, which
we have seen him at an earlier period anxious to obtain; and I may say
that he looked upon his Court with the indifference which a complete
conquest inspires, when compared with one as yet unattained. He was
always anxious to impose a yoke on every one, and to succeed in this he
neglected no means to his end; but, from the moment he perceived his
power to be established, he took no pains to make himself agreeable.

The dependence and constraint in which he held the Court had at least
this one advantage: anything resembling intrigue was almost unknown. As
each individual was firmly convinced that everything depended on the
sole will of the master, no one attempted to follow a different path
from that traced out by him; and in our dealings with each other there
was a feeling of security.

His wife was almost in the same position of dependence as others. In
proportion as Bonaparte’s affairs increased in magnitude, she became a
stranger to them. European politics, the destiny of the world, mattered
little to her; her thoughts did not reach to heights which could have no
influence on her own fate. At this period she was tranquil as to her own
lot, and happy in that of her son; and she lived a life of peaceful
indifference, behaving to all with equal graciousness, showing little or
no special favor to any one, but a general good will. She neither sought
for amusement nor feared _ennui_; she was always gentle and serene, and,
in fact, was indifferent to nearly all things. Her love for her husband
had greatly declined, and she no longer suffered from the jealousy which
had in former years so much disturbed her. Every day she judged him with
greater clearness, and, being convinced that her greatest source of
influence over him consisted in the sense of restfulness imparted to him
by the evenness of her temper, she took pains to avoid disturbing him. I
have said long ago that such a man as he had neither time nor
inclination for much display of affection, and the Empress at this
period forgave him all the fancies which sometimes take the place of
love in a man’s life; nay, more, she became his confidante in these
little affairs.

On his return from Austerlitz, he again met Mme. de X——, but seemed to
take no notice of her. The Empress treated her precisely as she treated
others. It has been said that Bonaparte occasionally returned to his
former fancy for this lady; but, if so, it was so temporarily that the
Court barely perceived the fact, and, as it gave rise to no new
incident, it awakened no interest. The Emperor, who was convinced that
the influence of women had harmed the kings of France, was irrevocably
resolved that they should never be more than an ornament to his Court,
and he kept his resolution. He had persuaded himself, I know not how,
that in France women are cleverer than men, or at any rate he often said
so, and that the education they receive develops a certain kind of
ability, against which one must be on one’s guard. He felt, therefore, a
slight fear of them, and kept them at a distance on this account. He
exhibited a dislike of certain women’s temper which amounted to

He banished Mme. de Staël, of whom he was genuinely afraid, and shortly
afterward Mme. de Balbi, who had ventured on some jesting remarks
concerning himself. She had indiscreetly made these observations in the
hearing of a person whom I will not name, and who repeated all he had
heard. This individual was a gentleman and a Chamberlain. I mention the
fact in order to prove that the Emperor found persons in every class who
were willing to serve him in his own way.

We began to perceive, during the winter of this year, how unhappy Mme.
Louis was in her home life. Her husband’s tyranny was exercised in every
particular; his character, quite as despotic as his brother’s, made
itself felt throughout his household. Until now his wife had
courageously hidden the excess to which he carried his tyranny; but a
circumstance occurred which obliged her to confide some of her troubles
to her mother.

The health of Louis Bonaparte was very bad. Since his return from Egypt
he had suffered from frequent attacks of a malady which had so weakened
his legs and his hands that he walked with difficulty, and was stiff in
every joint. Every remedy known to medicine was tried in vain.
Corvisart, who was medical attendant to the whole family, advised him to
try, as a last resource, a disgusting remedy. He imagined that a violent
eruption on the skin would perhaps draw out the poison which had defied
other treatment. It was therefore decided that on the state bed of
Louis, under its embroidered canopy, should be spread the hospital
sheets of some patient suffering from the itch; and his Imperial
Highness placed himself between them, and even put on the sick man’s
night-shirt. Louis, who wished to hide this experiment from everybody,
insisted that nothing should be changed in the habits of his wife. They
usually slept in the same room, though not in the same bed; he had
always obliged her to pass the night near him on a small bed placed
under the same canopy. He imperatively commanded that she should
continue to occupy this bed, adding, in a spirit of strange jealousy,
that no husband should ever omit to take precautions against the natural
inconstancy of women. Mme. Louis, notwithstanding her disgust, submitted
in silence to this gross abuse of conjugal authority.

Meanwhile, Corvisart, who was in attendance on her, and who remarked a
change in her appearance, questioned her respecting the details of her
life, and obtained from her an admission of her husband’s strange fancy.
He thought it his duty to inform the Empress, and did not conceal from
her that, in his opinion, the atmosphere of Louis’s bedroom was very
unwholesome for his wife.

Mme. Bonaparte warned her daughter, who replied that she had thought as
much; but, nevertheless, she earnestly entreated her mother not to
interfere between her husband and herself. Then, no longer able to
restrain herself, she entered into particulars which showed how grinding
was the tyranny from which she suffered, and how admirable the silence
she had hitherto kept. Mme. Bonaparte appealed to the Emperor, who was
attached to his step-daughter, and he expressed his displeasure to his
brother. Louis coldly replied that, if his private affairs were
interfered with, he should leave France; and the Emperor, who could not
tolerate any open scandal in the family, and who was perhaps, like the
others, daunted by Louis’s strange and obstinate temper, advised Mme.
Louis to have patience. Happily for her, her husband soon gave up the
disgusting remedy in question, but he owed her a deep grudge for not
having kept his secret.

Had her daughter been happy, there was nothing at this time to disturb
the tranquillity of the Empress. The Bonaparte family, full of their own
affairs, no longer interfered with her; Joseph was absent and about to
ascend the throne of Naples; Lucien was exiled for ever from France; the
youthful Jérôme was cruising along our coasts; Mme. Bacciochi was
reigning at Piombino; and the Princess Borghese, alternating between
physic and dissipation, meddled with nobody. Mme. Murat only might have
caused annoyance to her sister-in-law, but she was engaged in promoting
her husband’s interests, to which the Empress made no opposition; for
she would have rejoiced greatly at Murat’s obtaining a principality
which would have removed him from Paris.

Mme. Murat used her utmost efforts, and was even importunate with the
Emperor, in order to attain her ends. She connived at his gallantries,
lent him her house on occasions when it was convenient to him to use it,
and tried to divert him by fêtes, and to please him by a display of
luxury according to his taste. She interested herself in every detail of
the etiquette that he wished to introduce, and assumed airs of dignity,
somewhat stilted perhaps, which induced him to declare that his sister
was in every respect fitted to be a queen. She neglected no means of
success, paid attention to Maret, who had gradually gained the sort of
influence that is acquired by assiduity, and flattered Fouché into a
zealous attachment to her interests. The understanding between Mme.
Murat and these two personages, who were both ill-disposed toward M. de
Talleyrand, increased the dislike of the latter to Murat; and, as at
this period he was in high favor, he often thwarted Mme. Murat’s plans.
Murat used to say, in the southern accent he never lost, “Would not
Moussu dé Talleyrand like me to be broken on the wheel!”

Murat, relying on his wife to further his interests, contented himself
with giving no cause of offense to the Emperor, behaved toward him with
entire submission, and bore his alternations of temper without
complaint. Brave to excess on the battle-field, he had not, it was said,
any great military talent; and when with the army he asked for nothing
but the post of danger. He was not wanting in quickness, his manners
were obliging; his attitudes and his dress were always rather
theatrical, but a fine figure and noble appearance saved him from
looking ridiculous. The Emperor reposed no confidence in him, but he
employed him, because he feared him in no wise, and because he could not
help believing in every kind of flattery. A certain sort of credulity is
not rarely combined in the same character with distrust; and those great
men who are the most suspicious by nature are not the least amenable to

On his return from the campaign of Austerlitz the Emperor distributed
further rewards to his generals. To some he gave considerable sums of
money, to reimburse them for the expenses of the campaign. General
Clarke was made Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, in recognition of
the manner in which he had fulfilled his duties as Governor of Vienna.
Hitherto Clarke had been treated with some coldness; the Emperor showed
him but little confidence, and accused him of retaining a secret
affection for the house of Orleans; but he succeeded in convincing
Bonaparte of his obsequious devotion. General Clarke, now Duc de Feltre,
has for the last three years played a somewhat conspicuous part, and it
may be well to give some particulars of his career.

His uncle, M. Shee, who was made Senator by the Emperor, and who is a
peer of France, was previous to the Revolution secretary-general to a
division of light cavalry, of which the Duke of Orleans was
colonel-general. He was accompanied by his nephew, Clarke, whom he had
sent for from the country. The young man found himself specially
attached to the house of Orleans, and it is on this account, perhaps,
that Bonaparte suspected him of private leanings toward that party. He
served the Revolution with zeal, and was even employed, in 1794 and
1795, by the Committee of Public Safety, in the war administration.

He accompanied Bonaparte into Italy, but haughty manners were
displeasing to the commander-in-chief. Later on he was sent as
ambassador to Tuscany, and remained there for a considerable time,
although he frequently applied for his recall and for employment in
France. On finally obtaining these, he applied himself to overcoming
Bonaparte’s prejudice against him: he flattered him assiduously,
solicited the favor of a post in his personal service, displayed the
absolute submission demanded by such a master, and was eventually made
Councilor of State and private secretary. He was very hard-working and
punctual, and never wanted recreation. He was narrow-minded and
unimaginative, but clear-headed. He accompanied the Emperor in the first
Vienna campaign, showed capacity as Governor of the city, and received a
first reward on his return. We shall hear of him later on as Minister of
War, and in every capacity as a man of second-rate ability. His
integrity has always been freely acknowledged; he amassed no fortune
except that which resulted from the savings of his various salaries.
Like M. Maret, he carried the language of flattery to its extreme

His first marriage was unhappy, and he obtained a divorce. He had one
daughter, a gentle and agreeable girl, whom he gave in marriage while he
was in office to the Vicomte Emery de Montesquiou-Fezensac, whose
military advancement, thanks to his father-in-law, was very rapid. This
young man is at the present time aide-major-general in the Royal Guards.
The Duc de Feltre’s second wife was an excellent but insignificant
woman. By her he had several sons.

Meanwhile, M. de Talleyrand’s friendliness toward M. de Rémusat brought
me into a closer acquaintance with him. He did not as yet visit at my
house, but I frequently met him, and wherever this occurred he took more
notice of me than formerly. He seldom missed an opportunity of praising
my husband, and thus he gratified the feelings dearest to my heart; and,
if I must speak the whole truth, he gratified my vanity also by seeking
me out on all occasions. He won me over to him by degrees, and my former
prejudice against him vanished. Yet he would sometimes alarm me by
certain expressions for which I was unprepared. One day I was speaking
to him of the recent conquest of Naples, and ventured to let him
perceive that I disapproved of our policy of universal dethronement. He
replied in the cold and deliberate tone that he knows so well how to
assume when he means to permit no reply, “Madame, we shall not desist
until there shall no longer be a Bourbon on a European throne.” These
words gave me pain. I thought little, I must admit, about our royal
family; but still, at the sound of the name of Bourbon, certain
recollections of my early days awakened former feelings that had faded
rather than disappeared.

I could not, at the present time, attempt to explain this feeling
without running the risk of being accused of insincerity, which is
absolutely foreign to my character. It may be thought that, remembering
the period at which I write, I want gradually to prepare the way for my
own return to those opinions which everybody now hastens to parade. But
this is not the case. In those days I admired the Emperor; I was still
attached to him, although less fascinated by him; I believed him to be
necessary to France; he appeared to me to have become her legitimate
sovereign. But all these feelings were combined with a tender reverence
for the heirs and all the kin of Louis XVI.; it pained me deeply when
fresh misfortunes were prepared for them and I heard them evil spoken
of. Bonaparte had often inflicted suffering of this kind on me. To a man
who only appreciated success, Louis XVI. must have seemed deserving of
little respect. He was entirely unjust toward him, and believed in all
the popular stories against him, which were the offspring of the
Revolution. When the conversation turned on that illustrious and
unfortunate King, I endeavored as soon as possible to change the

But to return. Such was M. de Talleyrand’s opinion at that time; I will
show by degrees, and when the time comes, how events subsequently
modified it.

During the winter the heir of the King of Bavaria came on a visit to our
Court. He was young, deaf, not very amiable; but he had very polished
manners, and he showed great deference toward the Emperor. He had
apartments at the Tuileries, two chamberlains and an equerry were placed
at his service, and every attention was paid to him.

On the 10th of February the list of ladies-in-waiting was increased by
the names of Mme. Maret, on the request of Mme. Murat, and of Mmes. de
Chevreuse, de Montmorency-Matignon, and de Mortemart.

M. de Talleyrand was an intimate friend of the Duchesse de Luynes, and
he induced her to make her daughter-in-law accept a place at Court. The
Duchess was greatly attached to Mme. de Chevreuse. The latter had very
pronounced opinions of her own, and every one of them distinctly opposed
to what was expected of her. Bonaparte threatened; M. de Talleyrand
negotiated, and, according to custom, obtained his way. Madame de
Chevreuse was pretty, although red-haired, and very witty, but
excessively spoiled by her family, willful and fantastic. Her health
even then was very delicate. The Emperor tried by coaxing to console her
for having forced her into the Court. At times he would appear to have
succeeded, and then at others she would take no pains to conceal her
dislike to her position. Her natural disposition gave her an attraction
for the Emperor, which others would have vainly endeavored to exert, the
charm of combat and of victory. For she would sometimes seem to be
amused with the fêtes and the splendor of the Court; and when she
appeared there in full dress and apparently in good spirits, then the
Emperor, who enjoyed even the smallest success, would laugh and say, “I
have overcome the aversion of Mme. de Chevreuse.” But, in reality, I do
not think he ever did.

The Baronne de Montmorency (now Duchesse de Montmorency), who was
extremely intimate with M. de Talleyrand, had been induced to join the
Court, partly by his persuasions, and partly by her wish to regain some
extensive forest-lands which were seized by Government during her
emigration, but had not yet been sold. Mme. de Montmorency was extremely
pleasant at Court; she demeaned herself without either pride or
subservience, appeared to enjoy herself, and made no pretense of being
there against her will. I think she found court life very agreeable, and
that possibly she may have regretted it. Her name gave her an advantage,
as it does in every place. The Emperor often said that he cared only for
the nobility of history, and he certainly paid it great honor.

This reminds me of an anecdote concerning Bonaparte. When he resolved on
reconstituting titles, he decided by a stroke of his pen that all the
ladies-in-waiting should be countesses. Mme. de Montmorency, who stood
in no need of a title, but found herself obliged to take one, asked for
the title of baroness, which, she said laughingly, suited her name so
well. “That can not be,” replied Bonaparte, laughing too; “you, madame,
are not a sufficiently good Christian.”

Some years later the Emperor restored to MM. de Montmorency and de
Mortemart a large portion of the fortune they had lost. M. de Mortemart,
declining to become an equerry on account of the too great fatigue of
the post, was made Governor of Rambouillet. We have all known the
Vicomte de Laval-Montmorency, father of the Vicomte Mathieu de
Montmorency, a Gentleman of Honor to Madame, Governor of Compiègne, and
one of the most ardent admirers of Bonaparte.

From this time forward there was increasing eagerness to belong to the
Emperor’s Court, and especially to be presented to him. His receptions
became very brilliant. Ambition, fear, vanity, love of amusement and
novelty, and the desire of advancement, caused a crowd of people to push
themselves forward, and the mixture of names and ranks became greater
than ever.

M. Molé joined the Government in the month of March of this year. He was
the heir and last descendant of Mathieu Molé, and was then twenty-six
years of age. He was born during the Revolution, and had suffered from
the misfortunes it caused. His father perished under the tyrannical rule
of Robespierre, and he became his own master at an early age. He made
use of his freedom to devote himself to serious and varied study. His
family and friends married him, at the age of nineteen, to Mlle. de la
Briche, heiress to a considerable fortune, and niece to Mme. d’Houdetot,
of whom I have already spoken. M. Molé, who was naturally of a grave
disposition, soon became weary of a merely worldly life, and, having no
profession, he sought to fill up his time by literary compositions,
which he showed to his friends. Toward the end of 1805 he wrote a short
treatise, extremely metaphysical and not very clear, on a theory of
authority and the will of man. His friends, who were surprised at the
research indicated by such a work, advised him to print the treatise.
His youthful vanity readily consented to this. The public looked
indulgently on the work on account of his youth; both depth and talent
were recognized in it, but, at the same time, a tendency to praise
despotic government, which gave rise to an impression that the author
aimed at attracting the attention of him who at that time held the
destinies of all in his hand. Whether this was really in the mind of the
writer, or whether he was horrified at the abuse of liberty, and for the
first time in his life believed his country to be at rest and in
security under the guidance of a strong will, I do not know. At any
rate, M. Molé gave his work to the public, and it made some sensation.

After the return from Vienna, M. de Fontanes, who had a great regard for
M. Molé, read the book to Bonaparte, who was greatly struck by it. The
opinions it advanced, the superior mind it attested, and the
distinguished name of Molé attracted his attention. He sent for the
author, and praised him as he well knew how; for he had great skill in
the use of words seductive to the young. He succeeded in persuading him
to enter into public life, promising him that his career should be rapid
and brilliant; and, a few days after this interview, M. Molé was
appointed one of the auditors attached to the Interior Section. He was a
familiar friend of M. d’Houdetot, his cousin, a grandson of her whom the
“Confessions” of J. J. Rousseau have made famous, and M. Molé persuaded
him to enter together with himself on the same career, M. d’Houdetot was
made auditor to the Naval Section. His father held a command in the
colonies, and was taken prisoner by the English on the capture of
Martinique. He had passed a part of his life in the Isle de France, and
returned, bringing with him a beautiful wife and nine children, five of
them girls. His daughters were all handsome; they are now living in
Paris. Some of them are married; one of them is Mme. de Barante, the
most beautiful woman in Paris at the present time.

The fusion that was spreading with so much rapidity brought about social
concord, by mingling the interests of all. M. Molé, for instance,
belonging on his own side to a very distinguished family, and on his
wife’s to people of rank—for Mme. Molé’s cousins were Mmes. de
Vintimille and de Fezensac—became a link between the Emperor and a
large circle of society. My intimacy with members of his family was of
old date, and I was glad to see them taking their share of the new
places which were within the reach of those who chose to take them.
Opinions abated in the face of self-interest; party spirit began to die
out; ambition, pleasure, and luxury drew people together; and every day
discontent was lessened.

If Bonaparte, who was so successful in conciliating individuals, had but
gone a step further, and, instead of governing by force alone, had
yielded to the reaction which longed for repose; if, now that he had
conquered the present moment, he had made himself master of the future,
by creating durable institutions independent of his own caprice—there
is little doubt but that his victory over our recollections, our
prejudices, and our regrets would have been as lasting as it was
remarkable. But it must be confessed that liberty, true liberty, was
wanting everywhere; and the fault of the nation consisted in not
perceiving this in time. As I have said before, the Emperor improved the
finances, and encouraged trade, science, and art; merit was rewarded in
every class; but all this was spoiled by the stamp of slavery. Being
resolved on ruling everything himself, and for his own advantage, he
always put himself forward as the ultimate aim. It is said that on
starting for the first campaign in Italy, he told a friend who was
editor of a newspaper: “Recollect in your accounts of our victories to
speak of _me_, always of _me_. Do you understand?” This “_me_” was the
ceaseless cry of purely egotistical ambition. “Quote _me_,” “Sing,
praise, and paint _me_,” he would say to orators, to musicians, to
poets, and to painters. “I will buy you at your own price; but you must
all be purchased.” Thus, notwithstanding his desire to make his reign
famous by gathering together every kind of prodigy, he neutralized his
efforts and ours by denying to talent that noble independence which
alone can develop invention or genius of any kind.

                             CHAPTER  XVIII


I THINK it will not be amiss at this point to devote a few pages to
the interior management of what was called “the Emperor’s household.”
Although, at the present time, his own private concerns and those of his
Court have even more completely passed away than his policy and his
power, still there will be perhaps some interest in an account of his
minute regulations of the actions and the expenditure of each person
belonging to the Court. He was always and in all things the same, and
this fidelity to the system he had irrevocably adopted is one of the
most singular sides of his character. The details I am about to give
relate to several periods of his reign; but from the year 1806 the rules
of his household were pretty nearly invariable, and the slight
modifications which they sometimes received scarcely altered the general
plan of their arrangement. I shall therefore sketch this general plan,
aided by the excellent memory of M. de Rémusat, who during ten years was
both a spectator and an actor in the scenes I am about to describe.

The civil list of France, under Bonaparte, amounted to a sum of
twenty-five millions; in addition to this, crown lands and forests
brought in three millions, and the civil list of Italy eight millions,
of which he granted four to Prince Eugène. From Piedmont, partly by the
civil list and partly by crown property, he received three millions;
after Prince Borghese had been appointed Governor, only half that sum.
Finally, four millions came from Tuscany, which were also afterward
shared with Mme. Bacciochi, when she became Grand Duchess of Tuscany.
The fixed revenue of the Emperor amounted, therefore, to 35,500,000

He kept at his own disposal the greater part of the sum allotted to the
secret service of foreign affairs, and also the eighteen hundred
thousand francs allotted to the theatres, of which barely twelve hundred
thousand were voted by the yearly budget for their support. He dispensed
the remainder in presents to actors, artists, men of letters, or even to
officers of his household.

The fund for the maintenance of the police, after subtracting the
expenses of the department, was also at his disposal; and this yielded a
considerable sum every year, being derived from the tax on
gaming-houses, which amounted to more than four million francs. He could
also dispose of the share that the Government had reserved to itself on
all newspapers, which must have brought in nearly a million francs; and,
finally, of the sum yielded by stamps on passports and on permits to
carry arms.

The sums levied during war were placed to the extraordinary credit, of
which Bonaparte disposed as he liked. He frequently retained a large
portion, which he made use of to supply the cost of the Spanish war, and
for the immense preparations for the Russian campaign. Finally, he
converted a considerable portion into specie and diamonds; these were
deposited in the cellars of the Tuileries, and defrayed the cost of the
war of 1814, when the destruction of public credit had paralyzed other

The utmost order prevailed in Bonaparte’s household; liberal salaries
were paid to every one, but all was so regulated that no official could
use for himself the sums that were intrusted to him.

His great officers received a fixed salary of forty thousand francs. The
last two years of his reign he endowed the posts of great officers with
a considerable income, besides the sums granted to the individuals who
filled them.

The posts of Grand Marshal, of Grand Chamberlain, and of Grand Equerry
were each endowed with one hundred thousand francs; those of High
Almoner and Grand Veneur with eighty thousand francs; that of Grand
Master of Ceremonies with sixty thousand. The Intendant and the
Treasurer each received forty thousand francs. M. Daru was the first
Intendant; he was succeeded by M. de Champagny when the latter retired
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The First Prefect of the Palace
and the Gentleman of Honor to the Empress each received thirty thousand

M. de Nansouty, my brother-in-law, was for some time First Chamberlain
to the Empress; but, this post having been abolished, he was made First
Equerry to the Emperor. The Lady of Honor received forty thousand
francs; the Mistress of the Robes, thirty thousand. There were eighteen
Chamberlains. Those of oldest date received either twelve, six, or three
thousand francs, varying according to a sum fixed by the Emperor every
year; the others were honorary. Bonaparte, moreover, regulated every
salary in his household annually, augmenting thereby the dependence of
us all by the uncertainty in which we were kept.

The Equerries received twelve thousand francs; the Prefects of the
Palace, or Maîtres d’Hôtel, fifteen thousand, and the Master of
Ceremonies a like sum. Each aide-de-camp received twenty-four thousand,
as an officer of the household.

The Grand Marshal, or Master of the Household, superintended all the
expenses of the table, of the domestic service, lighting and heating,
etc. These expenses amounted to nearly two millions.

Bonaparte’s table was abundant and well served. The plate was of silver
and very handsome; on great occasions the dinner service was of
silver-gilt. Mme. Murat and the Princess Borghese used dinner-services
of silver-gilt.

The Grand Marshal was the chief of the Prefects of the Palace; his
uniform was amethyst-colored, embroidered in silver. The Prefects of the
Palace wore the same colored uniform, less richly embroidered.

The expenditure of the Grand Equerry (Master of the Horse) amounted to
three or four millions. There were about twelve hundred horses. The
carriages, which were more ponderous than elegant, were all painted
green. The Empress had some equipages, among them some pretty open
carriages, but no separate stable establishment. The Grand Equerry and
the other Equerries wore a uniform of dark blue, embroidered in silver.

The Grand Chamberlain had charge of all the attendance in the interior
of all the palaces, of the wardrobe, the Court theatricals, the fêtes,
the chapel choir, of the Emperor’s Chamberlains, and of those of the
Empress. The expenditure on all these scarcely exceeded three millions.
His uniform was red, with silver embroidery. The Grand Master of
Ceremonies received little more than three hundred thousand francs; his
costume was of violet and silver. The Grand Veneur, or Master of the
Hunt, received seven hundred thousand francs: he wore green and silver.
The expenditure on the chapel was three hundred thousand francs.

The decorations of the apartments, as well as the care of the buildings,
was in charge of the Intendant. The expenses of these would amount to
five or six millions.

It will be seen that, on an average, the expenditure of the Emperor’s
household would amount to fifteen or sixteen millions of francs

In later years he built extensively, and the expenditure was increased.

Every year he ordered hangings and furniture for the various palaces
from Lyons. This was with a view to encouraging the manufactures of that
city. For the same reason he bought handsome pieces of furniture in
mahogany, which were placed in storerooms, and also bronzes, etc.
Porcelain manufacturers had orders to supply complete services of
extreme beauty.

On the return of the King, the palaces were all found to be newly
furnished, and the furniture stores quite full.

But, including all these things, the expenditure never exceeded twenty
millions, even in the most costly years, such as those of the coronation
and of the marriage.

Bonaparte’s expenditure on dress was put down on the budget at forty
thousand francs. Sometimes it slightly exceeded this sum. During
campaigns it was necessary to send him both linen and clothes to several
places at once. The slightest sense of inconvenience, or the smallest
difference of quality in the linen or cloth, would make him throw aside
a coat or any other garment.

He always said he wished to dress like a simple officer of his own
Guards, and grumbled continually at what, as he said, “he was made to
spend”; while, from his caprice or awkwardness, the entire renewal of
his wardrobe was constantly necessary. Among other destructive habits,
he had that of stirring the wood-fires with his foot, thereby scorching
his shoes and boots. This generally happened when he was in a passion;
at such times he would violently kick the blazing logs in the nearest

M. de Rémusat was for several years Keeper of the Wardrobe, receiving no
emoluments. When M. de Turenne succeeded to that post, a salary of
twelve thousand francs was awarded to him.

Every year the Emperor himself drew up a scheme of household expenditure
with scrupulous care and remarkable economy. During the last quarter of
each year the head of each department regulated his expenses for the
following twelvemonth. When this was accomplished, a council was held
and everything was carefully discussed. This council consisted of the
Grand Marshal, who presided, the great officers, the Intendant, and the
Treasurer to the Crown. The expenses of the Empress’s household were
comprised in the accounts of the Grand Chamberlain, on whose budget they
were entered. In these councils the Grand Marshal and the Treasurer
undertook to defend the Emperor’s interests. The consultation being
over, the Grand Marshal took the accounts to the Emperor, who examined
them himself, and returned them with marginal notes. After a short
interval, the council met again, under the presidency of the Emperor
himself, who went over each item of expenditure anew. These
consultations were generally repeated several times; the accounts of
each department were then returned to its chief, and fair copies of them
were made, after which they passed through the hands of the Intendant,
who finally inspected them, together with the Emperor, in presence of
the Grand Marshal. By these means all expenditures was fixed, and seldom
indeed did any of the great officers obtain the sums for which they had

Bonaparte’s hour for rising was irregular, but usually it was seven
o’clock. If he woke during the night, he would resume his work, or take
a bath or a meal. He generally awoke depressed, and apparently in pain.
He suffered frequently from spasms in the stomach, which produced
vomiting. At times this appeared to alarm him greatly, as if he feared
he had taken poison, and then it was difficult to prevent him from
increasing the sickness by taking emetics.

The only persons who had the right of entry into his dressing-room
without being announced were the Grand Marshal and the principal
physician. The Keeper of the Wardrobe was announced, but was almost
always admitted. He would have wished M. de Rémusat to employ these
morning visits in giving him an account of all that was said or done at
Court or in the city; but my husband invariably declined the task, and
persevered in his determination with praiseworthy obstinacy.

The other physicians or surgeons on duty might not come unless they were
summoned. Bonaparte seemed to put no great faith in medicine—it was
frequently a matter of jesting with him; but he had great confidence in
Corvisart, and much esteem for him. He had good health and a strong
constitution; but, when he suffered from any indisposition, he became
uneasy and nervous. He was occasionally troubled with a slight affection
of the skin, and sometimes complained of his liver. He ate moderately,
drank little, and indulged in no excesses of any kind. He took a good
deal of coffee.

While dressing, he was usually silent, unless a discussion arose between
him and Corvisart on some medical subject. In everything he liked to go
straight to the point, and, if any one was mentioned as being ill, his
first question was always, “Will he die?” A doubtful answer displeased
him, and would make him argue on the inefficiency of medical science.

He acquired with great difficulty the art of shaving himself. M. de
Rémusat induced him to undertake this task on seeing that he was uneasy
and nervous under the hands of a barber. After many trials, and when he
had finally succeeded, he often said that the advice to shave himself
with his own hand had been of signal service to him.

Bonaparte so thoroughly accustomed himself during his reign to make no
account of those about him, that this habitual disregard pervaded all
his habits. He had not any of the delicacy that is ordinarily imparted
by training and education, and would make his toilet in the most
thorough fashion in the presence of any person whomsoever. In the same
way, if he got impatient while his valet was dressing him, he would fly
into a passion, heedless of all respect for himself or others. He would
throw any garment that did not please him on the floor or into the fire.
He attended to his hands and nails with great care. Several pairs of
nail-scissors had to be in readiness, as he would break or throw them
away if they were not sufficiently sharp. He never made use of any
perfume except eau de Cologne, but of that he would get through sixty
bottles in a month. He considered it a very wholesome practice to
sprinkle himself thoroughly with eau de Cologne. Personal cleanliness
was with him a matter of calculation, for, as I said before, he was
naturally careless.

When his toilet was concluded, he went to his cabinet, where his private
secretary was in attendance. Precisely at nine o’clock, the Chamberlain
on duty, who had arrived at the palace at eight A. M., and had carefully
inspected the whole suite of rooms, that all might be in perfect order,
and seen that the servants were at their posts, knocked at the door and
announced the _levée_. He never entered the cabinet unless told to come
in by the Emperor. I have already given an account of these _levées_.
When they were over, Bonaparte frequently gave private audiences to some
of the principal persons present—princes, ministers, high officials or
prefects on leave. Those who had not the right of entry to the _levée_
could only obtain an audience by applying to the Chamberlain on duty,
who presented their names to the Emperor. He generally refused to see
the applicants.

The _levée_ and audiences would last until the hour of breakfast. That
meal was served at eleven o’clock, in what was called the _salon de
service_, the same apartments in which he held private audiences and
received his ministers. The Prefect of the Palace announced breakfast,
and remained present, standing all the time. During breakfast the
Emperor received artists or actors. He would eat quickly of two or three
dishes, and finish with a large cup of coffee without milk. After
breakfast he returned to his work. The _salon_ of which I have just
spoken was ordinarily occupied by the Colonel-General of the Guards on
duty for the week, the Chamberlain, the Equerry, the Prefect of the
Palace, and, on a hunting morning, one of the officers of the hunt.

The ministerial councils were held on fixed days. There were three State
councils a week. For five or six years the Emperor frequently presided
over them, his Colonel-General and the Chamberlain being in attendance
on him. He is said to have generally displayed remarkable ability in
carrying on or suggesting discussions. He frequently astonished his
hearers by observations full of luminousness and depth on subjects which
would have seemed to be quite beyond his reach. In more recent times he
showed less tolerance for others in these discussions, and adopted a
more imperious tone. The State council, or that of the Ministers, or his
own private work, lasted to six P. M.

After 1806 he almost always dined alone with his wife, except when the
Court was at Fontainebleau; he would then invite guests to his table. He
had all courses of the dinner placed before him at once; and he ate
without paying any attention to his food, helping himself to whatever
was at hand, sometimes taking preserves or creams before touching the
more solid dishes. The Prefect of the Palace was present during dinner;
two pages waited, and were assisted by the footmen. The dinner-hour was
very irregular. If there happened to be any important business requiring
his immediate attention, Bonaparte worked on, detaining the Council
until six, seven, or even eight o’clock at night, without showing the
smallest fatigue, or appearing to feel the need of food. Mme. Bonaparte
waited for him with admirable patience, and never uttered a complaint.

The evenings were very short. I have already said how they were spent.
During the winter of 1806 there were many small dancing entertainments
given, both at the Tuileries and by the Princes. The Emperor would make
his appearance at them for a few minutes, and always looked excessively
bored. The routine of the _coucher_ (retiring for the night) was the
same as it was in the morning, except that the attendants came in last
to receive orders. The Emperor in undressing and going to bed had no one
near him except the _valets de chambre_.

No one slept in his chamber. His Mameluke lay near the inner entrance.
The aide-de-camp of the day slept in the anteroom with his head against
the door. In the rooms on the other side of this _salon_ or anteroom, a
Marshal of the Home Guard and two footmen kept watch all night.

No sentinel was ever seen in the interior of the palace. At the
Tuileries there was one upon the staircase, because the staircase is
open to the public, and they were everywhere at the outer doors.
Bonaparte was very well protected by very few persons; this was the care
of the Grand Marshal. The police of the palace was extremely well
managed. The name of every person who entered its doors was always
known. No one resided there except the Grand Marshal, who ate there, and
whose servants wore the Emperor’s livery; but of these there were only
the _valets de chambre_ and the _femmes de chambre_. The Lady of Honor
had an apartment which Mme. de la Rochefoucauld never occupied. At the
time of the second marriage Bonaparte wished Mme. de Montebello to live
there altogether. In the time of the Empress Josephine the Comtesse
d’Arberg and her daughter, who had come from Brussels to be Lady of the
Palace, were always lodged in the palace. At Saint Cloud all the
attendants resided there. The Grand Equerry lived at the stables, which
were or are those of the King. The Intendant and the Treasurer were
installed there.

The Empress Josephine had six hundred thousand francs for her personal
expenses. This sum in no degree sufficed her, and she incurred many
debts annually. A hundred and twenty thousand francs were allowed her
for her charities. The Archduchess had but three hundred thousand
francs, and sixty thousand for her private purse. The reason of this
difference was, that Mme. Bonaparte was compelled to assist many poor
relations, whose claims on her were great and frequent. She having
certain connections in France and the Archduchess none, Mme. Bonaparte
was naturally obliged to spend more money. She gave much away, but, as
she never made her presents from her own resources, but bought
incessantly, her generosity only augmented her debts to an appalling

Notwithstanding the wishes of her husband, she could never submit to
either order or etiquette in her private life. He was unwilling that any
salesman of any kind should be received by her, but was obliged to
relinquish this point. Her small private apartments were crowded by
these people, as well as by artists of all kinds. She had a perfect
mania for being painted, and gave her pictures to whomsoever wanted
them—relations, friends, _femmes de chambre_, and even to her
tradespeople, who brought her constantly diamonds and jewels, stuffs and
gewgaws of all kinds. She bought everything, rarely asking the price,
and the greater part of the time forgot what she had bought. From the
beginning she had signified to her Lady of Honor and her Lady in Waiting
that they were not to interfere with her wardrobe. All matters of that
kind were arranged between herself and her _femmes de chambre_, of whom
she had six or eight, I think.

She rose at nine o’clock. Her toilet consumed much time; a part of it
was entirely private, when she lavished unwearied efforts on the
preservation of her person and on its embellishment, with the aid of
paint and powder. When all this was accomplished, she wrapped herself in
a long and very elegant peignoir trimmed with lace, and placed herself
under the hands of her hair-dresser. Her chemises and skirts were
embroidered and trimmed. She changed all her linen three times each day,
and never wore any stockings that were not new. While her hair was being
dressed, if we presented ourselves at her door, we were admitted. When
this process was finished, huge baskets were brought in containing many
different dresses, shawls, and hats. There were in summer muslin or
percale robes, much embroidered and trimmed; in winter there were
redingotes of stuffs or of velvet. From these baskets she selected her
costume for the day, and always wore in the morning a hat covered with
feathers or flowers, and wraps that made considerable drapery about her.
The number of her shawls was between three and four hundred. She had
dresses made of them, coverings for her bed, cushions for her dog. She
always wore one in the morning, which she draped about her shoulders
with a grace that I never saw equaled. Bonaparte, who thought these
shawls covered her too much, tore them off, and more than once threw
them in the fire; after which she would then send for another. She
purchased all that were brought to her, no matter at what price. I have
seen her buy shawls for which their owner asked eight, ten, and twelve
thousand francs. They were the great extravagance of this Court, where
those which cost only fifty louis were looked at disdainfully, and where
the women boasted of the price they had paid for those they wore.

I have already described the life which Mme. Bonaparte led. This life
never varied in any respect. She never opened a book, she never took up
a pen, and never touched a needle; and yet she never seemed to be in the
least bored. She was not fond of the theatre; the Emperor did not wish
her to go there without him, and receive applause which he did not
share. She walked only when she was at Malmaison, a dwelling that she
never ceased to improve, and on which she had spent enormous sums.

Bonaparte was extremely irritated by these expenditures. He would fly
into a passion, and his wife would weep, promising to be wiser and more
prudent; after which she would go on in the same way, and in the end he
was obliged to pay the bills. The evening toilet was as careful as that
of the morning. Everything was elegant in the extreme. We rarely saw the
same dresses and the same flowers appear the second time. In the evening
the Empress appeared without a hat, with flowers, pearls, or precious
stones in her hair. Then her dresses showed her figure to perfection,
and the most exquisite toilet was that which was most becoming to her.
The smallest assembly, the most informal dance, was always an occasion
for her to order a new costume, in spite of the hoards of dresses which
accumulated in the various palaces; for she had a mania for keeping
everything. It would be utterly impossible for me to give any idea of
the sums she spent in this way. At every dressmaker’s and milliner’s in
Paris, go in when we would, we were sure to find something being made
for her or ordered by her. I have seen several lace robes, at forty,
fifty, and even a hundred thousand francs each. It is almost incredible
that this passion for dress, which was so entirely satisfied, should
never have exhausted itself. After the divorce, at Malmaison, she had
the same luxurious tastes, and dressed with as much care, even when she
saw no one. The day of her death she insisted on being dressed in a very
elegant _robe de chambre_, because she thought that the Emperor of
Russia would come perhaps to see her. She died covered with ribbons and
pale rose-colored satin. These tastes and these habits on her part
naturally increased the expenses of those about her, and we found it
difficult at times to appear in suitable toilets.

Her daughter was dressed with equal richness—it was the tone of this
Court; but she had order and economy, and never seemed to take much
pleasure in dress. Mme. Murat and the Princess Borghese put their whole
souls into it. Their court dresses cost them generally from ten to
fifteen thousand francs; and they supplemented them by rare pearls and
jewels without price.

With all this extreme luxury, the exquisite taste of the Empress, and
the rich costumes of the men, the Court was, as may readily be imagined,
most brilliant. It may even be said that on certain days the _coup
d’œil_ was absolutely dazzling. Foreigners were much struck by it. It
was during this year (1806) that the Emperor decided to give occasional
concerts in the Hall of the Marshals, as a certain large hall, hung with
portraits of the Marshals, was called. These portraits are very likely
there now. This hall was lighted by an infinite number of candles, and
to it were invited all those persons who had any connection with the
Government and those who had been presented. Thus there were assembled
usually between four and five hundred persons.

After having walked through the saloons where all these people were
assembled, Bonaparte entered the hall and took his place at the end; the
Empress on his left, as well as the Princesses of his family, in the
most dazzling costumes; his mother on his right—still a very handsome
woman, with an air of great distinction. His brothers were richly
dressed, and they with foreign princes and other dignitaries were
seated. Behind were the grand officers, the chamberlains, and all the
staff, in their embroidered uniforms. Upon the right and the left, in
curved lines, sat two rows of ladies—the Lady of Honor, the Lady in
Waiting, and the Ladies of the Palace, almost all of them young, the
greater number of them pretty and beautifully dressed. Then came a large
number of ladies—foreigners and Frenchwomen—whose toilets were
exquisite beyond words. Behind these two rows of seated ladies were men
standing—ambassadors, ministers, marshals, senators, generals, and so
on—all in the most gorgeous costumes. Opposite the imperial chairs were
the musicians, and as soon as the Emperor was seated they executed the
best music, which, however, in spite of the strict silence that was
enjoined and preserved, fell on inattentive ears. When the concert was
over, in the center of the room, which had been kept vacant, appeared
the best dancers, male and female, from the opera, and executed a
charming ballet. This part of the entertainment of the evening amused
every one, even the Emperor.

M. de Rémusat had all these arrangements under his charge, and it was no
petty matter either, for the Emperor was extremely particular and
exacting in regard to the most trivial details. M. de Talleyrand said
sometimes to my husband, “I pity you, for you are called upon to amuse
the unamusable.”

The concert and the ballet did not last more than an hour and a half.
Then the assembly went to supper, which was laid in the Gallery of
Diana, and there the beauty of the gallery, the brilliancy of the
lights, the luxury of the tables, the display of silver and glass, and
the magnificence and elegance of the guests, imparted to the whole scene
something of the air of a fairy-tale. There was, however, something
lacking. I will not say that it was the ease which can never be found in
a court, but it was that feeling of security which each person might
have brought there if the powers that presided had added a little more
kindliness to the majesty by which they surrounded themselves.

I have already spoken of Mme. Bonaparte’s family. In the first years of
her elevation she had brought four nephews and a niece to Paris from
Martinique. These all bore the name of Tascher. For the young men
situations were found, and the young lady was lodged in the Tuileries.
She was by no means deficient in beauty, but the change of climate
affected her health, and rendered impossible all the plans which the
Emperor had formed for a brilliant marriage for her. At first he thought
of marrying her to the Prince of Baden; then for some time he destined
her for a prince of the house of Spain. At last, however, she was
married to the son of the Duke of Arenberg, who was of a Belgian family.
This marriage, so much desired by this family, who hoped from it to gain
great advantages, was in no degree a success. The husband and wife never
suited each other, and after a time their misunderstandings and
incompatibilities culminated in a separation which was without scandal.
After the divorce the Arenbergs, disappointed in their ambitious hopes
and plans, openly evinced their discontent at this alliance, and after
the King’s return the marriage was completely broken. Mme. de —— lives
to-day very obscurely in Paris.

The eldest of her brothers, after residing in France some two or three
years without being in the least dazzled by the honor of having an aunt
who was an Empress, began to grow very weary of the Court; and, having
no taste for military life, he yielded to his homesickness, and asked
and obtained permission to return to the colonies. He took some money
back with him, and, leading a calm life there, has probably more than
once congratulated himself on this philosophical departure. Another
brother was attached to Joseph Bonaparte, and remained in Spain in his
military service. He married Mlle. Clary, daughter of a merchant at
Marseilles, and niece of Mme. Joseph Bonaparte. A third brother married
the daughter of the Princess of Leyen. He is now with her in Germany.
The fourth brother was infirm, and lived with his sister. I do not know
what became of him.

The Beauharnais have also profited by the elevation of Mme. Bonaparte,
and continued to crowd about her. I have told how she married the
daughter of the Marquis de Beauharnais to M. de la Valette. The Marquis
was for a long time Ambassador to Spain; he is in France to-day. The
Comte de Beauharnais, the son of the lady who wrote poetry and novels,
had married early in life Mlle. de Lesay-Marnesia. From this marriage
sprang a daughter, who resided after her mother’s death with an old
aunt, who was very religious. The Comte de Beauharnais, marrying again,
never seemed to think of this young girl. Bonaparte made him Senator. M.
de Lesay-Marnesia, uncle to the young Stéphanie, suddenly recalled her
from Languedoc; she was fourteen or fifteen. He presented her to Mme.
Bonaparte, who found her very pretty and refined in all her little ways.
She placed her in Mme. Campan’s boarding-school, from which she emerged
in 1806 to find herself suddenly adopted by the Emperor, called Princess
Imperial, and married shortly after to the hereditary Prince of Baden.
She was then seventeen, with a most agreeable face, great natural
cleverness and vivacity, a certain childishness in her manner which
suited her well, a charming voice, lovely complexion, and clear, blue
eyes. Her hair was exquisitely blonde.

The Prince of Baden was not long in falling in love with her, but at
first his affection was not returned. He was young, but very stout; his
face was commonplace and inexpressive; he talked little, seemed always
out of place and bored, and generally fell asleep wherever he might be.
The youthful Stéphanie, gay, piquante, dazzled by her lot, and proud of
being adopted by the Emperor, whom she then regarded with some reason as
the first sovereign in the world, gave the Prince of Baden to understand
that he was greatly honored by her bestowing her hand upon him. In vain
did they seek to correct her ideas in this respect. She made no
objection to the marriage, and was quite ready to consent to its taking
place whenever the Emperor wished it; but she persisted in saying that
Napoleon’s daughter should marry a king or the son of a king. This
little vanity, accompanied by many piquant jests, to which her seventeen
years gave a charm, did not displease the Emperor, and in fact rather
amused him. He became more interested than before in his adopted
daughter, and precisely at the time he married her to the Prince he
became, with considerable publicity, her lover. This conquest finished
turning the head of the new Princess, and confirmed her in her
haughtiness toward her future husband, who sought in vain to please her.

As soon as the Emperor had announced to the Senate the news of this
marriage, the youthful Stéphanie was installed in the Tuileries, in an
apartment especially arranged for her, and there she received the
deputations from the governmental bodies. Of that from the Senate her
father was one. Her situation was certainly a little odd, but she
received all the addresses and feliciations without any embarrassment,
and replied extremely well. Having become the daughter of the sovereign,
and being a favorite in addition, the Emperor ordered that she should
everywhere follow next to the Empress, thus taking precedence of the
whole Bonaparte family. Mme. Murat was extremely displeased, who hated
her with a cordial hatred, and could not conceal her pride and jealousy.
Mademoiselle thought this very amusing, and laughed at it as she did at
everything else, and succeeded in making the Emperor laugh also, as he
was inclined to be amused at all she said. The Empress was much
displeased at this new fancy of her husband’s. She spoke seriously to
her niece, and showed her how wrong it would be for her not to resist
the efforts which Bonaparte was making to complete her seduction. Mlle.
de Beauharnais listened to her aunt’s counsels with some docility. She
confided to her certain attempts, sometimes extremely bold, made by her
adopted father, and promised to conduct herself with caution and
reserve. These confidences renewed all the former discord of the
Imperial household. Bonaparte, unchanged, did not take the trouble to
conceal his inclination from his wife, and, too sure of his power,
thought it extremely unhandsome in the Prince of Baden that he should be
wounded by what was going on under his very eyes. Nevertheless, the fear
of an outburst and the number of eyes fixed upon all the persons
concerned rendered him prudent. On the other side, the young girl, who
only wished to amuse herself, showed more resistance than he had at
first anticipated. But she hated her husband. The evening of her
marriage it was impossible to persuade her to receive him in her
apartment. A little later the Court went to Saint Cloud, and with it the
young pair. Nothing, however, could induce the Princess to permit her
husband to approach her. He complained to the Empress, who scolded her
niece. The Emperor, however, upheld her, and his own hopes revived. All
this had a very bad effect, which at last the Emperor realized; and at
the end of some little time—occupied with grave affairs, fatigued by
the importunity of his wife, struck by the discontent of the young
Prince, and persuaded that he had to do with a young person who only
wished to amuse herself by coquetting with him—he consented to the
departure of the Prince of Baden, who took his wife away with him. She
shed many tears at leaving France, regarding the principality of Baden
as a land of exile. When she arrived there she was received somewhat
coldly by the reigning Prince. She lived for a long time on bad terms
with her husband. Secret negotiations were sent from France to make her
understand how important it was to her that she should become the mother
of a Prince—an hereditary Prince in his turn. She submitted; but the
Prince, rendered frigid by so much resistance, now showed very little
tenderness toward her, and this marriage seemed destined to make them
both very unhappy. It was not eventually so, however; and we shall see
later that the Princess of Baden, having acquired a little more sense
with years, began at last to recognize her duty, and by her good conduct
succeeded finally in regaining the affection of the Prince, and enjoyed
the advantages of a union which she at first had so entirely

I have not as yet mentioned the fact that among the amusements of this
Court was an occasional theatrical representation—a comedy played at
Malmaison—which was no uncommon thing during the first year of the
Consulate. Prince Eugène and his sister had real talent in this
direction, and found great amusement in exercising it. At this time
Bonaparte too was greatly interested in these representations, which
were given before a limited audience. A pretty hall was built at
Malmaison, and we played there very often. But by degrees the rank of
the family became too exalted for this kind of pleasure, and finally it
was permitted only on certain occasions, like that of the birthday of
the Empress. When the Emperor came back from Vienna, Mme. Louis
Bonaparte took it into her head to have an appropriate little vaudeville
arranged in which we all played, and each sang a verse. A number of
persons had been invited, and Malmaison was illuminated in a charming
manner. It was somewhat of a trying ordeal to appear on the stage before
an audience like this, but the Emperor showed himself particularly well
disposed. We played well. Mme. Louis had, and was entitled to have, a
great triumph. The verses were pretty, the flattery delicate, and the
evening a complete success. It was really curious to observe the tone in
which each said in the evening, “The Emperor laughed, the Emperor
applauded!” and how we congratulated each other. I particularly, who
accosted him always with a certain reserve, found myself all at once in
a better position toward him, in consequence of the manner in which I
had fulfilled the part of an old peasant-woman who dreamed continually
that her hero did the most incredible things, and who saw events surpass
her wildest dreams. After the play was over, he paid me a few
compliments. We had played with our whole hearts, and he seemed somewhat
touched. When I saw him in this mood thus suddenly and unexpectedly
moved by emotion, I was tempted to exclaim, “Why will you not allow
yourself occasionally to feel and think like other men?” I felt a
sensation of intense relief on these rare occasions, for it seemed to me
that hope once more revived within me. Ah! how easily the great master
us, and how little trouble they need take to make themselves beloved!
Perhaps this last reflection has already escaped me, but I have made it
so often during the last twelve years of my life, and it presses so
heavily upon me whenever I look back upon the past, that it is by no
means extraordinary that I should express it more than once.

                              CHAPTER  XIX

BEFORE resuming the succession of events, I have a strong desire to
dwell a little on the names of those persons who at this time composed
the Court, and who occupied a distinguished position in the Government.
I shall not be able, however, to draw a series of portraits which can
vary enough, one from the other, to be piquant. We know very well that
despotism is the greatest of levelers. It regulates the thoughts, it
determines both actions and words; and the regulations to which all
submit are often so strictly observed that the exteriors are
assimilated, and perhaps even some of the impressions received.

I remember that during the winter of 1814 the Empress Maria Louisa
received a large number of persons every evening. They came to obtain
news of the army, in whose movements and plans every one was deeply
interested. At the moment when the Emperor, in his pursuit of the
Prussian General Blücher, left to the Austrian army leisure to advance
as far as Fontainebleau, Paris believed itself about to fall into the
power of strangers. Many persons met in the saloons of the Empress and
questioned each other with great anxiety. Toward the end of this evening
M. de Talleyrand came to call on me after leaving the Tuileries. He told
me of the anxiety which he had witnessed, and then said: “What a man,
madame, this must be, who can cause the Comte de Montesquiou and the
Councilor of State Boulay (de la Meurthe) to experience the same
anxiety, and to evince it in the same words!” He had found these two
persons with the Empress. They had both struck him by their pallor, and
both expressed their dread of the events which they began to foresee in
the future.

With few exceptions—either because chance did not gather round the
Emperor persons of any marked individuality, or because of the
uniformity of conduct of which I have just spoken—I can not recall many
purely personal peculiarities which deserve to be commemorated. Setting
the principal figures aside, as well as the events which I propose to
relate, I have but the names of the others to recount, the costumes
which they wore, and the duties with which they were intrusted. It is a
hard thing for men to feel that the sovereign to whom they are attached
has a thorough and universal contempt for human nature. Such a
consciousness saddens the spirits, discourages the soul, and compels
each man to confine himself to the purely material duties of his
position, which he ends by regarding as mere business. Each one of these
men who composed the Court and the Government of the Emperor had
undoubtedly a mind of his own, and especial feelings and opinions. Some
among them silently practiced certain virtues, others concealed their
faults and even their vices. But both appeared on the surface only at
the word of command, and, unfortunately for the men of that time,
Bonaparte believed that more was to be made out of the bad side of human
nature than from the good, and therefore looked for vices rather than
for virtues. He liked to discover weaknesses, and profited by them; and,
where there were no vices, he encouraged these weaknesses, or, if he
could do no better, he worked on their fears—anything to prove himself
always and constantly the strongest. Thus he was by no means ill pleased
that Cambacérès, though possessing estimable and distinguished
qualities, allowed his foolish pride to be seen, and gave himself the
reputation of a certain license of morals and habits which
counterbalanced the just admiration rendered to his cultivation and to
his natural probity. Nor did the Emperor ever deplore the indolent
immorality of M. de Talleyrand, his careless indifference, nor the small
value he placed on the esteem of the public. He was infinitely amused by
what he saw fit to call the silliness of the Prince de Neuchâtel, and
the servile flattery of M. Maret.

He took advantage of the avarice which he himself had developed in
Savary, and of the callousness of Duroc’s disposition. He never shrank
from the remembrance that Fouché had once been a Jacobin; indeed, he
said with a smile: “The only difference is that he is now a _rich_
Jacobin; but that’s all I want.”

His Ministers he regarded and treated as more or less efficient clerks,
and he used to say, “I should not know what to do with them if they were
not men of mere ordinary abilities and character.”

If any one had been conscious of real superiority of any kind, he must
needs have endeavored to hide it; and it is probable that, warned by an
instinctive sense of danger, everybody affected dullness or vacuity when
those qualities were not real.

Memoirs of this period will suffer from this remarkable feature of it,
which will give rise to a plausible, though unmerited, accusation
against the writers of being malevolent in their views, partial toward
themselves, and extremely severe toward others. Each writer will in
reality be able to tell his own secret only, but will have been unable
to penetrate that of his neighbor.

Ecclesiastical influence in the Emperor’s household was insignificant.
Mass was celebrated in his presence every Sunday, and that was all. I
have already spoken of Cardinal Fesch. In 1807 M. de Pradt, Bishop of
Poitiers, and subsequently Archbishop of Mechlin, made his appearance at
Court. He was clever and scheming, verbose but amusing, and fond of
gossip; he held liberal opinions, but he expressed them in cynical
language. He attempted many things without perfectly succeeding in any
one of them. He could, indeed, talk over the Emperor himself, and he may
perhaps have given him good advice; but, when he was appointed to put
his own counsels into action, nothing came of the attempt, for he
possessed neither the confidence nor the esteem of the public.

The Abbé de Broglie, Bishop of Ghent, was cunning, but also imprudent;
he obtained at a cheap rate the honor of persecution.

The Abbé de Boulogne, Bishop of Troyes, proved himself in those days as
eager to extol despotism as he now is to emerge from the obscurity to
which he has happily been reduced by the constitutional government of
the King.

Bonaparte made use of the clergy, but he disliked priests. He had both
philosophical and revolutionary prejudices against them. I do not know
whether he was a deist or an atheist, but he habitually ridiculed
everything connected with religion in familiar conversation; and,
besides, he was taken up too much with the affairs of this world to
concern himself with the next. I may venture to say, that the
immortality of his name was to him of much greater importance than that
of his soul. He had an antipathy to pious persons, and invariably
accused them of hypocrisy. When the priesthood in Spain stirred up the
people against him, when he met with opposition from the French Bishops
which did them honor, when the Pope’s cause was embraced by great
numbers, he was quite confounded, and said more than once, “I thought
men were more advanced than they really are.”

The military household of the Emperor was numerous, but, except in times
of war, its members had to discharge duties of a civil nature. Dreading
the recollections of the field of battle, he distributed the various
functions on another footing at the palace of the Tuileries. He made
chamberlains of the generals, and subsequently he obliged them to wear
embroidered uniforms, and to exchange their swords for court rapiers.
This transformation was displeasing to many of them, but they had to
submit, and, having been wolves, to become shepherds. There was,
however, a good reason for this. A display of military renown would, to
a certain extent, have eclipsed other classes whom it was necessary to
conciliate; military manners were by this expedient refined perforce,
and certain recalcitrant marshals lost some of their prestige while
acquiring the polish of court manners. They became, indeed, slightly
ridiculous by this apprenticeship—a fact which Bonaparte knew how to
turn to advantage.

I believe I may confidently state that the Emperor did not like any of
his marshals. He frequently found fault with them, sometimes in very
serious respects. He accused them all of covetousness, which he
deliberately encouraged by his gifts. One day he passed them all in
review before me. On Davoust he pronounced the verdict which I think I
have already mentioned: “Davoust is a man on whom I may bestow glory; he
will never know how to wear it.” Of Marshal Ney he said: “He is
ungrateful and factious. If I were destined to die by the hand of a
marshal, I would lay a wager that hand would be his.” I recollect that
he said he regarded Moncey, Brune, Bessières, Victor and Oudinot as men
of middling abilities, who would never be more than titled soldiers.
Masséna he looked upon as effete, but it was evident he had formerly
been jealous of him. Soult sometimes gave him trouble; he was clever,
rough, and vain, and he would argue with his master and dispute his
conditions. Bonaparte could rule Augereau, who was rather unpolished in
manner than obstinate. He was aware of Marmont’s vanity, which he might
wound with impunity, and of Macdonald’s habitual ill humor. Lannes had
been his comrade, and the Marshal would sometimes remind him of this: on
such occasions he would be gently called to order. Bernadotte had more
spirit than the others: he was continually complaining, and, indeed, he
often had cause for complaint.

The way in which the Emperor curbed, rewarded, or snubbed with impunity
men so proud and puffed up with military fame was very remarkable. Other
writers can relate with what wonderful skill he made use of these men in
war, and how he won fresh glory for himself by utilizing their fame,
ever showing himself, in very truth, superior to all others.

I need not give the names of the chamberlains; the Imperial Almanac
supplies them. By degrees their number became considerable. They were
taken from all ranks and classes. Those who were most assiduous and
least talkative got on best; their duties were troublesome and very
tedious. In proportion as one’s place was nearer to the Emperor, one’s
life became more burdensome. Persons who have had none but business
relations with him can have no adequate idea of the unpleasantness of
any that were closer; it was always easier to deal with his intellect
than with his temper.

Nor shall I have much to relate concerning the ladies of the period.
Bonaparte frequently said: “Women shall have no influence at my Court;
they may dislike me, but I shall have peace and quietness.” He kept his
word. We were ornamental at the fêtes, and that was about all.
Nevertheless, as it is the privilege of beauty never to be forgotten,
some of the ladies-in-waiting deserve a passing notice here. In Mme. de
Mottevelle’s Memoirs, she pauses to describe the beauties of her time,
and I must pass over in silence those of our own.

At the head of the Empress’s household was Mme. de la Rochefoucauld. She
was short and deformed, not pretty, yet her face was not unattractive.
Her large blue eyes, with black eyebrows, had a fine effect; she was
lively, fearless, and a clever talker; a little satirical, but
kind-hearted, and of a gay and independent spirit. She neither liked nor
disliked any one at Court, lived on good terms with all, and looked at
nothing very seriously. She considered she had done Bonaparte an honor
by coming to his Court, and by dint of saying so she persuaded others of
it, so that she was treated with consideration. She employed herself
principally in repairing her shattered fortunes, obtaining several
ambassadorships for her husband, and giving her daughter in marriage to
the younger son of the princely house of Borghese. The Emperor thought
her wanting in dignity, and he was right; but he was always embarrassed
in her company, for he had no idea of the deference due to a woman, and
she would answer him sharply. The Empress, too, was rather afraid of
her, for in her easy manner there was no little imperiousness. She
remained faithful to old friends who held opposite opinions to her own,
or rather to what we may suppose to have been her own, judging by the
post she occupied at Court. She was daughter-in-law to the Duc de
Liancourt, and she left the Court when the divorce took place. She died
in Paris, under the Restoration.

Mme. de la Valette, the Mistress of the Robes, was daughter to the
Marquis de Beauharnais. Her complexion had been slightly spoiled by
small-pox, but she had a pleasing though expressionless face. Her
gentleness almost amounted to inanity, and small vanities chiefly
occupied her thoughts. Her mind was narrow, her conduct was correct. Her
post was a complete sinecure, for Mme. Bonaparte allowed no one to
interfere with her dress. In vain did the Emperor insist that Mme. de la
Valette should make up accounts, regulate expenditure, and superintend
purchases; he was obliged to yield, and to give up the idea of
maintaining any order on these points, for Mme. de la Valette was
incapable of defending the rights of her place in opposition to her
aunt. She confined herself, therefore, to taking Mme. de la
Rochefoucauld’s duties when the latter absented herself on account of
illness. Everybody knows what courage and energy misfortune and conjugal
love subsequently developed in this young lady.

Chief among the Ladies of the Palace was Mme. de Luçay, who had held
that position longest. In 1806 she was no longer young. She was a gentle
and quiet person. Her husband was Prefect of the Palace; their daughter
married the younger son of the Count de Ségur, and has since died.

I come next on the list, and I feel inclined to make a little sketch of
myself; I believe I can do this truthfully. I was twenty-three when I
first came to Court; I was not pretty, yet not altogether devoid of
attraction, and I looked well in full dress. My eyes were fine, my hair
was black, and I had good teeth; my nose and face were too large in
proportion to my figure, which was good, but small. I had the reputation
of being a clever woman, which was almost a reproach at Court. In point
of fact, I lack neither wit nor sense, but my warmth of feeling and of
thought leads me to speak and act impulsively, and makes me commit
errors which a cooler, even though less wise, person would avoid.

I was often misinterpreted at Bonaparte’s Court. I was lively, and was
supposed to be scheming. I liked to be acquainted with persons of
importance, and I was accused of being ambitious. I am too much devoted
to persons and to causes which appear to me to have right on their side,
to deserve the first accusation; and my faithfulness to friends in
misfortune is a sufficient answer to the second. Mme. Bonaparte trusted
me more than others, and thereby put me into a difficult position;
people soon perceived this, and no one envied me the onerous distinction
of her friendship. The preference which the Emperor at first showed me
was a cause of greater jealousy. I reaped little benefit from his favor,
but I was flattered by it and grateful for it; and, so long as I felt a
regard for him, I sought to please him. When my eyes were opened, I drew
back; dissimulation is absolutely opposed to my character. I came to
Court too full of inquisitiveness. It seemed to me so curious a scene
that I watched it closely, and asked many questions that I might fully
understand it. It was often thought that I did this from design. In
palaces no action is supposed to be without a motive; “_Cui bono?_” is
said on every occasion.

My impetuosity frequently brought me into trouble. Not that I acted
altogether on impulse, but I was very young, very unaffected, because I
had always been very happy; in nothing was I sufficiently sedate, and my
qualities sometimes did me as much harm as my defects. But, amid all
this, I have met with friends who loved me, and of whom, no matter how I
may be circumstanced, I shall retain a loving recollection.

I soon began to suffer from disappointed hopes, betrayed affections, and
mistaken beliefs. Moreover, my health failed, and I became tired of so
arduous a life, and disenchanted both with men and things. I withdrew
myself as far as possible, and found in my own home feelings and
enjoyments that could not deceive. I loved my husband, my mother, my
children, and my friends; I should have been unwilling to give up the
peaceful pleasure I found in their society. I contrived to retain a kind
of liberty amid the numerous trivial duties of my post. Lastly, when I
approved of any one and when I ceased to do so, both states of mind too
plainly showed. There could be no greater fault in the eyes of
Bonaparte. He dreaded nothing in the world so much as that any one in
his circle should use their critical faculty with regard to him.

Mme. de Canisy, a great-niece of M. de Brienne, the former Archbishop of
Sens, was a beautiful woman when first she came to Court. She was tall
and well made, with eyes and hair of raven-black, lovely teeth, an
aquiline nose, and a rich brunette complexion.

Mme. Maret was a fine woman; her features were regular and handsome. She
seemed to live on excellent terms with her husband, who imparted to her
some of his own ambition. Seldom have I seen more unconcealed or more
solicitous vanity in any one. She was jealous of every distinction, and
tolerated superior rank in the Princesses only. Born in obscurity, she
aimed at the highest distinctions. When the Emperor granted the title of
countess to all the ladies-in-waiting, Mme. Maret felt annoyed at the
equality it implied, and, obstinately refusing to bear it, she remained
plain Mme. Maret until her husband obtained the title of Duc de Bassano.
Mme. Savary and she were the most elegantly dressed women at Court.
Their dress is said to have cost more than fifty thousand francs a year.
Mme. Maret thought that the Empress did not sufficiently distinguish her
from the others; she therefore made common cause with the Bonapartes
against her. She was feared and distrusted with some reason, for she
repeated things which reached the ear of the Emperor through her
husband, and did a great deal of harm. She and M. Maret would have liked
people to pay regular court to them, and many persons lent themselves to
this pretension. As I showed a decided objection to doing so, Mme. Maret
took an aversion to me, and contrived to inflict many petty annoyances
upon me.

Any one who chose to speak evil of others to Bonaparte was pretty sure
of gaining his ear; for he was always credulous of evil. He disliked
Mme. Maret; he even judged her too severely; nevertheless he chose to
believe all stories that came to him through her. I believe her to have
been one of the greatest sufferers by the fall of that great Imperial
scaffolding which brought us all to the ground.

During the King’s first residence in Paris, from 1814 to 1815, the Duc
de Bassano was accused, on sufficient grounds, of having carried on a
secret correspondence with the Emperor in the island of Elba, and kept
him informed of the state of feeling in France, so that he was induced
to believe he might once more offer himself to the French as their
ruler. Napoleon returned, and his sudden arrival clashed with and
thwarted the revolution which Fouché and Carnot were preparing. Then
these two, being obliged to accept Bonaparte, compelled him to reign
during the Hundred Days according to their own system. The Emperor
wished to take M. Maret, whom he had so many reasons for trusting, back
into his service; but Fouché and Carnot strongly objected to Maret, as a
man of no ability and only capable of blind devotion to his master’s
interest. Some idea of the state of bondage in which the men of the
Revolution kept the netted lion at this period may be gathered from the
answer that Carnot ventured to make when the Emperor proposed putting M.
Maret into the Government “No, certainly not; the French do not wish to
see _two Blacas_ in one year”—alluding to the Count de Blacas, whom the
King had brought with him from England, and who had all the influence of
a favorite.

On the second fall of Bonaparte, Maret and his wife hastened to leave
Paris. M. Maret was exiled, and they repaired to Berlin. For the last
few months Mme. Maret has been again in Paris, endeavoring to obtain the
recall of her husband. It is not unlikely she may succeed, such is the
kindness of the King.

Pride of rank was not confined to Mme. Maret alone. Mme. Ney also
possessed it. She was niece to Mme. Campan, first dresser to Marie
Antoinette, and daughter of Mme. Augué, also one of the Queen’s
dressers, and she had been tolerably well educated. She was a mild,
kind-hearted woman, but her head was a little turned by the honors to
which she attained. She occasionally displayed a pretentiousness which,
after all, was not inexcusable, for she based it on the great military
renown of her husband, whose own pride was sufficiently self-asserting.
Mme. Ney, afterward Duchesse d’Elchingen, and later Princesse de la
Moskowa, was in reality a very good, quiet woman, incapable of speaking
or doing evil, and perhaps as incapable of saying or doing anything
good. She enjoyed the privileges of her rank to the full, especially in
the society of inferiors. She was much aggrieved at the Restoration by
certain differences in her position, and by the disdain of the ladies of
the royal Court. She complained to her husband, and may have contributed
not a little to irritate him against the new state of things, which,
though not altogether ousting him, laid them both open to little daily
humiliations, quite unintentionally on the part of the King. On the
death of her husband she took up her abode in Italy with three or four
sons. Her means were much smaller than might have been supposed, and she
had acquired habits of great luxury. I have seen her start for a
watering-place, taking with her a whole household, so as to be waited on
according to her liking. She took a bedstead, articles of furniture, a
service of traveling-plate made expressly for her, a train of
_fourgons_, and a number of couriers; and she would affirm that the wife
of a marshal of France could not travel otherwise. Her house was
magnificently appointed; the purchase and furnishing cost eleven hundred
thousand francs. Mme. Ney was tall and slight; her features were rather
large, her eyes fine. Her expression was mild and pleasant, and her
voice very sweet.

Mme. Lannes, afterward Duchesse de Montebello, was another of our
beauties. There was something virginal in her face; her features were
pure and regular, her skin was of a delicate fairness. She was a good
wife and an excellent mother, and was always cold, reserved, and silent
in society. The Emperor appointed her Lady of Honor to the Archduchess,
who became passionately fond of her, and whom she completely governed.
She accompanied the Archduchess on her return to Vienna, and then came
back to Paris, where she now lives in retirement, entirely devoted to
her children.

The number of the ladies-in-waiting became by degrees considerable, but,
on the whole, there is little to be said about so many women, all
playing so small a part. I have already spoken of Mmes. de Montmorency,
de Mortemart, and de Chevreuse. There remains for me simply to name
Mmes. de Talhouët, Lauriston, de Colbert, Marescot, etc. These were
quiet, amiable persons, of ordinary appearance, no longer young. The
same might be said of a number of Italians and Belgians who came to
Paris for their two months of Court attendance, and who were all more or
less silent and apparently out of their element. In general sufficient
regard was paid to youth and beauty in the selection of the
ladies-in-waiting; they were always placed with extreme care. Some of
them lived in this Court silent and indifferent; others received its
homages with more or less ease and pleasure. Everything was done
quietly, because Bonaparte willed that such should be the case. He had
prudish caprices at times either in regard to himself or others. He
objected to any demonstrations of friendship or dislike. In a life that
was so busy, so regulated and disciplined, there was not much chance for
either the one or the other.

Among the persons of whom the Emperor had composed the various
households of his family, there were also ladies of distinction; but at
Court they were of still less importance than ourselves.

I am inclined to believe that life was rather dreary under his mother’s
roof. With Mme. Joseph Bonaparte it was simple and easy. Mme. Louis
Bonaparte gathered about her her old school companions, and kept up with
them, so far as lay in her power, the familiarity of their youth. At
Mme. Murat’s, although a trifle stiff and stilted, things were carefully
regulated with order and discipline. Public opinion stigmatized the
Princess Borghese; her conduct cast an unfortunate reflection upon the
young and pretty women who formed her court.

It may not be useless to linger here for a little, to say a few words in
regard to those persons who were at this time distinguished in
literature and art, and to the works which appeared from the foundation
of the Consulate up to this year, 1806. Among the former I find four of
whom I can speak with some detail.

Jacques Delille, whom we more generally know under the title of the Abbé
de Delille, had seen the best years of his life pass away in the times
which preceded our Revolution. He united to brilliant talents the charms
of sweetness of temper and agreeable manners. He acquired the title of
Abbé because in those days it conferred a certain rank; he dropped it
after the Revolution to marry a woman of good family, commonplace, and
by no means agreeable, but whose ministrations had become essential to
him. Always received in the best society of Paris, highly regarded by
Queen Marie Antoinette, overwhelmed by kindness from the Comte d’Artois,
he knew only the pleasant side of the life of a man of letters. He was
petted and made much of; his grace and simplicity of soul were very
remarkable; the magic of his diction was incomparable; when he recited
verses every one was eager for the pleasure of hearing him. The bloody
scenes of the Revolution appalled this young and tender nature; he
emigrated, and met everywhere in Europe with a reception so warm that it
consoled him for his exile. However, when Bonaparte had reëstablished
order in France, M. Delille wished to return to his native land, and he
came back to Paris with his wife. He had grown old and was nearly blind,
but always delightful, and teeming with fine works which he meant to
publish in his own country. Again did all literary people crowd about
him, and Bonaparte himself made some advances. The professor’s chair in
which he had inculcated with so much talent the principles of French
literature was restored to him, and pensions were offered him as the
price of a few laudatory verses. But M. Delille, desiring to preserve
the liberty of the recollections which attached him irrevocably to the
house of Bourbon, withdrew to a retired part of the city, and thus
escaped both caresses and offers. He gave himself up exclusively to
work, and answered every one with his own lines from “L’Homme des

        “Auguste triomphant pour Virgile fut juste.
        J’imitai le poète, imitez-donc Auguste,
        Et laissez-moi sans nom, sans fortune, et sans fers,
        Rêver au bruit des eaux, de la lyre et des vers.”

If Bonaparte was offended by this resistance, he never showed it; esteem
and general affection were the ægis which protected the amiable poet. He
lived, therefore, a serene and tranquil life, and died too soon, since,
with the sentiments he had preserved, he would have rejoiced at the
return of the Princes whom he had never ceased to love.

In the times when Bonaparte was still only Consul, and when he amused
himself in following up even less conspicuous persons, he took it into
his head that he wished M. Delille to see him, hoping perhaps to gain
him over, or at all events to dazzle him. Mme. Bacciochi was bidden to
invite the poet to pass an evening at her house. Some few persons, of
whom I was one, were also invited. The First Consul arrived with
something of the air of Jupiter Tonans, for he was surrounded by a great
number of aides, who stood in line and showed some surprise at seeing
their General take so much trouble for this frail old gentleman in a
black coat, who seemed, moreover, a little afraid of them all.
Bonaparte, by way of doing something, took his seat at a card-table, and
summoned me. I was the only woman in the _salon_ whose name was not
unknown to M. Delille, and I instantly understood that Bonaparte had
selected me as the connecting link between the poet’s time and that of
the Consul. I endeavored to establish a certain harmony between them.
Bonaparte consented to the conversation being literary, and at first our
poet seemed not insensible to the courtesy extended him. Both men became
animated, but each in his own way; and I very soon realized that neither
the one nor the other produced the effect he desired and intended.
Bonaparte liked to talk; M. Delille was loquacious and told long
stories; they interrupted each other constantly; they did not listen,
and never replied; they were both accustomed to praise; they each felt a
conviction before many minutes had expired that they were not making a
good impression on each other, and ended by separating with some
fatigue, and perhaps discontented. After this evening M. Delille said
that the Consul’s conversation _smelled of gun-powder_; Bonaparte
declared that the old poet _was in his dotage_.

I know very little in regard to M. de Chateaubriand’s youth. Having
emigrated with his family, he knew in England M. de Fontanes, who saw
his first manuscript, and encouraged him in his intention of writing. On
his return to France they kept up their relations, and I believe
Chateaubriand was presented by M. de Fontanes to the First Consul.
Having published the “Génie du Christianisme” at the time of the
Concordat of 1801, he concluded that he had best dedicate his work to
the _restorer of religion_. He was by no means wealthy; his tastes, his
somewhat disorderly character, his ambition, which was boundless though
vague, and his excessive vanity, all inspired him with the desire as
well as the need of attaching himself to something. I do not know under
what title he was employed on a mission to Rome. He conducted himself
there imprudently, and wounded Bonaparte. The ill humor that he had
caused and his indignation at the death of the Duc d’Enghien embroiled
them completely. M. de Chateaubriand, on his return to Paris, saw
himself surrounded by women who greeted and exalted him as if he had
been a victim; he eagerly embraced the opinions to which he has since
adhered. It was not in his nature to wish to seclude himself, or to be
forgotten by the world. He was put under surveillance, which gratified
his vanity. Those who claim to know him intimately say that if
Bonaparte, instead of having him watched, had simply shown a more
profound consciousness of his merits, Chateaubriand would have been
completely won over. The author would not have been insensible to praise
coming from so high a source. I repeat this opinion without asserting
that it was well founded. I know, however, that it was also that of the
Emperor, who said very openly, “The difficulty I have is not on the
score of buying M. de Chateaubriand, but as regards paying him the price
he sets upon himself.” However this may be, he kept himself aloof, and
frequented only the circles of the opposition. His journey to the Holy
Land caused him to be forgotten for some time; he suddenly reappeared,
and published “Les Martyrs.” The religious ideas found in every page of
his works, set off with the coloring of his brilliant talents, formed of
his admirers a sort of sect, and raised up enemies among the
philosophical writers. The newspapers both praised and attacked him, and
a controversy arose in regard to him, sometimes very bitter, which the
Emperor favored, “because,” he said, “this controversy occupies fine

At the time of the appearance of “Les Martyrs” a kind of Royalist
conspiracy broke out in Brittany. One of M. de Chateaubriand’s cousins,
who was found to be involved in it, was taken to Paris, tried, and
condemned to death. I was connected with some of Chateaubriand’s
intimate friends; they brought him to me, and joined him in begging me
to solicit, through the Empress, mercy for his relative. I asked him to
give me a letter to the Emperor; he refused, and seemed to feel the
greatest repugnance to such a step, but consented to write to Mme.
Bonaparte. He gave me at the same time a copy of “Les Martyrs,” hoping
that Bonaparte would look it over, and that it would soften him toward
the author. As I was by no means sure that this would be enough to
appease the Emperor, I advised M. de Chateaubriand to try several
methods at the same time.

“You are a relative,” I said, “of M. de Malesherbes, whose name may
always be uttered with the certainty of obtaining respect and
consideration. Let us now endeavor to make it of use, and name him when
you write to the Empress.”

M. de Chateaubriand surprised me greatly by rejecting this advice. He
allowed me to see that his vanity would be wounded if he did not
personally obtain that for which he asked. His pride of authorship was
clearly his strongest feeling, and he wished to influence the Emperor in
that capacity. He consequently did not write precisely what I would have
desired. I, however, took his letter, and did my best in addition. I
even spoke to the Emperor, and seized upon a favorable moment to read to
him some pages of “Les Martyrs.” Finally, I mentioned M. de Malesherbes.

“You are a skillful advocate,” said the Emperor, “but you do not
comprehend the affair. It is necessary for me to make an example in
Brittany; it will fall upon a man of very little interest, for this
relation of M. de Chateaubriand has a mediocre reputation. I know that
his cousin cares not one sou for him, and this fact is proved to me by
the very things he has compelled you to do. He has had the childishness
not to write to me; his letter to the Empress is stiff and even haughty
in tone. He would like to impress me with the importance of his talents;
I answer him with that of _my policy_, and in all conscience this ought
not to humiliate him. I have need of an example in Brittany to avoid a
crowd of petty political prosecutions. This will give M. de
Chateaubriand an opportunity of writing some pathetic pages, which he
will read aloud in the Faubourg Saint Germain. The fine ladies will
keep, and you will see that this will console him!”

It was impossible to shake a determination expressed in this way. All
means that the Empress and I attempted were useless, and the sentence
was executed. That same day I received a note from M. de Chateaubriand,
which in spite of myself recalled Bonaparte’s words. He wrote to me that
he had thought it his duty to be present at the death of his relative,
and that he had shuddered afterward on seeing dogs lap up the blood. The
whole note was written in a similar tone. I had been touched, but this
revolted me. I do not know whether it was he or myself that was in
fault. A few days later M. de Chateaubriand, dressed in full mourning,
did not appear much afflicted, but his irritation against the Emperor
was greatly augmented.

This event brought me into connection with him. His works pleased me,
but his presence disturbed my liking for them. He was, and is still,
much spoiled by society, particularly by women. He places his associates
in a most embarrassing position at times, because one sees immediately
that one has nothing to teach him as to his own value. He invariably
takes the first place, and, making himself comfortable there, becomes
extremely amiable. But his conversation, which displays a vivid
imagination, exhibits also a certain hardness of heart, and a
selfishness that is but ill concealed. His works are religious, and
indicate none but the noblest sentiments. He is in earnest when he
writes, but he lacks gravity in his bearing. His face is handsome, his
form somewhat awry, and he is careful and even affected in his toilet.
It would seem that he prefers in love that which is generally known as
_les bonnes fortunes_. It is plain that he prefers to have disciples
rather than friends. In fine, I conclude from all that I have seen that
it is better to read him than to know him. Later on, I will narrate what
took place in regard to the decennial prizes.

I have hardly seen Mme. de Staël, but I have been surrounded by persons
who have known her well. My mother and some of my relatives were
intimate with her in their youth, and have told me that in her earliest
years she displayed a character which promised to carry her beyond the
restraints of nearly all social customs. At the age of fifteen she
enjoyed the most abstract reading and the most impassioned works. The
famous Franclieu of Geneva, finding her one day with a volume of J. J.
Rousseau in her hand, and surrounded by books of all kinds, said to her
mother, Mme. Necker: “Take care; you will make your daughter a lunatic
or a fool.” This severe judgment was not realized, and yet it is
impossible not to feel that there was something very odd, something that
looked like mental alienation, in the manner in which Mme. de Staël
acted her part as a woman in the world. Surrounded in her father’s house
by a circle consisting of all the men in the city who were in any way
distinguished, excited by the conversations that she heard as well as by
her own nature, her intellectual faculties were perhaps developed to
excess. She then acquired the taste for controversy which she has since
practiced so much, and in which she has shown herself so _piquante_ and
so distinguished. She was animated even to agitation, perfectly true and
natural, felt with force, and expressed herself with fire. Harassed by
an imagination which consumed her, too eager for notoriety and success,
hampered by those laws of society which keep women within narrow bounds,
she braved everything, conquered everything, and suffered much from this
stormy contest between the demon that pushed her on and the social
proprieties which could not restrain her.

She had the misfortune to be excessively plain, and to be miserable on
that account; for it seemed as if she felt within herself a craving for
successes of all kinds. With a passably pretty face, she would probably
have been happier, because she would have been calmer. Her nature was
too passionate for her not to love strongly, and her imagination too
vivid for her not to think that she loved often. The celebrity she
acquired naturally brought to her much homage, by which her vanity was
gratified. Although she had great kindness of heart, she excited both
hatred and envy; she startled women, and she wounded many men whose
superior she thought herself. Some of her friends, however, were always
faithful, and her own loyalty to friendship never failed.

When Bonaparte was made Consul, Mme. de Staël had already become famous
through her opinions, her conduct, and her works. A personage like
Bonaparte excited the curiosity, and at first even the enthusiasm, of a
woman who was always awake to all that was remarkable. She became deeply
interested in him—sought him, pursued him everywhere. She believed that
the happy combination of so many distinguished qualities and of so many
favorable circumstances might be turned to the profit of her idol,
Liberty; but she quickly startled Bonaparte, who did not wish to be
either watched or divined. Mme. de Staël, after making him uneasy,
displeased him. He received her advances coldly, and disconcerted her by
his bluntness and sharp words. He offended many of her opinions; a
certain distrust grew up between them, and, as they were both
high-tempered, this distrust was not long in changing to hatred.

When in Paris, Mme. de Staël received many people, and all political
subjects were freely discussed under her roof. Louis Bonaparte, then
very young, visited her sometimes and enjoyed her conversation. His
brother became uneasy at this, and forbade his frequenting the house,
and even went so far as to have him watched. Men of letters, publicists,
men of the Revolution, great lords, were all to be met there.

“This woman,” said the First Consul, “teaches people to think who never
thought before, or who had forgotten how to think.” And there was much
truth in this. The publication of certain works by M. Necker put the
finishing touch to his irritation: he banished Mme. de Staël from
France, and did himself great harm by this act of arbitrary persecution.
In addition to this, as nothing excites one like a first injustice, he
even pursued those persons who believed it their duty to show her
kindness in her exile. Her works, with the exception of her novels, were
mutilated before their appearance in France; all the journals were
ordered to speak ill of them; no generosity was shown her. When she was
driven from her own land, foreign countries welcomed her warmly. Her
talents fortified her against the annoyances of her life, and raised her
to a height which many men might well have envied. If Mme. de Staël had
known how to add to her goodness of heart and to her brilliant genius
the advantages of a calm and quiet life, she would have avoided the
greater part of her misfortunes, and seized while living the
distinguished rank which will not long be refused her among the writers
of her century. Her works indicate rapid and keen insight, and a warmth
that comes from her soul. They are characterized by an imagination that
is almost too vivid, but she lacks clearness and good taste. In reading
her writings one sees at once that they are the results of an excitable
nature, rebelling under order and regularity. Her life was not exactly
that of a woman, nor could it be that of a man; it was utterly deficient
in repose—a deprivation without remedy for happiness, and even for

After the first restoration, Mme. de Staël returned to France,
overwhelmed with joy at being once more in her own land, and at seeing
the dawn of the constitutional _régime_ for which she had so ardently
longed. Bonaparte’s return struck terror to her soul. Again she resumed
her wanderings, but her exile this time lasted only _a hundred days_.
She reappeared with the King. She was very happy. She had married her
daughter to the Duc de Broglie, who unites to the distinction of his
name a noble and elevated nature; the liberation of France satisfied
her, her friends were near her, and the world crowded about her. This
was the time when death claimed her, at the age of fifty. The last work
on which she was engaged, and which she had not completed, was published
after her death; this has made her thoroughly known to us. This work not
only paints the times in which she lived, but gives a clear and exact
idea of the century which gave her birth—which alone could have
developed her, and of which she is not one of the least results.

I occasionally heard Bonaparte speak of Mme. de Staël. The hatred he
bore her was unquestionably founded in some degree upon that jealousy
with which he was inspired by any superiority which he could not
control; and his words were often characterized by a bitterness which
elevated her in spite of himself, and lowered him in the estimation of
those who, in the full possession of their reasoning faculties, listened
to him.

While Mme. de Staël could complain with so much justice of the
persecution to which she was subjected, there was another woman, much
her inferior and far less celebrated, who had had reason to rejoice in
the protection accorded to her by the Emperor. This was Mme. de Genlis.
He never found in her either talents or opinions in opposition to his
own. She had loved and glorified the Revolution, and well understood how
to profit by all its liberties. In her old age she became both a prude
and a _dévote_. She attached herself to order and discipline, and for
this reason, or under this pretext manifested a profound admiration for
Bonaparte by which he was much flattered; he bestowed a pension upon
her, and instituted a sort of correspondence with her, in the course of
which she kept him informed of all that she felt would be useful to him,
and taught him much regarding the ancient _régime_ which he wished to
know. She loved and protected M. Fiévée, then a very young writer; she
drew him into this correspondence, and it was in this way that between
himself and Bonaparte were established those relations of which Fiévée
subsequently boasted so much. Although flattered by the admiration of
Mme. de Genlis, Bonaparte understood her thoroughly. He once expressed
himself openly in my presence in regard to her. He was speaking of that
prudery which permeates all her works. “When Mme. de Genlis,” he said,
“wishes to define virtue, she speaks of it as of a discovery!”

The Restoration did not reëstablish relations between Mme. de Genlis and
the house of Orleans. The Duke of Orleans did not choose to see her more
than once, but contented himself with continuing the pension allowed her
by the Emperor.

These two women were not the only ones who wrote and published their
works under Bonaparte’s rule. Of the others I will mention only a few,
at the head of whom I will place Mme. Cottin, so distinguished for the
warmth of an impassioned imagination which communicated itself to her
style, and Mme. de Flahault, who married at the beginning of this
century M. de Souza, then Ambassador from Portugal, and who wrote some
very pretty novels. There were others still whose names are to be found
in the newspapers of that day. Novels have multiplied greatly in France
in the last thirty years, and merely by reading these one has a very
clear idea of the progress of the French mind since the Revolution. The
disorder of the first years of this Revolution turned the mind from all
those pleasures which only interest when in repose. Young people
generally were but half educated; the differences of parties destroyed
public opinion. At the time when that great regulator had entirely
disappeared, mediocrity could show itself without fear. All sorts of
attempts were made in literature, and imaginative works, always easiest
when most fantastic, were published with impunity. People, with their
minds heated by the rapidity of events, yielded to a kind of excitement
and enthusiasm which found a field in the invention of fables and in the
style of our romances. Liberty alone, which men did not enjoy, can
develop with grandeur those emotions which our great political storms
had aroused. But in all times and under all governments women can write
and talk of love, and works of this kind met with general approval.
There was little or none of Mme. de la Fayette’s elegance, nor of Mme.
Riccoboni’s delicate, refined wit: nor did they amuse themselves by
describing the usages of courts, the habits of a state of society now
nearly passed away; but they represented powerful scenes of passion and
human nature in trying positions. The heart was often unveiled in these
animated fables, and some men even, in order to give variety to their
sensations, engaged in this style of composition.

After all, there is some truth and nature in the tone of the works
published since the epoch of which we speak. Even in the romances, the
enthusiasm is rather too strong than too affected, and, generally
speaking, they are not perverted by a false taste. The wild errors of
our Revolution upheaved French society, and later this society was
unable to recreate itself on the same erroneous foundation. Each of the
individuals who composed it was not only displaced, but was even
entirely changed. Merely conventional customs have by degrees
disappeared, and in all the relations of life the difference has been
felt. Discourses written and spoken are no longer the same, nor are
pictures. We have come to seek stronger sensations and emotions that are
more real, because sorrow has developed the habit of keener feeling.
Bonaparte caused nothing to move backward, but he restrained everything.
The return of order to the Government brought back also what M. de
Fontanes called _les bonnes lettres_. It now began to be felt that good
taste, discretion, and moderation should count for something in the
works of talent. If the good genius of France had permitted Bonaparte to
bestow upon us some shadow of liberty at the same time that he brought
us repose, it is probable that the recollections of a stormy period,
combined with the comfort of a more settled state of things, would have
led to more important productions. But the Emperor, desiring that all
should turn to his advantage alone, while at the same time making
enormous efforts to attach to his reign all celebrities, so hampered
their minds and marked them with the seal of his despotism that he
virtually interdicted all hearty efforts. The greater number of writers
exhausted their inventive genius in varying the prescribed and
well-recompensed praise. No political works were sanctioned, and in all
imaginary creations every doubtful application was avoided with the
utmost care. Comedy dared not depict the manners of the day. Tragedy
only ventured to represent certain heroes. There was so much in the
Emperor that could honestly be praised, that conscience was appeased;
but true invention, repressed, soon becomes extinct.

Meanwhile time and progress, combined with the habitual good taste of
France, which had such examples in the past, all had their effect. All
that was produced had a certain amount of elegance, and those who
engaged in authorship wrote more or less well. A prudent mediocrity was
the order of the day. The first quality of genius is strength of
thought, and when thought is restrained one limits one’s self to the
perfecting of one’s diction. One can only conscientiously do the best
that is permitted. And this explains the sameness of the works of the
beginning of this century. But nowadays the liberty we have gained
extends in all directions, and we have bequeathed to our children the
habit of perfecting the details of execution, with the hope that they
will enrich these details by their genius.

I have previously said that, while strength of expression was forbidden
us, we were at least allowed to be natural, and this quality certainly
makes itself felt in the greater number of the literary productions of
our time. The stage, which was afraid to present the vices and the
follies of each class, because all classes were recreated by Bonaparte,
and it was necessary to respect his work, disembarrassed itself of the
affectation and cant which preceded the Revolution. At the head of our
comic authors Picard must be placed—Picard, who has so often, with so
much originality and gayety, given us an idea of the manners and customs
of Paris under the government of the Directory. After his name come
those of Duval and several authors of comic opera.

We have seen the birth and death of many distinguished poets: Legouvé,
who was made known to us by “La Mort d’Abel,” which he followed by “La
Mort d’Henri IV.,” and who wrote fine fugitive poems; Arnault, author of
“Marius à Minturnes”; Raynouard, who made a great success in “Les
Templières”; Lemercier, who appeared before the public first with his
“Agamemnon,” the best of his works; Chénier, whose talents bore too
revolutionary an imprint, but who had a strong perception of the tragic.
Then follow a whole crowd of poets, all more or less pupils of M.
Delille, and who, having acquired from him the art of rhyming elegantly,
celebrated the charms of the country and simple pleasures and repose to
the sound of Bonaparte’s cannon echoing all through Europe. I will not
enter on this long list, which may be found anywhere. There were
excellent translations made. Very little history was written; the time
had come when it was necessary to use a forcible pen in writing it, and
no one was prepared to use such a pen.

Every one had fortunately become disgusted with the light and mocking
tone of the philosophy of the last century, which, overthrowing all
belief by the aid of ridicule, blighted and tarnished all that was best
in life, and made of irreligion a jest and an intolerant dogma.
Sorrowful experience had begun to teach the value of religious faith.
Men were insensibly drawn into a better path, and followed it, though

Art, which stands not in so much need of liberty as letters, had not
stood altogether still. It had made some progress, but at the same time
it had suffered from the general restraint. Among our most famous
painters was David, who most unfortunately marred his reputation by
abandoning himself to the most disgusting errors of the Revolutionary
madness. After refusing in 1792 to paint Louis XVI., because he said he
did not choose that his brush should delineate a tyrant’s features, he
submitted with a very good grace to Bonaparte, and represented him in
all ways. Then came Gérard, who painted so many historical portraits, an
immortal “Battle of Austerlitz,” and not long since an “Entry of Henry
IV. into Paris,” which stirred every French heart; Girodet, so admirable
for the purity of his drawing and the boldness of his conceptions; Gros,
an eminently dramatic artist; Guérin, whose brush stirs the souls of all
who can feel; Isabey, so clever and so delicate in his miniatures; and a
crowd of others of all kinds. The Emperor patronized and protected all.
Everything was reproduced by the brush and the palette, and money was
lavished on these artists. The Revolution had placed them in society,
where they occupied an agreeable and often very useful position. They
guided the development of luxury, and at the same time drew largely on
the poetic and picturesque incidents of our Revolution and of the
Imperial reign. Bonaparte was able indeed to chill the expression of
strong thoughts; but he kindled men’s imaginations, and that is enough
for most poets and for all painters.

The progress of science was not interrupted, for it was useful to the
Government and awakened no distrust. The Institute of France numbers
many distinguished men. Bonaparte courted them all, and enriched some.
He even bestowed some of his new dignities upon them. He summoned them
to his Senate. It seems to me that this was an honor to that body, and
that the idea was not without grandeur. _Savants_ under his rule have
been more independent than any other classes. Lagrange, whom Bonaparte
made Senator, held himself aloof; but Laplace, Lacépède, Monge,
Berthollet, Cuvier, and some others accepted his favors eagerly, and
repaid them with unfailing admiration.

I can not conscientiously close this chapter without mentioning the
great number of musicians who did honor to their profession. Music has
attained to high perfection in France. Bonaparte had an especial liking
for the Italian school. The expenditures he made in transplanting it to
France were very useful to us, although he allowed his own caprices to
govern him in the distribution of his favors. For example, he always
repelled Cherubini, because that composer, displeased on one occasion by
a criticism made by Bonaparte when he was only a general, had answered
him somewhat rudely, that “a man might be skillful enough on a
battle-field and yet know nothing of harmony.” He took a fancy to
Lessueur, and lost his temper at the time of the award of the decennial
prizes because the Institute did not proclaim this musician worthy of
the prize. But as a general thing he did his best to advance this art. I
saw him receive at Malmaison old M. Grétry, and treat him with
remarkable distinction. Grétry, Dalayrac, Méhul, Berton, Lesueur,
Spontini, and others still were distinguished under the Empire, and
received recompenses for their works.

In like manner actors met with great favor. All that I have said of the
tendency of our authors may apply with equal truth to the drama. The
natural has acquired a great influence on our stage since the
Revolution. Good taste has proscribed pompous gravity in tragedy and
affectation in comedy. Talma and Mlle. Mars have done much toward
strengthening the alliance between art and nature. Ease united to vigor
has been introduced in dancing. In short, it may be said that
simplicity, elegance, and harmony now characterize French taste, and
that all the shams of phantasy and conventionality have disappeared.

                              CHAPTER  XX


ON the suggestion of M. Portalis, the Minister of Public Worship, the
Emperor issued a decree appointing his birthday to be kept on the Feast
of the Assumption, the 15th of August, which was also the anniversary of
the conclusion of the Concordat. The first Sunday of each December was
also set apart as a holiday, in commemoration of Austerlitz.

On the 30th of March there was an important session of the Senate, which
gave rise to much and various comment. The Emperor communicated to the
Senators a long list of decrees, which were destined to affect Europe
from one end to the other. It will not be amiss to give some details of
these, as well as an extract from the speech of Cambacérès, the
Arch-Chancellor, which affords an example of the obsequious skill with
which the sudden resolves of a master who kept all things, even men’s
minds, in unceasing ferment, could be clothed in specious phrases.

“Gentlemen,” said Cambacérès, “at the time when France, animated by the
same spirit as ourselves, secured alike her happiness and her glory by
an oath of obedience to our august sovereign, you foresaw in your wisdom
the necessity of coördinating the system of hereditary government in all
its parts, and likewise of strengthening it by institutions analogous to
its nature.

“Your wishes have been partly fulfilled; they will be still further
accomplished by the various enactments which his Majesty the Emperor and
King orders me to lay before you. You will receive with gratitude these
fresh proofs of his confidence in the Senate, and his love for the
people, and you will hasten, in conformity with his Majesty’s intention,
to inscribe them on your registers.

“The first of these decrees is a statute to regulate all things relating
to the civil status of the Imperial family, and it also defines the
duties of the princes and princesses toward the Emperor.

“The second decree unites the states of Venice to the kingdom of Italy.

“The third confers the throne of Naples on Prince Joseph.” (Here follows
an elaborate panegyric of the virtues of the new King, and of the
measure, by which he retains the title of Grand Dignitary of the

“The fourth contains the cession of the duchy of Cleves and the duchy of
Berg to Prince Murat.” (Similar panegyric.)

“The fifth bestows the principality of Guastalla on the Princess
Borghese and her husband.” (Praises of both.)

“The sixth transfers to Marshal Berthier the principality of
Neufchâtel.” (He is complimented like the rest. This touching proof of
the solicitude of the Emperor for his companion in arms, for his brave
and intelligent fellow soldier, will not fail to touch every loyal
heart, and to gladden every loyal spirit.)

“The seventh erects in the states of Parma and Piacenza three great
titles, which will be suitably supported by considerable sums to be
raised in those states by order of his Majesty.

“By similar provisions, contained in decrees relating to the states of
Venice, the kingdom of Naples, and the principality of Lucca, his
Majesty has created rewards worthy of himself for several of his
subjects who have performed great services in war, or who, in the
discharge of important functions, have contributed in a signal manner to
the welfare of the state. These dignities and titles become the property
of those invested with them, and will descend in the male line to their
legitimate heirs. This grand conception, while it proclaims to Europe
the price attached by his Majesty to acts of valor in his soldiers, and
to faithfulness in those employed by him in important affairs, is also
of political advantage. The brilliant position of eminent men gives to
their example and their counsels an influence with the people which a
monarch may sometimes substitute, with advantage, for the authority of
public officials. At the same time, such men are intercessors between
the people and the throne.”

It must be admitted that a good deal of progress had been made since the
still recent time when the decrees of the Government were dated “Year 14
of the Republic.”

“It is, therefore, on these bases that the Emperor wishes to build the
great political system with the idea of which Providence has inspired
him, and by which he increases the love and admiration for his person
which you share with all the French nation.”

After this speech, the various decrees were read aloud. The following
are the most important articles:

By the decree regulating the civil status of the Imperial family, the
princes and princesses could not marry without the consent of the
Emperor. Children born of a marriage contracted without his consent
would have no claim to the privileges which in certain countries attach
to morganatic marriages.

Divorce was forbidden to the Imperial family, but separation, if
authorized by the Emperor, was allowed.

The guardians of Imperial children were to be named by him.

Members of the Imperial family could not adopt children without his

The Arch-Chancellor of the Empire was to fulfill toward the Imperial
family all the functions assigned by law to the officers of the civil
status. A Secretary for the status of the Imperial family was to be
chosen among the Ministers or from among the State councilors.

The ceremonial for marriages and births was arranged.

The Arch-Chancellor was to receive the will of the Emperor, as dictated
by him to the Secretary of the Imperial Family, in presence of two
witnesses. The will was to be placed in the keeping of the Senate.

The Emperor was to regulate everything concerning the education of the
princes and princesses of his family, appointing or removing those who
had it in charge. All princes born in the order of succession were to be
brought up together in a palace not more than twenty leagues from the
residence of the Emperor.

The education of the princes was to begin at the age of seven, and end
at that of sixteen. Children of certain persons distinguished by their
services might be admitted by the Emperor to share in the advantages of
this education.

If a prince in the order of succession should ascend a foreign throne,
he would be bound, on his sons attaining the age of seven, to send them
to the aforesaid palace.

The princes and princesses could not leave France, nor remove beyond a
radius of thirty leagues, without permission of the Emperor.

If a member of the Imperial family were to misconduct himself,
forgetting his high position and his duties, the Emperor might, for a
space of time not exceeding one year, place him under arrest, forbid him
his presence, or send him into exile. He might forbid any intercourse
between members of his family and persons who seemed to him of doubtful
character. In serious cases, he might order two years’ seclusion in a
state prison. This was to be done in the presence of the Arch-Chancellor
and of a family council presided over by himself; the Secretary of the
Imperial Family to be in attendance.

The great dignitaries and the dukes of the Empire were subject to the
provisions of these latter articles.

After this first decree came the following:

    “We have established and we establish as duchies and great fiefs
    of our Empire the provinces hereinafter to be named:

                    Dalmatia,        Tréviso,
                    Istria,          Feltre,
                    Friuli,          Bassano,
                    Cadore,          Vicenza,
                    Belluno,         Padua,
                    Conegliano,      Rovigo.

    “We reserve to ourselves the investiture of the said fiefs, to
    descend in succession to male issue. In the event of extinction,
    the said fiefs shall revert to the Imperial Crown.

    “It is our intention that a fifteenth part of the revenue that
    our kingdom of Italy draws, or may draw, from the said provinces
    shall be an appanage to the said fiefs, and be possessed by
    those whom we shall have invested with them. We reserve to
    ourselves for the same purpose the disposal of thirty millions
    of francs from national property situate in the said provinces.
    _Le Mont Napoléon_ shall be charged with twelve hundred thousand
    francs as Government annuities, in favor of those generals,
    officers, and soldiers who have done good service to the country
    and to our Crown, but on the express condition that they shall
    not alienate the same within ten years, without our permission.

    “Until the kingdom of Italy shall have an army, we grant to the
    said kingdom a French contingent, to be maintained by our
    Imperial Treasury. To this end, our Royal Treasury of Italy
    shall pay monthly to our Imperial Treasury the sum of two
    million five hundred thousand francs during the time that our
    army shall sojourn in Italy, that is, during six years. The heir
    presumptive of Italy shall be entitled Prince of Venice.

    “The tranquillity of Europe requires that we should secure the
    safety of the peoples of Naples and Sicily, who have fallen into
    our power by the right of conquest, and who are part of the
    Grand Empire; we therefore declare our brother Joseph Napoleon,
    Grand Elector of France, King of Naples and Sicily. The crown
    shall be hereditary in the male line; failing this, we appoint
    it to our own legitimate children in the male line, and failing
    these, to the children of our brother Louis Napoleon; reserving
    to ourselves, in the event of our brother Joseph’s dying without
    male children, the right of naming as successor to the said
    crown a prince of our own family, or an adopted son, according
    as we may deem it desirable in the interests of our people, and
    of that great system which Divine Providence has destined us to

    “Six great fiefs are established in the said kingdom, with the
    title of duchy, and the same prerogatives as the others, to be
    in perpetuity appointed by us and our successors.

    “We reserve to ourselves a revenue of one million on the kingdom
    of Naples, for distribution among the generals, officers, and
    privates of our army, on the same conditions as those set forth
    in the case of _le Mont Napoléon_.

    “The King of Naples shall be in perpetuity a grand dignitary of
    the Empire, we reserving to ourselves the right of creating him
    a Prince instead of Grand Elector.

    “We declare that the crown of Naples, which we place on the head
    of Prince Joseph and his heirs, shall in no way bar their right
    to the succession to the throne of France. But it is our will
    also that the crowns of France, Italy, and Naples and Sicily
    shall never be united on the same head.

    “We give the duchies of Cleves and of Berg to our brother-in-law
    Prince Joachim, and to his heirs male; failing whom, they shall
    devolve on our brother Joseph, and if he have no male issue, on
    our brother Louis; but they are never to be united to the crown
    of France. The Duke of Cleves and Berg will continue to be Grand
    Admiral, and we shall have power to create a Vice-Admiral.”

Lastly, the principality of Guastalla was bestowed on Princess Borghese.
The Prince was to bear the title of Prince of Guastalla. Should they
have no issue, the Emperor was to dispose of the principality at his
pleasure. The same conditions were to hold good in the case of the
principality of Neufchâtel.

The principality of Lucca was augmented by the addition of some lands
detached from the kingdom of Italy, and in return was to pay an annual
sum of two hundred thousand francs, which was likewise destined for
military rewards. A portion of the national property situate in the
duchies of Parma and Piacenza was reserved for the same object.

I have deemed it well to give almost the entire text of the different
decrees which seem to me to call for comment. This act of Bonaparte’s
revealed to some extent the preponderance which he intended to give the
French Empire over the conquered states of Europe, and also that which
he reserved to himself personally. It may easily be conceived that these
decrees excited such disquiet throughout Europe as forbade us to cherish
the hope of a long peace. It is also plain from them that Italy, which
had been eager to seize on the independence which unity of government
seemed to promise her, soon found her hopes betrayed by the secondary
position in which she was placed by the bonds which subjected her to the

No matter how careful Prince Eugène was, or how mild and just his
government, the Italians soon perceived that conquest had placed them in
the power of a master, who made use of the resources of their beautiful
land for his own advantage only. They maintained on their territory, and
at their cost, a foreign army. The largest part of their revenue served
to enrich Frenchmen. In everything that was exacted of them, much less
regard was paid to their interests than to the advantage of the Grand
Empire, and this soon became synonymous with the ambitious projects of
one man, who did not hesitate to claim from Italy sacrifices he would
scarcely have dared to ask of France. The Viceroy endeavored to obtain
some alleviation for the Italians, but in vain. They learned, however,
to do justice to the character of Eugène, and to distinguish between him
and the rigorous measures which he was forced to carry out; they were
grateful to him for what he tried to do, and for his good intentions.
This, however, did not last; the too much oppressed people lost the
power of being just, and included all Frenchmen, Prince Eugène at their
head, in the hatred they bore to the Emperor.

The Viceroy himself, who was a faithful servant to Bonaparte, though he
was under no delusion regarding him, told his mother in my presence that
the Emperor, jealous of the affection Eugène had won, had imposed
useless and oppressive measures upon him, in order to alienate the good
will of the Italians.

The Vice-Queen contributed also, at first, to the popularity of her
husband. She was beautiful, very kind-hearted, pious, and benevolent,
and she charmed every one who approached her. Toward Bonaparte her
manner was dignified and cold. He disliked to hear her praised. She
never passed much time in Paris.

Several of the articles of these decrees were never carried out. Change
of circumstances led to change of purpose; new passions brought forth
new fancies, or sudden suspicion altered former resolves. In many
respects the government of Bonaparte resembled the Palace of the
Legislature, in which the Chamber of Deputies is now installed. The
former building remains unaltered; but, in order to render it more
imposing, a façade has been erected, which seen from the river-side is
undoubtedly a grand object, but, if we walk round the building, we find
that it does not harmonize with the architecture of the front. Bonaparte
frequently erected façades only, political, legislative, or

After the reception of these messages the Senate passed a vote of thanks
to the Emperor, and deputations were sent to the new Queen of Naples,
who received them with her usual simple grace, and to the two
princesses. Murat had already departed to take possession of his duchy.
The newspapers assured us he was received with acclamations, and gave a
similar account of the delight of the Neapolitans; but from private
letters we learned that the war was to be continued, and that Calabria
would make a stout resistance. Joseph has a mild disposition, and in no
place has he made himself personally disliked; but he is wanting in
tact, and he has always shown himself unequal to the position in which
he was placed. To tell the truth, the business of kingship, as
established by Bonaparte, has been a difficult one.

Having settled these important points, the Emperor turned to occupations
of a lighter kind. On the 7th of April the betrothal of the young couple
of whom I have already spoken in a preceding chapter took place at the
Tuileries. The ceremony was performed in the Diana Gallery in the
evening; there was a numerous and brilliant Court. The bride elect wore
a silver-embroidered gown ornamented with roses. The witnesses on her
side were MM. de Talleyrand, de Champagny, and de Ségur; and for the
bridegroom, the Hereditary Prince of Bavaria, the Grand Chamberlain of
the Elector of Baden, and Baron Dalberg, Minister Plenipotentiary of

On the following evening the marriage was celebrated in state. The
Tuileries were illuminated; fireworks were exhibited on the Place Louis
XV., then called Place de la Concorde.

The Court displayed a special splendor for the occasion, even beyond its
usual extravagant luxury. The Empress wore a gown entirely covered with
gold embroidery of different shades, and wore, besides the Imperial
crown, pearls in her hair to the value of a million francs. Princess
Borghese shone with all the Borghese diamonds added to her own, which
were priceless; Mme. Murat wore rubies; Mme. Louis was almost covered
with turquoises set in brilliants; the new Queen of Naples, slight and
delicate-looking, seemed to bend beneath the weight of precious stones.
I remember that I had a Court dress made for the occasion, although I
was not usually among the most brilliantly dressed ladies of the Court.
It was of pink crape, spangled with silver, and looped up with wreaths
of jasmine; on my hair was a crown of jasmine and diamond wheat-ears. My
jewels were worth from forty thousand to fifty thousand francs—far less
than those of most of our Court ladies.

Princess Stéphanie had received magnificent gifts from her husband, and
still more splendid ones from the Emperor. She wore a circlet of
diamonds surmounted with orange-blossom. Her court dress was of white
tulle, with silver stars and sprays of orange-blossom. She approached
the altar with much gracefulness, and made her deep courtesies so as to
charm the Emperor and every one else. Her father, who stood among the
Senators, was moved to tears. His position in this ceremony was curious,
and his feelings must have been rather complex. The Order of Baden was
conferred on him.

The Cardinal Legate, Caprara, solemnized the marriage. At the conclusion
of the ceremony, we returned from the chapel to the state apartments in
the same order as that in which we had come down: the princes and
princesses heading the procession, the Empress followed by all her
ladies, with the Prince of Baden at her side, and the Emperor leading
the bride. He wore his state costume. I have already said that it became
him well. Nothing was wanting to the pageantry of the procession but a
more deliberate step; but Bonaparte always would walk fast, and he
hurried us more than was dignified or desirable.

The trains of the princesses and queens and that of the Empress were
borne by pages. As for the rest of us, although letting our trains fall
would have greatly improved our appearance, we were obliged to carry
them over one arm, because their excessive length would have caused far
too much delay for the Emperor’s quick pace.

It frequently happened in state ceremonials, and rendered them less
imposing, that the chamberlains preceding him would repeat in a low
tone, as they trod on our heels, “Now then, ladies, please to get on.”
The Countess d’Arberg, who had been at the Court of the Archduchess in
the Netherlands, and was accustomed to German etiquette, was always so
visibly annoyed by this intimation, that we who were used to it could
not but laugh at her. She used to say, with some humor, that we ought to
be called “postillions-in-waiting,” and that we had better have had
short skirts given to us than the long train, which was of no use.

M. de Talleyrand also was much annoyed by this habit, as, in his
capacity of Grand Chamberlain, he had to precede the Emperor, and he, on
account of a weakness of the lower limbs, found even slow walking
difficult. The aides-de-camp used to be amused at his vexation. As for
the Empress, this was one of the points on which she would not yield to
her husband. She had a very graceful manner of walking, and was averse
to hiding any of her accomplishments; therefore nothing could induce her
to hurry. The pressure began among those who were following her.

When we were starting for the chapel, I recollect that the Emperor, who
was little used to giving his hand to ladies, was puzzled, not knowing
whether to offer his right or his left hand to the bride. It was she who
had to make the decision.

A great reception was held that day in the state apartments; there was a
concert, then a ballet and supper, as I have before described. The Queen
of Naples having passed next after the Empress, Bonaparte placed his
adopted daughter at his right hand, above his mother. On that evening
again Mme. Murat had to endure the great mortification of passing
through the doorways after the young Princess of Baden.

The Court removed next day to Malmaison, and shortly afterward to Saint
Cloud. I have already related what occurred there. On the 20th we came
back to Paris, to be present at a splendid fête given in honor of the

The Emperor, wishing to display his Court to the Parisians, allowed a
considerable number of invitations to be sent to men and women of every
class. The state apartments were filled by an immense crowd. Two
quadrilles were danced. One, in which I took part, was Mme. Louis
Bonaparte’s, and was performed with dance-steps in the Salle des
Maréchaux. Sixteen ladies, in groups of four, dressed in white, their
heads wreathed with flowers of different colors, their dresses
ornamented with flowers, and with diamond wheat-ears in their hair,
danced with sixteen gentlemen wearing white satin coats, and scarfs
corresponding in color to their partners’ flowers. When our dance was
concluded, the Empress and the Imperial family entered the Diana
Gallery, where Mme. Murat was at the head of another quadrille—the
persons composing it being costumed as Spaniards, with hats and

After this, every one was allowed to dance—city and Court together.
Ices and refreshments were distributed in profusion. The Emperor
returned to Saint Cloud, having remained about an hour, and spoken to a
great number of persons; that is to say, having asked each one his or
her name. Dancing was kept up after his departure until morning.

Perhaps I have lingered too long on these details, but they are a relief
from the serious narrative I have undertaken, and of which my woman’s
pen becomes at times a little weary.

While making and unmaking kings, according to the expression of M. de
Fontanes, while giving his adopted daughter in marriage, and joining in
the festivities of which I have spoken, the Emperor assiduously attended
the state councils, hastened on their work, and forwarded daily a great
number of laws to the Legislature. State Councilor Treilhard was the
bearer of the code of procedure, completed during this year; many
regulations were agreed to concerning trade, and the session was closed
by a statement which conveyed grand ideas of the flourishing state of
our finances. Not an extra sou was demanded from the nation; public
works had been accomplished, and others were in contemplation; there was
a formidable army, as was well known, and only a fixed debt of
48,000,000; a civil list of 35,000,000 against 8,000,000 of revenue.

Meanwhile the Emperor’s resentment against the English Government was
growing deeper. The Cabinet, which, however changed in its individual
members, had not changed in its policy toward us, declared war on the
King of Prussia, to punish him for his neutrality in the last war, and
for his conquest of Hanover, which he had just taken.

A long article on European politics appeared in the “Moniteur.” The
author tried to prove that by this rupture England would accelerate the
policy which must close the northern ports against her (the ports of the
south being already closed), and that she would strengthen the union
between France and the Continent. The position of Holland was next fully
discussed. The Grand Pensionary Schimmelpenninck had, it was reported,
become blind. What would be the course taken by the Dutch? It was known
that the Emperor had not directly authorized the recent changes in the
organization of that country, and that he had said on the occasion that
“the prosperity and liberty of nations could only be assured by one of
two systems of government—a constitutional monarchy or a republic,
constituted according to the principles of liberty. In Holland the Grand
Pensionary exercises an important influence on the elections of the
representatives of the legislative body; this is a radical vice in the
Constitution. Nevertheless all nations can not with impunity leave the
choice of their representatives to the public, and, when there is danger
to be apprehended from assembling the people, recourse must be had to
the principles of a good and wise monarchy. This, perhaps, is what will
occur to the Dutch. It is for them to appreciate their situation, and to
choose between the two systems that one which is most likely to
establish public prosperity and public liberty on a solid basis.” These
words were sufficiently indicative of what was in store for Holland. The
writer next pointed out the advantages which must result to France from
the duchies of Cleves and Berg being occupied by a Frenchman, inasmuch
as our relations with Holland would be better, and that all the
countries on the right bank of the Rhine would be occupied by allies of
the Imperial family.

The Prince of Neufchâtel was about to close Switzerland against English
traders. The Emperor of Austria was said to be engaged in tending his
wounds, and resolved on a long peace. The Russians, still agitated by
English policy, had had fresh contests in Dalmatia, being unwilling to
give up the country situated near the mouth of the Cattaro, which was in
their occupation; but the presence of the Grand Army, whose return had
been suspended, had compelled them at length to fulfill the conditions
of the last treaty.

The Pope was dismissing from Rome all persons, whether English,
Russians, or Sardinians, suspected of intriguing, and whose presence
gave umbrage to the French Government.

The kingdom of Naples was almost entirely subjugated; Sicily was
defended by a mere handful of English. France was in close alliance with
the Porte; the Turkish Government was less mercenary and less ignorant
than had been supposed, and understood that the presence of the French
in Dalmatia might be most useful in protecting Turkey from Russian
invasion. Lastly, our army was more formidable than ever, and well able
to resist the attacks of a fourth coalition, to form which, after all,
Europe was not disposed.

This sketch of our position with regard to Europe could only be
reassuring to those who took plausible phrases emanating from the
highest quarters in their literal sense. It was easy enough for any one
who read them without absolute credulity to perceive that the
populations were not so docile as we tried to make out; that we were
beginning to sacrifice their interests to our own policy; that England,
angered by failure, was bent on raising up new enemies for us; that the
King of Prussia was selling us his friendship; and that Russia was still
threatening us. Men no longer believed in the pacific intentions which
the Emperor announced in all his speeches. But there was something so
impressive in his plans, his military talent was so abundantly proved,
he bestowed such greatness on France, that, duped by her own glory,
forced as she was to bend beneath the yoke, she consented also to be
beguiled by the enchanter. Moreover, the internal prosperity of the
country had apparently increased; there was no augmentation of taxes;
everything contributed to dazzle us, and not one of us, acted upon as we
were by the impulsion which Bonaparte had given us all, had either the
leisure or the will for serious reflection. The Emperor used to say,
“Luxury and glory have never failed to turn the heads of the French.”

Shortly after, we were told that a great council had been held at the
Hague by the representatives of the Batavian people, at which affairs of
the highest importance had been discussed; and a rumor was allowed to
spread that a new Dutch monarchy was about to be founded.

Meanwhile, the English newspapers were full of criticisms on the
progress which the Imperial power was making in Europe. “If Bonaparte,”
they said, “succeeds in accomplishing his system of a Federal Empire,
France will become the sovereign arbiter of almost the whole continent.”
He was delighted at this prediction, and resolutely strove to realize

M. de Talleyrand, at that time in great repute, used his influence in
Europe to gain over the foreign Ministers. He asked for and obtained
from the sovereigns exactly those ambassadors whom he knew he could make
amenable. For instance, he obtained from Prussia the Marquis de
Lucchesini, who subsequently acted in the French interest, against his
own master. He was a clever man, of a somewhat scheming disposition. He
was born at Lucca, but a taste for traveling took him in his youth to
Berlin, where he was received by Frederick the Great, who, liking his
conversation and his philosophical principles, kept him near his own
person, gave him a place at Court, and founded his fortunes. He was
subsequently intrusted with Prussian affairs, became a person of
importance, and had sufficient luck and ability to remain long in high
repute. He married a Prussian lady, and both he and his wife, when they
came to France, devoted themselves to M. de Talleyrand, who made use of
them to further his own ends. It was long before the King of Prussia
found out that his ambassador had joined in the plots against him, and
Lucchesini did not fall into disgrace until some years later. The
Marquis then repaired to Italy, and found a fresh field for his ambition
in the influence he obtained over the sovereign of Lucca, who had become
Grand Duchess of Tuscany. The events of 1814 caused his downfall to
follow on that of his mistress. The Marchesa de Lucchesini, who was
rather addicted to coquetry, was while in Paris one of the most
obsequious of Madame de Talleyrand’s friends.

On the 5th of June the Emperor received an Ambassador Extraordinary from
the Porte, with messages of congratulation and friendship from the
Sultan. These messages were accompanied by magnificent presents of
diamonds, a pearl necklace worth eighty thousand francs, perfumes,
innumerable shawls, and Arab horses, with housings adorned with precious
stones. The Emperor gave the necklace to his wife, and distributed the
diamonds and the shawls among the ladies-in-waiting. Some were given
also to the wives of ministers and marshals, and to a few others. The
Empress reserved the finest for herself, and there yet remained enough
to be used afterward for the decoration of a boudoir at Compiègne, which
Josephine had arranged for herself with special care, but which was
never used except by the Empress Marie Louise.

On the same day the Envoy from Holland came to announce that it had been
decided at the Hague, upon mature deliberation, that a constitutional
monarchy was the only form of government that would thenceforth be
suitable for Holland, because such a monarchy would harmonize with the
principles now spreading in Europe; and that, in order to consolidate
it, they solicited Louis Napoleon, the Emperor’s brother, to become
their first King.

Bonaparte replied that such a monarchy would doubtless be profitable to
the general policy of Europe, and that, by removing anxieties of his
own, it would enable him to deliver important places into the hands of
the Dutch, which hitherto he had felt it his duty to retain. Then,
turning toward his brother, he enjoined him to have a care of the people
intrusted to him.

This scene was well acted. Louis made a fitting reply. On the audience
coming to an end, the doors were flung open, as on the occasion when
Louis XIV. accepted the succession to Spain, and the new King of Holland
was announced to the assembled Court.

Immediately on this, the Arch-Chancellor carried to the Senate,
according to custom, the new Imperial message, and made the usual

The Emperor guaranteed to his brother the integrity of his states, and
that his children should succeed him; but the crowns of France and of
Holland were never to be united on one head.

In the case of a minority, the Queen was to be regent, and failing her,
the Emperor of the French, in right of his position as perpetual head of
the Imperial family, was to appoint a regent, whom he was to select from
among the princes of the royal family or among the Dutch nation.

The King of Holland was to remain Constable of the Empire, a
Vice-Constable to be created at the Emperor’s pleasure.

The message also contained an announcement to the Senate that the
Arch-Chancellor of the German Empire had asked of the Pope that Cardinal
Fesch might be designated as his coadjutor and successor; and that his
Holiness had informed the Emperor of this request, who had approved of

“Lastly, the duchies of Benevento and of Ponte Corvo being a subject of
litigation between the Courts of Naples and Rome, in order to put an end
to these difficulties, and reserving to ourselves the indemnification of
these Courts, we erect them,” says the decree, “into duchies and fiefs
of the Empire, and we bestow them on our Grand Chamberlain Talleyrand,
and on our cousin Marshal Bernadotte, to reward them for services
rendered to the country. They will bear the titles of these duchies,
they will take an oath to serve us as faithful and loyal subjects, and,
if their issue should fail, we reserve to ourselves the right of
disposing of those principalities.” Bonaparte had no great liking for
Marshal Bernadotte; he probably felt bound to promote him because he had
married the sister of Joseph Bonaparte’s wife, and it seemed fitting
that the sister of a Queen should be at least a Princess.

It is unnecessary for me to add that the Senate approved of all these

On the day following the ceremonial which introduced another King into
Bonaparte’s family circle, we were at breakfast with the Empress, when
her husband entered the room, looking extremely pleased, and holding
little Napoleon by the hand. He addressed us all in these terms:
“Mesdames, here is a little boy who is going to recite to you one of La
Fontaine’s fables. I made him learn it this morning, and you shall hear
how well he knows it.” On this the child began to repeat the fable of
the frogs who asked for a king, and the Emperor laughed loudly at each
allusion that seemed applicable to the circumstances. He stood behind
Mme. Louis’s arm-chair—she was seated at table opposite her mother—and
pinched her ears as he asked her over and over again, “What do you say
to that, Hortense?” No one said much in reply. I was smiling to myself
as I ate my breakfast, and the Emperor, in high good humor, said to me,
laughing also, “I see that Mme. de Rémusat thinks I am giving Napoleon a
good education.”

Louis’s acquisition of a kingdom revealed to his brother the deplorable
state of his domestic affairs. Mme. Louis could not contemplate her
accession to a throne without bitter weeping. The ungenial climate to
which she was about to remove, which must needs aggravate the wretched
state of her health; the dread she felt of living alone with her
tyrannical husband; his increasing dislike of her, which did not lessen
his jealousy, although it deprived it of rational excuse—all these
things made her resolve to open her heart to the Emperor. She confided
her sorrows to him, and prepared him for the fresh troubles that no
doubt awaited her. She entreated his protection in the future, and
exacted from him a promise never to judge her unheard. She went so far
as to tell him that, foreseeing the persecution she would have to endure
in the isolation to which she would be subjected, her mind was made up
that when she should have endured up to a certain point she would leave
the world and retire to a convent, relinquishing a crown of which she
could already feel the thorns.

The Emperor entreated her to have courage and patience; he promised to
protect her, and directed her to advise with him before taking any
decisive step.

I can bear witness that this unhappy lady ascended the throne in the
spirit of a victim resigning herself to sacrifice.

                              CHAPTER  XXI


IN the June of this year I went to take the waters at Cauterets, and
remained away three months. I was in very delicate health, and needed a
respite from Court life and from the daily anxieties which were wearing
alike to mind and body. My family—that is to say, my husband, my
mother, and my children—were settled at Auteuil, whence M. de Rémusat
could easily get to Saint Cloud, and there they passed a happy and
peaceful summer. Our Court was then in solitude; the sovereigns of
Holland had taken their departure, and the members of Bonaparte’s family
had separate establishments. The Emperor was engrossed by the gathering
clouds in Europe, and was constantly at work; his wife employed her
leisure in beautifying her estate of Malmaison.

The “Moniteur” contained glowing accounts of the triumphal entries of
the princes created by Bonaparte into their respective states.
Enthusiasm was said to be at the highest at Naples, at Berg, at Baden,
and in Holland, and the populace was delighted everywhere. The speeches
of the new kings or princes, in which they treated their subjects to a
pompous panegyric of the great man whose envoys they were, were
published for our edification. It is certain that, at first, Louis
Bonaparte found favor with the Dutch. His wife shared his popularity in
it, and displayed such affability that very soon, as I heard from some
French people who accompanied them, her strange husband became jealous
of the affection she inspired.

Like his brother, Louis was intolerant of the least independence in
others. After exacting that the Queen should hold a brilliant Court, he
suddenly changed his mind, and reduced her by degrees to a very solitary
life, thus isolating her from the people over whom she too had been
appointed to reign. If I may believe the accounts I have received from
persons who could have had no motive for inventing them, he resumed his
distrustful jealousy and his system of spying, and the Queen was
constantly subjected to insult. The poor young creature, in a state of
chronic ill health and profound melancholy, perceived that it was not
her husband’s pleasure that she should share the affection he hoped to
inspire in his Dutch subjects. Sorrow had made her indifferent to such
things; she withdrew into the solitude of her palace, where she lived
almost as a prisoner, devoting herself to the arts she loved, and
indulging her excessive affection for her eldest boy. The child, who was
forward for his age, greatly loved his mother, to the extreme jealousy
of Louis. The latter would sometimes try to obtain his preference by
indulgence carried to excess; sometimes he would alarm him by outbreaks
of passion, and the boy clung the more to her, who always loved and
never frightened him. Men were found—and such as are always to be found
in courts—who, for hire, undertook to watch the Queen and report her
every action. The letters she wrote were opened, lest they might contain
any allusion to events in her husband’s dominions. She has assured me
that more than once she found her desk open and her papers upset, and
that, if she had chosen, she might have detected the King’s spies in the
act of carrying out his instructions. It was soon perceived at the Dutch
Court that to appear to be influenced in any way by the Queen was to
lose one’s own chances of favor, and on this she was immediately
forsaken. Any unfortunate person addressing himself to her, in order to
solicit a favor, would be immediately suspected; any minister conversing
with her on the most trifling matter would fall under the King’s
displeasure. The damp climate of Holland aggravated her ailments; she
fell into a state of atrophy perceptible to every one, but which the
King did not choose at first to notice. She has told me that her life at
this time was so hard and seemed so hopeless, that frequently, when
residing at one of her country-houses not far from the sea, and gazing
at the ocean stretched out before her, and English vessels blockading
the harbors, she ardently wished that some chance would bring one of
them to the coast, and that some partial invasion might be attempted, in
which she would have been made a prisoner. At last her physicians
ordered her to Aix-la-Chapelle, and the King himself, who was out of
health, resolved on taking the waters there with her.

From this time Holland began to suffer from the prohibitive system which
the Emperor imposed on everything appertaining to the Empire. It must be
conceded to Louis Bonaparte that he promptly defended the interests of
the people confided to him, and opposed the tyrannical measures forced
on him by the Imperial policy as strongly as was in his power. He bore
with firmness the Emperor’s reproaches on the subject, and resisted him
in such a manner as to gain the affection of the Dutch. In this they did
him justice.

Switzerland also was compelled to decline all trade with England, and
English goods were seized everywhere. These measures served to
strengthen the party in London who were anxious to force France into
fresh European wars at any price. Mr. Fox, who was then Prime Minister,
seemed, however, to lean toward peace, and to be willing to receive
overtures of negotiation. During the summer he was attacked by the
illness which subsequently proved fatal to him, and his influence
declined. The Russians were still contending with our troops for the
possession of certain parts of Dalmatia. The Grand Army showed no sign
of returning to France; the promised fêtes were constantly deferred.

The King of Prussia was inclined to peace, but his young and lovely
consort, as well as Prince Louis of Prussia and a part of the Court, did
all they could to incite him to war. They pointed out to him that the
future had in store the liberation of Poland, the aggrandizement of
Saxony, the danger of the Confederation of the Rhine being organized;
and it must be admitted that the Emperor’s line of conduct was a
justification for the disquiet of Europe.

English policy was by degrees regaining its influence over the Emperor
of Russia. Count Woronzoff had been sent to London, and he fell so
completely under the influence exerted over him that the Continent was
again disturbed. The Czar had sent Baron d’Oubril to Paris, to negotiate
with us, and a treaty of peace was in fact signed by him and M. de
Talleyrand on the 20th of July, but as will be seen hereafter, it was
never ratified at St. Petersburg.

About this time General Junot was made Governor of Paris.

France was in a state of profound tranquillity. Day by day the Emperor
met with less opposition. A firm, equable, and strict administration,
which was just, inasmuch as it was equal for all, regulated both the
exercise of authority and the mode of supporting it. Conscription was
rigorously enforced, but as yet the murmurs of the people were but
faint; the French had not then exhausted the sentiment of glory, as they
have done since that time, and, moreover, the brilliant possibilities of
a military career fascinated the youth of France, and they all espoused
the cause of Bonaparte. Even in the families of the nobility, who were,
on principle or from habit, in opposition, the political creed of the
fathers was less firmly held by the children, and parents were perhaps,
in their secret heart, not sorry to relax somewhat of their severity on
the plea of paternal concession. Nor was any opportunity overlooked of
indicating that the nation had returned to the natural course and order
of things.

The feast of the 15th of August having become that of St. Napoleon, the
Minister of the Interior wrote a circular letter to all the prefects,
recommending them to combine in the solemnization of the fête rejoicings
for both the birthday of the Emperor and the reëstablishment of
religion. “No holiday,” said the letter, “can inspire deeper feelings
than that in which a great people, in the pride of victory and the
consciousness of happiness, celebrates the birthday of the sovereign to
whom all its felicity and glory are to be ascribed.”

It ought to be constantly repeated, as well for the sake of nations to
come as for the sake of those who are called to reign over them, that
both peoples and kings who allow themselves to be deceived by an
appearance of calm, after the storm of a revolution, are in the wrong.
If this time of peace has not called into existence an order of things
indicated by national needs, then it is fallacious calm, a respite
resulting from circumstances—of which a clever man will indeed avail
himself, but which he will not really utilize unless he prudently
regulates the advance of those who have trusted him. Far from so acting,
Bonaparte, powerful and headstrong, opened, as it were, a long
parenthesis in the French Revolution. He always had a conviction that
this parenthesis would be closed at his death, which to him seemed the
only possible limit to his fortune.

He seized the reins of France when Frenchmen were wandering bewildered
in every direction, and were fearful that they should never reach the
goal to which they aspired. Their energies, which were vague because
they no longer ventured to undertake any kind of enterprise boldly, were
then turned into military ardor, which is the most dangerous of any,
because the most opposed to the true citizen spirit. For a long while
Bonaparte reaped the advantage of this, but he did not foresee that, in
order to rule after his fashion a nation which for a time had become
distrustful of its own strength, and which yet felt the need of a great
restoration, it was imperative that victory should always follow on war,
and that reverses must inevitably make man reflect in a direction
dangerous for himself.

He was, I believe, hurried along by the force of circumstances,
resulting from the events of every day. But he was determined to check
the growth of liberty at any cost, and to this end he directed all his
efforts. It has been frequently said, both during the Empire and after
his fall, that he understood the science of governing better than any
other man. This is the case, doubtless, if it be only understood as the
knowledge of means whereby to enforce obedience; but if the word
“science” includes “the clear and certain knowledge of a thing founded
on principles either self-evident or proved to demonstration,” then it
is certain that in Bonaparte’s system of government there was no place
for those elements which manifest the esteem of the sovereign for his
subjects. He by no means recognized the concession of certain rights
which every man who intends to rule other men for any length of time
must begin by making to them, lest, weary of their mental inaction, they
should one day claim these rights for themselves. He did not know how to
stir generous passion, or to appreciate and evoke moral virtues, and
thus to elevate himself in proportion as he aggrandized human nature.

Singular in every respect, he believed himself to be vastly superior to
the rest of the world, and nevertheless he was afraid of superiority in
others. Is there one among those who knew him well who has not heard him
say that he preferred men of second-rate abilities? Is there one who has
not remarked that when he made use of a man of talent, of whatever kind,
he would, before he felt he could trust him, find out his weak point,
and in most cases hasten to divulge it? Did he not always depreciate,
and often falsely, those whose services he employed? The truth is,
Bonaparte’s gifts, whether to the world, to nations, or to individuals,
were all bargains. These bargains, which were enforced rather than
offered, flattered the vanity of human nature, and thus for a long time
beguiled men’s minds, so that it is now hard to reduce them to bounds of
possibility and reason. Such a policy as this may certainly avail to
purchase service of every kind, but it follows that it must be based on
unvarying success. Are we to conclude from this that the French were
unpardonably guilty, because they fell into the power of such a man?
Will posterity condemn them for their imprudent trust in him? I think

Bonaparte, who employed good or evil things indifferently, according as
they served his purpose, understood thoroughly that no secure
foundations can be laid in times of trouble. He therefore began by
restoring order, and it was thus he won us, poor tired wayfarers that we
were, battered by many a storm! That which he created for his own profit
only we accepted gratefully; the social order which was restored by him,
that it might become the groundwork of his despotic sway, we regarded as
the greatest of his gifts, and as the pledge of other benefits. We
believed that the man who reëstablished public morality, religion, and
civilization, who patronized art and literature, and who undertook to
reduce society to order, must have a soul capable of true greatness; and
perhaps, after all, our error, which was deplorable because it served
his purposes so long, proves the generosity of our sentiments rather
than our imprudence.

Until Prussia declared war, no event of any importance took place. In
the course of the summer Count Metternich, the Austrian Ambassador,
arrived in Paris. He occupied an important position in Europe, took part
in events of the highest importance, and finally made an enormous
fortune; but his abilities did not rise above the schemes of a
second-rate policy. At the period of which I am speaking he was young,
good-looking, and popular with women. A little later he formed an
attachment to Mme. Murat, and he retained a feeling toward her which for
a long time aided to keep her husband on the throne of Naples, and which
probably is still of service to her in her retirement.

In the month of August a decree which settled the new catechism of the
Gallican Church was promulgated. It was entitled “Bossuet’s Catechism,”
and it contained, together with doctrines taken from the works of the
Bishop of Meaux, some remarkable utterances on the duties of French
people toward their Emperor.

    Page 55: “_Question._ What are the duties of Christians toward
    their rulers; and what, in particular, are our duties toward
    Napoleon I., our Emperor?

    “_Answer._ Christians owe to the princes who govern them, and
    we, in particular, owe to Napoleon I., our Emperor, love,
    respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, and the tributes
    ordained for the preservation and defense of the Empire and of
    his throne. To honor and serve our Emperor is, therefore, to
    honor and to serve God.

    “_Q._ Are there any special reasons which should more strongly
    attach us to our Emperor Napoleon I.?

    “_A._ Yes; for it is he whom God raised up in difficult
    circumstances to restore the public profession of the holy
    religion of our forefathers, and to be its protector. He has
    restored public order by his profound and active wisdom; he
    defends the state by his powerful arm, and he has become the
    anointed of the Lord through the consecration of the Sovereign
    Pontiff, the Head of the Universal Church.

    “_Q._ What ought we to think of such persons as may fail in
    their duties toward our Emperor?

    “_A._ According to the Apostle St. Paul, they would thereby be
    resisting the orders of God Himself, and would become worthy of
    eternal damnation.”

During Mr. Fox’s tenure of office, Bonaparte, either from private
information, or because he perceived the policy of the Prime Minister to
be opposed to that of his predecessor, flattered himself that he should
be able to conclude a treaty of peace with England. Besides the
advantages to be gained from this, his pride was always singularly
mortified that the English Government did not acknowledge him as a
sovereign. The title of “General,” which the English newspapers gave
him, always annoyed him extremely. Notwithstanding his greatness, he had
some of the weaknesses of a _parvenu_. When Fox fell ill, the “Moniteur”
announced that there was reason to fear that the gravity of his malady
might throw English policy back once more into its ordinary

Meanwhile, the design of the Confederation of the Rhine was suddenly
disclosed. In the Emperor’s grand feudal plan this was comprised: it
would increase the number of the feudatories of the French Empire, and
spread the European revolution. But if it be true that the old
institutions of the Continent have reached a point at which their
decrepitude gives irresistible warning of the necessity of their fall,
it is also true that the time has come when their fall is not to be for
the advantage of despotism. Bonaparte never ceased trying to make a
counter-revolution, solely in his own interests, against those ideas
which emerged into the light of day thirty years ago. Such an
undertaking is, happily, beyond the power of man; and we owe it to him,
at least, that his failure to accomplish that reaction settled for ever
this important question.

The grand duchies of Germany were therefore separated from the Germanic
Empire, and the Emperor of France was declared to be their protector.
The contracting parties—that is to say, the Empire and the confederated
states—engaged to take up arms in the case of war being declared on one
or the other. The contingent of the Confederation was named at 63,000
men, that of France at 200,000. The Elector Arch-Chancellor of the
Germanic Empire became Prince Primate of the Confederation; on his death
the Emperor was to nominate his successor. Moreover, the Emperor renewed
the declaration by which he bound himself not to extend the frontiers of
France above the Rhine; but, at the same time, he declared that he would
use every means to procure the freedom of the seas. This appeared in the
“Moniteur” of the 25th of July.

M. de Talleyrand had a large share in the honor of forming this
Confederation. He was in very high repute at this time. He seemed
destined to reduce the wide and ambitious projects of the Emperor to a
definite system; but, at the same time, he did not neglect the increase
to his own fortune which was to be got out of them. The German princes
paid, as a matter of course, for slight advantages obtained by them in
the arrangement; and the name of M. de Talleyrand, being always
connected with such important negotiations, became more and more
renowned throughout Europe.

One of his favorite theories, and it is one which has always seemed just
and reasonable, is that the policy of France ought to tend to the
release of Poland from a foreign yoke, and to the use of that country as
a barrier against Russia and a counterpoise to Austria. He always
exerted his influence in this direction. I have often heard him say that
the repose of all Europe depended on Poland. It would appear that the
Emperor was of the same opinion, but that he did not persevere
sufficiently in endeavoring to realize this project. Accidental
circumstances also interfered with it. He often complained of the
passionate, yet shallow, character of the Poles. “It was impossible,” he
said, “to guide them on any system.” They required special and exclusive
attention, and Bonaparte could only think of Poland occasionally.
Moreover, as it was the Emperor Alexander’s interest to obstruct French
policy in this particular, he would not have remained a quiet spectator
of efforts in any such direction; and so it happened that only a
half-hearted course was taken with respect to Poland, and all the
advantages that might have been gained were lost. However, after some
slight differences between the Russians and ourselves about the cession
of the mouths of the Cattaro, the two Emperors apparently came to terms,
and Baron d’Oubril was sent to Paris from St. Petersburg to sign a
treaty of peace.

Although the return of our army was constantly announced to us, yet it
did not take place, either because Bonaparte had already become aware of
the difficulty of keeping so large a number of soldiers in France, a
burden upon the citizens, or that he foresaw fresh disturbances in
Europe, and that the peace would be of no long duration. A kind of
bazaar for the exhibition of French industrial produce was opened on the
Place des Invalides; but the fêtes promised to the Grand Army were no
longer spoken of. This exhibition took place, and profitably occupied
the minds of the people.

In the beginning of September Jérôme Bonaparte arrived in Paris. Every
attempt which had been made on the colonies had failed, and the Emperor
gave up naval enterprise for ever. He began to plan a marriage for his
young brother with one of the European princesses, having insisted that
his first marriage should be regarded as null and void.

On creating the Confederation of the Rhine, Bonaparte had declared that
the Hanseatic towns should retain their liberty; but, whenever there was
a question of liberty, it was natural enough to believe that the
Emperor’s gift of it was in reality but a temporary loan, and his
resolutions on the subject caused great agitation in Prussian politics.
The Queen and the nobility urged the King of Prussia to war.
Consequently, during the campaign which was very shortly begun, the
former was made an object of vituperation in the bulletins, frequently
of a coarse kind. At first she was compared to Armida, who, torch in
hand, tried to raise up enemies against us. As a contrast to this
poetical comparison, a few lines farther on we find a phrase in an
utterly different style: “What a pity! for they say that the King of
Prussia is a very well-meaning man.” Bonaparte frequently said that
there is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous; this is true,
both of actions and words, when true art is neglected, and it must be
owned that he made little account of it.

Mr. Fox died in September, and the war party resumed power. The Russian
Ministry was changed; a national movement was set on foot among the
Russian nobility; the people were beginning to respond; the storm was
gathering, and it suddenly burst when the Czar refused to ratify the
treaty signed in Paris by his plenipotentiary, Baron d’Oubril. From that
moment war was inevitable. No official intimation was made, but the
matter was openly discussed.

At the beginning of the month I returned from Cauterets, and I was
enjoying the happiness of my home circle when M. de Rémusat received a
sudden order to proceed to Mayence, whither the Emperor was going a few
days later. I was deeply grieved by this fresh separation. As I enjoyed
none of those honors which offer compensation to some women even for the
sufferings of a soldier’s wife, I found it hard to resign myself to
these constantly recurring separations. I remember the Emperor asking
me, after M. de Rémusat was gone, why I looked so sad, and, when I
answered that it was because my husband had left me, he laughed at me.
“Sire,” I added, “I know nothing of the delights of heroism, and I
always meant to take out my share of glory in happiness.” He laughed
again. “Happiness?” he said. “Ah, yes! much we think of happiness in
this age.”

Before the departure for Mayence I again met M. de Talleyrand, who was
very friendly. He assured me that nothing could be better for our
prospects than that M. de Rémusat should be in attendance on the Emperor
in all his journeys; but, as he saw tears in my eyes, he spoke
seriously, and I was grateful to him for not jesting on a subject which
to me only was a real grief, but which certainly must have appeared of
slight consequence to the many wives and mothers whose husbands and sons
were leaving them for real scenes of danger. M. de Talleyrand’s natural
tact and his admirable good taste lead him to adapt his tone perfectly
to those whom he addresses; this is one of his most attractive

The Emperor went away suddenly on the 25th of September, without sending
any message to the Senate in explanation of his absence. The Empress,
who always parted with him unwillingly, had not been able at first to
obtain permission to accompany him, though she hoped to rejoin him
later. She, however, used such persuasion, during the last day of his
stay at Saint Cloud, that toward midnight he yielded, and she entered
his traveling carriage with him and only one attendant. The Imperial
suite did not join her until a few days later. I was no longer included
in these journeys; my health forbade. I may affirm that the Empress, who
had become accustomed to the gratification to her vanity afforded her by
ladies of a higher rank than mine seeking to join her Court, had
returned in her heart to her former friendship, and now felt real regret
at my absence. As for the Emperor, I counted for little in his eyes, and
he was right. At his Court a woman was nothing, and a woman in ill
health less than nothing.

Mme. Bonaparte told me that her husband entered upon this Prussian
campaign with some reluctance. Luxury and ease had had their natural
effect upon him, and the hardships of camp-life now affected his
imagination unpleasantly. Nor was he devoid of solicitude. The Prussian
troops were renowned; their cavalry was recognized as first-rate, while
ours as yet inspired no confidence, and our military men expected a
formidable resistance.

The prompt and unparalleled result of the battle of Jena is one of those
miracles which upset all human calculations. The victory astonished and
confounded all Europe, proved the good fortune as well as the genius of
Bonaparte, and bore witness to French valor.

He did not remain long at Mayence; the Prussians had marched into
Saxony, and it was imperative to follow them. At the opening of this
campaign the Emperor formed two new companies of gendarmes; the command
of one was given to the Vicomte de Montmorency. This was an appeal to
the nobility to take their share of glory, to nibble at the bait of a
semblance of privilege; and, in fact, a few gentlemen did join that

During the preparations for the important coming events, it was decided
that the Empress, with those members of the Court who had accompanied
her, should remain at Mayence. M. de Rémusat was in waiting, having the
superintendence of her entire household, and M. de Talleyrand was also
to remain until further orders.

Just before the Emperor’s departure, my husband was present at a scene
which made a great impression on him. M. de Talleyrand was in the
Emperor’s cabinet, where M. de Rémusat was receiving final instructions;
it was evening, and the traveling-carriages were waiting. The Emperor
sent my husband to summon the Empress; he returned with her in a few
moments. She was weeping. Agitated by her tears, the Emperor held her
for a long time in his arms, and seemed almost unable to bid her
farewell. He was strongly moved, and M. de Talleyrand was also much
affected. The Emperor, still holding his wife to his heart, approached
M. de Talleyrand with outstretched hand; then, throwing his arms round
both at once, he said to M. de Rémusat, “It is very hard to leave the
two persons one loves best.” As he uttered these words, he was overcome
by a sort of nervous emotion, which increased to such a degree that he
wept uncontrollably, and almost immediately an attack of convulsions
ensued, which brought on vomiting. He was placed in a chair, and drank
some orange-flower water, but continued to weep for fully a quarter of
an hour. At length he mastered himself, and, rising suddenly, shook M.
de Talleyrand by the hand, gave a last embrace to his wife, and said to
M. de Rémusat: “Are the carriages ready? Call the suite, and let us go.”

When, on his return, my husband described this scene to me, it made me
feel glad. The fact that natural feeling had got the mastery over
Bonaparte always seemed to me a victory in which we were all interested.
He left Mayence on the 22d of October, at 9 P. M.

No announcement had as yet been made to the Senate, but every one
expected a formidable war. It was a national war on the part of the
Prussians, for in declaring it the King had yielded to the ardent desire
of all the nobility and a majority of the people.

Moreover, the rumors regarding the foundation of a kingdom of Poland
were disquieting to reigning sovereigns. A Northern League was in
contemplation, which was to embrace all the states not comprised in the
Confederation of the Rhine.

The young Queen had much influence with her husband, and great
confidence in Prince Louis of Prussia, who longed for an opportunity to
distinguish himself. He was brave, amiable, had great taste for the fine
arts, and had fired the youthful nobility with his own ardor. The
Prussian army, full of life and spirit, inspired complete confidence in
the new coalition; its cavalry was considered the finest in Europe. When
we remember how easily all this was dispersed, we must believe that the
leaders were very incompetent, and that the old Prince of Brunswick must
once more have misdirected the courageous soldiers confided to him.

Even at the opening of this campaign, it was easy to see that France was
weary of the uncertainty which was brought into both public and private
affairs. Discontent was visible in the expression of men’s countenances,
and it was evident that the Emperor must indeed do wonders to rekindle
feelings that were beginning to chill. In vain did the newspapers
contain articles describing the zeal with which the new conscripts came
to be enrolled in all the departments; no one was deceived by these
accounts—no one even tried to appear to be deceived. Paris fell into
the gloomy condition which war always produces in capital cities while
it lasts. The progress of our industrial pursuits was admired at the
Exhibition of which I have spoken, but curiosity alone will not stir the
heart of a nation; and, when citizens may not take the least part in
their own government, they regard the improvements in civilization which
are due to that government merely as a spectacle. We began to feel in
France that there was something mysterious in Bonaparte’s conduct toward
us. We perceived that it was not for us that he lived and acted; that
what he wanted from us was an appearance of prosperity, brilliant rather
than solid, which should surround him with fresh lustre. I recollect
writing to my husband during the campaign in the following terms: “The
situation is greatly changed; so are men’s minds: the military miracles
of this year do not produce half the effect of former ones. The
enthusiasm excited by the battle of Austerlitz is not to be aroused
now.” The Emperor himself perceived it; for, when he had returned to
Paris after the treaty of Tilsit, he said: “Military glory soon palls
upon modern nations. Fifty battles produce little more sensation than
five or six. To the French I shall always be the man of Marengo, rather
than of Jena or Friedland.”

As the Emperor’s designs on Europe increased in magnitude, it became
more and more needful for him to centralize his administration, in order
that his commands, all emanating from the same point, might be rapidly
transmitted to the proper quarters. The submission of the Senate might
be taken for granted; the importance of the Corps Législatif was
lessening every day. Bonaparte had doubtless resolved on seizing the
first pretext for ridding himself of the Tribunate, and he extended the
powers of the Council of State, which consisted of men of ability, on
whom he exercised a direct pressure. By a new decree he now appointed a
Committee for Petitions in the Council of State, which consisted of
councilors, masters of requests, and auditors. They met three times a
week, and reported to Bonaparte. MM. Molé and Pasquier, both of them
“Masters of Requests,” were members of this committee. They had entered
public life at the same period; both, although widely differing in age,
bore names well known in the magistracy; they had the same social
connections, equal zeal, and similar ambition, and they were beginning
to make themselves felt in the new Government. Meanwhile, the Emperor
already displayed a preference for M. Molé. He exercised an ascendency
over this young man, who, although naturally of a grave disposition, was
yet capable of enthusiasm. He thought he could mold his opinions in his
own way, and he partly succeeded, while he made use of the parliamentary
tendencies of M. Pasquier. “I use one,” he said sometimes, “but I
_create_ the other.” I quote these words of his to show how he was
accustomed to analyze his own conduct toward every one.

Horse-races, which had been decreed by the Emperor himself when he was
as yet only First Consul, took place in Paris in the autumn of this
year. In fact, France had come to resemble a great audience at a
theatre, before whom performances of all kinds were given on the sole
condition that hands should be raised only to applaud.

On the 4th of October the Senate was convoked. The Arch-Chancellor, as
he had done in the past, and as he was to do in the future, announced
the war in an insignificant and pompous speech. After this, he read a
letter from the Emperor, dated from headquarters, in which he stated
that the King of Prussia was the aggressor, and deplored the evil
influence that constantly disturbed the repose of France, while he
announced that the invasion of Saxony had obliged him to march rapidly
forward. This letter was accompanied by the official report of the
Minister of Foreign Affairs. He could discover no valid cause for war;
he expressed surprise that the freedom granted to the Hanseatic towns
could have given umbrage to the Prussian Government, and quoted a note
from M. de Knobelsdorff, the new envoy from Prussia.

A rumor arose that, some time previously, M. de Lucchesini, who was
devoted, it was said, to England, had alarmed the Court by _unfounded_
reports of a universal monarchy planned by the French Government. On
being informed of this, the Emperor had requested that M. de Lucchesini
should be recalled. M. de Knobelsdorff succeeded him, but no good result
ensued. The coolness between the two Cabinets increased. The Emperor
departed. The Prussian Minister received a final note from his
sovereign, demanding the immediate evacuation of the whole of Germany by
the French troops, and requiring that the ratification of this demand
should be sent to the King of Prussia’s headquarters by the 8th of
October. M. de Knobelsdorff dispatched this note to M. de Talleyrand,
then at Mayence, and it was forwarded by him to the Emperor, who had
already reached Bamberg.

The first bulletin on the opening of the campaign gives the following
account of what had taken place: “On the 7th the Emperor received
dispatches from Mayence, consisting of M. de Knobelsdorff’s note and a
letter from the King of Prussia, twenty pages long—a pamphlet, in fact,
in the style of those written to order for the English Government, by
authors hired for £500 a year. The Emperor did not read it through, and
remarked to the persons about him: ‘I am sorry for my brother, the King
of Prussia; he does not understand French. He has certainly not read
this rhapsody.’ Then he turned to Marshal Berthier: ‘Marshal, they give
us a rendezvous for the 8th; never has a Frenchman failed to keep such
an appointment. But, as it seems that a lovely Queen wishes to be a
spectator at our contest, let us be courteous, and march without delay
toward Saxony.’”

And, in fact, hostilities began on the 8th of October, 1806.

The Emperor’s proclamation to his soldiers was, like the former ones, in
a style peculiar to himself and belonging to no particular epoch.

“Let us march,” he said, “since our moderation has failed to cure them
of their astounding folly. Let the Prussian army meet the same fate as
that which befell it fourteen years ago. Let them learn that if it is
easy to acquire an increase of territory and of power by means of the
friendship of a great nation, so its enmity, which can only be incurred
by forsaking all wisdom and reason, is more terrible than the storms of

At the same time, the King of Holland returned to the Hague, in order to
assemble the States, and to ask them to pass a law enacting the payment
in advance of one year’s land-tax. Having obtained this, he moved his
headquarters to the frontier. Thus, the Dutch, to whom a long
continuation of prosperity, in return for the surrender of their
liberty, had been promised, were from the very first threatened with
war, and had to endure a double taxation and a blockade of the
continent, which destroyed their trade.

Mme. Louis Bonaparte joined her brother at Mayence, and seemed to
breathe freely when once more among her own people. The young Princess
of Baden also came to Mayence; there was still, at this time, a great
coolness between her husband and herself. The Empress received a visit
from the Prince Primate and from some of the sovereigns belonging to the
Confederation. Her life at Mayence was very bright and stirring; many
distinguished personages came thither to pay their respects to her. She
would have preferred to follow the Emperor, but, when she wrote asking
leave to join him, he answered: “I am not able to send for you here. I
am the slave of the nature of things and the force of circumstances; we
must wait until they decide.”

The Empress, who was very anxious now that her husband was about to
incur fresh risks, had no friend among her court circle to sympathize
affectionately with her. In her suite were several ladies who belonged
by their very names to memories which they claimed a right to retain at
the new Court; and they took leave to disapprove of the war, and
especially to express an interest which was natural enough in the
beautiful Queen. She soon became an object of attack in each successive
bulletin. The death of Prince Louis of Prussia, with whom some of the
ladies-in-waiting during the time of their emigration had been
acquainted, was also much lamented by them, and a sort of disdainful
opposition formed itself around our Empress, of which Mme. de la
Rochefoucauld took the lead.

M. de Rémusat, who had the superintendence of this miniature Court,
became the recipient of the complaints of the Empress, who, having
nothing serious to occupy her, was annoyed by foolish and vain speeches
which she ought to have despised. He advised her to pay no attention to
these vexations, and by no means to mention them to the Emperor, who
would make them of more importance than was at all desirable. Mme.
Bonaparte, however, wrote all the history to her husband, and
subsequently M. de Talleyrand, who was present during these little
storms which might have been so easily dispersed, thought to amuse the
Emperor with a description of them. Bonaparte did not regard the matter
in a harmless light. I have dwelt on this in order, later on, to explain
what came of it to ourselves personally.

Meanwhile, a life so trivial and so empty was wearisome to my husband.
He amused himself by learning German, in order, as he wrote to me, “at
least to occupy a portion of each day usefully.” He took increasing
pleasure in the society of M. de Talleyrand, who treated him with
confidence and warm friendship. Whenever the slightest appearance of
feeling is attributed to M. de Talleyrand, one is obliged to put the
statement with strong affirmation, because it will inevitably be
received with doubt. The world judges him with severity, or at least too
sweepingly. I know him to be capable of affection, and I venture to say
that, had he been altogether deceitful, I could not have become so
sincerely attached to him.

During this time I was living very quietly in Paris with my mother, my
sister, and my children. Some distinguished people came to my house;
also a number of literary men, who were attracted thither by my
husband’s authority over the theatres. Princess Caroline only (Duchess
of Berg) required any court to be paid to her. She lived at the Elysée
with a certain amount of state; people waited on her as they did on the
Arch-Chancellor Cambacérès. Occasional visits had to be paid to the
ministers, but the remainder of one’s time was one’s own. News from the
seat of war was received without enthusiasm, but not without interest,
because every family was more or less connected with the army.

The knowledge that every drawing-room was watched by the police
prevented all serious conversation; every one was engrossed by secret
anxieties and a sort of isolation, which was just what the Emperor
wished, was the result.

Nevertheless, a little incident happened during the campaign which
amused all Paris for several weeks. On the 23d of October Cardinal Maury
was chosen—by that class of the Institute which has received the name
of the French Academy—to succeed M. Target. When the day for his
reception drew near, some one raised the question whether he should be
addressed as _Monseigneur_, and a great commotion ensued. Before the
Revolution a similar discussion had occurred on the same subject.
D’Alembert and the three members of the Academy had pleaded for the
rights of equality in the sanctuary of letters; but the Academy, having
in 1806 become “the Right,” was disposed to grant the title of
_Monseigneur_, in opposition to the party headed by Regnault de St. Jean
d’Angely, his brother-in-law Arnault, Chénier, etc. The discussion ran
so high, the Cardinal declared so positively that he would not present
himself unless he were to be addressed according to his rank, the
difficulty of arriving with due freedom at any decision was so great,
that it was determined to refer the matter to the Emperor himself, and
this foolish dispute was actually brought before him on the
battle-field. Meanwhile, whenever the Cardinal met any of the members of
the Institute who were hostile to him, he attacked them. On one occasion
he met M. Regnault dining at Mme. Murat’s, and an amusing
passage-at-arms, at which I was present, took place between them. Almost
at the very beginning of the conversation, the Cardinal requested M.
Regnault to go into another room, to which M. Regnault consented,
provided that some of the other guests would accompany him. The
Cardinal, who was annoyed, began to get excited. “You do not recollect,
then, sir,” he said, “that at the Constituent Assembly I called you
_little boy_.” “That is no reason,” replied M. Regnault, “why we should
give you a token of respect at the present day.” “If my name were
Montmorency,” returned the Cardinal, “I could afford to laugh at you;
but I owe to my abilities only my elevation to the Academy, and, if I
yielded the point of _Monseigneur_, the next day you would treat me as
an equal.” M. Regnault reminded us that once only had the French Academy
consented to use the title of _Monseigneur_, and that then it was in
favor of Cardinal Dubois, who was received by Fontenelle. “But,” he
added, “times are greatly changed.” I must own that, looking at Cardinal
Maury, I ventured to think men were not so much altered. Finally the
discussion became hot; it was reported to the Emperor, who sent orders
to the academicians to address the Cardinal as _Monseigneur_. On this
everybody immediately submitted, and we heard no more about it.

                             CHAPTER  XXII


THE Emperor had left Bamberg, and was hastening to the assistance of
the King of Saxony. Our armies, which had been gathered together with
the surprising rapidity that always defeated the plans of the enemy,
were marching onward. The first skirmishes took place at Salfield,
between Marshal Lannes and the vanguard of Prince Hohenlohe, commanded
by Prince Louis of Prussia. The latter, who was brave to rashness,
fought in the ranks until, coming to a hand-to-hand conflict with a
quartermaster and refusing to surrender, he fell covered with wounds.
His death disheartened the Prussians, while it increased the ardor of
our troops. “If,” says the Imperial bulletin, “his last moments were
those of a bad citizen, his death was glorious and deserving of regret.
He died as every good soldier must wish to die.”

I am ignorant whether, in Prussia, Prince Louis was considered to have
preferred his own glory to the interests of his country by promoting the
war. It may have been imprudent to commence it when he did; doubtless
the right moment for declaring would have been at the formation of the
coalition in the preceding year; yet the feelings of the Prince were,
even at this time, shared by a great number of his countrymen.

For some days the bulletins gave accounts of several partial engagements
which were but the prelude to the great battle of the 14th of October.
The Prussian Court was described as being in great confusion, and
despotic advice was given to those princes who are led into hesitation
by consulting the multitude on great political interests above its
comprehension! As if nations, having reached their present degree of
enlightenment, could continue to intrust the money taken from their
coffers, and the men levied from among their ranks, to their rulers,
without ascertaining the uses to which the gold and the soldiers are to
be put!

On the 14th of October the two armies met at Jena, and in a few hours
this important battle decided the fate of the King of Prussia. The
renowned Prussian cavalry could not resist our infantry; confused orders
caused confusion in the ranks; a great number of Prussians were killed
or taken prisoners; several general officers lay dead on the field of
battle; the Prince of Brunswick was severely wounded, and the King was
forced to fly. In fact, the rout was complete. Our bulletins were full
of the praises of Marshal Davoust, who had in truth greatly contributed
to the success of the day, and the Emperor willingly acknowledged this.
He was not usually so ready to render justice to his generals. When the
Empress questioned him on his return about the eulogiums he had allowed
to be lavished on Davoust on this occasion, he answered her, laughingly:
“I can heap upon him as much glory as I please; he will never be strong
enough to carry it.”

On the evening of the battle a whimsical adventure happened to M. Eugène
de Montesquiou. He was an orderly officer, and was sent by the Emperor
to the King of Prussia with a letter, to which I shall presently allude.
He was detained all day at the Prussian headquarters, where the defeat
of the French was considered certain, and they wished him to witness it.
He remained, therefore, an agitated but inactive spectator of the course
of events. The generals, and Blücher in particular, affected to give
alarming orders in his presence. Toward evening the young man, involved
in the flight of the Prussians, was endeavoring to rejoin our camp. On
his way he met with two Frenchmen, who joined him, and the three
together contrived to get hold of eighteen disbanded Prussians, whom
they brought in triumph to the Emperor. This capture greatly diverted

The battle of Jena was followed by one of the rapid marches which
Bonaparte was wont to impose on his army in the hour of victory. No one
ever knew better how to profit by victory than he; he bewildered the
enemy, leaving him not a moment’s repose.

The town of Erfurt capitulated on the 16th. The King of Saxony was
slightly reprimanded for having yielded to the King of Prussia, by
giving him the entry of his states and taking part in the beginning of
the war, but his prisoners were restored to him. General Clarke was made
Governor of Erfurt.

The bulletins of this period are especially remarkable. Bonaparte was
angry at having been deceived by the Emperor Alexander. He had
calculated on the unchanging neutrality of Prussia; he was mortified at
English influence on the Continent; and his ill humor was perceptible in
every word dictated by him. He attacked in turn the English Government,
the Prussian nobility, whom he wished to denounce to the people, the
young Queen, women, etc. Grand and noble expressions, often of a
poetical nature, were strangely contrasted with abusive terms. He
gratified his resentment and anger, but he lowered himself by giving
such expression to his own feelings, and, above all, he sinned against
Parisian good taste. We were beginning to grow accustomed to military
wonders, and the form in which intelligence of them was transmitted to
us was freely criticised. After all, the attention that nations pay to
the words of kings is not so foolish as it may appear. The words of
sovereigns, even more than their actions, reveal their dispositions, and
the disposition of their ruler is of primary importance to subjects. The
King of Prussia, who was now pushed to extremity, asked for an
armistice: it was refused, and Leipsic was taken.

The French marched across the battle-field of Rossbach, and the column
erected there in commemoration of our former defeat was removed and sent
to Paris.

On the 22d of October M. de Lucchesini came to our headquarters. He
brought a letter from the King of Prussia, the publication of which,
said the “Moniteur,” was forbidden by the secrecy necessary in
diplomatic affairs. “But,” it continued, “the Emperor’s reply was
considered so admirable that a few copies of it have been made; we have
procured one, and we hasten to lay the letter before our readers.”

Every determination taken by the Emperor, from the greatest to the
least, seems partly founded on the lion’s reason in La Fontaine’s
fable—“_Because my name is Lion_.”

“The Prussians are surprised at the briskness of our pursuit; they are
probably accustomed to the manœuvres of the Seven Years’ War.” And when
they asked for three days’ truce, in order to bury their dead—“Think of
the living,” replied the Emperor, “and leave to us the care of burying
the dead. That needs no truce.”

The Emperor reached Potsdam on the 24th of October. As may be supposed,
he visited Sans-Souci, and reminiscences of Frederick the Great are to
be found in the bulletins. “The handsome Emperor (the Czar) and the
lovely Queen” received fresh insults in these documents, from which we
gathered that a war with Russia would follow the Prussian war. Paris was
thrown into consternation; the news from the seat of war was read
publicly at the theatres, but the only applause that greeted it was
hired. “War, nothing but war, is all that is left to us.” Such words as
these, uttered with more or less of wrath or grief, struck ominously on
the ear of the adherents of the Emperor, yet they could not contradict

On the same day, the 25th of October, the fortress of Spandau

To all these accounts of the war was added a letter supposed to be
written by a private soldier from a town in the duchy of Brunswick. It
contained enthusiastic praise of French valor, which it attributed to
the military system adopted in our army. “It is also certain,” continues
the writer, “that any soldier who can say to himself, ‘It is not
impossible for me to become a Marshal of the Empire, a Prince, or a
Duke, as it has happened to others,’ must be greatly encouraged by that
thought. It was quite another thing at Rossbach. The French army was
commanded then by gentlemen who owed their military rank only to their
birth, or to the patronage of a Pompadour; and the troops were of
so-called soldiers, on whose track, after their defeat, were found
nothing but pigtails and powdering-bags.”

When the Emperor made his entry into Berlin on the 26th of October, in
the midst of acclamations, he vented his displeasure on those among the
Prussian nobles who were presented to him. “My brother the King of
Prussia,” he said, “ceased to be King from the day on which he failed to
have Prince Louis hanged, when he dared to go and break his Minister’s
windows.” And to Count Nesch he said roughly, “I will bring the nobles
of this Court down so low that they shall be obliged to beg their

By violent speeches of this kind, which were published, the Emperor not
only gratified his anger against the instigators of the war, but
imagined that he fulfilled obligations toward our Revolution. Although
he was a determined counter-revolutionist, he was obliged from time to
time to render some homage to the ideas which, by a fatal deviation, had
produced his own accession. A mistaken longing for equality, a noble
desire for liberty, were the causes of our civil discord; but in his
thirst for power he gave us no encouragement toward that freedom which,
if we succeed in obtaining it, will be the most glorious conquest of our
times, but limited himself, in his bargain with the age, to advancing
equality only. The love of liberty is an unselfish sentiment, which a
generous ruler ought at the present day to foster in his people; but
Bonaparte only sought to aggrandize his own power. Sometimes, with
entire forgetfulness of his own origin, he spoke and acted as if he were
a king by the grace of God, and then every word of his became, as it
were, feudal; while at other times he affected a sort of Jacobinism, and
then he would abuse legitimate royalty, treat our old memories with
disdain, and denounce the nobility to the plebeians of every country.
Never did he seek to establish the true rights of nations; and the
unostentatious aristocracy of letters and of a noble civilization was
far more displeasing to him, in reality, than that of titles and
privileges, which he could make use of as he pleased.

On the 29th of October M. de Talleyrand left Mayence to join the
Emperor, who had sent for him. M. de Rémusat felt much regret at his
departure. He had found his society a great resource; the somewhat
solemn idleness of court life made them necessary to each other. M. de
Talleyrand, having recognized both the trustworthiness and the superior
abilities of my husband, would throw aside this habitual reserve in his
company, and would confide to him his views on passing events and his
opinion of their common master. An aristocrat by taste, by conviction,
and by birth, M. de Talleyrand approved of Bonaparte’s repression of
what he regarded as the excesses of the Revolution; but he would have
wished that a headstrong temper and a determined will had not led the
Emperor aside from a course in which his own prudent counsels might have
guided him aright. He was thoroughly conversant with the European
political situation, and better versed in the law of nations than in
their true rights, and he propounded with accuracy the diplomatic course
that he would have had the Emperor follow. He was alarmed at the
possible preponderance of Russia in Europe, and was in favor of founding
an independent power between us and the Russians. For this reason he
encouraged the ardent, though vague, desires of the Poles. “A kingdom of
Poland,” he used to say, “ought to be established. It would be the
bulwark of our independence; but it ought not to be done by halves.”
With his head full of this plan, he started to join the Emperor,
resolving on advising him to turn his brilliant success to good account.

After M. de Talleyrand’s departure, M. de Rémusat wrote me that the
dullness of his life was extreme. The Court at Mayence was monotonously
regular. There, as elsewhere and in all places, the Empress was gentle,
quiet, idle, and averse to take anything on herself, because, whether
far or near, she dreaded the displeasure of her husband. Her daughter,
who was delighted to escape from her wretched home, spent her time in
diversions of a nature somewhat too childish for her rank and position.
Hortense rejoiced with her mother over the promising qualities of her
little son, then full of life and beauty, and very forward for his

The German princes came to pay their court at Mayence; great banquets
were given; elegant costumes were worn; there was much walking and
driving about, and great eagerness for news. The Court wanted to return
to Paris; the Empress wanted to go to Berlin; and there, as elsewhere,
all was dependent on the will of one man.

In Paris life was dull, but tranquil. The absence of the Emperor was
always a relief: if people did not speak more freely, they seemed better
able to breathe, and this sense of alleviation was especially to be
observed in persons connected with his Government. The impression
produced by the Emperor’s victories became weaker every day; and a
tangible proof was thus afforded to the world that lasting national
enthusiasm could no longer be kindled by success in war.

Prince Eugène’s army was marching onward in Albania, and Marshal Marmont
was holding in check the Russians, who were moving on that side. A fresh
proclamation was issued by the Emperor to his soldiers: it announced a
rupture with Russia and an onward march, promised fresh triumphs, and
alluded to the “love” of Bonaparte for his army. Marshal Brune,
commanding the reserves stationed at Boulogne, issued on this occasion a
curious order of the day, which was published by command in the

    “SOLDIERS: You will read at mess, every day for a fortnight, the
    sublime proclamation of his Majesty the Emperor and King to the
    Grand Army. You will learn it by heart; each one of you will
    shed tears of courage, and will be filled with the irresistible
    enthusiasm inspired by heroism.”

In Paris, no one was moved to tears, and the prolongation of the war
filled us with dismay.

Meanwhile, the Emperor remained at Berlin, where he had established his
headquarters. He announced in his bulletins that the great Prussian army
had vanished like an autumnal mist, and he ordered his lieutenants to
complete the conquest of all the Prussian states. At the same time a
war-tax of one hundred and fifty millions was raised; the towns
surrendered one by one—Küstrin and Stettin first, Magdeburg a little
later. Lübeck, which had offered resistance, was stormed and horribly
pillaged; there was fighting in every street; and I remember that Prince
Borghese, who took part in the assault, gave us some particulars of the
cruelty practiced by the soldiers in that unfortunate town. “What I then
saw,” he told us, “gave me an idea of the bloodthirsty intoxication
which resistance at first, and victory afterward, can produce in
soldiers.” He added: “At such a moment every officer is a mere soldier.
I was beyond all self-control; I felt, like everybody else, a sort of
passionate longing to exert my strength against people and things. I
should be ashamed to recall some absurdly horrible acts which I
committed. In the midst of imminent danger, when one must cut one’s way
with the sword, with everything around in flames, when the thunder of
cannon or the rattle of musketry mingles with the cries of a dense
crowd, in which are people pressing in every direction, either seeking
others or trying to escape from them, and all this in the narrow space
of a street, then a man loses his head completely. There is no act of
atrocity or of folly that he will not commit. He will wantonly destroy
without profit to anybody, and will give himself up to an uncontrollable
delirium of evil passions.”

After the fall of Lübeck, Marshal Bernadotte remained there some time as
governor of the town, and it was then that he began to lay the
foundation of his future greatness. He behaved with perfect equity, and
did his best to assuage the evils that had been caused by war. Strict
discipline was maintained among his troops; the gentleness of his
bearing attracted and consoled, and he won the admiration and sincere
affection of the people.

During the Emperor’s stay at Berlin, the Prince of Hatzfeld, who had
remained there, and who, said the bulletins, “had accepted the post of
governor,” kept up a secret correspondence with the King of Prussia, in
which he gave full accounts of the movements of our army. One of his
letters was intercepted, and the Emperor gave orders for his arrest and
trial before a military court. His wife, who was with child, was in
despair; she obtained an audience of the Emperor, and threw herself at
his feet. He showed her the Prince’s letter, and when the poor young
wife gave way to her sorrow, the Emperor, moved with pity, bade her
rise, and said to her: “You have the original document, on which your
husband may be condemned, in your own hand. Take my advice; profit by
this moment to burn it, and then there will be no evidence to condemn
him.” The Princess, without a moment’s delay, threw the paper in the
fire, and bathed the Emperor’s hands with her tears. This anecdote made
a greater impression on Paris than all our victories.

Our Senate sent a deputation to Berlin with congratulations on so
triumphant a campaign. The Emperor intrusted the envoys, on their return
to Paris, with the sword of Frederick the Great, the ribbon of the Black
Eagle worn by him, and several flags, among which, says the “Moniteur,”
“there are several embroidered by the hands of that fair Queen whose
beauty has been as fatal to the people of Prussia as was the beauty of
Helen to the Trojans.”

Every day our generals invaded some new district. The King of Holland
had advanced into Hanover, which was again being attacked by us; but all
at once we heard that he had returned to his own states, either because
he disliked acting merely as one of his brother’s lieutenants, or
because Bonaparte preferred that his conquests should be made by his own
generals. Marshal Mortier took possession of the city of Hamburg on the
19th of November, and an enormous quantity of English merchandise was
confiscated. A number of auditors belonging to the Council of State were
sent from Paris; among them were M. d’Houdetot and M. de Tournon. These
auditors were made Intendants of Berlin, Bayreuth, and other towns. By
these young and active proconsuls the conquered states were governed in
the interests of the conqueror, and victory was immediately followed by
an administration which turned it to the best advantage.

The Emperor gained the affections of the young of every rank, by giving
them opportunities for action, for self-assertion, and for exercising an
absolute authority. Thus, he often said, “There is no conquest I could
not undertake, for with the help of my soldiers and my auditors I could
conquer and rule the whole world.” We may suppose that the habits and
the despotic notions that these young men brought back into their own
country were rather perilous when the government of French provinces was
confided to them. Most of them found it difficult not to rule those
provinces like a conquered country. These young men, who were raised
early in life to such important posts, are at the present time idle and
without prospects, owing to the straitening of our territory. They fret
under their enforced idleness, and form one of the most serious
difficulties with which the King’s Government is confronted.

The conquest of Prussia was completed, and our troops marched into
Poland. The season was far advanced; they had not seen the Russians, but
it was known that they were approaching; a severe and difficult campaign
was anticipated. The cold was not severe, but the march of our soldiers
was impeded by the marshy soil, in which men, guns, and carriages were
continually sinking. The accounts of the sufferings endured by the army
are terrible. Whole squadrons often sank up to the middle of the men’s
bodies in the marsh, and it was impossible to save them from a lingering
death. Although the Emperor was determined to make the most of his
victories, he felt the necessity of giving some repose to his troops,
and he eagerly accepted the King of Prussia’s offer of a suspension of
hostilities, during which he was to remain on one bank of the Vistula,
and the Prussians on the other. But it is probable that the conditions
he annexed to this armistice were too severe, or perhaps it was only
proposed by Prussia in order to gain time and effect a junction with the
Russians; for the negotiations dragged slowly along, and the Emperor, on
learning the movements of the Russian general, Benningsen, suddenly left
Berlin on the 25th of November. He announced fresh danger and fresh
success to his troops by the following spirited words, with which he
closed his proclamation: “How should the Russians overthrow such
designs? Are not they and we alike the soldiers of Austerlitz?”

A famous decree, dated from Berlin and preceded by a lengthy preamble,
appeared at the same time, in which sundry grievances were set forth.
This decree proclaimed the British Isles to be in a state of blockade,
and it was only a reprisal on the usage of England, who, when she enters
upon a war, declares a universal blockade, and in virtue thereof
authorizes her ships to take possession of all other vessels in
whatsoever seas. The Berlin decree divided the empire of the world in
two, opposing the power of the Continent to the power of the seas. Every
Englishman who should be found either in France or in any state occupied
by us, or under our influence, was to become a prisoner of war, and this
hard enactment was notified to all our sovereign allies. Thenceforth it
was manifest that the struggle which was beginning, between despotic
power in all its ramifications and the strength of such a constitution
as that which rules and vivifies the English nation, could end only by
the complete destruction of one of the assailants. Despotism has fallen,
and, notwithstanding the terrible cost to ourselves, we ought to be
grateful to Providence for the salvation of nations and the lessons
taught to posterity.

On the 28th of November Murat made his entry into Warsaw. The French
were enthusiastically received by those among the Poles who hoped that
the liberty of their country would result from our conquests. In the
bulletin which announced the entry these words occur: “Will the kingdom
of Poland be restored? God alone, who holds in His hand the direction of
events, can be the arbiter of this great political problem.” Thenceforth
Bonaparte’s family began to covet the throne of Poland. His brother
Jérôme had some hopes of obtaining it. Murat, who had displayed
brilliant valor throughout all the campaign, was the first to be sent to
Warsaw, and made his appearance there in the theatrical costume that he
affected—plumed bonnet, colored boots, and richly laced cloak. His
dress resembled that of the Polish nobles, and he flattered himself that
one day that great country would be committed to his rule. His wife
received many congratulations in Paris, and this, perhaps, made the
Emperor, who disliked to be forestalled on any point, change his mind. I
know that the Empress also had hopes of the Polish crown for her son.
When the Emperor, at a later date, became father of a natural son, of
whose fate I am at present uninformed, the Poles fixed their hopes on
that child.

Writers better acquainted with the secrets of diplomacy than I, may
explain why Bonaparte did not carry out, but merely sketched his plans
for Poland, notwithstanding his own personal proclivities and M. de
Talleyrand’s influence and opinions on the subject. It may be that
events succeeded each other with such rapidity, and clashed so rudely,
that due care could not be bestowed on the projected enterprise.
Subsequently to the Prussian campaign and the treaty of Tilsit, the
Emperor often regretted that he had not pushed his innovations in Europe
to the extent of changing every existing dynasty. “There is nothing to
be gained,” he used to say, “by leaving any power in the hands of people
whom we have made discontented. There is no use in half measures; old
works will not drive new machines. I ought to have made all other kings
accessory to my own greatness, and, so that they should owe everything
to me, they ought not to have had any greatness in the past to point to.
Not that in my eyes this was of much value—certainly not of value equal
to that of founding a new race; but nevertheless it has a certain
influence over mankind. My sympathy with certain sovereigns, my
compassion toward suffering nations, my fear, I know not why, of causing
an utter overthrow of all things, withheld me. I have been greatly in
the wrong, and perhaps I may have to pay for it dearly.”

When the Emperor spoke in this sense, he took pains to dwell on the
necessity imposed by the Revolution of the renewal of all things. But,
as I have already said, he in his secret heart thought he had done
enough for the Revolution in changing the frontiers of states and the
sovereigns who ruled them. A citizen King, chosen either from among his
own kinsfolk, or from the ranks of the army, ought, he considered, to
satisfy all the citizen classes of modern society by his sudden
elevation; and, provided the despotism of the new sovereign could be
turned to the advantage of his own projects, he should not be interfered
with. It must be owned, however, that if “the spirit of the age,” as
Bonaparte called it, had resulted only in nations being governed by men
whom a lucky chance had drawn from their native obscurity, it was
scarcely worth while to make such a fuss about it. If we are to be ruled
by a despot, surely the despot who can point to the greatness of his
ancestors, and who exercises his authority in virtue of ancient rights
made sacred by ancient glory, or even in virtue of rights whose origin
is lost in the obscurity of ages, is the least mortifying to human

At the close of the war Poland found that she was free only in that
portion of the country which had been seized by Prussia. His treaties
with the Emperor of Russia, the temporary need of repose, the fear of
displeasing Austria by interfering with her possessions, cramped
Bonaparte’s plans. It may be that they could not have been carried out;
but, being only half attempted, they bore within them the elements of
their own destruction.

The advantages and disadvantages of the continental policy with regard
to the English nation have often been discussed. I am not competent
either to state the objections raised to this system or the reasons for
which many disinterested persons approve of it; still less would I
venture to draw hasty conclusions. The system in question imposed
conditions on the allies of France which were too much in opposition to
their interests to be long endured by them for, although it encouraged
continental industry, it interfered with the luxuries of life, and with
some few of its daily necessaries. It was also felt to be an act of
tyranny. Moreover, it caused every Englishman to share the aversion of
the British Government toward Bonaparte, because an attack upon trade is
an attack on the fountain-head of every Englishman’s existence. Thus the
war with us became a national one for our enemies, and from that time
was vigorously carried on by the English.

Meanwhile I have heard it said by well-informed persons that the
consequence of this rigorous policy would in the end strike a fatal blow
at the English Constitution, and that on this account especially it was
advantageous to pursue it. The English Government was obliged, in order
to act with the same rapidity as the enemy, to encroach little by little
on the rights of the people. The people made no opposition, because they
felt the necessity of resistance. Parliament, less jealous of its
liberties, would not venture on any opposition; and by degrees the
English were becoming a military people. The national debt was
increased, in order to afford supplies to the coalition and the army;
the executive was becoming accustomed to encroachments which had been
tolerated in the beginning, and it would willingly have maintained them
as an acquired right. Thus, the strained situation into which every
Government was forced by the Emperor was changing the Constitution of
Great Britain, and possibly, had the continental system lasted for a
length of time, the English could only have recovered their liberties
through violence or sedition. This was the Emperor’s secret hope. He
fomented rebellion in Ireland; supported as he was by every absolute
sovereign on the Continent, he helped and protected the Opposition in
England by all the means in his power, while the London newspapers in
his pay stirred up the people to claim their liberties.

At a later period I heard M. de Talleyrand, who was greatly alarmed at
this contest, express himself with more warmth than he usually displays
in stating his opinions. “Tremble, foolish people that you are,” said
he, “at the Emperor’s success over the English; for, if the English
Constitution is destroyed, understand clearly that the civilization of
the world will be shaken to its very foundations.”

Before leaving Berlin the Emperor issued several decrees, dated thence,
showing that, although he was at the camp, he had both leisure and will
to attend to other pursuits besides those of war. Such were the
appointment of certain prefects, a decree for the organization of the
Naval Office, and one designating the site of the Madeleine, on the
Boulevard, for the monument to be erected to the glory of the French
army. Competition for designs for this monument was invited by circulars
from the Minister of the Interior, which were distributed in every
direction. Numerous promotions were made in the army, and there was a
general distribution of crosses.

On the 25th of November the Emperor departed for Posen. The bad state of
the roads obliged him to exchange his traveling-carriage for a country
wagon. The Grand Marshal of the Palace was overturned in his _calèche_,
and dislocated his collar bone. The same accident happened to M. de
Talleyrand’s carriage, but he escaped without hurt; on account of his
lameness, he had to remain four and twenty hours on the road in his
overturned carriage, until means could be found to enable him to
continue his journey. About this time he took occasion to answer a
letter I had written to him. “I reply to your letter,” he writes, “in
the midst of the mud of Poland; next year, perhaps, I may address you
from the sandy deserts of I know not what country. I beg you to remember
me in your prayers.” The Emperor was only too much inclined to despise
the obstacles that destroyed part of his army. Moreover, it was
imperative to march onward. The Russians were advancing, and he did not
choose to await them in Prussia.

On the 2d of December the Senate was convoked in Paris. The
Arch-Chancellor read a letter from the Emperor, giving an account of his
victories, promising others in the future, and requesting a _senatus
consultum_ which should order an immediate levy of the conscripts of
1807. This levy, in ordinary times, was made in September only. A
commission was appointed for form’s sake. This commission sat in
consultation upon the request for one morning only, and the next day but
one—that is, on the 4th—the _senatus consultum_ was reported.

It was also about this epoch that the dispute between the Academy and
Cardinal Maury was settled. The Emperor decided the question, and a long
article appeared anonymously in the “Moniteur,” which ended with these
words: “The Academy, doubtless, has no wish to deprive a man, whose
great abilities were conspicuous during a time of civil discord, of a
right which custom confers upon him. His admission to the Academy was
another step toward the entire oblivion of past events which can alone
insure the duration of the tranquillity that has been restored to us.
This is a long article on a subject which is apparently of very small
importance; nevertheless, the light in which some persons have
endeavored to place it gives rise to serious consideration. We perceive
to what fluctuations we should once more be exposed, into what
uncertainty we should again be thrown, only that fortunately for us the
helm of the state is in the hands of a pilot whose arm is strong, whose
steering is steady, and who has but one aim in view—the happiness of
the country.”

While Bonaparte forced his soldiers to endure terrible hardships of all
kinds in the prosecution of the war, he lost no opportunity of proving
that nothing interfered with the interest he, in the midst of camps,
took in the progress of civilization.

An order of the day, dated from headquarters of the Grand Army, is as
follows: “In the name of the Emperor. The University of Jena, its
professors, teachers, and students, its possessions, revenues, and other
prerogatives whatsoever, are placed under the special protection of the
commanders of the French and allied troops. The course of study will be
continued. Students are consequently authorized to return to Jena, and
it is the Emperor’s intention to favor that town as much as possible.”

The King of Saxony, subdued by the power of the conqueror, broke off his
alliance with Prussia and concluded a treaty with the Emperor. During a
long reign this prince had enjoyed the blessings of peace and order.
Venerated by his subjects, and occupied solely with their welfare,
nothing but the hurricane of Bonaparte’s success could have brought the
horrors of war among the peaceful valleys of his kingdom. He was too
weak to resist the shock; he submitted, and tried to save his people by
accepting the victor’s terms. But his fidelity to treaties could not
save him, because Saxony subsequently became of necessity the
battle-field on which the neighboring sovereigns contended more than
once for victory.

Meanwhile, Paris and its inhabitants became every day more gloomy. The
bulletins contained only vague accounts of bloody conflicts, with small
results. It was easy to infer, from occasional allusions to the severity
of the season and the ruggedness of the country, that our soldiers had
great obstacles to surmount and much suffering to bear. Private letters,
although cautiously written, or they would not have reached their
destination, betrayed general anxiety and distress. The least movements
of our army were represented as victories, but the Emperor’s very
triumphs involved him in difficulty.

The distinct advantage with which the campaign had opened made the
Parisians hard to please as the war went on. Much trouble was taken to
keep up the enthusiasm. The bulletins were solemnly read at the
theatres; guns were fired from the Invalides immediately on receipt of
news from the army; poets were paid for hastily written odes, chants of
victory, and interludes, which were splendidly represented at the Opéra,
and on the following day articles written to order commented on the
heartiness of the applause.

The Empress, who was restless, idle, and tired of Mayence, wrote
continually, begging to be allowed to go to Berlin. The Emperor was on
the point of yielding to her, and I learned from M. de Rémusat with
fresh sorrow that in all probability his absence would be prolonged. But
the arrival of the Russians, and the obligation he was under of marching
into Poland, made Bonaparte change his mind. Moreover, he was informed
that Paris was dull, and that the tradespeople were complaining of the
harm done them by the general uneasiness. He sent orders to his wife to
return to the Tuileries, there to keep up the accustomed splendor of her
Court, and we all received commands to amuse ourselves ostentatiously.

Meanwhile, after a few partial engagements, the Emperor determined on
going into winter quarters; but the Russians, who were better used to
the severity of the climate and the rudeness of the country, would not
allow of this, and after measuring their strength in some bloody
encounters, where our success was dearly bought, the two armies met face
to face near the village of Preussisch Eylau, which has given its name
to a sanguinary battle. One shudders even now at the description of that
terrible day. The cold was piercing, and the snow falling fast; but the
opposition of the elements only increased the ferocity of both armies.
For twelve hours they fought, without either side being able to claim
the victory. The loss of men was immense. Toward evening the Russians
retreated in good order, leaving a considerable number of their wounded
on the field of battle. Both sovereigns, Russian and French, ordered the
_Te Deum_ to be sung. The fact is, this horrible butchery was to no
purpose, and the Emperor afterward said that, if the Russian army had
attacked him on the following day, it is probable he would have been
beaten. But this was an additional reason for him to exult over the
victory loudly. He wrote to the bishops, informed the Senate of his
alleged success, contradicted in his own journals the foreign versions
of the event, and concealed as much as possible the losses that we had
sustained. It is said that he visited the battle-field, and that the
awful spectacle made a great impression on him. This would seem to be
true, because the bulletin in which the fact is stated is written in a
very simple style, unlike that of the others, in which he generally
figures in a theatrical attitude.

On his return, he ordered a very fine painting from Gros the artist, in
which he is represented among the dead and dying, lifting his eyes to
heaven, as if praying for resignation. The expression given to him by
the painter is extremely beautiful. I have often gazed at the picture
with emotion, hoping with all my heart—for it still desired to cling to
him—that such had really been the expression of his countenance on that

M. Denon, Director of the Museum, and one of the most obsequious
servants of the Emperor, always followed him in his campaigns, in order
to select objects of value in every conquered city, to add to the
treasures of that magnificent collection. He fulfilled his task with
exactness, which, people said, resembled rapacity, and he was accused of
appropriating a share of the plunder. Our soldiers knew him only by the
name of “The Auctioneer.” After the battle of Eylau, and while at
Warsaw, he received orders to have a monument erected in commemoration
of the day. The more doubtful it was, the more the Emperor insisted on
its being held to be a victory. Denon sent to Paris a poetical account
of the Emperor’s visit to the wounded. Many persons have declared that
the painting by Gros represented a fiction, like that of the visit to
the pest-stricken at Jaffa. But why should it be denied that Bonaparte
could sometimes feel?

The subject was open to competition among our principal painters. A
considerable number of sketches were sent in. Gros obtained every vote,
and the choice fell upon him.

The battle of Eylau was fought on the 10th of February, 1807.

[Illustration: One shudders even now at the description of that terrible
 For twelve hours they fought without either side being able to claim the

                             CHAPTER  XXIII


AFTER the battle of Eylau, both armies were forced to come to a halt,
in consequence of the confusion produced by a thaw, and both went into
winter quarters. Our troops were in cantonments near Marienwerder, and
the Emperor established himself in a country-house near Osterode.

The Empress had returned to Paris at the end of January. She was out of
spirits, vaguely anxious, and not overpleased with those members of the
Court who had accompanied her to Mayence. Besides this, she was in a
state of nervousness, as she always was during the Emperor’s absence,
for she dreaded his disapproval of her actions. She was most gracious,
and showed all her former friendship for me. It was said by some members
of the Court that her low spirits were partly caused by tender feelings
which she entertained toward a certain young equerry, then absent with
the Emperor. I never inquired into the truth of this story, nor did she
ever mention it to me; but, on the contrary, she was distressed by the
stories she was told by some Polish ladies then in Paris, concerning the
Emperor and a young countrywoman of theirs. Her affection for her
husband was always dashed with the dread of divorce; and, of all her
feelings, this was, I believe, the strongest. She would occasionally
introduce a few words on the subject in her letters to Bonaparte, but he
never made the least reply to them.

She tried to conform to the Emperor’s wishes. She gave and accepted
invitations, and could at any time find relief from her cares in the
delight of displaying a magnificent dress. She behaved to her
sisters-in-law coldly, but with prudence; she received a great number of
persons, and always graciously, and she never said a word that was not
studiously insignificant.

I once suggested to her that she might divert her mind by going to the
theatre; but she told me that she did not derive enough amusement from
the plays to go _incognito_, and that she could not venture to go
publicly. “Why, madame?” I asked her. “I think the applause you would
receive would be pleasing to the Emperor.” “You do not know him, then,”
was her reply. “If I was received with much cordiality, I am sure he
would be jealous of any little triumph which he would not have shared.
When I am applauded he likes to take part in my success; and I should
only mortify him by seeking any when he can not be present.”

The uneasiness of the Empress Josephine was increased by any appearance
of mutual understanding between several persons about her; she always
imagined they were conspiring to injure her. Bonaparte had infected her
with his habitual suspicion. She felt no fear of Mme. Joseph Bonaparte,
who, although at that time Queen of Naples, was residing quietly at the
Luxembourg Palace, being reluctant to exchange her peaceful life for
that of a sovereign. The two Princes—one the Arch-Chancellor, the other
the Arch-Treasurer of the Empire—were timorous and reserved; they paid
her an assiduous court, and inspired her with no distrust.

Princess Borghese, who combined constant ill health with a life of
intrigue, joined in no political schemes, excepting such as were common
to the whole family. But the Grand Duchess of Berg caused her
sister-in-law constant jealousy and apprehension. She lived in great
splendor at the Elysée-Bourbon Palace. Her beauty was set off by the
most exquisite dress; her pretensions were great, her manners affable
when she thought it prudent, and more than affable to men whom she
wished to fascinate. She was unscrupulous when intent on injuring, and
she hated the Empress, yet never lost her self-control. Of such a woman
Josephine might well be afraid. At this time, as I have said, Caroline
was desirous of obtaining the crown of Poland, and she endeavored to
make friends among the influential members of the Government who might
be useful to her. General Junot, Governor of Paris, became one of her
ardent admirers, and, either from a reciprocal feeling or from
interested motives, she contrived to make his tender sentiments serve
her purpose; so that the Governor of Paris, in his reports to the
Emperor—a certain branch of police being in his charge—always gave
favorable accounts of the Grand Duchess of Berg.

Another intimacy, in which there was no question of love, but which was
of great use to her, was that between Fouché and herself. Fouché was on
bad terms with M. de Talleyrand, who was no favorite of Mme. Murat’s.
She wanted to secure her present position, and especially to elevate her
husband in spite of himself. She hinted to the Minister of Police that
M. de Talleyrand would contrive to have him removed, and she tried to
gain his affection by a number of other little confidential
communications. This intimacy gave daily recurring distress to the poor
frightened Empress, who narrowly watched all her words and actions.
Parisian society concerned itself little with these Court secrets, and
took no interest in the members of the Court circle. We had the
appearance of being, and we were in fact, merely a living puppet-show,
set up to surround the Emperor with what seemed to him necessary state.
The conviction that no one had any influence over him led people to
concern themselves little with his surroundings. Every one knew
beforehand that his will only would finally determine all things.

Meanwhile, the sovereigns who were either related or allied to the
Emperor sent deputations to Poland, to congratulate him on his
victories. From Naples, Amsterdam, and Milan came envoys to Warsaw,
offering homage from the various states. The kingdom of Naples was
disquieted by disturbances in Calabria only, but this was enough to keep
it in agitation. The new King, a lover of pleasure, did not carry out
with sufficient firmness the plan which the Emperor had laid down for
the kingdoms he had called into existence. The Emperor also found fault
with his brother Louis; but those reproaches did honor to the latter.

Louis’s domestic affairs became every day more deplorable. Mme. Louis,
who had enjoyed some liberty at Mayence, no doubt found it hard to
return to the dreary bondage in which she was held by her husband; and
the depression, which she did not sufficiently conceal, embittered him,
perhaps, still more. The division between them increased until they
lived apart in the palace—she in retirement with two or three of her
ladies, and he immersed in affairs, and making no secret of his
dissatisfaction with his wife. He would not allow the Dutch to impute
all the blame of the notorious domestic troubles to him. Who can say to
what such a position of affairs might have led, but for the common
misfortune which shortly fell upon the unhappy pair, and which drew them
together in a common sorrow?

Toward the end of the winter an order from the Emperor reached Paris, to
the effect that the newspapers were to remind persons distinguished
either in art or science that the decree, dated from Aix-la-Chapelle,
24th Fructidor, year 12, concerning the decennial prizes, was to come
into effect at the expiration of one year and eight months from the then
date. This decree promised considerable rewards to every author of an
important work, of any kind whatsoever. The prizes were to be assigned
at intervals of ten years, dating from the 18th Brumaire, and the jury
which was to allot them was to consist of members of the Institute. This
project has real greatness in it; we shall see, hereafter, how it fell
to pieces in consequence of a fit of ill humor on the part of the

In March the Vice-Queen of Italy gave birth to a daughter, and the
Empress was much pleased at being grandmother to a little princess
related to all the greatest powers in Europe.

During the suspension of war on both sides, from the inclemency of the
season, the Emperor took every means to insure that in the spring his
army should be more formidable than ever. The kingdoms of Italy and
Naples had to furnish further contingents. Men born under the smiling
skies of those beautiful lands were suddenly transported to the wild
banks of the Vistula; and they might wonder at the change, until others
were seen marching from Cadiz, to perish beneath the walls of Moscow,
thus affording a proof of the courage and strength of which men are
capable, and also of what can be done by the strength of the human will.
The army was reorganized; our newspapers were filled with columns of
promotions, and it is curious, among these military decrees, to come
upon one dated, like the rest, from Osterode, appointing bishops to
vacant sees both in France and in Italy.

But, notwithstanding our victories, or perhaps because of them, our army
had suffered considerable loss. The extreme humidity of the climate
caused sickness among the troops. Russia was evidently about to make an
immense effort. The Emperor felt that this campaign must be decisive;
and, not feeling satisfied that the numerous troops furnished to him
were sufficient to insure victory, he put his own power and our
submission to the test. After having, at the end of December, 1806,
levied the conscription for 1807, he demanded from the Senate in April
the levy for 1808. The Prince of Neufchâtel’s report, which was
published in the “Moniteur,” announced that during the year the army had
been augmented by one hundred and sixty thousand men, levied by the
conscriptions of 1806 and 1807; sixteen thousand men were non-combatants
either from sickness or superannuation, and, without troubling himself
with calculations, which it was too certain no one would venture to
make, because it was our system to conceal our losses, he put down the
“casualties” of the campaign at fourteen thousand men. As our army had
been increased by only a hundred and thirty thousand efficient soldiers,
prudence required that the eighty thousand men of the conscription of
1808 should be raised, and drilled, each in his own department. “Were
this delayed,” said the report, “the men would have to march at once to
the seat of war; but, by making the levy six months in advance, they
will acquire strength and knowledge, and will be better able to defend

State Councilor Regnault de St. Jean d’Angely, who was the bearer of the
Imperial message to the Senate, paused when he came to this portion of
the report, and called the attention of the Senators to the paternal
goodness of the Emperor, who would not allow the new conscripts to brave
the dangers of war without some previous preparation. The Emperor’s
letter announced that the whole of Europe was again in arms—that two
hundred thousand recruits had been raised in England; and declared his
own desire for peace, on condition that the English were not prompted by
passion to seek their own prosperity in our abasement.

The Senate passed the required decree, and voted an address of
congratulation and thanks to the Emperor. He must have smiled on
receiving it.

The minds of men who wield absolute power need to be very generous, in
order to resist the temptation to despise the human species—a
temptation which is only too well justified by the submission that is
accorded to them. When Bonaparte beheld a whole nation giving him its
life-blood and its treasure in order to satisfy his insatiable ambition,
when educated men of that nation consented to veil his acts of invasion
on the human will in plausible phrases, how could he fail to regard the
whole world as a vast field, open to the first person who would
undertake to occupy and till it? Heroic greatness of soul alone could
have discerned that the adulatory words and the blind obedience of the
citizens who were isolated by the tyranny of his institutions, and then
decimated at his command, were dictated by constraint only.

And yet, although Bonaparte had none of those generous feelings,
reasonable observation might have shown him that the alert obedience
with which the French marched to the battle-field was but a misdirection
of that national spirit which a great Revolution had aroused in a great
people. The cry of liberty had awakened generous enthusiasm, but the
confusion that ensued had rendered men afraid to complete their work.
The Emperor skillfully seized on this moment of hesitation, and turned
it to his own advantage. For the last thirty years the French character
has been so developed that the bulk of our citizens of every class have
been possessed by the desire to live, or, if to live were impossible, by
the desire to die, for some particular object. Bonaparte did not,
however, invariably mistake the bent of the genius of the people whom he
had undertaken to rule, but he felt within himself the strength to
control it, and he directed it, or rather misdirected it, to his own

It was becoming hard to serve him; feelings which seemed instinctively
to warn us of what was to come were not to be repressed. Many were the
sad reflections of my husband and myself—I remember them well—in the
midst of the splendor and luxury of a position for which we were no
doubt envied. As I have said, our means were small when we joined the
First Consul’s Court. His gifts, which were sold rather than freely
bestowed, had surrounded us with luxury on which he insisted. I was
still young, and I found myself enabled to gratify the tastes of youth
and to enjoy the pleasures of a brilliant position. I had a beautiful
house; I had fine diamonds; every day I might vary my elegant dress; a
chosen circle of friends dined at my table; every theatre was open to
me; there was no fête given in Paris to which I was not invited; and yet
even then an inexplicable cloud hung over me. Often on our return from a
splendid entertainment at the Tuileries, and while still wearing our
garb of state—or shall I say, of servitude?—my husband and I would
seriously discuss all that was passing around us. A secret anxiety as to
the future, an ever-growing distrust of our master, oppressed us both.
Without distinctly knowing what we dreaded, we were aware that there was
something to dread. “I am unfitted,” my husband used to say, “for the
narrow and idle life of a Court.”  “I can not admire,” I would say to
him, “that which costs so much blood and misery.” We were weary of
military glory, and shocked at the fierce severity it often inspires in
those who have gained it; and perhaps the repugnance we felt for it was
a presentiment of the price which Bonaparte was to make France pay for
the greatness that he forced upon her.

To these painful feelings was added the fear of being unable to feel any
affection for him whom we must still continue to serve. This was one of
my secret troubles. I clung with the enthusiasm of youth and imagination
to the admiration for the Emperor that I desired to retain; I sincerely
tried to deceive myself with regard to him; I eagerly recalled cases
when he had acted up to my hopes. The struggle was painful and vain, but
I suffered more after I had relinquished it. In 1814 numbers of people
wondered at my ardent desire for the fall of the founder of our fortune,
and for the return of those who would ruin it; they accused us of
ingratitude in so promptly forsaking the cause of the Emperor, and
honored us with their surprise because of the patience with which we
endured our heavy loss. They were unable to read our hearts; they were
ignorant of the impressions that had been made on us long before. The
return of the King ruined us, but it set our hearts and minds at
liberty. It promised a future in which our child might freely yield to
the noble inspirations of his youth. “My son,” said his father, “will
perhaps be poor, but he will not be shackled and hampered as we have
been.” It is not sufficiently known in the world—that is, in the
regulated and factitious society of a great city—that there is
happiness in a position which allows of the complete development of
one’s feelings and of freedom in all one’s thoughts.

On the feast of St. Joseph, Princess Borghese and Princess Caroline gave
a little fête in honor of the Empress. A large party was invited. A
comedy or vaudeville was acted, full of verses in honor of the Emperor
and in praise of Josephine. The two Princesses represented
shepherdesses, and looked exquisitely lovely. General Junot took the
part of a soldier just returned from the army, and in love with one of
the young girls. The position seemed to suit them perfectly, whether on
the stage or elsewhere. But Bonaparte’s two sisters, although
Princesses, sang out of tune; and, as each could detect this in the
other, she ridiculed her sister’s performance. Both my sister and I took
part in the piece. I was greatly amused at the rehearsals by the mutual
spitefulness of the two sisters, who had little love for each other, and
the vexation of the author and the composer. Both thought a good deal of
the production; they were annoyed at hearing their verses and songs
badly rendered; they dared not complain, and, when they ventured on
timid remonstrance, every one hastened to silence them.

The play was ill performed. The Empress cared little for the insincere
homage of her sisters-in-law, and remembered that on this same stage, a
few years before, she had seen her own children, young, gay, and loving,
touch even Bonaparte’s heart by offering him flowers. She told me that
during the whole evening this recollection had been present with her.
She was now away from her husband, anxious about him, uneasy about
herself, far from her son and daughter. Ever since the day she ascended
the throne she had regretted her happier past.

On the occasion of her fête-day the Emperor wrote affectionately to her:
“I dislike very much being so far away from you. The chill of the
climate seems to lay hold of my heart. We are all longing for Paris,
that Paris which one regrets in every place, and for whose sake we are
always in pursuit of glory, and after all, Josephine, only that we may
be applauded on our return by the crowd at the Opéra. When spring comes,
I hope to beat the Russians thoroughly, and then, mesdames, we will go
home, and you shall crown us with laurel.”

During the winter the siege of Dantzic was begun. Bonaparte took it into
his head to give some glory (as he called it) to Savary. The military
reputation of the latter did not stand very high with the army; but he
was useful to the Emperor in other ways, and covetous of reward. The
Emperor foresaw that some day he would be obliged to give him a
decoration, in order to be able to use him as occasion might arise; so
he chose to say that Savary had obtained an advantage of some kind over
the Russians, and bestowed on him the grand cordon of the Legion of
Honor. Military men disapproved, but Bonaparte cared as little for them
as for others, and to bestow reward independently of merit or desert was
a favorite exercise of his independence.

He seldom left his headquarters at Osterode, except for the purpose of
inspecting the various cantonments. He issued decrees on a great number
of subjects. He wrote a letter to M. de Champagny, the Minister of the
Interior, which was mentioned in the “Moniteur,” ordering him to
announce to the Institute that a statue would be presented to it in
honor of D’Alembert, the French mathematician, who, more than any other,
had contributed to the advancement of science.

The bulletins contained statements of the position of the army only, and
of the Emperor’s health, which continued to be excellent. He often rode
forty leagues in a day. He continued to make numerous promotions in his
army, which were published in the “Moniteur” indiscriminately, and under
the same date with the appointment of certain bishops.

The Empress of Austria’s death occurred at this time. She was only
thirty-four years of age. She left four sons and five daughters. The
Princes of Bavaria and Baden, and some others belonging to the
Confederation of the Rhine, were staying with the army and paying court
to the Emperor. When the day’s work was over, he attended concerts,
given for him by Paër the musician, whom he had met at Berlin, and whom
he engaged in his service and brought back with him to Paris. M. de
Talleyrand’s society was no doubt a great resource to the Emperor, but
he frequently left him, in order to pass some days in great state at
Warsaw, where he conversed with the nobles, and kept up the hopes which
it was thought desirable they should not abandon. It was at Warsaw that
M. de Talleyrand negotiated on the Emperor’s behalf with ambassadors
from the Porte and from Persia. Bonaparte permitted them to witness some
manœuvres by a part of his army. At Warsaw also a suspension of arms
between France and Sweden was signed.

The difficulty about the _Monseigneur_ having been settled, Cardinal
Maury was admitted to the Institute, and delivered a panegyric on the
Abbé de Radovilliers as the usual reception speech. An immense crowd was
present, but the Cardinal disappointed public expectation. His discourse
was long and tedious, and it was justly inferred that his abilities were
absolutely worn out. His pastorals and some Lenten sermons which he
preached subsequently confirm that impression.

The death of her little grandson, Napoleon, on the 5th of May, was a
severe blow to the Empress. The child, after a few days’ illness, died
of croup. The despair of the Queen of Holland surpassed description. She
clung to the body of her son, and had to be removed by force. Louis
Bonaparte, who was terrified as well as grieved at the state of his
wife, treated her with great tenderness, and their loss brought about a
sincere, though only temporary, reconciliation between them. At
intervals the Queen became completely delirious, shrieking, calling on
her son, and invoking death; and she was unable to recognize those who
approached her. When reason partly returned, she remained buried in
profound silence, and was indifferent to all around. At times, however,
she would gently thank her husband for his care, in a manner which
showed her deep regret that such a misfortune had been needed to change
their mutual feelings. On one of these occasions, Louis, true to his
strange and jealous temper, while standing beside his wife’s bed, and
promising her that in future he would do all he could to make her happy,
insisted on her confessing the faults he imagined she had committed.
“Confide your errors to me,” he said; “I will forgive them all. We are
about to begin a new life which will for ever efface the past.” With all
the solemnity of grief, and in the hope of death, the Queen assured him
that, ready as she was to appear before the throne of God, she had not
even the semblance of a guilty thought of which to accuse herself. The
King, still unconvinced, asked her to swear this; but, even after she
had taken an oath of her truth, he could not believe her, but
recommenced his importunities, until his wife, exhausted by her grief,
by the answers she had made, and by this dreadful persecution, felt
herself about to faint, and said: “Leave me in peace; I shall not escape
from you. We will resume the subject to-morrow.” And with these words
she again lost consciousness.

When the young Prince’s death was made known in Paris, a courier was
dispatched to the Emperor, Mme. Murat started for the Hague, and a few
days later the Empress went to Brussels, whither Louis himself brought
his wife and their surviving little son, in order to place them under
the care of the Empress. He seemed to be in great grief, and to be very
anxious about Queen Hortense, who remained in a state approaching
delirium. It was settled that, after a few days’ repose at Malmaison,
she was to pass several months in the Pyrenees, where her husband would
subsequently join her. After staying one day at the palace of Lacken,
near Brussels, the King returned to Holland, and the Empress, her
daughter, the latter’s second son, thenceforth of necessity called
Napoleon, and the Grand Duchess of Berg, who was ill calculated to
console two persons whom she so greatly disliked, came back to Paris. M.
de Rémusat, who was in attendance on the Empress on this melancholy
journey, told me on his return of the attention with which Louis had
treated his wife, and that he had observed that Mme. Murat was
displeased by it.

Mme. Louis Bonaparte remained at Malmaison for a fortnight in profound
retirement and deep dejection. Toward the end of May she left for
Cauterets. She was indifferent to all things, tearless, sleepless,
speechless. She would press the hand of any one who spoke to her, and
every day, at the hour of her son’s death, she had a violent hysterical
attack. I never beheld grief so painful to witness. She was pale,
motionless, her eyes rigidly fixed—one could not but weep on
approaching her; then she would utter these few words: “Why do you weep?
He is dead—I know it well; but I do not suffer. I assure you I feel

During her journey to the south, a tremendous storm roused her from this
state of lethargy. There had been a storm on the day that her son died.
When the thunder roared this time, she listened to it attentively; as it
increased in violence, she was seized with a terrible nervous attack,
followed by a flood of tears; and from that instant she regained the
power of feeling and of suffering, and gave herself up to a profound
grief which never completely subsided. Although I can not continue her
history without anticipating dates, I will nevertheless conclude this
episode in her life at once. She took up her abode among the mountains
with a small suite, and tried to escape from herself by continually
walking, so as to exhaust her strength. In a state of constant painful
excitement, she wandered through the valleys of the Pyrenees, or climbed
the rocks, attempting the most difficult ascents, and seemed, I have
been told by others, as if only bent on wearing herself out.

At Cauterets she met by chance with M. Decazes, who was then young,
unknown to fame, and, like the Queen, in deep grief. He had lost his
young wife, and was in bad health. These two met and understood each
other’s grief. It is extremely probable that Mme. Louis, who was too
unhappy to restrict herself to the conventionalities of her rank, and
refused to receive unsympathetic persons, was more accessible to a man
suffering from a sorrow like her own. M. Decazes was young and handsome;
the idle sojourners at a watering-place and the inconsiderate tongue of
scandal pretended there was something more than friendship in this. The
Queen was too much absorbed in her sorrow to take notice of anything
that was going on around her. Her only companions were young friends
devoted to her, anxious about her health, and eager to procure her the
least alleviation. Meanwhile letters were written to Paris full of
gossip about the Queen and M. Decazes.

At the end of the summer King Louis rejoined his wife in the south of
France. It would seem that the sight of the sorrowing mother and of his
only surviving son softened his heart. The interview was affectionate on
both sides, and the married pair, who for long had lived in
estrangement, were once more reconciled. Had Louis returned immediately
to the Hague, it is probable that the reconciliation would have been
lasting; but he accompanied his wife to Paris, and their domestic union
displeased Mme. Murat. I was told by the Empress that at first, on their
return to Paris, her daughter was deeply touched by the grief of her
husband, and said that, through suffering, a new bond had been formed
between them, and that she felt she could forgive the past. But Mme.
Murat—or so the Empress believed on what appeared to be good
grounds—began once more to disturb her brother’s mind. She related to
him, without appearing to believe them herself, the stories told of the
Queen’s meetings with M. Decazes. Less than this would have sufficed to
rekindle Louis’s jealousy and suspicion. I can not now remember whether
he had himself met M. Decazes in the Pyrenees, or whether he had merely
heard him spoken of by his wife; for, as she attached not the least
importance to her acquaintance with him, she often said, before other
persons, how much she had been touched by the similarity of their
sorrows, and how deeply she felt, in her own grief, for the desolation
of the bereaved husband.

The Empress, who was alarmed at the emaciated condition of her daughter,
and who feared for her the fatigue of another journey, as well as the
climate of Holland, entreated the Emperor, who had then returned to
Paris, to persuade Louis to allow his wife to remain in Paris for her
confinement. The Emperor obtained permission for her by commanding Louis
to grant it. The latter, who was angry, embittered, and no doubt ill
pleased at being forced to return alone to the gloomy mists of his
kingdom, and who was beset by his own bad temper, resumed his suspicions
and his ill humor, and once more vented both on his wife. At first she
could hardly believe him to be in earnest; but, when she found herself
again being insulted, when she began to understand that even in her
sorrow she was not respected, and that she had been thought capable of
an intrigue at a time when she had been only longing for death, she fell
into a state of utter dejection. Indifferent to the present, to the
future, to every tie she felt contempt for her husband, which perhaps
she allowed to be too plainly perceptible, and she thought only of how
she might contrive to live apart from him. All this took place in the
autumn of 1807. When I shall have reached that date, I may have more to
say about this unhappy woman.

The Empress shed many tears over the death of her grandson. Besides the
ardent affection she had cherished for this child, who was of a lovable
disposition, her own position was, she felt, endangered by his death.
She had hoped that Louis’s children would make up to the Emperor for her
lack of offspring, and the terrible divorce, which cost her so often
such agonizing dread, seemed after this sad loss once more to threaten
her. She spoke to me at the time of her secret fears, and I had much
difficulty in soothing her.

Even at the present day the impression produced by M. de Fontanes’ fine
speech on this misfortune, into which he contrived to introduce a
remarkable description of Bonaparte’s prosperity, is not yet forgotten.
The Emperor had ordered that the colors taken from the enemy in this
last campaign and the sword of Frederick the Great should be borne in
state to the Invalides. A _Te Deum_ was to be sung, and an oration
delivered in the presence of the great dignitaries, the Ministers, the
Senate, and the pensioners themselves. The ceremony, which took place on
the 17th of May, 1807, was very imposing, and the speech of M. de
Fontanes will perpetuate for us the remembrance of those sacred spoils,
which have since been restored to their former owners. The orator was
admired for aggrandizing his hero, and yet for refraining from insult to
the vanquished, and for reserving his praise for what was really heroic.
It was added that, strictly speaking, his praise might be taken for
advice; and such was the state of submission and fear in those days that
M. de Fontanes was held to have displayed remarkable courage.

In his peroration he described his hero surrounded with the pomp of
victory, but turning from it to weep over a child. But the hero did not
weep. He was at first painfully affected by the boy’s death, then shook
off the feeling as soon as possible. M. de Talleyrand told me afterward
that the very next day after hearing the news the Emperor was conversing
freely and just as usual with those around him, and that when he was
about to grant an audience to some of the great nobles from the Court of
Warsaw, who came to offer their condolence, he (M. de Talleyrand)
thought himself obliged to remind him to assume a serious expression,
and ventured to offer a remark on his apparent indifference, to which
the Emperor replied that “he had no time to amuse himself with feelings
and regrets like other men.”

                             CHAPTER  XXIV


MEANWHILE the severity of winter gradually lessened in Poland, and
everything indicated a renewal of hostilities. The bulletin of the 16th
of May informed us that the Emperor of Russia had rejoined his army; and
the temperate language in which the sovereigns were spoken of, together
with the epithet of “brave soldiers” applied to the Russians, made us
understand that a vigorous resistance was expected. The siege of Dantzic
was intrusted to Marshal Lefebvre; some skirmishing took place, and
finally, on the 24th of May, Dantzic capitulated. The Emperor
immediately removed thither. To reward the Marshal, he made him Duke of
Dantzic, and, together with the title, granted him a considerable sum of
money. This was the first creation of the kind. He pointed out its
advantages, in his own way, in a letter which he wrote to the Senate on
the occasion; and he endeavored to lay particular stress on those
reasons for this step which would be least unwelcome to lovers of
equality, whose opinions he was always careful to respect. I have often
heard him speak of the motives which led him to create an intermediate
caste, as he called it, between himself and the vast democracy of
France. His reasons were, the necessity of rewarding important services
in a way not onerous to the state, and of contenting French vanity, and
also that he might have a court about him, like the other sovereigns of
Europe. “Liberty,” he used to say, “is needed by a small and privileged
class, who are gifted by nature with abilities greater than those of the
bulk of mankind. It can therefore be restricted with impunity. Equality,
on the other hand, delights the multitude. I do not hurt that principle
by giving titles to certain men, without respect of birth, which is now
an exploded notion. I act monarchically in creating hereditary rank, but
I remain within the principles of the Revolution, because my nobility is
not exclusive. The titles I bestow are a kind of civic crown; they may
be won by good actions. Besides, it is a sign of ability when rulers
communicate to those they govern the same impulses they have themselves.
Now, I move by ascending, and the nation must rise in the same way.”

On one occasion, after laying down this system in his wife’s presence
and mine, he suddenly paused—he had been walking up and down the room,
as was his habit—and said: “It is not that I do not perceive that all
these nobles whom I create, and especially the dukes whom I endow with
enormous sums of money, will become partially independent of me. Their
honors and riches will tempt them to get loose, and they will acquire
probably what they will call the _spirit of their class_.” On this he
resumed his walk and was silent for a few minutes; then, turning to us
abruptly, he added, with a smile of which I can not attempt to analyze
the expression, “Ah, but they won’t run so fast but that I shall be able
to catch them!”

Although Lefebvre’s military services were a sufficient reason for the
gifts which the Emperor assigned to him from the battle-field, yet the
mocking humor of the Parisians, unaffected by even justly won glory,
exercised itself upon the dignity of the new Duke. There was something
of the barrack-room about him which partly encouraged this, and his
wife, who was old and excessively homely in her manners, became the
object of general ridicule. She openly expressed her preference for the
pecuniary part of the Emperor’s gifts, and when she made this admission
in the drawing-room at Saint Cloud, and the simplicity of the speech
made some of us laugh, she reddened with anger and said to the Empress,
“Madame, I beg you to make your young hussies hold their tongues.” It
may be imagined that such a sally did not lessen our mirth.

The Emperor would willingly have put a stop to jesting on these points,
but that was beyond his power; and, as it was known that he was
sensitive on the subject, this was a favorite way of retaliating upon
him for his tyranny.

Witty sayings and _calembourgs_ were current in Paris, and written off
to the army. The Emperor, in his vexation, rebuked the Minister of
Police for his carelessness. The latter, affecting a certain disdainful
liberality, replied that he thought he might as well leave idle people
amusement of this kind. However, on learning that contemptuous or
ill-natured remarks had been made in any Paris drawing-room, the
Minister would send for the master or mistress of the house, advise them
to keep a better watch over their guests, and dismiss them full of an
undefined suspicion of their social circle.

Afterward the Emperor contrived to reconcile the old to the new
nobility, by offering the former a share in his gifts; and they, feeling
that every concession, however small in itself, was a recognition of
their privileges, did not disdain favors which replaced them in their
former position.

Meanwhile, the army was strongly reënforced. All our allies contributed
to it. Spaniards hurried across France in order to fight against
Russians on the Vistula; not a sovereign ventured to disobey the orders
he received. The bulletin of the 12th of June announced that hostilities
had recommenced; it also contained an account of the efforts that had
been made to bring about a peace. M. de Talleyrand anxiously desired
this; perhaps the Emperor himself was not averse to it: but the English
Government refused to consent; the young Czar flattered himself that
Austerlitz would be forgotten; Prussia was weary of us and wishing for
the return of her King; Bonaparte, as conqueror, imposed severe
conditions, and war broke out again. Some partial engagements were to
our advantage, and our usual activity was resumed. The two armies met at
Friedland, and we gained another great and hardly contested victory.
Yet, notwithstanding our success, the Emperor felt assured that,
whenever he should be pitted against the Russians, he must be prepared
for a severe struggle, and that on himself and Alexander depended the
fate of the Continent.

A considerable number of our general officers were wounded at Friedland.
M. de Nansouty, my brother-in-law, behaved most gallantly: in order to
support the movements of the army, he endured the enemy’s fire for
several hours at the head of his division of heavy cavalry, maintaining
his men, by his own example, in a state of very trying inaction, which
may be said to have been as sanguinary as the thick of the fight. Prince
Borghese was sent from the battle-field to Saint Cloud to convey the
news of the victory to the Empress; he held out at the same time the
hope of an early peace, and the rumor, which was soon spread, was no
little enhancement of the victory.

The battle of Friedland was followed by a rapid march of our troops. The
Emperor reached the village of Tilsit, on the banks of the Niemen. The
river separated the two armies. An armistice was proposed by the Russian
commander and accepted by us; negotiations were begun.

While these events were taking place, I had gone to Aix-la-Chapelle,
where I was leading a quiet life, and waiting, like the rest of Europe,
for the end of this terrible war. I met there M. Alexandre de Lameth,
who was Prefect of the department. After taking a conspicuous part at
the beginning of the Revolution, he had emigrated, and, after long years
in an Austrian prison, had eventually returned to France at the same
time as M. de la Fayette. Entering the Emperor’s service, he attained
the post of Prefect of the department of the Roer, as it was called, and
managed it extremely well. The education I had received, the opinions I
had heard expressed by my mother and her friends, had prejudiced me
strongly against all who had aided the Revolution in 1789. I looked upon
M. de Lameth as simply factious and ungrateful toward the Court, and as
having thrown himself into opposition as a means of obtaining a
celebrity flattering to his ambition. I was still more inclined to hold
this opinion, because I found that he was a great admirer of Bonaparte,
who certainly did not govern France on a system which emanated from the
Constituent Assembly. But it may be that, like the majority of
Frenchmen, our anarchy had sickened him of liberty so dearly bought, and
that he sincerely welcomed a despotism which restored order to the

My acquaintance with him gave me the opportunity of hearing him
discourse upon the rights of citizens, the balance of power, and liberty
in a restricted sense, M. de Lameth defended the intentions of the
Constituent Assembly, and I had no inclination to dispute the point with
him; it seemed of little importance at the date we had then reached. He
attempted to justify the conduct of the deputies in 1789; and, though I
was unequal to arguing with him, I felt confusedly that he was wrong,
and that the Constituent Assembly had not fulfilled its mission with due
impartiality and conscientiousness. But I was struck with the utility to
a nation of less ephemeral institutions, and the ardent words to which I
listened, together with the depression produced in me by our endless
wars, sowed in my mind the seeds of wholesome and generous thought,
which subsequent events have developed in full. But, whatever our ideas
may have been at that time, our reason or our instinct was forced to
bend before the triumphant fortune which was then raising Napoleon to
the zenith of his fame. He could no longer be judged by ordinary rule;
fortune was so constantly at his side that, in rushing onward to the
most brilliant as well as the most deplorable excesses, he seemed to be
obeying destiny.

In the mean time the important political circumstances gave rise, at
Aix-la-Chapelle as well as in Paris, to rumors of every kind. The
kingdom of Poland was to be founded, and given to Jérôme Bonaparte, who
was to marry a daughter of the Emperor of Austria, and our Emperor was
to carry out the old project of the divorce. The public mind was excited
by the gigantic proportions of actual events, and became more and more
possessed by that longing for the extraordinary which the Emperor so
ably turned to advantage. And, indeed, why should not the country,
seeing what was happening, expect that anything might happen? Mme.
d’Houdetot, who was then living, said of Bonaparte, “He diminishes
history and enlarges imagination.”

After the battle of Friedland the Emperor wrote a really fine letter to
the bishops. The following phrase occurs in it: “This victory has
commemorated the anniversary of the battle of Marengo—of that day when,
still covered with the dust of the battle-field, our first thought, our
first care, were for the reëstablishment of order and peace in the
Church of France.” In Paris the _Te Deum_ was sung and the city was

On the 25th of June the two Emperors, having embarked one on each bank
of the Niemen, in presence of a portion of the two armies, set foot at
the same moment in the pavilion that had been erected for them on a raft
in the middle of the river. They embraced on meeting, and remained
together for two hours. The Emperor Napoleon was accompanied by Dumas,
his Grand Marshal, and Caulaincourt, his Grand Equerry; the Czar, by his
brother Constantine and two great personages of his Court. In that
interview the peace was definitely settled. Bonaparte consented to
restore a portion of his states to the King of Prussia, although his own
inclination was toward a complete change of the form of the conquered
countries, because an entire transformation would better suit his
policy, which had universal dominion for its basis. He was, however,
obliged to sacrifice some part of his projects during this final treaty.
The Czar might still be a formidable enemy, and Napoleon knew that
France was growing weary of the war and demanded his presence. A longer
campaign would have led the army into enterprises of which none could
foresee the issue. It was, therefore, necessary to postpone a portion of
the great plan, and once more to call a halt. The Poles, who had
reckoned upon complete liberation, beheld the portion of Poland that had
belonged to Prussia turned into the duchy of Warsaw, and given to the
King of Saxony as in pledge. Dantzic became a free town, and the King of
Prussia undertook to close his ports to the English. The Emperor of
Russia offered to mediate with England for peace; and Napoleon imagined
that the great importance of the mediator would terminate the quarrel.
His vanity was deeply concerned in bringing our insular neighbors to
recognize his royalty. He frequently said afterward that he felt at
Tilsit that the question of continental empire would one day be decided
between the Czar and himself; and that the magnanimity which Alexander
displayed, the young Prince’s admiration of him, and the genuine
enthusiasm with which he had been inspired in his presence, had
captivated him, and led him to desire that, instead of a total rupture,
a firm and lasting alliance should take place, which might lead to the
division of the Continent between two great sovereigns.

On the 26th the King of Prussia joined the illustrious party on the
raft, and after the conference the three sovereigns repaired to Tilsit,
where they remained while the negotiations lasted, exchanging visits
every day, dining together, holding reviews, and appearing to be on the
best possible terms. Bonaparte employed all the resources of his mind on
this occasion, and kept a close watch over himself. He flattered the
young Emperor, and completely captivated him. M. de Talleyrand completed
the conquest by the skill and grace with which he sustained and colored
his master’s policy; so that Alexander conceived a great friendship for
him, and trusted him entirely. The Queen of Prussia came to Tilsit, and
Bonaparte did all he could to efface the impression of his bulletins, by
treating her with the utmost attention. Neither the Queen nor her
husband could complain. They, the two dispossessed, were forced to
receive what was restored to them of their states with gratitude. These
illustrious conquered ones concealed their pain, and the Emperor
believed that he had gained them to his cause by reëstablishing them in
the parceled-out kingdom from which he was unable to drive them
altogether. He secured to himself in his treaty means of constant
supervision, by leaving French garrisons in the states of certain
second-rate princes; for instance, in Saxony, Coburg, Oldenburg, and
Mecklenburg-Schwerin. A portion of his army still remained on the
northern coast, because it appeared that the King of Sweden would not
enter into the treaty. And, lastly, this war gave birth to a new
kingdom, composed of Westphalia and a portion of the Prussian states.
Jérôme Bonaparte was adorned with this new kingship, and his marriage
with the Princess Catherine was arranged.

M. de Talleyrand and Prince Kourakine signed this treaty on the 9th of
July, 1807, and the Emperor, wearing the decoration of the Russian Order
of St. Andrew, immediately visited the Czar. He asked to see the Russian
soldier who had conducted himself best during the campaign, and gave him
the cross of the Legion with his own hand. The two sovereigns embraced
anew, and parted, after having promised each other an eternal
friendship. Decorations were distributed on both sides. Farewells were
exchanged with great pomp between Bonaparte and the King of Prussia, and
the Continent was once more pacified.

It was impossible to withhold admiration from glory such as this, but it
is certain that the country took much less part in it than formerly.
People began to perceive that it was of the nature of a yoke for us,
though a brilliant one; and, as they were coming to know and distrust
Bonaparte, they feared the consequences of the intoxication which his
power might produce in him. Lastly, the predominance of the military
element was exciting uneasiness; the foreseen vanities of the sword
wounded individual pride. A secret trouble mingled with the general
admiration, and the gloom which it produced was chiefly observable among
those whose places or whose rank must bring them again into contact with
Napoleon. We wondered whether the rude despotism of his manners would
not be more than ever apparent in all his daily actions. We were still
smaller than before in his sight, by all the difference of his added
greatness, and we foresaw that he would make us feel this. Each of us
made his examination of conscience with scrupulous care, seeking to
discover on what point our hard master would manifest his displeasure on
his return. Wife, family, great dignitaries, Ministers, the whole
Court—in fact, everybody suffered from this apprehension; and the
Empress, who knew him better than anybody else, expressed her uneasiness
in the simplest way, saying, “The Emperor is so lucky that he will be
sure to scold a great deal.” The magnanimity of kings consists in
elevating those around them by pouring out upon them a portion of their
own moral greatness; but Bonaparte, who was naturally jealous always
isolated himself, and dreaded anything like sharing. His gifts were
immense after this campaign, but it was perceived that he paid for
services in order that he might hear no more of them; and his
recompenses were so evidently the closing of an account that they
excited no gratitude, while they did, on the contrary, revive claims.

While the momentous interviews of Tilsit were taking place, nothing
happened at Paris except the removal of the body of the young Napoleon
from Saint Leu, in the valley of Montmorency (the residence of Prince
Louis), to Notre Dame. The Arch-Chancellor received the coffin at the
church, and it was committed to the care of the Cardinal Archbishop of
Paris (De Belloy) until the termination of the repairs of Saint Denis,
when it was to be placed in the ancient abbey. The vaults which had
contained the ashes of our kings were then in course of reconstruction.
The scattered remains, which had been outraged during the Reign of
Terror, were now collected together, and the Emperor had given orders
for the erection of expiatory altars in reparation of the sacrilege that
had been perpetrated upon the illustrious dead. This fine and princely
idea did him great honor, and was fitly extolled by some of the poets of
the period.

When the Emperor returned to France, his wife was living at Saint Cloud
with all possible precaution and the strictest prudence. His mother was
living quietly in Paris; her brother, Cardinal Fesch, resided with her.
Mme. Murat inhabited the Elysée, and was skillfully conducting a number
of small schemes. The Princess Borghese was leading the only kind of
life she understood or cared for. Louis and his wife were in the
Pyrenees; they had left their child with the Empress. Joseph Bonaparte
was reigning at Naples, benevolently but feebly, disputing Calabria with
the rebels, and his ports with the English. Lucien was living at Rome,
devoting himself to leisure and the fine arts. Jérôme brought back a
crown; Murat, a strong desire to obtain one, and a deeply cherished
animosity against M. de Talleyrand, whom he regarded as his enemy. He
had formed an intimacy with Maret, the Secretary of State, who was
secretly jealous of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and he highly
approved of his wife’s friendship with Fouché. These four persons were
well aware that the Emperor had conceived, and was cherishing, the
project of a divorce and an illustrious alliance; and they endeavored by
every means to destroy the last links which still bound Josephine to
Bonaparte, so that they might please the Emperor by aiding him to carry
out this idea, and might also foil the Beauharnais and prevent M. de
Talleyrand from acquiring a fresh claim to the confidence of his master.
They wanted to have the direction of this affair in their own hands

M. de Talleyrand had been laboring for several years to acquire a
European reputation, which, on the whole, he well deserved. No doubt he
had more than once approached the subject of the divorce, but he was
especially anxious that this step should lead to the Emperor’s
contracting a great alliance, of which he (M. de Talleyrand) should have
the negotiation. So that, so long as he did not feel certain of
succeeding in his objects, he contrived to restrain the Emperor in this
matter by representing to him that it was of the utmost importance to
select the fitting moment for action. When he returned from this
campaign, the Emperor seemed to place more confidence than ever in M. de
Talleyrand, who had been very useful to him in Poland and in each of his
treaties. His new dignity gave M. de Talleyrand the right to replace
Prince Joseph wherever the rank of Grand Elector called him; but it also
obliged him to relinquish the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was
beneath his present rank. He was, however, entirely in Napoleon’s
confidence with respect to foreign affairs, and was consulted by him in
preference to the real Minister. Some would-be wise persons claimed
afterward to have foreseen that M. de Talleyrand was exchanging a secure
post for a brilliant but precarious position; and Bonaparte himself let
it appear sometimes that he had not returned from Tilsit without feeling
some displeasure at the preponderance of his Minister in Europe, and
that he was annoyed at the generally prevalent belief that M. de
Talleyrand was necessary to him. By changing his office, and availing
himself of his services in consultation only, he made use of him just as
he wished, while reserving the power of setting him aside or of not
following his guidance whenever either course should suit him. I
remember an anecdote which illustrates this position of affairs. M. de
Champagny, a clever but narrow-minded man, was transferred from the
Ministry of the Interior to that of Foreign Affairs, and M. de
Talleyrand, on presenting to him the various persons who were to be
under his authority, said: “Here, sir, are many highly commendable
persons. They will give you every satisfaction. You will find them
capable, punctual, exact, and trustworthy, but, thanks to my training,
not at all zealous.” At these words M. de Champagny expressed some
surprise. “Yes,” continued M. de Talleyrand, affecting the utmost
seriousness; “with the exception of a few dispatching clerks, who fold
up their covers with undue precipitation, every one here observes the
greatest calmness, and all are totally unused to haste. When you have
had to transact the business of the interests of Europe with the Emperor
for a little while, you will see how important it is not to be in any
hurry to seal and send off his decisions.” M. de Talleyrand amused the
Emperor by relating this incident, and describing the crestfallen and
astonished air with which his successor received the useful hint. It
will not be inappropriate to place here a statement of the cumulative
income of which M. de Talleyrand was at this time in the receipt:

         As Grand Elector                                 330,000
         As Grand Chamberlain                              40,000
         From the Principality of Benevento               120,000
         As Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor              5,000
               Total                                      495,000

Certain endowments were afterward added to this sum. His personal
fortune was estimated at three hundred thousand louis per annum; I never
knew whether this was correct. The various treaties brought him immense
sums of money and presents of enormous value. He lived in great style,
and made very handsome allowances to his brothers. He bought the fine
estate of Valençay, and furnished the house most luxuriously. At the
time of which I am now speaking he had a fancy for books, and his
library was superb. That year the Emperor ordered him to make a
sumptuous display, and to purchase a house suitable to his dignity as a
prince, promising that he himself would pay for it. M. de Talleyrand
bought the Hôtel de Monaco, Rue de Varenne, enlarged it, and decorated
it extensively. The Emperor, having quarreled with him, did not keep his
word, but threw him into considerable embarrassment by obliging him to
pay for this palace himself.

In concluding my sketch of the position of the Imperial family, I must
add that Prince Eugène was then governing his fair realm of Italy with
wisdom and prudence, happy in the affection of his wife, and rejoicing
in the birth of their little daughter.

The Arch-Chancellor Cambacérès, who was cautious both by nature and
training, remained in Paris, maintaining a certain state assigned to him
by the Emperor, and which delighted his childish vanity. With equal
prudence he presided over the State Council, conducting the debates with
method and discernment, and contriving that the prescribed limits should
never be exceeded. Le Brun, the Arch-Treasurer, interfered little with
affairs; he kept up a certain state and managed his own revenues, giving
no cause of offense and exerting no influence.

The Ministers confined themselves to their respective duties, preserving
the attitude of attentive and docile clerks, and conducting the affairs
with which they were intrusted on a uniform system, which had for its
basis the will and the interests of their master. Each one’s orders were
the same: “_Promptitude_ and _submission_.” The Minister of Police
allowed himself a greater liberty of speech than the others. He was
careful to keep on good terms with the Jacobins, for whose good behavior
he made himself responsible to the Emperor. On this very account he was
a little more independent, for he was at the head of a party. He had the
direction of the various branches of police set over France, and was
master of the details. Bonaparte and he may have often told each other
falsehoods in their interviews, but probably neither of them was

M. de Champagny, subsequently Duc de Cadore, who had been Minister of
the Interior, was placed at the head of foreign affairs, and was
succeeded in his former post by State Councilor Crétet, who had been at
first Director-General of Public Works (Ponts et Chaussées). He was not
a clever man, but hard-working and assiduous, and that was all that the
Emperor required.

Requier, the Chief Judge, subsequently Duc de Massa, of whom I have
already spoken, administered justice with persevering mediocrity. The
Emperor was anxious that neither the authority nor the independence of
the law should increase.

The Prince de Neufchâtel made an able War Minister. General Dejean was
at the head of the Commissariat Department. Both were under the personal
superintendence of the Emperor.

M. Gaudin, the wise Minister of Finance, observed an order and
regularity in the management of taxes and receipts which rendered him
valuable to the Emperor. This was his sole employment. Afterward he was
created Due de Gaëta.

The Minister of the Treasury, M. Mollien, subsequently created a count,
showed more talent and much financial sagacity.

M. Portalis, the Minister of Public Worship, was a man of talent and
ability, and had maintained harmony between the clergy and the
Government. It must be stated that the clergy, out of gratitude for the
security and consideration which they owed to Bonaparte, submitted to
him very willingly, and were partisans of a despotic authority conducive
to universal order. When he demanded the levy of the conscripts of 1808,
of which I have already spoken, he ordered the bishops, according to his
usual custom, to exhort the peasantry to submit to the conscription.
Their pastoral letters were very remarkable. In that of the Bishop of
Quimper were these words: “What French heart will not ardently bless
Divine Providence for having bestowed on this magnificent empire, when
it was on the point of being for ever crushed beneath blood-stained
ruins, the only man who, as Emperor and King, could repair its
misfortunes and throw a veil of glory over the period of its dishonor?”

The death of M. Portalis occurred during this year, and he was succeeded
by an excellent though less able man, M. Bigot de Préameneu, Councilor
of State, who was subsequently made a count.

In conclusion, the Naval Minister had little occupation from the time
that Bonaparte, giving up the hope of subduing England at sea, and vexed
with the failure of all his maritime undertakings, had ceased to
interest himself in naval affairs. M. Décrès, a man of real ability, was
altogether pleasing to his master. His manners were rather rough, but he
flattered Bonaparte after an unusual fashion. He cared little for public
esteem, and was willing to bear the odium of the injustice with which
the Emperor treated the French navy, so that it never appeared to
emanate from Bonaparte himself. With unfaltering devotion, M. Décrès
incurred and endured the resentment of all his former companions and
friends. The Emperor afterward made him a duke.

At the time of which I am writing the Court atmosphere was cold and
silent. There, especially, we were all impressed with the conviction
that our privileges depended solely on the will of the master; and, as
that will was apt to be capricious, the difficulty of providing against
it led each individual to avoid taking needless action, and to restrict
himself to the more or less narrow circle of the duties of his office.
The ladies of the Court were still more cautious, and did not attempt
anything beyond winning admiration either by their beauty or their
attire. In Paris itself people were becoming more and more indifferent
to the working of a mechanism of which they could see the results and
feel the power, but in whose action they knew they could have no share.
Social life was not wanting in attractions. French people, if they are
but at peace, will immediately seek for pleasure. But credit was
restricted, interest in national affairs was languid, and all the higher
and nobler sentiments of public life were wellnigh paralyzed. Thoughtful
minds were disturbed, and true citizens must have felt that they were
leading useless lives. As a sort of compensation, they accepted the
pleasures of an agreeable and varied social existence. Civilization was
increased by luxury, which, while enervating the mind, makes social
relations pleasanter. It procures for people of the world a number of
little interests, which are almost always sufficient for them, and with
which they do not feel ashamed of being satisfied, when for a length of
time they have been suffering from the greater political disorders. The
recollection of the latter was still fresh in our memory, and it made us
prize this period of brilliant slavery and elegant idleness.

[Illustration: Queen Louise trying to win favour from Napoleon for

                              CHAPTER  XXV


WHEN the Emperor reached Paris on the 27th of July, 1807, I was still
at Aix-le-Chapelle, and was beginning to feel anxious as to the temper
in which he had returned. I have already said that this was a prevailing
uneasiness at Court whenever he was expected. I could make no inquiries,
for none dared to write openly to their correspondents; thus it was only
when I myself returned that I could learn any particulars.

The Emperor came back elated at his inconceivable good fortune, and it
soon became evident that his imagination exaggerated the distance
between himself and every other person. He showed, moreover, increased
indignation at what he called the “gossip of the Faubourg Saint
Germain.” The first time that he saw M. de Rémusat, he rebuked him for
not having given information respecting the persons in society in Paris,
in some letters he wrote to Duroc, Grand Marshal of the Palace. “You are
in a position,” said he, “to know what is said in a number of
drawing-rooms, and it is your duty to keep me informed. I can not accept
the slight excuses on which you have withheld information from me.” To
this M. de Rémusat replied that there was very little to withhold,
because people were naturally careful as to what they said before him,
and that he would have been loath to attach any importance to idle
words, which might have caused serious consequences to those who had
uttered them, often without any really hostile feeling. On such an
answer being made to him, the Emperor would shrug his shoulders, turn on
his heel, and say to Duroc or to Savary: “I am very sorry, but Rémusat
will not get on; he is not devoted to me as I understand devotion.”

It may be thought, at least, that a man of honor, who was determined
rather to mar his prospects than to purchase fortune by a sacrifice of
his self-respect, would have been placed by that very resolution out of
danger of those quarrels which result from what, alike in city and
Court, is called tittle-tattle. But such was not the case; Bonaparte
liked nobody to be at peace, and he knew admirably well how to
compromise or embroil those who most desired to live in quiet.

It will be remembered that, during the stay of the Empress at Mayence,
some ladies of the Court, of whom Mme. de la Rochefoucauld was the
chief, had ventured to criticise the Prussian war with some severity,
and to compassionate Prince Louis, and still more the beautiful and
cruelly insulted Queen. The Empress, displeased by their freedom, had
written full accounts to her husband of this movement of sympathy,
begging him never to let it be known that she had mentioned the matter
to him. That she had done so she confided to M. de Rémusat, who
expressed his disapproval, but kept her secret. When M. de Talleyrand
joined the Emperor, he too related what had been taking place at
Mayence, but more with the intention of amusing Napoleon than from any
hostility toward the Lady of Honor, whom he neither liked nor disliked.
Bonaparte was, however, greatly displeased with her, and the first time
they met he reproached her with his usual violence for her opinions and
her utterances. Mme. de la Rochefoucauld was taken by surprise, and, for
want of a better excuse, denied everything. The Emperor rejoined by a
positive reiteration, and, when she inquired who had made this fine
report about her, he instantly named M. de Rémusat. On hearing this,
Mme. de la Rochefoucauld was astounded. She was friendly to my husband
and to me; and, believing rightly that she might rely on our discretion,
she had often confided her most secret thoughts to us. She felt,
therefore, extreme surprise and anger, the more so that she herself was
a sincere person, and incapable of such baseness as that attributed to
my husband.

Being thus prejudiced against him, she avoided any opportunity of
explanation, but was cold and constrained in her demeanor. For a long
time he could not understand the reason of the estrangement; but, a few
months afterward, some circumstances connected with the divorce rendered
certain interviews and conversations between Mme. de la Rochefoucauld
and ourselves necessary, and she questioned my husband on the matter
which I have just related, and then learned the whole truth. She had
made an opportunity of speaking freely to the Empress, who did not
undeceive her, but allowed suspicion still to rest on M. de Rémusat,
adding only that M. de Talleyrand had probably said more than he. Mme.
de la Rochefoucauld was an intimate friend of M. de Ségur, Grand Master
of Ceremonies, and she confided her feelings to him. For a time this
caused a coolness between him and us; it also set him against M. de
Talleyrand, the sharpness and occasional bitterness of whose satire
leagued all commonplace people together against him, and he amused
himself mercilessly at their expense. They took their revenge when and
how they could. The Emperor did not confine his reproaches to persons of
the Court; he complained likewise of high society in Paris. He rebuked
M. Fouché for the imperfection of his supervision; he sent certain
ladies into exile, threatened some persons of distinction, and implied
that, to avoid the effects of his displeasure, former acts of
indiscretion must be repaired by steps which would show that his
authority was recognized. Many persons felt themselves in consequence
obliged to be presented at Court; some few made their own safety a
pretext for this, and the splendor of his Court was increased.

As he always took care to make his presence felt by disturbing
everybody, he did not spare his own family. He severely, though very
ineffectually, scolded his sister Pauline for her lightness of conduct,
which Prince Borghese beheld with real or affected indifference. Nor did
he hide from his sister Caroline that he was aware of her secret and
ambitious projects. She bent before the inevitable storm with her usual
suppleness, and brought him by degrees to own that, with such blood
running in her veins, she was not very guilty in desiring a superior
rank, while she took care to make her defense with all her usual charm.
When he had thus, to use his own expression, roused up everybody all
round, he felt satisfied with the terror he had excited, and, appearing
to forget what had passed, resumed his customary way of life.

M. de Talleyrand, whose return occurred a little later, expressed great
pleasure at meeting M. de Rémusat. He now took up a habit of frequently
coming to see me, and our intimacy became closer. I recollect that, at
first, notwithstanding the gratitude with which his kindness inspired
me, and the great pleasure I felt in his conversation, I was for a long
time ill at ease in his company. M. de Talleyrand was justly reckoned as
a very clever man; he was a very important personage; but he was said to
be hard to please and of a sarcastic disposition. His manners, although
highly polished, seem to place the person whom he is addressing in a
relatively inferior position. Nevertheless, as the customs of society in
France always accord to women a certain importance and liberty, they
could, if they chose, hold their own with M. de Talleyrand, who likes
women and is not afraid of them. Yet few of them chose to do so; the
desire of pleasing restrained them. They hold themselves in a sort of
bondage to him, and, in fact, to use a common expression, they have
_spoiled him_. Lastly, as he is reserved, _blasé_ on a multitude of
subjects, indifferent on many others, and with feelings difficult to
touch, a woman who designs to conquer or retain him, or even only to
amuse him, undertakes a hard task.

All that I knew about him, all that I discovered in becoming more
intimate with him, made me constrained in his presence. I was gratified
by his friendliness, but I did not venture to tell him so; I was afraid
of disclosing my habitual thoughts and anxieties, because I imagined
they would excite his sarcasm. I asked him no questions either about
himself or on public affairs, for fear he might think me curious. My
mind was strained in his presence, so that I sometimes experienced
actual fatigue. I listened to him with the greatest attention, in order
that, even if I could not always reply fittingly, at least I should have
procured him the pleasure of an attentive auditor; for I own that pride
was flattered by his preference for me. When I think it all over now, I
am amused at the mingled distress and pleasure which I experienced when
my folding-doors were opened (on both sides) and the Prince of Benevento
was announced. Large drops sometimes stood on my forehead from the
efforts I made to express myself wittily, and there is no doubt that I
was in consequence less agreeable than had I behaved more naturally,
when, at any rate, I should have had the advantage of sincerity and of
harmony in my whole deportment. Although naturally grave and inclined to
deep feeling, I tried to emulate the lightness with which he could pass
from one subject to another. I was kind-hearted by nature, and averse to
malicious talk, and yet I was always ready to smile at his jests. At the
beginning, then, he exerted over me the influence which was customary to
him; and, had our intimacy continued on the same footing, I should have
seemed to him but one woman the more to swell the ranks of those
worshippers who rivalled each other in applauding his defects and
encouraging the worst points of his character. He would probably have
ended by breaking with me, for I should have ill sustained a rôle for
which I was so little suited. I will presently relate the painful
circumstances which made me resume my natural character, and which
caused me to conceive a sincere affection for him, which has never

Our new-formed intimacy was soon remarked at Court, and the Emperor did
not at first seem displeased. M. de Talleyrand was not without influence
over him; the opinions he pronounced in speaking of M. de Rémusat were
of service to us; a few words let us perceive that we were held in
increased esteem. The Empress, who found in most things a subject for
fear, showed me great kindness, thinking I might serve her cause with M.
de Talleyrand. His enemies at Court watched us, but, as he was powerful,
we were treated with great consideration. His numerous circle of
acquaintance began to look with curious eyes on a quiet,
straightforward, and taciturn man, who never flattered and was incapable
of intrigue, yet whose abilities were praised, and whose society was
courted by M. de Talleyrand. I myself, a little person of twenty-seven
years of age, ordinary-looking, cold and reserved, in nowise remarkable,
devoted to the duties of a pure and virtuous life, thus distinguished by
the notice of so eminent a personage, also became an object of
attention! It was probable that M. de Talleyrand, being just then in
want of amusement, found something novel and attractive in gaining the
affection of two persons completely outside his own sphere of ideas, so
that, when wearied by the constraint of his existence, he turned
sometimes with relief to a companionship which he knew he could trust;
while our attachment to him, openly professed at a time when his
disgrace shook our own position, caused a solid friendship to succeed to
mutual liking.

It was then that, visiting oftener at his house, which we had not before
this been in the habit of frequenting, I became acquainted with a
section of society hitherto almost unknown to me. There were always a
number of people at M. de Talleyrand’s—foreigners who paid him
obsequious attention, great nobles of the former order of things, and
men of the new, all wondering at finding themselves under the same
roof—all remarkable for some reason or other, but whose character was
not always equal to their celebrity. Well-known women were there also,
of whom it must be said he had in general been rather the lover than the
friend, and who were on the kind of terms with him that he preferred.

His wife must be named first among the persons to whom I allude. Her
beauty was daily waning on account of her increasing size. She was
always handsomely dressed, and occupied by right the place of honor, but
was unacquainted with most of the company. M. de Talleyrand never seemed
to perceive that she was present; he never spoke to her, still less did
he listen to what she said, and I believe he suffered acutely, but with
resignation, for the error which had forced him into this extraordinary
marriage. His wife seldom went to Court: the Emperor treated her coldly,
and she received no consideration there. It never occurred to M. de
Talleyrand to complain of this, nor yet of the compensation she was said
to seek in the attentions of certain strangers. Bonaparte would
sometimes jest on this subject with M. de Talleyrand, who would answer
with indifference and let the matter drop. Mme. de Talleyrand habitually
disliked all her husband’s friends, whether men or women. It is probable
that she made no exception in my favor, but I always behaved to her with
such ceremonious civility, I held myself so totally aloof from her
private affairs, that we scarcely came into contact.

In these reception-rooms I also met some old friends of M. de
Talleyrand, who began to regard me with curiosity, much to my amusement.
Among these were the Duchesse de Luynes and the Princesse de Vaudemont,
both of them excellent women. They were sincerely attached and true to
him, and very kind to me because they saw that my regard for him was
sincere, straightforward, and without any ulterior design. The
Vicomtesse de Laval was less well pleased, and, being rather
ill-natured, she judged me with some severity. The Princesse de
Lieskiewitz, sister of Prince Poniatowski, had lately made the
acquaintance of M. de Talleyrand at Warsaw, and had followed him to
Paris. This poor lady, notwithstanding her forty-five years and her
glass eye, was unfortunately passionately in love with him; and her
attachment, of which he was manifestly weary, made her alive to the
least preference shown by him. It is possible she may have honored me
with a little jealousy. The Princesse de X—— yielded to the same
infirmity, for it was truly an infirmity to “love” M. de Talleyrand. I
also met the Duchesse de Fleury, a very clever woman, who had obtained a
divorce from her husband, M. de Montrond; Mesdames de Bellegarde, whose
only claim to importance in society was their extreme license of speech;
Mme. de K——, to whom M. de Talleyrand paid attention, in order to keep
on good terms with the Grand Equerry; Mme. de Brignoli, one of the
Ladies-in-waiting—a very agreeable and elegant Genoese; and Mme. de
Souza, formerly Mme. de Flahaut—a talented woman, who had been in her
early youth a friend of M. de Talleyrand, and for whom he still retained
much regard. She had written several pretty tales, and was, at the time
of which I speak, the wife of M. de Souza, who had been ambassador to
Portugal. Lastly, I met the ambassadresses, the foreign princesses then
in Paris, and a great number of all the distinguished people in Europe.

I was entertained by this social magic lantern; but, warned by an
instinctive feeling to make no friendships among the crowd, I always
stood on the strictest ceremony, and much preferred receiving M. de
Talleyrand at my own fireside. My own circle felt some surprise at his
so frequently joining us—some of my friends were even alarmed; for he
inspired a general apprehension lest, immersed in important affairs as
he was, he might find himself in a dangerous position and drag us down
in his fall. We did not share the alarm of these friends, as perhaps we
ought to have done. M. de Rémusat’s office as First Chamberlain brought
us into contact with M. de Talleyrand, and it was pleasanter that our
intercourse should be friendly; we held aloof from all serious affairs,
and had no thought of benefiting by his influence. Disinterested persons
are apt to deceive themselves on this head; they imagine that others
must know, or at any rate must perceive, what their real motives are,
and as they act with simple sincerity they do not apprehend that they
will be suspected of double-dealing. It was a great blunder, at that
time, to expect to be estimated at one’s real worth.

The Emperor saw Louis’s second son when he went to Saint Cloud, and
treated him affectionately, so that the Empress began to hope he would
think of this child as his heir, as he had formerly thought of the elder
boy. Bonaparte had been impressed by the extreme rapidity of the
progress of the disease that had so suddenly carried off the elder
brother, and he offered a competitive prize of twelve thousand francs
for essays upon the malady called croup. Some valuable works were
published in consequence.

The pacification of Europe did not at once bring back the whole army to
France. In the first place, the King of Sweden, prevailed on by the
English Government, and in spite of the opposition of his people,
announced the rupture of his armistice with us. Thirteen days after the
signature of peace at Tilsit, a partial war broke out in Pomerania.
Marshal Martier was at the head of this expedition; he entered
Stralsund, and obliged the King of Sweden to take ship and escape. On
this the English sent a considerable fleet to the Baltic, and, having
attacked Denmark, laid siege to Copenhagen, of which they soon obtained
possession. These various events were chronicled in the “Moniteur,”
accompanied with notes attacking the English as usual, while the
aberration of mind of the King of Sweden was proclaimed to Europe.

Speaking of the subsidy which the English Government allowed the Swedes
for carrying on the war, the Emperor expressed himself as follows in the
“Moniteur”: “Gallant and unfortunate Swedes, this subsidy costs you
dear! If England could only repair the harm she does to your trade and
to your honor, or could replace the blood she has already cost and still
costs you! But you must feel that you are to be pitied for having lost
all your privileges and all consideration, and for being, thus
defenseless and disorganized, subject to the caprices of an invalid

General Rapp remained at Dantzic as governor, with a garrison. He was a
brave and honest man—rather rough in his ways, faithful, frank,
careless of what went on about him, and of everything except the orders
he received. He served his master with great fidelity, more than once
nearly losing his life for him, without having ever made the least
inquiry into the qualities or the vices of his character.

The Emperor also considered himself bound to support the new
constitution established in Poland by the King of Saxony, and sent a
considerable garrison thither to be added to the Polish garrison.
Marshal Davoust had the command of this cantonment. By thus dispersing
his troops through Europe, Bonaparte secured his influence over his
allies, kept his soldiers in practice, and relieved France from the
burden of supporting so many armed men. His aggressive policy obliged
him to be always in readiness; and, moreover, to insure the entire
devotion of his army, it was necessary to keep the men far from their
homes. He succeeded in so completely altering the nature of his troops
that they became unreservedly devoted to his service; they lost all
national sentiment, and cared only for their chief, for victory, and for
plunder, which in the eyes of a soldier is a great embellishment of
danger. They drew down by degrees on the fatherland which they had
forgotten those feelings of hatred and revenge which resulted in the
European crusade against us in 1813 and 1814.

Fresh adulation awaited the Emperor on his return. Language was
exhausted for formulas of praise, to which he listened with disdainful
composure. There is little doubt, however, that his indifference was
feigned; for he loved praise from no matter what lips, and more than
once he was duped by it. There were men who had influence over him only
because their compliments were inexhaustible. Unfailing admiration, even
though somewhat foolishly expressed, never failed to please him.

On the 10th of August he sent a message to the Senate, announcing the
elevation of M. de Talleyrand to the dignity of Vice-Grand Elector, and
that of Marshal Berthier to the rank of Vice-Grand Constable. General
Clarke succeeded to the latter as Minister of War, and found
opportunities for displaying the devoted admiration to which I have
alluded, even more fully than before. The Emperor’s habitual attention
to all war matters, the high intelligence of Berthier, Major-General of
the army, and the careful administration of General Dejean, the chief of
the Commissariat, made any great abilities in General Clarke
unnecessary. Punctual, upright, and submissive, he fulfilled all the
requirements of his position. MM. Champagny and Cretét obtained the two
ministerial posts of which I have spoken, and State Councilor Regnault
was made State Secretary to the Imperial Family.

Meanwhile we read every day of fresh military promotions, of the
distribution of rewards, of the creation of official posts—in fact, of
everything that tends to keep ambition, covetousness, and vanity on the
alert. Then the Corps Législatif opened its session. M. de Fontanes,
who, as usual, was named President, made, as usual, a fine speech on the
truly brilliant position of France. A very great number of laws
appertaining to rule and order were brought before the Assembly for its
sanction, as was likewise a budget which proclaimed our finances to be
in a flourishing condition; and, lastly, an account of the public works
of all kinds in contemplation, or begun, or already terminated, in all
parts of the Empire. The cost of all these was defrayed by the
contributions exacted throughout Europe, and all France might witness
improvements which nevertheless did not augment a single tax. The
Emperor, in addressing the legislative bodies, spoke to the whole French
nation; gave them an account of his victories; mentioned the 5,179
officers and the 123,000 subalterns and privates taken prisoners in this
war; spoke of the complete conquest of Prussia, of his soldiers encamped
on the banks of the Vistula, of the fall of the power of England, which,
he said, must be the result of so many victories; and ended by an
expression of satisfaction with the nation, which had so faithfully
served him in gaining for him such triumphant success. “Frenchmen,” he
said, “I am well pleased with you; you are a good and a great people.”

The opening of the Corps Législatif was an imposing ceremony. The hall
had been lavishly decorated; the dress of the deputies was handsome,
that of the courtiers surrounding the Emperor was magnificent, and he
himself was resplendent in gold and diamonds on that day. Although in
every ceremonial he was too precipitate, the great pomp he insisted upon
took the place of that dignity which was wanting. When Bonaparte, in the
course of any ceremony, had to walk toward the throne prepared for him,
he always seemed to rush at it. One could not but feel, on observing
him, that this was no legitimate sovereign taking peaceful possession of
the royal seat bequeathed to him by his ancestors; but an all-powerful
master, who, each time that he wore the crown, seemed to reiterate the
words he had once uttered at Milan, “Guai à chi la toccherà.”

On these state occasions Bonaparte’s incorrect pronunciation was a great
drawback. In general he had his speech drawn up for him. M. Maret, I
believe, most frequently undertook that task, but sometimes it fell to
M. Vignaud, or even to M. de Fontanes; and he would try to learn it by
heart, but with little success; for the least constraint was
insupportable to him. He always ended by resolving to read his speech,
and it was copied out for him in a large hand; for he was little
accustomed to read writing, and could have made nothing out of his own.
Then he would be instructed in the proper pronunciation of the words;
but when he came to speak he forgot his lesson, and in a muffled voice,
with lips scarcely parted, would read the speech in an accent more
strange even than it was foreign, most unpleasant, and indeed vulgar. I
have heard numbers of persons say that they always felt a painful
sensation on hearing him speak in public. The indisputable testimony of
his accent to the fact that he was a foreigner struck painfully on the
ear and the mind alike. I have myself sometimes experienced this
involuntary sensation.

The fêtes of the 15th of August were splendid. The whole Court,
glittering with precious stones, was present at a concert in the palace,
and at the ballet which followed it. The reception-rooms of the
Tuileries were thronged with a brilliant and gorgeous company; there
were ambassadors, the greatest nobles of all Europe, princes, and many
kings who, although new-made, appeared in becoming state. There, too,
were lovely women, magnificently attired, who, together with the first
musicians in the world, and all that the opera-ballets could lend of
grace and elegance, combined to form a scene of Oriental splendor.

Public games and rejoicings were given to the city of Paris. The
Parisians, who are naturally gay when gathered together, and eager to
join any crowd, hurried into the streets to see the illuminations and
the fireworks, and showed the delight they felt in scenes of pleasure
and in the beauty of the season. But there were no acclamations in honor
of the Emperor. There seemed to be no thought of him, as the people
enjoyed the amusements he had provided for them; but every one diverted
himself according to his own character and taste, and these, perhaps,
make the French the least serious people in the world, but the most

English people who were present at these rejoicings were quite
astonished at the good order, the frank gayety, and the harmony which
reign on such occasions throughout all classes of society. Every one
enjoys himself, and does not think of interfering with his neighbor’s
enjoyment; there is no quarreling nor ill humor, no revolting and
dangerous drunkenness. Women and children may mix with impunity in the
crowd, and are protected. People who are strangers to each other take
their pleasure together; they sing and laugh in chorus, though they have
never met before. On such occasions an unobservant sovereign might
easily be misled. This constitutional hilarity, temporarily called forth
by extraneous circumstances, may be mistaken for the expression of the
feelings of a contented and loyal people. But, if the sovereigns who are
destined to reign over Frenchmen do not want to be deceived, they will
interrogate their own conscience rather than the popular cry, if they
would learn whether they inspire affection and give happiness to their

In this respect the flattery of a Court is really astonishing; numbers
of courtiers, in describing the behavior of the Parisian public,
endeavored to represent it to the Emperor as a proof of the people’s
gratitude toward him! I will not affirm that he was never deceived by
this, but for the most part he remained stolidly unmoved. Bonaparte
seldom listened to others, and joyousness was foreign to his nature.

During the month of August several of the German princes arrived in
Paris—some in order to visit the Emperor, others to solicit some favor,
or some liberty in behalf of their petty states.

The Prince Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine came at about this
time, to celebrate the marriage of Princess Catherine of Würtemberg, who
herself arrived on the 21st of August. She was, I think, about twenty
years of age, and was a nice-looking girl; her figure was already rather
stout, and seemed to indicate that she would take after her father,
whose size was so enormous that he could only sit on chairs specially
constructed for him, and had to dine at a table which had been hollowed
out in a semicircle to make room for his unwieldy figure.

This King of Würtemberg was a very able man, but had the reputation of
being the most worthless prince in Europe. He was hated by his subjects,
who, it is said, more than once tried to rid themselves of him. He is
now dead.

The marriage of Princess Catherine and the King of Westphalia took place
at the Tuileries with great splendor. The civil ceremony was performed
in the Gallery of Diana, as in the case of the Princess of Baden’s
wedding; and on Sunday, the 23d, at eight in the morning, the religious
marriage was solemnized at the Tuileries, in presence of the whole

The Prince and Princess of Baden had also come to Paris. She was
prettier than ever. The Emperor did not appear to notice her
particularly. I will speak of her again presently.

The King and Queen of Holland arrived at the end of August. They seemed
to be on good terms, but still depressed on account of their loss. The
Queen was thin, and suffering all the _malaise_ of an early stage of
pregnancy. She had been a very short time in Paris when seeds of the old
distrust and disquiet were once more sown in the mind of her husband.
Evil tongues insinuated falsehoods respecting the life that the unhappy
woman had led at the Pyrenean watering-place. Her grief, the tears that
were still flowing, her downcast air, her too evident ill health, failed
to disarm her enemies. She talked of the excursions she had made among
the mountains, and of the soothing effects of the mountain scenery. She
told how she had met M. Decazes, and pitied the profound grief into
which his wife’s death had plunged him. All this she related in the most
frank and simple manner, but calumny laid hold of it, and the suspicions
of Louis were reawakened. He wished, naturally but selfishly, to take
his wife and son back to Holland. Mme. Louis was as submissive as he
could require her to be; but the Empress, alarmed by the declining state
of her daughter, insisted on a consultation of physicians being held.
The doctors were unanimous in pronouncing the climate of Holland unfit
for a woman in the Queen’s situation, whose chest was already delicate;
and the Emperor settled the question by announcing that he intended to
keep his step-daughter and her child with himself for the present. The
King submitted sullenly, and bitterly resented to his wife a decision
which she had not solicited, but which, I believe, was in accordance
with her wishes. Discord once more reigned in that wretched household;
and Queen Hortense, profoundly offended this time by the jealous
suspicions of her husband, lost for ever the interest which she had
recently felt in him, and conceived a positive aversion toward him.
“From that time forth,” she has often said to me, “I was fully aware
that my unhappiness must always be irremediable. I regarded my hopes as
entirely and irrevocably ruined. All grandeur inspired me with horror.
As for the throne, and what so many people called my ‘luck,’ I cursed
them many a time. I was a stranger to every enjoyment of life. All my
dreams had vanished; I was wellnigh dead to all that was passing around

About this time the Academy lost two of its most distinguished members:
Le Brun the poet, who has left some beautiful odes and the reputation of
great poetical talent, and M. Dureau de la Malle, the esteemed
translator of Tacitus and the intimate friend of Delille.

M. Delille lived peaceably in the enjoyment of a moderate fortune,
surrounded by friends, popular in society, left to his repose and his
freedom by the Emperor, who had given up the idea of conquering him. He
published certain works from time to time, and reaped the reward of his
natural amiability in the favor with which they were received. His life
was indeed a peaceful one, untroubled by any bitter thoughts or hostile
opinions. M. Delille was a professor at the College of France, and
received the salary of a chair of literature, but Le Gouvé did its work
for him. This was the only boon which he consented to accept from
Bonaparte. He prided himself on preserving a faithful remembrance of
Queen Marie Antoinette, whom he called his benefactress. It was known
that he was composing a poem in honor of her, the King, and the
_émigrés_, but no one resented this to him. A Government which was
always anxious to efface such memoirs respected them in Delille, and
would not have ventured to incur the odium of persecuting the amiable,
grateful, and generally beloved old man.

The two vacant seats in the Academy were much discussed in the salons of
Paris. M. de Chateaubriand was mentioned for one of them. The Emperor
was angry with him, and the young writer—who was pursuing a course
which gained him celebrity, procured him the support of a party, and
nevertheless did not expose him to any real danger—kept up an
opposition which gained strength from the fact that it excited the
Emperor’s anger. The French Academy, imbued at that time with the
revolutionary and would-be philosophical incredulity that had come into
fashion in the last century, opposed the choice of a man who had hoisted
religious colors as the banner of his genius. It was said by those who
most frequented M. de Chateaubriand’s society, that the habits of his
life were by no means in harmony with the precepts that adorned his
compositions. Excessive pride was imputed to him. Women, captivated by
his talents, his peculiar manner, his handsome face, and his reputation,
vied with each other in admiring and petting him, and he showed himself
by no means insensible to their advances. His extreme vanity, the
exalted opinion of himself which he entertained, made us all believe
that, if the Emperor had only coaxed him a little, he would have
succeeded in gaining him over to his side, although, of course, he would
have to pay the high price at which M. de Chateaubriand himself would
have rated his partisanship.

The silent labors of the Corps Législatif were continued. It ratified
all the laws that emanated from the Council of State, and the
administrative organization of the power of the Emperor was completed
without opposition. It was now certain that he could rule France, by the
strength of his own genius and by the proved ability of the members of
this Council of State, with an appearance of legality which reduced the
country to silence and pleased his orderly mind; and, regarding the
remains of the Tribunate as merely a center of opposition, which,
however feeble, might be troublesome to him, he resolved to make an end
of it. The Tribunate had been considerably lessened in number under the
Consulate. By a _senatus consultum_ the tribunes were transferred to the
Corps Législatif, and the session was immediately closed. The speeches
delivered at the last sitting of the Tribunate are remarkable. It is
surprising that men should mutually consent to act such a farce, and yet
we had become so much accustomed to that sort of thing, that nobody
noticed it particularly at the time.

First, M. Béranger, Councilor of State, appeared with certain of his
colleagues, and, after having recapitulated the services which the
Tribunate had rendered to France, he went on to say that the new decree
was about to confer on the Corps Législatif a plenitude of importance
which guaranteed national rights. The President replied, on behalf of
the entire Tribunate, that this resolution was received with respect and
confidence by them all, and that they appreciated its positive
advantages. Then a tribune (M. Carrion-Nisas) moved that an address
should be presented to the Emperor thanking him for the evidence of
esteem and regard which he had deigned to offer to the Tribunate; and
the speaker added that he believed himself to be the interpreter of the
feelings of each of his colleagues, in proposing to lay at the foot of
the throne, as the last act of an honorable existence, an address which
should impress the people with the idea that the tribunes, whose
attachment to the monarchy was unalterable, had received the act of the
Senate without regret, and without solicitude for the country. This
proposition was adopted with unanimity. The President of the Tribunate,
Fabre de l’Aude, was named Senator.

At this time the Emperor organized the Cour des Comptes, and, his
displeasure with M. Barbé-Marbois having passed away, he recalled him
and made him President of that Court.

In September the Emperor of Austria married for the second time. His
bride was his first cousin, the daughter of the old Archduke Ferdinand
of Milan. Shortly afterward his brother, the Grand Duke of Würzburg, who
is now Grand Duke of Tuscany, came to Paris.

The Court was increased from time to time by the arrival of a number of
great personages. Toward the end of September a sojourn at Fontainebleau
was announced. On this occasion the greatest magnificence was to be
displayed; fêtes were to take place in honor of the Queen of Westphalia;
the _élite_ of the actors and musicians of Paris were to be brought down
to the palace, and the Court received orders to appear in the utmost
splendor. The Princes and Princesses of the Imperial family brought a
portion of their households, and they, as well as the great dignitaries
and the Ministers who were to accompany the Emperor, were to have
separate tables.

On the 21st of September Bonaparte left Paris with the Empress, and
during the following days the Queen of Holland, the Queen of Naples, the
King and Queen of Westphalia, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Berg,
the Princess Pauline, Madame Mère, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of
Baden, the Prince Primate, the Grand Duke of Würzburg, the Princes of
Mecklenburg and Saxe-Gotha, M. de Talleyrand, the Prince de Neufchâtel,
Maret (Secretary of State), the great officers of the Imperial houses,
several Ministers of the kingdom of Italy, and a number of Marshals,
arrived at Fontainebleau. M. de Rémusat, several Chamberlains, the
Ladies of Honor, the Ladies-in-Waiting, and the Women of the Bedchamber
were included in the traveling party. We were all summoned by a letter
from the Grand Marshal Duroc, which announced to each that she had been
selected by the Emperor. I had just come from Aix-la-Chapelle, and,
being comprised in the list, I rejoined the Court and my husband at
Fontainebleau, after the delay of a few days in Paris with my mother and
my children.

Marshal Lannes had been nominated Colonel-General of the Swiss Guard on
the 20th of September.

                             CHAPTER  XXVI


LET us suppose an individual, ignorant of all antecedent events, and
suddenly introduced to the life of the palace at Fontainebleau at the
time of which I am speaking. That individual, dazzled by the
magnificence of this royal dwelling, and struck by the authoritative air
of the master and the obsequious reverence of the great personages who
surrounded him, would undoubtedly have believed that he beheld a
sovereign peacefully seated upon the greatest throne in the world, in
virtue of the joint rights of power and legitimacy.

Bonaparte was then king in the eyes of all and in his own eyes; he
forgot the past, he did not fear the future. He walked with a firm step,
foreseeing no obstacles, or at least certain that he could easily
overthrow any which might arise. It appeared to him, it appeared to us,
that he could not fall except by an event so unforeseen, so strange, and
which would produce so universal a catastrophe, that all the interests
of order and tranquillity were solemnly pledged to his support. He was
either the master or the friend of all the continental kings. He was
allied to several of them either by foreign treaties or by foreign
marriages. He had made sure of Europe by the partitions which he had
effected. He had strong garrisons upon his most distant frontiers to
insure the execution of his will, and all the resources of France were
placed absolutely in his hands. He possessed an immense treasury; he was
in the prime of life, admired, feared, and scrupulously obeyed. Had he
not then surmounted every obstacle?

For all this, a worm was gnawing at the vitals of his glory. The French
Revolution was not a process by which the public mind was to be led to
submit to arbitrary power; the illumination of the age, the progress of
sound principles, the spread of liberty, were all against him, and they
were destined to overthrow this brilliant edifice of authority, founded
in opposition to the march of the human intellect. The sacred flame of
liberty was burning in England. Happily for the welfare of nations, that
sanctuary was defended by a barrier which the armies of Bonaparte could
not break down. A few leagues of sea protected the civilization of the
world, and saved it from being forced to abandon the field of battle to
one who might not perhaps have utterly beaten it, but who would have
stifled it for the space of a whole generation.

The English Government, jealous of so colossal a power, and,
notwithstanding the ill success of so many enterprises, though always
conquered, never discouraged, found an unfailing resource against the
Emperor in the national sentiments. The pride and industry of England,
attacked both in its position and its interests, were equally irritated,
and the people consented eagerly to every sacrifice which was demanded
of them. Large sums were voted for the augmentation of a naval service
which should secure the blockade of the entire continent of Europe.

The kings who were afraid of our artillery submitted to the prohibitive
system which we exacted of them, but their people suffered. The luxuries
of life, the necessities created by prosperity, the innumerable wants
which are the result of high civilization, all fought the battle of the
English. Murmurs arose at St. Petersburg, on the Baltic, in Holland, in
all the French ports; and the discontent which dared not express itself
took all the deeper root in the public mind that it might be long before
it could find a voice.

The threats or reproaches which we were suddenly made aware our
Government was addressing to its allies were, however, indications of
the true state of things. We in France were in complete ignorance of all
that was passing outside of us, without communications (at least of an
intellectual kind) with other nations, incredulous of the truth of the
articles written to order in our dull journals; but, nevertheless, we
were led by the line taken in the “Moniteur” to the conclusion that the
Imperial will was balked by the necessities of the nation. The Emperor
had bitterly reproached his brother Louis with a too feeble execution of
his orders in Holland. He now sent him back to his kingdom with a
positive injunction that his will was to be scrupulously obeyed.

“Holland,” said the “Moniteur,” “since the new measures taken there,
will no longer correspond with England. English commerce must find the
whole continent closed to it, and these enemies of the nations must be
outlawed. There are peoples who know not how to do anything but
complain; they must learn to suffer with fortitude, to take every means
of injuring the common enemy and obliging him to recognize the
principles which actuate all the continental nations. If Holland had
taken her measures from the commencement of the blockade, perhaps
England would have already made peace.”

At another time every effort was made to stigmatize what was called the
invasion of continental liberties. The English Government was compared,
in its policy, to Marat. “What did he ever do that was more atrocious?”
was asked. “The spectacle of a perpetual war is presented to the world.
The oligarchical ringleaders who direct English policy will end, as all
exaggerated and infuriated men do end, by earning the opprobrium of
their own country and the hatred of other nations.”

The Emperor, when dictating this and similar tirades against
oligarchical governments, was using for his own purposes the democratic
idea which he well knew existed in the nation. When he employed some of
the revolutionary phrases, he believed that he was carrying out the
principles of the Revolution. “Equality”—nothing but “Equality”—was
the rallying-cry between the Revolution and him. He did not fear its
consequences for himself; he knew that he had excited those desires
which pervert the most generous dispositions; he turned liberty aside,
as I have often said, he bewildered all parties, he falsified all
meanings, he outraged reason. The power which his sword conferred upon
him he sustained by sophistry, and proved that it was from motives of
sound wisdom that he deviated from the path of progress and set aside
the spirit of the time. He called the power of speech to his aid, and
perverted language to lead us astray.

That which makes Bonaparte one of the most remarkable of human beings,
which places him apart, and at the head of all those powerful men who
have been called to rule over their fellows, is that he perfectly knew
and always contended with his epoch. Of his own free will he chose a
course which was at once difficult and contrary to the spirit of his
time. He did not disguise this from himself; he frequently said that he
alone had checked the Revolution, and that after him it would resume its
course. He allied himself with the Revolution to oppress it; but he
presumed too far upon his strength, and in the end the Revolution
recovered its advantage, conquered and repulsed him.

The English Government, alarmed by the fervor with which the Czar, who
was rather fascinated than convinced, had embraced the policy of the
Emperor, closely attentive to the troubles which were beginning to
manifest themselves in Sweden, uneasy at the sentiments which Denmark
manifested toward us, and which must lead to the closing of the Sound
against themselves, increased their armament, and assembled their forces
for the blockade of Copenhagen. They succeeded in taking that city; but
the Prince Royal, fortified by the love of his people, defended himself
bravely, and fought even after he had lost his capital, so that the
English found themselves obliged to evacuate Copenhagen, and to content
themselves, there as elsewhere, with the general blockade.

The Opposition declared against the expedition, and the Emperor, in his
ignorance of the British Constitution, flattered himself that the
Parliamentary debates on this point would be useful to him. Little
accustomed to opposition, he estimated that of a political party in
England by the effect which would have been produced in France had the
same violence of opinion which he remarked in the London journals been
manifested here, and he believed the English Government was lost on the
evidence of the diatribes of the “Morning Chronicle.” These articles
were a welcome aliment to his own impatience, but his hopes always
proved vain. The Opposition declaimed, but its remonstrances came to
nothing, and the Government always found means to carry on the necessary

Nothing could exceed the Emperor’s anger when he read the debates in the
English Parliament, and the violent attacks upon himself in which the
free English press indulged. He took advantage, on his own part, of the
liberty of the press in England to hire writers in London, who might
print what he wanted with impunity. These duels of the pen served no
purpose. The abuse which he dictated was answered by abuse of him which
reached Paris. All these articles had to be translated and shown to him.
Those whose duty it was to bring them under his notice trembled as they
did so, so terrible was his anger, whether silent or displayed in
violent passion; and ill indeed was the fortune of any one whose
position in the household brought him in contact with the Emperor
immediately after he had read the English newspapers. We were always
made aware of the state of his temper on those occasions. The officials
whose business it was to provide for his amusements were much to be
pitied. At this time what I must really call the “torture” of M. de
Rémusat commenced. I shall have more to say of this subject when I have
to describe our Court life at Fontainebleau.

All those persons who were to accompany their Majesties were assembled,
and informed of the rules which they would have to observe. The
different evenings of the week were to be passed in the respective
apartments of the great personages. On one evening the Emperor would
receive; there would be music, and afterward cards. On two other
evenings there would be a play—on one, followed by a ball in the
apartment of the Grand Duchess of Berg, and, on the other, by a ball in
the apartment of the Princess Borghese. On the fifth, there would be a
reception and cards in the apartment of the Empress. The Princes and
Ministers were to give dinners, and to invite all the members of the
Court in turn. The Grand Marshal was to do the same; twenty-five covers
were to be laid at his table every day. The Lady of Honor was likewise
to entertain. And, lastly, there was to be a table for all those who had
not received a special invitation elsewhere. Princes and Kings were to
dine with the Emperor only when invited. He reserved to himself the
liberty of his _tête-à-tête_ dinner with his wife, and chose whom he
pleased when he thought fit to depart from that rule.

Hunting took place on fixed days, and the guests were invited to
accompany the hunt, either on horseback or in elegant _calèches_.

The Emperor took it into his head that the ladies should have a hunting
costume, and to that the Empress agreed very willingly. The famous
costumer Leroy was consulted, and a very brilliant uniform was arranged.
Each Princess selected a different color for herself and her household.
The costume of the Empress was amaranth velvet, embroidered in gold,
with a _toque_ also embroidered in gold, and a plume of white feathers.
All the Ladies-in-Waiting wore amaranth. Queen Hortense chose blue and
silver; Mme. Murat, pink and silver; Princess Borghese, lilac and
silver. The dress was a sort of tunic, or short _redingote_ in velvet,
worn over a gown of embroidered white satin; velvet boots to match the
dress, and a _toque_ with a white plume. The Emperor and all the
gentlemen wore green coats, with gold or silver lace. These brilliant
costumes, worn either on horseback or in carriages, and by a numerous
assemblage, had a charming effect in the beautiful forest of

The Emperor liked hunting rather for the exercise which it forced him to
take than for the pleasure of the chase itself. He did not follow the
deer very carefully, but, setting off at a gallop, would take the first
road that lay before him. Sometimes he forgot the object of the hunt
altogether, and followed the winding paths of the forest, or seemed to
abandon himself to the fancy of his horse, being plunged the while in
deep reverie. He rode well, but ungracefully. He preferred Arab horses,
because they are so trained that they stop on the instant. Horses of
this kind were very carefully broken for him, as, from his habit of
starting at full gallop with a loose rein, he would have been in danger
of falling had not great precaution been taken. He would go down steep
hills at full speed, to the great risk of those who had to follow him at
the same pace. He had a few severe falls, but they were never alluded
to. He would not have liked any mention of them.

He took up for a while a fancy for driving a _calèche_ or a buggy, and
he was a very unsafe coachman, for he took no precaution in turning
corners or to avoid difficult roads. He was determined always to conquer
every obstacle, and would retreat before none. One day, at Saint Cloud,
he undertook to drive four-in-hand, and turned the horses, which he
could not manage, so awkwardly through a gateway, that the carriage was
upset. The Empress and some other persons were in the vehicle and were
all thrown out; but, fortunately, no serious accident occurred, and he
himself escaped with a sprained wrist. After that he gave up driving,
remarking, with a laugh, that “in even the smallest things every man
should stick to his own business.”

Although he took no great interest in the success of a hunt, he would
scold violently if the deer were not taken, and be very angry if it were
represented to him that he had, by changing the course, misled the dogs.
He was surprised and impatient at the slightest non-success.

He worked very hard at Fontainebleau, as, indeed, he did everywhere. He
rose at seven, held his _levée_, breakfasted alone, and, on the days
when there was no hunt, remained in his cabinet or held councils until
five or six o’clock. The Ministers and Councilors of State came from
Paris as if we had been at Saint Cloud. He never considered distances,
and carried this to such an extent that, having expressed an intention
to “receive” on Sunday, after Mass, as he did at Saint Cloud, people had
to leave Paris in the night in order to reach Fontainebleau at the
prescribed hour. The persons who had made this journey would be placed
in one of the galleries of the château, through which he would walk,
sometimes without taking the trouble of rewarding them by a word or a
look for the fatigue and inconvenience they had undergone.

While he remained all the morning in his cabinet, the Empress, elegantly
dressed, breakfasted with her daughter and her ladies, and afterward
went into her drawing-room and received visits from persons living in
the château. Such of us as cared to do so might occupy ourselves with
needlework, and this was a great relief to the fatigue of idle and
trifling conversation. Mme. Bonaparte did not like to be alone, but she
had no taste for any kind of occupation. At four o’clock we left her;
she then gave herself up to the business of her toilet, we to the
business of ours, and this was a momentous affair. A number of Parisian
shopkeepers had brought their very best merchandise to Fontainebleau,
and they easily disposed of it by presenting themselves at our rooms.

Between five and six o’clock the Emperor would go down to his wife’s
apartment, and then go out in a carriage alone with her for a drive
before dinner. At six o’clock we dined, and afterward we met in the
theatre or at the apartment of the person who was charged with providing
the especial amusement of the particular evening.

The princes, marshals, great officers, or chamberlains who had the
_entrée_, might present themselves at the Empress’s apartment. They
knocked at the door, the chamberlain on duty announced them, and the
Emperor said, “Let them come in.” Ladies would sit down in silence;
gentlemen would remain standing against the wall in the order in which
they entered the room. The Emperor would generally be walking backward
and forward, sometimes silently and deep in thought, without taking any
notice of those around; at others, he would make an opportunity of
talking, but almost without interruption, for it was always difficult to
reply to him, and had become more so than ever. He neither knew how to
put people at their ease nor cared to do so; for he dreaded the
slightest appearance of familiarity, and he inspired all who were in his
presence with the apprehension that some disparaging or unkind word
would be said to him or her before witnesses.

The receptions did not differ much from these more private and
privileged occasions. All about him suffered from _ennui_; he did so
himself, and frequently complained of the fact, resenting to others the
dull and constrained silence which was in reality imposed by him. I have
heard him say: “It is a singular thing: I have brought together a lot of
people at Fontainebleau; I wanted them to amuse themselves; I arranged
every sort of pleasure for them; and here they are with long faces, all
looking dull and tired.”

“That,” replied M. de Talleyrand, “is because pleasure can not be
summoned by beat of drum, and here, just as when you are with the army,
you always seem to say to us all, ‘Come, ladies and gentlemen, forward!
march!’.” The Emperor was not annoyed by this speech; he was in a very
good humor at this time. M. de Talleyrand passed long hours alone with
him, and was then free to say anything he chose; but, in a great room
and among forty other persons, M. de Talleyrand was just as silent as
the rest.

Of the whole Court, the person who was most oppressed by the care of the
Emperor’s pleasures was, beyond all comparison, M. de Rémusat. The fêtes
and the plays were in the department of the Grand Chamberlain, and M. de
Rémusat, in his capacity as First Chamberlain, had all the
responsibility and labor. That word is perfectly appropriate, for the
imperious and harassing will of Bonaparte rendered this sort of business
exceedingly troublesome. It always was, as M. de Talleyrand said, a case
of “amusing the unamusable.”

The Emperor chose to have two plays in the week, and that they should
always be different. Only the actors of the Comédie Française performed
in these plays, which alternated with representations of Italian operas.
Nothing but tragedy was played—Corneille frequently, a few of Racine’s
pieces, and Voltaire, whose dramatic works Bonaparte did not like, very

The Emperor approved the entire repertory for Fontainebleau, positively
insisted that the best actors of the company must perform there, and
commanded that the representations in Paris should undergo no
interruption; all the arrangements were made accordingly. Then, all of a
sudden, he would upset the whole arrangement, demand another play or
another actor, and that on the morning of the day on which the piece, as
previously set down, was to be acted. He would not listen to any
observation on the subject, and sometimes would be quite angry about it;
and the best that was to be hoped for was that he would say, with a
smile: “Bah! take a little trouble, and you will succeed. I wish it to
be so; it is your business to find the means.”

When the Emperor uttered that irrevocable _Je le veux_, the words echoed
through the whole palace. Duroc, and especially Savary, pronounced them
in the same tone as himself, and M. de Rémusat was obliged to repeat
them to the unfortunate actors, who were bewildered and overtaxed by the
sudden efforts of memory, or the entire disarrangement of their studies,
to which they were subjected. Then messengers would be dispatched at
full speed to seek the necessary persons and “properties.” The day
passed in a whirl of petty agitation—in the fear that an accident, or
an illness, or some unforeseen circumstance might prevent the execution
of the order; and my husband, who occasionally came to my room for a
moment’s rest, would sigh at the thought that a reasonable man should be
forced to exhaust his patience and all the efforts of his intellect in
such trifles, which, however, were of real importance because of the
consequences to which they might lead.

One would need to have lived in courts to realize how small things can
become grave matters, and how hard to bear is the displeasure of the
master, even when its cause is utterly insignificant. Kings are in the
habit of displaying their displeasure before everybody, and it is
unbearable to receive a complaint or a rebuff in the presence of a
number of people who look on it as if they were at a play. Bonaparte,
the most arbitrary of sovereigns, never hesitated to “scold” in the
harshest way, frequently without the slightest reason, and would
humiliate or threaten anybody at the prompting of a whim. The fear which
he excited was infectious, and his harsh words resounded long and far.

When with very great trouble one had succeeded in satisfying him, it is
not to be supposed that he would testify that satisfaction. Silence was
the best one had to expect. He would go to the play preoccupied,
irritated by reading some English journal, or, perhaps, only fatigued
with the day’s hunting, and he would either fall into reverie or go to
sleep. No applause was permitted in his presence, and the silent
representation was exceedingly dull and cold. The Court grew intolerably
weary of these eternal tragedies. The younger ladies simply slept
through them; every one went away depressed and dissatisfied. The
Emperor perceived this, was angry at it, attacked his First Chamberlain,
blamed the actors, insisted on others being found, although he had the
best, and would command different pieces for the ensuing days, which
were received in precisely the same manner. It rarely happened
otherwise, and our theatrical experiences were, it must be confessed,
eminently unpleasant. Those days at Fontainebleau were a constantly
recurring source of misery to me; the frivolity of the thing itself, and
the importance of its consequences, rendered it a great trial.

The Emperor admired Talma’s acting; he persuaded himself that he liked
it very much, but I think he rather knew than felt that Talma was a
great actor. He had not in himself that which enables one to take
pleasure in the representation of a fiction on the stage; he was
deficient in education, and his mind was too rarely disengaged, he was
too entirely occupied by his own actual circumstances, to be able to
give his attention to the development of a feigned passion. He
occasionally appeared moved by a scene, or even by a word pronounced
with great effect; but that emotion detracted from his pleasure as a
whole, because he wanted it to be prolonged in all its strength, and he
never took those secondary impressions into account, which are produced
by the beauty of the verse or the harmony which a great actor lends to
his entire _rôle_. In general, he thought our French drama cold, our
actors too measured, and he resented to others that he found it
impossible to be pleased with what the multitude accepted as a

It was the same with regard to music. He had little feeling for the
arts, but he had an intellectual appreciation of them, and, demanding
from them more than they could give him, he complained of not having
felt what his nature did not permit him to experience.

The first singers in Italy had been attracted to the Emperor’s Court. He
paid them largely; his vanity was gratified by the power of taking them
away from other sovereigns; but he listened to their strains moodily,
and seldom with any interest. M. de Rémusat bethought himself of
enlivening the concerts by a sort of representation of the pieces of
music that were executed in the Emperor’s presence. These concerts were
sometimes given on the stage, and they included the finest scenes from
the Italian operas. The singers wore the appropriate costumes, and
really acted; the decorations represented the scene in which the action
of the song was supposed to pass. All this was arranged and mounted with
the greatest care, but, like everything else, failed in its effect. And
yet not completely; for it must be said that, if so much attention and
pains were labor lost so far as his pleasure was concerned, the pomp of
all these various spectacles and entertainments pleased Bonaparte, for
it consorted with his policy, and he liked to display a superiority
which extended to everything before the crowd of foreigners who
surrounded him.

The same moody and discontented temper, which was inseparable from him,
cast a cloud over the balls and receptions at Fontainebleau. At eight
o’clock in the evening, the Court, all in splendid attire, would
assemble in the apartment of the Princess whose turn it was to receive
company. We placed ourselves in a circle, and looked at each other
without speaking. Thus we awaited the arrival of their Majesties. The
Empress came in first, made the tour of the reception-room with her
unfailing grace, and then took her place and kept silence like the rest,
until the Emperor at length appeared. He would seat himself by her side,
and look on at the dancing with a countenance so little encouraging to
gayety, that enjoyment was out of the question on these occasions.
Sometimes, during a pause in the dancing, he would walk about the room,
addressing some trifling remarks to the ladies. These observations were,
for the most part, jests about their attire, of anything but a delicate
kind. He withdrew very soon, and shortly afterward the party would break

During the sojourn of the Court at Fontainebleau, a very pretty woman
made her appearance, and attracted the attention of the Emperor. She was
an Italian. . . . M. de Talleyrand had seen her in Italy, and persuaded
the Emperor to appoint her “Reader” to the Empress. Her husband was made
Receiver-General. The Empress was at first indignant at the appearance
of this fair lady on the scenes; but she promptly made up her mind to
lend herself with complacency to what she was powerless to oppose, and
this time she shut her eyes to the state of affairs. The lady was a
quiet person, acquiescent rather than elated; she yielded to her master
from a sort of conviction that she ought not to resist him. But she made
no display, she gave herself no airs in consequence of her success, and
she contrived to combine a real attachment to Mme. Bonaparte with
submission to Bonaparte’s fancy for her. The result was that the affair
was conducted without any scandal or disturbance. This lady was
certainly the handsomest woman in the Court, which boasted a number of
beauties. I have never seen more beautiful eyes, finer features, or a
more exquisitely harmonious face. She was tall, and had an elegant
figure, but she was a little too slight. The Emperor never cared very
much for her; he told his wife all about the affair at once, and made
her mind quite easy by his unreserved confidence respecting this brief
and unsentimental _liaison_. The lady was lodged in the palace of
Fontainebleau in such a manner as to be within call whenever he desired
her presence. It was whispered about that she came down in the evening
to his apartment, or he went to hers; but in the ordinary circle he did
not talk to her more than to any other lady, and the Court paid no great
attention to this affair, because it was plainly unlikely to lead to any
change. M. de Talleyrand, who had in the first instance persuaded
Bonaparte to select this Italian as a mistress, received his confidences
concerning her, and that was all.

If I were asked whether the idleness of our Court life at Fontainebleau
led to the formation of _liaisons_ of a similar kind on the part of the
courtiers, I should hardly know how to answer that question. The
Emperor’s service demanded such entire subjection, and involved such
close though trifling occupation, that the men had not time for
gallantry, and the women were too much afraid of what Bonaparte might
say of them to yield without very great precaution. In so cold,
constrained, and conventional a society, in which no one would venture
on a word or a movement more than the others, no coquetry was ever
displayed, and every arrangement was made in silence, and with a
promptitude which eluded observation. Another peculiarity of the time
which acted as a safeguard to women was that men took no pains to
please: they merely asserted the pretensions of victory without wasting
time in the preliminaries of love. Thus, among the Emperor’s
surroundings, only passing intrigues, whose _dénoûment_ both parties
seemed anxious to hasten as much as possible, took place. Besides,
Bonaparte desired that his Court should be grave, and he would not have
permitted women to assume the slightest ascendency in it. To himself
alone he reserved the right to every kind of liberty. He tolerated the
misconduct of certain members of his own family, because he knew that he
was powerless to restrain them, and that the attempt to do so only gave
the facts additional publicity. For the same reason, he would have
dissembled the anger he might have felt had his wife allowed herself any
“distractions”; but at this period she no longer seemed disposed to do
so. I am absolutely unacquainted with the secrets of her private life,
and I always saw her exclusively occupied with the difficulties of her
own position, and tremblingly apprehensive of displeasing her husband.
She was entirely devoid of coquetry; her manner was perfectly modest and
reserved; she never spoke to men, except to find out what was going on;
and her grand subject of care and dread was the divorce which was always
hanging over her head. Lastly, the women of that Court had great need to
be on their guard and to take care what they did; for, whenever the
Emperor was informed of anything—and he always was informed—he would
invariably make the husband acquainted with the facts of the case. It is
true that he interdicted any complaint or action in consequence. Thus,
we all know that he has made S—— aware of certain adventures of his
wife’s, and so imperiously ordered him to display no anger that S——,
who was always entirely submissive to him, consented to allow himself to
be deceived, and ended, partly through this weak compliance, and partly
through his desire to think his wife innocent, by not believing facts
which were of public notoriety.

Mme. de X—— was at Fontainebleau, but the Emperor never paid her any
attention; and, if the rumor that the former _liaison_ between them was
temporarily renewed had any truth at all in it, the revived intimacy
must have been very transitory, and it did not restore any of her
vanished importance to the lady.

We had, however, during our stay at Fontainebleau, the spectacle of one
really ardent love-affair. Jérôme, as I have already said, had recently
married the Princess Catherine, and his young wife became deeply
attached to him, but very shortly after their marriage he gave her cause
for jealousy. The young Princess of Baden was at this time a very
fascinating person, and on very bad terms with her husband. She was
coquettish, frivolous, gay, and clever, and she had a great success in
society. Jérôme fell in love with her, and his passion seemed to afford
her considerable amusement. She danced with him at all the balls. The
Princess Catherine, who was even then too fat, did not dance, and she
would remain seated, sadly contemplating the gayety of the two young
people, who passed and repassed before her, quite indifferent to the
pain they were inflicting on her. At length, one evening, in the midst
of a fête, the good understanding between them being too plain to be
mistaken, the young Queen of Westphalia was observed to turn deadly
pale, and burst into tears; in another minute she had slid from her
chair and swooned completely away. The ball was interrupted; she was
carried into another room, the Empress and some of the ladies hastened
to her aid, and we heard the Emperor address a severe rebuke to his
brother, after which he retired. Jérôme, greatly frightened, went at
once to his wife, took her upon his knee, and endeavored to restore her
to consciousness by his caresses. The Princess, on coming to herself,
wept bitterly, and seemed to be unaware that a number of persons
surrounded her. I looked on at this scene in silence, deeply impressed
by its strangeness, by the sight of this Jérôme—whom a succession of
circumstances, all entirely independent of any merit of his own, had
raised to a throne—figuring as the object of the passionate love of a
real Princess, with the right to her love, and also a right to neglect
her. I can not describe what I felt at seeing her sitting upon his
knees, her head upon his shoulder, and receiving his kisses, while he
called her by her name, “Catherine,” over and over again, entreating her
to calm herself, and using the familiar _tutoiement_. A few minutes
later the young couple retired to their own apartment.

On the following day Bonaparte ordered his wife to speak strongly to her
young niece, and I also was instructed to make her listen to reason. She
received me very well, and listened to me with attention. I represented
to her that she was compromising her future, and urged upon her that her
duty and her interest alike bound her to live on proper terms with the
Prince of Baden; that she was destined to live in other countries than
France; that levity which might be tolerated in Paris would probably be
resented in Germany; and that she ought most carefully to avoid giving
any excuse for the spread of calumny against her. She acknowledged that
she had more than once reproached herself for the imprudence of her
behavior, but that there really was nothing in it except the desire to
amuse herself; and she added that she was quite aware that all her
present importance was due to her being Princess of Baden, for she was
no longer treated at the French Court as she had been in times past.
This was, in fact, quite true; for the Emperor, who had outlived his
fancy for her, had changed the whole ceremonial with respect to her,
and, paying no attention to the rules which he had himself laid down at
the time of her marriage, no longer treated her as his adopted daughter,
but accorded her merely the precedence of a Princess of the
Confederation of the Rhine, which came very far after that of the Queens
and Princesses of the Imperial family. Lastly, she knew that she was a
cause of disturbance, and the young Prince, who did not venture to
express his displeasure, manifested it only by his extreme dejection.
Our conversation lasted for a long time, and she was much impressed by
it and by her own reflections. When she dismissed me, it was with an
embrace, and saying, “You shall see that you will be pleased with me.”

That same evening there was a ball, and the Princess approached her
husband, and spoke to him in an affectionate manner, while toward all
others she adopted a reserved demeanor, which everybody observed. During
the evening she came to me, and asked me, in the sweetest and most
graceful way, whether I was pleased with her; and from that moment,
until the end of the sojourn of the Court at Fontainebleau, not a single
disparaging observation could possibly be made respecting her. She
showed no reluctance to return to Baden; when there, she conducted
herself well. She has since had children by the Prince, and lived
happily with him; she also won the affection of his subjects. She is now
a widow, and has only two daughters left; but she is held in high
consideration by her brother-in-law, the Emperor of Russia, who has on
several occasions evinced a great interest in her.

As for Jérôme, he went shortly afterward to take possession of his
kingdom of Westphalia, where his conduct must have given the Princess
Catherine cause more than once to shed tears: this, however, did not
cure her of her love for him, for since the Revolution of 1814 she has
never ceased to share his exile.

While pleasure, and especially etiquette, reigned at Fontainebleau, the
poor Queen of Holland lived in the château, as much apart as she could
from all; suffering much from her condition, grieving incessantly for
her son, spitting blood at the least exertion, quite disconsolate, and
unable even to wish for anything except rest. At this time she often
said to me, with tears in her eyes: “I hold my life for my brother’s
sake only. When I think of him, I take pleasure in our greatness; but to
myself it is a torment.” The Emperor displayed invariable esteem and
affection for his step-daughter; it was always to her that he intrusted
the task of conveying to her mother such hints as he thought necessary.
Mme. Bonaparte and her daughter were good friends, but they were too
dissimilar to understand each other, and the former was conscious of a
certain inferiority which affected her to some extent. And, then,
Hortense had experienced such great trials that she could not deeply
compassionate cares which seemed to her so light in comparison with the
burden that she herself had to carry. When the Empress would tell her of
a quarrel with Bonaparte about some foolish expense or some passing fit
of jealousy, or would talk of her fear of divorce, her daughter would
say, with a melancholy smile, “Are these things misfortunes?” The two
undoubtedly loved, but I do not think they ever understood, each other.

The Emperor, who had, I believe, a much greater regard for Mme. Louis
than for his brother, but who was, nevertheless, swayed to a certain
extent by the spirit of the family, interfered in their domestic affairs
with reluctance and caution. He had consented to keep his step-daughter
with him until after her confinement, but he always spoke in the sense
of wishing that she should ultimately return to Holland. She told him
repeatedly that she would not go back to a country in which her child
had died, and where misery awaited her. “My reputation is blasted,” said
she; “my health is destroyed; I expect no more happiness in this life.
Banish me from your Court, if you will; place me in a convent: I want
neither throne nor fortune. Give my mother peace, and Eugène the _éclat_
which he deserves, but let me live quietly and in solitude.” When she
spoke thus, she succeeded in touching the Emperor’s feelings; he
consoled and encouraged her, promising her his aid and support, and
advising her to trust to time, but he utterly scouted the idea of a
divorce between her and Louis. He was, no doubt, thinking of his own,
and felt that a repetition of the same incident in the family would
bring them into ridicule. Mme. Louis submitted, and let time pass by;
but she was privately quite resolved that nothing should induce her to
renew a union, at the thought of which she shuddered. It did not seem
that the King wished for her return; on the contrary, he was embittered
against his wife, loved her no better than she loved him, and in
Holland, where he wanted to pass for a victim, openly accused her. Many
people believed his story: kings easily find credulous ears. One thing
is certain: the husband and wife were most unhappy, but my belief is
that, with his disposition, Louis would have made troubles for himself
anywhere, under any circumstances; whereas Hortense was eminently
calculated for a calm and happy domestic life. She did not seem to know
the meaning of passion; her mind and feelings were disposed toward
profound quiet.

The Grand Duchess of Berg applied herself to being extremely agreeable
to us all at Fontainebleau. She could be very gay and pleasant when she
was in the humor, and she could even assume an air of _bonhomie_. She
lived in the château at her own expense, very luxuriously, and kept a
sumptuous table. She always used gilt plate, in this outdoing the
Emperor, whose silver-gilt services were used on state occasions only.
She invited all the dwellers in the palace by turns, receiving them most
graciously, even those whom she did not like, and appeared to be
thinking of nothing but pleasure; but, nevertheless, she was not wasting
her time. She frequently saw Count Metternich, the Austrian Ambassador.
He was young and handsome, and he appeared to admire the sister of the
Emperor. From that time forth, whether from a spirit of coquetry or from
a far-sighted ambition which prompted such a measure of precaution, she
began to accept the homage of the Minister with readiness. He was said
to be held in high consideration and to have great influence at his
Court, and he might be placed, by the course of events, in a position to
serve her. Whether she had this idea beforehand or not, events justified
it, and Metternich never failed her.

In addition to this, she took the influence of M. de Talleyrand into
consideration, and did her best to cultivate him while keeping up as
secretly as possible her relations with Fouché, who visited her with
extreme precaution, in consequence of the displeasure with which the
Emperor regarded any intimacy of the kind. We observed her making up to
M. de Talleyrand in the drawing-room at Fontainebleau, talking to him,
laughing at his _bons mots_, looking at him when she said anything
remarkable, and even addressing such observations to him. M. de
Talleyrand showed no reluctance, but met her advances, and then their
interviews became more serious. Mme. Murat did not conceal from him that
the spectacle of her brothers seated on thrones inspired her with envy,
as she felt herself quite capable of wielding a scepter, and she
reproached him with opposing this. M. de Talleyrand objected that
Murat’s abilities were not brilliant, and made some jokes at his
expense, which were not resented very strongly. The Princess delivered
up her husband to M. de Talleyrand’s sarcasms readily enough, but she
urged that she would not leave the whole charge of ruling in Murat’s
hands; and she gradually, by certain seductive methods, led M. de
Talleyrand to be less opposed to her wishes. At the same time she also
flattered and cultivated M. Maret, who, in his heavy way, repeatedly
praised the intelligence and ability of the Emperor’s sister to her
all-powerful brother.

Bonaparte himself had a great opinion of her, and he found it supported
by a variety of testimony which he knew was not concerted. He began to
treat his sister with greater consideration, whereas Murat, who lost
something by what she gained, thought proper to take offense and
complain. Thence ensued conjugal “scenes,” in which the husband insisted
on resuming his right and his rank. He bullied the Princess, and she was
a good deal frightened; but, partly by adroitness, partly by threats—by
being now caressing, and again haughty and distant, by acting on some
occasions the submissive wife, and on others the sister of the master of
all—she bewildered her husband, resumed her ascendency, and proved to
him that she was serving his interests in all she was doing. It seems
that quarrels of the same kind occurred when she was at Naples, that
Murat’s vanity took umbrage, and that he was deeply hurt; but every one
agrees that, if he made mistakes, it was always when he ceased to follow
her advice.

I have said that the sojourn of the Court at Fontainebleau was marked by
a brilliant succession of foreign visitors. With the Prince Primate we
had very agreeable conversations; he was witty, had fine manners,
delighted in recalling the days of his youth, when he had been
acquainted in Paris with all the men of letters of the epoch. The Grand
Duke of Würzburg, who remained all the time at Fontainebleau, was very
good-natured, and put every one at ease with him. He was passionately
fond of music, and had a voice like that of a precentor; but he enjoyed
himself so much when he was allowed to take a part in a piece of
concerted music that no one had the heart to spoil his harmless pleasure
by smiling at his performance.

Next to the two whom I have just mentioned, the Princes of Mecklenburg
were objects of special attention. They were both young, and very
polite—indeed, even obliging—to everybody. They were in some awe of
the Emperor; the magnificence of his Court dazzled them, and so
impressed were they by his power and the splendor amid which it was
displayed that they were in a state of perpetual admiration, and paid
court even to the chamberlains.

The Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, brother to the Queen of Prussia, was
rather deaf, and found it difficult to communicate his ideas; but the
Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was also young and very
good-looking, was extremely affable. His object in coming was to
endeavor to obtain the removal of the French garrisons from his states.
The Emperor kept him amused by fair promises; he explained his wishes to
the Empress, and she listened to him with gracious patience. The
unfailing kindness that distinguished Josephine, her sweet face, her
lovely figure, the suave elegance of her person, were not without their
effect on the Prince. We saw, or believed we saw, that he was
captivated; she laughed, and was amused. Bonaparte also laughed, but he
afterward took the matter ill. This change of his humor occurred on his
return from a journey to Italy, which he made at the end of the autumn.
The two Princes were treated with less cordiality toward the close of
their stay in Paris.

I do not think Bonaparte felt any real annoyance, but he did not choose
to be the subject of any kind of jest. The Prince, no doubt, retained
some sort of feeling for the Empress; for she told me that, on the
occasion of the divorce, the Emperor suggested to her that, if she
wished to marry again, she should select the Prince of Mecklenburg as
her husband, and she declined. I am not quite sure whether she did not
tell me that the Prince had written to ask for her hand.

Such of the Princes as were not invited to the Emperor’s table dined
with the Queens, the Ministers, the Grand Marshal, or the Lady of Honor.
Mme. de la Rochefoucauld had a fine suite of rooms, where the foreigners
were accustomed to assemble. She received them with much grace and
cordiality, and time passed there pleasantly.

How curious a spectacle is a Court! There we see the most illustrious
personages of the time, men of the highest social rank; each of them is
supposed to be occupied with important interests; but the silence
enforced by prudence and custom reduces all conversation to complete
insignificance, and it frequently happens that princes and other great
men, not daring to act like men under such circumstances, assume the
behavior of mere children. This reflection was forced upon my mind even
more strongly at Fontainebleau than elsewhere. All these foreigners were
aware that they were drawn thither by force. All were more or less
vanquished or dispossessed; they had come to entreat either favor or
justice; they knew that in a corner of the château their fate was being
decided; and all of them, assuming a similar appearance of good spirits
and entire freedom of mind, followed the chase, and acquiesced in
everything required of them. These requirements included dancing,
playing at blind-man’s-buff, and other games, so that, being thus
employed, no one need either listen or reply to them. How often have I
sat at Mme. de la Rochefoucauld’s piano, playing, at her request, those
Italian dances which our lovely Italian inmate had brought into fashion!
Princes, Electors, Marshals, and chamberlains, conquerors and conquered,
nobles and plebeians, passed before me, dancing indiscriminately
together; all the quarterings of Germany contrasting with the
Revolutionary swords or the decorated uniforms of our “illustration”—an
“illustration” much more real and weighty, at that period, than that of
the ancient title-deeds and patents which the smoke of our guns had
nearly obliterated. I often reflected very seriously on the events then
taking place before my eyes, but I took good care not to confide these
thoughts to any of my companions, and would not have ventured for the
world to smile at either them or myself. “Herein is the wisdom of
courtiers,” says Sully. “It is agreed that, though they all wear
grotesque masks, none shall ever be held to be ridiculous by the

In another place he says: “A truly great man knows how to be everything
by turns and according to circumstances—a master or an equal, a king or
a citizen. He loses nothing by thus accommodating himself in private,
provided that on other occasions he shows himself equally able to
political and military affairs; the courtier will never forget that he
is in the presence of his master.”

But the Emperor was by no means disposed to adopt these axioms, and,
from design as well as from inclination, he never relaxed his kingly
state. And, indeed, a usurper could, perhaps, hardly do so with

When the hour struck for us to leave our childish games in order to
present ourselves before him, the expression of every face became
constrained. Each of us wore a serious countenance, as we proceeded
slowly and ceremoniously to the great apartments. Hand in hand, we
entered the Empress’s anteroom. A chamberlain announced the names. Then,
sooner or later, we were received—sometimes only those who had the
_entrée_, at other times everybody. We silently fell into our places, as
I have said before, and listened to the few and vague phrases the
Emperor addressed to each. Wearied like us, he soon called for the
card-tables, to which we would sit down for appearance’ sake, and
shortly after the Emperor would retire. Nearly every evening he sent for
M. de Talleyrand, with whom he sat up far into the night.

The state of Europe at this time was, doubtless, the ordinary subject of
their conversations. The expedition of the English into Denmark had
greatly angered the Emperor. He found himself totally unable to assist
his ally, and this, added to the destruction of the Danish fleet and the
blockade established everywhere by English ships, made him eagerly seek
every opportunity of harming them. He exacted with greater urgency than
ever that his allies should devote themselves to carrying out his
vengeance. The Emperor of Russia, who had taken steps toward a general
peace, having been repulsed by the English Government, threw himself
thoroughly into the alliance with Bonaparte. On the 26th of October he
made a declaration, by which he announced that he had broken off all
communication with England up to the time when she should enter into a
treaty of peace with us. His ambassador, Count Tolstoi, arrived at
Fontainebleau shortly afterward; he was received with great honor, and
included among the “members of the Journey,” as it was called.

At the beginning of the month a rupture took place between ourselves and
Portugal. The Prince Regent of that kingdom gave no support to those
continental prohibitions which so harassed the people. Bonaparte grew
angry; violent paragraphs against the house of Braganza appeared in the
newspapers, the ambassadors were recalled, and our army entered Spain in
order to march on Lisbon. Junot was in command. In November the Prince
Regent, seeing he could offer no resistance to such an invasion,
resolved to emigrate from Europe, and to go and reign in Brazil. He
embarked on the 29th of November.

The Spanish Government had taken good care not to oppose the passage of
the French troops through its territories. A great deal of scheming was
going on at that time between the Court of Madrid and that of France.
For a long time past there had been a close correspondence between the
Prince of the Peace and Murat The Prince, absolutely master of his
King’s mind, and the implacable enemy of the Infante Don Ferdinand, heir
to the throne, had devoted himself to Bonaparte and served him
zealously. He repeatedly promised Murat to satisfy him on every point,
and the latter, in return, was instructed to promise him a crown (the
“kingdom of the Algarves”), and efficient support from us. A crowd of
schemers, both French and Spanish, were mixed up in all this. They
deceived Bonaparte and Murat as to the true spirit of Spain, and they
most carefully concealed that the Prince of the Peace was hated
throughout the kingdom. Having gained over this Minister, we fancied
ourselves masters of the country, and we fell willfully into many errors
for which we have since had to pay very dearly.

M. de Talleyrand was not always consulted or believed on these points.
Better informed than Murat, he often spoke to the Emperor of the true
state of the case, but he was suspected of being jealous of Murat. The
latter asserted that it was to injure him that Talleyrand threw a doubt
upon the success for which the Prince of the Peace made himself
answerable, and Bonaparte allowed himself to be deceived. It has been
said that the Prince of the Peace made enormous presents to Murat; the
latter flattered himself that, after betraying the Spanish Minister, and
by his means causing a rupture between the King of Spain and his son,
and finally bringing about the wished-for revolution, he would have the
throne of Spain as his reward; and, dazzled by this prospect, he would
not permit himself to doubt the truth of all the flattery that was
lavished upon him.

It happened that a conspiracy was suddenly formed at Madrid against the
King; Prince Ferdinand was accused in the reports that were made to King
Charles; and whether there was truth in the matter, or it was only a
wretched intrigue against the life of the young Prince, the charge was
published widely. The King of Spain, having caused his son to be put on
his trial before a tribunal, suffered himself to be disarmed by the
letters which fear dictated to the Infante—letters in which he
acknowledged his crime, real or pretended—and the Court was in a
deplorable state of turmoil. The King’s weakness was extreme; he was
infatuated with his Minister, who ruled over the Queen with all the
authority of a master and former lover. The Queen detested her son, to
whom the Spanish nation was attached in consequence of the hatred
inspired by the Prince of the Peace. There was in this situation
sufficient to flatter the Emperor’s hopes. If we add the state of Spain
itself, the political incapacity of the effete nobility, the ignorance
of the people, the influence of the clergy, the prevalence of
superstition, the miserable state of the finances, the influence which
the English Government was trying to gain, and the occupation of
Portugal by the French, it is plain that such a condition of things
threatened revolution.

I had often heard M. de Talleyrand talking to M. de Rémusat of the
situation of Spain. Once, when he was conversing with us about the
establishment of Bonaparte’s dynasty, he said, “A Prince of the house of
Bourbon is but a bad neighbor for him, and I do not think he will be
able to retain him.” But at this date, in 1807, M. de Talleyrand,
thoroughly well informed as to the real disposition of Spain, was of
opinion that, far from intriguing by means of a man of so little
capacity and so ill esteemed as the Prince of the Peace, the way to
propitiate the nation was by procuring his dismissal, and, if the King
refused this, by declaring war, taking part with the people against him,
and, according to events, either dethroning all the Bourbon family or
making a compromise in Bonaparte’s interest by marrying Prince Ferdinand
to a lady of the Imperial house. It was toward this latter plan that M.
de Talleyrand was most inclined, and he predicted even then to the
Emperor that any other line of conduct would involve him in

One of the greatest defects of Bonaparte—I do not know if I have
already mentioned it—was to jumble all men together on the level of his
own views, ignoring the differences in character which manners and
customs produce. He looked upon the Spaniards as he looked upon any
other nation. He knew that in France the progress of skepticism had led
to indifference toward the priests, and he persuaded himself that, by
holding forth on the other side of the Pyrenees in the philosophic
language which had preceded the French Revolution, he would induce the
inhabitants of Spain to join the movement which had carried away the
French. “When I come,” said he, “with the words _liberty, deliverance
from superstition, destruction of the nobility_, inscribed upon my
banner, I shall be received as I was in Italy, and all truly national
classes will be with me. I shall rouse a once generous people from their
interest; I shall develop them in industry which will increase their
wealth, and you will see that I shall be looked upon as the liberator of

Murat carried some of this talk to the Prince of the Peace, who did not
fail to assure him that such results were, in fact, highly probable. M.
de Talleyrand’s warnings were vain; they would not listen to him. This
was the first check to his influence, and it shook it at first
imperceptibly, but his enemies took advantage of it. M. Maret adopted
the tone of Murat, finding that it pleased the Emperor. The Minister of
Foreign Affairs, humiliated at being reduced to functions of which M. de
Talleyrand took the best part from him, thought proper to adopt and hold
a different opinion from his. The Emperor, thus circumvented, allowed
himself to be deceived, and a few months later embarked in this
perfidious and deplorable enterprise.

While we were at Fontainebleau, I saw a great deal of M. de Talleyrand.
He often came to my apartment, and seemed to be amused by my
observations about our Court; he also gave me his own opinions, which
were entertaining. Sometimes, indeed, our conversations took a serious
turn. He would come in wearied or even displeased with the Emperor, and
would then dwell upon the more or less hidden vices of his character;
and, thus enlightening me with truly funereal gleams, he fixed my as yet
unsettled opinions, and caused me much sincere concern.

One evening, when more communicative than usual, he told me some of the
anecdotes which I have related in these pages; and, as he was insisting
strongly on what he called the _knavery_ of our master, representing him
as incapable of a single generous sentiment, he was astonished to
observe that, as I listened, I was weeping silently. “What is it?” he
exclaimed. “What is the matter with you?” “The matter is,” I replied,
“that you make me really wretched. You politicians do not want to feel
any affection for those you serve. As for me, a poor woman, how do you
suppose I can endure the disgust your stories inspire, and what will
become of me if I must remain where I am without being able to retain a
single illusion?”

“Child that you are,” replied M. de Talleyrand, “must you always want to
put your heart into all you do? Take my advice: do not try to feel any
affection for this man, but rest assured that, with all his faults, he
is at present necessary to France. He knows how to uphold the country,
and each of us ought to do his best to aid him. However,” added he, “if
he listens to the sage advice he is receiving at present, I will not
answer for anything. He is now embarked in a pitiable intrigue. Murat
wants to be King of Spain; they are cajoling the Prince of the Peace,
and want to gain him over, as if he had any importance in Spain! It is
fine policy for the Emperor to arrive in a country with the reputation
of a close alliance with a detested minister. I know well enough that he
deceives that minister, and will throw him over when he perceives that
he counts for nothing; but he might have spared himself this despicable

“The Emperor will not see that he was called by his destiny to be
everywhere and always _the man of the nations_, the founder of useful
and possible innovations. To restore religion, morality, and order to
France; to applaud the civilization of England while restraining her
policy; to strengthen his frontiers by the Confederation of the Rhine;
to make Italy a kingdom independent both of Austria and himself; to keep
the Czar shut up at home, by creating the natural barrier which Poland
offers—these are what ought to have been the Emperor’s designs, and it
was to these that each of my treaties was leading him. But ambition,
anger, pride, and the fools to whom he listens, often mislead him. He
suspects me whenever I speak to him of ‘moderation’; and, if ever he
ceases to trust me, you will see he will compromise both himself and us
by imprudence and folly. Nevertheless, I shall watch over him to the
end. I have associated myself with the creation of his Empire; I should
like it to hold together as my last work; and, so long as I can see my
way to the success of my plan, I will not renounce it.”

The confidence which M. de Talleyrand reposed in me pleased me very
much. He soon saw how well founded it was, and that, both by taste and
by habit, I brought perfect trustworthiness to our friendly intercourse.
With me he enjoyed the rare pleasure of being able to speak freely, to
give vent to his feelings without any misgivings, and this just when he
felt inclined; for I never sought his confidences, and I always stopped
where he pleased. As he was endowed with great tact, he quickly
discerned my reserve and discretion, and they formed a new link between
us. When this business or our duties gave us a little leisure, he would
come to my rooms, where we three passed a good deal of time together. In
proportion as M. de Talleyrand grew more friendly toward me, I felt more
at my ease with him. I resumed the manners natural to my disposition,
the little prejudice of which I have spoken melted away, and I gave
myself up to a pleasure all the greater to me that it was to be found
within the walls of a palace where solicitude, fear, and mediocrity
hindered all real companionship between its inmates.

This intimacy, moreover, became very useful to us. M. de Talleyrand, as
I have said, talked to the Emperor about us, and convinced him that we
were well qualified to keep a great house, and to entertain the
foreigners who would undoubtedly frequent Paris in great numbers
thenceforth. Upon this the Emperor determined to give us the means of
establishing ourselves in Paris in handsome style. He increased M. de
Rémusat’s salary on the condition that, on his return to Paris, he
should set up a house; he appointed him superintendent of the Imperial
theatres. M. de Talleyrand was commissioned to announce these favors to
us, and I was very happy to owe them to him. This moment was the
culminating point of our position, for it opened to us an agreeable
prospect of ease and many opportunities of amusement. We received
several congratulations, and we experienced the greatest, the only
pleasure of a life passed at Court—I mean that of becoming important.

In the midst of all these things the Emperor worked incessantly, and
issued decrees almost daily. Some of these were of great utility. For
example, he improved the public offices in the departments, increased
the salaries of the curés, and reëstablished the Sisters of Charity. He
caused a _senatus consultum_ to declare the judges irremovable at the
end of five years. He also took care to encourage talent, especially
when his own glory was the aim of its efforts. The “Triomphe de Trajan”
was given at the Paris Opéra. The poem was by Esménard, and both he and
the composer received presents. The work admitted of significant
applications. Trajan was represented burning papers that contained the
secret of a conspiracy with his own hand. This recalled what Bonaparte
had done at Berlin. The triumph of Trajan was represented with
magnificent pomp. The decorations were superb; the conqueror appeared in
a chariot drawn by four white horses. All Paris flocked to the
spectacle; the applause was unstinted, and charmed the Emperor. Soon
afterward “La Vestale,” the libretto by Mme. Jouy, the music by
Spontini, was performed. This work, which is good as a poem, and
remarkable as a musical composition, also included a “triumph,” which
was much applauded, and the authors received a liberal recompense.

About this time the Emperor appointed M. de Caulaincourt ambassador to
St. Petersburg. He had great trouble in inducing him to accept this
mission; M. de Caulaincourt was very reluctant to part from a person
whom he loved, and he refused. Bonaparte at length, by dint of
flattering and affectionate persuasions, brought him to consent,
promising that his brilliant exile should not be prolonged beyond two
years. An immense sum was granted to the ambassador for the expenses of
his establishment, and his salary was fixed at from seven to eight
hundred thousand francs. The Emperor charged him to eclipse all the
other ambassadors in splendor. On his arrival at St. Petersburg, M. de
Caulaincourt found himself at first in an embarrassing position. The
crime of the death of the Duc d’Enghien had left a stain upon him. The
Empress-Mother would not see him; a great number of ladies refused to
receive him. The Czar received him graciously, and soon conceived a
liking for him, which grew into friendship; and then the great world,
following his example, treated the ambassador with less severity. When
the Emperor learned that a mere memory of this kind had affected the
position of his ambassador, he was astonished. “What!” said he, “do they
remember that old story?” He made use of the same expression every time
he found that the circumstance was not forgotten, which indeed was
frequently; and he would add: “What childishness! Nevertheless, what is
done, is done.”

Prince Eugène was Arch-Chancellor of State. M. de Talleyrand had to
replace the Prince in the discharge of the functions attached to that
post; so that the former united a number of dignities in his own person.
The Emperor also began to settle great revenues on his marshals and
generals, and to found those fortunes which seemed immense, and which
were destined to disappear with himself. A man would find himself
endowed with a considerable revenue, perhaps declared proprietor of a
vast number of leagues of territory in Poland, Hanover, or Westphalia.
But there were great difficulties about realizing the revenues. The
conquered countries gave them up reluctantly, and the agents sent to
collect them found themselves in an embarrassing position. Transactions
and concessions became inevitable; a portion of the promised sums only
could be had. Nevertheless, the desire of pleasing the Emperor, the
taste for luxury, an imprudent confidence in the future, induced these
men to place their expenditure on the footing of the presumed income
which they expected to receive. Debts accumulated, embarrassments
cropped up, in the midst of this seeming opulence; the public, beholding
extreme luxury, took immense fortunes for granted; and yet nothing real,
nothing secure, was at the bottom of all this.

We have seen most of the Marshals coming to the Emperor, when pressed by
their creditors, to solicit aid, which he granted according to his
fancy, or the interests to be served by binding certain persons to
himself. These demands became excessive, and perhaps the necessity for
satisfying them counted for much among the motives of the subsequent
wars. Marshal Ney bought a house; its purchase and the sums expended
upon it cost him more than a million, and he has since complained
bitterly of the difficulties into which this purchase threw him. Marshal
Davoust was in the same case. The Emperor prescribed to each of his
marshals the purchase of a house, which involved a great establishment
and large expenditure in furniture. Rich stuffs and precious objects of
all kinds adorned these dwellings; splendid services of plate glittered
on the Marshals’ tables. Their wives wore valuable jewels; their
equipages and dress cost great sums. This display pleased Bonaparte,
satisfied the shopkeepers, dazzled everybody, and, by removing
individuals from their proper sphere, augmented their dependence on the
Emperor—in fact, perfectly carried out his intentions.

During this time the old nobility of France lived simply, collecting its
ruins together, finding itself under no particular obligations, boasting
of its poverty rather than complaining, but in reality recovering its
estates by degrees, and reamassing those fortunes which at the present
day it enjoys. The confiscations of the National Convention were not
always a misfortune for the French nobility, especially in cases where
the lands were not sold. Before the Revolution that class was heavily in
debt, for extravagance was one of the luxuries of our former _grands
seigneurs_. The emigration and the laws of 1793, by depriving them of
their estates, set them free from their creditors, and from a certain
portion of the charges that weighed upon great houses; and, when they
recovered their property, they profited by that liberation, which, in
truth, they had bought at a high price. I remember that M. Gaudin,
Minister of Finance, related once before me how the Emperor had asked
him which was the most heavily taxed class in France, and he had
answered that it was still that of the old nobility. Bonaparte seemed
uneasy at this, and remarked, “But we must take order with that.”

Under the Empire a certain number of tolerably large fortunes were made;
several persons, military men especially, who had nothing formerly,
found themselves in possession of ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand
livres per annum, because, in proportion as they were remote from the
observation of the Emperor, they could live according to their own
fancy, and expend their income with order and economy. Of those immense
fortunes with which the grandees of Bonaparte’s Court were so
gratuitously accredited, but little remains; and on this point, as on
many others, the party who, on the return of the King, thought that the
state might be enriched by seizing upon the treasures supposed to be
amassed under the Empire, advised an arbitrary and vexatious measure
which led to no result.

At this period my family had a share in the gifts of the Emperor. My
brother-in-law, General Nansouty, was given the Grand Cross of the
Legion of Honor. He had been First Chamberlain to the Empress, and was
made First Equerry, replacing M. de Caulaincourt in his absence. He
received a grant of thirty thousand francs in Hanover, and one hundred
thousand francs for the purchase of a house, which might, if he chose,
be of greater value, but which became inalienable by the fact of this
grant. The amount went toward its price.

                             CHAPTER  XXVII


I THINK it well to devote a separate chapter to the events which were
taking place at Fontainebleau in connection with the Emperor’s divorce
at this time. Although Bonaparte had not spoken to his wife on the
subject for some years, except on occasions when he had some quarrel
with her, and those occasions had become exceedingly rare in consequence
of the amiability and self-control of the Empress, it is nevertheless
probable that he never entirely lost sight of the idea. The death of the
eldest son of Louis had deeply impressed him. His victories, while
increasing his power, had also expanded his ideas of greatness; and his
policy, as well as his vanity, was concerned in an alliance with a
European sovereign. The rumor was at first spread that Napoleon had cast
his eyes on the daughter of the King of Saxony; but an alliance with
that Princess would not have procured him any valuable support for his
continental authority. The King of Saxony reigned only because France
authorized him to reign. Besides this, his daughter was now at least
thirty years of age, and by no means handsome. Bonaparte, on his return
from Tilsit, spoke of her to his wife in a manner which set Josephine’s
mind completely at ease.

The conferences at Tilsit very reasonably inflated Napoleon’s pride. The
admiration which the young Czar felt for him, the assent which he
yielded to certain of his projects, especially to the dismemberment of
Spain, the complaisance of his new ally with regard to his wishes, all
combined to lead Napoleon to form designs of a closer alliance. No doubt
he spoke openly of these to M. de Talleyrand, but I do not think that
anything was said about them to the Czar; the whole matter was referred
to a future, more or less near, according to circumstances.

The Emperor returned to France. On rejoining his wife, he once more
yielded to that sort of affection with which she always inspired him,
and which was sometimes a trouble to him, because it rendered him
uncomfortable when he had deeply grieved her.

On one occasion, when he was talking with her about the quarrels of the
King of Holland and his wife, the death of the young Napoleon, and the
delicate health of the only child remaining to the ill-assorted pair, he
spoke of the obligation which might one day be imposed upon himself of
taking a wife who should give him children. He approached the subject
with some emotion, and added: “If such a thing should happen, Josephine,
it will be for you to help me to make the sacrifice. I shall count upon
your love to save me from all the odium of a forced rupture. You would
take the initiative, would you not? You would enter into my position,
and you would have the courage to withdraw?” The Empress knew her
husband’s character too well to facilitate beforehand, by one imprudent
word, the step which she repelled as much as she could; so that during
this conversation, far from leading him to hope that she would
contribute to soften the effect of such a proceeding by her conduct, she
assured him that she would obey his orders, but that she would never
anticipate them. She made this reply in that calm and dignified tone
which she always did well to assume toward Bonaparte, and it was not
without effect. “Sire,” said she (it should be remarked that from the
beginning of his reign she always addressed him, even when they were
alone, with the forms of ceremonious respect), “you are the master, and
you shall decide my fate. If you should order me to quit the Tuileries,
I will obey on the instant; but the least you can do is to give me that
order in a positive manner. I am your wife; I have been crowned by you
in the presence of the Pope. Such honors, at least, demand that they
should not be voluntarily renounced. If you divorce me, all France shall
know that it is you who send me away, and shall be ignorant neither of
my obedience nor of my profound grief.” This manner of replying, which
was always the same, did not annoy the Emperor, and even seemed
occasionally to touch him; for, when on several occasions he recurred to
the subject, he frequently wept, and was genuinely agitated by
contending feelings.

Mme. Bonaparte, who retained her self-control so admirably while in his
presence, gave way to excessive emotion on relating to me all that had
passed. Sometimes she wept bitterly; at other moments she would dwell on
the ingratitude of such conduct. She recalled to mind that when she
married Bonaparte he had considered himself highly honored by her
alliance, and she asserted that it was an odious deed to repudiate her
in his greatness, after she had consented to share his low fortunes.
Sometimes she became so excited that she even yielded to apprehensions
concerning her personal safety. “I will never give in to him; I will
demean myself entirely as his victim; but, if I stand too resolutely in
his way, who can tell of what he would be capable, or whether he would
resist the necessity of getting rid of me!” When she spoke thus, I made
every effort to calm her imagination, which no doubt led her too far.
Whatever I might think of the facility with which Bonaparte yielded to
political necessity, I did not believe for a moment that he would be
capable of conceiving and executing the black designs of which she then
suspected him. But he had acted in such a way on several occasions, and
he had used such language, that it was not wonderful that misery such as
hers should inspire her with suspicions of the sort. And, although I
solemnly declare that in my conscience I did not believe he had ever
contemplated such a means of getting out of his difficulty, I was unable
to make any other reply to the Empress than, “Madame, be quite sure that
he is not capable of going so far.”

For my own part, I was astonished that a woman so completely
disenchanted concerning her husband, tortured by a dreadful suspicion,
detached from every affection, and indifferent to fame, should hold so
strongly to the enjoyment of such a precarious royalty; but, seeing that
nothing availed to disgust her with it, I contented myself with
entreating her, as I had always done, to keep silence, and to maintain
her calm, sorrowful, but determined attitude in the presence of the
Emperor, for I knew well that by these means only could she turn aside
or delay the storm. He knew that his wife was generally beloved. Day by
day public opinion was becoming alienated from him, and he was afraid of
incensing it.

When the Empress confided her sorrows to her daughter, she did not, as I
have already said, find her very capable of understanding her. Since the
death of her child, the sorrows of vanity had appeared more than ever
inexplicable to Queen Hortense, and her sole answer to her mother always
was, “How can any one regret a throne?”

Mme. de la Rochefoucauld, to whom Mme. Bonaparte also spoke, was, as I
have said, somewhat frivolous, and passed over everything as lightly as
she could. The burden of the Empress’s confidence fell, therefore, upon
me. The Emperor was aware of the fact, but did not at that time resent
it to me. I know he even said to M. de Talleyrand, “It must be
acknowledged that the Empress is well advised.” When his passions gave
his intellect a chance, he could estimate fairly and wisely enough
conduct which embarrassed him, provided it only embarrassed him a
little, because he always knew that when he chose he could surmount the
light obstacles that were opposed to him; and he allowed one to play
one’s own cards, because he knew that in the end he should none the less
surely win the game.

Meanwhile we went to Fontainebleau, and the fêtes, the presence of
foreign princes, and above all the drama which Bonaparte was preparing
for Spain, diverted his mind from the question of the divorce, and at
first everything went smoothly enough.

My friendship with Talleyrand became confirmed, and the Empress was
rejoiced at this, because she hoped that when occasion arose it would be
useful, or at least convenient, to herself. I have said that just then
the sovereigns of the duchy of Berg and Fouché the Minister of Police
were scheming in concert. Mme. Murat always contrived to quarrel with
anybody who was about the Empress, and spared no pains for that end.
Talleyrand and Fouché were jealous and distrustful of each other, and at
this period the great importance of the former gave umbrage to all.

About two or three weeks before the end of our sojourn at Fontainebleau
the Minister of Police arrived one morning. He remained a long time in
the Emperor’s cabinet, and was afterward invited to dine with him, an
honor rarely accorded to any one. During dinner Bonaparte was in high
spirits. Some sort of amusement, I forget what, filled up the evening.
Toward midnight, when every one had retired, one of the Empress’s
attendants knocked at my door. My maid told him I had gone to bed. The
man replied that I need not get up, but that the Empress begged my
husband would come to her at once.

M. de Rémusat, who had not yet left my room, immediately repaired to the
Empress’s apartment. He found her half undressed, pale, and in great
agitation. She sent away her women, and, exclaiming that she was lost,
placed in my husband’s hands a long letter, written upon large paper,
and signed by Fouché himself. In this letter Fouché began by protesting
that his former devotion to her was quite unaltered, and assuring her
that it was in consequence of that sentiment he ventured to ask her to
consider her position and the Emperor’s. He represented the Emperor as
all-powerful, depicted him at the height of his glory, sovereign master
of France, but accountable to that same France for the present and for
the future which were confided to him. “We must not disguise from
ourselves, Madame,” said he, “that the political future of France is
compromised by the want of an heir to the Emperor. As Minister of
Police, I am placed in a position to judge of public opinion, and I know
that the succession to such an empire gives rise to public uneasiness.
Picture to yourself what would be the strength of his Majesty’s throne
to-day, if it were supported by the existence of a son.” This advantage
was dwelt upon skillfully and at length, as indeed it might well be.
Fouché then spoke of the opposition between the conjugal affection of
the Emperor and his policy. He foresaw that he would never bring himself
to prescribe so grievous a sacrifice, and he therefore ventured to
advise Mme. Bonaparte to make a courageous effort on her own part, to
resign herself, to immolate herself for France; and he drew a very
pathetic picture of the _éclat_ which such an action would cast upon her
now and in the future. Lastly, the letter ended with a declaration that
the Emperor was quite ignorant of its having been written, that the
writer knew it would be displeasing to him, and earnestly entreated the
Empress to keep it a profound secret.

We may easily imagine all the oratorical phrases that adorned this
letter, which had every appearance of having been written with care and
reflection. The first thought of M. de Rémusat was that Fouché had not
attempted such a proceeding without an understanding with the Emperor;
he, however, took good care not to indicate this conviction to the
Empress, who was making visible efforts to repel the same suspicions on
her own part, while her tears and agitation proved that she dared not
count upon the Emperor on this occasion. “What shall I do?” asked she.
“How shall I avert this storm?” “Madame,” said M. de Rémusat, “I
strongly advise you to go this instant to the Emperor’s room, if he has
not yet retired, or, at all events, to go to him very early to-morrow.
Remember that you must seem to have consulted nobody. Make him read that
letter; watch him if you can, but at any rate show him that you are
angry at this side-winded advice, and declare to him anew that you will
only obey positive orders pronounced by himself.”

The Empress adopted this advice. She begged my husband to tell M. de
Talleyrand all that had occurred, and to report to her what he said;
then, as it was late, she put off her conversation with the Emperor
until next morning. When she showed Bonaparte the letter, he affected to
be extremely angry, and declared that he was totally ignorant of this
proceeding; that Fouché had exhibited quite uncalled-for zeal, and that,
if he had not set out for Paris, he should have been severely
reprimanded. The Emperor added that he would punish the Minister of
Police if the Empress wished it, and would even go so far as to remove
him from the Ministry, should she exact such a reparation. He
accompanied this declaration with many caresses; but his manner did not
convince the Empress, who told me the same day that she was aware he was
greatly embarrassed during this explanation.

In the mean time the matter was discussed between my husband and myself.
We saw very clearly that Fouché had been induced to take this step by a
superior order, and we said to each other that, if the Emperor was
seriously thinking of divorce, it was exceedingly unlikely Talleyrand
would be opposed to the step. What was our surprise to find that at this
moment he was so! Talleyrand listened to us very attentively, and like a
man who was totally unaware of what had happened. He considered Fouché’s
letter improper and ridiculous, and added that the idea of the divorce
appeared to him utterly mistaken. He took my view, and that vehemently;
advised that the Empress should take a very high tone with the Minister
of Police, and should tell him that he had no business to interfere in
such a matter. He added that, if the affair were ever arranged, it ought
to be settled without any go-between. The Empress was delighted with
this advice, and she and I together composed a cold and dignified reply
to Fouché’s letter. Talleyrand read and approved of this, and desired us
to show it to the Emperor, who, he said, would not venture to find fault
with it. He was right; and Bonaparte, who had not yet made up his mind,
continued to play the same part, to exhibit increasing anger, to indulge
in violent threats, and to declare with so much iteration that he would
dismiss the Minister of Police if she wished it, that the Empress,
tranquillized by degrees and deceived anew, ceased to feel any
resentment toward Fouché, whom she no longer feared, and refused the
offered reparation, telling her husband that she would not on any
account have him deprive himself of the services of a man who was useful
to him, and that it would be enough if he “scolded him well.”

Fouché came back to Fontainebleau a few days afterward. In Mme.
Bonaparte’s presence her husband treated him with scrupulous coldness;
but the Minister did not seem to mind that in the least, which confirmed
me in my belief that the whole thing had been arranged. He repeated to
the Empress all that he had written. The Emperor told his wife that he
went over precisely the same ground with him. “It is an excess of zeal,”
said he. “We must not be angry with him for it; it is quite enough that
we are determined to reject his advice, and you know well that I could
not live without you.” Bonaparte repeated these same words to his wife
day and night. He was much more with her than he had recently been, was
really agitated, would take her in his arms and protest the most
passionate love; and in these scenes, which were at first, as I believe,
acted for a purpose, he involuntarily became quite carried away, and
ended by experiencing sincere emotion.

All that he said was confided to me, and I repeated it to Talleyrand,
who dictated the line of conduct to be observed. His advice steadily
tended to avert the divorce, and he guided Mme. Bonaparte very well. I
could not refrain from letting him see that I was somewhat astonished he
should oppose a project which had certainly a reasonable political
aspect, and that he should take so much interest in the purely domestic
side of the affair. He replied that it was not altogether so domestic as
I imagined. “There is nobody,” he said, “in the palace who ought not to
desire that this woman should remain with Bonaparte. She is gentle and
good, she has the art of keeping him quiet, and she enters quite
sufficiently into everybody’s position. She is a refuge for us on a
thousand occasions. If a Princess were to come here, we should find the
Emperor break with all the Court, and we should all be crushed.”

Giving me these reasons, Talleyrand convinced me that he was speaking
sincerely; but yet he was not telling me all his secret, for, while he
repeated to me that we must all unite to avert the divorce, he
frequently asked me what would become of me if by any chance the Emperor
carried the plan into effect. I replied that without hesitation I should
share the fate of my Empress. “But,” said he, “do you love her well
enough to do that?” “Certainly,” I replied, “I am attached to her;
nevertheless, as I know her well, as I know her to be frivolous and
hardly capable of a steady affection, it would not be the dictates of my
heart that I should follow on this occasion, so much as those of
propriety. I came to this Court through Mme. Bonaparte’s influence; I
have always passed in the eyes of the world as her intimate friend; I
have had the burden and the confidence of that friendship; and, although
she has been too much taken up with her own position to care much about
me, although she has thrown me aside and taken me up again, as it suited
her convenience, the public, who can not enter into the secrets of our
mutual relations, and to whom I shall not confide them, would, I am
sure, be astonished if I did not share her exile.” “But,” said
Talleyrand, “this would gratuitously put you into a position which might
be very unpleasant for yourself and your husband, and would perhaps
separate you. You would have to encounter many small difficulties, for
which assuredly she would not pay you.” “I know that as well as you,”
said I. “She is changeable and even whimsical. I can foresee that in
such a case she would be at first very grateful for my devotion, then
she would get used to it, and finally she would think no more about it.
But her character shall not prevent me from acting in accordance with my
own, and I will do what seems to be my duty without expecting the
smallest reward.”

In fact, when speaking, about this time, of the chances of the divorce,
I promised the Empress that I would leave the Court if she ever left it.
She seemed deeply touched by this declaration, which I made with tears
and sincere emotion. Assuredly she ought to have resisted the suspicions
which she afterward conceived against me, and of which I shall give an
account in due time. I placed only one restriction upon the promise
which I made: “I will not be Lady-in-Waiting to another Empress. If you
retire into some country place, I will follow you, being always happy to
share your solitude; and I will never leave you, except you should quit

No one could tell what was really passing in the Emperor’s mind, and he
had once said to his wife: “If you quit me, I would not have you lose
state or rank by it; you shall reign somewhere, perhaps even at Rome.”
It is to be remarked that when he was thus speaking the Pope was in that
same Rome, and that there was no reason to suppose he would have to
leave the city. But the most serious events seemed perfectly simple to
Napoleon; and from time to time, if one listened attentively, a word
dropped here and there sufficed to indicate the succession of projects
which he was forming.

M. de Rémusat thought with me respecting my proper line of conduct. He
was perfectly alive to the inconvenience which might possibly result
from it; but that consideration did not deter him, and he repeated to
the Empress that she might count upon my fidelity in her misfortunes,
should they ever fall upon her. We shall see that she was afterward
induced to place no reliance upon a promise which was given with perfect

It was at this period, and upon the subject of the divorce, that we had
certain conversations with Mme. de la Rochefoucauld, which brought about
the explanations to which I have previously referred, and that M. de
Rémusat became acquainted with what had passed respecting him on his
return from the Prussian campaign. These new lights added considerably
to the painful impression of our successive discoveries relating to the
Emperor’s character.

I will now tell what I learned of the motives which induced Talleyrand
and the Minister of Police to act in the manner which I have just
recorded. I have said that Fouché, who was fascinated by Mme. Murat, was
forced in consequence to break with what was called “the party of the
Beauharnais.” I do not know whether he really wished to do so; but, when
a man mixes himself up in certain intrigues in which women play a part,
he can not tell at what point he may be able to stop, because there are
so many little sayings, little denunciations, and little treacheries,
that in the end he gets lost among them. Mme. Murat, who detested her
sister-in-law, and did all in her power to drive her off the throne,
longed for an alliance with a European Princess for her own pride’s
sake, and plied the Emperor with flattery on this point. Fouché thought
that it would be useful to the new dynasty to be supported by a direct
heir. He knew Bonaparte too well not to foresee that, sooner or later,
policy would take precedence of every other consideration with him. He
was afraid that he himself might not be employed in this affair, which
seemed to be entirely in Talleyrand’s line, and he was anxious to
deprive him of the honor and the advantages of such a negotiation. With
this intention he broke the ice with the Emperor, and spoke to him on
the important point. Finding him disposed to entertain it, he dwelt upon
all the motives which were so easy to urge, and ultimately succeeded in
extracting from Bonaparte an order, or at least a proposal, that he
should play the part of mediator between the Emperor and the Empress in
all negotiations on the point. He went further; he made public opinion
declare itself! With the assistance of the police, he got speeches made
on the subject of the divorce at several places of general assembly in
Paris. The people began to discuss in the cafés the necessity of the
Emperor’s having an heir. These utterances, which were prompted by
Fouché, were reported by him and the rest of the police, who gave an
exact account of all that took place; and the Emperor believed that the
public were far more occupied with this subject than they really were.

On his return from Fontainebleau, Fouché told the Emperor that there was
great excitement in Paris, and that the populace might possibly assemble
under his windows and ask him to contract another marriage. The Emperor
was at first taken with this idea, from which M. de Talleyrand adroitly
contrived to turn him aside. Not that the latter had really any
repugnance to the divorce, but he wanted it to be effected in his own
way, at his own time, and with great utility and dignity. He was quick
to perceive that the zeal of Fouché tended to deprive him of the palm,
and he could not endure that any other scheme should take the place of
his on his own ground.

France had formed a close alliance with Russia, but M. de Talleyrand,
who was very able in the use he made of his knowledge of the actual
state of Europe, thought it necessary to keep a close watch on Austria,
and had already come to the conclusion that another tie between us and
that Power would be the most useful move for us. Besides, he knew that
the Empress-Mother of Russia did not share the Czar’s admiration for
Napoleon, and that she would refuse to give us one of her daughters for
an Empress. Again, it was possible that a hurried divorce might not be
quickly followed by a marriage, and the Emperor would in that case be
placed in a disagreeable position. The contest which might break out at
any moment in Spain would rouse the attention of Europe, and it was not
a moment to engage ourselves in two enterprises, both of which would
demand grave deliberation.

These were, no doubt, the considerations which led M. de Talleyrand to
thwart Fouché, and to espouse the interests of Mme. Bonaparte for the
time being. Neither she nor I was clever enough to see through his
motives at the time, and it was not until afterward that I became aware
of them. M. de Rémusat had not so much confidence in M. de Talleyrand’s
apparent acquiescence in what we desired, but he was of opinion that we
might turn it to account; so that, with various intentions, we were all
pursuing the same course.

While the Emperor was in Paris, in the short interval between his
journey to Italy and his journey to Bayonne, while Fouché was constantly
plying him with what he stated to be popular opinions, M. de Talleyrand
seized an opportunity of showing him that in this instance the Minister
of Police was misleading him. “Fouché,” he said to the Emperor, “is, and
always will be, a revolutionist. Look well to it, and you will see that
he would lead you, by factious means, to an act that should only be
accomplished with the parade and pomp befitting a monarch. He wishes
that a mob, collected by his orders, should come and vociferously demand
of you an heir, just as they forced concessions from Louis XVI., who was
never able to refuse them. When you have accustomed the people to meddle
with your affairs after this fashion, how do you know that it will not
occur to them to do so again, and how can you tell what they may
subsequently demand of you? And, after all, no one will be duped by
these gatherings, while you will be accused of having got them up.” The
Emperor was impressed by these observations, and imposed silence upon

From that moment the question of the divorce was no longer discussed in
the cafés, and the “national wish” remained unexpressed. The effect on
the Emperor of this silence was favorable to his wife, and she felt
somewhat reassured. He continued, however, to show great agitation at
times, and their intercourse was constrained and often interrupted by
long fits of silence; after which he would return to the subject,
dwelling upon the disadvantage of not having a direct posterity on which
to found his dynasty, and saying that he did not know what to do. He
suffered much from conflicting feelings at this time.

He was particularly confidential with M. de Talleyrand, who repeated to
me a portion of their conversations. “In separating myself from my
wife,” Bonaparte said, “I renounce all the charm which her presence
gives to my home-life. I should have to study the tastes and habits of a
young wife. This one accommodates herself to everything; she understands
me perfectly, and I should be making her an ungrateful return for all
she has done for me. The people care little for me as it is, and then it
would be much worse. She is a link between me and them, and especially
between me and a certain party in Paris, which I should have to give
up.” After regrets of this kind, he would dwell upon the reasons which
made it a state question; and M. de Talleyrand told my husband it was
his conviction that this creditable hesitation would one day give way
before political considerations—that the divorce might be delayed, but
that it was vain to hope that it could be ultimately avoided. He
concluded by saying that we might rely upon it he had no influence in
the matter, and that the Empress would do well to adhere to the course
which she had adopted.

M. de Rémusat and I agreed that we would say nothing to the Empress
about the first part of this statement, which would have so much
increased her apprehensions as perhaps to betray her into some false
step; and we saw no use in inspiring her with distrust of M. de
Talleyrand, who had at that time no interest in injuring her, but who
might have had such an interest had she allowed an imprudent word to
escape her. For my part, I resolved to await the future without trying
to foresee it, and to be guided by the prudence and dignity which should
always distinguish those who hold a prominent position, and who are
surrounded by a hundred eyes that watch, and a hundred mouths ready to
repeat all they say. It was at this period that the Emperor said to M.
de Talleyrand, “The Empress is well advised.”

Shortly before his departure for Bayonne, another explanation on the
subject of the divorce took place. This was the last at this time, and
it showed that the Emperor, willful as he was, was yet capricious in his
moods, and that he was sometimes carried away by genuine feeling.

M. de Talleyrand, coming out of the Emperor’s cabinet one morning, met
M. de Rémusat, and said to him, as they walked toward his carriage: “I
think your wife will have to meet the trial that she fears sooner than
she anticipates. The Emperor is again most eager on the subject of a
divorce; he has spoken to me of it as of a thing almost decided upon,
and we shall all do well to take it as such, and not vainly oppose it.”
My husband repeated these words to me; they caused me great pain. There
was to be a reception at Court that evening. I had just lost my mother,
and did not go into society. M. de Rémusat returned to the palace to
superintend the play that was to be performed. The apartments were
crowded. Princes, ambassadors, and courtiers were all assembled, and at
length the order was given to begin the play, without waiting for their
Majesties, who would not appear. The fête went off badly, and the guests
dispersed as soon as they could.

M. de Talleyrand and M. de Rémusat, before leaving the palace, went to
the private apartments of the Emperor, where they were told that he had
retired with his wife at eight o’clock, that he had ordered the door to
be closed, and that he should not be disturbed until the next day. M. de
Talleyrand went away in dudgeon. “What a devil of a man!” said he. “How
he yields to sudden impulses, as if he did not really know what he
wanted! Why can he not come to some decision, and cease making us the
puppets of his moods, not knowing what attitude we are to assume toward

The Empress received my husband the next day, and told him that at six
o’clock she had joined the Emperor at dinner; that he was then sad and
silent; that afterward she had left him to dress for the evening, and
while she was preparing for the reception an attendant came to fetch
her, saying that the Emperor was ill. She found him suffering from
severe spasms, and in a highly nervous state. On seeing her, he burst
into tears, and, drawing her toward the bed on which he had thrown
himself, without taking heed of her elegant attire, he folded her in his
arms, repeating again and again, “My poor Josephine, I can not leave
you.” She added that his state inspired her with more compassion than
tenderness, and that she kept saying to him time after time: “Sire, be
calm; make up your mind what you really want to do, and let us have an
end of these scenes.” Her words seemed only to add to his excitement,
which became so excessive that she advised him to give up the idea of
appearing in public, and to go to bed. He consented to this, but only on
condition that she would remain with him; and she was obliged at once to
undress and to share that bed, which, she said, he literally bathed with
his tears, repeating constantly, “They harass me, they torment me, they
make me miserable!” and the night was thus passed in alternate fits of
tenderness and intervals of agitated sleep. After this evening he gained
command over himself, and never again gave way to such vehement emotion.

The Empress alternated between hope and fear. She placed no reliance on
these pathetic scenes, and declared that Bonaparte passed too quickly
from tender protestations to quarreling with her about flirtations of
which he accused her, or to other subjects of complaint; that he wanted
to break down her resistance, to make her ill, or perhaps even
worse—for, as I have already said, her imagination pictured every
extreme. Sometimes she would say that he was trying to disgust her with
him by incessantly tormenting her. It is true that, either intentionally
or because of his own agitation, he kept her in a constant state of
unrest, which affected her health.

Fouché talked openly of the divorce, to the Empress, to me, and to every
one, saying that he might be dismissed, but that he should not be
prevented from offering good advice. M. de Talleyrand listened to him in
disdainful silence, and consented to being considered by the public to
be opposed to the divorce. Bonaparte saw through all this, without
blaming the conduct of the one or the other, or, indeed, that of any

The Court observed even stricter silence than usual, for there was no
positive indication as to which of these great personages it would be
prudent to side with.

In the midst of these troubles the tragic event in Spain took place, and
the divorce question was for a time laid aside.

                            CHAPTER  XXVIII


AT or about this time M. Molé was nominated Prefect of the Côte-d’Or.
The Emperor, who had remarked his abilities on many occasions, had to a
certain extent adopted him, and in his own mind decided on his
promotion. He was more and more pleased by his conversations with him,
in which he brought out all that was most remarkable in Molé’s mind, and
Bonaparte knew how to attract the sympathies of youth. M. Molé showed
some dislike to the idea of leaving Paris, where he was pleasantly
settled with his family. “We must not hurt people’s feelings,” the
Emperor said to him, “by sudden promotions. Besides, some experience in
the affairs of administration will be very useful to you. I will only
keep you one year at Dijon, and then you shall return, and you will have
reason to be pleased with me.” He kept his word to M. Molé.

The sojourn of the Court at Fontainebleau came to an end toward the
middle of November, at which there was general satisfaction; for every
one was tired of the fêtes, and the restraint which they occasioned.
Most of the foreign princes returned to their homes, dazzled by our
magnificence, which had been “administered,” if I may be permitted the
expression, with the most perfect order; for the Emperor would not have
allowed any other system in the management of his private affairs. He
was very much pleased when M. de Rémusat asked of him only 150,000
francs for the expenses incurred for the fêtes and plays; and certainly,
if this sum be considered relatively to the results produced, it is
evident that minute attention must have been paid to every detail of the
expenditure. The Emperor, who wished to be informed of all these
details, referred on this occasion to the sum that it formerly cost the
Court of France to make such journeys, and he drew the comparison with a
complacency justified by the facts. The household was strictly
administered by the Grand Marshal, and the accounts were kept and paid
with the utmost regularity.

Duroc acquitted himself remarkably well of this charge, but with a
harshness of manner which was doubtless inspired by his master’s
severity. When the Emperor scolded, the consequences were felt by every
servant in the palace, in the rude treatment to which they were
subjected. Discipline was strict, and punishments were severe; vigilance
was never relaxed, so that each one was always to be found at his post,
and everything was done with silent regularity. Every abuse was guarded
against, and all wages were paid punctually and in advance. In the
offices, and in the kitchens, a plate of soup or a glass of _eau sucrée_
was not given out without the authorization of the Marshal, who was
invariably informed of all that happened in the palace. His discretion
never failed, and he repeated whatever occurred to the Emperor only.

The Emperor left Fontainebleau to make a short tour in Italy. He wished
to visit Milan again, to show himself in Venice, and to communicate with
his brother Joseph; and I believe he wished to arrive, above all, at a
decision with regard to the kingdom of Italy—a decision by which he
hoped to reassure Europe. He also intended to signify to the Queen of
Etruria, daughter of the King of Spain, that she must quit her kingdom.
As he was secretly preparing to invade Spain, he admitted that the idea
of the union of the crowns of France and Italy had alarmed Europe. In
naming Eugène as successor to the throne of Italy, he wished it to be
understood that this union was not to last for ever, and believed that
the concession which did not dispossess him would be received, and the
power of his successor be thus limited.

Murat, who had every interest in keeping up daily communication with his
brother-in-law, obtained permission to accompany him in this little
tour, to the great annoyance of M. de Talleyrand, who foresaw that
advantage would be taken of his absence to frustrate his plans.

The Emperor left Fontainebleau on the 10th of November, and the Empress
returned to Paris. The Prince Primate remained there some time longer,
as well as the Princes of Mecklenburg. They came to the Tuileries every
evening, where they played or conversed, and listened to the music.

The Empress talked more with the Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin than
with the others: this was remarked upon, as I have mentioned before.
Most people laughed, and attached so little importance to it as even to
joke with the Empress herself about it. Others viewed the subject more
seriously, and wrote to the Emperor; and on his return he rebuked her
severely. Although accustomed to gratify all his own fancies, he was
very severe on those of others.

During this journey, a vaudeville was represented at one of the small
theatres with such success that every one wished to see it, Mme.
Bonaparte as well as others. She requested M. de Rémusat to get her a
box, and in a simple dress, and in a carriage without arms, she went
privately to the theatre, accompanied by some ladies and the two Princes
of Mecklenburg. This was immediately reported at Milan, and the Emperor
wrote a furious letter to his wife, and on his return reproached her for
a want of dignity. I even remember that, in his annoyance, he reminded
her that the last Queen of France had done herself the greatest harm by
forgetting what was due to her rank, and indulging in frivolities of a
similar kind.

During his absence the Imperial Guard made a triumphal entry into Paris.
The Prefect received them with a speech, and many fêtes were given in
their honor.

As I have said elsewhere, the Sisters of Charity were reëstablished.
They assembled, by order of the Minister of the Interior, in the
apartments of Mme. Mère, where he distributed medals to them. The
Emperor wished his mother to be at the head of every charitable
institution, but there was nothing in her manner to make her popular,
and she acquitted herself of the task imposed on her without ability or

The Emperor appeared to be satisfied with the administration of affairs
in Italy, and traveled from one end of the country to the other. He went
to Venice, where he was joined by his brother Joseph, and by the King
and Queen of Bavaria. Mme. Bacciochi went to solicit an extension of her

During this time Russia broke completely with England. A part of our
army, still in the north of Germany, held the King of Sweden in check.
Bernadotte was at Hamburg in communication with the malcontent Swedes,
and he acquired a personal reputation which he carefully maintained. He
expended large sums in bribes. It is not likely that he could have had
an idea at that time of what was afterward to happen; but his ambition,
as yet vague, led him to turn every happy chance that befell him to
account, and at that period one might, in certain situations, undertake
everything and hope for anything.

The Prince of Brazil left Lisbon on the 29th of November, and General
Junot entered that city a few days afterward with our army, declaring,
according to custom, that we came to free the Portuguese from the yoke
of the English.

Toward the end of the month the Emperor, having assembled the Corps
Législatif at Milan, declared that he solemnly adopted Eugène, who
became heir to the crown of Italy should the Emperor have no male issue.
At the same time he endowed him with the title of Prince of Venice, and
he created the little princess, who was just born, Princess of Bologna.
He then returned to Paris, where he arrived on the 1st of January, 1808.

I was engrossed just then by melancholy duties. On my return from
Fontainebleau, I had found my mother ill. She continued for some time in
a languid state without actually causing me anxiety. Notwithstanding her
illness, she evinced great satisfaction at the improvement that had
taken place in our position, and I began during the first days of her
illness to put our establishment on the footing which the Emperor
desired. Toward the end of December my mother’s state became so
alarming, that we thought of nothing but the care she needed, and our
house was closed to visitors. Three weeks afterward we had the
misfortune to lose her, and one of the most tender ties of my life, one
of its dearest enjoyments, was lost to me for ever. My mother was in
every way a remarkable person. She was possessed of great talent and
judgment, which were much appreciated in society. She was useful and
agreeable to us at every moment of the day. She was universally
regretted, and her loss overwhelmed us with grief. My husband wept for
her like a son; we were pitied even at Court, because even there her
worth was appreciated. The Emperor expressed himself kindly on hearing
of our calamity, and spoke of it in suitable terms to M. de Rémusat when
he saw him; but, as I have already said, the life of retirement, into
which good taste, as well as my sorrow, caused us to withdraw, was
opposed to his views, and two or three months afterward he deprived us
of that increase to our income which he had granted us that we might
entertain in good style, on the pretext that it was now useless to us.
Thus we were left encumbered with debts which he had obliged us to

I passed that winter very sorrowfully. I wept bitterly for my mother; I
was separated from my eldest son, whom we had placed at college, so that
he might cultivate those talents for which he has since been remarkable,
and which were even then noticeable; my health was bad, and my spirits
were depressed. My society could not have been very amusing to M. de
Talleyrand, yet he did not forsake me in my sadness. He was, on the
contrary, one of the most assiduous and attentive of our visitors. He
had known my mother formerly, and he liked to speak of her, and to
listen to all my recollections of her. In the depth of my sorrow I lost
all my little ambition to appear clever, and I did not endeavor to check
my tears in his presence.

When alone with my husband and me, he showed no impatience with my grief
nor with the tenderness of M. de Rémusat’s efforts to console me. It
seems to me now, on thinking of it, that he observed us with curiosity.
His own life had been devoid of natural affections, and ours was a novel
spectacle to him, which touched him not a little. He then learned for
the first time what mutual love, united with moral principle, can do to
give comfort and courage amid the trials of life. That which he
witnessed in my house appeared to rest him after what passed elsewhere,
and colored even his recollections, for more than once at this time he
spoke to me of himself with regret, and, I might almost say, with
disgust. We responded to his affection with gratitude which sprang from
our hearts. He came to see us more and more frequently, and he remained
a long time at each visit. We no longer jested at or ridiculed others.
Restored to my better self, I let him see to the depths of a sensitive
nature, which domestic happiness had rendered sympathetic. In my sorrow
and deep melancholy, and in my ignorance of all that was taking place
outside, I led him into regions until then unknown to him; their
discovery seemed to give him pleasure, and by degrees I might say what I
chose to him. He even allowed me to censure and judge him severely,
which I occasionally did. He never grew angry at my sincerity; and from
this time there existed between us a friendship very precious to both.
When I succeeded in awakening any emotion in him, I was as much elated
as if I had gained a victory; and he was grateful to me for having
stirred his soul, which had fallen asleep from habit or through

On one occasion, when, impatient at his inconsistency, I went so far as
to say, “Good heavens! what a pity it is that you have taken such pains
to spoil yourself, for I can not help believing that the real you is
better than you are,” he smiled and said: “Our entire life is influenced
by the manner in which we pass the early years of it; and, were I to
tell you how my youth was spent, you would cease to wonder at many
things that now astonish you.”

Then he told me that, being lame and the eldest of his family, and
having by this accident disappointed the hopes and prevented the
fulfillment of that custom which before the Revolution destined the
eldest son of every noble family to a military career, he had been
discarded from his home, and sent to live with an old aunt in one of the
provinces. Without returning to his parents’ roof, he had then been
placed in a seminary, and it was intimated to him that he was to become
an ecclesiastic—a profession for which he had not the slightest taste.
During the years which he passed at Saint Sulpice, he was almost always
obliged to stay in his room and alone, his infirmity rarely permitting
him to remain long standing, or to take part in the active amusements of
the young. He then fell into a deep melancholy, formed a low opinion of
social life, and revolted against the priestly state, to which he had
been condemned in spite of himself. He held that he was not bound
scrupulously to observe the duties that had been imposed upon him
without his consent. He added that he felt a profound disgust to the
world, and anger at its prejudices, and that he only avoided falling
into despair by encouraging in himself complete indifference toward all
men and all things. When at length he returned to his parents, he was
received by them with the greatest coldness, and as if he were
displeasing in their sight, and he never had a word of consolation or
kindness addressed to him.

“You see,” he would say to me, “that I must either have died of grief,
or become callous to all that must ever be wanting in my life. I chose
the latter alternative, and I am now willing to admit to you that I was
wrong. It would have been better to have resigned myself to suffer, and
to have kept alive the faculty of feeling with acuteness; for this
cold-heartedness, with which you reproach me, has often disgusted me
with myself. I have not loved others enough, but I have loved myself no
better. I have never taken sufficient interest in myself.

“On one occasion I was drawn out of this indifference by my love for the
Princess Charlotte de Montmorency. She was much attached to me, and I
rebelled more than ever against the obstacle which prevented my marrying

“I made several efforts to get a dispensation from vows that were odious
to me. I think I should have succeeded if the Revolution, which then
broke out, had not prevented the Pope from granting me what I wished.
You will easily understand that, in the disposition of my mind, I hailed
that Revolution with eagerness. It attacked the principles and the
customs of which I had been a victim; it seemed to me just what I wanted
to break my chains, and so in every way it was pleasing to me. I
espoused it readily, and, since then, events have disposed of me.”

When M. de Talleyrand spoke to me in this manner, I pitied him with my
whole heart, because I fully understood the sad influence which his
unhappy youth had exercised over all the rest of his life; but I felt
persuaded, too, that a more vigorous character might have avoided
falling into such errors, and I frankly deplored to him that he should
have so stained his life.

A most fatal indifference to good and evil, right and wrong, formed the
basis of M. de Talleyrand’s nature; but we must do him the justice to
admit that he never sought to make a principle of what was immoral. He
is aware of the worth of high principles in others; he praises it, holds
it in esteem, and never seeks to corrupt it. It appears to me that he
even dwells on it with pleasure. He has not, like Bonaparte, the fatal
idea that virtue has no existence, and that the appearance of it is only
a trick or an affectation the more. I have often heard him praise
actions which were a severe criticism of his own. His conversation is
never immoral or irreligious; he respects good priests, and applauds
them; there is in his heart both goodness and justice; but he does not
apply to himself the rule by which he judges others. He regards himself
as a being apart; all things are different for him. He has long been
_blasé_ on every point, and he seeks for excitement as a fastidious
palate seeks pungent food. All serious reflections applied to moral or
natural sentiments are distasteful to him, because they lead him into a
train of thought which he fears, and from which he tries to escape by a
jest or a sarcasm. A combination of circumstances has surrounded him
with persons of light or depraved character, who have encouraged him in
a thousand follies. These people are congenial to him, because they draw
him away from his own thoughts; but they can not save him from profound
weariness, and from that he seeks refuge in great affairs. These affairs
do not fatigue him, because he rarely enters into them completely;
indeed, he seldom enters heart and soul into anything. His intellect is
lofty, and often just; he perceives correctly; but he has a certain
carelessness and desultoriness about him, which make him disappoint
one’s hopes. He pleases much, but satisfies never, and at last inspires
one with a sort of pity, which leads, if one sees much of him, to real

I believe that our intimacy did him good while it lasted. I succeeded in
rousing in him feelings that had long slumbered, and in awakening him to
more elevated thoughts; I interested him in many subjects that were new
to him, or which he had forgotten. To me he owed many fresh sympathies;
he owned this, and was grateful for it. He often sought thy society, and
I appreciated his doing so, because I never flattered his weaknesses,
but spoke to him in a style that he had not been accustomed to.

He was at that time strongly opposed to the plots that were being
concocted against Spain. The truly diabolical artifices employed by the
Emperor, if they did not offend his moral sense, were at least very
displeasing to that good taste which M. de Talleyrand displayed in
political as well as in social life. He foresaw the consequences, and
prophesied to me what they would be. “This ill-advised man,” he said,
“will call his whole position in question again.” He was always anxious
that war should be frankly declared against the King of Spain, if he
would not accede to what was required of him; that advantageous
conditions should be dictated to him; that the Prince of the Peace
(Godoy) should be sent away, and an alliance by marriage effected with
the Infante Ferdinand.

But the Emperor conceived that additional security would be guaranteed
to him by the expulsion of the house of Bourbon, and was obstinate in
his views, being once more the dupe of the schemers by whom he was
surrounded. Murat and the Prince of the Peace flattered themselves with
the hope of gaining two thrones, but the Emperor had no notion of giving
them any such satisfaction. He deceived them, and believed too easily in
their readiness to facilitate his plans in the hope of securing their
own. Thus every one in this affair overreached every one else, and was
at the same time deceived.

The winter passed brilliantly. The theatre in the Tuileries was
finished; on reception days theatrical representations were given, most
frequently in Italian, and sometimes in French. The Court attended in
full dress, and tickets for the upper galleries were distributed to the
citizens. We, too, formed a spectacle to them. Everybody was eager to be
present at these representations, where there was a great display of

Full-dress and masked balls were given. These were novelties to the
Emperor, and he liked them. Some of his Ministers, his sister, Murat,
and the Prince de Neufchâtel, received orders to invite a certain number
of persons belonging to the Court or to the city. The men wore dominoes,
the women elegant costumes, and the pleasure of being disguised was
almost the only one they enjoyed in these assemblies, where it was known
that the Emperor was present, and where the fear of meeting him made the
guests silent and circumspect.

He was closely masked, and yet easy to recognize by that peculiar air
and gait which he could not disguise, as he walked through the rooms,
generally leaning on the arm of Duroc. He accosted the ladies freely,
and was often very unscrupulous in his remarks to them; and, if he was
answered, and unable at once to recognize who it was that spoke to him,
he would pull off the speaker’s mask, revealing himself by this rude act
of power. He also took great pleasure, under cover of his disguise, in
seeking out certain husbands and tormenting them with anecdotes, true or
false, of their wives. If he learned afterward that these revelations
had been followed by unpleasant consequences, he became very angry; for
he would not permit the displeasure which he had himself excited to be
independent of him. It must be said, because it is the truth, that there
is in Bonaparte a natural badness, which makes him like to do evil in
small as well as in great things.

In the midst of all these amusements he worked hard, and was much
occupied by his personal strife with the English Government. He devised
various methods for sustaining his continental policy. He flattered
himself that, by articles in the newspapers, he could subdue the
discontent caused by the increase in the price of sugar and coffee, and
the scarcity of English merchandise. He encouraged every new invention,
and believed that the sugar extracted from beet-root and other things
would enable us to dispense with the help of foreigners in certain
productions, such as the making of colors. He caused the Minister of the
Interior to address a public report to him, stating that he had
obtained, through the Prefects, letters from the Chambers of Commerce in
approbation of the system, which, although it might involve some
temporary privations, must ultimately secure the freedom of the seas.

The English were molested everywhere. They were made prisoners at
Verdun; their property was confiscated in Portugal; Prussia was forced
into a league against them; and the King of Sweden was menaced because
he obstinately persisted in maintaining his alliance with them.

The cord was thus tightened at both ends and stretched to its utmost. It
became impossible not to see that only the ruin of one or the other of
the contending parties could terminate the quarrel, and wise people
became profoundly anxious. As, however, we were always being deceived,
we regarded the journals with constant distrust. We read them, indeed,
but without believing what they stated.

The Emperor exhausted himself in writing, but he did not convince us. He
became deeply incensed at this want of confidence, and each day his
aversion to the Parisians increased. It hurt his vanity to find that he
was not believed, and the exercise of his power was incomplete when its
influence could not be extended to the very thoughts of the people. In
order to please him, one had to be credulous. “You like Berthier,” said
M. de Talleyrand to Bonaparte, “because he believes in you.”

Occasionally, as a change from political articles, the newspapers would
relate the daily words and actions of the Emperor. For example, we were
told how he had gone to see the picture of his coronation painted by
David, and had much admired it, and how he had surprised the painter by
his acute observations; also, that when he was leaving the studio he had
taken off his hat and saluted David, in proof of “_the sentiments of
benevolence which he bestowed on all artists_.”

This reminds me that he once found fault with M. de Luçay, one of the
Prefects of the Palace, who had the superintendence of the Opéra, with
being too distant in his manner to the actors who went to him on
business. “Are you aware,” he said, “that talent of any kind is positive
power, and that even I take off my hat when I receive Talma?” There was,
no doubt, some exaggeration in this statement; but it is nevertheless
true that he was very gracious to artists of any distinction, that he
encouraged them by his liberality and his praise; provided, however,
that they were always willing to dedicate their art to his praises, or
to the furtherance of his projects; for any great reputation acquired
without his concurrence seemed to offend him, and he had no sympathy
with glory that he had not bestowed. He persecuted Mme. de Staël because
she overstepped the line he had laid down for her, and he neglected the
Abbé Delille, who lived in retirement far from him.

At this period two distinguished artists, Esménard and Spontini,
produced the opera entitled “La Vestale,” which had an immense success.
The Emperor—I know not for what reason—was determined to prefer the
French music of Lesueur, the author of “Les Bardes,” and was greatly
displeased with the Parisians for not thinking as he did in the matter.
He thenceforth cherished a prejudice against all Italian music, and the
influence of this was felt when the distribution of the decennial prizes
took place.

On the 21st of January, 1808, the assembled Senate granted a levy of
eighty thousand men on the conscription of 1809. Regnault, the Councilor
of State, who was, as usual, the speaker on the occasion, argued that
even as the preceding levies had served to secure the continental peace,
so this one would at length obtain for us the freedom of the seas; and
no one opposed this reasoning. We knew that Senator Languenais and some
others occasionally tried, during the Emperor’s reign, to make certain
representations to the Senate on the subject of these severe and
numerous levies; but their observations dispersed themselves in the air
of the senatorial palace, and effected no change in decisions which had
been arrived at beforehand. The Senate was timid and submissive; it
inspired no confidence in the national mind, and had even come by
degrees to be regarded with a sort of contempt. Men are severe toward
their fellows; they do not pardon each other’s weaknesses, and they
applaud virtues of which they themselves are seldom capable. In short,
whatever tyranny may be exercised, public opinion is more or less
avenged, because it is invariably heard. No despot is ignorant of the
feelings which he inspires and the condemnation which he excites.
Bonaparte knew perfectly well how he stood in the estimation of the
French nation, for good or evil, but he imagined that he could override

In the report made to him by his Minister of War, General Clarke, on the
occasion of the fresh levies, we find these words: “A vulgar policy
would be a calamity for France; it would hinder those great results
which you have prepared.” No one was duped by this formula. The question
in the comedy, “_Qui est ce donc qu’on trompe ici?_” was appropriate to
the occasion; but everybody kept silence, and that was enough for
Napoleon. Shortly after, the towns of Kehl, Cassel, Wesel, and Flushing
were united to the Empire, being regarded as keys which it was necessary
we should hold in our hands. At Antwerp great works were carried on, and
all was stir and activity.

When the English Parliament opened, the Emperor evidently hoped for a
disagreement between the English Government and the nation. There was a
great deal of sharp dissension, and the Opposition declaimed in its
usual style. The Emperor helped it with all his might. The tone or the
notes in the “Moniteur” was very violent; certain English journalists
were subsidized, and there is no doubt Bonaparte flattered himself that
he would be able to bring about a revolt. But the English Ministry was
pursuing a course which, though difficult, was honorable to the country,
and it had a majority at every vote. The Emperor was incensed, and
declared that he “could not understand that form of liberal government
in which the voice of the popular party never had any weight.” Sometimes
he would say, with a sort of paradoxical audacity: “In reality, there is
more liberty in France than in England, because nothing can be worse for
a nation than the power of expressing its will without being listened
to. When all is said, that is the merest farce, a vain semblance of
liberty. As for me, it is not the case that the true state of France is
kept from me. I know everything, for I have exact reports, and I would
not be so mad as to venture on doing anything in direct opposition to
French interests or to the French character. Intelligence of all kinds
comes to me as to a common center, and I act in accordance with it;
whereas our neighbors never depart from their national system,
maintaining the oligarchy at any price; and in this age men are more
ready to accept the authority of one able and absolute man than the
humiliating power of an effete nobility.”

When Bonaparte talked thus, it was hard to know whether he was trying to
deceive others or to deceive himself. Was it that his imagination, which
was naturally lively, exerted its influence over his intellect, which
was generally mathematical? Did the lassitude and inaction of the nation
deceive him? Was he trying to persuade himself that what he desired was
the case? We have often thought that he forced himself to do this, and
that he sometimes succeeded.

Besides, as I have already said, Bonaparte always believed that he was
acting in conformity with the spirit of the Revolution, by attacking
what he called oligarchs. At every turn he would insist upon equality,
which in his mouth meant leveling. Leveling is to equality exactly what
despotism is to liberty; for it crushes those faculties and neutralizes
those situations to which equality opens a career. The aristocracy of
classes levels, in fact, all that exists outside those privileged
classes, by reducing strength to the condition of weakness, and merit to
the condition of mediocrity. True equality, on the contrary, by
permitting each to be that which he is, and to rise as high as he can,
utilizes every faculty and all legitimate influence. It also forms an
aristocracy, not of class, but of individuals—an aristocracy which
draws into it all who deserve to form a portion of it.

The Emperor felt this distinction, and, notwithstanding his nobles, his
decorations, his senatorships, and all his fine talk, his system tended
solely to base his absolute power upon a vast democracy, also of the
leveling order, with political rights which, although they had the
appearance of being accorded to all, were in reality within the reach of

Toward the beginning of February the marriage of Mlle. de Tascher, Mme.
Bonaparte’s cousin, was solemnized. She was raised to the rank of
Princess, and her husband’s relatives were in the greatest delight, and
remarkably obsequious on the occasion. They flattered themselves that
they would be exalted to a great position; but the divorce undeceived
the D’Arenberg family, and they quarreled with the young Princess, who
had not brought them quite so much as they expected.

At this time Count Romanzoff, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs,
arrived in Paris. He was a man of knowledge and of sense, and he came
there full of admiration for the Emperor, and affected by the genuine
enthusiasm that his own young sovereign felt for Napoleon. He was,
however, sufficiently master of himself to observe the Emperor with
close attention. He perceived the constraint of the Parisians, who
looked on at all the glory of the army without appropriating it to
themselves. He was struck with certain remarkable disparities, and he
formed a modified judgment which, no doubt, had afterward some influence
on the Czar. The Emperor said to him on one occasion, “How do you
consider that I govern the French?” “Sire,” he replied, “a little too

Bonaparte, with the aid of a _senatus consultum_, created a new “grand
dignity of the Empire,” under the title of “Governor-General beyond the
Alps”; and he conferred this dignity on Prince Borghese, who was sent to
Turin with his wife. The Prince was obliged to sell the finest statues
in the Villa Borghese to the Emperor, and they were placed in our
Museum. This collection of all the masterpieces that Europe had
possessed was superb. They were grouped in the Louvre with the greatest
care and elegance, and that was a conquest of a kind which appealed
eloquently to French vanity and French taste.

Bonaparte had a report made to him, in a sitting of the Council of
State, upon the progress of science, letters, and art since 1789, by a
deputation, at the head of which was M. de Bougainville. After the
report had been read, he replied in these terms: “I have heard you upon
the progress of the human mind in these latter days, in order that what
you say to me may be heard by all nations, and may silence the
detractors of our age, who are endeavoring to force the human mind to
retrograde, and who seem to aim at its extinction. I desired to know
what remains for me to do for the encouragement of your labors, in order
to console myself for being unable to contribute otherwise to their
success. The welfare of my people and the glory of my throne are equally
interested in the prosperity of the sciences. My Minister of the
Interior shall make me a report upon all your demands; you may
confidently count upon my protection.” Thus did the Emperor occupy
himself with everything at the same time, and thus ably did he associate
all that was illustrious with the _éclat_ and the grandeur of his reign.

I have already said that he was desirous of founding families which
should perpetuate the remembrance of the dignities that he had accorded
to those whom he favored. He was greatly annoyed at the resistance he
had met with from M. de Caulaincourt, who had gone away to Russia,
declaring very positively that, as he could not marry Mme. de ——, he
would never marry.

The Emperor did his best to overcome the opposition which he also
encountered from the man for whom he cared most—Marshal Berthier,
Prince de Neufchâtel. Berthier had been for many years deeply attached
to an Italian lady, who, although she was nearer fifty than forty, was
still remarkably beautiful. She exercised supreme influence over him,
even to the extent of making him pardon several acts of levity which she
did not hesitate to indulge in before his eyes. These she represented in
any colors which she chose, and he forgave them.

Marshal Berthier, who was importuned on this point by the Emperor, would
often entreat his master to spare him with respect to this cherished
weakness, for the sake of his fidelity; and Bonaparte would laugh at
him, get angry, return to the charge, but could never conquer his
resistance. This went on for years; but at length, by dint of talking
and urgency, he carried his point, and Berthier, although he shed bitter
tears on the occasion, consented to marry a princess of the house of
Bavaria. The Princess Marie was brought to Paris, and the marriage was
solemnized in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. Berthier’s bride
was by no means handsome, or calculated to make her husband forget the
sentiments which he had cherished for so long; and, indeed, his passion
for the Italian lady ended only with his life. The Princess was an
excellent person, but in no way remarkable. She was liked at the French
Court, and she was always of the opinion that she had made a good
marriage. The Prince de Neufchâtel, who was largely endowed with gifts
by the Emperor, possessed an immense revenue, and the household of three
lived on the best possible terms. After the Restoration they lived in
Paris. The Marshal, who was ill with fever when Bonaparte returned from
Elba on the 20th of March, 1815, was so terrified by that event that he
lost his senses, and either threw himself or fell out of a window, and
was killed. He left two sons. The Princess remained in Paris, and the
fair Italian keeps up her former relations with her.

At this time the Emperor showed more plainly than ever what a
monarchical turn his ideas were taking, by founding the institution of
the “Majorats.” That institution was approved by many, blamed by others,
envied by a certain class, and readily adopted by many families, who
welcomed this opportunity of conferring importance on their eldest sons
and perpetuating their name. The Arch-Chancellor carried the decree to
the Senate, and represented in his speech that hereditary distinctions
were of the essence of monarchy, that they kept alive what is in France
called honor, and that our national character should lead us to approve
them. He then proceeded to pacify the men of the Revolution by adding
that all citizens would be none the less equal before the law, and that
distinctions impartially accorded to all who merited them ought to
stimulate the zeal of all without exciting the jealousy of any. The
Senate received all this with its ordinary approbation, and voted an
address of thanks and admiration to the Emperor.

M. de Talleyrand warmly praised this new institution. He could not
understand a monarchy without a nobility. A council was created to
superintend the administration of the laws by which the foundation of a
Majorat was to be obtained. M. de Pasquier, chief Master of Requests,
was named Procurator-General; titles were granted to those who held
great offices in the state. This was at first ridiculed, because certain
names allied themselves oddly enough to the title of Count or Baron; but
the public soon got accustomed to it, and, as all hoped to arrive at
some distinction, they tolerated and even approved the new system.

The Emperor was ingenious in his method of demonstrating to all parties
how entirely they ought to approve of these creations. “I am securing
the Revolution,” said he to one party; “this intermediate class which I
am founding is eminently democratic, for everybody is called to it.” “It
will support the throne,” said he to the _grands seigneurs_. Then he
added, turning toward those who wanted a modified monarchy: “It will
oppose itself to the encroachments of absolute authority, because it
will itself be a power in the state.” To genuine Jacobins he said, “You
ought to rejoice, for here is the old _noblesse_ finally annihilated;”
and to that old _noblesse_ he said, “By arraying yourselves in new
dignities, you resuscitate yourselves and perpetuate your ancient
rights.” We listened to him; we wished to believe him; and, besides, he
did not give us much time to reflect—he carried us away in the
whirlwinds of contradictions of every kind. He even imposed his benefits
by force when it was necessary; and this was an adroitness the more, for
there were people who wanted to be forced to accept.

Another institution which seemed really grand and imposing succeeded
this one. I allude to the University. Public instruction was
concentrated in a clear and comprehensive system, and it was admitted
that the decree was very nobly conceived.

Ultimately, however, that which happened to everything else happened to
the University; Bonaparte’s own despotic disposition took fright at the
powers which he had accorded, because they might possibly become
obstacles to certain of his desires. The Minister of the Interior, the
Prefect, the general administration—that is to say, the absolute
system—mixed itself up with the operations which the University corps
were attempting, contradicted them, and overruled them when they
indicated the very least traces of independence. In this respect also we
present the spectacle rather of a fine façade than of a solid building.

M. de Fontanes was nominated Grand Master of the University. This
choice, which was also generally approved, suited the purpose of the
master, who was so jealous of preserving his daily and hourly authority
over men and things. M. de Fontanes, whose noble intellect and
reputation for perfect taste had procured him a very distinguished
position, injured these qualities by carelessness and inertness, which
rendered him incapable of making a stand when it was necessary. I must
place him also, I fear, among the fine façades.

Nevertheless, something was gained by this creation; order was restored
to education, the scope of study was extended, and young people were
occupied. It has been said that under the Empire education at the Lycées
was entirely military, but that was not the case. Letters were carefully
cultivated, sound morals were inculcated, and strict surveillance was
practiced. The system of education was, however, neither sufficiently
religious nor sufficiently national, and the time had come when it was
necessary that it should be both one and the other. No effort was made
to impart to young people that moral and political knowledge which
trains citizens, and prepares them to take their part in the labors of
their Government. They were obliged to attend the schools, but nobody
spoke to them of their religion; they heard much more about the Emperor
than they heard about the state, and they were incited to a desire for
military fame. Yet, notwithstanding these drawbacks, and although the
youth of the French nation is not all that it ought to be, it has been
developed to a remarkable extent, and a great difference may be
discerned between those who have availed themselves of the public
education offered to all and those who have held aloof from it.
Mistrust, party spirit, and a sort of general misgiving induced the old
French nobility and a portion of the wealthy class to keep their
children with themselves, and to rear them in a number of prejudices,
for which they are now suffering. The pupils of the Lycées acquired a
superiority by their public education, which it would now be vain to

The decree which created the University, after having regulated the
functions of those who were to compose it, fixed their salaries at high
rates. The officials were given a handsome costume and an imposing
organization. After the Grand Master (the Bishop of Bazas) came M. de
Villaret as Chancellor. M. Delambre, permanent secretary of the first
class of the Institute, who was held in high consideration, both for his
learning and character, was Treasurer. The Council of the University was
composed of distinguished men; the names of M. de Beausset, formerly
Bishop of Alais, and now Cardinal, of M. Cuvier, M. de Bonald, M. de
Frayssinous, Royer-Collard, etc., were included in the number. The
professors were chosen with great care. In short, this creation met with
universal approbation; but ensuing events hindered its action in the
first place, and afterward disorganized it like all the rest.

On the 23d of March, 1808, the Court went to Saint Cloud. The Emperor
always left Paris as soon as he could: he disliked living at the
Tuileries, because of the impossibility of walking about there freely;
and then, the greater his power and splendor became, the more ill at
ease he found himself in the presence of the Parisians. He could not
endure any restraint, and he knew that in the city people were aware of
the language which he was in the habit of using, and the violence to
which he gave way. He excited curiosity, which annoyed him; he was
coldly received in public; a number of stories about him got into
circulation; in short, he was obliged to put some constraint upon
himself. Thus his sojourns in Paris became more and more brief, and he
began to talk of inhabiting Versailles. The restoration of the palace
was decided upon, and Bonaparte observed more than once that in reality
he had no occasion to be in Paris, except during the session of the
Corps Législatif. When he rode or drove to any distance from the town,
he used to say, as he approached it on his return, “Here we are again,
in the great Babylon.” He even formed plans for the transplantation of
the capital to Lyons. It was only in imagination that he contemplated
such a displacement, but he took pleasure in the idea, and it was one of
his favorite dreams.

The Parisians were perfectly well aware that Bonaparte did not like
them, and they avenged themselves by sarcastic jests and anecdotes,
which were for the most part pure inventions. They were submissive to
him, but cold and satirical. His courtiers adopted the antipathy of
their master, and never spoke of Paris without some disparaging epithet.
More than once I have heard the Emperor say, moodily, “They have not yet
pardoned me for pointing my guns upon them on the 13th Vendémiaire.”

An authentic collection of the observations that Bonaparte made upon his
own conduct would be a very useful book to many sovereigns, and to their
advisers. When at the present time (I write in 1819) I hear people, who
seem to me to be mere novices in the art of governing men, affirm that
nothing is so easy as to impose one’s will by force, and that by
trusting to the bayonet one may constrain a nation to endure any
_régime_ which may be inflicted upon it, I recall what the Emperor used
to say about the difficulties which had arisen from his first steps in
his political career, the complications produced by the employment of
force against the citizens, which beset him from the very day after that
on which he had been obliged to avail himself of so terrible a resource.

I have heard his Ministers say that, when any violent measure was
proposed in the Council, he would put the question, “Can you answer for
it that the people will not rise?” and that the smallest popular
movement always appeared to him grave and ominous. I have seen him take
pleasure in describing, or in listening to a description of, the various
emotions that are experienced upon the field of battle, and turn pale at
a narrative of the excesses of a people in revolt; and, if, when riding
through the streets of Paris on horseback, a workman threw himself in
his way to implore some favor, Bonaparte’s first movement was always to
shudder and recoil.

The generals of the Guard had strict orders to prevent contact between
the people and the soldiery. “I could not,” said Bonaparte, “take the
part of the latter.” If any quarrel took place between soldiers and
citizens, the soldiers were invariably punished and sent away. It is
true they afterward received compensation money, which quieted them.

All this time the north of Europe was in a state of agitation. The King
of Sweden was too faithful to the policy imposed upon him by the English
Government for the interests of his subjects. He excited increasing
discontent among the Swedes, and his conduct bore witness to the
condition of his brain. The Emperor of Russia having declared war
against him, and having at the same time commenced an expedition to
Finland, M. d’Alopeus, the Russian ambassador at Stockholm, was placed
under arrest in his own house, contrary to all the rights of nations.

On this occasion the notes in the “Moniteur” were eloquent indeed. One
of them was as follows: “Poor Swedish nation, into what hands have you
fallen? Your Charles XII. was, no doubt, a little mad, but he was brave;
and your King, who went to play braggart in Pomerania while the
armistice existed, was the first to run away when the same armistice,
which he broke, had expired.” Such language as this could only announce
an impending storm.

At the beginning of the month of March the King of Denmark, Christian
VII., died; and his son, who had long been Regent, ascended the throne
under the title of Frederick V., in the fortieth year of his age.

It is remarkable that, at a period when the troubled nations seemed to
have need of sovereigns of more than ordinary intelligence and wisdom,
several of the thrones of Europe were filled by princes who had but
little use of reason, and in some instances had none at all. Among those
unfortunate sovereigns were the Kings of England, Sweden, and Denmark,
and the Queen of Portugal.

Popular discontent manifested itself on the occasion of the arrest of
the Russian ambassador at Stockholm. The King left that city and retired
to the Castle of Gripsholm, from which he issued orders for war, either
against the Russians or against the Danes.

All eyes were, however, soon turned away from what was passing in the
north, to fix themselves upon the drama which was beginning in Spain.
The Grand Duke of Berg had been sent to take the command of our army on
the banks of the Ebro. The King of Spain, who was feeble, timid, and
ruled by his Minister, made no opposition to the passage of the foreign
troops through his country, toward Portugal as it was represented. The
national party of the Spaniards, at whose head was the Prince of the
Asturias, were incensed at this invasion, for they discerned its
consequences. They saw that they were sacrificed to the ambition of the
Prince of the Peace. A revolt against that Minister broke out; the King
and Queen were attacked, and prepared to quit Spain. This was what the
Emperor wanted, for he was bent upon dethroning the Prince of the
Asturias afterward, and believed that he should easily succeed in doing
so. I have already said that the Prince of the Peace, won by the
promises that had been made to him, had devoted himself to the policy of
the Emperor, who began by making the tremendous mistake of introducing
French influence into Spain under the auspices of a detested Minister.

Meanwhile the people of Madrid flocked to Aranjuez, and sacked the
palace of the Minister, who was obliged to hide himself to escape the
fury of the mob. The King and Queen, greatly alarmed at the danger of
their favorite, and almost equally grieved, were forced to demand that
he should resign; and on the 16th of March, 1808, the King, yielding to
pressure from all sides, abdicated in favor of his son, announcing that
his health compelled him to seek a better climate. This act of weakness
checked the revolt. The Prince of the Asturias took the name of
Ferdinand VII., and his first act of authority was to confiscate the
property of the Prince of the Peace. But he had not sufficient strength
of character to profit fully by the new situation. He was frightened by
his rupture with his father, and hesitated at the moment when he ought
to have acted. On the other hand, the King and Queen played the game of
the Emperor by calling the French army to their aid. The Grand Duke of
Berg joined them at Aranjuez, and promised them his dangerous
assistance. The vacillation of the authorities, the fear inspired by our
arms, the intrigues of the Prince of the Peace, the severe and imperious
measures of Murat, all combined to produce trouble and disorder in
Spain; and the unfortunate reigning family speedily perceived that this
disorganization was about to turn to the advantage of the armed
mediator, who assumed the position of a judge. The “Moniteur” gave an
account of these events, deploring the misfortune of King Charles IV.;
and a few days later the Emperor, accompanied by a brilliant Court, left
Saint Cloud, under the pretext of making a journey into the south of

I shall give the details of all these events when I reach the fourth
epoch of these Memoirs. We were in the dark about them at the time of
their occurrence. We asked ourselves, what was the Emperor going to do?
Was this new journey an invasion? All these secret intrigues, to which
we had no clew, excited our attention and curiosity, and the public
disquiet increased daily.

M. de Talleyrand, whom I saw frequently, was exceedingly dissatisfied,
and openly blamed all that was done and was about to be done. He
denounced Murat, declaring that there was perfidy somewhere, but that he
was not mixed up with it, and repeating that had he been Minister of
Foreign Affairs he would never have lent his name to such devices. The
Emperor was exceedingly angry at this freely expressed condemnation. He
saw that approbation of a new kind was felt for M. de Talleyrand; he
listened to denunciations of his Minister, and their friendship was
interrupted. He has frequently asserted that M. de Talleyrand advised
this Spanish affair, and only attempted to get out of it when he
perceived that it was a failure. I can bear witness to the fact that M.
de Talleyrand severely condemned it at the period of which I am writing,
and expressed himself with so much vehemence against such a violation of
all the rights of nations that I had to advise him to moderate his
language. What he would have advised I can not say, because he never
explained himself on that point, and I have now stated all that I know.
It is, however, certain that the public were with him at this time, and
declared for him because he did not dissemble his dissatisfaction.
“This,” he said, “is a base intrigue. It is an enterprise against a
national aspiration; we declare ourselves thereby the enemy of the
people; it is a blunder which will never be repaired.” Events have
proved that M. de Talleyrand was right, and that from that fatal event
the moral decline of him who at that time made all Europe tremble may be

About this time the mild and gentle Queen of Naples set out to rejoin
her husband in Spain, and to take her place upon a throne from which she
was destined to descend before very long.

                             CHAPTER  XXIX


ON the 2d of July, 1808, the Emperor set out on the pretext of
visiting the southern provinces, but in reality to watch what was going
on in Spain. I will give an idea of what that was as succinctly as

The transactions of Charles IV. with the different Governments of France
were well known. After having vainly attempted in 1793 to save the life
of Louis XVI., at the close of a war nobly undertaken but unskillfully
conducted, the Spaniards had to submit to the dictation of the
conqueror, and the French Government had always meddled more or less in
their affairs since that time.

At the head of the administration was Emanuel Godoy—a man of ordinary
capacity, who had risen to the position which he now held, and was
governing the Spains, as the result of the feelings with which he had
inspired the Queen. On him had been heaped all the dignities, honors,
and treasures which any favorite could possibly obtain. He was born in
1768, of a noble family, and placed in the royal Bodyguard in 1787. The
Queen took him into favor, and he rose rapidly from rank to rank,
becoming lieutenant-general, Duke of Alcudia, and in 1792 Minister of
Foreign Affairs. In 1795 he was made Prince of the Peace. After the
treaty which he concluded with France in 1798, with so little honor to
himself, he ceased to be Minister; but he still directed affairs, and
all his life he exercised complete empire over King Charles IV., who
strangely shared the infatuation of the Queen his wife. The Prince of
the Peace married a niece of the King.

The good understanding which existed between France and Spain appeared
to be intact until the opening of the Prussian campaign, when the Prince
of the Peace, believing that the war would injure the fortunes of the
Emperor, proposed to arm Spain, so that the country should be ready to
profit by events which might enable it to shake off the French yoke. He
issued a proclamation, inviting all Spaniards to enroll themselves. This
proclamation reached the Emperor on the battle-field of Jena, and many
persons have said that from that moment he was resolved on the
destruction of the house of Bourbon in Spain. After his great victories
he distributed the Spanish troops over all points of Europe, and the
Prince of the Peace obtained his protection only at the price of
submitting to his policy.

Bonaparte often asserted in 1808 that at Tilsit the Czar had approved
his designs upon Spain; and, in fact, the interview of the two Emperors
took place so amicably at Erfurt, immediately after the overthrow of
Charles IV., that it is very likely they had mutually authorized each
other to pursue their projects, the one toward the north and the other
toward the south. But I can not tell to what extent Bonaparte deceived
the Emperor of Russia, nor whether he did not begin by hinting to him
the division of the states of King Charles IV., which he was pretending
to prepare, and the equivalent in Italy which he feigned to intend to
give him. Perhaps he had not yet arranged his plan for entirely
dispossessing him, and it is quite certain that M. de Talleyrand was not
in the plot.

Murat, in his correspondence with the Prince of the Peace, bribed him
with the government of a portion of Portugal, which, he said, should
become the kingdom of the Algarves. Another portion of Portugal was to
belong to the King of Etruria, and Etruria was thenceforth to become the
empire of King Charles IV., who was to keep the American colonies, and
at the general peace to take the title of Emperor of the Two Americas.

In 1807 a treaty on these bases was concluded at Fontainebleau, without
the knowledge of M. de Talleyrand, and the passage of our troops through
Spain for the conquest of Portugal was granted by the Prince of the
Peace. At Milan the Emperor signified to the Queen of Etruria that she
was to return to her father. Meanwhile the Prince of the Peace was
becoming more and more odious to the Spanish nation, and was especially
hated by the Prince of the Asturias. The latter, impelled by his own
feelings and by the advice of those who surrounded him, distressed by
the increasing alienation of his mother and the weakness of his father,
alarmed at the entry of our troops, which made him suspect some fresh
plot, and especially indignant that the Prince of the Peace should
endeavor to make him contract a marriage with the sister of the
Princess, wrote to Bonaparte to apprise him of the grievances of the
Spaniards against the favorite, and to request his support and the hand
of a lady of the Bonaparte family. To this request, which was probably
inspired by the ambassador of France, the Emperor made no immediate
reply. Shortly afterward the Prince of the Asturias was denounced as a
conspirator and arrested, and his friends were exiled. Several notes
denunciatory of the exactions of the Prince of the Peace were found
among his papers, and on this a charge of conspiracy was founded. The
Queen pursued her son with determined enmity, and the Prince of the
Asturias was about to be brought to trial when letters from the Emperor,
signifying that he would not permit a question of the project of
marriage to be raised, reached Madrid. As it was upon this point that
the accusation of conspiracy was to bear, the charge had to be
abandoned. The Prince of the Peace wanted to take credit for indulgence,
and pretended that he had solicited and obtained pardon for the Prince
of the Asturias. King Charles IV. wrote to the Emperor, giving him an
account of the affair and of his own conduct; and Bonaparte became
adviser and arbitrator in all these difficulties, which so far were
favorable to his own designs. These events took place in October, 1807.

Meanwhile our troops were establishing themselves in Spain. The
Spaniards, surprised by this invasion, complained bitterly of the
weakness of their sovereign and the treason of the favorite. It was
asked why the Spanish armies were sent to the frontiers of Portugal, far
from the center of the kingdom, which was thus delivered over without
defense. Murat was marching toward Madrid. The Prince of the Peace sent
a creature of his own, one Izquierdo, to Fontainebleau for final
instructions. This man had an interview with M. de Talleyrand, in which
the latter informed him of the error into which the Prince of the Peace
had fallen, and showed him that the treaty just signed at Fontainebleau
involved the complete destruction of the power of Spain. Izquierdo,
thunderstruck at all he heard, returned immediately to Madrid, and the
Prince of the Peace began to perceive how he had been tricked. But it
was too late. The troops were recalled, and a project of imitating the
conduct of the Prince of Brazil by abandoning the Continent was
discussed. The Court was at Aranjuez; its preparations, however, could
not be so secretly conducted but that they transpired in Madrid. The
excitement in the city was increased by intelligence of the approach of
Murat and of the intended departure of the King, and soon broke out into
a revolt; the people went in crowds to Aranjuez, the King was detained
as a prisoner in the palace, and the house of the Prince of the Peace
was sacked, while he himself was thrown into prison, barely escaping
from the fury of the populace. Charles IV. was forced to disgrace his
favorite and banish him from Spain. On the following day the King,
either feeling himself too weak to rule over a country about to become
the scene of discord, or successfully coerced by the opposite party,
abdicated in favor of his son.

All this took place at a few leagues’ distance from Madrid, where Murat
had established his headquarters. On the 19th of March, 1808, Charles
IV. wrote to the Emperor that, on account of his health, he was unable
to remain in Spain, and that he had just abdicated in favor of his son.
This occurrence upset all Bonaparte’s plans. The fruit of the device
which he had been planning for six months was snatched from him; Spain
was about to pass under the sway of a young Prince who, judging by
recent events, appeared capable of taking strong measures. The Spanish
nation would, no doubt, eagerly embrace the cause of a sovereign whose
aim would be the deliverance of his country. Our army was coldly
received at Madrid. Murat had already been obliged to have recourse to
severe measures for the maintenance of order. A new plan was necessary,
and it was needful, above all, to be nearer the theatre of events, so as
to estimate them aright.

For these reasons the Emperor resolved on going to Bayonne. He left
Saint Cloud on the 2d of April, parting with coolness from M. de
Talleyrand, and abstaining from any disclosure of his plans. The
“Moniteur” announced that the Emperor was about to visit the southern
departments, and not until the 8th of April, after meager accounts of
what was taking place in Spain, did we learn that his presence at Madrid
was not only desired, but expected.

The Empress, who was both fond of traveling and averse to being
separated from her husband, obtained permission to make the journey
after his departure, and she soon joined him at Bordeaux.

M. de Talleyrand was uneasy and displeased at the Emperor’s movements. I
am inclined to think that for a long time past, as much from his dislike
to Murat as on account of other projects of which I am ignorant, he had
favored the party by whom the Prince of the Asturias was guided. On this
occasion he found himself put aside, and realized for the first time
that Bonaparte was learning to do without him. In Paris we were all
mystified at what was going on. The official articles in the “Moniteur”
were extremely obscure; nothing that emanated from the Emperor could
surprise us; but even curiosity was at last wearing out, and, moreover,
no great interest was felt in the royal house of Spain. There was,
therefore, very little excitement, and we waited for time to enlighten
us. France was growing used to expect that Bonaparte would use her
simply for his own personal ends.

Meanwhile Murat, who was acquainted with some of the Emperor’s projects,
and who saw that some of them must fail through the abdication of
Charles IV., acted with skillful duplicity at Madrid. He contrived to
avoid recognizing the Prince of the Asturias, and all the evidence leads
to the conclusion that he contributed to excite the old King’s desire to
resume his crown. A dispatch from General Monthion, who had been sent as
envoy to Charles IV. at Aranjuez, was published in the “Moniteur,” and
Europe was informed that the King had made bitter complaints of his son,
had declared that his abdication was forced, and had placed himself in
the Emperor’s hands, with a special request that the life of the Prince
of the Peace should be spared. The Queen, in still more passionate
terms, accused her son, and seemed entirely engrossed by anxiety for the
fate of her favorite.

The Spaniards had accepted the abdication of their King, and were
rejoiced to be rid of the yoke of the Prince of the Peace. They were
impatient, especially at Madrid, of the presence of the French, and of
their reserved behavior toward the young sovereign; and Murat could
repress the growing excitement only by measures of severity, necessary
under the circumstances, but which completed the detestation in which we
were held.

On the Emperor’s arrival at Bayonne, he took up his abode at the Château
de Marrac, about a mile from the town. He was uncertain as to what might
come of his present undertaking, and as a last resource was prepared to
go to Madrid; but he was fully determined not to let the fruit of his
endeavors escape him. No one about him was in the secret: he controlled
the actions of all without confiding in any one. In the Abbé de Pradt’s
“History of the Revolution in Spain,” there are some interesting notes
and comments on the force of character which enabled the Emperor to bear
quite alone the secret of his vast conceptions. The Abbé de Pradt was at
that time Bishop of Poitiers, and Bonaparte, on passing through the
city, attached him to his suite, believing he should be able to make use
of his well-known talent and inclination for intrigue.

Several persons who accompanied the Emperor on this journey told me that
their sojourn at Marrac was dull, and that they all wished for a climax
to the events then taking place, in order that they might return to

Savary was dispatched to Madrid, and in all probability received orders
to bring back the Prince of the Asturias at any cost. He accomplished
his mission with the exactitude for which he was remarkable, and which
forbade him from criticising either the orders he received or the means
necessary to their fulfillment. On the 7th of April Savary presented
himself to the Prince of the Asturias at Madrid. He announced the
Emperor’s journey into Spain as certain, assumed the character of an
ambassador coming to congratulate a new King, and bound himself, in the
name of his master, not to meddle with any Spanish affairs if the
sovereign’s dispositions were friendly toward the Emperor. He next
insinuated that negotiations would be greatly expedited by the Prince’s
moving forward to meet the Emperor, who intended very shortly to repair
to Madrid; and to the surprise of every one, to the surprise of
posterity also, he contrived to persuade the Prince of the Asturias and
his Court to undertake the journey. We can hardly doubt that advice on
this occasion was backed by threats, and that the unfortunate young
Prince was caught in a multitude of snares, all spread for him at once.
He was, no doubt, given to understand that this was the price at which
his crown must be purchased, and that, as the Emperor wished him to take
this step, no help would be afforded him unless he consented to it; the
bait that the Emperor would meet him on the way was also held out, and
nothing was at first said about his crossing the frontier.

The Prince of the Asturias found himself involved by circumstances in an
enterprise beyond his strength; he was more the puppet than the chief of
the party who had placed him on the throne, and he could not quite
reconcile himself to the position of a son in open rebellion against his
father. Moreover, he was intimidated by the presence of our troops, and
dared not answer to his people for the safety of their country if he
resisted us. His advisers were alarmed. Savary’s counsels were mingled
with threats, and the unhappy Prince, who was influenced by the most
generous sentiments, consented to a step which was the proximate cause
of his ruin. I have heard Savary say that the orders he had received
were so positive that, when once he had him on the road to Bayonne, he
would not have suffered him to turn back for any consideration in the
world; and, some faithful adherents having conveyed a warning to the
Prince, he watched him so closely that he felt assured no human power
could snatch him from his grasp.

To further this wicked and ably laid plot, the Emperor wrote the
following letter, which was subsequently published. It was handed to the
Prince of the Asturias at Vittoria, and I transcribe it here, as it
throws a light on the events which followed:

                                           “BAYONNE, _April, 1808_.

    “MY BROTHER: I have received your Royal Highness’s letter. In
    the papers of the King, your father, you must have seen proofs
    of the interest I have always felt in your Royal Highness. You
    will permit me, under present circumstances, to address you
    loyally and frankly.

    “I hoped, on reaching Madrid, to have persuaded my illustrious
    friend to undertake some necessary reforms in his states, and to
    satisfy in some measure the public opinion of the country. The
    dismissal of the Prince of the Peace seemed to me to be
    necessary both for his own happiness and that of his subjects.
    Affairs in the north have delayed my journey. Certain events
    have taken place at Aranjuez. I pronounce no judgment on these,
    nor on the conduct of the Prince of the Peace; but I know this
    well, that it is dangerous for kings to accustom their people to
    shed blood and to administer justice to themselves. I pray God
    that your Royal Highness may not learn this one day by your own
    experience. It is not in the interest of Spain to injure a
    Prince who is husband to a Princess of the blood royal, and who
    has so long reigned over the kingdom. He has now no friends, nor
    will your Highness have any if misfortune overtake you. Men are
    always ready to make us suffer for the honors they have paid us.
    Besides, how could proceedings be taken against the Prince of
    the Peace without implicating the Queen and the King, your
    father? Such a lawsuit will encourage dissensions and faction,
    and the consequences will be fatal to your crown. Your Royal
    Highness has no other claim to it than that conferred on you by
    your mother; if the lawsuit reflects dishonor on her, your Royal
    Highness’s rights will be thereby destroyed. Close your ears,
    therefore, to weak and perfidious counsel; you have no right to
    sit in judgment on the Prince of the Peace. His crimes, if he is
    accused of any, are absorbed in the rights of the throne. I have
    often expressed a desire that the Prince of the Peace should be
    removed from the conduct of affairs. The friendship of King
    Charles has often induced me to keep silence, and to turn away
    my eyes from his weak attachment. Wretched creatures that we all
    are! our motto should be, ‘Weakness and Error.’ But all may be
    arranged. Let the Prince of the Peace be banished from Spain; I
    will offer him a refuge in France.

    “As to the abdication of King Charles IV., he made it at a time
    when my army was occupying Spain, and in the eyes of Europe and
    of posterity I should appear to have sent large numbers of
    troops thither merely in order to turn my ally and my friend off
    his throne. As a neighboring sovereign, I may be allowed to wait
    for full and entire information before recognizing this
    abdication. I say to your Royal Highness, to all Spaniards, and
    to the whole world, if the abdication of King Charles IV. is
    spontaneous, if it has not been forced on him by the
    insurrection and the tumult at Aranjuez I will make no
    difficulty about recognizing it, and will acknowledge your Royal
    Highness to be King of Spain. I desire, therefore, to converse
    with you to this end. The caution with which I have watched
    these things for the last month should be a guarantee of the
    support I would afford you if, in your turn, a factious spirit,
    of whatever kind, should disturb you on your throne. When King
    Charles informed me of the events of last October, I was
    painfully impressed by them, and I may have contributed, by the
    suggestions I then made, to the happy ending of the Escurial
    affair. Your Royal Highness was greatly to blame: no other proof
    of this is needed than the letter you addressed to me, which I
    have persistently ignored. When, in your turn, you are a King,
    you will know how sacred are the rights of a throne. Any
    advances made to a foreign sovereign are criminal. Your Royal
    Highness must be on your guard against outbursts of popular
    feeling. A few of my soldiers might be murdered in isolated
    situations, but the destruction of Spain would be the result. I
    already perceive with regret that letters from the
    Captain-General of Catalonia have been distributed about Madrid,
    and that everything has been done to promote disturbance there.

    “I have now fully explained myself to your Royal Highness; you
    perceive that I am hesitating between various ideas, which
    require confirmation. You may be assured that, in any case, I
    shall treat you as I would treat the King, your father. I beg
    you to believe in my desire for conciliation, and to grant me an
    opportunity of proving my good will and high esteem.”

We see by this letter that the Emperor still reserved to himself the
right of judging of the validity of the abdication of Charles IV. It
appears, however, that Savary flattered the young King into the belief
of more positive approbation than was actually contained in the letter,
while Murat was secretly urging King Charles to retract. By thus writing
to the Prince of the Asturias, the Emperor contrived a means of saving
the Prince of the Peace, if necessary, from taking part with Charles
IV., and finally of blaming the first symptom of rebellion against his
father on the part of the Prince of the Asturias. It was known, however,
at this period that the ambassador of France had suggested to the Prince
the demand which he had made for the hand of a Princess of the Imperial
family in marriage. It was this demand which had most deeply offended
the favorite.

The Prince of the Asturias left Madrid on the 10th of April. He received
tokens of affection from his people on his way, and great anxiety was
everywhere displayed at his approach to the frontier. Savary reiterated
his assurances that by pushing on farther they must meet the Emperor,
and kept the Prince under strict guard. On reaching Burgos, the Prince’s
council began to take alarm; but they continued their route to Vittoria,
where the people unharnessed the horses from the carriage, the guard had
to force a passage, and this was done almost against the will of the
Prince, whose hopes were fading.

“At Vittoria,” Savary told me afterward, “I thought for an instant that
my prisoner was about to escape, but I took care he should not. I
frightened him.” “But,” I answered, “do you mean that, if he had
resisted, you would have killed him?” “Oh no,” he said; “but I protest
that I would never have let him go back.”

The Prince’s councilors, however, were reassured by the reflection that
a marriage would conciliate all parties, and, being unable to understand
the immensity of the Imperial projects, they looked upon such an
alliance, together with the sacrifice of a few men and of the liberty of
trade, as the conclusion of a definitive treaty. They yielded,
therefore, to the soldierly arguments of Savary, and finally crossed the

The royal party entered Bayonne on the 21st of April. Those persons of
the household who were then in attendance on the Emperor discovered, by
the change in his temper, how important for the success of his projects
was the arrival of the Infantes. Until then he had seemed full of care,
confiding in no one, but dispatching courier after courier. He dared not
reckon on the success of his plan. He had invited the old King to come
to him, who, as well as the Queen and the favorite, had just then
nothing better to do; but it seemed so likely that the new King would
take advantage of the revolt about to break out in Spain and would rouse
the new-born enthusiasm of all classes for the deliverance of their
country, that, until the actual moment when he was informed that the
Prince had crossed the Pyrenees, the Emperor must have looked on the
event as wellnigh impossible. He has since said that, dating from this
blunder, he had no longer a doubt of the incapacity of King Ferdinand.

On the 20th of April the Queen of Holland gave birth to a son who was
named Louis.

At this time the painter Robert died. He was famous for his artistic
talent, his taste in architecture, and was, besides, an excellent and
very clever man.

The Abbé de Pradt has narrated all the circumstances of the arrival of
the Princes; and, as he witnessed it, I again refer to his work, without
feeling bound to quote from it here. He says that the Emperor came from
Marrac to Bayonne; that he treated the Prince of the Asturias as an
equal; that he invited him the same day to dinner, treating him with
royal honors; and that it was not until the evening of that day, when
the Prince had returned to his dwelling, that Savary again came to him,
with orders to inform him of Bonaparte’s intentions. These intentions
were to overthrow the reigning dynasty, in order to put his own in its
place, and consequently the abdication of the whole family was demanded.
The Abbé de Pradt is naturally astounded at the part which the Emperor
played during the day, and one can hardly conceive why he gave himself
the trouble to act a character in the morning so contrary to that of the

Whatever were his motives, one can understand the amazement of the
Spanish Princes, and what must have been their regret, having thus
delivered themselves into the hands of their inflexible enemy. From that
time they made efforts, not to fly—for they quickly perceived that
flight was impossible—but to inform the Junta, sitting at Madrid, of
their captivity and of the intentions which would cause the ruin of the
last Bourbons. The greater number of their messengers were stopped, but
some few got away safely; the news they carried excited indignation in
Madrid, and thence throughout Spain. Some provinces protested; in
several towns the people rose in revolt; in Madrid the safety of the
French army was endangered. Murat redoubled his severity, and became an
object of hatred, as well as terror, to all the inhabitants.

Every one knows now how greatly the Emperor deceived himself as to the
condition of Spain and the character of the Spaniards. He was influenced
in this odious undertaking by those same defects of character and
judgment which had on other occasions led him into such grave errors:
first, his determination to prevail by sheer force, and his thirst for
instant submission, which made him neglect intermediaries, who are not
always to be despised with impunity; and, secondly, an obstinate
conviction that men are but very slightly influenced by their mode of
government, and that national differences are so unimportant that the
same policy will answer equally well in the north or in the south, with
Germans, Frenchmen, or Spaniards. He has since admitted that he was
greatly mistaken in this. When he learned that there existed in Spain a
higher class, aware of the bad government under which it lived, and
anxious for some changes in the constitution, he did not doubt but that
the people too would swallow the bait if a revolution like that of
France were offered to them. He believed that in Spain, as elsewhere,
men would be easily roused against the temporal power of the priesthood.
His keen perception appreciated the movement which had caused the revolt
of Aranjuez, and had placed the reins of power in the hands of a weak
Prince, too evidently lacking ability to make or control a revolution;
and he imagined, overleaping time and the obstacles or circumstances
which cause delay, that, the first impulse of movement having been given
to Spanish institutions, a complete change would ensue. He believed
himself to be even rendering a service to the nation in thus
forestalling events, in seizing on the Spanish revolution beforehand,
and in guiding it at once to the goal which he thought it destined to

But even were it possible to persuade a whole nation, and to induce it
to accept, as the outcome of a wise foresight, those things which it can
never understand except through the teaching of facts and often of
misfortune, the hatefulness of the means employed by the Emperor blasted
him in the eyes of those he wished to win, and whom he believed he was
serving; “_for the heart of Jehu was not upright, nor his hands clean_,”
that Spain should receive him as the reformer whom she needed. Moreover,
a foreign yoke was offensive to Spanish pride; while secret
machinations, the imprisonment of the sovereigns, unconcealed contempt
for religious beliefs, the threats that were used, the executions that
followed on them, and, later, the exactions and cruelties of war, all
concurred to prevent any concord. The two contending parties, each
inflamed against the other, were soon filled with a furious longing for
mutual destruction. The Emperor himself sacrificed everything rather
than yield; he was lavish of men and money only that he might prove
himself the strongest, for he could not endure the shame of defeat
before the eyes of Europe, and a bloody war, terrible disasters, were
the result of his wounded pride and his tyrannical will. All he did,
therefore, was to throw Spain into a state of anarchy. The people,
finding themselves without an army, believed that the defense of the
soil devolved upon them; and Bonaparte, who took pride in being the
elect of the people, and who also felt that therein lay his
security—Bonaparte, who, to be consistent in his theories, should never
have waged war except on kings—found himself, after a few years, cut
adrift from that policy on which he had founded his power while he
revealed to the whole world that he used that power for his personal
advantage only.

Although he was conscious of some of these future difficulties, he
continued to tread the devious path on which he had entered. The Prince
of the Asturias refused to sign an act of abdication, and this caused
him great perplexity. Fearing that the Prince might escape him, he
caused him to be strictly watched; he tried him by every kind of
persuasion and threat, and all who surrounded the Emperor soon became
aware of the state of perturbation into which he had again fallen.
Duroc, Savary, and the Abbé de Pradt were enjoined to bribe, to
persuade, or to terrify the Prince’s councilors. But how is it possible
to persuade people to consent to their own fall from power? If we abide
by the Emperor’s opinion, that every member of the reigning family was
equally stupid and incapable, the wiser course would still have been to
have left them in possession of the throne; for the necessity of taking
action in times that were becoming so difficult must have led them into
many faults, of which their enemy might have taken advantage. But, by
the outrageous insults put upon them, by the violation of every human
right in their regard, by the inaction to which they were forced, by
imposing on them the simple and pathetic character of victims, their
part was made so easy to play that they became objects of interest
without having to take the smallest pains to excite that sentiment. With
respect to the Spanish Princes and the Pope, the Emperor committed the
same blunder and incurred the same penalty.

Meanwhile, he was determined to end this state of mental anxiety, and he
decided on sending for King Charles IV. to Bayonne, and on openly
espousing the cause of the dethroned old monarch. He foresaw that this
course of action must be followed by war, but he flattered himself—his
vivid imagination was always ready to flatter him when he had fully
decided on any step—that this war would resemble all the others. “Yes,”
he said, “I feel that I am not doing right; but why do not they declare
war on me?” And when it was pointed out to him that he could scarcely
expect a declaration of war from persons removed from their own
territory and deprived of their liberty, he exclaimed: “But why did they
come, then? They are inexperienced young men, and have come here without
passports. I consider this enterprise as very important, for my navy is
defective, and it will cost me the six vessels I have now at Cadiz.” On
another occasion he said: “If this were to cost me eighty thousand men,
I would not undertake it; but I shall not need twelve thousand. It is a
mere trifle. The people here don’t know what a French brigade means. The
Prussians were just the same, and we know how they fared in consequence.
Depend upon it, this will soon be over. I do not wish to harm any one,
but, when my big political car is started, it must go on its way. Woe to
those who get under the wheels!”

Toward the end of April the Prince of the Peace arrived at Bayonne.
Murat had released him from the captivity in which he was held at
Madrid. The Junta, under the presidency of Don Antonio, brother to
Charles IV., gave him up unwillingly, but the time for resistance was
over. The favorite had lost any hope of future sovereignty, his life was
in danger in Spain, and the Emperor’s protection was his only resource;
therefore there was little doubt but that he would agree to anything
required of him. He was instructed to guide King Charles in the path the
Emperor wished him to follow, and he acquiesced without a word.

I can not refrain from transcribing some reflections of the Abbé de
Pradt, which seem to me to be very sensible and appropriate here.

“At this period,” he says, “that part of the scheme which concerned the
translation of Joseph to Madrid was not as yet made public. It may have
been discerned, but Napoleon had not disclosed it. In the interviews
with Napoleon which the negotiation with M. Escoiquiz procured for me he
never made any allusion to it. He left to time the task of unfolding
each feature of a plan which he revealed cautiously and by slow degrees,
and after he had cherished it for a long succession of days in his own
mind, without relieving himself of the burden by one indiscreet word.
This was sad misuse of moral strength, but it proves how great is the
self-mastery of a man who can thus control his words, especially when
naturally inclined to indiscretion, as Napoleon was, particularly when
he was angry.”

King Charles IV. reached Bayonne on the 1st of May, accompanied by his
wife, their youngest son, the daughter of the Prince of the Peace, and
the Queen of Etruria and her son. Shortly afterward Don Antonio arrived
also; he had been obliged to leave the Junta and to join his relatives.


THE Memoirs of my grandmother came to an end here, and general regret
will, no doubt, be felt that she was prevented by death from continuing
them, at any rate so far as the divorce from the Emperor, which, from
the very beginning, hangs threateningly over the head of the
fascinating, lovable, and yet somewhat uninteresting Josephine. No one
can supply what is wanting here; even the correspondence of the author
affords little political information respecting the succeeding period,
and during the latter part of her life she seldom spoke of what she had
witnessed or endured. My father entertained at times the idea of
continuing her narrative, by putting together what he had heard from his
parents, anecdotes of expressions of their opinions in the last days of
the Empire, and what he himself knew concerning their lives. He did not
carry out his plan in its entirety, nor did he leave anything on the
subject complete. His notes, however, seem to me to be valuable, and
give the ending of the great drama which has been described in the
foregoing pages. It will be interesting to read them as a continuation
of the Memoirs, which they complete, although he has recorded his
opinions concerning the latter days of the Empire, and the period when
he himself entered political life, in a more extensive work. His
political views and clear definition of the conduct of officials and of
citizens in times of difficulty deserves to be made known. I have added
this chapter to the Memoirs, and published the notes of which I speak in
their original unstudied form, confining myself to the slight
modifications necessary to make the narrative succinct and clear.

The Spanish sovereigns arrived at Bayonne in May, 1808. The Emperor
dispatched them to Fontainebleau, and sent Ferdinand VII. to Valençay,
an estate belonging to M. de Talleyrand. Then he himself returned, after
having traveled through the southern and western departments, and made a
political journey into La Vendée, where his presence produced a great
effect. He reached Paris about the middle of August. Count de Rémusat

    “My father, who was then First Chamberlain, was appointed to
    receive the Spanish Bourbons at Fontainebleau. He accomplished
    his task with the attention and courtesy habitual to him.
    Although on his return he gave us an account which conveyed no
    exalted idea of the King, the Queen, or the Prince of the Peace,
    who accompanied them, he had treated these dethroned Princes
    with the respect due to rank and misfortune. It would seem that
    some of the other Court officials had behaved in a different
    fashion, rather from ignorance than from ill feeling. Charles
    IV. noticed this, and said, ‘Rémusat, at any rate, knows that I
    am a Bourbon.’

    “M. de Talleyrand happened to be actually staying at Valençay
    when the Emperor sent him orders to proceed thither, with an
    evident intention of committing him to the Spanish affair, to
    receive the three Infantes. He was not altogether pleased with
    the task, nor on his return did he refrain from sarcastic
    remarks concerning these strange descendants of Louis XIV. He
    used to tell us that they bought children’s toys at all the
    booths at the neighboring fairs, and when a poor person begged
    an alms of them they would give him a doll. He afterward accused
    them of dilapidations at Valençay, and cleverly mentioned the
    fact to Louis XVIII., who, being desirous to dismiss him from
    Court, while he had not the courage to order him to go, took
    occasion to praise the beauty and splendor of his seat at
    Valençay. ‘Yes, it is pretty fair,’ he said, ‘but the Spanish
    Princes entirely spoiled it with the fireworks on St. Napoleon’s

    “Although M. de Talleyrand was aware that his position with the
    Emperor was altered, yet he found Bonaparte when he joined him
    well disposed and inclined to trust him. There was no
    perceptible cloud between them. The Emperor had need of him for
    the conference at Erfurt, to which they went together at the end
    of September. My father was in attendance on the Emperor. The
    letters which he doubtless wrote thence to my mother have not
    been found; but their correspondence was so strictly watched,
    and must therefore have been so reserved, that its loss is, I
    fancy, of little importance. My father’s general letters
    referred to the good understanding between the two Emperors,
    their mutual finessing, and the fine manners of the Emperor

    “M. de Talleyrand composed a narrative of this Erfurt
    conference, which he was in the habit of reading aloud. He used
    to boast, on his return, that as the two Emperors entered their
    respective carriages, each about to journey in a different
    direction, he had said to Alexander, while attending him, ‘If
    you could only get into the wrong carriage!’ He had discerned
    some fine qualities in the Czar, and had endeavored to win
    favor, by which he profited in 1814; but, at the time of which I
    am writing, he looked on a Russian alliance as a merely
    accidental necessity during a war with England, and he
    persistently held that friendship with Austria, which would
    eventually become a basis for an alliance with England, was the
    true system for France in Europe. His conduct of political
    affairs, whether at the time of Napoleon’s marriage, or in 1814,
    in 1815, or, again, in the reign of Louis Philippe, was always
    consistent with this theory. He often spoke of it to my mother.

    “My mother, in order to complete the history of the year 1808,
    would have had to narrate, first, the Erfurt conference,
    according to the narratives of M. de Talleyrand and of my
    father; and, secondly, the reaction of the Spanish affair on the
    Court of the Tuileries and on Parisian society. The Royalist
    section of the Court and society was deeply moved by the
    presence of the ancient Bourbons at Fontainebleau. Here, I
    think, she would have placed the disgrace and exile of Mme. de

    “The Emperor came back from Erfurt in October, but he merely
    passed through Paris, and started immediately for Spain, whence
    he returned at the beginning of 1809, after an indecisive

    “Public opinion was far from favorable to his policy. For the
    first time the possibility of his loss had occurred to the minds
    of men, especially of his sudden death in the course of a war in
    which a motive of patriotism might nerve an assassin’s hand.
    Various reports, partly loyal and partly malicious, had made the
    progress of disapprobation and discontent known to him.
    Talleyrand and Fouché had not hesitated to confirm those
    reports. The former, especially, was always bold, and even
    imprudent, as are all men who are proud of their powers of
    conversation and believe in them as in a force. Fouché, who was
    more reserved, or less often quoted in society, probably went
    further in fact. After his positive fashion, he had been
    practically considering the hypothesis of the opening up of the
    Imperial succession, and this consideration had brought him
    nearer to M. de Talleyrand’s opinions.

    “The Emperor returned in an angry mood, and vented his
    irritation on the Court, and especially at the Ministerial
    Council, in the celebrated scene in which he dismissed M. de
    Talleyrand from his post of Grand Chamberlain, and put M. de
    Montesquiou in his place.

    “That important functionaries of the Empire, such as Talleyrand
    and Fouché, as well as other less prominent persons, should have
    behaved as they did on this occasion, has been severely
    commented on. I am ready to admit that vanity and talkativeness
    may have led Talleyrand and Fouché to say more than was prudent;
    but I maintain that, under an absolute government, it is
    necessary that men holding important offices should, in the case
    of public danger, or on perceiving that affairs are being badly
    directed, not be afraid to encourage, by a prudent opposition,
    the moral resistance which alone can slacken or even divert the
    mistaken course of authority. Still more, if they foresee the
    possibility of disaster, against which no preparations have been
    made, they should take thought concerning what may yet be done.
    That the pride of absolute power should be mortified, that
    endeavors should be made to overcome and to suppress that
    resistance when it is too isolated to avail, I understand. But
    it would be none the less a boon to the state and for the ruler,
    if this opposition were sufficiently powerful to oblige him to
    modify his plans and to reform his life.

    “With regard to the case in point, let us suppose that, instead
    of imputing the disapprobation of Talleyrand or of Fouché to
    intrigue or treason, Napoleon had received reports from Dubois,
    or others who had presented it as a proof of the universal
    discontent; that his Prefect of Police, himself sharing them,
    had pointed out to him that these sentiments were felt and
    expressed by Cambacérès, by Maret, by Caulaincourt, by Murat,
    lastly by the Due de Gaëta, whom Thiers quotes on this
    occasion—in short, by every important personage in the Court
    and the Government—would the service rendered to the Emperor
    have been an evil one? And would not this unanimous opposition
    have been the only means likely to enlighten him, to arrest his
    steps, to turn him from the way of perdition at a period when it
    was not yet too late?

    “As to the reproach addressed to Talleyrand or others, that they
    censured the Government after having approved and served it,
    that is a natural one in the mouth of Napoleon, who, moreover,
    did not hesitate to exaggerate it by falsehood. But in itself it
    is foolish; otherwise all honest men must hold themselves
    forbidden, because they have once belonged to a certain
    government, because they have formerly supported, cloaked, or
    even justified its faults, either in error or from weakness, to
    grow wiser as dangers thicken and circumstances become
    developed. Unless we are resolved on unceasing opposition or on
    unlimited submission, a time must come when we no longer approve
    what we approved yesterday, when we feel bound to speak although
    hitherto we have been silent, and when, drawbacks striking us
    more forcibly than advantages, we recognize defects which we had
    hitherto endeavored or pretended to ignore, and faults which for
    a long time we have palliated! After all, this is what happened
    in France with regard to Napoleon, and the change took place in
    the mind of officials and citizens alike, except when the former
    were blinded by servility or corrupted by a base ambition.

    “In our own modest sphere we never had to decide under the
    Empire, except upon the direction of our wishes and feelings,
    for we never took any part in politics; yet we had to solve for
    ourselves that question which continually recurs to me when I
    re-peruse the Memoirs or the letters in which my mother has
    preserved her impressions and her thoughts.

    “My mother would have had to allude, at any rate indirectly, to
    this grave subject in narrating the disgrace of M. de
    Talleyrand. She saw him, at that time, at least as often as
    formerly; she heard his own statements. Nothing was better known
    just then to the public than the cold silence (equally far
    removed from weakness and from insolence) with which, leaning
    against a console on account of his lameness, he listened to the
    Emperor’s philippic. As is the custom under absolute monarchy,
    he swallowed the affront, and continued to present himself at
    Court with a coolness which was not to be mistaken for humility;
    and I have no recollection that his attitude under the Empire
    was ever accused of weakness from that day forth. It must, of
    course, be understood that the rules of the point of honor are
    not in this case as they are understood in a free country, nor
    the philosophic laws of moral dignity as they are understood
    outside the world of courts and politics.

    “My mother would, after this, have had to relate our own little
    episode in the drama. I am not sure whether the Emperor, on his
    arrival, felt or showed any displeasure toward my father. I do
    not know whether it was not subsequent reports which caused our
    disgrace. In any case, my father did not become immediately
    aware of the truth, either because it was so far from his
    thoughts that he suspected nothing, or because the Emperor did
    not think of him at first. He was a friend of M. de
    Talleyrand’s, and in his confidence up to a certain point: this
    in itself was a motive for suspicion and a cause of disfavor. We
    had written no letter and taken no step that could tell against
    us, and I remember that even our speech was very guarded, and
    that, could the police spies have witnessed the interviews with
    M. de Talleyrand in my mother’s little drawing-room, where my
    parents habitually received him alone, they could have
    discovered nothing whereon to found a police report. Such
    reports were made, however; my father felt no doubt about that,
    although the Emperor never displayed his resentment by any
    outbreak, nor did he even enter into any serious explanation.
    But he acted toward him with a cold malevolence and harshness
    which made his service intolerable. Thenceforth my parents felt
    themselves in a painful position with the sovereign, which
    might, perhaps, lead to their quitting the Court.

    “There was no amelioration in this state of things when
    Napoleon, who had gone to Germany in April, 1809, came back to
    Fontainebleau on the 6th of October, the conqueror of Wagram,
    and proud of the peace just signed at Vienna. Victories, however
    dearly bought, did not make him more generous or kindly. He was
    still performing work important enough to be vain of his power,
    and, if it had been put to severe tests, that was a stronger
    reason why he desired it to be respected. However, he found, in
    reverting to the recent souvenir of the descent of the English
    upon Walcheren, a state of things in Spain quite unsatisfactory,
    a quarrel with the Holy See pushed to its last extremities, and
    public opinion more restless about his inclination for war than
    reassured by his victories—defiant, sad, even critical, and
    besetting with its suspicions the man whom it had so long
    environed with its fallacies.

    “This time Fouché was the object of his thoughts. Fouché had
    acted in his own way at the moment of the descent of the
    English. He had assumed authority, he had made an appeal to
    public sentiment, he had reorganized the national guard, and
    employed Bernadotte on our side. Everything in these
    proceedings, both the conception and the details, had greatly
    displeased the Emperor. All his ill-temper was concentrated upon
    Fouché; and, besides, as he had come back resolved upon the
    divorce, it was difficult to hold M. de Talleyrand aloof from a
    deliberation in which the knowledge of the condition of Europe
    should have a decisive weight. In this must be still seen one of
    those proofs, at that time less frequent each day, of the almost
    impartial justice of his mind. He was sometimes heard to say:
    ‘It is Talleyrand alone who understands me; it is only
    Talleyrand with whom I can talk.’ He consulted him, and at other
    moments spoke of placing him at Vincennes. Thus he did not fail
    to call him when he deliberated upon his marriage. M. de
    Talleyrand strongly insisted that he should unite himself to an
    Archduchess. He even thought that the Emperor had sought an
    interview with him because his intervention in this matter would
    contribute to decide Austria. What is certain is the fact that
    he has always alluded to his conduct in this instance as one of
    the guarantees he had given of his fundamental opinion in regard
    to the alliances of France and the conditions of the
    independence of Europe.

    “It is seen how, in all these matters—the state of opinion
    during the campaign of the Danube, the deliberations relative to
    the divorce, those which preceded the marriage with Marie
    Louise—the Memoirs of my mother would have been instructive and
    interesting. It is unhappily impossible to supply this last
    link. I am only able to recall that she said that the Empress
    was wrong in doubting her fidelity on one occasion, probably
    relative to the divorce. She has announced that this matter was
    explained. I can not explain it in its place, and I have no
    recollection that she ever spoke to me of it. At the moment of
    the divorce her devotion was appreciated, and Queen Hortense
    went so far as to consult with her in regard to it twice before
    enlisting her irrevocably in favor of her mother. I have no wish
    to over-estimate the value of what she did in that matter; the
    most refined delicacy dictated her conduct; and, besides, with
    her deplorable health, her forced inactivity, her former
    relations to Josephine, and our new situation near the Emperor,
    she would have had in a renovated Court, near a new Empress, a
    most awkward and painful position. It may be conceived, indeed,
    that nothing in all that I am going to recall restored our
    credit at the Court, and my family remained there irreparably
    lessened in its influence. The Emperor, however, approved of my
    mother’s remaining with the Empress Josephine. He even praised
    her for it; this suited her. He regarded her as a person on the
    retreat, with whom he no longer needed to concern himself.
    Having less to expect from him, less to demand from him, he
    reproached us less in his thought for omitting to do anything on
    our part to please him. He left my father in the circle of his
    official duties, to which his character and a certain mingling
    of discontent and fear kept him closely enough confined. It was
    almost established in the mind of Napoleon that he had nothing
    more to do for us, and he no longer thought of us.

    “This new situation makes it evident that the Memoirs of my
    mother would have lost their interest. She no longer visited the
    Court, going once only to be presented to the Empress Marie
    Louise; then she had later an audience of the Emperor, who wrote
    to her asking it. She would, therefore, have had nothing to
    relate of which she had been a witness in the imperial palace.
    She was no longer placed under obligations by any relations with
    the great personages of the state—at least she considered
    herself relieved of them; and yielding, perhaps too readily, to
    her tastes, and her sufferings, she gradually isolated herself
    from everything that would remind her of the Court and of the

    “However, as my father did not cease to frequent the palace to
    the end, as the confidence in M. de Talleyrand seemed not to
    diminish, and, finally, as the rapid and declining steps in the
    affairs of the Emperor more and more affected public opinion,
    and soon stirred up the restless attention of the nation, my
    mother had still much with which to become acquainted, and much
    to observe, and she would have been able to give to the painting
    of the last five years of the Empire a positive historic value.

    “Some reflections on many events of those five years will be
    taken, if it is desired, as a remembrance of what I have heard,
    during this same time, from the lips of my parents.

    “Among the events of that year, 1809, one of the most important,
    and which made the least noise, was the action of the Emperor in
    regard to the Pope. The facts were not well understood when they
    took place, and, it is necessary to say, that among the nation
    that Louis XIII. put under the protection of the Holy Virgin no
    one thought of them. The Emperor had begun by causing the Roman
    States to be occupied, then went on by dismembering them, then
    by demanding from the Pope that he should make war upon England,
    then by driving him from the city of Rome, then by depriving him
    of all temporal power, then, finally, by causing him to be
    arrested and guarded as a prisoner. How strange all this,
    assuredly! And yet it seemed that no government of Catholic
    Europe seriously offered assistance to the common father of the
    faithful. The Pope certainly, deliberating in 1804 whether he
    should crown Napoleon, had not objected on the ground that it
    was he who, in that year, had caused the Duc d’Enghien to be
    shot. The Emperor of Austria, deliberating in 1809 whether he
    should give his daughter to Napoleon, did not object on the
    ground that it was he who, in that same year, had placed the
    Pope in prison. It is true that at that time all the sovereigns
    of Europe had, in that which relates to pontifical authority,
    entirely different ideas from those ascribed to them, and from
    those attributed to them to-day. The house of Austria, in
    particular, had for a traditional rule that political testament
    in which the Duke of Lorraine, Charles V., recommends that the
    Pope should be reduced to the single domain of the court of
    Rome, and makes sport ‘of the delusion of excommunications, when
    the real point is that Jesus Christ never established the
    temporal power of the Church, and that the latter can possess
    nothing without contradicting his example and without
    compromising his Gospel.’

    “In a letter of my mother she advised my father, in the autumn
    of 1809, not to allow ‘Athalie’ to be represented at Court, at a
    moment when it might be said that there were some allusions to
    papal affairs in that struggle of a queen and a priest, and in
    presence of a prince so pious as the King of Saxony, who was
    preparing to visit the Emperor. In this incident was the
    _maximum_ of evidence of the direction of her thoughts excited
    by a tyrannic act of which so much would now be heard, and in
    regard to which public opinion would certainly be no more
    divided. I have not heard it said that a single officer in this
    immense empire would have separated himself from a government of
    which the head was excommunicated, if not by name, at least
    impliedly, by the bull launched against all the authors or
    abettors of the attempts against pontifical authority. I can not
    refrain from alluding to the Duc de Cadore. He was a man not
    without intelligence nor without honesty; but, accepting as
    indisputable laws the intentions of the Emperor, after having
    employed his ministry in the spoliation of the Spanish dynasty,
    he concurred with the same docility in that of the sovereign
    Pontiff, and, himself excommunicated as a _mandatory, abettor,
    and counselor_, he maintained with great composure that Napoleon
    could resume that which Charlemagne had given, and that now
    France was in the presence of Rome by the rights of the Gallic

    “The situation of the Empire at the end of 1809 is summarized in
    these words by the great historian of the Empire: ‘The Emperor
    had made himself, at Vincennes, the rival of the regicides; at
    Bayonne, the peer of those who would declare war on Europe to
    establish a universal republic; at the Quirinal, the peer
    certainly of those who had dethroned Pius VI. to create the
    Roman Republic.’

    “I am not one of those who assist by declamation in intensifying
    the odium of these acts. I do not regard them as unheard-of
    monstrosities reserved to our century; I know that history is
    full of examples with which it is not difficult to compare them,
    and that analogous outrages can be found in the life of
    sovereigns for whom posterity has preserved some respect. It
    would not be difficult to find in the history of the severities
    of the reign of Louis XIV. executions which are not incomparable
    with the death of the Duc d’Enghien. The affair of the Man in
    the Iron Mask, especially if, as it is difficult not to believe,
    this man was a brother of the King, is nothing that the murder
    of Vincennes need be envious of; and power and deception are not
    less worthily arrayed in the act by which Louis XIV. seized
    Lorraine in 1661 than in the fraudulent dismemberment of Spain
    in 1808. I see in the abduction of the Pope hardly more than its
    equivalent if we revert to the middle ages. I will add that,
    even after these acts, for ever to be condemned, it was still
    possible, by the use of a little wisdom, to have assured the
    repose, the prosperity, and the grandeur of France to the extent
    that no name in history would have been more honored than that
    of Napoleon. But if any one imagines that this is what he has
    not done; that all the wars thereafter undertaken were no more
    than the mad preparatory steps to the ruin of the country; and
    that thenceforward the character of the man already loaded with
    such misdeeds was afflicted with a superciliousness and a
    harshness which were discouraging to his best servants, it is
    essential to clearly understand that, even at Court, all those
    whom the servile complaisance of false judgment had not led
    astray, sadly disabused, could rightly serve without confidence,
    admire without affection, fear more than hope, desire lessons of
    opposition to a terrible power, in his successes to dread his
    intoxication, and in his misfortunes to weep for France rather
    than him.

    “Such, in fact, is the spirit in which these Memoirs would have
    been continued, and it will even be found that, by a kind of
    retroactive effect, this spirit is shown in the recitals
    anterior to 1809. At the epoch in which history was enacting,
    this spirit was slow in manifesting itself, as I have now
    described it. Years glided away in sadness timid and defiant,
    but without hate, and each time that a happy circumstance or a
    wise measure gave their light to them, the star of hope resumed
    the ascendant, and one tried to believe that the progress in the
    direction of evil would have an end.

    “The years 1810 and 1811 are the two tranquil years of the
    Empire. The marriage in the one and the birth of the King of
    Rome in the other seemed pledges of peace and stability. The
    hope would have been without shadows, the security entire, if
    the torn veil through which the Emperor could be seen had not
    revealed passions and errors, seeds always productive of
    gratuitous mistakes and senseless attempts. It was seen that the
    love of excess had taken possession of him, and was carrying all
    before it. Besides the interminable duration of a war with
    England, with no possibility of gloriously conquering her, or of
    doing her any injury that was not damaging to us, and the
    continuation of a struggle in Spain difficult and unfortunate,
    were two trials that the pride of the Emperor could not long
    endure in peace. It was necessary that he should preserve his
    reputation at all cost, and that by some astounding successes he
    should cause to be forgotten those obstinate checks to his
    fortune. Sound judgment pointed out that the Spanish question
    was the one to end, I do not say by a return to justice and by a
    generous concession—the Bonapartes are not among those to whom
    such measures suggest themselves—but by force. It can readily
    be believed that, had the Emperor concentrated all the resources
    of his genius and of his Empire upon the resistance of the
    Peninsula, he would have conquered it. Unjust causes are not
    always destined to fail in this world, and the Emperor ought to
    have seen that, in humiliating Spain, he was preparing the
    occasion, so vainly sought, for striking England, since that
    nation rendered itself vulnerable by landing her armies on the
    Continent. Such an occasion made it worth while that something
    should be risked. Napoleon should have gone there in person, and
    himself entered the lists with Arthur Wellesley. What glory, on
    the other hand, and what fortune did he not reserve to himself
    and to his nation, in persistently adjourning the struggle, and
    in confronting them both finally on the mournful plains of

    “But the Emperor had no relish for the Spanish question; he was
    tired of it. It had never yielded a pleasant or glorious moment.
    He half understood that he had begun it unjustly and conducted
    it feebly; that he had singularly misconceived its difficulty
    and importance. He tried to have a contempt for it, in order not
    to be humiliated by it; he neglected it, in order to avoid its
    anxieties. He had a childish repugnance, if it was nothing
    worse, to risking himself in a war which did not appeal to his
    imagination. Shall we dare say that he was not absolutely sure
    of doing the work well, and that the dangers of reverses turned
    him from an enterprise which, even well carried to its
    conclusions, would have gone too slowly and with too many
    difficulties to have increased his grandeur? A ready
    extemporizer, his plan seemed to be to allow everything to die
    of old age that displeased him, and to build up his fortune and
    fame in some new enterprise. These causes, joined to the logical
    developments of an absurd system, and to the developments
    natural to an uncontrollable temper, annulled all the guarantees
    of prudence and safety that the events of the years 1810 and
    1811 seemed to have given, turned him from Spain to Russia, and
    brought about that campaign of 1812 which logically drew him on
    to his destruction.

    “Two years in which hope had the ascendency of fear, and three
    years in which fear left very little place for hope—here we
    have the division of the five last years of the reign of

    “In speaking of 1810 and 1811, my mother would have had to show
    how the two events, which ought to have inspired in the Emperor
    the spirit of conservation and of wisdom, his marriage and the
    birth of his son, served in the sequel only to exalt his pride.
    In the interval all the obstacles between him and the execution
    of his will are seen to be removed. For instance, since, long
    ago, he does not pardon Fouché for having a will of his own.
    Fouché showed that he desired peace. A violent scene occurs to
    recall that of which Talleyrand had been the object, and the Duc
    de Rovigo becomes Minister of Police, a choice which beguiles,
    without doubt, the hopes of the Emperor and the fears of the
    public, but which seems, however, to expand still more the area
    in which arbitrary power has sway. The existence of Holland and
    the indocible character of its King are still an obstacle, at
    least a limit. The King is compelled to abdicate, and Holland is
    declared French. Rome itself becomes the capital of a
    department, and the domain of St. Peter is united, as formerly
    Dauphiné was, to furnish a title for the heir to the Empire. The
    clerical order, driven with a high hand, is violated in its
    customs and in its traditions. An appearance of a council is
    attempted and broken up, and prison and exile impose silence on
    the Church. A councilor, submissive but modest, executes the
    wishes of his master, but does not glorify him; he lacks
    enthusiasm in his servitude: Champagny is set aside for Maret
    and the lion is let loose in Europe, and no voice is heard which
    rouses it to madness. And as, during this time, the fortune of
    the conqueror and the liberty of the people have found the one
    its limit, the other its bulwark in those immortally celebrated
    lines of Torres-Vedras, it becomes essential that this restless
    and maddened force should dash itself in pieces upon Moscow.

    “This last period, so rich for the political historian in its
    terrible pictures, has but little value to the simple observer
    of the interior scenes of the government. The cloud became dense
    around power, and France knew as little what was done as if she
    had been lost by a throw of dice. Nevertheless, there was still
    the work of drawing the instructive picture of hearts and of
    minds ignorant and restless, indignant and submissive,
    desolated, reassured, imposed upon, unconcerned, depressed—all
    that at intervals, and sometimes concentrated into an hour; for
    despotism, which always feigns to be happy, ill prepares the
    masses of the people for misfortune, and believes in courage
    only when it has deceived it.

    “It is, I think, to this description of public sentiments that
    my mother would have been able to consecrate the end of her
    Memoirs, for she knew something of what everybody saw. M.
    Pasquier, whom she saw every day, observed, by taste as well as
    by a sense of duty, the discretion prescribed to his functions.
    Accustomed to conversations with the class of persons whom he
    ruled without restraint, he was during a great length of time
    careful to take political notes, when all the world was free to
    talk politics. The Duc de Rovigo, less discreet, divulged his
    opinions rather than the facts; and the conversations of M. de
    Talleyrand, more frank and more confident, were hardly more than
    the disclosure of his judgments and of his predictions.”


IN the first volume of these Memoirs I attempted to retrace the chief
events of my grandmother’s life, and I also narrated the circumstances
which induced her to rewrite the manuscript unhappily destroyed in 1815.
I considered it necessary to a right comprehension and appreciation of
her views that the reader should learn how she had been brought up, what
were the position and circumstances of her parents, for what reasons she
accepted a place at Bonaparte’s Court, through what phases of
enthusiasm, hope, and disenchantment she passed, how by degrees liberal
opinions gained a hold upon her, and what influence her son, when he
began to make a figure both in society and in political life, exercised
over her.

However strong may be his confidence in the success of a publication, it
is the duty of an editor to avail himself of every aid, and to make
sure, or nearly so, that the author shall in everything be understood.
This was all the more necessary in the present instance, because the
editor, brought up to entertain the same sentiments, and accustomed to
hear the same opinions and the same anecdotes repeated around him, might
well be afraid of deceiving himself respecting the worth or the success
of these reminiscences. Relatives are seldom good judges either of the
intellectual or physical attributes of their kin. Family beauties or
prodigies, admired by the fireside or in select coteries, are frequently
found to be insignificant personages on a larger stage, and when seen in
broader daylight. I therefore thought it well to relate all that might
be needed for the instruction of the reader, and, by introducing him
into the private life of the author, to account for a mixture of
admiration and severity in these Memoirs which sometimes appears
contradictory. I should have been excused for adding my own comments
upon the ability of the writer and the character of her hero; indeed,
such comments would have furnished the subject of a preface, of the kind
that we are told ought to precede every work of serious importance. But
I carefully avoided writing any such preface, because I had one to offer
which would enhance the value of the book to the public, as it enhances
it to myself—a preface written by my father more than twenty years ago.
I may print that preface now, for success has justified his previsions
and our hopes.

When my father wrote the pages that I am about to lay before the reader,
the Second Empire was still in existence, and to all appearance secure.
Nothing short of a persistent trust in the undeviating principles of
justice and liberty could have led any one to believe that its fall was
possible or probable. Since then the fullness of time has come, and
events have marched with a rapidity which could not have been foreseen.
Similar errors have brought about similar reverses; the moody and
wavering mind of Napoleon III. has led him to adopt the same course
which ruined the brilliant and resolute genius of the great Emperor. My
father for the third time beheld the foreigner in France, and vanquished
France seeking in liberty a consolation for defeat. He suffered by our
misfortunes, as he had suffered by them fifty years earlier, and he had
the melancholy honor of repairing a portion of those misfortunes, of
hastening the day of the final deliverance of our soil. He contributed
to the foundation of a liberal and popular Government on a heap of
ruins. The last years of the Empire, the War, the Commune, the difficult
accession of the Republic through so many perils, had no power to change
his convictions; and he would think to-day just what he wrote twenty-two
years ago of the vices of absolute power, of the necessity for teaching
nations what conquerors cost them, of the right of his mother to set
down her impressions, and of the duty of his son to publish them.

                                                       PAUL DE RÉMUSAT.


                                        LAFFITTE, _November, 1857_.

    “I have once more taken up, after a long lapse of time, the
    manuscript of these Memoirs, which my mother composed nearly
    forty years ago; and, having attentively reperused it, I now
    leave it to my sons and to their children, with an injunction to
    publish it. I believe that it will prove a useful historical
    testimony, and, combined with her correspondence, will be a most
    interesting monument to the intellect and the heart of a gifted
    and good woman. This work will perpetuate the memory of my

    “At whatever epoch these Memoirs may appear, I foresee that they
    will not find the public ready to receive them entirely without
    protest, and with satisfaction complete at all points. Even
    should the Imperial restoration which we now witness not be
    destined to a prolonged future—should it not be, as I hope it
    may not be, the final government of the France of the
    Revolution—I suspect that, whether through pride, weakness, or
    imagination, France, as a whole, will continue to entertain a
    tolerably exalted opinion of Napoleon, which it will be
    reluctant to submit to the free examination of politics and
    philosophy. He was one of those great men who are placed from
    the beginning in the sphere of fancy rather than in that of
    reason, and in his case poetry has taken the lead of history. A
    somewhat puerile sympathy, a somewhat weak generosity, has
    almost always made the nation refuse to impute to Bonaparte
    those awful ills which he brought down upon France. The nation
    has pitied him the most for its own misfortunes, and thought of
    him as the noblest victim of the calamities of which he was the
    author. I know that the sentiments which have led France to make
    this strange mistake are excusable and even praiseworthy; but I
    also know that national vanity, the lack of seriousness of mind,
    levity which takes little heed of reason and justice, are the
    sources of this patriotic error. Let us lay aside the question
    of principle—since the nation chooses to resolve that question
    differently at different times, and glories in despising liberty
    at intervals—and let us speak only the language of national
    independence. How can he be in the eyes of the people the hero
    of that independence who twice brought the foreign conqueror
    into the capital of France, and whose government is the only one
    which, for five hundred years, since the time of the mad King
    Charles VI., left French territory smaller than it found it?
    Even Louis XV. and Charles X. did better than that.
    Nevertheless, I am convinced the multitude will abide in its
    error, and _non auferetur ab ea_.

    “It is, then, very unlikely that the spirit in which my mother
    has written will ever be popular, or that all her readers will
    be convinced. I am prepared for this, but I also think that
    among thoughtful people the truth will make its way. Infatuation
    will not have an endless duration, and, notwithstanding certain
    obstinate prejudices, public opinion—especially if liberty be
    at length restored to us and remain with us—will be
    enlightened, and will never again sacrifice the rights of reason
    and those of the public conscience to glory. Will my mother
    appear sufficiently impartial to these more impartial judges? I
    believe she will, if they take account of the time at which she
    wrote, and also of the sentiments and ideas which inspired her;
    and so I have no hesitation in delivering up her Memoirs to the
    judgment of the world.

    “‘The further I go,’ wrote my mother to me, ‘the more I am
    resolved that, until my death, you shall be my only reader, and
    that is enough for me.’ And again: ‘Your father says he knows no
    one to whom I could show what I am writing. He says nobody
    carries so far as I do “the talent of being true.” That is his
    expression. Well, then, I do write for no one, but one day you
    will find this among my effects, and you may do with it what you
    will.’ She was not without some apprehensions. ‘There is a
    thought which sometimes troubles me. I say to myself, “If one
    day my son should publish all this, what will be thought of me!”
    The idea that I may be supposed to be evil-minded, or, at least,
    ill-natured, makes me uneasy. I exhaust myself with the effort
    to find something to praise, but this man was such an
    exterminator (_assommateur_) of worth, and we were brought so
    low, that I grow utterly disheartened, and the cry of truth
    utters itself irresistibly. I know no one but you to whom I
    would intrust such confidences.’

    “I hold myself formally authorized by these passages to bequeath
    the work which my mother confided to me to the public. As for
    the opinions which it expresses, taking them upon myself, I will
    explain myself freely respecting the Emperor and the Empire, but
    not from the purely political point of view. All that I might
    say on the subject of despotism (which I hate) would be without
    importance in this case, since the question is, What would be a
    just judgment of the Emperor and the Empire formed by one who
    had witnessed the 18th Brumaire, and shared the confident
    readiness of the nation to divest itself of the charge of its
    own destinies, by placing them in the hands of one man? I deal
    with the moral, and not the political, aspect of the matter.

    “Let us first consider the Emperor, and discuss him with those
    only who, while finding much to admire in him, are willing to
    exercise their judgment upon what they admire. It was commonly
    said, under his reign, that he despised men. The motives by
    which he defended his policy in his conversations were not taken
    from among the noble qualities of the human heart, but from that
    which he thoroughly understood, the imagination of the people.
    Now, imagination is naturally captivated by grand and beautiful
    things, and the imagination of the Emperor, which was vivid and
    daring, was accessible to this kind of charm. His extraordinary
    faculties rendered him capable of great things, and he employed
    them, with others, to captivate France, the world, and
    posterity. Thence came what was thoroughly admirable in his
    power and his life; and, if we were to consider that only, we
    could not place him too high. Nevertheless, a close observer
    will discern that it was by that intelligence and imagination,
    rather than the purely moral sentiments of justice and of right,
    that all was done. Take, for example, religion. It was not the
    truth of religion, it was its influence and its prestige, which
    dictated what he did for its cause; and so with all the rest. In
    his contemptuous estimate of humanity, he recognized only two
    springs of action—vanity and self-interest; and to the masterly
    handling of these he applied himself with remarkable ability.
    While by the _éclat_ of his acts, by the glory of his arms, by a
    permanent embellishment of conservative social principles, he
    gave to his government what was essential to prevent self-love
    from blushing at the fact of its connection with it, he
    carefully manipulated, he caressed, he even exalted other
    sentiments more humble, which may oftentimes be harmless, but
    which are not noble and virtuous principles. Love of repose,
    fear of responsibility, preoccupation with the pleasures of
    private life, the desire of personal comfort, the taste of
    riches, as well in the individual as in the family; finally, all
    the weaknesses which usually accompany these sentiments when
    they are exclusive, found in him a protector. It is from this
    point of view that he was everywhere recognized as essential to
    the preservation of order. But, when men are governed by the
    springs I am about to call to mind, and when the governor is not
    upheld or restrained by the sentiment of pure and true glory, by
    the instinct of a soul naturally frank and generous, it is an
    easy step to the thought that imagination, vanity, interest are
    paid with counterfeit as well as good money; that abuses of
    power, appearances of grandeur, success attained at all cost,
    tranquillity maintained by oppression, riches distributed by
    favor, prosperity realized by force or made to seem to exist by
    falsehood—that, finally, all the triumphs of artifice or of
    violence, all that despotism can wrest from credulity and fear,
    are things which also prosper among men; and that the world is
    often, without serious objection, the plaything of the strongest
    and most shrewd. But nothing in the nature of the Emperor
    preserved him from the temptation of employing such means for
    the advancement of his power. Not satisfied with meriting power,
    he consented, when he could not merit it, to take it by force or
    to steal it. He made no distinction between prudence and
    cunning, or between true statesmanship and Machiavellism.
    Finally, policy is always in the path of deception, and Napoleon
    was always a deceiver.

    “It is deception which, in my judgment, most degraded the
    Emperor, and, unhappily, with him his empire. For this reason,
    it is to be regretted that France yielded obedience to him, that
    men rendered him service, whatever glory the nation has gained,
    whatever probity and whatever talent the men have shown. One can
    not wholly ignore the misfortune of having been the dupe or the
    accomplice, in all cases the instrument, of a system in which a
    cunning deception plays as great a part as wisdom, and violence
    as genius; of a system in which cunning deception and violence
    must lead on to the desperate extremes of an unwise policy. To
    such a policy France will not consent, and it is only in the
    interest of self-love that France exalts the glory of Napoleon.

    “As to his associates, they likewise ought certainly not to have
    been humiliated by what they did or what they silently
    sustained. They were right in not publicly denouncing what the
    nation did not denounce, and in presenting services loyally
    rendered, honesty, zeal, devotion, capacity, the patriotism
    which they had displayed in the performance of public duties, as
    an offset to the bitter denunciations of their adversaries, to
    the trifling or corrupt parties, who had done less or who had
    done worse. The recollections of the Convention or those of the
    emigration could not be brought against them to any advantage,
    and, after all, they did well not to blush at their cause. Their
    justification is found in the language of Tacitus, who, even
    under a despotism, thinks that praise is due a capable and
    efficient officer, though he may practice what he calls
    _obsequium et modestia_.

    “These last words are applicable to persons of high character
    who, like the members of my family, served the Emperor without
    mean selfishness and without special distinction. But still,
    when, under his reign itself, eyes were opened to the character
    of his despotism—when the wail of the dying nation had been
    heard, when later, in reflecting upon the fall of a dictatorial
    power and on the succession of a constitutional power, that
    policy was brought up for consideration which does not place
    government and liberty in the hands of enemies, it was
    impossible not to revert with some embarrassment, with some
    bitterness of heart, to those days in which example, confidence,
    admiration, thoughtlessness, a justifiable ambition, had united
    to urge good citizens to place themselves among the supporters
    of absolute power. For he who does not seek to make himself
    blind, he who is ready to be honest with himself, will find it
    impossible to conceal the fact that dignity of mind and
    character is lost under the pressure of a despotism even
    glorious and necessary, and more completely under one that is
    harsh and maintained without reason. There is no cause of
    self-reproach without doubt; but neither can one praise his own
    acts, or be satisfied with what he has done or what he has seen;
    and the more the soul is opened to the convictions of liberty,
    the more one turns his eyes with grief to the days in which
    liberty was shut out from it—days of voluntary servitude, as
    Boëtius characterizes it.

    “What it has not been either necessary or proper to say of one’s
    self to his contemporaries and of the latter to themselves, it
    is a duty to frankly avow when one writes for himself and for
    the future. What conscience has felt and revealed, what
    experience and reflection have taught, it is necessary to
    delineate, or not write at all. Unbiased truth, disinterested
    truth, is the controlling thought of the Memoirs. This is the
    basis of those of my mother.

    “She had suffered intensely during the years in which her
    opinions were in opposition to her interests, and during which
    the former could have triumphed over the latter only _per
    abrupta_, as Tacitus says, speaking of this same thing, _sed in
    nullum reipublicæ usum_. Attempts of this kind, besides, never
    fall to the lot of a woman; and, in a remarkable letter that my
    mother wrote to one of her friends, she said to her that women
    at least had always the expedient of saying in the palace of

            ‘Mais le cœur d’Emilie est hors de ton pouvoir.’

    And she declared to her that this line had been her secret

    “Her correspondence will reveal in its lightest shades, in its
    deepest recesses, the sentiments of a pure and active soul. It
    will there be seen how she united a generous kindness to a
    penetrating observation of all those weaknesses, of all those
    unhappy circumstances of our nature, which give opportunity to
    the painters of morals to display their talents. It will there
    also be seen how, after having caused her much suffering,
    Napoleon had kept a place in her thoughts; how this memory still
    moved her; and how, when the unhappiness of his exile at St.
    Helena was described, she was deeply affected. When, in the
    summer of 1821, the news of the death of Napoleon was brought to
    Paris, I saw her melt with tears, and she always became sad when
    uttering his name. As to the men of her time, I will say only
    one thing: she had learned to know them at Court. The
    recollection she had preserved of it left her no pleasure. I
    have somewhere seen related a little circumstance that greatly
    interested those who witnessed it. It was the time when the
    French imitation of Schiller’s ‘Marie Stuart’ was in fashion.
    There was a scene in which Leicester repels, by pretending not
    to know him, a devoted young man who, relying on his secret
    thoughts, comes to him with a proposal to save the Queen of
    Scotland. Talma represented admirably the haughty cowardice of
    the courtier, who disavows his own affection for fear of being
    compromised, and insolently repels the man who makes him afraid:
    ‘What do you want of me? I do not know you.’ The act terminated,
    and in the box in which we were seated the entire company was
    struck with this scene, and my mother in her agitation suffered
    some words to escape whose import was: ‘That was it precisely! I
    have seen the same thing!’ When suddenly appeared at the
    entrance of the box M. de B——, to whom no special application
    could assuredly have been made, but who had been chamberlain of
    the Emperor, my mother could no longer restrain herself. She
    said to Mme. de Catellan, ‘If you knew, madame!’ . . . and she

    “It may be said that this condition of her mind has influenced
    her in coloring her pictures. I do not think it so. Saint-Simon
    has also painted a Court, and the despotism in it was more
    becoming, more natural, and the characters, perhaps, a little
    more strong in our days. What does he do, however, if not
    justify, in his truthful painting, what the teachers of his time
    and the moralists of all times have said of Courts in general?
    The exaggeration of Saint-Simon is in the language. Of a fault
    he makes a vice; of a weakness, a cowardice; of a negligence, a
    treason; and of a hesitation, a crime. The expression is never
    strong enough for his thought, and it is his style which is
    unjust rather than his judgment.

    “Let us mention a person of a less impulsive mind, more reserved
    in her language, and who certainly had her reasons for seeing
    with more indulgence than Saint-Simon the people over whom Louis
    XIV. reigned. How did Mme. de Maintenon speak of the Court? ‘As
    to your friends of the Court,’ she wrote to Mlle. de Glapion,
    ‘they are always with you, and, if you could see what we see,
    you would find yourself seeing (at Saint-Cyr) only
    irregularities, wayward conduct, want of light; while we see
    murders, jealousies, hatreds, treacheries, insatiable desires,
    degradations, which are covered up by the name of grandeur, of
    courage, etc., for I fly into a passion in merely permitting
    myself to think of them.’ The judgments of my mother are not
    characterized by such vivid expressions. But, like Saint-Simon,
    like Mme. de Maintenon, she had good reason to think that a
    constant personality, which betrays itself by fear, jealousy,
    complaisance, flattery, forgetfulness of others, contempt of
    justice, and desire to injure others, reigns at the Court of
    absolute kings, and that self-love and interest are the two keys
    of every Court secret. My mother has said no more; and her
    diction, without being cold and tame, never exaggerates the
    facts with which she deals, and allows, in almost everything she
    has been compelled to relate, that excuse demanded by human
    weakness in its struggle with bad example, with the temptation
    of fortune, and with the seductions of a power that does not
    find itself compelled to respect its promises. It is not without
    reason that, when we speak of the Empire, our eulogies are
    almost exclusively addressed to its armies, because, at least,
    in the business of war, intrepid contempt of death and of
    suffering is such a triumphant victory over the selfishness of
    ordinary life, that it covers up whatever this selfishness can
    suggest, even to the soldiers themselves, of bitter sacrifices
    to pride, to envy, to cupidity, to ambition.

    “Look through the centuries in which historians and moralists
    endeavor to paint in its true colors every evil that incessantly
    increases within the sphere of government, especially in the
    shadow, or, if Louis XIV. demands it, in _the sun_ of absolute
    power. It is strange, in fact, how that which ought to bring
    into play only devotion, and to place the benefit of all above
    personal interest—I mean the service of the state—furnishes to
    human selfishness occasions to make mistakes and means of being
    satisfied by the art of concealing itself. But it is apparent
    that this has not been said often enough, for I have not
    discovered that the evil is soon to end, or even become less
    conspicuous. Truth alone, incessantly presented to public
    opinion, can arm it against falsehoods, of which party spirit
    and state government raise a cloud concealing the misfortunes of
    the body politic. The masses of the people can never know too
    well at what price human insolence sells them the necessary
    service of a government. In times of revolution especially,
    misfortune sometimes renders it indulgent to the forms of
    government which have fallen, and the system which triumphs
    covers with a deceptive veil everything which makes its victory
    odious. Truthful books must, some time or other, cause all masks
    to fall, and leave to all our weaknesses the salutary fear of
    being some day revealed.”

                                THE END

                           TRANSCRIBER NOTES

Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected including
Schônbrunn to Schönbrunn and cortége to cortège throughout both volumes.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been maintained.

Some illustrations were moved to facilitate page layout.

The Table of Contents and List of Illustrations from Volume I was added
to this volume.

[The end of _Memoirs of the Empress Josephine, Vol. II_, by Madame de

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