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Title: Memoirs of the life, exile, and conversations of the Emperor Napoleon. (Vol. I)
Author: Cases, Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las
Language: English
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This is the first of four volumes, which can be found at Project


  _David._ _Cooper._
  _Published for Henry Colburn, Nov.^r 17, 1835._

                            THE LIFE, EXILE,
                                 OF THE
                           EMPEROR NAPOLEON.


                        THE COUNT DE LAS CASES.

                             A NEW EDITION.

                             WITH PORTRAITS


                                VOL. I.

                      PUBLISHED FOR HENRY COLBURN,
                          AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.





                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                VOLUME I.
 Portrait of the Emperor Napoleon, _to face the title_.
 Napoleon on board the Bellerophon                                    26
 Portrait of Charles Bonaparte                                        66
 Portrait of Letizia Bonaparte                                        69
 Residence of the Emperor at Longwood                                264


                               VOLUME II.

 Portrait of the Empress Josephine, _to face the title_.
 Portrait of Marshal Bertrand                                         33
 Map of Saint Helena                                                  39
 Portrait of Prince Talleyrand                                        64
 Eugene Beauharnois claiming his Father’s Sword                      186


                               VOLUME III.

 Portrait of Sir Hudson Lowe, _to face the title_.
 Ground Plan of Longwood                                              21
 The House in which Napoleon was Born                                113
 The Burning of Moscow                                               164
 Napoleon’s Return from Elba                                         302


                               VOLUME IV.

 Portrait of Count De Las Cases, _to face the title_.
 Napoleon at Saint Helena                                            149
 Death of Napoleon                                                   386
 Statue of Napoleon on the Place Vendome                             388
 Tomb of Napoleon                                                    399


Circumstances the most extraordinary have long kept me near the most
extraordinary man that ever existed. Admiration made me follow him,
without knowing him, and when I did know him, love alone would have
fixed me for ever near his person. The world is full of his glory, his
deeds, and his monuments; but no one knows the true shades of his
character, his private qualities, or the natural disposition of his
soul. This great void I undertake to fill up, and for such a task I
possess advantages unexampled in history.

I collected and recorded, day by day, all that I saw of Napoleon, all
that I heard him say, during the period of eighteen months in which I
was constantly about his person. In these conversations, which were full
of confidence, and which seemed to pass, as it were, in another world,
he could not fail to be portrayed by himself as if in a mirror, in every
point of view, and under every aspect. Henceforth the world may freely
study him: there can be no error in the materials.

                                                        COUNT LAS CASES.




                         THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON.



It is my intention to record daily all that the Emperor Napoleon did or
said while I was about his person; but, before I begin my diary, I hope
to be excused for offering a few preliminary remarks, which may not be
altogether useless.

I never commenced the perusal of any historical work without first
wishing to know the character of the author, his situation in society,
and his political and domestic relations; in fact, all the important
circumstances of his life; conceiving that nothing but a knowledge of
these matters could furnish a key to his writings, or a safe ground of
confidence in his statements. I therefore proceed to supply in my turn
that which I always sought for in others; and, in presenting this diary,
to relate a few facts respecting my past life.

I was scarcely twenty-one years of age when the Revolution broke out,
and had just been made a _Lieutenant de Vaisseau_, which corresponded
with the rank of a field officer in the line: my family was at court,
and I had been recently presented there myself. I was not rich; but my
name and rank in life, together with my professional prospects, were
likely, according to the notions and views of the times, to enable me to
marry according to my wishes. It was at such a moment that our political
troubles burst forth.

One of the principal vices in our system of admission to the service was
that of depriving us of the benefits of a solid and finished education.
Withdrawn from school at the early age of fourteen, abandoned from that
instant to ourselves, and launched as it were on a wide waste, how was
it possible to attain the slightest notion of social organization,
public rights, or the duties of civil life?

Thus, prompted by noble prejudice, rather than by a just sense of duty,
above all, led on by a natural fondness for generous resolves, I was
amongst the first to hasten abroad and join our Princes; to save, as it
was said, the monarch from revolutionary fury, and to defend our
hereditary rights, which we could not, it was asserted, yet abandon
without shame. From the mode in which we had been educated, it required
either a very strong head or a very weak mind to resist the torrent.

The emigration soon became general; this fatal measure is but too well
known to Europe; nor can its folly, as a political blunder and a social
crime, find any excuse in the present day, except in the unenlightened
but upright character of most of those by whom it was undertaken.

Defeated on our own frontiers, discharged and disbanded by foreigners,
rejected and proscribed by the laws of our country, numbers of us
reached England, whose Ministers lost no time in landing us on the shore
of Quiberon. Being so fortunate as not to disembark, I had, after my
return, time to reflect on the horrible alternative of fighting against
our country under foreign banners; and, from this moment, my ideas,
principles, and projects were either disconcerted or entirely changed.

Despairing of events, abandoning the world and my natural sphere, I
devoted myself to study; and, under a borrowed name, went through a
second course of education in attempting to assist that of others.

After a lapse of some years, the treaty of Amiens, and the amnesty
offered by the First Consul, re-opened to us the gates of France. I had
no longer any property there: the laws had disposed of my patrimony; but
can any thing make us forget our native soil, or destroy the charm of
breathing the air of our own country!

I hurried back, and was grateful for a pardon, rendered more acceptable
since I could say with pride that I received it without having any
motives of self-reproach. When monarchy was proclaimed soon after, my
situation and sentiments were of a most singular kind. I found myself a
soldier punished for a cause that had triumphed. Every day brought us
back to our former ideas: all that had been dear to our principles and
prejudices was renewed; and yet delicacy and honour rendered it a kind
of duty in us to keep at a distance.

It was in vain that the new government loudly proclaimed the union of
all parties; and equally so that its chief had declared he would no
longer recognise any but Frenchmen in France; in vain had old friends
and former companions offered me the advantages of a new career to be
chosen by myself. Unable to subdue the conflicting feelings which
agitated my mind, I obstinately persevered in a system of self-denial;
and, devoting all my time to literature, I composed under a feigned
name, an historical work that re-established my fortune; after which I
passed five or six of the happiest years of my life.

Meanwhile, unprecedented events succeeded each other with extraordinary
rapidity: they were of such a nature, and bore so peculiar a character,
that it became impossible for any person whose heart possessed the least
predilection for whatever was great or noble to view them with
indifference. The glory of our country was raised to a pitch unknown in
the history of any other people: the administration of affairs was
unexampled, not less by its energy than the consequences it produced; a
simultaneous impulse, which was suddenly given to every species of
industry, excited the emulation of all at the same moment; the army was
unrivalled, striking terror abroad and creating a just pride at home.

Every day added to the number of our trophies, while numerous monuments
proclaimed our exploits; the victories of Austerlitz, Jena, and
Friedland; the treaties of Presburg and Tilsit had constituted France
the first of nations, and made her the arbitress of Europe. It was a
signal honour to be a Frenchman; and yet all these exploits, labours and
prodigies, were the work of one man. For my own part, whatever might
have been my former prepossessions and prejudices, I was now filled with
admiration; and, as we all know, there is but one step from admiration
to affection. It was precisely at this period that the Emperor called
some of the first families of France round his throne, and caused it to
be circulated, amongst the rest, that he would consider those who
remained aloof as bad Frenchmen. I did not hesitate for an instant: I
have, said I to myself, fulfilled the obligations of my natural oath,
that of my birth and education, to which I have continued faithful until
its extinction. Our princes too were no longer thought of: we even
doubted their existence. The solemnities of religion, the alliance of
kings, the example of Europe, and the splendour of France, henceforth
taught me that I had a new sovereign. Had those who preceded us made so
long a resistance to such powerful efforts, before rallying round the
first of the Capets? I answered therefore, for myself, that, happy in
being thus enabled to obey a call which removed me with honour from the
delicate situation in which I was placed, I freely, spontaneously, and
without reserve, transferred the zeal, loyalty, and attachment which I
had constantly cherished for my old masters, to the new sovereign: the
result of this step was my immediate admission at court.

In this state of things, I felt extremely anxious that my recent
protestations should be ratified by deeds. The English had invaded
Flushing, and threatened Antwerp; I therefore hastened to assist in the
defence of the latter place, as a volunteer; and, on the subsequent
evacuation of Flushing, my nomination to the office of chamberlain
called me near the person of the Emperor. Being desirous of adding some
more useful occupation to the duties of this honourable post, I
solicited and obtained a seat in the Council of State. Hence followed
several confidential missions: I was sent to Holland at the period of
its union to the French Empire, in order to receive whatever related to
the naval department; then to Illyria, for the purpose of liquidating
the public debt; and afterwards over half the Empire, to superintend
establishments of public beneficence. During our late misfortunes, I
received some consoling proofs that the inhabitants of the countries to
which I had thus been sent were not dissatisfied with my conduct.

Providence had however fixed a limit to our prosperity. The catastrophe
of Moscow, the disasters of Leipsic, and the siege of Paris, are well
known. I commanded in that city one of the legions which acquired honour
by its severe losses on the 31st of March. When the capitulation took
place I gave up the command, feeling that other duties were to be
performed near the person of my sovereign, but could not reach
Fontainebleau in time:—the Emperor had abdicated, and was succeeded by
the King.

My situation now became more singular than it had been twelve years
before. The cause for which I had sacrificed my fortune, for which I
remained so long in exile, and six years in a state of self-denial at
home, was at length triumphant; nevertheless, the point of honour and
other considerations were about to prevent my reaping any benefit from
the event! What could be more capricious than my fate? Two revolutions
had been effected in opposition to each other:—by the first I lost my
patrimony; by the second I might have been deprived of life: neither the
one nor the other had been favourable to my fortune. Vulgar minds will
only perceive an unfortunate tergiversation of opinions in this wayward
destiny, while the lovers of intrigue will assert that I was twice a
dupe: only the few will understand that I have twice honourably
fulfilled my duty. Be this as it may, those early friends, whose esteem
was not lessened by the line of conduct I had pursued, having now become
all powerful, invited me to join them: it was impossible to obey the
generous call; disgusted and disheartened, I resolved that my public
life should terminate. Ought I to have exposed myself to the false
judgment of those who were watching my proceedings? Could every body see
what was passing in my mind?

Having now become a Frenchman even to enthusiasm, and unable to endure
that national degradation of which I was a daily witness amidst foreign
bayonets, I determined to endeavour to divert my thoughts at a distance
from the scene of calamity, and went to pass a few months in England.
How altered did every thing appear there! On reflection, I found that it
was myself who had undergone a great change.

I had scarcely returned, when Napoleon appeared on our coasts: he was
transported to the capital as it were by magic, and this without
battles, excesses, or effusion of blood. I thought I saw the stain
brought on us by foreign hands effaced, and all our glory restored.
Destiny had ordered otherwise!

No sooner did I hear of the Emperor’s arrival, than I spontaneously
repaired to attend on his person. I was present at the moment of
abdication; and, when the question of his removal was agitated, I
requested permission to participate in his fate. Such had been till then
the disinterestedness and simplicity, some will say folly, of my
conduct, that, notwithstanding my daily intercourse as an officer of the
household and member of his council, Napoleon scarcely knew me. “Do you
know whither your offer may lead you?” said he, in his astonishment. “I
have made no calculation about it,” I replied. He accepted me, and I am
at St. Helena.

I have now made myself known; the reader has my credentials in his
hands: a host of contemporaries are living—it will be seen whether a
single individual amongst them stands up to invalidate them: I therefore
begin my task.

                        THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO.

Tuesday, June 20th, 1815.—Heard of the Emperor’s return to the Elysée
Palace: placed myself in immediate attendance there. Found Messrs.
Montalambert and Montholon there, brought by the same sentiment.

Napoleon had just lost a great battle; so that the safety of the nation
thenceforth depended on the wisdom and zeal of the Chamber of
Representatives. The Emperor, still covered with dust from the field of
Waterloo, was on the point of hurrying into the midst of them, there to
declare our dangers and resources, and to engage that his personal
interests should never be a barrier to the happiness of France; after
which he intended to quit Paris immediately. It is said that several
persons dissuaded him from this step, by leading him to apprehend an
approaching ferment amongst the deputies.

It is as yet impossible to comprehend every report that circulates with
regard to this fatal battle: some say there is manifest treason; others,
a fatality without example. Thirty thousand men under Grouchy lost their
way and were too late, taking no part in the engagement; the army,
victorious till the evening, was, it is said, suddenly seized with a
panic towards eight o’clock, and became broken in an instant. It is
another Crecy, another Azincourt,———![1] every one trembles and thinks
all is lost!

Footnote 1:

  I had put in the text _une véritable Journée des Eperons_,[2] and must
  not omit to state what led to its being expunged.

  The Emperor who alone knew I kept a journal at St. Helena, one day
  expressed a wish that I should read a few pages to him: on coming to
  this expression, inadvertently thrown in, he suddenly exclaimed, “What
  have you done! Erase, erase, sir, quickly! _Une Journée des Eperons!_
  what a calumny! Ah! unfortunate army! brave men! you never fought
  better!” Then after a pause of a few moments, he added in a tone
  expressive of deep feeling:—“We had some base wretches amongst us! May
  heaven forgive them! But as to France, will _she_ ever recover from
  the effects of that ill-fated day!”

Footnote 2:

  In allusion to the battle of Guinegatte, fought near Boulogne in 1513,
  between the army of Henry VIII. and that of France. The French were
  completely routed on this occasion, and the celebrated Bayard taken
  prisoner while covering the retreat; this was so precipitate that the
  day was ever after styled _La Journée des Eperons_ (or day of spurs),
  because as stated by contemporary historians, the French army made
  more use of their spurs than lances.—_Editor._

                            THE ABDICATION.

21st.—The best intentioned and most influential members of the national
representation have been tampered with all last evening and all night,
by certain persons, who, if their word is to be taken, produce authentic
documents and demi-official papers guaranteeing the safety of France, on
condition of the mere abdication of the Emperor, as they pretend.

The above opinion had become so strong this morning that it seemed
irresistible: the president of the assembly, the first men in the state,
and the Emperor’s particular friends, come to supplicate him to save
France by abdicating. Though by no means convinced, yet the Emperor
answers with magnanimity:—he abdicates!

This circumstance causes the greatest bustle round the Elysée; the
multitude rushes towards the gate, and testifies the deepest interest;
numbers penetrate within the hall, while some even of the popular class
scale the walls; some in tears, others in a state approaching to
distraction, crowd up to the Emperor, who is walking tranquilly in the
garden, and make offers of every description. Napoleon alone is calm,
constantly replying that they ought in future to employ this zeal and
tenderness for the good of their country.

I presented the deputation of Representatives, in the course of the day:
it came to thank the Emperor for his devotedness to the national

The documents and state-papers, which have produced such a powerful
sensation, and brought about the grand event of this day, are said to be
official communications of Messrs. Fouché and Metternich, in which the
latter guarantees Napoleon II. and the regency, in case of the
abdication of the Emperor. These communications must have been long
carried on unknown to Napoleon. M. Fouché must have a furious partiality
for clandestine operations. It is well known that his first disgrace,
which took place several years ago, arose from his having opened some
negotiations with England of his own accord, without the Emperor’s
knowledge: he has in fact always shewn the greatest obliquity in affairs
of moment. God grant that his present mysterious acts do not prove fatal
to our country!


22nd.—Went home to pass a few hours at my own house: in the course of
this day the deputation of the Peers was presented: a portion of the
Provisional Government was named in the evening. Caulaincourt and
Fouché, who were of the number, happened to be with us in the
ante-chamber: we complimented the first on his nomination, which was,
indeed, only congratulating ourselves on the public good: his reply was
full of alarm. “We applaud the choice hitherto known,” said we. “It is
certain,” observed Fouché, with an air of levity, “that I am not
suspected.”—“If you had been,“ rudely rejoined the deputy Boulay de la
Meurthe, who was also present, “be assured we should not have named

                              THE EMPEROR.

23rd—The acclamations and interest without continued at the Elysée. I
presented the members of the Provisional Government to the Emperor, who,
in dismissing them, directed the Duke Decrés to see them out. The
Emperor’s brothers, Joseph, Lucien, and Jerome, were introduced
frequently through the day, and conversed with him for some time.

As usual, there was a great multitude of people collected round the
palace in the evening: their numbers were constantly increasing. Their
acclamations and the interest shewn for the Emperor created considerable
uneasiness amongst the different factions. The fermentation of the
capital now became so great that Napoleon determined to depart on the
following day.

                     THE EMPEROR QUITS THE ELYSÉE.

25th.—I accompanied the Emperor to Malmaison, and again requested
permission to follow his future fortunes. My proposal seemed to create
astonishment, for I was still only known to him by my employments; but
he accepted the offer.

26th.—My wife came to see me; she had divined my intentions: it became a
somewhat delicate task to avow them, and still more difficult to
convince her of their propriety. “My dear,” said I, “in following the
dutiful dictates of my heart, it is consoling to reflect that your
interests are not thereby prejudiced. If Napoleon II. is to govern us, I
leave you strong claims on his protection; should Heaven order it
differently, I shall have secured you a glorious asylum, a name honoured
with some esteem. At all events we shall meet again, at least in a
better world.” After tears and even reproaches, which could not but be
gratifying, she consented to my departure, exacting a promise however,
that I would allow her to join me without loss of time. From this moment
she manifested a courage and strength of mind that would have animated
myself in case of necessity.


27th.—I went to Paris for a short time with the minister of Marine, who
came to Malmaison, on business respecting the frigates destined for the
Emperor. He read me the instructions drawn out for the commanders, said
his Majesty depended on my zeal, and intended taking me with him;
adding, that he would take care of my family during my absence.

Napoleon II. is proclaimed by the Legislature.

Sent for my son from his school, having determined that he should
accompany me. We prepared a small parcel of clothes and linen, then
proceeded to Malmaison, accompanied by my wife, who returned
immediately. The road had now become rather unsafe, owing to the
approach of the enemy.

28th.—Being desirous of making some other arrangements before our
departure, the Duchess de Rovigo took me and my son to Paris in her
carriage. I found Messrs. de Vertillac and de Quitry at my house; these
were the last friends I embraced: they were terrified. The agitation and
uncertainty hourly increased in the capital, for the enemy was at the
gates. On reaching Malmaison, we saw the bridge of Chatou in flames:
guards were posted round the palace, and it became prudent to remain
within the park walls. I went into the Emperor’s room, and described how
Paris had appeared to me; stating the general opinion that Fouché openly
betrayed the National cause; and that the hopes of all patriots were
that his Majesty would this very night join the army who loudly called
for him. The Emperor listened to me with an air of deep thought, but
made no reply, and I withdrew soon after.


29th-30th.—A cry of Long live the Emperor! was continually heard on the
great road to Saint Germain; it proceeded from the troops who passed
under the walls of Malmaison.

Towards noon. General Becker came from Paris, sent by the Provisional
government; he told us, with feelings of indignation, that he had
received a commission to guard and watch Napoleon.[3]

Footnote 3:

  On my return to Europe, chance threw the following documents in my
  way, relative to the above circumstance. I transcribe them here,
  because I believe they are unknown to the public. They have been
  copied from the originals, and require no commentary.

  Copy of a letter from the Commission of Government to Marshal Prince
  d’Eckmuhl, Minister at War.

                                             Paris, June 27th, 1815.

  Sir,—Such is the state of affairs that it is indispensable for
  Napoleon to decide on departing, and proceeding to the Isle of Aix. If
  he does not determine to do so on your notifying to him the annexed
  resolutions, you are to cause him to be watched at Malmaison, to
  prevent his escape. For this purpose, you will place a requisite
  portion of gendarmerie and troops of the line at the disposal of
  General Becker, so as to guard all the avenues leading to Malmaison in
  every direction. You will give orders to the chief inspector of
  gendarmerie to this effect. These measures must be kept as secret as

  This letter is intended for yourself; but General Becker, who will be
  charged with delivering the resolutions to Napoleon, will receive
  particular instructions from your Excellency, and inform Napoleon that
  they have been drawn up with a view to the interest of the state, and
  for the safety of his person; that their prompt execution is
  indispensable; and, finally, that his future interests make them
  absolutely necessary.

                                   (Signed)     THE DUKE OF OTRANTO.

  Copy of the resolutions entered into by the Commission of Government,
  extracted from the Minutes of the department of the Secretary of

                                             Paris, June 26th, 1815.

  The Commission of Government resolves as follows:

  Art. I. The Minister of Marine shall give orders for two frigates to
  be prepared at Rochefort, to convey Napoleon Bonaparte to the United
  States. Art. II. Should he require it, a sufficient escort shall
  attend him to the place of embarkation under the orders of
  Lieutenant-general Becker, who will be instructed to provide for his

  Art. III. The Director-general of Posts will, on his part, give the
  necessary orders relative to the relays.

  Art. IV. The Minister of Marine will issue the requisite orders for
  insuring the immediate return of the frigates, after the

  Art. V. The frigates are not to quit Rochefort before the arrival of
  the safe-conducts.

  Art. VI. The Ministers of Marine, War, and Finances, are each charged
  with the execution of that part of the present resolutions which
  concerns them respectively.

                                   (Signed)     THE DUKE OF OTRANTO.

  By order of the Commission of Government, the Assistant Secretary of

                                         (Signed)     COUNT BERLIER.

  Copy of the Duke of Otranto’s letter to the Minister at War.

                                    Paris, June 27th, 1815, at noon.

  Sir,—I transmit to you a copy of the letter I have just written to the
  Minister of Marine, relative to Napoleon. A perusal of it will
  convince you of the necessity of giving orders to General Becker not
  to separate himself from the person of Napoleon, whilst the latter
  remains in the roads of Aix.

                                   (Signed)     THE DUKE OF OTRANTO.

  Copy of the letter to the Minister of Marine alluded to in the

                                       Paris, June 27th, 1815, noon.

  Sir,—The Commission reminds you of the instructions it transmitted to
  you an hour ago. The resolutions must be executed as prescribed by the
  Commission yesterday; and according to which, Napoleon Bonaparte will
  remain in the roads of Aix until the arrival of his passports.

  The welfare of the State, which cannot be indifferent to him, requires
  that he should remain there until his fate and that of his family has
  been definitively regulated. Every means will be employed to render
  the result of the negotiation satisfactory to him. The honour of
  France is interested in it; but, in the mean time, all possible
  precautions must be taken for the personal security of Napoleon, and
  that he does not quit the place which is temporarily assigned him.

  The President of the Commission of Government.

                                   (Signed)     THE DUKE OF OTRANTO.

  Letter from the Minister at War to General Becker.

                                             Paris, June 27th, 1815.

  Sir,—I have the honour of transmitting to you the annexed resolutions
  which the Commission of Government charges you to notify to the
  Emperor Napoleon; observing to his Majesty that circumstances are so
  imperious as to make it indispensable he should decide on setting out
  for the Isle of Aix. These resolutions, observes the Commission, have
  been made as much for the safety of his person, as for the interest of
  the state, which must ever be dear to him.

  If his Majesty does not make up his mind, on these resolutions being
  notified to him, it is the intention of the Commission of Government
  that the necessary steps shall be taken to prevent the escape of his
  Majesty and every attempt against his person.

  I have to repeat, General, that these resolutions have been adopted
  for the interest of the state, and for the personal safety of the
  Emperor; also, that the Commission of Government considers their
  prompt execution as indispensable for the future welfare of his
  Majesty and his family.

  I have the honour to be, &c.

  N. B. The above letter remained without any signature; at the moment
  of sending it off, the Prince of Eckmuhl observed to his secretary, “I
  will never sign this letter—sign it yourself, that will be
  sufficient.” The secretary found himself equally incapable of putting
  his name to such a communication. Was it sent or not?—This is a point
  which I cannot decide.

A sentiment the most base had dictated this choice: Fouché knew that
General Becker had a private pique against the Emperor, and therefore
did not doubt of finding in the former a man disposed to vengeance; but
he was grossly deceived in his expectations, for Becker constantly
shewed a degree of respect and attachment to the Emperor highly
honourable to his own character.

Meanwhile time pressed. When on the point of setting out, the Emperor
sent a message to the Provisional Government, by General Becker,
offering to place himself at the head of the army, merely as a private
citizen, adding, that, after having repulsed Blucher, he would continue
his route. On the refusal of this offer, we left Malmaison; the Emperor
and a part of his suite taking the road to Rochefort by Tours; I and my
son, with Messieurs Montholon, Planat, and Résigny, proceeded towards
Orleans, as did also two or three other carriages. We reached this place
early on the 30th, and got to Chatellerault at midnight.

July 1st–2nd. We passed through Limoges on the 1st, at four in the
afternoon; dined at Rochefoucault on the 2nd, and reached Jarnac about
seven. We slept here, owing to the obstinacy of the postmaster, which
forced us to remain till next day.

3rd.—We could not set out before five o’clock. On account of the
misconduct of the postmaster, who, not content with detaining us all
night, had recourse to secret means for keeping us still longer, we were
obliged to proceed at a slow pace to Cognac, where the postmaster and
inhabitants received us very differently. It was easy to perceive that
our journey occasioned a great deal of agitation amongst all parties. On
reaching Saintes, towards eleven o’clock, we nearly fell victims to the
fury of some miscreants, collected by an officer of the royal guard, a
native of that place. This person had prepared an ambuscade for us, and
had even laid a plan for our assassination. We were arrested by the mob,
but a part of the national guard interfered, and conducted us as
prisoners to an adjoining inn. It was said that we were carrying off the
treasures of the State, and therefore merited death. Some of them, who
pretended to be the most distinguished inhabitants, and above all, the
women, were the most outrageous, and called for our immediate execution.

We saw these females pass in succession before some windows that were
open near our temporary prison, in order that their insults should not
be lost upon us. It will scarcely be credited that they went so far as
to gnash their teeth in sign of hatred, and from vexation at seeing the
indifference we displayed; yet they formed the fashionable circle of
Saintes! Could Real be in the right, when he told the Emperor, during
the hundred days, that as for Jacobins, he had reason to know something
of them; protesting that the only difference between the blacks and
whites was that the former wore wooden shoes and the latter silk

Prince Joseph, who was passing through Saintes unknown to us, came to
increase the interest of our adventure. He was also arrested, and
conducted to the prefecture; but highly respected.

The windows of the inn faced a large square, which continued to be
filled with an agitated and hostile rabble, who were extremely violent
and abusive. I found an old acquaintance in the under-prefect, who was
thus enabled to state who we were. The carriage in which we travelled
was next examined; while we were ourselves retained in a species of
solitary confinement. I obtained leave, however, to visit the Prince
about four o’clock.

While on my way to the prefecture, and though guarded by a
non-commissioned officer, several individuals addressed me: some put
notes secretly into my hands; others whispered something friendly; while
all united in assuring me we might feel perfectly tranquil, for the
patriots and well-intentioned inhabitants would protect us.

Towards the evening we were allowed to depart; and by this time things
had so totally changed that we left the inn amidst the most lively
acclamations: females of the lower classes, in tears, kissed our hands:
many persons offered to accompany us, that we might avoid the enemies of
the Emperor, who, they said, lay in wait to murder us, at a short
distance from the town. This singular transition arose in some degree
from the arrival of numbers of country people and federates, who gave an
immediate turn to public opinion.

4th.—On approaching Rochefort we met a party of gendarmerie, who, on the
report of our reception at Saintes, had been dispatched to meet us. We
arrived at this place about two o’clock in the morning: the Emperor had
reached it on the preceding evening.[4] Prince Joseph arrived in the
afternoon; when I conducted him to the Emperor.

Footnote 4:

  The following is the Emperor’s Itinerary during the journey:—Left
  Paris on the 29th June, and slept at Rambouillet; at Tours on the
  30th; and at Niort on the 1st July. Left Niort on the 2nd, and reached
  Rochefort on the 3rd; remained there till the 8th; embarked on board
  the Bellerophon on the 15th.

I profited by the first moment of leisure to inform the President of the
Council of State why I absented myself. “Rapid and important events,”
said I “obliged me to quit Paris without the necessary leave of absence.
The peculiarity and importance of the case led to this irregularity:
being in attendance on the Emperor at the moment of his departure, it
was impossible to see the great man, who had governed us with so much
splendour, and who had banished himself to facilitate the tranquillity
of France, of whose power nothing now remains but its glory and name;—I
repeat, that I could not allow him to depart without yielding to the
desire of following his steps. During the days of his prosperity he
condescended to bestow some favours on me; I now owe him all that I can
offer, whether of sentiment or of action.”

5th-7th. At Rochefort, the Emperor laid aside his military dress. He
lived at the prefecture; numbers were constantly grouped round the
house; and acclamations continued to be frequently repeated. The Emperor
appeared two or three times at the balcony. Numerous proposals were made
to him, both by generals who came in person, and others who sent

During our stay here the Emperor has led the same sort of life as if at
the Tuileries: we do not approach his person more frequently: he
scarcely receives any persons but Bertrand and Savary; so that we are
reduced to reports and conjectures as to all that concerns him. It is,
however, evident that, in the midst of this state of agitation, he
continues calm and resolute, even to indifference, without manifesting
the least anxiety.

A lieutenant of our navy, who commands a Danish merchant-ship, has
generously offered to save the Emperor. He proposes to take him on board
alone; engages to conceal his person in such a way that it will escape
the severest scrutiny; and, moreover, will immediately set sail for the
United States. He demands but a small sum by way of indemnifying his
owners for any loss they may sustain through his enterprize. Bertrand
agrees, under certain conditions, which he has drawn out in my name. I
have signed this fictitious bargain in presence and under the eyes of
the maritime prefect.

                      EMBARKATION OF THE EMPEROR.

8th.—The Emperor proceeded to Fourras in the evening, followed by the
acclamations of the people wherever he passed. He slept on board the
Saal,[5] which he reached about eight o’clock. I did not arrive till a
much later hour, having had to accompany Madame Bertrand in another
boat, and from a different point.

Footnote 5:

  The name of one of the frigates destined to receive Napoleon on

9th.—I attended the Emperor, who disembarked at an early hour in the
Isle of Aix: he visited all the fortifications, and returned on board to

10th.—I was dispatched towards the British cruisers, with the Duke de
Rovigo, early in the morning, to know whether they had received the
passes, which had been promised to us by the Provisional Government, to
proceed to the United States. The answer was, that they had not; but
that the matter should be instantly referred to the Commander-in-chief.
Having stated the supposition of the Emperor’s setting sail with the
frigates under flags of truce; it was replied, that they would be
attacked. We then spoke of his passage in a neutral ship; and were told,
in reply, that all neutrals would be strictly examined, and, perhaps,
even carried into an English port; but we were recommended to proceed to
England; and it was asserted that in that country we should have no ill
usage to fear. We returned at two in the afternoon.

The Bellerophon, having followed, soon after anchored in Basque Roads,
in order to be nearer to us; so that the ships of both nations were now
in view of, and very near, each other.

On reaching the Bellerophon, the captain addressed us in French: I was
not eager to inform him that I knew something of his own language. Some
expressions which passed between him and his officers might have injured
the negotiation, had I seemed to understand them. When, a short time
after, it was asked, whether we understood English, I allowed the Duke
of Rovigo to reply in the negative. Our situation was quite sufficient
to remove any scruples I might have otherwise entertained, and rendered
this little deception very pardonable. I only mention this circumstance,
because, as I remained a fortnight amongst these people, I was compelled
to impose a tiresome restraint upon myself, to avoid disclosing what I
had concealed in the first instance. In fact, though I could read the
language with facility, yet, owing to an absence of thirteen years and
consequent want of practice, it was with considerable difficulty I
understood English when spoken.

11th.—All the outlets being blockaded by English ships of war, the
Emperor seemed extremely uncertain as to what plan he should pursue.
Neutral vessels, and _chasse-marées_,[6] manned by young naval officers,
were suggested for his conveyance; propositions also continued to be
made from the interior.

Footnote 6:

  Small vessels, not unlike luggers, and usually employed as
  coasting-vessels in France.—ED.

12th.—The Emperor disembarked at the Isle of Aix, amidst cries of
exultation on every side. He quitted the frigates in consequence of the
Commandant’s having refused to sail; whether from weakness of character,
or owing to his having received fresh orders from the Provisional
Government, is not known. Many were of opinion that the attempt might be
made with some probability of success; but it must be allowed that the
winds still continued unfavourable.

13th.—Prince Joseph visited his brother in the course of the day.
Towards eleven at night the Emperor was on the point of embarking in one
of the chasse marées; two sailed, having on board a great part of his
luggage and several of his attendants. M. de Planat was in one of them.

14th.—I returned to the Bellerophon at four in the morning, accompanied
by General Lallemand, to ascertain whether any answer had been received.
The Captain told us he expected it every moment; adding, that if the
Emperor would embark immediately for England, he had instructions to
convey him thither. He farther declared it as his private opinion, and
several captains who were present expressed themselves to the same
effect, that there was not the least doubt of Napoleon’s meeting with
all possible respect and good treatment: that there, neither the king
nor his ministers exercised the same arbitrary authority as those of the
Continent: that the English people possessed a generosity of sentiment,
and liberality of opinion, superior to sovereignty itself. I replied
that I would return and communicate the Captain’s offer to the Emperor,
as well as the whole of his conversation. I added that I thought I had a
sufficient knowledge of the Emperor Napoleon’s character to induce a
belief that he would not feel much hesitation in proceeding to England
thus confidentially, so as to be able to continue his voyage to the
United States. I described all France, south of the Loire, as being in a
blaze, and the hopes of the people as constantly turning towards
Napoleon, as long as he was present; stated the propositions hourly made
to him from various directions; his determination not to become either
the cause or pretext of a civil war; the generosity shewn by him in
abdicating, merely to render the conclusion of a peace more easy; and
the firm resolution he had taken to banish himself, in order to make it
more prompt and complete.

General Lallemand, who, from having been condemned to death, was
interested on his own account in the determination that might be made,
asked Captain Maitland, whom he formerly knew in Egypt, and whose
prisoner I think he had been, if persons implicated in the civil
dissensions of his country, like himself, and going thus voluntarily to
England, had any reason to fear being ever delivered up to France? The
Captain replied that they had not: repelling the doubt as an insult.
Previously to our separating, the conference was summed up, by my
repeating that it was possible, from the state of affairs, and his own
intentions, that the Emperor would avail himself of Captain Maitland’s
offer, so as to get safe-conducts for America. The latter begged it to
be understood that he would not guarantee the permission we demanded
being granted; upon which we departed. To say the truth, I did not
myself think it would be given; but the Emperor, wishing to lead a life
of tranquillity in future, had resolved to be a stranger to political
concerns; we therefore considered the probability of not being allowed
to leave England, without much uneasiness; but our fears and conjectures
went no farther. It is very likely that Captain Maitland was of the same
opinion: at all events, I will do him, as well as the other officers,
the justice to believe they were honest and sincere in the account they
gave us of the sentiments of the people of England.

We reached the island at eleven o’clock; meanwhile the storm approached,
and time became precious: it was necessary to decide one way or another.
The Emperor having assembled us in a sort of council, all the chances of
escape were discussed: that of the Danish vessel seemed impracticable,
and the chasse-marées were no longer thought of; the English cruisers
were not to be forced; so that there seemed only two alternatives—either
to renew the war, or to accept the offers of Captain Maitland: the
latter was chosen. On reaching the Bellerophon, we said, we shall be at
once on British ground; the English will then find themselves bound by
the ties of hospitality, which are held sacred amongst the most
barbarous nations; we shall also be under the civil rights and
privileges of the country. The people of England will not be so
insensible to their glory as not to seize so fortunate a circumstance
with avidity: upon this, Napoleon wrote the following letter to the
Prince Regent.

“ROYAL HIGHNESS—Exposed to the factions which divide my country, and to
the hostility of the greatest powers of Europe, I have closed my
political career. I come, like Themistocles, to seek the hospitality of
the British nation. I place myself under the protection of their laws,
which I claim from your Royal Highness, as the most powerful, the most
constant, and the most generous, of my enemies.

                                       (Signed)          “NAPOLEON.”

I set out about four o’clock, with my son and General Gourgaud, to go on
board the Bellerophon, whence I was not again to return. My mission was
to announce that his Majesty would come on the following morning; and,
moreover, to deliver the letter above quoted to Captain Maitland.
General Gourgaud was commissioned to carry the Emperor’s letter to the
Prince Regent immediately, and to present it in person. Captain Maitland
read Napoleon’s letter, which he greatly admired. Two other captains
were permitted to take copies of it, to be kept secret till the letter
should be made public; after which no time was lost in despatching
Gourgaud in the Slaney, a sloop of war, forming part of the squadron.

Soon after the Slaney had parted company with the Bellerophon, and while
I was seated in the captain’s cabin of the latter with my son, Captain
Maitland, who had gone to issue some orders, suddenly entered, and with
a countenance expressive of deep concern, exclaimed, “Count Las Cases, I
am deceived when I treat with you. The consequence of detaching one of
my ships is, as I have just heard, that Napoleon has escaped. Should
this be the case, it will place me in a dreadful situation with my
Government.” These words startled me; I would have given the world had
they been true. The Emperor had made no engagement; I was perfectly
sincere; and would, therefore, most willingly have become the victim of
an event of which I was quite innocent. I asked Captain Maitland, with
the utmost coolness, at what hour the Emperor was said to have set out.
He had been so astonished that he had not given himself time to inquire;
but went out again to ascertain this point; and on returning, said, “At
twelve o’clock.” If that be the case, I replied, the Slaney’s departure
can do no harm, as you have only just sent her away; but do not be
uneasy, for I left the Emperor in the Isle of Aix at four o’clock. “Do
you assure me of that?” said he. On my repeating the assertion, he
turned to some officers who were with him, and observed, in English,
that the intelligence must be false, as I was too calm, and seemed to be
sincere; and that I had, besides, pledged my word on the subject.

The English cruisers had numerous sources of information on our coast: I
was subsequently enabled to ascertain that they were minutely informed
of all our proceedings.[7]

Footnote 7:

  While on our passage to St. Helena, Admiral Cockburn placed his
  library at our disposal. One of our party in turning over the leaves
  of a volume of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_, found a letter from La
  Rochelle, addressed to the commanding officer of the English squadron:
  it contained, word for word, the whole of our affair relative to the
  Danish ship; the moment of her projected departure, future intentions,
  &c. We passed this letter from hand to hand, taking care that it
  should be replaced where first discovered. It gave us very little
  information; we were aware of the understanding which existed both in
  and out of France, but were desirous of seeing a proof of it so much
  to the point. How did this letter happen to get on board the
  Northumberland? Captain Maitland had doubtless, when transferring us
  to that ship, also delivered up the documents concerning our capture.
  This was the letter which occasioned so much alarm on the part of the
  Captain, relative to the supposed escape of the Emperor, soon after my

Nothing was now thought of but preparing for the next day. Captain
Maitland having asked whether I wished his boats to be sent for the
Emperor, I replied, that the separation was too painful for the French
seamen, not to let them have the satisfaction of attending him to the
last moment.


15th.—At daylight, one of our brigs, the Epervier, was seen under weigh,
and coming towards the Bellerophon, having a flag of truce flying. Both
wind and tide being contrary, Captain Maitland sent his barge to meet
her. Seeing the boat return, the Captain was extremely anxious to
discover, with his spy-glass, whether the Emperor was on board; he
frequently begged that I would look myself, but I could not as yet reply
with certainty: at length the matter was placed beyond farther doubt, as
the Emperor came alongside surrounded by all his attendants. I stood at
the gangway to present Captain Maitland, to whom he said, “I come on
board your ship, to place myself under the protection of the laws of
England.”—The Captain then led him into his cabin, of which the Emperor
was immediately put in possession. All the officers of the Bellerophon
were presented to him soon after; this ceremony over, he came out of the
cabin, and visited every part of the ship during the morning. I related
the alarm felt by Captain Maitland the preceding evening, relative to
his escape; the Emperor did not see the matter in the light in which it
had appeared to me—“What had he to fear?” he asked, in an emphatic and
dignified manner—“were not you in his power?“


  London: Published for Henry Colburn, March, 1836.

Towards three o’clock, the Superb, a seventy-four gun ship, bearing the
flag of Rear-Admiral Hotham, the Commander on the station, anchored
close to the Bellerophon. The Admiral came to visit the Emperor, and
remained to dinner. From the questions asked by Napoleon relative to his
ship, he expressed a wish to know whether his Majesty would condescend
to go on board the following day; upon which the Emperor said he had no
objection, and would therefore breakfast with the Admiral accompanied by
all his attendants.

16th.—Attended the Emperor on board the Superb: all the honours, except
those of firing cannon, were liberally paid; we went round the ship, and
examined the most trifling objects; every thing seemed to be in
admirable order. Admiral Hotham evinced, throughout, all the refinement
and grace of a man of rank and education. On our return to the
Bellerophon, she got under weigh, and made sail for England: this event
took place twelve days after our departure from Paris. It was almost a

On our leaving the Bellerophon in the morning to visit the Superb, the
Emperor stopped short in front of the guard drawn up on the quarter-deck
to salute him. He made them perform several movements, giving the word
of command himself; having desired them to charge bayonets, and
perceiving that this motion was not performed altogether in the French
manner, he advanced into the midst of the soldiers, put the weapons
aside with his hands, and seized a musquet from one of the rear rank,
with which he went through the exercise himself, according to our
method. A sudden movement and change of countenance amongst the officers
and others who were present, sufficiently expressed their astonishment
at seeing the Emperor thus carelessly place himself amidst English
bayonets, some of which came in contact with his person. This
circumstance produced a most striking effect. On returning from the
Superb, we were indirectly questioned on the subject, and asked whether
the Emperor ever acted in the same way with his own soldiers; while the
greatest surprise was expressed at his confidence. Not one amongst the
officers had formed any idea of sovereigns who could thus explain and
execute their own commands; it was therefore easy to perceive that they
had no just conception of the personage now before them, notwithstanding
his having been so marked an object of attention and curiosity for above
twenty years.

17th-18th. Though nearly a calm, we lost sight of land.

19th.—The wind being very strong, though not favourable, we proceeded at
the rate of nine miles an hour.

20th-22d. We continued our course, with winds that were by no means

The Emperor had not been long amongst his most inveterate enemies, those
who had been continually fed with rumours no less absurd than
irritating, before he acquired all the influence over them which belongs
to glory. The captain, officers, and crew, soon adopted the etiquette of
his suite, shewing him exactly the same attention and respect; the
Captain addressed him either as _Sire_ or _your Majesty_; when he
appeared on deck, every one took off his hat, and remained uncovered
while he was present—this was not the case at first. There was no
entering his cabin, except by passing the attendants: no persons but
those who were invited appeared at his table. Napoleon was, in fact, an
Emperor, on board the Bellerophon. He often appeared on deck, conversing
either with some of his suite or the officers of the ship.

Of all those who had accompanied the Emperor, I was perhaps the person
of whom he knew the least; it has already been seen that,
notwithstanding my employments near his person, I had enjoyed but little
immediate intercourse with Napoleon; since our leaving Paris he had
scarcely spoken to me, but I was now addressed very frequently.

The occasion and circumstances were highly favourable to me: I was
sufficiently acquainted with the English language to be able to give
various explanations as to what was passing around us. I had been in the
navy, and could afford the Emperor any information he required relative
to the manœuvres of the ship, and state of the weather. I had been
ten years in England, and had formed definite notions of the laws,
manners, and customs of the people; which enabled me to reply to the
Emperor’s questions with facility. My Historical Atlas, too, had stored
my mind with a number of facts, dates, and coincidences, upon which he
always found me prepared to answer.

A part of my time was occupied in drawing up the following summary of
our situation at Rochefort, and the ideas which had influenced the
determination of the Emperor. Hence I had precise and authentic data to
judge from.


The English squadron was not strong: there were two sloops of war off
Bordeaux, they blockaded a French corvette, and gave chace to American
vessels which sailed daily in great numbers. At the Isle of Aix we had
two frigates well armed; the Vulcan corvette, one of the largest vessels
of its class, and a large brig, lay in the roads: the whole of this
force was blockaded by an English seventy-four of the smallest class,
and an indifferent sloop or two. There is not the least doubt that by
risking the sacrifice of one or two of our ships, we should have passed,
but the senior captain was deficient in resolution, and refused to sail;
the second in command was quite determined, and would have made the
attempt: the former had probably received secret instructions from
Fouché, who already openly betrayed the Emperor, and wanted to give him
up. However that may be, there was nothing to be done by sea. The
Emperor then landed at the Isle of Aix.

“Had the mission been confided to Admiral Verhuel,” said Napoleon, “as
was promised on our departure from Paris, it is probable that he would
have sailed.” The officers and crews of both frigates were full of
attachment and enthusiasm. The garrison of Aix was composed of fifteen
hundred seamen, forming a very fine regiment; the officers were so
indignant at the frigate not sailing, that they proposed to fit out two
chasse-marées of fifteen tons’ each: the midshipmen wished to navigate
them; but, when on the point of putting this plan into execution, it was
said there would be great difficulty in gaining the American coast
without touching at some point of Spain or Portugal.

Under these circumstances the Emperor composed a species of council,
from amongst the persons of his suite: here it was represented that we
could no longer calculate on the frigates or other armed vessels; that
the chasse-marées held out no probable chance of success, and could only
lead to capture by the English cruisers in the open sea, or to falling
into the hands of the allies: only two alternatives remained; to proceed
towards the interior, once more to try the fate of arms; or to seek an
asylum in England. To follow up the first, there were fifteen hundred
seamen, full of zeal and willing to act: the commandant of the Island
was an old officer of the army of Egypt, entirely devoted to Napoleon:
the Emperor would have proceeded at the head of these to Rochefort,
where the corps would have been increased by the garrison, which was
also extremely well disposed: the garrison of La Rochelle, composed of
four battalions of federated troops, had offered their services: with
these we might then have joined General Clausel, so firmly fixed at the
head of the army at Bordeaux, or General Lamarque, who had performed
prodigies, with that of La Vendée; both these officers expected and
wished to see Napoleon: it would have been very easy to maintain a civil
war in the interior. But Paris was taken, and the Chambers had been
dissolved; there were, besides, from five to six hundred thousand of the
enemy’s troops in France: a civil war could therefore have no other
result than leading to the destruction of all these generous men who
were attached to Napoleon. This loss would have been severe and
irreparable: it would have destroyed the future resources of the nation,
without producing any other advantage than placing the Emperor in a
position to treat and obtain stipulations favourable to his interests.
But Napoleon had renounced sovereignty; he only wanted a tranquil
asylum; he abhorred the thought of seeing all his friends perish to
attain so trifling a result; he was equally averse to become the pretext
for the provinces being ravaged; and above all, he did not wish to
deprive the national party of its truest supports, which would sooner or
later reestablish the honour and independence of France. Napoleon’s only
wish was to live as a private individual in future: America was the most
proper place, and that of his choice. But even England, with its
positive laws, might also answer; and it appeared, from the nature of my
first interview with Captain Maitland, that the latter was empowered to
convey the Emperor and suite to England to be equitably treated. From
this moment we were under the protection of British laws; and the people
of England were too fond of glory to lose an opportunity which thus
presented itself, and that ought to have formed the proudest page of
their history. It was therefore resolved to surrender to the English
cruisers, as soon as Captain Maitland should positively declare his
orders to receive us. On renewing the negotiation, he clearly stated
that he had the authority of his Government to receive the Emperor, if
he would come on board the Bellerophon, and to convey him, as well as
his suite, to England. Napoleon went on board, not that he was
constrained to it by events, since he could have remained in France; but
because he wished to live as a private individual, would no longer
meddle with public affairs, and had determined not to embroil those of
France. He would, most assuredly, not have adopted this plan had he
suspected the unworthy treatment which was preparing for him, as every
body will readily feel convinced. His letter to the Prince Regent fully
explains his confidence and persuasion on the subject. Captain Maitland,
to whom it was officially communicated before the Emperor embarked on
board his ship, having made no remarks on the above document, had, by
this circumstance alone, recognized and sanctioned the sentiments it

23rd.—Saw Ushant at four in the morning, having passed it in the night.
From the moment of approaching the Channel, ships of the line and
frigates were seen sailing in various directions. The coast of England
was discovered towards evening.

24th.—We anchored at Torbay about eight in the morning; the Emperor had
risen at six, and went on the poop, whence he surveyed the coast and
anchorage. I remained by his side to give the explanations which he

Captain Maitland immediately despatched a messenger to Lord Keith, the
Commander-in-chief at Plymouth. General Gourgaud rejoined us: he had
been obliged to give up the letter for the Prince Regent; he had not
only been refused permission to land, but prohibited from all
communication. This was a bad omen, and the first indication of those
numberless tribulations which followed.

No sooner had it transpired that the Emperor was on board the
Bellerophon, than the bay was covered with vessels and boats full of
people. The owner of a beautiful country-seat in sight of the ship sent
his Majesty a present of various kinds of fruits.

25th.—The concourse of boats and crowds of spectators continued without
intermission. The Emperor saw them from the cabin windows and
occasionally shewed himself on deck. On returning from the shore,
Captain Maitland handed me a letter from Lady C., enclosing another from
my wife. My surprise was extreme, and not less than my satisfaction; but
the former ceased when I reflected that the length of the passage had
given the French papers time to transmit an account of what had occurred
to a considerable distance, so that whatever related to the Emperor and
his suite was already known in England, where we had even been expected
for five or six days before. My wife hastened to address Lady C. on the
subject, and the latter wrote to Captain Maitland, to whom she enclosed
my letters, without knowing him.

My wife’s letter bespoke feelings of tender affliction; but that of Lady
C., who, from being in London, had learned our future destiny, was full
of reproaches—“I was not my own master, thus to dispose of myself; it
was a crime to abandon my wife and children,” &c. Melancholy result of
our modern systems of education, which tend so little to elevate our
minds that we cannot conceive either the merit or charm of heroic
resolutions and sacrifices! We think that all has been said, and every
plea justified, when the danger of private interests and domestic
enjoyments is put forward,—little imagining that the first duty towards
a wife is to place her in a situation of honour, and that the richest
inheritance we can leave our children is the example of some virtues,
and a name to which a little true glory is attached.

26th.—Orders had arrived in the night for the ship to repair immediately
to Plymouth: having sailed at an early hour, we reached our new
destination at four o’clock in the afternoon, ten days after our
departure from Rochefort, twenty-seven after quitting Paris, and
thirty-five from the Emperor’s abdication. Our horizon became greatly
overcast from this day. Armed boats were placed round the ship; those
whom curiosity had attracted were driven away, even by firing musquetry
at them. Lord Keith, who was in the bay, did not come on board. Two
frigates made the signal for sailing immediately; we were told that a
courier extraordinary had brought dispatches for a distant quarter. In
the morning, some of our party were distributed amongst other vessels.
Every visage seemed now to look at us with a sullen interest; the most
sinister reports had reached the ship; several destinations were
mentioned, each more frightful than the other.

Imprisonment in the Tower of London was the least terrific, and some
spoke of St. Helena. Meanwhile the two frigates, which had greatly
excited my attention, got under weigh, though the wind was contrary for
leaving the roadstead, stood towards us, and anchored on each side,
nearly touching the Bellerophon. Upon this, some person whispered to me
that these ships were to receive us in the course of the night, and to
sail for St. Helena.

Never can I portray the effect of these terrible words! A cold sweat
overspread my whole frame: it was an unexpected sentence of death!
Unpitying executioners had seized me: I was torn from all that attached
me to life. I extended my arms sorrowfully towards those who were dear
to me, but in vain; my fate was inevitable! This thought, together with
a crowd of others which arose in equal disorder, excited a real tempest
of the mind. It was like the struggle of a soul that sought to disengage
itself from its earthly habitation! It turned my hair grey!——Fortunately
the crisis was short, and, as it happened, the mind came forth
triumphant; so much so, indeed, that from this moment I seemed above the
world. I felt that I could thenceforth defy injustice, ill treatment,
and sufferings. Above all, I vowed that neither complaints nor
solicitations should escape me. But let not those of my companions, to
whom I appeared tranquil in those fatal circumstances, accuse me of
being deficient in feeling! Their agony was prolonged in detail—mine
operated all at once.

One of those coincidences, not the least extraordinary of my life,
recurred to my thoughts soon after. Twenty years before, and during my
emigration to England, without possessing any worldly goods, I had
refused to seek a certain fortune in India, because it was too remote,
and I thought myself too old. Now, when twenty years older, I was about
to quit my family, friends, fortune, and enjoyments, to become a
voluntary exile two thousand miles off, in the midst of the ocean, _for
nothing_. But no, I am mistaken! the sentiment that now impelled me was
infinitely superior to the riches I then disdained: I accompanied him
who had governed the world, and will occupy the attention of posterity.

The Emperor continued to appear on deck as usual. I sometimes saw him in
his cabin, but without communicating what I had heard: I wished to
console him, and not to be his tormentor. The reports had, however,
reached him: but he had come so freely and confidently on board the
Bellerophon; he had been so strongly invited by the English themselves;
he so completely regarded his letter to the Prince Regent, transmitted
before-hand to Captain Maitland, as so many tacit conditions; he had, in
fact, acted with such magnanimity throughout the proceeding, that he
repelled with indignation all the fears which were attempted to be
excited in him, not even permitting those around him to entertain

27th—28th. It would be difficult to describe our torments and anxiety at
this moment: most of us were dumb and inanimate. The least circumstance
which transpired from the shore—an opinion, however unimportant,
expressed on board—an unmeaning paragraph in a daily paper, became the
subjects of our most serious arguments, and the cause of perpetual
oscillations between our hopes and fears. The most trifling reports were
sought with avidity; whoever appeared was urged to give a favourable
version of deceitful anticipations: so little do the ardour and activity
of our national character contribute to endow us with that stoical
resignation, that imperturbable composure, which can only be acquired
from settled principles and positive doctrines imbibed from early

The public papers, particularly those of the ministerial side, were let
loose against us; it was the outcry of the Ministers preparing the blow
they were about to strike. It would not be easy to form an idea of the
horrors, falsehoods, and imprecations accumulated on our heads; and
there is always a portion communicated to the multitude, however well
disposed it may be, so that the demeanour of those around us became less
easy, while their politeness became embarrassed and their countenances
more reserved.

Lord Keith, after announcing himself for some time before, had only just
made his appearance. It was evident that our company was shunned, our
conversation avoided. The papers contained an account of the measures
which were about to be taken; but, as nothing official had appeared, and
there was some contradiction in the details, we were induced to flatter
ourselves as to the final result: thus remaining in that state of
suspense and uncertainty which is worse than a knowledge of the most
painful truths. Nevertheless, our arrival in England had produced a
singular sensation: the presence of the Emperor excited a curiosity
bordering on delirium. It was the papers themselves that informed us of
the circumstance, while they condemned it. All England seemed to hurry
towards Plymouth. A person who had left London, on hearing of my
arrival, was obliged to stop on the road for want of post-horses and
accommodation. The Sound was covered with an immense number of boats;
for some of which, as we heard, above fifty pounds had been paid.

The Emperor, to whom I read all the newspapers, did not betray any
decrease of composure either by his conversation or general habits. It
was known that he always appeared on deck towards five o’clock. A short
time before this hour, all the boats collected alongside of each other;
there were thousands; and so closely connected that the water could no
longer be seen between them; they looked more like a multitude assembled
in a public square than any thing else. When the Emperor came out, the
noise and gestures of so many people presented a most striking
spectacle: it was, at the same time, very easy to perceive that nothing
hostile was meant, and that if curiosity had brought them, they felt
interested on going away; we could even see that the latter sentiment
continued to increase;—at first people merely looked towards the ship,
they ended by saluting; some remained uncovered, and occasionally went
so far as to cheer. Even our symbols began to appear amongst them.
Several persons of both sexes came decorated with red carnations, but
this was only turned to our detriment in the eyes of the Ministry and
its partisans, so that it rendered our agony more poignant.

It was under these circumstances that the Emperor, who, notwithstanding
his calm demeanor, could not help being struck by what he heard,
dictated a paper to me, worthy of serving as a model to jurists,
discussing and defending his real political situation; we found means of
conveying it on shore, but I have kept no copy.

                         MINISTERIAL DECISION.

29th—30th. A report had circulated, during the two previous days, that
an under-secretary of state coming from London to notify the resolutions
of the Ministers with respect to the Emperor, officially. Accordingly he
appeared; it was Sir Charles Bunbury: he came on board, accompanied by
Lord Keith, and delivered a dispatch ordering the removal of the Emperor
to St. Helena, and limiting the number of persons who were to accompany
Napoleon to three, excluding, however, the Duke de Rovigo and General
Lallemand, comprised in the list of proscribed.

I was not called before the Emperor. The bearers of his sentence spoke
and understood French; they were admitted alone. I have since heard that
he objected and protested, with no less energy than logic, against the
violence exercised on his person. “He was the guest of England,” said
he, “and not her prisoner; he came of his own accord to place himself
under the protection of her laws; the most sacred rights of hospitality
were violated in his person; he would never submit voluntarily to the
outrage with which they threatened him; violence alone should oblige him
to do so, &c.”

The Emperor gave me the ministerial document to translate for him, of
which the following is a copy:

                       OF THE ENGLISH MINISTERS.

“As it may, perhaps, be convenient for General Buonaparte to learn,
without farther delay, the intentions of the British Government with
regard to him, your Lordship will communicate the following information:

“It would be inconsistent with our duty towards our country and the
allies of his Majesty, if General Buonaparte possessed the means of
again disturbing the repose of Europe. It is on this account that it
becomes absolutely necessary he should be restrained in his personal
liberty, so far as this is required by the foregoing important object.

“The island of St. Helena has been chosen as his future residence; its
climate is healthy, and its local position will allow of his being
treated with more indulgence than could be admitted in any other spot,
owing to the indispensable precautions which it would be necessary to
employ for the security of his person.

“General Buonaparte is allowed to select amongst those persons who
accompanied him to England (with the exception of Generals Savary and
Lallemand) three officers, who, together with his surgeon, will have
permission to accompany him to St. Helena; these individuals will not be
allowed to quit the island without the sanction of the British

“Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who is named Commander-in-chief at
the Cape of Good Hope and seas adjacent, will convey General Buonaparte
and his suite to St. Helena; and he will receive detailed instructions
relative to the execution of this service.

“Sir G. Cockburn will, most probably, be ready to sail in a few days;
for which reason it is desirable that General Buonaparte should make
choice of the persons who are to accompany him without delay.”


Although we expected our transportation to St. Helena, we were deeply
affected by its announcement: it threw us all into a state of
consternation. The Emperor did not, however, fail to appear on deck as
usual, with the same countenance; and, as before, calmly surveyed the
crowds which seemed so eager to see him.

31st.—Our situation had now become truly frightful; our sufferings
beyond every power of description; our existence was about to cease with
regard to Europe, our country, families, and friends, as well as our
enjoyments and habits. It is true, we were not forced to follow the
Emperor; but our choice was that of martyrs; the question was a
renunciation of faith, or death. Another circumstance was added, which
greatly increased our torments; this was the exclusion of Generals
Savary and Lallemand, whom it struck with the utmost terror; they saw
nothing but a scaffold before them, and felt persuaded that the
Ministers of England, making no distinction between the political acts
of a revolution, and crimes committed in a moment of tranquillity, would
give them up to their enemies to be sacrificed. This would have been
such an outrage on all law, such an opprobrium for England herself, that
one might have been almost tempted to dare her to it: but it was only
for those who were included in the same proscription to talk thus. At
all events, we did not hesitate to desire that each of us might be
amongst those whom the Emperor would choose; entertaining but one fear,
that of finding ourselves excluded.

August 1st.—We still continued in the same state. I received a letter
from London, in which it was strongly urged that I should be extremely
wrong, nay that it would even be a crime to expatriate myself. The
person who thus wrote also addressed Captain Maitland, begging he would
assist by his efforts and counsel to dissuade me from such a resolution.
But I stopped him short, by observing that, at my age, people generally
acted on reflection.

I read the papers every day to the Emperor. Whether influenced by
generosity, or that opinions began to be divided, there were two amongst
the number that pleaded our cause with great warmth, compensating in
some measure for the gross falsehoods and scurrilous abuse with which
the others were filled. We gave ourselves up to the hope that the hatred
inspired by an enemy would be succeeded by the interest which splendid
actions ought naturally to excite; that England abounded in noble hearts
and elevated minds, which would indubitably become our ardent advocates.

The number of boats increased daily. Napoleon continued to appear at his
usual hour, and the reception became more and more flattering.

Numbers of every rank and condition had followed the Emperor; he was
still, with regard to most of us, as if at the Tuileries; the Grand
Marshal and Duke de Rovigo alone saw him habitually. Some had not
approached or spoken to him more frequently than if we had been at
Paris. I was called during the day, whenever there were any papers or
letters to translate, until the Emperor insensibly contracted the habit
of sending for me every evening towards eight o’clock, to converse with
him a short time.

In the conversation of this evening, and after touching on various other
subjects, he asked me whether I would accompany him to St. Helena. I
replied with the greatest frankness, rendered more easy by my real
sentiments, observing to his Majesty that, in quitting Paris, I had
disregarded every chance; and that therefore St. Helena had nothing
which could make it an exception. There were, however, a great many of
us round his person, while only three were permitted to go out. As some
people considered it a crime in me to leave my family, it was necessary
with regard to the latter, and my own conscience, to know that I could
be useful and agreeable to him—that, in fact, I required to be chosen;
but that this last observation did not spring from any concealed motive,
for my life was henceforth at his disposal without any restriction.

While thus engaged, Madame Bertrand, without having been called, and
even without announcing her name, rushed into the cabin, and in a
frantic manner, entreated the Emperor not to go to St. Helena, nor take
her husband with him. But observing the astonishment, coolness, and calm
answer of Napoleon, she ran out as precipitately as she had entered. The
Emperor, still surprised, turned to me and said, “Can you comprehend all
this? Is she not mad?” A moment afterwards loud shrieks were heard, and
every body seemed to be running towards the stern of the ship. Being
desired to ring the bell, and to enquire the cause, I found that Madame
Bertrand, on leaving the cabin, had attempted to throw herself into the
sea, and was prevented with the greatest difficulty. From this scene it
is easy to judge of our feelings!


2d-3d. In the morning the Duke de Rovigo told me I was certainly to
depart for St. Helena: while in conversation with the Emperor, a short
time before, his Majesty had said to him that, if there were only two to
accompany him, I should still be one of the number, as he thought I
could afford him some consolation. I am indebted to the candour and
kindness of the Duke for the satisfaction of being made acquainted with
this flattering assurance, and am truly grateful, as, but for him, it
would never have been known to me. The Emperor had not said a word in
reply to my answer; this was his custom, as I shall have other
opportunities of shewing.

I had no particular acquaintance with any of those who had followed the
Emperor, excepting General and and Madame Bertrand, who had shewn me
great attention during my mission to Illyria, where he was
Governor-General. I had until then never spoken to the Duke de Rovigo,
certain prepossessions having induced me to keep at a distance; we had,
however, scarcely exchanged a few words, when my scruples were
completely removed. Savary was sincerely attached to the Emperor; I knew
he possessed warmth of heart, sincerity, and uprightness of character,
qualities which rendered him susceptible of real friendship; we should,
therefore, I dare say, have become very intimate.

I was again sent for by the Emperor; who, after alluding to different
subjects, began to speak of St. Helena, asking me what sort of a place
it could be; whether it was possible to exist there? and similar
questions. “But,” said he, “after all, is it quite certain that I shall
go there? Is a man dependent on others, when he wishes that his
dependence should cease?”—We continued to walk to and fro in the cabin;
he seemed calm, though affected, and somewhat absent.

“My friend,” continued the Emperor, “I have sometimes an idea of
quitting you, and this would not be very difficult; it is only necessary
to create a little mental excitement, and I shall soon have escaped.—All
will be over, and you can then quietly rejoin your families. This is the
more easy, since my internal principles do not oppose any bar to it:—I
am one of those who conceive that the pains of the other world were only
imagined as a counterpoise to those inadequate allurements which are
offered to us there. God can never have willed such a contradiction to
his infinite goodness, especially for an act of this kind; and what is
it after all, but wishing to return to him a little sooner?”

I remonstrated warmly against such notions. Poets and philosophers had
said that it was a spectacle worthy of the Divinity, to see men
struggling with fortune: reverses and constancy had their glory. Such a
great and noble character as his could not descend to the level of
vulgar minds; he who had governed us with so much glory, who had excited
the admiration, and influenced the destinies, of the world, could not
end like a desperate gamester or a disappointed lover. What would then
become of all those who looked up to and placed their hopes in him?
Would he thus abandon the field to his enemies? The anxiety shewn by the
latter to drive him to it was surely sufficient to make him resist: who
could tell the secrets of time, or dare assert what the future would
produce? What might not happen from the mere change of a ministry, the
death of a Prince, that of a confidant, the slightest passion, or the
most trifling dispute?

“Some of these suggestions have their weight,” said the Emperor, “but
what can we do in that desolate place?”—“Sire,” I replied, “we will live
on the past: there is enough in it to satisfy us. Do we not enjoy the
life of Cæsar and that of Alexander? We shall possess still more, you
will re-peruse yourself, Sire!” “Be it so!” rejoined Napoleon; “we will
write our Memoirs. Yes, we must be employed; for occupation is the
scythe of Time. After all, a man ought to fulfil his destinies; this is
my grand doctrine:[8] let mine also be accomplished.” Re-assuming from
this instant an air of ease and even gaiety, he passed on to subjects
totally unconnected with our situation.

Footnote 8:

  The following is a document which the above circumstance contributes
  to render still more precious: it is an order of the day, issued by
  the First Consul to his guard, against suicide.

                   _Order of the 22d Floreal, Year X._

  “The Grenadier Gobain has committed suicide from love: he was in other
  respects an excellent soldier. This is the second incident of the same
  nature that has occurred in the corps within a month.

  “The first Consul directs it to be inserted in the order-book of the

  “That a soldier ought to know how to vanquish the pangs and melancholy
  of the passions; that there is as much true courage in bearing up
  against mental sufferings with constancy, as in remaining firm on the
  wall of a battery.

  “To give ourselves up to grief without resistance, or to kill
  ourselves to escape affliction, is to abandon the field of battle
  before the victory is gained.”


4th.—Orders had arrived during the night for us to sail at an early
hour; we set sail, which circumstance puzzled us much. The newspapers,
official communications, and private conversations, told us we were to
be conveyed to St. Helena by the Northumberland: we knew that this ship
was still fitting out at Portsmouth or Chatham, so that we might still
calculate on eight or ten days’ delay. The Bellerophon was too old for
the voyage, she had not provisions enough; moreover the wind was
contrary; when therefore we saw the ship returning up Channel, our
uncertainty and conjectures were renewed, but whatever these might be,
every thing was welcome when compared to the idea of transportation to
St. Helena.

Nevertheless, it occurred to us that, in such a decisive moment, the
Emperor was bound to shew a formal opposition to this violence; as to
Napoleon himself, he attached but little importance to it, nor would he
trouble himself about the matter. However, said we, it will be a weapon
in the hands of our friends, and leave causes of remembrance as well as
grounds of defence with the public. I ventured, therefore, to read a
paper I had prepared to his Majesty, with the general sense of which he
seemed pleased; after suppressing a few phrases, and correcting others,
it was signed and sent to Lord Keith. The following is a literal copy of
this document.


“I hereby solemnly protest in the face of heaven and mankind, against
the violence that is done me; and the violation of my most sacred
rights, in forcibly disposing of my person and liberty. I voluntarily
came on board the Bellerophon—I am not the prisoner, I am the guest of
England. I came at the instigation of the Captain himself, who said he
had orders from the Government to receive and convey me to England,
together with my suite, if agreeable to me. I came forward with
confidence to place myself under the protection of the laws of England.
When once on board the Bellerophon, I was entitled to the hospitality of
the British people. If the Government, in giving the Captain of the
Bellerophon orders to receive me and my followers, only wished to lay a
snare, it has forfeited its honour and disgraced its flag.

“If this act be consummated it will be in vain for the English
henceforth to talk of their sincerity, their laws, and liberties.
British faith will have been lost in the hospitality of the Bellerophon.

“I appeal to history: it will say that an enemy who made war for twenty
years against the English people came spontaneously, in the hour of
misfortune, to seek an asylum under their laws. What more striking proof
could he give of his esteem and confidence? But how did England reply to
such an act of magnanimity? It pretended to hold out a hospitable hand
to this enemy; and, on giving himself up with confidence, he was

                                           (Signed)      “NAPOLEON.”

  _Bellerophon at Sea,_ _Friday, Aug._ 4th, 1815.

The Duke de Rovigo told me that the Emperor had demanded permission to
send me to the Prince Regent at London, but that it was obstinately

The sea was rough, and the wind blew with violence. Most of us were
affected with sea-sickness. But what cannot the pre-occupation of the
mind effect over physical infirmities! This was perhaps the only time in
my life that I was not incommoded by such weather. On leaving Plymouth
Sound, we stood to the eastward before the wind, but were soon after
close-hauled, tacking backwards and forwards, without being able to
comprehend the cause of this new source of torment.

5th.—The whole of this day was passed in the same manner. While
conversing with the Emperor in the evening he gave me two proofs of
confidence, but I cannot now confide them to paper.[9]

Footnote 9:

  There is, however, one of these proofs which I am now at liberty to
  disclose. While walking in the stern-gallery with the Emperor, at the
  usual hour, he drew from under his waistcoat, still conversing on a
  totally different subject, a species of girdle, which he handed to me,
  saying, “Take care of that for me;” without interrupting him, I placed
  it under my own waistcoat. The Emperor told me, soon after, that it
  contained a diamond necklace, worth two hundred thousand francs, which
  Queen Hortensia forced him to accept on his leaving Malmaison. After
  our arrival at St. Helena I frequently spoke of returning the
  necklace, but never received any reply. Having ventured to mention the
  subject again when we were at Longwood, Napoleon drily asked, “Does it
  annoy you?”—“No, Sire,” was my answer;—“Keep it then,” said he. From
  wearing the girdle so long, the necklace became as it were identified
  with my person; and I thought so little about it that it was not till
  some days after my being torn from Longwood, and by the merest
  accident, it recurred to my memory; when I shuddered at the idea of
  depriving the Emperor of such a resource. For how would it be possible
  now to make restitution? I was in the most rigorous confinement,
  surrounded by gaolers and sentinels, so that all communication was
  impracticable. I vainly endeavoured to contrive a plan; time pressed;
  only a few days were left, and nothing could be more distressing than
  thus to quit the island. In this predicament, I resolved to run all
  risks. An Englishman, to whom I had often spoken, came to the prison
  on a particular errand—and it was under the eyes of the Governor
  himself, or one of his most confidential agents whom he brought, that
  I ventured to communicate my wishes.

  “I think you are a man of principle,” said I, “and I am going to put
  it to the test;—though with nothing injurious or contrary to your
  honour—merely a rich deposit to be restored to Napoleon. If you accept
  the charge, my son will put it into your pocket.”

  He answered only by slackening his pace; my son, whom I had prepared
  for the scene, followed him, and the necklace was transferred into
  this man’s possession, almost in sight of the military attendants.
  Before quitting the island, I had the inexpressible satisfaction of
  knowing that the necklace had reached the hands of the Emperor. How
  gratifying to the heart are the recollection and recital of such a
  trait on the part of an enemy, and under such circumstances!


6th.—We anchored about noon off Start Point, where there was no shelter
whatever, though we had but a very short distance to go in order to
anchor in Torbay: this circumstance excited great astonishment on our
part. We had, however, heard that orders were given to meet the
Northumberland, the departure of which vessel from Portsmouth was urged
with all possible haste. Accordingly that ship soon appeared with two
frigates full of troops, which were to compose the garrison of St.
Helena. These three ships anchored close to us; after which the
communications amongst the whole squadron became very active. The
precautions to prevent the approach of boats were still continued.
Meanwhile the mystery of our precipitate sailing from Plymouth, and all
the manœuvring that followed, was discovered. Lord Keith had, we were
told, received notice, by telegraph, that a public officer had just left
London with a writ of _habeas corpus_, to claim the person of the
Emperor in the name of the laws or of some competent tribunal. We could
neither ascertain the motives nor details of this circumstance: the
Admiral, it was added, had scarcely time enough to escape this
difficulty; we heard that he was suddenly obliged to go on board a brig,
and quit Plymouth Sound. This was the motive which kept us out of

Admirals Keith and Cockburn came on board the Bellerophon; the flag of
the latter was flying on board the Northumberland: they had a conference
with the Emperor, to whom they delivered an extract from the
instructions relative to our transportation to and stay at St. Helena.
These stated that all our effects were to be examined, for the purpose
of taking away the money, bills, and diamonds, belonging to the Emperor,
as well as ourselves, to be kept for us: we also heard that our arms
would be taken from us at the same time, and that we were then to be
transferred to the Northumberland. The documents were as follow:

                          OF THE BELLEROPHON.

“All arms of every description are to be taken from the French, of
whatever rank, who are on board his Majesty’s ship under your command.
These arms will be carefully packed, and are to remain in your charge so
long as the persons to whom they belong continue on board the
Bellerophon. They will then be under the charge of the captain of the
ship to which the said individuals may be transferred.”

      _Start Bay, August 6th, 1815._


“When General Buonaparte leaves the Bellerophon to go on board the
Northumberland, it will be the properest moment for Admiral Cockburn to
have the effects examined which General Buonaparte may have brought with
him. The Admiral will allow the baggage, wines, (_the wines!_ an
observation truly worthy of the English Ministers,) and provisions which
the General may have brought with him, to be taken on board the
Northumberland. Among the baggage his table-service shall be understood
as included, unless it be so considerable as to seem rather an article
to be converted into ready money than for real use. His money, his
diamonds, and his saleable effects (consequently bills of exchange
also), of whatever kind they may be, must be delivered up. The Admiral
will declare to the General that the British Government by no means
intends to confiscate his property, but merely to take upon itself the
administration of his effects, to hinder him from using them as a means
to promote his escape.

“The examination shall be made in the presence of a person named by
General Buonaparte, the inventory of the effects to be retained shall be
signed by this person as well as by the Rear-admiral, or by the person
whom we shall appoint to draw up the inventory. The interest or the
principal (according as his property is more or less considerable) shall
be applied to his support, and in this respect the principal arrangement
is to be left to him. For this purpose he can from time to time signify
his wishes to the Admiral, till the arrival of the new Governor of St.
Helena, and afterwards to the latter; and, if no objection is made to
his proposal, the Admiral or the Governor can give the necessary orders,
and the disbursement will be paid by bills on his Majesty’s Treasury. In
case of death, (_what foresight!_) he can dispose of his property by a
last Will, and may be assured that the contents of his testament shall
be faithfully executed. As an attempt might be made to make a part of
his property pass for the property of the persons of his suite, it must
be signified that the property of his attendants is subject to the same

“The Admiral is not to take any person on board for St. Helena, without
the consent of such person, to whom he is previously to explain the
necessity of being subjected to all the regulations which it may be
thought proper to establish for securing the person of the General. It
must be made known to the General that, if he make any attempt to
escape, he will expose himself to close imprisonment; and that any of
his suite who may be discovered in endeavouring to facilitate his escape
will incur the same punishment. (Afterwards the Act of Parliament made
the latter offence death.)

“All letters which shall be addressed to him, or to any of his suite,
are to be delivered in the first place to the Admiral or the Governor,
who is to read them previously to transmitting them: the same regulation
is to be observed with respect to letters written by the General, or
those of his suite.

“The General is to be informed that the Governor and the Admiral have
received positive orders to forward to his Majesty’s Government any
request or representation he may think proper to make: nothing is left
to their discretion on this point; but the paper on which such
representations shall be written is to remain open, in order that they
may subjoin such observations as they may think expedient.”


It would not be easy to conceive the intensity and nature of our
feelings at this decisive moment, in which outrage, violence, and
injustice, were accumulated on our heads.

Constrained to reduce his suite to three persons, the Emperor selected
the Grand Marshal, M. de Montholon and myself. Gourgaud, in despair at
the idea of being left behind, entered into a negotiation on the
subject, and succeeded. As the instructions only allowed Napoleon to
take three officers, it was agreed that I should be considered purely in
a civil capacity, and to admit a fourth by the aid of this


7th.—The Emperor addressed to Lord Keith a species of new protest,
against the violence done to his person in forcibly removing him from
the Bellerophon. I took it on board the Tonnant. Admiral Keith, a
fine-looking old man, of highly polished manners, received me with great
politeness, but he carefully avoided touching on the subject of the
protest, observing that he would give an answer in writing.

This did not stop me. I stated the situation of Napoleon, who was very
unwell, his legs being much swelled; and pointed out to his lordship how
desirable it was for the Emperor not to be sent off so suddenly. He
replied that I had been a sailor, and must therefore see that the
anchorage was unsafe, which was certainly true.

I explained the Emperor’s repugnance to have his effects searched and
tossed about, as proposed; assuring him that Napoleon would infinitely
prefer seeing them thrown into the sea. The Admiral answered that as
this was a positive order, he must obey it. Finally I enquired whether
it was probable that those appointed to search would go so far as to
deprive the Emperor of his sword. He said that it would be respected,
but that Napoleon was the only person exempted, as all his followers
would be disarmed. I shewed him that I was already so: my sword having
been taken from me before I left the Bellerophon. A secretary who was
writing near us, observed to Lord Keith, in English, that the order
stated that Napoleon himself was to be disarmed; upon which the Admiral
drily replied, also in English, as well as I could comprehend, “Mind
your own business, Sir, and leave us to ours.”

Still continuing the conversation, I went over all that had occurred
from the commencement. I had been the negotiator, I said, and ought
therefore to feel most acutely; and had the greater right to be heard.
Lord Keith listened to me with marked impatience; we were standing, and
his frequent bows were evidently intended to make me retire. When I told
him that Captain Maitland said he had been authorised to bring us to
England, without exciting a suspicion in our minds that we were to be
prisoners of war; that the Captain could not deny that we came on board
voluntarily and in confidence; that the letter of the Emperor to the
Prince of Wales, which I had previously communicated to Captain
Maitland, must necessarily have created tacit conditions, since he made
no remarks on it: at length the Admiral’s ill-humour and even anger
broke forth, and he replied sharply, that if such were the case, Captain
Maitland must have been a fool, for his instructions contained nothing
of the kind; and he was quite sure of this, for it was from himself they
had emanated. “But, my Lord,” said I, “permit me to observe, in defence
of Captain Maitland, that your Lordship speaks with a degree of severity
for which you may become responsible; for not only Captain Maitland, but
Admiral Hotham and all the other officers whom we saw at the time,
conducted and expressed themselves in the same way towards us; would it
have been thus, if their instructions had been so clear and positive?”
Saying this, I relieved the Admiral of my presence: he made no attempt
to prolong a subject which, perhaps, his Lordship’s conscience rendered
somewhat painful to him.

Admiral Cockburn, aided by an officer of the customs, examined the
effects of the Emperor: they seized four thousand Napoleons, and left
fifteen hundred to pay the servants: this was all the Emperor’s
treasure. They were assisted, or rather impeded, in the operation by
Marchand, the valet-de-chambre of his Majesty: this appeared to mortify
the Admiral excessively; though requested to attend, not one amongst us
would lend his presence to, or witness, an act which we regarded as
being at once mean and insulting.

Meanwhile, the moment of quitting the Bellerophon arrived. The Grand
Marshal had been some time closeted with the Emperor; during which we
remained in the outer cabin: on the door being opened, the Duke de
Rovigo, bursting into tears, threw himself at the feet of Napoleon, and
kissed his hands. The Emperor, still calm and collected, embraced the
Duke, and continued his way towards the accommodation-ladder, graciously
saluting all those who happened to be on the quarter-deck. The whole of
our party whom we left behind were in a state of the deepest anguish;
nor could I help observing to Lord Keith, who stood near me at the time,
“You see, my Lord, that the only persons who shed tears are those who
are to remain.”

We reached the Northumberland between one and two o’clock. The Emperor
remained on deck conversing familiarly and cheerfully with those of the
English who approached him. Lord Lowther and a Mr. Littleton had a long
conversation with him on politics and government. I heard nothing of
what passed; the Emperor seemed desirous that we should leave him to
himself. I employed this moment of leisure in writing a last adieu to my
wife and friends: indeed, I felt very unwell and much fatigued.

At the moment of getting under weigh, a cutter, that was plying round
the ship to keep off the people, ran down a boat full of spectators
close to us. Fatality seems to have brought them from a great distance
to become the victims of this accident: I understood that there were two
women amongst those who perished. Thus were we at length under sail for
St. Helena, thirteen days after our arrival at Plymouth, and forty from
our quitting Paris.

Those of the attendants whom Napoleon was not allowed to take with him
were the last to quit the ship, bearing with them mingled proofs of
satisfaction and regret. Their departure gave rise to a second scene,
not less affecting than the first. The Emperor retired to the cabin
allotted to him about seven o’clock.

The English Ministry warmly censured the respect which had been shewn to
the Emperor on board the Bellerophon, and issued fresh orders in
consequence; so that a totally different style of manner and expression
was affected in the Northumberland. The crew seemed to betray a
ridiculous anxiety to be covered before the Emperor: it had been
strictly enjoined to give him no other title than that of _General_, and
only to treat him as such. This was the ingenious contrivance, the happy
conception, engendered by the diplomacy of the English Ministers; and
the title they thought proper to confer on him whom they had recognised
as First Consul, whom they had so often styled head of the French
Government, with whom they treated as Emperor at Paris, when Lord
Lauderdale was employed to negotiate, and, perhaps, even signed articles
at Chatillon. Hence, in a moment of warmth, the Emperor, in allusion to
this regulation, observed: “They may call me whatever they choose, but
they cannot prevent me from being _myself_.” It was in fact no less
whimsical than ridiculous to see the Ministers of England attach such
importance to giving only the title of General to one who had governed
so large a portion of Europe, and made seven or eight kings, of whom
several still retained this title of his creation; who had been above
ten years Emperor of the French, and been anointed as well as
consecrated in that quality by the head of the Church; one who could
boast two or three elections of the French people to the sovereignty;
who had been acknowledged as Emperor by the whole of continental Europe;
had treated as such with all the sovereigns; concluding every species of
alliance both of blood and interest with them: so that he united in his
person every title, civil, political and religious, existing amongst
men: and which, by a singular though real coincidence, not one of the
reigning Princes of Europe could have shewn accumulated in an equal
degree, on the chief and founder of his dynasty. Nevertheless his
Majesty, who intended, had he landed in England, to assume the name and
title of Colonel Duroc or Muiron, no longer thought of it now that his
legitimate titles were obstinately disputed.


8th-9th. The ship was in the greatest confusion, and seemed to be quite
encumbered with men as well as stores and luggage: we sailed in so great
a hurry that there was scarcely any thing on board in its place, so that
the whole crew was now occupied in restoring order, and preparing for
the voyage.

The following particulars will afford some idea of that part of the ship
occupied by the Emperor and his suite. The space abaft the mizen-mast
contained two public and two private cabins; the first was a dining-room
about ten feet broad, and extending the whole width of the ship, lighted
by a port-hole at each end, and a sky-light above. The drawing-room was
composed of all the remaining space, diminished by two symmetrical
cabins on the right and left, each having an entry from the dining or
mess-room, and another from the drawing-room. The Emperor occupied that
on the left, in which his camp bed-stead had been put up; that on the
right was appropriated to the Admiral. It was, above all, peremptorily
enjoined that the drawing-room should be in common, and not given up to
the Emperor: to such a ridiculous extent had the fears and solicitude of
the Ministry been carried!

The form of the dining-table resembled that of the mess-room. The
Emperor sat with his back to the drawing-room or after-cabin, and
looking towards the head of the ship; on his left sat Madame Bertrand,
and on his right, the Admiral. On the right of the Admiral sat Madame de
Montholon: these filled one side of the table. At the end next that lady
was Captain Ross, who commanded the ship; opposite to whom, at the
corresponding end, sat M. de Montholon, by Madame Bertrand; next to him,
the Admiral’s secretary. The remaining space was the side of the table
opposite to the Emperor, which, beginning from Captain Ross, was
occupied by the Grand Marshal, the General commanding the 53rd regiment,
myself, and Baron Gourgaud.

The Admiral invited one or two of the officers every day, who were
intermixed amongst us at table. I generally sat almost opposite to the
Emperor. The band of the 53d, which had been recently formed, exercised
during dinner at the expense of our ears. We had two courses, but there
was a want of provisions; our tastes were, besides, very different from
those of our hosts. It is true, they did their utmost; but after all, it
would not do to be difficult. I was lodged with my son on the starboard
side, even with the main-mast, in a small cabin enclosed with canvass,
and having a gun in it. We made as much sail as the wind would permit to
get out of the Channel, and stood along the coast of England,
communicating with all the ports in order to procure additional supplies
of sea-stock, and complete the stores of the ship. A large quantity of
articles was brought to us from Plymouth, off which port we were joined
by several other vessels, as well as from Falmouth.


10.—This day we cleared the Channel, and lost sight of land. We had now
entered upon the dreary unknown course to which fate had doomed us.
Again my agonies were renewed; again the dear connexions I had abandoned
resumed their influence over my heart. I indulged in the luxuriance of
grief, and found a miserable satisfaction in its excess. “Objects of all
my affections,” I exclaimed, “friends of my heart, for whom alone I
live, reflect that I am proving myself worthy of you. Let that thought
support you also; and, oh! forget me not.”

Meanwhile we advanced in our course, and were soon to be out of Europe.
Thus, in less than six weeks, had the Emperor abdicated his throne, and
placed himself in the hands of the English, who were now hurrying him to
a barren rock in the midst of a vast ocean! This is certainly no
ordinary instance of the chances of fortune, and no common trial of the
firmness of the mind. Yet will posterity be better able to judge of
these three leading circumstances than we of the present day. They will
have to pronounce on a clear horizon; whereas we are enveloped in

Scarcely had Napoleon descended from his throne, when those who
witnessed the misfortunes of the nation, which followed, regarded his
sacrifice as a capital error. When they heard of his being a prisoner at
Plymouth, they censured his magnanimity; there was not a single
incident, even to his suffering himself to be sent to St. Helena, which
they did not make a subject of reproach. But such is the tendency of
vulgar minds: never judging except on what they see at the moment! It
is, however, impossible to judge of one resolution without considering,
not only the evils which unavoidably attend it, but those which a
contrary determination might have produced.

By abdicating, Napoleon rallied all the friends of their country round
one point—that of its safety! He left France demanding, before all
nations, nothing but the sacred rights of national independence; he took
from the Allies every pretext to ravage and dismember our territory; he
destroyed all idea of his personal ambition; terminating his career as
the martyr of a cause of which he had been the hero. If all the
advantages which might have been derived from his genius and talents as
a citizen were not obtained, it is to be imputed to the weakness and
treachery of the transitory Government by which he was succeeded. When
he arrived at Rochefort, and the commander of the frigates refused to
sail, ought he to have abandoned the fruits of his abdication? Should he
have returned to the interior, and placed himself at the head of mere
bands, when he had renounced armies? or, ought he to have desperately
encouraged a civil war which would lead to no beneficial result, but
only serve to ruin the remaining pillars, the future hopes, of the
country? In this state of affairs, he formed a most magnanimous
resolution, worthy of his life, and a complete refutation of the
calumnies that for twenty years had been so ridiculously accumulated on
his head. But what will history say of those Ministers of a liberal
nation, the guardians and depositaries of popular rights—ever ardent in
encouraging a Coriolanus, having only chains for a Camillus?

As to the reproach of suffering himself to be transported to St. Helena,
it would be a disgrace to answer such a charge. To contend with an
adversary in the cabin of a ship—kill some one with his own hand—or
attempt to set fire to the powder-magazine, would have been, at best,
the act of a Buccaneer. Dignity in misfortune, submission to necessity,
have also their glory: it is that which becomes great men overwhelmed by

When the English Ministers found themselves in possession of Napoleon’s
person, passion had much more influence over them than justice or
policy. They neglected the triumph of their laws, denied the rights of
hospitality, disregarded their own honour, and compromised that of their
country. They determined to exile their guest in the midst of the ocean,
to keep him prisoner on a rock, two thousand leagues from Europe, and
far from all communion with mankind. It seemed that they wished to trust
to the anguish of exile, the fatigues of a long voyage, privations of
every kind, and the corroding influence of a burning climate, for
effecting that which they feared to perform themselves. In order,
however, to gain over the public voice, to make it appear that their
conduct was indispensably necessary, the newspapers were instigated to
irritate the passions of the multitude, by reviving former calumnies and
falsehoods; while the Ministers, on their side, represented their own
determination as an engagement entered into with their allies. We
presented ourselves at the moment of popular effervescence, just as
every thing which could render us odious had been brought forward. The
public journals were full of the most virulent declamations; maliciously
raking up every act and expression of the previous struggle of twenty
years that could wound the national pride, or rekindle its hatred. Yet,
when all England hurried to the south to see us, during our stay at
Plymouth, the conduct and sentiments of the multitudes who came were
enough to convince us that this factitious irritation would disappear of
itself. Hence we were led to hope, on our departure, that the British
people would daily grow more impartial in a cause to which they were no
longer parties; that the current of public opinion would eventually turn
against Ministers; and that we had thus ensured them formidable attacks
and a terrible responsibility for a future day.

                          THE NORTHUMBERLAND.

11th—14th. Our course was shaped across the Bay of Biscay, and double
Cape Finisterre. The wind was fair, though light; and the heat
excessive: nothing could be more monotonous than the time we now passed.
The Emperor breakfasted in his own cabin at irregular hours; we took our
breakfast at ten o’clock, in the French style, while the English
continued to breakfast in their own way at eight.

The Emperor sent for one of us every morning to know what was going on,
the distance run, the state of the wind, and other particulars connected
with our progress. He read much, dressed towards four o’clock, and then
came into the general cabin; here he played at chess with one of the
party: at five o’clock the Admiral, having come out of his cabin a few
minutes before, announced that dinner was on the table.

It is well known that Napoleon was scarcely ever more than fifteen
minutes at his dinner; here the two courses alone occupied from an hour
to an hour and a half: this was to him a most serious annoyance, though
he never mentioned it; his features, gestures, and manner, always
evinced perfect indifference. Neither the new system of cookery, the
difference nor quality of the dishes, ever met with his censure or
approbation; he never expressed any wish or objection on the subject. He
was attended by his two valets, who stood behind his chair. At first the
Admiral was in the habit of offering to help the Emperor; but the
acknowledgment of Napoleon was expressed so coldly that this practice
was discontinued. The Admiral continued very attentive, but thenceforth
only pointed out to the servants what was preferable; they alone
attended to these matters, to which the Emperor seemed totally
indifferent, neither seeing, noticing, nor seeking, any thing. He was
generally silent, remaining in the midst of conversation as if totally
unacquainted with the language, though it was French. If he spoke, it
was to ask some technical or scientific question, and to address a few
words to those whom the Admiral occasionally asked to dinner. I was the
person to whom the Emperor generally addressed his questions, in order
to translate them.

I need scarcely observe that the English are accustomed to remain a long
time at table after the dessert, drinking and conversing: the Emperor,
already tired by the tedious dinner, could never have endured this
custom, and he rose, therefore from the first day, immediately after
coffee had been handed round, and went out on deck followed by the Grand
Marshal and myself. This disconcerted the Admiral, who took occasion to
express his surprise to his officers; but Madame Bertrand, whose
maternal language is English, warmly replied—“Do not forget, Admiral,
that your guest is a man who has governed a large portion of the world,
and that kings once contended for the honour of being admitted to his
table.” “Very true,” rejoined the Admiral; and this officer, who
possesses good sense, a becoming pliability of manners, and sometimes
much elegance, did his utmost from that moment to accommodate the
Emperor in his habits. He shortened the time of sitting at table,
ordering coffee for Napoleon and those who accompanied him, even before
the rest of the company had finished their dinner. The moment Napoleon
had taken his coffee, he left the cabin; upon which every body rose till
he had quitted the room, and then continued to take their wine for
another hour.

The Emperor remained walking on deck till dark, attended by the Grand
Marshal and myself. This became a regular practice, and was seldom
omitted. On returning to the after-cabin, he sat down to play
_vingt-et-un_ with us, and generally retired in about half an hour.


15th.—We asked permission to be admitted into the Emperor’s presence
this morning, and all entered his cabin at the same time. He was not
aware of the cause of this visit:—it was his birthday, which seemed to
have altogether escaped his recollection. We had been in the habit of
seeing him on that anniversary, on a much larger stage, and in the midst
of his power, but never were our wishes more sincere, or our hearts more
full of attachment, than on the present occasion.

The days now exactly resembled each other: at night we constantly played
at _vingt-et-un_; the Admiral and some of his officers being
occasionally of the party. The Emperor used to retire after losing,
according to custom his ten or twelve Napoleons; this happened to him
daily, because he would persist in leaving his stake on the table, until
it had produced a considerable number. To-day he had gained from eighty
to a hundred. The Admiral dealt the cards: the Emperor still wished to
leave his winnings, in order to see how far he could reach; but thought
he could perceive it would be quite as agreeable to the Admiral if he
stopped where he was. The Emperor had won sixteen times, and might have
won more than sixty thousand Napoleons. While all present were
expatiating on his being thus singularly favoured by fortune, an English
officer observed that it was the anniversary of his birth-day.


16th—21st. We doubled Cape Finisterre on the 16th, passed Cape St.
Vincent on the 18th, and were off the Straits of Gibraltar next day.
Continuing our course along the coast of Africa towards Madeira, nothing
worthy of remark occurred, there being a perfect uniformity in our
habits and mode of passing the time; if there was any difference, it
could only arise from the subject of our conversation.

The Emperor usually remained in his cabin during the whole morning: so
excessive was the heat that he only wore a very slight dress. He could
not sleep, and frequently rose in the night. Reading was his chief
occupation. I was sent for almost every morning, and translated from the
“Encyclopædia Britannica,” and such other books as were on board,
whatever they contained relative to St. Helena, or the countries near
which we were sailing. This led to my Historical Atlas being brought
under review. Napoleon had merely glanced at it on board the
Bellerophon, and before that time he had but a very indistinct notion of
the work. I now had the satisfaction of seeing it in the Emperor’s hands
for several days, and of hearing him express the warmest approbation of
my labours. The quantity and arrangement of the matter seemed more
particularly to please him: he had, in fact, hitherto been but little
acquainted with the book. Passing over all the others, his chief
attention was attracted by the geographical charts; more especially the
map of the world, which seemed principally to excite his notice and
applause. I did not attempt to convince him that the geography was the
weakest part of the work, displaying far less labour and research than
other parts; the general tables could not easily be surpassed, either as
to their method, symmetry, or facility for use; while each of the
genealogical tables presented a miniature history of the country they
concerned and of which they were, in all respects, both a complete
analysis and a collection of elementary materials.

The Emperor asked me whether the work had been used in all our systems
of education; adding, that had it been better known to him, all the
schools and lyceums should have been furnished with it. He further
asked, why I had published it under the borrowed name of Le Sage? I
replied that a very imperfect sketch had been published in England, just
after my emigration, at a time when we could not acknowledge our names
as emigrants abroad, without danger to our relations in France; “and,
perhaps,” said I, laughing, “I was not then cured of the prejudices of
my youth; like the nobles of Bretagne, who deposited their swords with
the registrar of the Civil Court, while engaged in trade, that they
might not derogate from their family dignity.”

As already observed, the Emperor always rose from table long before the
rest of the company: the Grand Marshal and I always followed him to the
quarter-deck, where I was frequently left alone with him; as General
Bertrand had often to attend his wife, who suffered excessively from

After the preliminary remarks on the weather, the ship’s progress, and
the winds, Napoleon used to start a subject of conversation, or revive
that of the preceding or some other former, day; and when he had taken
eight or nine turns the whole length of the deck, he would seat himself
on the second gun from the gangway on the larboard side. The midshipmen
soon observed this habitual predilection, so that the cannon was
thenceforth called the _Emperor’s gun_.

It was there that Napoleon often conversed for hours together, and that
I learned for the first time a part of what I am about to relate: in
doing which, I wish to observe that I shall at the same time add
whatever I collected in a variety of subsequent conversations; thus
presenting at one view, all that I have heard worth noting on the

The name of Bonaparte may be spelt either _Bonaparte_ or _Buonaparte_;
as all Italians know. Napoleon’s father always introduced the _u_; and
his uncle, the Archdeacon Lucien (who survived Napoleon’s father and was
a parent to Napoleon and his brothers), at the same time, and under the
same roof, wrote it _Bonaparte_. During his youth, Napoleon followed the
example of his father. On attaining the command of the Army of Italy he
took good care not to alter the orthography, which agreed with the
spirit of the language; but at a later period, and when amongst the
French, he wished to adopt their orthography, and thenceforth wrote his
name Bonaparte.

This family for many years made a distinguished figure in the Bolognese
territory: it was very powerful at Treviso; and is to be found inscribed
in the Golden book of Bologna, as also amongst the patricians of
Florence. When Napoleon, as General in chief of the army of Italy,
entered Treviso, at the head of his victorious army, the principal
inhabitants came to meet him, bringing title deeds and records, which
proved that his family had once been one of the most eminent in their

At the interview of Dresden, before the Russian campaign, the Emperor
Francis one day told Napoleon, then his son-in-law, that his family had
governed as sovereigns at Treviso: a fact of which there could be no
doubt, as Francis had caused all the documents proving it to be drawn up
and presented to him. Napoleon replied, with a smile, that he did not
wish to know anything about it, and that he preferred being the Rodolph
of Hapsburgh of his own family. Francis attached much more importance to
the matter: he said that it was of very little consequence to have
fallen from wealth to poverty; but that it was above all price to have
been of sovereign rank, and that the fact must be communicated to Maria
Louisa, to whom it would afford infinite pleasure.

When, during the campaign of Italy, Napoleon entered Bologna,
Marescalchi, Caprara, and Aldini, since so well known in France, and at
that time deputies in the senate of their native city, came of their own
accord to present the golden book, in which the name and arms of his
ancestors were inscribed.

There are several houses at Florence which attest the former existence
of the Buonaparte family there; many houses are even still seen bearing
the escutcheons of the family.

Cesari, a Corsican or Bolognese, residing in London, who was shocked at
the manner in which the British Government had received Napoleon’s
pacific letter on assuming the Consulate, published a genealogical
notice, wherein he established the Emperor’s alliance with the ancient
house of _Este_, _Welf_, or _Guelf_, supposed to be the parent stem of
the present royal family of England.[10]

Footnote 10:

  This paragraph was in such a state in the manuscript as to excite
  doubts; and I was on the point of suppressing it: I must therefore
  state my reasons for its insertion. What is my object? chiefly to
  leave materials behind me. When I indicate how these were collected,
  and say that I obtained them from a mere conversation—that I may have
  disfigured them in thus suddenly seizing their sense—when I admit
  their probable inaccuracy, and place the reader in the way of
  rectifying my errors—have I not sufficiently fulfilled my object and

The Duke de Feltre, French ambassador in Tuscany, brought to Paris, from
the Gallery de Medici, the portrait of a Buonaparte who had married a
princess of the Grand Duke’s family. The mother of Pope Nicholas V. or
Paul V., of Sarzana, was also a Buonaparte.

It was a Buonaparte who negotiated the treaty by which Leghorn was
exchanged for Sarzana. It is to a Buonaparte that we are indebted for
one of the oldest comedies written at the period of the revival of
letters intitled _The Widow_. It may still be seen in the Royal Library
at Paris.[11]

Footnote 11:

  Verified at the Royal Library: the manuscript being really there, and
  the play itself printed.

When Napoleon marched against Rome at the head of the French army, and
received the propositions of the Pope at Tolentino, one of the
negotiators of the enemy observed that he was the only Frenchman who had
marched against Rome since the Constable de Bourbon; but what rendered
this circumstance still more singular was that the history of the first
expedition was written by an ancestor of him who executed the second,
that is to say, Signor Niccolo Buonaparte, who has in reality left us a
work, called _The Sacking of Rome by the Constable de Bourbon_.[12]

Footnote 12:

  Also verified at the Royal Library, where the account of the sacking
  of Rome is deposited, but by _Jacopo Buonaparte_, and not _Niccolo_.
  Jacopo was a contemporary and an eye-witness of the event: his
  manuscript was printed for the first time at Cologne, in 1756; and the
  volume actually contains a genealogy of the Buonapartes, which is
  carried back to a very remote period, and describes them as one of the
  most illustrious houses of Tuscany.

  The above genealogy presents a fact which is certainly of a very
  singular nature: it is that of the first Buonaparte having been exiled
  from his country as a _Ghibeline_. Was it, then, the destiny of his
  family, in all times, and at every epoch, that it must yield to the
  influence of the _Guelfs_!

  The Cologne editor sometimes writes _Buonaparte_, and at others,

  This Signor Niccolo Buonaparte, named in the text as the historian, is
  only the uncle; he is, however, mentioned in the genealogy as a very
  distinguished man of letters, and as having founded the class of
  jurisprudence in the University of Pisa.

Hence, perhaps, or from the Pope mentioned above, the name of Niccolo,
which the writers of certain pamphlets pretended to be that of the
Emperor, instead of Napoleon. This work is to be found in most
libraries; it is preceded by a history of the house of Buonaparte,
printed about forty or fifty years ago, and edited by Dr. Vaccha, a
professor of Pisa.

M. de Cetto, ambassador of Bavaria, has often told me that the archives
of Munich contained a great number of documents, in Italian, which
proved the antiquity and importance of the Buonaparte family.

During the continuance of his power, Napoleon always refused to take any
pains, or even to enter into conversation, on the subject. The first
attempt to turn his attention to this matter occurred in the time of his
Consulate, and was so much discouraged that no one ever sought to renew
the discussion. Some person published a genealogy, in which he contrived
to connect the family of Napoleon with certain northern kings. Napoleon
caused this specimen of flattery to be ridiculed in the public papers in
which the writers concluded by observing that the nobility of the First
Consul only dated from _Montenotte_, or from the 18th of Brumaire.

This family suffered, like many others, from the numerous revolutions
which desolated the cities of Italy. The troubles of Florence placed the
Buonapartes amongst the _fuorusciti_, or emigrants. One of the family
retired to Sarzana in the first instance, and thence went to Corsica,
from which island his descendants always continued to send their
children to Tuscany, where they were educated under the care of the
branch that remained at San Miniato. The second sons of this branch had
borne the name of Napoleon for several generations, which was derived
from an ancestor thus named, celebrated in the annals of Italy.

When on his way to Florence, after the expedition to Leghorn, Napoleon
slept at the house of an old Abbé Buonaparte, at San Miniato, who
treated the whole of his staff with great magnificence. Having exhausted
all the family recollections, the Abbé told the young General that he
was going to bring forth the most precious document of all. Napoleon
thought he was about to shew him a fine genealogical tree, well
calculated to gratify his vanity (said he, laughing); but it was a
memorial regularly drawn up in favour of father Buonaventura Buonaparte,
a Capuchin friar of Bologna, long since beatified, but who had not yet
been canonized owing to the enormous expense which it required. “The
Pope will not refuse you,” said the good Abbé, “if you ask him; and
should it be necessary to pay the sum now, it will be a mere trifle for
you.” Napoleon laughed heartily at this simplicity, so little in harmony
with the manners of the day: the old man never dreamt that the saints
were no longer in fashion.

On reaching Florence, Napoleon conceived it would be very satisfactory
to his namesake to send him the ribbon of the order of St. Stephen, of
which he was merely a knight; but the pious Abbé was much less anxious
about the favours of this world than the religious justice which he so
pertinaciously claimed: and, as it afterwards appeared, not without
reason. The Pope, when he came to Paris to crown the Emperor, also
recurred to the claims of Father Buonaventura. “It was doubtless he,”
said the Pope, “who, from his seat amongst the blessed, had led his
relative, as it were, by the hand through the glorious earthly career he
had traversed; and who had preserved Napoleon in the midst of so many
dangers and battles.” The Emperor, however, always turned a deaf ear to
these remarks; leaving it to the holy father’s own discretion to provide
for the glory of Buonaventura. As to the old Abbé of San Miniato, he
left his fortune to Napoleon, who presented it to one of the public
establishments in Tuscany.

It would, however, be very difficult to connect any genealogical data in
this place, from the conversations of the Emperor, who used often to say
he had never looked at one of his parchments: these having always
remained in the hands of his brother Joseph, whom he styled the
“genealogist of the family.” And, lest I may forget it, I will here
mention the fact of Napoleon’s having, when on the point of embarking,
delivered a packet to his brother, containing all the original letters
addressed to him by the sovereigns of Europe in their own hand-writing.
I frequently expressed my regret to the Emperor at his parting with such
a precious historical manuscript.[13]

Footnote 13:

  On my return to Europe, I did not fail to inquire for the invaluable
  deposit, and hastened to suggest the importance of making another copy
  to Prince Joseph, in order to become still more sure of its existence.
  What was my grief to hear that this historical monument had been
  mislaid, and that no person knew what had become of it! Into whose
  hands can it have fallen? May they know how to appreciate such a
  collection, and preserve it for history!

Charles Buonaparte, the father of Napoleon, was extremely tall,
handsome, and well-made; his education had been well conducted at Rome
and Pisa, where he studied the law: he is said to have possessed great
spirit and energy. It was he who, on its being proposed to submit to
France, in the public assembly of Corsica, delivered a speech which
electrified the whole country: he was not more than twenty years of age
at this period. “If it only depended on the will to become free,” said
he, “all nations would be so; yet history teaches us that very few have
attained the blessings of liberty, because few have had energy, courage,
and virtue enough to deserve them.”

When the island was conquered, he wished to accompany Paoli in his
emigration; but an old uncle, the Archdeacon Lucien, who exercised the
authority of a parent over him, prevented his departure.

In 1779, Charles Buonaparte was elected deputy to represent the nobles
of Corsica at Paris, whither he brought young Napoleon with him, then
only ten years old. He passed through Florence on his way, and obtained
a letter of introduction from the Grand Duke Leopold to his sister the
Queen of France. It was to his known rank and the respectability of his
name and family in Tuscany, that he was indebted for this mark of


  _Charles Bonaparte._

  _London. Published for Henry Colburn. January, 1836._

There were two French generals in Corsica, at the above period, so
inimical to each other that their quarrels formed two parties; one was
M. de Marbeuf, a mild and popular character, and the other, M. de
Narbonne Pellet, distinguished for haughtiness and violence. The latter,
from his birth and superior interest, must have been a dangerous man for
his rival: fortunately for M. de Marbeuf, he was much more beloved in
the island. When the deputation headed by Charles Buonaparte arrived at
Versailles, he was consulted on the dispute, and the warmth of his
testimony obtained a triumph for Marbeuf. The Archbishop of Lyons,
nephew to Marbeuf, thought it his duty to wait on the deputy, and thank
him for the service he had rendered. On young Napoleon’s being placed in
the military school of Brienne, the Archbishop gave him a special
recommendation to the family of Brienne, which lived there during the
greater part of the year: hence the friendly demeanour of the Marbeufs
and Briennes towards the children of the Buonaparte family. Calumny has
assigned another cause, but the simple examination of dates is fully
sufficient to prove its absurdity.

Old M. de Marbeuf, who commanded in Corsica, lived at Ajaccio, where the
family of Charles Buonaparte was one of the principal. Madame Buonaparte
being the most fascinating and beautiful woman in the town, it was very
natural for the General to frequent her house in preference to many
other places of resort.

Charles Buonaparte died at the age of thirty-eight, of an induration in
the glands of the stomach. He had experienced a temporary cure during
one of his visits to Paris, but became the victim of a second attack at
Montpellier, where he was interred in one of the convents of the city.

During the Consulate, the notables of Montpellier, through the medium of
their countryman Chaptal, minister of the interior, solicited the
permission of the First Consul to erect a monument to the memory of his
father. Napoleon thanked them for their good intentions, but declined
acceding to their solicitation. “Let us not disturb the repose of the
dead,” said he; “let their ashes remain in peace. I have also lost my
grandfather and great-grandfather; why not erect monuments to them? This
might lead too far. Had my father died yesterday, it would be proper and
natural that my grief should be accompanied by some signal mark of
respect. But his death took place twenty years ago: it is an event of no
public interest, and it is useless to revive the recollection of it.” At
a subsequent period Louis Buonaparte, without the knowledge of Napoleon,
had his father’s remains disinterred, and removed to St. Leu, where he
erected a monument to his memory.

Charles Buonaparte had been the very reverse of devout; he had even
written some anti-religious poems; and yet, at the period of his death,
said the Emperor, there were not priests enough for him in Montpellier.
In this respect he was very different from his brother Archdeacon
Lucien, a very pious and orthodox ecclesiastic, who died long after him,
at a very advanced age. On his death-bed, he took great umbrage at
Fesch, who, being by this time a priest, ran to him in his stole and
surplice to assist him in his last moments. Lucien begged that he would
suffer him to die in peace, and he breathed his last surrounded by the
members of his family, giving them philosophic counsel and patriarchal

The Emperor frequently spoke of his old uncle, who had been a second
father to him, and who was for a length of time the head of the family.
He was Archdeacon of Ajaccio, one of the principal dignitaries of the
island. His prudence and economy re-established the affairs of the
family, which had been much deranged by the extravagance of Charles. The
old uncle was much revered, and enjoyed considerable authority in the
district: the peasantry voluntarily submitted their disputes to his
decision, and he freely gave them his advice and his blessing.


  _Letizia Buonaparte_

  _Published for Henry Colburn, Dec. 1835._

Charles Buonaparte married Mademoiselle Letitia Ramolini, whose mother,
after the death of her first husband, married Captain Fesch, an officer
in one of the Swiss regiments, which the Genoese usually maintained in
the island. Cardinal Fesch was the issue of this second marriage, and
was consequently step-brother to Madame and uncle to the Emperor.

Madame was one of the most beautiful women of her day, and she was
celebrated throughout Corsica. Paoli, in the time of his power, having
received an embassy from Algiers or Tunis, wished to give the Barbary
envoys some notion of the attractions of the island, and for this
purpose he assembled together all the most beautiful women in Corsica,
among whom Madame took the lead. Subsequently, when she travelled to
Brienne to see her son, her personal charms were remarked even in Paris.

During the war for Corsican liberty, Madame Buonaparte shared the
dangers of her husband, who was an enthusiast in the cause. In his
different expeditions she frequently followed him on horseback, while
she was pregnant with Napoleon. She was a woman of extraordinary vigour
of mind, joined to considerable pride and loftiness of spirit. She was
the mother of thirteen children, and she might have had many more, for
she was a widow at the age of thirty. Of these thirteen children, only
five boys and three girls lived, all of whom performed distinguished
parts in the reign of Napoleon.

Joseph, the eldest of the family, was originally intended for the
church, on account of the influence possessed by Marbeuf, archbishop of
Lyons, who had the patronage of numerous livings. He went through the
regular course of study; but when the moment arrived for taking orders,
he refused to enter the ecclesiastical profession. He was successively
King of Naples and Spain.

Louis was King of Holland, and Jerome King of Westphalia. Eliza was
Grand Duchess of Tuscany; Caroline, Queen of Naples; and Pauline,
Princess Borghese. Lucien, who through his marriage and a mistaken
direction of character, doubtless forfeited a crown, atoned for all his
past errors by throwing himself into the arms of the Emperor on his
return from Elba, at a moment when Napoleon was far from relying on the
certainty of his prospects. Lucien, the Emperor used to say, passed a
turbulent career in his youth: at the age of fifteen he was taken to
France by M. Semonville, who soon made him a zealous revolutionist and
an ardent clubist. On this subject the Emperor said that in the numerous
libels published against him were some addresses or letters, bearing,
among other signatures, that of Brutus Buonaparte, which were attributed
to him, Napoleon; he would not affirm, he added, that these addresses
were not written by some individual of the family, but he could declare
that they were not his production.

I had the opportunity of rendering myself acquainted with the sentiments
of Prince Lucien, on the Emperor’s return from Elba, and am enabled to
say that it would have been difficult for any man to have been more
upright and steady in his political views, or to have evinced greater
attachment and good-will towards his brother.

                   MADEIRA, &c.—VIOLENT GALE.—CHESS.

22nd–26th. On the 22nd we came within sight of Madeira, and at night
arrived off the port. Only two of the vessels cast anchor, to take on
board supplies for the squadron. The wind blew very hard, and the sea
was exceedingly rough. The Emperor found himself indisposed, and I was
also ill. A sudden gale arose; the air was excessively hot, and seemed
to be impregnated with small particles of sand—we were now assailed by
the emanations of the terrible winds from the deserts of Africa. This
weather lasted throughout the whole of the following day. Our
communication with the shore became extremely difficult. The English
Consul came on board, and informed us that for many years there had not
been such a hurricane at Madeira; the vintage was entirely destroyed,
all the windows in the town were broken, and it had been found scarcely
possible to breathe in the streets. All this time we continued tacking
about before the town; which we continued to do throughout the whole of
the following night, and the 24th, when we took on board several oxen,
and stores of other provisions, such as unripe oranges, bad peaches, and
tasteless pears; the figs and grapes were however excellent. In the
evening we made way with great rapidity; the wind still blowing hard. On
the 25th and 26th we lay-to during a portion of each day, to distribute
provisions among the vessels composing the squadron; during the rest of
the time, we sailed on smoothly and rapidly.

Meanwhile nothing occurred to interrupt the uniformity of the scene.
Each day crept slowly on, and added to the past interval, which, as a
whole, seemed brief because it was void of interest, and not
characterized by any remarkable incident.

The Emperor had added to the number of his amusements by a game at
piquet, which he regularly played about three o’ clock. This was
succeeded by a few games at chess with the Grand Marshal, M. de
Montholon, or some other individual, until dinner-time. There was no
very good chess-player on board the vessel. The Emperor was but an
indifferent player; he gained with some and lost with others, a
circumstance which one evening led him to say, “How happens it that I
frequently lose with those who are never able to beat him whom I almost
always beat? Does not this seem contradictory? How is this problem to be
solved?” said he, winking his eye, to shew that he was not the dupe of
the constant politeness of him who was really the best player.

We no longer played at _vingt-et-un_ in the evening: we gave up this
game on account of our having played too high, at which the Emperor
appeared displeased, for he was a great enemy to gaming. On returning
from his afternoon walk on the deck. Napoleon played two or three games
at chess, and retired to rest early.


27th—31st. At daybreak on Sunday, 27th, we found ourselves among the
Canaries, which we passed in the course of the day, sailing at the rate
of ten or twelve knots an hour, without having perceived the famous Peak
of Teneriffe—a circumstance the more extraordinary, since in clear
weather it is visible at the distance of sixty leagues.

On the 29th we crossed the tropic, and observed many flying fish round
the ship. On the 31st, at eleven at night, one of the sailors threw
himself overboard; he was a negro who had got drunk, and was fearful of
the flogging that awaited him. He had several times, in the course of
the evening, attempted to jump overboard, and at last succeeded. He
however soon repented, and uttered loud cries. He swam very well; but
though a boat was immediately sent off, and every endeavour used to
rescue him, he was lost. The cries of this man in the sea excited a
powerful sensation on board the vessel. In a moment the crew were
hurrying about in every direction: the noise was very great, and the
agitation universal.

As I was descending from deck to the cabin, a midshipman, a youth
between ten and twelve years of age, of an interesting countenance,
thinking I was going to inform the Emperor of what had occurred, laid
hold of my coat, and in a tone expressive of the tenderest interest
exclaimed, “Ah, Sir, do not alarm him! Tell him the noise is nothing at
all; that it is only a man fallen overboard.” Amiable and innocent
youth! he expressed his sentiments rather than his thoughts!

In general the midshipmen, of whom there were several on board the ship,
behaved with marked respect and attention to the Emperor. They every
evening repeated a scene that made a deep impression on our feelings.
Early in the morning the sailors carried up their hammocks, and put them
in the large nettings at the sides of the ship; and about six in the
evening they carried them away at the signal of a whistle. Those who
were tardy in the performance of this duty received a certain
punishment. On the signal being given, a great bustle ensued; and it was
gratifying to see the midshipmen at this moment form a circle round the
Emperor, whether he might be standing in the middle of the deck, or
resting on his favourite gun. They watched his motions with an anxious
eye, and either by signs or words directed the sailors to avoid
incommoding him. The Emperor frequently observed this conduct, and
remarked that youthful hearts were always inclined to enthusiasm.

I will now proceed with the details, which I collected at various times,
respecting the early years of the Emperor’s life.

Napoleon was born about noon on the 15th of August (Assumption-day) in
the year 1769. His mother, who was possessed of great bodily as well as
mental vigour, and who had braved the dangers of war during her
pregnancy, wished to attend mass on account of the solemnity of the day:
she was, however, taken ill at church, and on her return home was
delivered before she could be conveyed to her chamber. The child, as
soon as it was born, was laid on the carpet, which was an old-fashioned
one, representing at full length the heroes of fable, or, perhaps, of
the Iliad. This child was Napoleon.

In his boyhood Napoleon was turbulent, adroit, lively and agile in the
extreme. He had gained, he used to say, the most complete ascendancy
over his elder brother Joseph. The latter was beaten and ill-treated;
complaints were carried to the mother, and she would begin to scold
before poor Joseph had even time to open his mouth.

At the age of ten, Napoleon was sent to the military school at Brienne.
His name, which in his Corsican accent he pronounced as if written
Napoilloné, from the similarity of the sound, procured for him, among
his youthful companions, the nick-name of _la paille au nez_ (straw in
his nose). At this period a great change took place in Napoleon’s
character. In contradiction to all the apocryphal histories, which
contain anecdotes of his life, he was when at Brienne mild, quiet, and
susceptible. One day the quarter master, who was a man of harsh
disposition, and who never took the trouble of considering the physical
and moral shades of character in each individual scholar, condemned
Napoleon, by way of punishment, to wear the serge coat, and to take his
dinner on his knees at the door of the refectory. Napoleon, who had a
vast share of pride and self-conceit, was so mortified by this disgrace,
that he was seized with a violent retching, and suffered a severe
nervous attack. The head master of the school happening accidentally to
pass by, relieved him from the punishment, reproving the quarter-master
for his want of discernment; and Father Patrault, the professor of
mathematics, was very indignant on finding that his first mathematician
had been treated with so little respect.

[14]“On attaining the age of puberty, Napoleon’s temper became morose
and reserved; his passion for reading was carried to excess; and he
eagerly devoured the contents of every book that fell in his way.
Pichegru was at this time his quarter-master and his tutor in the four
rules of arithmetic.

“Pichegru was a native of Franche-Comté, where his family were farmers.
The Minim monks of Champagne were appointed to superintend the military
school of Brienne. Owing to their poverty, however, so few individuals
were induced to enter their order that they found themselves inadequate
to the task imposed on them; and they solicited the assistance of the
Minim monks of Franche-Comté, of whom Father Patrault was one. An aunt
of Pichegru’s, a nun of La Charité, followed Patrault, for the purpose
of superintending the infirmary, and she was accompanied by her nephew,
a youth who was admitted to the school to receive his education
gratuitously. Pichegru, who was extremely clever, was, on his attaining
a suitable age, made quarter-master and tutor under Father Patrault, who
had taught him mathematics. He intended to become a monk, which was the
sole object of his ambition and of his aunt’s wishes. But Father
Patrault dissuaded him from this intention, assuring him that the
profession was not suited to the age; and that he ought to look forward
to something better: he prevailed on him to enlist in the artillery,
where the Revolution found him a sub-officer. His military career is
known:—he was the conqueror of Holland. Thus Father Patrault had the
honour of counting among his pupils the two greatest generals of modern

“Father Patrault was subsequently secularized by M. de Brienne,
Archbishop of Sens and Cardinal de Lomenie, who made him one of his
grand vicars, and intrusted him with the management of his numerous

“At the time of the Revolution, Father Patrault, though his opinions
were widely opposite to those of his patron, nevertheless exerted every
endeavour to save him, and with this view applied to Danton, who was a
native of the same part of France to which the Cardinal and himself
belonged. But all was unavailing; and it is supposed that Patrault,
after the manner of the ancients, rendered to the Cardinal the service
of procuring for him a poisoned draught to save him from the scaffold.

“Madame de Lomenie, the Cardinal’s niece, before her life was sacrificed
by the revolutionary tribunal, intrusted Father Patrault with the care
of her two daughters, who were yet in their childhood. The moment of
terror having passed away, their aunt Madame de Brienne, who had escaped
the storm and preserved a considerable portion of her fortune, applied
to Father Patrault for the children; but he refused to give them up, on
the ground that their mother had directed him to withdraw them from the
world and to devote them to the occupation of peasants. He had conceived
the design of literally executing these figurative commands, and was on
the point of uniting them to two of his own nephews. ‘I was then,’ said
Napoleon, ‘General of the Army of the Interior, and I became the
mediator for the restoration of the two children, an object which was
not accomplished without difficulty. Patrault employed every possible
means of resistance. These daughters of Madame de Lomenie were the two
ladies whom you have since known by the names of Madame de Marnesia, and
the beautiful Madame de Canisy, Duchess de Vicenza.’

“Father Patrault, having renewed his acquaintance with his old pupil,
followed him and joined the Army of Italy, where he proved himself
better able to calculate projectiles than to meet their effects. At
Montenotte, Millesimo, and Dego, he evinced the most puerile cowardice.
During the action he was occupied, not like Moses, in praying, but in
weeping. The General-in-chief appointed him administrator of domains at
Milan, from which he derived considerable profits. On Napoleon’s return
from Egypt, he presented himself to him: he was no longer the little
Minim monk of Champagne, but a corpulent financier, possessed of upwards
of a million. Two years afterwards he again sought an interview with the
First Consul at Malmaison: he now looked mean, dejected, and shabbily
dressed. ‘How is this?’ inquired the Consul. ‘You see before you a
ruined man,’ replied Patrault; ‘one who is reduced to beggary; the
victim of severe misfortune.’ The First Consul determined to investigate
the truth of this statement; he discovered that Father Patrault had
commenced the trade of an usurer. The great calculator had lost his
fortune through bankruptcies, in lending at great risk for a high
interest. ‘I have already paid my debt,’ said the First Consul, at his
next interview with him; ‘I can do no more for you; I cannot make a
man’s fortune twice.’ He contented himself with granting Patrault a
pension sufficient for his subsistence.

“Napoleon retained but a faint idea of Pichegru; he remembered that he
was a tall man, rather red in the face. Pichegru, on the contrary, seems
to have preserved a striking recollection of young Napoleon. When
Pichegru joined the royalist party, he was asked whether it would not be
possible to gain over the General-in-chief of the Army of Italy. ‘To
attempt that would only be wasting time,’ said he: ‘from my knowledge of
him when a boy, I am sure he must be a most inflexible character: he has
formed his resolutions, and he will not change them.’”

Footnote 14:

  These lines were dictated by the Emperor himself:—how and when will be
  hereafter explained.

The Emperor has often been much amused at the tales and anecdotes that
are related of his boyhood, in the numerous little publications to which
he had given rise: he acknowledges the accuracy of scarcely any of them.
There is one, relative to his confirmation at the military school of
Paris, which, however, he admitted to be true. It is as follows:—the
archbishop who confirmed him, manifesting his astonishment at the name
of Napoleon, said he did not know of any such saint, and that there was
no such name in the calendar; the boy quickly replied, that that could
be no rule, since there were an immense number of saints, and only 365

Napoleon never observed his festival-day until after the Concordat: his
patron saint was a stranger to the French Calendar, and even where his
name is recorded the date of his festival is a matter of uncertainty.
The Pope, however, fixed it for the 15th of August, which was at once
the Emperor’s birth-day, and the day of the signing of the Concordat.

[15]“In 1783, Napoleon was one of the scholars who, at the usual
competition at Brienne, were fixed upon to be sent to the military
school at Paris, to finish their education. The choice was made annually
by an inspector, who visited the twelve military schools. This office
was filled by the Chevalier de Keralio, a general officer, and the
author of a work on military tactics. He was also the tutor of the
present [the late] King of Bavaria, who in his youth bore the title of
Duke of Deux-Ponts. Keralio was an amiable old man and well qualified to
discharge the duty of Inspector of the military schools. He was fond of
the boys, played with them when they had finished their examinations,
and permitted those who had acquitted themselves most to his
satisfaction to dine with him at the table of the monks. He was
particularly attached to young Napoleon, and took a pleasure in
stimulating him to exertion. He singled him out to be sent to Paris,
though it would appear he had not at that time attained the requisite
age. The lad was not very far advanced in any branch of education except
mathematics, and the monks suggested that it would be better to wait
till the following year, to afford time for further improvement. But
this the Chevalier de Keralio would by no means agree to; ‘I know what I
am about,’ said he, ‘and if I am transgressing the rules, it is not on
account of family influence:—I know nothing of the friends of this
youth. I am actuated only by my own opinion of his merit. I perceive in
him a spark of genius which cannot be too early fostered.’ The worthy
chevalier died suddenly, before he had time to carry his determination
into effect; but his successor, M. de Regnaud, who would not perhaps
have evinced half his penetration, nevertheless fulfilled his intention,
and young Napoleon was sent to Paris.”

Footnote 15:

  Dictated by the Emperor.

At this period he began to develop qualities of a superior order:
decision of character, profound reflection, and vigorous conceptions. It
would appear, that from his earliest childhood his parents rested all
their hopes on him. His father, when on his death-bed at Montpellier,
though Joseph was beside him, spoke only of Napoleon, who was then at
the military school. In the delirium with which he was seized in his
last moments, he incessantly called Napoleon to come to his aid with his
_great sword_. The grand uncle, Lucien, who on his death-bed was
surrounded by all his relatives, said, addressing himself to Joseph,
“You are the eldest of the family; but there is the head of it (pointing
to Napoleon). Never lose sight of him.” The Emperor used to laugh and
say, “This was a true disinheritance: it was the scene of Jacob and

Having myself been educated at the military school of Paris, though at
an earlier period than that at which Napoleon attended it, I was
enabled, on returning from my emigration, to converse about the Emperor
with the masters who had been common to us both.

M. de l’Eguille, our teacher of history, used to boast that the records
of the military school contained proofs of his having foretold the great
career which his pupil was destined to fill; and that he had frequently,
in his notes, eulogised the depth of his reflection, and the shrewdness
of his judgment. He informed me that the First Consul used often to
invite him to breakfast at Malmaison, and that he always took pleasure
in conversing about his old lessons.—“That which made the deepest
impression on me,” said he, one day to M. de l’Eguille, “was the revolt
of the Constable de Bourbon, though you did not present it to us
precisely in its proper light. You made it appear that his great crime
was his having fought against his king; which certainly was but a
trifling fault, in those days of divided nobility and sovereignty;
particularly considering the scandalous injustice of which he was the
victim. His great, his real, his only crime, and that on which you did
not sufficiently dwell, was his having joined with foreigners to attack
his native country.”

M. Domairon, our professor of belles-lettres, informed me that he had
always been struck with the singularity of Napoleon’s amplifications,
which he said were like granite heated in a volcano.

Only one individual formed a mistaken idea of him; that was M. Bauer,
the dull heavy German master. Young Napoleon never made much progress in
the German language, which offended M. Bauer, who ranked German above
all things, and he in consequence formed a most contemptible opinion of
his pupil’s abilities. One day, Napoleon not being in his place, M.
Bauer inquired where he was, and was told that he was attending his
examination in the class of artillery. “What! does he know any thing?”
said M. Bauer ironically. “Why, Sir, he is the best mathematician in the
school,” was the reply. “Ah! I have always heard it remarked, and I have
always believed, that none but a fool could learn mathematics.” “It
would be curious,” said the Emperor, “to know whether M. Bauer lived
long enough to see me rise in the world, and to enjoy the confirmation
of his own judgment.”

Napoleon was scarcely eighteen years of age when the Abbé Raynal, struck
with the extent of his acquirements, appreciated his merit so highly as
to make him one of the ornaments of his scientific _déjeûners_. Finally,
the celebrated Paoli, who, after having long inspired Napoleon with a
sort of veneration, found the latter at the head of a party against him,
the moment he shewed himself favourable to the English, was accustomed
to say—“This young man is formed on the ancient model. He is one of
Plutarch’s men.”

In 1785, Napoleon, who was appointed at once a cadet and an officer of
artillery, quitted the military school to enter the regiment of la Fère
with the rank of second lieutenant; from which he was promoted to the
rank of first lieutenant in the regiment of Grenoble.

Napoleon, on quitting the military school, went to join his regiment at
Valence. The first winter he spent there, his comrades at the mess-table
were Lariboissière, whom, during the empire, he appointed
inspector-general of the artillery; Sorbier, who succeeded Lariboissière
in that post; d’Hedouville, junior, afterwards minister plenipotentiary
at Frankfort; Mallet, brother of him who headed the tumult in Paris in
1813; an officer named Mabille, whom, on his return from emigration, the
Emperor appointed to a situation in the post-office; Rolland de
Villarceaux, afterwards prefect of Nismes; Desmazzis, junior, his
companion at the military school, and the friend of his early years, who
after Napoleon ascended the throne, became keeper of the Imperial

There were in the corps officers more or less easy in their
circumstances; Napoleon ranked among the former. He received from his
family 1200 francs a year, which was then the amount of an officer’s
full pay. There were two individuals in the regiment who could afford to
keep cabriolets, or carriages of some kind, and they were looked upon as
very great men. Sorbier was one of these two: his companions got him to
drive them about, and they repaid the obligation by jokes and puns.
Sorbier was the son of a physician at Moulins.

At Valence, Napoleon obtained an early introduction to Madame du
Columbier, a lady about fifty years of age, who was endowed with many
rare and estimable qualities, and who was the most distinguished person
in the town. She entertained a great regard for the young
artillery-officer, and through her acquaintance he mingled in all the
best company in Valence and its neighbourhood. She introduced him to the
Abbé de Saint Rufe, an elderly man of property, who was frequently
visited by the most distinguished persons in the country. Napoleon was
indebted for the favour he enjoyed to his extensive information, joined
to the facility and force with which he turned it to account. Madame du
Colombier often foretold that he would be a distinguished man. The death
of this lady happened about the time of the breaking out of the
Revolution: it was an event in which she took great interest, and in her
last moments was heard to say that, if no misfortune befel young
Napoleon, he would infallibly play a distinguished part in the events of
the time. The Emperor never spoke of Madame du Colombier but with
expressions of the tenderest gratitude; and he did not hesitate to
acknowledge that the valuable introductions and superior company in
society which she procured for him had great influence over his destiny.

The gaiety which Napoleon enjoyed at this period of his life, excited
great jealousy on the part of his fellow-officers. They were displeased
at seeing him absent himself so frequently from among them, though his
doing so could be no reasonable ground of offence to them. Fortunately
the commandant, M. d’Urtubie, had formed a just estimate of his
character: he shewed him great kindness, and afforded him the means of
fulfilling his military duties, and at the same time of mingling in the
pleasures of society.

Napoleon conceived an attachment for Mademoiselle du Colombier, who, on
her part, was not insensible to his merits. It was the first love of
both; and it was that kind of love which might be expected to arise at
their age and with their education. “We were the most innocent creatures
imaginable,” the Emperor used to say; “we contrived little meetings
together: I well remember one which took place on a Midsummer morning,
just as daylight began to dawn. It will scarcely be believed that all
our happiness consisted in eating cherries together.”

It has been said that the mother wished to bring about this marriage,
and that the father opposed it on the ground that they would ruin each
other by their union; while each was separately destined to a fortunate
career. But this story is untrue, as is likewise another anecdote
relative to a marriage with Mademoiselle Clary, afterwards Madame
Bernadotte, now Queen of Sweden.

In 1805, the Emperor, when about to be crowned King of Italy, on passing
through Lyons, again saw Mademoiselle du Colombier, who had now changed
her name to Madame de Bressieux. She gained access to him with some
difficulty, surrounded as he was by the etiquette of royalty. Napoleon
was happy to see her again; but he found her much altered for the worse.
He did for her husband what she solicited, and placed her in the
situation of lady of honour to one of his sisters.

Mademoiselles de Laurencin and Saint-Germain were at that time the
reigning toasts in Valence, where they divided the general admiration.
The latter married Monsieur de Montalivet, who was also known to the
Emperor at that time, and who was afterwards made Minister of the
Interior. “He was an honest fellow,” said Napoleon, “and one who, I
believe, remained firmly attached to me.”

When about eighteen or twenty years of age, the Emperor was
distinguished as a young man of extensive information, possessing a
reflective turn of mind and strong reasoning powers. His reading had
been very extensive, and he had profoundly meditated on the fund of
knowledge thus acquired, much of which, he used to say, he had probably
since lost. His sparkling and ready wit and energetic language
distinguished him wherever he went: he was a favourite with every one,
particularly with the fair sex, to whom he recommended himself by the
elegance and novelty of his ideas, and the boldness of his arguments. As
for the men, they were often afraid to engage with him in those
discussions into which he was led by a natural confidence in his own

Many individuals, who knew him at an early period of life, predicted his
extraordinary career; and they viewed the events of his life without
astonishment. At an early age he gained anonymously a prize at the
Academy of Lyons, on the following question, proposed by Raynal:—“_What
are the principles and institutions calculated to advance mankind to the
highest possible degree of happiness?_” The anonymous memorial excited
great attention: it was perfectly in unison with the ideas of the age.
It began by enquiring in what happiness consisted; and the answer was,
in the perfect enjoyment of life in the manner most conformable with our
moral and physical organization. After he became Emperor, Napoleon was
one day conversing on this subject with M. de Talleyrand: the latter,
like a skilful courtier, shortly after presented to him the famous
memorial, which he had procured from the archives of the Academy of
Lyons. The Emperor took it, and, after reading a few pages, threw into
the fire this first production of his youth. “We can never think of
every thing,” said Napoleon: and M. de Talleyrand had not taken the
precaution of having it copied.

The Prince de Condé one day visited the Artillery school at Auxonne; and
the cadets considered it a high honour to be examined by that military
prince. The commandant, in spite of the hierarchy, placed young Napoleon
at the head of the polygon, in preference to others of superior rank. It
happened that, on the day preceding the examination, all the cannons of
the polygon were spiked: but Napoleon was too much on the alert to be
caught by this trick of his comrades, or snare, perhaps, of the
illustrious traveller.

It is generally believed that Napoleon, in his boyhood, was taciturn,
sullen, and morose: on the contrary, he was of a very lively turn. He
never appeared more delighted than when relating to us the various
tricks he was accustomed to play when at the School of Artillery. In
describing the joyous moments of his early youth, he seems to forget the
misfortunes which hold him in captivity.

There was an old commandant, upwards of eighty years of age, for whom
the cadets entertained a very high respect, notwithstanding the many
jokes they played upon him. One day, while he was examining them in
their cannon exercise, and watching every discharge with his eye-glass,
he asserted they were far from hitting the mark, and asked those near
him if they had seen the ball strike. Nobody had observed the youths’
slipping aside the ball every time they loaded. The old general was
rather sharp; after five or six discharges, he took it into his head to
count the balls. The trick was discovered. The general thought it a very
good one; but nevertheless ordered all who had participated in it to be
put under arrest.

The cadets would occasionally take a pique at some of their captains, or
determine to revenge themselves on others to whom they owed a grudge.
They then resolved to banish them from society, and to reduce them to
the necessity of putting themselves under a sort of arrest. Four or five
of the cadets undertook to execute the design. They fastened on their
victim; pursued him into every company, and he was not suffered to open
his mouth without being methodically and logically contradicted, though
always with a strict regard to politeness: at length the poor fellow
found that retirement was his only alternative.

“On another occasion,” Napoleon used to relate, “one of my comrades who
lodged above me unluckily took a fancy to learn to play the horn, and
made such a hideous noise as completely disturbed the studies of those
who were within hearing. We met each other one day on the stairs; ‘Are
you not tired of practising the horn?’ said I. ‘Not at all,’ he replied.
‘At any rate, you tire other people.’ ‘I am sorry for it.’ ‘It would be
better if you went to practise elsewhere.’ ‘I am master of my own
apartment.’ ‘Perhaps you may be taught to entertain a doubt on that
point.’ ‘I scarcely think any one will be bold enough to attempt to
teach me that.’” A challenge ensued; but before the antagonists met, the
affair was submitted to the consideration of a council of the cadets,
and it was determined that the one should practise the horn at a greater
distance, and that the other should be more accommodating.

In the campaign of 1814, the Emperor again met his horn-player in the
neighbourhood of Soissons or Laon: he was residing on his estate, and
gave some important information respecting the enemy’s position. The
Emperor made him one of his aides-de-camp; this officer was Colonel

When attached to his artillery-regiment, Napoleon seized every
opportunity of mingling in company, where he invariably made an
agreeable impression. Women at that time attached a high value to wit in
the other sex; it was a quality which never failed to win their good
graces. Napoleon, at this period, performed what he termed his
Sentimental Journey from Valence to Mont-Cenis in Burgundy, and he
intended to write an account of it after the manner of Sterne. The
faithful Desmazzis was of the party: he was constantly with him, and his
narrative of Napoleon’s private life, if combined with the details of
his public career, would form a perfect history of the Emperor. It would
then be seen that, however extraordinary his life might be with respect
to its incidents, yet nothing could be more simple or natural than its

Circumstances and reflection have considerably modified his character.
Even his style of expression, now so concise and laconic, was in his
youth diffuse and emphatic. At the time of the Legislative Assembly,
Napoleon assumed a serious and severe demeanour, and became less
communicative than before. The army of Italy also marked another epoch
in his character. His extreme youth, when he went to take the command of
the army, rendered it necessary that he should evince great reserve, and
the utmost strictness of morals. “This was indispensably necessary,”
said he, “to enable me to command men so much above me in point of age.
I pursued a line of conduct truly irreproachable and exemplary. I proved
myself a sort of Cato. I must have appeared such in the eyes of all. I
was a philosopher and a sage.” In this character he appeared on the
theatre of the world.

Napoleon was in garrison at Valence when the Revolution broke out. At
that time it was made a point of particular importance to induce the
artillery-officers to emigrate; and the officers, on their part, were
very much divided in opinion. Napoleon, who was thoroughly imbued with
the notions of the age, possessing a natural instinct for great actions
and a passion for national glory, espoused the cause of the Revolution;
and his example influenced the majority of the regiment. He was an
ardent patriot under the Constituent Assembly; but the Legislative
Assembly marked a new period in his ideas and opinions.

He was at Paris on the 21st of June, 1792, and witnessed the
insurrection of the people of the Faubourgs, who traversed the garden of
the Tuileries, and forced the palace. There were but 6000 men; a mere
disorderly mob, whose language and dress proved them to belong to the
very lowest class of society.

Napoleon was also a witness of the events of the 10th of August, in
which the assailants were neither higher in rank nor more formidable in

In 1793, Napoleon was in Corsica, where he had a command in the National
Guards. He opposed Paoli, as soon as he was led to suspect that the
veteran, to whom he had hitherto been so much attached, entertained the
design of betraying the island to the English. Therefore it is not true,
as it has been generally reported, that Napoleon, or one of his family,
was at one time in England, proposing to raise a Corsican regiment for
the English service.

The English and Paoli subdued the Corsican patriots, and burnt Ajaccio.
The house of the Buonapartes was destroyed in the general conflagration,
and the family was obliged to fly to the Continent. They fixed their
abode at Marseilles, whence Napoleon proceeded to Paris. He arrived just
at the moment when the federalists of Marseilles had surrendered Toulon
to the English.


September 1st—6th. On the 1st of September we found from our latitude
that we should see the Cape Verd Islands in the course of the day. The
sky was, however, overcast, and at night we could see nothing. The
Admiral, convinced that there was a mistake in the reckoning of our
longitude, was preparing to bear westward to the right, in order to fall
in with the islands, when a brig, which was ahead of us, intimated by a
signal that she had discovered them on the left. During the night the
wind blew violently from the south-east, and if our mistake had been the
reverse of what it was, and the Admiral had really borne to the right,
it is not improbable that we should have been thrown out of our course;
a proof that, notwithstanding the improvements in science, mistakes are
very apt to take place, and that the chances of navigation are very
great. As the wind continued to blow strong, and the sea was boisterous,
the Admiral preferred continuing his course, rather than waiting to take
in water, of which he believed he had already a sufficient store. Every
thing now promised a prosperous passage; we were already very far
advanced on our course. Every circumstance continued favourable; the
weather was mild, and we might even have thought our voyage agreeable,
had it been undertaken in the pursuit of our own plans and in conformity
with our own inclinations: but how could we forget our past misfortunes,
or close our eyes on the future?——

Occupation alone could enable us to support the languor and tedium of
our days. I had undertaken to teach my son English; and the Emperor, to
whom I mentioned the progress he was making, expressed a wish to learn
also. I endeavoured to form a very simple plan for his instruction, in
order to save him trouble. This did very well for two or three days; but
the _ennui_ occasioned by the study was at least equal to that which it
was intended to counteract, and the English was laid aside. The Emperor
occasionally reproached me with having discontinued my lessons: I
replied that I had the medicine ready, if he had the courage to take it.
In other respects, particularly before the English, his manners and
habits were always the same: never did a murmur or a wish escape his
lips; he invariably appeared contented, patient, and good-humoured.

The admiral, who, on account of our reputation, I suppose, had assumed
great stiffness, on our departure from England, gradually laid aside his
reserve, and every day took greater interest in his captive. He
represented the danger incurred by coming on deck after dinner, owing to
the damp of the evening; the Emperor would then sometimes take his arm
and prolong the conversation, which never failed to gratify him
exceedingly. I have been assured that the Admiral carefully noted down
every particular that he could collect. If this be true, the remarks
which the Emperor one day made, during dinner, on naval affairs—on the
French resources in the south; those which he had already created, and
those which he contemplated; and on the ports and harbours of the
Mediterranean: to all of which the Admiral listened with deep attention,
and as if fearful of interruption—will compose a chapter truly valuable
to a seaman.

I will now return to the details collected during our ordinary
conversation. The following relate to the siege of Toulon.

In September 1793, Napoleon Buonaparte, then in his twenty-fourth year,
was yet unknown to the world which was destined to resound with his
name. He was a lieutenant-colonel of artillery, and had been only a few
weeks in Paris; having left Corsica, where political events had forced
him to yield to the faction of Paoli. The English had taken possession
of Toulon; an experienced artillery-officer was wanting to direct the
operations of the siege, and Napoleon was fixed on. There will history
take him up, never more to leave him;—there commences his immortality.

I refer to the Memoirs of the Campaign of Italy for the plan of attack
which he adopted, and the manner in which that plan was carried into
effect. It will there be seen that it was he, and he alone, who took the
fortress. This was a great triumph, no doubt: but to appreciate it
justly, it would be necessary to compare the plan of the attack with the
account of the evacuation; the one is the literal prediction, and the
other is the fulfilment word for word. From this moment the young
commander of artillery enjoyed the highest reputation. The Emperor never
looks back to this period without pleasure, and always mentions it as
the happiest portion of his life. The taking of Toulon was his first
successful achievement, and it naturally excites the fondest
recollections. The history of the campaign of Italy will present a
faithful picture of the three generals-in-chief who succeeded each other
during the siege: the inconceivable ignorance of Cartaux, the gloomy
brutality of Doppet, and the honest courage of Dugommier. Of them I
shall here say nothing.

At the first breaking out of the Revolution, there was nothing but
disorder in the _matériel_ and ignorance in the _personnel_ of the
French army, which was owing both to the confusion of the times and the
rapidity and irregularity with which the promotions had been made. The
following story will afford an idea of the state of affairs and of the
manners of the time:—

On his arrival at head-quarters, Napoleon waited on General Cartaux, a
fine figure, covered with gold lace from head to foot, who asked him
what duty he had been sent upon. The young officer modestly presented
the letter which directed him to superintend, under the general’s
command, the operations of the artillery. “This was quite unnecessary,”
said the fine-looking man, twirling his whiskers; “we want no assistance
to retake Toulon: however, you are welcome, and you may share the glory
of burning the town to-morrow, without having experienced any of the
fatigue.” And he made him stay to sup with him.

A party of thirty sat down to table; the general alone was served like a
prince, while every one else was dying of hunger; a circumstance which,
in those days of equality, strangely shocked the new guest. The next
morning, at break of day, the general took him out in his cabriolet, to
admire, as he said, the preparations for attack. As soon as he had
crossed the height, and come within sight of the roads, they got out of
the carriage, and entered some vineyards by the road side. The
commandant of artillery then perceived some pieces of ordnance, and some
digging, for which it was literally impossible for him in the slightest
degree to account. “Dupas,” said the general haughtily, turning to his
aide-de-camp, his confidential man, “are those our batteries?”—“Yes,
general.”—“And our park?” “There, close at hand.”—“And our red-hot
balls?”—“In yonder houses, where two companies have been employed all
the morning in heating them.”—“But how shall we be able to carry these
red-hot balls?” This consideration seemed to puzzle them both
completely, and they turned to the officer of artillery, and begged to
know whether, through his scientific knowledge, he could not explain how
the thing was to be managed. Napoleon, who would have been very much
tempted to take the whole for a hoax, had his interrogators evinced less
simplicity, for they were more than a league and a half from the object
of attack, summoned to his aid all the gravity he was master of, and
endeavoured to persuade them, before they troubled themselves about
red-hot balls, to try the range of the shot with cold ones. After a
great deal of trouble, he at length prevailed on them to follow his
advice, but not till he had very luckily made use of the technical term
_coup d’épreuve_, (proof-shot,) which took their fancy, and brought them
over to his opinion. They then made the experiment, but the shot did not
reach to a third of the distance required: and the general and Dupas
began to abuse the Marseillais and the Aristocrats who had, they said,
maliciously spoiled the powder. In the mean time the representative of
the people came up on horseback: this was Gasparin, an intelligent man,
who had served in the army.—Napoleon, perceiving how things were going
on, and boldly deciding on the course he meant to pursue, immediately
assumed great confidence of manner, and urged the representative to
intrust him with the whole direction of the affair. He exposed, without
hesitation, the unparalleled ignorance of all who were about him, and
from that moment took upon himself the entire direction of the siege.

Cartaux was a man of such limited intellect that it was impossible to
make him understand that, to facilitate the taking of Toulon, it would
be necessary to make the attack at the outlet of the road. When the
commandant of artillery sometimes pointed to this outlet on the map, and
told him _there was Toulon_, Cartaux suspected he knew very little of
geography; and when, in spite of his opposition, the authority of the
representative decided on the adoption of this distant point of attack,
the general was haunted by the idea of treasonable designs, and he would
often remark, with great uneasiness, that Toulon did not lie in that

Cartaux wanted one day to oblige the commandant to erect a battery, with
the rear of the guns so close against the front of a house as to leave
no room for the recoil. On another occasion, on his return from the
morning parade, he sent for the commandant to tell him that he had just
discovered a position, from which a battery of from six to twelve pieces
would infallibly carry Toulon in a few days: it was a little hillock
which would command three or four forts and several points of the town.
He was enraged at the refusal of the commandant of artillery, who
observed to him that, although the battery commanded every point, it was
itself commanded by every point; that the twelve guns would have one
hundred and fifty to oppose them; and that simple subtraction would
suffice to show him his disadvantage. The commandant of the engineer
department was called on for his opinion, and, as he concurred without
hesitation in that of the commandant of artillery, Cartaux said that it
was impossible to do any thing with those learned corps, as they all
went hand-in-hand. At length, to put a stop to difficulties which were
continually recurring, the representative decided that Cartaux should
communicate to the commandant of artillery his general plan of attack,
and that the latter should execute the details, according to the rules
of his department. The following was Cartaux’s memorable plan:—“The
general of artillery shall batter Toulon during three days, at the
expiration of which time I will attack it with three columns, and carry

At Paris, however, the engineer committee found this summary measure
much more humorous than wise, and it was one of the causes which led to
Cartaux’s recal. There was indeed no want of plans; for, the retaking of
Toulon having been proposed as a subject for competition in the popular
societies, plans poured in from all quarters. Napoleon says he must have
received at least six hundred during the siege. It was to the
representative Gasparin that Napoleon was indebted for the triumph of
his plan (that which took Toulon) over the objections of the Committees
of the Convention. He preserved a grateful recollection of this
circumstance: it was Gasparin, he used to say, who had first opened his

Footnote 16:

  The Emperor has, in his will, paid a tribute of gratitude to the
  representative Gasparin, for the special protection he received from

  He has honoured with a similar tribute General Duteil, the head of his
  School of Artillery, and General Dugommier, for the attention and
  kindness he had experienced from them.

In all the disputes between Cartaux and the commandant of artillery,
which usually took place in the presence of the general’s wife, the
latter uniformly took the part of the officer of artillery, saying, with
great _naïveté_ to her husband, “Let the young man alone, he knows more
about it than you do, for he never asks your advice; besides, it is you
who are to give the account: the glory will be yours.”

This woman was not without some share of good sense. On her return to
Paris, after the recal of her husband, the jacobins of Marseilles gave a
splendid fête in honour of the disgraced family. In the course of the
evening the conversation happened to fall on the commandant of
artillery, who was enthusiastically praised. “Do not reckon on him,”
said she; “that young man has too much understanding to remain long a
_sans-culotte_.” On which the general exclaimed, with the voice of a
Stentor, “Wife Cartaux, would you make us all out to be fools then?”
“No, I do not say that, my dear; but ... I must tell you, he is not one
of your sort.”

One day, at head quarters, a superb carriage arrived from the Paris
road; it was followed by a second, and a third; and at length no fewer
than fifteen appeared. It may be imagined how great was the astonishment
and curiosity occasioned by such a circumstance in those times of
republican simplicity. The _grand monarque_ himself could not have
travelled with greater pomp. The whole cavalcade had been procured by a
requisition in the capital; several of the carriages had belonged to the
Court. About sixty soldiers, of fine appearance, alighted from them, and
inquired for the General-in-chief; they marched up to him with the
important air of ambassadors:—“Citizen General,” said the orator of the
party, “we come from Paris; the patriots are indignant at your
inactivity and delay. The soil of the Republic has long been violated;
she is enraged to think that the insult still remains unavenged: she
asks, why is Toulon not yet retaken? Why is the English fleet not yet
destroyed? In her indignation, she has appealed to her brave sons; we
have obeyed her summons, and burn with impatience to fulfil her
expectation. We are volunteer gunners from Paris: furnish us with arms,
to-morrow we will march upon the enemy.” The General, disconcerted at
this address, turned to the commandant of artillery, who promised, in a
whisper, to rid him of these heroes next morning. They were well
received, and at day-break the commandant of artillery led them to the
sea-shore, and put some guns at their disposal. Astonished to find
themselves exposed from head to foot, they asked whether there was no
shelter or epaulement. They were told that all those things were out of
fashion; that patriotism had abolished them. Meanwhile, an English
frigate fired a broadside, and put all the braggadocios to flight. There
was but one cry throughout the camp; some openly fled, and the rest
quietly mingled with the besiegers.

Disorder and anarchy now prevailed. Dupas, the factotum of the
General-in-chief, a man of no ability, made himself busy, and was
continually meddling with the artillery-men in the arrangement of their
field-train and batteries. A plan was formed to get rid of him. They
turned him into ridicule, and urged each other on till they became very
vehement in their jokes. On a sudden Dupas appeared among them with all
his usual confidence, giving orders and making inquiries about every
thing he saw. He received uncivil answers, and high words arose. The
tumult spread on every side; cries of _l’aristocrate_ and _la lanterne_
were echoed from every mouth; and Dupas clapped both spurs to his horse,
and never returned to annoy them.

The commandant of artillery was to be seen every where. His activity and
knowledge gave him a decided influence over the rest of the army.
Whenever the enemy attempted to make a sortie, or compelled the
besiegers to have recourse to rapid and unexpected movements, the heads
of columns and detachments were always sure to exclaim, “Run to the
commandant of artillery, and ask him what we are to do; he understands
the localities better than any one.” This advice was uniformly adopted
without a murmur. He did not spare himself; he had several horses killed
under him, and received from an Englishman a bayonet-wound in his left
thigh, which for a short time, threatened to require amputation.

Being one day in a battery where one of the gunners was killed, he
seized the rammer, and, with his own hands, loaded ten or twelve times.
A few days afterwards he was attacked with a violent cutaneous disease.
No one could conceive where he had caught it, until Muiron, his
adjutant, discovered that the dead gunner had been infected with it. In
the ardour of youth and the activity of service, the commandant of
artillery was satisfied with slight remedies, and the disorder
disappeared; but the poison had only entered the deeper into his system,
it long affected his health, and well nigh cost him his life. From this
disorder proceeded the meagreness, the feebleness of body, and sickly
complexion, which characterized the General-in-chief of the army of
Italy and of the army of Egypt.

It was not till a much later period, at the Tuileries, that Corvisart
succeeded, by the application of numerous blisters on his chest, in
restoring him to perfect health; and it was then that he acquired the
corpulence for which he has since been remarked.

From being the commandant of artillery in the army of Toulon, Napoleon
might have become general-in-chief before the close of the siege. The
very day of the attack on _Little Gibraltar_, General Dugommier, who had
delayed it for some days, wished to delay it still longer; about three
or four o’clock in the afternoon, the Representatives sent for Napoleon:
they were dissatisfied with Dugommier, particularly on account of his
delay; they wished to deprive him of the command, and to transfer it to
the chief of the artillery, who declined accepting it. Napoleon went to
the General, whom he esteemed and loved, informed him of what had
occurred, and persuaded him to decide on the attack. About eight or nine
in the evening, when all the preparations were completed, and just as
the attack was about to commence, a change took place in the state of
affairs, and the Representatives countermanded the attack. Dugommier,
however, still influenced by the commandant of artillery, persisted: had
he failed, he must have forfeited his head. Such was the course of
affairs and the justice of the times.

The notes which the committees of Paris found in the office of the
artillery department, respecting Napoleon, first called their attention
to his conduct at the siege of Toulon. They saw that, in spite of his
youth and the inferiority of his rank, as soon as he appeared there, he
was master.—This was the natural effect of the ascendancy of knowledge,
activity, and energy, over the ignorance and confusion of the moment. He
was, in fact, the conqueror of Toulon, and yet he is scarcely named in
the official despatches. He was in possession of the town before the
army had scarcely dreamt of it. After taking Little Gibraltar, which he
always looked upon as the key of the whole enterprise, he said to old
Dugommier, who was worn out with fatigue,—“Go and rest yourself—we have
taken Toulon—you may sleep there the day after to-morrow.” When
Dugommier found the thing actually accomplished—when he reflected that
the young commandant of artillery had always foretold exactly what would
happen, he became all enthusiasm and admiration; he was never tired of
praising him. It is perfectly true, as some of the publications of the
period relate, that Dugommier informed the Committees of Paris that he
had with him a young man who merited particular notice; for that,
whichever side he might adopt, he was certainly destined to throw great
weight into the balance. When Dugommier joined the Army of the Eastern
Pyrenees, he wished to take with him the young commandant of artillery;
but this he was unable to do. He, however, spoke of him incessantly:
and, at a subsequent period, when this same army was, on the conclusion
of peace with Spain, sent to re-inforce the army of Italy, of which
Napoleon soon after became general-in-chief, he found on his arrival,
that in consequence of all Dugommier had said of him, the officers had,
to use his own expression, scarcely eyes enough to look at him.

With regard to Napoleon, his success at Toulon did not much astonish
him; he enjoyed it, he says, with a lively satisfaction, unmingled with
surprise. He was equally happy the following year at Saorgio, where his
operations were admirable: he accomplished in a few days what had been
attempted in vain for two years. “Vendemiaire, and even Montenotte,”
said the Emperor, “never induced me to look upon myself as a man of a
superior class; it was not till after Lodi that I was struck with the
possibility of my becoming a decisive actor on the scene of political
events. It was then that the first spark of my ambition was kindled.”
He, however, mentioned that, subsequently to Vendemiaire, during his
command of the Army of the Interior, he drew up the plan of a campaign
which was to terminate by a treaty of peace on the summit of the
Simmering, which plan he shortly afterwards carried into execution at
Leoben. It is, perhaps, still to be found in the official archives. The
well-known fury of the times was still farther increased under the walls
of Toulon, by the assembling of two hundred deputies from the
neighbouring popular associations, who had proceeded thither for the
purpose of instigating the most atrocious measures. To them must be
attributed the excesses which were then committed, and of which the
whole army complained. When Napoleon afterwards rose to distinction,
attempts were made to throw the odium of these atrocities on him. “It
would be a degradation,” said the Emperor, “to think of replying to such

As soon as Napoleon took the command of the artillery at Toulon, he
availed himself of the necessity of circumstances to procure the return
of many of his old companions, who had, at first, left the service on
account of their birth or political principles. He obtained the
appointment of Col. Gassendi to the command of the arsenal of
Marseilles. The obstinacy and severity of this man are well known: they
frequently placed him in danger: it more than once required all
Napoleon’s vigilance and care to save him from the effects of the
irritation which his conduct excited.

The ascendancy which Napoleon had acquired, through his services, in the
port and arsenal of Toulon, afforded him the means of saving several
unfortunate members of the emigrant family of Chabriant, or Chabrillan,
who had been overtaken by storms at sea, and driven on the French shore.
They were about to be put to death, for the law was decisive against
emigrants who might return to France. They urged, in their defence, that
their return had been purely the effect of accident, and was contrary to
their own wishes; the only favour they solicited was to be permitted to
depart; but all was vain: they would have perished, had not the
Commandant of the Artillery hazarded his own safety, and procured for
them a covered boat, which he sent off from the French coast under the
pretence of business relative to his department. During the reign of
Napoleon, these individuals took an opportunity of expressing their
gratitude to him, and informing him that they had carefully preserved
the order which saved their lives.

Napoleon was himself, at various times, exposed to the fury of
revolutionary assassins.—Whenever he established a new battery, the
numerous patriotic deputations, who were at the camp, solicited the
honour of having it named after them. Napoleon named one ‘the battery of
the Patriots of the South:’ this was a sufficient ground for his being
denounced and accused of federalism; and had he been a less useful
person, he would have been put under arrest, or, in other words, he
would have been sacrificed. In short, language is inadequate to describe
the frenzy and horror of the times. For instance, the Emperor told us
that, while engaged in fortifying the coasts at Marseilles, he was a
witness to the horrible condemnation of the merchant Hugues, a man of
eighty-four years of age, deaf and nearly blind. In spite of his age and
infirmities, his atrocious executioners pronounced him guilty of
conspiracy: his real crime was his being worth eighteen millions. This
he was himself aware of, and he offered to surrender his wealth to the
tribunal, provided he might be allowed to retain five hundred thousand
francs, which, he said, he should not live long to enjoy. But this
proposition was rejected, and his head was cut off. “At this sight,”
said Napoleon, “I thought the world was at an end!” an expression he was
accustomed to employ on any extraordinary occasion. Barras and Fréron
were the authors of these atrocities. The Emperor did Robespierre the
justice to say that he had seen long letters written by him to his
brother, Robespierre the younger, who was then a representative with the
army of the South, in which he warmly opposed and disclaimed these
excesses, declaring that they would disgrace and ruin the Revolution.

Napoleon, when at Toulon, formed friendships with many individuals, who
subsequently became very celebrated. He distinguished in the train a
young officer, whose talents he had at first much difficulty in
cultivating, but from whom he afterwards derived the greatest services:
this was Duroc, who, with a very unprepossessing person, was endowed
with talent of the most solid and useful kind: he loved the Emperor for
himself, was devoted to his interests, and at the same time knew how to
tell him the truth at proper seasons. He was afterwards created Duke de
Frioul and Grand Marshal of the Palace. He placed the Imperial household
on an excellent footing, and preserved the most perfect order. At his
death, the Emperor thought he had sustained an irreparable loss, and
many other persons were of the same opinion. The Emperor told me that
Duroc was the only man who had possessed his intimacy and entire

During the erection of one of the first batteries which Napoleon, on his
arrival at Toulon, directed against the English, he asked whether there
was a serjeant, or corporal, present who could write. A man advanced
from the ranks, and wrote by his dictation on the epaulement. The note
was scarcely ended, when a cannon ball which had been fired in the
direction of the battery, fell near the spot, and the paper was
immediately covered by the loose earth thrown up by the ball. “Well,”
said the writer, “I shall have no need of sand.” This remark, together
with the coolness with which it was made, fixed the attention of
Napoleon, and made the fortune of the serjeant. This man was Junot,
afterwards Duke of Abrantes, colonel-general of the Hussars, commandant
in Portugal, and governor-general in Illyria, where he evinced signs of
mental alienation, which increased on his return to France, where he
wounded himself in a horrible way. He died the victim of the
intemperance which destroyed both his health and his reason.

Napoleon, on being created General of Artillery, and Commandant of that
department in the Army of Italy, carried thither all the superiority and
influence which he had acquired before Toulon; still, however, he
experienced reverses, and even dangers. He was put under arrest for a
short time at Nice, by the representative Laporte, because he refused to
crouch to his authority. Another representative pronounced sentence of
outlawry upon him, because he would not suffer him to employ all his
artillery-horses for the posting service. Finally, a decree, which was
never executed, summoned him to the bar of the Convention, for having
proposed certain military measures relative to the fortifications at

When attached to the Army of Nice or of Italy, he became a great
favourite with the representative Robespierre the younger, whom he
described as possessing qualities very different from his brother: the
latter Napoleon never saw. Robespierre the younger, on being recalled to
Paris by his brother, some time before the 9th of Thermidor, exerted
every endeavour to prevail on Napoleon to accompany him. “If I had not
firmly resisted,” observed the Emperor, “who knows whither this first
step might have led me, and for what a different destiny I might have
been reserved?”

At the Army of Nice, there was another Representative, an insignificant
man. His wife, who was an extremely pretty and fascinating woman, shared
and even usurped his authority; she was a native of Versailles. Both
husband and wife paid great attention to the General of artillery; they
became extremely fond of him, and treated him in the handsomest manner.
This was a great advantage to the young General, for, at that time,
during the absence or the inefficiency of the laws, a representative of
the people was a man of immense power.

The individual here alluded to was one of those who, in the Convention,
most contributed to bring Napoleon into notice, at the crisis of
Vendemiaire: this was the natural consequence of the deep impressions
produced by the character and capacity of the young General.

The Emperor relates that, after he had ascended the throne, he again saw
his old acquaintance the fair representative of Nice. She was so much
altered as to be scarcely recognisable; her husband was dead, and she
was reduced to extreme indigence. The Emperor readily granted every
thing she solicited: “He realized,” he said, “all her dreams, and even
went beyond them.” Although she lived at Versailles, many years had
elapsed before she succeeded in gaining access to him. Letters,
petitions, solicitations of every description had proved unavailing: “So
difficult it is,” said the Emperor, “to reach the sovereign, even when
he does not wish to deny himself.” At length, one day when he was on a
hunting excursion at Versailles, Napoleon happened to mention this lady
to Berthier, who was also a native of that place, and had known her in
her youth; and he, who had never yet deigned to mention her, and still
less to regard her petitions, on the following day presented her to the
sovereign. “But why did you not get introduced to me through our mutual
acquaintances in the Army of Nice?” inquired the Emperor: “many of them
are now great men, and are on a constant footing of intimacy with me.”
“Alas! sire,” replied she, “our acquaintance ceased when they became
great, and I was overtaken by misfortune.”

The Emperor one day communicated to me some details respecting this old
friendship:—“I was,” said he, “very young when I first knew this lady; I
was proud of the favourable impression I had made on her, and seized
every opportunity of shewing her all the attention in my power. I will
mention one circumstance, to shew how authority is sometimes abused, and
on what men’s fate may depend: for I am no worse than the rest. I was
walking one day with the Representative’s wife, inspecting our positions
in the vicinity of the Col di Tende, when I suddenly took it into my
head to give her an idea of an engagement, and, for this purpose,
ordered the attack of an advanced post. We were conquerors, it is true;
but the affair could be attended by no advantage. The attack was a mere
whim, and yet it cost the lives of several men. I have never failed to
reproach myself whenever I look back on this affair.”

The events of Thermidor having produced a change in the Committees of
the Convention, Aubry, formerly a captain of artillery, was appointed to
direct the Committee of War, and he re-modelled the army. He did not
forget himself; he promoted himself to the rank of general of artillery,
and favoured several of his old comrades, to the injury of the inferior
officers, whom he dismissed. Napoleon, who was at this time scarcely
twenty-five years of age, became a general of infantry, and he was
chosen for the service of La Vendée. This circumstance induced him to
quit the Army of Italy, in order to protest earnestly against the
change, which, on every account, was unsatisfactory to him. Finding
Aubry inflexible, and even offended at his just representations, he gave
in his resignation. Only a short time elapsed before he was again
employed in the Topographical Committee, by which the movements of the
army and the plans of the campaigns were arranged: he was thus engaged
at the period of the 13th of Vendemiaire.

Napoleon’s expostulation with Aubry on the subject of his new
appointment formed a perfect scene: he insisted vehemently, because he
had facts to bear him out; Aubry was obstinate and bitter, because he
had power in his hands. He told Napoleon that he was too young, and that
he must let older men go before him; Napoleon replied that a soldier
soon grew old on the field of battle, and that _he_ had just come from
it. Aubry had never been in any engagement. They came to very high

I informed the Emperor that, on returning from my emigration, I occupied
for a considerable time, in the Rue Saint Florentin, the identical
apartment in which this scene took place. I had frequently heard it
spoken of; and though it was described by unfriendly tongues, each,
nevertheless, took great interest in relating the details, and in trying
to guess the part of the room in which any particular gesture was made,
or any remarkable word spoken.

The history of the famous day of Vendemiaire, which had so important an
influence on the fate of the Revolution and of Napoleon, will shew that
he hesitated for some time before he undertook the defence of the

On the night succeeding that day, Napoleon presented himself to the
Committee of Forty, which was established at the Tuileries. He wanted to
procure mortars and ammunition from Meudon; but such was the
circumspection of the President (Cambacéres) that, in spite of the
dangers which had marked the day, he refused to sign the order; and
merely, by way of accommodating the matter, requested that the guns and
ammunition might be placed at the disposal of the General.

During his command of Paris, subsequently to the 13th of Vendemiaire,
Napoleon had to encounter a great scarcity, which occasioned several
popular commotions. One day when the usual distribution had not taken
place, crowds of people collected round the bakers’ shops. Napoleon was
parading about the city with a party of his staff to preserve public
tranquillity. A crowd of persons, chiefly women, assembled round him,
loudly calling for bread. The crowd augmented, the outcries increased,
and the situation of Napoleon and his officers became critical. A woman,
of monstrous size and corpulence, was particularly conspicuous by her
gestures and exclamations. “Those fine epauletted fellows,” said she,
pointing to the officers, “laugh at our distress: so long as they can
eat and grow fat, they care not if the poor people die of hunger.”
Napoleon turned to her, and said, “Good woman, look at me; which is
fatter, you or I?” Napoleon was at that time extremely thin: “I was a
mere slip of parchment,” said he. A general burst of laughter disarmed
the fury of the populace, and the staff-officers continued their round.

The narrative of the thirteenth of Vendemiaire shews how Napoleon became
acquainted with Madame de Beauharnais, and how he contracted the
marriage which has been so greatly misrepresented in the accounts of the
time. As soon as he got introduced to Madame de Beauharnais, he spent
almost every evening at her house, which was frequented by the most
agreeable company in Paris. When the majority of the party retired,
there usually remained M. de Montesquiou, the father of the Grand
Chamberlain; the Duke de Nivernois, so celebrated for the graces of his
wit; and a few others. They used to look round to see that the doors
were all shut, and they would then say, “Let us sit down and chat about
the old court; let us make a tour to Versailles.”

The poverty of the treasury and the scarcity of specie were so great,
during the Republic, that, on the departure of General Buonaparte for
the army of Italy, all his efforts, joined to those of the Directory,
could only succeed in raising 2000 louis, which he carried with him in
his carriage. With this sum he set out to conquer Italy, and to march
towards the empire of the world. The following is a curious fact: an
order of the day was published, signed Berthier, directing the
General-in-chief, on his arrival at the head-quarters at Nice, to
distribute to the different generals, to enable them to enter on the
campaign, the sum of four louis in specie. For a considerable time no
such thing as specie had been seen. This order of the day displays the
circumstances of the times more truly and faithfully than whole volumes
written on the subject.

As soon as Napoleon joined the army, he proved himself to be a man born
for command. From that moment he filled the theatre of the world;[17] he
occupied all Europe; he was a meteor blazing in the firmament; he
concentrated all attention, riveted all thoughts, and formed the subject
of all conversations. From that time every Gazette, every publication,
every monument, became the record of his deeds. His name was inscribed
in every page and in every line, and echoed from every mouth.

Footnote 17:


   The Emperor was born                                 Aug. 15, 1769
   Entered the military school of Brienne                        1779
   Transferred to the school of Paris                            1783
   Lieutenant in the 1st Artillery regiment of
   la Fère                                              Sept. 1, 1785
   Captain                                              Feb.  6, 1792
   Chief of Battalion                                   Oct. 19, 1793
   General of Brigade                                   Feb.  6, 1794
   General of Division                                  Oct. 16, 1795
   General-in-Chief of the army of the Interior         Oct. 26, 1795
   General-in-Chief of the army of Italy                Feb. 23, 1796
   First Consul                                         Dec. 13, 1799
   Consul for life                                      Aug.  2, 1802
   Emperor                                              May  18, 1804
   Crowned                                              Dec.  2, 1804
   First abdication at Fontainbleau                    April 11, 1814
   Resumed the reins of government                      Mar. 20, 1815
   Second abdication at l’Elysée                        June 21, 1815

On his appearance in the command, a total revolution was observed in his
manners, conduct, and language. Decrès has often told me that he was at
Toulon when he first heard of Napoleon’s appointment to the command of
the army of Italy. He had known him well in Paris, and thought himself
on terms of perfect familiarity with him. “Thus,” said he, “when we
learned that the new General was about to pass through the city, I
immediately proposed to all my comrades to introduce them to him,
priding myself on my intimacy with him. I hastened to him, full of
eagerness and joy; the door of the apartment was thrown open, and I was
on the point of rushing towards him with my wonted familiarity, but his
attitude, his look, the tone of his voice, suddenly deterred me. There
was nothing offensive either in his appearance or manner; but the
impression he produced was sufficient to prevent me from ever again
attempting to encroach upon the distance that separated us.”

Napoleon’s generalship was, moreover, characterized by the skill,
energy, and purity of his military administration; his constant hatred
of peculation of any kind, and his total disregard of his own private
interest. “When I returned from the campaign of Italy,” said he, “I had
not 300,000 francs in my possession. I might easily have brought back 10
or 12 millions; that sum might have been mine. I never made out any
accounts, nor was I ever asked for any. I expected on my return to
receive some great national reward. It was publicly reported that
Chambord was to be given to me, and I should have been very glad to have
had it: but the idea was set aside by the Directory. I had, however,
transmitted to France at least 50,000,000 for the service of the State.
This I imagine, was the first instance in modern history of an army
contributing to maintain the country to which it belonged, instead of
being a burthen on it.”

When Napoleon was in treaty with the Duke de Modena, Salicetti, the
Government Commissary with the army, who had hitherto been on
indifferent terms with him, entered his cabinet.—“The Commander d’Este,”
said he, “the Duke’s brother, is here with four millions in gold,
contained in four chests. He comes in the name of his brother to beg of
you to accept them, and I advise you to do so. I am a countryman of
yours, and I know your family affairs. The Directory and the Legislative
Body will never acknowledge your services. This money belongs to you;
take it without scruple and without publicity. A proportionate
diminution will be made in the Duke’s contribution, and he will be very
glad to have gained a protector.”—“I thank you,” coolly answered
Napoleon: “I shall not for that sum place myself in the power of the
Duke de Modena:—I wish to continue free.”

A Commissary-in-chief of the same army used often to relate that he had
witnessed an offer of seven millions in gold made in a like manner to
Napoleon by the Government of Venice, to save it from destruction, which
offer was refused.—The Emperor smiled at the transports of admiration
evinced by this financier, to whom the refusal of his General appeared
super-human—an action much more difficult and noble than the gaining of
victories. The Emperor dwelt with a certain degree of complacency on
these anecdotes of his disinterestedness. He however observed that he
had been in the wrong, and that such a course of conduct was the most
improvident he could have pursued, whether his intention had been to
make himself the head of a party, and to acquire influence, or to remain
in the station of a private individual; for, on his return, he found
himself almost destitute: and he might have continued in a career of
absolute poverty, while his inferior generals and commissaries were
amassing large fortunes. “But,” added he, “if my commissary had seen me
accept the bribe, who can tell to what lengths he might have gone? My
refusal was at least a check upon him.

“When I was placed at the head of affairs, as Consul, it was only by
setting an example of disinterestedness, and employing the utmost
vigilance, that I could succeed in changing the conduct of the
Administration, and putting a stop to the dreadful spectacle of
Directorial peculations. It cost me an immense deal of trouble to
overcome the inclinations of the first persons in the State, whose
conduct, under me, at length became strict and irreproachable. I was
obliged to keep them constantly in fear. How often did I not repeat, in
my councils, that if my own brother were found to be in fault, I should
not hesitate to dismiss him!”

No man in the world ever had more wealth at his disposal, and
appropriated less to himself.—Napoleon, according to his own account,
possessed as much as four hundred millions of specie in the cellars of
the Tuileries. His extraordinary domain amounted to more than seven
hundred millions. He has said that he distributed upwards of five
hundred millions in endowments to the army. And, what is very
extraordinary, he who circulated such heaps of wealth, never possessed
any private property of his own! He had collected, in the Museum,
treasures which it was impossible to estimate, and yet he never had a
picture or a curiosity of his own.

On his return from Italy, and on the eve of his departure for Egypt, he
became possessed of Malmaison, and there he deposited nearly all his
property. He purchased it in the name of his wife, who was older than
himself, and consequently, in case of his surviving her, he must have
forfeited all claim to it. The fact is, as he himself has said, that he
never had a taste or a desire for riches.

“If I now possess any thing,”[18] continued he, “it is owing to measures
which have been adopted since my departure: but even in that case it
depended on a hair’s-breadth chance whether there should be any thing in
the world I might call my own or not. But every one has his relative
ideas. I have a taste for founding, and not for possessing. My riches
consisted in glory and celebrity: the Simplon and the Louvre were, in
the eyes of the people and of foreigners, more my property than private
domains could have been. I purchased diamonds for the crown, I repaired
and adorned the Imperial palaces; and I could not help thinking
sometimes that the expenses lavished by Josephine on her green-houses
and her gallery were a real injury to my _Jardin des Plantes_ and my
_Musée de Paris_.”

Footnote 18:

  The deposit at the house of Lafitte.

  On the Emperor’s second abdication, somebody who loved him for his own
  sake, and who knew his improvident disposition, eagerly enquired
  whether any measures had been taken for his future support. Finding
  that no provision had been made, and that Napoleon remained absolutely
  destitute, a contribution was made, and four or five millions were
  raised for him, of which M. Lafitte became the depositary.

  At the moment of his departure from Malmaison, the solicitude of
  Napoleon’s real friends was not less serviceable to him.—An
  individual, aware of the disorder and confusion of our situation,
  wished to ascertain whether the little treasure had been forwarded to
  its destination. What was his astonishment on learning that the
  carriage in which it had been placed was left in a coach-house at
  Malmaison. A new difficulty arose: the key of the coach-house was not
  to be found; and the embarrassment occasioned by this unexpected
  circumstance delayed our departure for some moments. M. Lafitte wished
  immediately to give the Emperor a receipt for the sum; but Napoleon
  would not accept it—saying, “I know you, M. Lafitte—I know that you
  did not approve of my government: but I consider you as an honest

  M. Lafitte seems to have been doomed to be the depositary of the funds
  of unfortunate Monarchs. Louis XVIII., on his departure for Ghent,
  also placed a considerable sum of money in his hands. On Napoleon’s
  arrival, on the 20th of March, M. Lafitte was sent for by the Emperor,
  and questioned respecting the deposit, which he did not deny. On his
  expressing his apprehension lest a reproach should be intended to be
  conveyed in the questions which had been put to him;—“None,” said the
  Emperor: “that money belonged personally to the King, and private
  affairs are totally distinct from political matters.”

On taking the command of the army of Italy, Napoleon, notwithstanding
his extreme youth, immediately impressed the troops with a spirit of
subordination, confidence, and the most absolute devotedness. The army
was subdued by his genius, rather than seduced by his popularity: he was
in general very severe and reserved. During the whole course of his life
he has uniformly disdained to court the favour of the multitude by
unworthy means; perhaps he has even carried this feeling to an extent
which may have been injurious to him. A singular custom was established
in the army of Italy, in consequence of the youth of the commander, or
from some other cause.—After each battle, the eldest soldiers used to
hold a council, and confer a new rank on their young General, who, when
he made his appearance in the camp, was received by the veterans, and
saluted with his new title. They made him a Corporal at Lodi, and a
Serjeant at Castiglione; and hence the surname of “_Petit Caporal_,”
which was for a long time applied to Napoleon by the soldiers. How
subtle is the chain which unites the most trivial circumstances to the
most important events! Perhaps this very nick-name contributed to his
miraculous success on his return in 1815.—While he was haranguing the
first battalion he met, which he found it necessary to parley with, a
voice from the ranks exclaimed, “_Vive notre petit_ _Caporal!_ we will
never fight against him!”

The administration of the Directory, and that of the General-in-chief of
the army of Italy, seemed two distinct Governments. The Directory in
France put the emigrants to death: the army of Italy never inflicted
capital punishment on any one of them. The Directory, on learning that
Wurmser was besieged in Mantua, went so far as to write to Napoleon, to
remind him that he was an emigrant; but Napoleon, on making him
prisoner, eagerly sought to render an affecting homage of respect to his
old age. The Directory adopted the most insulting forms in communicating
with the Pope: the General of the army of Italy addressed him by the
words “Most Holy Father,” and wrote to him with respect. The Directory
endeavoured to overthrow the authority of the Pope: Napoleon preserved
it. The Directory banished and proscribed Priests: Napoleon commanded
his soldiers, wherever they might fall in with them, to remember that
they were Frenchmen and their brothers. The Directory would have
exterminated every vestige of aristocracy; Napoleon wrote to the
democracy of Genoa, blaming their violence; and did not hesitate to
declare that, if the Genoese attached any value to the preservation of
his esteem, they must learn to respect the statue of Doria, and the
institutions to which they were indebted for their glory.

                              HIS MEMOIRS.

7th—9th. We continued our course, and nothing occurred to interrupt the
uniformity which surrounded us. Our days were all alike; the correctness
of my journal alone informed me of the day of the week or of the month.
Fortunately my time was employed, and therefore the day usually slipped
on with a certain degree of facility. The materials which I collected in
the afternoon conversation employed me so as to leave no idle time until
next day.

Meanwhile the Emperor observed that I was very much occupied, and he
even suspected the subject on which I was engaged. He determined to
ascertain the fact, and obtained sight of a few pages of my journal: he
was not displeased with it. Having alluded several times to the subject,
he observed that such a work would be interesting rather than useful.
The military events, for example, thus detailed in the ordinary course
of conversation, would be meagre, incomplete, and devoid of end or
object: they would be mere anecdotes, frequently of the most puerile
kind, instead of grand operations and results. I eagerly seized the
favourable opportunity: I entirely concurred in his opinion, and
ventured to suggest the idea of his dictating to me the campaigns of
Italy. “It would,” I observed, “be a benefit to the country—a true
monument of national glory. Our time is unemployed, our hours are
tedious; occupation will help to divert us, and some moments may not be
devoid of pleasure.” This idea became the subject of various

At length the Emperor came to a determination, and on Saturday, the 9th
of September, he called me into his cabin, and dictated to me, for the
first time, some details respecting the siege of Toulon.

                         TRADE-WIND.—THE LINE.

10th—13th. On approaching the Line, we met with what are called the
trade winds, that is to say, winds blowing constantly from the east.
Science explains this phenomenon in a way sufficiently satisfactory.
When a vessel sailing from Europe first encounters these winds, they
blow from the north-east; in proportion as the ship approaches the Line,
the winds become more easterly. Calms are generally to be apprehended
under the Line. When the Line is crossed, the winds gradually change to
the south, until they blow in the direction of the south-east. At
length, after passing the tropics, the trade-winds are lost, and
variable winds are met with, as in our European regions. A ship sailing
from Europe to St. Helena is always driven in a westerly direction by
these constant easterly winds. It would be very difficult to gain that
island by a direct course; and, indeed, this is never attempted. The
ship stands away to the variable winds in the southern latitude, and
then shapes her course towards the Cape of Good Hope, so as to fall in
with the trade-winds from the south-east, which bring her, with the wind
astern, to St. Helena.

Two different courses are taken to gain the variable winds of the
southern latitudes; the one is to cross the Line about the 20th or 24th
degree of longitude, reckoning from the meridian of London: those who
prefer this course affirm that it is less exposed to the equatorial
calms, and that, though it frequently has the disadvantage of carrying
the vessel within sight of Brazil, yet it enables her to make that part
of her voyage in a short time. Admiral Cockburn, who was inclined to
regard this course as a prejudice and a routine, determined in favour of
the second method, which consisted in steering more to the east; and,
following particular examples with which he was acquainted, he
endeavoured to cross the Line about the 2nd or 3rd degrees of longitude.
He doubted not that, standing towards the variable winds, he should pass
sufficiently near St. Helena to shorten his passage considerably, even
if he should not succeed in reaching the island by tacking without
leaving the trade-winds.

The winds, to our great astonishment, veered to the west, (a
circumstance which the Admiral informed us was more common than we
supposed) and this tended to favour his opinion. He abandoned the bad
sailers of his squadron, in proportion as they lagged behind: and he
determined on gaining the place of his destination with all possible


14th-18th. After a few slight gales and several calms, we had on the
16th a considerable fall of rain, to the great joy of the crew. The heat
was very moderate; it may, indeed, be said that, with the exception of
the storm at Madeira, we had uniformly enjoyed mild weather. But water
was very scarce on board the ship; and, for the sake of economy, the
crew took advantage of the opportunity of collecting the rain water, of
which each sailor laid by a little store for his own use. The rain fell
heavily just as the Emperor had got upon deck to take his afternoon
walk. But this did not disappoint him of his usual exercise; he merely
called for his famous grey great coat, which the English regarded with
deep interest. The Grand Marshal and I attended the Emperor in his walk.
The rain descended heavily for upwards of an hour; when the Emperor left
the deck, I had great difficulty in stripping off my wet clothes; almost
every thing I wore was soaked through.

For several succeeding days the weather continued very rainy; this
somewhat impeded my labours, for the damp penetrated into our wretched
little cabin; and on the other hand, it was not very agreeable to walk
on deck. This was the first time during our passage that we had had any
thing like a continuance of wet weather; and it quite disconcerted us. I
filled up the intervals, between my hours of occupation, in conversing
with the officers of the ship. I was not on intimate terms with any of
them; but I kept up a daily intercourse of civility and politeness to
them all. They loved to talk with us on French affairs, and their
ignorance of all that concerned France and the French people was almost
incredible. We excited mutual astonishment in each other: they surprised
us by their degenerate political principles, and we astonished them by
our new ideas and manners, of which they had previously formed no
conception. They certainly knew infinitely less of France than of China.

One of the principal officers of the ship, in a familiar conversation,
happened to say—“I suppose you would be very much alarmed if we were to
land you on the coast of France?”—“Why so?” I enquired.—“Because,”
replied he, “the King would perhaps make you pay dearly for having left
your country to follow another Sovereign; and also because you wear a
cockade which he has prohibited.”—“And is this language becoming an
Englishman?” observed I. “You must be degenerate indeed! You are, it is
true, far removed from the period of your revolution, to which you so
justly apply the epithet _glorious_. But we, who are nearer to ours, by
which we have gained so much, may tell you that every word you say is
heresy. In the first place, our punishment depends not on the King’s
pleasure; we are subject only to the law. Now, there exists no law
against us; and if any law were to be violated for the purpose of
applying to our case, it would be your duty to protect us. Your general
has pledged himself to do so by the capitulation of Paris; and it would
be an eternal disgrace to the English Ministry were they to permit the
sacrifice of lives which their public faith had solemnly guaranteed.

“In the next place, we are not following another sovereign. That the
Emperor Napoleon was our sovereign is an undeniable fact; but he has
abdicated, and his reign is at an end. You are confounding private
actions with party measures; love and devotedness, with political
opinions. Finally, with regard to our colours, which seem to have
dazzled you so much, they are but a remnant of our old costume. We wear
them to-day, only because we wore them yesterday. One cannot with
indifference lay aside things to which one is attached; that can only be
done from constraint or necessity. Why did you not deprive us of our
colours when you deprived us of our arms?—the one act would have been as
reasonable as the other. We are here only as private men; we do not
preach sedition. We cannot deny that these colours are dear to us: we
are attached to them because they have seen us victorious over all our
enemies; because we have paraded them in triumph through every capital
in Europe; and because we wore them while we were the first nation in
the world.”

On another occasion, one of the officers, after glancing at the
extraordinary vicissitude of recent events, said—“Who knows whether we
may not yet be destined to repair the misfortunes which we have
occasioned to you? What would be your astonishment if Wellington should
one day conduct Napoleon back to Paris?”—“I should be astonished
indeed,” I replied: “but I should certainly decline the honour of being
one of the party: at such a price, I would not hesitate to abandon
Napoleon himself! But I may rest easy on that score; for I can swear
Napoleon will never put me to such a trial. It is from him I imbibe
these sentiments: it was he who cured me of the contrary doctrine, which
I call the error of my youth.”

The English were very fond of asking us questions concerning the
Emperor, whose character and disposition, as they afterwards avowed, had
been represented to them in the falsest colours. It was not their fault,
they observed, if they formed an erroneous estimate of his character:
they knew him only through the works published in England, which were
all greatly exaggerated, and much to his prejudice: they had several of
these publications on board the ship.—One day I happened to cast my eyes
on one of a most malignant character: on another occasion, when I was
about to look at a book which one of the officers was reading, he
suddenly closed it, observing it was so violent against the Emperor that
he could not prevail on himself to let me see it. Another time, the
Admiral questioned me respecting certain imputations contained in
different works in his library, some of which he said enjoyed a degree
of credit, while all had produced a great sensation, in England. This
circumstance suggested to me the idea of successively examining all the
works of this kind that were on board the ship, in order to note down my
opinion of them in my journal—conceiving that so favourable an
opportunity might never again occur of obtaining, if I chose,
information on those points which it might be worth while to enquire

Before I commence my review of these works, I must beg to offer a few
general remarks: they will suffice to answer by anticipation many of the
numberless accusations that will fall in my way. Calumny and falsehood
are the arms of the civil or political, the foreign or domestic enemy.
They are the resource of the vanquished and the feeble, of those who are
governed by hatred or fear.—They are the food of the drawing-room, and
the garbage of the public place: they rage with the greater fury in
proportion as their object is exalted: there is nothing which they will
not venture to promulgate. The more absurd, ridiculous, and incredible
calumnies and falsehoods may be, the more eagerly are they received and
repeated from mouth to mouth. Triumph and success are but fresh causes
of irritation: a moral storm will invariably gather; and, bursting in
the moment of adversity, it will precipitate and complete the fall, and
become the immense lever of public opinion.

No man was ever so much assailed and abused as Napoleon. No individual
was ever the subject of so many pamphlets, libels, atrocious and absurd
stories and false assertions. Nor could it be otherwise. Napoleon, risen
from the common rank of life to supreme distinction; advancing at the
head of a revolution which he himself had civilized; plunged by these
two circumstances into a deadly contest with the rest of Europe—a
contest in which he was subdued only because he wished to terminate it
too speedily—Napoleon uniting in himself the genius, the force, the
destiny of his own power, the conqueror of his neighbours, and, in some
measure, a universal Monarch—a _Marius_ in the eyes of the aristocrats
of Europe, a _Sylla_ for the demagogues, a _Cæsar_ for the
republicans—could not but raise against himself a hurricane of passions
both at home and abroad.

Despair, policy, and fury, in every country, painted him as an object of
detestation and alarm. Thus, all that has been said against him can
excite no astonishment: it is only surprising that more calumny has not
been uttered, and that it has not produced a much greater effect. When
in the enjoyment of his power, he never would permit any one to reply to
the attacks that were made upon him. “The pains bestowed on such
answers,” said he, “would only have given additional weight to the
accusations they were intended to refute. It would have been said that
all that was written in my defence was ordered and paid for. The
ill-managed praise of those by whom I was surrounded had already, in
some instances, been more prejudicial to me than all the abuse of which
I was the object. Facts were the most convincing answers. A fine
monument, another good law, or a new triumph, were sufficient to defeat
thousands of such falsehoods. Declamation passes away, but deeds

This is unquestionably true with regard to posterity. The great men of
former times are handed down to us free from the ephemeral accusations
of their contemporaries. But it is not thus during the lifetime of the
individual; and, in 1814, Napoleon was convinced by cruel experience
that even deeds may vanish before the fury of declamation. At the moment
of his fall, he was absolutely overwhelmed by a torrent of abuse. But it
was reserved for him, whose life had been so fertile in prodigies, to
surmount this adverse stroke of fate, and almost immediately to arise
resplendent from amidst his own ruins. His miraculous return is
certainly unparalleled both in its execution and its results. The
transports which it called forth penetrated into neighbouring countries,
where prayers for his success were offered up either publicly or in
secret; and he who, in 1814, was defeated and pursued as the scourge of
human nature, suddenly re-appeared in 1815 as the hope of his

Calumny and falsehood in this instance lost their prey by having
overshot their mark. The good sense of mankind in a great measure
rendered justice to Napoleon, and the abuse that had been heaped upon
him would not be believed now. “Poison lost its effect on Mithridates,”
said the Emperor, as he was the other day glancing over some new libels
upon himself, “and, since 1814, calumny cannot injure me.”

In the universal clamour which was directed against him when in the
enjoyment of his power, England bore the most conspicuous part.

In England two great machines were maintained in full activity; the one
conducted by the emigrants, for whom nothing was too bad; and the other
under the control of the English ministers, who had established a system
of defamation, and who had regularly organized its action and effects.
They maintained in their pay pamphleteers and libelists in every corner
of Europe; their tasks were marked out to them: and their plans of
attack were regularly laid and combined.

The English ministry multiplied the employment of these potent engines
in England more than elsewhere. The English, who were more free and
enlightened than other nations, stood the more in need of excitement.
From this system the English ministers derived the two-fold advantage of
rousing public opinion against the common enemy, and withdrawing
attention from their own conduct by directing popular clamour and
indignation to the character and conduct of others: by this means their
own character and conduct were screened from that investigation and
recrimination which they might not have found very agreeable. Thus the
assassination of Paul at St. Petersburgh, and of our envoys in Persia;
the seizure of Napper-Tandy in the free city of Hamburgh; the capture,
in time of peace, of two rich Spanish frigates; the acquisition of the
whole of India; the retaining of Malta and the Cape of Good Hope,
against the faith of treaties: the Machiavelian rupture of the treaty of
Amiens; the unjust seizure of our ships previously to a new declaration
of war: the Danish fleet seized with such cold and ironical perfidy, &c.
&c.; all these aggressions were overlooked in the general agitation
which had been artfully stirred up against a foreign power.

In order to take a just view of the accusations which have been heaped
upon Napoleon, by the numerous publications written against him, it is
necessary to make allowance for passions and circumstances; to reject
with contempt all that is apocryphal, anonymous, and purely declamatory;
and to adhere solely to the facts and proofs which would doubtless have
been produced by those who, after the overthrow of their enemy, became
possessed of the authentic documents, the archives of the public
departments and courts of law, in short, of all the sources of truth
which are usually to be found in society. But nothing has been
published; nothing has been brought forward; and, therefore, how much of
this monstrous scaffolding falls to the ground. And to be still more
rigidly equitable, if we wish to judge Napoleon by the example of his
peers, or great men in analogous circumstances; that is to say, by
comparing him with the founders of dynasties, or those who have ascended
thrones by dint of popular commotions, it may then confidently be said
that he is unequalled, and that he shines purely from amidst all that is
opposed to him. It would be a loss of time to cite the numberless
examples furnished by ancient and modern history: they are accessible to
every one. It is only necessary to refer to the two countries which are
here under consideration.

Did Napoleon, like Hugues Capet, fight against his sovereign? Did he
cause him to perish in captivity?

Did Napoleon act like the princes of the present house of Brunswick,
who, in 1715 and 1745, crowded the scaffold with victims—victims to whom
the present English ministers, through their inconsequential policy and
the principles they now profess, leave no other title than that of
faithful subjects dying for their lawful sovereign?

The course by which Napoleon advanced to supreme power is perfectly
simple and natural; it is single in history; the very circumstances of
his elevation render it unparalleled. “I did not usurp the crown,” said
he one day to the Council of State, “I took it up out of the mire; the
people placed it on my head: let their acts be respected!”

And by thus taking up the crown, Napoleon restored France to her rank in
European society, terminated her horrors, and revived her character. He
freed us of all the evils of our fatal crisis, and reserved to us all
the advantages arising out of it. “I ascended the throne unsullied by
any of the crimes of my situation,” said he, on one occasion. “How few
founders of dynasties can say as much!”

Never, during any period of our history, were favours distributed with
so much impartiality; never was merit so indiscriminately sought out and
rewarded; public money so usefully employed; the arts and sciences
better encouraged, or the glory and lustre of the country raised to so
high a pitch. “It is my wish,” said he one day to the Council of State,
“that the title of Frenchman should be the best and most desirable on
earth; that a Frenchman travelling through any part of Europe may think
and find himself at home.”

If liberty seemed occasionally to suffer encroachments, if authority
seemed sometimes to overstep its limits, circumstances rendered those
measures necessary and inevitable. Our present misfortunes have, though
too late, made us sensible of this truth; we now render justice, though
also too late, to the courage, judgment, and foresight which then
dictated those steps. It is certain that in this respect the political
fall of Napoleon has considerably increased his influence. Who can now
doubt that his glory and the lustre of his character have been
infinitely augmented by his misfortunes?

If the works which have fallen in my way should present any
circumstances connected with these general considerations, they will be
the object of my particular attention. I do not intend to enter upon a
political controversy; I shall not address myself to party men, whose
opinions are founded on their interests and passions; I speak only to
the cool friend of truth, or to the unprejudiced writer, who in future
times may impartially seek for materials: to them alone I address
myself; in their eyes my testimony will be superior to anonymous
evidence, and will rank with that which bears a credible character.

The first work that I looked into was the _Anti-Gallican_, of which I
shall speak hereafter.

                        EMPLOYMENT OF OUR TIME.

19th-22nd. We continued our course with the same wind, the same sky, and
the same temperature. Our voyage was monotonous, but pleasant; our days
were long, but employment helped them to glide away. The Emperor now
began regularly to dictate to me his Campaigns of Italy. I had already
written several chapters. For the first few days, the Emperor viewed
this occupation with indifference; but the regularity and promptitude
with which I presented to him my daily task, together with the progress
we made, soon excited his interest, and at length the pleasure he
derived from this dictation rendered it absolutely necessary to him. He
was sure to send for me about eleven o’clock every morning, and he
seemed himself to await the hour with impatience. I always read to him
what he had dictated on the preceding day, and he then made corrections
and dictated farther. In this way the time passed rapidly till four
o’clock arrived, when he summoned his valet-de-chambre. He then
proceeded to the state-cabin, and passed the time until dinner in
playing at piquet or chess.

The Emperor dictates very rapidly, almost as fast as he speaks in
ordinary conversation. I was therefore obliged to invent a kind of
hieroglyphic writing: and I, in my turn, dictated to my son. I was happy
enough to be able to collect almost literally every sentence that fell
from him. I had now not a moment to spare; at dinner time somebody was
sure to come and tell me that all the company were seated at table.
Fortunately my seat was near the door, which always stood open. I had
some time since changed my place at the request of Captain Ross, the
commander of the vessel, who, as he did not speak French, took the
opportunity of occasionally asking me the meaning of words: I therefore
took my seat between him and the Grand Marshal. Captain Ross was a man
of agreeable manners, and was exceedingly kind and attentive to us. I
had learnt, according to the English custom, to invite him to take a
glass of wine, drinking mine to the health of his wife, and he would
then drink to the health of mine. This was our daily practice.

After dinner, the Emperor never failed to allude to his morning
dictation, as if pleased with the occupation and amusement it had
afforded him. On these occasions, as well as whenever I happened to meet
him in the course of the day, he would address me in a jocular tone
with: “Ah! sage Las Cases!—Illustrious memorialist!—the Sully of St.
Helena;” and other similar expressions. Then he would frequently add:
“My dear Las Cases, these Memoirs will be as celebrated as any that have
preceded them. You will survive as long as any previous memoir-writer.
It will be impossible to dwell upon the great events of our time, or to
write about me, without referring to you.” Then resuming his pleasantry,
he would add: “After all, it will be said, he must have known Napoleon
well; he was his Councillor of State, his Chamberlain, his faithful
companion. We cannot help believing him, for he was an honest man and
incapable of misrepresentation.”


23rd–25th. The West wind still continued, to our great astonishment; it
was a sort of phenomenon in these regions, and had hitherto been very
much in our favour. But, with regard to phenomena, chance produced one
of a much more extraordinary kind on the 23rd, when we crossed the Line
in 0° latitude 0° longitude, and 0° declination. This is a circumstance
which chance alone may perhaps renew only once in a century, since it is
necessary to arrive precisely at the first meridian about noon, in order
to pass the Line at that same hour, and to arrive there at the same time
with the sun.

This was a day of great merriment and disorder among the crew: it was
the ceremony which our sailors call _the Christening_, and which the
English call _the great Shaving day_. The sailors dress themselves up in
the most grotesque way; one is disguised as Neptune, and all persons on
board the ship who have not previously crossed the Line, are formally
presented to him; an immense razor is passed over their chins, with a
lather made of pitch; buckets of water are thrown over them, and the
loud bursts of laughter which accompany their retreat complete their
initiation into the grand mystery. No one is spared; and the officers
are generally more roughly used than the lowest of the sailors. The
Admiral, who had previously amused himself by endeavouring to alarm us
with the anticipation of this awful ceremony, now very courteously
exempted us from the inconvenience and ridicule attending it. We were,
with every mark of attention and respect, presented to the rude god, who
paid to each of us a compliment after his own fashion: and thus our
trial ended.

The Emperor was scrupulously respected during the whole of this
Saturnalian festivity, when respect is usually shewn to no one. On being
informed of the decorum which had been observed with respect to him, he
ordered a hundred Napoleons to be distributed to the grotesque Neptune
and his crew, which the Admiral opposed, perhaps from motives of
prudence as well as politeness.


26th—30th. The weather still continued favourable. Having passed the
Line, we momentarily expected to fall in with an east or south-east
wind. The continuance of the west wind was extraordinary, and it was
impossible it could last much longer. The resolution which the Admiral
had adopted of bearing considerably to the east rendered our situation
very favourable, and we had every reason to hope for a short passage.

One afternoon, the sailors caught an enormous shark. The Emperor
enquired the cause of the great noise and confusion which he suddenly
heard overhead; being informed of what had occurred, he expressed a wish
to have a sight of the sea-monster. He accordingly went up to the poop,
and incautiously approached too near the animal, which by a sudden
movement knocked down four or five of the sailors, and had well nigh
broken the Emperor’s legs. He went below with his left stocking covered
with blood: we thought he was severely hurt, but it proved to be only
the blood of the shark.

My labours advanced with the greatest regularity. The Anti-Gallican,
which was the first work I undertook to read, was a volume of five
hundred pages, comprising all that had been written in England at the
time when that country was menaced with the French invasion. It was the
object of the English government to nationalize opposition to that
attempt, and to rouse the whole nation against her dangerous enemy. The
book contained a collection of public speeches, exhortations, patriotic
appeals of zealous citizens, satirical songs, sarcastic productions, and
highly-coloured newspaper articles, all pouring a torrent of odium and
ridicule upon the French and their First Consul, whose courage, genius,
and power excited the greatest alarm. This was all perfectly natural and
allowable. Productions of this sort are like a shower of arrows thrown
by combatants before they come to a close action: some hit, and some are
carried away by the wind. Such writings will never afford satisfactory
evidence to a man of judgment, and they scarcely merit contradiction.

Pamphleteers are little regarded, because their character is the
antidote of their poison: it is not so with the historian. The latter,
however, degrades himself to a level with the pamphlet-writer when he
departs from the calm dignity and impartiality required for his office,
to indulge in declamation and to steep his pen in gall.

With these feelings I arose from the perusal of the different
productions of Sir Robert Wilson, which I read after the Anti-Gallican.
This writer did us the greater injury, because his talents, his courage,
and his numerous and brilliant services, gave him importance in the eyes
of his countrymen. A circumstance which I am about to state caused the
writings of Sir R. Wilson to be particularly known and spoken of on
board the ship.

Sir Robert had a son among the young midshipmen on board the
Northumberland, and my son, whose similarity of age occasioned him to be
much in the society of these youths, could easily observe the change
which took place in their opinions with respect to us. They were at
first very much prejudiced against us. When the Emperor came on board,
they regarded him as an ogre ready to devour them. But on a better
acquaintance with us, truth soon exercised over them the same influence
which it produced on the rest of the crew. This was, however, at the
expense of young Wilson, who was scouted by his companions, by way of
expiation, as they said, for the stories which his father had

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

_At this part of the manuscript a great number of pages are struck out;
the reason was explained, on the margin, as follows:_

“I had collected numerous offensive statements from the writings of Sir
Robert Wilson, to which I had perhaps replied with too much bitterness:
a recent circumstance has induced me to suppress this portion of my

“Sir Robert Wilson has lately acted a conspicuous part in a cause which
does honour to the hearts of all who were concerned in it: I allude to
the saving of Lavalette. Being asked, before a French tribunal, whether
he had not formerly published works respecting our affairs? he replied
in the affirmative, and added that he had stated in them what he _then_
believed to be true. These words are more to the purpose than any thing
I could say; and I therefore hasten to cancel what I have already
written; happy in thus having an opportunity to render justice to Sir
Robert Wilson, on whose sincerity and good intentions I had, in my
indignation, cast reflections.”[19]

Footnote 19:

  After my removal from Longwood, Sir Hudson Lowe, who had seized my
  papers, looked over this Journal, with my permission. He, of course,
  met with parts which were very displeasing to him; and he said to me:
  “What a pretty legacy you are preparing for my children, Count!”—“That
  is not my fault,” replied I; “it depends only on yourself to render it
  otherwise; I shall be happy to have reason to strike out any thing
  respecting you, as I did the other day with regard to Sir Robert
  Wilson.” Upon which he asked me what I had written about Sir Robert,
  and I pointed out the place. After reading all that had been written,
  and my reasons for cancelling it, he said, with a thoughtful and
  mortified air: “Yes, I see; but I can’t tell what to make of it; for I
  know Wilson well, and he has proved himself a warm friend of the

  We leaped for joy when we heard of the deliverance of Lavalette. Some
  one observed, that his deliverer, Wilson, could not be the same
  individual who had written so many offensive things concerning the
  Emperor. “And why not?” said Napoleon. “You know but little of men,
  and the passions that actuate them. What leads you to suppose that Sir
  Robert Wilson is not a man of enthusiasm and violent passions, who
  wrote what he then believed to be true? And while we were enemies we
  contended with each other; but in our present adversity he knows
  better: he may have been abused, and deceived, and may be sorry for
  it; and he is perhaps now as sincere in wishing us well as he formerly
  was in seeking to injure us.”

  Either sagacity or chance so happily led the Emperor to this
  conclusion that it may be said he was enabled to read character at a
  distance. Sir R. Wilson was indeed the man who wrote against Napoleon.
  Vexed to see a great people deprived of their natural rights, he
  reproached the allies as bitterly as though they had imposed chains on
  himself, and no one has manifested stronger indignation at the
  treatment of Napoleon, or testified a more ardent wish to see it end.

I therefore set aside the works of Sir Robert Wilson, and the various
accusations contained in them; I also suppress the numerous refutations
I had collected. I shall merely stop to consider one circumstance which
has been repeated in a hundred different works; the report of which has
been circulated through Europe, and has obtained credit even in France.
I allude to the poisoning of the men infected with the plague at Jaffa.

Certainly nothing can more clearly prove how easily calumny may effect
its object. If the voice of slander be bold and powerful, and can
command numerous echoes, no matter how far probability, reason, common
sense, and truth be violated—the wished-for end is sure to be attained.

A general, a hero, a great man, hitherto respected by fortune, as well
as by mankind, at that moment riveting the attention of three quarters
of the globe, commanding admiration even from his enemies, was suddenly
accused of a crime declared to be unheard-of and unparalleled; of an act
pronounced to be inhuman, atrocious, and cruel; and, what is above all
extraordinary, he could have no possible object in committing that
crime. The most absurd details, the most improbable circumstances, the
most ridiculous episodes were invented, to give a colouring to this
first falsehood. The story was circulated through Europe; malevolence
seized it, and exaggerated its enormity; it was published in every
newspaper; recorded in every book; and thenceforward was looked upon as
an established fact:—indignation was at its height, and clamour
universal. It would have been vain to reason, or to attempt to stem the
torrent, or to shew that no proofs of the fact had been adduced, and
that the story contradicted itself. It would have been vain to bring
forward opposite and incontrovertible evidence—the evidence of those
very medical men who were said to have administered, or to have refused
to administer, the poison. It would have been vain to expose the
unreasonableness of accusing of inhumanity the man who, but a short time
before, had immortalized the hospitals of Jaffa by an act of the
sublimest heroism; risking his own safety by solemnly touching the
troops infected with the plague, to deceive and soothe the imaginations
of the sick men. In vain might it have been urged that the idea of such
a crime could not be affixed on him who, when consulted by the medical
officers as to the expediency of burning or merely washing the clothes
worn by the invalids, and being reminded of the enormous loss attendant
on the former measure, replied;—“Gentlemen, I came here to fix the
attention and to recal the interests of Europe to the centre of the
ancient world, and not with the view of amassing wealth.” In vain would
it have been shewn that there could be no object, no motive whatever,
for this supposed crime. Had the French General any reason to suspect a
design for corrupting his invalids and converting them into
reinforcements against himself? Did he hope that this barbarous act
would completely rid him of the infection? He might have effected that
object equally well by leaving his invalids to be overtaken by the
enemy’s troops, which would moreover have been the means of spreading
the contagion among the latter. It would have been vain to shew that an
unfeeling and selfish chief might have freed himself from all
embarrassment by merely leaving the unfortunate men behind him: they
would have been massacred, it is true; but no one would ever have
thought of addressing a reproach to him.

These and all other arguments would have been vain and useless, so
powerful and infallible are the effects of falsehood and declamation
when the passions of mankind are interested in their propagation. The
imaginary crime was repeated by every mouth, was engraven on every
heart, and to the common mass of mankind it will perhaps for ever
continue a positive and incontrovertible fact.

A circumstance which will not a little surprise those who have yet to
learn how little credit is due to public report, and which will also
serve to shew the errors that may creep into history, is that Marshal
Bertrand, who was himself with the army in Egypt, (though certainly in a
rank which did not enable him to come into immediate contact with the
General-in-chief) firmly believed, up to the period of his residence at
St. Helena, the story of poison having been administered to sixty
invalids. The report was circulated and believed even in our army;
therefore, what answer could be given to those who triumphantly asserted
“It is a fact, I assure you, I have it from officers who served in the
French army at the time?” Nevertheless, the whole story is false. I have
collected the following facts from the highest source, from the mouth of
Napoleon himself.

1st. That the invalids in question, who were infected with the plague,
amounted, according to the report made to the General-in-chief, only to
_seven_ in number.

2nd. That it was not the General-in-chief, but a professional man, who,
at the moment of the crisis, proposed the administering of opium.

3rd. That opium was not administered to a single individual.

4th. That the retreat having been effected slowly, a rear-guard was left
behind in Jaffa for three days.

5th. That, on the departure of the rear-guard, the invalids were all
dead, except one or two, who must have fallen into the hands of the

N.B. Since my return to Paris, having had opportunities of conversing
with those whose situation and profession naturally rendered them the
first actors in the scene—those whose testimony must be considered as
official and authentic, I have had the curiosity to enquire into the
most minute details, and the following is the result of my enquiries.

“The invalids under the care of the Surgeon-in-chief, that is to say,
the wounded, were all, without exception, removed, with the help of the
horses belonging to the staff, not excepting even those of the
General-in-chief, who proceeded for a considerable distance on foot,
like the rest of the army. These, therefore, are quite out of the

“With regard to the rest of the invalids, about twenty in number, who
were under the care of the Physician-in-chief, and who were in an
absolutely desperate condition, totally unfit to be removed, while the
enemy was advancing, it is very true that Napoleon asked the
Physician-in-chief whether it would not be an act of humanity to
administer opium to them. It is also true that the Physician replied,
his business was to cure and not to kill;—an answer which, as it seems
to have reference to an order rather than to a subject of discussion,
has, perhaps, furnished a basis on which slander and falsehood might
invent and propagate the fabrication which has since been circulated on
this subject.

“Finally, the details which I have been able to collect afford me the
following incontestible results:—

“1st. That no order was given for the administering of opium to the

“2nd. That there was not at the period in question, in the
medicine-chest of the army, a single grain of opium for the use of the

“3rd. That even had the order been given, and had there been a supply of
opium, temporary and local circumstances, which it would be tedious to
enumerate here, would have rendered its execution impossible.

“The following circumstances have probably helped to occasion, and may,
perhaps, in some degree excuse, the mistake of those who have
obstinately maintained the truth of the contrary facts. Some of our
wounded men, who had been put on board ship, fell into the hands of the
English. We had been short of medicines of all kinds in the camp, and we
had supplied the deficiency by compositions formed from indigenous trees
and plants. The draughts and other medicines had a horrible taste and
appearance. The prisoners, either for the purpose of exciting pity, or
from having heard of the opium story, which the nature of the medicines
might incline them to believe, told the English that they had
miraculously escaped death, having had poison administered to them by
their medical officers.” So much for the invalids under the care of the

Now for the others.—“The army unfortunately had, as Apothecary-in-chief,
a wretch who had been allowed the use of five camels to convey from
Cairo the quantity of medicines necessary for the expedition. This man
was base enough to supply himself on his own account, instead of
medicines, with sugar, coffee, wine, and other provisions, which he
afterwards sold at an enormous profit. On the discovery of the fraud,
the indignation of the General-in-chief was without bounds, and the
offender was condemned to be shot; but all the medical officers, who
were so distinguished for their courage, and whose attentive care had
rendered them so dear to the army, implored his pardon, alleging that
the honour of the whole body would be compromised by his punishment; and
thus the culprit escaped. Some time after, when the English took
possession of Cairo, this man joined them, and made common cause with
them; but, having attempted to renew some of his old offences, he was
condemned to be hanged, and again escaped by slandering the
General-in-chief Buonaparte, of whom he invented a multitude of horrible
stories, and, by representing himself as the identical person who had,
by the General’s orders, administered opium to the soldiers infected
with the plague. His pardon was the condition and the reward of his
calumnies. This was doubtless the first source whence the story was
derived, by those who were not induced to propagate it from malevolent

“Time has, however, fully exposed this absurd calumny, as well as many
others which have been applied in the same direction, and that with so
great a rapidity, that on revising my manuscript, I have been surprised
at the importance I have attached to the refutation of a charge which no
one would now dare to maintain. Still, I thought it best to preserve
what I had written, as a testimony of the impression of the moment; and
if I have now added some farther details, it is because they happened to
lie within my reach, and I thought it important to record them as
historical facts.”

Sir Robert Wilson has, in his work, boasted, with seeming complacency,
of having been the first to make known and to propagate these odious
charges in Europe. His countryman, Sir Sydney Smith, may perhaps dispute
this honour with him, particularly as he may, in a great measure at
least, justly lay claim to the merit of their invention. To him, and to
the system of corruption he encouraged, Europe is indebted for all the
false reports with which she has been inundated, to the great detriment
of our brave army of Egypt.

It is well known that Sir Sydney Smith did every thing in his power to
corrupt our army. The false intelligence from Europe—the slander of the
General-in-chief—the powerful bribes held out to the officers and
soldiers,—were all approved by him: the documents are published, his
proclamations are known. At one time they created sufficient alarm in
the French General to induce him to seek to put a stop to them; which he
did by forbidding all communication with the English, and stating in the
Order of the day that their Commodore had gone mad. This assertion was
believed in the French army; and it enraged Sir Sydney Smith so much
that he sent Napoleon a challenge. The General replied that he had
business of too great importance on his hands to think of troubling
himself about such a trifle: had he received a challenge from the great
Marlborough, then indeed he might have thought it worth while to
consider of it: but if the English seaman really felt inclined to amuse
himself at a tilting-match, he would send him one of the bullies in his
army, and neutralize a few yards of the sea-coast, where the mad
Commodore might come ashore, and enjoy his heart’s content of it.

As I am on the subject of Egypt, I will here note down all the
information I collected in my detached conversations, and which may
possibly not be found in the Campaign of Egypt, dictated by Napoleon to
the Grand Marshal.

The campaign of Italy exhibits all the most brilliant and decisive
results to which military genius and conception ever gave birth.
Diplomatic views, administrative talents, legislative measures, are
there uniformly blended in harmony with the prodigies of war. But the
most striking and the finishing touch in the picture is the sudden and
irresistible ascendancy which the young General acquired:—the anarchy of
equality—the jealousy of republican principles—every thing vanished
before him: there was not a power, even to the ridiculous sovereignty of
the Directory, which was not immediately suspended. The Directory
required no accounts from the General-in-chief of the army of Italy; it
was left to himself to send them: no plan, no system was prescribed to
him; but accounts of victories and conclusions of armistices, of the
destruction of old states, and the creation of new ones, were constantly
received from him.

In the expedition of Egypt may be retraced all that is admired in the
campaign of Italy. The reflecting observer will even perceive that, in
the Egyptian expedition, the points of resemblance are of a more
important nature, from the difficulties of every kind which gave
character to the campaign, and required greater genius and resources on
the part of its conductor. In Egypt, a new order of things appeared:
climate, country, inhabitants, religion, manners, and mode of fighting,
all were different.[20]

Footnote 20:

  The most valuable information respecting these two immortal campaigns
  will doubtless be furnished by the collection of the orders of the
  day, and the daily correspondence of the General-in-chief with the
  Generals and Commissaries of his army. Several volumes of them have
  been published by Pankouke, under the title of “Correspondance
  inédite, officielle et confidentielle de Napoléon Bonaparte, &c.” They
  will altogether furnish the most excellent and useful lessons to the
  students of the military art.

The Memoirs of the Campaign of Egypt will determine points which, at the
time, formed only the subjects of conjecture and discussion to a large
portion of society.

1st. The expedition of Egypt was undertaken at the earnest and mutual
desire of the Directory and the General-in-chief.

2nd. The taking of Malta was not the consequence of a private
understanding, but of the wisdom of the General-in-chief. “It was in
Mantua that I took Malta,” said the Emperor one day; “it was the
generous treatment observed towards Wurmser that secured to me the
submission of the Grand Master and his Knights.”

3rd. The conquest of Egypt was planned with as much judgment as it was
executed with skill. If Saint Jean d’Acre had surrendered to the French
army, a great revolution would have taken place in the East; the
General-in-chief would have established an empire there, and the
destinies of France would have taken a different turn.

4th. On its return from the campaign of Syria, the French army had
scarcely sustained any loss; it remained in the most formidable and
prosperous condition.

5th. The departure of the General-in-chief for France was the result of
a grand and magnanimous plan. How ridiculous is the imbecility of those
who consider that departure as an escape or a desertion!

6th. Kleber fell a victim to Mussulman fanaticism. There is not the
slightest foundation for the absurd calumny which would have attributed
this catastrophe to the policy of his predecessor, or to the intrigues
of his successor.

7th, and lastly. It is pretty well proved that Egypt would have remained
for ever a French province if any other but Menou had been appointed for
her defence; nothing but the gross errors of that general could have
lost us the possession of Egypt.

The Emperor said, that no army in the world was less fit for the
Egyptian expedition than that which he led there—the army of Italy. It
would be difficult to describe the disgust, the discontent, the
melancholy, the despair of that army, on its first arrival in Egypt. The
Emperor himself saw two dragoons run out of the ranks and throw
themselves into the Nile. Bertrand had seen the most distinguished
generals, such as Lannes and Murat, in momentary fits of rage, throw
their laced hats on the sand and trample on them in the presence of the
soldiers. The Emperor explained these feelings surprisingly well. “This
army,” said he, “had fulfilled its career. All the individuals belonging
to it were satiated with wealth, rank, pleasure, and consideration; they
were not fit for the Deserts and the fatigues of Egypt: and,” continued
he, “had that army been placed in other hands than mine, it is difficult
to say what excesses might not have been committed.”

More than one conspiracy was formed to carry away the flags to
Alexandria, and other things of the same sort. The influence, the
character, and the glory of the General, could alone restrain the
troops. One day, Napoleon, losing his temper in his turn, rushed among a
group of discontented generals, and addressing himself, to the tallest,
“You have held mutinous language,” said he, with vehemence, “take care
that I do not fulfil my duty; it is not your being six foot high that
should save you from being shot in a couple of hours.”

With regard, however, to their conduct before the enemy, the Emperor
said that this army never ceased to be the army of Italy; that it still
preserved the same admirable character. The most difficult party to
manage was that which the Emperor used to call “the faction of the
_sentimentalists_,” whom it was impossible to keep under any restraint;
their minds were diseased; they spent the night in gazing on the moon
for the reflected image of the idols they had left in Europe. At the
head of this party was Berthier, the weak and spiritless Berthier, who,
when the General-in-chief was preparing to sail from Toulon, posted
night and day from Paris to tell him that he was unwell, and could not
accompany him, though he was the head of the staff. The General-in-chief
took not the smallest notice of what he said, and Berthier, finding
himself no longer at the feet of the fair one who had despatched him
with the excuse, set sail along with him! On his arrival in Egypt, he
became a prey to _ennui_, and was unable to subdue his tender
recollections;—he solicited and obtained permission to return to France.
He took leave of Napoleon, and bade him a formal adieu; but shortly
returned with his eyes full of tears, saying that, after all, he would
not dishonour himself, and that he could not separate his destiny from
that of his General.

Berthier’s love was mingled with a kind of worship. Adjoining the tent,
destined for his own use, he always had another prepared, and furnished
with the magnificence of the most elegant boudoir; this was consecrated
to the portrait of his mistress, before which he would sometimes even go
so far as to burn incense. This tent was pitched even in the deserts of
Syria. Napoleon said, with a smile, that his temple had oftener than
once been profaned by a worship less pure, through the clandestine
introduction of foreign divinities.

Berthier never relinquished his passion, which sometimes carried him to
the very verge of idiotcy. In his first account of the battle of
Marengo, young Visconti, his aide-de-camp, who was but a captain at
most, was mentioned five or six times in remembrance of his mother. “One
would have thought,” said Napoleon, “that the youth had gained the
battle.” Surely the General-in-chief must have been ready to throw the
paper in the writer’s face!

The Emperor calculated that he had given Berthier forty millions during
his life; but he supposed that from this weakness of his mind, his want
of regularity, and his ridiculous passion, he had squandered away a
great part of it.

The discontent of the troops in Egypt happily vented itself in sarcastic
jokes: this is the humour which always bears a Frenchman through
difficulties. They bore a great resentment against General Caffarelli,
whom they believed to have been one of the promoters of the expedition.
Caffarelli had a wooden leg, having lost one of his limbs on the banks
of the Rhine; and whenever the soldiers saw him hobbling-past, they
would say, loud enough for him to hear,—“That fellow does not care what
happens; he is certain, at all events, to have one foot in France.”

The men of science who accompanied the expedition also came in for their
share of the jests. Asses were very numerous in Egypt; almost all the
soldiers possessed one or two, and they used always to call them their

The General-in-chief, on his departure from France, had issued a
proclamation, in which he informed the troops that he was about to take
them to a country where he would make them all rich; where they should
each have seven acres of land at their disposal. The soldiers, when they
found themselves in the midst of the Desert, surrounded by the boundless
ocean of sand, began to question the generosity of their General: they
thought he had observed singular moderation in having promised only
seven acres. “The rogue,” said they, “might with safety give us as much
as he pleases; we should not abuse his good nature.”

While the army was passing through Syria, there was not a soldier but
was heard to repeat these lines from Zaire:—

            Les Français sont lassés de chercher désormais
          Des climats que pour eux le destin n’a point faits,
          Ils n’abandonnent point leur fertile patrie,
          Pour languir aux déserts de l’aride Arabie.

On one occasion, the General-in-chief, having a few moments’ leisure to
look about the country, took advantage of the ebb-tide, and crossed on
foot to the opposite coast of the Red Sea. Night surprised him on his
return, and he lost his way in the midst of the rising tide. He was in
the greatest danger, and very narrowly escaped perishing precisely in
the same manner as Pharaoh. “This,” said Napoleon, “would have furnished
all the preachers of Christianity with a splendid text against me.” On
reaching the Arabian coast of the Red Sea, he received a deputation of
the Cenobites of Mount Sinai, who came to implore his protection, and to
request him to inscribe his name on the ancient register of their
charters. Napoleon inscribed his name in the same list with those of
Ali, Saladin, Ibrahim, and others! In allusion to this circumstance, or
something of a similar kind, the Emperor observed that he had in the
course of one year received letters from Rome and Mecca; the Pope
addressing him as his dearest son, and the Sherif styling him the
Protector of the holy Kaaba.

This singular coincidence, however, is scarcely surprising, with
reference to him who has led armies both through the burning sands of
the Tropic, and over the frozen _Steppes_ of the North; who, when he
narrowly escaped being swallowed up in the waves of the Red Sea, or
might have perished in the flames of Moscow, was threatening the Indies
from those two extreme points.

The General-in-chief shared the fatigues of the soldiers. The privations
endured by every individual in the army were sometimes so great that
they were compelled to dispute with each other for the smallest
enjoyments, without the least distinction of rank. To such extremities
were they reduced that, in the Desert, the soldiers would hardly
relinquish their places to allow the General to dip his hands in a muddy
stream. On one occasion, as they were passing by the ruins of Pelusium,
and were almost suffocated with the heat, some one resigned to him a
fragment of a door, beneath which he contrived to shade his head for a
few minutes: “And this,” said Napoleon, “was no trifling concession.” It
was on this very spot, while removing some stones at his feet, that
chance rendered him the possessor of a superb antique, well known in the
learned world.[21]

Footnote 21:

  A cameo of Augustus, a mere sketch, but admirably designed. Napoleon
  gave it to General Andreossi, who was a great collector of
  antiquities; but M. Denon, who was at that time absent, having
  afterwards seen this cameo, was struck with its resemblance to
  Napoleon, who then had the stone returned to him and kept it. It
  afterwards fell into the possession of Josephine, and M. Denon does
  not know what has since become of it. (_This information was furnished
  to me by M. Denon since my return to France._)

In proceeding to Asia, the French army had to cross the Desert which
separates that continent from Africa. Kleber, who commanded the advanced
guard, mistook his road, and lost his way in the Desert. Napoleon, who
was following at the distance of half a day’s march, attended by a
slender escort, found himself at night-fall in the midst of the Turkish
camp: he was closely pursued, and escaped only because, it being night,
the Turks suspected that an ambush was intended. The next source of
uneasiness was the doubtful fate of Kleber and his detachment, and the
greater part of the night was passed in the most cruel anxiety. At
length they obtained information respecting them from some Arabs of the
Desert, and the General-in-chief hastened, on his dromedary, in quest of
his troops. He found them overwhelmed with despair, and ready to perish
from thirst and fatigue; some of the young soldiers had, in a moment of
frenzy, even broken their muskets. The sight of their General seemed to
give them new life, by reviving their hopes. Napoleon informed them that
a supply of provisions and water was coming up behind him. “But,” said
he, to the troops, “if relief had been longer delayed, would that have
excused your murmuring and loss of courage? No, soldiers; learn to die
with honour.”

Napoleon travelled the greater part of the way through the Desert on a
dromedary. The physical hardihood of this animal renders it unnecessary
to pay the least attention to his sustenance; he scarcely eats or
drinks; but his moral sensibility is extreme, harsh treatment provokes
his resentment, and renders him furious. The Emperor observed that the
roughness of his trot created nausea, like the motion of a ship. The
animal will travel twenty leagues a day. The Emperor formed some
dromedary regiments, and the use he made of them in the army soon proved
the destruction of the Arabs. The rider squats himself on the back of
the animal, through whose nostrils a ring is passed, which serves to
guide him: he is very obedient, and on a certain signal, made by the
voice of the rider, the animal kneels down to allow him to alight. The
dromedary will carry very heavy burdens, and he is never unloaded during
the whole of the journey. On his arrival at evening stations, his load
is propped up, and the animal lies down and goes to sleep: at day-break
he rises,—his burden is on his back, and he is ready to continue his
journey. The dromedary is only a beast of burden, and not at all fit for
draught. In Syria, however, they succeeded in yoking them to
field-pieces, thus rendering them essentially serviceable.

Napoleon became very popular among the Egyptians, who gave him the name
of Sultan Kebir (Father of Fire). He inspired particular respect:
wherever he appeared the people rose in his presence; and this deference
was paid to him alone. The uniform consideration with which he treated
the Sheiks, and the adroitness by which he gained their confidence,
rendered him truly the sovereign of Egypt, and more than once saved his
life. But for their disclosures, he would have fallen a victim to
fanaticism, like Kleber, who, on the contrary, rendered himself odious
to the Sheiks, and perished in consequence of subjecting one of them to
the punishment of the bastinado. Bertrand was one of the judges who
condemned the assassin, and, on his telling us this fact one day at
dinner, the Emperor observed:—“If the slanderers, who accuse me of
having caused the death of Kleber, were acquainted with the fact you
have mentioned, they would not hesitate to call you the assassin, or the
accomplice, and would take it for granted that your title of Grand
Marshal, and your residence at Saint Helena, are the reward and the
punishment of the crime.”

Napoleon willingly conversed with the people of the country, and always
displayed sentiments of justice which struck them with wonder. On his
way back to Syria, an Arab tribe came to meet him, for the double
purpose of shewing him respect and of selling their services as guides.
“The chief of the tribe was unwell, and his place was filled by his son,
a youth of the age and size of your boy here,” said the Emperor to me:
“he was mounted on his dromedary, riding close beside me, and chatting
to me with great familiarity. ’Sultan Kebir, said he, ‘I could give you
good advice, now that you are returning to Cairo,’ ‘Well, speak, my
friend, and if your advice is good, I will follow it.’—‘I’ll tell you
what I would do, if I were in your place. As soon as I got to Cairo, I
would order the richest slave-merchant into the market, and I would
choose twenty of the prettiest women for myself; I would next send for
the richest jewellers, and would make them give me up a good share of
their stock; I would then do the same with all the other merchants; for
what is the use of reigning, or being powerful, if not to acquire
riches?’—‘But, my friend, suppose it were more noble to preserve them
for others?’ This sentiment seemed to make him reflect a little, without
convincing him. The young man was evidently very promising, for an Arab:
he was lively and courageous, and led his troop with dignity and order.
He is, perhaps, destined, one day or other, to carry his advice into
execution for his own benefit in the market-place of Cairo.”

On another occasion, some Arabs who were on friendly terms with the
army, penetrated into a village on the frontier, and an unfortunate
Fellah (peasant) was killed. The Sultan Kebir flew into a great passion;
and, vowing that he would have vengeance, gave orders that the tribe
should be pursued into the Desert to extinction. This order was given in
the presence of the principal Sheiks, one of whom could not refrain from
laughing at his anger and his determination. “Sultan Kebir,” said he,
“you are playing a bad game just now: do not quarrel with these people;
they can do you ten times more harm than you can do them. And besides,
what is it all about. Because they have killed a miserable peasant? Was
he your cousin (a proverbial expression among them)?” “He was more than
my cousin,” replied Napoleon; “all those whom I govern are my children:
power is given to me only that I may ensure their safety.” On hearing
these words all the Sheiks bowed their heads, and said, “O! that is very
fine;—you have spoken like the Prophet.”

The decision of the Grand Mosque of Cairo in favour of the French army
was a masterpiece of skill on the part of the General-in-chief, who
induced the synod of the chief Sheiks to declare, by a public act, that
the Mussulmans should obey, and pay tribute to, the French general. It
is the first and only example of the sort, since the establishment of
the Koran, which forbids submission to Infidels. The details of this
transaction are invaluable: they will be found in the Campaigns of

Saint-Jean d’Acre, doubtless, presented a singular spectacle, when two
European armies met with hostile intentions in a little town of Asia,
with the mutual purpose of securing the possession of a portion of
Africa; but it is still more extraordinary that the persons who directed
the efforts of each party were both of the same nation, of the same age,
of the same rank, of the same corps, and of the same school.

Philippeaux, to whose talents the English and Turks owed the
preservation of Saint Jean d’Acre, had been the companion of Napoleon at
the military school of Paris: they had been there examined together,
previous to their being sent to their respective corps. “His figure
resembled yours,” said the Emperor to me, after having dictated his
eulogium in the Memoirs, and mentioned all the mischief he had done him.
“Sire,” I answered, “there were many other points of affinity between
us; we had been intimate and inseparable companions at the Military
School. When he passed through London with Sir Sydney Smith, who, by his
assistance, had been enabled to escape from the Temple, he sought for me
in every direction. I called at his lodgings only half an hour after his
departure; had it not been for this accident, I should probably have
accompanied him. I was at the time without occupation; the prospect of
adventure might have tempted me; and how strangely might the course of
my destinies have been turned in a new direction!”

“I am well aware,” said Napoleon, “of the influence which chance usurps
over our political determinations; and it is the knowledge of that
circumstance which has always kept me free from prejudice, and rendered
me very indulgent with regard to the party adopted by individuals in our
political convulsions. To be a good Frenchman, or to wish to become one,
was all that I looked for in any one.”—The Emperor then went on to
compare the confusion of our troubles to battles in the night-time,
where each man attacks his neighbour, and friends are often confounded
with foes; but when daylight returns, and order is restored, every one
forgives the injury which he has sustained through mistake. “Even for
myself,” said he, “how could I undertake to say that there might not
have existed circumstances sufficiently powerful, notwithstanding my
natural sentiments, to induce me to emigrate? The vicinity of the
frontier, for instance, a friendly attachment, or the influence of a
chief. In revolutions, we can only speak with certainty to what we have
done: it is silly to affirm that we could not have acted otherwise.” The
Emperor then related a singular example of the influence of chance over
the destinies of men. Serrurier and the younger Hedouville, while
travelling together on foot to emigrate into Spain, were met by a
military patrol. Hedouville, being the younger and more active of the
two, cleared the frontier, thought himself very lucky, and went to spend
a life of mere vegetation in Spain. Serrurier, on the contrary, being
obliged to return into the interior, bewailed his unhappy fate, and
became a marshal: such is the uncertainty of human foresight and

At Saint-Jean d’Acre, the General-in-chief lost Caffarelli, of whom he
was extremely fond. Caffarelli entertained a sort of reverential respect
for the General-in-chief. The influence of this sentiment was so great
that, though he was delirious for several days previous to his death,
when Napoleon went to see him, the announcement of his name seemed to
recal him to life: he became more collected, his spirits revived, and he
conversed coherently; but he relapsed into his former state immediately
after Napoleon’s departure. This singular phenomenon was renewed every
time the General-in-chief paid him a visit.

Napoleon received, during the siege of Saint-Jean d’Acre, an affecting
proof of heroic devotedness. While he was in the trenches, a shell fell
at his feet; two grenadiers who observed it immediately rushed towards
him, placed him between them, and raising their arms above his head,
completely covered every part of his body. Happily the shell respected
the whole group; nobody was injured.

One of these brave grenadiers afterwards became General Dumesnil, who
lost a leg in the campaign of Moscow, and commanded the fortress of
Vincennes at the time of the invasion in 1814. The capital had been for
some weeks occupied by the Allies, and Dumesnil still held out. Nothing
was then talked of in Paris but his obstinate defence, and his humorous
reply when summoned by the Russians to surrender;—“Give me back my leg,
and I will give up my fortress.”

The French soldiers acquired extraordinary reputation in Egypt, and not
without cause; they had dispersed and dismayed the celebrated Mamelucks,
the most formidable militia of the East. After the retreat from Syria, a
Turkish army landed at Aboukir: Murat-Bey, the most powerful and brave
of the Mamelucks, left Upper Egypt, whither he had fled for safety, and
reached the Turkish camp by a circuitous route. On the landing of the
Turks, the French detachments had fallen back in order to concentrate
their forces. The Pacha who commanded the Turks was delighted at this
movement, which he mistook for the effect of fear; and, on perceiving
Murat-Bey, he exultingly exclaimed:—“So! these are the terrible French
whom you could not face; see, the moment I make my appearance, how they
fly before me.“ The indignant Murat-Bey furiously replied:—“Pacha,
render thanks to the Prophet that it has pleased these Frenchmen to
retire; if they should return, you will disappear before them like dust
before the wind.”

His words were prophetical:—some days after, the French poured down upon
the Turkish army and put it to flight. Murat-Bey, who had interviews
with several of our generals, was extremely surprised at their
diminutive stature and pitiful condition. The Oriental nations attach
high importance to the bodily stature, and they were unable to conceive
how so much genius could exist within such small dimensions. The
appearance of Kleber alone came up to their ideas; he was an uncommonly
fine-looking man, but his manners were rude. The discrimination of the
Egyptians induced them to think that he was not a Frenchman; in fact,
though a native of Alsace, he had spent the early part of his life in
the Prussian army, and might very well have passed for a German. Some
one said that Kleber had been a Janissary in his youth; the Emperor
burst into a fit of laughter, and said somebody had been imposing on

The Grand-Marshal told the Emperor that at the battle of Aboukir he was
for the first time placed in his army, and near his person. He was then
so little accustomed to the boldness of his manœuvres, that he
scarcely understood any of the orders he heard him give. “Particularly,
Sire,” added he, “when I heard you call out to an officer, ‘Hercule, my
dear fellow, take twenty-five men and charge that rabble:’ I really
thought I had lost my senses; your Majesty pointed to a detachment of a
thousand Turkish horse.”

After all, the losses sustained by the army in Egypt were far from being
so considerable as might have been expected in a country to which the
troops were unaccustomed; particularly when the insalubrity of the
climate, the remoteness of the resources of the country, the ravages of
the plague, and the numerous actions which have immortalized that army,
are taken into account. The French force, at its landing in Egypt,
amounted to 30,000 men; it was augmented by the wrecks of the battle of
Aboukir, and probably also by some partial arrivals from France; and yet
the total loss sustained by the army, from the commencement of the
campaign to two months after the departure of the General-in-chief for
Europe, (during the space of seven or eight-and-twenty months,) amounted
only to 8,915, as is proved by the official report of the

Footnote 22:

            Killed in battle                           3614
            Died of their wounds                        854
            Died through various accidents              290
            Died from common disorders                 2468
            Died from the pestilential fever           1689
                                               Total   8915
             _Cairo, 10 Frimaire, year IX._     Sartelon,

The life of a man must indeed be replete with prodigies, when one of his
acts, which is without parallel in history scarcely arrests our
attention. When Cæsar passed the Rubicon, he possessed an army, and was
advancing in his own defence. When Alexander, urged by the ardour of
youth and the fire of genius, landed in Asia, to make war on the great
King, he, Alexander, was the son of a king, a king himself, and courted
the chances of ambition and glory at the head of the forces of his
kingdom. But that a private individual, whose name three years before
was unknown to the world, who at that moment had nothing to aid him but
the reputation of a few victories, his name, and the consciousness of
his genius, should have dared to conceive the project of taking into his
own hands the destinies of thirty millions of men, of protecting them
from external defeats and internal dissensions;—that, roused by the
recital of the troubles which were described to him, and by the idea of
the disasters which he foresaw, he should have exclaimed, “France will
be lost through these fine talkers, these babblers: now is the time to
save her!”—that he should have abandoned his army, and crossed the seas,
at the risk of his liberty and reputation, have reached the French soil
and flown to the capital; that he should there have seized the helm, and
stopped short a nation intoxicated with every excess; that he should
have suddenly brought her back to the true course of reason and
justice;—that he should from that moment have prepared for her a career
of power and glory till then unknown;—and that all this should have been
accomplished without the shedding of a single tear or a drop of
blood;—such an undertaking may be regarded as one of the most gigantic
and sublime that ever was heard of; it will fill calm and dispassionate
posterity with astonishment and admiration; though at the time it was
branded by some with the name of a desperate flight, and an infamous
desertion. The army, however, which Napoleon left behind him, continued
to occupy Egypt for the space of two years longer. It was the opinion of
the Emperor that it ought never to have been forced to surrender; and
the Grand Marshal, who accompanied the army to the last moment,
concurred in that opinion.

After the departure of the General-in-chief, Kleber, who succeeded him,
deceived and misled by intrigues, treated for the evacuation of Egypt;
but when the enemy’s refusal compelled him to seek for new glory, and to
form a more just estimate of his own force, he totally altered his
opinions, and declared himself favourable to the occupation of Egypt;
and this had even become the general sentiment of the army. He now
thought only of maintaining himself in the country; he dismissed those
who had influenced him in forming his first design, and collected around
him only those who favoured the contrary measure. Had he lived, Egypt
would have been secure; to his death her loss must be attributed. The
command of the army was afterwards divided between Menou and Regnier. It
then became a mere field of intrigue: the energy and courage of the
French troops continued unabated; but they were no longer employed and
directed as they had been by Kleber. Menou was totally inefficient; the
English advanced to attack him with twenty thousand men; his force was
much more considerable, and the general spirit of the two armies was not
to be compared. By an inconceivable infatuation, Menou hastily dispersed
his troops, as soon as he learned that the English were about to appear,
the latter advanced in a mass, and were attacked only in detail. “How
blind is fortune,” said the Emperor; “by the adoption of contrary
measures, the English would infallibly have been destroyed; and how many
new chances might not that event have brought about!”

Their landing was admirable, said the Grand Marshal: in less than five
or six minutes five thousand five hundred men appeared in order of
battle: it was a truly theatrical movement; and it was thrice repeated.
Their landing was opposed by only twelve hundred men, who did them
considerable damage. Shortly after, this mass, amounting to between
thirteen and fourteen thousand, was intrepidly attacked by General
Lanusse. The General had only three thousand troops; but fired with
ambition, and not doubting that his force was adequate to fulfil the
object he had in view, he would not wait for reinforcements; at first he
overthrew every thing in his way, and, after causing immense slaughter
to the enemy, he was at length defeated. Had his force been two or three
thousand stronger, he would have attained his object.

The English were greatly astonished when they had an opportunity of
judging for themselves of our real situation in Egypt; and they
considered themselves extremely fortunate in the turn which affairs had

General Hutchinson, who reaped the glory of the conquest, said, on his
return to Europe, that had the English known the real state of things,
they would certainly never have attempted to land; but in England it was
believed that there were not six thousand French troops in Egypt. This
mistake arose out of the intercepted letters, as well as the
intelligence that was collected in Egypt. “So natural is it to
Frenchmen,” said Napoleon, “to exaggerate, murmur, and misrepresent,
whenever they are dissatisfied. These reports, however, were created
merely by ill-humour or diseased imaginations: it was said that there
was a famine in Egypt; that the French had all been destroyed, at every
new battle; that the plague had swept away the whole army; that there
was not a man left,” &c.

Through the repetition of these reports, Pitt was at length persuaded of
their reality; and how could it be otherwise? The First Consul saw the
despatches from his successor addressed to the Directory; and also
letters from various persons in the French army. Who can explain the
contradictions they contained? Who will henceforth trust to individual
authority for the support of his opinion? Kleber, the General-in-chief,
informed the Directory, that he had only six thousand men, while in the
same packet the accounts of the inspector of reviews exhibited upwards
of twenty thousand. Kleber declared that he was without money, and the
treasury accounts display vast sums. The General-in-chief alleged that
the artillery was merely an intrenched park, destitute of ammunition;
while the estimates of that department made mention of stores for
several campaigns. “Thus, if Kleber, by virtue of the treaty he
commenced, had evacuated Egypt,” said the Emperor, “I should undoubtedly
have brought him to trial on his return to France. All these
contradictory documents had been submitted to the examination and
opinion of the Council of State.”

From the letters of Kleber, the General-in-chief, an idea may be formed
of the tone of those written by persons of inferior rank, and by the
common soldiers. Such, however, were the communications daily
intercepted by the English; which they printed and which guided them in
their operations—a circumstance that must have cost them dear. The
Emperor observed that in all his campaigns he had seen the same effect
produced by intercepted letters, which sometimes had proved of great
advantage to him.

Among the letters which at this period fell into his hands, he found
odious attacks upon himself, which he felt the more sensibly because
several of them were written by persons whom he had loaded with
benefits, in whom he had reposed full confidence, and whom he believed
to be strongly attached to him. One of these individuals, whose fortune
he had made, and in whom he trusted with the utmost sincerity, alleged
that the General-in-chief had decamped, after robbing the treasury of
two millions. Fortunately, in these same despatches the accounts of the
Paymaster proved that the General had not even received the whole amount
of the pay due to him. “On reading this statement,” said the Emperor, “I
felt really disgusted at mankind. This was the first moral
disappointment I had ever experienced; and if it has not been the only
one, it has, perhaps, at least, been the most severe. Many individuals
in the army thought me ruined, and they were already eagerly seeking to
pay their court in the proper quarter at my expense.” The author of the
assertion above alluded to subsequently endeavoured to restore himself
to favour. The Emperor signified that he should have no objection to his
being employed in a subordinate situation; but that he would never see
him again. To every application he constantly replied that he did not
know him: this was the only vengeance he took.

The Emperor never ceased to repeat that Egypt ought to have remained in
the possession of the French, which would infallibly have been the case
had the country been defended by Kleber or Desaix. “These were my two
most distinguished lieutenants,” said he; “both possessed great and rare
merits, though their characters and dispositions were very different.”

Kleber’s was the talent of nature; Desaix’s was entirely the result of
education and assiduity. The genius of Kleber only burst forth at
particular moments, when roused by the importance of the occasion; and
then it immediately slumbered again in the bosom of indolence and
pleasure. The talent of Desaix was always in full activity; he lived
only for noble ambition and true glory: his character was formed on the
true ancient model. The Emperor said that his death was the greatest
loss he could possibly have sustained. Their conformity of education and
principles would always have preserved a good understanding between
them. Desaix would have been satisfied with secondary rank, and would
have remained ever devoted and faithful. Had he not been killed at the
battle of Marengo, the First Consul would have given him the command of
the army of Germany, instead of continuing it to Moreau. A very
extraordinary circumstance in the destiny of these two lieutenants of
Napoleon was that on the very day and at the very hour when Kleber was
assassinated at Cairo, Desaix was killed by a cannon-ball at Marengo.


October 1st—3rd. The wind, the sea, and the temperature still continued
without variation. The westerly wind, which had at first been so much in
our favour, now began to be adverse. We had taken an easterly direction,
in the hope of falling in with the trade-winds; but we now found
ourselves to the leeward of the place of our destination, through the
continuance of the westerly winds—a circumstance which surprised every
body, and excited dissatisfaction among the crew.

The Emperor every morning regularly continued his dictation, in which he
daily took a deeper interest; consequently his hours henceforth seemed
less tedious.

The vessel had been sent out of port in such a hurry that many repairs
remained to be completed after we had put to sea, and the painting of
the ship had only recently been finished. The Emperor’s sense of
smelling is extremely delicate; and he found the paint so very offensive
that he was forced to confine himself to his cabin for two days.

Every evening, when taking his walk on deck, he loved to revert to the
occupation of the morning. At first, he was assisted by no other
document than a wretched work entitled _Guerres des Français en Italie_,
written without end or object, and devoid of any connected chronological
plan. The Emperor glanced through it, and his memory supplied all
deficiences: this faculty indeed appeared to me the more extraordinary
since it always seemed to be in readiness when needed, and as if at

When the Emperor commenced his daily dictations, he always complained
that the circumstances to which he wished to recur were no longer
familiar to him. He seemed to want confidence in himself, saying he
should never get through the task. After considering for a few moments
he would rise and walk about, and then begin to dictate. From that
moment he was quite another man: every thing flowed smoothly; he spoke
as if by inspiration; places, dates, phrases—he stopped at nothing.

On the following day I read to him what he had dictated. After making
the first correction he continued to go on with the same subject, as
though he had said nothing about it the day before. The difference
between the first and the second version was very great: the latter was
more positive and diffuse, and better arranged; indeed it sometimes
materially differed from the first.

On the day succeeding the first correction, the same operation was
repeated, and the Emperor commenced his third dictation for the purpose
of setting the two former ones right. But after that, had he dictated a
fourth, a seventh, or a tenth time, as he in some instances did, it
would have been a repetition of precisely the same ideas, the same
construction of phrases, and almost the same words. It was needless to
take the trouble to write, though before his eyes: he paid no attention
to what was doing, and continued to the end of his subject. It would
have been vain to ask him to repeat any thing that might not have been
distinctly heard: he still went on; and as he dictated with great
rapidity, I never ventured to interrupt him, lest I should lose still
more, and find myself unable to recover the thread of the subject.

                          A SINGULAR ACCIDENT.

4th—7th. The continuance of the south-west wind was truly unfortunate.
We were now going back instead of forward and we had completely entered
the Gulf of Guinea. There we perceived a ship, with which we spoke. She
proved to be a French ship, driven out of her course like ourselves. She
had sailed from a port in Britany, and was bound for the Isle of
Bourbon. The Emperor had been much distressed for want of books; and I
jokingly said that perhaps I might have a box-full on board that ship,
as I had despatched one to the Isle of Bourbon, a few months since. I
spoke truly. Such is the caprice of chance! Had I been in quest of this
ship, I might have traversed the ocean in vain. This was the identical
vessel: I learned her name next day from the officer who had visited
her. This officer strangely surprised the French captain, by telling him
that the Emperor Napoleon was on board the ship which he then saw making
for St. Helena. The poor fellow shook his head sorrowfully, and said,
“You have robbed us of our treasure: you have taken away him who knew
how to govern us according to our tastes and manners.”


8th—11th. The weather continued obstinately settled. We every evening
consoled ourselves, for the unfavourable state of the day, with the hope
of a change during the night; but we arose in the morning with the same
disappointment. We had been almost within sight of the Congo, and we
stood off. Every one manifested discontent and _ennui_. The crew
complained of the Admiral; had he taken the usual course, said they, we
should have reached our destination long before; his caprice, they
observed, had led him, in spite of reason, to try an experiment, of
which they knew not what might be the consequence. Their murmurs were
not, however, so vehement as those raised against Christopher Columbus;
we should not have been ill pleased had he been reduced to the necessity
of finding another Saint Salvador, in order to evade the crisis. Being
for my own part fully occupied, this circumstance engrossed but little
of my attention; and after all, one prison was as good as another. As to
the Emperor, he was still more unconcerned at this delay; he merely
looked upon it as so many days spent.

_Les Mémoires de Napoléon Bonaparte, par quelqu’un qui ne l’a jamais
quitté pendant 15 ans_, (_The Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, by one who
was constantly near him, during fifteen years_,) was the title of a work
which I began to examine after the writings of Sir Robert Wilson. It is
a volume of three hundred pages, by an anonymous author—a circumstance
in itself sufficient to inspire distrust at the first outset. But the
composition and style of the work soon created more positive doubts in
the mind of the reflecting reader, who is accustomed to judge of books.
Finally, he who has seen and known but little of the Emperor will not
hesitate to affirm, on reading the very first pages, that this work is a
mere romance, written at pleasure; that the author has never approached
the Emperor; and that he is a hundred leagues distant from his language,
habits, and every thing concerning him. The Emperor never said to a
minister: “Count, do this,”—“Count, execute that.” Ambassadors never
attended his levee. Napoleon could not, at fourteen years of age, have
made to a lady in company, the reply attributed to him, relative to the
Viscomte de Turenne; because from the age of ten to eighteen he was
attending the Military School, where he could not possibly have been
introduced to the company of ladies. It was not Perignon, who did not
know him, but Dugommier, who had been his General, who recommended him
in so marked a way to the Directory. It was a letter for restoring the
Democracy, and not the Bourbons, which an officer addressed to the First
Consul, &c.

The Emperor, who in Europe was universally acknowledged to have
preserved the most impenetrable secrecy with regard to his plans and
views, never indulged in gestures, and still less in soliloquies, which
would have been likely to betray him: nor did his anger ever throw him
into fits of insanity or epilepsy—an absurd fabrication which was long
circulated in the saloons of Paris, but which was relinquished when it
was found that those accidents never occurred on important occasions.
These Memoirs have unquestionably been an ordered work, the speculation
of some bookseller who has furnished the title. Be this as it may, it
might have been supposed that, in adverting to a career so public as
that of the Emperor and of those who surrounded him, the author might
have evinced more accuracy and knowledge of his subject. He is aware of
his insufficiency on this head, and seeks to defend himself by saying
that he was under the necessity of altering names, and that he did not
wish to render certain portraits too striking; but he also observes this
circumspection with regard to facts, so that they cannot be recognised.
They are for the most part entirely the creations of his own fancy.
Thus, the paper whose loss cost the General-in-chief so much anxiety in
Egypt; the recommendation of the young Englishman, who transported
Bonaparte with joy by opening to him so brilliant a perspective of
fortune at Constantinople; the melodrama of Malmaison, where the heroism
of Madame Bonaparte (who is described as an absolute amazon) so promptly
secures the safety of her husband, may perhaps excite the interest of
the reader; but they are only so many fables; and the story relative to
Malmaison shews that the author knew no more of the character and
disposition of the Empress Josephine than of those of the Emperor. The
writer, however, by extolling certain traits, praising certain actions,
and refuting certain falsehoods, assumes an air of impartiality, which,
joined to his pretended situation near the Emperor during fifteen years,
produces a wonderful effect in the eyes of common readers. Most of the
Englishmen on board the vessel looked upon this work as a kind of
oracle. Their opinion was not changed on finding the Emperor’s character
so different from that attributed to him in this romance. They were
inclined to believe that adversity and constraint had wrought an
alteration in the Emperor, rather than to suppose that these printed
statements were false. To my observations, they constantly replied:—“But
the author was an impartial man, and one who was about the Emperor for
fifteen years:”—“But,” said I, “what is this man’s name? If he had
personally injured you in his book, how could you bring him to justice?
Any body here might have written it!” These arguments were of course
unanswerable; but the English found great difficulty in overcoming their
first impressions: such are the common mass of readers, and such is the
effect inevitably produced by printed falsehoods!

But I shall no longer continue my examination of a work which is not
deserving of farther notice; I therefore dispense with the remainder. On
revising my manuscript in Europe, I found that public opinion had made
such progress that I should be ashamed to waste time in refuting
allegations and facts which judgment and common sense have long since
rejected, and which are now repeated only by fools.

In endeavouring to subvert the erroneous notions which this author
thought proper to create respecting the character of Napoleon, it will
perhaps be thought that I should substitute my own opinions in their
stead; but this I shall carefully avoid. I shall content myself with
noting down all that I saw and heard; I will report his conversations,
and nothing more must be expected.

12th—13th. By dint of patience, and with the help of a few trifling
variations, we gradually approached the termination of our voyage; and,
though deprived of the natural monsoon, we had now advanced within a
short distance of our place of destination. As we continued our course,
the weather gradually improved, and at length the wind became perfectly
favourable; but this change did not take place until twenty-four hours
before our arrival.

14th.—The Admiral had previously informed us that he expected to come
within sight of St. Helena this day. We had scarcely risen from table
when our ears were saluted with the cry of _Land!_ This was just within
a quarter of an hour of the moment that had been fixed on. Nothing can
better prove the advancement of navigation, than this sort of miracle,
by which seamen are enabled to foretel the hour at which they shall
arrive at a particular point in the vast expanse. The Emperor went on
the forecastle to see the island: he thought he perceived it, but I
could see nothing. We lay-to all night.

                       ARRIVAL OFF SAINT-HELENA.

15th.—At day light I had a tolerably near view of the island. At first I
thought it rather extensive; but it seemed to diminish considerably as
we approached. At length, about seventy days after our departure from
England, and a hundred and ten after our departure from Paris, we cast
anchor about noon. This was the first link of the chain that was to bind
the modern Prometheus to his rock.

We found at anchor several of the vessels of our squadron, which had
separated from us, or which we had left behind. They had, however,
arrived several days before us: another proof of the extreme uncertainty
attending nautical calculations.

The Emperor, contrary to custom, dressed early and went upon deck; he
went forward on the gangway to view the island. We beheld a kind of
village surrounded by numerous barren and naked hills towering to the
clouds. Every platform, every aperture, the brow of every hill, was
planted with cannon. The Emperor viewed the prospect through his glass.
I stood behind him. My eyes were constantly fixed on his countenance, in
which I could perceive no change; and yet he saw before him, perhaps his
perpetual prison!—perhaps his grave!... What, then, remained for me to
feel or to express!

The Emperor soon left the deck. He desired me to come to him, and we
proceeded with our usual occupation.

The admiral, who had gone ashore very early, returned about six o’clock,
much fatigued. He had been walking about various parts of the island,
and at length thought he had found a habitation that would suit us. The
place, however, stood in need of repairs which might occupy two months.
We had now been confined to our wooden dungeon for nearly three months;
and the precise instructions of the Ministers were that we should be
detained there until our prison on shore was ready for our reception.
The Admiral, to do him justice, was incapable of such barbarity; he
informed us, at the same time betraying a sort of inward satisfaction,
that he would take upon himself the responsibility of putting us ashore
next day.

                          RESIDENCE AT BRIARS.

                     FROM THE 16th OF OCTOBER 1815,
                      OF OUR REMOVAL TO LONGWOOD.


An interval of a Month and Twenty-four Days.



Oct. 16th.—After dinner, the Emperor, accompanied by the Grand Marshal,
got into a boat to go ashore. By a remarkable and irresistible impulse,
the officers all assembled on the quarter-deck, and the greater part of
the crew on the gangways. This was not the effect of curiosity, which an
acquaintance of three months’ duration could not fail to have removed,
and which was now succeeded by the liveliest interest. The Emperor,
before he stepped into the boat, sent for the captain of the vessel, and
took leave of him, desiring him at the same time to convey his thanks to
the officers and crew. These words appeared to produce a great sensation
on all by whom they were understood, or to whom they were interpreted.
The remainder of the Emperor’s suite landed about eight o’clock. We were
accompanied by several of the officers, and every one on board seemed to
be sincerely affected at our departure.

We found the Emperor in the apartment which had been assigned to him; a
few minutes after our arrival he went up stairs to his chamber, where we
were called to attend him. His situation here was no better than it had
been on board the vessel; we found ourselves lodged in a sort of inn or

The town of St. Helena consists only of one very short street, or row of
houses, built along a very narrow valley, formed between two mountains,
quite perpendicular, composed of barren rock.



17th.—At six o’clock in the morning the Emperor, the Grand Marshal, and
the Admiral, rode out on horse-back to visit Longwood, a house which had
been chosen for the Emperor’s residence, and was more than two leagues
from the town. On their return they saw a small villa situated in the
valley about two miles from the town. The Emperor was extremely
reluctant to return to the place where he had passed the preceding
night, and where he felt himself more completely secluded from the world
than he had been when on board the vessel. What with the sentinels who
guarded his doors, and the crowds of persons whom curiosity had
attracted beneath his windows, he had been obliged to confine himself to
his chamber. A small pavilion, attached to the villa above-mentioned,
pleased him, and the Admiral was of opinion that he would be more
agreeably situated there than in the town. In this place, therefore, the
Emperor fixed his residence, and immediately sent for me. He had become
so much interested in his work, on the Campaigns of Italy, that he could
not suspend it:—I immediately proceeded to join him.

The little valley in which the village of St. Helena [James Town] is
situated, extends to a considerable distance up the island, winding
along between two chains of barren hills which enclose it on either
side. A good carriage-road runs through this valley to the distance of
about two miles; after which it is traced along the brow of the hill
which rises on the left, while nothing but precipices and gulfs are
discoverable on the right. The rugged aspect of the country here
gradually diminishes, and the road opens on a small level height, on
which are several houses interspersed with trees and different kinds of
vegetation: this is a little oasis amidst the rocky desert. Here is
situated the modest residence of Mr. Balcombe, a merchant of the island.
At the distance of thirty or forty paces from the dwelling-house, on a
pointed eminence, stood a little summer-house or pavilion, to which, in
fine weather, the family were accustomed to retire to take tea and amuse
themselves: this was the obscure retreat hired by the Admiral, as the
temporary residence of the Emperor; and he took possession of it in the
morning. As I was ascending the winding path leading to the pavilion, I
thought I perceived the Emperor, and stopped to look at him. It was
Napoleon himself: his body was slightly bent, and his hands behind his
back; he wore his usual neat and simple uniform, and his celebrated
little hat. He was standing at the threshold of the door whistling a
popular French tune, when I advanced towards him. “Ah!” said he, “here
you are! Why have you not brought your son?” “Sire,” I replied, “the
respect, the consideration I owe you prevented me.”—“You cannot do
without him,” continued he; “send for him.”

In none of his campaigns, perhaps in no situation of his past life, had
the Emperor been so wretchedly lodged, or subject to so many privations.
The summer-house contained one room, nearly square, on the ground-floor,
having two doors facing each other on two of its sides, and two windows
on each of the other sides. These windows had neither curtains nor
shutters, and there was scarcely a seat in the room. The Emperor was at
this moment alone; his two valets-de-chambre were bustling about to
prepare his bed. He wished to walk a little; but there was no level
ground on any side of the pavilion, which was surrounded by huge pieces
of stone and rock. He took my arm, and began to converse in a cheerful
strain. Night was advancing; profound silence, undisturbed solitude,
prevailed on every side;—what a crowd of sensations and sentiments
overwhelmed me at this moment!—I was in this desert, _tête-a-tête_, and
enjoying familiar conversation with the man who had ruled the
world!—with Napoleon! What were my feelings!——But to understand them it
would be necessary to revert to the days of his past glory; to the time
when one of his decrees sufficed to subvert thrones and create kings! It
would be necessary to reflect on what he was to all who surrounded him
at the Tuileries: the timid embarrassment, the profound respect, with
which he was approached by his ministers and officers; the anxiety, the
dread of ambassadors, princes and even kings! With me all these
sentiments remained in full force.

When the Emperor was about to retire to rest, we found that one of the
windows (which, as I have already observed, had neither shutters nor
curtains) was close upon his bed, nearly on a level with his face. We
barricadoed it as well as we could, so as to exclude the air, of the
effects of which the Emperor is very susceptible, the least draught
being sufficient to give him cold or the tooth-ache. For my part I
ascended to the upper story, immediately above the Emperor’s room. In
this place, the dimensions of which were about seven feet square, there
was only a bed, and not a single chair: this served as a lodging for me
and my son, for whom a mattress was spread out upon the floor. But how
could we complain, being so near the Emperor? we could hear the sound of
his voice, and distinguish his words! The valets-de-chambre slept on the
ground, across the doorway, wrapped up in their cloaks. Such is the
faithful description of the first night which Napoleon passed at Briars.



18th.—I breakfasted with the Emperor: he had neither table-cloth nor
plates; and the remains of the preceding day’s dinner were brought to
him for breakfast.

The English officer was lodged in the neighbouring house, as our guard,
and two inferior officers marched up and down with an air of military
parade before our eyes, for the purpose of watching our motions.
Breakfast being over, the Emperor proceeded to his dictation, which
occupied him some hours. He afterwards went to explore our new domain,
and to take a view of the surrounding grounds.

Descending our hillock on the side facing the principal house, we found
a path bordered by a hedge and running at the foot of precipices. After
walking along the path to the distance of two hundred paces, we arrived
at a little garden, the door of which was open. This garden is long and
narrow, and formed on very uneven ground; but a tolerable level walk
extends the whole length of it. At the entrance there is a sort of
arbour at one extremity; and at the other are two huts for the negroes
whose business it is to look after the garden. It contains some
fruit-trees and a few flowers. We had no sooner entered the garden, than
we were met by the daughters of the master of the house, girls about
fourteen or fifteen years of age: the one sprightly, giddy, and caring
for nothing; the other more sedate, but, at the same time, possessing
great _naïveté_ of manner; both speak a little French. They had walked
through the garden, and put all the flowers under contribution, to
present them to the Emperor, whom they overwhelmed with the most
whimsical and ridiculous questions. The Emperor was much amused by this
familiarity, to which he was so little accustomed. “We have been to a
masked ball,” said he, when the young ladies had taken their leave.



19th—20th. The Emperor invited my son to breakfast: it may be easily
imagined that he was greatly overjoyed at this honour! It was, perhaps,
the first time he had ever been so near the Emperor, or had spoken to
him; and he was not a little flurried on the occasion.

The table still remained without a cloth; the breakfast continued to be
brought from the town, and consisted of only two or three wretched
dishes. To-day a chicken was brought: the Emperor wished to carve it
himself, and to help us. He was astonished at finding that he succeeded
so well; it was long, he said, since he had done so much: for all his
politeness, he added, had been lost in the business and cares of his
Generalship of Italy.

Coffee is almost a necessary of life to the Emperor: but here it proved
so bad that, on tasting it he thought himself poisoned. He sent it away,
and made me send away mine also.

The Emperor was at this moment using a snuff-box set with several
ancient medals, which were surrounded by Greek inscriptions. The Emperor
not being certain of the name of one of the heads, asked me to translate
the inscription; and on my replying that it was beyond my powers, he
laughed and said, “I see you are no better scholar than myself.” My son
then tremblingly undertook the task, and read Mithridates,
Demetrius-Poliorcetes, and some other names. The extreme youth of my
son, and this circumstance, attracted the Emperor’s attention. “Is your
son so far advanced?” said he; and he began to question him at great
length respecting his Lyceum, his masters, his lessons, &c. Then turning
to me, “What a rising generation I leave behind me!” said he. “This is
all my work! The merits of the French youth will be a sufficient revenge
to me. On beholding the work, all must render justice to the workman!
and the perverted judgment or bad faith of declaimers must fall before
my deeds. If I had thought only of myself, and of securing my own power,
as has been continually asserted, if I had really had any other object
in view than to establish the reign of reason, I should have endeavoured
to _hide the light under a bushel_; instead of which, I devoted myself
to the propagation of knowledge, and yet the youth of France have not
enjoyed all the benefits which I intended they should. My University,
according to the plan I had conceived, was a master-piece in its
combinations, and would have been such in its national results. But an
evil-disposed person spoiled all; and in so doing he was actuated no
doubt by bad intentions, and with a view to some purpose.”

In the evening the Emperor went to visit our neighbours. Mr. Balcombe,
who was suffering under a fit of the gout, lay stretched on a sofa; his
wife and the two young ladies, whom he had met in the morning, were
beside him. The _masked ball_ was resumed again with great spirit. Our
guests liberally dealt out all their store of knowledge. The
conversation turned on novels. One of the young ladies had read Madame
Cottin’s _Mathilde_, and was delighted to find that the Emperor was
acquainted with the work. An Englishman, with a great round face, to all
appearance a true _vacuum plenum_, who had been listening earnestly, in
order to turn his little knowledge of French to the best account,
modestly ventured to ask the Emperor whether the Princess, the friend of
Matilda, whose character he particularly admired, was still living? The
Emperor with a very solemn air replied, “No, sir; she is dead and
buried:” and he was almost tempted to believe he was himself hoaxed,
until he found that the melancholy tidings almost drew tears from the
great staring eyes of the Englishman.

The young ladies evinced no less simplicity, though in them it was more
pardonable: however, I was led to conclude that they had not studied
chronology very deeply. One of them turning over Florian’s _Estelle_, to
shew us that she could read French, happened to light on the name of
Gaston de Foix, and finding him distinguished by the title of General,
she asked the Emperor whether he had been satisfied with his conduct in
the army, whether he had escaped the dangers of war, and whether he was
still living.

21st.—In the morning the Admiral came to visit the Emperor. He knocked
at the door; and had I not been present, the Emperor must have been
reduced to the alternative of opening it himself, or suffering the
Admiral to wait on the outside.

All the scattered members of our little colony, likewise, came from the
town, and we were for a short time collected together. Each described
the wretchedness of his situation, and received the sympathy of the


23rd–24th. The English Ministers, in violating the rights of
hospitality, to which we had trusted with such implicit confidence, seem
to have omitted nothing adapted to make us feel this violation the more
bitterly. By banishing us to the farthest extremity of the world, and
reducing us to every kind of privation and ill-treatment, they wish to
make us drain the cup of misery to the very dregs. St. Helena is a true
Siberia: the only difference is its limited extent, and the climate
being warm instead of cold.

The Emperor Napoleon, who but lately possessed such boundless power, and
disposed of so many Crowns, now occupies a wretched hovel, a few feet
square, perched upon a rock, unprovided with furniture, and without
either shutters or curtains to the windows. This place must serve him
for bed-chamber, dressing-room, dining-room, study, and sitting-room;
and he is obliged to go out when it is necessary to have this one
apartment cleaned. His meals, consisting of a few wretched dishes, are
brought to him from a distance, as though he were a criminal in a
dungeon. He is absolutely in want of the necessaries of life: the bread
and wine are not such as we have been accustomed to, and are so bad that
we loathe to touch them; water, coffee, butter, oil, and other articles,
are either not to be procured, or are scarcely fit for use: a bath,
which is so necessary to the Emperor’s health, is not to be had; and he
is deprived of the exercise of riding on horseback.

His friends and servants are two miles distant from him, and are not
suffered to approach his person without being accompanied by a soldier.
They are deprived of their arms, and are compelled to pass the night at
the guard-house, if they return beyond a certain hour, or if any mistake
occur in the pass-word, which happens almost daily. Thus, on the summit
of this frightful rock, we are equally exposed to the severity of man
and the rigour of nature! And how easy would it have been to procure us
a more suitable retreat and more courteous usage. Assuredly, if the
Sovereigns of Europe decreed this exile, private enmity has directed its
execution. If policy alone dictated this measure as indispensable, would
it not have been essential, in order to render the fact evident to the
world, to have surrounded with every kind of respect and consideration
the illustrious victim, with regard to whom it had been found necessary
to violate law and principle?

We were all assembled round the Emperor; and he was recapitulating these
facts with warmth: “For what infamous treatment are we reserved!” he
exclaimed. “This is the anguish of death! To injustice and violence,
they now add insult and protracted torment. If I were so hateful to
them, why did they not get rid of me? A few musquet balls in my heart or
my head would have done the business; and there would at least have been
some energy in the crime! Were it not for you, and, above all, for your
wives, I would receive from them nothing but the pay of a private
soldier. How can the monarchs of Europe permit the sacred character of
sovereignty to be violated in my person? Do they not see that they are,
with their own hands, working their own destruction at St. Helena? I
entered their capitals victorious, and had I cherished such sentiments,
what would have become of them? They styled me their brother; and I had
become so by the choice of the people, the sanction of victory, the
character of religion, and the alliances of their policy and their
blood. Do they imagine that the good sense of nations is blind to their
conduct? and what do they expect from it? At all events, make your
complaints, gentlemen; let indignant Europe hear them! Complaints from
me would be beneath my dignity and character; I must command, or be

Next morning an officer, opening the door, introduced himself, without
farther ceremony, into the Emperor’s room, where I was engaged with him.
He had come, however, with good intentions. He was the captain of one of
the small vessels which had formed our squadron. He was now about to
return to Europe, and came to enquire whether the Emperor had any
commands. Napoleon immediately recurred to the subject of our
conversation on the preceding evening, and, becoming animated by
degrees, gave utterance to sentiments of the loftiest and most energetic
character, which he charged him to communicate to the British
Government. I interpreted what he said in the same spirit and with great
rapidity. The officer seemed astonished at what he heard, and left us
with a promise punctually to fulfil his commission. But he could not
have described the expression, and particularly the tone, of which I was
a witness.—The Emperor, however, directed me to make a memorandum of
what he had said, which the officer must have found very feebly
expressed compared with what he had just heard. The note was as follows:

Memorandum.—“The Emperor desires, by the return of the next vessel, to
receive some account of his wife and son, and to be informed whether the
latter is still living. He takes this opportunity of repeating and
conveying to the British Government the protestations which he has
already made against the extraordinary measures adopted towards him.

“1st. That Government has declared him a prisoner of war. The Emperor is
not a prisoner of war. His letter to the Prince Regent, which he wrote
and communicated to Captain Maitland, before he went on board the
Bellerophon, sufficiently proves, to the whole world, the resolutions
and the sentiments of confidence which induced him freely to place
himself under the English flag.

“The Emperor might, had he pleased, have agreed to quit France only on
stipulated conditions with regard to himself; but he disdained to mingle
personal considerations with the great interests with which his mind was
constantly occupied. He might have placed himself at the disposal of the
Emperor Alexander, who had been his friend, or of the Emperor Francis,
who was his father-in-law. But, confiding in the justice of the English
nation, he desired no other protection than its laws afforded; and,
renouncing public affairs, he sought no other country than that which
was governed by fixed laws, independent of private will.

“2nd. Had the Emperor really been a prisoner of war, the rights which
civilized governments possess over such a prisoner are limited by the
law of nations, and terminate with the war itself.

“3rd. If the English Government considered the Emperor, though
arbitrarily, as a prisoner of war, the right of that government was then
limited by public law, or else, as there existed no cartel between the
two nations during the war, it might have adopted towards him the
principles of savages, who put their prisoners to death. This proceeding
would have been more humane, and more conformable to justice, than that
of sending him to this horrible rock; death inflicted on board the
Bellerophon, in the Plymouth roads, would have been a blessing compared
with the treatment to which he is now subjected.

“We have travelled over the most desolate countries of Europe, but none
is to be compared to this barren rock. Deprived of every thing that can
render life supportable, it is calculated only to renew perpetually the
anguish of death. The first principles of Christian morality, and that
great duty imposed on man to pursue his fate, whatever it may be, may
withhold him from terminating with his own hand a wretched existence;
the Emperor glories in being superior to such a feeling. But if the
British Ministry should persist in their course of injustice and
violence towards him, he would consider it a happiness if they would put
him to death.”

The vessel which sailed for Europe, with this document, was the Redpole,
Captain Desmond.

The reader must pardon the insipid monotony of our complaints: they will
be found to be always the same, no doubt; but let it be remembered how
much more pain must have been felt in repeating them than can possibly
be experienced in their perusal.


25th—27th. The Emperor dressed very early; he took a short walk out of
doors; we breakfasted about ten o’clock; he walked again, and then we
proceeded to business. I read to him what he had dictated on the
preceding evening, and which my son had copied in the morning; he
corrected it, and then continued his dictation. We went out again about
five o’clock, and returned at six, the hour appointed for dinner, that
is to say, if the dinner should be brought from the town by that time.
The days were very long, and the evenings still longer. Unfortunately I
did not understand chess; at one time I had an idea of studying it by
night, but where could I find a teacher? I pretended to a little
knowledge of piquet, but the Emperor soon discovered my ignorance: he
gave me credit for my good intentions, yet he gave up playing. Want of
occupation would sometimes lead him to the neighbouring house, where the
young ladies made him play at whist. But his more usual practice was to
remain at table after dinner, and to converse sitting in his chair; for
the room was too small to admit of his walking about.

One evening he ordered a little travelling cabinet to be brought to him,
and, after minutely examining every part of it, he presented it to me,
saying, “I have had it in my possession a long time, I made use of it on
the morning of the battle of Austerlitz. It must go to young Emanuel,”
said he, turning to my son; “when he is thirty or forty years old, we
shall be no more. This will but enhance the value of the gift; he will
say when he shews it, the Emperor Napoleon gave this to my father at St.
Helena.” I received the precious gift with a kind of reverential
feeling, and I preserve it as a valuable relic.

Passing from that to the examining of a large cabinet, he looked over
some portraits of his own family, and some presents which he had
personally received. These consisted of the portraits of Madame, of the
Queen of Naples, of the daughters of Joseph, of his brothers, of the
King of Rome, &c.; an Augustus and a Livia, both exceedingly rare; a
Continence of Scipio and another antique of immense value given to him
by the Pope; a Peter the Great, on a box; another box with a Charles V.;
another with a Turenne; and some, which were in daily use, covered with
a collection of medallions of Cæsar, Alexander, Sylla, Mithridates, &c.
Next came some snuff-boxes, ornamented with his own portrait set in
diamonds. He then looked for one without diamonds, and not finding it,
he called his valet-de-chambre to enquire about it: unfortunately this
portrait still remained in the town along with the greater part of his
effects; I felt mortified at receiving this intelligence, I could not
help thinking that I had been a loser by this mischance.

The Emperor then examined several snuff-boxes which Louis XVIII. had
left on his table at the Tuileries at the time of his precipitate
departure. On one of these were represented, on a black ground, the
portraits of Louis XVI., of the Queen, and of Madame Elizabeth, executed
in paste in imitation of ivory, and fantastically arranged. They formed
three crescents placed back to back in the shape of an equilateral
triangle, and groups of cherubs closely interwoven composed the external
border. Another box presented a water-colour sketch of a hunt, which had
no other claim to merit than the circumstance of its being attributed to
the pencil of the Duchess of Angoulême. A third was surmounted with a
portrait, which appeared to be that of the Countess of Provence. These
three boxes were of simple and even ordinary execution; and could
possess no other value than that which their history attaches to them.

On the Emperor’s arrival in Paris on the evening of the 20th of March,
he found the King’s study precisely in the state in which it had been
used; all his papers still remained on the tables. By the Emperor’s
desire, these tables were pushed into the corners of the apartment, and
others brought. He gave orders that nothing should be touched, intending
to examine the papers at his leisure: and as the Emperor himself quitted
France without returning to the Tuileries, the King must have found his
study and his papers nearly as he had left them.

The Emperor took a hasty glance at some of the papers. He found among
them several letters from the King to M. d’Avary at Madeira, where the
latter died; they were written in the King’s own hand, and had doubtless
been sent back to him. He found also some confidential letters of the
King’s, likewise in his own hand. But how came they there? How had they
been returned to him? That would be difficult to explain. They consisted
of five or six pages, written in very elegant language, and displaying
some sense; but very abstract and metaphysical. In one of them, the
Prince said to the lady whom he addressed:—“_Judge, Madam, how much I
love you; I have left off mourning for your sake._” “And here,” said the
Emperor, “the idea of the mourning was followed up by a succession of
long paragraphs, quite in an academic style.” The Emperor could not
imagine to whom it had been written, or what the _mourning_ alluded to;
I could not assist his conjectures on either of these points.

Two or three days after the Emperor had replaced a certain individual at
the head of a celebrated institution, he found on one of the tables a
memoir from that very person, which, from the terms in which it was
couched with reference to himself and the whole of his family, would
certainly have prevented him from signing the re-appointment.

There were also many other documents of the same nature: but the most
complete records of baseness, deceit, and villany, were found in the
apartments of M. Blacas, grand-master of the wardrobe, and minister of
the household: these were filled with plans, reports, and petitions of
every kind. There were few of these papers in which the writers did not
put themselves forward at the expense of Napoleon, whom they were far
from expecting to return. They formed altogether such a mass that the
Emperor was obliged to appoint a committee of four persons to examine
them; he now thinks he was to blame in not having confided that office
to a single individual, and with such injunctions that he might have
felt confident nothing was suffered to escape. He has since had reason
to believe that these papers might have afforded some salutary hints
respecting the treachery which surrounded him on his return from

Among the rest there was a long letter from one of the female attendants
of the Princess Pauline. This voluminous letter was expressed in very
coarse language with regard to the princess and her sisters; and
described the Emperor, to whom the writer always alluded under the title
of _that man_, in the worst possible colours. This had not been thought
sufficient; part of it had been erased and interlined by another hand,
in order to bring forward Napoleon in the most scandalous manner; and on
the margin, in the hand of the interlineator, were written the words
_fit to be printed_. A few days more, and this libel would probably have
been published.

An upstart woman, who held a distinguished rank in the state, and who
had been overwhelmed with acts of kindness from the Emperor, wrote in a
great hurry to her friend, another upstart, to acquaint her with the
famous decision of the Senate respecting the forfeiture and proscription
of Napoleon. The letter contained the following: “My dear friend, my
husband has just returned: he is tired to death; but his efforts have
carried it; we are delivered from _that man_, and we shall have the
Bourbons. Thank God, we shall now be real Countesses!” &c.

Among these papers, Napoleon experienced the mortification to meet with
some containing very improper remarks respecting himself personally; and
those too in the very hand writing of individuals who only the day
before had assembled round him, and were already in the enjoyment of his

The first impulse of his indignation was to determine that they should
be printed, and to withdraw his protection: a second thought restrained
him. “We are so volatile, so inconstant, so easily led away,” said he,
“that, after all, I could not be certain that those very people had not
really and spontaneously come back to my service: in that case, I should
have been punishing them at the very time when they were returning to
their duty. I thought it better to seem to know nothing of the matter,
and I ordered all their letters to be burnt.”


28th—31st. My son and I prosecuted our labours without intermission. His
health, however, began to be affected; he felt a pain in his chest. My
eyes also grew weak: these were really the effects of our excessive
occupation. Indeed, we had gone through an amazing quantity of work: we
had already nearly arrived at the end of the Campaign of Italy. The
Emperor, however, did not yet find that he had sufficient occupation.
Employment was his only resource, and the interest which his first
dictations had assumed furnished an additional motive for proceeding
with them. The Campaign of Egypt was now about to be commenced. The
Emperor had frequently talked of employing the Grand Marshal on this

Those of our party who were lodged in the town were badly accommodated,
and were dissatisfied at being separated from the Emperor. They were
harassed by the constraint and mortifications to which they were
subjected. I suggested to the Emperor that he should set us all to work
at the same time, and proceed at once with the Campaigns of Italy and
Egypt, the history of the Consulate, the return from the Island of Elba,
&c. The time, I observed, would then pass more quickly; this great work,
the glory of France, would advance more rapidly, and the gentlemen who
resided in the town would be less unhappy. The idea pleased the Emperor,
and from that moment one or two of his suite came regularly every day to
write from his dictation, the transcript of which they brought to him
next morning. They then stayed to dinner, and thus afforded the Emperor
a little more amusement.

We made such arrangements that the Emperor insensibly found himself more
comfortably situated in many respects. A tent, which had been given to
me by the Colonel of the 53rd regiment, was spread out so as to form a
prolongation of the room occupied by the Emperor. His cook took up his
abode at Briars. The table-linen was taken from the trunks, the plate
was set forth, and our first dinner after these preparations was a sort
of _fête_. The evenings, however, always hung heavily on our hands. The
Emperor would sometimes visit the adjoining house; at other times he
would endeavour to leave his chamber to walk; but more frequently he
remained within-doors, and tried to pass the time in conversation until
ten or eleven o’clock. He dreaded retiring to bed too early; for when he
did so, he awoke in the night; and, in order to divert his mind from
sorrowful reflections, he was obliged to rise and read.

One day at dinner the Emperor cast his eyes on one of the dishes of his
own campaign-service, on which the Royal arms had been engraved. “How
they have spoiled this!” he exclaimed in very energetic terms; and he
could not refrain from observing that the King had been in a great hurry
to take possession of the Imperial plate, which he certainly could not
claim as having been taken from him, since it unquestionably belonged to
him, Napoleon; for, he added, that when he ascended the throne he found
not a vestige of royal property. At his abdication he left to the crown
five millions in plate, and between forty and fifty millions in
furniture, which was all purchased with his own money out of his civil

In a conversation one evening, the Emperor related the circumstances
attending the event of Brumaire. I suppress the particulars, because
they were afterwards dictated to General Gourgaud; and a detailed
account of this remarkable affair will be found in the Memoirs.

Sieyes, who was one of the Provisional Consuls along with Napoleon,
astonished to hear his colleague, on the very first conference,
discussing questions relative to finance, administration, the army, law,
and politics, left him, quite disconcerted, and ran to his friends,
saying, “Gentlemen, you have got a master! This man knows every thing,
wills every thing, and can do every thing.”

I was in London at that time, and I told the Emperor that the emigrants
there had formed great hopes and placed much confidence on the events of
the 18th of Brumaire and on his Consulate. Several of us, who had
formerly been acquainted with Madame de Beauharnois, immediately set out
for Paris, hoping, through her means, to exercise some influence, or
give some direction to affairs, which then appeared under a new aspect.

Our general opinion at the time was that the First Consul had waited for
propositions from the French Princes. We grounded this opinion on the
circumstance of his having been so long without manifesting his
intentions respecting them; which, however, he did some time afterwards
in a way the most overwhelming, by means of a proclamation. We
attributed this result to the stupid conduct of the Bishop of Arras, the
counsellor and director of our affairs; who, according to his own
confession, went to work with his eyes shut, and boasted of not having
read a single newspaper for a series of years, ever since they had been
filled, as he said, with the successes and the falsehoods of those
wretches. On the first establishment of the Consulate, some one having
attempted to persuade the Bishop to enter into negotiations with the
Consul, through the mediation of Madame Buonaparte, he rejected the
proposition with indignation, and in language of so coarse and
disgusting a nature as induced the person to tell him that his
expressions were far from being episcopal, and that he certainly had
never learned them from his breviary.

About the same period he made use of some gross invectives against the
Duc de Choiseuil,—and that too at the table of the Prince, where he was
smartly reprimanded for them; and all this was only because the Duke, on
being released from imprisonment at Calais, and escaping death through
the protection of the Consul, concluded his reply to the enquiries made
by the Prince relative to Buonaparte, by protesting that, for his part,
he should never cease to acknowledge his personal gratitude towards him.

To all this the Emperor replied that he had never bestowed a thought on
the Princes; that the observations to which I had alluded proceeded from
one of the other Consuls, and were made without any particular motive;
that we, who were abroad, seemed to have no idea of the opinions of
those at home; and that even if he had been favourably disposed towards
the Princes, it would not have been in his power to carry his intentions
into execution. He had, however, received overtures, about that period,
both from Mittau and London.

The King, he said, wrote him a letter, which was conveyed to him by
Lebrun, who had it from the Abbé de Montesquiou, the secret agent of the
Prince at Paris. This letter, which was written in a very laboured
style, contained the following paragraph: “You delay long to restore me
my throne. It is to be feared that you may allow favourable moments to
escape. You cannot complete the happiness of France without me, nor can
I serve France without you. Hasten, then, and specify yourself the
places which you would wish your friends to possess.”

To this letter the First Consul replied:—“I have received your Royal
Highness’s letter; I have always felt deep interest in your misfortunes
and those of your family. You must not think of appearing in France; you
could not do so without passing over a hundred thousand dead bodies. I
shall, however, be always eager to do every thing that may tend to
alleviate your fate, or enable you to forget your misfortunes.”

The overtures made by the Count d’Artois possessed still more elegance
and address. He commissioned, as the bearer of them, the Duchess de
Guiche, a lady whose fascinating manners and personal graces were
calculated to assist her in the important negotiation. She easily got
access to Madame Buonaparte, with whom all the individuals of the old
Court came easily in contact. She breakfasted with her at Malmaison; and
the conversation turning on London, the emigrants, and the French
Princes, Madame de Guiche mentioned that as she happened a few days
before to be at the house of the Count d’Artois, she had heard some
person ask the Prince what he intended to do for the First Consul, in
the event of his restoring the Bourbons; and that the Prince had
replied:—“I would immediately make him Constable of the kingdom, and
every thing else he might choose. But even that would not be enough: we
would raise on the Carrousel a lofty and magnificent column, surmounted
with a statue of Buonaparte crowning the Bourbons.”

As soon as the First Consul entered, which he did very shortly after
breakfast, Josephine eagerly repeated to him the circumstance which the
Duchess had related. “And did you not reply,” said her husband, “that
the corpse of the First Consul would have been made the pedestal of the
Column?”—The charming Duchess was still present; the beauties of her
countenance, her eyes, and her words, were directed to the success of
her commission. She said she was so delighted she did not know how she
should ever be able sufficiently to acknowledge the favour which Madame
Buonaparte had procured her, of seeing and hearing so distinguished a
man—so great a hero. It was all in vain: the Duchess de Guiche received
orders that very night to quit Paris. The charms of the emissary were
too well calculated to alarm Josephine, to induce her to say any thing
very urgent in her favour, and next day the Duchess was on her way to
the frontier.

It is, however, absolutely false that Napoleon, on his part, at a
subsequent period, made overtures or propositions to the Princes
touching the cession of their rights, or their renunciation of the
Crown; though such statements have been made in some pompous
declarations, profusely circulated through Europe.—How was such a thing
possible?” said the Emperor; “I, who could only reign by the very
principle which excluded them—that of the sovereignty of the people—how
could I have sought to possess through them rights which were proscribed
in their persons! That would have been to proscribe myself. The
absurdity would have been too palpable, too ridiculous; it would have
ruined me for ever in public opinion. The fact is that neither directly
nor indirectly, at home or abroad, did I ever do any thing of the kind:
and this will no doubt, in the course of time, be the opinion of all
persons of judgment, who allow me to have been neither a fool nor a

“The prevalence of this report, however, induced me to seek to discover
what could have given rise to it, and these are the facts which I
collected:—at the period of the good understanding between France and
Prussia, and while that state was endeavouring to ingratiate herself in
our favour, she caused inquiry to be made whether France would take
umbrage at her allowing the French Princes to remain in the Prussian
territories, to which the French Government answered in the negative.
Emboldened by this reply, Prussia next enquired whether we should feel
any great repugnance to furnish them, through her medium, with an annual
allowance. To this our government also replied in the negative, provided
that Prussia would be responsible for their remaining quiet, and
abstaining from all intrigue. The negotiation of this affair being once
set on foot between the two countries, Heaven knows what the zeal of
some agent, or even the doctrines of the Court of Berlin, which did not
accord with ours, may have proposed. This furnished, no doubt, the
motive and pretext, if indeed any really existed, for the fine letter of
Louis XVIII., to which all the members of his family so ostentatiously
adhered. The French Princes eagerly seized that opportunity of reviving
the interest and attention of Europe, which had been by this time
totally withdrawn from them.”


November 1st—4th. Our days now passed away in the same uniformity as
those which we spent on board the vessel. The Emperor summoned me to
breakfast with him about ten or eleven o’clock. That meal being
concluded, after half an hour’s conversation, I read to him what he had
dictated the evening before, and he renewed his dictations. The Emperor
discontinued his practice of dressing as soon as he rose, and walking
before breakfast, which had broken up his day too much, and rendered it
too long. He never dressed now till about four o’clock. He then walked
out, to give the servants an opportunity of making his bed, and cleaning
his room. We walked in the garden, which he particularly liked, on
account of its solitude. I had the little arbour covered with a canvass,
and ordered a table and chairs to be placed in it; and the Emperor
henceforward chose this spot for dictating to such of the gentlemen as
came from the town for that purpose.

In front of Mr. Balcombe’s house there was a walk bordered by some
trees. It was here that the two English soldiers had posted themselves
for the purpose of watching us. They were, however, at length removed,
by desire of Mr. Balcombe, who felt offended at the circumstance on his
own account. Nevertheless, they still continued for some time to move
about, so as to get a sight of the Emperor; either attracted by
curiosity, or acting in obedience to their orders. At length they
entirely disappeared, and the Emperor gradually took possession of this
lower walk. This was quite an acquisition to his domain; and he walked
here every day before dinner. The two young ladies, with their mother,
joined him in this walk, and told him the news. He sometimes returned to
the garden after dinner, when the weather permitted; he was then enabled
to spend the evening without paying a visit to his neighbours, which he
never did when he could avoid it, nor ever till he was satisfied that no
stranger was there, which I always ascertained previously, by peeping
through the window.

In one of his walks, the Emperor conversed much on the subject of the
Senate, the Legislative Body, and particularly the Council of State. The
latter, he said, had been of considerable service to him during the
whole course of his administration. I will here note down some remarks
relative to the Council of State, the more readily, as it was very
little understood at the time in the drawing-rooms of Paris; and as it
does not now exist on the same footing as formerly, I shall insert, as I
proceed, a few lines on its mechanism and prerogatives.

“The Council of State,” said the Emperor, “was generally composed of
well-informed, skilful, and honest men. Fermont and Boulay, for example,
were certainly of this class. Notwithstanding the immense law-suits
which they conducted, and the vast emoluments they enjoyed, I should not
be surprised to learn that they are not now in very flourishing
circumstances.” The Emperor employed the councillors of state
individually in every case, and with advantage. As a whole, they were
his real council—his mind in deliberation, as the ministers were his
mind in execution. At the Council of State were prepared the laws which
the Emperor presented to the Legislative Body, a circumstance which
rendered it altogether one of the elements of the legislative power. In
the Council, the Emperor’s decrees and his rules of public
administration were drawn up; and there the plans of his ministers were
examined, discussed, and corrected.

The Council of State received appeals and pronounced finally on all
administrative judgments; and incidentally on those of all other
tribunals, even those of the Court of Cassation. There were examined
complaints against the ministers, and appeals from the Emperor to the
Emperor better informed. Thus the Council of State, at which the Emperor
uniformly presided, being frequently in direct opposition to the
ministers, or occupied in reforming their acts and errors, naturally
became the point of refuge for persons or interests aggrieved by any
authority whatever. All who were ever present at the meetings of the
council must know with what zeal the cause of the citizens was there
defended. A committee of the Council of State received all the petitions
of the Empire, and laid before the Sovereign those which deserved his

With the exception of lawyers and persons employed in the
administration, it is surprising how far the rest of society were
ignorant of our political legislation. No one had a correct idea of the
Council of State, of the Legislative Body, or of the Senate. It was
received, for example, as an established fact, that the Legislative
Body, like an assembly of mutes, passively adopted, without the least
opposition, all the laws which were presented to it; that which belonged
to the nature and excellence of the institution was attributed to its
complaisance and servility.

The laws which were prepared in the Council of State were presented by
commissioners, chosen from that council, to a committee of the
Legislative Body appointed to receive them; they were there amicably
discussed, and were often quietly referred back to the Council of State
to receive some modifications. When the two deputations could not come
to an understanding, they proceeded to hold regular conferences, under
the presidency of the Arch-chancellor or the Arch-treasurer; so that,
before these laws reached the Legislative Body, they had already
received the assent of the two opposite parties. If any difference
existed, it was discussed by the two committees, in the presence of the
whole of the Legislative Body, performing the functions of a jury;
which, as soon as its members had become sufficiently acquainted with
the facts, pronounced its decision by a secret scrutiny. Thus every
individual had an opportunity of freely giving his opinion, as it was
impossible to know whether he had put in a black or a white ball. “No
plan,” said the Emperor, “could have been better calculated to correct
our national effervescence and our inexperience in matters of political

The Emperor asked me whether I thought discussion perfectly free in the
Council of State, or whether his presence did not impose a restraint on
the deliberations? I reminded him of a very long debate, during which he
had remained throughout singular in his opinion, and had at last been
obliged to yield. He immediately recollected the circumstance. “Oh,
yes,” said he, “that must have been in the case of a woman of Amsterdam,
who had been tried for her life and acquitted three several times by the
Imperial Courts, but against whom a fresh trial was demanded in the
Court of Cassation.” The Emperor hoped that this happy concurrence of
the law might have exhausted its severity in favour of the prisoner;
that this lucky fatality of circumstances might have turned to her
advantage. It was urged in reply that he possessed the beneficent power
of bestowing pardon; but that the law was inflexible, and must take its
course. The debate was a very long one. M. Muraire spoke a great deal,
and very much to the point; he persuaded every one except the Emperor,
who still remained singular in his opinion, and at length yielded, with
these remarkable words:—“Gentlemen, the decision goes by the majority
here, I remain single, and must yield; but I declare, in my conscience,
that I yield only to forms. You have reduced me to silence, but by no
means convinced me.”

So little was the nature of the Council of State understood by people in
general that it was believed no one dared utter a word in that assembly
in opposition to the Emperor’s opinion. Thus I very much surprised many
persons when I related the fact that, one day, during a very animated
debate, the Emperor, having been interrupted three times in giving his
opinion, turned towards the individual who had rather rudely cut him
short, and said in a sharp tone: “I have not yet done; I beg you will
allow me to continue. I believe every one here has a right to deliver
his opinion.” The smartness of this reply, notwithstanding the solemnity
of the occasion, excited a general laugh, in which the Emperor himself

“Yet,” said I to him, “the speakers evidently sought to discover what
might be your Majesty’s opinion: they seemed to congratulate themselves
when their views coincided with yours, and to be embarrassed on finding
themselves maintaining opposite sentiments. You were accused, too, of
laying snares for us, in order to discover our real opinion.” However,
when the question was once started, self-love and the warmth of argument
contributed, along with the freedom of discussion which the Emperor
encouraged, to induce every one to maintain his own opinion. “I do not
mind being contradicted,” said the Emperor; “I seek to be informed.
Speak boldly,” he would repeat, whenever the speaker expressed himself
equivocally, or the subject was a delicate one; “tell me all that you
think; we are alone here; we are all _en famille_.”

I have been informed that, under the Consulate, or at the commencement
of the Empire, the Emperor opposed an opinion of one of the members,
and, through the warmth and obstinacy of the latter, the affair at
length amounted absolutely to a personal misunderstanding. Napoleon
commanded his temper, and was silent; but a few days after, seeing his
antagonist at one of the public audiences, he said to him, in a
half-earnest manner, “You are extremely obstinate; and if I were equally
so!——At all events, you are in the wrong to put power to the trial! You
should not be unmindful of human weakness!”

On another occasion, he said in private to one of the members who had
likewise driven him to the utmost extreme, “You must take a little more
care to consult my temper. You lately rather exceeded the bounds of
discretion: you obliged me to have recourse to scratching my forehead.
That is a very ominous sign with me: avoid urging me so far for the

Nothing could equal the interest which the presence and the words of the
Emperor excited in the Council of State. He presided there regularly
twice a week when he was in town, and then none of us would have been
absent for the whole world.

I told the Emperor that two sittings in particular had made the deepest
impression on me: one entirely of sentiment, relating to matters of
internal police, in which he had expelled one of the members of the
Council; the other of constitutional decision, in which he had dissolved
the Legislative Body.

A religious party was fomenting civil discord in the State, by secretly
circulating bulls and letters from the Pope. They were shewn to a
Councillor of State, appointed to superintend religious worship; and
who, if he did not himself circulate them, at least neither prevented
nor denounced their circulation. This was discovered, and the Emperor
suddenly challenged him with the fact in open Council. “What could have
been your motive, sir?” said he: “were you influenced by your religious
principles? If so, why are you here? I use no control over the
conscience of any man. Did I force you to become my Councillor of State?
On the contrary, you solicited the post as a high favour. You are the
youngest member of the Council, and perhaps the only one who has not
some personal claim to that honour; you had nothing to recommend you but
the inheritance of your father’s services. You took a personal oath to
me; how could your religious feelings permit you openly to violate that
oath, as you have just now done? Speak, however; you are here in
confidence: your colleagues shall be your judges. Your crime is a great
one, sir. A conspiracy for the commission of a violent act is stopped as
soon as we seize the arm that holds the poniard. But a conspiracy to
influence the public mind has no en: it is like a train of gunpowder.
Perhaps, at this very moment, whole towns are thrown into commotion
through your fault!” The Councillor, quite confused, said nothing in
reply: the first word had sufficed to convict him. The members of the
council, to the majority of whom this event was quite unexpected, were
struck with astonishment, and observed profound silence.—“Why,”
continued the Emperor, “did you not, according to the obligation imposed
by your oath, discover to me the criminal and his plots? Am I not at all
times accessible to everyone of you?” “Sire,” said the Councillor, at
length venturing to reply, “he was my cousin.”—“Your crime is then the
greater, sir,” replied the Emperor sharply; “your kinsman could only
have been placed in office at your solicitation: from that moment all
the responsibility devolved on you. When I look upon a man as entirely
devoted to me, as your situation ought to render you, all who are
connected with him, and all for whom he becomes responsible, from that
time require no watching. These are my maxims.” The accused member still
remained silent, and the Emperor continued: “The duties which a
Councillor of State owes to me are immense. You, sir, have violated
those duties, and you hold the office no longer. Begone: let me never
see you here again!” The disgraced Councillor, as he was withdrawing,
passed very near the Emperor: the latter looked at him and said, “I am
sincerely grieved at this, sir, for the services of your father are
still fresh in my memory.” When he was gone, the Emperor added, “I hope
such a scene as this may never be renewed; it has done me too much
harm.—I am not distrustful, but I might become so! I have allowed myself
to be surrounded by every party; I have placed near my person even
emigrants and soldiers of the army of Condé; and, though it was wished
to induce them to assassinate me, yet, to do them justice, they have
continued faithful. Since I have held the reins of government, this is
the first individual employed about me, by whom I have been betrayed.”
And then, turning towards M. Locré, who took notes of the debates of the
Council of State, he said, “write down _betrayed_—do you hear?”

What an interesting collection were those reports of M. Locré! What has
become of them? All that I have here related would be found in them word
for word.

With respect to the dissolution of the Legislative Body, the Council of
State was convoked either on the last day, or the last day but one of
December, 1813. We knew that the debate would be an important one,
without however knowing its object: the crisis was of the most serious
nature, the enemy was entering on the French territory.

“Gentlemen,” said the Emperor, “you are aware of the situation of
affairs, and the dangers to which the country is exposed. I thought it
right, without being obliged to do so, to forward a private
communication on the subject to the Deputies of the Legislative Body. I
wished thus to have associated them with their dearest interests: but
they have converted this act of my confidence into a weapon against me;
that is to say, against the country. Instead of assisting me with all
their efforts, they seek to obstruct mine. Our attitude alone would be
sufficient to check the advance of the enemy, while their conduct
invites him; instead of shewing him a front of brass, they unveil to him
our wounds. They stun me with their clamorous demands for peace, while
the only means to obtain it was to recommend war; they complain of me,
and speak of their grievances; but what time, what place, do they select
for so doing? These are subjects to be discussed in private, and not in
the presence of the enemy. Was I inaccessible to them? Did I ever shew
myself incapable of arguing reasonably? It is time, however, to come to
a resolution: the Legislative Body, instead of assisting me in saving
France, wishes to accelerate her ruin. The Legislative Body has betrayed
its duty—I fulfil mine—I dissolve it.”

He then ordered the reading of a decree, the purport of which was that
two-fifths of the Legislative Body had already gone beyond their power;
that on the first of January another fifth would be in the same
situation, and that consequently the majority of the Legislative Body
would then be composed of members who had no right to be in it; that, in
consideration of these circumstances, it was, from that moment,
prorogued and adjourned, until fresh elections should be made.

After the reading of this document, the Emperor continued: “Such is the
decree which I issue; and were I assured that it would bring the people
of Paris in a crowd to the Tuileries to murder me this very day, I would
still issue it; for such is my duty. When the people of France placed
their destinies in my hands, I took into consideration the laws by which
I was to govern them: had I thought those laws insufficient, I should
not have accepted them. I am not a Louis XVI. Daily vacillations must
not be expected from me. Though I have become Emperor, I have not ceased
to be a citizen. If anarchy were to resume her sway, I would abdicate
and mingle with the crowd to enjoy my share of the sovereignty, rather
than remain at the head of a system in which I should only compromise
all, without being able to protect any one. Besides,” concluded he, “my
determination is conformable to the law; and if every one here will do
his duty this day, I shall be invincible behind the shelter of the law
as well as before the enemy.” But, alas! every one did not perform his

Contrary to the received opinion, the Emperor was far from being of an
arbitrary temper, and he was so willing to make concessions to his
Council of State that he has frequently been known to submit to
discussion, or even to annul a decision that he had adopted, because one
of the members might afterwards privately advance new arguments, or hint
that the personal opinion of the Emperor had influenced the majority.
Let the chiefs of the sections be referred to on this head.

The Emperor was accustomed to communicate to members of the Institute
every scientific idea that occurred to him, and also to submit his
political ideas to Councillors of State: he often did this with private,
and even secret, views. It was a sure way, he said, to go to the heart
of a question; to ascertain the powers of a man and his political bias;
to take measure of his discretion, &c. I know that in the year XII. he
submitted to three Councillors of State the consideration of a very
extraordinary question: namely, the suppression of the Legislative Body.
It was approved by the majority; but one opposed it strenuously; he
spoke at great length, and much to the purpose. The Emperor, who had
listened to the discussion with great attention and gravity, without
uttering a single word, or suffering any indication of his opinion to
escape him, closed the sitting by observing, “A question of so serious a
nature deserves to be maturely considered; we will resume the subject.”
But it was never again brought forward.

It would have been well had the same precautions been adopted at the
time of the suppression of the Tribunate; for that has always continued
to be a great subject of declamation and reproach. As for the Emperor,
he viewed it merely as the suppression of an expensive abuse, and an
important economical measure.

“It is certain,” said he, “that the Tribunate was absolutely useless,
while it cost nearly half a million; I therefore suppressed it. I was
well aware that an outcry would be raised against the violation of the
law; but I was strong: I possessed the full confidence of the people,
and I considered myself a reformer. This at least is certain, that I did
all for the best. I should, on the contrary, have created the Tribunate,
had I been hypocritical or evil-disposed; for who can doubt that it
would have adopted and sanctioned, when necessary, my views and
intentions? But that was what I never sought after in the whole course
of my administration. I never purchased any vote or decision by
promises, money, or places; and if I distributed favours to ministers,
councillors of state, and legislators, it was because there were things
to give away, and it was natural and even just that they should be dealt
out among those whose avocations brought them in contact with me.

“In my time all constituted bodies were pure and irreproachable: and I
can firmly declare that they acted from conviction. Malevolence and
folly may have asserted the contrary; but without ground. If those
bodies were condemned, it was by persons who knew them not, or wished
not to know them: and the reproaches that were levelled at them, must be
attributed to the discontent or opposition of the time; and above all,
to that spirit of envy, detraction, and ridicule, which is so peculiarly
natural to the French people. The Senate has been much abused; great
outcry has been raised against its servility and baseness; but
declamation is not proof. What was the Senate expected to do? To refuse
conscripts? Was it wished that the committees of personal liberty and of
the liberty of the press should bring disgrace upon the Government? or
that the Senate should do what was done in 1813 by a committee of the
Legislative body? But where did that measure lead us? I doubt whether
the French people are now very grateful for it. The truth is that we
were placed in forced and unnatural circumstances: men of understanding
knew this, and accommodated themselves to the urgency of the moment. It
is not known that, in almost every important measure, the senators,
before they gave their vote, came to communicate to me privately, and
sometimes very decidedly, their objections, and even their refusal; and
they went away convinced either by my arguments or by the necessity and
urgency of affairs. If I never gave publicity to this fact, it was
because I governed conscientiously, and because I despised quackery, and
every thing like it.

“The votes of the Senate was always unanimous, because their conviction
was universal. Endeavours were made at the time to cry up an
insignificant minority, whom the hypocritical praises of malevolence,
together with their own vanity, or some other perversity of character,
excited to harmless opposition. But did the individuals composing that
minority evince, in the last crisis, either sound heads or sincere
hearts? I once more repeat that the career of the Senate was
irreproachable; the moment of its fall was alone disgraceful and
culpable. Without right, without power, and in violation of every
principle, the Senate surrendered France, and accomplished her ruin.
That body was the sport of high intriguers, whose interest it was to
discredit and degrade it, and to ruin one of the great bases of the
modern system. It may be truly said that they succeeded completely; for
I know of no body that ought to be described in history with more
ignominy than the French Senate. However, it is but just to observe that
the stain rests not on the majority, and that among the delinquents
there was a multitude of foreigners, who will at least be in future
indifferent to our honour and interests.”

On the arrival of the Count d’Artois, the Council of State exerted every
effort to attract his attention, and secure his favour. A deputation of
the Council was twice presented to him, and permission was solicited to
send one to meet the King at Compèigne. To this solicitation the
Lieutenant-General of the kingdom replied, that the King would willingly
receive the individual members of the Council; but that the sending of a
deputation was a thing not to be thought of. It is true that the _gros
bonnets_, that is to say the Chiefs of the Section, were absent. All
this agitation had no other object than to insure the payment of their
salary, and, perhaps, the retention of their places. Thus the Council of
State immediately signed its adherence to the resolutions of the Senate,
avoiding, it is true, every expression that might be offensive to
Napoleon; “And you signed it,” said the Emperor. “No, Sire, I declined
signing that adherence, on the ground that it was an egregious piece of
folly to endeavour to remain successively the councillor and the
confidential servant of two antagonists; and that, besides, if the
conqueror were wise, the best pledge that could be offered to his notice
would be fidelity and respect towards the conquered party.”—“And you
reasoned rightly,” observed Napoleon.

5th.—Nearly all our party were assembled round the Emperor in the
garden. Those who were lodged in the town complained much of the
inconvenience and continual vexations to which they were exposed. The
Emperor, for the last fortnight, had laid down the rule of making no
communication on this head, except in writing, which he conceived to be
the manner most suitable and best calculated to produce the wished-for
result. He had drawn up a note on this subject, which should have been
delivered some days ago, but which had been neglected. He alluded
several times to this business, and in a tone of displeasure. All his
indirect arguments and observations applied to the Grand Marshal. The
latter at length took umbrage: for who is not rendered irritable by
misfortune? He expressed himself in rather pointed language. His wife,
who was standing near the garden-gate, despairing of being able to
appease the storm, withdrew. I had now an opportunity of observing how
the impressions produced by this circumstance succeeded each other with
rapidity in the Emperor’s mind. Reason, logic, and it may be added,
sentiment, always prevailed.—“If,” said he, “you did not deliver the
letter because you considered it to be couched in offensive terms, you
performed a duty of friendship; but surely this did not require a delay
of more than twenty-four hours. A fortnight has elapsed without your
mentioning it to me. If the plan was faulty, if the letter was
ill-expressed, why not have told me so? I should have assembled you all
to discuss the matter with me.”

We all stood near the arbour at the extremity of the path, while the
Emperor walked to and fro before us. At a moment, when he had gone to a
little distance from us, and was out of hearing, the Grand Marshal,
addressing himself to me, said:—“I fear I have expressed myself
improperly, and I am sorry for it.”—“We will leave you alone with him,”
said I; “you will soon make him forget the offence.” I accordingly
beckoned the other individuals who were present to leave the garden.

In the evening, the Emperor, conversing with me about the events of the
morning, said:—“It was after we had made it up with the Grand Marshal—It
was before the misunderstanding with the Grand Marshal,”—and other
things of the same sort, which proved that the affair had left no
impression on his heart.


6th.—The Emperor was somewhat unwell, and employed himself in writing in
his chamber. He dictated to me the portraits of the Generals of the army
of Italy—Massena, Augereau, Serrurier, &c. Massena was endowed with
extraordinary courage and firmness, which seemed to increase in excess
of danger. When conquered, he was always as ready to fight the battle
again as though he had been the conqueror. Augereau, on the contrary,
seemed to be tired and disheartened by victory, of which he always had
enough. His person, his manners, and his language, gave him the air of a
bravo. This, however, says the narration, he was far from being, when he
once found himself sated with honours and riches, which he had bestowed
upon himself on every occasion that offered, and by every means in his
power. Serrurier, who retained the manners and severity of an old major
of infantry, was an honest and trustworthy man; but an unfortunate
general, &c.

Among the various subjects of the day’s conversation, I note down what
the Emperor said respecting the armies of the Ancients. He asked whether
the accounts of the great armies mentioned in history were to be
credited. He was of opinion that those statements were false and absurd.
He placed no faith in the descriptions of the innumerable armies of the
Carthaginians in Sicily. “Such a multitude of troops,” he observed,
“would have been useless in so inconsiderable an enterprise; and if
Carthage could have assembled such a force, a still greater one would
have been raised in Hannibal’s expedition, which was of much greater
importance, but in which not more than forty or fifty thousand men were
employed.” He did not believe the accounts of the millions of men
composing the forces of Darius and Xerxes, which might have covered all
Greece, and which would doubtless have been subdivided into a multitude
of partial armies. He even doubted the whole of that brilliant period of
Greek history; and he regarded the famous Persian war only as a series
of those undecided actions, in which each party claims the victory.
Xerxes returned triumphant, after taking, burning, and destroying
Athens; and the Greeks exulted in their victory, because they had not
surrendered at Salamis. “With regard to the pompous accounts of the
conquests of the Greeks, and the defeat of their numberless enemies, it
must be recollected,” observed the Emperor, “that the Greeks, who wrote
them, were a vain and hyperbolical people; and that no Persian chronicle
has ever been produced to set our judgment right by contrary

But the Emperor attached credit to Roman history, if not in its details,
at least in its results; because these were facts as clear as day-light.
He also believed the descriptions of the armies of Gengiskan and
Tamerlane, however numerous they are said to have been; because they
were followed by gregarious nations, who, on their part, were joined by
other wandering tribes as they advanced; “and it is not impossible,”
observed the Emperor, “that Europe may one day end thus. The revolution
produced by the Huns, the cause of which is unknown, because the tract
is lost in the desert, may at a future period be renewed.”

The situation of Russia is admirably calculated to assist her in
bringing about such a catastrophe. She may collect at will numberless
auxiliaries, and scatter them over Europe. The wandering tribes of the
north will be the better disposed and the more impatient to engage in
such enterprises, in proportion as their imaginations have been fired,
and their avarice excited, by the successes of those of their countrymen
who lately visited us.

The conversation next turned on conquests and conquerors; and the
Emperor observed that, to be a successful conqueror, it was necessary to
be ferocious, and that, if he had been such, he might have conquered the
world. I presumed to dissent from this opinion, which was doubtless
expressed in a moment of vexation. I represented that he, Napoleon, was
precisely a proof of the contrary; that he had not been ferocious, and
yet had conquered the world; and that, with the manners of modern times,
ferocity would certainly never have raised him to so high a point. I
added that, at the present day, terror could never subject us to the
control of an individual man; and that dominion was to be secured only
by good laws, joined to greatness of character, and that degree of
energy, which is proof against every trial, in him who is charged with
the execution of the laws. These, I affirmed, were precisely the causes
of Napoleon’s success, and of the submission and obedience of the people
over whom he ruled.

The Convention was ferocious, and inspired terror: it was submitted to,
but could not be endured. Had the power been vested in an individual,
his overthrow would soon have been accomplished. But the Convention was
a hydra, yet how many attempts were hazarded for its destruction!—how
many dangers did it escape as if by miracle! It was reduced to the
necessity of burying itself amidst its triumphs.

For a conqueror to be ferocious, with success, he must of necessity
command troops who are themselves ferocious, and he must wield dominion
over unenlightened people. In this respect Russia possesses an immense
superiority over the rest of Europe. She has the rare advantage of
possessing a civilized government, and barbarous subjects. There,
information directs and commands, while ignorance executes and destroys.
A Turkish Sultan could not long govern any enlightened European nation;
the empire of knowledge would be too strong for his power.

Speaking on another subject, the Emperor observed that, if the French
people had less energy than the Romans, they at least evinced greater
decorum. We should not have killed ourselves, as the Romans did under
the first Emperors; but at the same time we should have afforded no
examples of the turpitude and servility that marked the later periods of
the Roman empire. “Even in our most corrupt days,” said he, “our
baseness was not without certain restrictions: courtiers, whom the
sovereign could have prevailed on to do any thing in his own palace,
would have refused to bend the knee to him at his levee.”

I have already mentioned that we had with us scarcely any document
relative to French affairs during the Emperor’s time. The books that had
been brought among his effects were merely a few classics which he
carried about with him in all his campaigns. I received from Major
Hudson, resident in the island, a political compendium from 1793 to
1807, entitled “The Annual Register,” which contains the succession of
political events during each year, together with some of the most
important official documents. In our destitute circumstances this was a
valuable acquisition.


7th.—The Emperor breakfasted alone, and was engaged during the day in
dictating to the Grand Marshal and M. de Montholon.

In the evening, as the Emperor and I were walking together in the lower
path, which had now become the favourite resort, I informed him that a
person of consequence, whose ideas and statements might become the
channel of mediation between ourselves and the ruling world, and
influence our future destiny, had, with sufficiently significant forms
and preambles, invited us to tell him conscientiously what we believed
to be the Emperor’s notions on certain political subjects:—whether he
had granted his last constitution with the intention of maintaining
it;—whether he had sincerely abandoned his former plans as to the great
empire;—whether he would consent to leave England in the enjoyment of
her maritime supremacy, without envying her the tranquil possession of
India;—whether he would be willing to renounce the Colonies, and to
purchase colonial goods from the English alone, at the regular market
price;—whether he would not form an alliance with the Americans, in case
of their rupture with England;—whether he would consent to the existence
of a great kingdom in Germany, for that branch of the English royal
family which must immediately forfeit the throne of Great Britain on the
accession of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, or, in default of Germany,
whether he would consent to the establishment of that dominion in
Portugal, in case England should conclude arrangements to that effect
with the Court of Brazil.

These questions did not rest on vague ideas or idle opinions: the
individual supported them on positive facts. “We want,” said he, “a long
and lasting peace on the Continent—we want the tranquil enjoyment of our
present advantages, to help us out of the critical circumstances in
which we are now involved, and to relieve us from the enormous debt with
which we are burthened. The present state of France and of Europe,”
added he, “cannot bring about these results. The victory of Waterloo has
ruined you; but it was far from saving us; every sensible man in
England, every one who escapes the momentary influence of passion,
either does think, or will think, as I do.”

The Emperor doubted a part of this statement, and treated the rest as a
reverie; then, changing his tone, he said to me, “Well, what is your
opinion? Come, sir, you are now in the Council of State.”—“Sire,” I
replied, “people often indulge in reveries on the most serious subjects;
and our being imprisoned at St. Helena does not hinder us from composing
romances. Here then is one. Why not form a political marriage between
the two nations, in which the one would bring the army as a dowry: and
the other the navy? This will doubtless appear an absurd idea in the
eyes of the vulgar, and will perhaps be thought too bold by
well-informed people, because it is entirely novel and out of the usual
routine. But it is one of those unforeseen, luminous and useful
creations of plans which characterize your Majesty. You alone can cause
it to be listened to, and carry it into effect.”

Going even beyond the ideas of our English interlocutor, I said, “Would
not your Majesty give to-morrow, if you could, the whole French navy to
purchase Belgium and the bank of the Rhine? Would you not give one
hundred and fifty millions to purchase tens of thousands of millions?
Besides, such a bargain would procure to both nations at once the object
for which they have been wrangling and fighting for so many years; it
would reduce both countries to the necessity of mutually assisting each
other, instead of maintaining perpetual enmity. Would it be nothing for
France that her merchants in the English colonies should henceforward be
on the footing of Englishmen; and thus secure, without striking a blow,
the enjoyment of the trade of the whole world? Would it not be every
thing for England, on the other hand, for the sake of insuring to
herself the sovereignty of the ocean, the universality of trade (for
obtaining and preserving which she has incurred so many risks), to
attach France to a system by which the latter would become the regulator
and arbitrator of the Continent?

“Henceforth secure from danger, and strengthened by all the power of her
ally, England might disband her army, in return for the sacrifice which
France would make of her navy. She might even reduce considerably the
number of her ships. She would thus pay her debt, relieve her people,
and prosper; and, far from envying France, she would (the system being
once fairly understood, and passion having given place to real
interests) herself labour for the Continental aggrandizement of her
neighbour; for France would then be merely the advance-guard, while
England would be the resource and the reserve. Unity of legislation
between the two nations, their common interests, results so visibly
advantageous, would make amends for all the obstacles and difficulties
which the passions of rulers might oppose to the fulfilment of this

The Emperor heard me, but made no reply: it is seldom that one can
ascertain his private opinions, and he rarely enters into political
conversations. Lest I should not have expressed myself with sufficient
clearness, I requested that he would permit me to unfold my ideas in
writing. He consented, and said no more. It was now very late, and he
retired to rest.

8th.—The Emperor dictated in the garden to Messrs. Montholon and
Gourgaud, and then walked on his favourite path. He was fatigued and
indisposed. He observed some females about to advance on the path, and
to throw themselves awkwardly in his way, for the sake of being
introduced to him; this annoyed him, and he turned away to avoid meeting

I suggested that riding on horseback might be beneficial to him; we had
three horses at our disposal. The Emperor replied that he never could
reconcile himself to the idea of having an English officer constantly at
his side; that he decidedly renounced riding on such conditions; adding,
that every thing in life must be reduced to calculation, and that, if
the vexation arising from the sight of his jailor were greater than the
advantage he might derive from riding, it was of course advisable to
renounce the recreation altogether.

The Emperor ate but little dinner. During the dessert he amused himself
in examining the paintings on some plates of very beautiful Sevres
porcelain. They were masterpieces in their kind, and were worth thirty
Napoleons each. The paintings represented views or objects of antiquity
in Egypt.

The Emperor closed the day with a walk on his favourite path. He
remarked that he had been very dull all day. After several broken
conversations, he looked at his watch, and was very glad to find it was
half-past ten.

The weather was delicious, and the Emperor insensibly recovered his
usual spirits. He complained of his constitution, which, though
vigorous, occasionally exposed him to fits of indisposition. He,
however, consoled himself with the thought that if, in imitation of the
ancients, he should ever feel inclined to escape from the disgusts and
vexations of life, his moral opinions were not of a nature to prevent
him. He said that sometimes he could not reflect without horror on the
many years he might still have to live, and on the inutility of a
protracted old age; and that, if he were convinced France was happy and
tranquil, and not needing his aid, he should have lived long enough.

We ascended to the pavilion, it was past midnight, and we thought we had
gained a signal victory over time.

9th.—I called on Mr. Balcombe very early, to deliver to him my letters
for Europe, as a vessel was on the point of sailing. At Mr. Balcombe’s
house I met the officer who had been appointed as our guard. Struck with
the dejection which I had observed in the Emperor the day before, and
convinced of the necessity of his taking exercise, I told the officer
that I suspected the reason which prevented the Emperor from riding on
horseback; I added, that I would speak to him the more candidly and
openly, since I had noticed the very delicate way in which he discharged
his duty. I inquired what were his instructions, and whether it would be
necessary to observe them literally, in case the Emperor merely took a
ride round the house; adverting to the repugnance which he must
naturally feel for arrangements that were calculated every moment to
revive the recollection of the situation in which he was placed. I
assured the officer that no reflections were intended to be cast on him
personally, and that I was convinced, when the Emperor wished to take
long rides, he would prefer having him to accompany him. The officer
replied that his instructions were to follow the Emperor; but that, as
he made it a rule not to do any thing that might be offensive to him, he
would take upon himself not to accompany him.

At breakfast I communicated to the Emperor the conversation I had had
with the Captain. He replied that it was all well meant on the Captain’s
part; but that _he_ should not avail himself of the indulgence, as it
was not conformable with his sentiments to enjoy an advantage which
might be the means of compromising an officer.

This determination was very fortunate. When I went to Mr. Balcombe’s in
the evening, the Captain took me aside to inform me that he had been to
the town, in the course of the day, to speak with the Admiral respecting
our morning’s conversation, and that he had been enjoined to abide by
his instructions. I could not refrain from replying, somewhat sharply,
that I was certain the Emperor would immediately send back the three
horses that had been assigned for his use. The officer, to whom I had
also communicated the reply which the Emperor had given me in the
morning relative to him, observed that it would be very right to send
back the horses, and that he thought nothing better could be done. This
remark appeared to me to be prompted by the mortification he himself
experienced at the part that was imposed on him.

When we left Mr. Balcombe’s, the Emperor walked up and down the path in
the garden. I mentioned to him what I had heard from the English
officer. He seemed to expect it. I was not deceived in my conjecture; he
ordered me to send away the horses. This vexed me exceedingly; and I
said, perhaps rather sharply, that with his leave I would go and fulfil
his orders immediately. On which he replied, with great gravity and in a
very peculiar tone of voice:—“No, Sir, you are now out of temper. It
rarely happens that any thing is done well under such circumstances; it
is always best to let the night pass over after the offence of the day.”

We continued our walk till nearly midnight: the weather was delightful.

10th.—To-day, when our usual task was ended, the Emperor strolled out in
a new direction. He proceeded towards the town, until he came within
sight of the road and the shipping. As he was returning, he met Mrs.
Balcombe, and a Mrs. Stuart, a very pretty woman about twenty years of
age, who was returning from Bombay to England. The Emperor conversed
with her respecting the manners and customs of India, and the
inconveniencies of a sea-voyage, particularly for females. He also spoke
of Scotland, which was Mrs. Stuart’s native country; said a great deal
about Ossian, and complimented the lady on the climate of India not
having spoiled her clear Scottish complexion.

At this moment some slaves, carrying heavy boxes, passed by us on the
road; Mrs. Balcombe desired them, in rather an angry tone, to keep back;
but the Emperor interfered, saying, “Respect the burden, Madam!” At
these words, Mrs. Stuart, who had been attentively observing the
Emperor’s features, said, in a low tone of voice, to her friend:
“Heavens! what a countenance, and what a character! How different from
what I had been led to expect!”


11th—13th. We led a most regular life at Briars. Every day, after
dictating to me, the Emperor walked out between three and four o’clock.
He descended to the garden, where he walked up and down, and dictated to
one of the gentlemen who came from the town for that purpose, and who
wrote in the little arbour. About half-past five o’clock, he passed Mr.
Balcombe’s house, and went into the lower walk, to which he became every
day more and more attached. At this time the family were at dinner, and
he could enjoy his promenade without interruption. I joined the Emperor
here, and he continued his walk until dinner was announced.

After dinner the Emperor again returned to the garden, where he
sometimes had his coffee brought to him. My son then visited Mr.
Balcombe’s family, and the Emperor and I walked up and down. We
frequently remained in the garden until the night was far advanced and
the moon rose to light us. In the mildness and serenity of the night we
forgot the burning heat of the day. The Emperor never was more
talkative, nor seemed more perfectly to forget his cares, than during
these moonlight walks. In the familiarity of the conversations which I
thus enjoyed with him, he took pleasure in relating anecdotes of his
boyhood, in describing the sentiments and illusions which diffused a
charm over the early years of his youth, and in detailing the
circumstances of his private life, since he had played so distinguished
a part on the great theatre of the world. I have elsewhere noted down
what I conceived myself at liberty to repeat. Sometimes he seemed to
think he had spoken too much at length, and had detailed things too
minutely. He would then say to me: “Come, it is your turn now: let me
have a little of your history; but you are not a tale-teller.” Indeed I
took especial care to be silent; I was too much afraid of losing a
syllable of what so deeply interested me.

In one of our nightly walks, the Emperor told me that he had, in the
course of his life, been attached to two women of very different
characters. The one was the votary of art and the graces; the other was
all innocence and simple nature; and each, he observed, had a very high
degree of merit.

The first, in no moment of her life ever assumed a position or attitude
that was not pleasing or captivating; it would have been impossible ever
to discover in her, or to experience from her, any thing unpleasant. She
employed every resource of art to heighten natural attractions; but with
such ingenuity as to render every trace of it imperceptible. The other,
on the contrary, never even suspected that any thing was to be gained by
innocent artifice. The one was always beside the truth, her first answer
was always in the negative; the other was altogether frank and open, and
was a stranger to subterfuge. The first never asked her husband for any
thing, but she was in debt to every one: the second freely asked
whenever she wanted, which, however, very seldom happened; and she never
thought of receiving any thing without immediately paying for it. Both
were amiable and gentle in disposition, and strongly attached to their
husband. But it must already have been guessed who they are; and those
who have ever seen them will not fail to recognise the two Empresses.

The Emperor declared that he had uniformly experienced from both the
greatest equality of temper and most implicit obedience.

The marriage of Maria-Louisa was consummated at Fontainebleau,
immediately after her arrival. The Emperor, setting aside all the
etiquette that had previously been arranged, went to meet her, and, in
disguise, got into her carriage. She was agreeably surprised when she
discovered him. She had always been given to understand that Berthier,
who had married her by proxy at Vienna, in person and age exactly
resembled the Emperor: she, however, signified that she observed a very
pleasing difference between them.

The Emperor wished to spare her all the details of domestic etiquette,
customary on such occasions: she had, however, received careful
instructions on the subject at Vienna. The Emperor inquired what
directions she had received from her illustrious relatives with regard
to him personally. To be entirely devoted to him, and to obey him in all
things, was the reply. This declaration, and not the decisions of
certain cardinals and bishops, as was reported, proved the solution of
all the Emperor’s scruples of conscience. Besides, Henry IV. acted in
the same way on a similar occasion.

Maria-Louisa’s marriage, said the Emperor, was proposed and concluded
under the same forms and conditions as that of Marie-Antoinette, whose
contract was adopted as a model. After the separation from Josephine,
negotiations were entered into with the Emperor of Russia, for the
purpose of soliciting the hand of one of his sisters: the difficulties
rested merely on the settling of certain points relative to religion.
Prince Eugene, conversing with M. de Schwartzenberg, learned that the
Emperor of Austria would not object to an union between Napoleon and his
daughter; and this information was communicated to the Emperor. A
council was convoked to decide whether an alliance with Russia or
Austria would be most advantageous. Eugene and Talleyrand were for the
Austrian alliance, and Cambaceres against it. The majority were in
favour of an Archduchess. Eugene was appointed to make the official
overture, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs was empowered to sign it
that very day if an opportunity should present itself; which proved to
be the case.

Russia took umbrage at this; she thought herself trifled with, though
without just ground. Nothing of an obligatory nature had yet transpired;
both parties remained perfectly free. Political interests predominated
over every thing.

The Emperor appointed the Duchess de Montebello to be lady of honour to
Maria-Louisa; the Count de Beauharnais to be her gentleman of honour,
and the Prince Aldobrandini to be her equerry. In the misfortunes of
1814, these individuals, said the Emperor, did not evince the
devotedness which the Empress was entitled to expect from them. Her
equerry deserted her without taking his leave; her gentleman of honour
refused to follow her; and her lady of honour, notwithstanding the
attachment which the Empress entertained for her, thought she had
completely fulfilled her duty in attending her mistress as far as

The appointment of the Duchess de Montebello to the post of lady of
honour was one of those happy selections which, at the time it was made,
excited universal approbation. The Duchess was a young and beautiful
woman, of irreproachable character, and the widow of a marshal, called
the _Orlando_ of the army, who had recently fallen on the field of
battle. This choice was very agreeable to the army, and encouraged the
national party, who were alarmed at the marriage and the number and rank
of the chamberlains who were appointed. This retinue was, by many,
looked upon as a step towards the counter-revolution; and endeavours
were made to represent it as such. As for the Emperor, he had acted in
ignorance of the character of Maria-Louisa, and had been principally
influenced by the fear that she would be filled with prejudices
respecting birth, that might be offensive at the Court. When he came to
know her better, and found that she was wholly imbued with the
prevailing notions of the day, he regretted not having made another
choice. He conceived that he should have done better to select the
Countess de Beauveau, a woman of amiable, mild, and inoffensive manners,
who would have been influenced only by the family advice of her numerous
relatives, and who might thus have introduced a kind of useful custom,
and have occasioned the appointment of well-recommended inferiors. She
might also have rallied about the Court many persons who were at a
distance; and that without any inconvenience, because these arrangements
could only have been brought about by the sanction of the Emperor, who
was not the sort of man to allow himself to be abused.

The Empress conceived the tenderest affection for the Duchess de
Montebello. This lady had at one time a chance of being Queen of Spain.
Ferdinand VII. when at Valency, requested the Emperor’s permission to
marry Mademoiselle de Tascher, cousin-german of Josephine, and bearing
the same name, after the example of the Prince of Baden, who married
Mademoiselle de Beauharnais. The Emperor, who already contemplated a
separation from Josephine, refused his consent to the match, not wishing
by this connexion to add to the difficulties that already stood in the
way of his divorce. Ferdinand then solicited the hand of the Duchess de
Montebello, or of any other French lady whom the Emperor might think
proper to adopt. The Emperor subsequently gave Mademoiselle de Tascher
in marriage to the Duke d’Aremberg, whom he intended to create Governor
of the Netherlands; with the view of ultimately compensating Brussels
for the loss of the old Court. The Emperor moreover wished to appoint
the Count de Narbonne, who had taken part in the Empress’s marriage,
Gentleman of honour, in room of the Count de Beauharnais; but the
extreme aversion which Maria-Louisa evinced for this change deterred the
Emperor from carrying it into effect. The Empress’s dislike to the Count
de Narbonne was, however, only occasioned by the intrigues of the
individuals composing her household, who had nothing to fear from M. de
Beauharnais, but who very much dreaded the influence and talent of M. de

The Emperor informed us that, when he had to make appointments to
difficult posts, he usually asked the persons about him to furnish him
with a list of candidates; and from these lists, and the information he
obtained, he privately deliberated on his choice. He mentioned several
individuals who were proposed as lady of honour to the Empress: they
were the Princess de Vaudemont, Madame de Rochefoucalt, afterwards
Madame de Castellanes, and some others. He then asked us to tell him
whom we should have proposed; which occasioned us to take a review of a
good part of the Court. One of us mentioned Madame de Montesquiou; upon
which the Emperor replied, “She would have done well, but she had a post
which suited her still better. She was a woman of singular merit; her
piety was sincere, and her principles excellent; she had the highest
claims on my esteem and regard. I wanted half a dozen like her; I would
have given them all appointments equal to their deserts, and wished for
more. She discharged her duties admirably when with my son at Vienna.”

The following anecdote will afford a correct idea of the manner in which
Madame de Montesquiou managed the King of Rome. The apartments of the
young Prince were on the ground floor, and looked out on the court, of
the Tuileries. At almost every hour in the day, numbers of people were
looking in at the window, in the hope of seeing him. One day when he was
in a violent fit of passion, and rebelling furiously against the
authority of Madame de Montesquiou, she immediately ordered all the
shutters to be closed. The child, surprised at the sudden darkness,
asked _Maman Quiou_, as he used to call her, what it all meant. “I love
you too well,” she replied, “not to hide your anger from the crowd in
the court-yard. You, perhaps, will one day be called to govern all those
people, and what would they say if they saw you in such a fit of rage?
Do you think they would ever obey you, if they knew you to be so
naughty?” Upon which, the child begged her pardon, and promised never
again to give way to such fits of anger.

“This,” observed the Emperor, “was language very different from that
addressed by M. de Villeroi to Louis XV. ‘_Behold all those people, my
Prince_,’ said he, ‘_they belong to you; all the men you see yonder are

Madame de Montesquiou was adored by the young King of Rome. At the time
of her removal from Vienna it was found necessary to employ stratagems
to deceive the child: it was even feared that his health would suffer
from the separation.

The Emperor had conceived many novel ideas relative to the education of
the King of Rome. For this important object he decided on the _Institut
de Meudon_, of which he had already laid down the principle, with the
view of farther developing it at his leisure. There he proposed to
assemble the Princes of the Imperial house, particularly the sons of
those branches of the family who had been raised to foreign thrones.
This plan, he contended, would have combined the attentions of private
tuition with the advantages of public education. “These children,” said
the Emperor, “who were destined to occupy different thrones, and to
govern different nations, would thus have acquired conformity of
principles, manners, and ideas. The better to facilitate the
amalgamation and uniformity of the federative parts of the Empire, each
Prince was to bring with him from his own country ten or twelve youths
of about his own age, the sons of the first families in the state. What
an influence would they not have exercised on their return home! I
doubted not,” continued the Emperor, “but that Princes of other
dynasties, unconnected with my family, would soon have solicited, as a
great favour, permission to place their sons in the Institute of Meudon.
What advantages would thence have arisen to the nations composing the
European association! All these young Princes,” said he, “would have
been brought together early enough to be united in the tender and
powerful bonds of youthful friendship: and they would, at the same time,
have been separated early enough to obviate the fatal effects of rising
passions—the ardour of partiality—the ambition of success—the jealousy
of love.”

The Emperor wished that the education of the Princes should be founded
on general information, extended views, summaries, and results. He
wished them to possess knowledge rather than learning, judgment rather
than attainments; he preferred the application of details to the study
of theories. Above all, he objected to the pursuing of any particular
study too deeply, for he regarded perfection, or too great success in
certain things, whether in the arts or sciences, as a disadvantage to a
prince. A nation, he said, will never gain much by being governed by a
poet, a virtuoso, a naturalist, a chymist, a turner, a locksmith, &c.

Maria-Louisa confessed to the Emperor that, when her marriage with him
was first proposed, she could not help feeling a kind of terror, owing
to the accounts she had heard of Napoleon from the individuals of her
family. When she mentioned these reports to her uncles, the Archdukes,
who were very urgent for the marriage, they replied,—“That was all very
true, while he was our enemy: but the case is altered now.“

“To afford an idea of the sympathy and good will with which the
different members of the Austrian family were taught to regard me,” said
the Emperor, “it is sufficient to mention that one of the young
Archdukes frequently burned his dolls, which he called _roasting
Napoleon_. He afterwards declared he would not roast me any more, for he
loved me very much, because I had given his sister Louisa plenty of
money to buy him play-things.”

Since my return to Europe, I have had an opportunity of ascertaining the
sentiments entertained by the House of Austria towards Napoleon. In
Germany, a person of distinction informed me that having had a private
audience of the Emperor Francis, during his tour in Italy in 1816, the
conversation turned on Napoleon. Francis spoke of him in the most
respectful terms. One might almost have supposed, said my informant,
that he still regarded him as the ruler of France, and that he was
ignorant of his captivity at St. Helena. He never alluded to him by any
other title than the Emperor Napoleon.

I learned from the same individual that the Archduke John, when in
Italy, visited a rotunda, on the ceiling of which was painted a
celebrated action of which Napoleon was the hero. As he raised his head
to look at the painting, his hat fell off, and one of his attendants
stooped to pick it up. “Let it be,” said he; “it is thus that the man
who is there portrayed should be contemplated.”

Now that I am on this subject, I will note down a few particulars which
I collected in Germany since my return to Europe; and to mark the degree
of credit to which they are entitled, I may mention that I obtained them
from individuals holding high diplomatic posts. Every one knows that
these members of diplomatic corps form among themselves a sort of
family, a kind of free-masonry, and that their sources of information
are of the most authentic kind.

The Empress Maria-Louisa complained that, when she quitted France, M. de
Talleyrand reserved to himself the honour of demanding from her the
restitution of the Crown jewels, and ascertaining whether they had been
restored with the most scrupulous exactness.

In 1814, during the disasters of France, many tempting and brilliant
proposals were made to Prince Eugene. An Austrian General offered him
the crown of Italy, in the name of the Allies, on condition of his
joining them. This offer afterwards came from a still higher quarter,
and was several times repeated. During the reign of the Emperor there
had been some idea of raising the Prince to a throne; and those of
Portugal, Naples, and Poland, were thought of.

In 1815, men of high influence in European diplomacy endeavoured to
sound his opinions, with the view of ascertaining whether, in case
Napoleon should again be constrained to abdicate, and the choice should
fall on him, he would accept the Crown. On this occasion, as on every
other, the Prince steadily pursued a line of duty and honour which will
immortalize him. _Honour and fidelity_ was his constant reply; and
posterity will make it his device.

On the distribution of States in 1814, the Emperor Alexander, who
frequently visited the Empress Josephine at Malmaison, signified a wish
to procure for her son the sovereignty of Genoa. She, however, declined
this proposition, at the instigation of one of the ruling diplomatists,
who falsely flattered her with the hope of something better.

At the Congress of Vienna, the Emperor Alexander, who honoured Prince
Eugene with particular marks of favour, insisted that he should be made
the Sovereign of at least three hundred thousand subjects. He testified
the sincerest friendship for him, and they were every day seen walking
about together arm-in-arm. The landing at Cannes put an end, if not to
the sentiment, at least to the manifestation of it; and changed the
political interests of the Emperor of Russia.—The Austrian government
even entertained the idea of seizing the person of Prince Eugene, and
sending him a prisoner to a fortress in Hungary; but the King of
Bavaria, his father-in-law, indignantly represented to the Emperor of
Austria that Eugene had gone to Vienna under his protection and
guarantee, and that they should not be violated. Thus Eugene remained
free on his own private parole and that of the King his father-in-law.

So lately as 1814, gold twenty and forty-franc pieces were struck at
Milan with the head of Napoleon and the date of 1814. Either from
motives of economy or some other cause, no new die had yet been

After the fall of Napoleon, Alexander on several occasions manifested a
marked and decided dislike to him. In 1815 he was the promoter of the
second crusade against Napoleon; he directed every hostile measure with
the utmost degree of animosity, and seemed to make it almost a personal
affair; alleging, as the cause of his aversion, that he had been
deceived and trifled with. If this tardy resentment was not a mere
pretence, there is every reason to believe that it was stirred up by an
old confidant of Napoleon’s, who, in private conversations, had artfully
wounded the vanity of Alexander, by statements, true or false, of the
private opinion of Napoleon with regard to his illustrious friend.

In 1814 there appeared reason to believe that Alexander would not be
averse to see young Napoleon placed on the throne of France. After the
Emperor’s second abdication, he seemed far less favourably disposed to
the continuance of Napoleon’s dynasty.

In the second crusade, the Emperor Alexander marched at the head of
innumerable forces. He was heard to declare, at that period, that the
war might last for three years; but that Napoleon would nevertheless be
subdued in the end.

On the first intelligence of the battle of Fleurus, the chiefs of all
the Russian columns immediately received orders to halt; while all the
Austrian and Bavarian corps instantly turned off, with the view of
detaching themselves and forming a separate force. Had the Congress of
Vienna been broken up on the 20th of March, it is almost certain that
the crusade would not have been renewed; and had Napoleon been
victorious at Waterloo, it is also tolerably certain that the crusade
would have been dissolved.

The news of Napoleon’s landing at Cannes was a thunderbolt to the French
plenipotentiary at Vienna. He indeed drew up the famous declaration of
the 13th of March; and, virulent as it is, the first draft was still
more so: it was amended by other ministers. The countenance of this
plenipotentiary, as he gradually learned the advance of Napoleon, was a
sort of thermometer, which excited the laughter of all the members of
the Congress.

Austria soon knew the real state of affairs: her couriers informed her
admirably well of all that was passing. The members of the French
Legation alone were involved in doubt: they were still circulating a
magnanimous letter from the King to the other Sovereigns, informing them
that he was resolved to die at the Tuileries, when it was already known
that Louis had left the capital, and was on his way to the frontier.

A member of the Congress and Lord Wellington, in a confidential
conversation with the members of the French Legation, with the map in
their hands, assigned the 20th or the 21st for Napoleon’s entry into

As the Emperor Francis received the official publications from Grenoble
and Lyons, he regularly forwarded them to Schöenbrunn, to Maria Louisa,
to whom they afforded extreme joy. It is very true that, at a somewhat
later period, an idea was entertained of seizing young Napoleon, in
order to convey him to France.

The French Plenipotentiary at length quitted Vienna, and proceeded to
Frankfort and Wisbaden, whence he could more conveniently negotiate
either with Ghent or Paris. Never was a time-serving courier thrown into
greater embarrassment and anxiety. The ardour with which he had been
inspired, on receiving the intelligence of Napoleon’s landing at Cannes,
was very much abated when he heard of the Emperor’s arrival at Paris;
and he entered into an understanding with Fouché that the latter should
be his guarantee with Napoleon, pledging himself, on the other hand, to
be Fouché’s guarantee with the Bourbons. There is good ground for
believing that the offers made by this Plenipotentiary to the new
Sovereign went very great lengths indeed; but Napoleon indignantly
rejected them, lest, as he said, he should degrade his policy too far.

In 1814, before M. de Talleyrand declared himself for the Bourbons, he
was for the Regency; in which, however, he himself wished to play the
principal part. Events fatal to the Napoleon dynasty prevented this
moment of uncertainty from being turned to good account. Every thing
tends to prove that the result which was at that period adopted was far
from being agreeable to the intentions of Austria; that power was duped,
betrayed, or at least carried by assault.

The fatality attending the military movements was such that the Allies
entered Paris without the concurrence of the Austrian Cabinet.
Alexander’s famous declaration against Napoleon Buonaparte and his
family was also made without the Austrian Power being consulted; and the
Count d’Artois only entered France by contriving to slip in secretly in
spite of the orders at the Austrian head-quarters, where he had been
refused passports.

It appears that Austria, on the retreat from Moscow, exerted sincere
efforts in London for negotiating a peace with Napoleon; but the
influence of the Russian Cabinet was all-powerful in London, and no
proposals for peace were listened to. The armistice of Dresden then
arrived, and Austria declared for war.

During this interval, the Austrian minister in London could never obtain
a hearing. He however remained for a considerable time in the English
capital, and did not leave it until the Allies had reached the heart of
France, and Lord Castlereagh hinted at the possibility, for a moment,
that the heroic success of Napoleon might render negotiations

If this minister had not previously been sent to London, he would have
been destined for Paris; and there probably his influence might have
brought about a turn of negotiations different from those which arose
during his absence between the Tuileries and Vienna.

In the height of the crisis he found himself detained in England as if
by force. In his impatience to reach the grand centre of negotiations,
he quitted his post, and proceeded to Holland, braving a violent
tempest. No sooner had he arrived on the theatre of events than he fell
into the hands of Napoleon at Saint-Dizier; but the fate of France was
then decided, though the fact was not yet known at the French
head-quarters. Alexander was entering Paris.

The Austrian minister in London exerted every endeavour to procure a
passport to enable him to join his Sovereign by passing through Calais
and Paris; but in vain. This circumstance; whether accidental, or
premeditated, was another fatality. But for this disappointment, the
Austrian minister would have reached Paris before the Allies, would have
joined Maria-Louisa, would have defeated the last projects of M. de
Talleyrand, and would have altogether produced new combinations.

Opinion was divided in the Austrian Cabinet. One party was for the union
with France; the other was for the alliance with Russia. Intrigue or
chance decided in favour of Russia, and Austria, from that moment, was
merely led on.

14th.—The coffee that was served at our breakfast this morning was
better than usual; it was even good. The Emperor expressed himself
pleased with it. Some moments after he observed, placing his hand on his
stomach, that he felt the benefit of it. It would be difficult to
express what were my feelings on hearing this simple remark. The
Emperor, by thus appreciating so trivial an enjoyment, contrary to his
custom, unconsciously proved to me the effect of all the privations he
had suffered, but of which he never complained.

When we returned from our evening walk, the Emperor read to me a chapter
on the _Provisional Consuls_, which he had dictated to M. de Montholon.
Having finished reading, the Emperor took a piece of ribbon, and began
to tie together the loose sheets of paper. It was late; the silence of
night prevailed around us. My reflections were on that day of a
melancholy cast. I gazed on the Emperor. I looked on those hands which
had wielded so many sceptres, and which were now tranquilly, and
perhaps, not without some degree of pleasure, occupied in the humble
task of tying together a few sheets of paper. On these sheets, indeed,
were traced events that will never be forgotten; portraits that will
decide the judgment of posterity. It is the book of life or death to
many whose names are recorded in it. These were the reflections that
passed in my mind. “And the Emperor,” thought I, “reads to me what he
writes; he familiarly converses with me, asks my opinion, and I freely
give it. After all, I am not to be pitied in my exile at St. Helena.”

15th.—Immediately after dinner the Emperor walked in his favourite path.
He had his coffee carried down to him in the garden, and he drank it as
he walked about. The conversation turned on love. I must have made some
very fine and sentimental remarks on this important subject; for the
Emperor laughed at what he styled my prattle, and said that he
understood none of my romantic verbiage. Then speaking with an air of
levity, he wished to make me believe that he was better acquainted with
sensations than sentiments. I made free to remark that he was trying to
be thought worse than he was described to be in the authentic, but very
secret, accounts that were circulated about the palace. “And what was
said of me?” resumed he, with an air of gaiety. “Sire,” I replied, “it
is understood that, when in the summit of your power, you suffered
yourself to be bound in the chains of love; that you became a hero of
romance; that, fired by an unexpected resistance, you conceived an
attachment for a lady in private life; that you wrote her above a dozen
love-letters; and that her power over you prevailed so far as to compel
you to disguise yourself, and to visit her secretly and alone, at her
own residence, in the heart of Paris.”—”And how came this to be known?”
said he, smiling; which of course amounted to an admission of the fact.
“And it was doubtless added,” continued he, “that that was the most
imprudent act of my whole life; for, had my mistress proved treacherous,
what might not have been my fate—alone and disguised, in the
circumstances in which I was placed, amidst the snares with which I was
surrounded? But what more is said of me?”—“Sire, it is affirmed that
your Majesty’s posterity is not confined to the King of Rome. The secret
chronicle states that he has two elder brothers: one the offspring of a
fair foreigner, whom you loved in a distant country; the other, the
fruit of a connection nearer at hand, in the bosom of your own capital.
It was asserted that both had been conveyed to Malmaison, before our
departure; the one brought by his mother, and the other introduced by
his tutor; and they were described to be the living portraits of their

Footnote 23:

  It is said, that a codicil in the Emperor’s will, which, however, must
  remain secret, completely confirms the above conjectures.

The Emperor laughed much at the extent of my information, as he termed
it; and being now in a merry vein, he began to take a frank retrospect
of his early years, relating many of the love-affairs and numerous
adventures in which he had been engaged. I omit the first; amongst the
second he mentioned a supper that took place in the neighbourhood of the
Saone at the commencement of the Revolution, and at which he had been
present in company with the faithful Desmazzis. He described the whole
with the utmost pleasantry.—He had got himself, he observed, into a
wasp’s nest, where his patriotic eloquence had to contend strenuously
against the contrary doctrines of the other guests, and had nearly
brought him into a serious scrape. “You and I,” he continued, “were at
that time very far from each other.”—”Not so very far, in point of
distance, Sire,” replied, “though certainly very remote with respect to
doctrines. At that time I was also in the neighbourhood of the Saone, on
one of the quays of Lyons, where crowds of patriots were declaiming
against the cannon which they had just discovered in some boats, and
which they termed a counter-revolution. I very inopportunely proposed
that they should make sure of the cannon, by administering to them the
_civic oath_. However, I narrowly escaped being hanged for my folly. You
see, Sire, that I might precisely at that moment have balanced your
account, had any disaster befallen you among your aristocrat
companions.” This was not the only curious coincidence that was
mentioned in the course of the evening. The Emperor, having related to
me an interesting circumstance that took place in 1788, said, “Where
were you at that time.”—“Sire,” replied I, after a few moments
recollection, “I was then at Martinique, supping every evening with the
future Empress Josephine.”

A shower of rain came on and we were obliged to retire from our
favourite path, which, the Emperor observed, we might probably at a
future period look back to with pleasure. “Perhaps so,” I replied; “but
certainly that will not be until we have forsaken it for ever. Meanwhile
we must content ourselves with naming it the Path of Philosophy, since
it cannot be called the Path of Lethe.”


16th.—To-day the Emperor put some questions to me relative to the
Fauxbourg Saint-Germain; that last bulwark of the old aristocracy, that
refuge of old-fashioned prejudices; the _Germanic League_, as he called
it. I told him that, before his last misfortune, his power had extended
into every part of it: it had been invaded, and its name alone remained;
it had been shaken and vanquished by glory; and the victories of
Austerlitz and Jena, and the triumph of Tilsit, had achieved its
conquest. The younger portion of the inhabitants, and all who had
generous hearts, could not be insensible to the glory of their country.
The Emperor’s marriage with Maria-Louisa gave it the last blow. The few
malcontents who remained were either those whose ambition had not been
gratified, and who are to be found in all classes, or some obstinate old
men, and silly old women, bewailing their past influence. All reasonable
and sensible persons had yielded to the superior talents of the Head of
the State, and endeavoured to console themselves for their losses in the
hope of a better prospect for their children. This became the point
towards which all their ideas were directed. They gave the Emperor
credit for his partiality to old family names; they agreed that any one
else in his place would have annihilated them. They prized very highly
the confidence with which the Emperor had collected individuals of
ancient family about his person; and they valued him no less for the
language he had made use of in making choice of their children to serve
in the army:—“These names belong to France and to History; I am the
guardian of their glory, I will not allow them to perish.” These and
other such expressions had gained him numbers of proselytes. The Emperor
here expressed his apprehension that sufficient favour had not been
shewn to this party. “My system of amalgamation,” said he, “required it:
I wished and even directed favours to be conferred on them: but the
ministers, who were the great mediators, never properly fulfilled my
real intentions in that respect; either because they had not sufficient
foresight, or because they feared that they might thus create rivals for
favour, and diminish their own chances. M. Talleyrand, in particular,
always shewed great opposition to such a measure, and always resisted my
favourable intuitions towards the old nobility.” I observed, however,
that the greater part of those whom he had placed near him had soon
shewn themselves attached to his person; that they had served him
conscientiously, and had, generally speaking, remained faithful to him
at the critical moment. The Emperor did not deny it, and even went so
far as to say that the twofold event of the King’s return and his own
abdication must naturally have had great influence on certain doctrines;
and that, for his own part, he could see a great difference between the
same conduct pursued in 1814 and in 1815.

And here I must observe that, since I have become acquainted with the
Emperor’s character, I have never known him to evince, for a single
moment, the least feeling of anger or animosity against those
individuals who had been most to blame in their conduct towards him. He
gives no great credit to those who distinguished themselves by their
good conduct: they had only done their duty. He is not very indignant
against those who acted basely; he partly saw through their characters:
they yielded to the impulses of their nature. He speaks of them coolly,
and without animosity; attributing their conduct in some measure to
existing circumstances, which he acknowledged were of a very perplexing
nature, and placing the rest to the account of human weakness. Vanity
was the ruin of Marmont: “Posterity will justly cast a shade upon his
character,” said he; “yet his heart will be more valued than the memory
of his career. The conduct of Augereau was the result of his want of
information, and the baseness of those who surrounded him; that of
Berthier, of his want of spirit, and his absolute nullity of character.”

I remarked that the latter had let slip the best and easiest opportunity
of rendering himself for ever illustrious, by frankly making his
submission to the King, and intreating his Majesty’s permission to
withdraw from the world, and mourn in solitude the fate of him who had
honoured him with the title of his companion in arms, and had called him
his friend. “Yes,” said the Emperor; “even this step, simple as it was,
was beyond his power.”—“His talents, his understanding,” said I, “had
always been a subject of doubt with us. Your Majesty’s choice, your
confidence, your great attachment, surprised us exceedingly.”—“To say
the truth,” replied the Emperor, “Berthier was not without talent, and I
am far from wishing to disavow his merit, or my partiality for him; but
his talent and merit were special and technical; beyond a limited point
he had no mind whatever: and then he was so undecided.”—I observed that
“he was, notwithstanding, full of pretensions and pride in his conduct
towards us.”—“Do you think, then, that the title of Favourite goes for
nothing?” said the Emperor. I added, that “he was very harsh and
overbearing.” “And what,” said he, “my dear Las Cases, is more
overbearing than weakness which feels itself protected by strength? Look
at women, for example.”

Berthier accompanied the Emperor in his carriage during his campaigns.
As they drove along, the Emperor would examine the order-book and the
report of the positions, whence he formed his resolutions, adopted his
plans, and arranged the necessary movements. Berthier noted down his
directions, and at the first station they came to, or during the first
moments allotted to rest, whether by night or by day, he made out, in
his turn, all the orders and individual details with admirable
regularity, precision, and despatch. This was a kind of duty at which he
shewed himself always ready and indefatigable. “This was the special
merit of Berthier,” said the Emperor: “it was most valuable to me; no
other talent could have made up for the want of it.”

I now return to notice some characteristic traits of the Emperor. He
invariably speaks with perfect coolness, without passion, without
prejudice, and without resentment, of the events and the persons
connected with his life. It is evident that he would be capable of
becoming the ally of his most cruel enemy, and of living with the man
who had done him the greatest wrong. He speaks of his past history as if
it had occurred three centuries ago: in his recitals and his
observations he speaks the language of past ages: he is like a spirit
discoursing in the Elysian fields; his conversations are true Dialogues
of the Dead. He speaks of himself as of a third person; noticing the
Emperor’s actions, pointing out the faults with which history may
reproach him, and analysing the reasons and the motives which might be
alleged in his justification.

He never can excuse himself, he says, by throwing blame on others, since
he never followed any but his own decision. He may complain, at the
worst, of false information, but never of bad counsel. He had surrounded
himself with the best possible advisers, but he had always adhered to
his own opinion, and he was far from repenting of having done so. “It
is,” said he, “the indecision and anarchy of agents which produce
anarchy and feebleness in results. In order to form a just opinion
respecting the faults produced by the sole personal decision of the
Emperor, it will be necessary to throw into the scale the great actions
which he would have been prevented from performing, and the other faults
which he would have been induced to commit, by those very counsels which
he is blamed for not having followed.”

In viewing the complicated circumstances of his fall, looks upon things
so much in a mass, and from so high a point, that individuals escape his
notice. He never evinces the least symptom of virulence towards those of
whom it might be supposed he has the greatest reason to complain. His
greatest mark of reprobation, and I have had frequent occasion to notice
it, is to preserve silence with respect to them, whenever they are
mentioned in his presence. But how often has he not been heard to
restrain the violent and less reserved expressions of those about him?
“You are not acquainted with men,” he has said to us; “they are
difficult to comprehend, if one wishes to be strictly just. Can they
understand or explain even their own characters? Almost all those who
abandoned me would, had I continued to be prosperous, never, perhaps
have dreamed of their own defection. There are vices and virtues which
depend on circumstances. Our last trials were beyond all human strength!
Besides I was forsaken rather than betrayed; there was more of weakness
than of perfidy around me. It was the _denial of St. Peter_: tears and
repentance are probably at hand. And where will you find, in the page of
history, any one possessing a greater number of friends and partisans?
Who was ever more popular and more beloved? Who was ever more ardently
and deeply regretted? Here, from this very rock, on viewing the present
disorders in France, who would not be tempted to say that I still reign
there? The Kings and princes, my allies, have remained faithful to me to
the last, they were carried away by the people in a mass: and those who
were around me, found themselves enveloped and overwhelmed by an
irresistible whirlwind.... No! human nature might have appeared in a
light still more odious, and I might have had still greater cause of



17th.—The Emperor asked me some questions to-day relative to the
officers of his household. With the exception of two or three, at the
most, who had drawn upon themselves the contempt of the very party to
which they had gone over, nothing could be said against them: the
majority had even evinced an ardent devotion to the Emperor’s interests.
The Emperor then made enquiries respecting some of these individuals in
particular, calling them by their names; and I could not but express my
approbation of them all. “What do you tell me?” said he, interrupting me
hastily while I was speaking of one of them; “and yet I gave him so bad
a reception at the Tuileries on my return! Ah! I fear I have committed
some involuntary acts of injustice! This comes of being obliged to take
for granted the first story that is told, and of not having a single
moment to spare for verification! I fear too that I have left many debts
of gratitude in arrear! How unfortunate it is to be incapable of doing
every thing one’s self!”

I replied—“Sire, it is true that, if blame be attached to the officers
of your household, it must be shared equally by all; a fact, however,
which must humble us strangely in the eyes of foreign nations. As soon
as the King appeared, all hastened to him, not as to the sovereign whom
your abdication had left us, but as to one who had never ceased to be
our sovereign; not with the dignity of men proud of having always
fulfilled their duties, but with the equivocal embarrassment of
unskilful courtiers. Each sought only to justify himself: your Majesty
was from that instant disavowed and abjured; the title of Emperor was
dropped. The Ministers, the Nobles, the intimate friends of your
Majesty, styled you simply '_Buonaparte_,’ and blushed not for
themselves or their nation. They excused themselves by saying that they
had been compelled to serve; that they could not do otherwise, through
dread of the treatment they might have experienced.” The Emperor here
recognised a true picture of our national character. He said we were
still the same people as our ancestors the Gauls: that we still retained
the same levity, the same inconstancy, and, above all, the same vanity.
“When shall we,” said he, “exchange this vanity for a little pride?”

“The officers of your Majesty’s household,” said I, “neglected a noble
opportunity of acquiring both honour and popularity. There were above
one hundred and fifty officers of the household; a great number of them
belonged to the first families, and were men of independent fortune. It
was for them to set an example, which, being followed by others, might
have given another impulse to the national attitude, and afforded us a
claim on public esteem.”[24]—“Yes,” said the Emperor, “if all the upper
classes had acted in that way, affairs might have turned out very
differently. The old editors of the public journals would not then have
indulged in their chimeras of the good old times; we should not then
have been annoyed with their dissertations on the straight line and the
curve line; the King would have adhered honestly to his charter; I
should never have dreamed of quitting the Island of Elba; the head of
the nation would have been recorded in history with greater honour and
dignity; and we should all have been gainers.”

Footnote 24:

  In this spirit, and in imitation of the example of other bodies, a
  plan of Address to the King was drawn up in the name of the Officers
  of the Emperor’s Household. It was in substance as follows:—

  “Sire—The undersigned, who formed a part of the household of the
  Emperor Napoleon, solicit from your Majesty the favour of particular

  “Heirs to the duties of their fathers, they were, at a former period,
  faithful defenders of the throne; many of them followed your Majesty
  through long years of exile, into a foreign land, and sealed their
  devotedness by the forfeiture of their patrimony.

  “It was precisely these well-known principles, and this acknowledged
  conduct, which constituted their claim, and called attention to them,
  when it was in contemplation to raise up a new throne and to surround
  it with adherents.

  “The expectations of him who rallied us around him were not, could not
  be, disappointed: we fulfilled our new duties with _honour and
  fidelity_. These sentiments, Sire, the surest pledges of every other,
  would be sufficient to secure our own esteem, if it were possible for
  us to remain in indolent retirement. But what good and loyal Frenchman
  would desire a state of absolute repose? And yet, should any of us
  feel ourselves, through motives of delicacy, reduced to await, in
  silence, our appointment to new duties, might not our motive be
  misconstrued? On the other hand, might not the feelings of those also
  be misunderstood who, yielding to the impulse of their hearts, eagerly
  hastened to receive the favours of your Majesty?

  “Such, Sire, is the peculiar and delicate situation in which we are
  placed: but all our embarrassments will cease, if your Majesty deign
  to lend an ear to our Address. Your royal heart will feel the delicacy
  of the impulse by which we are guided at this moment, and will accept
  our sincere wishes to serve your Majesty and our country with our
  accustomed zeal and fidelity.”

  It was difficult to obtain signatures to so moderate an Address. Would
  it be believed, that this candid and authentic avowal of our past
  functions, and the use of the phrase “Emperor Napoleon,” in
  particular, were held as objections to it? Every one found fault with
  it according to his humour. Such were the sentiments of the day. Only
  seventeen signatures could be collected. Eighteen or twenty persons
  promised to add their names when the list should amount to
  twenty-five; but nobody would assist in completing that number. Two of
  those, who had already signed it, thinking they had put their hand to
  a document which they did not well understand, their sole intention
  having been to solicit the confirmation of their appointments, even
  went so far as to erase their signatures. The original copy of this
  document must be either at Paris or Versailles, in the hands of one of
  the persons who signed it.


18th.—After the accustomed occupation of the day, I accompanied the
Emperor to the garden about four o’clock. He had just completed his
dictation on the subject of Corsica. Having concluded every thing he had
to say relative to that island, and to Paoli, he adverted to the
interest which he himself excited there, while yet so young, at the time
of his separation from Paoli. He added that latterly he might to a
certainty have united in his favour the wishes, the sentiments, and the
efforts of the whole population of Corsica; and that, had he retired to
that island on quitting Paris, he would have been beyond the reach of
any foreign power whatever. He had an idea of doing so when he abdicated
in favour of his son. He was on the point of reserving to himself the
possession of Corsica during his life. No obstacle at sea would have
obstructed his passage thither. But he abandoned that design for the
sake of rendering his abdication the more sincere and the more
advantageous to France. His residence in the centre of the
Mediterranean, in the bosom of Europe, so near France and Italy, might
have furnished a lasting pretext to the Allies. He even preferred
America to England, from the same motive and the same idea. It is true
that, in the sincerity of his own measures, he neither did, nor could
foresee, his unjust and violent banishment to St. Helena.

The Emperor, next proceeding to take a review of different points of the
Revolution, dwelt particularly on Robespierre, whom he did not know, but
whom he believed to be destitute of talent, energy, or system. He
considered him, notwithstanding, merely as the scapegoat of the
Revolution, sacrificed as soon as he endeavoured to arrest it in its
course:—the common fate, he observed, of all who, before himself
(Napoleon) had ventured to take that step. The Terrorists and their
doctrine survived Robespierre; and if their excesses were not continued,
it was because they were obliged to bow to public opinion. They threw
all the blame on Robespierre; but the latter declared shortly before his
death, that he was a stranger to the recent executions, and that he had
not appeared in the Committees for six weeks previously. Napoleon
confessed that, while he was with the army of Nice, he had seen some
long letters addressed by Robespierre to his brother, condemning the
horrors of the Commissioners of the Convention, who, as he expressed it,
were ruining the Revolution by their tyranny and atrocities.
“Cambaceres, who,” observed the Emperor, “must be a good authority on
subjects relating to that period, answered an enquiry which I one day
addressed to him respecting the condemnation of Robespierre, in these
remarkable words: ‘Sire, that was a sentence without a trial;’ adding
that Robespierre had more foresight and conception than was generally
imagined; and that his intention was, after subduing the unbridled
factions which he had to oppose, to restore a system of order and
moderation. ‘Some time previously to his fall,’ added Cambaceres, ‘he
delivered a most admirable speech on this subject; it was not thought
proper to insert it in the Moniteur, and all trace of it is now lost.’”

This is not the first instance I have heard of omissions and want of
accuracy in the Moniteur. In the reports inserted in that journal
relative to the proceedings of the Assembly, there must be a period
remarkable for incorrectness; as the minutes of those proceedings were
for a time arbitrarily drawn up by one of the Committees.

Those who are induced to believe that Robespierre was at once wearied,
satiated, and alarmed by the Revolution, and had resolved on checking
it, affirm that he would not take any decided step until after he had
read his famous speech. He considered it so fine that he had no doubt of
its effect on the Assembly. If this be true, his mistake or his vanity
cost him dear. Those who think differently assert that Danton and
Camille-des-Moulins had precisely the same views; and yet that
Robespierre sacrificed them. To these it is replied that Robespierre
sacrificed them to preserve his popularity, because he judged that the
decisive moment had not yet arrived; or because he did not wish to
resign to them the glory of the enterprise.

Be this as it may, it is certain that the nearer we approach to the
instruments and the agents in that catastrophe, the greater obscurity
and mystery we find; and this uncertainty will but increase with time.
Thus the page of history will, on this point as on many others, become
the record, not so much of the events which really occurred, as of the
statements which are given of them.

In the course of our conversation relative to Robespierre, the Emperor
said that he had been very well acquainted with his brother, the younger
Robespierre, the representative to the Army of Italy. He said nothing
against this young man, whom he had led into action and inspired with
great confidence and considerable enthusiasm for his person; so much so,
that previously to the 9th of Thermidor, young Robespierre, being
recalled by his brother, who was then secretly laying his plans,
insisted on Napoleon’s accompanying him to Paris. The latter experienced
the greatest difficulty in ridding himself of the importunity, and, at
length, only escaped it by requesting the interference of the
General-in-chief Dumerbion, whose entire confidence he possessed, and
who represented that it was absolutely necessary he should remain where
he was. “Had I followed young Robespierre,” said the Emperor, “how
different might have been my career! On what trivial circumstances does
human fate depend!—Some office would doubtless have been assigned to me;
and I might at that moment have been destined to attempt a sort of
Vendemiaire. But I was then very young; my ideas were not yet fixed. It
is probable, indeed, that I should not have undertaken any task that
might have been allotted to me; but supposing the contrary case, and
even admitting that I had been successful, what results could I have
hoped for? In Vendemiaire the revolutionary fever was totally subdued;
in Thermidor it was still raging in its utmost fury and at its greatest

“Public opinion,” said the Emperor, on another occasion, when conversing
on another subject, “is an invisible and mysterious power which it is
impossible to resist: nothing is more unsteady, more vague, or more
powerful; and capricious as it may be, it is, nevertheless, just and
reasonable more frequently than is supposed. On becoming Provisional
Consul, the first act of my administration was the banishment of fifty
anarchists. Public opinion, which had at first been furiously hostile to
them, suddenly turned in their favour, and I was forced to retract. But
some time afterwards, these same anarchists, having shewn a disposition
to engage in plots, were again overthrown by that very public opinion,
which had now returned to support me. Thus, through the errors that were
committed at the time of the restoration, popularity was secured to the
regicides, who but a moment before had been proscribed by the great mass
of the nation.

“It belonged to me only,” continued the Emperor, “to shed a lustre over
the memory of Louis XVI. in France, and to purify the nation of the
crimes with which it had been sullied by frantic acts and unfortunate
fatalities. The Bourbons, being of the royal family, and coming from
abroad, merely avenged their own private cause, and augmented the
national opprobrium. I, on the contrary, being one of the people, should
have raised the character of the nation, by banishing from society, in
her name, those whose crimes had disgraced her. This was my intention,
but I proceeded prudently in the fulfilment of it. The three expiatory
altars at St. Denis were but a prelude to my design. The Temple of
Glory, on the site of the _Magdelaine_, was to have been devoted to this
object with still greater solemnity. There, near the tomb and over the
very bones of the political victims of our revolution, monuments and
religious ceremonies would have consecrated their memory in the name of
the French people. This is a secret that was not known to above ten
individuals: though it had been found necessary to communicate a hint of
the design to those who were intrusted with the arrangement of the
edifice. I should not have executed my scheme in less than ten years;
but what precautions had I not adopted; how carefully had I smoothed
every difficulty, and removed every obstruction! All would have
applauded my design, and no one would have suffered from it. So much
depends on circumstances and forms,” added he, “that in my reign, Carnot
would not have dared to write a memorial, boasting of the death of the
King, though he did so under the Bourbons. I should have leagued with
public opinion in punishing him; while public opinion sided with him in
rendering him unassailable.”

                           CASCADE AT BRIARS.

19th.—My son and I rose very early. Our task had been finished on the
preceding day; and as the Emperor could not want me for some time, we
availed ourselves of the fineness of the morning to explore the
neighbourhood of our abode.

Passing through the valley of James-Town, on the right of our little
level height at Briars, was a deep ravine, the sides of which were
intersected by numerous perpendicular cliffs. We descended into the
ravine, not without difficulty, and found ourselves at the edge of a
little limpid streamlet, beside which grew abundance of cresses. We
amused ourselves by gathering them as we passed along; and after a few
windings we soon reached the extremity of the valley and the streamlet,
which are closed transversely by a huge pointed mass of rock, from the
summit of which issues a pretty cascade, produced from the waters of the
surrounding-heights. This water-fall descending into the valley forms
the streamlet along which we had just passed, and which rolls sometimes
in a rapid stream to the sea. The water of the cascade was at this
moment dispersed above our heads in small rain or light vapour; but in
stormy weather it rushes forth in a torrent, and furiously dashes
through the ravine till it reaches the sea. To us the scene presented a
gloomy, solitary, and melancholy aspect; though it was altogether so
interesting that we quitted it with regret.

To-day was Sunday, and we all dined with the Emperor; he good humouredly
observed that we composed his state party. After dinner the circle of
our amusements was not very extensive: he asked us whether we would have
a comedy, an opera, or a tragedy. We decided in favour of a comedy, and
he himself read a portion of Moliere’s _Avare_, which was continued by
other individuals of the party. The Emperor had a cold, and was slightly
feverish. He withdrew early from his walk in the garden, and desired me
to see him again that evening, if he should not have gone to bed. My son
and I accompanied the rest of the gentlemen to the town; and on our
return, the Emperor had retired to rest.



20th.—The Emperor, after dictating as usual to one of the gentlemen,
called me about five o’clock. He was alone; the rest of the gentlemen
and my son having gone to the town, where the Admiral was that evening
to give a ball. The Emperor and I walked along the road leading to the
town, until we came within sight of the sea and the shipping. On the
left, in the depth of the valley, was a pretty little house. The Emperor
stood for a considerable time with his glass at his eye, examining the
garden, which appeared to be very well cultivated, and in which a group
of beautiful children were at play, attended by their mother. We were
informed that this house belonged to Major Hudson, a resident in the
island, the same gentleman who had lent me the _Annual Register_. The
house was situated at the bottom of the ravine which commences in the
vicinity of Briars, and near the curious cascade which I have already
noticed. The Emperor took a fancy to go down to the house, though it was
now nearly six o’clock. The road was extremely steep: we found it longer
and more difficult of descent than we had expected; and we reached the
bottom of the ravine quite out of breath. We took a survey of the little
domain, which had evidently been laid out as the residence of a
permanent occupant, and not as the mere temporary abode of a traveller
passing to a foreign land; and, after receiving the attentions of the
master of the house, and paying a few compliments to the mistress, the
Emperor took his leave.

But the evening was already far advanced, and we were very much
fatigued; we therefore accepted the horses that were offered us, and
speedily returned to our hut and our dinner. This little excursion, and
the exercise of riding on horseback, which had been so long
relinquished, seemed to do the Emperor good.

He desired that I would go to the Admiral’s ball, in spite of my
reluctance to leave him. At half-past eight o’clock he observed that the
night was dark, the road bad, and that it was time I had set out. He
insisted on my leaving him, and he entered his room, where I saw him
undress and retire to bed. He again desired me to go, and I unwillingly
obeyed. I left him alone; and thus, for the first time, violated a
custom which had become most dear to me.

I proceeded on foot to the town. The Admiral had given great _éclat_ to
his ball. It had been talked of for a considerable time before. He
wished it to be understood that the entertainment was given solely on
our account, and we had been formally invited. Was it most advisable to
accept or to decline the invitation? Something might be said on both
sides. Political misfortunes did not require that we should assume the
appearance of domestic sorrow; it might be proper, and even useful, to
mingle cheerfully in company with our jailors. We might, therefore,
adopt either resolution indifferently. We determined to go. But what
sort of conduct were we to observe? Should we assume pride, or employ
address? The first might be attended with inconvenience; in our
situation every wounded pretension became an insult. In the second there
could be no impropriety: to receive marks of politeness as though we
were accustomed to them, and as though they were our due, and to
overlook any little want of respect, was certainly the wisest course. I
arrived at the ball very late, and left it very early. I was much
pleased with the entertainment in every respect.


21st—22nd. The Emperor, who had often questioned me on the line of
conduct pursued by many of his ministers, members of his Council, and
officers of his Household, during his residence at the Island of Elba,
at length called me to account in my turn, saying:—“But you yourself,
Las Cases, what did you do after the arrival of the King? What happened
to you all that time? Come, sir, make a report on that subject: you know
this is my way; and it is the only plan by which we can properly
classify what we say, or what we wish to learn. Besides, it will furnish
you with another article for your Journal. And, don’t you see?“ added
he, jokingly, “your biographers will only have the trouble of
extracting; the thing will be all ready written to their hands.”

“Sire,” I replied, “you shall have a literal statement of every thing;
though I have but little to say. I commanded, on the 31st of March, the
10th legion of the National Guard of Paris, that of the Legislative
Body. We lost, during the day, a considerable number of men. At night I
heard of the capitulation; I wrote to the officer next in rank to
myself, and transferred to him the command of my legion, informing him
that, though in my quality of member of the Council of State I had
previously received orders to proceed elsewhere, yet I had not wished to
abandon my legion at the moment of danger; but that the event which had
just occurred having changed the aspect of affairs, I must now proceed
forthwith to fulfil new duties.

“At day-break I set out on the road to Fontainebleau, and found myself
in the midst of the wrecks of Marmont’s and Mortier’s detachments. I was
on foot, but I doubted not I should be able to purchase a horse. I soon,
however, discovered that soldiers in retreat are neither just nor civil.
At that disastrous moment, my uniform of a National Guard was insulted,
and I was myself ill-treated.

“After an hour’s walk, overpowered by the fatigue of the journey, joined
to the want of rest which I had experienced for two or three nights
previously; seeing around me no face that I knew, and having no hope of
procuring a horse, I determined, with a sorrowful heart, to return to
the capital.

“The National Guard was ordered out to assist in the triumphant entry of
the enemy: there was even a probability of its being selected as a guard
of honour to the Sovereigns who had conquered us. I determined to be
absent from my home. I had conveyed my wife and children safely out of
Paris a week or two before, and for a few days had recourse to the
hospitality of a friend. I never went out of doors but in a shabby great
coat, visiting the coffee-houses and public places, and joining the
different groups which were formed in the streets. My object was to make
observations on persons and things, and above all, to learn the real
feeling of the people. How many extraordinary occurrences did I not
witness in the course of my rambles!

“I saw in front of the residence of the Emperor of Russia, men
distinguished by their rank, and calling themselves Frenchmen, exerting
their utmost endeavours to induce the rabble to call out ‘_Long live
Alexander, our deliverer!_’

“I saw, Sire, your monument on the Place Vendôme resist the efforts of a
few wretches, belonging to the lowest dregs of the people, who had been
hired by persons of note.

“Finally, in one of the comers of the Place Vendôme, before the hotel of
the Commandant of the place, I saw one of the officers of your household
trying, on the first evening after your departure, to prevail on young
conscripts to enter another service than yours; but he received from
them a lesson that might have made him blush for his own conduct, had he
been capable of feeling shame.

“Doubtless, those to whom I here allude will exclaim that I mingled with
the _rabble_; and yet it may with justice be affirmed that the acts of
baseness which then disgraced France did not originate with the rabble.
These acts were far from obtaining the countenance of the lower classes
of the people; on the contrary, they were decidedly censured by the
uprightness, generosity, and nobleness of sentiment, manifested in the
public streets. What reproaches might I not convey, were I to repeat all
that I heard on this subject!

“Your Majesty abdicated. I had refused my signature to the act of
adherence of the Council of State; but I thought I might make amends for
this by an additional act of adherence. The Moniteur was every day
filled with articles of this kind; mine however was not deemed worthy
the honour of insertion.

“At length the King arrived: he was henceforth our sovereign. He
appointed a day for the reception of those individuals who had been
presented to Louis XVI. I proceeded to the Tuileries to avail myself of
this prerogative.—What were my reflections on entering those apartments
which had so lately been filled with your glory and power! And yet I
presented myself to the King sincerely and in good faith; my foresight
never led me even to think of your return.

“Deputations to the King were multiplied beyond number: a meeting of the
officers of the naval establishment was proposed. To the person who
communicated this fact to me I replied that nothing could be more
gratifying to my heart than to join my old comrades, none of whom could
entertain sentiments purer than I did; but that the offices I had filled
placed me in a peculiar and delicate situation, and that motives of
prudence must deter me from appearing where the zeal of a president
might lead him to employ expressions which I neither could nor would
sanction by my opinion or presence.

“Subsequently, however, in spite of my mortification and disgust, I
determined, at the solicitation of some friends, to think of something
for myself. The Council of State was re-composed; several members of the
last Council assured me, in spite of my recent conjectures on that
point, that nothing was easier than to retain my office; that they had
succeeded merely by an application to the Chancellor of France. I had
not courage to venture a moment’s encroachment on his Lordship’s time:
and therefore contented myself with writing to acquaint him that I had
been Master of Requests to the last Council of State; and that, if that
circumstance were not sufficient to exclude me from becoming a member of
the new assembly, I begged him to recommend me to the King as a
Councillor of State. I observed that I would not advance as claims to
favour my eleven years’ emigration or the loss of my patrimony in the
King’s cause. At that period I had only done what I then considered to
be my duty; which I had at all times, to the best of my knowledge,
fulfilled faithfully and to the last moment. This phrase, as may well be
supposed, deprived me even of the honour of a reply.

“Meanwhile the new situation of Paris, the sight of the foreign troops,
the acclamations of every kind, were more than I could endure; and I
adopted the determination of going for a short time to London, where I
should meet with old friends, who might afford me all the consolation of
which I was susceptible. Then, again, I recollected that I might find in
London the same tumult and the same exultation that had driven me from
Paris; this proved to be the fact. London was the scene of festivity and
rejoicing, to celebrate the triumphs of the English and our humiliation.

“During my stay in London, the marine establishment was re-modelled at
Paris, and the Chevalier de Grimaldi, one of my old comrades, whom I had
not seen or heard of for a length of time, was appointed a member of the
Committee. He called on my wife, and expressed his surprise that I had
not put in my claims; observing that I was entitled, by law, to return
to the corps, or to retire on a certain pension. He advised my wife to
bring me to a decision on the subject, and to rely on his friendship;
adding that there was no time to be lost. I attached higher value to
this mark of attention than to the favour which it was intended to
procure me. However, I wrote to the Committee, requesting that, as I was
desirous of wearing a uniform to which I had become attached, I might be
allowed to enjoy the honorary title of _Capitaine de Vaisseau_; while at
the same time I renounced the pension, to which I did not conceive
myself entitled.

“I returned to Paris. The diversity of opinions and the irritation of
the public mind were extreme. I had for a long time lived in the
greatest retirement. I now confined myself entirely to the domestic
circle of my wife and children. Never at any former period of my life
did I prove myself a better husband or a better father; and never,
perhaps, was I more physically happy.

“As I was one day reading, in the _Journal des Debats_, an account of a
work of M. Beauchamp, I found mentioned the names of several gentlemen
who were stated to have assembled on the Place Louis XV. on the 31st
March, to excite sentiments in favour of royalty; and my name was among
the number. It was in good company, no doubt; but at the same time the
statement was untrue; and I should have been considerably lowered in the
estimation of many if it had been believed. I wrote to request a
correction of the error, which was calculated to render me the subject
of congratulations to which I was in no way entitled.

“I observed that it was out of my power at the time to act in the way
described, whatever might have been my inclination. As the commander of
a legion of the National Guard, I had contracted obligations from which
no consideration on earth could free me, &c. I sent my letter to the
deputy Chabaud-Latour, one of the proprietors of the _Journal des
Debats_, a man for whom I entertained a great esteem. He declined
publishing my letter, purely from good intentions towards me. I then
addressed it to the editor; but he refused to insert it on account of
difference of opinion.

“Meanwhile, the state of the public mind indicated an inevitable and
speedy catastrophe. Every thing foreboded that the Bourbons would share
the fate of the Stuarts. My wife and I used every evening to amuse
ourselves in reading Hume’s History of England. We began at Charles I.,
and your Majesty arrived before we had got to James II.” (Here the
Emperor could not repress a laugh.)

“Your Majesty’s advance and arrival,” continued I, “were to us a subject
of the greatest astonishment and anxiety. I was far from foreseeing the
honourable voluntary exile which it would gain for me in the end; for I
was then little known to your Majesty; and circumstances arising out of
that event alone brought me here. Had I filled the most trivial post
under the King; had I even been a frequent attendant at the Tuileries,
which would have been very natural and consistent with propriety, I
should not have appeared for a length of time in your Majesty’s
presence. Not, indeed, that I should have had any thing to reproach
myself with, or that my attachment to you would have been the less
sincere; but because I should not have wished to pass for a piece of
court furniture, or to seem always ready to offer incense at the shrine
of power. I should have awaited an appointment, instead of pressing
forward to solicit one. But as it was, I felt myself so much at liberty,
every thing about me was in such perfect harmony, that I seemed to form
a part of the great event. I therefore eagerly hastened to meet the
first glance of your Majesty; I felt as though I had claims on your
kindness and favour. On your return from Waterloo, the same sentiments
brought me immediately and spontaneously near your person, which I have
never since quitted. If I was then attracted by your public glory, I am
now attached by your private virtues; and if it be true that the
gratification of my feelings then cost me some sacrifice, I now find
myself repaid a hundred-fold, by the happiness I enjoy in being able to
tell you so.

“It would however be difficult to describe the extreme disgust I felt at
every thing during the ten months of your absence. I felt an utter
contempt for mankind and worldly vanities. Every illusion was destroyed,
all interest had vanished. Every thing appeared to be at an end, or to
be undeserving of the smallest value. During my emigration, I had
received the cross of St. Louis; an ordinance decreed that it was to be
legitimated by a new brevet. I had not spirit to put in my claim.
Another ordinance directed that the titles bestowed by your Majesty
should be sent in to be confirmed; but I felt indifferent with regard to
compromising those which I had obtained during the Empire. In fine, I
received a letter from the Marine department, informing me that my
captain’s commission had just been forwarded thither, and there it still

“Your Majesty’s absence was to me a widowhood, the affliction and grief
of which I concealed from no one. But on your return I was repaid for
all by the testimony borne by those who surrounded you, and to whom I
had previously been scarcely known. At your Majesty’s first levee, the
individual who was _ad interim_ at the head of the department of foreign
affairs, coming from the presence, took me aside to a window, and told
me to go home and prepare, as I should probably have to set out on a
journey. He had just, he said, proposed me to your Majesty, adding that
he had represented me as a madman, but mad for love of you. I wished to
know whither I was to be sent; but that, he said, he neither would nor
could tell me. I never heard any thing more of the matter.

“M. Regnault de Saint-Jean d’Angeli placed me on the list of the
Imperial Commissioners whom your Majesty sent to the departments, I
assured him that I was ready to do any thing; but I observed that I was
a _noble_ and an _emigrant_, and that these two words pronounced by the
first comer would be sufficient to annihilate me, in case of necessity,
at any time or in any place. He acknowledged the justice of my
observation, and relinquished his intention.

“A Senator next solicited that your Majesty would appoint me to the
prefecture of Metz, his native town. He requested me to make this
sacrifice for only three months, in order, as he said, to conciliate the
popular mind, and set things to rights. At length Decrés and the Duke of
Bassano proposed me as a Councillor of State; and, the third day after
your arrival, your Majesty signed my appointment.”

23rd.—The Emperor was still indisposed: he confined himself to his room,
and would see nobody. He sent for me at 9 o’clock in the evening. I
found him very low-spirited and melancholy. He scarcely spoke to me, and
I did not dare to say anything to him. If I regarded his illness as
merely physical, it grieved me sincerely:—if he laboured under mental
affliction, how much more was I grieved that I could not employ all the
resources of consolation with which the heart naturally overflows for
those whom we truly love. The Emperor dismissed me in about half an

24th.—The Emperor continued indisposed, and still declined seeing any
body. He sent for me to dine with him at a late hour. Dinner was served
on a little table beside the sofa on which he was lying. He ate
heartily. He said that he stood in need of some sudden revulsion of the
constitution, which he should soon obtain; so well did he understand his
own temperament. After dinner he took up the Memoirs of Marshal de
Villars, which amused him. He read aloud many passages, which revived
former recollections, and gave rise to many anecdotes.



25th.—The Emperor still continued unwell: he had passed a bad night. At
his desire I dined with him beside the sofa, which he was unable to
leave. He was, however, evidently much better. After dinner he wished to
read. He had a heap of books scattered around him on the sofa. The
rapidity of his imagination, the fatigue of dwelling always on the same
subject, or of reading what he already knew, caused him to take up and
throw down the books one after the other. At length he fixed on Racine’s
Iphigenia, and amused himself by pointing out the beauties, and
discussing the few faults, to be found in that work. He dismissed me at
an early hour.

Contrary to the general opinion, in which I myself once participated,
the Emperor is far from possessing a strong constitution. His limbs are
large, but his fibres are relaxed. With a very expanded chest, he is
constantly labouring under the effects of cold. His body is subject to
the influence of the slightest accidents. The smell of paint is
sufficient to make him ill; certain dishes, or the slightest degree of
damp, immediately take a severe effect on him. His body is far from
being a body of iron, as is generally supposed: all his strength is in
his mind. His prodigious exertions abroad and his incessant labours at
home are known to every one. No sovereign ever underwent so much bodily
fatigue. The most remarkable instance of the Emperor’s activity and
exertion was his riding post from Valladolid to Burgos, (a distance of
thirty-five Spanish leagues) in five hours and a half; that is to say,
upwards of seven leagues an hour.[25] The Emperor had set out
accompanied by a numerous escort, in case of danger from the Guerillas;
but at every yard he left some of his company behind him, and he arrived
at Burgos with but few followers. His ride from Vienna to the Simmering,
a distance of eighteen or twenty leagues, is also frequently talked of.
The Emperor rode to breakfast at the Simmering, and returned to Vienna
immediately after. Napoleon often hunted to the distance of thirty-eight
leagues, and never less than fifteen. One day a Russian officer, who had
come as a courier from St. Petersburg in the space of twelve or thirteen
days, arrived at Fontainebleau at the moment when the Emperor was about
to set out on a hunt. By way of a rest, the officer had the honour to be
invited to join the hunting-party. He of course accepted the invitation;
but he dropped down in the forest, overcome by fatigue, and was not
found until after considerable search had been made for him.

Footnote 25:

  This may appear incredible. Indeed I myself feel doubts now when I
  read over the statement. But I know that when the subject was spoken
  of one day at dinner at Longwood, it underwent much discussion, and I
  noted down on paper what was then admitted to be the correct account.
  Besides, many individuals who accompanied the Emperor are still
  living: and the fact may be ascertained.

I have known the Emperor to be engaged in business in the Council of
State for eight or nine hours successively, and afterwards rise with his
ideas as clear as when he sat down. I have seen him at St. Helena peruse
books for ten or twelve hours in succession, on the most abstruse
subjects, without appearing in the least fatigued. He has suffered,
unmoved, the greatest shocks that ever man experienced. On his return
from Moscow or Leipsic, after he had communicated the disastrous event
in the Council of State, he said:—“It has been reported in Paris that
this misfortune turned my hair grey; but you see it is not so (pointing
to his head); and I hope I shall be able to support many other
reverses.” But these prodigious exertions are made only, as it were, in
despite of his physical powers, which never appear less susceptible than
when his mind is in full activity.

The Emperor eats very irregularly, but generally very little. He often
says that a man may hurt himself by eating too much, but never by eating
too little. He will remain four-and-twenty hours without eating, only to
get an appetite for the ensuing day. But if he eats little, he drinks
still less. A single glass of Madeira or Champaign is sufficient to
restore his strength, and to produce cheerfulness of spirits. He sleeps
very little and very irregularly, generally rising at daybreak to read
or write, and afterwards lying down to sleep again.

The Emperor has no faith in medicine, and never takes any. He had
adopted a peculiar mode of treatment for himself. Whenever he found
himself unwell, his plan was to run into an extreme, the opposite of
what happened to be his habit at the time. This he calls restoring the
equilibrium of nature. If, for instance, he had been inactive for a
length of time, he would suddenly ride about sixty miles, or hunt for a
whole day. If, on the contrary, he had been harassed by great fatigues,
he would resign himself to a state of absolute rest for twenty-four
hours. These unexpected shocks infallibly brought about an internal
crisis, and instantly produced the desired effect: this remedy, he
observed, never failed.

The Emperor’s lymphatic system is deranged, and his blood circulates
with difficulty. Nature, he said, had endowed him with two important
advantages: the one was the power of sleeping whenever he needed repose,
at any hour, and in any place; another was that he was incapable of
committing any injurious excess either in eating or drinking. “If,” said
he, “I go the least beyond my mark, my stomach instantly revolts.” He is
subject to nausea from very slight causes; a mere tickling cough is
sufficient to produce that effect on him.



26th—28th. On the 26th the Emperor dressed very early: he found himself
quite recovered. He wished to walk out, as the weather was very fine;
and, besides, his room had not been put in order for three days. We went
into the garden, and he chose to breakfast under the arbour. He was in
good spirits, and his conversation turned upon many different subjects
and persons.

The Emperor’s health being now perfectly restored, he resumed his usual
occupation, which, indeed, was his only source of amusement. Reading,
dictating, and walking in the garden, filled up all his time during the
day. He still occasionally resorted to his favourite path, though the
turn of the season, and the change of the moon, had nearly put a stop to
our evening walks. The numerous visitors who came to Mr. Balcombe’s
house, attracted by the hope of meeting the Emperor, annoyed him very
much, and, indeed, compelled him to withdraw himself altogether. We
therefore remained shut up in our little dwelling. We at first
understood that we should remain at Briars only a few days; but six
weeks had passed away, and we had yet heard nothing respecting our
removal. All this time the Emperor had been as much confined as he had
been on board of the vessel. He had taken only one excursion, which was
when he visited Major Hudson; and we afterwards learned that this
circumstance had occasioned alarm. It had been whispered about at the
Admiral’s ball, and had reached the ears of our high authorities, who
were thrown into great consternation by the event.

The workmen continued their labours at Longwood, which was to be our new
residence. The troops who had come with us from England were encamped in
the neighbourhood. The Colonel gave a ball, to which we were invited.
The Emperor wished me to go, and that I should, at the same time, take
the opportunity of inspecting our future abode. I went with Madame
Bertrand, in a carriage drawn by six oxen. In this Merovingian equipage
we proceeded to Longwood. This was the first opportunity I had had of
seeing any part of the island, except the neighbourhood of Briars. The
whole road along which we passed presented continued evidences of a
great natural convulsion. We saw nothing but huge masses of rock,
totally destitute of vegetation. If, at every change of the horizon, we
perceived a trace of verdure or a few clusters of trees, yet on a nearer
approach, all vanished like the creations of a poet’s fancy; we found
only a few marine plants and wild shrubs; or, what was still worse, some
wretched gum-trees. These were the only ornaments of Longwood. I
returned on horseback about six o’clock. The Emperor put many questions
to me concerning our new residence. Finding that I did not speak of it
very enthusiastically, he asked at once whether he should gain or lose
by the change? I told him what I thought in one sentence. “Sire,” said
I, “we are here in a cage; there we shall be in a fold.”

28th.—The Emperor changed his military uniform, which he had put on to
go on board the Bellerophon, for a fancy dress coat. In the course of
conversation this day the Emperor adverted to the numerous conspiracies
which had been formed against him. The infernal machine was mentioned in
its turn. This diabolical invention, which gave rise to so many
conjectures, and caused the death of so many victims, was the work of
the Royalists, who obtained the first idea of it from the Jacobins.

The Emperor stated that a hundred furious Jacobins, the real authors of
the scenes of September, the 10th of August, &c., had resolved to get
rid of the First Consul, for which purpose they invented a 15 or
16-pound howitzer, which, on being thrown into the carriage, would
explode by its own concussion, and hurl destruction on every side. To
make sure of their object, they proposed to lay chevaux de frise along a
part of the road, which, by suddenly impeding the horses, would of
course render it impossible for the carriage to move on. The man who was
employed to lay down the chevaux de frise, entertaining some suspicions
of the job which he had been set upon, as well as of the morality of his
employers, communicated the business to the police. The conspirators
were soon traced, and were apprehended near the Jardin des Plantes, in
the act of trying the effect of the machine, which made a terrible
explosion. The First Consul, whose policy it was not to divulge the
numerous conspiracies of which he was the object, did not give publicity
to this, but contented himself with imprisoning the criminals. He soon
relaxed his orders for keeping them in close confinement, and they were
allowed a certain degree of liberty. In the same prison in which these
Jacobins were confined, some Royalists were also imprisoned for an
attempt to assassinate the First Consul, by means of air-guns. These two
parties formed a league together; and the Royalists transmitted to their
friends out of prison the idea of the infernal machine, as being
preferable to any other plan of destruction.

It is very remarkable that, on the evening of the catastrophe, the
Emperor expressed an extreme repugnance to go out. Madame Buonaparte and
some intimate friends absolutely forced him to go to an Oratorio. They
roused him from a sofa where he was fast asleep; one fetched him his
sword, and another his hat. As he drove along in the carriage, he fell
asleep again, and awoke suddenly, saying that he had dreamed he was
drowning in the Tagliamento. To explain what he alluded to, it is
necessary to mention that some years previously, when he was General of
the army of Italy, he passed the Tagliamento in his carriage during the
night, contrary to the advice of every one about him. In the ardour of
youth, and heedless of every obstacle, he crossed the river surrounded
by a hundred men armed with poles and torches. His carriage was,
however, soon set afloat; Napoleon incurred the most imminent danger,
and for some time gave himself up for lost. At the moment when he now
awoke, on his way to the Oratorio, he was in the midst of a
conflagration, the carriage was lifted up, and the passage of the
Tagliamento came fresh upon his mind. The illusion, however, was but
momentary; a dreadful explosion immediately ensued. “We are blown up!”
exclaimed the First Consul to Lannes and Bessieres, who were in the
carriage with him. They were for stopping the carriage, but the First
Consul enjoined them not to do it on any account. He arrived safe, and
appeared at the Opera as though nothing had happened. He was preserved
by the desperate driving of his coachman. The machine injured only one
or two individuals who closed the escort.

The most trivial circumstances often lead to the most important results.
The coachman was intoxicated, and there is no doubt that this proved the
means of saving the life of the First Consul. The man’s intoxication was
so great that it was not until next morning he could be made to
comprehend what had happened. He had taken the explosion for the firing
of a salute. Immediately after this event, measures were adopted against
the Jacobins, who had been convicted of meditating the crime: and a
considerable number were banished. They, however, were not the real
criminals, whose discovery was brought about by another very singular

Three or four hundred drivers of _fiacres_ subscribed a louis or twelve
francs each to give a dinner to the First Consul’s coachman, who had
become the hero of the day and the boast of his profession. During the
feast, one of the guests drinking to the health of the First Consul’s
coachman, observed that he knew who had played him the trick, alluding
to the explosion of the machine. He was immediately arrested, and it
appeared that, on the very night, or the night preceding the explosion,
he had drawn up his _fiacre_ beside a gate, whence had issued the little
cart that had done all the mischief. The police proceeded to the place,
and it was found to be a coach-yard, where all kinds of vehicles were
lent on hire. The keepers of the yard did not deny the fact; they
pointed out the stall in which the cart stood; it still presented traces
of gunpowder. The proprietors declared that they were given to
understand the cart had been hired by some Bretons who were concerned in
smuggling. The man who had sold the horse, together with every
individual who had participated in the affair, were easily traced out;
and it was proved that the plot had been formed by the Chouan Royalists.
Some active and intelligent men were despatched to their head-quarters
in Morbihan. They took no pains to conceal their share in the
transaction, and only regretted that it had not succeeded. Some of them
were apprehended and brought to punishment. It is said that the chief
conspirator afterwards turned Trappist, and sought to expiate his crime
by religious austerities.


29th—30th. I find in this part of my manuscript some important
particulars respecting the conspiracy of Georges, Pichegru, Moreau, and
the trial of the Duke d’Enghien; but, as these subjects recur repeatedly
in the course of my Journal, I transfer to another part what occurred
here, in order to bring all my information on the above points at once
under the eye of the reader.

Mr. Balcombe’s little garden, in which we so often walked, was
superintended by an old negro. The first time we saw him, the Emperor,
according to his usual custom, desired me to put some questions to him
respecting his history; and his answers strongly excited our interest.
He was a Malay Indian, and had been forced from his home by the crew of
an English vessel, and sold at St. Helena, where he had continued ever
since in slavery. His story bore every mark of truth. His countenance
had a frank and benevolent expression; his eyes were animated and
sparkling. In short his appearance was by no means abject; but, on the
contrary, truly prepossessing.

The history of the poor fellow’s misfortunes filled us with,
indignation; and a few days after, the Emperor expressed a wish to
purchase him and send him back to his own country. He mentioned the
subject to the Admiral. The latter, at first, defended his countrymen,
and declared that old Toby (which was the name of the unfortunate slave)
must be an impostor; for the thing was impossible. He, however, enquired
into the matter, and, finding that the story was but too true, he
participated in the indignation which we expressed, and promised to
exert his best endeavours for the fulfilment of our design. When we left
Briars for Longwood, poor Toby, sharing the common fate of all earthly
things, was soon forgotten; I know not what became of him.

When we were in the garden, the Emperor generally stopped near Toby’s
hut, and made me question him respecting his country, the days of his
youth, his family, his present situation, &c.: one would have supposed
that he wished to study the feelings of the old slave. By the Emperor’s
desire, I invariably closed the conversation by giving him a Napoleon.

Toby was very much attached to us; our presence always seemed to fill
him with joy. When we entered the garden, he immediately suspended his
work, and, resting on his spade, gazed on us with an air of
satisfaction. He understood not a word of the conversation that passed
between the Emperor and myself; but he always seemed to anticipate, with
a smile, the first words I translated to him. He called the Emperor the
_Good Gentleman_: this was the only name he ever applied to him, and he
knew him by no other.

I have mentioned the above particulars, because our meetings with Toby
were always followed by novel, spirited, and characteristic reflections
on the part of the Emperor. The versatility of his mind is well known.
Whenever he adverted to the poor slave’s misfortunes, he always took a
new view of the subject. I shall content myself with noting down the
following remarks:—

“Poor Toby,” said he one day, “has been torn from his family, from his
native land, and sold to slavery: could any thing be more miserable to
himself, or more criminal in others! If this crime be the act of the
English captain alone, he is doubtless one of the vilest of men; but if
it be that of the whole of the crew, it may have been committed by men,
perhaps, not so base as might be imagined; for vice is always
individual, and scarcely ever collective. Joseph’s brethren could not
bring themselves to slay him; while Judas, a cool, hypocritical,
calculating villain, betrayed his Master. A philosopher has affirmed
that men are born wicked: it would be both difficult and idle to attempt
to discover whether the assertion be true. This, at least, is certain,
that the great mass of society is not wicked; for if the majority were
determined to be criminal and to violate the laws, who would have the
power to restrain or prevent them? This is the triumph of civilization;
for this happy result springs from its bosom, and arises out of its
nature. Sentiments are for the most part traditionary; we feel them
because they were felt by those who preceded us: thus we must look to
the development of human reason and of the faculties of mankind for the
only key to social order, the only secret of the legislator. It is only
those who wish to deceive the people and rule them for their own
personal advantage that would desire to keep them in ignorance; for the
more they are enlightened, the more will they feel convinced of the
utility of laws, and of the necessity of defending them; and the more
steady, happy, and prosperous will society become. If, however,
knowledge should ever be dangerous in the multitude, it can only be when
the Government, in opposition to the interests of the people, drives
them into an unnatural situation, or dooms the lower classes to perish
for want. In such a case, knowledge would inspire them with spirit to
defend themselves, or to become criminal.

“My code alone, from its simplicity, has been more beneficial to France
than the whole mass of laws which preceded it. My schools and my system
of mutual instruction are preparing generations yet unknown. Thus,
during my reign, crimes were rapidly diminishing; while, on the
contrary, with our neighbours in England, they have been increasing to a
frightful degree. This alone is sufficient to enable any one to form a
decisive judgment of the respective governments![26]

Footnote 26:

  This fact is corroborated by authentic documents, which exhibit proofs
  more positive than might be expected. (See _Situation de l’
  Angleterre, par M. de Montvéran_.)

               FRANCE                            ENGLAND

            /—————- ————                      /—————- ————

      Inhabitants. Condemned to  Years. Inhabitants. Condemned to
                         death.                            death.

        34,000,000          882  {1801}   16,000,000        3,400

        42,000,000          392  {1811}   17,000,000        6,400

  It is obvious from this statement, that in the year 1801, in France,
  twenty-six out of a million of inhabitants were condemned to death;
  and that in 1811, ten years after, the number of condemned had
  diminished two-thirds, leaving the proportion of only nine to a

  In England, on the contrary, where, in 1801, the number of criminals
  condemned to death was 212 out of a million of inhabitants, the amount
  increased by more than one half; there being in 1811, 376 out of a

  It is worthy of observation that the condemnations in England,
  compared with those in France, were as 376 to 9, or as 42 to 1.

  The report of the state of mendicity in France, compared with that of
  the parish poor in England, also presents a prodigious difference: the
  French list, in 1812, exhibiting only 30,000 individuals out of 43
  millions of inhabitants; while in England, in the same year, a fourth
  of the population, or 4,250,000 poor, were thrown upon the

“Look at the United States, where, without any apparent force or effort,
every thing goes on prosperously; every one is happy and contented: and
this is because the public wishes and interests are in fact the ruling
power. Place the same government at variance with the will and interests
of its inhabitants, and you would soon see what disturbance, trouble,
and confusion, and above all, what an increase of crimes, would ensue.

“When I acquired the supreme direction of affairs, it was wished that I
might become a Washington. Words cost nothing; and no doubt those who
were so ready to express the wish did so without any knowledge of times,
places, persons, or things. Had I been in America, I would willingly
have been a Washington, and I should have had little merit in so being;
for I do not see how I could reasonably have acted otherwise. But had
Washington been in France, exposed to discord within, and invasion from
without, I would have defied him to have been what he was in America; at
least, he would have been a fool to attempt it, and would only have
prolonged the existence of evil. For my own part, I could only have been
a _Crowned Washington_. It was only in a congress of kings, in the midst
of kings, yielding or subdued, that I could become so. Then and there
alone, I could successfully display Washington’s moderation,
disinterestedness, and wisdom. I could not reasonably attain to this but
by means of the _universal Dictatorship_. To this I aspired; can that be
thought a crime? Can it be believed that to resign this authority would
have been beyond the power of human nature? Sylla, glutted with crimes,
dared to abdicate, pursued by public execration! What motive could have
checked me, who would have been followed only by blessings?——But it
remained for me to conquer at Moscow!—How many will hereafter regret my
disasters and my fall!—But to require prematurely of me that sacrifice,
for which the time had not arrived, was a vulgar absurdity; and for me
to have proclaimed or promised it, would have been taken for hypocrisy
and quackery: that was not my way.——I repeat, it remained for me to
conquer at Moscow!——”

On another occasion, pausing before Toby, he said:—“What, after all, is
this poor human machine? There is not one whose exterior form is like
another, or whose internal organisation resembles the rest! And it is by
disregarding this truth that we are led to the commission of so many
errors! Had Toby been a Brutus, he would have put himself to death: if
an Æsop, he would now, perhaps, have been the Governor’s adviser; if an
ardent and zealous Christian, he would have borne his chains in the
sight of God, and blessed them. As for poor Toby, he endures his
misfortunes very quietly; he stoops to his work, and spends his days in
innocent tranquillity.” Then, after looking at him for a few moments in
silence, he turned away and said: “Certainly it is a great step from
poor Toby to a King Richard!——And yet,” continued he, as he walked
along, “the crime is not the less atrocious; for this man, after all,
had his family, his happiness, and his liberty; and it was a horrible
act of cruelty to bring him here to languish in the fetters of slavery,”
Then, suddenly stopping short, he added:—“But I read in your eyes that
you think he is not the only example of the sort at St. Helena!” And
whether he felt offended at being placed on a parallel with Toby,
whether he thought it necessary to raise my spirits, or whatever else
might be his reason, he went on with dignity and animation: “My dear Las
Cases, there is not the least resemblance here: if the outrage is of a
higher class, the victims also possess very different resources. We have
not been exposed to corporeal sufferings; or if that had been attempted,
we have souls to disappoint our tyrants! Our situation may even have its
charms! The eyes of the universe are fixed upon us! We are martyrs in an
immortal cause! Millions of human beings are weeping for us: our country
sighs, and glory mourns our fate! We here struggle against the
oppression of the gods, and the prayers of nations are for us!”—After a
pause of a few seconds, he continued:—“Besides, this is not the source
of my real sufferings! If I considered only myself, perhaps I should
have reason to rejoice! Misfortunes are not without their heroism and
their glory! Adversity was wanting to my career! Had I died on the
throne, enveloped in the dense atmosphere of my power, I should to many
have remained a problem; but now misfortune will enable all to judge of
me without disguise.“



December 1st—3rd. Many incidents fill up this interval: some I reject as
unnecessary, some it is proper I should withhold. I here note down only
a few anecdotes of the General-in-chief of the Army of Italy.

After the passage of the Mincio, Napoleon, having concerted all his
plans, and pursued the enemy in every direction, entered a castle on the
left bank of the river. He was troubled with the head-ache, and he used
a foot-bath. A large detachment of the enemy, in great confusion,
arrived, having ascended the river as far as the castle. Napoleon had
only a few persons with him; the sentinel on duty at the gate had just
time to close it, exclaiming, “To arms!” and the General of the Army of
Italy, in the hour of victory, was compelled to escape through the back
gates of the garden, with but one boot on. Had he been made prisoner,
before his reputation was established, the acts of genius which had
marked the commencement of his career would, perhaps, by the common run
of mankind, have been considered merely as fortunate and blameable
enterprises. The danger which the French General had just escaped (a
circumstance which, through his method of operations, was likely often
to recur) was the origin of the guides appointed to guard his person.
These guides have since been introduced in other armies.

In the same campaign, Napoleon incurred another imminent risk:—Wurmser,
who had been compelled to throw himself into Mantua, and who was
debouching suddenly on an open plain, learned from an old woman, that,
only a few moments before his arrival, the French General, with but a
few followers, had stopped at her door, and that he had fled within
sight of the Austrians. Wurmser immediately despatched parties of
cavalry in every direction, calculating with certainty on the precious
capture. “But,” said the Emperor, “I must do him this justice, he gave
particular orders that I should not be killed or harmed in any way.”
Fortunately for the young General, his happy star and the swiftness of
his horse preserved him.

The new system of military operations practised by Napoleon disconcerted
every one. The campaign was scarcely opened, when Lombardy was inundated
with troops in every direction, and the French approached Mantua
pell-mell with the enemy. The General-in-chief, when in the
neighbourhood of Pizzighitone, met a great fat German Captain or
Colonel, who had been made prisoner. Napoleon took a fancy to question
him, without being known, and enquired how affairs were going on. “Very
badly,” replied the officer; “I know not how it will end; but no one
seems to understand what is doing; we have been sent to fight a young
blockhead, who attacks you on the right and the left, in front and in
rear, so that there is no knowing how to proceed. This mode of carrying
on war is intolerable; and for my part, I am very glad to have done with

Napoleon used to relate that, after one of his great actions in Italy,
he passed over the field of battle with two or three other persons,
before the dead bodies had been interred. “In the deep silence of a
beautiful moonlight night,” said the Emperor, “a dog, leaping suddenly
from beneath the clothes of his dead master, rushed upon us, and then
immediately returned to his hiding-place, howling piteously. He
alternately licked his master’s face, and again flew at us; thus, at
once soliciting aid and seeking revenge. Whether owing to my own
particular turn of mind at the moment,” continued the Emperor, “the
time, the place, or the action itself, I know not; but certainly no
incident on any field of battle ever produced so deep an impression on
me. I involuntarily stopped to contemplate the scene. This man, thought
I, perhaps has friends in the camp or in his company; and here he lies
forsaken by all except his dog! What a lesson Nature here presents
through the medium of an animal! What a strange being is man! and how
mysterious are his impressions; I had, without emotion, ordered battles
which were to decide the fate of the army; I had beheld, with tearless
eyes, the execution of those operations, by which numbers of my
countrymen were sacrificed; and here my feelings were roused by the
mournful howling of a dog! Certainly at that moment I should have been
easily moved by a suppliant enemy; I could very well imagine Achilles
yielding up the body of Hector at the sight of Priam’s tears.”



4th—5th. My eyes had become so bad that I was obliged to suspend my
occupation: I had nearly lost my sight in the Campaign in Italy.

For some time past a sensible change had taken place in the weather. We
knew nothing about the order of the seasons. As the sun passed twice
over our heads in the course of the last year, we said we ought, at
least, to have two summers. Every thing was totally different from what
we had been accustomed to; and, to complete our embarrassments, we were
obliged, being now in the southern hemisphere, to make all our
calculations in a manner quite the reverse of that which we had
practised in Europe. It rained frequently, the air was very damp, and it
grew colder than before. The Emperor could no longer go out in the
evening; he was continually catching cold and did not sleep well. He was
obliged to give up taking his meals beneath the tent, and he had them
served up in his own chamber. Here he found himself better; but he could
not stir from his seat.

Our conversation continued after the dinner was removed from table.
To-day the Emperor attacked General Gourgaud on the elements and first
exercises of artillery. The General had recently belonged to that
department of the service, and all his professional science was quite
fresh. The discussion was very curious, and was maintained with great
spirit. Napoleon never proved himself to be the weaker party: one might
have been tempted to believe that he had just passed his examination at
the academy.

The conversation then turned on war and great commanders. “The fate of a
battle,” observed the Emperor, “is the result of a moment—of a thought:
the hostile forces advance with various combinations, they attack each
other and fight for a certain time; the critical moment arrives, a
mental flash decides, and the least reserve accomplishes the object.” He
spoke of Lützen, Bautzen, &c.; and afterwards, alluding to Waterloo, he
said, that had he followed up the idea of turning the enemy’s right, he
should easily have succeeded; he, however, preferred piercing the
centre, and separating the two armies. But all was fatal in that
engagement; it even assumed the appearance of absurdity: nevertheless,
he ought to have gained the victory. Never had any of his battles
presented less doubt to his mind; nor could he now account for what had
happened. Grouchy, he said, had lost himself; Ney appeared bewildered,
and his countenance at once expressed the remorse he felt for the
transactions of Fontainebleau and of Lons-le-Saunier; d’Erlon was
useless; in short, the generals were no longer themselves. If, in the
evening, he had been aware of Grouchy’s position, and could have thrown
himself upon it, he might, in the morning, with the help of that fine
reserve, have repaired his ill success, and perhaps, even have destroyed
the allied forces by one of those miracles, those turns of Fortune,
which were familiar to him, and which would have surprised no one. But
he knew nothing of Grouchy; and besides, it was not easy to act with
decision amongst the wrecks of the army. It would be difficult to
imagine the condition of the French army on that disastrous night; it
was a torrent dislodged from its bed, sweeping away every thing in its

Turning to another subject, he said that the dangers incurred by the
military commanders of antiquity were not to be compared with those
which attend the generals of modern times. There is, he observed, no
position in which a general may not now be reached by artillery; but
anciently a general ran no risk, except when he himself charged, which
Cæsar did only twice or thrice.

“We rarely,” said he, “find, combined together, all the qualities
necessary to constitute a great general. The object most desirable is
that a man’s judgment should be in equilibrium with his personal
courage; that raises him at once above the common level.” This is what
the Emperor termed being _well squared_, both by the base and

“If,” continued he, “courage be a general’s predominating quality, he
will rashly embark in enterprises above his conceptions; and, on the
other hand, he will not venture to carry his ideas into effect, if his
character or courage be inferior to his judgment.”

He then cited the example of the Viceroy, whose sole merit consisted in
this equilibrium of character, which, however, sufficed to render him a
very distinguished man.

Physical and moral courage then became the subject of discourse. “With
respect to physical courage,” the Emperor said, “it was impossible for
Murat and Ney not to be brave, but no men ever possessed less judgment;
the former in particular. As to moral courage,” observed he, “I have
very rarely met with _the two o’clock in the morning courage_. I mean,
unprepared courage, that which is necessary on an unexpected occasion,
and which, in spite of the most unforeseen events, leaves full freedom
of judgment and decision.” He did not hesitate to declare that he was
himself eminently gifted with this _two o’clock in the morning_ courage,
and that, in this respect, he had met with but few persons who were at
all equal to him. He remarked that an incorrect idea was generally
formed of the strength of mind necessary to engage in one of those great
battles on which depends the fate of an army or nation, or the
possession of a throne. “Generals,” added he, “are rarely found eager to
give battle; they choose their positions; establish themselves; consider
their combinations; but then commences their indecision: nothing is so
difficult, and at the same time so important, as to know when to

He next proceeded to notice several generals, and condescended to reply
to some questions that were asked him. “Kleber,” said he, “was endowed
with the highest talent; but he was merely the man of the moment: he
pursued glory as the only road to enjoyment; but he had no national
sentiment, and he could, without any sacrifice, have devoted himself to
foreign service.” Kleber had commenced his youthful career among the
Prussians, to whom he continued much attached. Dessaix possessed, in a
very superior degree, the important equilibrium above described. Moreau
scarcely deserved to be placed in the first rank of generals; in him
nature had left her work unfinished; he possessed more instinct than
genius. In Lannes, courage at first predominated over judgment; but the
latter was every day gaining ground, and approaching the equilibrium. He
had become a very able commander at the period of his death. “I found
him a dwarf,” said the Emperor, “but I lost him a giant.” In another
general, whom he named, judgment was, on the contrary, superior to
courage; it could not be denied that he was a brave man; but he, like
many others, did not forget the chance of the cannon-ball.

Speaking of military ardour and courage, the Emperor said, “I know the
depth, or what I call the _draught of water_, of all my generals. Some,”
added he, joining action to his words, “will sink to the waist, some to
the chin, others over head; but the number of the latter is very small,
I assure you.” Suchet, he said, was one whose courage and judgment had
been surprisingly improved. Massena was a very superior man, and, by a
strange peculiarity of temperament, he possessed the desired equilibrium
only in the heat of battle; it was created in the midst of danger. “The
generals,” finally observed the Emperor, “who seemed destined to rise to
future distinction were Gerard, Clausel, Foy, Lamarque, &c. These were
my new marshals.”



6th.—The Emperor, after dictating to me this morning, was successively
engaged with the other gentlemen, with whom he prolonged his walk for
some time. When they withdrew, I followed him into the lower path: he
was dull and silent, and his countenance appeared somewhat harsh and
ruffled. “Well,” said he, as we were returning to dinner, “we shall have
sentinels under our windows at Longwood. They wished to force me to have
a foreign officer at my table and in my drawing-room. I cannot mount my
horse without being accompanied by an officer; in short, we cannot stir
a step under pain of being insulted!...” I replied that this was another
drop of sorrow added to the bitter cup which we were doomed to drink to
his past glory and power; but that his philosophy was sufficient to defy
the malice of his enemies, and to make them blush for their brutality in
the face of the whole world. I ventured to remark that the Spanish
Princes at Valencey, and the Pope at Fontainebleau, had never
experienced such treatment. “Certainly not,” resumed he; “the Princes
hunted and gave balls at Valencey, without being physically aware of
their chains; they experienced respect and courtesy at all hands. Old
King Charles IV. removed from Compiegne to Marseilles, and from
Marseilles to Rome, whenever he wished. And yet how different are those
places from this! The Pope at Fontainebleau, whatever may have been the
reports circulated in the world, was treated in the same manner. And yet
how many persons, in spite of all the indulgences he enjoyed, refused to
be appointed to guard him!—a circumstance which gave me no offence, for
I thought it perfectly natural. Such employments are subject to the
influence of delicacy of feeling; and our European manners require that
power should be limited by honour.” He observed that, for his own part,
as a private man and an officer, he should without hesitation have
refused to guard the Pope, whose removal to France, he added, had never
been ordered by him.—I manifested great surprise.—“You are astonished,”
said he: “you did not know this? But it is nevertheless true, as well as
many other similar facts, which you will learn in course of time. But,
with reference to the subject on which we have just been speaking, it is
necessary to distinguish the conduct of the sovereign, who acts
collectively, from that of the private man, whose sentiments are without
constraint. Policy permits, nay, frequently demands, from the one, what
would be unpardonable in the other.” The hour of dinner, by introducing
various subjects of conversation, diverted his melancholy, and
cheerfulness finally prevailed.

Meanwhile the Emperor seriously determined to quit his present wretched
abode, whatever inconvenience his new residence might present. On going
to pass the remainder of the evening with our host, the Emperor directed
me to present him a box bearing his cypher, and to tell him he was sorry
for all the trouble he had occasioned to him.


7th.—The Emperor summoned me to attend him at an early hour. He began to
read the Nouvelle Héloïse, frequently remarking on the ingenuity and
force of the arguments, the elegance of the style and expressions: he
read for upwards of two hours. This reading made a powerful impression
on me; it produced a deep melancholy—a mingled feeling of tenderness and
sorrow. I had always been fond of the work; and it now awakened happy
recollections, and excited deep regret: the Emperor frequently smiled at
me. During breakfast the Nouvelle Héloïse was the topic of conversation.

“Jean-Jacques has overcharged his subject,” said the Emperor; “he has
painted madness: love should be a source of pleasure, not of misery.” I
alleged that Jean-Jacques had described nothing which a man might not
feel, and that even the misery to which the Emperor alluded was, in
reality, happiness.—“I see,” said he, “you have a little touch of the
romantic: has Love’s misery rendered you happy?”—“I do not complain of
my fate, Sire,” replied I; “were I to begin life again, I should wish to
retrace the course I have already pursued.”

The Emperor resumed his reading after breakfast; but he paused
occasionally: the enchantment seemed to seize him in his turn. He at
length laid down the book, and we went out to the garden. “Really,” said
he, as we walked along, “this work is not without fire; it moves, it
rouses the feelings.” We discussed the subject deeply; we were very
prolix in our remarks, and we at length agreed that perfect love is like
ideal happiness; that both are equally airy, fugitive, mysterious, and
inexplicable; and that, finally, love is the business of the idle man,
the recreation of the warrior, and the ruin of the sovereign.

We were joined by the Grand Marshal and M. Gourgaud, who had just come
from Longwood. The admiral had for some days past been urgent for our
removal thither; and the Emperor was not less anxious to go, the
accommodation at Briars being so very bad. However, before he removed,
it was necessary that the smell of the paint should be entirely gone,
for, owing to his peculiar organization, he could not possibly endure
it. In the Imperial palaces, care had been taken never to expose him to
it. In his different journeys, the slightest smell of paint frequently
rendered it necessary to change the apartments that had been prepared
for him; and on board of the Northumberland the paint of the ship had
made him very ill. He had been informed on the preceding evening that
all was ready at Longwood, and that the disagreeable effect of the paint
was entirely gone. He accordingly determined to remove on the Saturday
following, as he would thus be rid of the annoyance of the workmen on
Sunday; but the Grand Marshal and M. Gourgaud now came to say that they
had visited the place, and that it was not habitable. The Emperor
expressed much vexation at the first account he had received, and the
resolution which it had led him to adopt. The two gentlemen withdrew,
and we entered the lower walk. The Emperor was much out of humour. M. de
Montholon now arrived, very _mal-a-propos_, from Longwood, declaring
that all was ready, and that the Emperor might remove as soon as he
wished. These two accounts, so contradictory and so close upon each
other, strongly excited his displeasure. Fortunately, dinner was
announced, which diverted his attention from the subject. The cloth was
laid in the Emperor’s chamber; for he had so severe a cold that he could
not endure the tent. After dinner he resumed his reading; and ended the
day, as he had begun it, with the Nouvelle Héloïse.

NEY. #/

8th—9th. Owing to the doubt which had yesterday arisen respecting the
paint, I determined to go myself to ascertain the real state of the
case, and to acquaint the Emperor with it at breakfast-time. I
accordingly set out very early, walking three parts of the way, because
nobody was up who could get ready a horse for me. I returned before nine
o’clock. The smell of the paint was certainly very slight; but it was
too much for the Emperor.

On the 9th the Captain of the Minden of 74, was introduced to the
Emperor in the garden. The captain had arrived from the Cape of Good
Hope, and was on the eve of sailing for Europe. He had had the honour of
being presented to Napoleon at Paris, under the Consulate, about twelve
years before. He requested permission to introduce one of his
Lieutenants to the Emperor, on account of some personal circumstances,
which we thought very singular. The young man was born at Bologna,
precisely at the period when the French army entered that city. The
French General, Napoleon, had by some accident been present at the
christening of the child, to whom he gave a tri-coloured cockade, which
has since been carefully preserved in the family.

After the departure of these gentlemen, the Grand Marshal arrived from
Longwood. He thought the paint by no means offensive; the Emperor’s
present accommodation was very bad, and a portion of his property had
already been removed; he therefore resolved to proceed to Longwood on
the following day, of which I was heartily glad. I had for some days
past had an opportunity of observing that a determination had been
adopted to compel the Emperor to quit his present abode. I had kept to
myself all the communications, public or private, that had been made to
me on the subject. I made it a rule to spare him every cause of vexation
that I possibly could, and merely contented myself with acting in the
way that I thought most advisable. Two days before, an officer was sent
to carry away the tent, though we had expressed no wish to that effect.
The officer had also been directed to remove the outside shutters from
the Emperor’s windows; but this I opposed, telling him it could not be
done, as the Emperor had not yet risen, and I sent him away. On another
occasion, with the view of alarming me, I was told as a great secret
that if the Emperor did not immediately remove, it was intended to
station a hundred soldiers at the gates of the enclosure. “Very well,” I
replied, and took no further notice. What could be the occasion of all
this hurry? I suspect that the caprice of our jailors, and the desire of
pushing their authority to the utmost, had more concern in the business
than any thing else.

We received newspapers down to the 15th of September; and they became
the subject of conversation. The Emperor analyzed them. The future
appeared enveloped in clouds. “However,” said the Emperor, “three great
events present themselves to the imagination;—the division of France,
the reign of the Bourbons, or a new dynasty. Louis XVIII.,” observed he,
“might easily have reigned in 1814, by rendering himself a national
monarch. Now he has only the odious and uncertain chance arising out of
excessive severity—a reign of terror. His dynasty may be permanently
established, or that which is to succeed him may still be in the secret
of futurity.” Some one present observed, “that the Duke of Orleans might
be called to the throne;” but the Emperor, by a string of very forcible
and eloquent reasoning, proved that, unless the Duke of Orleans came to
wear the crown in his turn by the natural order of succession, it was
the well-understood interest of all the sovereigns of Europe to prefer
him (Napoleon) to the Duke of Orleans, coming to the throne by a crime.
“For,” said he, “what is the doctrine of Kings against the events of the
present day? Is it to prevent a renewal of the example which I
furnished, against what they call legitimacy? Now the example which I
have set cannot be renewed above once in the course of many ages; but
that of the Duke of Orleans, the near relative of the monarch on the
throne, may be renewed daily, hourly, and in every country. There is no
sovereign, who has not, in his own palace, and about his person,
cousins, nephews, brothers, and other relations, who could easily follow
such an example if it were once given.”

We read, in the same papers, an abstract of the memorial, in
justification of Marshal Ney.—The Emperor thought it most pitiable. It
was not calculated to save his life, and by no means to maintain his
honour. The arguments in his defence were, to say the least of them,
feeble and destitute of point. After all he had done, he st¡ll protested
his devotedness to the King, and his aversion of the Emperor, “An absurd
plan,” said Napoleon, “but one which has been generally adopted by those
who have figured in the present memorable times, and who seem not to
have considered that I am so entirely identified with our prodigies, our
monuments, our institutions, and all our national acts, that to separate
me from them is to wrong France. The glory of France is to acknowledge
me! And, in spite of all the subtlety, evasion, and falsehood, that may
be employed to prove the contrary, my character will still be fairly
estimated by the French nation. Ney’s defence,” continued he, “was
plainly traced out. He was led on by a general impulse which he thought
calculated to ensure the welfare of his country; he had obeyed without
premeditation, and without any treasonable design. A change of fortune
had ensued, and he was cited before a tribunal; this was all he had to
say with respect to the great events that had taken place. As to the
defence of his life, there was nothing to be said on that point, except,
indeed, that he was protected by a solemn capitulation, which guaranteed
to every individual silence and oblivion with regard to all political
acts and opinions. Had he pursued that line of defence, and were his
life, nevertheless, to be sacrificed, it would be, in the face of the
whole world, a violation of the most sacred laws. He would leave behind
him the recollection of a glorious character; carrying to the grave the
sympathy of every generous mind, and heaping disgrace and reprobation on
his murderers. But this enthusiasm is probably beyond his moral
strength,” said the Emperor. “Ney is the bravest of men, and nothing

It is certain that when Ney quitted Paris, he was wholly devoted to the
King; and that he did not turn until he saw that all was lost. If he
then proved himself enthusiastic in the opposite course, it was because
he felt that he had much to atone for. After his famous order of the
day, he wrote to Napoleon that what he had done was principally with a
view to the welfare of the country; and that, as he could not henceforth
be agreeable to the Emperor, he begged that he would grant him
permission to retire. The Emperor desired him to come, and said he would
receive him as he did on the day after the battle of the Moscowa. Ney
presented himself to Napoleon, and said that, after what had occurred at
Fontainebleau, he must of necessity entertain doubts of his attachment
and fidelity; and that therefore he solicited no other rank than that of
a grenadier in the Imperial guard. The Emperor replied by stretching
forth his hand to him, and calling him the bravest of the brave, as he
was accustomed to do. The Emperor compared the situation of Ney to that
of Turenne. Ney might be defended: but Turenne was unjustifiable. And
yet Turenne was pardoned and loaded with honours, while Ney was probably
doomed to die.

“In 1649,” said he, “Turenne commanded the royal army, which command had
been conferred on him by Anne of Austria, the Regent of the kingdom.
Though he had taken the oath of fidelity, yet he bribed his troops,
declared himself for the Fronde, and marched on Paris. But when he was
declared guilty of high treason, his repentant army forsook him; and
Turenne took refuge with the Prince of Hesse, to avoid the pursuit of
justice. Ney, on the contrary, was urged by the unanimous wish and
outcry of his army. Only nine months had elapsed since he had
acknowledged a monarch, who had been preceded by six hundred thousand
foreign bayonets: a monarch who had not accepted the constitution
presented to him by the Senate, as the formal and necessary condition of
his return, and who, by declaring that he had reigned nineteen years,
proved that he regarded all preceding governments as usurpations. Ney,
whose education had taught him to respect the national sovereignty, had
fought for five-and-twenty years to support that cause; and, from a
private soldier, had raised himself to the rank of marshal. If his
conduct on the 20th of March was not honourable, it is at least
explicable, and in some respects pardonable; but Turenne was absolutely
criminal, because the Fronde was the ally of Spain, which was then at
war with his Sovereign, and because he had been prompted by his own
interest and that of his family, in the hope of obtaining a sovereignty
at the expense of France, and consequently to the prejudice of his

                       ESTABLISHMENT AT LONGWOOD.


                       EMPEROR’S FIRST BATH, &C.

10th.—The Emperor ordered me to be called about nine o’clock, to
accompany him into the garden. He was obliged to leave his chamber very
early, as all the furniture was to be removed that morning to Longwood.
On entering the garden, the Emperor sent for Mr. Balcombe, our host. He
then ordered his breakfast, and invited Mr. Balcombe to breakfast with
him. He was in charming spirits, and his conversation was very lively.

About two o’clock the Admiral was announced: he advanced with an air of
embarrassment. The manner in which the Emperor had been treated at
Briars, and the restraints which had been imposed upon the members of
his suite residing in the town, had occasioned a coolness between them.
The Emperor had discontinued receiving the visits of the Admiral; yet,
on the present occasion, he behaved to him as though they had met but

At length we left Briars, and set out for Longwood. The Emperor rode the
horse which had been brought for him from the Cape. He had not seen him
before: he was a small, sprightly, and tolerably handsome animal. The
Emperor wore his uniform of the chasseurs of the guard: his graceful
figure and handsome countenance were particularly remarkable. His
appearance attracted general notice, and I was gratified to hear the
observations which it called forth. The Admiral was very attentive to
him. Many persons had collected on the road to see him pass. Several
English officers, together with ourselves, formed his escort.

The road from Briars to Longwood runs for some distance in the direction
of the town. It then turns off suddenly to the right, and, after three
or four windings, clears the chain of hills forming one side of the
valley. The road next opens upon a level height of gentle acclivity, and
a new horizon and new scenes present themselves. We now left behind us
the chain of barren mountains and rocks which distinguish the
landing-side of the island, and saw before us a transverse group of
hills, of which Diana’s Peak is the highest, and appears like the
key-stone, or the nucleus, of the surrounding scene. On the left, or
eastern, side, where Longwood is situated, the horizon is bounded by the
broken chain of rocks forming the outline and barrier of the island.
There the soil exhibits an uncultivated desert; but on the right the eye
rests on an extensive tract of country, which, though rugged, at least
presents traces of vegetation: it is covered with numerous residences,
and upon the whole is tolerably well cultivated. On this side, it must
be confessed, the picture is romantic and pleasing.

Here a deep valley opens on the left of the road, which is in very good
condition; and two miles farther on, where the road makes an angle,
stands Hut’s Gate, a wretched little house, which was selected as the
residence of the Grand Marshal and his family. At a short distance from
this point, the valley on the left, having gradually increased in depth,
forms a circular gulf, which, from its vast depth and extent, has
received the name of the Devil’s Punch-bowl. The road is here contracted
by an eminence on the right, and it runs along the side of this
precipice, until it turns off in the direction of Longwood, which is
close at hand.

At the entrance of Longwood, we found a guard under arms, who rendered
the prescribed honours to the august captive. The Emperor’s horse, which
was spirited and untractable, being unused to this kind of parade, was
startled at the sound of the drum; he refused to pass the gate, and it
was only by the help of the spur that his rider succeeded in forcing him
to advance. At this moment, I observed very expressive looks exchanged
among the persons composing the Emperor’s escort. We entered our new
residence about four o’clock.

The admiral took great pains to point out to us even the minutest
details at Longwood. He had superintended all the arrangements, and some
things were even the work of his own hands. The Emperor was satisfied
with every thing, and the Admiral seemed highly pleased. He had
evidently anticipated petulance and disdain; but the Emperor manifested
perfect good-humour.

He retired at six o’clock, and beckoned me to follow him to his chamber.
Here he examined various articles of furniture, and enquired whether I
was similarly provided. On my replying in the negative, he insisted on
my accepting them; saying in the most engaging manner, “Take them; I
shall want for nothing: I shall be taken better care of than you.” He
felt much fatigued, and he asked whether he did not look so. This was
the consequence of having passed five months in absolute inactivity. He
had walked a good deal in the morning, besides riding some miles on

Our new residence was provided with a bathing machine, which the Admiral
had ordered the carpenters to fit up in the best way they could. The
Emperor, who since he quitted Malmaison, had been obliged to dispense
with the use of the bath, which to him had become one of the necessaries
of life, expressed a wish to bathe immediately, and directed me to
remain with him. The most trivial details of our new establishment came
once more under consideration; and, as the apartment which had been
assigned to me was very bad, the Emperor expressed a wish that, during
the day, I should occupy what he called his topographic cabinet, which
adjoined his own private closet, in order, as he said, that I might be
nearer to him. I was much affected by the kind manner in which all this
was spoken. He even went so far as to repeat to me several times that I
must come next morning and take a bath in his machine; and when I
excused myself on the ground of the respect and the distance which ought
to be kept up between us, “My dear Las Cases,” said he, “fellow
prisoners should accommodate each other. I do not want the bath all day,
and it is not less necessary to you than to me.” One would have supposed
that he wished to indemnify me for the loss that I was about to sustain,
in being no longer the only individual about his person. This kindness
delighted me, it is true; but it also produced a feeling of regret. The
kindness of the Emperor was doubtless the reward of my assiduous
attentions at Briars; but it also gave me cause to anticipate the close
of that constant intercourse with him, for which I had been indebted to
our profound solitude. The Emperor, not wishing to dress again, dined in
his own room, and desired me to remain with him. We were alone, and our
conversation turned on a subject of a peculiar nature, the result of
which may be exceedingly important. He asked my opinion, and told me to
communicate it to him next morning.

                        DESCRIPTION OF LONGWOOD.

11th—14th. We now found unfolded to us a new portion of our existence on
the wretched rock of St. Helena. We were settled in our new abode, and
the limits of our prison were marked out.

Longwood, which was originally merely a farm-house belonging to the East
India Company, and which was afterwards given as a country residence to
the Deputy Governor, is situated on one of the highest parts of the
Island. The difference of the temperature between this place and the
valley where we landed is marked by a variation of at least ten degrees
of the English thermometer. Longwood stands on a level height, which is
tolerably extensive on the eastern side, and pretty near the coast.
Continual and frequently violent gales, always blowing in the same
quarter, sweep the surface of the ground. The sun, though it rarely
appears, nevertheless exercises its influence on the atmosphere, which
is apt to produce disorders of the liver, if due precaution be not
observed. Heavy and sudden falls of rain complete the impossibility of
distinguishing any regular season. But there is no regular course of
seasons at Longwood. The whole year presents a continuance of wind,
clouds, and rain; and the temperature is of that mild and monotonous
kind which, perhaps, after all, is rather conducive to _ennui_ than
disease. Notwithstanding the abundant rains, the grass rapidly
disappears, being either nipped by the wind or withered by the heat. The
water, which is conveyed hither by a conduit, is so unwholesome that the
Deputy Governor, when he lived at Longwood, never suffered it to be used
in his family until it had been boiled; and we are obliged to do the
same. The trees, which, at a distance, impart a smiling aspect to the
scene, are merely gum trees—a wretched kind of shrub, affording no
shade. On one side the horizon is bounded by the vast ocean; but the
rest of the scene presents only a mass of huge barren rocks, deep gulfs,
and desolate valleys; and, in the distance, appears the green and misty
chain of mountains, above which towers Diana’s Peak. In short, Longwood
can be pleasing only after the fatigues of a long voyage, when the sight
of any land is a cheering prospect. Arriving at St. Helena on a fine
day, the traveller may, perhaps, be struck with the singularity of the
objects which suddenly present themselves, and exclaim “How beautiful!”
but his visit is momentary; and what pain does not his hasty admiration
cause to the unhappy captives who are doomed to pass their lives at St.

Workmen had been constantly employed for two months in preparing
Longwood for our reception; the result of their labours, however,
amounted to little. The entrance to the house was by a room which had
just been built, and which was intended to answer the double purpose of
an ante-chamber and a dining room. This apartment led to another, which
was made the drawing room; beyond this was a third room running in a
cross direction and very dark. This was intended to be the depository of
the Emperor’s maps and books; but it was afterwards converted into the
dining room. The Emperor’s chamber opened into this apartment on the
right-hand side. This chamber was divided into two equal parts, forming
the Emperor’s cabinet and sleeping room: a little external gallery
served for a bathing-room. Opposite to the Emperor’s chamber, at the
other extremity of the building, were the apartments of Madame de
Montholon, her husband, and her son, which have since been used as the
Emperor’s library. Detached from this part of the house was a little
square room on the ground floor contiguous to the kitchen, which was
assigned to me. My son was obliged to enter his room through a trap-door
and by the help of a ladder; it was nothing but a loft, and scarcely
afforded room for his bed. Our windows and beds were without curtains.
The few articles of furniture which were in our apartments had evidently
been obtained from the inhabitants of the island, who doubtless readily
seized the opportunity of disposing of them to advantage for the sake of
supplying themselves with better.



  London: Published for Henry Colburn, Feb. 1836.

The Grand Marshal, with his wife and children, had been left at the
distance of two miles behind us, in a place denominated Hut’s-Gate.
General Gourgaud slept under a tent, as did also the Doctor,[27] and the
officer commanding our guard, till such time as their apartments should
be ready, which the crew of the Northumberland were rapidly preparing.

Footnote 27:

  Dr. O’Meara of the Northumberland.

We were surrounded by a kind of garden; but, owing to the little
attention which we had it in our power to bestow on its cultivation,
joined to the want of water and the nature of the climate, it was a
garden only in name. In front, and separated from us by a tolerably deep
ravine, was encamped the fifty-third regiment, different parties of
which were posted on the neighbouring heights.—Such was our new abode.

On the 12th, Colonel Wilks (formerly Governor for the East India
Company), who had been succeeded by the Admiral, came to visit the
Emperor. I acted as interpreter on the occasion. On the 13th or 14th the
Minden sailed for Europe, and I availed myself of the opportunity thus
afforded to send letters to London and Paris.


15th—16th. The domestic establishment of the Emperor, on his departure
from Plymouth, consisted of twelve persons. I feel pleasure in recording
their names here: it is a testimony due to their attachment.[28] However
numerous this establishment may appear, it may be truly said that after
our departure from England, during the voyage, and from the time of our
landing at St. Helena, it had ceased to be serviceable to the Emperor.
Our dispersion, the uncertainty of our establishment, our wants, and the
irregular way in which they were supplied, necessarily created disorder.

Footnote 28:

                Persons composing the Emperor’s household.

                        SERVANTS OF THE CHAMBER.

     Marchand,            native of Paris,     1st valet de

     St. Denis, called    native of            valet de chambre.
     Aly,                 Versailles,

     Noverraz,            Swiss,               ditto.

     Santini,             Corsican,            usher.

                          SERVANTS IN LIVERY.

     Archambault, sen.    native of            groom.

     Archambault, jun.    ditto,               ditto.

     Gentilini,           native of Elba,      footman.

                        SERVANTS FOR THE TABLE.

     Cypriani,            Corsican, died at    maître d’hotel.
                          St. Helena,

     Pierron,             native of Paris,     butler.

     Lepage,                                   cook.

     Rousseau,            native of            steward.

As soon as we were all assembled at Longwood, the Emperor determined to
arrange his establishment, and to assign to each of us an employment
suited to our respective capacities. Reserving to the Grand Marshal the
general control and superintendence of the whole household; he consigned
to M. de Montholon all the domestic details. To M. Gourgaud he intrusted
the direction of the stables: and I was appointed to take care of the
property and furniture, and to superintend the management of our
supplies. The latter part of my duty appeared to interfere too much with
the regulation of domestic details. I conceived that it would be
conducive to the general advantage, if these two departments were under
the control of one individual, and I soon succeeded in accomplishing
this object.

Every thing now proceeded tolerably well, and we were certainly more
comfortable than before. But, however reasonable might be the
regulations made by the Emperor, they, nevertheless, sowed the seeds of
discontent, which took root, and occasionally developed themselves. One
thought himself a loser by the change; another sought to attach too high
an importance to his office; and a third conceived that he had been
wronged in the general division of duties. We were no longer the members
of one family, each exerting his best endeavours to secure the advantage
of the whole. We were far from putting into practice that which
necessity seemed to dictate to us; and a wreck of luxury, or a remnant
of ambition, frequently became an object of dispute.

Though attachment to the person of the Emperor had united us around him,
yet chance, and not sympathy, had brought us together. Our connexion was
purely fortuitous, and not the result of any natural affinity. Thus, at
Longwood, we were encircled round a centre, but without any cohesion
with each other. How could it be otherwise? We were almost all strangers
to one another, and, unfortunately, our different conditions, ages, and
characters, were calculated to make us continue so.

These circumstances, though in themselves trifling, had the vexatious
effect of depriving us of our most agreeable resources. They banished
that confidence, that interchange of sentiment, and that intimate union,
which are calculated to soothe even the most cruel misfortunes. But, on
the other hand, these very circumstances served to develope many
excellent traits in the Emperor’s character. They were apparent in his
endeavours to produce among us unity and conformity of sentiment; his
constant care to remove every just cause of jealousy; the voluntary
abstraction by which he averted his attention from that which he wished
not to observe; and finally, the paternal expressions of displeasure, of
which we were occasionally the objects, and which (to the honour of all
be it said) were avoided as cautiously, and received as respectfully, as
though they had emanated from the throne of the Tuileries.

Who in the world can now pretend to know the Emperor in his character of
a private man better than myself?—Who else was with him during two
months of solitude in the desert of Briars?—Who else accompanied him in
his long walks by moonlight, and enjoyed so many hours in his society?
Who, like me, had the opportunity of choosing the moment, the place, and
the subject of his conversation? Who, besides myself, heard him call to
mind the charms of his boyhood, or describe the pleasures of his youth,
and the bitterness of his recent sorrow? I am convinced that I know his
character thoroughly, and that I can now explain many circumstances
which, at the time of their occurrence, seemed to many difficult to be
understood. I can now very well comprehend that which struck us so
forcibly, and which particularly characterized him in the days of his
power; namely, that no individual ever permanently incurred the
displeasure of Napoleon: however marked might be his disgrace, however
deep the gulf into which he was plunged, he might still confidently hope
to be restored to favour. Those who had once enjoyed intimacy, whatever
cause of offence they might give him, never totally forfeited his
regard. The Emperor is eminently gifted with two excellent qualities;—a
vast fund of justice, and a disposition naturally prone to attachment.
Amidst all his vexations and fits of anger, a sentiment of justice still
predominates. He is sure to turn an attentive ear to sound arguments,
and, if left to himself, candidly brings them forward whenever they
occur to his mind. He never forgets services performed for him, nor
habits he has contracted. Sooner or later he invariably casts a thought
on those who may have incurred his displeasure; he reflects on what they
have suffered, considers their punishment as sufficient, recals them,
when they are perhaps forgotten by the world; and they again enjoy his
good graces, to the astonishment of themselves as well as of others. Of
this there have been many instances. The Emperor is sincere in his
attachments, without making a show of what he feels. When once he
becomes used to a person, he cannot easily bear separation. He observes
and condemns his faults, blames his own choice, expressing his
displeasure in the most unreserved way; but still there is nothing to
fear: these are but so many new ties of regard.

It will probably be a matter of surprise that I should sketch the
Emperor’s character in so simple a style. All that is usually written
about him is so far fetched: it has been thought necessary to employ
antitheses and brilliant colouring; to seek for effect, and to rack the
imagination for high-flown phrases. For my own part, I merely describe
what I see, and express what I feel. This reflection, by the by, comes
_à propos_.

The Emperor was to-day reading with me, in the English papers, a
portrait of himself, drawn by the Archbishop of Malines, and worked up
with innumerable witticisms, affected antitheses and contrasts. He
desired the Grand Marshal to transcribe it word for word. The following
are the principal points: “The mind of Napoleon,” says the Abbé de
Pradt, in his _Embassy to Warsaw, in 1812_, “was vast; but after the
manner of the Orientals: and through a contradictory disposition, it
descended as it were, by the effect of its own weight, to details which
might justly be called low. His first idea was always grand, and his
second mean and petty. His mind was like his purse; munificence and
meanness held each a string. His genius, which was at once adapted to
the stage of the world, and the mountebank’s show, resembled a royal
robe joined to a harlequin’s jacket. He was the man of extremes; one,
who having commanded the Alps to bow down, the Simplon to smooth its
ruggedness, and the sea to advance or recede from its shores, ended by
surrendering himself to an English cruiser. Endowed with wonderful and
infinite shrewdness; glittering with wit; seizing or creating, in every
question, new and unperceived relations; abounding in lively and
picturesque images, animated and pointed expressions, the more forcible
from the very incorrectness of his language, which always bore a sort of
foreign impress; sophistical, subtle, and changeable, to excess, he
adopted different rules of optics from those by which other men are
guided. Add to this the delirium of success, the habit of drinking from
the enchanted cup, and intoxicating himself with the incense of the
world: and you may form an idea of the man who, uniting in his caprices
all that is lofty and mean in the human character, majestic in the
splendour of sovereignty, and peremptory in command, with all that is
ignoble and base, even in his grandest achievements, joining the
treacherous ambush to the subversion of thrones—presents altogether such
a Jupiter-Scapin, as never before figured on the scene of life.”

Certainly here is abundance of wit, and of the most studied kind. I pass
over the indecorous and disgraceful fact that a reverend prelate, an
Archbishop loaded with the bounty of his sovereign, to whom, during his
prosperity, he paid the most assiduous court, and offered the most
abject flattery, should, in the adversity of that sovereign, indulge in
language so trivial, grotesque, and insulting, as that above quoted.
Without noticing the _harlequin’s coat_, and _Jupiter-Scapin_, I shall
merely dwell on the merit of the Abbé de Pradt’s judgment, when he says
that “the Emperor’s first idea is always grand, and his second petty;
that he is the man of extremes: one who having commanded the Alps to bow
down, the Simplon to smooth its ruggedness, and the sea to advance and
recede from its shores, ended by surrendering himself to an English
cruiser.” The Abbé de Pradt must have formed but a faint idea of the
sublimity, grandeur, and magnanimity of that noble act. To withdraw
himself from a people who were misled by faithless intriguers, in order
to remove every obstacle to their welfare: to sacrifice his own personal
interests, for the sake of averting the evils of a civil war without
national results: to disdain honourable and secure, but dependent,
asylums: to prefer taking refuge among a people to whom he had, for the
space of twenty years, been an inveterate foe: to suppose their
magnanimity equal to his own: to honour their laws so far as to believe
that they would protect him from the ostracism of Europe:—certainly such
ideas and sentiments are not the reverse of sublime, noble, and great.

At this part of my journal were inserted several pages, full of details
very discreditable to the Archbishop of Malines, which were received
from the Emperor’s own mouth, or collected from the different
individuals about him. I however strike them out, in consideration of
the satisfaction which I was informed the Emperor subsequently
experienced in perusing M. de Pradt’s _Concordats_. For my own part, I
am perfectly satisfied with numerous other testimonies of the same
nature, and derived from the same source. An honourable and voluntary
acknowledgment is a thousand times better than all the retorts that can
be heaped upon an offender. There are persons to whom atonement is not
without its due weight; I am one of these.

Just as I had written the above, I happened to read some lines from the
pen of the Abbé de Pradt, which are certainly very fine with respect to
diction; but which are still finer on account of their justice and
truth. I cannot refrain from transcribing them here; as they make ample
amends for those already quoted. A declaration of the Allied Sovereigns
at Laybach, in which Napoleon was, in terms of reprobation, pronounced
to be the representative of the Revolution, called forth the following
observations from the Archbishop of Malines:—

“It is too late to insult Napoleon, now that he is defenceless, after
having for so many years crouched at his feet, while he had the power to
punish.... Those who are armed should respect a disarmed enemy, and the
glory of the conqueror depends in a great measure on the consideration
shewn towards the captive, particularly when he yields to superior
force, not to superior genius. It is too late to call Napoleon a
revolutionist, after having for such a length of time pronounced him to
be the restorer of order in France, and, through France, in Europe. It
is too late for those to aim the shaft of insult at him who once
stretched forth their hands to him as a friend, pledged their faith to
him as an ally, and sought to prop a tottering throne by mingling their
blood with his.” Farther on he says: “_He the representative of the
revolution!_ The revolution broke the bonds of union between France and
Rome: he renewed them. The revolution overthrew the temples of the
Almighty: he restored them. The revolution created two classes of clergy
hostile to each other: he reconciled them. The revolution profaned St.
Denis: he purified it, and offered expiation to the ashes of Kings. The
revolution subverted the throne: he raised it up, and gave it a new
lustre. The revolution banished from their country the nobility of
France: he opened to them the gates of France and of his palace, though
he knew them to be his irreconcileable enemies, and for the most part
the enemies of the public institutions; he reincorporated them with the
society from which they had been separated. This _representative of a
revolution_, which is distinguished by the epithet anti-social, brought
from Rome the head of the Catholic Church, to anoint his brow with the
oil that consecrates diadems! This _representative of a revolution_,
which has been declared hostile to sovereignty, filled Germany with
kings, advanced the rank of princes, restored superior royalty, and
re-constructed a defaced model. This _representative of a revolution_
which is condemned as a principle of anarchy, like another Justinian,
drew up, amidst the din of war and the snares of foreign policy, those
codes which are the least defective portion of human legislature, and
constructed the most vigorous machine of government in the whole world.
This _representative of a revolution_, which is vulgarly accused of
having subverted all institutions, restored universities and public
schools, filled his empire with the masterpieces of art, and
accomplished those amazing and stupendous works which reflect honour on
human genius: and yet, in the face of the Alps, which bowed down at his
command; of the ocean, subdued at Cherbourg, at Flushing, at the Helder,
and at Antwerp; of rivers, smoothly flowing beneath the bridges of Jena,
Serres, Bourdeaux, and Turin; of canals, uniting seas together in a
course beyond the control of Neptune; finally, in the face of Paris,
metamorphosed as it is by Napoleon,—he is pronounced to be the agent of
general destruction! He who restored all, is said to be the
_representative_ of that which destroyed all! To what undiscerning men
is this language supposed to be addressed? &c.”

                        BED-CHAMBER CHANGED, &C.

17th.—The Emperor summoned me at two o’clock, when he began to dress. On
entering, he observed that I looked pale: I replied that it might be
owing to the atmosphere of my chamber, which, from its proximity to the
kitchen, was an absolute oven, being frequently filled with smoke. He
then expressed a wish that I should constantly occupy the topographic
cabinet, in which I might write during the day, and sleep at night, in a
bed which the Admiral had fitted up for the Emperor himself, but which
he did not make use of as he preferred his own camp-bed. When he had
finished dressing, and was choosing between two or three snuff-boxes,
which lay before him, he abruptly gave one to his valet-de-chambre
(Marchand): “Put that by,” said he, “it is always meeting my eye, and it
pains me.” I know not what was on this snuff-box; but I imagine it was a
portrait of the King of Rome.

The Emperor left his apartment, and I followed him; he went over the
house, and entered my chamber. Seeing a dressing-glass, he inquired
whether it was the one that he had given me. Then putting his hand to
the wall, which was heated by the kitchen, he again observed that I
could not possibly remain in that room, and absolutely insisted on my
occupying his bed in the topographic cabinet: adding, in a tone of
captivating kindness, that it was “the bed of a friend.” We walked out,
and proceeded towards a wretched farm which was within sight. On our way
we saw the barracks of the Chinese. These Chinese are labouring men, who
enlist on board English ships at Macao, and who continue at St. Helena
in the service of the East India Company for a certain number of years,
when they return to their homes, after collecting a little store of
money, as the people of Auvergne do in France. The Emperor wished to ask
them some questions: but we could not make ourselves understood by them.
We next visited what is called Longwood Farm, The Emperor was seduced by
the name; he expected to find one of the delightful farms of Flanders or
England; but this was merely on a level with our lowest _metairies_. We
afterwards went down to the Company’s garden, which is formed in the
hollow where the two opposite ravines meet. The Emperor called the
gardener, and the man who attends to the Company’s cattle and
superintends the Chinese, of whom he asked many questions. He returned
home very much fatigued, though we had scarcely walked a mile: this was
his first excursion.

Before dinner the Emperor summoned me and my son to our accustomed task.
He said that I had been idle, and called my attention to my son, who was
laughing behind my back. He asked why he laughed; and I replied that it
was probably because his Majesty was taking revenge for him. “Ah!” said
he, smiling, “I see I am acting the part of the grandfather here.”


18th—19th. By degrees our hours and habits began to be fixed and
regular. About ten o’clock the Emperor breakfasted in his own chamber,
and one of us occasionally attended him. At the table of the household
we breakfasted at nearly the same hour. The Emperor granted us
permission to do the honours of this table as we pleased, and to invite
to it whomsoever we might think fit.

No hours were yet fixed for the Emperor’s walks. The heat was very great
during the day, and the damp came on speedily and profusely towards
evening. We were informed, some time before, that coach and saddle
horses were coming from the Cape; but they never arrived. During the day
the Emperor was engaged in dictating to the different persons of his
suite; and he usually reserved me for the interval preceding dinner,
which was not served until eight or nine o’clock. He required my
attendance about five or six o'clock, together with my son. I could
neither write nor read, owing to the state of my eyes; but my son was
enabled to supply my place. He wrote to the Emperor’s dictation, and I
was present only to help him afterwards to correct his hasty scrawl;
for, by dint of habit, I could repeat, almost literally and entirely,
all that had fallen from the Emperor.

The Campaign of Italy being now finished, we began to revise it, and the
Emperor corrected, and dictated anew. We dined, as I have before
observed, between eight and nine o’clock. The table was laid out in the
room nearest to the entrance of the house. Madame de Montholon sat on
the right of the Emperor; I on his left; and Messrs. de Montholon,
Gourgaud, and my son, sat in the opposite places. The room still smelled
of paint, particularly when the weather was damp; and though not very
offensive, it was sufficiently annoying to the Emperor: we, therefore,
sat no longer than ten minutes at table. The dessert was prepared in the
adjoining apartment, which was the drawing-room, and we again seated
ourselves round the table. Coffee was then served up, and conversation
commenced. We read a few scenes from Moliere, Racine, and Voltaire, and
always regretted not having a copy of Corneille. We then played at
_reversis_, which had been the Emperor’s favourite game in his youth.
The recollection was pleasing to him, and he at first thought that he
could amuse himself for a length of time at it; but he was soon
undeceived. We played at the game and all its varieties; which made it
so complex that I have seen from fifteen to eighteen thousand counters
in use at once. The Emperor’s aim was always to make the reversis; that
is to say, to make every trick, which is no easy matter. However, he
frequently succeeded:—character developes itself every where and in
every thing. We retired about ten or eleven o’clock.

To-day, the 19th, when I paid my respects to the Emperor, he shewed me a
libel upon himself which had fallen into his hands, and asked me to
translate it. Amidst a mass of other nonsense, some private letters were
mentioned, which were said to have been addressed by Napoleon to the
Empress Josephine, under the solemn form of _Madame et chère Epouse_.
Allusion was next made to a combination of spies and agents, by whose
aid the Emperor knew the private affairs of every family in France, and
penetrated the secrets of all the cabinets in Europe. The Emperor wished
to proceed no farther, and made me lay aside the book, saying,—“It is
too absurd.” The fact is that, in his private correspondence, Napoleon
always addressed the Empress Josephine very unfashionably by the pronoun
“thou” (_tu_); and “my good little Louisa” (_ma bonne petite Louise_)
was the form by which he addressed Maria Louisa.

The first time I ever saw the Emperor’s running-hand was at Saint-Cloud,
after the battle of Friedland, when the Empress Josephine amused herself
by making us try to decipher a note which she held in her hand, and
which seemed to be written in hieroglyphics. It was to the following
effect:—“My sons have once more shed a lustre over my career: the
victory of Friedland will be inscribed in history, beside those of
Marengo, Austerlitz, and Jena. You will cause the cannon to be fired;
Cambaceres will publish the bulletin.”

I was again favoured with the sight of a note in the Emperor’s
hand-writing, at the time of the treaty of Tilsit. It contained the
following:—“The Queen of Prussia is really a charming woman. She is fond
of coquetting with me; but do not be jealous: I am like a cerecloth,
along which every thing of this sort slides, without penetrating. It
would cost me too dear to play the gallant.”

On this subject, an anecdote was related in the saloon of Josephine. It
was said that the Queen of Prussia one day had a beautiful rose in her
hand, which the Emperor asked her to give to him. The Queen hesitated
for a few moments, and then presented it to him, saying: “Why should I
so readily grant what you request, while you remain deaf to all my
entreaties?” She alluded to the fortress of Magdeburg, which she had
earnestly solicited him to give up. Such was the nature of the intimacy,
and such the conversations, that were so unblushingly misrepresented in
English works of a certain degree of merit, where the Emperor was
described as an insolent and brutal tyrant, seeking, with the aid of his
ferocious Mamelukes, to violate the honour of the lovely Queen, before
the very face of her unfortunate husband.

As to the grand machinery of spies and police, which has been so much
talked of, what state on the Continent could boast of having less of
such evils than France; and yet what country stood more in need of them?
What circumstances more imperatively called for them? Every pamphlet
published in Europe was directed against France, with a view of
rendering odious in another country that which it was thought advisable
to conceal at home. Still, however, these measures, so necessary in
principle, though doubtless hateful in their details, were looked at
merely in a general way by the Emperor, and always with a strict
observance of his constant maxim, that nothing should be done that is
not absolutely indispensable. In the Council of State, I have frequently
heard him make enquiries into these subjects; investigate them with
peculiar solicitude; correct abuses and seek to obviate evils, and
appoint committees of his Council to visit the prisons, and make reports
to him. Having been myself employed in a mission of this nature, I had
an opportunity of observing the misconduct and abuses of subaltern
agents; and, at the same time, of knowing the ardent wishes of the
sovereign to repress them.

The Emperor found that this branch of the administration in a certain
degree clashed with established prejudices and opinions; and he
therefore wished to elevate it in the eyes of the people, by placing it
under the control of a man whose character was beyond the reach of
censure. In the year 1810, he summoned the Councillor of State, Baron
——, to Fontainebleau. The Baron had been an emigrant, or what nearly
amounted to the same thing. His family, his early education, his former
opinions,—all were calculated to render him an object of suspicion to
one more distrustful than Napoleon. In the course of conversation, the
Emperor said:—“If the Count de Lille were now to discover himself in
Paris, and you were intrusted with the superintendence of the police,
would you arrest him?”—“Yes, certainly,” answered the Councillor of
State, “because he would thereby have broken his ban, and because his
appearance would be in opposition to every existing law.”—“If you were
one of a committee appointed to try him, would you condemn him?”—“Yes,
doubtless; for the laws which I have sworn to obey would require that I
should condemn him.”—“Very well!” said the Emperor, “return to Paris: I
make you my prefect of police.”

With regard to the inspection of letters under the government of
Napoleon, whatever may have been publicly said on that subject, the
Emperor declared that certainly very few letters were read at the
post-offices. Those which were delivered either open or re-sealed, to
private persons, had, for the most part, not been read: to read all
would have been an endless task. The system of examining letters was
adopted with the view of preventing, rather than discovering, dangerous
correspondence. The letters that were really read exhibited no trace of
having been opened, so effectual were the precautions employed. “Ever
since the reign of Louis XIV.,” said the Emperor, “there had existed an
office of political police for discovering foreign correspondence: and
from that period the same families had managed the business of the
office, though the individuals and their functions were alike unknown.
It was in all respects an official post. The persons superintending this
department were educated at great expense in the different capitals of
Europe. They had their own peculiar notions of propriety, and always
manifested reluctance to examine the home correspondence: it was,
however, also under their control. As soon as the name of any individual
was entered upon the lists of this important department, his arms and
seals were immediately engraved at the office; and thus his letters,
after having been read, were closed up and delivered without any mark of
suspicion. These circumstances, joined to the serious evils which they
might create, and the important results which they were capable of
producing, constituted the vast responsibility of the office of
postmaster-general, and required that it should be filled by a man of
prudence, judgment, and intelligence.” The Emperor bestowed great praise
on M. de Lavalette, for the way in which he had discharged his duties.

The Emperor was by no means favourable to the system of inspecting
correspondence. With regard to the diplomatic information thereby
obtained, he did not consider it of sufficient value to counterbalance
the expenses incurred; for the establishment cost 600,000 francs. As to
the examination of the letters of citizens, he regarded that as a
measure calculated to do more harm than good. “It is rarely,” said he,
“that conspiracy is carried on through such channels; and with respect
to the individual opinions obtained from epistolary correspondence, they
may be more dangerous than useful to a sovereign, particularly among
such a people as the French. Of whom will not our national volatility
and fickleness lead us to complain? The man whom I may have offended at
my levee will write to-day that I am a tyrant, though but yesterday he
overwhelmed me with praises, and perhaps to-morrow will be ready to lay
down his life to serve me. The violation of the privacy of
correspondence may, therefore, cause a prince to lose his best friends,
by wrongfully inspiring him with distrust and prejudice towards all;
particularly as enemies capable of mischief are always sufficiently
artful to avoid exposing themselves to that kind of danger. Some of my
ministers were so cautious, in this respect, that I could never succeed
in detecting one of their letters.”

I think I have already mentioned that, on the Emperor’s return from
Elba, there were found in M. De Blacas’ apartments in the Tuileries,
numerous petitions and letters, in which Napoleon was spoken of most
indecorously. He caused them to be burnt. “They would have formed a most
odious collection,” said the Emperor. “For a moment I entertained the
idea of inserting some of them in the Moniteur. They would have
disgraced certain individuals; but they would have afforded no new
lesson on the human heart: men are always the same!”

The Emperor was far from knowing all the measures taken by the police in
his name, with respect to writings and individuals; he had neither time
nor opportunity to enquire into them. He now daily learns from us, or
from pamphlets that happen to fall in his way, the arrests of
individuals, or the suppression of works, of which he had never before

In alluding to the works that had been suppressed by the police during
his reign, the Emperor observed that, having plenty of leisure-time
during his residence at Elba, he amused himself with glancing over some
of these works, and that he was frequently unable to conceive the
motives which had induced the police to suppress them.

He then proceeded to converse on the subject of the liberty and
restriction of the press. This, he said, was an interminable question,
and admitted of no medium. The grand difficulty, he observed, did not
lie in the principle itself, but in the treatment of the accused party,
or the circumstances under which it might be necessary to apply the
principle taken in an abstract sense. The Emperor would have been
favourable to unlimited liberty. In all our conversations at St. Helena,
he constantly treated every great question in the same point of view and
with the same arguments. Thus Napoleon truly was, and must remain in the
eyes of posterity, the type, the standard, and the prince of liberal
opinions; they belonged to his heart, to his principles, and to his
mind. If his actions sometimes seemed to be at variance with these
ideas, it was when he was imperatively swayed by circumstances. This is
proved by the following fact, to which I now attach more importance than
I did when it first came to my knowledge.

In one of the evening-parties at the Tuileries, Napoleon, conversing
aside with three or four individuals of the Court, who were grouped
around him, closed a discussion on a great political question with the
following remarkable words:—“For my part, I am fundamentally and
naturally favourable to a fixed and moderate government.” And, observing
that the countenance of one of the interlocutors expressed surprise,
“You don’t believe me!” continued he; “why not? Is it because my deeds
do not seem to accord with my words? My dear sir, how little you know of
men and things! Is the necessity of the moment nothing in your eyes?
Were I to slacken the reins only for a moment, we should have fine
disorder; neither you nor I would probably sleep another night at the


20th-23rd. The Emperor mounted his horse after breakfast. We directed
our course towards the farm: we found the farmer in the Company’s
garden, and he attended us over the whole of the grounds. The Emperor
asked him a number of questions respecting his farm, as he used to do
during his hunting-excursions in the neighbourhood of Versailles, where
he discussed with the farmers the opinions of the Council of State, in
order to bring forward to the Council in their turn the objections of
the farmers. We advanced through the grounds of Longwood, in a line
parallel with the valley, until, finding no farther road for the horses,
we were compelled to turn back. We then crossed the little valley,
gained the height where the troops were encamped, advanced to the Alarm
Hill, and passing over its summit, we arrived beyond the camp, near the
Alarm House, on the road leading from Longwood to Madame Bertrand’s
residence. The Emperor at first proposed calling on her; but, when about
half-way thither, he changed his mind, and we returned to Longwood.

The instructions of the English Ministers, with regard to the Emperor at
St. Helena, were dictated in that disgraceful spirit of harshness which
in Europe had urged the solemn violation of the law of nations. An
English officer was to be constantly at the Emperor’s table; this cruel
measure was of course calculated to deprive us of the comforts of
familiar intercourse. The order was not carried into effect, only
because the Emperor, had it been enforced, would have taken his meals in
his own chamber. I have very good reason to believe that he regretted
not having done so on board the Northumberland. An English officer was
to accompany the Emperor in his rides on horseback: this was a severe
annoyance, which rendered it impossible that his mind could for a moment
be diverted from his unfortunate situation. This order was not, however,
enforced within certain limits, which were prescribed to us, because the
Emperor had declared that he would not ride on horseback at all on such

In our melancholy situation, every day brought with it some new cause of
uneasiness; we were constantly suffering some new sting, which seemed
the more cruel as we were destined to endure it for a long time to come.
Lacerated as our feelings undoubtedly were, each fresh wound was
sensibly felt; and the motives that were assigned for our vexations
frequently assumed the appearance of irony. Thus sentinels were posted
beneath the Emperor’s windows, and before our doors; and this we were
informed was for our safety. We were impeded in our communications with
the inhabitants of the island; we were put under a kind of close
confinement; and were told that this was done to free the Emperor from
all annoyance. The pass-words and orders were incessantly changed; we
lived in the continual perplexity and apprehension of being exposed to
some unforeseen insult. The Emperor, whose feelings were keenly alive to
all these things, resolved to write to the Admiral, through the medium
of M. de Montholon. He spoke with warmth, and made some observations
worthy of remark. “Let not the Admiral suppose,” said he, “that I shall
treat with him on any of these subjects. Were he to present himself to
me to-morrow, in spite of my just resentment, he would find my
countenance as serene, and my temper as composed, as usual. This would
not be the effect of dissimulation on my part, but merely the fruit of
experience. I recollect that Lord Whitworth once filled Europe with the
report of a long conversation that he had had with me, scarcely a word
of which was true. But that was my fault; and it taught me to be more
cautious in future. The Emperor has governed too long not to know that
he must not commit himself to the discretion of any one who may have it
in his power to say falsely: _The Emperor told me so and so_; while the
Emperor may not have the means of either affirming or contradicting the

“One witness is as good as another. It is, therefore, necessary to
employ some one who may be enabled to tell the narrator that, in
attributing such and such words to the Emperor, he lies, and that he is
ready to give him satisfaction for this expression, which the Emperor
himself cannot do.”

M. de Montholon’s letter was couched in sharp terms; the reply was
insulting and coarse: “_No such thing as an Emperor was known at St.
Helena; the justice and moderation of the English government towards us
would be the admiration of future ages, &c._” Dr. O’Meara was instructed
to accompany this written reply with verbal additions of the most
offensive nature: to enquire, for example, whether the Emperor wished
that the Admiral should send him sundry atrocious libels and anonymous
letters which had been received, addressed to him, &c.

I was engaged with the Emperor at the time this answer was communicated
to him. I could not conceal my astonishment and indignation at certain
expressions that were employed. But we could only let philosophy take
place of resentment: it was sufficient to reflect that all satisfaction
was beyond our reach. To address a direct complaint to the Prince Regent
would perhaps have been to furnish a gratification to that prince; as
well as a recommendation to him who had offended us. Besides, the
Emperor could not address complaints to any individual on earth: he
could appeal only to the tribunals of Heaven, nations, and posterity.

On the 23rd the Doris frigate arrived from the Cape, bringing seven
horses that had been purchased there for the Emperor.


24th.—The Emperor had been reading some publication in which he was made
to speak in too amiable a strain; and he could not help exclaiming
against the mistake of the writer. “How could they put these words into
my mouth?” said he. “This is too tender, too sentimental, for me: every
one knows that I do not express myself in that way.” “Sire,” I replied,
“it was done with a good intention; the thing is innocent in itself, and
may have produced a good effect. That reputation for amiableness, which
you seem to despise, might have exercised great influence over public
opinion; it might at least have counteracted the effect of the colouring
in which a certain European system has falsely exhibited your Majesty to
the world. Your heart, with which I am now acquainted, is certainly as
good as that of Henri IV., which I did not know. Now, his amiableness of
character is still proverbial: he is still held up as an idol; yet I
suspect Henri IV. was a bit of a quack. And why should your Majesty have
disdained to be so? You have too great an aversion to that system. After
all, quackery rules the world; and it is fortunate when it happens to be
only innocent.”

The Emperor laughed at what he termed my prosing. “What,” said he, ”is
the advantage of popularity and amiableness of character? Who possessed
those qualities in a more eminent degree than the unfortunate Louis
XVI.? Yet what was his fate? His life was sacrificed!—No! a sovereign
must serve his people with dignity, and not make it his chief study to
please them. The best mode of winning their love is to secure their
welfare. Nothing is more dangerous than for a sovereign to flatter his
subjects: if they do not afterwards obtain every thing they want they
become irritated, and fancy that promises have been broken; and if they
are then resisted, their hatred increases in proportion as they consider
themselves deceived. A sovereign’s first duty is doubtless to conform
with the wishes of the people; but what the people say is scarcely ever
what they wish: their desires and their wants cannot be learned from
their own mouths so well as they are to be read in the heart of their

“Each system may, no doubt, be maintained: that of mildness as well as
that of severity. Each has its advantages and its disadvantages; for
every thing is mutually balanced in this world. If you ask me what was
the use of my severe forms and expressions, I shall answer, to spare me
the pain of inflicting the punishment I threatened. What harm have I
done after all? What blood have I shed? Who can boast that, had he been
placed in my situation, he could have done better? What period of
history, exhibiting any thing like the difficulties with which I was
surrounded, presents such harmless results? What am I reproached with?
My government archives and my private papers were seized; yet what has
there been found to publish to the world? All sovereigns, situated as I
was, amidst factions, disorders, and conspiracies, are surrounded by
murders and executions! Yet, during my reign, what sudden tranquillity
pervaded France!—You are, no doubt, astonished at this chain of
reflection,” continued he, smiling, “you, who frequently display the
mildness and simplicity of a child.”

I could not but admit the force of his arguments, and now, in my turn,
maintained that both systems might have their peculiar advantages.
“Every individual,” said I, “should form a character for himself by
means of education; but he should be careful, at the same time, to lay
its foundation on the character he has received from Nature; otherwise
he runs a risk of losing the advantages of the latter, without obtaining
those of the character which he wishes to acquire; and his education may
prove an instrument to mislead him. After all, the course of a man’s
life is the true result of his character, and the proper test by which
it should be judged. Of what, then, can I have to complain? From the
lowest degree of misery, I raised myself, by my own efforts, to
tolerable independence; and from the streets of London, I penetrated to
the steps of your throne, and to the benches of your Council-chamber;
all this, too, without having cause to blush in the presence of any
individual for any thing that I have ever spoken, written, or done. Have
I not then also performed my little wonders in my own little way? What
could I have done better had another turn been given to my character?”

The conversation was here interrupted by some one entering, to announce
that the Admiral and some ladies, who had arrived by the Doris,
solicited the favour of being presented to the Emperor; but he answered
drily, that he would see no one, and that he did not wish to be

Under our present circumstances, the personal politeness of the Admiral
was felt only as an additional insult: and with regard to those who
accompanied him, as no one could approach us but with the Admiral’s
permission, the Emperor did not choose that the honours of his person
should be thus performed. If it were intended that he should remain in
close confinement, he ought to be told so; but, if not, he should be
allowed to see whom he pleased without the interference of any person.
Above all, it was not fair that they should pretend in Europe to
surround him with every sort of attention and respect, while, on the
contrary, they were annoying him with every kind of indecorum and

The Emperor walked out in the garden at five o’clock. The Colonel of the
53rd regiment waited on him there, and begged permission to present to
him, next day, the officers of his regiment. The Emperor granted his
request, and appointed three o’clock as the hour to receive them. The
Colonel took his leave, and we prolonged our walk. The Emperor stopped
awhile to look at a flower in one of the beds, and asked me whether it
was not a lily. It was indeed a magnificent one.

After dinner, while we were playing our usual game of _reversis_, of
which, by the by, the Emperor began to grow weary, he suddenly turned to
me and said, “Where do you suppose Madame Las Cases is at this
moment?”—“Alas, Sire,” I replied, “Heaven knows!”—“She is in Paris,”
continued he; “to-day is Tuesday; it is nine o’clock; she is now at the
Opera.”—“No, Sire, she is too good a wife to go to the theatre while I
am here.”—“Spoken like a true husband,” said the Emperor, laughing,
“ever confident and credulous!” Then turning to General Gourgaud, he
rallied him in the same style with respect to his mother and sister.
Gourgaud seemed very much downcast, and his eyes were suffused with
tears, which the Emperor perceiving, cast a side-glance towards him, and
said, in the most interesting manner, “How wicked, barbarous and
tyrannical I must be thus to trifle with feelings so tender!”[29]

Footnote 29:

  General Gourgaud entertained the greatest affection for his mother and
  sister, and was equally beloved by them. To such a length did he carry
  his regard for them that in his letters he even described St. Helena
  as a delightful place, in order to ease their anxiety on his account.
  In his letters he talked of nothing but groves of orange and
  lemon-trees, and perpetual Spring; in short, every thing that a
  romantic imagination could suggest. The English Ministers, however,
  blushed not, subsequently, to turn against him these innocent
  misrepresentations, the offspring of his filial solicitude!

The Emperor then asked me how many children I had, and when and how I
had become acquainted with Madame Las Cases. I replied that my wife had
been the first acquaintance of my life; that our marriage was a tie
which we had ourselves formed in early youth, yet that it had required
the occurrence of the greater part of the events of the Revolution to
bring about its accomplishment.


25th.—The Emperor, who had not been well the preceding evening, was
still indisposed this morning, and sent word that it would be impossible
for him to receive the officers of the 53rd, as he had appointed. He
sent for me about the middle of the day, and we again perused some
chapters of the Campaign of Italy. I compared that which treats of the
battle of Arcole to a book of the Iliad.

Some time before the dinner-hour, he assembled us all around him in his
chamber. A servant entered to announce that dinner was ready; he sent us
away, but, as I was going out last, he called me back. “Stay here,” said
he, “we will dine together. Let the young people go; we old folks will
keep one another company.” He then determined to dress, intending, as he
said, to go into the drawing-room after dinner.

While he was dressing, he put his hand on his left thigh, where there
was a deep scar. He called my attention to it by laying his finger in
it; and, finding that I did not understand what it was, he told me that
it was the mark of a bayonet wound by which he had nearly lost his limb,
at the siege of Toulon. Marchand, who was dressing him, here took the
liberty of remarking that the circumstance was well known on board the
Northumberland; that one of the crew had told him, on going on board,
that it was an Englishman who first wounded our Emperor.

The Emperor, on this, observed that people had in general wondered and
talked a great deal of the singular good fortune which had preserved
him, as it were, invulnerable in so many battles. “They were mistaken,”
added he; “the only reason was that I always made a secret of all my
dangers.” He then related that he had had three horses killed under him
at the siege of Toulon; several others killed and wounded in his
campaigns of Italy; and three or four at the siege of St. Jean-d’Acre.
He added that he had been wounded several times; that, at the battle of
Ratisbon, a ball had struck his heel; and at the battle of Esling, or
Wagram, I cannot say which, another had torn his boot and stocking, and
grazed the skin of his left leg. In 1814, he lost a horse and his hat at
Arcis-sur-Aube, or in its neighbourhood. After the battle of Brienne, as
he was returning to head-quarters in the evening, in a melancholy and
pensive mood, he was suddenly attacked by some Cossacks, who had passed
over into the rear of the army. He thrust one of them off with his hand,
and was obliged to draw his sword in his own defence; several of the
Cossacks were killed at his side. “But what renders this circumstance
very extraordinary,” said he, “is, that it took place near a tree which
at that moment caught my eye, and which I recognized as the very one
under which, when I was but twelve years old, I used to sit during
play-hours and read _Jerusalem Delivered_.” ... Doubtless on that spot
Napoleon had been first fired by the love of glory!

The Emperor repeated that he had been very frequently exposed to danger
in his different battles, but it was carefully kept secret. He had
enjoined once for all, the most absolute silence on all circumstances of
that nature. He said that it would be impossible to calculate the
confusion and disorder which might have resulted from the slightest
report or the smallest doubt relative to his existence. On his life
depended the fate of a great Empire, and the whole policy and destinies
of Europe. He added that this habit of keeping circumstances of that
kind secret had prevented him from relating them in his campaigns; and
indeed he had now almost forgotten them. It was only, he said, by mere
accident, and in the course of conversation, that they could recur to


26th.—The Emperor continued indisposed.

One of the English gentlemen, whose wife had yesterday been refused
admittance, in company with the Admiral, paid me a visit this morning,
with the view of making another and a final attempt to get presented to
Napoleon. This gentleman spoke French very well, having resided in
France during the whole of the war. He was one of those individuals who
were known at the time by the title of _detenus_: who, having visited
France as travellers, were arrested there by the First Consul, on the
rupture of the treaty of Amiens, by way of reprisal for the seizure of
our merchant-ships by the English Government, according to its custom,
before the declaration of war. This event gave rise to a long and
animated discussion between the two Governments; and even prevented,
during the whole of the war, a cartel for the exchange of prisoners. The
English ministers persisted in refusing to consider their detained
countrymen as prisoners, lest they should, in so doing, make an implicit
renunciation of what may perhaps be called their _right of piracy_.
However, their obstinacy cost their countrymen a long captivity. They
were detained in France more than ten years; their absence was as long
and as irksome, though not so glorious, as that of the besiegers of

This English gentleman was a brother-in-law of Admiral Burton, the
Commander on the Indian station, who lately died. This circumstance
might very possibly procure for him an immediate communication with
Ministers on his arrival in England. He might perhaps have been
appointed by the Admiral to be the bearer of intelligence respecting us.
Instead, therefore, of declining conversation, I prolonged it. It lasted
more than two hours, and was all calculated on my part with a view to
what he might repeat to the Admiral, or communicate to the Government or
private circles in England. I will not tire my readers by a recital of
it. They would only find the same eternal recapitulation of our
reproaches and grievances: a repetition of our complaints and vexations:
a continued exposure of the violation of those laws that are esteemed
most sacred; of the outrage on our good faith; of the arrogance,
impudence, and petty insolence of power. I dwelt particularly on the
ill-treatment to which we were here exposed; and on the caprices of the
individual who was appointed our keeper. “His glory,” said I, “should
consist, not in oppressing, but in relieving us. He should endeavour to
make us forget, by his attentions, all the rigour and injustice of his
country’s policy. Can he court the reprobation of mankind, when his good
fortune enables him to connect his name gloriously with that of the man
of the age, the hero of history? Can he object that he is bound by his
instructions? But even then, in the spirit of our European manners,
honour enables him to interpret them in a suitable manner.”

The Englishman listened to me with great attention. He seemed
occasionally to take particular interest in what I said; and expressed
his approbation of several of my remarks. But was he sincere, and will
he not express very different sentiments in London?

Whenever a ship arrives in England from St. Helena, the public papers
immediately give insertion to various stories relative to the captives
at Longwood, of so false and absurd a nature, as must necessarily render
them ridiculous to the great mass of the public. When we expressed our
indignation at these idle reports in the presence of honourable and
distinguished Englishmen here, they replied: “Do not deceive yourselves,
these false accounts proceed not from our countrymen who visit you; but
from our Ministers in London; for, to the excess and violence of power,
the administration by which we are now ruled adds all the meanness of
the lowest and vilest intrigues.”


27th.—The Emperor felt himself better, and rode out on horseback about
one o’clock. On his return he received the officers of the 53rd, and
behaved to them in the most amiable and condescending manner.

After this visit, the Emperor, who had desired me to remain with him,
walked in the garden. I there gave him an account of the conversation I
had had the day before with the Englishman. He then asked me some
questions relative to the French emigrants, London, and the English. I
told him that though the emigrants in a body did not like the English,
yet there were few who did not become attached to some Englishman or
other: that though the English were not fond of the emigrants, yet there
were few English families who did not shew themselves friendly to some
of the French. This is the real key to those sentiments and reports, so
often contradictory, that are met with on the subject. With regard to
the kindness we received from the English, particularly the middle
class, from whom the character of a nation is always to be learned, it
is beyond all expression, and has entailed a heavy debt of gratitude
upon us. It would be difficult to enumerate the private benefactions,
the benevolent institutions, and the charitable measures, by which our
distresses were relieved. The example of individuals induced the
Government to assist us by regular allowances; and even when these were
granted, private benevolence did not cease.

The Emperor here asked me whether I had been a sharer in the grants
supplied by the English Government: I told him that I had felt more
pleasure in being indebted for support solely to my own exertions; and
that the state of society and encouragement of industry in England were
such that with this feeling a man was sure to succeed. On two occasions
I had had an opportunity of making my fortune: Colbert, Bishop of
Rhodez, a native of Scotland, who was very fond of me, proposed that I
should accompany his brother to Jamaica, where he was appointed to the
head of the executive power, and where he was one of the most
considerable planters. He would have intrusted to me the direction of
his property, and would have obtained for me other employment of the
same kind. The Bishop assured me that I should make a fortune in three
years. I could not, however, prevail on myself to go; I preferred
continuing a life of poverty, to removing to a greater distance from the
French shore.

“On another occasion,” continued I, “some friends wished to persuade me
to go to India, where I should have obtained employment and patronage,
and was assured that in a short time I should realize a considerable
fortune. But this I declined. I thought myself too old to travel so far.
This was twenty years ago; and yet I am now at St. Helena.

“However, there were few who suffered greater hardships than I did at
the commencement of my emigration, and who enjoyed greater comforts
towards its close. I have more than once found myself on the point of
being entirely destitute of every thing. Still I was never discouraged
or dejected. I consoled myself with the treasure of philosophy, and
compared my own condition with that of numbers around me, who were more
wretched than myself: to old men and women, for example, to those who
were destitute of education, or who, wanting the faculties requisite for
acquiring a foreign language, were thus cut off from all resources. I
was young, full of hope, and capable of exertion. I taught what I did
not well know myself, whatever was asked of me, and I learned over-night
what I might have to teach on the succeeding day. My Historical Atlas
was a fortunate idea, which opened to me a mine of gold. At that period,
however, I had executed only an outline of my plan; but in London every
thing is encouraged, every thing sells; and, moreover, Heaven blessed my
exertions. I landed at the mouth of the Thames, and reached London on
foot, with only seven louis in my pocket, without a friend, without an
introduction, in a foreign land; but I left it in a post-chaise,
possessed of 2500 guineas, having gained many dear friends, to serve
whom I would gladly have sacrificed my life.”

“But, supposing I had been an emigrant,” said the Emperor, “what would
have been my lot?” He took a view of various professions, but decided in
favour of a soldier’s life. “I should have fulfilled my career after
all,” said he.—“That is not quite certain,” I observed. “Sire, you would
have been smothered in the crowd. On arriving at Coblentz in any French
corps, you would have been placed according to your rank on the list,
without any possibility of getting beyond it; for we were rigid
observers of forms,” &c.

The Emperor then enquired when and how I had returned to France. “After
the peace of Amiens,” said I, “availing myself of the benefit of your
amnesty; yet I joined an English family, and slipped in in a sort of
contraband way, in order to reach Paris earlier than I otherwise could
have done. Immediately on my arrival there, fearing lest I should
compromise that family, I went in person to make my declaration to the
police, and received a paper which I was to present for inspection once
a week or once a month. I paid no attention to it; but nothing happened
to me through my neglect. I had determined on conducting myself with
prudence, and therefore felt satisfied that I had nothing to fear. At
one time, however, I saw that my intention might have cost me dear: it
was during the most violent crisis of the affair of Georges and
Pichegru. I usually passed my evenings in the society of intimate
friends in my own house; I scarcely ever went out. On this occasion,
however, impelled by fate, or, perhaps, by the strong interest which I
took in passing events, I strolled about in the Faubourg Saint-Germain
till rather a late hour in the evening. I missed the way to the Pont de
Louis XVI. which I knew so well, and came out upon the Boulevard des
Invalides, without knowing where I was. The posts were everywhere
increased in number, and each consisted of a doubled guard. I enquired
my way of one of the sentinels, and I distinctly heard his comrade, who
was a few yards off, ask him why he had not stopped me; he answered that
I was doing no harm. I hastened home as fast as I could, terrified at
the danger I had so narrowly escaped. I was in formal contravention to
the police: the circumstances of my emigration, my name, my habits, and
my opinions, all tended to identify me with the malcontents. Every
enquiry that could have been instituted respecting me would have been to
my prejudice. I could not have referred to any one; and what alarmed me
still more was that they would have found five guineas in my pocket. I
had, it is true, been in France two years; but these guineas were the
last fruits of my industry: I always carried them about me, and I have
them with me still. I used to take a pleasure in seeing them: they
reminded me of a period of misfortune which had gone by. It is easy to
conceive the conclusions which might have been drawn from so many
concurring circumstances. In vain would have been my denials and
assertions; no credit would have been given to me. I should, no doubt,
have suffered considerably; and yet I was not in the least to blame:
such is the justice of men! However, I never took the trouble to arrange
my business with the police; and yet I never got into any difficulty.

“When I was presented at your Majesty’s court, the emigrants, who were
in the same situation as myself, and had been placed under the
superintendence of the police for ten years, applied for their
emancipation, which they procured; for my part, I determined to let my
_surveillance_ die a natural death. Being invited, in your Majesty’s
name, to a fête at Fontainebleau, I thought it would be a good jest to
apply to the police for a passport. They agreed that it was, strictly
speaking, necessary, but declined giving it, on the ground that it would
tend to make government ridiculous. At a subsequent period, having
become your Majesty’s Chamberlain, I had occasion to go on a private
journey; and they then exempted me from all future formality.

“On your Majesty’s return in 1815, being desirous of serving some
emigrants who had returned with the King, I went in their name to the
police. Being a Councillor of State, all the registers were open to me.
After having inspected the article relating to my friends, I felt a
curiosity to refer to my own. I found myself designated as a
distinguished courtier of the Comte d’Artois, in London. I could not
help reflecting on the differences of times, and the changes produced by
revolution. However, my register was altogether incorrect. I certainly
visited the Comte d’Artois; but not oftener than once a month. As to my
being a courtier, if I had been ever so much inclined to be one, the
thing was out of my power. I had to provide for my daily subsistence,
and I had pride enough to wish to live by my own industry; my time was
therefore valuable.” The Emperor was very much amused by my story, and I
felt much pleasure in relating it to him.

The Doris frigate sailed this day for Europe.

28th.—Mr. Balcombe’s family called, in the hope of seeing the Emperor,
but he was again indisposed. His health declines; this place is
evidently unfavourable to him. He sent for me at three o’clock; he was
slightly feverish, but felt himself better. He spoke a good deal of the
domestic arrangements of the house, which sometimes annoyed him. He then
dressed, with the intention of going out. I persuaded him to resume his
flannel under-waistcoat, which he had laid aside very imprudently in
this damp and variable climate. We took a walk in the garden, and the
conversation continued to turn on the same subject as before. The
Emperor strolled about at random, and we came to the gum-trees which run
along the park, conversing on our local situation, and our relations
with the authorities, and speculating on the political events of Europe.
We were overtaken by a shower of rain, and were forced to take shelter
under a tree. The Grand Marshal and M. de Montholon soon joined us. The
Emperor made me return with him; and when we got home, he played a game
at piquet in the drawing-room with Madame de Montholon. As it was very
damp, the Emperor ordered a fire; but as soon as it was lighted, we were
driven away by the smoke, and were compelled to take refuge in the
Emperor’s chamber. Here the game was resumed; but it was very soon
suspended by the Emperor’s conversation, which became most interesting.
He entertained us with anecdotes and minute details of his domestic
life; and confirmed, corrected, or contradicted those which Madame de
Montholon and myself related to him, as having been publicly circulated.
Nothing could be more gratifying: the conversation was quite
confidential, and we sincerely regretted its interruption by the
announcement of dinner.


29th.—There is a spot in the grounds about Longwood, which commands a
distant view of that part of the sea where the ships are first seen on
their arrival: here, too, is a tree at the foot of which the spectator
may survey it at his ease. I had been in the habit, for some days, of
spending a few idle moments here, amusing myself, in idea, with looking
out for the ship that was to conclude our exile. The celebrated Münich
lingered out twenty years in the heart of Siberia, drinking every day to
his return to St. Petersburg, and was at length blessed with the
accomplishment of his wish. I shall possess his courage; but I trust I
shall not have occasion for his patience.

Ships had successively appeared for several days. Three came in sight
very early this morning, two of which I judged to be ships of war.—On my
return home, I was informed that the Emperor had already risen: I went
to the garden to meet him, and to acquaint him with my discovery. He
ordered breakfast to be brought to him under a tree, and desired me to
keep him company. After breakfast, he directed me to ride out with him
on horse-back. We rode along by the side of the gum-trees, beyond the
confines of Longwood, and then attempted to descend into a very steep
and deeply-furrowed valley, whose sides were covered with sand and loose
stones, interspersed with brambles. We were obliged to dismount. The
Emperor desired General Gourgaud to turn off to one side with the horses
and the two grooms who accompanied us, and insisted on continuing his
journey on foot, amidst the difficulties which surrounded us. I gave him
my arm, and, with a great deal of trouble, we succeeded in clambering
over the ridges. The Emperor lamented the loss of his youthful agility,
and accused me of being more active than himself. He thought that there
was a greater difference in this respect than the trifling disproportion
of our ages would justify. I told him that the pleasure of serving him
made me forget my age. As we were going along, he observed that any one
who could have seen us at that time would recognize without difficulty
the restlessness and impatience of the French character. “In fact,” said
he, “none but Frenchmen would ever think of doing what we are now
about.” At length we arrived, breathless, at the bottom of the valley.
What we had at a distance mistaken for a beaten road, proved to be
nothing but a little streamlet, a foot and a half wide. We proposed to
step across it and wait for our horses; but the banks of this little
streamlet were very treacherous. They appeared to consist of dry ground
which at first supported us, but we soon found ourselves suddenly
sinking, as though we had been breaking through ice. I had already sunk
nearly above my knees, when, by a sudden effort, I disengaged myself,
and turned to assist the Emperor, who had both legs in the mud, and had
got his hands on the ground, endeavouring to extricate himself. With a
great deal of trouble, and a great deal of dirt, we regained the _terra
firma_; and I could not help thinking of the marshes of Arcole, which we
had been engaged in describing a few days before, and in which Napoleon
was very near being lost. The Emperor looked at his clothes and said,
“Las Cases, this is a dirty adventure. If we had been lost in the mud,”
added he, “what would have been said in Europe? The canting hypocrites
would have proved, beyond a doubt, that we had been swallowed up for our

The horses being at length brought to us, we continued our journey,
breaking through hedges, and leaping over ridges; and with great
difficulty rode up the whole length of the valley, which separates
Longwood from Diana’s Peak. We returned by the way of Madame Bertrand’s
residence; it was three o’clock when we reached home. We then learned
that the vessels which had been seen in the morning were a brig and a
transport from England, and an American ship.

The Emperor sent for me about seven o’clock; he was with the Grand
Marshal, who was reading to him the newspapers from the 9th to the 16th
of October. He had not done reading at nine o’clock. The Emperor,
astonished to find it so late, hastily rose and went to the table,
complaining of being kept waiting for his dinner. They were stupid
enough to give a very ridiculous reason for the delay. This domestic
irregularity irritated him very much; and then he was angry with himself
for having given vent to his anger; so the dinner passed off in dulness
and silence.

However, on returning to the drawing-room, to the dessert, the Emperor
began to converse on the news which the papers had brought us: the
conditions of peace, the fortresses ceded to foreign powers, and the
fermentation of the great cities of Europe. He treated these subjects in
a masterly style. He retired early; and had evidently not forgotten the
moment preceding dinner.

He soon sent for me, being desirous to continue the perusal of the
papers. As I was preparing to read, he recollected the state of my eyes,
and would not allow me. I begged to be permitted to continue, telling
him that I read quickly, and should soon have finished them; but he took
them away from me, saying, “We cannot command nature. I forbid it; I
will wait till to-morrow.” He then began to walk about a little, and
soon gave utterance to the feelings which had oppressed his spirits. How
amiable he appeared in his reproaches and complaints! How humane and
kind he seemed! How just and true was every observation that escaped
him! These were a few of the precious moments when Nature, taken by
surprise, exposes the inmost recesses of the human heart and character.
I left him, saying within myself, as I have so often had occasion to
say: “Good God, how little has the character of the Emperor been known
to the world!”

They are, however, beginning here to form a more just opinion of him.
Those Englishmen whose violent prejudices against him were in a great
degree excusable from the false accounts they had received, begin now to
entertain a more correct idea of his character. They allow that they are
strangely undeceived every day, and that the Emperor is a very different
being from that Napoleon whose image had been traced to them through the
medium of falsehood and political interests. All those who have had
opportunities of seeing him and hearing him converse, have but one
opinion on the subject. The Admiral has more than once, in the midst of
our disputes with him, hastily exclaimed that the Emperor was decidedly
the most good-natured, just, and reasonable of the whole set. And he was
in the right.

On another occasion, an Englishman, whom we frequently saw, confessed to
Napoleon, with the utmost humility of heart, and as it were by way of
expiation, that he had to reproach his conscience with having once
firmly believed all the abominable falsehoods related of him. He had
given credit to all the accounts of stranglings, massacres, and brutal
ferocity; in short, he even believed in the deformities of his person,
and the hideous features of his countenance. “And how,” said he
candidly, “could I help crediting all this? Our English publications
were filled with these statements; they were in every mouth; not a
single voice was raised to contradict them.”—“Yes,” said Napoleon,
smiling, “it is to your Ministers that I am indebted for these favours:
they inundated Europe with pamphlets and libels against me. Perhaps they
might say, in excuse, that they did but reply to those which they
received from France; and it must in justice be confessed that those
Frenchmen who have since been seen to exult over the ruins of their
country felt no hesitation in furnishing them with such articles in
abundant supplies.

“Be this as it may, I was repeatedly urged during the period of my
power, to adopt measures for counteracting this underhand work; but I
always declined it. What advantage should I have gained by such a
defence? It would have been said that I had paid for it, and that would
only have discredited me still more. Another victory, another
monument,—these, I said, are the best, the only answers I can make.
Falsehood passes away, and truth remains! The sensible portion of the
present age, and posterity in particular, will form their judgment only
from facts. And what has been the consequence? Already the cloud is
breaking; the light is piercing through, and my character grows clearer
every day. It will soon become the fashion in Europe to do me justice.
Those who have succeeded me possess the archives of my administration
and police, and the records of my tribunals: they hold in their pay, and
at their disposal, those who must have been the perpetrators and the
accomplices of my atrocities and crimes; yet what proofs have they
brought forward? What have they made known?

“The first moments of fury being passed away, all honest and sensible
men will render justice to my character; none but rogues or fools will
be my enemies. I may rest at ease; the succession of events, the
disputes of opposing parties, their hostile productions, will daily
clear the way for the correct and glorious materials of my history. And
what advantage has been reaped from the immense sums that have been paid
for libels against me? Every trace of them will soon be obliterated;
while my institutions and monuments will recommend me to the remotest

“It is now, moreover, too late to heap abuse upon me. The venom of
calumny,” said he, repeating an idea which he had before expressed, “has
been exhausted on me; it can no longer injure me; it operates only _like
poison on Mithridates_.”


30th.—The Emperor desired me to be called before eight o’clock. While he
dressed, I finished reading to him the newspapers which I had begun to
examine the day before. When dressed, he himself went to the stables,
asked for his horse, and rode out with me alone; his attendants not
being yet quite ready. We rode on at random, and soon arrived in a field
where some labourers were engaged in ploughing. The Emperor alighted
from his horse, seized the plough, and, to the great astonishment of the
man who was holding it, he himself traced a furrow of considerable
length. He again mounted and continued his ride through various parts of
the neighbourhood, and was joined successively by General Gourgaud and
the grooms.

On his return, the Emperor expressed a wish to breakfast under a tree in
the garden; and desired us to remain with him. During the ride, he had
mentioned a little present that he intended for us. “It is a trifle, to
be sure,” observed he; “but every thing must be proportioned to
circumstances, and to me this is truly _the widow’s mite_.” He alluded
to a monthly stipend which he had determined to settle on each of us. It
was to be deducted from an inconsiderable sum, which we had contrived to
secrete in spite of the vigilance of the English; and this sum was
henceforth Napoleon’s sole resource. It may well be imagined how
precious this trifle had become. I seized the first moment, on finding
myself alone with him, to express my opinion on this subject, and to
declare my own personal determination to decline his intended bounty. He
laughed at this, and as I persisted in my resolution, he said, pinching
my ear, “Well, if you don’t want it now, keep it for me: I shall know
where to find it when I stand in need of it.”

After breakfast, the Emperor went in-doors, and desired me to finish
reading the newspapers. I had been some time engaged in reading, when M.
de Montholon requested to be introduced. He had just had a long
conversation with the Admiral, who was very anxious to see the Emperor.
I was directed to suspend my translations from the newspapers, and the
Emperor walked about for some time, as though hesitating how to proceed;
at length, taking up his hat, he went into the drawing-room to receive
the Admiral. This circumstance afforded me the highest satisfaction; for
I knew that it was calculated to put a period to our state of hostility.
I was well assured that two minutes’ conversation with the Emperor would
smooth more difficulties than two days correspondence with any one else.
Accordingly I was soon informed that his convincing arguments and
amiable manners had produced the wished-for effect. I was assured that
on his departure the Admiral appeared enchanted: as for the Emperor, he
was very well pleased at what had taken place; he is far from disliking
the Admiral: he is even somewhat prepossessed in his favour. “You may be
a very good seaman,” said the Emperor to him, “but you know nothing at
all about our situation. We ask nothing of you. We can bear in silence
and retirement our pains and privations; we can find resources within
ourselves; but still our esteem is worth obtaining.” The Admiral
referred to his instructions. “But,” replied the Emperor, “you do not
consider the vast distance that intervenes between the dictation and the
execution of those instructions! The very individual who issues them in
a remote part of the world would oppose them if he saw them carried into
execution. Besides,” continued he, “it is certain that on the least
difference, the least opposition, the slightest expression of public
opinion, the Ministers would disavow their instructions, or severely
blame those who had not given them a more favourable interpretation.”

The Admiral conducted himself wonderfully well; the Emperor had every
reason to be satisfied with him: all asperities were softened down, and
good understanding prevailed on every point. It was agreed that the
Emperor should henceforth freely ride about the Island; that the officer
who had been instructed to attend him, should merely watch him from a
distance, so that the Emperor might not be offended with the sight of a
guard; that visitors should be admitted to the Emperor, not with the
permission of the Admiral, as the inspector of Longwood, but with that
of the Grand Marshal, who did the honours of the establishment.

To-day our little colony was increased by the arrival of Captain
Piontkowsky, a native of Poland. He was one of those individuals whom we
had left behind us at Plymouth. His attachment to the Emperor, and his
grief at being separated from him, had subdued the severity of the
English Ministers, and he had received permission to proceed to St.

                      LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR SKELTON.

31st.—Lieutenant-Governor Skelton and his lady, who had always shewn us
great attentions, came to present their respects to the Emperor, who,
after an hour’s conversation, desired me to translate to the Colonel an
invitation to ride out with him on horseback. The invitation was
joyfully accepted, and we set out. We passed through the valley which
separates us from Diana’s Peak, to the great astonishment of the
Colonel, to whom this ride was perfectly new. He found it fatiguing, and
in many parts dangerous. The Emperor detained Colonel and Mrs. Skelton
to dinner, and entertained them in the most agreeable way.

                            WILKS’S FAMILY.

January 1st—3rd, 1816. On new-year’s-day we all assembled about ten
o’clock in the morning, to present the compliments of the season to the
Emperor. He received us in a few moments. We had to offer him wishes
rather than congratulations. The Emperor wished that we should breakfast
and spend the whole day together. He observed that we were but a handful
in one corner of the world, and that all our consolation must be our
regard for each other. We all accompanied the Emperor into the garden,
where he walked about until breakfast was ready. At this moment, his
fowling-pieces, which had hitherto been detained by the Admiral, were
sent back to him. This measure, on the part of the Admiral, was only
another proof of the new disposition which he had assumed towards us.
The guns could be of no use to the Emperor; for the nature of the ground
and the total want of game rendered it impossible that he could enjoy
even a shadow of diversion in shooting. There were no birds except a few
pigeons among the gum-trees, and these were soon killed, or forced to
migrate, by the few shots that Gen Gourgaud and my son amused themselves
in firing.

It seemed like a fatality that measures, dictated by the best and
kindest intentions on the part of the Admiral, should still bear an
appearance of restriction and colouring of caprice, which destroyed
their effect. Along with the Emperor’s fowling-pieces were two or three
guns belonging to individuals of his suite. These were delivered to
their owners; but on condition that they should be sent every evening to
the tent of the officer on duty. It may well be supposed that this
proposition induced us, without hesitation, to decline the favour
altogether; and the guns were not surrendered to us unconditionally,
until after a little parleying. And after all what were the important
subjects under discussion? A few fowling-pieces; and the owners of them
were unfortunate men, banished from the rest of the world, surrounded by
sentinels, and guarded by a whole camp. I mention this circumstance,
because, though trifling in itself, it proves better than many others
our real situation and the mode in which we were treated.

On the 3rd, I breakfasted with Madame Bertrand, whom I was to accompany
to dine at the Governor’s. From Madame Bertrand’s abode to
Plantation-House (the Governor’s residence) is an hour and a half’s
journey in a carriage drawn by six oxen, for the use of horses on this
road would be dangerous. We crossed or turned five or six passes,
flanked with precipices several hundred feet high. Four of the oxen were
taken from the carriage in the rapid descents, and yoked again in
ascending the hills. We stopped when we had got about three parts of the
way, to pay a visit to a good old lady, eighty-three years of age, who
is very fond of Madame Bertrand’s children. Her house is very pleasantly
situated: she had not been out of it for sixteen years, when, hearing of
the Emperor’s arrival, she set out for the town, declaring that, if it
cost her her life, she was resolved to see him:—she was happy enough to
gain her object.

Plantation-House is the best situated, and most agreeable residence in
the whole island. The mansion, the garden, the out-offices, all call to
mind the residence of a family possessing an income of 25 or 30,000
livres in one of the French provinces. The grounds are cultivated with
the greatest attention and taste. A resident at Plantation-House might
imagine himself in Europe, without ever suspecting the desolation that
prevails over every other part of the Island. Plantation-House is
occupied by Colonel Wilks, the Governor, whose authority is now
superseded by the Admiral. He is a man of most polished manners; his
wife is an amiable woman, and his daughter a charming young lady.

The Governor had invited a party of about thirty. The manners and
ceremonies of the company were entirely European. We spent several hours
at Plantation-House; and this, we may truly say, has been the only
interval of oblivion and abstraction that we have enjoyed since we
quitted France. Colonel Wilks evinced particular partiality and kindness
to me. We mutually expressed the compliments and sympathy of two
authors, pleased with each other’s merits. We exchanged our works. The
Colonel overwhelmed _M. le Sage_ with flattering compliments: and those
which I returned to him were of the sincerest kind; for his work
contains a novel and interesting account of Hindostan, where he resided
for a considerable time in a diplomatic capacity. A spirit of
philosophy, a fund of information, joined to singular purity of style,
concur to render it a production of first-rate merit. In his political
opinions, Colonel Wilks is cool and impartial; he judges calmly and
dispassionately of passing events, and is imbued with the sound ideas
and liberal opinions of an intelligent and independent Englishman.

As we were on the point of sitting down to dinner, we were, to our great
surprise, informed that the Emperor, in company with the Admiral, had
just passed very near the gate of Plantation-House; and one of the
guests (Mr. Doveton, of Sandy-Bay) observed, that Napoleon had, in the
morning, honoured him with a visit, and spent three quarters of an hour
at his house.


4th—8th. When I entered the Emperor’s apartments to give him an account
of our excursion on the preceding day, he took hold of my ear, saying:
“Well, you deserted me yesterday: I got through the evening very well,
notwithstanding. Do not suppose that I could not do without you.”
Delightful words! rendered most touching by the tone which accompanied
them, and by the knowledge I now possess of him by whom they were

The weather has every day been fine, the temperature dry; the heat
intense, but abating suddenly, as usual, towards five or six o’clock.

The Emperor, since his arrival at Longwood, had left off his usual
dictations: he passed his time in reading in his cabinet, dressed
himself between three and four o’clock, and afterwards went out on
horseback, accompanied by two or three of us. The mornings must have
appeared to him longer; but his health was the better for it. Our rides
were always directed towards the neighbouring valley, of which I have
already spoken; we either passed up it, taking the lower part of it
first, and returning by the Grand Marshal’s house; or, on the contrary,
went up that side first, in order to descend it in returning: we even
went beyond it once or twice, and crossed other similar valleys. We thus
explored the neighbourhood, and visited the few habitations which it
contained; the whole of which were poor and wretched. The roads were
sometimes impassable; we were even occasionally obliged to get off our
horses. We had to clear hedges, and to scale stone walls, which we met
with very frequently; but we never suffered anything to stop us.

In these our customary rides we had for some days fixed on a regular
resting-place in the middle of the valley. There, surrounded by desert
rocks, an unexpected flower displayed itself: under a humble roof we
discovered a charming young girl, fifteen or sixteen years of age. We
had surprised her the first day in her usual costume: it announced any
thing but affluence. The following morning we found that she had
bestowed the greatest pains on her toilet; but our pretty blossom of the
fields now appeared to us nothing more than a very ordinary
garden-flower. Nevertheless, we henceforth stopped at her dwelling a few
minutes every day; she always approached a few paces to catch the two or
three sentences which the Emperor either addressed, or caused to be
translated, to her, as he passed by, and we continued our route,
discoursing on her charms. From that time she formed an addition to the
particular nomenclature of Longwood: she became _our nymph_. Among those
who were intimate with him, the Emperor used, without premeditation, to
invent new names for every person and object that attracted his notice.
Thus the pass through which we were proceeding, at the moment of which I
am now writing, received the name of the _Valley of Silence_; our host
at Briars was our _Amphitryon_; his neighbour, the Major, who was six
feet high, was our _Hercules_; Sir George Cockburn was my _Lord
Admiral_, as long as we were in good spirits, but, when ill-humour
prevailed, there was no title for him but such as the _shark_, &c.

Our nymph is the identical heroine of the little pastoral with which
Doctor Warden has been pleased to embellish his Letters; although I
corrected his error, when he gave me the manuscript to read before his
departure for Europe, by telling him: “if it is your intention to form a
tale, it is well; but if you wish to depict the truth, you must alter
this entirely.” It should seem that he thought his tale possessed far
more interest; and he has preserved it accordingly. But to return to our
_nymph_: I have been informed that Napoleon brought her great good
fortune. The celebrity which she acquired through him attracted the
curiosity of travellers, and her own charms effected the rest; she is
become the wife of a very rich merchant, or captain, in the service of
the East-India Company.

On returning from our rides, we used to find assembled the persons whom
the Emperor had invited to dine with him. He had, successively, the
Colonel of the 53rd, several of the officers and their ladies, the
Admiral, the beautiful and amiable Mrs. Hodson, the wife of our
Hercules, whom the Emperor went one day to visit in the valley of
Briars, and of whose children he had taken so much notice, &c.

After dinner, the Emperor joined one party at cards, and the rest of the
company formed another.

The day the Admiral dined at Longwood, the Emperor, whilst taking his
coffee, discoursed for a few minutes upon the affairs of the Island. The
Admiral said that the 66th regiment was coming to reinforce the 53rd.
The Emperor laughed at this; and asked him, if he did not think himself
already strong enough. Then, continuing his general observations, he
said that an additional seventy-four would be of more use than a
regiment; that ships of war were the security of an Island; that
fortifications produced nothing but delay; that the landing of a
superior force was a complete success, although its effects might be
deferred for a time; provided, however, the distance did not admit of
succour arriving.

The Admiral having asked him which, in his opinion, was the strongest
place in the world, the Emperor answered, it was impossible to point it
out, because the strength of a place arises partly from its own means of
defence, and partly from extraneous and indeterminate circumstances. He,
however, mentioned Strasburg, Lille, Metz, Mantua, Antwerp, Malta, and
Gibraltar. The Admiral having told him that he had been suspected in
England, for some time, of entertaining a design to attack Gibraltar:
“We knew better than that,” replied the Emperor; “it was our interest to
leave Gibraltar in your possession. It is of no advantage to you; it
neither protects nor intercepts any thing; it is only an object of
national pride, which costs England very dear, and gives great umbrage
to Spain. It would have been very injudicious in us to destroy such
ingenious arrangements.”

On the 6th, I was invited, with Madame Bertrand and my son, to dine at
Briars, where our old host had assembled much company. We returned very
late, and not without having been exposed to danger, from the
difficulties of the road and the darkness of the night, which obliged us
to perform part of the journey on foot, from consideration for Madame

On the 7th, the Emperor received a visit from the Secretary of the
Government and one of the members of the Council. He asked them a great
many questions, as usual, concerning the cultivation, the prosperity,
and the improvements of which the Island might be capable. In 1772, a
system had been adopted for furnishing meat at half price to the
inhabitants from the magazines of the Company; the consequence of which
was, great idleness, and neglect of agriculture. This system was altered
five years ago; which, added to other circumstances, has revived
emulation, and carried the prosperity of the Island to a pitch far
beyond what it ever enjoyed before. It is to be feared that our arrival
may prove a mortal blow to this growing prosperity.

St. Helena, which is seven or eight leagues in circumference (about the
size of Paris), is subject to the general laws of England and the local
ones of the island: these local laws are drawn up by a Council, and are
sanctioned in England by the Court of Directors of the East-India
Company. The Council is composed of a Governor, of two civil members,
and a Secretary, who keeps the registers; they are all appointed by the
Company, and are subject to be removed at pleasure. The members of the
Council are legislators, administrators, and magistrates; they decide
without appeal, with the aid of a jury, upon civil and criminal matters.
There is neither advocate nor attorney in the Island; the Secretary of
the Council authenticates all acts, and is a kind of unique notary. The
population of the Island amounts at this moment to about five or six
thousand souls, including the blacks and the garrison.

I was walking one afternoon in the garden with the Emperor, when a
sailor, about twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, with a frank and
open countenance, approached us, with gestures expressive of eagerness
and joy, mingled with apprehension of being perceived from without. He
spoke nothing but English, and told me in a hurried manner, that he had
twice braved the obstacle of sentinels and all the dangers of severe
prohibition, to get a close view of the Emperor. He had obtained this
good fortune, he said, looking stedfastly at the Emperor, and should die
content; that he offered up his prayers to Heaven that Napoleon might
enjoy good health, and be one day more happy. I dismissed him; and, on
quitting us, he hid himself again behind the trees and hedges, in order
to have a longer view of us. We frequently met with such unequivocal
proofs of the good-will of these sailors. Those of the Northumberland,
above all, considered themselves as having formed a friendship with the
Emperor. While we were residing at Briars, where our seclusion was not
so close, they often hovered around us on a Sunday, saying they came to
take another look at their shipmate. The day on which we quitted Briars,
I was with the Emperor in the garden, when one of the sailors appeared
at the gate, asking me if he might step in without giving offence. I
asked him of what country he was, and what religion he professed. He
answered by making various signs of the cross, in token of his having
understood me, and of fraternity. Then looking stedfastly upon the
Emperor, before whom he stood, and, raising his eyes to Heaven, he began
to hold a conversation with himself, by gestures, which his great jovial
face rendered partly grotesque, and partly sentimental. Nevertheless, it
would have been difficult to express, more naturally, admiration,
respect, kind wishes, and sympathy; whilst big tears started in his
eyes. “Tell that dear man,” said he to me, “that I wish him no harm, but
all possible happiness. So do most of us. Long life and health to him!”
He had a nosegay of wild flowers in his hand, which he seemed to wish to
offer to us; but either his attention was taken up, or he felt
restrained by the Emperor’s presence, or his own feelings, and he stood
wavering, as if contending with himself for some time; then suddenly
made us a bow, and disappeared.

The Emperor could not refrain from evincing some emotion at these two
circumstances; so strongly did the countenances, accents, and gestures
of these two men bear the stamp of truth. He then said, “See the effect
of imagination! How powerful is its influence! Here are people who do
not know me—who have never seen me; they have only heard me spoken of;
and what do they not feel! what would they not do to serve me! And the
same caprice is to be found in all countries, in all ages, and in both
sexes! This is fanaticism! Yes, imagination rules the world!”


9th.—The grounds round Longwood, within which we have the liberty of
taking the air, admit of only half an hour’s ride on horseback; which
has induced the Emperor, in order to extend his ride, or to occupy more
time, to descend into the ravines by very bad and indeed dangerous ways.

The Island not being thirty miles in circumference, it would have been
desirable to have the circuit extended to within a mile of the
sea-coast; then we might have had our rides, and even varied them,
within a space of fifteen or eighteen miles. The watching of our
movements would neither have been more troublesome nor less effectual,
had sentinels been placed upon the sea-shore and at the openings of the
valleys; or even had they traced all the Emperor’s steps by signals. We
had been told, it is true, that the Emperor was at liberty to go over
the whole of the Island under the escort of an English officer; but the
Emperor had decided that he would never go out, if deprived of the
privilege of being either entirely by himself, or in the society of his
friends only. The Admiral, in his last interview with the Emperor, had,
with great delicacy, settled that, whenever he (the Emperor) wished to
go beyond the prescribed limits, he was to inform the English Captain on
duty at Longwood of the circumstance; that the latter should go to his
post to open the passage for the Emperor; and that the observation, if
any, should thenceforth be continued in such a manner that the Emperor,
during the remainder of his excursion, whether he entered any house or
took advantage of any fine situation for proceeding with his works,
might perceive nothing that could for a moment distract his mind from
meditation. According to this arrangement, the Emperor proposed this
morning to mount his horse at seven o’clock: he had ordered a slight
breakfast to be prepared, and intended to go in the direction of Sandy
Bay, to see a spring of water, and to pass the morning amongst some fine
vegetation (an advantage which we did not possess at Longwood); and in
this spot he proposed to dictate for a few hours.

Our horses were ready; at the moment when we were about to mount them, I
went to acquaint the Captain with our intention, who, to my great
astonishment, declared his determination of riding beside us; saying
that the Emperor could not take it ill, after all, that an officer would
not act the part of a servant by remaining behind alone. I replied that
the Emperor doubtless would approve this sentiment; but that he would
immediately give up his party of pleasure. “You must,” said I, “think it
very natural, and by no means a ground of offence, that he feels a
repugnance to the company of a person who is guarding him.” The officer
evinced much concern, and told me that his situation was extremely
embarrassing. “Not at all so,” I observed to him, “if you only execute
your orders. We ask nothing of you; you have nothing to justify or
explain to us. It must be as desirable to you as to us to get the limits
extended towards the sea-shore: you would thereby be freed from a
troublesome duty, and one which can do you no honour. The end proposed
would not be the less effectually accomplished by such an arrangement. I
will venture to say that it would be more so: whenever we wish to watch
a person, we must guard the door of his room, or the gates of the
enclosure which surrounds him; the intermediate doors are only sources
of unavailing trouble. You lose sight of the Emperor every day when he
descends into the deep hollows within the circuit, and you ascertain his
existence only by his return. Well, then, make a merit of a concession
which the nature of things demands. Extend the limits to within a mile
of the sea-shore; you may then also trace the Emperor constantly by
means of your signals from your heights.”

To all this the officer replied only by repeating that he wanted neither
look nor word from the Emperor; that he would be with us, as if he were
not present. He seemed, and indeed he was, unable to comprehend that the
mere sight of him could be offensive to the Emperor. I told him that
there was a scale for the degrees of feeling, and that the same measure
did not apply to all the world. He appeared to think that we were
putting our own interpretations on the Emperor’s sentiments, and that,
if the reasons which he gave me were explained to him (the Emperor), the
latter would accede to them. He was inclined to write to him. I assured
him that, as far as related personally to himself, he would not be able
to say so much to the Emperor as I myself should: but that I would go
and repeat to the Emperor, word for word, the conversation which had
passed between us. I went, and soon returned, and confirmed to him what
I had before advanced. The Emperor from that moment gave up his intended

Wishing, however, on my own account, to avoid every misunderstanding
which might add to discussions, at all times disagreeable, I asked him
whether he had any objection to impart to me the account he intended to
give the Admiral. He told me he had none; but that he should only give a
verbal one. Then, resuming our long conversation, I reduced it in a few
words, to two very positive points: on his part, that he had told me he
wished to join the party of the Emperor: and on mine, that I had replied
that the Emperor from that moment gave up his party, and would not go
beyond the limits assigned to him. This statement was perfectly agreed
upon by both of us. The Emperor ordered me to be called into his room.
Brooding in profound silence over the vexation which he had just
experienced, he had undressed again, and was in his morning-gown. He
detained me to breakfast, and observed that the sky seemed to threaten
rain; that we should have had a bad day for our excursion. But this was
a poor consolation for the cruel restraint which had just deprived him
of an innocent pleasure.

The fact is that the officer had received fresh orders; but the Emperor
had only grounded the project of his little excursion upon the anterior
promises of the Admiral, at which the Emperor had felt a pleasure in
expressing his satisfaction to him. The present alteration, of which
nothing had been said to the Emperor, must necessarily have been
extremely unpleasant to him. Either the word given him was broken, or an
attempt had been made to impose on him. This affront, which he
experienced from the Admiral, is one of those which have considerably
hurt the feelings of the Emperor.

The Emperor took a bath, and did not dine with us. At nine o’clock he
ordered me to be called into his room, he was reading Don Quixote, which
turned our conversation upon Spanish literature, the translation of Le
Sage, &c. He was very melancholy, and said little; he sent me away in
about three quarters of an hour.

                   EMPEROR,—SPURS OF CHAMPAUBERT, &C.

10th.—About four o’clock the Emperor desired me to be called into his
room: he was dressed, and had his boots on; his intention was either to
get on horseback, or to take a walk in the garden; but a gentle shower
of rain was falling. We walked about in conversation, waiting for the
weather to clear up. He opened the door of his room leading to the
topographical cabinet, in order that we might extend our walk the whole
length of this cabinet. As we approached the bed, he asked me if I
always slept in it. I answered that I had ceased to do so from the
moment that I became acquainted with his wish of going out early in the
morning. “What has that to do with it?” said he: “return to it; I shall
go out when I please, by the back-door.” The drawing-room door stood
half open, and he entered it; Montholon and Gourgaud were there. They
were endeavouring to fix a very pretty lustre, and a small glass over
the chimney-piece: the Emperor desired the latter might be set straight,
as it inclined a little on one side. He was much pleased at this
improvement in the drawing-room furniture; a proof that every thing is
relative! What could these objects have been in the eyes of a man who,
some years ago, had furniture to the value of forty millions in his

We returned to the topographical cabinet: the rain continued to fall, he
gave up his promenade; but he regretted that the Grand Marshal had not
arrived; he felt himself this day inclined for work, which he had
discontinued for a fortnight. He endeavoured to kill time, whilst
waiting for Bertrand. “Let us go and see Madame de Montholon,” said he
to me. I announced him; he sat down, made me do the same; and we talked
about furniture and housekeeping. He then began to form an inventory of
the articles in the apartment, piece by piece; and we all agreed that
the furniture was not worth more than thirty Napoleons. Leaving Madame
de Montholon’s, he ran from room to room, and stopped in front of the
staircase in the corridor which leads to the servants’ room above; it is
a kind of very steep ladder. “Let us look at Marchand’s apartment,” said
he; “they say that he keeps it like that of a _petite maîtresse_.” We
climbed up; Marchand was there; his little room is clean; he has pasted
paper upon it, which he has painted himself. His bed was without
curtains: Marchand does not sleep so far from his master’s door; at
Briars, he and the two other valets-de-chambre constantly slept upon the
ground, across the Emperor’s doorway, so close that, whenever I came
away late, I was obliged to step over them. The Emperor ordered the
presses to be opened; they contained nothing but his linen and his
clothes; the whole was not considerable, yet he was astonished to find
himself still so rich. “How many pair of spurs have I?” said he, taking
up a pair. “Four pair,” answered Marchand. “Are any of them more
remarkable than the rest?”—“No, Sire.”—“Well, I will give a pair of them
to Las Cases. Are these old?” “Yes, Sire, they are almost worn out; your
Majesty wore them in the campaign of Dresden, and in that of
Paris.”—“Here,” said he, giving them to me; “these are for you.” I could
have wished that he would have permitted me to receive them on my knees.
I felt that I was really receiving something connected with the glorious
days of Champaubert, Montmirail, Nangis, Montereau! Was there ever a
more appropriate memorial of chivalry, in the times of Amadis? “Your
Majesty is making me a knight,” said I; “but how am I to win these
spurs? I cannot pretend to achieve any feat of arms; and as to love and
devotion, Sire, all I have to bestow has long since been disposed of.”

Still the Grand Marshal did not arrive, and the Emperor wished to set to
work. “You cannot write any longer then?” he said to me. “Your eyesight
is quite gone.” Ever since we had been here I had given up work
entirely; my eyesight failed me, which made me extremely melancholy.
“Yes, sire,” I replied, “it is entirely gone; and I am grieved that I
lost it in the Campaign of Italy, without enjoying the happiness and
glory of having served in it.”—He endeavoured to console me, by telling
me that I should recover my eyesight, beyond a doubt, by repose, adding,
“Oh why did they not leave us Planat! that good young man would now be
of great service to me.” And he desired General Gourgaud to come, that
he might dictate to him.

                          ADMIRAL TAYLOR, &C.

11th.—As I was walking after breakfast, about half-past twelve, before
the gate, I saw a numerous cavalcade approaching, preceded by the
Colonel of the 53rd: it was Admiral Taylor, who had arrived the evening
before with his squadron from the Cape, and was to leave us the next day
but one for Europe. Among his captains was his son, who had lost his arm
at the battle of Trafalgar, where his father commanded the Tonnant.

Admiral Taylor said he was come to pay his respects to the Emperor; but
he had just received for answer that he was unwell; at which the Admiral
was much disappointed. I observed to him that the climate of Longwood
was very unfavourable to Napoleon. I chose an unlucky time for making
this observation, as the sky was beautiful, and the place displayed at
this moment all the illusion which it is capable of producing: the
Admiral did not fail to remark that the situation was charming. I
replied, in a tone of genuine sorrow: “Yes, Admiral, to-day, and for
you, who only remain a quarter of an hour in it.” At this he seemed
quite disconcerted, began to make excuses, and begged me to pardon him
for having made use of what he called an impertinent expression. I must
render justice to the peculiar urbanity of manner which he evinced on
this occasion.


12th—14th. The Emperor had now for several days left off his excursions
on horseback. The result of his attempt to resume them, on the 12th, was
neither calculated to revive his partiality for this amusement, nor to
render it once more habitual to him. We had cleared our valley as usual,
and were re-ascending at the back part opposite Longwood, when a soldier
from one of the heights, where there had hitherto been no post, called
out several times, and made various signs to us. As we were in the very
centre of our circuit, we paid no attention to him. He then came running
down towards us, out of breath, charging his piece as he ran. General
Gourgaud remained behind, to see what he wanted, while we continued our
route. I could see the General, after dodging the fellow many times,
collar and secure him: he made him follow him as far as the neighbouring
post by the Grand Marshal’s, which the General endeavoured to make him
enter, but he escaped from him. He found that he was a drunken corporal,
who had not rightly understood his watchword. He had frequently levelled
his piece at us. This circumstance, which might have been very easily
repeated, made us tremble for the Emperor’s life: the latter looked upon
it only as an affront, and a fresh obstacle to the continuance of his
exercises on horseback.

Napoleon had ceased giving invitations to dinner: the hours, the
distance, the dressing, were inconvenient to the guests: to us these
parties produced only trouble and constraint, without any pleasure.

The Emperor had by degrees resumed his regular work. He now dictated
daily to the Grand Marshal upon the expedition to Egypt; some time
before dinner he ordered me and my son to be called to him, in order to
read the different chapters of the Campaigns of Italy over again, and
separate them into paragraphs. Reversis had gone out of fashion; the
Emperor had given it up. The time after dinner was henceforth devoted to
the reading of some work: the Emperor himself read aloud; when he was
tired, he handed the book over to some other person; but then he never
could bear their reading more than a quarter of an hour. We were now
reading novels, and we began many which we never finished, _Manon l’
Escaut_ we soon rejected as fit only for the ante-chamber; then followed
the _Memoirs of Grammont_, which are so full of wit, but so far from
honourable to the morals of the great of that period; the _Chevalier de
Faublas_, which is only to be endured at the age of twenty years, &c.
Whenever these readings could be protracted to eleven or twelve o’clock,
the Emperor seemed truly rejoiced. He called this making conquests over
time; and he found such victories not the most easy to gain.

Politics had also their turn. Every three or four weeks, or thereabouts,
we received a large packet of journals from Europe; this, like the cut
of a whip, set us going again for some days, during which we discussed,
analyzed, and re-discussed the news: and afterwards fell again
insensibly into our usual melancholy. The last journals had reached us
by the Greyhound sloop, which had arrived some days before. They
occupied one of the evenings, and gave rise to one of those moments,
wherein that ardour and inspiration burst forth from the Emperor, which
I have sometimes witnessed in the Council of State, and which escape him
from time to time even here.

He took large strides as he walked amongst us, becoming gradually more
animated, and only interrupting his discourse by a few moments of

“Poor France,” said he, “what will be thy lot! Above all, what is become
of thy glory!... I suppress the rest, which is of very great length: I
_must_ suppress it.”

The papers seeming to say that England desired the dismemberment of
France, but that Russia had opposed it, the Emperor said that he
expected this; that it was natural that Russia should be dissatisfied at
seeing France divided; because she would then have to fear that the
different states of Germany would unite against her; whilst, on the
other hand, the English aristocracy must be desirous of reducing France
to the extremity of weakness, and of establishing despotism upon her
ruins. “I know,” said he, “that this is not your opinion,” addressing
himself to me; “you are an Englishman.” I replied that it was very
difficult to dispute with him; but that it appeared to me that in this
same English aristocracy, it must be allowed, there might possibly exist
heads sufficiently clear, as well as hearts just enough, to understand
that, after having overthrown that which threatened their existence, it
might prove advantageous to raise up that which was no longer to be
dreaded; that circumstances were now singularly favourable for
establishing a new system, which might for ever unite the two nations in
their dearest interests, and render them necessary to each other,
instead of keeping them in perpetual enmity, &c. The Emperor concluded
the conversation by saying that he must be very perverse, without doubt;
but that, with every consideration that he could give the subject, he
could foresee nothing but catastrophes, massacres, and bloodshed.


15th.—When I was on board the Northumberland, I had heard the _Secret
History of the Cabinet of Bonaparte_ by Goldsmith, spoken of, and, in my
first leisure moments here, I felt an inclination to skim it over; but I
met with great difficulty in obtaining it, as the English excused
themselves from putting it into my hands, for a considerable time,
saying, it was such an abominable libel that they were afraid to let me
have it, and were themselves ashamed of it. I was for a long time under
the necessity of urging them incessantly, repeating that we were all
proof against such civilities; that he who was the object of them only
used to laugh at such things, when chance brought them before his eyes;
and moreover that, if this work was so bad as it was said to be, it must
have failed in its end, and ceased to be hurtful at all. I asked who
this Goldsmith, the author, was. I was told, he was an Englishman who
... at Paris, and who, upon his return to England, had endeavoured to
avoid ... and at the same time to gain more money, by loading with
insults and imprecations that idol to whom he had so long offered
incense. I at last obtained the work. It must be confessed that it would
be difficult to bring together more horrible and ridiculous abominations
than are presented to us in the first pages of this book: rapes, poison,
incest, assassination, and all that belongs to them, are heaped by the
author upon his hero, and that from his earliest childhood. It is true
that the author appears to have given himself little concern about
bestowing on these calumnies any air of probability; and that he himself
sometimes demonstrates their impossibility, and sometimes refutes them
by anachronisms, alibis, and contradictions of every kind; mistakes in
the names, persons, and most authentic facts, &c. Thus, for example,
when Napoleon was only about ten or twelve years of age, and was
confined within the bounds of the Military School, he causes him to
commit outrages which would require at least the age of manhood, and a
certain degree of liberty, &c. The author makes him undertake what he
calls the robberies of Italy, at the head of eight thousand
galley-slaves, who had escaped from the bagnio at Toulon. Afterwards, he
makes twenty thousand Poles abandon the Austrian ranks to join the
standard of the French General, &c. The same author makes Napoleon
arrive at Paris in Fructidor, when all the world knows that he never
quitted his army. He makes him treat with the Prince of Condé, and ask
the hand of the Princess Royal as the price of his treachery. I omit a
number of other things equally absurd and impudent. It is evident that,
with respect to the loose and ridiculous anecdotes particularly, he only
collected all he could hear; but from what source has he drawn his
information? The greater part of the anecdotes have certainly had their
rise in certain defamatory and malevolent circles of Paris; but, as long
as they were on that ground, they still preserved the appearance of some
wit, salt, point, colour, some grace in the relation; whilst the stories
in this book have evidently descended from the drawing-rooms into the
streets, and have only been picked up after rolling in the kennel. The
English allowed it to be so coarse that, except to the most vulgar
classes of society, the work was a poison which carried its own antidote
along with it.

It may probably excite astonishment that I did not lay aside such a
production upon reading the first page of it; but its coarseness and
vulgarity are so gross that it cannot excite anger: on the other hand,
there is no disgust which may not be got over in order to amuse the
heavy hours at St. Helena. We consider ourselves fortunate in having any
thing to peruse. “Time,” said the Emperor, a few days ago, “is the only
thing of which we have too much here.” I therefore continued the work.
And besides, I may perhaps be allowed to say that it is not without some
pleasure that I now read the absurd tales, the lies, and calumnies,
which an author pretends to derive, as usual, from the best authority,
relating to objects which I am now so perfectly well acquainted with,
and which have become as familiar to me as the details of my own life;
and it is likewise gratifying to lay down pages filled with the falsest
representations, and exhibiting a portrait purely fanciful to study
truth by the side of the real personage, in his own conversation, ever
full of novelties and grand ideas.

The Emperor having desired me to come to him this morning after
breakfast, I found him in his morning-gown lying on his sofa. The
conversation led him to ask me what I was reading at this moment. I
replied that it was one of the most notorious and scurrilous libels
published against him, and I quoted to him upon the spot some of its
most abominable stories. He laughed heartily at them, and desired to see
the work. I sent for it, and we went over it together. In passing from
one horrid calumny to another, he exclaimed, “_Jesus!_” crossing himself
repeatedly—a custom which I have perceived to be familiar with him, in
his little friendly circle, whenever he meets with monstrous, impudent,
cynical assertions, which excite his indignation and surprise without
rousing his anger. As we proceeded, the Emperor analyzed certain facts,
and corrected points of which the author might have known something.
Sometimes he shrugged up his shoulders out of compassion; at others, he
laughed heartily; but he never betrayed the least sign of anger. When he
read the article which speaks of his great debaucheries and excesses,
the violences and the outrages which he is represented to have
committed, he observed that the author, doubtless, wished to make a hero
of him in every respect; that he willingly left him to those who had
charged him with impotency; that it was for these gentlemen to agree
among themselves; adding, merrily, “that every man was not so unlucky as
the pleader of Toulouse.” They were in the wrong, however, he continued,
to attack him upon the score of morals; him, who, as all the world knew,
had so singularly improved them. They could not be ignorant that he was
not at all inclined, by nature, to debauchery; and that, moreover, the
multiplicity of his affairs would never have allowed him time to indulge
in it. When he came to the pages where his mother was described as
acting the most disgusting and abject part at Marseilles, he stopped,
and repeated several times with an accent of indignation, and something
approaching to grief, “Ah! Madame!—Poor Madame!—with her lofty
character! if she were to read this!—Great God!”

We thus passed more than two hours, after which he began to dress.
Doctor O’Meara was introduced to him: it was the usual hour of his being
admitted. “_Dottore_,” said the Emperor to him in Italian, whilst he was
shaving himself, “I have just read one of your fine London productions
against me.” The Doctor’s countenance indicated a wish to know what it
was. I shewed him the book at a distance; it was himself who had lent it
to me: he was disconcerted. “It is a very just remark,” continued the
Emperor, “that it is the truth only which gives offence. I have not been
angry for a moment; but I have frequently laughed at it.” The Doctor
endeavoured to reply, and puzzled himself with high-flown sentences: it
was, he said, an infamous, disgusting libel; every body knew it to be
such; nobody paid any attention to it: nevertheless, persons might be
found who would believe it, from its not having been replied to. “But
how can that be helped?” said the Emperor. “If it should enter any one’s
head to put in print that I had grown hairy, and walked on all fours,
there are people who would believe it, and would say that God had
punished me as he did Nebuchadnezzar. And what could I do? There is no
remedy in such cases.” The Doctor went away, hardly able to believe the
gaiety, the indifference, the good-nature of which he had just been
witness: with regard to ourselves, we were now accustomed to it.


16th.—About three o’clock the Emperor desired me to come and converse
with him whilst he was dressing himself; we afterwards took a few turns
in the garden. He observed, accidentally, that it was a shame he could
not yet read English. I assured him that, if he had continued his
lessons after the two that I had given when we were off Madeira, he
would now be able to read every kind of English books. He was thoroughly
persuaded of this, and ordered me to oblige him henceforth to take a
lesson every day. The conversation then led me to observe that I had
just given my son his first lesson in mathematics. It is a branch of
knowledge which the Emperor is very fond of, and in which he is
particularly skilled. He was astonished that I could teach my son so
much without the help of any work, and without any copy-book; he said,
he did not know that I was so learned in this way, and threatened me
with examining, when I did not expect it, both the master and the
scholar. At dinner he attacked what he called the Professor of
Mathematics, who was very near being posed by him: one question did not
wait for another, and they were frequently very keen. He never ceased to
regret that the mathematics were not taught at a very early age in the
Lyceums. He said that all the intentions he had formed respecting the
Universities had been frustrated, complained bitterly of M. de Fontanes,
lamenting that, whilst he was obliged to be at a distance, carrying on
the war, they spoiled all he had done at home, &c. This led the Emperor
back to the first years of his life, to father Patrault, his Professor
of Mathematics, whose history he gave us: I have already introduced it.

                       FIRST ENGLISH LESSON, &c.

17th.—The Emperor took his first lesson in the English language to-day.
And as it was my intention to put him at once in a situation to read the
papers with readiness, this first lesson consisted of nothing more than
getting acquainted with an English newspaper; in studying the form and
plan of it; in learning the places that are always given to the
different subjects which it contains; in separating the notices and
gossip of the town from politics; and, in the latter, in learning to
distinguish what is authentic from what is mere report or conjecture.

I have engaged that, if the Emperor could endure being annoyed every day
with such lessons, he would be able to read the papers in a month
without the assistance of any of us. The Emperor wished afterwards to do
some exercises; he wrote some sentences which were dictated to him, and
translated them into English, with the assistance of a little table,
which I made for him, of the auxiliary verbs and articles, and aided by
the dictionary for other words which I made him look out himself. I
explained to him the rules of syntax and grammar, as they came before
us: in this manner he formed various sentences, which amused him more
than the versions which we also attempted. After the lesson, at two
o’clock, we took a walk in the garden.

Several musquet shots were fired: they were so near us that they
appeared to have been fired in the garden itself. The Emperor observed
to me that my son (we thought it was he) seemed to have good sport: I
replied that it was the last time he should enjoy it so near the
Emperor. “Really,” said he, “you may as well go and tell him that he is
only to come within cannon-shot of us.” I ran: we had accused him
wrongfully, for the guns were fired by the people who were training the
Emperor’s horses.

After dinner, during coffee, the Emperor, taking me to the corner of the
chimney-piece, put his hand upon my head to measure my height, and said,
“I am a giant to you.”—“Your Majesty is a giant to so many others,” I
observed to him, “that I am not at all concerned at it.” He spoke
immediately of something else; for he does not like to dwell on
expressions of this kind.


18th—20th. We led a life of great uniformity. The Emperor did not go out
in the mornings. The English lesson was very regularly taken about two
o’clock; then followed either a walk in the garden, or some
presentations, which, however, were very rare; afterwards a little
excursion in the calash, as the horses were at last arrived. Before
dinner we proceeded with the revision of the Campaigns of Italy or
Egypt: after dinner we read romances.

On the 20th, the Emperor received Governor Wilks, with whom he had a
profound discussion on the army, the sciences, government, and the
Indies. Speaking of the organization of the English army, he dwelt much
on the principles of promotion in it; expressing his surprise that, in a
country in which equality of rights is maintained, the soldiers so
seldom become officers.

Colonel Wilks admitted that the English soldiers were not formed to
become officers; and said that the English were equally astonished at
the great difference they had remarked in the French army, where almost
every soldier shewed the nascent talents of an officer. “That,” observed
the Emperor, “is one of the great results of the Conscription; it has
rendered the French army the best constituted that ever existed. It is
an institution,” he continued, “eminently national, and already strongly
interwoven with our habits; it had ceased to be a cause of grief, except
to mothers; and the time was at hand, when a girl would not have
listened to a young man who had not acquitted himself of this debt to
his country. And it would have been only when arrived at this point,”
added he, “that the Conscription would have manifested the full extent
of its advantages. When the service no longer bears the appearance of
punishment or compulsory duty, but is become a point of honour, on which
all are jealous, then only is the nation great, glorious and powerful;
it is then that its existence is proof against reverses, invasions—even
the hand of time!

“Besides,” continued he, “it may be truly said that there is nothing
that may not be obtained from Frenchmen by the excitement of danger; it
seems to animate them; it is an inheritance which they derive from their
Gallic forefathers.... Courage, the love of glory, are, with the French,
an instinct, a kind of sixth sense. How often in the heat of battle has
my attention been fixed on my young conscripts, rushing, for the first
time, into the thickest of the fight: honour and valour bursting forth
at every pore.”

After this, the Emperor, knowing that Governor Wilks was well informed
in chemistry, attacked him on that subject. He spoke of the immense
progress in all our manufactures occasioned by this science. He said,
that both England and France, undoubtedly, possessed great chemists; but
that chemistry was more generally diffused in France, and more
particularly directed to useful results; that in England it remained a
science, while in France it was becoming entirely practical. The
Governor admitted that these observations were perfectly correct, and,
with a liberality of sentiment, added that it was to him, the Emperor,
that all these advantages were owing, and that, wherever science was led
by the hand of power, it would produce great and happy effects upon the
well-being of society. The Emperor observed that of late France had
obtained sugar from the beet-root, as good and cheap as that extracted
from the sugar-cane. The Governor was astonished; he had not even
suspected it. The Emperor assured him that it was an established fact,
opposed, as it was, to the rooted prejudices of all Europe, France
itself not excepted. He added that it was the same with woad, the
substitute for indigo, and with almost all the colonial produce except
the dye-woods. This led him to conclude that if the invention of the
compass had produced a revolution in commerce, the progress of chemistry
bade fair to produce a counter-revolution.

The conversation then turned on the present numerous emigrations of the
artisans of France and England to America. The Emperor observed that
this favoured country grew rich by our follies. The Governor smiled, and
replied, that those of England would occupy the first place in the list,
from the numerous errors of administration, which had led to the revolt
and subsequent emancipation of the Colonies. The Emperor said that their
emancipation was inevitable; that when children had attained the size of
their fathers, it was difficult to retain them long in a state of

They then spoke of India; the Governor had resided there many years, and
had filled high situations; he had made important researches; he was
able to reply to a multitude of questions proposed to him by the
Emperor, respecting the laws, the manners, the usages of the Hindoos,
the administration of the English, the nature and construction of the
existing laws, &c.

The English are governed according to the laws of England; the natives
by local acts made by the several Councils in the service of the
Company, with whom it is a fundamental principle to render them as
nearly similar as possible to the laws of the people themselves.

Hyder Aly was a man of genius; Tippoo, his son, was arrogant, ignorant,
and rash. The former had upwards of 100,000 men; the latter scarcely
ever more than 50,000. These people are not deficient in courage, but
they do not possess our physical strength, and have neither discipline
nor any knowledge of tactics. Seventeen thousand men in the English
service, of whom only 4000 were Europeans, were sufficient to destroy
the empire of Mysore. It was, however, to be presumed that, sooner or
later, the national spirit would rescue these regions from the dominion
of the Europeans. The intermixture of European blood with that of the
natives, was producing a mixed race, whose numbers and disposition
certainly prepared the way for a great revolution. Nevertheless, in
their actual condition, the people were happier than they had been
previously to the dominion of the English: an impartial administration
of justice, and the mildness of the government were, for the present,
the strongest supports of the power of the parent state. It was also
considered expedient to prohibit the English and other Europeans from
buying lands there, or forming hereditary establishments, &c.

Madame de Staël’s _Delphine_ was at this time a subject of conversation
at our evening parties. The Emperor analyzed it: few things in it
escaped his censure. The irregularity of mind and imagination which
pervades it excited his criticism: there were throughout, said he, the
same faults which had formerly made him keep the authoress at a
distance, notwithstanding the most pointed advances and the most
unremitting flattery on her part. No sooner had victory immortalized the
young General of the Army of Italy, than Madame de Staël, unacquainted
with him, from the mere sympathy of glory, instantly professed for him
sentiments of enthusiasm worthy of her own _Corinne_; she wrote him long
and numerous epistles, full of wit, imagination, and metaphysical
erudition: it was an error, she observed, arising only from human
institutions, that could have united him with the meek, the tranquil,
Madame Bonaparte; it was a soul of fire like her’s (Madame de Staël’s)
that nature had undoubtedly destined to be the companion of a hero like

I refer to the Campaigns in Italy to shew that this forwardness on the
part of Madame de Staël was not checked by the circumstance of meeting
with no return. With a perseverance never to be disheartened, she
succeeded, at a later period, in forming some degree of acquaintance, so
far even as to be allowed to visit; and she used this privilege, said
the Emperor, to a disagreeable extent. It is unquestionably true, as has
been reported, that the General, wishing to make her sensible of it, one
day caused her to be told, by way of excuse, that he was scarcely
dressed; and that she replied promptly and seriously, that it was
unimportant, for that genius was of no sex.

From Madame de Staël we were naturally led to her father, M. Necker. The
Emperor related, that at Geneva, in his way to Marengo, he received a
visit from him, wherein he made known, in an awkward manner enough, his
desire to be admitted again to the Administration—a desire, by the by,
which M. Calonne, his rival, subsequently came to Paris to express with
a degree of levity beyond conception. M. Necker afterwards wrote a
dangerous work upon the policy of France, which he attempted to prove
could no longer exist either as a monarchy or a republic, and in which
he called the First Consul _l’homme necessaire_.

The First Consul proscribed the work, which, at that time, might have
been highly prejudicial to him, and committed the task of refuting it to
the Consul Lebrun, “who in his elegant prose,” said the Emperor,
executed prompt and ample justice upon it. The Necker _coterie_ was
irritated, and Madame de Staël, engaging in some intrigues, received an
order to quit France: thenceforth she became an ardent and strenuous
enemy. Nevertheless, on the return from the Island of Elba, she wrote or
sent to the Emperor, to express, in her peculiar way, the enthusiasm
which this wonderful event had excited in her; that she was overcome;
that this last act was not that of a mortal; that it had at once raised
its author to the skies. Then, returning to herself, she concluded by
hinting that, if the Emperor would condescend to allow the payment of
the two millions, for which an order in her favour had already been
signed by the King, her pen and her principles should be devoted for
ever after to his interest.—The Emperor desired she might be informed,
in answer, that nothing could flatter him more highly than her
approbation, because he fully appreciated her talents; but that he
really was not rich enough to purchase it at that price.


21st.—I had at length taken possession of the new lodging built for me
instead of my former oven. Upon a soil constantly damp had been placed a
floor eighteen feet long by eleven wide; this was surrounded by a wall
of a foot and half in thickness, composed of loam, and which might have
been kicked down with the foot: at the height of seven feet it was
covered with a roof of boards, defended by a coating of paper and tar.
Such were the construction and the outline of my new palace, divided
into two apartments, one of which contained two beds separated by a
chest of drawers, and afforded room for only a single chair; the other,
at once my saloon and my library, had a single window strongly fastened
up on account of the violence of the winds and rain: on the right and
left of it were two writing-tables, for me and my son; on the opposite
side a couch and two chairs. This was the whole of the furniture and
accommodations: add to this that the aspect of the two windows is
towards a wind constantly blowing from the same quarter, and generally
accompanied with rain, often very heavy, and which, previously to our
taking possession, already forced its way through the cracks, or soaked
through the walls and the roof. I had just passed my first night in
these new quarters; I was indisposed, and my change of bed had prevented
me from sleeping. I was informed about seven o’clock, that the Emperor
was going out on horseback; I replied that, not feeling myself well, I
should endeavour to take some rest; but only a few minutes had elapsed
when a person hastily entered my apartment, opened my curtains with an
air of authority, found fault with me for being so idle, and pronounced
that my ailments must be shaken off; then, struck with the smell of the
paint, the extreme smallness of the room, and the closeness of the two
beds, he decided that we could no longer be suffered to sleep huddled
together in that way; that it was far too unwholesome; and that I must
return to the bed in the topographical cabinet, which I ought not to
abandon through false delicacy; and that, if I occasioned any
inconvenience there, I should be told of it. It will have been guessed
that this person was the Emperor. I was, of course, soon out of bed,
dressed, and well. The Emperor was, however, already far off: I had to
seek him in the park. After I had overtaken him, our conversation turned
on the long audience that he had given to Governor Wilks on the
preceding day. He dwelt, with much good humour, on the great importance
which my work appeared to have given me in the Governor’s eyes, and the
extreme good-will towards me with which it seemed to have inspired him.
“Of course,” continued he, “it is understood that these sentiments are
to be mutual; the usual regard and fraternity of authors, as long as
they do not criticize each other. And is he aware of your relationship
to the venerable Las Casas?” I answered that I knew nothing of the
matter; but General Gourgaud, who was on the other side of the Emperor,
replied in the affirmative. “And how do you know it yourself?” said the
Emperor to me; “Are you not romancing with us?” “The following, Sire,
are my proofs. Our family had been two hundred years in France, when
Barthelemi de Las Casas flourished in Spain; but the Spanish historians
all describe him as a native of the same city from which we ourselves
came, that is to say, Seville. They all mention him as of an ancient
family, of French origin, and state his ancestors to have passed into
Spain precisely at the time when our family went there.”—“What, then,
you are not Spanish? He was French, as well as you!”—“Yes, Sire.”—“Let
us hear all about it; come, Sir Castellan, Sir Knight-errant, Sir
Paladin,—let us see you in your glory; unrol your old parchments; come,
enjoy yourself.”—“Sire, one of my ancestors followed Henry Count of
Burgundy, who, at the head of a few crusaders, achieved the conquest of
Portugal, about the year 1100. He was his standard-bearer at the famous
battle of Ourique, which founded the Portugese monarchy. Afterwards we
returned to France with Queen Blanche, when she came to be married to
the father of St. Louis. Sire, this is the whole.”


22nd–26th. These days were rendered unpleasant by almost incessant rain.
The Emperor was only twice able to ride out—in the park one morning, and
once in the afternoon through our usual valley, which the weather had
rendered almost impassable. Nor was it more practicable to make use of
the calash; we were therefore compelled to confine ourselves to a few
turns in the garden, and to share in the gloom of the weather. We
worked, however, the more on this account. The Emperor regularly took
excellent and long lessons in English. It is his custom to pass all the
morning in reading; he reads whole works of very considerable extent
regularly through, without feeling in the least fatigued; he always read
some part of them to me before he began his English lessons.

One of them was the Letters of Madame de Sevigné, the style of which is
so easy, and depicts so faithfully the manners of the time. Reading the
death of Turenne, and the trial of Fouquet, he observed, with respect to
the latter, that Madame de Sevigné seemed to evince too much warmth, too
much earnestness and tenderness, for mere friendship.

Another was _Charles XII._, in reading whose defence of his house, at
Bender, against the Turks, he could not help laughing, and repeating as
they did, “_Ironhead! Ironhead!_” He asked me whether the nature of this
monarch’s death was a settled point. I told him that I had it from the
mouth of Gustavus III. himself, that he had been assassinated by his
followers. Gustavus had examined his body in the vault; the ball was a
pistol-bullet; it had been fired very near, and behind him, &c.

At the beginning of the Revolution, I was well acquainted with Gustavus
III., at the waters of Aix-la-Chapelle; and, though I was then very
young, I had more than once the honour of conversing with him: he even
promised me a place in his navy, if our affairs in France should turn
out unfavourably.

Another day the Emperor was reading _Paul and Virginia_; he gave full
effect to the touching passages, which were always simple and natural;
those which abounded with the pathos, the abstract and false ideas so
much in fashion when the work was published, were all, in the Emperor’s
opinion, cold, bad, spoiled. He said he had been infatuated with this
book in his youth; but he had little personal regard for its author; he
could never forgive him for having imposed on his generosity on his
return from the Army of Italy. “Bernardin de St. Pierre’s sensibility
and delicacy,” said he, “were little in harmony with his charming
picture of Paul and Virginia. He was a bad man; he used his wife, Didot
the printer’s daughter, very ill; he was always ready to ask charity,
without the least shame. On my return from the Army of Italy, Bernardin
came to see me, and almost immediately began to tell me of his wants. I,
who in my early youth had dreamed of nothing but Paul and Virginia, and
who moreover felt flattered by a confidence which I imagined was reposed
in me alone, and which I attributed to my great celebrity, hastened to
return his visit, and, unperceived by any one, left on the corner of his
chimney-piece a little rouleau of five-and-twenty louis. But how was I
mortified on seeing every one laugh at the delicacy of my proceeding,
and on learning that such ceremony was entirely superfluous with M.
Bernardin, who made it his trade to beg of all comers, and to receive
from every body. I always retained some little resentment towards him,
for having thus imposed upon me. It was otherwise with my family. Joseph
allowed him a large pension, and Louis was constantly making him

But though the Emperor liked Paul and Virginia, he laughed, for very
pity, at the _Studies of Nature_, by the same author. “Bernardin,” said
he, “though versed in the belles lettres, was very little of a
geometrician; this last work was so bad that scientific men disdained to
answer it: Bernardin complained loudly of their not noticing him. The
celebrated mathematician Lagrange, when speaking on this subject, always
said, alluding to the Institute, ‘If Bernardin were one of our class—if
he spoke our language, we would call him to order; but he belongs to the
Academy, and his style is out of our line.’” Bernardin was complaining
as usual, one day, to the First Consul, of the silence of the learned
with respect to his works. Napoleon asked, “Do you understand the
differential method, M. Bernardin?”—“No.”—“Well, go and learn it, and
then you will be able to answer yourself.” Afterwards, when Emperor,
every time he perceived St. Pierre, he used to say to him, “M.
Bernardin, when are we to have any more Paul and Virginias, or Indian
Cottages? You ought to supply us every six months.”

In reading Vertot’s Roman Revolutions, of which in other respects the
Emperor thinks highly, he found the declamations much too diffuse. This
was his constant complaint against every work he took up; he had in his
youth, he said, been much to blame in this respect himself. He may
justly be said to have thoroughly reformed afterwards. He amused himself
with striking out the superfluous phrases in Vertot; and the result was
that, after the erasures, the work appeared much more energetic and
animated. “It would certainly be a most valuable and successful labour,”
said he, “if any man of taste and discernment would devote his time to
reducing the principal works in our language in this manner. I hardly
know any writer except Montesquieu who would escape those curtailments.
He often looked into Rollin, whom he thought diffuse, and too credulous.
Crevier, his continuator, seemed to Napoleon detestable. He complained
of our classical works, and of the time which our young people are
compelled to lose in reading such bad books. They were composed by
rhetoricians and mere professors, he said; whereas such immortal
subjects, the basis of all our knowledge throughout life, ought to have
been written and edited by statesmen and men of the world.” The Emperor
had excellent ideas on this subject; the want of time alone prevented
him from carrying them into execution.

The Emperor was still more dissatisfied with our French historians; he
could not bear to read any of them. Velly is rich in words, and poor in
meaning: his continuators are still worse. “Our history,” said the
Emperor, “should either be in four or five volumes, or in a hundred.” He
had been acquainted with Garnier, who continued Velly and Villaret; he
lived very near Malmaison. He was an old man of eighty, and lodged in a
small set of apartments on the ground-floor, close to the road. Struck
with the officious attention which this good old man always evinced
whenever the First Consul was passing, the latter enquired who he was.
On learning that it was Garnier, he comprehended his motives. “He, no
doubt, imagined,” said the Emperor pleasantly, “that a First Consul was
his property, as historian. I dare say, however, he was astonished to
find Consuls, where he had been accustomed to see Kings.” Napoleon told
him so, himself, laughing, when he called him one day, and settled a
good pension on him. “From that time,” said the Emperor, “the poor man,
in the warmth of his gratitude, would gladly have written any thing I
pleased, with all his heart.”


27th.—About five o’clock the Emperor went out in his calash; the evening
was very fine; we drove rapidly, and the distance to be traversed is
very short. The Emperor made the servants slacken their pace, in order
to prolong the ride. As we returned, the Emperor, casting his eyes on
the camp, from which we were separated only by the ravine, asked why we
could not pass that way, which would double the length of our ride. He
was told that it was impossible; and we continued our way homeward. But,
on a sudden, as if roused by this word _impossible_, which he had so
often said was not French, he ordered the ground to be reconnoitred. We
all got out of the carriage, which proceeded empty towards the difficult
points; we saw it clear every obstacle, and returned home in triumph, as
if we had just doubled our possessions.

During dinner, and afterwards, the conversation turned on various deeds
of arms. The Grand Marshal said, that what had most struck him in the
life of the Emperor happened at Eylau, when, attended only by some
officers of his staff, a column of four or five thousand Russians came
almost in contact with him. The Emperor was on foot; the Prince of
Neufchatel instantly ordered up the horses: the Emperor gave him a
reproachful look; then sent orders to a battalion of his guard to
advance, which was a good way behind, and standing still. As the
Russians advanced, he repeated several times, “What audacity! what
audacity!” At the sight of the grenadiers of the guard, the Russians
stopped short. It was high time for them to do so, as Bertrand said. The
Emperor had never stirred; all who surrounded him had been much alarmed.

The Emperor had heard this account without making any observation; but,
when it was finished, he said that one of the finest manœuvres he
remembered was that which he executed at Eckmühl. Unfortunately, he did
not proceed, or give any particulars. “Success in war,” said he,
“depends so much on quicksightedness, and on seizing the right moment,
that the battle of Austerlitz, which was so completely won, would have
been lost if I had attacked six hours sooner. The Russians shewed
themselves on that occasion such excellent troops as they have never
appeared since; the Russian army of Austerlitz would not have lost the
battle of the Moscowa.”

“Marengo,” said the Emperor, “was the battle in which the Austrians
fought best: their troops behaved admirably there; but that was the
grave of their valour. It has never since been seen.

“The Prussians, at Jena, did not make such a resistance as was expected
from their reputation. As to the multitudes of 1814 and 1815, they were
mere rabble compared to the real soldiers of Marengo, Austerlitz, and

The night before the battle of Jena, the Emperor said, he had run the
greatest risk. He might then have disappeared without his fate being
clearly known. He had approached the bivouacs of the enemy, in the dark,
to reconnoitre them; he had only a few officers with him. The opinion
which was then entertained of the Prussian army kept every one on the
alert: it was thought that the Prussians were particularly given to
nocturnal attacks. As the Emperor returned, he was fired at by the first
sentinel of his camp; this was a signal for the whole line; he had no
resource but to throw himself flat on his face until the mistake was
discovered. But his principal apprehension was that the Prussian line,
which was very near to him, would act in the same manner.

At Marengo the Austrian soldiers had not forgotten the conqueror of
Castiglione, Arcole, and Rivoli; his name had much influence over them;
but they were far from thinking that he was present; they believed that
he was dead: care had been taken to persuade them that he had perished
in Egypt; that the First Consul, whom they now heard spoken of, was only
his brother. This report had gained so much credit every where that
Napoleon was under the necessity of appearing in public at Milan, in
order to refute it.

After these anecdotes, the Emperor proceeded to mention a great number
of his officers and aides-de-camp, distributing praise and censure
amongst them as he went on; he knew them all thoroughly. Two of the
circumstances which had most affected him on the field of battle he
said, were the deaths of young Guibert and General Corbineau. At
Aboukir, a bullet went quite through the breast of the former, without
killing him instantly: the Emperor, after saying a few words to him, was
obliged, by the violence of his feelings, to leave him. The other was
carried away, crushed, annihilated by a cannon-ball, at Eylau, before
the Emperor’s face, whilst he was giving him some orders. The Emperor
spoke also of the last moments of Marshal Lannes, the valiant Duke of
Montebello, so justly called the Orlando of the army, who, when visited
by the Emperor on his death-bed, seemed to forget his own situation, and
to feel only for him, whom he loved above every thing. The Emperor had
the highest esteem for him. “He was for a long time a mere fighting
man,” said he, “but he afterwards became an officer of the first
talents.” Some one then said he should like to know what line of conduct
Lannes would have pursued in these latter times, if he had lived. “We
have learned,” said the Emperor, “not to swear to any thing. Yet I
cannot conceive that it would have been possible for him to deviate from
the path of duty and honour. Besides, it is hard to imagine that he
could have existed. With all his bravery, he would unquestionably have
got killed in some of the last affairs, or at least sufficiently wounded
to be laid up out of the centre and influence of events. And if he had
remained disposable, he was a man capable of changing the whole face of
affairs by his own weight and influence.”

The Emperor next mentioned Duroc, on whose character and life he dwelt
some time. “Duroc,” concluded he, “had lively, tender, and concealed
passions, little corresponding with the coldness of his manner. It was
long before I knew this, so exact and regular was the performance of his
duty. It was not until my day was entirely closed and finished, and I
was enjoying repose, that Duroc’s work began. Chance, or some accident,
could alone have made me acquainted with his character. He was a pure
and virtuous man, utterly disinterested, and extremely generous.”

The Emperor said that, on the opening of the campaign at Dresden, he
lost two men who were extremely valuable to him, and in the most foolish
manner in the world: these were Bessieres and Duroc. In mentioning the
circumstance, the Emperor now affected a stoicism which was visibly not
natural to him. When he went to see Duroc, after he had received his
mortal wound, he attempted to hold out some hopes to him; but Duroc, who
did not deceive himself, only replied by begging him to order opium to
be given to him. The Emperor, excessively affected, could not venture to
remain long with him, and tore himself from this distressing spectacle.

One of the company then reminded the Emperor that, on leaving Duroc, he
went and walked up and down by himself before his tent: no one durst
accost him. But, some essential measures being requisite against the
following day, some one at length ventured to ask him where the battery
of the guard was to be placed. “Ask me nothing till to-morrow,” was the
Emperor’s answer.

At this recollection, the Emperor, with a marked effort, began abruptly
to talk of something else.

Duroc was one of those persons whose value is never known till they are
lost: this was, after his death, the common expression of the Court and
City, and the unanimous sentiment every where.

He was a native of Nancy, in the department of La Meurthe. The origin of
his fortune has been related above. Napoleon found him in the train at
the siege of Toulon, and immediately interested himself for him. His
attachment to him increased every day, and it might be said that they
never more separated. I have elsewhere mentioned that I have heard the
Emperor say that, throughout his career, Duroc was the only person who
had possessed his unreserved confidence, and to whom he could freely
unburden his mind. Duroc was not a brilliant character; but he possessed
an excellent judgment, and he rendered essential services, which, owing
to their nature as well as to his reserve, were little heard of.

Duroc loved the Emperor for himself: it was rather to the individual,
personally, that he was attached, than to the monarch. In being made the
confidant of his prince’s feeling, he had acquired the art, and perhaps
the right, of mitigating and directing them. How often has he whispered
to people struck with consternation by the anger of the Emperor:—“Let
him have his way: he speaks from his feelings, not according to his
judgment; nor as he will act to-morrow.” What a servant! what a friend!
what a treasure! How many storms he has soothed! how many rash orders,
given in the moment of irritation, has he omitted to execute, knowing
that his master would thank him the next day for the omission! The
Emperor had accommodated himself to this sort of tacit arrangement; and
on that account gave way the more readily to those violent bursts of
temper, which relieve by the vent they afford to the passions.

Duroc died in the most deplorable manner, at a very critical moment; his
death was another of the fatalities of Napoleon’s career.

The day after the battle of Wurzen, towards evening, the skirmish of
Reichenbach had just ended, the firing had ceased. Duroc was on the top
of an eminence, apart from the troops, conversing with General Kirchner,
and observing the retreat of the last ranks of the enemy. A piece was
levelled at this glittering group, and the fatal ball killed both the

Footnote 30:

  General Kirchner was a very distinguished officer of engineers; he was
  brother-in-law to Marshal Lannes, who had chosen him on account of his
  courage and capacity.

Duroc had more influence over the Emperor’s resolutions than is
imagined. His death was probably, in this respect, a national calamity.
There is reason to think that, if he had survived, the armistice of
Dresden, which ruined us, would not have taken place; we should have
pushed on to the Oder, and beyond it. The enemy would then have
instantly acceded to peace, and we should have escaped their
machinations, their intrigues, and, above all, the base and atrocious
perfidy of the Austrian Cabinet, which has ended in our destruction.

At a subsequent period Duroc might still have exerted an influence over
other great events, and probably changed the face of affairs. Finally,
even at a later conjuncture, at the time of Napoleon’s fall, he would
never have separated his destiny from that of the Emperor: he would have
been with us at St. Helena; and this aid alone would have sufficed to
counterbalance all the horrible vexations with which Napoleon was
studiously oppressed.

Bessieres, of the department of the Lot, was thrown by the Revolution
into the career of arms. He commenced as a private soldier in the
constitutional guard of Louis XVI. Afterwards, having attained the rank
of captain of chasseurs, he attracted the attention of the
Commander-in-chief of the army of Italy by acts of extraordinary
personal bravery; and, when the general formed his corps of guides, he
chose Bessieres to take the command of them. Such was the beginning of
Bessieres, and the origin of his fortunes. From that instant we find him
always at the head of the Consular or Imperial guard, in charges of the
reserve, deciding the battle, or profiting by the victory. His name is
gloriously connected with all our great battles.

Bessieres rose with the man who had distinguished him, and shared
abundantly in the favours which the Emperor distributed. He was made a
marshal of the Empire, Duke of Istria, colonel of the cavalry of the
guard, &c.

His qualities developing themselves as he rose, proved him always equal
to his fortune. Bessieres was always kind, humane, and generous, of
antique loyalty and integrity, and, whether considered as a citizen or
as a soldier, a honest worthy man. He often made use of the high favour
in which he stood to do extraordinary services and acts of kindness even
to people of very different ways of thinking from his. I know some who,
if they have a spark of gratitude in them, will confirm my assertion,
and can bear testimony to his noble elevated sentiments.

Bessieres was adored by the Guards, in the midst of whom he passed his
life. At the battle of Wagram a ball struck him off his horse, without
doing him any farther injury. A mournful cry arose from the whole
battalion; upon which Napoleon remarked, the next time he saw him:
“Bessieres, the ball which struck you drew tears from all my Guard.
Return thanks to it; it ought to be very dear to you.”

He was less fortunate at the opening of the campaign of Saxony. On the
very eve of the battle of Lützen, a trifling engagement occurred, in
which, having advanced into the very midst of the skirmishers, he was
shot dead on the spot by a musquet-ball in the breast. Thus, after
living like Bayard, he died like Turenne.

I had conversed with him a little before this fatal event. Chance had
brought us together by ourselves in a private box at the theatre. After
talking of public affairs which deeply interested him, for he idolized
his country, his last words, as he left me, were, that he was to set out
for the army that night, and hoped we should meet again. “But, at the
present crisis,” said he, “with our young soldiers, we leaders must not
spare ourselves.” Alas! he was never to return.

Bessieres was sincerely attached to the Emperor; he almost worshipped
him; he, like Duroc, would certainly never have abandoned his person or
his fortunes. And one would really think that Fate, which proved so
decidedly hostile to Napoleon in his latter days, had resolved to
deprive him of the sweetest consolation, by thus removing two such
valuable friends; and at the same time to prevent these faithful
servants from acquiring the very highest claim to glory, that of
gratitude to the unfortunate.

The Emperor caused the remains of these two men whom he so much
esteemed, and by whom he knew himself to be beloved in return, to be
carried to the _Invalides_ at Paris. He intended extraordinary honours
for them, of which subsequent events deprived them. But History, whose
pages are far more imperishable than marble or bronze, has consecrated
them, and secured them for ever from oblivion.[31]

Footnote 31:

  The following is extracted from the Campaign of Saxony in 1813, by
  Baron Odeleben, an eye-witness of the circumstance; under date of the
  10th of August, at the time of the resumption of hostilities, two or
  three months after the death of Duroc.

  “During the march from Reichenbach to Gorlitz, Napoleon stopped at
  Makersdorf, and shewed the King of Naples the place where Duroc fell.
  He summoned to his presence the proprietor of the little farm on which
  the Grand Marshal died, and assigned to him the sum of 20,000 francs;
  4000 of which were for a monument in honour of the deceased, and
  16,000 for the proprietor of the house and his wife. The donation was
  consummated in the evening, in the presence of the rector and the
  judge of Makersdorf: the money was counted out before them, and they
  were charged to get the monument erected.”


31st.—Our days passed, as it may be supposed, in an excessively stupid
monotony. _Ennui_, reflection, and melancholy, were our formidable
enemies; occupation our great and only refuge. The Emperor followed his
pursuits with great regularity. English was become an affair of
importance to him. It was now nearly a fortnight since he took his first
lesson, and from that moment he had devoted some hours every day,
beginning at noon, to that study, sometimes with truly admirable ardour,
sometimes with visible disgust; an alternative which kept me in the
greatest anxiety. I considered success as of the utmost importance:
every day I dreaded seeing him abandon the ground gained on the day
preceding; and consequently being regarded as having wearied him with
the most tedious labour, without having produced the fortunate result
that I had promised myself. On the other hand, I was also daily spurred
on by the consciousness that I was approaching the goal at which I
aimed. The attainment of the English language was a real and serious
conquest to the Emperor. Formerly, he said, it had cost him a hundred
thousand crowns a year, merely for translations; and how did he know
whether he had them exact—whether they were faithful? Now that we were
imprisoned, as it were, in the midst of this language, surrounded by its
productions, all the great changes and questions which the Emperor had
given rise to, on the continent, had been taken up by the English on the
opposite side; and in their works presented so many new faces to him, to
which he had hitherto been a stranger.

It may be added that French books were scarce with us; that the Emperor
knew them all, and had read them even to satiety; whilst we could easily
procure a multitude of English works altogether new to him. Besides, to
learn the language of a foreigner, always prepossesses him in our
favour; it is a satisfaction to one’s self; it facilitates intercourse,
and forms in a certain degree the commencement of a sort of connection
between the parties. However this may be, I began to perceive the limits
of our difficulties; I anticipated the moment when the Emperor would
have got through all the inevitable disagreeables incident to beginners.
But let any one form an idea, if possible, of what the scholastic study
of conjugations, declensions, and articles must have been to him. It
could never have been accomplished without great courage on the
scholar’s side and some degree of artifice on the part of the master. He
often asked me whether he did not deserve the ferula, of which he now
comprehended the vast utility in schools; he declared, jestingly, that
he should have made much greater progress himself, had he stood in fear
of correction. He complained of not having improved; but, in reality,
the progress he had made would have been extraordinary in any one.

The more grand, rapid, and comprehensive the mind is, the less it is
capable of dwelling on regular minute details. The Emperor, who
discovered wonderful facility in apprehending all that regarded the
philosophy of the language, evinced very little capacity for retaining
its material mechanism. He had a quick understanding and a very bad
memory; this vexed him much; he conceived that he did not get on.
Whenever I could subject the matters in question to any regular law or
analogy, they were classed and comprehended in an instant; the scholar
even preceded the master in his applications and deductions; but as to
learning by heart, and retaining the gross elements of the language, it
was a most difficult affair. He was constantly confounding one thing
with another; and it would have been thought too fastidious to require
too scrupulous a regularity at first. Another difficulty was that, with
the same letters, the same vowels, as ours, a totally different
pronunciation is required; the scholar would allow of none but ours; and
the master would have multiplied the difficulties and disagreeables
tenfold, had he required any better. Besides, the scholar, even in his
own language, was incorrigibly addicted to maiming proper names and
foreign words; he pronounced them quite at his own discretion, and when
once they had passed his lips, they always remained the same in spite of
every thing, because he had thus got them, once for all, lodged, as it
were in his head. The same thing happened with respect to most of our
English words: and the master found it best to have the prudence and
patience to let it pass; leaving it to time to rectify by degrees, if it
should ever be possible, all these defects. From these concurring
circumstances actually sprang a new language. It was understood by me
alone, it is true; but it procured the Emperor the pleasure of reading
English, and he could, in the strictest sense, make himself understood
by writing in that language. This was a great deal; it was every thing.

In the mean time, the Emperor regularly continued his Campaigns of Egypt
with the Grand Marshal. My Campaign of Italy had long been finished; we
were always touching and retouching it, with respect to its
typographical form, the arrangement of the chapters, the division of the
paragraphs, &c.

From time to time he also dictated separate parts to Messrs. Gourgaud
and Montholon. To all this work he added a very little exercise: a walk
now and then, sometimes a ride in the calash, scarcely ever on
horseback. On the 30th, however, he chose to return to our Valley of
Silence, which we had long deserted. We were near the middle of the
vale; the passage was stopped up with dead bushes, and a kind of bar to
keep out cattle. The servant (the faithful Aly) dismounted, as usual, to
clear the way for us. We passed on: but, whilst the servant was engaged
in assisting us, his horse had strayed from him, and, when he attempted
to catch him, ran away. A great quantity of rain had fallen, and the
horse sank into a quagmire, similar to that in which the Emperor, a few
days after our arrival at Longwood, had stuck so tenaciously as to make
it doubtful whether he would not remain in it. The servant ran after us
to say that he must remain for the purpose of disengaging his horse. We
were in a very difficult narrow road, riding one by one. It was not
until some time after that the Emperor heard us mention to one another
the accident of the servant. He found great fault because we had not
waited for him, and desired the Grand Marshal and General Gourgaud to
return for him. The Emperor dismounted to wait for them, and ascended a
little elevation, on which he looked like a figure on a pedestal in the
midst of ruins. He had the bridle of his horse passed round his arm, and
began to whistle an air; mute nature echoed the strains, but only to the
barren desert. “Yet,” thought I, “a short time ago, how many sceptres he
wielded! how many crowns belonged to him! how many kings were at his
feet! It is true,” said I, “that in the eyes of those who approach him,
who daily see and hear him, he is still greater than ever! This is the
sentiment, the opinion of all about him. We serve him with no less
ardour; we love him with greater affection than ever.”

But now the Grand Marshal and Gourgaud arrived; they assisted the
Emperor to mount again, and we proceeded. These gentlemen acknowledged
that without their assistance the horse could never have been saved; the
united efforts of all three had barely sufficed to disengage him. A
considerable time afterwards, turning an elbow of the road, the Emperor
observed that the servant had not followed, and said they ought to have
remained till they had found he was in a condition to come on. They
thought that he had staid behind to clean his horse a little. In the
course of our ride, at several other turnings, the Emperor repeated the
same observation. We arrived at the Grand Marshal’s, went in, and rested
there a few minutes; as we came out, the Emperor asked whether the
servant had passed on; no one had seen him. When we arrived at Longwood,
his first question was whether the man had returned. He had been at home
some time, having returned by a different road. I may perhaps have dwelt
somewhat too much on this trifling circumstance; but I did so because it
appeared to me perfectly characteristic. In this domestic solicitude,
the reader will find it difficult to recognise the insensible, obdurate,
wicked, cruel monster—the tyrant, of whom he has so often and so long
been told.

                        RESOURCES OF THE ISLAND.

February 1.—The happiest and wisest philosophy is that which sometimes
enables us to view the least unfavourable side of the most disagreeable
things. The Emperor, who was, doubtless at the moment, under the
influence of this happy feeling, observed, as we were walking with him
in the garden, that, after all, as a place of exile, perhaps St. Helena
was the best that could be. In high latitudes we should have suffered
greatly from cold, and, in other tropical islands, we should have
dragged out a miserable existence under the scorching rays of the sun.
“This rock,” continued he, “is wild and barren, no doubt; the climate is
monotonous and unwholesome; but the temperature, it must be confessed,
is mild and agreeable.”

He afterwards asked me, in the course of conversation, which would have
been preferable, England or America, in case we had been free to follow
our own inclinations. I replied that, had the Emperor wished to spend
his days in philosophic retirement, far from the tumult of the world, he
should have chosen America; but, if he felt any interest, or entertained
any after-thought with regard to public affairs, he should have
preferred England. And, not willing to be behindhand in giving an
additional touch to the flattering picture which the Emperor had drawn
of our miserable rock, I even ventured to say that there might, perhaps,
be circumstances under which St. Helena would not be found the worst
possible asylum. We might here be under shelter, while the tempest was
howling in other parts of the world; and we were placed beyond the reach
of conflicting passions, circumstances every way favourable to the
chance of a happier futurity. These observations arose out of my wish to
represent things on their fairest side; I extended the horizon to the
utmost stretch of my imagination.

Meanwhile, in order to afford a correct idea of our place of exile and
the scantiness of its resources, it is only necessary to observe that we
were this day informed it would be requisite to economise various
articles of our daily consumption, and, perhaps, even to make a
temporary sacrifice of some. We were told that the store of coffee was
rapidly diminishing, and that it might soon be entirely exhausted. For a
considerable time we have denied ourselves the use of white sugar; there
was but very little and that very bad, which was reserved exclusively
for the Emperor’s use; and there is now every prospect of this little
supply being exhausted before more can be obtained. It is the same with
various other necessaries. Our island is like a ship at sea; our stores
are speedily exhausted, if the voyage be prolonged, or if we have more
mouths to feed than we have the means of supplying. Our arrival has
produced a scarcity at St. Helena, particularly as trading ships are not
now suffered to approach the island; we might be tempted to believe that
they avoid it as a fatal rock, were we not aware that the English
cruiser carefully keeps them at bay. But, of all the privations with
which we are threatened, that which most surprises us, and which is most
of all vexatious, is the want of writing paper. We are informed that,
during our three months residence here, we have consumed all the paper
in the island; which proves either that St. Helena is in general very
scantily supplied with that article, or that we have used a most
unreasonable quantity. The inmates of Longwood must have consumed six or
eight times as much as all the rest of the colony together.

In addition to this, our physical and moral privations must be taken
into account; it must be recollected that we are not in the full
enjoyment of even the few resources which the island affords, and of
which arbitrary feeling and caprice in part deprive us; for we are not
permitted to regale our eyes with the sight of the grass and foliage, in
places at a certain distance from Longwood. The Admiral had promised
that the Emperor should be free to ride over the whole of the island,
and that he would make arrangements with respect to his guard, so as to
relieve him from all annoyance. It has already been seen how, on our
second attempt to avail ourselves of it, the Admiral broke this kind of
engagement; and by his orders an officer insisted on accompanying the
Emperor in his rides. The Emperor consequently renounced the idea of
taking any excursion whatever, and we now remain cut off from all
communication with mankind.

With respect to our physical existence, our situation is most miserable,
either through unavoidable circumstances or mismanagement. Scarcely any
of the provisions are eatable. The wine is execrable; the oil unfit for
use; the coffee and sugar almost exhausted, and, as I have already
observed, we have nearly bred a famine in the island. Of course, we can
endure all these privations, and might contrive to exist under many
more. But, when it is asserted that we are treated in a style of
magnificence, when it is declared that we are very well off, we are
induced to unfold our real situation, and to shew that we are destitute
of every comfort. And, lest our silence hereafter should lead to the
inference that we are happy, let it be understood that our moral
strength may enable us to endure miseries which language would be
inadequate to express.

                              ME A HORSE.

2nd.—My son having been, for some time past, troubled with a pain in his
chest, accompanied by violent palpitation of the heart, I called in
three surgeons, and they ordered him to be bled.—Bleeding is at present
the favourite remedy with the English; it is their universal panacea.
They employ it in all disorders, and sometimes where there is no
disorder at all. They laughed at the astonishment we evinced at a
treatment which was altogether new to us.

About the middle of the day we took a ride in the calash. On our return
home, the Emperor wished to see a horse that had just been purchased for
him: he thought him very handsome and well made. He tried him, declared
that he liked him uncommonly, and then, with the most captivating
good-nature, made me a present of him. However, I could not ride him: he
proved vicious, and he was transferred to General Gourgaud, who is a
much better horseman than I am.


3rd–6th. The 3rd was a terrible day; the rain fell incessantly, and we
found it impossible to stir out. The weather has continued wet for
several days in succession. I never imagined that we could have
contrived to stay for such a length of time within doors. The damp is
penetrating on every side of our dwelling, and the rain is making its
way through the roof. The bad weather without doors had an unpleasant
effect upon us within.—I became very dull; the Emperor was by no means
well, and I was not better. “What is the matter with you?” said he to
me, one morning; “you seem quite altered for these few days past. Is
your mind ailing? Are you conjuring up _dragons_, like Madame de
Sevigné?”—“Sire,” I replied, “my illness is altogether bodily. The state
of my eyes afflicts me exceedingly. As for my mind, I know how to keep
that under the bridle. I can even use the curb, if needful; and your
Majesty has given me a pair of spurs which will be my last and
victorious resource.”

The Emperor devoted three, four, and even five hours at a time to the
study of English. His progress was really very remarkable; he felt this,
and was delighted at it. He frequently says that he is indebted to me
for this conquest, and that he considers it a very important one. For my
part, however, I can claim no other merit than the method which I
adopted with regard to the other occupations of the Emperor. I first
suggested the idea, and then continually reverted to it: and when it was
once fairly set on foot, I followed up its execution with a promptitude
and daily regularity which stimulated the Emperor to proceed. If any of
us happened not to be ready at the moment he wanted us, if it was found
necessary to postpone any business till the following day, he was
immediately seized with disgust, and his labours were suspended until
some circumstance occurred to induce him to renew them. “I stand in need
of excitement,” said he, in one of these transient interruptions,
“nothing but the pleasure of advancement can bear me through: for,
between you and me, it must needs be confessed that there is nothing
very amusing in all this. Indeed there is very little diversion in the
whole routine of our present existence.”

The Emperor still continued to play two or three games at chess before
dinner; in the afternoons we resumed _reversis_, long abandoned.
Formerly we had not been regular in paying our debts of honour; and we
henceforth agreed to pay the sums that we owed to each other into a
general bank. We began to consider how the money thus accumulated should
be disposed of. The Emperor asked our opinions, and one proposed that
the money should be applied to the liberation of the prettiest female
slave in the island. This idea was universally approved; we sat down to
play with great spirit, and the first evening produced two Napoleons and
a half.


7th—8th. The Theban frigate arrived from the Cape, and brought us some
newspapers. I translated them to the Emperor while we walked in the
garden. One of these papers brought intelligence of a great catastrophe.
I read that Murat, having landed in Calabria, with a few troops, had
been seized and shot. At this unexpected news, the Emperor interrupted
me by exclaiming, “The Calabrians were more humane, more generous, than
those who sent me hither.” This was all he said; and after a few
moments’ silence, as he said nothing, I continued to read.

Murat, without real judgment, without solid views, without a character
proportioned to the circumstances in which he was placed, had perished
in an attempt evidently desperate. It is not impossible that the
Emperor’s return from Elba may have turned his brain, and inspired him
with the hope of renewing the prodigy in his own person. Such was the
miserable end of him who had been one of the most active causes of our
reverses! In 1814, his courage and intrepidity might have saved us from
the abyss in which his treachery involved us. He neutralized the Viceroy
on the Po, and fought against him; whereas, by uniting together, they
might have forced the passes of the Tyrol, made a descent into Germany,
and arrived on Bâle and the banks of the Rhine, to destroy the rear of
the allies and cut off their retreat from France.

The Emperor, while he was at Elba, disdained all communication with the
King of Naples; but, on departing for France, he wrote to inform him
that, being about to resume possession of his throne, he felt pleasure
in declaring to him that all their past differences were at an end. He
pardoned his late conduct, tendered him his friendship, sent some one to
sign the guarantee of his States, and recommended him to maintain a good
understanding with the Austrians, and to content himself with merely
keeping them in check, in case they should attempt to march upon France.
Murat, at this moment, inspired with the sentiments of his early youth,
would receive neither guarantee nor signature. He declared that the
Emperor’s promise and friendship were sufficient for him, and that he
would prove he had been more unfortunate than guilty. His devotedness
and ardour, he added, would obtain for him oblivion of the past.

“Murat,” said the Emperor, “was doomed to be our bane. He ruined us by
forsaking us, and he ruined us by too warmly espousing our cause. He
observed no sort of discretion. He himself attacked the Austrians,
without any reasonable plan and without adequate forces; and he was
subdued without striking a blow.”

The Austrians, when rid of Murat, cited his conduct either as a reason
or as a pretence for attributing ambitious views to Napoleon when he
again appeared on the scene. They constantly referred to Murat, whenever
the Emperor made protestations of his moderation.

Before these unlucky hostilities of the King of Naples, the Emperor had
already set on foot negotiations with Austria. Other inferior states,
which I think it unnecessary to mention by name, had signified to him
that he might rely on their neutrality. Doubtless the fall of the King
of Naples gave another turn to affairs.

Endeavours have been made to represent Napoleon as a man of furious and
implacable temper; but the truth is that he was a stranger to revenge,
and he never cherished any vindictive feeling, whatever wrong he
suffered. His anger was usually vented in violent transports, and was
soon at an end. Those who knew him must be convinced of this fact. Murat
had scandalously betrayed him; as I have already observed, he had twice
ruined his prospects, and yet Murat came to seek an asylum at Toulon. “I
should have taken him with me to Waterloo,” said Napoleon; “but such was
the patriotic and moral feeling of the French army that it was doubtful
whether the troops would surmount the disgust and horror which they felt
for the man who had betrayed and lost France. I did not consider myself
sufficiently powerful to protect him. Yet he might have enabled us to
gain the victory. How useful would he have been at certain periods of
the battle! For what was required, at certain moments of the day, to
insure our success?—to break through three or four English squares; and
Murat was admirable in such a service as this—he was precisely the man
for it. At the head of a body of cavalry, no man was ever more resolute,
more courageous, or more brilliant.

“As to drawing a parallel,” said the Emperor, ”between the circumstances
of Napoleon and Murat—between the landing of the former in France and
the entrance of the latter into the Neapolitan territory; no such
parallel exists. Murat could have no good argument to support his cause,
except success; which was purely chimerical, at the time and in the
manner in which he commenced his enterprise. Napoleon was the chosen
ruler of a people; he was their legitimate sovereign according to modern
doctrines. But Murat was not a Neapolitan; the Neapolitans had not
chosen Murat; how, therefore, could it be expected that he should excite
any lively interest in his favour? Thus his proclamation was totally
false, and destitute of facts. Ferdinand of Naples could view him in no
other light than as an instigator of insurrection; he did so, and he
treated him accordingly.

“How different was it with me!” continued the Emperor: “before my
arrival, one universal sentiment pervaded France, and my proclamation on
landing was imbued with that sentiment:—every one found that it echoed
the feelings of his own heart. France was discontented; I was her
resource. The evil and its remedy were immediately in unison. This is
the whole secret of that electric movement which is unexampled in
history. It had its source solely in the nature of things. There was no
conspiracy, and the impulse was general; not a word was spoken, yet a
general understanding prevailed throughout the country. Whole towns
threw themselves at the feet of their deliverer. The first battalion
which my presence gained over to me immediately placed the whole army in
my power. I found myself borne on to Paris. The existing government and
its agency disappeared without effort, like clouds before the sun. And
yet,” concluded the Emperor, “had I been subdued, had I fallen into the
hands of my enemies, I was not a mere insurrectionary chief; I was a
Sovereign acknowledged by all Europe. I had my title, my standard, my
troops; and I was advancing to wage war upon my enemy.”


9th.—In the papers which I was translating to the Emperor, I found the
history of the Spanish General Porlier, one of the most distinguished
chiefs of the famous Guerillas. He had made an attempt to excite the
Spaniards to rise against the tyranny of Ferdinand; but he failed, was
arrested, and hanged.

The Emperor said, “I am not in the least surprised that such an attempt
should have been made in Spain. Those very Spaniards, who proved
themselves my most inveterate enemies when I invaded their country, and
who acquired the highest glory by the resistance they opposed to me,
immediately appealed to me on my return from Elba. They had, they said,
fought against me as their tyrant; but they now came to implore my aid
as their deliverer. They required only a small sum to emancipate
themselves, and to produce in the Peninsula a revolution similar to
mine. Had I conquered at Waterloo, it was my intention immediately to
have assisted the Spaniards. This circumstance sufficiently explains to
me the attempt that has lately been made. There is little doubt that it
will be renewed. Ferdinand, in his madness, may grasp his sceptre as
firmly as he will; but one day or other it will slip through his fingers
like an eel.”

About four o’clock, I presented to the Emperor the Captain of the
Theban, who was to sail next day for Europe, and Colonel Macoy, of the
Ceylon regiment. This brave soldier looked like a mutilated monument; he
had not only lost one of his legs, but his face was disfigured by a
sabre-cut across his forehead, and several other scars. He had been
wounded on the field of battle in Calabria, and made prisoner by General
Parthonaux. The Emperor received him with particular attention; it was
easy to see that they felt a mutual sympathy for each other. Colonel
Macoy had held the rank of Major in the Corsican regiment, commanded by
the new Governor, whom we expected. The Colonel remarked to some person,
that he thought the Emperor was very ill-treated here; but that he had
too high an idea of General Lowe’s liberality of mind, not to believe
that, having accepted the Government of the Island, he would do every
thing in his power to meliorate our condition.

The Emperor afterwards rode out on horseback, when we again went up the
valley, and did not return until about seven o’clock. The Emperor then
resumed his walk in the garden; the temperature was very mild, and the
moon shone delightfully. The fine weather had completely returned.

                               THE NILE.

10th.—The Emperor now begins to make rapid advancement in English; and,
with the assistance of his dictionary, might manage tolerably without
me. He was delighted with the decided progress he had made. His lesson
for to-day was the task of reading in the Encyclopedia Britannica the
article on the Nile, of which he now and then made memorandums to assist
him in his dictations to the Grand Marshal. In this article the Emperor
found a fact related which I had formerly mentioned to him, but which he
had hitherto considered as an absurd story. The great Albuquerque
proposed to the King of Portugal to turn the course of the Nile previous
to its entrance into the valley of Egypt, so as to make it fall into the
Red Sea, which would have rendered Egypt an impassable desert, and made
the Cape of Good Hope the only channel for the great trade of India.
Bruce thinks the execution of this gigantic idea not entirely
impossible; the Emperor was forcibly struck with it.

About five o’clock the Emperor took an airing in the calash; the drive
was extremely pleasant, and the circumstance of some trees having been
cut down has, by forming several circuitous roads, made our original
space three times as large as before. On our return, we took advantage
of the fineness of the evening to walk for a long time in the garden:
the conversation was most interesting. It turned on various important
subjects, viz. on the variety of religions; on the spirit that had given
them birth; the ridiculous absurdities with which they were mingled; the
excesses by which they had been degraded; the objections that had been
urged against them, &c. The Emperor treated all these subjects with his
usual superiority.


11th.—The Emperor read this morning the article entitled Egypt, in the
Encyclopedia, and made some notes from it which cannot fail to be of
service to him for his Campaign of Egypt. This circumstance gave him a
great deal of pleasure; and he repeated several times in the course of
the day how much he was delighted with the progress he had made. He is
now sufficiently advanced to read without assistance.

About four o’clock I accompanied the Emperor into the garden: we walked
by ourselves for some time, but were afterwards joined by the rest of
the company. The weather was very mild. The Emperor remarked the
calmness of our solitude. It was Sunday, and no workmen were to be seen.
He added that we could not, at least, be accused of dissipation, or of
the ardent pursuit of pleasure; in fact, it is difficult to imagine a
state of greater uniformity, or a more complete absence of every sort of

The Emperor endures this mode of life admirably. He surpasses us all in
equality and serenity of temper. He says, himself, that it would be
difficult to be more philosophic and tranquil than he is.—He retires to
bed at ten o’clock, and does not rise, that is to say, does not go out,
before five or six o’clock, so that he was never more than four hours
out of doors; like a prisoner who is led from his cell once a day to
breathe the fresh air. But then how intense is the occupation of each
day! how various are the thoughts which occupy his mind during his long
solitary hours! With regard to mental exertion, the Emperor said he felt
as capable of bearing it as he had ever been; that he did not feel
himself worn out or withered in any respect. He was astonished himself
at the slight impression that had been made on him by all the late
events in which he had been the principal actor. It was like lead which
had passed over marble. The spring might have been for a moment
compressed, but it had not been broken, and had risen again with all its
elasticity. He did not think any one in the world knew better than
himself how to yield to necessity; this, he said, was the real triumph
of reason and strength of mind.

The hour for our ride had now arrived. As the Emperor was going to meet
the calash, he happened to see little Hortense, Madame Bertrand’s
daughter, whom he is very fond of. He called her to him, caressed her
two or three times, and took her out in the carriage along with little
Tristan de Montholon. During the drive, the Grand Marshal, who had been
looking over the papers, gave an account of some bons-mots and
caricatures he had found among them. One possessed a good deal of point.
The picture consisted of two actions; one represented Napoleon giving to
the Princess of Hasfield, with directions to commit it to the flames,
the letter whose disappearance saved her husband; underneath was
written, _Tyrannical Act of an Usurper_. The companion was quite of
another character. We described to the Emperor a great number of the
caricatures with which we had been inundated after the restoration. Some
of them afforded him great amusement. One in particular made him smile:
it referred to a change of dynasty.

The Emperor observed that, if caricatures sometimes avenge misfortune,
they form a continual annoyance to power. “I think I have had my share
of them,” said he. He then desired us to describe some of those which
had been made upon him, and very much approved of one as being in good
taste. It was a sketch representing George III. on the coast of England,
throwing an enormous beet-root, in a great passion, at the head of
Napoleon, who was on the opposite shore, and saying, “Go, and be made

                        THE EMPEROR’S LONG WALK.

12th.—Fine weather had now fairly set in. About four o’clock the Emperor
walked in the garden. The temperature was delightful, and we all
acknowledged that it was like one of our finest evenings in Europe. We
had enjoyed nothing equal to it since we had been on the island. The
Emperor ordered the calash; and by way of a change, instead of driving
along by the gum-trees, to get into the road leading to the Grand
Marshal’s house, he wished to take the road which encircles the upper
hollow of our favourite valley, and to gain, if possible, the spot on
which is situated the residence of Miss Mason, and which is on the
opposite side, facing Longwood. The Emperor invited Madame Bertrand to
take a drive in the calash, in which Madame de Montholon and myself were
already seated: the rest of our party followed on horseback, so that we
were now all assembled together. At a few paces from Madame Bertrand’s,
at the military post, which is established near the house, the ground
was very steep and uneven; the horses refused to advance, and we were
obliged to alight from the calash. The barrier was scarcely wide enough
to allow the carriage to pass; but the English soldiers came to our
assistance, and in a moment pushed it through by main force. However,
when we had reached the hollow of the valley, we found walking so
agreeable that the Emperor wished to continue it; and, after a short
time, he ordered the carriage to be driven along the road as far as the
gate of Miss Mason’s house, while we proceeded with our walk in the
valley. The evening was really most delightful; the shades of night were
beginning to overspread the sky, but the moon shone brilliantly. Our
walk reminded us of those strolls which we had been accustomed to enjoy
on fine summer evenings, in the neighbourhood of our country residences
in Europe.

The calash had now returned; but the Emperor declined getting into it.
He directed that it should wait at Madame Bertrand’s door; but when the
Emperor got there, he chose to walk on to Longwood, where he arrived
very much fatigued. He had walked nearly six miles, which is a great
deal for him, who never was accustomed to walk at any period of his

                      THE SPIRIT OF THIS JOURNAL.

13th—16th. I have already observed that there is no regular course of
seasons at St. Helena, but merely irregular successions of good and bad
weather. It would be difficult to find four words to express any
deviation from our accustomed routine, during these four days. And here
I take the opportunity of observing, once for all, that if, in the
course of my journal, the events of several days are occasionally found
combined in one article, it is because I have cancelled a portion of the
notes relating to each day separately. I have been induced to do this
from various motives. Sometimes my notes appeared to me too puerile;
sometimes, on the other hand, they seemed to be too serious, and
calculated for a more distant period; or occasionally they consisted of
personalities, and I make it a rule studiously to avoid every thing of
that kind. If, in spite of all my care, any offensive personal allusions
have escaped me, it can only be when I have been led to them by the
essential object of my journal; namely, to describe the character of the
Emperor. Even then, I may reflect, for my own satisfaction, that these
personalities relate only to public characters, and refer to facts
already circulated in the world.

I am, however, perfectly well aware that the task I have undertaken may
subject me to many inconveniences; but I consider it as a sacred duty,
and shall endeavour to fulfil it to the best of my abilities, happen
what will.


17th.—At six o’clock in the morning, the Emperor mounted his horse, and
we rode round the park, commencing in the neighbourhood of our valley,
and proceeding as far as the road leading from the camp to the Grand
Marshal’s residence. A party of about 150 or 200 sailors, belonging to
the Northumberland, who were daily employed in removing planks of wood
or stones for the service of Longwood or the camp, ranged themselves in
a line fronting Marshal Bertrand’s house, while the Emperor passed by.
The Emperor spoke to the officers, and smiled complacently on his old
ship-mates; they appeared delighted at seeing him.

I have already mentioned that we occasionally received parcels of
newspapers from Europe, the contents of which occupied our attention,
and occasioned the Emperor to draw some lively and animated pictures.
Conversing to-day on the subject of the intelligence we had recently
received, the Emperor observed that the condition of France was by no
means improved. “The Bourbons,” he repeated, “have now no other resource
than severity. Four months have already elapsed; the Allied forces are
about to be withdrawn, and none but half measures have been taken. The
affair has been badly managed. A government can exist only by its
principle. The principle of the French government evidently is to return
to old maxims; and it should do this openly. In present circumstances,
the Chambers, above all, will be fatal; they will inspire the King with
false confidence, and will have no weight with the nation. The King will
soon be deprived of all means of communication with them. They will no
longer follow the same religion, nor speak the same language. No
individual will henceforth have a right to undeceive the people with
regard to any absurdities that may be propagated; even if it should be
wished to make them believe that all the springs of water are poisoned,
and that trains of gunpowder are laid under ground.” The Emperor
concluded by observing that there would be some juridical executions,
and an extreme desire of re-action, which would be sufficiently strong
to irritate, but not to subdue.

As to Europe, the Emperor considered it to be as violently agitated as
it had ever been. The powers of Europe had destroyed France, but she
might one day revive through commotions arising among the people of
different nations, whom the policy of the sovereigns was calculated to
alienate; the glory of France might also be restored through a
misunderstanding among the Allied powers themselves, which would
probably ensue.

As to our own personal affairs, they could only be improved through the
medium of England; and she could only be induced to favour us by
political interests, a change in her ministers or her sovereign, or the
sentiment of national glory excited by the torrent of public opinion. As
for political interests, there were circumstances which might affect
them; the change of individuals depends on accidents; finally, with
respect to the sentiment of national glory, so easy to be understood,
the present ministry had disavowed it, but another might not be
insensible to it.


18th.—The Emperor sent for me about ten o’clock; he had just returned
home. Some one had informed me that he had been out shooting; but he
said that he had not. He rode out on horseback as early as six o’clock;
but he gave orders that _His Excellency’s_ slumbers should not be
disturbed. We set to work with the English lesson. Breakfast was served
up; it was most detestable; and I could not refrain from making the
observation. He pitied me for making so bad a meal, and added that it
was certainly necessary to have a good appetite to make a repast on such
fare. We continued our lesson until nearly one o’clock, when the
excessive heat obliged us to desist, and take a little repose.

About five the Emperor went to walk in the garden. He began to draw a
sketch of the happiness of a private man in easy circumstances,
peacefully enjoying life in his native province, in the house and
surrounded by the lands which he had inherited from his forefathers.
Certainly nothing could be more philosophic. We could not refrain from
smiling at the tranquil domestic picture, and some of us got our ears
pinched for our pains. “Felicity of this kind,” continued the Emperor,
“is now unknown in France except by tradition. The Revolution has
destroyed it. The old families have been deprived of this happiness, and
the new ones have not yet been long enough established in the enjoyment
of it. The picture which I have sketched has now no real existence.”—He
observed that, to be driven from our native home, from the fields in
which we had roamed in childhood, to possess no paternal abode, was in
reality to be deprived of a country. Some one here remarked that the man
who had been robbed of the home which he had created for himself after
the storm had blown over; who was driven from the house in which he had
dwelt with his wife, and which had been the birth-place of his children;
might truly say that he had lost a second country. How many individuals
are reduced to that extremity; and what vicissitudes the present age has

We seated ourselves in the calash, and took our accustomed airing.
During dinner, the conversation turned on two young ladies, residents of
the island: the one tall, handsome, and very fascinating; the other not
so pretty, but perfectly well bred, and pleasing in her deportment and
manners. Opinions were divided respecting them. The Emperor, who was
only acquainted with the one first described, declared himself in her
favour. Some one remarked that, if he were to see the second, he would
not be induced to change his mind. The Emperor then wished to know the
gentleman’s own opinion respecting the ladies, and he replied, that he
was an admirer of the second. This seemed rather contradictory, and the
Emperor requested him to explain himself. “Why,” said he, “if I wished
to purchase a slave, I should certainly fix on the first; but if I
thought I should derive any happiness from becoming a slave myself, I
should address myself to the second.”—“That is to say,” resumed the
Emperor, quickly, “that you have no very high opinion of my taste?”—“Not
so, Sire, but I suspect your Majesty’s views and mine would be
different.” The Emperor smiled, and said nothing more on the subject.

19th.—The Emperor rode on horseback very early this morning; it was
scarcely six o’clock when he went out. I was quite ready; for I had
ordered some one to call me; and the Emperor was astonished to see me so
active. We strolled about the park at random, and returned about nine:
the sun was already beginning to be warm.

About four o’clock the Emperor wished to take his English lesson; but he
was not very well. He said that every thing had gone wrong with him
to-day; and that nothing had done him any good. His walk in the garden
did not restore him; he was not well at dinner-time. He did not play his
usual number of games at chess; but retired, indisposed, after the first


20th.—The weather had been extremely bad. The Emperor had been rather
unwell the whole of the night, but felt himself much better in the
morning. He did not leave his room before five o’clock. About six we
took advantage of a gleam of fine weather to drive round the park in the
calash. The horses which have been provided for us are vicious; they shy
at the first object that comes in their way, and become restive. They
stood still several times during our drive. The rain, indeed, had
rendered the roads very heavy, and at one time it required all our
efforts to obviate the necessity of returning on foot. The Grand Marshal
and General Gourgaud were in one instance obliged to alight and put
their shoulders to the wheel. At length, after a great deal of trouble
we reached home. The conversation, during our drive, turned on the
Island of Elba. The Emperor spoke of the roads he had made, and the
houses he had built, which the best painters of Italy begged, as a
favour, to be permitted to adorn with their works.

The Emperor observed that his flag had become the first in the
Mediterranean. It was held sacred, he said, by the Barbary ships, who
usually made presents to the Elba Captains, telling them that they were
paying the debt of Moscow. The Grand Marshal told us that some Barbary
ships, having anchored off the Island of Elba, had caused great alarm
among the inhabitants, who questioned the pirates with regard to their
intentions, and ended by asking them plainly whether they came with any
hostile views.—“Against the Great Napoleon!” said the Algerines: “Oh!
never ... we do not wage war against God!”

Whenever the flag of the Island of Elba entered any of the ports of the
Mediterranean, Leghorn excepted, it was received with loud acclamations:
all the national feeling seemed to return. The crews of some French
ships from Britanny and Flanders, which touched at the Island of Elba,
testified the same sentiment.

“Every thing is judged by comparison in this world,” said the Emperor;
“the Island of Elba, which, a year ago, was thought so disagreeable, is
a paradise compared to St. Helena. As for this island, it may set all
future regret at defiance.”


21st—22nd. The Emperor continued to rise early and ride out on
horseback, in the park and among the gum-trees. He rode only at a
walking pace, but this light exercise was of advantage to him, as it
enabled him to enjoy the fresh air. He returned with a better appetite,
and pursued the occupations of the day with greater spirit. He
breakfasted in the garden, under some trees which had been twined
together to afford him a shade. One morning, as he was sitting down to
breakfast, he perceived at a distance the Pole Piontkowski, and sent for
him to breakfast with him. He always takes pleasure in conversing with
him whenever he meets him.

Piontkowski, with whose origin we are not very well acquainted, came to
the Island of Elba, and obtained permission to serve as a private in the
Guards. On the Emperor’s return from Elba, he had gained the rank of
lieutenant. When we departed from Paris, he received permission to
follow us; and we left him at Plymouth, among those who were separated
from us by order of the English ministers. Piontkowski, having more
fidelity, or more address, than his comrades, obtained leave to come to
St. Helena. The Emperor had never known, and never spoken to him, till
he came here.

Piontkowski was, indeed, equally unknown to us all. The English were
surprised that we did not give him a warmer greeting on his arrival.
Some individuals, who seized all opportunities of saying any thing to
our disadvantage, wrote to England that we had received Piontkowski very
ill. This story was totally false: but it furnished the English
ministerial prints with a subject on which to exercise their usual
courtesy and wit. It was asserted that the Emperor had beaten
Piontkowski; and I heard of a caricature in which Napoleon was seizing
the Polish officer in his talons, while I had leaped upon him to devour
him; and it was only by a stick being thrust between my teeth, by the
keeper of the beasts, that I was prevented from biting a mouthful out of
his shoulder. Such were the elegant accounts that were given of us.

                    THE EMPEROR’S RETURN FROM ELBA.

24th.—After dinner, while we were taking our coffee, the Emperor
observed that, about this time last year, he quitted the Island of Elba.
The Grand Marshal informed him that it was on the 26th of February and
on a Sunday. “Sire,” said he, “you directed mass to be performed at an
earlier hour than usual, that you might have the more time for issuing
the necessary orders.”

They sailed in the afternoon, and next morning at ten o’clock they were
still within sight, to the great anxiety of those who were interested in
their success.

The Emperor entered into conversation on this subject, and was, for
upwards of an hour, engaged in describing the details of that event,
which is unparalleled in history, both for the boldness of the
enterprise, and the miracle of its execution. I shall insert in another
part of my journal, the particulars which I collected on this subject.


25th—28th. Our days were for the most part very much alike; if they
seemed long in detail, they were rapidly shortened in a retrospective
view. They were without character or interest, and left only imperfect
recollections behind. In English he went on gradually improving. The
Emperor confessed that he had felt a moment of disgust; his _furia
Francese_ had, he said, at one time, given way; but he added that I had
reanimated him by means of a plan which he considered more certain and
infallible than any other—that of reading and analyzing a single page
over and over again until it was thoroughly learnt. The grammatical
rules were explained by the way. In this manner, there is not a moment
lost to study and memory. The progress at first appears slow, the
learner seems to advance but little in his studies; but by the time he
has come to the fiftieth page, he is astonished to find that he knows
the language. We had added a page of Telemachus to the rest of our
lesson, and we found the benefit of it. By this time, however, the
Emperor, though he had only had twenty or twenty-five complete lessons,
could understand any book; and would have been able to make himself
understood in writing. He did not comprehend all that was said, it is
true; but, as he observed, nothing could be concealed from him for the
future, and this was a great thing—this was a decided victory.

The Campaign of Egypt was completed with the assistance of Bertrand, as
far as the want of materials would permit. The Emperor now commenced,
with another of the gentlemen, a new and very important period;
namely—from his departure from Fontainebleau, up to his return to Paris
and his second abdication. He possessed no document relating to these
rapid events; but it was that very rapidity which induced me to entreat
him to employ his memory in recording circumstances which the hurry of
events or party spirit might enfeeble or distort.

The Emperor also employed himself very frequently with me, in revising
the different chapters of the Campaign of Italy; this was generally done
immediately before dinner. He had directed me to arrange each chapter in
a regular and uniform manner; to mark out the proper divisions of the
paragraphs, and to note down and collect the illustrative articles. This
he called the digestive business of an editor. “And your interest is
concerned in it,” said he to me one day, with an air of kindness which
affected me; “henceforward it is your property: the Campaign of Italy
shall bear your name, and the Campaign of Egypt that of Bertrand. I
intend that it shall add at once to your fortune and to your fame. There
will be at least a hundred thousand francs in your pocket, and your name
will last as long as the remembrance of my battles.”

With regard to our evenings, the _reversis_ had been relinquished a
second time; we could not continue it long. After the second or third
round, the cards were abandoned for conversation. We resumed our
readings: our stock of novels was exhausted, and plays occupied our
attention for the future, tragedies in particular. The Emperor is
uncommonly fond of analyzing them, which he does in a singular mode of
reasoning, and with great taste. He remembers an immense quantity of
poetry, which he learned when he was eighteen years old, at which time,
he says, he knew much more than he does at present. The Emperor is
delighted with Racine, in whom he finds a profusion of beauties. He
greatly admires Corneille, but thinks very little of Voltaire, who, he
says, is full of bombast and tinsel: always incorrect; unacquainted
either with men or things, with truth or the sublimity of the passions
of mankind.

At one of the _couchers_ at St. Cloud the Emperor analyzed a piece which
had just been brought out; it was _Hector_ by _Luce de Lancival_: this
piece pleased him very much; it possessed warmth and energy of
character. He called it a _head-quarter_ piece; and said that a soldier
would be better prepared to meet the enemy after seeing or reading it.
He added that it would be well if there were a greater number of plays
written in the same spirit.—Then, adverting to those dramatic
productions called _drames_ in French, and which he termed
_waiting-maids’ tragedies_, he said they would not bear more than one
representation, after which they suffered a gradual diminution of
interest. A good tragedy, on the contrary, gains upon us every day. The
higher walk of tragedy, continued he, is the school of great men; it is
the duty of sovereigns to encourage and disseminate a taste for it. Nor
is it necessary, he said, to be a poet, to be enabled to judge of the
merits of a tragedy; it is sufficient to be acquainted with men and
things, to possess an elevated mind, and to be a statesman. Then,
becoming gradually more animated, he added, with enthusiasm,—”Tragedy
fires the soul, elevates the heart, and is calculated to generate
heroes. Considered under this point of view, perhaps, France owes to
Corneille a part of her great actions; and, gentlemen, _had he lived in
my time, I would have made him a prince_.”

On a similar occasion, he analyzed and condemned the _Etats de Blois_,
which had just been presented for the first time at the theatre of the
Court; and perceiving among the company present the Arch-Treasurer
Lebrun, who was distinguished for his literary acquirements, he asked
his opinion of it. Lebrun, who was undoubtedly in the author’s interest,
contented himself with remarking that the subject was a bad one. “That,”
replied the Emperor, “was M. Renouard’s first fault; he chose it
himself, it was not forced upon him. Besides, there is no subject,
however bad, which great talent cannot turn to some account, and
Corneille would still have been himself even in one like this. As for M.
Renouard, he has totally failed. He has shewn no other talent but that
of versification; every thing else is bad, very bad; his conception, his
details, his result, are altogether defective. He violates the truth of
history; his characters are false, and their political tendency is
dangerous, and perhaps prejudicial. This is an additional proof of what,
however, is very well known, that there is a wide difference between the
reading and the representation of a play. I thought at first that this
piece might have been allowed to pass; it was not until this evening
that I perceived its improprieties. Of these, the praises lavished on
the Bourbons are the least; the declamations against the Revolutionists
are much worse. M. Renouard has made the Chief of the Sixteen the
Capuchine Chabot of the Convention. There is matter in his piece to
inflame every party and every passion: were I to allow it to be
represented in Paris, I should probably hear of half a hundred people
murdering one another in the pit. Besides, the author has made Henri IV.
a true Philinte, and the Duke de Guise a Figaro, which is by far too
great an outrage on history. The duke of Guise was one of the most
distinguished men of his time; and if he had but ventured, he might, at
that time, have established the fourth dynasty. Besides, he was related
to the Empress; he was a Prince of the house of Austria, with whom we
are in friendship, and whose Ambassador was present this evening at the
representation. The author has, in more than one instance, shewn a
strange disregard of propriety.” The Emperor afterwards said that he
felt more than ever fixed in the determination he had formed not to
permit any new tragedy to be played on the public stage before it had
undergone a trial at the theatre of the Court. He therefore prohibited
the representation of the _Etats de Blois_. It is worthy of remark,
that, since the restoration of the King, this piece was revived with the
greatest pomp, and supported by all the favour which the prohibition of
the Emperor would naturally procure for it. But, notwithstanding all
this, it failed; so correct was the judgment which Napoleon had passed
upon it.

Talma, the celebrated tragedian, had frequent interviews with the
Emperor, who greatly admired his talent, and rewarded him magnificently.
When the First Consul became Emperor, it was reported all over Paris,
that he had Talma to give him lessons in attitude and costume. The
Emperor, who always knew every thing that was said against him, rallied
Talma one day on the subject, and, finding him look quite disconcerted
and confounded,—“You are wrong,“ said he, “I certainly could not have
employed myself better, if I had had leisure for it.” On the contrary,
it was the Emperor who gave Talma lessons in his art. “Racine,” said he
to him, “has loaded his character of Orestes with imbecilities, and you
only add to their extravagance. In the _Mort de Pompée_, you do not play
Cæsar like a hero; in Britannicus, you do not play Nero like a tyrant.”
Every one knows the corrections which Talma afterwards made in his
performances of these celebrated characters.


29th.—At six o’clock, the Emperor, having finished his daily
occupations, walked in the garden. We then took a drive in the calash:
it was quite dark, and rained very fast when we returned.

After dinner, while coffee was served round, which we took without
rising from our seats at the dining-table, the conversation turned on
what were termed Agents daring the Revolution, and the great fortunes
which they acquired. The Emperor knew the name, the family, the
profession, and the character, of every one of these men.

Scarcely had Napoleon attained the Consulship when he became engaged in
a dispute with the celebrated Madame Recamier, whose father held a
situation in the Post-office department. Napoleon, on first taking the
reins of Government, was obliged to sign in confidence a great number of
lists; but he soon established the most rigid inspection in every
department. He discovered that a correspondence with the Chouans was
going on under the connivance of M. Bernard, the father of Madame
Recamier. He was immediately dismissed, and narrowly escaped being
brought to a trial, by which he would doubtless have been condemned to
death. His daughter flew to the First Consul, and, at her solicitation,
Napoleon exempted M. Bernard from taking his trial, but was resolute
with respect to his dismissal. Madame Recamier, who had been accustomed
to ask for every thing, and to obtain every thing, would be satisfied
with nothing less than the re-instatement of her father. Such were the
manners of those times. The severity of the First Consul excited loud
animadversions; it was a thing quite unusual. Madame Recamier and her
party, which was very numerous, never forgave him.

The contractors and agents were the class which, above all, excited the
uneasiness of the new Supreme Magistrate, who called them the scourge
and the plague of the nation. The Emperor observed that all France would
not have satisfied the ambition of those of Paris alone; that, when he
came to the head of affairs, they constituted an absolute power; and
that they were most dangerous to the state, whose springs were
obstructed by their intrigues, joined to those of their numerous
dependents.—In truth, said he, they could never be regarded as any thing
but sources of corruption and ruin, like Jews and usurers. They had
disgraced the Directory, and they wished in like manner to control the
Consulate. It may be said that at that period they enjoyed the highest
rank and influence in society.

“One of the principal retrograde steps,” said the Emperor, “which I
took, with the view of restoring the past state and manners of society,
was to throw all this false lustre back into the crowd. I never would
raise any of this class to distinction: of all aristocracies this
appeared to me the worst.” The Emperor rendered to Lebrun the justice of
having especially confirmed him in this principle. “The party always
disliked me for this,” said the Emperor; “but they were still less
inclined to pardon the rigid enquiry which I instituted into their
accounts with the Government.”

The Emperor said that in business of this sort he turned the service of
his Council of State to the best account. He used to appoint a committee
of four or five members of the Council, men of integrity and
intelligence. They made their report to him, and, if the case required
farther investigation, they wrote at the bottom of the report: _Referred
to the Grand Judge to enforce the laws_. The individuals implicated
generally endeavoured to compromise the affair, when it arrived at this
point. They would disgorge, one, two, three, or four millions, rather
than suffer the business to be legally investigated. The Emperor was
well aware, that all these facts were misrepresented in the different
circles of the capital, that they produced him many enemies, and drew
down upon him the reproach of arbitrariness and tyranny. But he thus
acquitted a great duty to the mass of society, who must have been
grateful to him for the measures he adopted towards these bloodsuckers
of the public.

“Men are always the same,” said the Emperor: “from the time of Pharamond
downwards, contractors have always acted thus, and people have always
acted in the same way towards them. But at no period of the monarchy
were they ever attacked in so legal a form, or assailed so energetically
and openly as by me. Even among the contractors themselves, the few
individuals who possessed honesty and integrity found in this extreme
severity a new guarantee for their own conduct. A remarkable instance of
this occurred after my return from Elba. Some houses in London and
Amsterdam secretly negotiated with me a loan of from 80 to 100,000,000,
at a profit of seven or eight per cent. The net sum which was deposited
in the Treasury of Paris, was paid to them by _rentes_ on the great book
at fifty, which were then distributed among the public at fifty-six or

This resource, so useful in the crisis in which the Emperor was placed,
and which must at the same time have been so satisfactory and flattering
to himself personally, proves the real opinion that was entertained of
Napoleon in Europe, and the confidence which he inspired. This
negotiation, which was unknown at the time, explains whence the Emperor
derived the financial resources of which he suddenly found himself
possessed on his return from Elba; which was a great subject of
conjecture at the time.

The Emperor himself said that he enjoyed singular reputation among the
heads of offices and accountants. The examination of accounts was a
thing which he very well understood. “The circumstance that first gained
me reputation, in this way, was that, while balancing a yearly account
during the Consulate, I discovered an error of 2,000,000 to the
disadvantage of the Republic. M. Dufresne, who was then chief of the
treasury, and who was a perfectly honest man, at first would not believe
that the error existed. However, it was an affair of figures; the fact
could not be denied. At the treasury several months were occupied in
endeavouring to discover the error. It was at length found in an account
of the contractor Seguin, who immediately acknowledged it, on being
shewn the accounts, and restored the money, saying it was a mistake.”

On another occasion as the Emperor was examining the accounts of the pay
of the garrison of Paris, he observed an article of sixty and some odd
thousand francs set down to a detachment which had never been in the
capital. The minister made a note of the error, merely from
complaisance, but was convinced in his own mind that the Emperor was
mistaken. Napoleon however proved to be right, and the sum was restored.

The Emperor regarded as a matter of the highest importance the
separation of the departments of finance and the treasury, both for the
sake of keeping the business of the two departments distinct, and for
enabling them to become mutual checks to each other. The minister of the
treasury, under a sovereign like Napoleon, was the most important man in
the empire; not merely as a minister of the treasury, but as
comptroller-general. All the accounts of the empire came under his
examination, and he was thus enabled to detect every kind of peculation
and abuse, and to make them known to the sovereign; and communications
of this nature were daily made. To special appropriations Napoleon also
attached the greatest importance, as having been among the happiest
springs of his administration.

Speaking of the _cadastre_, he said that, according to the plan which he
had drawn up, it might be considered as the real constitution of the
Empire. It was the true guarantee of property, and the security for the
independence of each individual; for, the tax being once fixed and
established by the legislature, each individual might make his own
arrangements, and had nothing to fear from the authority or arbitrary
conduct of assessors, which is always the point most sensibly felt, and
the surest to enforce submission. During this conversation, the Emperor
gave his opinion of the talents of Messrs. Gaudin, Mollien, and Louis,
as well as most of his other Ministers and Councillors of State. He
concluded by observing that he had succeeded in creating a system of
administration doubtless the purest and most energetic in Europe; and
that he himself had the details so much at his command that he was sure
he now could, merely with the help of the Moniteur, trace the complete
history of the financial transactions of the Empire during his reign.

March 1st.—To-day two vessels arrived from the Cape. One, the Wellesley,
a seventy-four, had another ship which had been taken to pieces in her
hold. Both were India built of teak-wood, three-fourths cheaper than
they could have been built in England. This is an excellent kind of
wood; and ships made of it are said to last much longer than
European-built ships; though hitherto it has been complained that they
are not such good sailers. However, it is not improbable that this teak
wood may produce a revolution in the materials and construction of
English ships.

2nd.—The China fleet is arrived. Several vessels successively entered
the road in the course of the day, and many others are within sight.
This is a sort of festival and harvest for the people of St. Helena. The
money which these transient visitors circulate in the Island constitutes
a chief portion of the revenues of the inhabitants.

At five o’clock the Emperor proceeded to the garden, and went on foot as
far as an opening between some of the hills, whence we could discern
several vessels in full sail, making for the Island. The last ship that
arrived from the Cape had brought a phaeton for the Emperor. He wished
to try it this evening, and he got into it, accompanied by the Grand
Marshal, and rode round the park. He, however, thinks that this kind of
equipage is both useless and ridiculous, in present circumstances. After
dinner the Emperor felt much fatigued; he has been indisposed for some
days, and he retired this evening at an early hour.

                        THE INVASION OF ENGLAND.

3rd.—The Emperor sent for me at two o’clock; I found him shaving. He
told me that I beheld in him a man who was on the point of death, on the
brink of the grave. He added that I must have been aware that he was
ill, because he must have waked me often during the night. I had,
indeed, heard him cough and sneeze continually: he had a violent cold in
his head, which he had caught in consequence of staying out too long in
the damp air on the preceding evening. He stated his determination, in
future, always to return in doors at six o’clock. After he had dressed,
he sat down to his English lesson; but he did not continue at it long,
for his head ached severely. He told me to sit down by him, and made me
talk for more than two hours about what I had observed in London during
my emigration. Among other things, he inquired, “Were the English very
much afraid of my invasion? What was the general opinion at the
time?”—“Sire,“ I replied, “I cannot inform you: I had then returned to
France. But in the saloons of Paris we laughed heartily at the idea of
an invasion of England; and the English who were there at the time did
so too. It was said that even Brunet laughed at the scheme, and that you
had caused him to be imprisoned because he had been insolent enough in
one of his parts, to set some nut-shells afloat in a tub of water, which
he called manœuvring his little flotilla.” “Well!” replied the
Emperor, “You might laugh in Paris, but Pitt did not laugh in London. He
soon comprehended the extent of the danger, and therefore threw a
coalition on my shoulders at the moment when I was raising my arm to
strike. Never was the English oligarchy exposed to greater danger.

“I had taken measures to ensure the possibility of my landing. I had the
best army in the world; I need only say it was the army of Austerlitz.
In four days I should have been in London; I should have entered the
English capital, not as a conqueror but as a liberator. I should have
been another William III.; but I would have acted with greater
generosity and disinterestedness. The discipline of my army was perfect.
My troops would have behaved in London just as they would in Paris. No
sacrifices, not even contributions, would have been exacted from the
English. We should have presented ourselves to them, not as conquerors
but as brothers, who came to restore to them their rights and liberties.
I would have assembled the citizens, and directed them to labour in the
task of their regeneration; because the English had already preceded us
in political legislation; I would have declared that our only wish was
to be able to rejoice in the happiness and prosperity of the English
people; and to these professions I would have strictly adhered. In the
course of a few months, the two nations, which had been such determined
enemies, would have thenceforward composed only one people, identified
in principles, maxims and interests. I should have departed from
England, in order to effect from south to north, under republican
colours (for I was then First Consul) the regeneration of Europe, which,
at a later period, I was on the point of effecting from north to south
under monarchical forms. Both systems were equally good, since both
would have been attended with the same result, and would have been
carried into execution with firmness, moderation, and good faith. How
many ills that are now endured, and how many that are yet to be
experienced, would not unhappy Europe have escaped! Never was a project
so favourable to the interests of civilization conceived with more
disinterested intentions, or so near being carried into execution. It is
a remarkable fact that the obstacles which occasioned my failure were
not the work of men, but all proceeded from the elements. In the south,
the sea frustrated my plans; the burning of Moscow, the snow and the
winter, completed my ruin in the north. Thus water, air, and fire, all
nature and nature alone, was hostile to the universal regeneration which
nature herself called for!... The problems of Providence are insoluble!”

After a few moment’s silence, he reverted to the subject of the English
invasion. “It was supposed,” said he, “that my scheme was merely a vain
threat, because it did not appear that I possessed any reasonable means
of attempting its execution. But I had laid my plans deeply, and without
being observed. I had dispersed all our French ships; and the English
were sailing after them to different parts of the world. Our ships were
to return suddenly and at the same time, and to assemble in a mass along
the French coasts. I should have had seventy or eighty French or Spanish
ships in the Channel; and I calculated that I should continue master of
it for two months. Three or four thousand small vessels were to be ready
at a signal. A hundred thousand men were every day drilled in embarking
and landing, as a part of their exercise. They were full of ardour, and
eager for the enterprise, which was very popular with the French, and
was supported by the wishes of a great number of the English. After
landing my troops, I calculated upon only one pitched battle, the result
of which could not be doubtful; and victory would have brought us to
London. The nature of the country would not admit of a war of
monœuvring. My conduct would have done the rest. The people of
England groaned under the yoke of an oligarchy. On feeling that their
pride had not been humbled, they would have ranged themselves on our
side. We should have been considered only as Allies come to effect their
deliverance. We should have presented ourselves with the magical words
of liberty and equality,” &c.

After adverting to a great number of the minor details of the plan,
which were all admirable, and remarking how very near execution it had
been, he abruptly stopped, and said, “Let us go out, and take a turn.”

We walked for some time; it had been raining for three days, but now the
weather was perfectly fine. The Emperor, not forgetting his resolution
to be in-doors always by six o’clock, immediately ordered the calash;
took a drive, and returned home in good time. My son followed on
horse-back; it was the first time he had enjoyed such an honour. He
acquitted himself very well, and the Emperor complimented him on the

The Emperor continued unwell, and retired to rest very early.

                           THE CHINESE FLEET.

4th.—To-day the Emperor received some captains of the China fleet. He
conversed a long time with them respecting their trade, the facility of
their intercourse with the Chinese, the manners of that people, &c. The
ships which trade to China are from 14 to 1500 tons’ burthen, nearly
equal to sixty-fours; and they draw from twenty-two to twenty-three feet
of water: they are laden almost exclusively with tea. One of those just
arrived had nearly 1500 tons on board. The cargoes of the six ships
which came into the road last night are valued at about sixty millions;
and as they will be subject to a duty of 100 per cent., on their arrival
in England, 120 millions will thus at once be thrown into circulation in

Europeans are allowed very little liberty at Canton. Their residence is
chiefly limited to the suburbs. They are treated with the greatest
contempt by the Chinese, who assume an air of great superiority, and
conduct themselves in a very arbitrary manner. The Chinese are very
intelligent, industrious, and active; but they are great thieves and
extremely treacherous. They transact all business in the European
languages, which they speak with facility.

The arrival of fleets at St. Helena is a circumstance equally pleasing
to the crews and the inhabitants of the Island. The latter sell their
merchandize and purchase provisions; the seamen, on their part, are
enabled to set foot on land, and to refresh themselves. This state of
things usually continues for a fortnight or three weeks; but, on the
present occasion, the Admiral, to the great disappointment of every
body, limited the period of refreshment to two days only for the first
two ships that had anchored off the town. The others were ordered to
remain under sail, and to come up to the town in succession, two by two.
It must be supposed that he has received very strict orders, or is under
some very great apprehension, of which we are not aware.

The Emperor walked for some time in the garden before he got into his
calash. Among the trees in the neighbourhood, we perceived some officers
newly arrived at the Island, who were endeavouring to get a peep at the
Emperor, the sight of whom seemed to be an object of great importance to


5th.—To-day the Emperor conversed a great deal about this Court and the
etiquette observed in it. The following is the substance of what fell
from him on this subject.

At the period of the Revolution, the Courts of Spain and Naples still
imitated the ceremony and grandeur of Louis XIV., mingled with the pomp
and exaggeration of the Castilians and Moors. They were insipid and
ridiculous. The court of St. Petersburg had assumed the tone and forms
of the drawing-room; that of Vienna had become quite citizen-like; and
there no longer remained any vestige of the wit, the grace, and the good
taste of the Court of Versailles.

When, therefore, Napoleon attained the sovereign power, he found a clear
road before him, and he had an opportunity of forming a Court according
to his own taste. He was desirous of adopting a rational medium by
accommodating the dignity of the throne to modern customs, and,
particularly, by making the creation of a Court contribute to improve
the manners of the great, and promote the industry of the mass of the
people. It certainly was no easy matter to re-construct a throne on the
very spot where a reigning monarch had been judicially executed, and
where the people had constitutionally sworn hatred to kings. It was not
easy to restore dignities, titles, and decorations, among a people who
for the space of fifteen years had waged a war of proscription against
them. Napoleon, however, who seemed always to possess the power of
effecting what he wished, perhaps because he had the art of wishing for
what was just and proper, after a great struggle, surmounted all these
difficulties. When he became Emperor, he created a class of nobility,
and formed a Court. Victory seemed all on a sudden to do her utmost to
consolidate and shed a lustre over this new order of things. All Europe
acknowledged the Emperor; and at one period it might have been said that
all the Courts of the Continent had flocked to Paris to add to the
splendour of the Tuileries, which was the most brilliant and numerous
Court ever seen. There was a continued series of parties, balls, and
entertainments; and the Court was always distinguished for extraordinary
magnificence and grandeur. The person of the sovereign was alone
remarkable for extreme simplicity, which, indeed, was a characteristic
that served to distinguish him amidst the surrounding splendour. He
encouraged all this magnificence, he said, from motives of policy, and
not because it accorded with his own taste. It was calculated to
encourage manufactures and national industry. The ceremonies and
festivities which took place on the marriage of the Empress and the
birth of the King of Rome, far surpassed any which had preceded them,
and probably will never again be equalled.

The Emperor endeavoured to establish, in his foreign relations, every
thing that was calculated to place him in harmony with the other Courts
of Europe; but at home he constantly tried to adapt old forms to new

He established the _levers_ and _couchers_ of the old kings of France;
but with him they were merely nominal, and did not exist in reality, as
in former times. Instead of being occupied in the most minute and
indelicate details of the toilet, these hours under the Emperor were, in
fact, appropriated to receiving in the morning and dismissing in the
evening, such persons of his household as had to receive orders directly
from him, and who were privileged to pay their court to him at those

The Emperor also established special presentations to his person and
admission to his Court: but instead of making noble birth the only means
of securing these honours, the title for obtaining them was founded
solely on the combined bases of fortune, influence, and public services.

Napoleon, moreover, created titles, the qualifications for which were
nearly similar to those of the old feudal system. These titles, however,
possessed no real value, and were established for an object purely
national. Those which were unaccompanied by any prerogatives or
privileges might be enjoyed by persons of any rank or profession, and
were bestowed as rewards for all kinds of services. The Emperor observed
that abroad they had the useful effect of appearing to be an
approximation to the old manners of Europe, while at the same time they
served as a toy for amusing the vanities of many individuals at home;
“for,” said he, “how many superior men are children oftener than once a

The Emperor revived decorations of honour, and distributed crosses and
ribands. But instead of confining them to particular and exclusive
classes, he extended them to society in general as rewards for every
kind of talent and public service. By a happy privilege, perhaps
peculiar to Napoleon, it happened that the value of these honours was
enhanced in proportion to the number distributed. He estimated that he
had conferred about 25,000 decorations of the Legion of Honour; and the
desire to obtain the honour, he said, increased until it became a kind
of _mania_.

After the battle of Wagram, he sent the decoration of the Legion of
Honour to the Archduke Charles, and, by a refinement in compliment,
peculiar to Napoleon, he sent him merely the silver cross, which was
worn by the private soldiers.

The Emperor said that it was only by acting strictly and voluntarily in
conformity with these maxims that he had become the real national
monarch; and an adherence to the same course would have rendered the
fourth dynasty the truly constitutional one. Of these facts, said he,
the people of the lowest rank frequently evinced an instinctive

The Emperor related the following anecdote:—On returning from his
coronation in Italy, as he approached the environs of Lyons, he found
all the population assembled on the roads to see him pass, and he took a
fancy to ascend the hill of Tarare alone. He gave orders that nobody
should follow him, and, mingling with the crowd, he accosted an old
woman, and asked what all the bustle was about. She replied, that the
Emperor was expected. After some little conversation he said to her: “My
good woman, formerly you had the tyrant Capet; now you have the tyrant
Napoleon; what have you gained by the change?” The force of this
argument disconcerted the old woman for a moment; but she immediately
recollected herself, and replied, “Pardon me, sir, there is a great
difference. We ourselves chose this one; but we got the other by
chance.” “The old woman was right,” said the Emperor, “and she exhibited
more instinctive good sense than many men who are possessed of great
information and talent.”

The Emperor surrounded himself with great Crown officers. He established
a numerous household of chamberlains, equerries, &c. He selected persons
to fill these offices indiscriminately from among those whom the
Revolution had elevated, and from the ancient families which it had
ruined. The former considered themselves as standing on ground which
they had acquired; the latter on that which they thought they had
recovered. The Emperor had in view, by this mixture of persons, the
extinction of hatred and the amalgamation of parties. He observed,
however, that it was easy to perceive a variety of manners. The
individuals belonging to the ancient families performed their duties
with the greatest courtesy and assiduity. A Madame de Montmorency would
have stooped down to tie the Empress’s shoes; a lady of the new school
would have hesitated to do this, lest she should be taken for a real
waiting-woman; but Madame de Montmorency had no such apprehension. These
posts of honour were for the most part without emolument; they were even
attended with expense. But they brought the individuals who filled them
daily under the eye of the Sovereign—of an all-powerful Sovereign, the
source of honour and emoluments; and who had declared that he would not
have the lowest officer in his household solicit a favour from any one
but himself.

At the time of his marriage with the Empress Maria-Louisa, the Emperor
made an extensive recruit of chamberlains from among the highest ranks
of the old aristocracy; this he did with the view of proving to Europe
that there existed but one party in France, and rallying round the
Empress those individuals whose names must have been familiar to her. It
is understood that the Emperor even hesitated whether or not to select
the lady of honour from that class; but his fear lest the Empress, with
whose character he was unacquainted, might be imbued with prejudices
respecting birth, that might too much elate the old party, induced him
to make another choice.

From this moment until the period of our disasters, the most ancient and
illustrious families eagerly solicited places in the household of the
Emperor; and how could it be otherwise? The Emperor governed the world:
he had raised France and the French people above the level of other
nations. Power, glory, constituted his retinue. Happy were they who
inhaled the atmosphere of the Imperial Court. To be immediately
connected with the Emperor’s person, furnished, both abroad and at home,
a title to consideration, homage, and respect.

Upon the Restoration, a royalist, who had preserved himself pure, and in
whose sight I had found grace, said to me, in the most serious tone,
(for, what a difference in ideas does not difference of party produce!)
that with my name, and the openness of conduct I had maintained, I ought
not to despair of still obtaining a situation near the King, or in the
household of some of the Princes or Princesses. How greatly was he
astonished when I replied:—“My friend, I have rendered that impossible:
I have served the most powerful master upon earth: I cannot in future,
without degradation, stand in the same relation to any other. Know, that
when we conveyed the orders of the Emperor to a distance, into foreign
Courts, wearing his uniform, we considered ourselves, and were every
where treated, as upon an equality with princes. He has presented to us
the spectacle of not fewer than seven Kings waiting in his saloons, in
the midst of us, and with us. On his marriage, four Queens bore the robe
of the Empress, of whom, moreover, one of us was the Gentleman Usher,
another the Equerry. Believe then, my friend, that a noble ambition is
perfectly satisfied with such honours.”

Besides, the magnificence and splendour that composed this unexampled
Court, rested on a system and a regularity of administration that has
excited the astonishment and admiration of those who have searched amid
its wrecks. The Emperor himself inspected the accounts several times in
the course of the year. All his mansions were found to be repaired and
decorated: they contained nearly forty millions in household furniture,
besides four millions in plate. If he had enjoyed a few years of peace,
imagination can scarcely fix limits, he said, to what he would have

The Emperor said he had conceived an excellent idea, which he was much
grieved at not having put in execution: it was to have commissioned some
persons to collect the most important petitions. “They should have
named, every day,” said he, “three or four individuals from the
provinces, who would have been admitted to my levee, and have explained
their business to me in person; I would have discussed it with them
immediately, and administered justice to them without delay.”

I observed to the Emperor that the Commission he had created at a very
early period, under the name of “Commission of Petitions,” came very
near the idea in question, and was, in fact, productive of much good. I
was President of it on his return from Elba, and in the first month I
had already done justice to more than four thousand petitions. “It is
true,” I observed, “that circumstances originally, and custom
afterwards, had never allowed this establishment to enjoy the most
valuable prerogative with which its organization had been endowed, that
which would undoubtedly have produced the greatest effect on public
opinion; namely to present to him officially, at his great audience on
Sunday, the result of the week’s labours.” But the nature of things, the
constant expeditions of the Emperor, and, above all, the jealousy of the
Ministers, had concurred to deprive the Commission of this high

The Emperor said, also, he was sorry he had not established it as part
of the etiquette of the Court that all persons who had been presented,
females particularly, who had any claim to obtain an audience of him,
should have the unquestioned right of entering the ante-chamber. The
Emperor, passing through it several times in the day, might have taken
the opportunity to satisfy some of their requests; and might in this
manner have spared the refusal of audiences, or the loss of time
occasioned by them. The Emperor had hesitated for some time, he said,
about re-establishing the _grand couvert_ of the kings of France, that
is, the dining in public, every Sunday, of the whole Imperial family. He
asked our opinion of it. We differed. Some approved of it, represented
this family spectacle as beneficial to public morals, and fitted to
produce the best effects on public spirit; besides, said they, it
afforded means for every individual to see his Sovereign. Others opposed
it, objecting that this ceremony involved something of divine right and
feudality, of ignorance and servility, which had no place in our habits
or the modern dignity of them. They might go to see the Sovereign at the
church or the theatre: there they joined at least in the performance of
his religious duties, or took part in his pleasures; but to go to see
him eat was only to bring ridicule on both parties. The sovereignty
having now become, as the Emperor had so well said, a magistracy, should
only be seen in full activity; conferring favours, redressing injuries,
transacting business, reviewing armies, and above all, divested of the
infirmities and the wants of human nature, &c.... Its utility, its
benefits, should form its new charm: the image of the sovereign should
be present continually and unlooked-for, like Providence. Such was the
new school:—such had been ours.

“Well,” said the Emperor, “it may be true that the circumstances of the
time should have limited this ceremony to the Imperial heir, and only
during his youth; for he was the child of the whole nation; he ought to
become thenceforth the object of the sentiments and the sight of all.”

On his return from Elba, the Emperor said he had an idea of dining every
Sunday in the _Galerie de Diane_ with four or five hundred guests: this,
said he, would undoubtedly have produced a great effect on the public,
particularly at the time of the _Champ de Mai_, on the assembling of the
Deputies from the departments at Paris; but the rapidity and the
importance of business prevented it. Besides, he was apprehensive,
perhaps, that there might have been observed in this measure too great
an affectation of popularity, and that his enemies abroad might give it
the semblance of fear on his part.

It is the custom, said the Emperor, to talk of the influence of the tone
and manners of the Court upon those of a nation; he was far from having
brought about any such result; but it was the fault of circumstances and
of several unperceived combinations: he had reflected much on the
subject, and he thought that it would have been accomplished in time.

“The Court,” he continued, “taken collectively, does not exert this
influence; it is only because its elements, those who compose it, go to
communicate, each in his own sphere of action, that which they have
collected from the common source; the tone of the Court, then, is not
infused into a whole nation, but through intermediate societies. Now, we
had no such societies, nor could we yet have them. Those delightful
assemblies, where one enjoys so fully the advantages of civilization,
suddenly disappear at the approach of revolutions, and are
re-established but slowly, when the tempests dissipate. The
indispensable bases of society are indolence and luxury; but we were all
still in a state of agitation, and great fortunes were not yet firmly
established. A great number of theatres, a multitude of public
establishments, moreover, presented pleasures more ready, less
constrained, and more exciting. The women of the day, taken
collectively, were young; they liked better to be out, and to shew
themselves in public, than to remain at home and compose a narrower
circle. But they would have grown old, and with a little time and
tranquillity, every thing would have fallen into its natural course. And
then again,” he observed, “it would perhaps be an error to judge of a
modern Court by the remembrance of the old ones. The power certainly
resided in the old Courts; they said, the Court and the City;—at the
present day, if we desired to speak correctly, we were obliged to say
the City and the Court. The feudal lords, since they have lost their
power, seek to make themselves amends in their enjoyments. Sovereigns
themselves seemed to be, for the future, subjected to this law: the
throne, with our liberal ideas, insensibly ceased to be a signory, and
became purely a magistracy; the Prince having only a simple practical
character to sustain, always sufficiently dull and tedious in the long
run, must seek to withdraw from it, to come as a mere citizen, and take
his share in the pleasures of society.”

Among a great number of new measures projected by the Emperor for a more
tranquil futurity, his favourite idea had been, peace being obtained and
repose secured, to devote his life to purifying the administration and
to local meliorations; to be occupied in perpetual tours in the
departments: he would have visited, not hurried over; sojourned, not
posted through: he would have used his own horses, would have been
surrounded by the Empress, the King of Rome, his whole Court. At the
same time he wished this great equipage not to be burdensome to any, but
rather a benefit to all: a suite of tapestry hangings and all the other
appendages, following the train, would have furnished and decorated his
places of rest. The other persons of the Court, he said, would have been
quartered on the citizens, who would have looked upon their guests as a
benefit rather than a burden, because they would always have been the
sure means of their acquiring some advantage or some favours. “It is
thus,” he continued, “that I should have been able in every place to
prevent frauds, punish misappropriations, direct edifices, bridges,
roads; drain marshes, fertilize lands, &c.—If Heaven had then,” he
continued, “granted me a few years, I would certainly have made Paris
the capital of the world, and all France a real fairy-land.” He often
repeated these last words: how many people have already said this, or
will repeat it after him!

                    THE CAPTAINS OF THE CHINA FLEET.

6th.—The Emperor mounted his horse at seven o’clock: he told me to call
my son to accompany us; this was a great favour. During our ride the
Emperor dismounted five or six times to observe, with the help of a
glass, some vessels that were in sight: he ascertained one to be a
Dutchman; the three colours are always, with us, an object of lively
emotion. On one of these occasions, the most mettlesome horse in the
company got loose, and occasioned a long pursuit; my son came up with
him, brought him back in triumph, and the Emperor observed that in a
tournament this would be a victory.

On our return, the Emperor breakfasted within doors: he detained us all.

Before and after breakfast, the Emperor conversed with me in private on
serious matters which I cannot trust to paper.

The heat was become excessive: he retired. It was half-past four when he
sent for me again; he was finishing dressing. The Doctor brought him a
set of chessmen, which he had been buying on board the vessels from
China; the Emperor had wished to have one. For this he had paid thirty
Napoleons: it was an object of great admiration with the worthy Doctor;
and, at the same time, nothing seemed more ridiculous to the Emperor.
All the pieces, instead of resembling ours, were coarse and clumsy
images of the figures indicated by the names: thus, a knight was armed
at all points, and the castle rested on an enormous elephant, &c. The
Emperor could not make use of them, saying, pleasantly, that every piece
would require a crane to move it.

In the mean time many officers and others employed in the China fleet
were sauntering in the garden. Their curiosity had led them some hours
before to our dwelling; we had been literally invaded in our chambers.
One said, the pride of his life would be to have seen Napoleon: another,
that he durst not appear in his wife’s presence in England, if he could
not tell her that he had been fortunate enough to behold his features;
another, that he would willingly forego all the profits of his voyage
for a single glance, &c.

The Emperor caused them to be admitted: it would be difficult to
describe their satisfaction and joy: they had not ventured to expect or
to hope for so much. The Emperor, according to custom, proposed many
questions to them concerning China, its commerce, its inhabitants: their
revenues, their manners; the missionaries, &c. He detained them above
half an hour, before he dismissed them. At their departure we described
to him the enthusiasm we had witnessed in these officers, and repeated
all that had fallen from them relative to him. “I believe it,” said he;
“you do not perceive that they are our friends. All that you have
observed in them belongs to the commonalty of England—the natural
enemies, perhaps without giving themselves credit for it, of their old
and insolent Aristocracy.”

At dinner the Emperor ate little; he was unwell: after coffee, he
attempted a game at chess, but he was too much inclined to sleep, and
retired almost immediately.

                                A TRICK.

7th.—The Emperor mounted his horse at a very early hour; he told me
again to call my son to accompany him. The evening before, the Emperor
seeing him on horseback, had asked me if I did not make him learn to
groom his horse; that nothing was more useful; that he had given
particular orders for it in the military school at St. Germain. I was
vexed that such an idea had escaped me; I seized it eagerly, and my son
still more so. He was at this moment on a horse that no one had touched
but himself. The Emperor, whom I informed of it, seemed pleased, and
condescended to make him go through a sort of little examination. Our
ride lasted nearly two hours and a half, rambling all the time about

At our return the Emperor had breakfast in the garden, to which he
detained us all.

A short time before dinner, I presented myself as usual in the
drawing-room: the Emperor was playing at chess with the Grand Marshal.
The valet-de-chambre in waiting at the door of the room brought me a
letter, on which was written _Very urgent_. Out of respect to the
Emperor, I went aside to read it: it was in English; it stated that I
had composed an excellent work; that, nevertheless, it was not without
faults; that if I would correct them in a new edition, no doubt the work
would be more valuable for it; and then went on to pray that God would
keep me in his gracious and holy protection. Such a letter excited my
astonishment, and made me rather angry; the colour rushed to my face: I
did not, at first, give myself time to consider the writing. In reading
it over again I recognised the hand, notwithstanding its being much
better written than usual, and I could not help laughing a good deal to
myself. But the Emperor, who cast a side-glance at me, asked me from
whom the letter came that was given to me. I replied, that it was a
paper that had caused a very different feeling in me at first from that
which it would leave permanently. I said this with so much simplicity,
the mystification had been so complete, that he laughed till tears came
in his eyes. The letter was from him; the pupil had a mind to jest with
his master, and try his powers at his expense. I carefully preserve this
letter; the gaiety, the style, and the whole circumstance, render it
more valuable to me than any diploma the Emperor could have put into my
hands when he was in power.


8th.—The Emperor had had no sleep during the night; he had, therefore,
amused himself with writing me another letter in English; he sent it to
me sealed; I corrected the errors in it, and sent him an answer also in
English, by the return of the courier. He understood me perfectly: this
convinced him of the progress he had made, and satisfied him that for
the future he could, strictly speaking, correspond in his new tongue.

For nearly a fortnight past, General Gourgaud had been unwell; his
indisposition had turned to a very malignant dysentery, which occasioned
some alarm. The Admiral now sent him the Surgeon of the Northumberland
(Dr. Warden); the Emperor detained this gentleman to dinner. During the
repast, and for a long time afterwards, the conversation was exclusively
on medicine; sometimes lively, sometimes serious and profound. The
Emperor was in good spirits: he talked with great volubility; he
overwhelmed the Doctor with questions, and with ingenious and subtle
arguments, that perplexed him much: the latter was much dazzled by this
brilliancy; so that, after dinner, he took me aside to ask me how it
happened that the Emperor was so well informed on these matters: he did
not doubt but they were his usual topics of conversation. “Not more than
any thing else,” I said, with truth; “but there are few subjects with
which the Emperor is unacquainted, and he treats them all in a new and
engaging manner.”

The Emperor has no faith in medicine, or its remedies, of which he makes
no use. “Doctor,” said he, “our body is a machine for the purpose of
life: it is organized to that end—that is its nature. Leave the life
there at its ease, let it take care of itself, it will do better than if
you paralyze it by loading it with medicines. It is like a well-made
watch, destined to go for a certain time; the watch-maker has not the
power of opening it, he cannot meddle with it but at random, and with
his eyes bandaged. For one who, by dint of racking it with his
ill-formed instruments, succeeds in doing it any good, how many
blockheads destroy it altogether!”

The Emperor, then, did not admit the utility of medicine but in a few
cases, in disorders that were known and distinctly ascertained by time
and experience: and he then compared the art of the physician with that
of the engineer in regular sieges, where the maxims of Vauban, and the
rules of experience, have brought all the chances within the scope of
known laws. In accordance, too, with these principles, the Emperor had
conceived the idea of a law which should have allowed to the mass of
medical practitioners in France the use of simple medicines only, and
forbidden them to employ _heroic_ remedies, that is, such as may cause
death, unless they made three or four thousand francs, at least, by
their profession; which, said he, afforded grounds for supposing them to
have education, judgment, and a certain public reputation. “This
measure,” said he, “was certainly just and beneficent; but in my
circumstances it was unseasonable: information was not yet sufficiently
diffused. No doubt the mass of the people would have seen only an act of
tyranny in the law, which, nevertheless, would have rescued them from
their executioners.”

The Emperor had frequently attacked the celebrated Corvisart, his
physician, upon the subject of medicine. The latter, waving the honour
of the profession and of his colleagues, confessed that he entertained
nearly the same opinions, and even acted upon them. He was a great enemy
to medicines, and employed them very sparingly: the Empress
Maria-Louisa, suffering much during her pregnancy, and teazing him for
relief, he artfully gave her some pills composed of crumb of bread,
which she observed did her a great deal of good.

The Emperor said he had brought Corvisart to admit that medicine was
a resource available only for the few; that it might be of some
benefit to the rich, but that it was the scourge of the poor. “Now,
do you not believe,” said the Emperor, “seeing the uncertainty of
the art itself, and the ignorance of those who practise it, that its
effects, taken in the aggregate, are more fatal than useful to the
people?” Corvisart assented without hesitation. “But have you never
killed any body yourself?” continued the Emperor, “that is to say,
have not some patients died evidently in consequence of your
prescriptions?”—“Undoubtedly,” replied Corvisart; “but I ought no
more to let that weigh upon my conscience than would your Majesty,
if you had caused the destruction of some troops, not from having
made a bad movement, but because their march was impeded by a ditch
or a precipice, which it was impossible for you to be aware of.”

Thence the Emperor went on to some problems and definitions, which he
proposed to the Doctor. “What is life?” said he to him; “when and how do
we receive it? Is that any thing but mystery yet?” Then he defined
harmless madness to be a chasm or incoherence of judgment between just
ideas and the application of them: an insane man eats grapes in a
vineyard that is not his own; and, in reply to the expostulations of the
owner says:—“Here are two of us; the sun sees both of us; therefore I
have a right to eat the grapes.” The dangerous madman was he in whom
this chasm or incoherence of judgment occurred between ideas and
actions: it was he who cut off the head of a sleeping man, and concealed
himself behind a hedge, to enjoy the perplexity of the dead body when it
should awake.

The Emperor next asked the Doctor what was the difference between sleep
and death; and answered the question himself by saying that sleep was
the momentary suspension of the faculties within the power of our
volition; and death the lasting suspension, not only of these faculties,
but also of those over which our will has no control.

From that, the conversation turned upon the plague. The Emperor
maintained that it was taken by inspiration as well as by contact: he
said that it was rendered most dangerous and most extensively
propagated, by fear: its principal seat was in the imagination. In
Egypt, all those in whom that (the imagination) was affected, perished.
The most prudent remedy was moral courage. He had touched with impunity,
he said, some infected persons at Jaffa, and had saved many lives by
deceiving the soldiers, during two months, as to the nature of the
disease: it was not the plague, they were told, but a fever accompanied
with ulcers. Moreover, he had observed that the best means to preserve
the army from it were to keep them on the march, and give them, plenty
of exercise: fatigue, and the employment of the mind upon other
subjects, were found the surest protection.[32]

Footnote 32:

  It is mentioned in the Memoirs of M. Larre, as a phenomenon, or at
  least something remarkable, that the pressure of circumstances during
  the retreat from Saint-Jean-d’Acre, having rendered it necessary to
  reduce the food of the sick to some plain thin biscuits, and their
  dressings to some brackish water, these invalids traversed sixty
  leagues of Desert without accidents, and with so much advantage that
  the greater part found themselves well when they arrived in Egypt. He
  attributes this species of prodigy to the exercise, direct or
  indirect, to the dry heat of the Desert, and above all to the joy of
  returning to a country which had become a sort of new home to the

The Emperor also said to the Doctor—“If Hippocrates were on a sudden to
enter your hospital, would he not be much astonished? would he adopt
your maxims and your methods? would he not find fault with you? On your
part should you understand his language? should you at all comprehend
each other?”—He concluded by pleasantly extolling the practice of
medicine in Babylon, where the patients were exposed at the door, and
the relations, sitting near them, stopped the passengers to enquire if
they had ever been afflicted in a similar way, and what had cured them.
One had at least the certainty, said he, of escaping all those whose
remedies had killed them.

9th.—I was breakfasting with the Emperor, after our English lesson, when
I received a letter from my wife that filled me with joy and gratitude.
She said, that neither fear, fatigue, nor distance, could prevent her
joining me; that, separated from me, she could experience no happiness,
and that she was only waiting for the proper season. Admirable devotion!
superior to all that we have manifested here, inasmuch as it is exerted
with a perfect knowledge of all its consequences. I cannot think that in
England they will have the cruelty to refuse her: what does she solicit?
favours, interest? No; she begs to share the lot of an exile on a
solitary rock; to fulfil a duty, and to testify her affection!—How far
was I from forming a just estimate of the hearts and minds of those who
detained us! Madame de Las Cases found herself constantly repulsed:
sometimes under various pretexts; sometimes even without an answer. At
last, and as if to rid himself of her importunity, Lord Bathurst caused
her to be informed, in the beginning of 1817, that she should be
permitted to go to the Cape of Good Hope (500 leagues beyond St.
Helena), whence “if the Governor of St. Helena (Sir Hudson Lowe) sees no
objection, she shall be allowed to join her husband.”

I leave, without comment, this specimen of ill-timed pleasantry to the
consideration of any one who has the feelings of a man. This letter came
by the Owen Glendower frigate, which arrived from the Cape, and brought
us at the same time the European papers to December 4.


10th—12th. The weather had now changed to those miserable pelting rains
which scarcely permitted us to walk in the garden; fortunately we had
newspapers to occupy our time. At length I had the satisfaction of
seeing the Emperor read them without assistance.

These papers contained many details relating to the trial of Marshal
Ney, which was at that time in progress. With reference to this, the
Emperor said that the horizon was gloomy; that the unfortunate Marshal
was certainly in great danger; but that we must not however despair.
“The King undoubtedly believes himself quite sure of the Peers,” said
he; “they are certainly violent enough, firmly resolved, highly
incensed; but for all that, suppose the slightest incident, some new
rumour, or I know not what: then you would see, in spite of all the
efforts of the King, and of what they believe to be the interest of
their cause, the Chamber of Peers would, all on a sudden, take it into
their heads not to find him guilty; and thus Ney may be saved.”

This led the Emperor to dilate upon our volatile, fickle, and changeable
disposition. “All the French,” said he, “are turbulent, and disposed to
rail; but they are not addicted to seditious combinations, still less to
actual conspiracy. Their levity is so natural to them, their changes so
sudden, that it may be said to be a national dishonour. They are mere
weathercocks, the sport of the winds, it is true; but this vice is with
them free from the calculations of interest, and that is their best
excuse. But we must only be understood to speak here of the mass, of
that which constitutes public opinion; for individual examples to the
contrary have swarmed in our latter times, that exhibit certain classes
in the most disgusting state of meanness.”

It was this knowledge of the national character, the Emperor continued,
that had always prevented his having recourse to the High Court. It was
instituted by our Constitution; the Council of State had even decreed
its organization; but the Emperor felt all the danger of the bustle and
agitation that such spectacles always produce. “Such a proceeding,” he
said, “was in reality an appeal to the public, and was always highly
injurious to authority, when the accused gained the cause. A Ministry in
England might sustain, without inconvenience, the effects of a decision
against it under such circumstances; but a sovereign like me, and
situated as I was, could not have suffered it without the utmost danger
to public affairs: for this reason, I preferred having recourse to the
ordinary tribunals. Malevolence often started objections to this;
nevertheless, among all those whom it was pleased to call victims, which
of them, I ask you, has retained his popularity in our late struggles?
They have taken care to justify me: all of them are faded in the
national estimation.”

The Emperor had reserved one article in the papers, that he might have
my assistance in reading it; it referred to the carriage he lost at
Waterloo: the great number of technical expressions rendered it too
difficult for him. The editor gave a very circumstantial account of this
carriage, with a minutely detailed inventory of all its contents; to
this he sometimes added the most frivolous reflections. In mentioning a
small liquor-case, he observed that the Emperor never forgot _himself_,
but took care to want nothing; in noticing certain elegant appendages to
his dressing-case, he added that it might be seen he made his toilet
_comme il faut_ (the expression was in French). These last words
produced a sensation in the Emperor, which certainly would not have been
excited by a more important subject. “How!” said he to me, with a
mixture of disgust and pain; “these people of England, then, take me for
some wild animal; have they really been led so far as this? or their ——,
who is a kind of Ox Apis, as I am assured, does he not pay that
attention to his toilet that is considered proper by every person of any
education among us?”

It is certain that I should have been a good deal puzzled to explain to
him the writer’s meaning. Besides, it is known that the Emperor, of all
people in the world, set the least value on his personal convenience,
and studied it the least; but, on the other hand, and he acknowledged it
with pleasure, there never was one for whom the devotion and attention
of servants had been so diligent in that particular. As he ate at very
irregular hours, they contrived, in the course of his journeys and
campaigns, to have his dinner, similar to what he was accustomed to at
the Tuileries, always ready within a few paces of him. He had but to
speak, and he was instantly served; he himself said it was magic. During
fifteen years he constantly drank a particular sort of Burgundy
(Chambertin), which he liked and believed to be wholesome for him: he
found this wine provided for him throughout Germany, in the remotest
part of Spain, everywhere, even at Moscow; and it may truly be said that
art, luxury, the refinement of elegance and good taste, contended around
him, as if without his knowledge, to afford him gratification. The
English journalists, therefore, described a multitude of objects that
were undoubtedly in the carriage; but of which the Emperor had not the
slightest notion: not that he was at all surprised at it, he observed.

The bad weather which continued to confine us within doors, had no
influence on the disposition of the Emperor, who at this particular time
seemed more unreserved and talked more than usual. He spoke at length,
and with the most minute details, of the famous interview at Dresden.
The following are extracts from his conversation:—

This was the epoch when the power of Napoleon was at its height: he
there appeared as the _king of kings_; he was actually obliged to
observe that some attention ought to be paid to the Emperor of Austria,
his father-in-law. Neither this Sovereign nor the King of Prussia had
any household establishment attending them; Alexander had none either at
Tilsit or Erfurt. There, as at Dresden, they lived at Napoleon’s
table.—“These Courts,” said the Emperor, “were paltry and vulgar.” It
was he who regulated the etiquette, and took the lead in them; he made
Francis take precedence of him, to his unbounded satisfaction. The
luxury and magnificence of Napoleon must have made him appear to them
like an Asiatic prince: there, as well as at Tilsit, he loaded all who
came near him with diamonds. We informed him that at Dresden he had not
a single French soldier about him: and that his Court was sometimes not
without apprehensions for the safety of his person. He could scarcely
believe us;—but we assured him that it was a fact; that the Saxon
body-guard was the only one he had. “It is all one,” he said; “I was
then in so good a family, with such worthy people, that I ran no risk; I
was beloved by all; and, at this very time, I am sure the good King of
Saxony repeats every day a _Pater_ and an _Ave_ for me.” He added, “I
ruined the fortunes of that poor Princess Augusta, and I acted very
wrong in so doing. Returning from Tilsit, I received, at Marienwerder, a
chamberlain of the King of Saxony, who delivered me a letter from his
master; he wrote thus: ‘I have just received a letter from the Emperor
of Austria, who desires my daughter in marriage; I send this to you,
that you may inform me what answer I ought to return.’—‘I shall be at
Dresden in a few days,’” was the reply of the Emperor; and, on his
arrival, he set his face against the match, and prevented it. “I was
very wrong,” repeated he; “I was fearful the Emperor Francis would
withdraw the King of Saxony from me: on the contrary, the Princess
Augusta would have brought over the Emperor Francis to my side, and I
should not now have been here.”

At Dresden, Napoleon was much occupied in business, and Maria-Louisa,
anxious to avail herself of the smallest intervals of leisure to be with
her husband, scarcely ever went out, lest she should miss them. The
Emperor Francis, who did nothing, and tired himself all day with going
about the town, could not at all comprehend this family seclusion; he
fancied that it was to affect reserve and importance. The Empress of
Austria endeavoured to prevail on Maria-Louisa to go out; she
represented to her that her constant assiduity was ridiculous. She would
willingly have given herself the airs of a step-mother with
Maria-Louisa, who was not disposed to suffer it, their ages being nearly
the same. She came frequently in the morning to her toilet, ransacking
among the luxurious and magnificent objects displayed there: she seldom
went out empty-handed.

“The reign of Maria-Louisa was very short,” said the Emperor; “but it
must have been full of enjoyment for her; she had the world at her
feet.” One of us took the liberty to ask if the Empress of Austria was
not the sworn enemy of Maria-Louisa. “Nothing more,” said the Emperor,
“than a little regular court-hatred; a thorough detestation in the
heart, but glossed over by daily letters of four pages, full of coaxing
and tenderness.”

The Empress of Austria was particularly attentive to Napoleon, and took
great pains to make much of him while he was present; but no sooner was
his back turned, than she endeavoured to detach Maria-Louisa from him by
the most mischievous and malicious insinuations; she was vexed that she
could not succeed in obtaining some influence over her. “She has,
however, address and ability,” said the Emperor, “and that sufficient to
embarrass her husband, who had acquired a conviction that she
entertained a poor opinion of him. Her countenance was agreeable,
engaging, and had something very peculiar in it; she was a pretty little

“As to the Emperor Francis, his good-nature is well known, and makes him
constantly the dupe of the designing. His son will be like him.

“The King of Prussia, as a private character, is an honourable, good,
and worthy man; but, in his political capacity, he is naturally disposed
to yield to necessity: you are his master so long as you have power on
your side, and your arm is uplifted to strike.

“As for the Emperor of Russia, he is a man infinitely superior to these:
he possesses wit, grace, information; he is fascinating, but he is not
to be trusted: he is devoid of candour, a true _Greek of the Lower
Empire_. At the same time he is not without ideology, real or
assumed:—after all, it may only be a smattering derived from his
education and his preceptor. Would you believe,” said the Emperor, “what
I had to discuss with him? He maintained that inheritance is an abuse in
monarchy, and I had to spend more than an hour, and employ all my
eloquence and logic, in proving to him that this right constitutes the
peace and happiness of the people. It may be, too, that he was
mystifying; for he is cunning, false, and expert . . . . . . . . .; he
will push his fortunes. If I die here, he will be my real heir in
Europe. I alone was able to stop him with his deluge of Tartars. The
crisis is great, and will have lasting effects upon the Continent of
Europe, especially upon Constantinople: he was solicitous with me for
the possession of it. I have had much coaxing on this subject; but I
constantly turned a deaf ear to it. It was necessary that that empire,
shattered as it appeared, should constantly remain a point of separation
between us; it was the marsh that prevented my right from being turned.
As to Greece, it is another matter!” And, after talking awhile upon that
country, he renewed the subject: “Greece awaits a liberator! There will
be a brilliant crown of glory! He will inscribe his name for ever with
those of Homer, Plato, and Epaminondas!—I perhaps was not far from it,
when, during my campaign in Italy, arrived on the shores of the
Adriatic, I wrote to the Directory, that I had before my eyes the
kingdom of Alexander!—Still later I entered into engagements with Ali
Pacha; and when Corfu was taken from us, they must have found there
ammunition and a complete equipment for an army of forty or fifty
thousand men. I had caused maps to be made of Macedonia, Servia,
Albania, &c. Greece, the Peloponnesus at least, must be the lot of that
European power which shall possess Egypt. It should be ours.”

                             END OF VOL. I.





                           Transcriber’s Note

The final line of text refers to the printer, but is not entirely
legible. It would seem to refer to Benjamin Bensley (d. 1870).

Whoever he might have been, errors deemed most likely to be the
printer’s have been corrected, and are noted here. The references are to
the page and line in the original. The issues tabulated below should be
noted, along with the resolutions.

There were a number of instances in the text where quoted material was
missing either an opening or closing quotation mark. The proper
placement is not always obvious, but the most plausible choice has been
made in each case.

  10.21    “I have made no calculation about it,[”] I     Moved.

  38.1     which it would be  necess[s]ary to employ      Removed.

  41.8     who had shewn me great attent[ent]ion          Removed.

  42.26    [“]let mine also be accomplished.              Removed.

  51.11    continued his way towards the                  Added.

  52.4     on bo[ra/ar]d  the Bellerophon                 Transposed.

  58.4     as if totally una[c]quainted with the language Added.

  60.12    The quantity and arrang[e]ment of the matter   Added.

  61.1     the Gra[u/n]d Marshal and I always followed    Inverted.

  62.31    had received  Napoleon[s]’s pacific letter     Removed.

  64.40    the class of jurisprudence in [i/t]he          Replaced.
           University of Pisa

  73.11    who was posses[s]ed of great bodily as well as Added.
           mental vigour

  75.40    Duchess de Vicenza.[’]                         Added.

  80.32    an early introduction to Madame d[é/u]         Replaced.

  109.3    “_Vive notre petit Caporal!_[”]                Removed.

  125.27   said Napoleon. [“]You know but little of men,  Added.

  133.10   The Emperor explained these feeling[s]         Added.
           surprisingly well

  134.4    On his arr[r]ival in Egypt                     Removed.

  168.29   the King mu[a/s]t have found his study         Replaced.

  190.18   may at a future period be renewed.[”]          Added.

  191.35   to bend the knee to him at his levee.[”]       Added.

  201.12   in ignorance of the character of               Transposed.

  228.17   [“]The National Guard was ordered out          Added.

  231.6    than to the favo[n/u]r which it was intended   Inverted.

  269.16   [“]The following are the principal points      Removed.

  281.13   over the whole of the grounds[,/.] The Emperor Replaced.

  284.39   [“]Each> system may, no doubt, be maintained   Added.

  330.28   then[./,] struck with the smell of the paint,  Replaced.

  333.34   his style is out of our line.[’]”              Added.

  334.34   [“]Our history,” said the Emperor,             Added.

  336.7    had been much alarmed[.]                       Added.

  350.30   and we henceforth a[rg/gr]eed to pay the sums  Transposed.

  367.27   prepared to meet the enemy afte[r] seeing or   Restored.
           reading it

  385.15   to produce the best[s] effects                 Removed.

  386.1    dining every Sunday in the Galerie de Diane[’] Removed.

  386.39   [ve/ev]ery thing would have fallen into its    Transposed.
           natural course.

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