by LOUIS ANTOINE FAUVELET DE BOURRIENNE
His Private Secretary
Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery
CHAPTER I. to CHAPTER VIII., 1800-1803
Bonaparte's confidence in the army—'Ma belle' France—The convent of Bernadins—Passage of Mont St. Bernard—Arrival at the convent— Refreshments distributed to the soldiers—Mont Albaredo—Artillery dismounted—The fort of Bard—Fortunate temerity—Bonaparte and Melas—The spy—Bonaparte's opinion of M. Necker—Capitulation of Genoa—Intercepted despatch—Lannes at Montebello—Boudet succeeded by Desaix—Coolness of the First Consul to M. Collot—Conversation and recollections—The battle of Marengo—General Kellerman—Supper sent from the Convent del Bosco—Particulars respecting the death of Desaix—The Prince of Lichtenstein—Return to Milan—Savary and Rapp.
It cannot be denied that if, from the 18th Brumaire to the epoch when Bonaparte began the campaign, innumerable improvements had been made in the internal affairs of France, foreign affairs could not be seen with the same satisfaction. Italy had been lost, and from the frontiers of Provence the Austrian camp fires were seen. Bonaparte was not ignorant of the difficulties of his position, and it was even on account of these very difficulties that, whatever might be the result of his hardy enterprise, he wished to escape from it as quickly as possible. He cherished no illusions, and often said all must be staked to gain all.
The army which the First Consul was preparing to attack was numerous, well disciplined, and victorious.
His, with the exception of a very small number of troops, was composed of conscripts; but these conscripts were commanded by officers whose ardour was unparalleled. Bonaparte's fortune was now to depend on the winning or losing of a battle. A battle lost would have dispelled all the dreams of his imagination, and with them would have vanished all his immense schemes for the future of France. He saw the danger, but was not intimidated by it; and trusting to his accustomed good fortune, and to the courage and fidelity of his troops, he said, "I have, it is true, many conscripts in my army, but they are Frenchmen. Four years ago did I not with a feeble army drive before me hordes of Sardinians and Austrians, and scour the face of Italy? We shall do so again. The sun which now shines on us is the same that shone at Arcola and Lodi. I rely on Massena. I hope he will hold out in Genoa. But should famine oblige him to surrender, I will retake Genoa in the plains of the Scrivia. With what pleasure shall I then return to my dear France! Ma belle France."
At this moment, when a possible, nay, a probable chance, might for ever have blasted his ambitious hopes, he for the first time spoke of France as his. Considering the circumstances in which we then stood, this use of the possessive pronoun "my" describes more forcibly than anything that can be said the flashes of divination which crossed Bonaparte's brain when he was wrapped up in his chimerical ideas of glory and fortune.
In this favourable disposition of mind the First Consul arrived at Martigny on the 20th of May. Martigny is a convent of Bernardins, situated in a valley where the rays of the sun scarcely ever penetrate. The army was in full march to the Great St. Bernard. In this gloomy solitude did Bonaparte wait three days, expecting the fort of Bard, situated beyond the mountain and covering the road to Yvree, to surrender. The town was carried on the 21st of May, and on the third day he learned that the fort still held out, and that there were no indications of its surrender. He launched into complaints against the commander of the siege, and said, "I am weary of staying in this convent; those fools will never take Bard; I must go myself and see what can be done. They cannot even settle so contemptible an affair without me!" He immediately gave orders for our departure.
The grand idea of the invasion of Italy by crossing Mont St. Bernard emanated exclusively from the First Consul. This miraculous achievement justly excited the admiration of the world. The incredible difficulties it presented did not daunt the courage of Bonaparte's troops. His generals, accustomed as they had been to brave fatigue and danger, regarded without concern the gigantic enterprise of the modern Hannibal.
A convent or hospice, which had been established on the mountain for the purpose of affording assistance to solitary travellers, sufficiently bespeaks the dangers of these stormy regions. But the St. Bernard was now to be crossed, not by solitary travellers, but by an army. Cavalry, baggage, limbers, and artillery were now to wend their way along those narrow paths where the goat-herd cautiously picks his footsteps. On the one hand masses of snow, suspended above our heads, every moment threatened to break in avalanches, and sweep us away in their descent. On the other, a false step was death. We all passed, men and horse, one by one, along the goat paths. The artillery was dismounted, and the guns, put into excavated trunks of trees, were drawn by ropes.
I have already mentioned that the First Consul had transmitted funds to the hospice of the Great St. Bernard. The good fathers had procured from the two valleys a considerable supply of cheese, bread, and wine. Tables were laid out in front of the hospice, and each soldier as he defiled past took a glass of wine and a piece of bread and cheese, and then resigned his place to the next. The fathers served, and renewed the portions with admirable order and activity.
The First Consul ascended the St. Bernard with that calm self-possession and that air of indifference for which he was always remarkable when he felt the necessity of setting an example and exposing himself to danger. He asked his guide many questions about the two valleys, inquired what were the resources of the inhabitants, and whether accidents were as frequent as they were said to be. The guide informed him that the experience of ages enabled the inhabitants to foresee good or bad weather, and that they were seldom deceived.
Bonaparte, who wore his gray greatcoat, and had his whip in his hand, appeared somewhat disappointed at not seeing any one come from the valley of Aorta to inform him of the taking of the fort of Bard. I never left him for a moment during the ascent. We encountered no personal danger, and escaped with no other inconvenience than excessive fatigue.
On his arrival at the convent the First Consul visited the chapel and the three little libraries. He had time to read a few pages of an old book, of which I have forgotten the title.
Our breakfast-dinner was very frugal. The little garden was still covered with snow, and I said to one of the fathers, "You can have but few vegetables here."—"We get our vegetables from the valleys," he replied; "but in the month of August, in warm seasons, we have a few lettuces of our own growing."
When we reached the summit of the mountain we seated ourselves on the snow and slid down. Those who went first smoothed the way for those who came behind them. This rapid descent greatly amused us, and we were only stopped by the mud which succeeded the snow at the distance of five or six hundred toises down the declivity.
We crossed, or rather climbed up, Mont Albaredo to avoid passing under the fort of Bard, which closes the valley of Aorta. As it was impossible to get the artillery up this mountain it was resolved to convey it through the town of Bard, which was not fortified. For this operation we made choice of night, and the wheels of the cannon and caissons, and even the horses' feet, being wrapped in straw, the whole passed quietly through the little town. They were, indeed, under the fire of the fort; however, it did not so completely command the street but that the houses would have protected them against any very fatal consequences. A great part of the army had passed before the surrender of the fort, which so completely commands the narrow valley leading to Aorta that it is difficult to comprehend the negligence of the Austrians in not throwing up more efficient works; by very simple precautions they might have rendered the passage of St. Bernard unavailing.
On the 23d we came within sight of the fort of Bard, which commands the road bounded by the Doria Baltea on the right and Mont Albaredo on the left. The Doria Baltea is a small torrent which separates the town of Bard from the fort. Bonaparte, whose retinue was not very numerous, crossed the torrent. On arriving within gunshot of the fort he ordered us to quicken our pace to gain a little bridle-path on the left, leading to the summit of Mont Albaredo, and turning the town and fort of Bard.
We ascended this path on foot with some difficulty. On reaching the summit of the mountain, which commands the fort, Bonaparte levelled his telescope on the grass, and stationing himself behind some bushes, which served at once to shelter and conceal him, he attentively reconnoitered the fort. After addressing several questions to the persons who had come to give him information, he mentioned, in a tone of dissatisfaction, the faults that had been committed, and ordered the erection of a new battery to attack a point which he marked out, and from whence, he guaranteed, the firing of a few shots would oblige the fort to surrender. Having given these orders he descended the mountain and went to sleep that night at Yvree. On the 3d of June he learned that the fort had surrendered the day before.
The passage of Mont St. Bernard must occupy a great place in the annals of successful temerity. The boldness of the First Consul seemed, as it were, to have fascinated the enemy, and his enterprise was so unexpected that not a single Austrian corps defended the approaches of the fort of Bard. The country was entirely exposed, and we only encountered here and there a few feeble parties, who were incapable of checking our march upon Milan. Bonaparte's advance astonished and confounded the enemy, who thought of nothing but marching back the way he came, and renouncing the invasion of France. The bold genius which actuated Bonaparte did not inspire General Melas, the commander-in-chief of the Austrian forces. If Melas had had the firmness which ought to belong to the leader of an army—if he had compared the respective positions of the two parties—if he had considered that there was no longer time to regain his line of operations and recover his communication with the Hereditary States, that he was master of all the strong places in Italy, that he had nothing to fear from Massena, that Suchet could not resist him:—if, then, following Bonaparte's' example, he had marched upon Lyons, what would have become of the First Consul? Melas would have found few obstacles, and almost everywhere open towns, while the French army would have been exhausted without having an enemy to fight. This is, doubtless, what Bonaparte would have done had he been Melas; but, fortunately for us, Melas was not Bonaparte.
We arrived at Milan on the 2d of June, the day on which the First Consul heard that the fort of Bard was taken. But little resistance was opposed to our entrance to the capital of Lombardy, and the term "engagements" can scarcely be applied to a few affairs of advance posts, in which success could not be for a moment doubtful; the fort of Milan was immediately blockaded. Murat was sent to Piacenza, of which he took possession without difficulty, and Lannes beat General Ott at Montebello. He was far from imagining that by that exploit he conquered for himself a future duchy!
The First Consul passed six days at Milan. On the day after our arrival there a spy who had served us very well in the first campaign in Italy was announced. The First Consul recollected him, and ordered him to be shown into his cabinet. —"What, are you here?" he exclaimed; "so you are not shot yet!"—" General," replied the spy, "when the war recommenced I determined to serve the Austrians because you were far from Europe. I always follow the fortunate; but the truth is, I am tired of the trade. I wish to have done with it, and to get enough to enable me to retire. I have been sent to your lines by General Melas, and I can render you an important service. I will give an exact account of the force and the position of all the enemy's corps, and the names of their commanders. I can tell you the situation in which Alessandria now is. You know me I will not deceive you; but, I must carry back some report to my general. You need not care for giving me some true particulars which I can communicate to him."—"Oh! as to that," resumed the First Consul, "the enemy is welcome to know my forces and my positions, provided I know his, and he be ignorant of my plans. You shall be satisfied; but do not deceive me: you ask for 1000 Louis, you shall have them if you serve me well." I then wrote down from the dictation of the spy, the and the names of the corps, their amount, their positions, names of the generals commanding them. The Consul stuck pins in the map to mark his plans on places respecting which he received information from the spy. We also learned that Alexandria was without provisions, that Melas was far from expecting a siege, that many of his troops were sick, and that be wanted medicines. Berthier was ordered to draw up for the spy a nearly accurate statement of our positions.
The information given by this man proved so accurate and useful that on his return from Marengo Bonaparte ordered me to pay him the 1000 Louis. The spy afterwards informed him that Melas was delighted with the way in which he had served him in this affair, and had rewarded him handsomely. He assured us that he had bidden farewell to his odious profession. The First Consul regarded this little event as one of the favours of fortune.
In passing through Geneva the First Consul had an interview with M.
—[Madame de Stael briefly mention this interview in her 'Considerations sur la Revolution Francaise' "M. Necker," she says, "had an interview with Bonaparte, when he was on his way to Italy by the passage of Mont. St. Bernard, a few days before the battle of Marengo, During this conversation, which lasted two hours, the First Consul made a very favourable impression on my father by the confident way he spoke of his future projects."—Bourrienne.]—
I know not how it happened, but at the time he did not speak to me of this interview. However, I was curious to know what be thought of a man who had acquired much celebrity in France. One evening, when we were talking of one thing and another, I managed to turn the conversation on that subject. M. Necker," said he, "appears to me very far below his reputation. He did not equal the idea I had formed of him. I tried all I could to get him to talk; but he said nothing remarkable. He is an ideologist—
—[This was a constant term of reproach with Bonaparte. He set all the metaphysicians of the Continent against him by exclaiming, "Je ne veux point d'ideologues."]—
a banker. It is impossible that such a man can have any but narrow views; and, besides, most celebrated people lose on a close view."— "Not always, General," observed I—"Ah!" said he, smiling, "that is not bad, Bourrienne. You are improving. I see I shall make something of you in time!"
The day was approaching when all was to be lost or won. The First Consul made all his arrangements, and sent off the different corps to occupy the points be had marked out. I have already mentioned that Murat's task was the occupation of Piacenza. As soon as he was in possession of that town he intercepted a courier of General Melas. The despatch, which was addressed to the Aulic Council of Vienna, was delivered to us on the night of the 8th of June. It announced the capitulation of Genoa, which took place on the 4th, after the long and memorable defence which reflected so much honour on Massena. Melas in his despatch spoke of what he called our pretended army of reserve with inconceivable contempt, and alluded to the presence of Bonaparte in Italy as a mere fabrication. He declared he was still in Paris. It was past three in the morning when Murat's courier arrived. I immediately translated the despatch, which was in German. About four o'clock I entered the chamber of the First Consul, whom I was obliged to shake by the arm in order to wake him. He had desired me; as I have already mentioned, never to respect his repose an the arrival of bad news; but on the receipt of good news to let him sleep. I read to him the despatch, and so much was he confounded by this unexpected event that his first exclamation was, "Bah! you do not understand German." But hardly had be uttered these words when he arose, and by eight o'clock in the morning orders were despatched for repairing the possible consequences of this disaster, and countermanding the march of the troops on the Scrivia. He himself proceeded the same day to Stradella.
I have seen it mentioned in some accounts that the First Consul in person gained the battle of Montebello. This is a mistake. He did not leave Milan until the 9th of June, and that very day Lannes was engaged with the enemy. The conflict was so terrible that Lannes, a few days after, describing it in my presence to M. Collot, used these remarkable words, which I well remember: "Bones were cracking in my division like a shower of hail falling on a skylight."
By a singular chance Desaix, who was to contribute to the victory and stop the rout of Marengo, arrived from Egypt at Toulon, on the very day on which we departed from Paris. He was enabled to leave Egypt in consequence of the capitulation of El-Arish, which happened on the 4th of January 1800. He wrote me a letter, dated 16th Floreal, year VIII. (6th of May 1800), announcing his arrival. This letter I did not receive until we reached Martigny. I showed it to the First Consul. "Ah!" exclaimed he, "Desaix in Paris!" and he immediately despatched an order for him to repair to the headquarters of the army of Italy wherever they might be. Desaix arrived at Stradella on the morning of the 11th of June. The First Consul received him with the warmest cordiality, as a man for whom he had a high esteem, and whose talents and character afforded the fairest promise of what might one day be expected of him. Bonaparte was jealous of some generals, the rivalry of whose ambition he feared; but on this subject Desaix gave him no uneasiness; equally remarkable for his unassuming disposition, his talent, and information, he proved by his conduct that he loved glory for her own sake, and that every wish for the possession of political power was foreign to his mind. Bonaparte's friendship for him was enthusiastic. At this interview at Stradella, Desaix was closeted with the First Consul for upwards of three hours. On the day after his arrival an order of the day communicated to the army that Desaix was appointed to the command of Boudet's division.
—[Boudet was on terms of great intimacy with Bonaparte, who, no doubt, was much affected at his death. However, the only remark he made on receiving the intelligence, was "Who the devil shall I get to supply Boudet's place?"—Bourrienne.
The command given to Desaix was a corps especially formed of the two divisions of Boudet and Monnier (Savary, tome i. p. 262). Boudet was not killed at Marengo, still less before (see Erreurs, tome i. p. 14).]—
I expressed to Bonaparte my surprise at his long interview with Desaix. "Yes," replied he, "he has been a long time with me; but you know what a favourite he is. As soon as I return to Paris I will make him War Minister. I would make him a prince if I could. He is quite an antique character." Desaix died two days after he had completed his thirty-third year, and in less than a week after the above observations.
About this time M. Collot came to Italy and saw Bonaparte at Milan. The latter received him coldly, though he had not yet gained the battle of Marengo. M. Collot hed been on the most intimate footing with Bonaparte, and had rendered him many valuable services. These circumstances sufficiently accounted for Bonaparte's coolness, for he would never acknowledge himself under obligations to any one, and he did not like those who were initiated into certain family secrets which he had resolved to conceal.
—[The day after the interview I had a long conversation with M. Collot while Bonaparte was gone to review some corps stationed at Milan. M. Collot perfectly understood the cause of the unkind treatment he had experienced, and of which he gave me the following explanation:
Some days before the Consulate—that is to say, two or three days after our return from Egypt,—Bonaparte, during his jealous fit, spoke to M. Collot about his wife, her levities, and their publicity. "Henceforth," said Bonaparte, "I will have nothing to do with her."—"What, would you part from her?"—"Does not her conduct justify me in so doing?"—"I do not know; but is this the time to think of such a thing, when the eyes of all France are fixed upon you? These domestic squabbles will degrade you in the eyes of the people, who expect you to be wholly devoted to their interests; and you will be laughed at, like one of Moliere's husbands, if you are displeased with your wife's conduct you can call her to account when you have nothing better to do. Begin by raising up the state. After that you may find a thousand reasons for your resentment when now you would not find one. You know the French people well enough to see how important it is that you should not commence with this absurdity."
By these and other similar remarks M. Collot thought he had produced some impression, when Bonaparte suddenly exclaimed: "No, my determination is fixed; she shall never again enter my house. I care not what people say. They will gossip about the affair for two days, and on the third it will be forgotten. She shall go to Malmaison, and I will live here. The public know enough, not to be mistaken as to the reasons of her removal."
M. Collot vainly endeavoured to calm his irritation. Bonaparte vented a torrent of reproaches upon Josephine. "All this violence," observed M. Collot, "proves that you still love her. Do but see her, she will explain the business to your satisfaction and you will forgive her.—"I forgive her! Never! Collot, you know me. If I were not sure of my own resolution, I would tear out this heart, and cast it into the fire." Here anger almost choked his utterance, and he made a motion with his hand as if tearing his breast.
When this violent paroxysm had somewhat subsided M. Collot withdrew; but before he went away Bonaparte invited him to breakfast on the following morning.
At ten o'clock M. Collot was there, and as he was passing through the courtyard he was informed that Madame Bonaparte, who, as I have already mentioned, had gone to Lyons without meeting the General, had returned during the night. On M. Collot's entrance Bonaparte appeared considerably embarrassed. He led him into a side room, not wishing to bring him into the room where I was writing. "Well," said Bonaparte to M. Collot, "she is here."—"I rejoice to hear it. You have done well for yourself as well as for us."—" But do not imagine I have forgiven her. As long as I live I shall suspect. The fact is, that on her arrival I desired her to be gone; but that fool Joseph was there. What could I do, Collot? I saw her descend the staircase followed by Eugine and Hortense. They were all weeping; and I have not a heart to resist tears Eugene was with me in Egypt. I have been accustomed to look upon him as my adopted son. He is a fine brave lad. Hortense is just about to be introduced into society, and she is admired by all who know her. I confess, Collot, I was deeply moved; I could not endure the distress of the two poor children. 'Should they,' thought I, 'suffer for their mother's faults?' I called back Eugene and Hortense, and their mother followed them. What could I say, what could I do? I should not be a man without some weakness.'— "Be assured they will reward you for this."— "They ought, Collot they ought; for it has cost me a hard struggle." After this dialogue Bonaparte and M. Collot entered the breakfast-parlour, where I was then sitting. Eugene breakfasted with us, but neither Josephine nor Hortense. I have already related how I acted the part of mediator in this affair. Next day nothing was wanting to complete the reconciliation between the Conqueror of Egypt and the charming woman who conquered Bonaparte.— Bourrienne.]—
On the 13th the First Consul slept at Torre di Galifolo. During the evening he ordered a staff-officer to ascertain whether the Austrians had a bridge across the Bormida. A report arrived very late that there was none. This information set Bonaparte's mind at rest, and he went to bed very well satisfied; but early next morning, when a firing was heard, and he learned that the Austrians had debouched on the plain, where the troops were engaged, he flew into a furious passion, called the staff- officer a coward, and said he had not advanced far enough. He even spoke of bringing the matter to an investigation.
From motives of delicacy I refrain from mentioning the dame of the officer here alluded to.
Bonaparte mounted his horse and proceeded immediately to the scene of action. I did not see him again until six in tine evening. In obedience to his instructions; I repaired to San Giuliano, which is not above two leagues from the place where the engagement commenced. In the course of the afternoon I saw a great many wounded passing through the village, and shortly afterwards a multitude of fugitives. At San Giuliano nothing was talked of but a retreat, which, it was said, Bonaparte alone firmly opposed. I was then advised to leave San Giuliano, where I had just received a courier for the General-in-Chief. On the morning of the 14th General Desaix was sent towards Novi to observe the road to Genoa, which city had fallen several days before, in spite of the efforts of its illustrious defender, Massena. I returned with this division to San Giuliano. I was struck with the numerical weakness of the corps which was marching to aid an army already much reduced and dispersed. The battle was looked upon as lost, and so indeed it was. The First Consul having asked Desaix what he thought of it, that brave General bluntly replied, "The battle is completely lost; but it is only two o'clock, we have time to gain another to-day." I heard this from Bonaparte himself the same evening. Who could have imagined that Desaix's little corps, together with the few heavy cavalry commanded by General Kellerman, would, about five o'clock, have changed the fortune of the day? It cannot be denied that it was the instantaneous inspiration of Kellerman that converted a defeat into a victory, and decided the battle of Marengo.
That memorable battle, of which the results were incalculable, has been described in various ways. Bonaparte had an account of it commenced no less than three times; and I must confess that none of the narratives are more correct than that contained in the 'Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo'. The Emperor Napoleon became dissatisfied with what had been said by the First Consul Bonaparte. For my part, not having had the honour to bear a sword, I cannot say that I saw any particular movement executed this or that way; but I may mention here what I heard on the evening of the battle of Marengo respecting the probable chances of that event. As to the part which the First Consul took in it, the reader, perhaps, is sufficiently acquainted with his character to account for it. He did not choose that a result so decisive should be attributed to any other cause than the combinations of his genius, and if I had not known his insatiable thirst for glory I should have been surprised at the sort of half satisfaction evinced at the cause of the success amidst the joy manifested for the success itself. It must be confessed that in this he was very unlike Jourdan, Hoche, Kleber, and Moreau, who were ever ready to acknowledge the services of those who had fought under their orders.
Within two hours of the time when the divisions commanded by Desaix left San Giuliano I was joyfully surprised by the triumphant return of the army, whose fate, since the morning, had caused me so much anxiety. Never did fortune within so short a time show herself under two such various faces. At two o'clock all denoted the desolation of a defeat, with all its fatal consequences; at five victory was again faithful to the flag of Arcola. Italy was reconquered by a single blow, and the crown of France appeared in the perspective.
At seven in the evening, when I returned with the First Consul to headquarters, he expressed to me his sincere regret for the loss of Desaix, and then he added, "Little Kellerman made a lucky charge. He did it at just the right moment. We are much indebted to him. You see what trifling circumstances decide these affairs."
These few words show that Bonaparte sufficiently appreciated the services of Kellerman. However, when that officer approached the table at which were seated the First Consul and a number of his generals, Bonaparte merely said, "You made a pretty good charge." By way of counter- balancing this cool compliment he turned towards Bessieres, who commanded the horse grenadiers of the Guard, and said, "Bessieres, the Guard has covered itself with glory." Yet the fact is, that the Guard took no part in the charge of Kellerman, who could assemble only 500 heavy cavalry; and with this handful of brave men he cut in two the Austrian column, which had overwhelmed Desaix's division, and had made 6000 prisoners. The Guard did not charge at Marengo until nightfall.
Next day it was reported that Kellerman, in his first feeling of dissatisfaction at the dry congratulation he had received, said to the First Consul, "I have just placed the crown on your head!" I did not hear this, and I cannot vouch for the truth of its having been said. I could only have ascertained that fart through Bonaparte, and of course I could not, with propriety, remind him of a thing which must have been very offensive to him. However, whether true or not, the observation was circulated about, verbally and in writing, and Bonaparte knew it. Hence the small degree of favour shown to Kellerman, who was not made a general of division on the field of battle as a reward for his charge at Marengo.
—[If Savary's story be correct, and he was then aide de camp to
Desaix, and Bourrienne acknowledges his account to be the best, the
inspiration of the charge did not come from the young Kellerman.
Savary says that Desaix sent him to tell Napoleon that he could not
delay his attack, and that he must be supported by some cavalry.
Savary was then sent by Napoleon to a spot where he was told he would find Kellerman, to order him to charge in support of Desaix. Desaix and Kellerman were so placed as to be out of sight of each other (Savary, tome i. pp. 279-279). Thiers (tome i, p. 445) follows Savary.
It may here be mentioned that Savary, in his account of the battle, expressly states that he carried the order from Bonaparte to Kellerman to make this charge. He also makes the following observations on the subject:—
After the fall of the Imperial Government some pretended friends of General Kellerman have presumed to claim for him the merit of originating the charge of cavalry. That general, whose share of glory is sufficiently brilliant to gratify his most sanguine wishes, can have no knowledge of so presumptuous a pretension. I the more readily acquit him from the circumstance that, as we were conversing one day respecting that battle, I called to his mind my having brought, to him the First Consul's orders, and he appeared not to have forgotten that fact. I am far from suspecting his friends of the design of lessening the glory of either General Bonaparte or General Desaix; they know as well as myself that theirs are names so respected that they can never be affected by such detractions, and that it would be as vain to dispute the praise due to the Chief who planned the battle was to attempt to depreciate the brilliant share which General Kellerman had in its successful result. I will add to the above a few observations.
"From the position which he occupied General Desaix could not see General Kellerman; he had even desired me to request the First Consul to afford him the support of some cavalry. Neither could General Kellerman, from the point where he was stationed, perceive General Desaix's division; it is even probable that he was not aware of the arrival of that General, who had only joined the army two days before. Both were ignorant of each other's position, which the First Consul was alone acquainted with; he alone could introduce harmony into their movements; he alone could make their efforts respectively conduce to the same object.
"The fate of the battle was decided by Kellerman's bold charge; had it, however, been made previously to General Desaix's attack, in all probability it would have had a quite different result. Kellerman appears to have been convinced of it, since he allowed the Austrian column to cross our field of battle and extend its front beyond that of the troops we had still in line without making the least attempt to impede its progress. The reason of Kellerman's not charging it sooner was that it was too serious a movement, and the consequences of failure would have been irretrievable: that charge, therefore, could only enter into a general combination of plans, to which he was necessarily a stranger" (Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo, tome i. pp. 218-280).]—
M. Delaforet, the Postmaster-general, sometimes transacted business with the First Consul. The nature of this secret business may easily be guessed at.
—[When. M. Delaforet was replaced soon after this by Lavalette,
Napoleon ordered the discontinuance of the practice followed until
then of allowing letters to be opened by subordinate officials.
This right was restricted, as in England, to the Minister. However
bad this practice, it was limited, not extended, in his reign. See
Mineval, tome iii. pp. 60-62, and Lavalette, tome ii. p. 10.]—
On the occasion of one of their interviews the First Consul saw a letter from Kellerman to Lasalle, which contained the following passage: "Would you believe, my friend, that Bonaparte has not made me a general of division though I have just placed the crown on his head?" The letter was sealed again and sent to its address; but Bonaparte never forgot its contents.
Whether Kellerman did or did not give the crown of France to the First Consul, it is very certain that on the evening of the battle of Marengo he gave him a supper, of which his famishing staff and the rest of us partook. This was no inconsiderable service in the destitute condition in which we were. We thought ourselves exceeding fortunate in profiting by the precaution of Kellerman, who had procured provisions from one of those pious retreats which are always well supplied, and which soldiers are very glad to fall in with when campaigning. It was the convent del Bosco which on this occasion was laid under contribution; and in return for the abundance of good provisions and wine with which they supplied the commander of the heavy cavalry the holy fathers were allowed a guard to protect them against pillage and the other disastrous concomitants of war.
After supper was over the First Consul dictated to me the bulletin of the battle. When we were alone I said to him, "General, here is a fine victory! You recollect what you said the other day about the pleasure with which you would return to France after striking a grand blow in Italy; surely you must be satisfied now?"—"Yes, Bourrienne, I am satisfied. —But Desaix! . . . Ah, what a triumph would this have been if I could have embraced him to-night on the field of battle!" As he uttered these words I saw that Bonaparte was on the point of shedding tears, so sincere and profound was his grief for the death of Desaix. He certainly never loved, esteemed, or regretted any man so much.
The death of Desaix has been variously related, and I need not now state that the words attributed to him in the bulletin were imaginary. Neither did he die in the arms of his aide de camp, Lebrun, as I wrote from the dictation of the First Consul. The following facts are more correct, or at all events more probable:—the death of Desaix was not perceived at the moment it took place. He fell without saying a word, at a little distance from Lefebre-Desnouettes. A sergeant of battalion of the 9th brigade light infantry, commanded by Barrois, seeing him extended on the ground, asked permission to pick up his cloak. It was found to be perforated behind; and this circumstance leaves it doubtful whether Desaix was killed by some unlucky inadvertency, while advancing at the head of his troops, or by the enemy when turning towards his men to encourage them. However, the event was so instantaneous, the disorder so complete, and the change of fortune so sudden, that it is not surprising there should be no positive account of the circumstances which attended his death.
Early next morning the Prince of Liechtenstein came from General Melas with negotiations to the First Consul. The propositions of the General did not suit Bonaparte, and he declared to the Prince that the army shut up in Alessandria should evacuate freely, and with the honours of war; but on those conditions, which are well known, and by which Italy was to be fully restored to the French domination. That day were repaired the faults of Scherer, whose inertness and imbecility had paralysed everything, and who had fled, and been constantly beaten, from the Adriatic to Mont Cenis. The Prince of Liechtenstein begged to return to render an account of his mission to General Melas. He came back in the evening, and made many observations on the hard nature of the conditions. "Sir," replied the First Consul, in a tone of marked impatience, "carry my final determination to your General, and return quickly. It is irrevocable! Know that I am as well acquainted with your position as you are yourselves. I did not begin to learn the art of war yesterday. You are blocked up in Alessandria; you have many sick and wounded; you are in want of provisions and medicines. I occupy the whole of your rear. Your finest troops are among the killed and wounded. I might insist on harder conditions; my position would warrant me in so doing; but I moderate my demands in consideration of the gray hairs of your General, whom I respect."
This reply was delivered with considerable dignity and energy. I showed the Prince out, and he said to me, "These conditions are very hard, especially that of giving up Genoa, which surrendered to us only a fortnight ago, after so long a siege." It is a curious fact that the Emperor of Austria received intelligence of the capitulation and restitution of Genoa at the same time.
When the First Consul returned to Milan he made Savary and Rapp his aides de camp. They had previously served in the same rank under Desaix. The First Consul was at first not much disposed to take them, alleging that he had aides de camp enough. But his respect for the choice of Desaix, added to a little solicitation on my part, soon removed every obstacle. These two officers served him to the last hour of his political career with unfailing zeal and fidelity.
I have seen nothing in the Memoirs of the Due de Rovigo (Savary) about my having had anything to do with his admission to the honour. I can probably tell the reason why one of the two aides de camp has risen higher than the other. Rapp had an Alsatian frankness which always injured him.
Suspension of hostilities—Letter to the Consuls—Second Occupation of Milan—Bonaparte and Massena—Public acclamations and the voice of Josephine—Stray recollections—Organization of Piedmont—Sabres of honour—Rewards to the army of the Rhine—Pretended army of reserve—General Zach—Anniversary of the 14th of July—Monument to Desaix—Desaix and Foy—Bonaparte's speech in the Temple of Mars— Arrival of the Consular Guard—The bones of marshal Turenne— Lucien's successful speech—Letter from Lucien to Joseph Bonaparte— The First Consul's return to Paris—Accidents on the road— Difficulty of gaining lasting fame—Assassination of Kleber— Situation of the terrace on which Kleber was stabbed—Odious rumours —Arrival of a courier—A night scene—Bonaparte's distress on perusing the despatches from Egypt.
What little time, and how few events sometimes suffice to change the destiny of nations! We left Milan on the 13th of June, Marengo on the 14th, and on the 15th Italy was ours! A suspension of hostilities between the French and Austrian armies was the immediate result of a single battle; and by virtue of a convention, concluded between Berthier and Melas, we resumed possession of all the fortified places of any importance, with the exception of Mantua. As soon as this convention was signed Bonaparte dictated to me at Torre di Galifolo the following letter to his colleagues:
The day after the battle of Marengo, CITIZENS CONSULS, General Melas transmitted a message to our advance posts requesting permission to send General Skal to me. During the day the convention, of which I send you a copy, was drawn up, and at night it was signed by Generals Berthier and Melas. I hope the French people will be satisfied with the conduct, of their army. (Signed) Bonaparte
The only thing worthy of remark in this letter would be the concluding sentence, in which the First Consul still affected to acknowledge the sovereignty of the people, were it not that the words "Citizens Consuls" were evidently foisted in with a particular design. The battle was gained; and even in a trifling matter like this it was necessary that the two, other Consuls should feel that they were not so much the colleagues as the subordinates of the First Consul.
We returned to Milan, and our second occupation of that, city was marked by continued acclamations wherever the First Consul showed himself. At Milan the First Consul now saw Massena for the first time since our departure for Egypt. Bonaparte lavished upon, him the highest praises, but not higher than he deserved, for his admirable, defence of Genoa. He named him his successor in the command of the army of Italy. Moreau was on the Rhine, and therefore none but the conqueror of Zurich could properly have succeeded the First Consul in that command. The great blow was struck; but there might still occur an emergency requiring the presence of a skillful experienced general, well acquainted with the country. And besides, we could not be perfectly at ease, until it was ascertained what conditions would be adhered to by the Cabinet of Vienna, which was then entirely under the influence of the Cabinet of London. After our return from the battle the popular joy was general and heartfelt not only among the higher and middle ranks of society, but in all classes; and the affection evinced from all quarters to the First Consul was unfeigned. In what a tone of sincerity did he say to me one day, when returning from the parade, "Bourrienne, do you hear the acclamations still resounding? That noise is as sweet to me as the sound of Josephine's voice. How happy and proud I am to be loved by such a people!"
During our stay at Milan Bonaparte had arranged a new government for Piedmont; he had ever since cherished the wish to unite that rich and fertile country to the French territory because some Piedmontese provinces had been possessed by Louis XIV. That monarch was the only king whom the First Consul really admired. "If," said he one day, "Louis XIV. had not been born a king, he would have been a great man. But he did not know mankind; he could not know them, for he never knew misfortune." He admired the resolution of the old King, who would rather bury himself under the ruins of the monarchy than submit to degrading conditions, after having commanded the sovereigns of Europe. I recollect that Bonaparte was extremely pleased to see in the reports which he ordered to be made that in Casal, and in the valleys of Pignerol, Latour, and Luzerne, there still existed many traces of the period when those countries belonged to France; and that the French language was yet preserved there. He already began to identify himself with the past; and abusing the old kings of France was not the way to conciliate his favour.
The First Consul appointed for the government of Piedmont a Council which, as may naturally be imagined; he composed of those Piedmontese who were the declared partisans of France. He stated as the grounds of this arrangement that it was to give to Piedmont a new proof of the affection and attachment of the French people. He afterwards appointed General. Dupont President of the Council, with the title of Minister-Extraordinary of the French government. I will here mention a secret step taken by Bonaparte towards the overthrowing of the Republic. In making the first draught of General Dupont's appointment I had mechanically written, "Minister-Extraordinary of the French Republic."—"No! no!" said Bonaparte, "not of the Republic; say of the Government."
On his return to Paris the First Consul gave almost incredible proofs of his activity. The day after his arrival he promulgated a great number of decrees, and afterwards allotted the rewards to his soldiers. He appointed Kellerman General of division which, on every principle of justice, he ought to have done on the field of battle. He distributed sabres of honour, with the following inscription, highly complimentary to himself:—
"Battle of Maringo,—[spelt for some time, I do not know why, as,
Maringo—Bourrienne]— commanded in person by the First Consul.
—Given by the Government of the Republic to General Lannes."
Similar sabres where presented to Generals Victor, Watrin, Gardanne, and Murat; and sabres of less value to other officers: and also muskets and drumsticks of honour to the soldiers and drummers who had distinguished themselves at Marengo, or in the army of the Rhine; for Bonaparte took care that the officers and men who had fought under Moreau should be included among those to whom the national rewards were presented. He even had a medal struck to perpetuate the memory of the entry of the French army into Munich. It is worthy of remark that while official fabrications and exaggerated details of facts were published respecting Marengo and the short campaign of Italy, by a feigned modesty the victorious army of Marengo received the unambitious title of 'Army of Reserve'. By this artifice the honour of the Constitution was saved. The First Consul had not violated it. If he had marched to the field, and staked everything on a chance it was merely accidentally, for he commanded only an "Army of Reserve," which nevertheless he had greeted with the title of Grand Army before he entered upon the campaign. It is scarcely conceivable that Bonaparte, possessing as he did an extraordinary mind, should have descended to such pitiful artifices.
—[ Thiers (tome. vi., p. 70) says the title Grande Armee was first given by Napoleon to the force prepared in 1805 for the campaign against Austria. The Constitution forbad the First Consul to command the armies in person. Hence the title, "Army of Reserve," gives to the force which fought Marengo.]—
Even foreigners and prisoners were objects of Bonaparte's designing intentions. I recollect one evening his saying to me; "Bourrienne, write to the Minister of War, and tell him to select a fine brace of pistols, of the Versailles manufacture, and send them, in my name, to General Zach. He dined with me to-day, and highly praised our manufacture of arms. I should like to give him a token of remembrance; besides,—the, matter will be talked of at Vienna, and may perhaps do good!"
As soon as the news of the battle of Marengo reached Paris Lucien Bonaparte, Minister of the Interior, ordered preparations for the festival, fixed for the 14th of July, in commemoration of the first Federation. This festival and that of the 1st Vendemiaire were the only ones preserved by the Consular Government. Indeed, in those memorable days, when the Revolution appeared in its fairest point of view, France had never known such joy as that to which the battle of Marengo gave rise. Still, amidst all this popular transport there was a feeling of regret. The fame of Desaix, his heroic character, his death, the words attributed to him and believed to be true, caused mourning to be mingled with joy. It was agreed to open a subscription for erecting a national monument to his memory. A reflection naturally arises here upon the difference between the period referred to and the present time. France has endowed with nearly a million the children of one of her greatest orators and most eloquent defenders of public liberty, yet, for the monument to the memory of Desaix scarcely 20,000 francs were subscribed. Does not this form a singular contrast with the patriotic munificence displayed at the death of General Foy? The pitiful monument to Desaix, on the Place Dauphins, sufficiently attests the want of spirit on the part of the subscribers. Bonaparte, who was much dissatisfied with it, gave the name of Desaix to a new quay, the first stone of which was laid with great solemnity on the 14th of July.
On that day the crowd was immense in the Champ-de-Mars and in the Temple of Mars, the name which at that the Church of the Invalides still preserved. Lucien delivered a speech on the encouraging prospects of France, and Lannes made an appropriate address on presenting to the Government the flags taken at Marengo. Two more followed; one from an aide de cramp of Massena, and the other from an aide de camp of Lecourbe; and after the distribution of some medals the First Consul then delivered the following address:—
CITIZENS! SOLDIERS!—The flags presented to the Government, in the presence of the people of this immense capital, attest at once the genius of the Commanders-in-Chief Moreau, Massena, and Berthier; the military talents of the generals, their lieutenants; and bravery of the French soldiers.
On your return to the camp tell your comrades that for the 1st
Vendemiaire, when we shall celebrate the anniversary of the
Republic, the French people expect either peace or, if the enemy
obstinately refuse it, other flags, the fruit of fresh victories.
After this harangue of the First Consul, in which he addressed to the military in the name of the people, and ascribed to Berthier the glory of Marengo, a hymn was chanted, the words of which were written by M. de Fontanes and the music composed by Mehul. But what was most remarkable in this fete was neither the poetry, music, nor even the panegyrical eloquence of Lucien, — it was the arrival at the Champ-de-Mars, after the ceremony at the Invalides, of the Consular Guard returning from Marengo. I was at a window of the Ecole-Militaire, and I can never forget the commotion, almost electrical, which made the air resound with cries of enthusiasm at their appearance. These soldiers did not defile before the First Consul in fine uniforms as at a review. Leaving the field of battle when the firing ceased, they had crossed Lombardy, Piedmont, Mont Cenis, Savoy, and France in the space of twenty-nine days. They appeared worn by the fatigue of a long journey, with faces browned by the summer sun of Italy, and with their arms and clothing showing the effects of desperate struggles. Do you wish to have an idea of their appearance? You will find a perfect type in the first grenadier put by Gerard at one side of his picture of the battle of Austerlitz.
At the time of this fete, that is to say, in the middle of the month of July, the First Consul could not have imagined that the moderate conditions he had proposed after the victory would not be accepted by Austria. In the hope, therefore, of a peace which could not but be considered probable, he, for the first time since the establishment of the Consular Government, convoked the deputies of the departments, and appointed their time of assembling in Paris for the 1st Vendemiaire, a day which formed the close of one remarkable century and marked the commencement of another.
The remains of Marshal Turenne; to which Louis XIV. had awarded the honours of annihilation by giving them a place among the royal tombs in the vaults of St. Denis, had been torn from their grave at the time of the sacrilegious violation of the tombs. His bones, mingled indiscriminately with others, had long lain in obscurity in a garret of the College of Medicine when M. Lenoir collected and restored them to the ancient tomb of Turenne in the Mussee des Petits Augustins. Bonaparte- resolved to enshrine these relics in that sculptured marble with which the glory of Turenne could so well dispense. This was however, intended as a connecting link between the past days of France and the future to which he looked forward. He thought that the sentiments inspired by the solemn honours rendered to the memory of Turenne would dispose the deputies of the departments to receive with greater enthusiasm the pacific communications he hoped to be able to make.
However, the negotiations did not take the favourable turn which the First Consul had expected; and, notwithstanding all the address of Lucien, the communication was not heard without much uneasiness. But Lucien had prepared a speech quite to the taste of the First Consul. After dilating for some time on the efforts of the Government to obtain peace he deplored the tergiversations of Austria, accused the fatal influence of England, and added in a more elevated and solemn tone, "At the very moment when, the Consuls were leaving the Palace of the Government a courier arrived bearing despatches which the First Consul has directed me to communicate to you." He then read a note declaring that the Austrian Government consented to surrender to France the three fortresses of Ulm, Philipsburg, and Ingolstadt. This was considered as a security for the preliminaries of peace being speedily signed. The news was received with enthusiasm, and that anxious day closed in a way highly gratifying to the First Consul.
Whilst victory confirmed in Italy the destinies of the First Consul, his brothers were more concerned about their own interests than the affairs of France. They loved money as much as Bonaparte loved glory. A letter from Lucien to his brother Joseph, which I shall subjoin, shows how ready they always were to turn to their own advantage the glory and fortune of him to whom they were indebted for all their importance. I found this letter among my papers, but I cannot tell why and how I preserved it. It is interesting, inasmuch as it shows, the opinion that family of future kings entertained of their own situation, and of what their fate would have been had Bonaparte, like Desaix, fallen on the field of Marengo. It is, besides, curious to observe the, philosopher Lucien causing Te Deum, to be chanted with the view of influencing the public funds. At all events I copy Lucien's letter as he wrote it, giving the words marked in italics [CAPS] and the numerous notes of exclamation which distinguish the original.
MY BROTHER—I send you a courier; I particularly wish that the First Consul would give me notice of his arrival twenty-four hours beforehand, and that he would inform ME ALONE of the barrier by which he will enter. The city wishes to prepare triumphal arches for him, and it deserves not to be disappointed.
AT MY REQUEST a Te Deum was chanted yesterday. There were 60,000 persons present.
The intrigues of Auteuil continue.
—[This intrigue, so called from Talleyrand one of its heads, living in the suburb of Auteuil, arose from the wish of many of the most influential men to be prepared in case of the death of Napoleon in any action in Italy: It was simply a continuation of the same combinations which had been attempted or planned in 1799, till the arrival of Bonaparte from Egypt made the party choose him as the instrument for the overthrow of the Directors. There was little secrecy about their plans; see Miot de Melito (tome i p. 276), where Joseph Bonaparte tells his friends all that was being proposed in case his brother fell. Carnot seems to have been the most probable choice as leader and replacer of Bonaparte. In the above letter "C——," stands for Carrot, "La F——" for La Fayette, the "High Priest" is Sieyes, and the "friend of Auteuil" is Talleyrand; see Iung's Lucien, tome i. p. 411. The postscript seems to refer to a wretched scandal about Caroline, and Lucien; see Iung's Lucien, tome i. pp. 411, 432-433. The reader should remark the retention of this and other documents by Bourrienne, which forms one of the charges brought against him farther on.
—It has been found difficult to decide between C—— and La F——. The latter has proposed his daughter in marriage to me. Intrigue has been carried to the last extreme. I do not know yet whether the High Priest has decided for one party or the other. I believe that he would cheat them both for an Orleans, and your friend of Auteuil was at the bottom of all. The news of the battle of Marengo petrified them, and yet next day the High Priest certainly spent three hours with your friend of Auteuil. As to us, had the victory of Marengo closed the First Consul's career we should now have bean Proscribed.
Your letters say nothing of what I expected to hear. I hope at least to be informed of the answer from Vienna before any one. I am sorry you have not paid me back for the battle of Marengo.
The festival of the 14th of July will be very gratifying. We expect
peace as a certainty, and the triumphant return of the First Consul.
The family is all well. Your wife and all her family are at
Mortfontaine. Ney is at Paris. Why do you return with the First Consul?
Peace! and Italy! Think of our last interview. I embrace you.
On the margin is written—
P.S.— Read the letter addressed to the Consul, and give it to him AFTER
YOU HAVE CAREFULLY CLOSED IT.
Forward the enclosed. Madame Murat never lodged in my house. Her
husband is a fool, whom his wife ought to punish by not writing to him
for a month.
(Signed) LUCIEN BONAPARTE
Bonaparte, confirmed in his power by the victory of Marengo, remained some days longer at Milan to settle the affairs of Italy. He directed one to furnish Madame Grassini with money to pay her expenses to Paris. We departed amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants, and took the road to Turin. The First Consul stopped at Turin for some hours, and inspected the citadel, which had bean surrendered to us in pursuance of the capitulation of Alessandria. In passing over Mont Cenis we observed the carriage of Madame Kellerman, who was going to meet her husband. Bonaparte on recognizing the lady stopped his carriage and congratulated her on the gallant conduct of her husband at the battle of Marengo.
On our arrival at Lyons we alighted at the Hotel des Celestins, and the loud acclamations of a numerous multitude assembled round the hotel obliged Bonaparte to show himself on the balcony. Next day he proceeded to the Square of Bellecour, where, amidst the plaudits of the people, he laid the first stone of some new buildings destined to efface one of the disasters of the Revolution.
We left Lyons that evening and continued our journey by way of Dijon.
On our arrival in that town the joy of the inhabitants was very great.
I never saw a more graceful and captivating sight than that which was
presented by a group of beautiful young females, crowned with flowers,
who accompanied Bonaparte's carriage, and which at that period, when the
Revolution had renewed all the republican recollections of Greece and
Rome, looked like the chorus of females dancing around the victor at the
But all our journey was not so agreeable. Some accidents awaited us. The First Consul's carriage broke down between Villeneuve-le-Roi and Sens. He sent a courier to inform my mother that he would stop at her house till his carriage was repaired. He dined there, and we started again at seven in the evening.
But we had other disasters to encounter. One of our off-wheels came off, and as we were driving at a very rapid pace the carriage was overturned on the bridge at a short distance from Montreau-Faut-Yonne. The First Consul, who sat on my left, fell upon me, and sustained no injury. My head was slightly hurt by striking against some things which were in the pocket of the carriage; but this accident was not worth stopping for, and we arrived at Paris on the same night, the 2d of July. Duroc, who was the third in the carriage, was not hurt.
I have already mentioned that Bonaparte was rather talkative when travelling; and as we were passing through Burgundy, on our return to Paris from Marengo, he said exultingly, "Well, a few more events like this campaign, and I may go down to posterity."—"I think," replied I, that you have already done enough to secure great and lasting fame."— "Yes," resumed he, "I have done enough, it is true. In less than two years I have won Cairo, Paris, and Milan; but for all that, my dear fellow, were I to die to-morrow I should not at the end of ten centuries occupy half a page of general history!"
On the very day when Desaix fell on the field of Marengo Kleber was assassinated by a fanatical Mussulman, named Soleiman Haleby, who stabbed him with a dagger, and by that blow decided the fate of Egypt.
—["This fellah was, at most, eighteen or twenty years of age: he was a native of Damascus, and declared that he had quitted his native city by command of the grand vizier, who had entrusted him with the commission of repairing to Egypt and killing the grand sultan of the French [Bonaparte being probably intended]. That for this purpose alone he had left his family, and performed the whole journey on foot and had received from the grand vizier no other money than what was absolutely requisite for the exigencies of the journey. On arriving at Cairo he had gone forthwith to perform his devotions in the great mosque, and it was only on the eve of executing his project that he confided it to one of the scherifs of the mosque" (Duc de Rovigo's Memoirs, tome 1. p. 367)]—
Thus was France, on the same day, and almost at the same hour, deprived of two of her most distinguished generals. Menou, as senior in command, succeeded Kleber, and the First Consul confirmed the appointment. From that moment the loss of Egypt was inevitable.
I have a few details to give respecting the tragical death of Kleber. The house of Elfy Bey, which Bonaparte occupied at Cairo, and in which Kleber lived after his departure; had a terrace leading from a salon to an old ruined cistern, from which, down a few steps, there was an entrance into the garden. The terrace commanded a view of the grand square of El Beguyeh, which was to the right on coming out of the salon, while the garden was on the left. This terrace was Bonaparte's favourite promenade, especially in the evenings, when he used to walk up and down and converse with the persons about him, I often advised him to fill up the reservoir, and to make it level with the terrace. I even showed him, by concealing myself in it, and coming suddenly behind him, how easy it would be for any person to attempt his life and then escape, either by jumping into the square, or passing through the garden. He told me I was a coward, and was always in fear of death; and he determined not to make the alteration I suggested, which, however, he acknowledged to be advisable. Kleber's assassin availed himself of the facility which I so often apprehended might be fatal to Bonaparte.
I shall not atop to refute all the infamous rumours which were circulated respecting Kleber's death. When the First Consul received the unexpected intelligence he could scarcely believe it. He was deeply affected; and on reading the particulars of the assassination he instantly called to mind how often he had been in the same situation as that in which Kleber was killed, and all I had said respecting the danger of the reservoir— a danger from which it is inconceivable he should have escaped, especially after his Syrian expedition had excited the fury of the natives. Bonaparte's knowledge of Kleber's talents—the fact of his having confided to him the command of the army, and the aid which he constantly endeavoured to transmit to him, repelled at once the horrible suspicion of his having had the least participation in the crime, and the thought that he was gratified to hear of it.
It is very certain that Bonaparte's dislike of Kleber was as decided as the friendship he cherished for Desaix. Kleber's fame annoyed him, for he was weak enough to be annoyed at it. He knew the manner in which Kleber spoke of him, which was certainly not the most respectful. During the long and sanguinary siege of St. Jean d'Acre Kleber said to me, "That little scoundrel Bonaparte, who is no higher than my boot, will enslave France. See what a villainous expedition he has succeeded in involving us in." Kleber often made the same remark to others as well as to me. I am not certain that it was ever reported to Bonaparte; but there is reason to believe that those who found it their interest to accuse others did not spare Kleber.
Kleber, who was a sincere republican, saw and dreaded for his country's sake the secret views and inordinate ambition of Bonaparte. He was a grumbler by nature; yet he never evinced discontent in the discharge of his duties as a soldier. He swore and stormed, but marched bravely to the cannon's mouth: he was indeed courage personified. One day when he was in the trench at St. Jean d'Acre, standing up, and by his tall stature exposed to every shot, Bonaparte called to him, "Stoop down, Kleber, stoop down!"— "Why;" replied he, "your confounded trench does not reach to my knees." He never regarded the Egyptian expedition with a favourable eye. He thought it too expensive, and utterly useless to France. He was convinced that in the situation in which we stood, without a navy or a powerful Government, it would have been better to have confined our attention to Europe than to have wasted French blood and money on the banks of the Nile, and among the ruined cities of Syria. Kleber, who was a cool, reflecting man, judged Bonaparte without enthusiasm, a thing somewhat rare at that time, and he was not blind to any of his faults.
Bonaparte alleged that Kleber said to him, "General, you are as great as the world!" Such a remark is in direct opposition to Kleber's character. He was too sincere to say anything against his conviction. Bonaparte, always anxious to keep Egypt, of which the preservation alone could justify the conquest, allowed Kleber to speak because he acted at the same time. He knew that Kleber's sense of military duty would always triumph over any opposition he might cherish to his views and plans. Thus the death of his lieutenant, far from causing Bonaparte any feeling of satisfaction, afflicted him the more, because it almost totally deprived him if the hope of preserving a conquest which had cost France so dear, and which was his work.
The news of the death of Kleber arrived shortly after our return to Paris. Bonaparte was anxiously expecting accounts from Egypt, none having been received for a considerable time. The arrival of the courier who brought the fatal intelligence gave rise to a scene which I may relate here. It was two o'clock in the morning when the courier arrived at the Tuileries. In his hurry the First Consul could not wait to rouse any one to call me up. I had informed him some days before that if he should want me during the night he should send for me to the corridor, as I had changed my bedchamber on account of my wife's accouchement. He came up himself and instead of knocking at my door knocked at that of my secretary. The latter immediately rose, and opening the door to his surprise saw the First Consul with a candle in his hand, a Madras handkerchief on his head, and having on his gray greatcoat. Bonaparte, not knowing of the little step down into the room, slipped and nearly fell, "Where is Bourrienne?" asked he. The surprise of my secretary at the apparition of the First Consul can be imagined. "What; General, is it you?"—" Where is Bourrienne?" Then my secretary, in his shirt, showed the First Consul my door. After having told him that he was sorry at having called him up, Napoleon came to me. I dressed in a hurry, and we went downstairs to my usual room. We rang several times before they opened the door for us. The guards were not asleep, but having heard so much running to and fro feared we were thieves. At last they opened the door, and the First Consul threw on the table the immense packet of despatches which he had just received. They had been fumigated and steeped in vinegar. When he read the announcement of the death of Kleber the expression of his countenance sufficiently denoted the painful feelings which arose in his mind. I read in his face; EGYPT IS LOST!
Bonaparte's wish to negotiate with England and Austria—
An emigrant's letter—Domestic details—The bell—Conspiracy of
Ceracchi, Arena, Harrel, and others—Bonaparte's visit to the opera
—Arrests—Rariel appointed commandant of Vincennes—The Duc
d'Enghien's foster-sister—The 3d Nivoise—First performance of
Haydn's "Creation"—The infernal machine—Congratulatory addresses—
Arbitrary condemnations—M. Tissot erased from the list of the
banished—M. Truguet—Bonapartes' hatred of the Jacobins explained—
The real criminals discovered—Justification of Fouche—Execution of
St. Regent and Carbon—Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte—Conversation
between Bonaparte and Fouche—Pretended anger—Fouche's
dissimulation—Lucien's resignation—His embassy to Spain—War
between Spain and Portugal—Dinner at Fouche's—Treachery of Joseph
Bonaparte—A trick upon the First Consul—A three days' coolness—
The happy events of the campaign of Italy had been crowned by the armistice, concluded on the 6th of July. This armistice was broken on the 1st of September, and renewed after the battle of Hohenlinden. On his return from Marengo Bonaparte was received with more enthusiasm than ever. The rapidity with which, in a campaign of less than two months, he had restored the triumph of the French standard, excited universal astonishment. He then actively endeavoured to open negotiations with England and Austria; but difficulties opposed him in every direction. He frequently visited the theatre, where his presence attracted prodigious throngs of persons, all eager to see and applaud him.
The immense number of letters which were at this time addressed to the First Consul is scarcely conceivable. They contained requests for places, protestations of fidelity, and, in short, they were those petitionary circulars that are addressed to all persons in power. These letters were often exceedingly curious, and I have preserved many of them; among the rest was one from Durosel Beaumanoir, an emigrant who had fled to Jersey. This letter contains some interesting particulars relative to Bonaparte's family. It is dated Jersey, 12th July 1800, and the following are the moat remarkable passages it contains:
I trust; General, that I may, without indiscretion, intrude upon your notice, to remind you of what, I flatter myself, you have not totally forgotten, after having lived eighteen or nineteen years at Ajaccio. But you will, perhaps, be surprised that so trifling an item should be the subject of the letter which I have the honour to address to you. You cannot have forgotten, General, that when your late father was obliged to take your brothers from the college of Autun, from whence he went to see you at Brienne, he was unprovided with mousy, and he asked me for twenty-five louis, which I lent him with pleasure. After his return he had no opportunity of paying me, and when I left Ajaccio your mother offered to dispose of some plate in order to pay the debt. To this I objected, and told her that I would wait until she could pay me at her convenience, and previous to the breaking out of the revolution I believe it was not in her power to fulfil her wish of discharging the debt.
I am sorry, General, to be obliged to trouble yon about such a trifle. But such is my unfortunate situation that even this trifle is of some importance to me. Driven from my country, and obliged to take refuge in this island, where everything is exceedingly expensive, the little sum I have mentioned, which was formerly a matter of indifference, would now be of great service to me.
You will understand, General, that at the age of eighty-six, after serving served my country well for sixty years, without the least interruption, not counting the time of emigration, chased from every place, I have been obliged to take refuge here, to subsist on the scanty succour given by the English Government to the French emigrant. I say emigrant because I have been forced to be one. I had no intention of being one, but a horde of brigands, who came from Caen to my house to assassinate me, considered I had committed the great crime in being the senior general of the canton and in having the Grand Cross of St. Louis: this was too much for them; if it had not been for the cries of my neighbours, my door would have been broken open, and I should have been assassinated; and I had but time to fly by a door at the back, only carrying away what I had on me. At first I retired to Paris, but there they told me that I could do nothing but go into a foreign country, so great was the hate entertained for me by my fellow-citizens, although I lived in retirement, never having any discussion with any one. Thus, General; I have abandoned all I possessed, money and goods, leaving them at the mercy of what they call the nation, which has profited a good deal by this, as I have nothing left in the world, not even a spot to put my foot on. If even a horse had been reserved for me, General, I could ask for what depends on you, for I have heard it said that some emigrants have been allowed to return home. I do not even ask this favour, not having a place to rest my foot. And, besides, I have with me here an exiled brother, older than I am, very ill and in perfect second childhood, whom I could not abandon. I am resigned to my own unhappy fate, but my sole and great grief is that not only I myself have been ill-treated, but that my fate has, contrary to the law, injured relations whom I love and respect. I have a mother-in-law, eighty years old, who has been refused the dower I had given her from my property, and this will make me die a bankrupt if nothing is changed, which makes me miserable.
I acknowledge, General, that I know little of the new style, but, according to the old form, I am your humble servant,
I read this letter to the First Consul, who immediately said, "Bourrienne, this is sacred! Do not lose a minute. Send the old man ten times the sum. Write to General Durosel that he shall be immediately erased from the list of emigrants. What mischief those brigands of the Convention have done! I can never repair it all." Bonaparte uttered these words with a degree of emotion which I rarely saw him evince. In the evening he asked me whether I had executed his orders, which I had done without losing a moment. The death of M. Froth had given me a lesson as to the value of time!
Availing myself of the privilege I have already frequently taken of making abrupt transitions from one subject to another, according as the recollection of past circumstances occurs to my mind, I shall here note down a few details, which may not improperly be called domestic, and afterwards describe a conspiracy which was protected by the very man against whom it was hatched.
At the Tuileries, where the First Consul always resided during the winter and sometimes a part of the summer, the grand salon was situated between his cabinet and the Room in which he received the persons with whom he had appointed audiences. When in this audience-chamber, if he wanted anything or had occasion to speak to anybody, he pulled a bell which was answered by a confidential servant named Landoire, who was the messenger of the First Consul's cabinet. When Bonaparte's bell rung it was usually for the purpose of making some inquiry of me respecting a paper, a name, a date, or some matter of that sort; and then Landoire had to pass through the cabinet and salon to answer the bell and afterwards to return and to tell me I was wanted. Impatient at the delay occasioned by this running about, Bonaparte, without saying anything to me, ordered the bell to be altered so that it should ring within the cabinet; and exactly above my table. Next morning when I entered the cabinet I saw a man mounted-upon a ladder. "What are you doing here?" said I. "I am hanging a bell, sir." I called Landoire and asked him who had given the order. "The First Consul," he replied. I immediately ordered the man to come down and remove the ladder, which he accordingly did. When I went, according to custom, to awaken the First Consul and read the newspapers to him I said, "General, I found a man this morning hanging a bell in your cabinet. I was told it was by your orders; but being convinced there must be some mistake I sent him away. Surely the bell was not intended for you, and I cannot imagine it was intended for me: who then could it be for?—"What a stupid fellow that Landoire is!" said Bonaparte. "Yesterday, when Cambaceres was with me, I wanted you. Landoire did not come when I touched the bell. I thought it was broken, and ordered him to get it repaired. I suppose the bell-hanger was doing it when you saw him, for you know the wire passes through the cabinet." I was satisfied with this explanation, though I was not deceived, by it. For the sake of appearance he reproved Landoire, who, however, had done nothing more than execute the order he had received. How could he imagine I would submit to such treatment, considering that we had been friends since our boyhood, and that I was now living on full terms of confidence and familiarity with him?
Before I speak of the conspiracy of Ceracchi, Arena, Topino-Lebrun, and others, I must notice a remark made by Napoleon at St. Helena. He said, or is alleged to have said, "The two attempts which placed me in the greatest danger were those of the sculptor Ceracchi and of the fanatic of Schoenbrun." I was not at Schoenbrun at the time; but I am convinced that Bonaparte was in the most imminent danger. I have been informed on unquestionable authority that Staps set out from Erfurth with the intention of assassinating the Emperor; but he wanted the necessary courage for executing the design. He was armed with a large dagger, and was twice sufficiently near Napoleon to have struck him. I heard this from Rapp, who seized Stags, and felt the hilt of the dagger under his coat. On that occasion Bonaparte owed his life only to the irresolution of the young 'illuminato' who wished to sacrifice him to his fanatical fury. It is equally certain that on another occasion, respecting which the author of the St. Helena narrative observes complete silence, another fanatic—more dangerous than Steps attempted the life of Napoleon.
—[At the time of this attempt I was not with Napoleon; but he directed me to see the madmen who had formed the design of assassinating him. It will be seen in the coarse of these Memoirs what were has plans, and what was the result of them—Bourrienne]—
The following is a correct statement of the facts relative to Ceracchi's conspiracy. The plot itself was a mere shadow; but it was deemed advisable to give it substance, to exaggerate, at least in appearance, the danger to which the First Consul had been exposed:—
There was at that time in Paris an idle fellow called Harrel; he had been a 'chef de battalion', but he had been dismissed the service, and was consequently dissatisfied. He became connected with Cerracchi, Arena, Topino-Lebrun, and Demerville. From different motives all these individuals were violently hostile to the First Consul, who on his part, was no friend to Cerracchi and Arena, but scarcely knew the two others. These four individuals formed, in conjunction with Harrel, the design of assassinating the First Consul, and the time fixed for the perpetration of the deed was one evening when Bonaparte intended to visit the opera.
On the 20th of September 1804 Harrel came to me at the Tuileries. He revealed to me the plot in which he was engaged, and promised that his accomplices should be apprehended in the very act if I would supply him with money to bring the plot to maturity. I knew not how to act upon this disclosure, which I, however, could not reject without incurring too great a responsibility. I immediately communicated the business to the First Consul, who ordered me to supply Harrel with money; but not to mention the affair to Fouche, to whom he wished to prove that he knew better how to manage the police than he did.
Harrel came nearly every evening at eleven o'clock to inform me of the progress of the conspiracy, which I immediately communicated to the First Consul, who was not sorry to find Arena and Ceracchi deeply committed. But the time passed on, and nothing was done. The First Consul began to grow impatient. At length Harrel came to say that they had no money to purchase arms. Money was given him. He, however, returned next day to say that the gunsmith refused to sell them arms without authority. It was now found necessary to communicate the business to Fouche in order that he might grant the necessary permission to the gunsmith, which I was not empowered to do.
On the 10th of October the Consuls, after the breaking up of the Council, assembled in the cabinet of their colleague. Bonaparte asked them in my presence whether they thought he ought to go to the opera. They observed that as every precaution was taken no danger could be apprehended, and that it was desirable to show the futility of attempts against the First Consul's life. After dinner Bonaparte put on a greatcoat over his green uniform and got into his carriage accompanied by me and Duroc. He seated himself in front of his box, which at that time was on the left of the theatre between the two columns which separated the front and side boxes. When we had been in the theatre about half an hour the First Consul directed me to go and see what was doing in the corridor. Scarcely had I left the box than I heard a great uproar, and soon discovered that a number of persons, whose names I could not learn, had been arrested. I informed the First Consul of what I had heard, and we immediately returned to the Tuileries.
It is certain that the object of the conspiracy was to take the First Consul's life, and that the conspirators neglected nothing which could further the accomplishment of their atrocious design. The plot, however, was known through the disclosures of Harrel; and it would have been easy to avert instead of conjuring up the storm. Such was, and such still is, my opinion. Harrel's name was again restored to the army list, and he was appointed commandant of Vincennes. This post he held at the time of the Duc d'Enghien's assassination. I was afterwards told that his wife was foster-sister to the unfortunate prince, and that she recognised him when he entered the prison which in a few short hours was to prove his grave.
Carbonneau, one of the individuals condemned, candidly confessed the part he had taken in the plot, which he said was brought to maturity solely by the agents of the police, who were always eager to prove their zeal to their employers by some new discovery.
Although three months intervened between the machinations of Ceracchi and Arena and the horrible attempt of the 3d Nivose, I shall relate these two events in immediate succession; for if they had no other points of resemblance they were at least alike in their object. The conspirators in the first affair were of the revolutionary faction. They sought Bonaparte's life as if with the view of rendering his resemblance to Caesar so complete that not even a Brutus should be wanting. The latter, it must with regret be confessed, were of the Royalist party, and in their wish to destroy the First Consul they were not deterred by the fear of sacrificing a great number of citizens.
The police knew nothing of the plot of the 3d Nivose for two reasons; first, because they were no parties to it, and secondly, because two conspirators do not betray and sell each other when they are resolute in their purpose. In such cases the giving of information can arise only from two causes, the one excusable, the other infamous, viz. the dread of punishment, and the hope of reward. But neither of these causes influenced the conspirators of the 3d Nivose, the inventors and constructors of that machine which has so justly been denominated infernal!
On the 3d Nivose (24th December 1800) the first performance of Haydn's magnificent oratorio of the "Creation" took place at the opera, and the First Consul had expressed his intention of being present. I did not dine with him that day, but as he left me he said, "Bourrienne, you know I am going to the opera to-night, and you may go too; but I cannot take you in the carriage, as Lannes, Berthier, and Lauriston are going with me." I was very glad of this, for I much wished to hear one of the masterpieces of the German school of composition. I got to the opera before Bonaparte, who on his entrance seated himself, according to custom, in front of the box. The eye's of all present were fixed upon him, and he appeared to be perfectly calm and self-possessed. Lauriston, as soon as he saw me, came to my box, and told me that the First Consul, on his way to the opera, had narrowly escaped being assassinated in the Rue St. Nicaise by the explosion of a barrel of gunpowder, the concussion of which had shattered the windows of his carriage. "Within ten seconds after our escape," added Lauriston, "the coachman having turned the corner of the Rue St Honore, stopped to take the First Consul's orders; and he coolly said, 'To the opera.'"
—[The following particulars respecting the affair of the infernal machine are related by Rapp, who attended Madame Bonaparte to the opera. He differs from Bourrienne as to the total ignorance of the police:
"The affair of the infernal machine has never been property understood by the public. The police had intimated to Napoleon that an attempt would be made against his life and cautioned him not to go out. Madame Bonaparte, Mademoiselle Beauharnais, Madame Murat, Lannes, Bessieres, the aide de camp on duty, Lieutenant Lebrun, now duke of Placenza were all assembled in the salon, while the First Consul was writing in his cabinet. Haydn's oratorio was to be performed that evening; the ladies were anxious to hear the music, and we also expressed a wish to that effect. The escort piquet was ordered out; and Lannes requested that Napoleon would join the party. He consented; his carriage was ready, and he took along with him Bessieres and the aide de camp on duty. I was directed to attend the ladies. Josephine had received a magnificent shawl from Constantinople and she that evening wore it for the first time. 'Permit me to observe,' said I, 'that your shawl is not thrown on with your usual elegance.' She good-humouredly begged that I would fold it after the fashion of the Egyptian ladies. While I was engaged in this operation we heard Napoleon depart. 'Come sister,' said Madame Murat, who was impatient to get to the theatre: 'Bonaparte is going:' We stopped into the carriage: the First Consul's equipage had already reached the middle of the Place du Carrousel. We drove after it, but we had scarcely entered the place when the machine exploded. Napoleon escaped by a singular chance, St. Regent, or his servant Francois, had stationed himself in the middle of tho Rue Nicaise. A grenadier of the escort, supposing he was really what he appeared to be, a water-carrier, gave him a few blows with the flat of his sabre and drove him off. The cart was turned round, and the machine exploded between the carriages of Napoleon and Josephine. The ladies shrieked on hearing the report; the carriage windows were broken, and Mademoiselle Beauharnais received a slight hurt on her hand. I alighted and crossed the Rue Nicaise which was strewed with the bodies of those who had been thrown down, and the fragments of the walls that had been shattered with the explosion. Neither the consul nor any individual of his, suite sustained any serious injury. When I entered the theatre Napoleon was seated in his box; calm and composed, and looking at the audience through his opera-glass. Fouche was beside him. 'Josephine' said he as soon as he observed me. She entered at that instant and he did not finish his question 'The rascals' said he very cooly, wanted to blow me up: Bring me a book of the oratorio'" (Memoirs of General Count Rape. P. 19)]—
On hearing this I left the theatre and returned to the Palace, under the expectation that I should speedily be wanted. Bonaparte soon returned home; and as intelligence of the affair had spread through Paris the grand salon on the ground-floor was filled with a crowd of functionaries, eager to read in the eye of their master what they were to think and say on the occasion. He did not keep them long in suspense. "This," exclaimed he vehemently, "is the work of the Jacobins: they have attempted my life…. There are neither nobles, priests, nor Chouans in this affair!…. I know what I am about, and they need not think to impose on me. These are the Septembrizers who have been in open revolt and conspiracy, and arrayed against every succeeding Government. It is scarce three months since my life was attempted by Uracchi, Arena; Topino-Lebrun, and Demerville. They all belong to one gang! The cutthroats of September, the assassins of Versailles, the brigands of the 81st of May, the conspirators of Prairial are the authors of all the crimes committed against established Governments! If they cannot be checked they must be crashed! France must be purged of these ruffians!" It is impossible to form any idea of the bitterness with which Bonaparte, pronounced these words. In vain did some of the Councillors of State, and Fouche in particular, endeavour to point out to him that there was no evidence against any one, and that before he pronounced people to be guilty it would be right to ascertain the fact. Bonaparte repeated with increased violence what he had before said of the Jacobins; thus adding; not without some ground of suspicion, one crime more to, the long catalogue for which they had already to answer.
Fouche had many enemies, and I was not, therefore, surprised to find some of the Ministers endeavouring to take advantage of the difference between his opinion and that of the First Consul; and it must be owned that the utter ignorance of the police respecting this event was a circumstance not very favourable to Fouche. He, however, was like the reed in the fable—he bent with the wind, but was soon erect again. The most skilful actor could scarcely imitate the inflexible calmness he maintained during Bonaparte's paroxysm of rage, and the patience with which he allowed himself to be accused.
Fouche, when afterwards conversing with me, gave me clearly to understand that he did not think the Jacobins guilty. I mentioned this to the First Consul, but nothing could make him retract his opinion. "Fouche," said he, "has good reason for his silence. He is serving his own party. It is very natural that he should seek to screen a set of men who are polluted with blood and crimes! He was one of their leaders. Do not I know what he did at Lyons and the Loire? That explains Fouche's conduct now!"
This is the exact truth; and now let me contradict one of the thousand fictions about this event. It has been said and printed that "the dignitaries and the Ministers were assembled at the Tuileries. 'Well,' said the First Consul, advancing angrily towards Fouche, 'will you still say that this is the Royalist party?' Fouche, better informed than was believed, answered coolly, 'Yes, certainly, I shall say so; and, what is more, I shall prove it.' This speech caused general astonishment, but was afterwards fully borne out." This is pure invention. The First Consul only said to Fouche; "I do not trust to your police; I guard myself, and I watch till two in the morning." This however, was very rarely the case.
On the day after the explosion of the infernal machine a considerable concourse assembled at the Tuileries. There was absolutely a torrent of congratulations. The prefect of the Seine convoked the twelve mayors of Paris and came at their head to wait on the First Consul. In his reply to their address Bonaparte said, "As long as this gang of assassins confined their attacks to me personally I left the law to take its course; but since, by an unparalleled crime, they have endangered the lives of a portion of the population of Paris, their punishment must be as prompt as exemplary. A hundred of these wretches who have libeled liberty by perpetrating crimes in her name must be effectually prevented from renewing their atrocities." He then conversed with the Ministers, the Councillors of State, etc., on the event of the preceding day; and as all knew the First Consul's opinion of the authors of the crime each was eager to confirm it. The Council was several times assembled when the Senate was consulted, and the adroit Fouche, whose conscience yielded to the delicacy of his situation, addressed to the First Consul a report worthy of a Mazarin. At the same time the journals were filled with recollections of the Revolution, raked up for the purpose of connecting with past crimes the individuals on whom it was now wished to cast odium. It was decreed that a hundred persons should be banished; and the senate established its character for complaisance by passing a 'Senatus- consulte' conformable to the wishes of the First Consul.
A list was drawn up of the persons styled Jacobins, who were condemned to transportation. I was fortunate enough to obtain the erasure of the names of several whose opinions had perhaps been violent, but whose education and private character presented claims to recommendation. Some of my readers may probably recollect them without my naming them, and I shall only mention M. Tissot, for the purpose of recording, not the service I rendered him, but an instance of grateful acknowledgment.
When in 1815 Napoleon was on the point of entering Paris M. Tissot came to the prefecture of police, where I then was, and offered me his house as a safe asylum; assuring me I should there run no risk of being discovered. Though I did not accept the offer yet I gladly seize on this opportunity of making it known. It is gratifying to find that difference of political opinion does not always exclude sentiments of generosity and honour! I shall never forget the way in which the author of the essays on Virgil uttered the words 'Domus mea'.
But to return to the fatal list. Even while I write this I shudder to think of the way in which men utterly innocent were accused of a revolting crime without even the shadow of a proof. The name of an individual, his opinions, perhaps only assumed, were sufficient grounds for his banishment. A decree of the Consuls, dated 4th of January 1801, confirmed by a 'Senates-consulte' on the next day, banished from the territory of the Republic, and placed under special inspectors, 130 individuals, nine of whom were merely designated in the report as Septembrizers.
The exiles, who in the reports and in the public acts were so unjustly accused of being the authors of the infernal machine, were received at Nantes, with so much indignation that the military were compelled to interfere to save them from being massacred.
In the discussions which preceded the decree of the Consuls few persons had the courage to express a doubt respecting the guilt of the accused. Truguet was the first to mount the breach. He observed that without denying the Government the extraordinary means for ,getting rid of its enemies he could not but acknowledge that the emigrants threatened the purchasers of national domains, that the public mind was corrupted by pamphlets, and that— Here the First Consul, interrupting him, exclaimed, "To what pamphlets do you allude?"— "To pamphlets which are publicly circulated."—"Name them!"—"You know them as well as I do."
—[The Parallel between Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte, of which I shall speak a little farther on, is here alluded to.—Bourrienne.]—
After a long and angry ebullition the First Consul abruptly dismissed the Council. He observed that he would not be duped; that the villains were known; that they were Septembrizers, the hatchers of every mischief. He had said at a sitting three days before, "If proof should fail, we must take advantage of the public excitement. The event is to me merely the opportunity. They shall be banished for the 2d September, for the 31st May, for Baboeuf's conspiracy—or anything else."
On leaving one of the sittings of the Council, at which the question of a special tribunal had been discussed, he told me that he had been a little ruffled; that he had said a violent blow must be struck; that blood must be spilt; and that as many of the guilty should be shot as there had been victims of the explosion (from fifteen to twenty); that 200 should be banished, and the Republic purged of these scoundrels.
The arbitrariness and illegality of the proceeding were so evident that the 'Senatus-consulte' contained no mention of the transactions of the 3d Nivose, which was very remarkable. It was, however, declared that the measure of the previous day had been adopted with a view to the preservation of the Constitution. This was promising.
The First Consul manifested the most violent hatred of the Jacobins; for this he could not have been blamed if under the title of Jacobins he had not comprised every devoted advocate of public liberty. Their opposition annoyed him and he could never pardon them for having presumed to condemn his tyrannical acts, and to resist the destruction of the freedom which he had himself sworn to defend, but which he was incessantly labouring to overturn. These were the true motives of his conduct; and, conscious of his own faults, he regarded with dislike those who saw and disapproved of them. For this reason he was more afraid of those whom he called Jacobins than of the Royalists.
I am here recording the faults of Bonaparte, but I excuse him; situated as he was, any other person would have acted in the same way. Truth now reached him with difficulty, and when it was not agreeable he had no disposition to hear it. He was surrounded by flatterers; and, the greater number of those who approached him, far from telling him what they really thought; only repeated what he had himself been thinking. Hence he admired the wisdom of his Counsellors. Thus Fouche, to maintain himself in favour, was obliged to deliver up to his master 130 names chosen from among his own most intimate friends as objects of proscription.
Meanwhile Fouche, still believing that he was not deceived as to the real authors of the attempt of the 3d Nivose, set in motion with his usual dexterity all the springs of the police. His efforts, however, were for sometime unsuccessful; but at length on Saturday, the 31st January 1801, about two hours after our arrival at Malmaison, Fouche presented himself and produced authentic proofs of the accuracy of his conjectures. There was no longer any doubt on the subject; and Bonaparte saw clearly that the attempt of the 3d Nivose was the result of a plot hatched by the partisans of royalty. But as the act of proscription against those who were jumbled together under the title of the Jacobins had been executed, it was not to be revoked.
Thus the consequence of the 3d Nivose was that both the innocent and guilty were punished; with this difference, however, that the guilty at least had the benefit of a trial.
When the Jacobins, as they were called, were accused with such precipitation, Fouche had no positive proofs of their, innocence; and therefore their illegal condemnation ought not to be attributed to him. Sufficient odium is attached to his memory without his being charged with a crime he never committed. Still, I must say that had he boldly opposed the opinion of Bonaparte in the first burst of his fury he might have averted the blow. Every time he came to the Tuileries, even before he had acquired any traces of the truth, Fouche always declared to me his conviction of the innocence of the persons first accused. But he was afraid to make the same observation to Bonaparte. I often mentioned to him the opinion of the Minister of Police; but as proof was wanting he replied to me with a triumphant air, "Bah! bah! This is always the way with Fouche. Besides, it is of little consequence. At any rate we shall get rid of them. Should the guilty be discovered among the Royalists they also shall be punished."
"The real criminals being at length discovered through the researches of Fouche, St. Regent and Carbon expiated their crimes by the forfeit of their heads. Thus the First Consul gained his point, and justice gained hers.
—[It was St. Regent, or St. Rejeant, who fired the infernal machine. The violence of the shock flung him against a post and part of his breast bone was driven in. He was obliged to resort to a surgeon, and it would seem that this man denounced him. (Memoirs of Miot de Melito, tome i. p. 264).
The discussions which took place in the Council of State on this affair are remarkable, both for the violence of Napoleon and for the resistance made in the Council, to a great extent successfully, to his views as to the, plot being one of the Jacobin party.]—
I have often had occasion to notice the multifarious means employed by Bonaparte to arrive at the possession of supreme power, and to prepare men's minds for so great change. Those who have observed his life must have so remarked how entirely he was convinced of the truth that public opinion wastes itself on the rumour of a project and possesses no energy at the moment of its execution. In order, therefore, to direct public attention to the question of hereditary power a pamphlet was circulated about Paris, and the following is the history of it:—
In the month of December 1800, while Fouche was searching after the real authors of the attempt of the 3d Nivose, a small pamphlet, entitled "Parallel between Caesar, Cromwell, anal Bonaparte," was sent to the First Consul. He was absent when it came. I read it, and perceived that it openly advocated hereditary monarchy. I then knew nothing about the origin of this pamphlet, but I soon learned that it issued from the office of the Minister of the Interior [Lucien Bonaparte], and that it had been largely circulated. After reading it I laid it on the table. In a few minutes Bonaparte entered, and taking up the pamphlet pretended to look through it: "Have you read this?" said he.—"Yes, General."— "Well! what is your opinion of it?"—"I think it is calculated to produce an unfavourable effect on the public mind: it is ill-timed, for it prematurely reveals your views." The First Consul took the pamphlet and threw it on the ground, as he did all the stupid publications of the day after having slightly glanced over them. I was not singular in my opinion of the pamphlet, for next day the prefects in the immediate neighbourhood of Paris sent a copy of it to the First Consul, complaining of its mischievous effect; and I recollect that in one of their letters it was stated that such a work was calculated to direct against him the poniards of new assassins. After reading this correspondence he said to me, "Bourrienne, sent for Fouche; he must come directly, and give an account of this matter." In half an hour Fouche was in the First Consul's cabinet. No sooner had he entered than the following dialogue took place, in which the impetuous warmth of the one party was strangely contrasted with the phlegmatic and rather sardonic composure of the other.
"What pamphlet is this? What is said about it in Paris?"—"General, there is but one opinion of its dangerous tendency."—"Well, then, why did you allow it to appear?"—"General, I was obliged to show some consideration for the author!"—"Consideration for the author! What do you mean? You should have sent him to the temple."—"But, General, your brother Lucien patronises this pamphlet. It has been printed and published by his order. In short, it comes from the office of the Minister of the Interior."—"No matter for that! Your duty as Minister of Police was to have arrested Lucien, and sent him to the Temple. The fool does nothing but contrive how he can commit me!"
With these words the First Consul left the cabinet, shutting the door violently behind him. Being now alone with Fouche, I was eager to get an explanation of the suppressed smile which had more than once curled his lips during Bonaparte's angry expostulation. I easily perceived that there was something in reserve. "Send the author to the Temple!" said Fouche; "that would be no easy matter! Alarmed at the effect which this parallel between Caesar, Cromwell, and Bonaparte was likely to produce, I went to Lucien to point out to him his imprudence. He made me no answer, but went and got a manuscript, which he showed me, and which contained corrections and annotations in the First Consul's handwriting."
When Lucien heard how Bonaparte had expressed his displeasure at the pamphlet, he also came to the Tuileries to reproach his brother with having thrust him forward and then abandoned him. "'Tis your own fault," said the First Consul. "You have allowed yourself to be caught! So much the worse for you! Fouche is too cunning for you! You are a mere fool compared with him!" Lucien tendered his resignation, which was accepted, and he departed for Spain. This diplomatic mission turned to his advantage. It was necessary that one should veil the Machiavellian invention of the 'Parallel.'
—[The 'Parallel' has been attributed to different writers; some phrases seemed the work of Lucien, but, says Thiers (tome ii p. 210), its rare elegance of language and its classical knowledge of history should attribute it to its real anchor, Fontanel, Joseph Bonaparte (Erreurs tome i. p. 270) says that Fontanel wrote it, and Lucien Bonaparte corrected it. See Meneval, tome iii. p. 105. Whoever wrote it Napoleon certainly planned its issue. " It was," said he to Roederer, a work of which he himself had given the idea, but the last pages were by a fool" (Miot, tome i, p. 318). See also Lanfrey, tome ii. p. 208; and compare the story in Iung's Lucien, tome ii. p. 490. Miot, then in the confidence of Joseph, says, that Lucien's removal from, office was the result of an angry quarrel between him and Fouche in the presence of Napoleon, when Fouche attacked Lucien, not only for the pamphlet, but also for the disorder of his public and his private life; but Miot (tome i, p, 319) places the date of this as the 3d November, while Bourrienne dates the disapproval of the pamphlet in December.]—
Lucien, among other instructions, was directed to use all his endeavours to induce Spain to declare against Portugal in order to compel that power to separate herself from England.
The First Consul had always regarded Portugal as an English colony, and he conceived that to attack it was to assail England. He wished that Portugal should no longer favour England in her commercial relations, but that, like Spain, she should become dependent on him. Lucien was therefore sent as ambassador to Madrid, to second the Ministers of Charles IV. in prevailing on the King to invade Portugal. The King declared war, but it was not of long duration, and terminated almost without a blow being struck, by the taking of Olivenza. On the 6th of June 1801 Portugal signed the treaty of Badajoz, by which she promised to cede Olivenza, Almeida, and some other fortresses to Spain, and to close her ports against England. The First Consul, who was dissatisfied with the treaty, at first refused to ratify it. He still kept his army in Spain, and this proceeding determined Portugal to accede to some slight alterations in the first treaty. This business proved very advantageous to Lucien and Godoy.
The cabinet of the Tuileries was not the only place in which the question of hereditary succession was discussed. It was the constant subject of conversation in the salons of Paris, where a new dynasty was already spoken of. This was by no means displeasing to the First Consul; but he saw clearly that he had committed a mistake in agitating the question prematurely; for this reason he waged war against the Parallel, as he would not be suspected of having had any share in a design that had failed. One day he said to me, "I believe I have been a little too precipitate. The pear is not quite ripe!" The Consulate for life was accordingly postponed till 1802, and the hereditary empire till 1804.
After the failure of the artful publication of the pamphlet Fouche invited me to dine with him. As the First Consul wished me to dine out as seldom as possible, I informed him of the invitation I had received. He was, however, aware of it before, and he very readily gave me leave to go. At dinner Joseph was placed on the right of Fouche, and I next to Joseph, who talked of nothing but his brother, his designs, the pamphlet, and the bad effect produced by it. In all that fell from him there was a tone of blame and disapproval I told him my opinion, but with greater reserve than I had used towards his brother. He seemed to approve of what I said; his confidence encouraged me, and I saw with pleasure that he entertained sentiments entirely similar to my own. His unreserved manner so imposed upon me that, notwithstanding the experience I had acquired, I was far from suspecting myself to be in the company of a spy. Next day the First Consul said to me very coldly, "Leave my letters in the basket, I will open them myself." This unexpected direction surprised me exceedingly, and I determined to play him a trick in revenge for his unfounded distrust. For three mornings I laid at the bottom of the basket all the letters which I knew came from the Ministers, and all the reports which were addressed to me for the First Consul. I then covered them over with those which; judging from their envelopes and seals, appeared to be of that trifling kind with which the First Consul was daily overwhelmed: these usually consisted of requests that he would name the number of a lottery ticket, so, that the writer might have the benefit of his good luck—solicitations that he would stand godfather to a child—petitions for places—announcements of marriages and births— absurd eulogies, etc. Unaccustomed to open the letters, he became impatient at their number, and he opened very few. Often on the same day, but always on the morrow, came a fresh letter from a Minister, who asked for an answer to his former one, and who complained of not having received one. The First Consul unsealed some twenty letters and left the rest.
The opening of all these letters, which he was not at other times in the habit of looking at, annoyed him extremely; but as I neither wished to carry the joke too far, nor to remain in the disagreeable position in which Joseph's treachery had placed me, I determined to bring the matter to a conclusion. After the third day, when the business of the night, which had been interrupted by little fits of ill-humour, was concluded, Bonaparte retired to bed. Half an hour after I went to his chamber, to which I was admitted at all hours. I had a candle in my hand, and, taking a chair, I sat down on the right side of the bed, and placed the candle on the table. Both he and Josephine awoke. "What is the matter?" he asked with surprise. "General, I have come to tell you that I can no longer remain here, since I have lost your confidence. You know how sincerely I am devoted to you; if you have, then, anything to reproach me with, let me at least know it, for my situation during the last three days lies been very painful."—"What has Bourrienne done?" inquired Josephine earnestly. —"That does not concern you," he replied. Then turning to me he said, "Tis true, I have cause to complain of you. I have been informed that you have spoken of important affairs in a very indiscreet manner."—"I can assure you that I spoke to none but your brother. It was he who led me into the conversation, and he was too well versed in the business for me to tell him any secret. He may have reported to you what he pleased, but could not I do the same by him? I could accuse and betray him as he has accused and betrayed me. When I spoke in confidence to your brother, could I regard him as an inquisitor?"—"I must confess," replied Bonaparte, "that after what I heard from Joseph I thought it right to put my confidence in quarantine."—"The quarantine has lasted three days, General; surely that is long enough."—"Well, Bourrienne, let us say no more about it. Open my letters as usual; you will find the answers a good deal in arrear, which has much vexed me; and besides, I was always stumbling on some stupid nonsense or other!"
I fancy I still see and hear the amiable Josephine sitting up in bed and saying, in her gentle way, "What! Bonaparte, is it possible you could suspect Bourrienne, who is so attached to you, and who is your only friend? How could you suffer such a snare to be laid for him? What! a dinner got up on purpose! How I hate these odious police manoeuvres!" —"Go to sleep," said Bonaparte; let women mind their gewgaws, and not interfere with politics." It was near two in the morning before I retired.
When, after a few hours' sleep, I again saw the First Consul, he was more kind to me than ever, and I perceived that for the present every cloud had dispersed.'
—[Joseph Bonaparte (Erreurs, tome i. p. 273) says what he reported to his brother was Bourrienne's conversation to him in the First Consul's cabinet during Napoleon's absence. It is curious that at the only time when Napoleon became dissatisfied with Meneval (Bourrienne's successor), and ordered him not to open the letters, he used the same expression when returning to the usual order of business, which in this case was to a few hours. "My dear Meneval," said he, "there are circumstances in which I am forced to put my confidence in quarantine " (Meneval, tome i. p. 123). For any one who has had to manage an office it is pleasant to find that even Napoleon was much dependent on a good secretary. In an illness of his secretary he said, showing the encumbrance of his desk, "with Meneval I should soon clear off all that."(Meneval, tome i. p. 151.]
Austria bribed by England—M. de St. Julien in Paris—Duroc's mission—Rupture of the armistice—Surrender of three garrisons— M. Otto in London—Battle of Hohenlinden—Madame Moreau and Madame Hulot—Bonaparte's ill-treatment of the latter—Congress of Luneville—General Clarke—M. Maret—Peace between France and Austria—Joseph Bonaparte's speculations in the funds— M. de Talleyrand's advice—Post-office regulation—Cambaceres— Importance of good dinners in the affairs of Government—Steamboats and intriguers—Death of Paul I.—New thoughts of the reestablishment of Poland—Duroc at St. Petersburg—Bribe rejected— Death of Abercromby.
Mm armistice concluded after the battle of Marengo, which had been first broken and then resumed, continued to be observed for some time between the armies of the Rhine and Italy and the Imperial armies. But Austria, bribed by a subsidy of 2,000,000 sterling, would not treat for peace without the participation of England. She did not despair of recommencing the war successfully.
M. de St. Julien had signed preliminaries at Paris; but the Court of Vienna disavowed them, and Duroc, whom Bonaparte sent to convey the preliminaries to Vienna for the Imperial ratification, was not permitted to pass the Austrian advance poets. This unexpected proceeding, the result of the all-powerful influence of England, justly incensed the First Consul, who had given decided proofs of moderation and a wish for peace. "I want peace," said he to me, "to enable me to organise the interior; the people also want it. You see the conditions I offer. Austria, though beaten, obtains all she got at Campo-Formio. What can she want more? I could make further exactions; but, without fearing the reverses of 1799, I must think of the future. Besides, I want tranquillity, to enable me to settle the affairs of the interior, and to send aid to Malta and Egypt. But I will not be trifled with. I will force an immediate decision!"
In his irritation the First Consul despatched orders to Moreau, directing him to break the armistice and resume hostilities unless he regained possession of the bridges of the Rhine and the Danube by the surrender of Philipsburg, Ulm, and Ingolstadt. The Austrians then offered to treat with France on new bases. England wished to take part in the Congress, but to this the First Consul would not consent until she should sign a separate armistice and cease to make common cause with Austria.
The First Consul received intelligence of the occupation of the three garrisons on the 23d of September, the day he had fixed in his ultimatum to England for the renewal of hostilities. But for the meanwhile he was satisfied with the concessions of Austria: that power, in the expectation of being supported by England, asked her on what terms she was to treat.
During these communications with Austria M. Otto was in London negotiating for the exchange of prisoners. England would not hear of an armistice by sea like that which France had concluded with Austria by land. She alleged that, in case of a rupture, France would derive from that armistice greater advantage than Austria would gain by that already concluded. The difficulty and delay attending the necessary communications rendered these reasons plausible. The First Consul consented to accept other propositions from England, and to allow her to take part in the discussions of Luneville, but on condition that she should sign a treaty with him without the intervention of Austria. This England refused to do. Weary of this uncertainty, and the tergiversation of Austria, which was still under the influence of England, and feeling that the prolongation of such a state of things could only turn to his disadvantage, Bonaparte broke the armistice. He had already consented to sacrifices which his successes in Italy did not justify. The hope of an immediate peace had alone made him lose sight of the immense advantages which victory had given him.
Far from appearing sensible to the many proofs of moderation which the First Consul evinced, the combined insolence of England and Austria seemed only to increase. Orders were immediately given for resuming the offensive in Germany and Italy, and hostilities then recommenced.
The chances of fortune were long doubtful. After a reverse Austria made promises, and after an advantage she evaded them; but finally, fortune proved favourable to France. The French armies in Italy and Germany crossed the Mincio and the Danube, and the celebrated battle of Hohenlinden brought the French advanced posts within ten leagues of Vienna. This victory secured peace; for, profiting by past experience, the First Consul would not hear of any suspension of arms until Austria should consent to a separate treaty. Driven into her last intrenchments, Austria was obliged to yield. She abandoned England; and the English Cabinet, in spite of the subsidy of 2,000,000 sterling, consented to the separation. Great Britain was forced to come to this arrangement in consequence of the situation to which the successes of the army of Moreau had reduced Austria, which it was certain would be ruined by longer resistance.
England wished to enter into negotiations at Luneville. To this the First Consul acceded; but, as he saw that England was seeking to deceive him, he required that she should suspend hostilities with France, as Austria had done. Bonaparte very reasonably alleged that an indefinite armistice on the Continent would be more to the disadvantage of France than a long armistice by sea would be unfavourable to England. All this adjourned the preliminaries to 1801 and the peace to 1802.
The impatience and indignation of the First Consul had been highly excited by the evasions of Austria and the plots of England, for he knew all the intrigues that were carrying on for the restoration of the Bourbons. His joy may be therefore conceived when the battle of Hohenlinden balanced the scale of fortune in his favour. On the 3d of December 1800 Moreau gained that memorable victory which at length put an end to the hesitations of the Cabinet of Vienna.
—[On the eve of the battle of Hohenlinden Moreau was at supper with his aides de camp and several general officers, when a despatch was delivered to him. After he had read it be said to his guests, though he was far from being in the habit of boasting, "I am here made acquainted with Baron Kray's movements. They are all I could wish. To-morrow we will take from him 10,000 prisoners." Moreau took 40,000, besides a great many flags.— Bourrienne.]—
On the 6th of December the First Consul received intelligence of the battle of Hohenlinden. It was on a Saturday, and he had just returned from the theatre when I delivered the despatches to him. He literally danced for joy. I must say that he did not expect so important a result from the movements of the army of the Rhine. This victory gave a new face to his negotiations for peace, and determined the opening of the Congress of Luneville, which took place on the 1st of January following.
On receiving information of the battle of Hohenlinden, Madame Moreau came to the Tuileries to call on the First Consul and Madame Bonaparte. She did not see them, and repeated her calls several times with no better success. The last time she came she was accompanied by her mother, Madame Hulot. She waited for a considerable time in vain, and when she was going away her mother, who could no longer restrain her feelings, said aloud, before me and several persons of the household, that "it ill became the wife of the conqueror of Hohenlinden to dance attendance in this way." This remark reached the ears of those to whom it was directed. Madame Moreau shortly after rejoined her husband in Germany; and some time after her departure Madame Hulot came to Malmaison to solicit promotion for her eldest son, who was in the navy. Josephine received Madame Hulot very kindly, and requested her to stay to dinner. She accepted the invitation. The First Consul, who did not see her until the hour of dinner, treated her very coolly: he said little to her, and retired as soon as dinner was over. His rudeness was so marked and offensive that Josephine, who was always kind and amiable, thought it necessary to apologise, by observing that his mind was disturbed by the non-arrival of a courier whom he expected.
Bonaparte entertained no dislike of Moreau, because he did not fear him; and after the battle of Hohenlinden he spoke of him in the highest terms, and frankly acknowledged the services he had rendered on that important occasion; but he could not endure his wife's family, who, he said, were a set of intriguers.
—[Napoleon had good reason for his opinion. "Moreau had a mother- in-law and a wife lively and given to intrigue. Bonaparte could not bear intriguing women. Besides, on one occasion Madame Moreau's mother, when at Malmaison, had indulged in sharp remarks on a suspected scandalous intimacy between Bonaparte and his young sister Caroline, then just married. The Consul had not forgiven such conversation" (Remusat tome i. P. 192). see also Meneval, tome iii. p. 57, as to the mischief done by Madame Hulot.]—
Luneville having been fixed upon for the Congress, the First Consul sent his brother Joseph to treat with Count Louis de Cobentzel. On his way Joseph met M. de Cobentzel, who had passed Luneville, and was coming to Paris to sound the sentiments of the French Government. Joseph returned to Paris with him. After some conversation with the First Consul they set out next day for Luneville, of which place Bonaparte appointed General Clarke governor. This appeared to satisfy Clarke, who was very anxious to be something, and had long been importuning Bonaparte for an appointment.
A day or two after the news of the battle of Hohenlinden M. Maret came to present for Bonaparte's signature some, decrees made in Council. While affixing the signatures, and without looking up, the First Consul said to M. Maret, who was a favourite with him, and who was standing at his right hand, "Are you rich, Maret?"—"No, General."—" So much the worse: a man should be independent."—"General, I will never be dependent on any one but you." The First Consul then raised his eyes to Maret and said, "Hem! that is not bad!" and when the secretary-general was gone he said to me, "Maret is not deficient in cleverness: he made me a very good answer."
On the 9th of February 1801, six weeks after the opening of the Congress of Luneville, peace was signed between Austria and France. This peace— the fruit of Marengo and Hohenlinden—restored France to that honourable position which had been put in jeopardy by the feeble and incapable government of the pentarchy and the reverses of 1799. This peace, which in the treaty, according to custom, was called perpetual, lasted four years.
Joseph Bonaparte, while treating for France at Luneville, was speculating on the rise of the funds which he thought the peace would produce. Persons more wise, who were like him in the secret, sold out their stock at the moment when the certainty of the peace became known. But Joseph purchased to a great extent, in the hope of selling to advantage on the signature of peace. However, the news had been discounted, and a fall took place. Joseph's loss was considerable, and he could not satisfy the engagements in which his greedy and silly speculations had involved him. He applied to his brother, who neither wished nor was able to advance him the necessary sum. Bonaparte was, however, exceedingly sorry to see his elder brother in this embarrassment. He asked me what was to be done. I told him I did not know; but I advised him to consult M. de Talleyrand, from whom he had often received good advice. He did so, and M. de Talleyrand replied, with that air of coolness which is so peculiar to him, "What! is that all? Oh! that is nothing. It is easily settled. You have only to raise the price of the funds."—"But the money?"— "Oh, the money may be easily obtained. Make some deposits in the Mont- de-Piste, or the sinking fund. That will give you the necessary money to raise the funds; and then Joseph may sell out, and recover his losses." M. de Talleyrand's advice was adopted, and all succeeded as he had foretold. None but those who have heard M. de Talleyrand converse can form an accurate idea of his easy manner of expressing himself, his imperturbable coolness, the fixed unvarying expression of his countenance, and his vast fund of wit.
—[Talleyrand had a large experience in all sorts of speculation. When old he gave this counsel to one of his proteges: "Do not speculate. I have always speculated on assured information, and that has cost me so many millions;" and he named his losses. We may believe that in this reckoning he rather forgot the amount of his gains (Sainte-Beuve, Talleyrand, 93).]—
During the sitting of the Congress the First Consul learnt that the Government couriers conveyed to favoured individuals in Paris various things, but especially the delicacies of the table, and he ordered that this practice should be discontinued. On the very evening on which this order was issued Cambaceres entered the salon, where I was alone with the First Consul, who had already been laughing at the mortification which he knew this regulation would occasion to his colleague: "Well, Cambaceres, what brings you here at this time of night?"—"I come to solicit an exception to the order which you have just given to the Director of the Posts. How do you think a man can make friends unless he keeps a good table? You know very well how much good dinners assist the business of Government." The First Consul laughed, called him a gourmand, and, patting him on the shoulder, said, "Do not distress yourself, my dear Cambaceres; the couriers shall continue to bring you your 'dindes aux truffes', your Strasburg 'pates', your Mayence hams, and your other titbits."
Those who recollect the magnificent dinners given by Cambaceres and others, which were a general topic of conversation at the time, and who knew the ingenious calculation which was observed in the invitation of the guests, must be convinced of the vast influence of a good dinner in political affairs. As to Cambaceres, he did not believe that a good government could exist without good dinners; and his glory (for every man has his own particular glory) was to know that the luxuries of his table were the subject of eulogy throughout Paris, and even Europe. A banquet which commanded general suffrage was to him a Marengo or a Friedland.
—[Bourrienne does not exaggerate this excellent quality of the worthy Cambaceres. When Beugnot was sent to administer the Grand Duchy of Berg, Cambaceres said to him, "My dear Beugnot, the Emperor arranges crowns as he chooses; here is the Grand Duke of Berg (Murat) going to Naples; he is welcome, I have no objection, but every year the Grand Duke sent me a couple of dozen hams from his Grand Duchy, and I warn you I do not intend to lose them, so you must make your preparations . . . . I never once omitted to acquit myself of the obligation, and if there were any delay, . . his Highness never failed to cause one of his secretaries to write a good scolding to my house steward; but when the hams arrived exactly, his highness never failed to write to my wife himself to thank her.
This was not all; the hams were to come carriage free. This petty jobbery occasioned discontent, . . . and it would not have cost me more to pay the carriage. The Prince would not allow it. There was an agreement between him and Lavalette (the head of the Posts), . . . And my Lord appeared to lay as much stress on the performance of this treaty as on the procuring of the ham, (Beugnot, tome i. p. 262).
Cambaceres never suffered the cares of Government to distract his attention from the great object of life. On one occasion, for example, being detained in consultation with Napoleon beyond the appointed hour of dinner—it is said that the fate of the Duc d'Enghien was the topic under discussion—he was observed, when the hour became very late, to show great symptoms of impatience sod restlessness. He at last wrote a note which he called a gentleman usher in waiting to carry. Napoleon, suspecting the contents, nodded to an aide de camp to intercept the despatch. As he took it into his hands Cambaceres begged earnestly that he would not read a trifling note upon domestic matters. Napoleon persisted, and found it to be a note to the cook containing only the following words, "Gardez les entremetes—les rotis sont perdue." When Napoleon was in good humor at the result of a diplomatic conference he was accustomed to take leave of the plenipotentiaries with, "Go and dine "Cambaceres." His table was in fact an important state engine, as appears from the anecdote of the trout sent to him by the municipality of Geneva, and charged 300 francs in their accounts. The Imperial 'Cour des Comptes' having disallowed the item, was interdicted from meddling with similar municipal affairs in future (Hayward's Art of Dining, p. 20).]
At the commencement of 1801 Fulton presented to Bonaparte his memorial on steamboats. I urged a serious examination of the subject. "Bah!" said he, "these projectors are all either intriguers or visionaries. Don't trouble me about the business." I observed that the man whom he called an intriguer was only reviving an invention already known, and that it was wrong to reject the scheme without examination. He would not listen to me; and thus was adjourned, for some time, the practical application of a discovery which has given such an important impulse to trade and navigation.
Paul I. fell by the hands of assassins on the night of the 24th of March 1801. The First Consul was much shocked on receiving the intelligence. In the excitement caused by this unexpected event, which had so important an influence on his policy, he directed me to send the following note to the Moniteur:—
Paul I. died on the night of the 24th of March, and the English squadron passed the Sound on the 30th. History will reveal the connection which probably exists between these two events.
Thus were announced the crime of the 24th of March and the not ill- founded suspicions of its authors.
—[We do not attempt to rescue the fair name of out country. This is one among many instances in which Bourrienne was misled.—Editor of 1886 edition.]—
The amicable relations of Paul and Bonaparte had been daily strengthened. "In concert with the Czar," said Bonaparte, "I was sure of striking a mortal blow at the English power in India. A palace revolution has overthrown all my projects." This resolution, and the admiration of the Autocrat of Russia for the head of the French Republic, may certainly be numbered among the causes of Paul's death. The individuals generally accused at the time were those who were violently and perseveringly threatened, and who had the strongest interest in the succession of a new Emperor. I have seen a letter from a northern sovereign which in my mind leaves no doubt on this subject, and which specified the reward of the crime, and the part to be performed by each actor. But it must also be confessed that the conduct and character of Paul I., his tyrannical acts, his violent caprices, and his frequent excesses of despotism, had rendered him the object of accumulated hatred, for patience has its limit. These circumstances did not probably create the conspiracy, but they considerably facilitated the execution of the plot which deprived the Czar of his throne and his life.
As soon as Alexander ascended the throne the ideas of the First Consul respecting the dismemberment of Poland were revived, and almost wholly engrossed his mind. During his first campaign in Italy, and several times when in Egypt, he told Sulkowsky that it was his ardent wish to reestablish Poland, to avenge the iniquity of her dismemberment, and by that grand repertory act to restore the former equilibrium of Europe. He often dictated to me for the 'Moniteur' articles tending to prove, by various arguments, that Europe would never enjoy repose until those great spoilations were avenged and repaired; but he frequently destroyed these articles instead of sending them to press. His system of policy towards Russia changed shortly after the death of Paul. The thought of a war against that empire unceasingly occupied his mind, and gave birth to the idea of that fatal campaign which took place eleven years afterwards, and which had other causes than the re-establishment of Poland. That object was merely set forward as a pretext.
Duroc was sent to St. Petersburg to congratulate the Emperor Alexander on his accession to the throne. He arrived in the Russian capital on the 24th of May. Duroc, ,who was at this time very young, was a great favourite of the First Consul. He never importuned Bonaparte by his solicitations, and was never troublesome in recommending any one or busying himself as an agent for favour; yet he warmly advocated the cause of those whom he thought injured, and honestly repelled accusations which he knew to be false. These moral qualities; joined to an agreeable person and elegant manners, rendered him a very superior man.
The year 1801 was, moreover, marked by the fatal creation of special tribunals, which were in no way justified by the urgency of circumstances. This year also saw the re-establishment of the African Company, the treaty of Luneville (which augmented the advantages France had obtained by the treaty of Campo-Formio),and the peace concluded between Spain and Portugal by means of Lucien. On the subject of this peace I may mention that. Portugal, to obtain the cession of Olivenza, secretly offered Bonaparte, through me, 8,000,000 of francs if he would contribute his influence towards the acquisition of that town by Portugal. He, rejected this offer indignantly, declaring that he would never sell honour for money. He has been accused of having listened to a similar proposition at Passeriano, though in fact no such proposition was ever made to him. Those who bring forward such accusations little know the inflexibility of his principles on this point.
One evening in April 1801 an English paper—the London Gazette—arrived at Malmaison. It announced the landing in Egypt of the army commanded by Abercromby, the battle given by the English, and the death of their General. I immediately translated the article, and presented it to the First Consul, with the conviction that the news would be very painful to him. He doubted its truth, or at least pretended to do so. Several officers and aides de camp who were in the salon coincided in his opinion, especially Lannes, Bessieres, and Duroc. They thought by so doing to please the First Consul, who then said to me, in a jeering tone, "Bah! you do not understand English. This is the way with you: you are always inclined to believe bad news rather than good!" These words, and the approving smiles of the gentlemen present, ruffled me, and I said with some warmth, "How, General, can you believe that the English Government would publish officially so important an event if it were not true? Do you think that a Government that has any self-respect would, in the face of Europe, state a falsehood respecting an affair the truth of which cannot long remain unknown? Did you ever know an instance of so important an announcement proving untrue after it had been published in the London Gazette? I believe it to be true, and the smiles of these gentlemen will not alter my opinion." On these observations the First Consul rose and said, "Come, Bourrienne, I want you in the library." After we had left the salon he added, "This is always the way with you. Why are you vexed at such trifles? I assure you I believe the news but too confidently, and I feared it before it came. But they think they please me by thus appearing to doubt it. Never mind them."—"I ask your pardon," said I, "but I conceive the best way of proving my attachment to you is to tell you what I believe to be true. You desire me not to delay a moment in announcing bad news to you. It would be far worse to disguise than to conceal it."
An experiment of royalty—Louis de Bourbon and Maria Louisa, of
Spain—Creation of the kingdom of Etruria—The Count of Leghorn in
Paris—Entertainments given him—Bonaparte's opinion of the King of
Etruria—His departure for Florence, and bad reception there—
Negotiations with the Pope—Bonaparte's opinion on religion—Te Deum
at Notre Dame—Behaviour of the people in the church—Irreligion of
the Consular Court—Augerean's remark on the Te Deum—First Mass at
St. Cloud-Mass in Bonaparte's apartments—Talleyrand relieved from
his clerical vows—My appointment to the Council of State.
Before he placed two crowns on his own head Bonaparte thought it would promote the interests of his policy to place one on the head of a prince, and even a prince of the House of Bourbon. He wished to accustom the French to the sight of a king. It will hereafter be seen that he gave sceptres, like his confidence, conditionally, and that he was always ready to undo his own work when it became an obstacle to his ambitious designs.
In May 1801 the Infanta of Spain, Maria Louisa, third daughter of Charles IV., visited Paris. The Infante Louis de Bourbon, eldest son of the Duke of Parma, had gone to Madrid in 1798 to contract a marriage with Maria Amelia, the sister of Maria Louisa; but he fell in love with the latter. Godoy favoured the attachment, and employed all his influence to bring about the marriage. The son who, six years later, was born of this union, was named Charles Louis, after the King of Spain. France occupied the Duchy of Parma, which, in fulfilment of the conventions signed by Lucien Bonaparte, was to belong to her after the death of the reigning Duke. On the other hand, France was to cede the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to the son of the Duke of Parma; and Spain paid to France, according to stipulation, a considerable sum of money. Soon after the treaty was communicated to Don Louis and his wife they left Madrid and travelled through France. The prince took the title of Count of Leghorn. All accounts are unanimous as to the attentions which the Prince and Princess received on their journey. Among the, fetes in honour of the illustrious couple that given by M. de Talleyrand at Neuilly was remarkable for magnificence.
When the Count of Leghorn was coming to pay his first visit to Malmaison Bonaparte went into the drawing-room to see that everything was suitably prepared for his reception. In a few minutes he returned to his cabinet and said to me, somewhat out of humour, "Bourrienne, only think of their stupidity; they had not taken down the picture representing me on the summit of the Alps pointing to Lombardy and commanding the conquest of it. I have ordered its removal How mortifying it would have been if the Prince had seen it!"
Another picture in the drawing-room at Malmaison represented the First Consul sleeping on the snow on the summit of the Alps before the battle of Marengo.
The Count of Leghorn's visit to Paris imparted brilliancy to the first years of the reign of Bonaparte, of whom it was at that time said, "He made kings, but would not be one!"
At the representation of AEdipus, the following expression of Philactetes was received with transport:—
"J'ai fait des Souverains, et n'ai pas voulu l'etre."
["Monarchs I've made, but one I would not be."]
The First Consul, on leaving the theatre, did not conceal his satisfaction. He judged, from the applause with which that verse had been received, that his pamphlet was forgotten. The manner, moreover, in which a king, crowned by his hands, had been received by the public, was no indifferent matter to him, as he expected that the people would thus again become familiar with what had been so long proscribed.
This King, who, though well received and well entertained, was in all respects a very ordinary man, departed for Italy. I say very ordinary, not that I had an opportunity of judging of his character myself, but the First Consul told me that his capabilities were extremely limited; that he even felt repugnance to take a pen in his hand; that he never cast a thought on anything but his pleasures: in a word, that he was a fool.
One day, after the First Consul had spent several hours in company with him and his consort, he said to me, "I am quite tired. He is a mere automaton. I put a number of questions to him, but he can answer none. He is obliged to consult his wife, who makes him understand as well as she is able what he ought to say." The First Consul added, " The poor Prince will set off to-morrow, without knowing what he is going to do." I observed that it was a pity to see the happiness of the people of Tuscany entrusted to such a prince. Bonaparte replied, "Policy requires it. Besides, the young man is not worse than the usual run of kings." The Prince fully justified in Tuscany the opinion which the First Consul formed of him.
—[This unfortunate Prince was very ill-calculated to recommend, by his personal character, the institutions to which the nobility clung with so much fondness. Nature had endowed him with an excellent heart, but with very limited talents; and his mind had imbibed the false impress consequent upon his monastic education. He resided at Malmaison nearly the whole time of his visit to Paris. Madame Bonaparte used to lead the Queen to her own apartments; and as the First Consul never left his closet except to sit down to meals, the aides de camp were under the necessity of keeping the King company, and of endeavoring to entertain him, so wholly was he devoid of intellectual resources. It required, indeed, a great share of patience to listen to the frivolities which engrossed his attention. His turn of mind being thus laid open to view, care was taken to supply him with the playthings usually placed in the hands of children; he was, therefore, never at a loss for occupation. His nonentity was a source of regret to us: we lamented to see s tall handsome youth, destined to rule over his fellow-men, trembling at the eight of a horse, and wasting his time in the game of hide-and- seek, or at leap-frog and whose whole information consisted in knowing his prayers, and in saying grace before and after meals. Such, nevertheless, was the man to whom the destinies of a nation were about to be committed! When he left France to repair to his kingdom, "Rome need not be uneasy," said the First Consul to us after the farewell audience, "there is no danger of his crossing the Rubicon" (Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo, vol. i. p. 363).
In order to show still further attention to the King of Etruria, after his three weeks' visit to Paris, the First Consul directed him to be escorted to Italy by a French guard, and selected his brother-in-law Murat for that purpose.
The new King of a new kingdom entered Florence on the 12th of April 1801; but the reception given him by the Tuscans was not at all similar to what he had experienced at Paris. The people received the royal pair as sovereigns imposed on them by France. The ephemeral kingdom of Etruria lasted scarcely six years. The King died in 1803, in the flower of his age, and in 1807 the Queen was expelled from her throne by him who had constructed it for her.
At this period a powerful party urged Bonaparte to break with the Pope, and to establish a Gallican Church, the head of which should reside in France. They thought to flatter his ambition by indicating to him a new source of power which might establish a point of comparison between him and the first Roman emperors. But his ideas did not coincide with theirs on this subject. "I am convinced," said he, "that a part of France would become Protestant, especially if I were to favour that disposition. I am also certain that the much greater portion would remain Catholic, and would oppose, with the greatest zeal and fervour, the schism of a part of their fellow-citizens. I dread the religious quarrels, the family dissensions, and the public distractions, which such a state of things would inevitably occasion. In, reviving a religion which has always prevailed in the country, and which still prevails in the hearts of the people, and in giving the liberty of exercising their worship to the minority, I shall satisfy every one."
The First Consul, taking a superior view of the state of France, considered that the re-establishment of religious worship would prove a powerful support to his Government: and he had been occupied ever since the commencement of 1801 in preparing a Concordat with the Pope. It was signed in the month of July in the same year. It required some time to enable the parties to come to an understanding on the subject.
Cardinal Consalvi arrived, in the month of June 1801, at Paris, to arrange matters on the part of the Pope. Cardinal Caprara and M. de Spina also formed part of the embassy sent by the Holy Father. There were, besides, several able theologians, among whom Doctor C—— was distinguished.
—[The "Doctor C——"was Caselti, later Archbishop of Parma. Bonier was green the Bishopric of Orleans, not Versailles; see Erreurs, tome i, p. 276. The details of the surprise attempted at the last moment by putting before Cardinal Consalvi for his signature an altered copy of the Concordat should be read in his Memoirs (tome i. p. 355), or in Lanfrey (tome ii. p. 267). As for Napoleon's belief that part of the nation might become Protestant, Narbonne probably put the matter truly when he said there was not religion enough in France to stand a division. It should be noted that the Concordat did not so much restore the Catholic Church as destroy the old Gallican Church, with all its liberties, which might annoy either Pope or Emperor. But on this point see The Gallican Church and the Revolution, by Jervis: London, Began Paul, Trench and Co., 1882. The clergy may, it is true, have shown wisdom in acceding to any terms of restoration.
He was a member of the Pope's chancery; his knowledge gave him so much influence over his colleagues that affairs advanced only as much as he pleased. However, he was gained over by honours conferred on him, and promises of money. Business then went on a little quicker. The Concordat was signed on the 15th of July 1801, and made a law of the State in the following April. The plenipotentiaries on the part of Bonaparte were Joseph Bonaparte, Cretet, and the Abby Bernier, afterwards Bishop of Versailles. —[Orleans not Versailles. D.W.]
A solemn Te Deum was chanted at the cathedral of Notre Dame on Sunday, the 11th of April. The crowd was immense, and the greater part of those present stood during the ceremony, which was splendid in the extreme; but who would presume to say that the general feeling was in harmony with all this pomp? Was, then, the time for this innovation not yet arrived? Was it too abrupt a transition from the habits of the twelve preceding years? It is unquestionably true that a great number of the persons present at the ceremony expressed, in their countenances and gestures, rather a feeling of impatience and displeasure than of satisfaction or of reverence for the place in which they were. Here and there murmurs arose expressive of discontent. The whispering, which I might more properly call open conversation, often interrupted the divine service, and sometimes observations were made which were far from being moderate. Some would turn their heads aside on purpose to take a bit of chocolate- cake, and biscuits were openly eaten by many who seemed to pay no attention to what was passing.
The Consular Court was in general extremely irreligious; nor could it be expected to be otherwise, being composed chiefly of those who had assisted in the annihilation of all religious worship in France, and of men who, having passed their lives in camps, had oftener entered a church in Italy to carry off a painting than to hear the Mass. Those who, without being imbued with any religious ideas, possessed that good sense which induces men to pay respect to the belief of others, though it be one in which they do not participate, did not blame the First Consul for his conduct, and conducted themselves with some regard to decency. But on the road from the Tuileries to Notre Dame, Lannes and Augereau wanted to alight from the carriage as soon as they saw that they ware being driven to Mass, and it required an order from the First Consul to prevent their doing so. They went therefore to Notre Dame, and the next day Bonaparte asked Augereau what he thought of the ceremony. "Oh! it was all very fine," replied the General; "there was nothing wanting, except the million of men who have perished in the pulling down of what you are setting up." Bonaparte was much displeased at this remark.
—[This remark has been attributed elsewhere to General Delmas.
According to a gentleman who played a part in this empty pageantry, Lannes at one moment did get out of the carriage, and Augerean kept swearing in no low whisper during the whole of the chanted Mass. Most of the military chiefs who sprang out of the Revolution had no religion at all, but there were some who were Protestants, and who were irritated by the restoration of Catholicism as the national faith.—Editor of 1896 edition.]—
During the negotiations with the Holy Father Bonaparte one day said to me, "In every country religion is useful to the Government, and those who govern ought to avail themselves of it to influence mankind. I was a Mahometan in Egypt; I am a Catholic in France. With relation to the police of the religion of a state, it should be entirely in the hands of the sovereign. Many persons have urged me to found a Gallican Church, and make myself its head; but they do not know France. If they did, they would know that the majority of the people would not like a rupture with Rome. Before I can resolve on such a measure the Pope must push matters to an extremity; but I believe he will not do so."—"You are right, General, and you recall to my memory what Cardinal Consalvi said: 'The Pope will do all the First Consul desires.'"—"That is the best course for him. Let him not suppose that he has to do with an idiot. What do you think is the point his negotiations put most forward? The salvation of my soul! But with me immortality is the recollection one leaves in the memory of man. That idea prompts to great actions. It would be better for a man never to have lived than to leave behind him no traces of his existence."
Many endeavours were made to persuade the First Consul to perform in public the duties imposed by the Catholic religion. An influential example, it was urged, was required. He told me once that he had put an end to that request by the following declaration: "Enough of this. Ask me no more. You will not obtain your object. You shall never make a hypocrite of me. Let us remain where we are."
I have read in a work remarkable on many accounts that it was on the occasion of the Concordat of the 15th July 1801 that the First Consul abolished the republican calendar and reestablished the Gregorian. This is an error. He did not make the calendar a religious affair. The 'Senatus-consulte', which restored the use of the Gregorian calendar, to commence in the French Empire from the 11th Nivose, year XIV. (1st January 1806), was adopted on the 22d Fructidor, year XIII. (9th September 1805), more than four years after the Concordat. The re- establishment of the ancient calendar had no other object than to bring us into harmony with the rest of Europe on a point so closely connected with daily transactions, which were much embarrassed by the decadary calendar.
Bonaparte at length, however, consented to hear Mass, and St. Cloud was the place where this ancient usage was first re-established. He directed the ceremony to commence sooner than the hour announced in order that those who would only make a scoff at it might not arrive until the service was ended.
Whenever the First Consul determined to hear Mass publicly on Sundays in the chapel of the Palace a small altar was prepared in a room near his cabinet of business. This room had been Anne of Austria's oratory. A small portable altar, placed on a platform one step high, restored it to its original destination. During the rest of the week this chapel was used as a bathing-room. On Sunday the door of communication was opened, and we heard Mass sitting in our cabinet of business. The number of persons there never exceeded three or four, and the First Consul seldom failed to transact some business during the ceremony, which never lasted longer than twelve minutes. Next day all the papers had the news that the First Consul had heard Mass in his apartments. In the same way Louis XVIII. has often heard it in his!
On the 19th of July 1801 a papal bull absolved Talleyrand from his vows. He immediately married Madame Grandt, and the affair obtained little notice at the time. This statement sufficiently proves how report has perverted the fact. It has been said that Bonaparte on becoming Emperor wished to restore that decorum which the Revolution had destroyed, and therefore resolved to put an end to the improper intimacy which subsisted between Talleyrand and Madame Grandt. It is alleged that the Minister at first refused to marry the lady, but that he at last found it necessary to obey the peremptory order of his master. This pretended resurrection of morality by Bonaparte is excessively ridiculous. The bull was not registered in the Council of State until the 19th of August 1802.
—[The First Consul had on several occasions urged M. de Talleyrand to return to holy orders. He pointed out to him that that course world be most becoming his age and high birth, and premised that he should be made a cardinal, thus raising him to a par with Richelieu, and giving additional lustre to his administration (Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo, vol. i. p. 426).
But M. de Talleyrand vindicated his choice, saying, "A clever wife often compromises her husband; a stupid one only compromises herself" (Historical Characters, p.122, Bulwer, Lord Dulling).]—
I will end this chapter by a story somewhat foreign to the preceding transactions, but which personally concerns myself. On the 20th of July 1801 the First Consul, 'ex proprio motu', named me a Councillor of State extraordinary. Madame Bonaparte kindly condescended to have an elegant but somewhat ideal costume made for me. It pleased the First Consul, however, and he had a similar one made for himself. He wore it a short time and then left it off. Never had Bonaparte since his elevation shown himself so amiable as on this occasion.
Last chapter on Egypt—Admiral Gantheaume—Way to please Bonaparte— General Menou's flattery and his reward—Davoust—Bonaparte regrets giving the command to Menou, who is defeated by Abercromby—Otto's negotiation in London—Preliminaries of peace.
For the last time in these Memoirs I shall return to the affairs of Egypt—to that episode which embraces so short a space of time and holds so high a place in the life of Bonaparte. Of all his conquests he set the highest value on Egypt, because it spread the glory of his name throughout the East. Accordingly he left nothing unattempted for the preservation of that colony. In a letter to General Kleber he said, "You are as able as I am to understand how important is the possession of Egypt to France. The Turkish Empire, in which the symptoms of decay are everywhere discernible, is at present falling to pieces, and the evil of the evacuation of Egypt by France would now be the greater, as we should soon see that fine province pass into the possession of some other European power." The selection of Gantheaume, however, to carry assistance to Kleber was not judicious. Gantheaume had brought the First Consul back from Egypt, and though the success of the passage could only be attributed to Bonaparte's own plan, his determined character, and superior judgment, yet he preserved towards Gantheaume that favourable disposition which is naturally felt for one who has shared a great danger with us, and upon whom the responsibility may be said to have been imposed.
This confidence in mediocrity, dictated by an honourable feeling, did not obtain a suitable return. Gantheaume, by his indecision and creeping about in the Mediterranean, had already failed to execute a commission entrusted to him. The First Consul, upon finding he did not leave Brest after he had been ordered to the Mediterranean, repeatedly said to me, "What the devil is Gantheaume about?" With one of the daily reports sent to the First Consul he received the following quatrain, which made him laugh heartily:
"Vaisseaux lestes, tete sans lest,
Ainsi part l'Amiral Gantheaume;
Il s'en va de Brest a Bertheaume,
Et revient de Bertheaume a Brest!"
"With ballast on board, but none in his brain,
Away went our gallant Gantheaume,
On a voyage from Brest to Bertheaume,
And then from Bertheaume—to Brest back again!"
Gantheaume's hesitation, his frequent tergiversations, his arrival at
Toulon, his tardy departure, and his return to that port on the 19th of
February 1801, only ten days prior to Admiral Keith's appearance with Sir
Ralph Abercromby off Alexandria, completely foiled all the plans which
Bonaparte had conceived of conveying succour and reinforcements to a
colony on the brink of destruction.
Bonaparte was then dreaming that many French families would carry back civilisation, science, and art to that country which was their cradle. But it could not be concealed that his departure from Egypt in 1799 had prepared the way for the loss of that country, which was hastened by Kleber's death and the choice of Menou as his successor.
A sure way of paying court to the First Consul and gaining his favour was to eulogise his views about Egypt, and to appear zealous for maintaining the possession of that country. By these means it was that Menou gained his confidence. In the first year of the occupation of that country he laid before him his dreams respecting Africa. He spoke of the negroes of Senegal, Mozambique, Mehedie, Marabout, and other barbarous countries which were all at once to assume a new aspect, and become civilised, in consequence of the French possession of Egypt. To Menou's adulation is to be attributed the favourable reception given him by the First Consul, even after his return from Egypt, of which his foolish conduct had allowed the English to get possession. The First Consul appointed him Governor of Piedmont, and at my request gave my elder brother the situation of Commissary-General of Police in that country; but I am in candour obliged to confess that the First Consul was obliged to retract this mark of his favour in consequence of my brother's making an abuse of it.
It was also by flattering the First Consul on the question of the East that Davoust, on his return from Egypt in 1800 in consequence of the Convention of El-Ariah, insinuated himself into Bonaparte's good graces and, if he did not deserve, obtained his favour. At that time Davoust certainly had no title whatever to the good fortune which he suddenly experienced. He obtained, without first serving in a subordinate rank, the command-in-chief of the grenadiers of the Consular Guard; and from that time commenced the deadly hatred which Davoust bore towards me. Astonished at the great length of time that Bonaparte had been one day conversing with him I said, as soon as he was gone, "How could you talk so long with a man whom you have always called a stupid fellow?"—"Ah! but I did not know him well enough before. He is a better man, I assure you, than he is thought; and you will come over to my opinion."—"I hope so." The First Consul, who was often extremely indiscreet, told Davoust my opinion of him, and his hostility against me ceased but with his life.
The First Consul could not forget his cherished conquest in the East. It was constantly the object of his thoughts. He endeavoured to send reinforcements to his army from Brest and Toulon, but without success. He soon had cause to repent having entrusted to the hands of Menou the command-in-chief, to which he became entitled only by seniority, after the assassination of Kleber by Soleiman Heleby. But Bonaparte's indignation was excited when he became acquainted with Menou's neglect and mismanagement, when he saw him giving reins to his passion for reform, altering and destroying everything, creating nothing good in its stead, and dreaming about forming a land communication with the Hottentots and Congo instead of studying how to preserve the country. His pitiful plans of defence, which were useless from their want of combination, appeared to the First Consul the height of ignorance. Forgetful of all the principles of strategy, of which Bonaparte's conduct afforded so many examples, he opposed to the landing of Abercromby a few isolated corps, which were unable to withstand the enemy's attack, while the English army might have been entirely annihilated had all the disposable troops been sent against it.
The great admiration which Menou expressed at the expedition to Egypt; his excessive fondness for that country, the religion of which he had ridiculously enough embraced under the name of Abdallah; the efforts he made, in his sphere, to preserve the colony; his enthusiasm and blind attachment to Bonaparte; the flattering and encouraging accounts he gave of the situation of the army, at first had the effect of entirely covering Menou's incapacity.
—[For a ludicrous description of Menou see the Memoirs of Marmont:- "Clever and gay, ho was an agreeable talker, but a great liar. He was not destitute of some education. His character, one of the oddest in the world, came very near to lunacy: Constantly writing, always in motion in his room, riding for exercise every day, he was never able to start on any necessary of useful journey . . . . When, later, Bonaparte, then First Consul, gave him by special favour the administration of Piedmont, he put off his departure from day to day for six months; and then he only did start because his friend Maret himself put him into his carriage, with post-horses already harnessed to it . . . . When he left this post they found in his cabinet 900 letters which he had not opened. He was an eccentric lunatic, amusing enough sometimes, but a curse to everything which depended on him " (Memoirs of the Duc de Raguse, tome i. p. 410).]—
This alone can account for the First Consul's preference of him. But I am far from concurring in what has been asserted by many persons, that France lost Egypt at the very moment when it seemed most easy of preservation. Egypt was conquered by a genius of vast intelligence, great capacity, and profound military science. Fatuity, stupidity, and incapacity lost it. What was the result of that memorable expedition? The destruction of one of our finest armies; the loss of some of our best generals; the annihilation of our navy; the surrender of Malta; and the sovereignty of England in the Mediterranean. What is the result at present? A scientific work. The gossiping stories and mystifications of Herodotus, and the reveries of the good Rollin, are worth as much, and have not cost so dear.
The First Consul had long been apprehensive that the evacuation of Egypt was unavoidable. The last news he had received from that country was not very encouraging, and created a presentiment of the approach of the dreaded catastrophe. He, however, published the contrary; but it was then of great importance that, an account of the evacuation should not reach England until the preliminaries of peace were signed, for which purpose M. Otto was exerting all his industry and talent. We made a great merit of abandoning our conquests in Egypt; but the sacrifice would not have been considered great if the events which took place at the end of August had been known in London before the signing of the preliminaries on the 1st of October. The First Consul himself answered M. Otto's last despatch, containing a copy of the preliminaries ready to be adopted by the English Ministry. Neither this despatch nor the answer was communicated to M. de Talleyrand, then Minister for Foreign Affairs. The First Consul, who highly appreciated the great talents and knowledge of that Minister, never closed any diplomatic arrangement without first consulting him; and he was right in so doing. On this occasion, however, I told him that as M. de Talleyrand was, for his health, taking the waters of Bourbon-l'Archambault, four days must elapse before his reply could be received, and that the delay might cause the face of affairs to change. I reminded him that Egypt was on the point of yielding. He took my advice, and it was well for him that he did, for the news of the compulsory evacuation of Egypt arrived in London the day after the signing of the preliminaries. M. Otto informed the First Consul by letter that Lord Hawkesbury, ill communicating to him the news of the evacuation, told him he was very glad everything was settled, for it would have been impossible for him to have treated on the same basis after the arrival of such news. In reality we consented at Paris to the voluntary evacuation of Egypt, and that was something for England, while Egypt was at that very time evacuated by a convention made on the spot. The definitive evacuation of Egypt took place on the 30th of August 1801; and thus the conquest of that country, which had cost so dear, was rendered useless, or rather injurious.
The most glorious epoch for France—The First Consul's desire of
peace—Malta ceded and kept—Bonaparte and the English journals—
Mr. Addington's letter to the First Consul—Bonaparte prosecutes
Peltier—Leclerc's expedition to St. Domingo—Toussaint Louverture—
Death of Leclerc—Rochambeau, his successor, abandons St. Domingo—
First symptoms of Bonaparte's malady—Josephine's intrigues for the
marriage of Hortense—Falsehood contradicted.
The epoch of the peace of Amiens must be considered as the most glorious in the history of France, not excepting the splendid period of Louis XIV.'s victories and the more brilliant era of the Empire. The Consular glory was then pure, and the opening prospect was full of flattering hope; whereas those who were but little accustomed to look closely into things could discern mighty disasters lurking under the laurels of the Empire.
The proposals which the First Consul made in order to obtain peace sufficiently prove his sincere desire for it. He felt that if in the commencement of his administration he could couple his name with so hoped for an act he should ever experience the affection and gratitude of the French. I want no other proof of his sentiments than the offer he made to give up Egypt to the Grand Seignior, and to restore all the ports of the Gulf of Venice and of the Mediterranean to the States to which they had previously belonged; to surrender Malta to the order of the Knights of St. John, and even to raze its fortifications if England should think such a measure necessary for her interests. In the Indies, Ceylon was to be left to him,
—[Ceylon belonged to Holland, but was retained by England under the
treaty of Amiens.]—
and he required the surrender of the Cape of Good Hope and all the places taken by the English in the West Indies.
England had firmly resolved to keep Malta, the Gibraltar of the Mediterranean, and the Cape of Good Hope, the caravanserai of the Indies. She was therefore unwilling to close with the proposition respecting Malta; and she said that an arrangement might be made by which it would be rendered independent both of Great Britain and France. We clearly saw that this was only a lure, and that, whatever arrangements might be entered into, England would keep Malta, because it was not to be expected that the maritime power would willingly surrender an island which commands the Mediterranean. I do not notice the discussions respecting the American islands, for they were, in my opinion, of little consequence to us.
—[It is strange that Bourrienne does not allude to one of the first arbitrary acts of Napoleon, the discussions on which formed part of those conversations between Napoleon and his brother Lucien of which Bourrienne complained to Josephine he knew nothing. In 1763 France had ceded to England the part of Louisiana on the east of the Mississippi, and the part on the west of that river, with New Orleans, to Spain. By the treaty negotiated with Spain by Lucien Bonaparte in 1800 her share was given back to France. On the 80th April 1803 Napoleon sold the whole to the United States for 80,000,000 francs (L 3,260,000), to the intense anger of his brothers Joseph and Lucien. Lucien was especially proud of having obtained the cession for which Napoleon was, at that time, very anxious; but both brothers were horrified when Napoleon disclosed how little he cared for constitutional forms by telling them that if the Legislature, as his brothers threatened, would not ratify the treaty, he would do without the ratification; see Iung's Letter, tome ii. p. 128.
Napoleon's most obvious motives were want of money and the certainty of the seizure of the province by England, as the rupture with her was now certain. But there was perhaps another cause. The States had already been on the point of seizing the province from Spain, which had interfered with their trade (Hinton's United States, p. 435, and Thiers tome iv, p. 320).
Of the sum to be paid, 20,000,000 were to go to the States, to cover the illegal seizures of American ships by the French navy, a matter which was not settled for many years later. The remaining 80,000,000 were employed in the preparations for the invasion of England; see Thiers, tome iv. pp. 320 and 326, and Lanfrey, tome iii. p. 48. The transaction is a remarkable one, as forming the final withdrawal of France from North America (with the exception of some islands on the Newfoundland coast), where she had once held such a proud position. It also eventually made an addition to the number of slave States.
They cost more than they produce; and they will escape from us, some time or other, as all colonies ultimately do from the parent country. Our whole colonial system is absurd; it forces us to pay for colonial produce at a rate nearly double that for which it may be purchased from our neighbours.
When Lord Hawkesbury consented to evacuate Malta, on condition that it should be independent of France and Great Britain, he must have been aware that such a condition would never be fulfilled. He cared little for the order of St. John, and he should have put, by way of postscript, at the bottom of his note, "We will keep Malta in spite of you." I always told the First Consul that if he were in the situation of the English he would act the same part; and it did not require much sagacity to foretell that Malta would be the principal cause of the rupture of peace. He was of my opinion; but at that moment he thought everything depended on concluding the negotiations, and I entirely agreed with him. It happened, as was foreseen, that Malta caused the renewal of war. The English, on being called upon to surrender the island, eluded the demand, shifted about, and at last ended by demanding that Malta should be placed under the protection of the King of Naples,—that is to say, under the protection of a power entirely at their command, and to which they might dictate what they pleased. This was really too cool a piece of irony!
I will here notice the quarrel between the First Consul and the English newspapers, and give a new proof of his views concerning the freedom of the press. However, liberty of the press did once contribute to give him infinite gratification, namely, when all the London journals mentioned the transports of joy manifested in London on the arrival of General Lauriston, the bearer of the ratification of the preliminaries of peace.
The First Consul was at all times the declared enemy of the liberty of the press, and therefore he ruled the journals with a hand of iron.
—[An incident, illustrative of the great irritation which Bonaparte felt at the plain speaking of the English press, also shows the important character of Coleridge's writings in the 'Morning Post'. In the course of a debate in the House of Commons Fox asserted that the rupture of the trace of Amiens had its origin in certain essays which had appeared in the Morning POST, and which were known to have proceeded from the pen of Coleridge. But Fox added an ungenerous and malicious hint that the writer was at Rome, within the reach of Bonaparte. The information reached the ears for which it was uttered, and an order was sent from Paris to compass the arrest of Coleridge. It was in the year 1806, when the poet was making a tour in Italy. The news reached him at Naples, through a brother of the illustrious Humboldt, as Mr. Gillman says—or in a friendly warning from Prince Jerome Bonaparte, as we have it on the authority of Mr. Cottle—and the Pope appears to have been reluctant to have a hand in the business, and, in fact, to have furnished him with a passport, if not with a carriage for flight, Coleridge eventually got to Leghorn, where he got a passage by an American ship bound for England; but his escape coming to the ears of Bonaparte, a look-out was kept for the ship, and she was chased by a French cruiser, which threw the captain into such a state of terror that he made Coleridge throw all his journals and papers overboard (Andrews' History of Journalism, vol. ii. p. 28).]—
I have often heard him say, "Were I to slacken the reins, I should not continue three months in power." He unfortunately held the same opinion respecting every other prerogative of public freedom. The silence he had imposed in France he wished, if he could, to impose in England. He was irritated by the calumnies and libels so liberally cast upon him by the English journals, and especially by one written in French, called 'L'Ambigu', conducted by Peltier, who had been the editor of the 'Actes des Apotres' in Paris. The 'Ambigu' was constantly teeming with the moat violent attacks on the First Consul and the French nation. Bonaparte could never, like the English, bring himself to despise newspaper libels, and he revenged himself by violent articles which he caused to be inserted in the 'Moniteur'. He directed M. Otto to remonstrate, in an official note, against a system of calumny which he believed to be authorised by the English Government. Besides this official proceeding he applied personally to Mr. Addington, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, requesting him to procure the adoption of legislative measures against the licentious writings complained of; and, to take the earliest opportunity of satisfying his hatred against the liberty of the press, the First Consul seized the moment of signing the preliminaries to make this request.
Mr. Addington wrote a long answer to the First Consul, which I translated for him. The English Minister refuted, with great force, all the arguments which Bonaparte had employed against the press. He also informed the First Consul that, though a foreigner, it was competent in him to institute a complaint in the courts of law; but that in such case he must be content to see all the scandalous statements of which he complained republished in the report of the trial. He advised him to treat the libels with profound contempt, and do as he and others did, who attached not the slightest importance to them. I congratulate myself on having in some degree prevented a trial taking place at that time.
Things remained in this state for the moment; but after the peace of Amiens the First Consul prosecuted Pettier, whose journal was always full of violence and bitterness against him. Pettier was defended by the celebrated Mackintosh, who, according to the accounts of the time, displayed great eloquence on this occasion, yet, in spite of the ability of his counsel, he was convicted. The verdict, which public opinion considered in the light of a triumph for the defendant, was not followed up by any judgment, in consequence of the rupture of the peace occurring soon after. It is melancholy to reflect that this nervous susceptibility to the libels of the English papers contributed certainly as much as, and perhaps more than, the consideration of great political interests to the renewal of hostilities. The public would be astonished at a great many things if they could only look under the cards.
I have anticipated the rupture of the treaty of Amiens that I might not interrupt what I had to mention respecting Bonaparte's hatred of the liberty of the press. I now return to the end of the year 1801, the period of the expedition against St. Domingo.
The First Consul, after dictating to me during nearly: the whole of one night instructions for that expedition, sent for General Leclerc, and said to him in my presence, "Here, take your instructions; you have a fine opportunity for filling your purse. Go, and no longer tease me with your eternal requests for money." The friendship which Bonaparte felt for his sister Pauline had a good deal of influence in inducing him to take this liberal way of enriching her husband.
The expedition left the ports of France on the 14th of December 1801, and arrived off Cape St. Domingo on the 1st of February 1802. The fatal result of the enterprise is well known, but we are never to be cured of the folly of such absurd expeditions. In the instructions given to Leclerc everything was foreseen; but it was painful to know that the choice of one of the youngest and least capable of all the generals of the army left no hope of a successful result. The expedition to St. Domingo was one of Bonaparte's great errors. Almost every person whom he consulted endeavoured to dissuade him from it. He attempted a justification through the medium of his historians of St. Helena; but does he succeed when he says, "that he was obliged to yield to the advice of his Council of State?" He, truly, was a likely man to submit a question of war to the discussion of the Council of State, or to be guided in such an affair by any Council! We must believe that no other motive influenced the First Consul but the wish, by giving him the means of enriching himself, to get rid of a brother-in-law who had the gift of specially annoying him. The First Consul, who did not really much like this expedition, should have perhaps reflected longer on the difficulties of attempting to subdue the colony by force. He was shaken by this argument, which I often repeated to him, and he agreed with it, but the inconceivable influence which the members of his family exercised on him always overcame him.
Bonaparte dictated to me a letter for Toussaint, full of sounding words and fine promises, informing him that his two children, who had been educated in Paris, were sent back to him, offering him the title of vice- governor, and stating that he ought readily to assist in an arrangement which would contribute to reconnect the colony with the mother-country. Toussaint, who had at first shown a disposition to close with the bargain, yet feeling afraid of being deceived by the French, and probably induced by ambitious motives, resolved on war. He displayed a great deal of talent; but, being attacked before the climate had thinned the French ranks, he was unable to oppose a fresh army, numerous and inured to war. He capitulated, and retired to a plantation, which he was not to leave without Leclerc's permission. A feigned conspiracy on the part of the blacks formed a pretence for accusing Toussaint, and he was seized and sent to France.
Toussaint was brought to Pains in the beginning of August. He was sent, in the first instance, to the Temple, whence he was removed to the Chateau de Joux. His imprisonment was rigorous; few comforts were allowed him. This treatment, his recollection of the past, his separation from the world, and the effects of a strange climate, accelerated his death, which took place a few months after his arrival in France. The reports which spread concerning his death, the assertion that it was not a natural one, and that it had been caused by poison, obtained no credit. I should add that Toussaint wrote a letter to Bonaparte; but I never saw in it the expression attributed to him, "The first man of the blacks to the first man of the whites" Bonaparte acknowledged that the black leader possessed energy, courage, and great skill. I am sure that he would have rejoiced if the result of his relations with St. Domingo had been something else than the kidnaping and transportation of Toussaint.
Leclerc, after fruitless efforts to conquer the colony, was himself carried off by the yellow fever. Rochambeau succeeded him by right of seniority, and was as unsuccessful as Menou had been in Egypt. The submission of the blacks, which could only have been obtained by conciliation, he endeavoured to compel by violence. At last, in December 1803, he surrendered to an English squadron, and abandoned the island to Dessalines.
Bonaparte often experienced severe bodily pain, and I have now little doubt, from the nature of his sufferings, that they were occasioned by the commencement of that malady which terminated his life at St. Helena. These pains, of which he frequently complained, affected him most acutely on the night when he dictated to me the instructions for General Leclerc. It was very late when I conducted him to his apartment. We had just been taking a cup of chocolate, a beverage of which we always partook when our business lasted longer than one o'clock in the morning. He never took a light with him when he went up to his bedroom. I gave him my arm, and we had scarcely got beyond the little staircase which leads to the corridor, when he was rudely run against by a man who was endeavouring to escape as quickly as possible by the staircase. The First Consul did not fall because I supported him. We soon gained his chamber, where we, found Josephine, who, having heard the noise, awoke greatly alarmed. From the investigations which were immediately made it appeared that the uproar was occasioned by a fellow who had been keeping an assignation and had exceeded the usual hour for his departure.
On the 7th of January 1802 Mademoiselle Hortense was married to Louis Bonaparte. As the custom was not yet resumed of adding the religious ceremony to the civil contract, the nuptial benediction was on this occasion privately given by a priest at the house Rue de la Victoire. Bonaparte also caused the marriage of his sister Caroline,—[The wife of Murat, and the cleverest of Bonaparte's sisters.]— which had taken place two years earlier before a mayor, to be consecrated in the same manner; but he and his wife did not follow the example. Had he already, then, an idea of separating from Josephine, and therefore an unwillingness to render a divorce more difficult by giving his marriage a religious sanction? I am rather inclined to think, from what he said to me, that his neglecting to take a part in the religious ceremony arose from indifference.
Bonaparte said at St. Helena, speaking of Louis and Hortense, that "they loved each other when they married: they desired to be united. The marriage was also the result of Josephine's intrigues, who found her account in it." I will state the real facts. Louis and Hortense did not love one another at all. That is certain. The First Consul knew it, just as he well knew that Hortense had a great inclination for Duroc, who did not fully return it. The First Consul agreed to their union, but Josephine was troubled by such a marriage, and did all she could to prevent it. She often spoke to me about it, but rather late in the day. She told me that her brothers-in law were her declared enemies, that I well knew their intrigues, and that I well knew there was no end to the annoyances they made her undergo. In fact, I did know all this perfectly. She kept on repeating to me that with this projected marriage she would not have any support; that Duroc was nothing except by the favour of Bonaparte; that he had neither fortune, fame, nor reputation, and that he could be no help to her against the well-known ill-will of the brothers of Bonaparte. She wanted some assurance for the future. She added that her husband was very fond of Louis, and that if she had the good fortune to unite him to her daughter this would be a counterpoise to the calumnies and persecutions of her other brothers-in- law. I answered her that she had concealed her intentions too long from me, and that I had promised my services to the young people, and the more willingly as I knew the favourable opinion of the First Consul, who had often said to me, "My wife has done well; they suit one another, they shall marry one another. I like Duroc; he is of good family. I have rightly given Caroline to Murat, and Pauline to Leclerc, and I can well give Hortense to Duroc, who is a fine fellow. He is worth more than the others. He is now general of a division there is nothing against this marriage. Besides, I have other plans for Louis." In speaking to Madame Bonaparte I added that her daughter burst into tears when spoken to about her marriage with Louis.
The First Consul had sent a brevet of general of division to Duroc by a special courier, who went to Holland, through which the newly-made general had to pass on his return from St. Petersburg, where, as I have already said, he had been sent to compliment the Emperor Alexander on his accession to the throne. The First Consul probably paid this compliment to Duroc in the belief that the marriage would take place.
During Duroc's absence the correspondence of the lovers passed, by their consent, through my hands. Every night I used to make one in a party at billiards, at which Hortense played very well. When I told her, in a whisper, that I had got a letter for her, she would immediately leave off playing and run to her chamber, where I followed and gave her Duroc's epistle. When she opened it her eyes would fill with tears, and it was some time before she could return to the salon. All was useless for her. Josephine required a support in the family against the family. Seeing her firm resolution, I promised to no longer oppose her wishes, which I could not disapprove, but I told her I could only maintain silence and neutrality in these little debates, and she seemed satisfied.
When we were at Malmaison those intrigues continued. At the Tuileries the same conduct was pursued, but then the probability of success was on Duroc's side; I even congratulated him on his prospects, but he received my compliments in a very cold manner. In a few days after Josephine succeeded in changing the whole face of affairs. Her heart was entirely set on the marriage of Louis with her daughter; and prayers, entreaties, caresses, and all those little arts which she so well knew how to use, were employed to win the First Consul to her purpose.
On the 4th of January the First Consul, after dinner, entered our cabinet, where I was employed. "Where is Duroc?" he inquired.—"He has gone to the opera, I believe."—"Tell him, as soon as he returns, that I have promised Hortense to him, and he shall have her. But I wish the marriage to take place in two days at the latest. I will give him 500,000 francs, and name him commandant of the eighth military division; but he must set out the day after his marriage with his wife for Toulon. We must live apart; I want no son-in-law at home. As I wish to come to some conclusion, let me know to-night whether this plan will satisfy him."—"I think it will not."—"Very well! then she shall marry Louis." —"Will she like that?"—"She must like it." Bonaparte gave me these directions in a very abrupt manner, which made me think that some little domestic warfare had been raging, and that to put an end to it he had come to propose his ultimatum. At half-past ten in the evening Duroc returned; I reported to him, word for word, the proposition of the First Consul. "Since it has come to that, my good friend," said he, "tell him he may keep his daughter for me. I am going to see the ——-," and, with an indifference for which I cannot account, he took his hat and went off.
—[Duroc eventually married a Mademoiselle Hervae d'Almenara, the daughter of a Spanish banker, who was later Minister of Joseph, and was created Marquis of Abruenara. The lady was neither handsome nor amiable, but she possessed a vast fortune, and Bonaparte himself solicited her hand for his aide de camp. After the death of Duroc his widow married a M. Fabvier, and Napoleon gave his Duchy of Frioul to his daughter.]—
The, First Consul, before going to bed, was informed of Duroc's reply, and Josephine received from him the promise that Louis and Hortense should be married. The marriage took place a few days after, to the great regret of Hortense, and probably to the satisfaction of Duroc. Louis submitted to have forced on him as a wife a woman who had hitherto avoided him as much as possible. She always manifested as much indifference for him as he displayed repugnance for her, and those sentiments have not been effaced.
—[The marriage of Louis Bonaparte took place on the 7th January. The bride and bridegroom were exceedingly dull, and Mademoiselle Hortense wept daring the whole of the ceremony. Josephine, knowing that this union, which commenced so inauspiciously, was her own work, anxiously endeavoured to establish a more cordial feeling between her daughter and son-in-law. But all her efforts were vain, and the marriage proved a very unhappy one (Memoirs de Constant).
Napoleon III. was the son of the Queen of Holland (Hortense
Napoleon said at St. Helena that he wished to unite Louis with a niece of Talleyrand. I can only say that I never heard a word of this niece, either from himself, his wife, or his daughter; and I rather think that at that time the First Consul was looking after a royal alliance for Louis. He often expressed regret at the precipitate marriages of his sisters. It should be recollected that we were now in the year which saw the Consulship for life established, and which, consequently, gave presage of the Empire. Napoleon said truly to the companions of his exile that "Louis' marriage was the result of Josephine's intrigues," but I cannot understand how he never mentioned the intention he once had of uniting Hortense to Duroc. It has been erroneously stated that the First Consul believed that he reconciled the happiness of his daughter with his policy. Hortense did not love Louis, and dreaded this marriage. There was no hope of happiness for her, and the event has proved this. As for the policy of the First Consul, it is not easy to see how it was concerned with the marriage of Louis to Hortense, and in any case the grand policy which professed so loudly to be free from all feminine influences would have been powerless against the intrigues of Josephine, for at this time at the Tuileries the boudoir was often stronger than the cabinet. Here I am happy to have it in my power to contradict most formally and most positively certain infamous insinuations which have prevailed respecting Bonaparte and Hortense. Those who have asserted that Bonaparte ever entertained towards Hortense any other sentiments than those of a father-in-law for a daughter-in-law have, as the ancient knights used to say, "lied in their throats." We shall see farther on what he said to me on this subject, but it is never too soon to destroy such a base calumny. Authors unworthy of belief have stated, without any proof, that not only was there this criminal liaison, but they have gone so far as to say that Bonaparte was the father of the eldest son of Hortense. It is a lie, a vile lie. And yet the rumour has spread through all France and all Europe. Alas! has calumny such powerful charms that, once they are submitted to, their yoke cannot be broken?
—[Bourrienne's account of this marriage, and his denial of the vile calumny about Napoleon, is corroborated by Madame Remusat. After saying that Hortense had refused to marry the son of Rewbell and also the Comte de Nun, she goes on: "A short time afterwards Duroc, then aide de camp to the Consul, and already noted by him, fell in love with Hortense. She returned the feeling, and believed she had found that other half of herself which she sought. Bonaparte looked favourably on their union, but Madame Bonaparte in her turn was inflexible. 'My daughter,' said she, 'must marry s gentleman or a Bonaparte.' Louis was then thought of. He had no fancy for Hortense; defeated the Beauharnais family, and had a supreme contempt for his sister-in-law. But as he was silent, he was believed to be gentle; and as he was severe by character, he was believed to be upright. Madame Louis told me afterwards that at the news of this arrangement she experienced violent grief. Not only was she forbidden to think of the man she loved, but she was about to be given to another of whom she had a secret distrust" (Remusat, tome i. p. l56). For the cruel treatment of Hortense by Louis see the succeeding pages of Remusat. As for the vile scandal about Hortense and Napoleon, there is little doubt that it was spread by the Bonapartist family for interested motives. Madame Louis became enceinte soon after her marriage. The Bonapartists, and especially Madame Murat (Caroline); had disliked this marriage because Joseph having only daughters, it was forseen that the first son of Louis and the grandson of Madame Bonaparte would be the object of great interest. They therefore spread the revolting story that this was the result of a connection of the First Consul with his daughter-in- law, encouraged by the mother herself. 'The public willingly believed this suspicion.' Madame Murat told Louis," etc. (Remusat, tome i, p. 169). This last sentence is corroborated by Miot de Melito (tome ii. p. 170), who, speaking of the later proposal of Napoleon to adopt this child, says that Louis "remembered the damaging stories which ill-will had tried to spread among the public concerning Hortense Beauharnais before be married her, and although a comparison of the date of his marriage with that of the birth of his son must have shown him that these tales were unfounded, he felt that they world be revived by the adoption of this child by the First Consul." Thus this wretched story did harm in every way. The conduct of Josephine mast be judged with leniency, engaged as she was in a desperate straggle to maintain her own marriage,—a struggle she kept up with great skill; see Metternich, tome ii. p. 296. "she baffled all the calculations, all the manoeuvres of her adversaries." But she was foolish enough to talk in her anger as if she believed some of the disgraceful rumours of Napoleon. "Had he not seduced his sisters, one after the other?" (Remusat, tome i. p. 204). As to how far this scandal was really believed by the brothers of Napoleon, see Iung's Lucien (tome ii. pp. 268-269), where Lucien describes Louis as coming three times to him for advice as to his marriage with Hortense, both brothers referring to this rumour. The third time Louis announces he is in love with Hortense. "You are in love? Why the devil, then, do you come to me for advice? If so, forget what has been rumoured, and what I have advised you. Marry, and may God bless you."
Thiers (tome iii. p. 308) follows Bourrienne's account. Josephine, alluding to Louis Bonaparte, said, "His family have maliciously informed him of the disgraceful stories which have been spread on the conduct of my daughter and on the birth of her son. Hate assigns this child to Napoleon." (Remusat, tome i, p. 206). The child in question was Napoleon Charles (1802-1807).
Bonaparte President of the Cisalpine Republic—Meeting of the deputation at Lyons—Malta and the English—My immortality—Fete given by Madame Murat—Erasures from the emigrant list—Restitution of property—General Sebastiani—Lord Whitworth—Napoleon's first symptoms of disease—Corvisart—Influence of physical suffering on Napoleon's temper—Articles for the Moniteur—General Andreossi— M. Talleyrand's pun—Jerome Bonaparte- Extravagance of Bonaparte's brothers—M. Collot and the navy contract.
Bonaparte was anxious to place the Cisalpine Republic on a footing of harmony with the Government of France. It was necessary to select a President who should perfectly agree with Bonaparte's views; and in this respect no one could be so suitable as Bonaparte himself. The two Presidencies united would serve as a transition to the throne. Not wishing to be long absent from Paris, and anxious to avoid the trouble of the journey to Milan, he arranged to meet the deputation half-way at Lyons. Before our departure I said to him, "Is it possible that you do not wish to revisit Italy, the first scene of your glory, and the beautiful capital of Lombardy, where you were the object of so much homage?"—"I certainly should," replied the First Consul, "but the journey to Milan would occupy too much precious time. I prefer that the meeting should take place in France. My influence over the deputies will be more prompt and certain at Lyons than at Milan; and then I should be glad to see the noble wreck of the army of Egypt, which is collected at Lyons."
On the 8th of January 1802 we set out. Bonaparte who was now ready to ascend the throne of France, wished to prepare the Italians for one day crowning him King of Italy, in imitation of Charlemagne, of whom in anticipation he considered himself the successor. He saw that the title of President of the Cisalpine Republic was a great advance towards the sovereignty of Lombardy, as he afterwards found that the Consulate for life was a decisive step towards the throne of France. He obtained the title of President without much difficulty on the 36th of January 1802. The journey to Lyons and the conferences were only matters of form; but high sounding words and solemn proceedings were required for the public mind.
The attempts which had been made on the life of the First Consul gave rise to a report that be took extraordinary precautions for his safety during this journey to Lyons. I never saw those precautions, and Bonaparte was at all times averse to adopt any. He often repeated "That whoever would risk his own life might take his." It is not true that guards preceded his carriage and watched the roads. The Consul travelled like a private person, and very rarely had arms in his carriage.
—[Bonaparte may have been careless of his own safety, but that he took great pains in regard to his brother's may be inferred from the following letter, written a few years later:
"Take care that your valets de chambre, your cooks, the guards that sleep in your apartments, and those who come during the night to awaken you with despatches, are all Frenchmen. No one should enter your room during the night except your aides de camp, who should sleep in the chamber that precedes your bedroom. Your door should be fastened inside, and you ought not to open it, even to your aide de camp, until you have recognised his voice; he himself should not knock at your door until he has locked that of the room which he is in, to make sure of being alone, and of being followed by no one. These precautions are important; they give no trouble, and they inspire confidence—besides, they may really save your life. You should establish these habits immediately end permanently; You ought not to be obliged to have resource to them on some emergency, which would hurt the feelings of those around you. Do not trust only to your own experience. The Neapolitan character has been violent in every age, and you have to do with a woman [Queen of Naples] who is the impersonation of crime" (Napoleon to Joseph, May 31, 1806.—Du Casse, tome ii. p. 260).]—
At this time, when the ambition of Bonaparte every day took a farther flight, General Clarke took it into his head to go into the box of the First Consul at the "Francais," and to place himself in the front seat. By chance the First Consul came to the theatre, but Clarke, hardly rising, did not give up his place. The First Consul only stayed a short time, and when he came back he showed great discontent at this affectation of pride and of vanity. Wishing to get rid of a man whom he looked on as a blundering flatterer and a clumsy critic, he sent him away as charge d'affaires to the young extemporized King of Etruria, where Clarke expiated his folly in a sort of exile. This is all the "great disfavour" which has been so much spoken about, In the end General Clarke returned to favour. Berlin knows and regrets it.
On the 25th of March of the same year England signed, at Amiens, a suspension of arms for fourteen months, which was called a treaty of peace. The clauses of this treaty were not calculated to inspire the hope of a very long peace. It was evident, as I have already said, that England would not evacuate Malta; and that island ultimately proved the chief cause of the rupture of the treaty of Amiens. But England, heretofore so haughty in her bearing to the First Consul, had at length treated with him as the Head of the French Government. This, as Bonaparte was aware, boded well for the consolidation of his power.
At that time, when he saw his glory and power augmenting, he said to me in one of our walks at Malmaison, in a moment of hilarity, and clapping me on the shoulder, "Well, Bourrienne, you also will be immortal!"— "why, General?"—"Are you not my secretary?"—"Tell me the name of Alexander's," said I.
—[Bonaparte did not know the name of Alexander's secretary, and I
forgot at the moment to tell him it was Clallisthenes. He wrote
Alexander's Memoirs, as I am writing Bonaparte's; but,
notwithstanding this coincidence, I neither expect nor desire the
immortality of my name.—Bourrienne.]—
Bonaparte then turned to me and laughing, said, "Hem! that is not bad." There was, to be sure, a little flattery conveyed in my question, but that never displeased him, and I certainly did not in that instance deserve the censure he often bestowed on me for not being enough of a courtier and flatterer.
Madame Murat gave a grand fete in honour of Bonaparte at her residence at Neuilly. At dinner Bonaparte sat opposite Madame Murat at the principal table, which was appropriated to the ladies. He ate fast, and talked but little. However, when the dessert was served, he put a question to each lady. This question was to inquire their respective ages. When Madame Bourrienne's turn came he said to her, "Oh! I know yours." This was a great deal for his gallantry, and the other ladies were far from being pleased at it.
Next day, while walking with me in his favourite alley at Malmaison, he received one of those stupid reports of the police which were so frequently addressed to him. It mentioned the observations which had been made in Paris about a green livery he had lately adopted. Some said that green had been chosen because it was the colour of the House of Artois. On reading that a slight sneer was observable in his countenance, and he said, "What are these idiots dreaming of? They must be joking, surely. Am I no better than M. d'Artois? They shall soon see the difference."
Until the middle of the year 1801 the erasures from the emigrant list had always been proposed by the Minister of Police. The First Consul having been informed that intrigue and even bribery had been employed to obtain them, determined that in future erasures should be part of the business of his cabinet. But other affairs took up his attention, and a dozen or fifteen erasures a week were the most that were made. After Te Deum had been chanted at Malmaison for the Concordat and the peace, I took advantage of that moment of general joy to propose to Bonaparte the return of the whole body of emigrants. "You have," said I in a half- joking way, "reconciled Frenchmen to God—now reconcile them to each other. There have never been any real emigrants, only absentees; and the proof of this is, that erasures from the list have always been, and will always be, made daily." He immediately seized the idea. "We shall see," said he; "but I must except a thousand persons belonging to high families, especially those who are or have been connected with royalty or the Court."
I said in the Chamber of Deputies, and I feel pleasure in repeating here, that the plan of the 'Senatus-consults', which Bonaparte dictated to me, excepted from restitution only such mansions as were used for public establishments. These he would neither surrender nor pay rent for. With those exceptions he was willing to restore almost all that was possessed by the State and had not been sold.
The First Consul, as soon as he had finished this plan of a decree, convoked a Grand Council to submit it to their consideration. I was in an adjoining room to that in which they met, and as the deliberations were carried on with great warmth, the members talking very loudly, sometimes even vociferating, I heard all that passed. The revolutionary party rejected all propositions of restitution. They were willing to call back their victims, but they would not part with the spoil.
When the First Consul returned to his cabinet, dissatisfied with the ill success of his project, I took the liberty of saying to him, "you cannot but perceive, General, that your object has been defeated, and your project unsuccessful. The refusal to restore to the emigrants all that the State possesses takes from the recall all its generosity and dignity of character. I wonder how you could yield to such an unreasonable and selfish opposition."—"The revolutionary party," replied he, "had the majority in the Council. What could I do? Am I strong enough to overcome all those obstacles?"—" General, you can revive the question again, and oppose the party you speak of."—"That would be difficult," he said; " they still have a high hand in these matters. Time is required. However, nothing is definitively arranged. We shall see what can be done." The 'Senatus-consulte', published on the 6th Floreal, year X. (26th of April 1802), a fortnight after the above conversation took place, is well known. Bonaparte was then obliged to yield to the revolutionary party, or he would have adhered to his first proposition.
—[The Senatus-consulte retained the woods and forests of the emigrants, and made their recall an "amnesty." In the end this retention of the forests was used by Napoleon with great dexterity as a means of placing them under personal obligation to him for restoring this species of property. See Thiers tome iii, p. 458, livre xiv.]—
Napoleon referred to this matter at St. Helena. He himself says that he "would have been able " (he should have said that he wished) to grant everything, that for a moment he thought of doing so, and that it was a mistake not to do so. "This limitation on my part," he adds, "destroyed all the good effect of the return of the emigrants. The mistake was the greater since I thought of doing it, but I was alone, surrounded by oppositions and by spies: all were against your party, you cannot easily picture the matter to yourself, but important affairs hurried me, time pressed, and I was obliged to act differently." Afterwards he speaks of a syndicate he wished to form, but I have never heard a word of that. I have said how things really happened, and what has been just read confirms this.
—[This was by no means the only time that Napoleon's wishes were opposed successfully in his Council of State. On such occasions he used to describe himself as "repulsed with losses." See the interesting work of St. Hilaire, Napoleon au Conseil d'Etat.]—
The Royalists, dissatisfied with the state of political affairs, were not better pleased with the illiberal conditions of the recall of the emigrants. The friends of public liberty, on the other hand, were far from being satisfied with the other acts of the First Consul, or with the conduct of the different public authorities, who were always ready to make concessions to him. Thus all parties were dissatisfied.
Bonaparte was much pleased with General Sebastiani's conduct when he was sent to Constantinople, after the peace of Amiens, to induce the Grand Seignior to renew amicable relations with France.
At the period here alluded to, namely, before the news of the evacuation of Egypt, that country greatly occupied Bonaparte's attention. He thought that to send a man like Sebastiani travelling through Northern Africa, Egypt, and Syria might inspire the sovereigns of those countries with a more favourable idea of France than they now entertained, and might remove the ill impressions which England was endeavouring to produce. On this mission Sebastiani was accordingly despatched. He visited all the Barbary States, Egypt, Palestine, and the Ionian Isles. Everywhere he drew a highly-coloured picture of the power of Bonaparte, and depreciated the glory of England.
—[This General, or Count Sebastian, was afterwards ambassador for
Louis Philippe at our Court.]—
He strengthened old connections, and contracted new ones with the chiefs of each country. He declared to the authorities of the Ionian Isles that they might rely on the powerful protection of France. Bonaparte, in my opinion, expected too much from the labours of a single individual furnished with but vague instructions. Still Sebastiani did all that could be done. The interesting details of his proceedings were published in the 'Moniteur'. The secret information respecting the means of successfully attacking the English establishments in India was very curious, though not affording the hope of speedy success.
The published abstract of General Sebastiani's report was full of expressions hostile to England. Among other things it was stated that Egypt might be conquered with 6000 men, and that the Ionian Isles where disposed to throw off the yoke. There can be little doubt that this publication hastened the rupture of the treaty of Amiens.
England suspended all discussions respecting Malta, and declared that she would not resume them till the King of Great Britain should receive satisfaction for what was called an act of hostility. This was always put forward as a justification, good or bad, for breaking the treaty of Amiens, which England had never shown herself very ready to execute.
Bonaparte, waiving the usual forma of etiquette, expressed his wish to have a private conference with Lord Whitworth, the ambassador from London to Paris, and who had been the English ambassador at St. Petersburg previous to the rupture which preceded the death of Paul I. Bonaparte counted much on the effect he might produce by that captivating manner which he so well knew how to assume in conversation; but all was in vain. In signing the treaty of Amiens the British Minister was well aware that he would be the first to break it.
About the commencement of the year 1802 Napoleon began to feel acute pains in his right side. I have often seen him at Malmaison, when sitting up at night, lean against the right arm of his chair, and unbuttoning his coat and waistcoat exclaim,—What pain I feel!" I would then accompany him to his bedchamber, and have often been obliged to support him on the little staircase which led from his cabinet to the corridor. He frequently used to say at this time, "I fear that when I am forty I shall become a great eater: I have a foreboding that I shall grow very corpulent." This fear of obesity, though it annoyed him very much, did not appear to have the least foundation, judging from his habitual temperance and spare habit of body. He asked me who was my physician. I told him M. Corvisart, whom his brother Louis had recommended to me. A few days after he called in Corvisart, who three years later was appointed first physician to the Emperor. He appeared to derive much benefit from the prescriptions of Corvisart, whose open and good-humoured countenance at once made a favourable impression on him.
The pain which the First Consul felt at this time increased his irritability. Perhaps many of the sets of this epoch of his life should be attributed to this illness. At the time in question his ideas were not the same in the evening as they had been in the morning; and often in the morning he would tear up, even without the least remark, notes he had dictated to me at night and which he had considered excellent. At other times I took on myself not to send to the Moniteur, as he wished me to do, notes which, dictated by annoyance and irascibility, might have produced a bad effect in Europe. When the next day he did not see the article, I attributed this to the note being too late, or to the late arrival of the courier. But I told him it was no loss, for it would be inserted the next day. He did not answer at once, but a quarter of an hour afterwards he said to me, "Do not send my note to the 'Moniteur' without showing it to me." He took it and reread it. Sometimes he was astonished at what he had dictated to me, and amused himself by saying that I had not understood him properly. "That is not much good, is it? "—"`Pon my word, I don't quite know."—"Oh no, it is worthless; what say you?" Then he bowed his head a little, and tore up the paper. Once when we were at the Tuileries he sent me at two o'clock in the morning a small note in his own writing, in which was, "To Bourrienne. Write to Maret to make him erase from the note which Fleurieu has read to the Tribunate the phrase (spelt frase) concerning Costaz, and to soften as much as possible what concerns the reporter of the Tribunate."
This change, after time for reflection, arose, as often happened with him, from observations I had made to him, and which he had at first angrily repulsed.
After the peace of Amiens the First Consul, wishing to send an ambassador to England, cast his eyes—for what reason I know not—on General Andreossi. I took the liberty of making some observation on a choice which did not appear to me to correspond with the importance of the mission. Bonaparte replied, "I have not determined on it; I will talk to Talleyrand on the subject." When we were at Malmaison in the evening M. de Talleyrand came to transact business with the First Consul. The proposed appointment of an ambassador to England was mentioned. After several persons had been named the First Consul said, "I believe I must send Andreossi." M. de Talleyrand, who was not much pleased with the choice, observed in a dry sarcastic tone, "You must send Andre 'aussi', I Pray, who is this Andre?"—"I did not mention any Andre; I said Andreossi. You know Andreossi, the general of artillery?"—"Ah! true; Andreossi: I did not think of him: I was thinking only of the diplomatic men, and did not recollect any of that name. Yes, yes; Andreossi is in the artillery!" The general was appointed ambassador, and went to London after the treaty of Amiens; but he returned again in a few months. He had nothing of consequence to do, which was very lucky for him.
In 1802 Jerome was at Brest in the rank of 'enseigne de vaisseau'—[A rank in the navy equivalent to that of our lieutenant.]— He launched into expenses far beyond what his fortune or his pay could maintain. He often drew upon me for sums of money which the First Consul paid with much unwillingness. One of his letters in particular excited Napoleon's anger. The epistle was filled with accounts of the entertainments Jerome was giving and receiving, and ended by stating that he should draw on me for 17,000 francs. To this Bonaparte wrote the following reply:—
I have read your letter, Monsieur l'Enseigne de Vaisseau; and I am waiting to hear that you are studying on board your corvette a profession which you ought to consider as your road to glory. Die young, and I shall have some consolatory reflection; but if you live to sixty without having served your country, and without leaving behind you any honourable recollections, you had better not have lived at all.
Jerome never fulfilled the wishes of his brother, who always called him a little profligate. From his earliest years his conduct was often a source of vexation to his brother and his family. Westphalia will not soon forget that he was her King; and his subjects did not without reason surname him "Heliogabalus in miniature."
The First Consul was harassed by the continual demands for money made on him by his brothers. To get rid of Joseph, who expended large sums at Mortfontaine, as Lucien did at Neuilly, he gave M. Collot the contract for victualling the navy, on the condition of his paying Joseph 1,600,000 francs a year out of his profits. I believe this arrangement answered Joseph's purpose very well; but it was anything but advantageous to M. Collot. I think a whole year elapsed without his pocketing a single farthing. He obtained an audience of the First Consul, to whom he stated his grievances. His outlays he showed were enormous, and he could get no payment from the navy office. Upon which the Consul angrily interrupted him, saying, "Do you think I am a mere capuchin? Decres must have 100,000 crowns, Duroc 100,000, Bourrienne 100,000; you must make the payments, and don't come here troubling me with your long stories. It is the business of my Ministers to give me accounts of such matters; I will hear Decres, and that's enough. Let me be teased no longer with these complaints; I cannot attend to them." Bonaparte then very unceremoniously dismissed M. Collot. I learned afterwards that he did not get a settlement of the business until after a great deal of trouble. M. Collot once said to me, "If he had asked me for as much money as would have built a frigate he should have had it. All I want now is to be paid, and to get rid of the business." M. Collot had reason and honour on his side; but there was nothing but shuffling on the other.
Calumny such powerful charms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Die young, and I shall have some consolatory reflection. . . . . . . .
Immortality is the recollection one leaves . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Most celebrated people lose on a close view. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Religion is useful to the Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The boudoir was often stronger than the cabinet. . . . . . . . . . . .
To leave behind him no traces of his existence . . . . . . . . . . . .
Treaty, according to custom, was called perpetual. . . . . . . . . . .