MEMOIRS OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, VOLUME 8.
By LOUIS ANTOINE FAUVELET DE BOURRIENNE
His Private Secretary
Edited by R. W. Phipps
Colonel, Late Royal Artillery
CHAPTER XXVII. to CHAPTER XXXIV. 1804-1805
Clavier and Hemart—Singular Proposal of Corvisart-M. Desmaisons— Project of influencing the judges—Visit to the Tuileries—Rapp in attendance—Long conversation with the Emperor—His opinion on the trial of Moreau—English assassins and Mr. Fox—Complaints against the English Government—Bonaparte and Lacuee—Affectionate behaviour—Arrest of Pichegru—Method employed by the First Consul to discover his presence in Paris—Character of Moreau—Measures of Bonaparte regarding him—Lauriston sent to the Temple—Silence respecting the Duc d'Enghien—Napoleon's opinion of Moreau and Georges—Admiration of Georges—Offers of employment and dismissal— Recital of former vexations—Audience of the Empress—Melancholy forebodings—What Bonaparte said concerning himself—Marks of kindness.
The judges composing the Tribunal which condemned Moreau were not all like Thuriot and Hemart. History has recorded an honourable contrast to the general meanness of the period in the reply given by M. Clavier, when urged by Hemart to vote for the condemnation of Moreau. "Ah, Monsieur, if we condemn him, how shall we be able to acquit ourselves?" I have, besides, the best reason for asserting that the judges were tampered with, from, a circumstance which occurred to myself.
Bonaparte knew that I was intimately connected with M. Desmaisons, one of the members of the Tribunal, and brother in-law to Corvisart; he also knew that Desmaisons was inclined to believe in Moreau's innocence, and favourable to his acquittal. During the progress of the trial Corvisart arrived at my house one morning at a very early hour, in a state of such evident embarrassment that, before he had time to utter a word, I said to him, "What is the matter? Have you heard any bad news?"
"No," replied Corvisart, "but I came by the Emperor's order. He wishes you to see my brother-in-law. 'He is,' said he to me, 'the senior judge, and a man of considerable eminence; his opinion will carry with it great weight, and I know that he is favourable to Moreau; he is in the wrong. Visit Bourrienne, said the Emperor, and concert with him respecting the best method of convincing Desmaisons of his error, for I repeat he is wrong, he is deceived.' This is the mission with which I am entrusted."
"How," said I, with thorough astonishment, "how came you to be employed in this affair? Could you believe for one moment that I would tamper with a magistrate in order to induce him to exercise an unjust rigour?"
"No, rest assured," replied Corvisart, "I merely visited you this morning in obedience to the order of the Emperor; but I knew beforehand in what manner you would regard the proposition with which I was charged. I knew your opinions and your character too well to entertain the smallest doubt in this respect, and I was convinced that I ran no risk in becoming the bearer of a commission which would be attended with no effect. Besides, had I refused to obey the Emperor, it would have proved prejudicial to your interest, and confirmed him in the opinion that you were favourable to the acquittal of Moreau. For myself," added Corvisart, "it is needless to affirm that I have no intention of attempting to influence the opinion of my brother-in-law; and if I had, you know him sufficiently well to be convinced in what light he would regard such a proceeding."
Such were the object and result of Corvisart's visit, and I am thence led to believe that similar attempts must have been made to influence other members of the Tribunal.
—["The judges had been pressed and acted on in a thousand ways by the hangerson of the Palace and especially by Real, the natural intermediary between justice and the Government. Ambition, servility, fear, every motive capable of influencing them, had been used: even their humane scruples were employed" (Lanfrey tome iii. p. 193, who goes on to say that the judges were urged to sentence Moreau to death in order that the Emperor might fully pardon him).]
But however this may be, prudence led me to discontinue visiting
M. Desmaisons, with whom I was in habits of the strictest friendship.
About this period I paid a visit which occupies an important place in my recollections. On the 14th of June 1804, four days after the condemnation of Georges and his accomplices, I received a summons to attend the Emperor at St. Cloud. It was Thursday, and as I thought on the great events and tragic scenes about to be acted, I was rather uneasy respecting his intentions.
But I was fortunate enough to find my friend Rapp in waiting, who said to me as I entered, "Be not alarmed; he is in the best of humours at present, and wishes to have some conversation. with you."
Rapp then announced me to the Emperor, and I was immediately admitted to his presence. After pinching my ear and asking his usual questions, such as, "What does the world say? How are your children? What are you about? etc.," he said to me, "By the by, have you attended the proceedings against Moreau?"—" Yes, Sire, I have not been absent during one of the sittings."—" Well, Bourrienne, are you of the opinion that Moreau is innocent?"—"Yes, Sire; at least I am certain that nothing has come out in the course of the trial tending to criminate him; I am even surprised how he came to be implicated in this conspiracy, since nothing has appeared against him which has the most remote connexion with the affair."—" I know your opinion on this subject; Duroc related to me the conversation you held with him at the Tuileries; experience has shown that you were correct; but how could I act otherwise? You know that Bouvet de Lozier hanged himself in prison, and was only saved by accident. Real hurried to the Temple in order to interrogate him, and in his first confessions he criminated Moreau, affirming that he had held repeated conferences with Pichegru. Real immediately reported to me this fact, and proposed that Moreau should be arrested, since the rumours against him seemed to be well founded; he had previously made the same proposition. I at first refused my sanction to this measure; but after the charge made against him by Bouvet de Lozier, how could I act otherwise than I did? Could I suffer such open conspiracies against the Government? Could I doubt the truth of Bouvet de Lozier's declaration, under the circumstances in which it was made? Could I foresee that he would deny his first declaration when brought before the Court? There was a chain of circumstances which human sagacity could not penetrate, and I consented to the arrest of Moreau when it was proved that he was in league with Pichegru. Has not England sent assassins?"—"Sire," said I, "permit me to call to your recollection the conversation you had in my presence with Mr. Fox, after which you said to me, 'Bourrienne, I am very happy at having heard from the mouth of a man of honour that the British Government is incapable of seeking my life; I always wish to esteem my enemies."—"Bah! you are a fool! Parbleu! I did not say that the English Minister sent over an assassin, and that he said to him, 'Here is gold and a poniard; go and kill the First Consul.' No, I did not believe that; but it cannot be denied that all those foreign conspirators against my Government were serving England, and receiving pay from that power. Have I agents in London to disturb the Government of Great Britain? I have waged with it honourable warfare; I have not attempted to awaken a remembrance of the Stuarts amongst their old partisans. Is not Wright, who landed Georges and his accomplices at Dieppe, a captain in the British navy? But rest assured that, with the exception of a few babblers, whom I can easily silence, the hearts of the French people are with me; everywhere public opinion has been declared in my favour, so that I have nothing to apprehend from giving the greatest publicity to these plots, and bringing the accused to a solemn trial. The greater number of those gentlemen wished me to bring the prisoners before a military commission, that summary judgment might be obtained; but I refused my consent to this measure. It might have been said that I dreaded public opinion; and I fear it not. People may talk as much as they please, well and good, I am not obliged to hear them; but I do not like those who are attached to my person to blame what I have done."
As I could not wholly conceal an involuntary emotion, in which the Emperor saw something more than mere surprise, he paused, took me by the ear, and, smiling in the most affectionate manner, said, "I had no reference to you in what I said, but I have to complain of Lacuee. Could you believe that during the trial he went about clamouring in behalf of Moreau? He, my aide de camp—a man who owes everything to me! As for you, I have said that you acted very well in this affair."—" I know not, Sire, what has either been done or said by Lacuee,—whom I have not seen for a long time; what I said to Duroc is what history teaches in every page."—"By the by," resumed the Emperor, after a short silence, "do you know that it was I myself who discovered that Pichegru was in Paris. Everyone said to me, Pichegru is in Paris; Fouche, Real, harped on the same string, but could give me no proof of their assertion. 'What a fool you are,' said I to Real, when in an instant you may ascertain the fact. Pichegru has a brother, an aged ecclesiastic, who resides in Paris; let his dwelling be searched, and should he be absent, it will warrant a suspicion that Pichegru is here; if, on the contrary, his brother should be at home, let him be arrested: he is a simple-minded man, and in the first moments of agitation will betray the truth. Everything happened as I had foreseen, for no sooner was he arrested than, without waiting to be questioned, he inquired if it was a crime to have received his brother into his house. Thus every doubt was removed, and a miscreant in the house in which Pichegru lodged betrayed him to the police. What horrid degradation to betray a friend for the sake of gold."
Then reverting to Moreau, the Emperor talked a great deal respecting that general. "Moreau," he said, "possesses many good qualities; his bravery is undoubted; but he has more courage than energy; he is indolent and effeminate. When with the army he lived like a pasha; he smoked, was almost constantly in bed, and gave himself up to the pleasures of the table. His dispositions are naturally good; but he is too indolent for study; he does not read, and since he has been tied to his wife's apronstrings is fit for nothing. He sees only with the eyes of his wife and her mother, who have had a hand in all these late plots; and then, Bourrienne, is it not very strange that it was by my advice that he entered into this union? I was told that Mademoiselle Hulot was a creole, and I believed that he would find in her a second Josephine; how greatly was I mistaken! It is these women who have estranged us from each other, and I regret that he should have acted so unworthily. You must remember my observing to you more than two years ago that Moreau would one day run his head against the gate of the Tuileries; that he has done so was no fault of mine, for you know how much I did to secure his attachment. You cannot have forgotten the reception I gave him at Malmaison. On the 18th Brumaire I conferred on him the charge of the Luxembourg, and in that situation he fully justified my, choice. But since that period he has behaved towards me with the utmost ingratitude —entered into all the silly cabala against me, blamed all my measures, and turned into ridicule the Legion of Honour. Have not some of the intriguers put it into his head that I regard him with jealousy? You must be aware of that. You must also know as well as I how anxious the members of the Directory were to exalt the reputation of Moreau. Alarmed at my success in Italy, they wished to have in the armies a general to serve as a counterpoise to my renown. I have ascended the throne and he is the inmate of a prison! You are aware of the incessant clamouring raised against me by the whole family, at which I confess I was very much displeased; coming from those whom I had treated so well! Had he attached himself to me, I would doubtless have conferred on him the title of First Marshal of the Empire; but what could I do? He constantly depreciated my campaigns and my government. From discontent to revolt there is frequently only one step, especially when a man of a weak character becomes the tool of popular clubs; and therefore when I was first informed that Moreau was implicated in the conspiracy of Georges I believed him to be guilty, but hesitated to issue an order for his arrest till I had taken the opinion of my Council. The members having assembled, I ordered the different documents to be laid before them, with an injunction to examine them with the utmost care, since they related to an affair of importance, and I urged them candidly to inform me whether, in their opinion, any of the charges against Moreau were sufficiently strong to endanger his life. The fools! their reply was in the affirmative; I believe they were even unanimous! Then I had no alternative but to suffer the proceedings to take their course. It is unnecessary to affirm to you, Bourrienne, that Moreau never should have perished on a scaffold! Most assuredly I would have pardoned him; but with the sentence of death hanging over his head he could no longer have proved dangerous; and his name would have ceased to be a rallying-point for disaffected Republicans or imbecile Royalists. Had the Council expressed any doubts respecting his guilt I would have intimated to him that the suspicions against him were so strong as to render any further connection between us impossible; and that the best course he could pursue would be to leave France for three years, under the pretext of visiting some of the places rendered celebrated during the late wars; but that if he preferred a diplomatic mission I would make a suitable provision for his expenses; and the great innovator, Time, might effect great changes during the period of his absence. But my foolish Council affirmed to me that his guilt, as a principal, being evident, it was absolutely necessary to bring him to trial; and now his sentence is only that of a pickpocket. What think you I ought to do? Detain him? He might still prove a rallying-point. No. Let him sell his property and quit? Can I confine him in the Temple? It is full enough without him. Still, if this had been the only great error they had led me to commit—"
"Sire, how greatly you have been deceived."
"Oh yes, I have been so; but I cannot see everything with my own eyes."
At this part of our conversation, of which I have suppressed my own share as much as possible, I conceived that the last words of Bonaparte alluded to the death of the Duc d'Enghien; and I fancied he was about to mention that event but he again spoke of Moreau.
"He is very much mistaken," resumed the Emperor, "if he conceives I bore any ill-will towards him. After his arrest I sent Lauriston to the Temple, whom I chose because he was of an amiable and conciliating disposition; I charged him to tell Moreau to confess he had only seen Pichegru, and I would cause the proceedings against him to be suspended. Instead of receiving this act of generosity as he ought to have done, he replied to it with great haughtiness, so much was he elated that Pichegru had not been arrested; he afterwards, however, lowered his tone. He wrote to me a letter of excuse respecting his anterior conduct, which I caused to be produced on the trial. He was the author of his own ruin; besides, it would have required men of a different stamp from Moreau to conspire against me. Amoung, the conspirators, for example, was an individual whose fate I regret; this Georges in my hands might have achieved great things. I can duly appreciate the firmness of character he displayed, and to which I could have given a proper direction. I caused Real to intimate to him that, if he would attach himself to me, not only should he be pardoned, but that I would give him the command of a regiment. Perhaps I might even have made him my aide de camp. Complaints would have been made, but, parbleu, I should not have cared. Georges refused all my offers; he was as inflexible as iron. What could I do? he underwent his fate, for he was a dangerous man; circumstances rendered his death a matter of necessity. Examples of severity were called for, when England was pouring into France the whole offscouring of the emigration; but patience, patience! I have a long arm, and shall be able to reach them, when necessary. Moreau regarded Georges merely as a ruffian—I viewed him in a different light. You may remember the conversation I had with him at the Tuileries—you and Rapp were in an adjoining cabinet. I tried in vain to influence him—some of his associates were affected at the mention of country and of glory; he alone stood cold and unmoved. I addressed myself to his feelings, but in vain; he was insensible to everything I said. At that period Georges appeared to me little ambitious of power; his whole wishes seemed to centre in commanding the Vendeans. It was not till I had exhausted every means of conciliation that I assumed the tone and language of the first magistrate. I dismissed him with a strong injunction to live retired— to be peaceable and obedient—not to misinterpret the motives of my conduct towards himself—nor attribute to weakness what was merely the result of moderation and strength. 'Rest assured,' I added, 'and repeat to your associates, that while I hold the reins of authority there will be neither chance nor salvation for those who dare to conspire against me: How he conformed to this injunction the event has shown. Real told me that when Moreau and Georges found themselves in the presence of Pichegru they could not come to any understanding, because Georges would not act against the Bourbons. Well, he had a plan, but Moreau had none; he merely wished for my overthrow, without having formed any ulterior views whatever. This showed that he was destitute of even common sense. Apropos, Bourrienne, have you seen Corvisart?"—"Yes, Sire."—"Well!" "He delivered to me the message with which you entrusted him."—"And Desmaisons!—I wager that you have not spoken to him in conformity to my wishes."—" Sire, the estimation in which I hold Desmaisons deterred me from a course so injurious to him; for in what other light could he have considered what I should have said to him? I have never visited at his house since the commencement of the trial."—"Well! well! Be prudent and discreet, I shall not forget you." He then waved a very gracious salute with his hand, and withdrew into his cabinet.
The Emperor had detained me more than an hour. On leaving the audience- chamber I passed through the outer salon, where a number of individuals were waiting; and I perceived that an observance of etiquette was fast gaining ground, though the Emperor had not yet adopted the admirable institution of Court Chamberlains.
I cannot deny that I was much gratified with my reception; besides I was beginning to be weary of an inactive life, and was anxious to obtain a place, of which I stood in great need, from the losses I had sustained and the unjust resumption which Bonaparte had made of his gifts. Being desirous to speak of Napoleon with the strictest impartiality, I prefer drawing my conclusions from those actions in which I had no personal concern. I shall therefore only relate here, even before giving an account of my visit to the Empress on leaving the audience-chamber, the former conduct of Napoleon towards myself and Madame de Bourrienne, which will justify the momentary alarm with which I was seized when summoned to the Tuileries, and the satisfaction I felt at my reception. I had a proof of what Rapp said of the Emperor being in good-humour, and was flattered by the confidential manner in which he spoke to me concerning some of the great political secrets of his Government. On seeing me come out Rapp observed, "You have had a long audience."—"Yes, not amiss;" and this circumstance procured for me a courtly salutation from all persons waiting in the antechamber.'
I shall now relate how I spent the two preceding years. The month after I tendered my resignation to the First Consul, and which he refused to accept, the house at St. Cloud belonging to Madame Deville was offered to me; it was that in which the Due d'Angouleme and the Due de Berri were inoculated. I visited this mansion, thinking it might be suitable for my family; but, notwithstanding the beauty of its situation, it seemed far too splendid either for my taste or my fortune. Except the outer walls, it was in a very dilapidated state, and would require numerous and expensive repairs. Josephine, being informed that Madame de Bourrienne had set her face against the purchase, expressed a wish to see the mansion, and accompanied us for that purpose. She was so much delighted with it that she blamed my wife for starting any objections to my becoming, its possessor. "With regard to the expense," Josephine replied to her, "ah, we shall arrange that." On our return to Malmaison she spoke of it in such high terms that Bonaparte said to me, "Why don't you purchase it, Bourrienne, since the price is so reasonable?"
The house was accordingly purchased. An outlay of 20,000 francs was immediately required to render it habitable. Furniture was also necessary for this large mansion, and orders for it were accordingly given. But no sooner were repairs begun than everything crumbled to pieces, which rendered many additional expenses necessary.
About this period Bonaparte hurried forward the works at St. Cloud, to which place he immediately removed. My services being constantly required, I found it so fatiguing to go twice or thrice a day from Ruel to St. Cloud that I took possession of my new mansion, though it was still filled with workmen. Scarcely eight days had elapsed from this period when Bonaparte intimated that he no longer had occasion for my services. When my wife went to take leave Napoleon spoke to her in a flattering manner of my good qualities, my merit, and the utility of my labours, saying that he was himself the most unfortunate of the three, and that my loss could never be replaced. He then added, "I shall be absent for a month, but Bourrienne may be quite easy; let him remain in retirement, and on my return I shall reward his services, should I even create a place on purpose for him."
Madame de Bourrienne then requested leave to retain the apartments appropriated to her in the Tuileries till after her accouchement, which was not far distant, to which he replied, "You may keep them as long as you please; for it will be some time before I again reside in Paris."
Bonaparte set out on his journey, and shortly afterwards I went with my family to visit Madame de Coubertin, my cousin-german, who received us with her usual kindness. We passed the time of the First Consul's absence at her country seat, and only returned to St. Cloud on the day Bonaparte was expected.
Scarcely a quarter of an hour had elapsed after his arrival when I received an intimation to give up, in twenty-four hours, the apartments in the Tuileries, which he had promised my wife should retain till after her confinement. He reclaimed at the same time the furniture of Ruel, which he presented to me two years before, when I purchased that small house on purpose to be near him.
I addressed several memorials to him on this subject, stating that I had replaced the worn-out furniture with new and superior articles; but this he wholly disregarded, compelling me to give up everything, even to the greatest trifle. It may be right to say that on his return the Emperor found his table covered with information respecting my conduct in Paris, though I had not held the smallest communication with any one in the capital, nor once entered it during his absence.
After my departure for Hamburg, Bonaparte took possession of my stables and coach-house, which he filled with horses. Even the very avenues and walks were converted into stabling. A handsome house at the entrance to the park was also appropriated to similar purposes; in fact, he spared nothing. Everything was done in the true military style; I neither had previous intimation of the proceedings nor received any remuneration for my loss. The Emperor seemed to regard the property as his own; but though he all but ordered me to make the purchase, he did not furnish the money that was paid for it. In this way it was occupied for more than four years.
The recollection of those arbitrary and vexatious proceedings on the part of Bonaparte has led me farther than I intended. I shall therefore return to the imperial residence of St. Cloud. On leaving the audience- chamber, as already stated, I repaired to the apartments of the Empress, who, knowing that I was in the Palace, had intimated her wishes for my attendance. No command could have been more agreeable to me, for every one was certain of a gracious reception from Josephine. I do not recollect which of the ladies in waiting was in attendance when my name was announced; but she immediately retired, and left me alone with Josephine. Her recent elevation had not changed the usual amenity of her disposition. After some conversation respecting the change in her situation, I gave her an account of what had passed between the Emperor and myself.
I faithfully related all that he had said of Moreau, observing that at one moment I imagined he was about to speak of the Due d'Enghien, when he suddenly reverted to what he had been saying, and never made the slightest allusion to the subject.
Madame Bonaparte replied to me, "Napoleon has spoken the truth respecting Moreau. He was grossly deceived by those who believed they could best pay their court to him by calumniating that general. His silence on the subject of the Due d'Enghien does not surprise me; he says as little respecting it as possible, and always in a vague manner, and with manifest repugnance. When you see Bonaparte again be silent on the subject, and should chance bring it forward, avoid every expression in the smallest degree indicative of reproach; he would not suffer it; you would ruin yourself for ever in his estimation, and the evil is, alas! without remedy. When you came to Malmaison I told you that I had vainly endeavoured to turn him from his fatal purpose, and how he had treated me. Since then he has experienced but little internal satisfaction; it is only in the presence of his courtiers that he affects a calm and tranquil deportment; but I perceive his sufferings are the greater from thus endeavouring to conceal them. By the by, I forgot to mention that he knew of the visit you paid me on the day after the catastrophe. I dreaded that your enemies, the greater number of whom are also mine, might have misrepresented that interview; but, fortunately, he paid little attention to it. He merely said, 'So you have seen Bourrienne? Does he sulk at me? Nevertheless I must do something for him.' He has again spoken in the same strain, and repeated nearly the same expressions three days ago; and since he has commanded your presence to-day, I have not a doubt but he has something in view for your advantage."—" May I presume to inquire what it is?"—"I do not yet know; but I would recommend to you, in the meantime, to be more strictly on your guard than ever; he is so suspicious, and so well informed of all that is done or said respecting himself. I have suffered so much since I last saw you; never can I forget the unkind manner in which he rejected my entreaties! For several days I laboured under a depression of spirits which greatly irritated him, because he clearly saw whence it proceeded. I am not dazzled by the title of Empress; I dread some evil will result from this step to him, to my children, and to myself. The miscreants ought to be satisfied; see to what they have driven us! This death embitters every moment of my life. I need not say to you, Bourrienne, that I speak this in confidence."—"You cannot doubt my prudence."—" No, certainly not, Bourrienne. I do not doubt it. My confidence in you is unbounded. Rest assured that I shall never forget what you have done for me, under various circumstances, and the devotedness you evinced to me on your return from Egypt.—Adieu, my friend. Let me see you soon again."
It was on the 14th of June 1804 that I had this audience of the Emperor, and afterwards attended the Empress.
On my return home I spent three hours in making notes of all that was said to me by these two personages; and the substance of these notes I have now given to the reader.
Curious disclosures of Fouche—Remarkable words of Bonaparte respecting the protest of Louis XVIII—Secret document inserted in the Moniteur—Announcement from Bonaparte to Regnier—Fouche appointed Minister of Police—Error of Regnier respecting the conspiracy of Georges—Undeserved praise bestowed on Fouche— Indication of the return of the Bourbons—Variation between the words and conduct of Bonaparte—The iron crown—Celebration of the 14th of July—Church festivals and loss of time—Grand ceremonial at the Invalides—Recollections of the 18th Brumaire—New oath of the Legion of Honour—General enthusiasm—Departure for Boulogne—Visits to Josephine at St. Cloud and Malmaison—Josephine and Madame de Remusat—Pardons granted by the Emperor—Anniversary of the 14th of July—Departure for the camp of Boulogne—General error respecting Napoleon's designs—Caesar's Tower—Distribution of the crosses of the Legion of Honour—The military throne—Bonaparte's charlatanism —Intrepidity of two English sailors—The decennial prizes and the Polytechnic School—Meeting of the Emperor and Empress—First negotiation with the Holy Sea—The Prefect of Arras and Comte Louis de Narbonne—Change in the French Ministry.
Louis XVIII., being at Warsaw when he was informed of the elevation of Napoleon to the Imperial dignity, addressed to the sovereigns of Europe a protest against that usurpation of his throne. Fouche, being the first who heard of this protest, immediately communicated the circumstance to the Emperor, observing that doubtless the copies would be multiplied and distributed amongst the enemies of his Government, in the Faubourg St. Germain, which might produce the worst effects, and that he therefore deemed it his duty to inform him that orders might be given to Regnier and Real to keep a strict watch over those engaged in distributing this document.
"You may judge of my surprise," added Fouche, "you who know so well that formerly the very mention of the Bourbons rendered Bonaparte furious, when, after perusing the protest, he returned it to me, saying, 'Ah, ah, so the Comte de Lille makes his protest! Well, well, all in good time. I hold my right by the voice of the French nation, and while I wear a sword I will maintain it! The Bourbons ought to know that I do not fear them; let them, therefore, leave me in tranquillity. Did you say that the fools of the Faubourg St. Germain would multiply the copies of this protest of Comte de Lille? well, they shall read it at their ease. Send it to the Moniteur, Fouche; and let it be inserted to-morrow morning.'" This passed on the 30th of June, and the next day the protest of Louis XVIII. did actually appear in that paper.
Fouche was wholly indifferent respecting the circulation of this protest; he merely wished to show the Emperor that he was better informed of passing events than Regnier, and to afford Napoleon another proof of the inexperience and inability of the Grand Judge in police; and Fouche was not long in receiving the reward which he expected from this step. In fact, ten days after the publication of the protest, the Emperor announced to Regnier the re-establishment of the Ministry of General Police.
The formula, I Pray God to have you in His holy keeping, with which the letter to Regnier closed, was another step of Napoleon in the knowledge of ancient usages, with which he was not sufficiently familiar when he wrote Cambaceres on the day succeeding his elevation to the Imperial throne; at the same time it must be confessed that this formula assorted awkwardly with the month of "Messidor," and the "twelfth year of the Republic!"
The errors which Regnier had committed in the affair of Georges were the cause which determined Bonaparte to re-establish the Ministry of Police, and to bestow it on a man who had created a belief in the necessity of that measure, by a monstrous accumulation of plots and intrigues. I am also certain that the Emperor was swayed by the probability of a war breaking out, which would force him to leave France; and that he considered Fouche as the most proper person to maintain the public tranquillity during his absence, and detect any cabala that might be formed in favour of the Bourbons.
At this period, when Bonaparte had given the finishing blow to the Republic, which had only been a shadow since the 19th Brumaire, it was not difficult to foresee that the Bourbons would one day remount the throne of their ancestors; and this presentiment was not, perhaps, without its influence in rendering the majority greater in favour of the foundation of the Empire than for the establishment of a Consulate for life. The reestablishment of the throne was a most important step in favour of the Bourbons, for that was the thing most difficult to be done. But Bonaparte undertook the task; and, as if by the aid of a magic rod, the ancient order of things was restored in the twinkling of an eye. The distinctions of rank—orders—titles, the noblesse—decorations—all the baubles of vanity—in short, all the burlesque tattooing which the vulgar regard as an indispensable attribute of royalty, reappeared in an instant. The question no longer regarded the form of government, but the individual who should be placed at its head. By restoring the ancient order of things, the Republicans had themselves decided the question, and it could no longer be doubted that when an occasion presented itself the majority of the nation would prefer the ancient royal family, to whom France owed her civilisation, her greatness, and her power, and who had exalted her to such a high degree of glory and prosperity.
It was not one of the least singular traits in Napoleon's character that during the first year of his reign he retained the fete of the 14th of July. It was not indeed strictly a Republican fate, but it recalled the recollection of two great popular triumphs,—the taking of the Bastille and the first Federation. This year the 14th of July fell on a Saturday, and the Emperor ordered its celebration to be delayed till the following day, because it was Sunday; which was in conformity with the sentiments he delivered respecting the Concordat. "What renders me," he said, "most hostile to the re-establishment of the Catholic worship is the number of festivals formerly observed. A saint's day is a day of indolence, and I wish not for that; the people must labour in order to live. I consent to four holidays in the year, but no more; if the gentlemen from Rome are not satisfied with this, they may take their departure."
The loss of time seemed to him so great a calamity that he seldom failed to order an indispensable solemnity to be held on the succeeding holiday. Thus he postponed the Corpus Christi to the following Sunday.
On Sunday, the 15th of July 1804, the Emperor appeared for the first time before the Parisians surrounded by all the pomp of royalty. The members of the Legion of Honour, then in Paris, took the oath prescribed by the new Constitution, and on this occasion the Emperor and Empress appeared attended for the first time by a separate and numerous retinue.
The carriages in the train of the Empress crossed the garden of the Tuileries, hitherto exclusively appropriated to the public; then followed the cavalcade of the Emperor, who appeared on horseback, surrounded by his principal generals, whom he had created Marshals of the Empire. M. de Segur, who held the office of Grand Master of Ceremonies, had the direction of the ceremonial to be observed on this occasion, and with, the Governor received the Emperor on the threshold of the Hotel des Invalides. They conducted the Empress to a tribune prepared for her reception, opposite the Imperial throne which Napoleon alone occupied, to the right of the altar. I was present at this ceremony, notwithstanding the repugnance I have to such brilliant exhibitions; but as Duroc had two days before presented me with tickets, I deemed it prudent to attend on the occasion, lest the keen eye of Bonaparte should have remarked my absence if Duroc had acted by his order.
I spent about an hour contemplating the proud and sometimes almost ludicrous demeanour of the new grandees of the Empire; I marked the manoeuvring of the clergy, who, with Cardinal Belloy at their head, proceeded to receive the Emperor on his entrance into the church. What a singular train of ideas was called up to my mind when I beheld my former comrade at the school of Brienne seated upon an elevated throne, surrounded by his brilliant staff, the great dignitaries of his Empire— his Ministers and Marshals! I involuntarily recurred to the 19th Brumaire, and all this splendid scene vanished; when I thought of Bonaparte stammering to such a degree that I was obliged to pull the skirt of his coat to induce him to withdraw.
It was neither a feeling of animosity nor of jealousy which called up such reflections; at no period of our career would I have exchanged my situation for his; but whoever can reflect, whoever has witnessed the unexpected elevation of a former equal, may perhaps be able to conceive the strange thoughts that assailed my mind, for the first time, on this occasion.
When the religious part of the ceremony terminated, the church assumed, in some measure, the appearance of a profane temple. The congregation displayed more devotion to the Emperor than towards the God of the Christians,—more enthusiasm than fervour. The mass had been heard with little attention; but when M. de Lacepede, Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour, after pronouncing a flattering discourse, finished the call of the Grand Officers of the Legion, Bonaparte covered, as did the ancient kings of France when they held a bed of justice. A profound silence, a sort of religious awe, then reigned throughout the assembly, and Napoleon, who did not now stammer as in the Council of the Five Hundred, said in a firm voice:
"Commanders, officers, legionaries, citizens, soldiers; swear upon your honour to devote yourselves to the service of the Empire—to the preservation of the integrity of the French territory—to the defence of the Emperor, of the laws of the Republic, and of the property which they have made sacred—to combat by all the means which justice, reason, and the laws authorise every attempt to reestablish the feudal system; in short, swear to concur with all your might in maintaining liberty and equality, which are the bases of all our institutions. Do you swear?"
Each member of the Legion of Honour exclaimed, "I swear;" adding, "Vive l'Empereur!" with an enthusiam it is impossible to describe, and in which all present joined.
What, after all, was this new oath? It only differed from that taken by the Legion of Honour, under the Consulate, in putting the defence of the Emperor before that of the laws of the Republic; and this was not merely a form. It was, besides, sufficiently laughable and somewhat audacious, to make them swear to support equality at the moment so many titles and monarchical distinctions had been re-established.
On the 18th of July, three days after this ceremony, the Emperor left Paris to visit the camp at Boulogne. He was not accompanied by the Empress on this journey, which was merely to examine the progress of the military operations. Availing myself of the invitation Josephine had given me, I presented myself at St. Cloud a few days after the departure of Napoleon; as she did not expect my visit, I found her surrounded by four or five of the ladies in waiting, occupied in examining some of the elegant productions of the famous Leroi and Madame Despeaux; for amidst the host of painful feelings experienced by Josephine she was too much of a woman not to devote some attention to the toilet.
On my introduction they were discussing the serious question of the costume to be worn by the Empress on her journey to Belgium to meet Napoleon at the Palace of Lacken, near Brussels. Notwithstanding those discussions respecting the form of hats, the colour and shape of dresses, etc., Josephine received me in her usual gracious manner. But not being able to converse with me, she said, without giving it an appearance of invitation but in a manner sufficiently evident to be understood, that she intended to pass the following morning at Malmaison.
I shortened my visit, and at noon next day repaired to that delightful abode, which always created in my mind deep emotion. Not an alley, not a grove but teemed with interesting recollections; all recalled to me the period when I was the confidant of Bonaparte. But the time was past when he minutely calculated how much a residence at Malmaison would cost, and concluded by saying that an income of 30,000 livrea would be necessary.
When I arrived Madame Bonaparte was in the garden with Madame de Remusat, who was her favourite from the similarity of disposition which existed between them.
Madame de Remusat was the daughter of the Minister Vergennes, and sister to Madame de Nansouty, whom I had sometimes seen with Josephine, but not so frequently as her elder sister. I found the ladies in the avenue which leads to Ruel, and saluted Josephine by inquiring respecting the health of Her Majesty. Never can I forget the tone in which she replied: "Ah! Bourrienne, I entreat that you will suffer me, at least here, to forget that I am an Empress." As she had not a thought concealed from Madame de Remusat except some domestic vexations, of which probably I was the only confidant, we conversed with the same freedom as if alone, and it is easy to define that the subject of our discourse regarded Bonaparte.
After having spoken of her intended journey to Belgium, Josephine said tome, "What a pity, Bourrienne, that the past cannot be recalled! He departed in the happiest disposition: he has bestowed some pardons and I am satisfied that but for those accursed politics he would have pardoned a far greater number. I would have said much more, but I endeavoured to conceal my chagrin because the slightest contradiction only renders him the more obstinate. Now, when in the midst of his army, he will forget everything. How much have I been afflicted that I was not able to obtain a favourable answer to all the petitions which were addressed to me. That good Madame de Monteason came from Romainville to St. Cloud to solicit the pardon of MM. de Riviere and de Polignac; we succeeded in gaining an audience for Madame de Polignac; . . . how beautiful she is! Bonaparte was greatly affected on beholding her; he said to her, 'Madame, since it was only my life your husband menaced, I may pardon him.' You know Napoleon, Bourrienne; you know that he is not naturally cruel; it is his counsellors and flatterers who have induced him to commit so many villainous actions. Rapp has behaved extremely well; he went to the Emperor, and would not leave him till he had obtained the pardon of another of the condemned, whose name I do not recollect. How much these Polignacs have interested me! There will be then at least some families who will owe him gratitude! Strive, if it be possible, to throw a veil over the past; I am sufficiently miserable in my anticipations of the future. Rest assured, my dear Bourrienne, that I shall not fail to exert myself during our stay in Belgium in your behalf, and inform you of the result. Adieu!"
During the festival in celebration of the 14th of July, which I have already alluded to, the Emperor before leaving the Hotel des Invalides had announced that he would go in person to distribute the decorations of the Legion of Honour to the army assembled in the camp of Boulogne. He was not long before he fulfilled his promise. He left St. Cloud on the 18th and travelled with such rapidity that the next morning, whilst every one was busy with preparations for his reception, he was already at that port, in the midst of the labourers, examining the works. He seemed to multiply himself by his inconceivable activity, and one might say that he was present everywhere.
At the Emperor's departure it was generally believed at Paris that the distribution of the crosses at the camp of Boulogne was only a pretext, and that Bonaparte had at length gone to carry into execution the project of an invasion of England, which every body supposed he contemplated. It was, indeed, a pretext. The Emperor wished to excite more and more the enthusiasm of the army—to show himself to the military invested in his new dignity, to be present at some grand manoeuvres, and dispose the army to obey the first signal he might give. How indeed, on beholding such great preparations, so many transports created, as it were, by enchantment, could any one have supposed that be did not really intend to attempt a descent on England? People almost fancied him already in London; it was known that all the army corps echelloned on the coast from Maples to Ostend were ready to embark. Napoleon's arrival in the midst of his troops inspired them, if possible, with a new impulse. The French ports on the Channel had for a long period been converted into dockyards and arsenals, where works were carried on with that inconceivable activity which Napoleon knew so well how to inspire. An almost incredible degree of emulation prevailed amongst the commanders of the different camps, and it descended from rank to rank to the common soldiers and even to the labourers.
As every one was eager to take advantage of the slightest effects of chance, and exercised his ingenuity in converting them into prognostics of good fortune for the Emperor, those who had access to him did not fail to call his attention to some remains of a Roman camp which had been discovered at the Tour d'Ordre, where the Emperor's tent was pitched. This was considered an evident proof that the French Caesar occupied the camp which the Roman Caesar had formerly constructed to menace Great Britain. To give additional force to this allusion, the Tour d'Ordre resumed the name of Caesar's Tower. Some medals of William the Conqueror, found in another spot, where, perhaps, they had been buried for the purpose of being dug up, could not fail to satisfy the most incredulous that Napoleon must conquer England.
It was not far from Caesar's Tower that 80,000 men of the camps of Boulogne and Montreuil, under the command of Marshal Soult, were assembled in a vast plain to witness the distribution of the crosses of the Legion of Honour impressed with the Imperial effigy. This plain, which I saw with Bonaparte in our first journey to the coast, before our departure to Egypt, was circular and hollow; and in the centre was a little hill. This hill formed the Imperial throne of Bonaparte in the midst of his soldiers. There he stationed himself with his staff and around this centre of glory the regiments were drawn up in lines and looked like so many diverging rays. From this throne, which had been erected by the hand of nature, Bonaparte delivered in a loud voice the same form of oath which he had pronounced at the Hotel des Invalides a few days before. It was the signal for a general burst of enthusiasm, and Rapp, alluding to this ceremony, told me that he never saw the Emperor appear more pleased. How could he be otherwise? Fortune then seemed obedient to his wishes. A storm came on during this brilliant day, and it was apprehended that part of the flotilla would have suffered.
Bonaparte quitted the hill from which he had distributed the crosses and proceeded to the port to direct what measures should be taken, when upon his arrival the storm—
—[The following description of the incident when Napoleon nearly occasioned the destruction of the Boulogne flotilla was forwarded to the 'Revue Politique et Litteraire' from a private memoir. The writer, who was an eye-witness, says—
One morning, when the Emperor was mounting his horse, he announced that he intended to hold a review of his naval forces, and gave the order that the vessels which lay in the harbour should alter their positions, as the review was to be held on the open sea. He started on his usual ride, giving orders that everything should be arranged on his return, the time of which be indicted. His wish was communicated to Admiral Bruix, who responded with imperturbable coolness that he was very sorry, but that the review could not take place that day. Consequently not a vessel was moved. On his return back from his ride the Emperor asked whether all was ready. He was told what the Admiral had said. Twice the answer had to be repeated to him before he could realise its nature, and then, violently stamping his foot on the ground, he sent for the Admiral. The Emperor met him halfway. With eyes burning with rage, he exclaimed in an excited voice, "Why have my orders not been executed?" With respectful firmness Admiral Bruix replied, "Sire, a terrible storm is brewing. Your Majesty may convince yourself of it; would you without need expose the lives of so many men?" The heaviness of the atmosphere and the sound of thunder in the distance more than justified the fears of the Admiral. "Sir, said the Emperor, getting more and more irritated, "I have given the orders once more; why have they not been executed? The consequences concern me alone. Obey!" 'Sire, I will not obey,' replied the Admiral. "You are insolent!" And the Emperor, who still held his riding-whip in his hand, advanced towards the admiral with a threatening gesture. Admiral Bruix stepped back and put his hand on the sheath of his sword and said, growing very pale, "sire, take care!" The whole suite stood paralysed with fear. The Emperor remained motionless for some time, his hand lifted up, his eyes fixed on the Admiral, who still retained his menacing attitude. At last the Emperor threw his whip on the floor. M. Bruix took his hand off his sword, and with uncovered head awaited in silence the result of the painful scene. Rear-Admiral Magon was then ordered to see that the Emperor's orders were instantly executed. "As for you, sir," said the Emperor, fixing his eyes on Admiral Bruix, you leave Boulogne within twenty-four hours and depart for Holland. Go!" M. Magon ordered the fatal movement of the fleet on which the Emperor had insisted. The first arrangements had scarcely been made when the sea because very high. The black sky was pierced by lightning, the thunder rolled and every moment the line of vessels was broken by the wind, and shortly after, that which the Admiral had foreseen came to pass, and the most frightful storm dispersed the vessels in each a way that it seamed impossible to save them. With bent head, arms crossed, and a sorrowful look in his face, the Emperor walked up and down on the beach, when suddenly the most terrible cries were heard. More than twenty gunboats filled with soldiers and sailors were being driven towards the shore, and the unfortunate men were vainly fighting against the furious waves, calling for help which nobody could give them. Deeply touched by the spectacle and the heart-rending cries and lamentations of the multitude which had assembled on the beach, the Emperor, seeing his generals and officers tremble with horror, attempted to set an example of devotion, and, in spite of all efforts to keep him back, he threw himself into a boat, saying, "Let me go! let me go! they must be brought out of this." In a moment the boat was filled with water. The waves poured over it again and again, and the Emperor was drenched. One wave larger than the others almost threw him overboard and his hat was carried sway. Inspired by so much courage, officers, soldiers, seamen, and citizens tried to succour the drowning, some in boats, some swimming. But, alas! only a small number could be saved of the unfortunate men. The following day more than 200 bodies were thrown ashore, and with them the hat of the conqueror of Marengo. That sad day was one of desolation for Boulogne and for the camp. The Emperor groaned under the burden of an accident which he had to attribute solely to his own obstinacy. Agents were despatched to all parts of the town to subdue with gold the murmurs which ware ready to break out into a tumult.]—
—ceased as if by enchantment. The flotilla entered the port safe and sound and he went back to the camp, where the sports and amusements prepared for the soldiers commenced, and in the evening the brilliant fireworks which were let off rose in a luminous column, which was distinctly seen from the English coast.—[It appears that Napoleon was so well able to cover up this fiasco that not even Bourrienne ever heard the true story. D.W.]
When he reviewed the troops he asked the officers, and often the soldiers, in what battles they had been engaged, and to those who had received serious wounds he gave the cross. Here, I think, I may appropriately mention a singular piece of charlatanism to which the Emperor had recourse, and which powerfully contributed to augment the enthusiasm of his troops. He would say to one of his aides decamp, "Ascertain from the colonel of such a regiment whether he has in his corps a man who has served in the campaigns of Italy or the campaigns of Egypt. Ascertain his name, where he was born, the particulars of his family, and what he has done. Learn his number in the ranks, and to what company he belongs, and furnish me with the information."
On the day of the review Bonaparte, at a single glance, could perceive the man who had been described to him. He would go up to him as if he recognised him, address him by his name, and say, "Oh! so you are here! You area brave fellow—I saw you at Aboukir—how is your old father? What! have you not got the Cross? Stay, I will give it you." Then the delighted soldiers would say to each other, "You see the Emperor knows us all; he knows our families; he knows where we have served." What a stimulus was this to soldiers, whom he succeeded in persuading that they would all some time or other become Marshals of the Empire!
Lauriston told me, amongst other anecdotes relating to Napoleon's sojourn at the camp at Boulogne, a remarkable instance of intrepidity on the part of two English sailors. These men had been prisoners at Verdun, which was the most considerable depot of English prisoners in France at the rupture of the peace of Amiens. They effected their escape from Verdun, and arrived at Boulogne without having been discovered on the road, notwithstanding the vigilance with which all the English were watched They remained at Boulogne for some time, destitute of money, and without being able to effect their escape. They had no hope of getting aboard a boat, on account of the strict watch that was kept upon vessels of every kind. These two sailors made a boat of little pieces of wood, which they put together as well as they could, having no other tools than their knives. They covered it with a piece of sail-cloth. It was only three or four feet wide, and not much longer, and was so light that a man could easily carry it on his shoulders,—so powerful a passion is the love of home and liberty! Sure of being shot if they were discovered, almost equally sure of being drowned if they effected their escape, they, nevertheless, resolved to attempt crossing the Channel in their fragile skiff. Perceiving an English frigate within sight of the coast, they pushed off and endeavoured to reach her. They had not gone a hundred toises from the shore when they were perceived by the custom-house officers, who set out in pursuit of them, and brought them back again. The news of this adventure spread through the camp, where the extraordinary courage of the two sailors was the subject of general remark. The circumstance reached the Emperor's ears. He wished to see the men, and they were conducted to his presence, along with their little boat. Napoleon, whose imagination was struck by everything extraordinary, could not conceal his surprise at so bold a project, undertaken with such feeble means of execution. "Is it really true," said the Emperor to them, "that you thought of crossing the sea in this?"—"Sire," said they, "if you doubt it, give us leave to go, and you shall see us depart."—"I will. You are bold and enterprising men—I admire courage wherever I meet it. But you shall not hazard your lives. You are at liberty; and more than that, I will cause you to be put on board an English ship. When you return to London tell how I esteem brave men, even when they are my enemies." Rapp, who with Lauriaton, Duroc, and many others were present at this scene, were not a little astonished at the Emperor's generosity. If the men had not been brought before him, they would have been shot as spies, instead of which they obtained their liberty, and Napoleon gave several pieces of gold to each. This circumstance was one of those which made the strongest impression on Napoleon, and he recollected it when at St. Helena, in one of his conversations with M. de Las Casas.
No man was ever so fond of contrasts as Bonaparte. He liked, above everything, to direct the affairs of war whilst seated in his easy chair, in the cabinet of St. Cloud, and to dictate in the camp his decrees relative to civil administration. Thus, at the camp of Boulogne, he founded the decennial premiums, the first distribution of which he intended should take place five years afterwards, on the anniversary of the 18th Brumaire, which was an innocent compliment to the date of the foundation of the Consular Republic. This measure also seemed to promise to the Republican calendar a longevity which it did not attain. All these little circumstances passed unobserved; but Bonaparte had so often developed to me his theory of the art of deceiving mankind that I knew their true value. It was likewise at the camp of Boulogne that, by a decree emanating from his individual will, he destroyed the noblest institution of the Republic, the Polytechnic School, by converting it into a purely military academy. He knew that in that sanctuary of high study a Republican spirit was fostered; and whilst I was with him he had often told me it was necessary that all schools, colleges, and establishments for public instruction should be subject to military discipline. I frequently endeavoured to controvert this idea, but without success.
It was arranged that Josephine and the Emperor should meet in Belgium. He proceeded thither from the camp of Boulogne, to the astonishment of those who believed that the moment for the invasion of England had at length arrived. He joined the Empress at the Palace of Lacken, which the Emperor had ordered to be repaired and newly furnished with great magnificence.
The Emperor continued his journey by the towns bordering on the Rhine. He stopped first in the town of Charlemagne, passed through the three bishoprics,
—[There are two or three little circumstances in connection with this journey that seem worth inserting here:
Mademoiselle Avrillion was the 'femme de chambre' of Josephine, and was constantly about her person from the time of the first Consulship to the death of the Empress in 1814. In all such matters as we shall quote from them, her memoirs seem worthy of credit. According to Mademoiselle, the Empress during her stay at Aix-la- Chapelle, drank the waters with much eagerness and some hope. As the theatre there was only supplied with some German singers who were not to Josephine's taste, she had part of a French operatic company sent to her from Paris. The amiable creole had always a most royal disregard of expense. When Bonaparte joined her, he renewed his old custom of visiting his wife now and then at her toilet, and according to Mademoiselle Avrillion, he took great interest in the subject of her dressing. She says, "It was a most extraordinary thing for us to see the man whose head was filled with such vast affairs enter into the most minute details of the female toilet and of what dresses, what robes, and what jewels the Empress should wear on such and such an occasion. One day he daubed her dress with ink because be did not like it, and wanted her to put on another. Whenever he looked into her wardrobe he was sure to throw everything topsy-turvy."
This characteristic anecdote perfectly agrees with what we have heard from other persons. When the Neapolitan Princess di——- was at the Tuileries as 'dame d'honneur' to Bonaparte's sister Caroline Murat, then Queen of Naples, on the grand occasion of the marriage with Maria Louisa, the, Princess, to her astonishment, saw the Emperor go up to a lady of the Court and address her thus: "This is the same gown you wore the day before yesterday! What's the meaning of this, madame? This is not right, madame!"
Josephine never gave him a similar cause of complaint, but even when he was Emperor she often made him murmur at the profusion of her expenditure under this head. The next anecdote will give some idea of the quantity of dresses which she wore for a day or so, and then gave away to her attendants, who appear to have carried on a very active trade in them.
"While we were at Mayence the Palace was literally besieged by Jews, who continually brought manufactured and other goods to show to the followers of the Court; and we had the greatest difficulty to avoid buying them. At last they proposed that we should barter with them; and when Her Majesty had given us dresses that were far too rich for us to wear ourselves, we exchanged them with the Jews for piecegoods. The robes we thus bartered did not long remain in the hands of the Jews, and there must have been a great demand for them among the belles of Mayence, for I remember a ball there at which the Empress might have seen all the ladies of a quadrille party dressed in her cast-off clothes.—I even saw German Princesses wearing them" (Memoires de Mademoiselle Avrillion).
—on his way Cologne and Coblentz, which the emigration had rendered so famous, and arrived at Mayence, where his sojourn was distinguished by the first attempt at negotiation with the Holy See, in order to induce the Pope to come to France to crown the new Emperor, and consolidate his power by supporting it with the sanction of the Church. This journey of Napoleon occupied three months, and he did not return to St. Cloud till October. Amongst the flattering addresses which the Emperor received in the course of his journey I cannot pass over unnoticed the speech of M. de la Chaise, Prefect of Arras, who said, "God made Bonaparte, and then rested." This occasioned Comte Louis de Narbonne, who was not yet attached to the Imperial system, to remark "That it would have been well had God rested a little sooner."
During the Emperor's absence a partial change took place in the Ministry. M. de Champagny succeeded M. Chaptal as Minister of the Interior. At the camp of Boulogne the pacific Joseph found himself, by his brother's wish, transformed into a warrior, and placed in command of a regiment of dragoons, which was a subject of laughter with a great number of generals. I recollect that one day Lannes, speaking to me of the circumstance in his usual downright and energetic way, said, "He had better not place him under my orders, for upon the first fault I will put the scamp under arrest."
England deceived by Napoleon—Admirals Missiessy and Villeneuve— Command given to Lauriston—Napoleon's opinion of Madame de Stael— Her letters to Napoleon—Her enthusiasm converted into hatred— Bonaparte's opinion of the power of the Church—The Pope's arrival at Fontainebleau—Napoleon's first interview with Pius VII.— The Pope and the Emperor on a footing of equality—Honours rendered to the Pope—His apartments at the Tuileries—His visit to the Imperial printing office—Paternal rebuke—Effect produced in England by the Pope's presence in Paris—Preparations for Napoleon's coronation—Votes in favour of hereditary succession—Convocation of the Legislative Body—The presidents of cantons—Anecdote related by Michot the actor—Comparisons—Influence of the Coronation on the trade of Paris—The insignia of Napoleon and the insignia of Charlemagne—The Pope's mule—Anecdote of the notary Raguideau— Distribution of eagles in the Champ de Mars—Remarkable coincidence.
England was never so much deceived by Bonaparte as during the period of the encampment at Boulogne. The English really believed that an invasion was intended, and the Government exhausted itself in efforts for raising men and money to guard against the danger of being taken by surprise. Such, indeed, is the advantage always possessed by the assailant. He can choose the point on which he thinks it most convenient to act, while the party which stands on the defence, and is afraid of being attacked, is compelled to be prepared in every point. However, Napoleon, who was then in the full vigour of his genius and activity, had always his eyes fixed on objects remote from those which surrounded him, and which seemed to absorb his whole attention. Thus, during the journey of which I have spoken, the ostensible object of which was the organisation of the departments on the Rhine, he despatched two squadrons from Rochefort and Boulogne, one commanded by Missiessy, the other by Villeneuve—I shall not enter into any details about those squadrons; I shall merely mention with respect to them that, while the Emperor was still in Belgium, Lauriston paid me a sudden and unexpected visit. He was on his way to Toulon to take command of the troops which were to be embarked on Villeneuve's squadron, and he was not much pleased with the service to which he had been appointed.
Lauriston's visit was a piece of good fortune for me. We were always on friendly terms, and I received much information from him, particularly with respect to the manner in which the Emperor spent his time. "You can have no idea," said he, "how much the Emperor does, and the sort of enthusiasm which his presence excites in the army. But his anger at the contractors is greater than ever, and he has been very severe with some of them." These words of Lauriaton did not at all surprise me, for I well knew Napoleon's dislike to contractors, and all men who had mercantile transactions with the army. I have often heard him say that they were a curse and a leprosy to nations; that whatever power he might attain, he never would grant honours to any of them, and that of all aristocracies, theirs was to him the most insupportable. After his accession to the Empire the contractors were no longer the important persons they had been under the Directory, or even during the two first years of the Consulate. Bonaparte sometimes acted with them as he had before done with the Beya of Egypt, when he drew from them forced contributions.
—[Lauriston, one of Napoleon's aides de camp, who was with him at the Military School of Paris, and who had been commissioned in the artillery at the same time as Napoleon, considered that he should have had the post of Grand Ecuyer which Caulaincourt had obtained. He had complained angrily to the Emperor, and after a stormy interview was ordered to join the fleet of Villeneuve—In consequence he was at Trafalgar. On his return after Austerlitz his temporary disgrace was forgotten, and he was sent as governor to Venice. He became marshal under the Restoration.]—
I recollect another somewhat curious circumstance respecting the visit of Lauriston, who had left the Emperor and Empress at Aix-la-Chapelle. Lauriston was the best educated of the aides de camp, and Napoleon often conversed with him on such literary works as he chose to notice. "He sent for me one day," said Lauriston, "when I was on duty at the Palace of Lacken, and spoke to me of the decennial prizes, and the tragedy of 'Carion de Nisas', and a novel by Madame de Stael, which he had just read, but which I had not seen, and was therefore rather embarrassed in replying to him. Respecting Madame de Stael and her Delphine, he said some remarkable things. 'I do not like women,' he observed, 'who make men of themselves, any more than I like effeminate men. There is s proper part for every one to play in the world. What does all this flight of imagination mean? What is the result of it? Nothing. It is all sentimental metaphysics and disorder of the mind. I cannot endure that woman; for one reason, that I cannot bear women who make a set at me, and God knows how often she has tried to cajole me!'"
The words of Lauriston brought to my recollection the conversations I had often had with Bonaparte respecting Madame de Stael, of whose advances made to the First Consul, and even to the General of the Army of Italy, I had frequently been witness. Bonaparte knew nothing at first of Madame de Stael but that she was the daughter of M. Necker, a man for whom, as I have already shown, he had very little esteem. Madame de Stael had not been introduced to him, and knew nothing more of him than what fame had published respecting the young conqueror of Italy, when she addressed to him letters full of enthusiasm. Bonaparte read some passages of them to me, and, laughing, said, "What do you think, Bourrienne, of these extravagances. This woman is mad." I recollect that in one of her letters Madame de Stael, among other things, told him that they certainly were created for each other—that it was in consequence of an error in human institutions that the quiet and gentle Josephine was united to his fate—that nature seemed to have destined for the adoration of a hero such as he, a soul of fire like her own. These extravagances disgusted Bonaparte to a degree which I cannot describe. When he had finished reading these fine epistles he used to throw them into the fire, or tear them with marked ill-humour, and would say, "Well, here is a woman who pretends to genius—a maker of sentiments, and she presumes to compare herself to Josephine! Bourrienne, I shall not reply to such letters."
I had, however, the opportunity of seeing what the perseverance of a woman of talent can effect. Notwithstanding Bonaparte's prejudices against Madame de Stael, which he never abandoned, she succeeded in getting herself introduced to him; and if anything could have disgusted him with flattery it would have been the admiration, or, to speak more properly, the worship, which she paid him; for she used to compare him to a god descended on earth,—a kind of comparison which the clergy, I thought, had reserved for their own use. But, unfortunately, to please Madame de Stael it would have been necessary that her god had been Plutua; for behind her eulogies lay a claim for two millions, which M. Necker considered still due to him on account of his good and worthy services. However, Bonaparte said on this occasion that whatever value he might set on the suffrage of Madame de Stael, he did not think fit to pay so dear for it with the money of the State. The conversion of Madame de Stael's enthusiasm into hatred is well known, as are also the petty vexations, unworthy of himself, with which the Emperor harassed her in her retreat at Coppet.
Lauriston had arrived at Paris, where he made but a short stay, some days before Caffarelli, who was sent on a mission to Rome to sound the Papal Court, and to induce the Holy Father to come to Paris to consecrate Bonaparte at his coronation. I have already described the nature of Bonaparte's ideas on religion. His notions on the subject seemed to amount to a sort of vague feeling rather than to any belief founded on reflection. Nevertheless, he had a high opinion of the power of the Church; but not because he considered it dangerous to Governments, particularly to his own. Napoleon never could have conceived how it was possible that a sovereign wearing a crown and a sword could have the meanness to kneel to a Pope, or to humble his sceptre before the keys of St. Peter. His spirit was too great to admit of such a thought. On the contrary, he regarded the alliance between the Church and his power as a happy means of influencing the opinions of the people, and as an additional tie which was to attach them to a Government rendered legitimate by the solemn sanction of the Papal authority. Bonaparte was not deceived. In this, as well as in many other things, the perspicacity of his genius enabled him to comprehend all the importance of a consecration bestowed on him by the Pope; more especially as Louis XVIII., without subjects, without territory, and wearing only an illusory crown, had not received that sacred unction by which the descendants of Hugh Capet become the eldest sons of the Church.
As soon as the Emperor was informed of the success of Caffarelli's mission, and that the Pope, in compliance with his desire, was about to repair to Paris to confirm in his hands the sceptre of Charlemagne, nothing was thought of but preparations for that great event, which had been preceded by the recognition of Napoleon as Emperor of the French on the part of all the States of Europe, with the exception of England.
On the conclusion of the Concordat Bonaparte said to me, "I shall let the Republican generals exclaim as much as they like against the Mass. I know what I am about; I am working for posterity." He was now gathering the fruits of his Concordat. He ordered that the Pope should be everywhere treated in his journey through the French territory with the highest distinction, and he proceeded to Fontainebleau to receive his Holiness. This afforded an opportunity for Bonaparte to re-establish the example of those journeys of the old Court, during which changes of ministers used formerly to be made. The Palace of Fontainebleau, now become Imperial, like all the old royal chateaux, had been newly furnished with a luxury and taste corresponding to the progress of modern art. The Emperor was proceeding on the road to Nemours when courtiers informed him of the approach of Pius VII. Bonaparte's object was to avoid the ceremony which had been previously settled. He had therefore made the pretext of going on a hunting-party, and was in the way as it were by chance when the Pope's carriage was arriving. He alighted from horseback, and the Pope came out of his carriage. Rapp was with the Emperor, and I think I yet hear him describing, in his original manner and with his German accent, this grand interview, upon which, however, he for his part looked with very little respect. Rapp, in fact, was among the number of those who, notwithstanding his attachment to the Emperor, preserved independence of character, and he knew he had no reason to dissemble with me. "Fancy to yourself," said he, "the amusing comedy that was played." After the Emperor and the Pope had well embraced they went into the same carriage; and, in order that they might be upon a footing of equality, they were to enter at the same time by opposite doors. All that was settled; but at breakfast the Emperor had calculated how he should manage, without appearing to assume anything, to get on the righthand side of the Pope, and everything turned out as he wished. "As to the Pope," said Rapp, "I must own that I never saw a man with a finer countenance or more respectable appearance than Pius VII."
After the conference between the Pope and the Emperor at Fontainebleau, Pius VII. set off for Paris first. On the road the same honours were paid to him as to the Emperor. Apartments were prepared for him in the Pavilion de Flore in the Tuileries, and his bedchamber was arranged and furnished in the same manner as his chamber in the Palace of Monte- Cavallo, his usual residence in Rome. The Pope's presence in Paris was so extraordinary a circumstance that it was scarcely believed, though it had some time before been talked of. What, indeed, could be more singular than to see the Head of the Church in a capital where four years previously the altars had been overturned, and the few faithful who remained had been obliged to exercise their worship in secret!
The Pope became the object of public respect and general curiosity. I was exceedingly anxious to see him, and my wish was gratified on the day when he went to visit the Imperial printing office, then situated where the Bank of France now is.
A pamphlet, dedicated to the Pope, containing the "Pater Noster," in one hundred and fifty different languages, was struck off in the presence of his Holiness. During this visit to the printing office an ill-bred young man kept his hat on in the Pope's presence. Several persons, indignant at this indecorum, advanced to take off the young man's hat. A little confusion arose, and the Pope, observing the cause of it, stepped up to the young man and said to him, in a tone of kindness truly patriarchal, "Young man, uncover, that I may give thee my blessing. An old man's blessing never yet harmed any one." This little incident deeply affected all who witnessed it. The countenance and figure of Pope Pius VII. commanded respect. David's admirable portrait is a living likeness of him.
The Pope's arrival at Paris produced a great sensation in London, greater indeed there than anywhere else, notwithstanding the separation of the English Church from the Church of Rome. The English Ministry now spared no endeavours to influence public opinion by the circulation of libels against Bonaparte. The Cabinet of London found a twofold advantage in encouraging this system, which not merely excited irritation against the powerful enemy of England, but diverted from the British Government the clamour which some of its measures were calculated to create. Bonaparte's indignation against England was roused to the utmost extreme, and in truth this indignation was in some degree a national feeling in France.
Napoleon had heard of the success of Caffarelli's negotiations previous to his return to Paris, after his journey to the Rhine. On arriving at St. Cloud he lost no time in ordering the preparations for his coronation. Everything aided the fulfilment of his wishes. On 28th November the Pope arrived at Paris, and two days after, viz. on the 1st of December, the Senate presented to the Emperor the votes of the people for the establishment of hereditary succession in his family: for as it was pretended that the assumption of the title of Emperor was no way prejudicial to the Republic, the question of hereditary succession only had been proposed for public sanction. Sixty thousand registers had been opened in different parts of France,—at the offices of the ministers, the prefects, the mayors of the communes, notaries, solicitors, etc. France at that time contained 108 departments, and there were 3,574,898 voters. Of these only 2569 voted against hereditary succession. Bonaparte ordered a list of the persons who had voted against the question to be sent to him, and he often consulted it. They proved to be not Royalist, but for the most part staunch Republicans. To my knowledge many Royalists abstained from voting at all, not wishing to commit themselves uselessly, and still less to give their suffrages to the author of the Duo d'Enghien's death. For my part, I gave my vote in favour of hereditary succession in Bonaparte's family; my situation, as may well be imagined, did not allow me to do otherwise.
Since the month of October the Legislative Body had been convoked to attend the Emperor's coronation. Many deputies arrived, and with them a swarm of those presidents of cantons who occupied a conspicuous place in the annals of ridicule at the close of the year 1804. They became the objects of all sorts of witticisms and jests. The obligation of wearing swords made their appearance very grotesque. As many droll, stories were told of them as were ten years afterwards related of those who were styled the voltigeurs of Louis XIV. One of these anecdotes was so exceedingly ludicrous that, though it was probably a mere invention, yet I cannot refrain from relating it. A certain number of these presidents were one day selected to be presented to the Pope; and as most of them were very poor they found it necessary to combine economy with the etiquette necessary to be observed under the new order of things. To save the expense of hiring carriages they therefore proceeded to the Pavilion de Flore on foot, taking the precaution of putting on gaiters to preserve their white silk stockings from the mud which covered the streets, for it was then the month of December. On arriving at the Tuileries one of the party put his gaiters into his pocket. It happened that the Pope delivered such an affecting address that all present were moved to tears, and the unfortunate president who had disposed of his gaiters in the way just mentioned drew them out instead of his handkerchief and smeared his face over with mud. The Pope is said to have been much amused at this mistake. If this anecdote should be thought too puerile to be repeated here, I may observe that it afforded no small merriment to Bonaparte, who made Michot the actor relate it to the Empress at Paris one evening after a Court performance.
Napoleon had now attained the avowed object of his ambition; but his ambition receded before him like a boundless horizon. On the 1st of December; the day on which the Senate presented to the Emperor the result of the votes for hereditary succession, Francois de Neufchateau delivered an address to him, in which there was no want of adulatory expressions. As President of the Senate he had had some practice in that style of speechmaking; and he only substituted the eulogy of the Monarchical Government for that of the Republican Government 'a sempre bene', as the Italians say.
If I wished to make comparisons I could here indulge in some curious ones. Is it not extraordinary that Fontainebleau should have witnessed, at the interval of nearly ten years, Napoleon's first interview with the Pope, and his last farewell to his army, and that the Senate, who had previously given such ready support to Bonaparte, should in 1814 have pronounced his abdication at Fontainebleau.
The preparations for the Coronation proved very advantageous to the trading classes of Paris. Great numbers of foreigners and people from the provinces visited the capital, and the return of luxury and the revival of old customs gave occupation to a variety of tradespeople who could get no employment under the Directory or Consulate, such as saddlers, carriage-makers, lacemen, embroiderers, and others. By these positive interests were created more partisans of the Empire than by opinion and reflection; and it is but just to say that trade had not been so active for a dozen years before. The Imperial crown jewels were exhibited to the public at Biennais the jeweller's. The crown was of a light form, and, with its leaves of gold, it less resembled the crown of France than the antique crown of the Caesars. These things were afterwards placed in the public treasury, together with the imperial insignia of Charlemagne, which Bonaparte had ordered to be brought from Aix-la-Chapelle. But while Bonaparte was thus priding himself in his crown and his imagined resemblance to Charlemagne, Mr. Pitt, lately recalled to the Ministry, was concluding at Stockholm a treaty with Sweden, and agreeing to pay a subsidy to that power to enable it to maintain hostilities against France. This treaty was concluded on the 3d of December, the day after the Coronation.
—[The details of the preparation for the Coronation caused many stormy scenes between Napoleon and his family. The Princesses, his sisters and sisters-in-law, were especially shocked at having to carry the train of the Imperial mantle of Josephine, and even when Josephine was actually moving from the altar to the throne the Princesses evinced their reluctance so plainly that Josephine could not advance and an altercation took place which had to be stopped by Napoleon himself. Joseph was quite willing himself give up appearing in a mantle with a train, but he wished to prevent his wife bearing the mantle of the Empress; and he opposed his brother on so many points that Napoleon ended by calling on him to either give up his position and retire from all politics, or else to fully accept the imperial regime. How the economical Camberceres used up the ermine he could not wear will be seen in Junot tome iii. p. 196. Josephine herself was in the greatest anxiety as to whether the wish of the Bonaparte family that she should be divorced would carry the day with her husband. When she had gained her cause for the time and after the Pope had engaged to crown her, she seems to have most cleverly managed to get the Pope informed that she was only united to Napoleon by a civil marriage. The Pope insisted on a religious marriage. Napoleon was angry, but could not recede, and the religions rite was performed by Cardinal Fesch the day, or two days, before the Coronation. The certificate of the marriage was carefully guarded from Napoleon by Josephine, and even placed beyond his reach at the time of the divorce. Such at least seems to be the most probable account of this mysterious and doubtful matter.
The fact that Cardinal Fesch maintained that the religious rite had been duly performed, thirteen of the Cardinals (not, however including Fesch) were so convinced of the legality of the marriage that they refused to appear at the ceremony of marriage with Marie Louise, thus drawing down the wrath of the Emperor, and becoming the "Cardinals Noirs," from being forbidden; to wear their own robes, seems to leave no doubt that the religious rite had been performed. The marriage was only pronounced to be invalid in 1809 by the local canonical bodies, not by the authority of the pope.]—
It cannot be expected that I should enter into a detail of the ceremony which took place on the 2d of December. The glitter of gold, the waving plumes, and richly-caparisoned horses of the Imperial procession; the mule which preceded the Pope's cortege, and occasioned so much merriment. to the Parisians, have already been described over and over again. I may, however, relate an anecdote connected with the Coronation, told me by Josephine, and which is exceedingly characteristic of Napoleon.
When Bonaparte was paying his addresses to Madame de BEAUHARNAIS, neither the one nor the other kept a carriage; and therefore Bonaparte frequently accompanied her when she walked out. One day they went together to the notary Raguideau, one of the shortest men I think I ever saw in my life, Madame de Beauharnais placed great confidence, in him, and went there on purpose to acquaint him of her intention to marry the young general of artillery,—the protege of Barras. Josephine went alone into, the notary's cabinet, while Bonaparte waited for her in an adjoining room. The door of Raguideau's cabinet did not shut close, and Bonaparte plainly heard him dissuading Madame de Beauharnais from her projected marriage. "You are going to take a very wrong step," said he, "and you will be sorry for it, Can you be so mad as to marry a young man who has nothing but his cloak and his sword?" Bonaparte, Josephine told me, had never mentioned this to her, and she never supposed that he had heard what fell from Raguideau. "Only think, Bourrienne," continued she, "what was my astonishment when, dressed in the Imperial robes on the Coronation day, he desired that Raguideau might be sent for, saying that he wished to see him immediately; and when Raguidesu appeared; he said to him, 'Well, sir! have I nothing but my cloak and my sword now?'"
Though Bonaparte had related to me almost all the circumstances of his life, as they occurred to his memory, he never once mentioned this affair of Raguideau, which he only seemed to have suddenly recollected on his Coronation day.
The day after the Coronation all the troops in Paris were assembled in the Champ de Mars the Imperial eagles might be distributed to each regiment, in lieu of the national flags. I has stayed away from the Coronation in the church of Notre Dame, but I wished to see the military fete in the Champ de Mars because I took real pleasure in seeing Bonaparte amongst his soldiers. A throne was erected in front of the Military School, which, though now transformed into a barrack, must have recalled, to Bonaparte's mind some singular recollections of his boyhood. At a given signal all the columns closed and approached the throne. Then Bonaparte, rising, gave orders for the distribution of the eagles, and delivered the following address to the deputations of the different corps of the army:
"Soldiers, Soldiers! behold your colours. These eagles will always be your rallying-point! They will always be where your Emperor may thank them necessary for the defence of his throne and of his people. Swear to sacrifice your lives to defend them, and by your courage to keep them constantly in the path of victory.—Swear!"
It would be impossible to describe the acclamations which followed this address; there is something so seductive in popular enthusiasm that even indifferent persons cannot help yielding to its influence. And yet the least reflection would have shown how shamefully Napoleon forswore the declaration he made to the Senate, when the organic 'Senatus-consulte' for the foundation of the Empire was presented to him at St: Cloud: On that occasion he said; "The French people shall never be MY people!" And yet the day after his Coronation his eagles were to, be carried wherever they might be necessary for the defence of his people.
By a singular coincidence, while on the 2d of December 1804 Bonaparte was receiving from the head of the Church the Imperial crown of France, Louis XVIII., who was then at Colmar, prompted as it were by an inexplicable presentiment, drew up and signed a declaration to the French people, in which he declared that he then, swore never to break the sacred bond which united his destiny to theirs, never to renounce the inheritance of his ancestors, or to relinquish his rights.
My appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary at Hamburg—My interview with Bonaparte at Malmaison—Bonaparte's designs respecting Italy— His wish to revisit Brienne—Instructions for my residence in Hamburg—Regeneration of European society—Bonaparte's plan of making himself the oldest sovereign in Europe—Amedee Jaubert's mission—Commission from the Emperor to the Empress—My conversation with Madame Bonaparte.
I must now mention an event which concerns myself personally, namely, my appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary, to the Dukes of Brunswick and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and to the Hanse towns.
This appointment took place on the 22d of March 1806. Josephine, who had kindly promised to apprise me of what the Emperor intended to do for me, as soon as she herself should know his intentions, sent a messenger to acquaint me with my appointment, and to tell me that the Emperor wished to see me. I had not visited Josephine since her departure for Belgium. The pompa and ceremonies of the Coronation had, I may say, dazzled me, and deterred me from presenting myself at the Imperial Palace, where I should have been annoyed by the etiquette which had been observed since the Coronation. I cannot describe what a disagreeable impression this parade always produced on me. I could not all at once forget the time when I used without ceremony to go into Bonaparte's chamber and wake him at the appointed hour. As to Bonaparte I had not seen him since he sent for me after the condemnation of Georges, when I saw that my candour relative to Moreau was not displeasing to him. Moreau had since quitted France without Napoleon's subjecting him to the application of the odious law which has only been repealed since the return of the Bourbons, and by virtue of which he was condemned to the confiscation of his property. Moreau sold his estate of Gros Bois to Bertlier, and proceeded to Cadiz, whence he embarked for America. I shall not again have occasion to speak of him until the period of the intrigues into which he was drawn by the same influence which ruined him in France.
On the evening of the day when I received the kind message from Josephine I had an official invitation to proceed the next day to Malmaison, where the Emperor then was. I was much pleased at the idea of seeing him there rather than at the Tuileries, or even at St. Cloud. Our former intimacy at Malmaison made me feel more at my ease respecting an interview of which my knowledge of Bonaparte's character led me to entertain some apprehension. Was I to be received by my old comrade of Brienne, or by His Imperial Majesty? I was received by my old college companion.
On my arrival at Malmaison I was ushered into the tentroom leading to the library. How I was astonished at the good-natured familiarity with which he received me! This extraordinary man displayed, if I may employ the term, a coquetry towards me which surprised me, notwithstanding my past knowledge of his character. He came up to me with a smile on his lips, took my hand (which he had never done since he was Consul), pressed it affectionately, and it was impossible that I could look upon him as the Emperor of France and the future King of Italy. Yet I was too well aware of his fits of pride to allow his familiarity to lead me beyond the bounds of affectionate respect. "My dear Bourrienne," said he, "can you suppose that the elevated rank I have attained has altered my feelings towards you? No. I do not attach importance to the glitter of Imperial pomp; all that is meant for the people; but I must still be valued according to my deserts. I have been very well satisfied with your services, and I have appointed you to a situation where I shall have occasion for them. I know that I can rely upon you." He then asked with great warmth of friendship what I was about, and inquired after my family, etc. In short, I never saw him display less reserve or more familiarity and unaffected simplicity; which he did the more readily, perhaps, because his greatness was now incontestable.
"You know," added Napoleon, "that I set out in a week for Italy. I shall make myself King; but that is only a stepping-stone. I have greater designs respecting Italy.
"It must be a kingdom comprising all the Transalpine States, from Venice to the Maritime Alps. The union of Italy with France can only be temporary; but it is necessary, in order to accustom the nations of Italy to live under common laws. The Genoese, the Piedmontese, the Venetians, the Milanese, the inhabitants of Tuscany, the Romans, and the Neapolitans, hate each other. None of them will acknowledge the superiority of the other, and yet Rome is, from the recollections connected with it, the natural capital of Italy. To make it so, however, it is necessary that the power of the Pope should be confined within limits purely spiritual. I cannot now think of this; but I will reflect upon it hereafter. At present I have only vague ideas on the subject, but they will be matured in time, and then all depends on circumstances. What was it told me, when we were walking like two idle fellows, as we were, in the streets of Paris, that I should one day be master of France —my wish—merely a vague wish. Circumstances have done the rest. It is therefore wise to look into the future, and that I do. With respect to Italy, as it will be impossible with one effort to unite her so as to form a single power, subject to uniform laws, I will begin by making her French. All these little States will insensibly become accustomed to the same laws, and when manners shall be assimilated and enmities extinguished, then there will be an Italy, and I will give her independence. But for that I must have twenty years, and who can count on the future? Bourrienne, I feel pleasure in telling you all this. It was locked up in my mind. With you I think aloud."
I do not believe that I have altered two words of what Bonaparte said to me respecting Italy, so perfect, I may now say without vaniy, was my memory then, and so confirmed was my habit of fixing in it all that he said to me. After having informed me of his vague projects Bonaparte, with one of those transitions so common to him, said, "By the by, Bourrienne, I have something to tell you. Madame de Brienne has begged that I will pass through Brienne, and I promised that I will. I will not conceal from you that I shall feel great pleasure in again beholding the spot which for six years was the scene of our boysh sports and studies." Taking advantage of the Emperor's good humour I ventured to tell him what happiness it would give me if it were possible that I could share with him the revival of all recollections which were mutually dear to us. But Napoleon, after a moment's pause, said with extreme kindness, "Hark ye, Bourrienne, in your situation and mine this cannot be. It is more than two years since we parted. What would be said of so sudden a reconciliation? I tell you frankly that I have regretted you, and the circumstances in which I have frequently been placed have often made me wish to recall you. At Boulogne I was quite resolved upon it. Rapp, perhaps, has informed you of it. He liked you, and he assured me that he would be delighted at your return. But if upon reflection I changed my mind it was because, as I have often told you, I will not have it said that I stand in need of any one. No. Go to Hamburg. I have formed some projects respecting Germany in which you can be useful to me. It is there I will give a mortal blow to England. I will deprive her of the Continent,—besides, I have some ideas not yet matured which extend much farther. There is not sufficient unanimity amongst the nations of Europe. European society must be regenerated—a superior power must control the other powers, and compel them to live in peace with each other; and France is well situated for that purpose. For details you will receive instructions from Talleyrand; but I recommend you, above all things, to keep a strict watch on the emigrants. Woe to them if they become too dangerous! I know that there are still agitators,—among them all the 'Marquis de Versailles', the courtiers of the old school. But they are moths who will burn themselves in the candle. You have been an emigrant yourself, Bourrienne; you feel a partiality for them, and you know that I have allowed upwards of two hundred of them to return upon your recommendation. But the case is altered. Those who are abroad are hardened. They do not wish to return home. Watch them closely. That is the only particular direction I give you. You are to be Minister from France to Hamburg; but your place will be an independent one; besides your correspondence with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I authorise you to write to me personally, whenever you have anything particular to communicate. You will likewise correspond with Fouche."
Here the Emperor remained silent for a moment, and I was preparing to retire, but he detained me, saying in the kindest manner, "What, are you going already, Bourrienne? Are you in a hurry? Let, us chat a little longer. God knows, when we may see each other again!" Then after two or three moments' silence he said, "The more I reflect on our situation, on our former intimacy, and our subsequent separation, the more I see the necessity of your going to Hamburg. Go, then, my dear fellow, I advise you. Trust me. When do you think of setting out?" "In May."—"In May? . . . Ah, I shall be in Milan then, for I wish to stop at Turin. I like the Piedmontese; they are the best soldiers in Italy."—"Sire, the King of Italy will be the junior of the Emperor of France!"
—[I alluded to a conversation which I had with Napoleon when we first went to the Tuileries. He spoke to me about his projects of royalty, and I stated the difficulties which I thought he would experience in getting himself acknowledged by the old reigning families of Europe. "If it comes to that," he replied. "I will dethrone them all, and then I shall be the oldest sovereign among them."—Bourrienne.]—
—"Ah! so you recollect what I said one day at the Tuileries; but, my dear fellow, I have yet a devilish long way to go before I gain my point."—"At the rate, Sire, at which you are going you will not be long in reaching it."—"Longer than you imagine. I see all the obstacles in my way; but they do not alarm me. England is everywhere, and the struggle is between her and me. I see how it will be. The whole of Europe will be our instruments; sometimes serving one, sometimes the other, but at bottom the dispute is wholly between England and France.
"A propos," said the Emperor, changing the subject, for all who knew him are aware that this 'a propos' was his favourite, and, indeed, his only mode of transition; a propos, Bourrienne, you surely must have heard of the departure of Jaubert,
—[Amedee Jaubart had been with Napoleon in Egypt, and was appointed to the cabinet of the Consul as secretary interpreter of Oriental languages. He was sent on several missions to the East, and brought back, is 1818, goats from Thibet, naturalising in France the manufacture of cashmeres. He became a peer of France under the Monarchy of July.]—
and his mission. What is said on the subject?"—"Sire, I have only heard it slightly alluded to. His father, however, to whom he said nothing respecting the object of his journey, knowing I was intimate with Jaubert, came to me to ascertain whether I could allay his anxiety respecting a journey of the duration of which he could form no idea. The precipitate departure of his son had filled him with apprehension I told him the truth, viz., that Jaubert had said no more to me on the subject than to him."—"Then you do not know where he is gone?"—"I beg your pardon, Sire; I know very well."—"How, the devil!" said Bonaparte, suddenly turning on me a look of astonishment. "No one, I, declare, has ever told me; but I guessed it. Having received a letter from Jaubert dated Leipsic, I recollected what your Majesty had often told me of your views respecting Persia and India. I have not forgotten our conversation in Egypt, nor the great projects which you enfolded to me to relieve the solitude and sometimes the weariness of the cabinet of Cairo. Besides, I long since knew your opinion of Amedee, of his fidelity, his ability, and his courage. I felt convinced, therefore, that he had a mission to the Shah of Persia."—"You guessed right; but I beg of you, Bourrienne, say nothing of this to any person whatever. Secrecy on this point is of grew importance. The English would do him an ill turn, for they are well aware that my views are directed against their possessions and their influence in the East."—"I think, Sire, that my answer to Anedee's worthy father is a sufficient guarantee for my discretion. Besides, it was a mere supposition on my part, and I could have stated nothing with certainty before your Majesty had the kindness to inform me of the fact. Instead of going to Hamburg, if your Majesty pleases, I will join Jaubert, accompany him to Persia, and undertake half his mission."— "How! would you go with him?"—"Yes, Sire; I am much attached to him. He is an excellent man, and I am sure that he would not be sorry to have me with him."—"But . . . Stop, Bourrienne, . . . this, perhaps, would not be a bad idea. You know a little of the East. You are accustomed to the climate. You could assist Jaubert . . . . But. . . . . No. daubert must be already far off— I, fear you could not overtake him. And besides you have a numerous family. You will be more useful to me in Germany. All things considered, go to Hamburg—you know the country, and, what is better you speak the language."
I could see that Bonaparte still had something to say to me. As we were walking up and down the room he stopped; and looking at me with an expression of sadness, he said, "Bourrienne, you must, before I proceed to Italy, do me a service. You sometimes visit my wife, and it is right; it is fit you should. You have been too long one of the family not to continue your friendship with her. Go to her.
—[This employment of Bourrienne to remonstrate with Josephine is a complete answer to the charge sometimes made that Napoleon, while scolding, really encouraged the foolish expenses of his wife, as keeping her under his control. Josephine was incorrigible. "On the very day of her death," says Madame de Remusat "she wished to put on a very pretty dressing-gown because she thought the Emperor of Russia would perhaps come to see her. She died all covered with ribbons and rose-colored satin." "One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead!" As for Josephine's great fault—her failure to give Napoleon an heir—he did not always wish for one. In 1802, on his brother Jerome jokingly advising Josephine to give the Consul a little Caesar. Napoleon broke out, "Yea, that he may end in the same manner as that of Alexander? Believe me, Messieurs, that at the present time it is better not to have children: I mean when one is condemned to role nations." The fate of the King of Rome shows that the exclamation was only too true!]—
"Endeavour once more to make her sensible of her mad extravagance. Every day I discover new instances of it, and it distresses me. When I speak to her—on the subject I am vexed; I get angry—she weeps. I forgive her, I pay her bills—she makes fair promises; but the same thing occurs over and over again. If she had only borne me a child! It is the torment of my life not to have a child. I plainly perceive that my power will never be firmly established until I have one. If I die without an heir, not one of my brothers is capable of supplying my place. All is begun, but nothing is ended. God knows what will happen! Go and see Josephine, and do not forget my injunctions.."
Then he resumed the gaiety which he had exhibited at intervals during our conversation, far clouds driven by the wind do not traverse the horizon with such rapidity as different ideas and sensations succeeded each other m Napoleon's mind. He dismissed me with his usual nod of the head, and seeing him in such good humour I said on departing, "well, Sire, you are going to hear the old bell of Brienne. I have no doubt it will please you better than the bells of Ruel." He replied, "That's tree—you are right. Adieu!"
Such are my recollections of this conversation, which lasted for more than an hour and a half. We walked about all the time, for Bonaparte was indefatigable in audiences of this sort, and would, I believe, have walked and talked for a whole day without being aware of it. I left him, and, according to his desire, went to see Madame Bonaparte, which indeed I had intended to do before he requested it.
I found Josephine with Madame de la Rochefoucauld, who had long been in her suite, and who a short time before had obtained the title of lady of honour to the Empress. Madame de la Rochefoucauld was a very amiable woman, of mild disposition, and was a favourite with Josephine. When I told the Empress that I had just left the Emperor, she, thinking that I would not speak freely before a third person, made a sign to Madame de la Rochefoucauld to retire. I had no trouble in introducing the conversation on the subject concerning which Napoleon had directed me to speak to Josephine, for; after the interchange of a few indifferent remarks, she herself told me of a violent scene, which had occurred between her and the Emperor two days before. "When I wrote to you yesterday," said she, "to announce your appointment, and to tell you that Bonaparte would recall you, I hoped that you would come to see me on quitting him, but I did not think that he would have sent for you so soon. Ah! how I wish that you were still with him, Bourrienne; you could make him hear reason. I know not who takes pleasure in bearing tales to him; but really I think there are persons busy everywhere in finding out my debts, and telling him of them."
These complaints, so gently uttered by Josephine rendered less difficult the preparatory mission with which I commenced the exercise of my diplomatic functions. I acquainted Madame Bonaparte with all that the Emperor had said to me. I reminded her of the affair of the 1,200,000 francs which we had settled with half that sum. I even dropped some allusions to the promises she had made.
"How can I help it?" Said she. "Is it my fault?" Josephine uttered these words in a tone of sincerity which was at once affecting and ludicrous. "All sorts of beautiful things are brought to me," she continued; "they are praised up; I buy them—I am not asked for the money, and all of a sudden, when I have got none, they come upon me with demands for payment. This reaches Napoleon's ears, and he gets angry. When I have money, Bourrienne you know how I employ it. I give it principally to the unfortunate who solicit my assistance, and to poor emigants. But I will try to be more economical in future. Tell him so if you see him again, But is it not my duty to bestow as much in charity as I can?"—"Yes, Madame; but permit me to say that nothing requires greater discernment than the distribution of chaxity. If you had always sat upon a throne you might have always supposed that your bounty always fall into the hands of the deserving; but you cannot be ignorant that it oftener falls to the lot of intrigue than to the meritorious needy. I cannot disguise from you that the Emperor was very earnest when he spoke on this subject; and he desired me to tell you so."—"Did he reproach me with nothing else?"—"No Madame. You know the influence you have over him with respect to everything but what relates to politics. Allow a faithful and sincere friend to prevail upon you seriously not to vex him on this point."—"Bourrienne, I give you my word. Adieu! my friend."
In communicating to Josephine what the Emperor had said to me I took care not to touch a chord which would have awakened feelings far more painful to her than even the Emperor's harsh reproof on account of her extravagance. Poor Josephine! how I should have afflicted her had I uttered a word of Bonaparte's regret at not having a child. She always had a presentiment of the fate that one day awaited her. Besides, Josephine told the truth in assuring me that it was not her fault that, she spent as she did; at least all the time I was with both of them, order and economy were no more compatible with her than moderation and— patience with Napoleon. The sight of the least waste put him beside himself, and that was a sensation his wife hardly ever spared him. He saw with irritation the eagerness of his family to gain riches; the more he gave, the more insatiable they appeared, with the exception of Louis, whose inclinations were always upright, and his tastes moderate. As for the other members of his family, they annoyed him so much by their importunity that one day he said, "Really to listen to them it would be thought that I had wasted the heritage of our father."
Napoleon and Voltaire—Demands of the Holy See—Coolness between the pope and the Emperor—Napoleon's departure for Italy—Last interview between the Pope and the Emperor at Turin—Alessandria—The field of Marengo—The last Doge of Genoa—Bonaparte's arrival at Milan—Union of Genoa to the French Empire—Error in the Memorial of St. Helen— Bonaparte and Madam Grassini—Symptoms of dissatisfaction on the part of Austria and Russia—Napoleon's departure from Milan— Monument to commemorate the battle of Marengo—Napoleon's arrival in Paris and departure for Boulogne—Unfortunate result of a naval engagement—My visit to Fouche's country seat—Sieyes, Barras, the Bourbons, and Bonaparte—Observations respecting Josephine.
Voltaire says that it is very well to kiss the feet of Popes provided their hands are tied. Notwithstanding the slight estimation in which Bonaparte held Voltaire, he probably, without being aware of this irreverent satire, put it into practice. The Court of Rome gave him the opportunity of doing so shortly after his Coronation. The Pope, or rather the Cardinals, his advisers' conceiving that so great an instance of complaisance as the journey of His Holiness to Paris ought not to go for nothing; demanded a compensation, which, had they been better acquainted with Bonaparte's character and policy, they would never have dreamed of soliciting. The Holy see demanded the restitution of Avignon, Bologna, and some parts of the Italian territory which had formerly been subject to the Pope's dominion. It may be imagined how such demands were received by Napoleon, particularly after he had obtained all he wanted from the Pope. It was, it must be confessed, a great mistake of the Court of Rome, whose policy is usually so artful and adroit, not to make this demand till after the Coronation. Had it been made the condition of the Pope's journey to France perhaps Bonaparte would have consented to give up, not Avignon, certainly, but the Italian territories, with the intention of taking them back again. Be this as it may, these tardy claims, which were peremptorily rejected, created an extreme coolness between Napoleon and Pius VII. The public did not immediately perceive it, but there is in the public an instinct of reason which the most able politicians never can impose upon; and all eyes were opened when it was known that the Pope, after having crowned Napoleon as Emperor of France, refused to crown him as sovereign of the regenerated kingdom of Italy.
Napoleon left Paris on the 1st of April to take possession of the Iron Crown at Milan. The Pope remained some time longer in the French capital. The prolonged presence of His Holiness was not without its influence on the religious feelings of the people, so great was the respect inspired by the benign countenance and mild manners of the Pope. When the period of his persecutions arrived it would have been well for Bonaparte had Pius VII. never been seen in Paris, for it was impossible to view in any other light than as a victim the man whose truly evangelic meekness had been duly appreciated.
Bonaparte did not evince great impatience to seize the Crown of Italy, which he well knew could not escape him. He stayed a considerable time at Turin, where he resided in the Stupinis Palace, which may be called the St. Cloud of the Kings of Sardinia. The Emperor cajoled the Piedmontese. General Menou, who was made Governor of Piedmont, remained there till Napoleon founded the general government of the Transalpine departments in favour of his brother-in-law, the Prince Borghese, of whom he would have, found it difficult to make anything else than a Roman Prince. Napoleon was still at Turin when the Pope passed through that city on his return to Rome. Napoleon had a final interview with His Holiness to whom he now affected to show the greatest personal deference. From Turin Bonaparte proceeded to Alessandria, where he commenced those immense works on which such vast sums were expended. He had many times spoken to me of his projects respecting Alessandria, as I have already observed, all his great measures as Emperor were merely the execution of projects conceived at a time when his future elevation could have been only a dream of the imagination. He one day said to Berthier, in my presence, during our sojurn at Milan after the battle of Marengo, "With Alessandria in my possession I should always be master of Italy. It might be made the strongest fortress in the world; it is capable of containing a garrison of 40,000 men, with provisions for six months. Should insurrection take place, should Austria send a formidable force here, the French troops might retire to Alessandria, and stand a six months' siege. Six months would be more than sufficient, wherever I might be, to enable me to fall upon Italy, rout the Austrians, and raise the siege of Alessandria!"
As he was so near the field of Marengo the Emperor did not fail to visit it, and to add to this solemnity he reviewed on the field all the corps of French troops which were in Italy. Rapp told me afterwards that the Emperor had taken with him from Paris the dress and the hat which he wore on the day of that memorable battle, with the intention of wearing them on the field where it was fought. He afterwards proceeded by the way of Casal to Milan.
There the most brilliant reception he had yet experienced awaited him. His sojourn at Milan was not distinguished by outward demonstrations of enthusiasm alone. M. Durszzo, the last Doge of Genoa, added another gem to the Crown of Italy by supplicating the Emperor in the name of the Republic, of which he was the representative, to permit Genoa to exchange her independence for the honour of becoming a department of France. This offer, as may be guessed, was merely a plan contrived beforehand. It was accepted with an air of protecting kindness, and at the same moment that the country of Andrea Doria was effaced from the list of nations its last Doge was included among the number of French Senators. Genoa, which formerly prided herself in her surname, the Superb, became the chief station of the twenty-seventh military division. The Emperor went to take possession of the city in person, and slept in the Doria Palace, in the bed where Charles V. had lain. He left M. le Brun at Genoa as Governor-General.
At Milan the Emperor occupied the Palace of Monza. The old Iron Crown of the Kings of Lombardy was brought from the dust in which it had been buried, and the new Coronation took place in the cathedral at Milan, the largest in Italy, with the exception of St. Peter's at Rome. Napoleon received the crown from the hands of the Archbishop of Milan, and placed it on his head, exclaiming, "Dieu me l'a donnee, gare a qui la touche." This became the motto of the Order of the Iron Crown, which the Emperor founded in commemoration of his being crowned King of Italy.
Napoleon was crowned in the month of May 1805: and here I cannot avoid correcting some gross and inconceivable errors into which Napoleon must have voluntarily fallen at St. Helena. The Memorial states "that the celebrated singer Madame Grasaini attracted his attention at the time of the Coronation." Napoleon alleges that Madame Grassini on that occasion said to him, "When I was in the prime of my beauty and talent all I wished was that you would bestow a single look upon me. That wish was not fulfilled, and now you notice me when I am no longer worthy your attention."
I confess I am at a loss to conceive what could induce Napoleon to invent such a story. He might have recollected his acquaintance with Madame Grassini at Milan before the battle of Marengo. It was in 1800, and not in 1805, that I was first introduced to her, and I know that I several times took tea with her and Bonaparte in the General's apartments I remember also another circumstance, which is, that on the night when I awoke Bonaparte to announce to him the capitulation of Genoa, Madame Grassini also awoke. Napoleon was charmed with Madame Grasaini's delicious voice, and if his imperious duties had permitted it he would have listened with ecstasy to her singing for hours together. Whilst Napoleon was at Milan, priding himself on his double sovereignty, some schemes were set on foot at Vienna and St. Petersburg which I shall hereafter have occasion to notice. The Emperor, indeed, gave cause for just complaint by the fact of annexing Genoa to the Empire within four months after his solemn declaration to the Legislative Body, in which he pledged himself in the face of France and Europe not to seek any aggrandisement of territory. The pretext of a voluntary offer on the part of Genoa was too absurd to deceive any one. The rapid progress of Napoleon's ambition could not escape the observation of the Cabinet of Vienna, which began to allow increased symptoms of hostility. The change which was effected in the form of the Government of the Cisalpine Republic was likewise an act calculated to excite remonstrance on the part of all the powers who were not entirely subject to the yoke of France. He disguised the taking of Genoa under the name of a gift, and the possession of Italy under the appearance of a mere change of denomination. Notwithstanding these flagrant outrages the exclusive apologists of Napoleon have always asserted that he did not wish for war, and he himself maintained that assertion at St. Helena. It is said that he was always attacked, and hence a conclusion is drawn in favour of his love of peace. I acknowledge Bonaparte would never have fired a single musket-shot if all the powers of Europe had submitted to be pillaged by him one after the other without opposition. It was in fact declaring war against them to place them under the necessity of breaking a peace, during the continuance of which he was augmenting his power, and gratifying his ambition, as if in defiance of Europe. In this way Napoleon commenced all the wars in which he was engaged, with the exception of that which followed the peace of Marengo, and which terminated in Moreau's triumph at Hohenlinden. As there was no liberty of the press in France he found it easy to deceive the nation. He was in fact attacked, and thus he enjoyed the pleasure of undertaking his great military expeditions without being responsible in the event of failure.
During the Emperor's stay in the capital of the new kingdom of Italy he received the first intelligence of the dissatisfaction of Austria and Russia. That dissatisfaction was not of recent date. When I entered on my functions at Hamburg I learned some curious details (which I will relate in their proper place) respecting the secret negotiations which had been carried on for a considerable time previously to the commencement of hostilities. Even Prussia was no stranger to the dissatisfaction of Austria and Russia; I do not mean the King, but the Cabinet of Berlin, which was then under the control of Chancellor Hardenberg; for the King of Prussia had always personally declared himself in favour of the exact observance of treaties, even when their conditions were not honourable. Be that as it may, the Cabinet of Berlin, although dissatisfied in 1806 with the rapid progress of Napoleon's ambition, was nevertheless constrained to conceal its discontent, owing to the presence of the French troops in Hanover.
On returning from Milan the Emperor ordered the erection, of a monument on the Great St. Bernard in commemoration of the victory of Marengo. M. Denon who accompanied Napoleon, told me that he made a use less search to discover the body of Desaix, which Bonaparte wished to be buried beneath the monument and that it was at length found by General Savary. It is therefore certain that the ashes of the brave Desaix repose on the summit of the Alps.
The Emperor arrived in Paris about the end of June and instantly set off for the camp at Boulogne. It was now once more believed that the project of invading England would be accomplished. This idea obtained the greater credit because Bonaparte caused some experiments for embarkation to be made, in his presence. These experiments, however, led to no result. About this period a fatal event but too effectually contributed to strengthen the opinion of the inferiority of our navy. A French squadron consisting of fifteen ships, fell in with the English fleet commanded by Admiral Calder, who had only nine vessels under his command, and in an engagement, which there was every reason to expect would terminate in our favour, we had the misfortune to lose two ships. The invasion of England was as little the object of this as of the previous journey to Boulogne; all Napoleon had in view was to stimulate the enthusiasm of the troops, and to hold out those threats against England when conceived necessary for diverting attention from the real motive of his hostile preparations, which was to invade Germany and repulse the Russian troops, who had begun their march towards Austria. Such was the true object of Napoleons last journey to Boulogne.
I had been some time at Hamburg when these events took place, and it was curious to observe the effect they produced. But I must not forget one circumstance in which I am personally concerned, and which brings me back to the time when I was in Paris. My new title of Minister Plenipotentiary obliged me to see a little more of society than during the period when prudence required me to live as it were in retirement. I had received sincere congratulations from Duroc, Rape, and Lauriston, the three friends who had shown the greatest readiness to serve my interests with the Emperor; and I had frequent occasion to see M. Talleyrand, as my functions belonged to his department. The Emperor, on my farewell audience, having informed me that I was to correspond directly with the Minister of the General Police, I called on Fouche, who invited me to spend some days at his estate of Pont-Carre. I accepted the invitation because I wanted to confer with him, and I spent Sunday and Monday, the 28th and 29th of April, at Pont-Carre.
Fouche, like the Emperor, frequently revealed what he intended to conceal; but he had such a reputation for cunning that this sort of indiscretion was attended by no inconvenience to him. He was supposed to be such a constant dissembler that those who did not know him well looked upon the truth when he spoke it merely as an artful snare laid to entrap them. I, however, knew that celebrated person too well to confound his cunning with his indiscretion. The best way to get out of him more than he was aware of was to let him talk on without interruption. There were very few visitors at Pont-Carre, and during the two days I spent there I had several conversations with Fouche. He told me a great deal about the events of 1804, and he congratulated himself on having advised Napoleon to declare himself Emperor—"I have no preference," says Fouche, "for one form of government more than another. Forms signify nothing. The first object of the Revolution was not the overthrow of the Bourbons, but merely the reform of abuses and the destruction of prejudices. However, when it was discovered that Louis XVI. had neither firmness to refuse what he did not wish to grant, nor good faith to grant what his weakness had led him to promise, it was evident that the Bourbons could no longer reign over France and things were carried to such a length that we were under the necessity of condemning Louis XVI. and resorting to energetic measures. You know all that passed up to the 18th Brumaire, and after. We all perceived that a Republic could not exist in France; the question, therefore, was to ensure the perpetual removal of the Bourbons; and I behaved the only means for so doing was to transfer the inheritance of their throne to another family. Some time before the 18th Brumaire I had a conversation with Sieyes and Barras, in which it was proposed, in case of the Directory being threatened, to recall the Duke of Orleans; and I could see very well that Barras favoured that suggestion, although he alluded to it merely as a report that was circulated about, and recommended me to pay attention to it. Sieyes said nothing, and I settled the question by observing, that if any such thing had been agitated I must have been informed of it through the reports of my agents. I added, that the restoration of the throne to a collateral branch of the Bourbons would be an impolitic act, and would but temporarily change the position of those who had brought about the Revolution. I rendered an account of this interview with Barras to General Bonaparte the first time I had an opportunity of conversing with him after your return from Egypt. I sounded him; and I was perfectly convinced that in the state of decrepitude into which the Directory had fallen he was just the man we wanted. I therefore adopted such measures with the police as tended to promote his elevation to the First Magistracy. He soon showed himself ungrateful, and instead of giving me all his confidence he tried to outwit me. He put into the hands of a number of persons various matters of police which were worse than useless. Most of their agents, who were my creatures, obeyed my instructions in their reports; and it often happened that the First Consul thought he had discovered, through the medium of others, information that came from me, and of the falsehood of which I easily convinced him. I confess I was at fault on the 3d Nivoise; but are there any human means of preventing two men, who have no accomplices, from bringing a plot to execution? You saw the First Consul on his return from the opera; you heard all his declamations. I felt assured that the infernal machine was the work of the Royalists. I told the Emperor this, and he was, I am sure, convinced of it; but he, nevertheless, proscribes a number of men on the mere pretence of their old opinions. Do you suppose I am ignorant of what he said of me and of my vote at the National Convention? Most assuredly it ill becomes him to reproach the Conventionists. It was that vote which placed the crown upon his head. But for the situation in which we were placed by that event, which circumstances had rendered inevitable, what should we have cared for the chance of seeing the Bourbons return? You must have remarked that the Republicans, who were not Conventionists, were in general more averse than we to the proceedings of the 18th Brumaire, as, for example, Bernadotte and Moreau. I know positively that Moreau was averse to the Consulate; and that it was only from irresolution that he accepted the custody of the Directory. I know also that he excused himself to his prisoners for the duty which had devolved upon him. They themselves told me this."
Fouche entered further into many details respecting his conduct, and the motives which had urged him to do what he did in favour of the First Consul. My memory does not enable me to report all he told me, but I distinctly recollect that the impression made on my mind by what fell from him was, that he had acted merely with a view to his own interests. He did not conceal his satisfaction at having outwitted Regnier, and obliged Bonaparte to recall him, that he set in motion every spring calculated to unite the conspirators, or rather to convert the discontented into conspirators, is evident from the following remarks which fell from him: "With the information I possessed, had I remained in office it is probable that I might have prevented the conspiracy, but Bonaparte would still have had to fear the rivalry of Moreau. He would not have been Emperor; and we should still have had to dread the return of the Bourbons, of which, thank God, there is now no fear."
During my stay at Pont-Carry I said but little to Fouche about my long audience with the Emperor. However, I thought I might inform him that I was authorised to correspond directly with his Majesty. I thought it useless to conceal this fact, since he would soon learn it through his agents. I also said a few words about Bonaparte's regret at not having children. My object was to learn Fouche's opinion on this subject, and it was not without a feeling of indignation that I heard him say, "It is to be hoped the Empress will soon die. Her death will remove many difficulties. Sooner or later he must take a wife who will bear him a child; for as long as he has no direct heir there is every chance that his death will be the signal for a Revolution. His brothers are perfectly incapable of filling his place, and a new party would rise up in favour of the Bourbons; which must be prevented above all things. At present they are not dangerous, though they still have active and devoted agents. Altona is full of them, and you will be surrounded by them. I beg of you to keep a watchful eye upon them, and render me a strict account of all their movements, and even of their most trivial actions. As they have recourse to all sorts of disguises, you cannot be too vigilant; therefore it will be advisable, in the first place, to establish a good system of espionage; but have a care of the spies who serve both sides, for they swarm in Germany."
This is all I recollect of my, conversations with Fouche at Pont-Carre.
I returned to Paris to make preparations for my journey to Hamburg.
Capitulation of Sublingen—Preparations for war—Utility of commercial information—My instructions—Inspection of the emigrants and the journals—A pamphlet by Kotzebue—Offers from the Emperor of Russia to Moreau—Portrait of Gustavus Adolphus by one of his ministers—Fouche's denunciations—Duels at Hamburg—M. de Gimel —The Hamburg Correspondent—Letter from Bernadotte.
I left Paris on the 20th of May 1805. On the 5th of June following I delivered my credentials to the Senate of Hamburg, which was represented by the Syndic Doormann and the Senator Schutte. M. Reinhart, my predecessor, left Hamburg on the 12th of June.
The reigning Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Brunswick, to whom I had announced my arrival as accredited Minister to them, wrote me letters recognising me in that character. General Walmoden had just signed the capitulation of Sublingen with Marshal Mortier, who had the command in Hanover. The English Government refused to ratify this, because it stipulated that the troops should be prisoners of war. Bonaparte had two motives for relaxing this hard condition. He wished to keep Hanover as a compensation for Malta, and to assure the means of embarrassing and attacking Prussia, which he now began to distrust. By advancing upon Prussia he would secure his left, so that when convenient he might march northward. Mortier, therefore, received orders to reduce the conditions of the capitulation to the surrender of the arms, baggage, artillery, and horses. England, which was making great efforts to resist the invasion with which she thought herself threatened, expended considerable sums for the transport of the troops from Hanover to England. Her precipitation was indescribable, and she paid the most exorbitant charges for the hire of ships. Several houses in Hamburg made fortunes on this occasion. Experience has long since proved that it is not at their source that secret transactions are most readily known. The intelligence of an event frequently resounds at a distance, while the event itself is almost entirely unknown in the place of its occurrence. The direct influence of political events on commercial speculations renders merchants exceedingly attentive to what is going on. All who are engaged in commercial pursuits form a corporation united by the strongest of all bonds, common interest; and commercial correspondence frequently presents a fertile field for observation, and affords much valuable information, which often escapes the inquiries of Government agents.
I resolved to form a connection with some of the mercantile houses which maintained extensive and frequent communications with the Northern States. I knew that by obtaining their confidence I might gain a knowledge of all that was going on in Russia, Sweden, England, and Austria. Among the subjects upon which it was desirable to obtain information I included negotations, treaties, military measures—such as recruiting troops beyond the amount settled for the peace establishment, movements of troops, the formation of camps and magazines, financial operations, the fitting-out of ships, and many other things, which, though not important in themselves, frequently lead to the knowledge of what is important.
I was not inclined to place reliance on all public reports and gossiping stories circulated on the Exchange without close investigation; for I wished to avoid transmitting home as truths what might frequently be mere stock-jobbing inventions. I was instructed to keep watch on the emigrants, who were exceedingly numerous in Hamburg and its neighbourhood, Mecklenburg, Hanover, Brunswick, and Holstein; but I must observe that my inspection was to extend only to those who were known to be actually engaged in intrigues and plots.
I was also to keep watch on the state of the public mind, and on the journals which frequently give it a wrong direction, and to point out those articles in the journals which I thought censurable. At first I merely made verbal representations and complaints, but I could not always confine myself to this course. I received such distinct and positive orders that, in spite of myself, inspection was speedily converted into oppression. Complaints against the journals filled one-fourth of my despatches.
As the Emperor wished to be made acquainted with all that was printed against him, I sent to Paris, in May 1805, and consequently a very few days after my arrival in Hamburg, a pamphlet by the celebrated Kotzebue, entitled 'Recollections of my Journey to Naples and Rome'. This publication, which was printed at Berlin, was full of indecorous attacks and odious allusions on the Emperor.
I was informed at that time, through a certain channel, that the Emperor Alexander had solicited General Moreau to enter his service, and take the command of the Russian infantry. He offered him 12,000 roubles to defray his travelling expenses. At a subsequent period Moreau unfortunately accepted these offers, and died in the enemy's ranks.
On the 27th of June M. Bouligny arrived at Hamburg. He was appointed to supersede M. d'Ocariz at Stockholm. The latter minister had left Hamburg on the 11th of June for Constantinople, where he did not expect to stay three months. I had several long conversations with him before his departure, and he did not appear to be satisfied with his destination. We frequently spoke of the King of Sweden, whose conduct M. d'Ocariz blamed. He was, he said, a young madman, who, without reflecting on the change of time and circumstances, wished to play the part of Gustavus Adolphus, to whom he bore no resemblence but in name. M. d'Ocariz spoke of the King of Sweden's camp in a tone of derision. That Prince had returned to the King of Prussia the cordon of the Black Eagle because the order had been given to the First Consul. I understood that Frederick William was very much offended at this proceeding, which was as indecorous and absurd as the return of the Golden Fleece by Louis XVII. to the King of Spain was dignified and proper. Gustavus Adolphus was brave, enterprising, and chivalrous, but inconsiderate and irascible. He called Bonaparte Monsieur Napoleon. His follies and reverses in Hanover were without doubt the cause of his abdication. On the 31st of October 1805 he published a declaration of war against France in language highly insulting to the Emperor.
Fouche overwhelmed me with letters. If I had attended to all his instructions I should have left nobody unmolested. He asked me for information respecting a man named Lazoret, of the department of Gard, a girl, named Rosine Zimbenni, having informed the police that he had been killed in a duel at Hamburg. I replied that I knew but of four Frenchmen who had been killed in that way; one, named Clement, was killed by Tarasson; a second, named Duparc, killed by Lezardi; a third, named Sadremont, killed by Revel; and a fourth, whose name I did not know, killed by Lafond. This latter had just arrived at Hamburg when he was killed, but he was not the man sought for.
Lafond was a native of Brabant, and had served in the British army. He insulted the Frenchman because he wore the national cockade—A duel was the consequence, and the offended party fell. M. Reinhart, my predecessor wished to punish Lafond, but the Austrian Minister having claimed him as the subject of his sovereign, he was not molested. Lafond took refuge in Antwerp, where he became a player.
During the first months which succeeded my arrival in Hamburg I received orders for the arrest of many persons, almost all of whom were designated as dangerous and ill disposed men. When I was convinced that the accusation was groundless I postponed the arrest. The matter was then forgotten, and nobody complained.
A title, or a rank in foreign service, was a safeguard against the Paris inquisition. Of this the following is an instance. Count Gimel, of whom I shall hereafter have occasion to speak more at length, set out about this time for Carlsbad. Count Grote the Prussian Minister, frequently spoke to me of him. On my expressing apprehension that M. de Gimel might be arrested, as there was a strong prejudice against him, M. Grote replied, "Oh! there is no fear of that. He will return to Hamburg with the rauk of an English colonel."
On the 17th of July there appeared in the Correspondent an article exceedingly insulting to France. It had been inserted by order of Baron Novozilzow, who was at Berlin, and who had become very hostile to France, though it was said he had been sent from St. Petersburg on a specific mission to Napoleon. The article in question was transmitted from Berlin by an extraordinary courier, and Novozilzow in his note to the Senate said it might be stated that the article was inserted at the request of His Britannic Majesty. The Russian Minister at Berlin, M. Alopaeus, despatched also an 'estafette' to the Russian charge d'affaires at Hamburg, with orders to apply for the insertion of the article, which accordingly appeared. In obedience to the Emperor's instructions, I complained of it, and the Senate replied that it never opposed the insertion of an official note sent by any Government; that insults would redound against those from whom they came; that the reply of the French Government would be published; and that the Senate had never deviated from this mode of proceeding.
I observed to the Senate that I did not understand why the Correspondent should make itself the trumpet of M. Novozilzow; to which the Syndic replied, that two great powers, which might do them much harm, had required the insertion of the article, and that it could not be refused.
The hatred felt by the foreign Princes, which the death of the Duc d'Enghien had considerably increased; gave encouragement to the publication of everything hostile to Napoleon. This was candidly avowed to me by the Ministers and foreigners of rank whom I saw in Hamburg. The King of Sweden was most violent in manifesting the indignation which was generally excited by the death of the Due d'Enghien. M. Wetterstadt, who had succeeded M. La Gerbielske in the Cabinet of Stockholm, sent to the Swedish Minister at Hamburg a long letter exceedingly insulting to Napoleon. It was in reply to an article inserted in the 'Moniteur' respecting the return of the Black Eagle to the King of Prussia. M. Peyron, the Swedish Minister at Hamburg, who was very far from approving all that his master did, transmitted to Stockholm some very energetic remarks on the ill effect which would be produced by the insertion of the article in the 'Correspondent'. The article was then a little modified, and M. Peyron received formal orders to get it inserted. However; on my representations the Senate agreed to suppress it, and it did not appear.
Marshal Bernadotte, who had the command of the French troops in Hanover, kept up a friendly correspondence with me unconnected with the duties of our respective functions.
On the occupation of Hanover Mr. Taylor, the English Minister at Cassel, was obliged to leave that place; but he soon returned in spite of the opposition of France. On this subject the marshal furnished me with the following particulars:
I have just received, my dear Bourrienne, information which leaves no doubt of what has taken place at Cassel with respect to Mr. Taylor. That Minister has been received in spite of the representations of M. Bignon, which, however, had previously been merely verbal. I know that the Elector wrote to London to request that Mr. Taylor should not return. In answer to this the English Government sent him back. Our Minister has done everything he could to obtain his dismissal; but the pecuniary interests of the Elector have triumphed over every other consideration. He would not risk quarrelling with the Court from which he expects to receive more than 12,000,000 francs. The British Government has been written to a second time, but without effect. The Elector himself, in a private letter, has requested the King of England to recall Mr. Taylor, but it is very probable that the Cabinet of London will evade this request.
Under these circumstances our troops have approached nearer to
Cassel. Hitherto the whole district of Gottingen had been exempt
from quartering troops. New arrangements, tendered necessary by the
scarcity of forage, have obliged me to send a squadron of 'chasseurs
de cheval' to Munden, a little town four leagues from Cassel. This
movement excited some alarm in the Elector, who expressed a wish to
see things restored to the same footing as before. He has requested
M. Bignon to write to me, and to assure me again that he will be
delighted to become acquainted with me at the waters of Nemidorff,
where he intends to spend some time. But on this subject I shall
not alter the determination I have already mentioned to you.
STADE, 10th Thermidor (29th July, 1805).
Treaty of alliance between England and Russia—Certainty of an
approaching war—M. Forshmann, the Russian Minister—Duroc's mission
to Berlin—New project of the King of Sweden—Secret mission to the
Baltic—Animosity against France—Fall of the exchange between
Hamburg and Paris—Destruction of the first Austrian army—Taking of
Ulm—The Emperor's displeasure at the remark of a soldier—Battle of
Trafalgar—Duroc's position at the Court of Prussia—Armaments in
Russia—Libel upon Napoleon in the Hamburg 'Corespondent'—
Embarrassment of the Syndic and Burgomaster of Hamburg—The conduct
of the Russian Minister censured by the Swedish and English
At the beginning of August 1805 a treaty of alliance between Russia and England was spoken of. Some persons of consequence, who had the means of knowing all that was going on in the political world, had read this treaty, the principal points of which were communicated to me.
Article 1st stated that the object of the alliance was to restore the balance of Europe. By art. 2d the Emperor of Russia was to place 36,000 men at the disposal of England. Art. 3d stipulated that neither of the two powers would consent to treat with France, nor to lay down arms until the King of Sardinia should either be restored to his dominions or receive an equivalent indemnity in the northeast of Italy. By art. 4th Malta was to be evacuated by the English, and occupied by the Russians. By art. 5th the two powers were to guarantee the independence of the Republic of the Ionian Isles, and England was to pledge herself to assist Russia in her war against Persia. If this plan of a treaty, of the existence of which I was informed on unquestionable authority, had been brought to any result it is impossible to calculate what might have been its consequences.
At that time an immediate Continental war was confidently expected by
every person in the north of Europe; and it is very certain that, had not
Napoleon taken the hint in time and renounced his absurd schemes at
Boulogne, France would have stood in a dangerous situation.
M. Forshmann, the Russian charge d'affaires, was intriguing to excite the north of Europe against France. He repeatedly received orders to obtain the insertion of irritating articles in the 'Correspondent'. He was an active, intriguing, and spiteful little man, and a declared enemy of France; but fortunately his stupidity and vanity rendered him less dangerous than he wished to be. He was universally detested, and he would have lost all credit but that the extensive trade carried on between Russia and Hamburg forced the inhabitants and magistrates of that city to bear with a man who might have done them, individually, considerable injury.
The recollection of Duroc's successful mission to Berlin during the Consulate induced Napoleon to believe that that general might appease the King of Prussia, who complained seriously of the violation of the territory of Anspach, which Bernadotte, in consequence of the orders he received, had not been able to respect. Duroc remained about six weeks in Berlin.
The following letter from Duroc will show that the facility of passing through Hesse seemed to excuse the second violation of the Prussian territory; but there was a great difference between a petty Prince of Hesse and the King of Prussia.
I send you, my dear Bourrienne, two despatches, which I have received for you. M. de Talleyrand, who sends them, desires me to request that you will transmit General Victor's by a sure conveyance.
I do not yet know whether I shall stay long in Berlin. By the last accounts I received the Emperor is still in Paris, and numerous forces are assembling on the Rhine. The hopes of peace are vanishing every day, and Austria does everything to promote war.
I have received accounts from Marshal Bernadotte. He has effected his passage through Hesse. Marshal Bernadotte was much pleased with the courtesy he experienced from the Elector.
The junction of the corps commanded by Bernadotte with the army of the Emperor was very important, and Napoleon therefore directed the Marshal to come up with him as speedily as possible, and by the shortest road. It was necessary he should arrive in time for the battle of Austerlitz. Gustavus, King of Sweden, who was always engaged in some enterprise, wished to raise an army composed of Swedes, Prussians, and English; and certainly a vigorous attack in the north would have prevented Bernadotte from quitting the banks of the Elbe and the Weser, and reinforcing the Grand Army which was marching on Vienna. But the King of Sweden's coalition produced no other result than the siege of the little fortress of Hameln.
Prussia would not come to a rupture with France, the King of Sweden was abandoned, and Bonaparte's resentment against him increased. This abortive project of Gustavus contributed not a little to alienate the affections of his subjects, who feared that they might be the victims of the revenge excited by the extravagant plans of their King, and the insults he had heaped upon Napoleon, particularly since the death of the Due d'Enghien.
On the 13th of September 1805 I received a letter from the Minister of
Police soliciting information about Swedish Pomerania.
Astonished at not obtaining from the commercial Consuls at Lubeck and Stettin any accounts of the movements of the Russians, I had sent to those ports, four days before the receipt of the Police Minister's letter, a confidential agent, to observe the Baltic: though we were only 64 leagues from Stralsund the most uncertain and contradictory accounts came to hand. It was, however, certain that a landing of the Russians was expected at Stralsund, or at Travemtinde, the port of Lubeck, at the mouth of the little river Trave. I was positively informed that Russia had freighted a considerable number of vessels for those ports.
The hatred of the French continued to increase in the north of Europe. About the end of September there appeared at Kiel, in Denmark, a libellous pamphlet, which was bought and read with inconceivable avidity. This pamphlet, which was very ably written, was the production of some fanatic who openly preached a crusade against France. The author regarded the blood of millions of men as a trifling sacrifice for the great object of humiliating France and bringing her back to the limits of the old monarchy. This pamphlet was circulated extensively in the German departments united to France, in Holland, and in Switzerland. The number of incendiary publications which everywhere abounded indicated but too plainly that if the nations of the north should be driven back towards the Arctic regions they would in their turn repulse their conquerors towards the south; and no man of common sense could doubt that if the French eagles were planted in foreign capitals, foreign standards would one day wave over Paris.
On the 30th of September 1805 I received, by an 'estafette', intelligence of the landing at Stralsund of 6000 Swedes, who had arrived from Stockholm in two ships of war.
About the end of September the Hamburg exchange on Paris fell alarmingly.
The loss was twenty per cent. The fall stopped at seventeen below par.
The speculation for this fall of the exchange had been made with equal
imprudence and animosity by the house of Osy and Company
The head of that house, a Dutch emigrant, who had been settled at Hamburg about six years, seized every opportunity of manifesting his hatred of France. An agent of that rich house at Rotterdam was also very hostile to us, a circumstance which shows that if many persons sacrifice their political opinions to their interests there are others who endanger their interests for the triumph of their opinions.
On the 23d of October 1805 I received official intelligence of the total destruction of the first Austrian army: General Barbou, who was in Hanover, also informed me of that event in the following terms: "The first Austrian army has ceased to exist." He alluded to the brilliant affair of Ulm. I immediately despatched twelve estafettes to different parts; among other places to Stralsund and Husum. I thought that these prodigies, which must have been almost incredible to those who were unacquainted with Napoleon's military genius, might arrest the progress of the Russian troops, and produces some change in the movements of the enemy's forces. A second edition of the 'Correspondent' was published with this intelligence, and 6000 copies were sold at four times the usual price.
I need not detain the reader with the details of the capitulation of Ulm, which have already been published, but I may relate the following anecdote, which is not generally known. A French general passing before the ranks of his men said to them, "Well, comrades, we have prisoners enough here."—"yes indeed," replied one of the soldiers, "we never saw so many . . . collected together before." It was stated at the time, and I believe it, that the Emperor was much displeased when he heard of this, and remarked that it was "atrocious to insult brave men to whom the fate of arms had proved unfavourable."
In reading the history of this period we find that in whatever place Napoleon happened to be, there was the central point of action. The affairs of Europe were arranged at his headquarters in the same manner as if he had been in Paris. Everything depended on his good or bad fortune. Espionage, seduction, false promises, exactions,—all were put in force to promote the success of his projects; but his despotism, which excited dissatisfaction in France, and his continual aggressions, which threatened the independence of foreign States, rendered him more and more unpopular everywhere.
The battle of Trafalgar took place while Napoleon was marching on Vienna, and on the day after the capitulation of Ulm. The southern coast of Spain then witnessed an engagement between thirty-one French and about an equal number of English ships, and in spite of this equality of force the French fleet was destroyed.—[The actual forces present were 27 English ships of the line and 38 Franco-Spanish ships of the line; see James' Naval History, vol. iii. p. 459.]
This great battle afforded another proof of our naval inferiority. Admires Calder first gave us the lesson which Nelson completed, but which cost the latter his life. According to the reports which Duroc transmitted to me, courage gave momentary hope to the French; but they were at length forced to yield to the superior naval tactics of the enemy. The battle of Trafalgar paralysed our naval force, and banished all hope of any attempt against England.
The favour which the King, of Prussia had shown to Duroc was withdrawn when his Majesty received intelligence of the march of Bernadotte's troops through the Margravate of Anspach. All accounts concurred respecting the just umbrage which that violation of territory occasioned to the King of Prussia. The agents whom I had in that quarter overwhelmed me with reports of the excesses committed by the French in passing through the Margravate. A letter I received from Duroc contains the following remarks on this subject:
The corps of Marshal Bernadotte has passed through Anapach and by some misunderstanding this has been regarded at Berlin as an insult to the King, a violence committed upon his neutrality. How can it be supposed, especially under present circumstances, that the Emperor could have any intention of insulting or committing violence upon his friend? Besides, the reports have been exaggerated, and have been made by persons who wish to favour our enemies rather than us. However, I am perfectly aware that Marshal Bernadotte's 70,000 men are not 70,000 virgins. Be this as it may, the business might have been fatal, and will, at all events, be very injurious to us. Laforeat and I are treated very harshly, though we do not deserve it. All the idle stories that have been got up here must have reached you. Probably Prussia will not forget that France was, and still may be, the only power interested in her glory and aggrandisement.
At the end of October the King of Prussia, far from thinking of war, but in case of its occurrence wishing to check its disasters as far as possible, proposed to establish a line of neutrality. This was the first idea of the Confederation of the North. Duroc, fearing lest the Russians should enter Hamburg, advised me, as a friend, to adopt precautions. But I was on the spot; I knew all the movement the little detached corps, and I was under no apprehension.
The editor of the Hamburg 'Correspondent' sent me every evening a proof of the number which was to appear next day,—a favour which was granted only to the French Minister. On the 20th of November I received the proof as usual, and saw nothing objectionable in it. How great, therefore, was my astonishment when next morning I read in the same journal an article personally insulting to the Emperor, and in which the legitimate sovereigns of Europe were called upon to undertake a crusade against the usurper etc. I immediately sent for M. Doormann, first Syndic of the Senate of Hamburg. When he appeared his mortified look sufficiently informed me that he knew what I had to say to him. I reproached him sharply, and asked him how, after all I had told him of the Emperor's susceptibility, he could permit the insertion of such an article. I observed to him that this indecorous diatribe had no official character, since it had no signature; and that, therefore, he had acted in direct opposition to a decree of the Senate, which prohibited the insertion in the journals of any articles which were not signed. I told him plainly that his imprudence might be attended with serious consequences. M. Doormann did not attempt to justify himaelt but merely explained to me how the thing had happened.
On the 20th of November, in the evening, M. Forshmann, the Russian charge d'affaires who had in the course of the day arrived from the Russian headquarters presented to the editor of the Correspondent the article in question. The editor, after reading the article, which he thought exceedingly indecorous, observed to M. Forshmann that his paper was already made up, which was the fact, for I had seen a proof. M. Forshmann, however, insisted on the insertion of the article. The editor then told him that he could not admit it without the approbation of the Syndic Censor. M. Forshmann immediately waited upon M. Doormann, and when the latter begged that he would not insist on the insertion of the article, M. Forshmann produced a letter written in French, which, among other things, contained the following: "You will get the enclosed article inserted in the Correspondent without suffering a single word to be altered. Should the censor refuse, you must apply to the directing Burgomaster, and, in case of his refusal, to General Tolstoy, who will devise some means of rendering the Senate more complying, and forcing it to observe an impartial deference."
M. Doorman, thinking he could not take upon himself to allow the insertion of the article, went, accompanied by M. Forshmann, to wait upon M. Von Graffen, the directing Burgomaster. MM. Doorman and Von Graffen earnestly pointed out the impropriety of inserting the article; but M. Forshmann referred to his order, and added that the compliance of the Senate on this point was the only means of avoiding great mischief. The Burgomaster and the Syndic, finding themselves thus forced to admit the article, entreated that the following passage at least might be suppressed: "I know a certain chief, who, in defiance of all laws divine and human,—in contempt of the hatred he inspires in Europe, as well as among those whom he has reduced to be his subjects, keeps possession of a usurped throne by violence and crime. His insatiable ambition would subject all Europe to his rule. But the time is come for avenging the rights of nations . . . ." M. Forshmann again referred to his orders, and with some degree of violence insisted on the insertion of the article in its complete form. The Burgomaster then authorised the editor of the Correspondent to print the article that night, and M. Forshmann, having obtained that authority, carried the article to the office at half-past eleven o'clock.
Such was the account given me by M. Doormann. I observed that I did not understand how the imaginary apprehension of any violence on the part of Russia should have induced him to admit so insolent an attack upon the most powerful sovereign in Europe, whose arms would soon dictate laws to Germany. The Syndic did not dissemble his fear of the Emperor's resentment, while at the same time he expressed a hope that the Emperor would take into consideration the extreme difficulty of a small power maintaining neutrality in the extraordinary circumstances in which Hamburg was placed, and that the articles might be said to have been presented almost at the point of the Cossacks' spears. M. Doormann added that a refusal, which world have brought Russian troops to Hamburg, might have been attended by very unpleasant consequences to me, and might have committed the Senate in a very different way. I begged of him, once for all, to set aside in these affairs all consideration of my personal danger: and the Syndic, after a conversation of more than two hours, departed more uneasy in his mind than when he arrived, and conjuring me to give a faithful report of the facts as they had happened.
M. Doormann was a very worthy man, and I gave a favourable representation of his excuses and of the readiness which he had always evinced to keep out of the Correspondent articles hostile to France; as, for example, the commencement of a proclamation of the Emperor of Germany to his subjects, and a complete proclamation of the King of Sweden. As it happened, the good Syndic escaped with nothing worse than a fright; I was myself astonished at the success of my intercession. I learned from the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Emperor was furiously indignant on reading the article, in which the French army was outraged as well as he. Indeed, he paid but little attention to insults directed against himself personally. Their eternal repetition had inured him to them; but at the idea of his army being insulted he was violently enraged, and uttered the most terrible threats.
It is worthy of remark that the Swedish and English Ministers, as soon as they read the article, waited upon the editor of the Correspondent, and expressed their astonishment that such a libel should have been published. "Victorious armies," said they, "should be answered by cannonballs and not by insults as gross as they are ridiculous." This opinion was shared by all the foreigners at that time in Hamburg.
Difficulties of my situation at Hamburg—Toil and responsibility— Supervision of the emigrants—Foreign Ministers—Journals—Packet from Strasburg—Bonaparte fond of narrating Giulio, an extempore recitation of a story composed by the Emperor.
The brief detail I have given in the two or three preceding chapters of the events which occurred previously to and during the campaign of Austerlitz, with the letters of Duroc and Bernadotte, may afford the reader some idea of my situation during the early part of my residence in Hamburg. Events succeeded each other with such incredible rapidity as to render my labour excessive. My occupations were different, but not less laborious, than those which I formerly performed when near the Emperor; and, besides, I was now loaded with a responsibility which did not attach to me as the private secretary of General Bonaparte and the First Consul. I had, in fact, to maintain a constant watch over the emigrants in Altona, which was no easy matter—to correspond daily with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Police—to confer with the foreign Ministers accredited at Hamburg—to maintain active relations with the commanders of the French army—to interrogate my secret agents, and keep a strict surveillance over their proceedings; it was, besides, necessary to be unceasingly on the watch for scurrilous articles against Napoleon in the Hamburg 'Corespondent'. I shall frequently have occasion to speak of all these things, and especially of the most marked emigrants, in a manner less irregular, because what I have hitherto said may, in some sort, be considered merely as a summary of all the facts relating to the occurrences which daily passed before my eyes.
In the midst of these multifarious and weighty occupations I received a packet with the Strasburg postmark at the time the Empress was in that city. This packet had not the usual form of a diplomatic despatch, and the superscription announced that it came from the residence of Josephine. My readers, I venture to presume, will not experience less gratification than I did on a perusal of its contents, which will be found at the end of this chapter; but before satisfying the curiosity to which I have perhaps given birth, I may here relate that one of the peculiarities of Bonaparte was a fondness of extempore narration; and it appears he had not discontinued the practice even after he became Emperor.
In fact, Bonaparte, during the first year after his elevation to the Imperial throne, usually passed those evenings in the apartments of the Empress which he could steal from public business. Throwing himself on a sofa, he would remain absorbed in gloomy silence, which no one dared to interrupt. Sometimes, however, on the contrary, he would give the reins to his vivid imagination and his love of the marvelous, or, to speak more correctly, his desire to produce effect, which was perhaps one of his strongest passions, and would relate little romances, which were always of a fearful description and in unison with the natural turn of his ideas. During those recitals the ladies-in-waiting were always present, to one of whom I am indebted for the following story, which she had written nearly in the words of Napoleon. "Never," said this lady in her letter to me, "did the Emperor appear more extraordinary. Led away by the subject, he paced the salon with hasty strides; the intonations of his voice varied according to the characters of the personages he brought on the scene; he seemed to multiply himself in order to play the different parts, and no person needed to feign the terror which he really inspired, and which he loved to see depicted in the countenances of those who surrounded him." In this tale I have made no alterations, as can be attested by those who, to my knowledge, have a copy of it. It is curious to compare the impassioned portions of it with the style of Napoleon in some of the letters addressed to Josephine.
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