We arrived in Paris on the 1st of January at nine o'clock in the evening; and as the theater of the palace of the Tuileries was now completed, on the Sunday following his Majesty's return the Griselda of M. Paer was presented in this magnificent hall. Their Majesties' boxes were situated in front of the curtain, opposite each other, and presented a charming picture, with their hangings of crimson silk draped above, and forming a background to broad, movable mirrors, which reflected at will the audience or the play. The Emperor, still impressed with the recollections of the theaters of Italy, criticised unsparingly that of the Tuileries, saying that it was inconvenient, badly planned, and much too large for a palace theater; but notwithstanding all these criticisms, when the day of inauguration came, and the Emperor was convinced of the very great ingenuity M. Fontaine had shown in distributing the boxes so as to make the splendid toilets appear to the utmost advantage, he appeared well satisfied, and charged the Duke of Frioul to present to M. Fontaine the congratulations he so well deserved.
A week after we saw the reverse of the medal. On that day Cinna was presented, and a comedy, the name of which I have forgotten. It was such extremely cold weather that we were obliged to leave the theater immediately after the tragedy, in consequence of which the Emperor exhausted himself in invectives against the hall, which according to him was good for nothing but to be burnt. M. Fontaine [Born at Pontoise, 1762; erected the arch of the Carrousel; died 1853] was summoned, and promised to do everything in his power to remedy the inconveniences pointed out to him; and in fact, by means of new furnaces placed under the theater, with pipes through the ceiling, and steps placed under the benches of the second tier of boxes, in a week the hall was made warm and comfortable.
For several weeks the Emperor occupied himself almost exclusively with buildings and improvements. The arch of triumph of the Place du Carrousel, from which the scaffolding had been removed in order to allow the Imperial Guard to pass beneath it on their return from Prussia, first attracted his Majesty's attention. This monument was then almost completed, with the exception of a few bas-reliefs which were still to be put in position. The Emperor took a critical view of it from one of the palace windows, and said, after knitting his brows two or three times, that this mass resembled much more a pavilion than a gate, and that he would have much preferred one constructed in the style of the porte Saint-Denis.
After visiting in detail the various works begun or carried on since his departure, his Majesty one morning sent for M. Fontaine, and having discoursed at length on what he thought worthy of praise or blame in all that he had seen, informed him of his intentions with regard to the plans which the architect had furnished for joining the Tuileries to the Louvre. It was agreed by the Emperor and M. Fontaine that these buildings should be united by two wings, the first of which should be finished in five years, a million to be granted each year for this purpose; and that a second wing should also be constructed on the opposite side, extending from the Louvre to the Tuileries, forming thus a perfect square, in the midst of which would be erected an opera house, isolated on all sides, and communicating with the palace by a subterranean gallery.
The gallery forming the court in front of the Louvre was to be opened to the public in winter, and decorated with statues, and also with all the shrubbery now in boxes in the garden of the Tuileries; and in this court he intended to erect an arch of triumph very similar to that of the Carrousel. Finally, all these beautiful buildings were to be used as lodgings for the grand officers of the crown, as stables, etc. The necessary expense was estimated as approximating forty-two millions.
The Emperor was occupied in succession with a palace of arts; with a new building for the Imperial library, to be placed on the spot now occupied by the Bourse; with a palace for the stock-exchange on the quay Desaix; with the restoration of the Sorbonne and the hotel Soubise; with a triumphal column at Neuilly; with a fountain on the Place Louis XV.; with tearing down the Hotel-Dieu to enlarge and beautify the Cathedral quarter; and with the construction of four hospitals at Mont-Parnasse, at Chaillot, at Montmartre, and in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, etc. All these plans were very grand; and there is no doubt that he who had conceived them would have executed them; and it has often been said that had he lived, Paris would have had no rival in any department in the world.
At the same time his Majesty decided definitely on the form of the arch of triumph de l'Etoile, which had been long debated, and for which all the architects of the crown had submitted plans. It was M. Fontaine whose opinion prevailed; since among all the plans presented his was the simplest, and at the same time the most imposing.
The Emperor was also much interested in the restoration of the palace of Versailles. M. Fontaine had submitted to his Majesty a plan for the first repairs, by the terms of which, for the sum of six millions, the Emperor and Empress would have had a comfortable dwelling. His Majesty, who liked everything grand, handsome, superb, but at the same time economical, wrote at the bottom of this estimate the following note, which M. de Bausset reports thus in his Memoirs:—
"The plans in regard to Versailles must be carefully considered. Those which M. Fontaine submits are very reasonable, the estimate being six millions; but this includes dwellings, with the restoration of the chapel and that of the theater, only sufficiently comfortable for present use, not such as they should be one day.
"By this plan, the Emperor and Empress would have their apartments; but we must remember that this sum should also furnish lodgings for princes, grand and inferior officers.
"It is also necessary to know where will be placed the factory of
arms, which will be needed at Versailles, since it puts silver in
"It will be necessary out of these six millions to find six lodgings for princes, twelve for grand officers, and fifty for inferior officers.
"Then only can we decide to make Versailles our residence, and pass the summers there. Before adopting these plans, it will be necessary that the architect who engages to execute them should certify that they can be executed for the proposed sum."
A few days after their arrival their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress, went to visit the celebrated David
[Jacques Louis David, born in Paris, 1748, celebrated historical painter, member of convention, 1792, and voted for the death of the king. Died in Brussels, 1825.]
at his studio in the Sorbonne, in order to see the magnificent picture of the coronation, which had just been finished. Their Majesties' suite was composed of Marshal Bessieres, an aide-de-camp of the Emperor, M. Lebrun, several ladies of the palace, and chamberlains. The Emperor and Empress contemplated with admiration for a long while this beautiful painting, which comprised every species of merit; and the painter was in his glory while hearing his Majesty name, one by one, all the different personages of the picture, for the resemblance was really miraculous. "How grand that is!" said the Emperor; "how fine! how the figures are brought out in relief! how truthful! This is not a painting; the figures live in this picture!" First directing his attention to the grand tribune in the midst, the Emperor, recognized Madame his mother, General Beaumont, M. de Cosse, M. de La Ville, Madame de Fontanges, and Madame Soult. "I see in the distance," said he, "good M. Vien." M. David replied, "Yes, Sire; I wished to show my admiration for my illustrious master by placing him in this picture, which, on account of its subject, will be the most famous of my works." The Empress then took part in the conversation, and pointed out to the Emperor how happily M. David had seized upon and represented the interesting moment when the Emperor is on the point of being crowned. "Yes," said his Majesty, regarding it with a pleasure that he did not seek to disguise, "the moment is well chosen, and the scene perfectly represented; the two figures are very fine," and speaking thus, the Emperor looked at the Empress.
His Majesty continued the examination of the picture in all its details, and praised especially the group of the Italian clergy near the altar, which episode was invented by the painter. He seemed to wish only that the Pope had been represented in more direct action, appearing to give his blessing, and that the crown of the Empress had been borne by the cardinal legate. In regard to this group, Marshal Bessieres made the Emperor laugh heartily, by relating to him the very amusing discussion which had taken place between David and Cardinal Caprara.
It is well known that the artist had a great aversion to dressed figures, especially to those clothed in the modern style. In all his paintings, there may be remarked such a pronounced love for the antique that it even shows itself in his manner of draping living persons. Now, Cardinal Caprara, one of the assistants of the Pope at the ceremony of the coronation, wore a wig; and David, in giving him a place in his picture, thought it more suitable to take off his wig, and represent him with a bald head, the likeness being otherwise perfect. The Cardinal was much grieved, and begged the artist to restore his wig, but received from David a formal refusal. "Never," said he, "will I degrade my pencil so far as to paint a wig." His Eminence went away very angry, and complained to M. de Talleyrand, who was at this time Minister of Foreign Affairs, giving, among other reasons, this, which seemed to him unanswerable, that, as no Pope had ever worn a wig, they would not fail to attribute to him, Cardinal Caprara, an intention of aspiring to the pontifical chair in case of a vacancy, which intention would be clearly shown by the suppression of his wig in the picture of the coronation. The entreaties of his Eminence were all in vain; for David would not consent to restore his precious wig, saying, that "he ought to be very glad he had taken off no more than that."
After hearing this story, the particulars of which were confirmed by the principal actor in the scene, his Majesty made some observations to M. David, with all possible delicacy. They were attentively noted by this admirable artist, who, with a bow, promised the Emperor to profit by his advice. Their Majesties' visit was long, and lasted until the fading light warned the Emperor that it was time to return. M. David escorted him to the door of his studio; and there, stopping short, the Emperor took off his hat, and, by a most graceful bow, testified to the honor he felt for such distinguished talent. The Empress added to the agitation by which M. David seemed almost overcome by a few of the charming words of appreciation she so well knew how to say, and said so opportunely.
Opposite the picture of the coronation was placed that of the Sabines. The Emperor, who perceived how anxious M. David was to dispose of this, gave orders to M. Lebrun, as he left, to see if this picture could not be placed to advantage in the grand gallery at the Tuileries. But he soon changed his mind when he reflected that most of the figures were represented in naturalibus, which would appear incongruous in an apartment used for grand diplomatic receptions, and in which the Council of Ministers usually sat.
The last of January, Mademoiselle de Tascher, niece of her Majesty the Empress, was married to the Duke of Aremberg. The Emperor on this occasion raised Mademoiselle de Tascher to the dignity of a princess, and deigned, in company with the Empress, to honor with his presence the marriage, which took place at the residence of her Majesty the Queen of Holland, in the Rue de Ceriltti, and was celebrated with a splendor worthy of the august guests. The Empress remained some time after dinner, and opened the ball with the Duke of Aremberg. A few days after this the Prince of Hohenzollern married the niece of the Grand Duke of Berg and Cleves, Mademoiselle Antoinette Murat.
His Majesty honored her as he had done Mademoiselle Tascher, and, in
company with the Empress, also attended the ball which the Grand Duke of
Berg gave on the occasion of this marriage, and at which Princess
This was a brilliant winter at Paris, owing to the great number of fetes and balls which were given. The Emperor, as I have already said, had an aversion to balls, and especially masked balls, which he considered the most senseless things in the world, and this was a subject on which he was often at war with the Empress; but, notwithstanding this, on one occasion he yielded to the entreaties of M. de Marescalchi, the Italian ambassador, noted for his magnificent balls, which the most distinguished personages of the kingdom attended. These brilliant reunions took place in a hall which the ambassador had built for the purpose, and decorated with extraordinary luxury and splendor; and his Majesty, as I have said, consented to honor with his presence a masked ball given by this ambassador, which was to eclipse all others.
In the morning the Emperor called me, and said, "I have decided to dance this evening at the house of the ambassador of Italy; you will carry, during the day, ten complete costumes to the apartments he has prepared for me." I obeyed, and in the evening accompanied his Majesty to the residence of M. Marescalchi, and dressed him as best I could in a black domino, taking great pains to render him unrecognizable; and everything went well, in spite of numerous observations on the Emperor's part as to the absurdity of a disguise, the bad appearance a domino makes, etc. But, when it was proposed to change his shoes, he rebelled absolutely, in spite of all I could say on this point; and consequently he was recognized the moment he entered the ballroom. He went straight to a masker, his hands behind his back, as usual, and attempted to enter into an intrigue, and at the first question he asked was called Sire, in reply. Whereupon, much disappointed, he turned on his heel, and came back to me. "You are right, Constant; I am recognized. Bring me lace- boots and another costume." I put the boots on his feet, and disguised him anew, advising him to let his arms hang, if he did not wish to be recognized at once; and his Majesty promised to obey in every particular what he called my instructions. He had hardly entered the room in his new costume, however, before he was accosted by a lady, who, seeing him with his hands again crossed behind his back, said, "Sire, you are recognized! "The Emperor immediately let his arms fall; but it was too late, for already every one moved aside respectfully to make room for him. He then returned to his room, and took a third costume, promising me implicitly to pay attention to his gestures and his walk, and offering to bet that he would not be recognized. This time, in fact, he entered the hall as if it were a barrack, pushing and elbowing all around him; but, in spite of this, some one whispered in his ear, "Your Majesty is recognized." A new disappointment, new change of costume, and new advice on my part, with the same result; until at last his Majesty left the ambassador's ball, persuaded that he could not be disguised, and that the Emperor would be recognized whatever mask he might assume.
That evening at supper, the Prince de Neuchatel, the Duke de Trevise, the Duke de Frioul, and some other officers being present, the Emperor related the history of his disguises, and made many jests on his awkwardness. In speaking of the young lady who had recognized him the evening before, and who had, it appeared, puzzled him greatly, "Can you believe it, Messieurs," said he, "I never succeeded in recognizing the little wretch at all?" During the carnival the Empress expressed a wish to go once to the masked ball at the opera; and when she begged the Emperor to accompany her he refused, in spite of all the tender and enticing things the Empress could say, and all the grace with which, as is well known, she could surround a petition. She found that all was useless, as the Emperor said plainly that he would not go. "Well, I will go without you."—"As you please," and the Emperor went out.
That evening at the appointed hour the Empress went to the ball; and the Emperor, who wished to surprise her, had one of her femmes de chambre summoned, and obtained from her an exact description of the Empress's costume. He then told me to dress him in a domino, entered a carriage without decorations, and accompanied by the grand marshal of the palace, a superior officer, and myself, took the road to the opera. On reaching the private entrance of the Emperor's household, we encountered some difficulty, as the doorkeeper would not let us pass till I had told my name and rank. "These gentlemen are with you?"—"As you see."—"I beg your pardon, Monsieur Constant; but it is because in such times as these there are always persons who try to enter without paying."—"That is good! That is good!" and the Emperor laughed heartily at the doorkeeper's observations. At last we entered, and having got as far as the hall, promenaded in couples, I giving my arm to the Emperor, who said thou to me, and bade me reply in the same way. We gave each other fictitious names, the Emperor calling himself Auguste; the Duke de Frioul, Francois; the superior officer, whose name escapes me, Charles; while I was Joseph. As soon as his Majesty saw a domino similar to the one the femme de chambre had described, he pressed my arm and said, "Is that she?"—"No, Si—- no, Auguste," replied I, constantly correcting myself; for it was impossible to accustom myself to calling the Emperor otherwise than Sire or your Majesty. He had, as I have said, expressly ordered me to tutoy him; but he was every moment compelled to repeat this order to me, for respect tied my tongue every time I tried to say tu. At last, after having gone in every direction, explored every corner and nook of the saloon, the green-room, the boxes, etc., in fact, examined everything, and looked each costume over in detail, his Majesty, who was no more successful in recognizing her Majesty than were we, began to feel great anxiety, which I, however, succeeded in allaying by telling him that doubtless the Empress had gone to change her costume. As I was speaking, a domino arrived who seemed enamoured of the Emperor, accosted him, mystified him, tormented him in every way, and with so much vivacity that Auguste was beside himself; and it is impossible to give even a faint idea of the comical sight the Emperor presented in his embarrassment. The domino, delighted at this, redoubled her wit and raillery until, thinking it time to cease, she disappeared in the crowd.
The Emperor was completely exasperated; he had seen enough, and we left the ball.
The next morning when he saw the Empress, he remarked, "Well, you did not go to the opera ball, after all!"—"Oh, yes, indeed I did."—"Nonsense!" —"I assure you that I went. And you, my dear, what did you do all the evening?"—"I worked."—"Why, that is very singular; for I saw at the ball last night a domino who had exactly your foot and boots. I took him for you, and consequently addressed him." The Emperor laughed heartily on learning that he had been thus duped; the Empress, just as she left for the ball, had changed her costume, not thinking the first sufficiently elegant.
The carnival was extremely brilliant this year, and there were in Paris all kinds of masquerades. The most amusing were those in which the theory advocated by the famous Doctor Gall [Franz Joseph Gall, founder of the system of phrenology. Born in Baden, 1758; died in Paris, 1825] was illustrated. I saw a troop passing the Place du Carrousel, composed of clowns, harlequins, fishwives, etc., all rubbing their skulls, and making expressive grimaces; while a clown bore several skulls of different sizes, painted red, blue, or green, with these inscriptions: Skull of a robber, skull of an assassin, skull of a bankrupt, etc.; and a masked figure, representing Doctor Gall, was seated on an ass, his head turned to the animal's tail, and receiving from the hands of a woman who followed him, and was also seated on an ass, heads covered with wigs made of long grass.
Her Majesty Queen Caroline gave a masked ball, at which the Emperor and Empress were present, which was one of the most brilliant I have ever attended.
The opera of la Vestale was then new, and very much the fashion; it represented a quadrille of priests and vestals who entered to the sound of delicious music on the flute and harp, and in addition to this there were magicians, a Swiss marriage, Tyrolian betrothals, etc. All the costumes were wonderfully handsome and true to nature; and there had been arranged in the apartments at the palace a supply of costumes which enabled the dancers to change four or five times during the night, and which had the effect of renewing the ball as many times.
As I was dressing the Emperor for this ball, he said to me, "Constant, you must go with me in disguise. Take whatever costume you like, disguise yourself so that you cannot possibly be recognized, and I will give you instructions." I hastened to do as his Majesty ordered, donned a Swiss costume which suited me very well, and thus equipped awaited his Majesty's orders.
He had a plan for mystifying several great personages, and two or three ladies whom the Emperor designated to me with such minute details that it was impossible to mistake them, and told me some singular things in regard to them, which were not generally known, and were well calculated to embarrass them terribly. As I was starting, the Emperor called me back, saying, "Above all, Constant, take care to make no mistake, and do not confound Madame de M—— with her sister; they have almost exactly the same costume, but Madame de M—- is larger than she, so take care." On my arrival at the ball, I sought and easily found the persons whom his Majesty had designated, and the replies which they made afforded him much amusement when I narrated them as he was retiring.
There was at this time a third marriage at the court, that of the Prince de Neuchatel and the Princess of Bavaria, which was celebrated in the chapel of the Tuileries by Cardinal Fesch.
A traveler just returned from the Isle of France presented to the Empress a female monkey of the orang-outang species; and her Majesty gave orders that the animal should be placed in the menagerie at Malmaison. This baboon was extremely gentle and docile, and its master had given it an excellent education. It was wonderful to see her, when any one approached the chair on which she was seated, take a decent position, draw over her legs and thighs the fronts of a long redingote, and, when she rose to make a bow, hold the redingote carefully in front of her, acting, in fact, exactly as would a young girl who had been well reared. She ate at the table with a knife and fork more properly than many children who are thought to be carefully trained, and liked, while eating, to cover her face with her napkin, and then uncover it with a cry of joy. Turnips were her favorite food; and, when a lady of the palace showed her one, she began to run, caper, and cut somersaults, forgetting entirely the lessons of modesty and decency her professor had taught her. The Empress was much amused at seeing the baboon lose her dignity so completely under the influence of this lady.
This poor beast had inflammation of the stomach, and, according to the directions of the traveler who brought her, was placed in bed and a night-dress put on her. She took great care to keep the covering up to her chin, though unwilling to have anything on her head; and held her arms out of the bed, her hands hidden in the sleeves of the night-dress. When any one whom she knew entered the room, she nodded to them and took their hand, pressing it affectionately. She eagerly swallowed the medicines prescribed, as they were sweet; and one day, while a draught of manna was being prepared, which she thought too long delayed, she showed every sign of impatience, and threw herself from side to side like a fretful child; at last, throwing off the covering, she seized her physician by the coat with so much obstinacy that he was compelled to yield. The instant she obtained possession of the eagerly coveted cup she manifested the greatest delight, and began to drink, taking little sips, and smacking her lips with all the gratification of an epicure who tastes a glass of wine which he thinks very old and very delicious. At last the cup was emptied, she returned it, and lay down again. It is impossible to give an idea of the gratitude this poor animal showed whenever anything was done for her. The Empress was deeply attached to her.
After remaining about a week at the chateau of Saint-Cloud, his Majesty set out, on the 2d of April, at 11 o'clock in the morning, to visit the departments of the South; and as this journey was to begin at Bordeaux, the Emperor requested the Empress to meet him there. This publicly announced intention was simply a pretext, in order, to mislead the curious, for we knew that we were going to the frontier of Spain.
The Emperor remained barely ten days there, and then left for Bayonne alone, leaving the Empress at Bordeaux, and reaching Bayonne on the night of the 14-15th of April, where her Majesty the Empress rejoined him two or three days afterwards.
The Prince of Neuchatel and the grand marshal lodged at the chateau of
Marrac, the rest of their Majesties' suite lodged at Bayonne and its
suburbs, the guard camped in front of the chateau on a place called the
Parterre, and in three days all were comfortably located.
On the morning of the 15th of April, the Emperor had hardly recovered from the fatigue of his journey, when he received the authorities of Bayonne, who came to congratulate him, and questioned them, as was his custom, most pointedly. His Majesty then set out to visit the fort and fortifications, which occupied him till the evening, when he returned to the Government palace, which he occupied temporarily while waiting till the chateau of Marrac should be ready to receive him.
On his return to the palace the Emperor expected to find the Infant Don Carlos, whom his brother Ferdinand, the Prince of the Asturias, had sent to Bayonne to present his compliments to the Emperor; but he was informed that the Infant was ill, and would not be able to come. The Emperor immediately gave orders to send one of his physicians to attend upon him, with a valet de chambre and several other persons; for the prince had come to Bayonne without attendants, and incognito, attended only by a military service composed of a few soldiers of the garrison. The Emperor also ordered that this service should be replaced by one more suitable, consisting of the Guard of Honor of Bayonne, and sent two or three times each day to inquire the condition of the Infant, who it was freely admitted in the palace was very ill.
On leaving the Government palace to take up his abode at Marrac, the Emperor gave all necessary orders that it should be in readiness to receive the King and Queen of Spain, who were expected at Bayonne the last of the month; and expressly recommended that everything should be done to render to the sovereigns of Spain all the honors due their position. Just as the Emperor entered the chateau the sound of music was heard, and the grand marshal entered to inform his Majesty that a large company of the inhabitants in the costume of the country were assembled before the gate of the chateau. The Emperor immediately went to the window; and, at sight of him, seventeen persons (seven men and ten women) began with inimitable grace a dance called 'la pamperruque', in which the women kept time on tambourines, and the men with castanets, to an orchestra composed of flutes and guitars. I went out of the castle to view this scene more closely. The women wore short skirts of blue silk, and pink stockings likewise embroidered in silver; their hair was tied with ribbons, and they wore very broad black bracelets, that set off to advantage the dazzling whiteness of their bare arms. The men wore tight- fitting white breeches, with silk stockings and large epaulettes, a loose vest of very fine woolen cloth ornamented with gold, and their hair caught up in a net like the Spaniards.
His Majesty took great pleasure in witnessing this dance, which is peculiar to the country and very ancient, which the custom of the country has consecrated as a means of rendering homage to great personages. The Emperor remained at the window until the 'pamperruque' was finished, and then sent to compliment the dancers on their skill, and to express his thanks to the inhabitants assembled in crowds at the gate.
His Majesty a few days afterward received from his Royal Highness, the Prince of the Asturias, a letter, in which he announced that he intended setting out from Irun, where he then was, at an early day, in order to have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of his brother (it was thus Prince Ferdinand called the Emperor); a pleasure which he had long desired, and which he would at last enjoy if his good brother would allow him. This letter was brought to the Emperor by one of the aides-de-camp of the prince, who had accompanied him from Madrid, and preceded him to Bayonne by only ten days. His Majesty could hardly believe what he read and heard; and I, with several other persons, heard him exclaim, "What, he is coming here? but you must be mistaken; he must be deceiving us; that cannot be possible!" And I can certify that, in these words, the Emperor manifested no pleasure at the announcement.
It was necessary, however, to make preparations to receive the prince, since he was certainly coming; consequently the Prince of Neuchatel, the Duke of Frioul, and a chamberlain of honor, were selected by his Majesty. And the guard of honor received orders to accompany these gentlemen, and meet the Prince of Spain just outside the town of Bayonne; the rank which the Emperor recognized in Ferdinand not rendering it proper that the escort should go as far as the frontier of the two empires. The Prince made his entrance into Bayonne at noon, on the 20th of April. Lodgings which would have been considered very inferior in Paris, but which were elegant in Bayonne, had been prepared for him and his brother, the Infant Don Carlos, who was already installed there. Prince Ferdinand made a grimace on entering, but did not dare to complain aloud; and certainly it would have been most improper for him to have done so, since it was not the Emperor's fault that Bayonne possessed only one palace, which was at this time reserved for the king, and, besides, this house, the handsomest in the town, was large and perfectly new. Don Pedro de Cevallos, who accompanied the prince, thought it horrible, and unfit for a royal personage. It was the residence of the commissariat. An hour after Ferdinand's arrival, the Emperor visited him. He was awaiting the Emperor at the door, and held out his arms on his approach; they embraced, and ascended to his apartments, where they remained about half an hour, and when they separated the prince wore a somewhat anxious air. His Majesty on his return charged the grand marshal to convey to the prince and his brother, Don Carlos, the Duke of San-Carlos, the Duke of Infantado, Don Pedro de Cevallos, and two or three other persons of the suite, an invitation to dine with him; and the Emperor's carriages were sent for these illustrious guests at the appointed hour, and they were conveyed to the chateau. His Majesty descended to the foot of the staircase to receive the prince; but this was the limit of his deference, for not once during dinner did he give Prince Ferdinand, who was a king at Madrid, the title of your majesty, nor even that of highness; nor did he accompany him on his departure any farther than the first door of the saloon; and he afterwards informed him, by a message, that he would have no other rank than that of Prince of the Asturias until the arrival of his father, King Charles. Orders were given at the same time to place on duty at the house of the princes, the Bayonnaise guard of honor, with the Imperial Guard in addition to a detachment of picked police.
On the 27th of April the Empress arrived from Bordeaux at seven o'clock in the evening, having made no stay at Bayonne, where her arrival excited little enthusiasm, as they were perhaps displeased that she did not stop there. His Majesty received her with much tenderness, and showed much solicitude as to the fatigue she must have experienced, since the roads were so rough, and badly washed by the rains. In the evening the town and chateau were illuminated.
Three days after, on the 30th, the King and Queen of Spain arrived at Bayonne; and it is impossible to describe the homage which the Emperor paid them. The Duke Charles de Plaisance went as far as Irun, and the Prince de Neuchatel even to the banks of the Bidassoa, in order to pay marked respect to their Catholic Majesties on the part of their powerful friend; and the king and queen appeared to appreciate highly these marks of consideration. A detachment of picked troops, superbly uniformed, awaited them on the frontier, and served as their escort; the garrison of Bayonne was put under arms, all the buildings of the port were decorated, all the bells rang, and the batteries of both the citadel and the port saluted with great salvos. The Prince of the Asturias and his brother, hearing of the arrival of the king and queen, had left Bayonne in order to meet their parents, when they encountered, a short distance from the town, two or three grenadiers who had just left Vittoria, and related to them the following occurrence:
When their Spanish Majesties entered Vittoria, they found that a detachment of the Spanish body guards, who had accompanied the Prince of the Asturias and were stationed in this town, had taken possession of the palace which the king and queen were to occupy as they passed through, and on the arrival of their Majesties had put themselves under arms. As soon as the king perceived this, he said to them in a severe tone, "You will understand why I ask you to quit my palace. You have failed in your duty at Aranjuez. I have no need of your services, and I do not wish them. Go!" These words, pronounced with an energy far from habitual to Charles IV., met with no reply. The detachment of the guards retired; and the king begged General Verdier to give him a French guard, much grieved, he said, that he had not retained his brave riflemen, whose colonel he still kept near him as captain of the guards.
This news could not give the Prince of the Asturias a high opinion of the welcome his father had in store for him; and indeed he was very coolly received, as I shall now relate.
The King and Queen of Spain, on alighting at the governmental palace, found awaiting them the grand marshal, the Duke de Frioul, who escorted them to their apartments, and presented to them General Count Reille, the Emperor's aide-de-camp, performing the duties of governor of the palace; M. d'Audenarde, equerry, with M. Dumanoir and M. de Baral, chamberlains charged with the service of honor near their Majesties.
The grandees of Spain whom their Majesties found at Bayonne were the same who had followed the Prince of the Asturias, and the sight of them, as may well be imagined, was not pleasant to the king; and when the ceremony of the kissing of the hand took place, every one perceived the painful agitation of the unfortunate sovereigns. This ceremony, which consists of falling on your knees and kissing the hand of the king and queen, was performed in the deepest silence, as their Majesties spoke to no one but the Count of Fuentes, who by chance was at Bayonne.
The king hurried over this ceremony, which fatigued him greatly, and retired with the queen into his apartments, where the Prince of the Asturias wished to follow them; but his father stopped him at the door, and raising his arm as if to repulse him, said in a trembling tone, "Prince, do you wish still to insult my gray hairs?" These words had, it is said, the effect of a thunderbolt on the prince. He was overcome by his feelings for a moment, and withdrew without uttering a word.
Very different was the reception their Majesties gave to the Prince de la
[Manuel Godoi, born at Badajos, 1767. A common soldier, he
became the queen's lover, and the virtual ruler of Spain; died in
when he joined them at Bayonne, and he might have been taken for the nearest and dearest relative of their Majesties. All three wept freely on meeting again; at least, this is what I was told by a person in the service—the same, in fact, who gave me all the preceding details.
At five o'clock his Majesty the Emperor came to visit the King and Queen of Spain; and during this interview, which was very long, the two sovereigns informed his Majesty of the insults they had received, and the dangers they had encountered during the past month. They complained greatly of the ingratitude of so many men whom they had overwhelmed with kindness, and above all of the guard which had so basely betrayed them. "Your Majesty," said the king, "does not know what it is to be forced to commiserate yourself on account of your son. May Heaven forbid that such a misfortune should ever come to you! Mine is the cause of all that we have suffered."
The Prince de la Paix had come to Bayonne accompanied by Colonel Martes, aide-de-camp of Prince Murat, and a valet de chambre, the only servant who had remained faithful to him. I had occasion to talk with this devoted servant, who spoke very good French, having been reared near Toulouse; and he told me that he had not succeeded in obtaining permission to remain with his master during his captivity, and that this unfortunate prince had suffered indescribable torments; that not a day passed without some one entering his dungeon to tell him to prepare for death, as he was to be executed that very evening or the next morning. He also told me that the prisoners were left sometimes for thirty hours without food; that he had only a bed of straw, no linen, no books, and no communication with the outside world; and that when he came out of his dungeon to be sent to Colonel Marts, he presented a horrible appearance, with his long beard, and emaciated frame, the result of mental distress and insufficient food. He had worn the same shirt for a month, as he had never been able to prevail on his captors to give him others; and his eyes had been so long unaccustomed to the light that he was obliged to close them, and felt oppressed in the open air.
On the road from Bayonne, there was handed to the prince a letter from the king and queen which was stained with tears. The prince said to his valet de chambre after reading it, "These are the first consoling words I have received in a month, for every one has abandoned me except my excellent masters. The body guards, who have betrayed and sold their king, will also betray and sell his son; and as for myself, I hope for nothing, except to be permitted to find an asylum in France for my children and myself." M. Marts having shown him newspapers in which it was stated that the prince possessed a fortune of five hundred million, he exclaimed vehemently that it was an atrocious calumny, and he defied his most cruel enemies to prove that.
As we have seen, their Majesties had not a numerous suite; but they were, notwithstanding, followed by baggage-wagons filled with furniture, goods, and valuable articles, and though their carriages were old-fashioned, they found them very comfortable—especially the king, who was much embarrassed the day after his arrival at Bayonne, when, having been invited to dine with the Emperor, it was necessary to enter a modern carriage with two steps. He did not dare to put his foot on the frail things, which he feared would break under his weight; and the oscillating movement of the body of the carriage made him terribly afraid that it would upset.
At the table I had an opportunity of observing at my leisure the king and queen. The king was of medium height, and though not strictly handsome had a pleasant face. His nose was very long, his voice high-pitched and disagreeable; and he walked with a mincing air in which there was no majesty, but this, however, I attributed to the gout. He ate heartily of everything offered him, except vegetables, which he never ate, saying that grass was good only for cattle; and drank only water, having it served in two carafes, one containing ice, and poured from both at the same time. The Emperor gave orders that special attention should be paid to the dinner, knowing that the king was somewhat of an epicure. He praised in high terms the French cooking, which he seemed to find much to his taste; for as each dish was served him, he would say, "Louise, take some of that, it is good;" which greatly amused the Emperor, whose abstemiousness is well known.
The queen was fat and short, dressed very badly, and had no style or grace; her complexion was very florid, and her expression harsh and severe. She held her head high, spoke very loud, in tones still more brusque and piercing than those of her husband; but it is generally conceded that she had more character and better manners than he.
Before dinner that day there was some conversation on the subject of dress; and the Empress offered the services of M. Duplan, her hairdresser, in order to give her ladies some lessons in the French toilet. Her proposition was accepted; and the queen came out soon after from the hands of M. Duplan, better dressed, no doubt, and her hair better arranged, but not beautified, however, for the talent of the hairdresser could not go as far as that.
The Prince of the Asturias, now King Ferdinand VII., made an unpleasant impression on all, with his heavy step and careworn air, and rarely ever speaking.
Their Spanish Majesties as before brought with them the Prince de la Paix, who had not been invited by the Emperor, and whom for this reason the usher on duty detained outside of the dining-hall. But as they were about to be seated, the king perceived that the prince was absent. "And Manuel," said he quickly to the Emperor, "and Manuel, Sire!" Whereupon the Emperor, smiling, gave the signal, and Don Manuel Godoi was introduced. I was told that he had been a very handsome man; but he showed no signs of this, which was perhaps owing to the bad treatment he had undergone.
After the abdication of the princes, the king and queen, the Queen of Etruria, and the Infant Don Franciso, left Bayonne for Fontainebleau, which place the Emperor had selected as their residence while waiting until the chateau of Compiegne should be put in a condition to make them comfortable. The Prince of the Asturias left the same day, with his brother Don Carlos and his uncle Don Antonio, for the estates of Valencay belonging to the Prince of Benevento. They published, while passing through Bordeaux, a proclamation to the Spanish people, in which they confirmed the transmission of all their rights to the Emperor Napoleon.
Thus King Charles, freed from a throne which he had always regarded as a heavy burden, could hereafter give himself up unreservedly in retirement to his favorite pursuits. In all the world he cared only for the Prince de la Paix, confessors, watches, and music; and the throne was nothing to him. After what had passed, the Prince de la Paix could not return to Spain; and the king would never have consented to be separated from him, even if the remembrance of the insults which he had personally received had not been powerful enough to disgust him with his kingdom. He much preferred the life of a private individual, and could not be happier than when allowed without interruption to indulge his simple and tranquil tastes. On his arrival at the chateau of Fontainebleau, he found there M. Remusat, the first chamberlain; M. de Caqueray, officer of the hunt; M. de Lugay, prefect of the palace; and a household already installed. Mesdames de la Rochefoucault, Duchatel, and de Lugay had been selected by the Emperor for the service of honor near the queen.
The King of Spain remained at Fontainebleau only until the chateau of Compiegne could be repaired, and as he soon found the climate of this part of France too cold for his health, went, at the end of a few months, to Marseilles with the Queen of Etruria, the Infant Don Francisco, and the Prince de la Paix. In 1811 he left France for Italy, finding his health still bad at Marseilles, and chose Rome as his residence.
I spoke above of the fondness of the King of Spain for watches. I have been told that while at Fontainebleau, he had half a dozen of his watches worn by his valet de chambre, and wore as many himself, giving as a reason that pocket watches lose time by not being carried. I have also heard that he kept his confessor always near him, in the antechamber, or in the room in front of that in which he worked, and that when he wished to speak to him he whistled, exactly as one would whistle for a dog. The confessor never failed to respond promptly to this royal call, and followed his penitent into the embrasure of a window, in which improvised confessional the king divulged what he had on his conscience, received absolution, and sent back the priest until he felt himself obliged to whistle for him again.
When the health of the king, enfeebled by age and gout, no longer allowed him to devote himself to the pleasures of the chase, he began playing on the violin more than ever before, in order, he said, to perfect himself in it. This was beginning rather late. As is well known, he had for his first violin teacher the celebrated Alexander Boucher, with whom he greatly enjoyed playing; but he had a mania for beginning first without paying any attention to the measure; and if M. Boucher made any observation in regard to this, his Majesty would reply with the greatest coolness, "Monsieur, it seems to me that it is not my place to wait for you."
Between the departure of the royal family and the arrival of Joseph, King of Naples, the time was passed in reviews and military fetes, which the Emperor frequently honored with his presence. The 7th of June, King Joseph arrived at Bayonne, where it had been known long in advance that his brother had summoned him to exchange his crown of Naples for that of Spain.
The evening of Joseph's arrival, the Emperor invited the members of the Spanish Junta, who for fifteen days had been arriving at Bayonne from all corners of the kingdom, to assemble at the chateau of Marrac, and congratulate the new king. The deputies accepted this somewhat sudden invitation without having time to concert together previously any course of action; and on their arrival at Marrac, the Emperor presented to them their sovereign, whom they acknowledged, with the exception of some opposition on the part of the Duke of Infantado, in the name of the grandees of Spain. The deputations from the Council of Castile, from the Inquisition, and from the army, etc., submitted most readily. A few days after, the king formed his ministry, in which all were astonished to find M. de Cevallos, who had accompanied the Prince of the Asturias to Bayonne, and had made such a parade of undying attachment to the person of the one whom he called his unfortunate master; while the Duke of Infantado, who had opposed to the utmost any recognition of the foreign monarch, was appointed Captain of the Guard. The king then left for Madrid, after appointing the Grand Duke of Berg lieutenant-general of the kingdom.
At this time it was learned at Bayonne that M. de Belloy, Archbishop of Paris, had just died of a cold, contracted at the age of more than ninety-eight years. The day after this sad news arrived, the Emperor, who was sincerely grieved, was dilating upon the great and good qualities of this venerable prelate, and said that having one day thoughtlessly remarked to M. de Belloy, then already more than ninety-six years old, that he would live a century, the good old archbishop had exclaimed, smiling, "Why, does your Majesty think that I have no more than four years to live?"
I remember that one of the persons who was present at the Emperor's levee related the following anecdote concerning M. de Belloy, which seemed to excite the Emperor's respect and admiration.
The wife of the hangman of Genoa gave birth to a daughter, who could not be baptized because no one would act as godfather. In vain the father begged and entreated the few persons whom he knew, in vain he even offered money; that was an impossibility. The poor child had consequently remained unbaptized four or five months, though fortunately her health gave no cause for uneasiness. At last some one mentioned this singular condition of affairs to the archbishop, who listened to the story with much interest, inquired why he had not been informed earlier, and having given orders that the child should be instantly brought to him, baptized her in his palace, and was himself her godfather.
At the beginning of July the Grand Duke of Berg returned from Spain, fatigued, ill, and out of humor. He remained there only two or three days, and held each day an interview with his Majesty, who seemed little better satisfied with the grand duke than the grand duke was with him, and left afterwards for the springs of Bareges.
Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress, left the chateau of Marrac the 20th of July, at six o'clock in the evening. This journey of the Emperor was one of those which cost the largest number of snuff-boxes set in diamonds, for his Majesty was not economical with them.
Their Majesties arrived at Pau on the 22d, at ten o'clock in the morning, and alighted at the chateau of Gelos, situated about a quarter of a league from the birthplace of the good Henry IV., on the bank of the river. The day was spent in receptions and horseback excursions, on one of which the Emperor visited the chateau in which the first king of the house of Bourbon was reared, and showed how much this visit interested him, by prolonging it until the dinner-hour.
On the border of the department of the Hautes-Pyrenees, and exactly in the most desolate and miserable part, was erected an arch of triumph, which seemed a miracle fallen from heaven in the midst of those plains uncultivated and burned up by the sun. A guard of honor awaited their Majesties, ranged around this rural monument, at their head an old marshal of the camp, M. de Noe, more than eighty years of age. This worthy old soldier immediately took his place by the side of the carriage, and as cavalry escort remained on horseback for a day and two nights without showing the least fatigue.
As we continued our journey, we saw, on the plateau of a small mountain, a stone pyramid forty or fifty feet high, its four sides covered with inscriptions to the praise of their Majesties. About thirty children dressed as mamelukes seemed to guard this monument, which recalled to the Emperor glorious memories. The moment their Majesties appeared, balladeers, or dancers, of the country emerged from a neighboring wood, dressed in the most picturesque costumes, bearing banners of different colors, and reproducing with remarkable agility and vigor the traditional dance of the mountaineers of the south.
Near the town of Tarbes was a sham mountain planted with firs, which opened to let the cortege pass through, surmounted by an imperial eagle suspended in the air, and holding a banner on which was inscribed— "He will open our Pyrenees."
On his arrival at Tarbes, the Emperor immediately mounted his horse to pay a visit to the Grand Duke of Berg, who was ill in one of the suburbs. We left next day without visiting Bareges and Bagneres, where the most brilliant preparations had been made to receive their Majesties.
As the Emperor passed through Agen, there was presented to him a brave fellow named Printemps, over a hundred years old, who had served under Louis XIV., XV., and XVI., and who, although bending beneath the weight of many years and burdens, finding himself in the presence of the Emperor, gently pushed aside two of his grandsons by whom he had been supported, and exclaimed almost angrily that he could go very well alone. His Majesty, who was much touched, met him half-way, and most kindly bent over the old centenarian, who on his knees, his white head uncovered, and his eyes full of tears, said in trembling tones, "Ah, Sire, I was afraid I should die without seeing you." The Emperor assisted him to rise, and conducted him to a chair, in which he placed him with his own hands, and seated himself beside him on another, which he made signs to hand him. "I am glad to see you, my dear Printemps, very glad. You have heard from me lately?" (His Majesty had given this brave man a pension, which his wife was to inherit after his death.) Printemps put his hand on his heart, "Yes, I have heard from you." The Emperor took pleasure in making him speak of his campaigns, and bade him farewell after a long conversation, handing him at the same time a gift of fifty napoleons.
There was also presented to his Majesty a soldier born at Agen, who had lost his sight in consequence of the campaign in Egypt. The Emperor gave him three hundred francs, and promised him a pension, which was afterwards sent him.
The day after their arrival at Saint-Cloud, the Emperor and Empress went to Paris in order to be present at the fetes of the 15th of August, which it is useless to say were magnificent. As soon as he entered the Tuileries, the Emperor hastened through the chateau to examine the repairs and improvements which had been made during his absence, and, as was his habit, criticised more than he praised all that he saw. Looking out of the hall of the marshals, he demanded of M. de Fleurieu, governor of the palace, why the top of the arch of triumph on the Carrousel was covered with a cloth; and his Majesty was told that it was because all the arrangements had not yet been made for placing his statue in the chariot to which were attached the Corinthian horses, and also because the two Victories who were to guide the four horses were not yet completed. "What!" vehemently exclaimed the Emperor; "but I will not allow that! I said nothing about it! I did not order it!" Then turning to M. Fontaine, he continued, "Monsieur Fontaine, was my statue in the design which was presented to you?"—"No, Sire, it was that of the god Mars."—"Well, why have you put me in the place of the god of war?"— "Sire, it was not I, but M. the director-general of the museum."
"The director-general was wrong," interrupted the Emperor impatiently. "I wish this statue removed; do you hear, Monsieur Fontaine? I wish it taken away; it is most unsuitable. What! shall I erect statues to myself! Let the chariot and the Victories be finished; but let the chariot let the chariot remain empty." The order was executed; and the statue of the Emperor was taken down and placed in the orangery, and is perhaps still there. It was made of gilded lead, was a fine piece of work, and a most excellent likeness.
The Sunday following the Emperor's arrival, his Majesty received at the Tuileries the Persian ambassador, Asker-Khan; M. Jaubert accompanied him, and acted as interpreter. This savant, learned in Oriental matters, had by the Emperor's orders received his excellency on the frontiers of France, in company with M. Outrey, vice-consul of France at Bagdad. Later his excellency had a second audience, which took place in state at the palace of Saint-Cloud.
The ambassador was a very handsome man, tall, with regular features, and a noble and attractive countenance; his manners were polished and elegant, especially towards ladies, with even something of French gallantry. His suite, composed of select personages all magnificently dressed, comprised, on his departure from Erzeroum, more than three hundred persons; but the innumerable difficulties encountered on the journey compelled his excellency to dismiss a large part of his retinue, and, though thus reduced, this suite was notwithstanding one of the most numerous ever brought by an ambassador into France. The ambassador and suite were lodged in the rue de Frejus, in the residence formerly occupied by Mademoiselle de Conti.
The presents which he brought to the Emperor in the name of his sovereign were of great value, comprising more than eighty cashmere shawls of all kinds; a great quantity of fine pearls of various sizes, a few of them very large; an Eastern bridle, the curb adorned with pearls, turquoise, emeralds, etc.; and finally the sword of Tamerlane, and that of Thamas- Kouli-Khan, the former covered with pearls and precious stones, the second very simply mounted, both having Indian blades of fabulous value with arabesques of embossed gold.
I took pleasure at the time in inquiring some particulars about this ambassador. His character was very attractive; and he showed much consideration and regard for every one who visited him, giving the ladies attar of roses, the men tobacco, perfumes, and pipes. He took much pleasure in comparing French jewels with those he had brought from his own country, and even carried his gallantry so far as to propose to the ladies certain exchanges, always greatly to their advantage; and a refusal of these proposals wounded him deeply. When a pretty woman entered his residence he smiled at first, and heard her speak in a kind of silent ecstasy; he then devoted his attention to seating her, placed under her feet cushions and carpets of cashmere (for he had only this material about him). Even his clothing and bed-coverings were of an exceedingly fine quality of cashmere. Asker-Khan did not scruple to wash his face, his beard, and hands in the presence of everybody, seating himself for this operation in front of a slave, who presented to him on his knees a porcelain ewer.
The ambassador had a decided taste for the sciences and arts, and was himself a very learned man. Messieurs Dubois and Loyseau conducted near his residence an institution which he often visited, especially preferring to be present at the classes in experimental physics; and the questions which he propounded by means of his interpreter evinced on his part a very extensive knowledge of the phenomena of electricity. Those who traded in curiosities and objects of art liked him exceedingly, since he bought their wares without much bargaining. However, on one occasion he wished to purchase a telescope, and sent for a famous optician, who seized the opportunity to charge him an enormous price. But Asker-Khan having examined the instrument, with which he was much pleased, said to the optician, "You have given me your long price, now give me your short one."
He admired above all the printed calicoes of the manufactures of Jouy, the texture, designs, and colors of which he thought even superior to cashmere; and bought several robes to send to Persia as models.
On the day of the Emperor's fete, his Excellency gave in the garden of his residence an entertainment in the Eastern style, at which the Persian musicians attached to the embassy executed warlike pieces, astonishing both for vigor and originality. There were also artificial fireworks, conspicuous among which were the arms of the Sufi, on which were represented most ingeniously the cipher of Napoleon.
His Excellency visited the Imperial library, M. Jaubert serving as interpreter; and the ambassador was overcome with admiration on seeing the order in which this immense collection of books was kept. He remained half an hour in the hall of the manuscripts, which he thought very handsome, and recognized several as being copied by writers of much renown in Persia. A copy of the Koran struck him most of all; and he said, while admiring it, that there was not a man in Persia who would not sell his children to acquire such a treasure.
On leaving, the library, Asker-Khan presented his compliments to the librarians, and promised to enrich the collection by several precious manuscripts which he had brought from his own country.
A few days after his presentation, the ambassador went to visit the Museum, and was much impressed by a portrait of his master, the King of Persia; and could not sufficiently express his joy and gratitude when several copies of this picture were presented to him. The historical pictures, especially the battle-scenes, then engrossed his attention completely; and he remained at least a quarter of an hour in front of the one representing the surrender of the city of Vienna.
Having arrived at the end of the gallery of Apollo, Asker-Khan seated himself to rest, asked for a pipe, and indulged in a smoke; and when he had finished, rose, and seeing around him many ladies whom curiosity had attracted, paid them, through M. Jaubert, exceedingly flattering compliments. Then leaving the Museum, his Excellency went to promenade in the garden of the Tuileries, where he was soon followed by an immense crowd. On that day his Excellency bestowed on Prince de Benevento, in the name of his sovereign, the Grand Order of the Sun, a magnificent decoration consisting of a diamond sun attached to a cordon of red cloth covered with pearls.
Asker-Khan made a greater impression at Paris than the Turkish ambassador. He was generous and more gallant, paid his court with more address, and conformed more readily to French customs and manners. The Turk was irascible, austere, and irritable, while the Persian was fond of and well understood a joke. One day, however, he became red with anger, and it must be admitted not without good reason.
At a concert given in the apartments of the Empress Josephine, Asker- Khan, whom the music evidently did not entertain very highly, at first applauded by ecstatic gestures and rolling his eyes in admiration, until at last nature overcame politeness, and the ambassador fell sound asleep. His Excellency's position was not the best for sleeping, however, as he was standing with his back against the wall, with his feet braced against a sofa on which a lady was seated. It occurred to some of the officers of the palace that it would be a good joke to take away suddenly this point of support, which they accomplished with all ease by simply beginning a conversation with the lady on the sofa, who rising suddenly, the seat slipped over the floor; his Excellency's feet followed this movement, and the ambassador, suddenly deprived of the weight which had balanced him, extended his length on the floor. On this rude awakening, he tried to stop himself in his fall by clutching at his neighbors, the furniture, and the curtains, uttering at the same time frightful screams. The officers who had played this cruel joke upon him begged him, with the most ridiculously serious air, to place himself on a stationary chair in order to avoid the recurrence of such an accident; while the lady who had been made the accomplice in this practical joke, with much difficulty stifled her laughter, and his Excellency was consumed with an anger which he could express only in looks and gestures.
Another adventure of Asker-Khan's was long a subject of conversation, and furnished much amusement. Having felt unwell for several days, he thought that French medicine might cure him more quickly than Persian; so he sent for M. Bourdois, a most skillful physician whose name he well knew, having taken care to acquaint himself with all our celebrities of every kind. The ambassador's orders were promptly executed; but by a singular mistake it was not Dr. Bourdois who was requested to visit Asker-Khan, but the president of the Court of Accounts, M. Marbois, who was much astonished at the honor the Persian ambassador did him, not being able to comprehend what connection there could be between them. Nevertheless, he repaired promptly to Asker-Khan, who could scarcely believe that the severe costume of the president of the Court of Accounts was that of a physician. No sooner had M. Marbois entered than the ambassador held out his hand and stuck out his tongue, regarding him very attentively. M. Marbois was a little surprised at this welcome; but thinking it was doubtless the Oriental manner of saluting magistrates, he bowed profoundly, and timidly pressed the hand presented to him, and he was in this respectful position when four of the servants of the ambassador brought a vessel with unequivocal signs. M. Marbois recognized the use of it with a surprise and indignation that could not be expressed, and drew back angrily, inquiring what all this meant. Hearing himself called doctor, "What!" cried he, "M. le Docteur I"— "Why; yes; le Docteur Bourdois!" M. Marbois was enlightened. The similarity between the sound of his name and that of the doctor had exposed him to this disagreeable visit.
The day preceding the Emperor's fete, or the day following, the colossal bronze statue which was to be placed on the monument in the Place Vendome was removed from the studio of M. Launay. The brewers of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine offered their handsomest horses to draw the chariot on which the statue was carried, and twelve were selected, one from each brewer; and as their masters requested the privilege of riding them, nothing could be more singular than this cortege, which arrived on the Place Vendome at five o'clock in the evening, followed by an immense crowd, amid cries of "Vive l'Empereur." A few days before his Majesty's departure for Erfurt, the Emperor with the Empress and their households played prisoner's base for the last time. It was in the evening; and footmen bore lighted torches, and followed the players when they went beyond the reach of the light. The Emperor fell once while trying to catch the Empress, and was taken prisoner; but he soon broke bounds and began to run again, and when he was free, carried off Josephine in spite of the protests of the players; and thus ended the last game of prisoner's base that I ever saw the Emperor play.
It had been decided that the Emperor Alexander and the Emperor Napoleon should meet at Erfurt on the 27th of September; and most of the sovereigns forming the Confederation of the Rhine had been invited to be present at this interview, which it was intended should be both magnificent and imposing. Consequently the Duke of Frioul, grand marshal of the palace, sent M. de Canouville, marshal of lodgings of the palace, M. de Beausset, prefect of the palace, and two quartermasters to prepare at Erfurt lodgings for all these illustrious visitors, and to organize the grand marshal's service.
The government palace was chosen for the Emperor Napoleon's lodgings, as on account of its size it perfectly suited the Emperor's intention of holding his court there; for the Emperor Alexander, the residence of M. Triebel was prepared, the handsomest in the town; and for S. A. L, the Grand Duke Constantine, that of Senator Remann. Other residences were reserved for the Princes of the Confederation and the persons of their suite; and a detachment of all branches of the service of the Imperial household was established in each of these different lodgings.
There had been sent from the storehouse of the crown a large quantity of magnificent furniture, carpets and tapestry, both Gobelin and la Savonnerie; bronzes, lusters, candelabras, girondoles, Sevres china; in fine, everything which could contribute to the luxurious furnishing of the two Imperial palaces, and those which were to be occupied by the other sovereigns; and a crowd of workmen came from Paris. General Oudinot was appointed Governor of Erfurt, and had under his orders the First regiment of hussars, the Sixth of cuirassiers, and the Seventeenth of light infantry, which the major-general had appointed to compose the garrison. Twenty select police, with a battalion chosen from the finest grenadiers of the guard, were put on duty at the Imperial palaces.
The Emperor, who sought by every means to render this interview at Erfurt as agreeable as possible to the sovereigns for whom he had conceived an affection at Tilsit, wished to have the masterpieces of the French stage played in their honor. This was the amusement most worthy of them that he could procure, so he gave orders that the theater should be embellished and repaired. M. Dazincourt was appointed director of the theater, and set out from Paris with Messieurs Talma, Lafon, Saint-Prix, Damas, Despres, Varennes, Lacave; Mesdames Duchesnoir, Raucourt, Talma, Bourgoin, Rose Dupuis, Grosand, and Patrat; and everything was in order before the arrival of the sovereigns.
Napoleon disliked Madame Talma exceedingly, although she displayed most remarkable talent, and this aversion was well known, although I could never discover the cause; and no one was willing to be first to place her name on the list of those selected to go to Erfurt, but M. Talma made so many entreaties that at last consent was given. And then occurred what everybody except M. Talma and his wife had foreseen, that the Emperor, having seen her play once, was much provoked that she had been allowed to come, and had her name struck from the list.
Mademoiselle Bourgoin, who was at that time young and extremely pretty, had at first more success; but it was necessary, in order to accomplish this, that she should conduct herself differently from Madame Talma. As soon as she appeared at the theater of Erfurt she excited the admiration, and became the object of the attentions, of all the illustrious spectators; and this marked preference gave rise to jealousies, which delighted her greatly, and which she increased to the utmost of her ability by every means in her power. When she was not playing, she took her seat in the theater magnificently dressed, whereupon all looks were bent on her, and distracted from the stage, to the very great displeasure of the actors, until the Emperor at last perceived these frequent distractions, and put an end to them by forbidding Mademoiselle Bourgoin to appear in the theater except on the stage.
This measure, which was very wisely taken by his Majesty, put him in the bad graces of Mademoiselle Bourgoin; and another incident added still more to the displeasure of the actress. The two sovereigns attended the theater together almost every evening, and the Emperor Alexander thought Mademoiselle Bourgoin charming. She was aware of this, and tried by every means to increase the monarch's devotion. One day at last the amorous Czar confided to the Emperor his feelings for Mademoiselle Bourgoin. "I do not advise you to make any advances," said the Emperor Napoleon. "You think that she would refuse me?"—"Oh, no; but to-morrow is the day for the post, and in five days all Paris would know all about your Majesty from head to foot." These words singularly cooled the ardor of the autocrat, who thanked the Emperor for his advice, and said to him, "But from the manner in which your Majesty speaks, I should be tempted to believe that you bear this charming actress some ill-will."—"No, in truth," replied the Emperor, "I do not know anything about her." This conversation took place in his bedroom during the toilet. Alexander left his Majesty perfectly convinced, and Mademoiselle Bourgoin ceased her ogling and her assurance.
His Majesty made his entrance into Erfurt on the morning of the 27th of September, 1808. The King of Saxony, who had arrived first, followed by the Count de Marcolini, the Count de Haag, and the Count de Boze, awaited the Emperor at the foot of the stairs in the governor's palace; after them came the members of the Regency and the municipality of Erfurt, who congratulated him in the usual form. After a short rest, the Emperor mounted his horse, and left Erfurt by the gate of Weimar, making, in passing, a visit to the King of Saxony, and found outside the city the whole garrison arranged in line of battle,—the grenadiers of the guard commanded by M. d'Arquies; the First regiment of hussars by M. de Juniac; the Seventeenth infantry by M. de Cabannes-Puymisson; and the Sixth cuirassiers, the finest body of men imaginable, by Colonel d'Haugeranville. The Emperor reviewed these troops, ordered a change in some dispositions, and then continued on his way to meet the Emperor Alexander.
The latter had set out from Saint Petersburg on the 17th of September; and the King and Queen of Prussia awaited him at Koenigsberg, where he arrived on the 18th. The Duke of Montebello had the honor of receiving him at Bromberg amid a salute of twenty-one cannon. Alighting from his carriage, the Emperor Alexander mounted his horse, accompanied by the Marshals of the Empire, Soult, Duke of Dalmatia, and Lannes, Duke of Montebello, and set off at a gallop to meet the Nansouty division, which awaited him arranged in line of battle. He was welcomed by a new salute, and by oft repeated cries of "Long live the Emperor Alexander." The monarch, while reviewing the different corps which formed this fine division, said to the officers, "I think it a great honor, messieurs, to be amongst such brave men and splendid soldiers."
By orders of Marshal Soult, who simply executed those given by Napoleon, relays of the post had been arranged on all the roads which the Monarch of the North would pass over, and they were forbidden to receive any compensation. At each relay were escorts of dragoons or light cavalry, who rendered military honors to the Czar as he passed.
After having dined with the generals of the Nansouty division, the Emperor of Russia re-entered his carriage, a barouche with two seats, and seated the Duke of Montebello beside him, who afterwards told me with how many marks of esteem and kind feeling the Emperor overwhelmed him during the journey, even arranging the marshal's cloak around his shoulders while he was asleep.
His Imperial Russian Majesty arrived at Weimar the evening of the 26th, and next day continued his journey to Erfurt, escorted by Marshal Soult, his staff, and the superior officers of the Nansouty division, who had not left him since he had started from Bromberg, and met Napoleon a league and a half from Erfurt, to which place the latter had come on horseback for this purpose.
The moment the Czar perceived the Emperor, he left his carriage, and advanced towards his Majesty, who had also alighted from his horse. They embraced each other with the affection of two college friends who meet again after a long absence; then both mounted their horses, as did also the Grand Duke Constantine, and passing at a gallop in front of the regiments, all of which presented arms at their approach, entered the town, while the troops, with an immense crowd collected from twenty leagues around, made the air resound with their acclamations. The Emperor of Russia wore on entering Erfurt the grand decoration of the Legion of Honor, and the Emperor of the French that of Saint Andrew of Russia; and the two sovereigns during their stay continued to show each other these marks of mutual deference, and it was also remarked that in his palace the Emperor always gave the right to Alexander. On the evening of his arrival, by his Majesty's invitation, Alexander gave the countersign to the grand marshal, and it was afterwards given alternately by the two sovereigns.
They went first to the palace of Russia, where they remained an hour; and later, when Alexander came to return the visit of the Emperor, he received him at the foot of the staircase, and accompanied him when he left as far as the entrance of the grand hall. At six o'clock the two sovereigns dined at his Majesty's residence, and it was the same each day. At nine o'clock the Emperor escorted the Emperor of Russia to his palace; and they then held a private conversation, which continued more than an hour, and in the evening the whole city was illuminated. The day after his arrival the Emperor received at his levee the officers of the Czar's household, and granted them the grand entry during the rest of their Stay.
The two sovereigns gave to each other proofs of the most sincere friendship and most confidential intimacy. The Emperor Alexander almost every morning entered his Majesty's bedroom, and conversed freely with him. One day he was examining the Emperor's dressing-case in silver gilt, which cost six thousand francs, and was most conveniently arranged and beautifully carved by the goldsmith Biennais, and admired it exceedingly. As soon as he had gone, the Emperor ordered me to have a dressing-case sent to the Czar's palace exactly similar to that which had just been received from Paris.
Another time the Emperor Alexander remarked on the elegance and durability of his Majesty's iron bedstead; and the very next day by his Majesty's orders, conveyed by me, an exactly similar bed was set up in the room of the Emperor of Russia, who was delighted with these polite attentions, and two days after, as an evidence of his satisfaction, ordered M. de Remusat to hand me two handsome diamond rings.
The Czar one day made his toilet in the Emperor's room, and I assisted. I took from the Emperor's linen a white cravat and cambric handkerchief, which I handed him, and for which he thanked me most graciously; he was an exceedingly gentle, good, amiable prince, and extremely polite.
There was an exchange of presents between these illustrious sovereigns. Alexander made the Emperor a present of three superb pelisses of martin- sable, one of which the Emperor gave to his sister Pauline, another to the Princess de Ponte-Corvo; and the third he had lined with green velvet and ornamented with gold lace, and it was this cloak which he constantly wore in Russia. The history of the one which I carried from him to the Princess Pauline is singular enough to be related here, although it may have been already told.
The Princess Pauline showed much pleasure in receiving the Emperor's present, and enjoyed displaying her cloak for the admiration of the household. One day, when she was in the midst of a circle of ladies, to whom she was dilating on the quality and excellence of this fur, M. de Canouville arrived, and the princess asked his opinion of the present she had received from the Emperor. The handsome colonel not appearing as much struck with admiration as she expected, she was somewhat piqued, and exclaimed, "What, monsieur, you do not think it exquisite?"— "No, madame."—"In order to punish you I wish you to keep this cloak; I give it to you, and require you to wear it; I wish it, you understand." It is probable that there had been some disagreement between her Imperial highness and her protege, and the princess had seized the first means of establishing peace; but however that may be, M. de Canouville needed little entreaty, and the rich fur was carried to his house. A few days after, while the Emperor was holding a review on the Place du Carrousel, M, de Canouville appeared on an unruly horse, which he had great difficulty in controlling. This caused some confusion, and attracted his Majesty's attention, who, glancing at M. de Canouville, saw the cloak which he had given his sister metamorphosed into a hussar's cape. The Emperor had great difficulty in controlling his anger. "M. de Canouville," he cried, in a voice of thunder, "your horse is young, and his blood is too warm; you will go and cool it in Russia." Three days after M. de Canouville had left Paris.
The Emperor Alexander never tired of showing his regard for actors by presents and compliments; and as for actresses, I have told before how far he would have gone with one of them if Napoleon had not deterred. him. Each day the Grand Duke Constantine got up parties of pleasure with Murat and other distinguished persons, at which no expense was spared, and some of these ladies did the honors. And what furs and diamonds they carried away from Erfurt! The two Emperors were not ignorant of all this, and were much amused thereby; and it was the favorite subject of conversation in the morning. Constantine had conceived an especial affection for King Jerome; the king even carried his affection so far as to 'tutoy' him, and wished him to do the same. "Is it because I am a king," he said one day, "that you are afraid to say thou to me? Come, now, is there any need of formality between friends?" They performed all sorts of college pranks together, even running through the streets at night, knocking and ringing at every door, much delighted when they had waked up some honest bourgeois. As the Emperor was leaving, King Jerome said to the grand duke: "Come, tell me what you wish me to send you from Paris."—"Nothing whatever," replied the grand duke; "your brother has presented me with a magnificent sword; I am satisfied, and desire nothing more."—"But I wish to send you something, so tell me what would give you pleasure."—"Well, send me six demoiselles from the Palais Royal."
The play at Erfurt usually began at seven o'clock; but the two Emperors, who always came together, never arrived till half-past seven. At their entrance, all the pit of kings rose to do them honor, and the first piece immediately commenced.
At the representation of Cinna, the Emperor feared that the Czar, who was placed by his side in a box facing the stage, and on the first tier, might not hear very well, as he was somewhat deaf; and consequently gave orders to M. de Remusat, first chamberlain, that a platform should be raised on the floor of the orchestra, and armchairs placed there for Alexander and himself; and on the right and left four handsomely decorated chairs for the King of Saxony and the other sovereigns of the Confederation, while the princes took possession of the box abandoned by their Majesties. By this arrangement the two Emperors found themselves in such a conspicuous position that it was impossible for them to make a movement without being seen by every one. On the 3d of October AEdipus was presented. "All the sovereigns," as the Emperor called them, were present at this representation; and just as the actor pronounced these words in the first scene:
"The friendship of a great man is a gift from the gods:"
the Czar arose, and held out his hand with much grace to the Emperor; and immediately acclamations, which the presence of the sovereigns could not restrain, burst forth from every part of the hall.
On the evening of this same day I prepared the Emperor for bed as usual. All the doors which opened into his sleeping-room were carefully closed, as well as the shutters and windows; and there was consequently no means of entering his Majesty's room except through the chamber in which I slept with Roustan, and a sentinel was also stationed at the foot of the staircase. Every night I slept very calmly, knowing that it was impossible any one could reach Napoleon without waking me; but that night, about two o'clock, while I was sleeping soundly, a strange noise woke me with a start. I rubbed my eyes, and listened with the greatest attention, and, hearing nothing whatever, thought this noise the illusion of a dream, and was just dropping to sleep again, when my ear was struck by low, smothered screams, such as a man might utter who was being strangled. I heard them repeated twice, and in an instant was sitting up straight in bed, my hair on end, and my limbs covered with a cold sweat. Suddenly it occurred to me that the Emperor was being assassinated, and I sprang out of bed and woke Roustan; and as the cries now recommenced with added intensity, I opened the door as cautiously as my agitation allowed, and entered the sleeping-room, and with a hasty glance assured myself that no one could have entered. On advancing towards the bed, I perceived his Majesty extended across it, in a position denoting great agony, the drapery and bed-covering thrown off, and his whole body in a frightful condition of nervous contraction. From his open mouth escaped inarticulate sounds, his breathing appeared greatly oppressed, and one of his hands, tightly clinched, lay on the pit of his stomach. I was terrified at the sight, and called him. He did not reply; again, once, twice even, still no reply. At last I concluded to shake him gently; and at this the Emperor awoke with a loud cry, saying, "What is it? What is it?" then sat up and opened his eyes wide; upon which I told him that, seeing him tormented with a horrible nightmare, I had taken the liberty of waking him. "And you did well, my dear Constant," interrupted his Majesty. "Ah, my friend, I have had a frightful dream; a bear was tearing open my breast, and devouring my heart!" Thereupon the Emperor rose, and, while I put his bed in order, walked about the room. He was obliged to change his shirt, which was wet with perspiration, and at length again retired.
The next day, when he woke, he told me that it was long before he could fall to sleep again, so vivid and terrible was the impression made on him. He long retained the memory of this dream, and often spoke of it, each time trying to draw from it different conclusions, according to circumstances.
As to myself, I avow I was struck with the coincidence of the compliment of Alexander at the theater and this frightful nightmare, especially as the Emperor was not subject to disturbances of this kind. I do not know whether his Majesty related his dream to the Emperor of Russia.
On the 6th of October their Majesties attended a hunting-party which the Grand Duke of Weimar prepared for them in the forest of Ettersbourg. The Emperor set out from Erfurt at noon, with the Emperor of Russia in the same coach. They arrived in the forest at one o'clock, and found prepared for them a hunting-pavilion, which had been erected expressly for this occasion, and was very handsomely decorated. This pavilion was divided into three parts, separated by open columns; that in the middle, raised higher than the others, formed a pretty room, arranged and furnished for the two Emperors. Around the pavilion were placed numerous orchestras, which played inspiriting airs, with which were mingled the acclamations of an immense crowd, who had been attracted by a desire to see the Emperor.
The two sovereigns were received on their descent from their carriage by the Grand Duke of Weimar and his son, the hereditary prince, Charles Frederic; while the King of Bavaria, King of Saxony, King of Wurtemberg, Prince William of Prussia, the Princes of Mecklenburg, the Prince Primate, and the Duke of Oldenburg awaited them at the entrance to the saloon.
The Emperor had in his suite the Prince of Neuchatel; the Prince of
Benevento; the grand marshal of the palace, Duke de Frioul; General
Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza; the Duke of Rovigo; General Lauriston, his
Majesty's aide-de-camp; General Nansouty, first equerry; the chamberlain,
Eugene de Montesquiou; the Count de Beausset, prefect of the palace; and
The Emperor of Russia was accompanied by the Grand Duke Constantine; the
Count Tolstoi, grand marshal; and Count Oggeroski, aide-de-camp to his
The hunt lasted nearly two hours, during which time about sixty stags and roebucks were killed. The space in which these poor animals had to run was inclosed by netting, in order that the monarchs might shoot them at pleasure, without disturbing themselves while seated in the windows of the pavilion. I have never seen anything more absurd than hunts of this sort, which, nevertheless, give those who engage in them a reputation as fine shots. What skill is there in killing an animal which the gamekeepers, so to speak, take by the ears and place in front of your gun.
The Emperor of Russia was near-sighted, and this infirmity had deterred him from an amusement which he would have enjoyed very much; but that day, however, he wished to make the attempt, and, having expressed this. wish, the Duke of Montebello handed him a gun, and M. de Beauterne had the honor of giving the Emperor his first lesson. A stag was driven so as to pass within about eight steps of Alexander, who brought him down at the first shot.
After the hunt their Majesties repaired to the palace of Weimar; and the reigning duchess received them, as they alighted from their carriages, accompanied by her whole court. The Emperor saluted the duchess affectionately, remembering that he had seen her two years before under very different circumstances, which I mentioned in its place.
The Duke of Weimar had requested from the grand marshal French cooks to prepare the Emperor's dinner, but the Emperor preferred being served in the German style.
Their Majesties invited to dine with them the Duke and Duchess of Weimar, the Queen of Westphalia, the King of Wurtemberg, the King of Saxony, the Grand Duke Constantine, Prince William of Prussia, the Prince Primate, the Prince of Neuchatel, Prince Talleyrand, the Duke of Oldenburg, the hereditary Prince of Weimar, and the Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
After this dinner there was a play, followed by a ball, the play being at the town theater, where the ordinary comedians of his Majesty presented the death of Caesar; and the ball, at the ducal palace. The Emperor Alexander opened the ball with the Queen of Westphalia, to the great astonishment of every one; for it was well known that this monarch had never danced since his accession to the throne, conduct which the older men of the court thought very praiseworthy, holding the opinion that a sovereign occupies too high a place to share in the tastes and take pleasure in amusements common to the rest of mankind. Except this, however, there was nothing in the ball of Weimar to scandalize them, as they did not dance, but promenaded in couples, whilst the orchestra played marches.
The morning of the next day their Majesties entered carriages to visit Mount Napoleon, near Jena, where a splendid breakfast was prepared for them under a tent which the Duke of Weimar had erected on the identical spot where the Emperor's bivouac stood on the day of the battle of Jena. After breakfast the two Emperors ascended a temporary pavilion which had been erected on Mount Napoleon; this pavilion, which was very large, had been decorated with plans of the battle. A deputation from the town and university of Jena arrived, and were received by their Majesties; and the Emperor inquired of the deputies the most minute particulars relating to their town, its resources, and the manners and character of its inhabitants; questioned them on the approximate damages which the military hospital, which had been so long left with them, had caused the inhabitants of Jena; inquired the names of those who had suffered most from fire and war, and gave orders that a gratuity should be distributed among them, and the small proprietors entirely indemnified. His Majesty informed himself with much interest of the condition of the Catholic worship, and promised to endow the vicarage in perpetuity, granting three hundred thousand francs for immediate necessities, and promising to give still more.
After having visited, on horseback, the positions which the two armies had held the evening before, and on the day of, the battle of Jena, as well as the plain of Aspolda, on which the duke had prepared a hunt with guns, the two Emperors returned to Erfurt, which they reached at five o'clock in the evening, almost at the very moment the grand hereditary duke of Baden and the Princess Stephanie arrived.
During the entire visit of the sovereigns to the battlefield, the Emperor most graciously made explanations to the young Czar, to which he listened with the greatest interest. His Majesty seemed to take pleasure in explaining at length, first, the plan which he had formed and carried out at Jena, and afterwards the various plans of his other campaigns, the maneuvers which he had executed, his usual tactics, and, in fine, his whole ideas on the art of war. The Emperor thus, for several hours, carried on the whole conversation alone; and his royal audience paid him as much attention as scholars, eager to learn, pay to the instructions of their teacher.
When his Majesty returned to his apartment, I heard Marshal Berthier say to him, "Sire, are you not afraid that the sovereigns may some day use to advantage against you all that you have just taught them? Your Majesty just now seemed to forget what you formerly told us, that it is necessary to act with our allies as if they were afterwards to be our enemies."— "Berthier," replied the Emperor, smiling, "that is a good observation on your part, and I thank you for it; I really believe I have made you think I was an idiot. You think, then," continued his Majesty, pinching sharply one of the Prince de Neuchatel's ears, "that I committed the indiscretion of giving them whips with which to return and flog us? Calm yourself, I did not tell them all."
The Emperor's table at Erfurt was in the form of a half-moon; and at the upper end, and consequently at the rounded part, of this table their Majesties were seated, and on the right and left the sovereigns of the Confederation according to their rank. The side facing their Majesties was always empty; and there stood M. de Beausset, the prefect of the palace, who relates in his Memoirs that one day he overheard the following conversation:
"On that day the subject of conversation was the Golden Bull, which, until the establishment of the Confederation of the Rhine, had served as a constitution, and had regulated the law for the election of emperors, the number and rank of the electors, etc. The Prince Primate entered into some details regarding this Golden Bull, which he said was made in 1409; whereupon the Emperor Napoleon pointed out to him that the date which was assigned to the Golden Bull was not correct, and that it was proclaimed in 1336, during the reign of the Emperor Charles IV. 'That is true, Sire,' replied the Prince Primate I was mistaken; but how does it happen that your Majesty is so well acquainted with these matters?'—'When I was a mere sub- lieutenant in the artillery, said Napoleon,—at this beginning, there was on the part of the guests a marked movement of interest, and he continued, smiling,—when I had the honor to be simply sub- lieutenant in the artillery I remained three years in the garrison at Valence, and, as I cared little for society, led a very retired life. By fortunate chance I had lodgings with a kind and intelligent bookseller. I read and re-read his library during the three years I remained in the garrison and have forgotten nothing, even matters which have had no connection with my position. Nature, besides, has given me a good memory for figures, and it often happens with my ministers that I can give them details and the sum total of accounts they presented long since.'"
A few days before his departure from Erfurt, the Emperor bestowed the cross of the Legion of Honor on M. de Bigi, commandant of arms at this place; M. Vegel, burgomaster of Jena; Messrs. Weiland and Goethe; M. Starlk, senior physician at Jena. He gave to General Count Tolstoi, ambassador from Russia, who had been recalled from this post by his sovereign to take a command in the army, the grand decoration of the Legion of Honor; to M. the dean Meimung, who had said mass twice at the palace, a ring of brilliants, with the cipher N surmounted by a crown; and a hundred napoleons to the two priests who had assisted him; finally, to the grand marshal of the palace, Count Tolstoi, the beautiful Gobelin tapestry, Savonnerie carpets, and Sevres porcelain, which had been brought from Paris to furnish the palace of Erfurt. The minister's grand officers, and officers of Alexander's suite, received from his Majesty magnificent presents; and the Emperor Alexander did likewise in regard to the persons attached to his Majesty. He gave the Duke of Vicenza the grand cordon of Saint Andrew, and a badge of the same order set in diamonds to the Princes of Benevento and Neuchatel.
Charmed by the talent of the French comedians, especially that of Talma, the Emperor Alexander sent very handsome presents to her as well as all her companions; he sent compliments to the actresses, and to the director, M. Dazincourt, whom he did not forget in his distribution of gifts.
This interview at Erfurt, which was so brilliant with illuminations, splendor, and luxury, ended on the 14th of October; and all the great personages whom it had attracted left between the 8th and the 14th of October.
The day of his departure the Emperor gave an audience, after his toilet, to Baron Vincent, envoy extraordinary of Austria, and sent by him a letter to his sovereign. At eleven o'clock the Emperor of Russia came to his Majesty, who received him, and reconducted him to his residence with great ceremony; and soon after his Majesty repaired to the Russian palace, followed by his whole suite. After mutual compliments they entered the carriage together, and did not part till they reached the spot on the road from Weimar where they had met on their arrival. There they embraced each other affectionately and separated; and the 18th of October, at half-past nine in the evening, the Emperor was at Saint- Cloud, having made the whole trip incognito.