The Emperor had detained me more than an hour. On leaving the audience-chamber I passed through the outer salon, where a number of individuals were waiting; and I perceived that an observance of etiquette was fast gaining ground, though the Emperor had not yet adopted the admirable institution of Court Chamberlains.
I cannot deny that I was much gratified with my reception; besides I was beginning to be weary of an inactive life, and was anxious to obtain a place, of which I stood in great need, from the losses I had sustained and the unjust resumption which Bonaparte had made of his gifts. Being desirous to speak of Napoleon with the strictest impartiality, I prefer drawing my conclusions from those actions in which I had no personal concern. I shall therefore only relate here, even before giving an account of my visit to the Empress on leaving the audience-chamber, the former conduct of Napoleon towards myself and Madame de Bourrienne, which will justify the momentary alarm with which I was seized when summoned to the Tuileries, and the satisfaction I felt at my reception. I had a proof of what Rapp said of the Emperor being in good-humour, and was flattered by the confidential manner in which he spoke to me concerning some of the great political secrets of his Government. On seeing me come out Rapp observed, "You have had a long audience."—"Yes, not amiss;" and this circumstance procured for me a courtly salutation from all persons waiting in the antechamber.'
I shall now relate how I spent the two preceding years. The month after I tendered my resignation to the First Consul, and which he refused to accept, the house at St. Cloud belonging to Madame Deville was offered to me; it was that in which the Due d'Angouleme and the Due de Berri were inoculated. I visited this mansion, thinking it might be suitable for my family; but, notwithstanding the beauty of its situation, it seemed far too splendid either for my taste or my fortune. Except the outer walls, it was in a very dilapidated state, and would require numerous and expensive repairs. Josephine, being informed that Madame de Bourrienne had set her face against the purchase, expressed a wish to see the mansion, and accompanied us for that purpose. She was so much delighted with it that she blamed my wife for starting any objections to my becoming, its possessor. "With regard to the expense," Josephine replied to her, "ah, we shall arrange that." On our return to Malmaison she spoke of it in such high terms that Bonaparte said to me, "Why don't you purchase it, Bourrienne, since the price is so reasonable?"
The house was accordingly purchased. An outlay of 20,000 francs was immediately required to render it habitable. Furniture was also necessary for this large mansion, and orders for it were accordingly given. But no sooner were repairs begun than everything crumbled to pieces, which rendered many additional expenses necessary.
About this period Bonaparte hurried forward the works at St. Cloud, to which place he immediately removed. My services being constantly required, I found it so fatiguing to go twice or thrice a day from Ruel to St. Cloud that I took possession of my new mansion, though it was still filled with workmen. Scarcely eight days had elapsed from this period when Bonaparte intimated that he no longer had occasion for my services. When my wife went to take leave Napoleon spoke to her in a flattering manner of my good qualities, my merit, and the utility of my labours, saying that he was himself the most unfortunate of the three, and that my loss could never be replaced. He then added, "I shall be absent for a month, but Bourrienne may be quite easy; let him remain in retirement, and on my return I shall reward his services, should I even create a place on purpose for him."
Madame de Bourrienne then requested leave to retain the apartments appropriated to her in the Tuileries till after her accouchement, which was not far distant, to which he replied, "You may keep them as long as you please; for it will be some time before I again reside in Paris."
Bonaparte set out on his journey, and shortly afterwards I went with my family to visit Madame de Coubertin, my cousin-german, who received us with her usual kindness. We passed the time of the First Consul's absence at her country seat, and only returned to St. Cloud on the day Bonaparte was expected.
Scarcely a quarter of an hour had elapsed after his arrival when I received an intimation to give up, in twenty-four hours, the apartments in the Tuileries, which he had promised my wife should retain till after her confinement. He reclaimed at the same time the furniture of Ruel, which he presented to me two years before, when I purchased that small house on purpose to be near him.
I addressed several memorials to him on this subject, stating that I had replaced the worn-out furniture with new and superior articles; but this he wholly disregarded, compelling me to give up everything, even to the greatest trifle. It may be right to say that on his return the Emperor found his table covered with information respecting my conduct in Paris, though I had not held the smallest communication with any one in the capital, nor once entered it during his absence.
After my departure for Hamburg, Bonaparte took possession of my stables and coach-house, which he filled with horses. Even the very avenues and walks were converted into stabling. A handsome house at the entrance to the park was also appropriated to similar purposes; in fact, he spared nothing. Everything was done in the true military style; I neither had previous intimation of the proceedings nor received any remuneration for my loss. The Emperor seemed to regard the property as his own; but though he all but ordered me to make the purchase, he did not furnish the money that was paid for it. In this way it was occupied for more than four years.
The recollection of those arbitrary and vexatious proceedings on the part of Bonaparte has led me farther than I intended. I shall therefore return to the imperial residence of St. Cloud. On leaving the audience-chamber, as already stated, I repaired to the apartments of the Empress, who, knowing that I was in the Palace, had intimated her wishes for my attendance. No command could have been more agreeable to me, for every one was certain of a gracious reception from Josephine. I do not recollect which of the ladies in waiting was in attendance when my name was announced; but she immediately retired, and left me alone with Josephine. Her recent elevation had not changed the usual amenity of her disposition. After some conversation respecting the change in her situation, I gave her an account of what had passed between the Emperor and myself.
I faithfully related all that he had said of Moreau, observing that at one moment I imagined he was about to speak of the Due d'Enghien, when he suddenly reverted to what he had been saying, and never made the slightest allusion to the subject.
Madame Bonaparte replied to me, "Napoleon has spoken the truth respecting Moreau. He was grossly deceived by those who believed they could best pay their court to him by calumniating that general. His silence on the subject of the Due d'Enghien does not surprise me; he says as little respecting it as possible, and always in a vague manner, and with manifest repugnance. When you see Bonaparte again be silent on the subject, and should chance bring it forward, avoid every expression in the smallest degree indicative of reproach; he would not suffer it; you would ruin yourself for ever in his estimation, and the evil is, alas! without remedy. When you came to Malmaison I told you that I had vainly endeavoured to turn him from his fatal purpose, and how he had treated me. Since then he has experienced but little internal satisfaction; it is only in the presence of his courtiers that he affects a calm and tranquil deportment; but I perceive his sufferings are the greater from thus endeavouring to conceal them. By the by, I forgot to mention that he knew of the visit you paid me on the day after the catastrophe. I dreaded that your enemies, the greater number of whom are also mine, might have misrepresented that interview; but, fortunately, he paid little attention to it. He merely said, 'So you have seen Bourrienne? Does he sulk at me? Nevertheless I must do something for him.' He has again spoken in the same strain, and repeated nearly the same expressions three days ago; and since he has commanded your presence to-day, I have not a doubt but he has something in view for your advantage."—"May I presume to inquire what it is?"—"I do not yet know; but I would recommend to you, in the meantime, to be more strictly on your guard than ever; he is so suspicious, and so well informed of all that is done or said respecting himself. I have suffered so much since I last saw you; never can I forget the unkind manner in which he rejected my entreaties! For several days I laboured under a depression of spirits which greatly irritated him, because he clearly saw whence it proceeded. I am not dazzled by the title of Empress; I dread some evil will result from this step to him, to my children, and to myself. The miscreants ought to be satisfied; see to what they have driven us! This death embitters every moment of my life. I need not say to you, Bourrienne, that I speak this in confidence."—"You cannot doubt my prudence."—"No, certainly not, Bourrienne. I do not doubt it. My confidence in you is unbounded. Rest assured that I shall never forget what you have done for me, under various circumstances, and the devotedness you evinced to me on your return from Egypt.—Adieu, my friend. Let me see you soon again."
It was on the 14th of June 1804 that I had this audience of the Emperor, and afterwards attended the Empress.
On my return home I spent three hours in making notes of all that was said to me by these two personages; and the substance of these notes I have now given to the reader.
Curious disclosures of Fouche—Remarkable words of Bonaparte respecting the protest of Louis XVIII—Secret document inserted in the Moniteur—Announcement from Bonaparte to Regnier—Fouche appointed Minister of Police—Error of Regnier respecting the conspiracy of Georges—Undeserved praise bestowed on Fouche— Indication of the return of the Bourbons—Variation between the words and conduct of Bonaparte—The iron crown—Celebration of the 14th of July—Church festivals and loss of time—Grand ceremonial at the Invalides—Recollections of the 18th Brumaire—New oath of the Legion of Honour—General enthusiasm—Departure for Boulogne—Visits to Josephine at St. Cloud and Malmaison—Josephine and Madame de Remusat—Pardons granted by the Emperor—Anniversary of the 14th of July—Departure for the camp of Boulogne—General error respecting Napoleon's designs—Caesar's Tower—Distribution of the crosses of the Legion of Honour—The military throne—Bonaparte's charlatanism —Intrepidity of two English sailors—The decennial prizes and the Polytechnic School—Meeting of the Emperor and Empress—First negotiation with the Holy Sea—The Prefect of Arras and Comte Louis de Narbonne—Change in the French Ministry.
Louis XVIII., being at Warsaw when he was informed of the elevation of Napoleon to the Imperial dignity, addressed to the sovereigns of Europe a protest against that usurpation of his throne. Fouche, being the first who heard of this protest, immediately communicated the circumstance to the Emperor, observing that doubtless the copies would be multiplied and distributed amongst the enemies of his Government, in the Faubourg St. Germain, which might produce the worst effects, and that he therefore deemed it his duty to inform him that orders might be given to Regnier and Real to keep a strict watch over those engaged in distributing this document.
"You may judge of my surprise," added Fouche, "you who know so well that formerly the very mention of the Bourbons rendered Bonaparte furious, when, after perusing the protest, he returned it to me, saying, 'Ah, ah, so the Comte de Lille makes his protest! Well, well, all in good time. I hold my right by the voice of the French nation, and while I wear a sword I will maintain it! The Bourbons ought to know that I do not fear them; let them, therefore, leave me in tranquillity. Did you say that the fools of the Faubourg St. Germain would multiply the copies of this protest of Comte de Lille? well, they shall read it at their ease. Send it to the Moniteur, Fouche; and let it be inserted to-morrow morning.'" This passed on the 30th of June, and the next day the protest of Louis XVIII. did actually appear in that paper.
Fouche was wholly indifferent respecting the circulation of this protest; he merely wished to show the Emperor that he was better informed of passing events than Regnier, and to afford Napoleon another proof of the inexperience and inability of the Grand Judge in police; and Fouche was not long in receiving the reward which he expected from this step. In fact, ten days after the publication of the protest, the Emperor announced to Regnier the re-establishment of the Ministry of General Police.
The formula, I Pray God to have you in His holy keeping, with which the letter to Regnier closed, was another step of Napoleon in the knowledge of ancient usages, with which he was not sufficiently familiar when he wrote Cambaceres on the day succeeding his elevation to the Imperial throne; at the same time it must be confessed that this formula assorted awkwardly with the month of "Messidor," and the "twelfth year of the Republic!"
The errors which Regnier had committed in the affair of Georges were the cause which determined Bonaparte to re-establish the Ministry of Police, and to bestow it on a man who had created a belief in the necessity of that measure, by a monstrous accumulation of plots and intrigues. I am also certain that the Emperor was swayed by the probability of a war breaking out, which would force him to leave France; and that he considered Fouche as the most proper person to maintain the public tranquillity during his absence, and detect any cabala that might be formed in favour of the Bourbons.
At this period, when Bonaparte had given the finishing blow to the Republic, which had only been a shadow since the 19th Brumaire, it was not difficult to foresee that the Bourbons would one day remount the throne of their ancestors; and this presentiment was not, perhaps, without its influence in rendering the majority greater in favour of the foundation of the Empire than for the establishment of a Consulate for life. The reestablishment of the throne was a most important step in favour of the Bourbons, for that was the thing most difficult to be done. But Bonaparte undertook the task; and, as if by the aid of a magic rod, the ancient order of things was restored in the twinkling of an eye. The distinctions of rank—orders—titles, the noblesse—decorations—all the baubles of vanity—in short, all the burlesque tattooing which the vulgar regard as an indispensable attribute of royalty, reappeared in an instant. The question no longer regarded the form of government, but the individual who should be placed at its head. By restoring the ancient order of things, the Republicans had themselves decided the question, and it could no longer be doubted that when an occasion presented itself the majority of the nation would prefer the ancient royal family, to whom France owed her civilisation, her greatness, and her power, and who had exalted her to such a high degree of glory and prosperity.
It was not one of the least singular traits in Napoleon's character that during the first year of his reign he retained the fete of the 14th of July. It was not indeed strictly a Republican fate, but it recalled the recollection of two great popular triumphs,—the taking of the Bastille and the first Federation. This year the 14th of July fell on a Saturday, and the Emperor ordered its celebration to be delayed till the following day, because it was Sunday; which was in conformity with the sentiments he delivered respecting the Concordat. "What renders me," he said, "most hostile to the re-establishment of the Catholic worship is the number of festivals formerly observed. A saint's day is a day of indolence, and I wish not for that; the people must labour in order to live. I consent to four holidays in the year, but no more; if the gentlemen from Rome are not satisfied with this, they may take their departure."
The loss of time seemed to him so great a calamity that he seldom failed to order an indispensable solemnity to be held on the succeeding holiday. Thus he postponed the Corpus Christi to the following Sunday.
On Sunday, the 15th of July 1804, the Emperor appeared for the first time before the Parisians surrounded by all the pomp of royalty. The members of the Legion of Honour, then in Paris, took the oath prescribed by the new Constitution, and on this occasion the Emperor and Empress appeared attended for the first time by a separate and numerous retinue.
The carriages in the train of the Empress crossed the garden of the Tuileries, hitherto exclusively appropriated to the public; then followed the cavalcade of the Emperor, who appeared on horseback, surrounded by his principal generals, whom he had created Marshals of the Empire. M. de Segur, who held the office of Grand Master of Ceremonies, had the direction of the ceremonial to be observed on this occasion, and with, the Governor received the Emperor on the threshold of the Hotel des Invalides. They conducted the Empress to a tribune prepared for her reception, opposite the Imperial throne which Napoleon alone occupied, to the right of the altar. I was present at this ceremony, notwithstanding the repugnance I have to such brilliant exhibitions; but as Duroc had two days before presented me with tickets, I deemed it prudent to attend on the occasion, lest the keen eye of Bonaparte should have remarked my absence if Duroc had acted by his order.
I spent about an hour contemplating the proud and sometimes almost ludicrous demeanour of the new grandees of the Empire; I marked the manoeuvring of the clergy, who, with Cardinal Belloy at their head, proceeded to receive the Emperor on his entrance into the church. What a singular train of ideas was called up to my mind when I beheld my former comrade at the school of Brienne seated upon an elevated throne, surrounded by his brilliant staff, the great dignitaries of his Empire—his Ministers and Marshals! I involuntarily recurred to the 19th Brumaire, and all this splendid scene vanished; when I thought of Bonaparte stammering to such a degree that I was obliged to pull the skirt of his coat to induce him to withdraw.
It was neither a feeling of animosity nor of jealousy which called up such reflections; at no period of our career would I have exchanged my situation for his; but whoever can reflect, whoever has witnessed the unexpected elevation of a former equal, may perhaps be able to conceive the strange thoughts that assailed my mind, for the first time, on this occasion.
When the religious part of the ceremony terminated, the church assumed, in some measure, the appearance of a profane temple. The congregation displayed more devotion to the Emperor than towards the God of the Christians,—more enthusiasm than fervour. The mass had been heard with little attention; but when M. de Lacepede, Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour, after pronouncing a flattering discourse, finished the call of the Grand Officers of the Legion, Bonaparte covered, as did the ancient kings of France when they held a bed of justice. A profound silence, a sort of religious awe, then reigned throughout the assembly, and Napoleon, who did not now stammer as in the Council of the Five Hundred, said in a firm voice:
"Commanders, officers, legionaries, citizens, soldiers; swear upon your honour to devote yourselves to the service of the Empire—to the preservation of the integrity of the French territory—to the defence of the Emperor, of the laws of the Republic, and of the property which they have made sacred—to combat by all the means which justice, reason, and the laws authorise every attempt to reestablish the feudal system; in short, swear to concur with all your might in maintaining liberty and equality, which are the bases of all our institutions. Do you swear?"
Each member of the Legion of Honour exclaimed, "I swear;" adding, "Vive l'Empereur!" with an enthusiasm it is impossible to describe, and in which all present joined.
What, after all, was this new oath? It only differed from that taken by the Legion of Honour, under the Consulate, in putting the defence of the Emperor before that of the laws of the Republic; and this was not merely a form. It was, besides, sufficiently laughable and somewhat audacious, to make them swear to support equality at the moment so many titles and monarchical distinctions had been re-established.
On the 18th of July, three days after this ceremony, the Emperor left Paris to visit the camp at Boulogne. He was not accompanied by the Empress on this journey, which was merely to examine the progress of the military operations. Availing myself of the invitation Josephine had given me, I presented myself at St. Cloud a few days after the departure of Napoleon; as she did not expect my visit, I found her surrounded by four or five of the ladies in waiting, occupied in examining some of the elegant productions of the famous Leroi and Madame Despeaux; for amidst the host of painful feelings experienced by Josephine she was too much of a woman not to devote some attention to the toilet.
On my introduction they were discussing the serious question of the costume to be worn by the Empress on her journey to Belgium to meet Napoleon at the Palace of Lacken, near Brussels. Notwithstanding those discussions respecting the form of hats, the colour and shape of dresses, etc., Josephine received me in her usual gracious manner. But not being able to converse with me, she said, without giving it an appearance of invitation but in a manner sufficiently evident to be understood, that she intended to pass the following morning at Malmaison.
I shortened my visit, and at noon next day repaired to that delightful abode, which always created in my mind deep emotion. Not an alley, not a grove but teemed with interesting recollections; all recalled to me the period when I was the confidant of Bonaparte. But the time was past when he minutely calculated how much a residence at Malmaison would cost, and concluded by saying that an income of 30,000 livres would be necessary.
When I arrived Madame Bonaparte was in the garden with Madame de Remusat, who was her favourite from the similarity of disposition which existed between them.
Madame de Remusat was the daughter of the Minister Vergennes, and sister to Madame de Nansouty, whom I had sometimes seen with Josephine, but not so frequently as her elder sister. I found the ladies in the avenue which leads to Ruel, and saluted Josephine by inquiring respecting the health of Her Majesty. Never can I forget the tone in which she replied: "Ah! Bourrienne, I entreat that you will suffer me, at least here, to forget that I am an Empress." As she had not a thought concealed from Madame de Remusat except some domestic vexations, of which probably I was the only confidant, we conversed with the same freedom as if alone, and it is easy to define that the subject of our discourse regarded Bonaparte.
After having spoken of her intended journey to Belgium, Josephine said tome, "What a pity, Bourrienne, that the past cannot be recalled! He departed in the happiest disposition: he has bestowed some pardons and I am satisfied that but for those accursed politics he would have pardoned a far greater number. I would have said much more, but I endeavoured to conceal my chagrin because the slightest contradiction only renders him the more obstinate. Now, when in the midst of his army, he will forget everything. How much have I been afflicted that I was not able to obtain a favourable answer to all the petitions which were addressed to me. That good Madame de Monteason came from Romainville to St. Cloud to solicit the pardon of MM. de Riviere and de Polignac; we succeeded in gaining an audience for Madame de Polignac; . . . how beautiful she is! Bonaparte was greatly affected on beholding her; he said to her, 'Madame, since it was only my life your husband menaced, I may pardon him.' You know Napoleon, Bourrienne; you know that he is not naturally cruel; it is his counsellors and flatterers who have induced him to commit so many villainous actions. Rapp has behaved extremely well; he went to the Emperor, and would not leave him till he had obtained the pardon of another of the condemned, whose name I do not recollect. How much these Polignacs have interested me! There will be then at least some families who will owe him gratitude! Strive, if it be possible, to throw a veil over the past; I am sufficiently miserable in my anticipations of the future. Rest assured, my dear Bourrienne, that I shall not fail to exert myself during our stay in Belgium in your behalf, and inform you of the result. Adieu!"
During the festival in celebration of the 14th of July, which I have already alluded to, the Emperor before leaving the Hotel des Invalides had announced that he would go in person to distribute the decorations of the Legion of Honour to the army assembled in the camp of Boulogne. He was not long before he fulfilled his promise. He left St. Cloud on the 18th and travelled with such rapidity that the next morning, whilst every one was busy with preparations for his reception, he was already at that port, in the midst of the labourers, examining the works. He seemed to multiply himself by his inconceivable activity, and one might say that he was present everywhere.
At the Emperor's departure it was generally believed at Paris that the distribution of the crosses at the camp of Boulogne was only a pretext, and that Bonaparte had at length gone to carry into execution the project of an invasion of England, which every body supposed he contemplated. It was, indeed, a pretext. The Emperor wished to excite more and more the enthusiasm of the army—to show himself to the military invested in his new dignity, to be present at some grand manoeuvres, and dispose the army to obey the first signal he might give. How indeed, on beholding such great preparations, so many transports created, as it were, by enchantment, could any one have supposed that he did not really intend to attempt a descent on England? People almost fancied him already in London; it was known that all the army corps echelloned on the coast from Maples to Ostend were ready to embark. Napoleon's arrival in the midst of his troops inspired them, if possible, with a new impulse. The French ports on the Channel had for a long period been converted into dockyards and arsenals, where works were carried on with that inconceivable activity which Napoleon knew so well how to inspire. An almost incredible degree of emulation prevailed amongst the commanders of the different camps, and it descended from rank to rank to the common soldiers and even to the labourers.
As every one was eager to take advantage of the slightest effects of chance, and exercised his ingenuity in converting them into prognostics of good fortune for the Emperor, those who had access to him did not fail to call his attention to some remains of a Roman camp which had been discovered at the Tour d'Ordre, where the Emperor's tent was pitched. This was considered an evident proof that the French Caesar occupied the camp which the Roman Caesar had formerly constructed to menace Great Britain. To give additional force to this allusion, the Tour d'Ordre resumed the name of Caesar's Tower. Some medals of William the Conqueror, found in another spot, where, perhaps, they had been buried for the purpose of being dug up, could not fail to satisfy the most incredulous that Napoleon must conquer England.
It was not far from Caesar's Tower that 80,000 men of the camps of Boulogne and Montreuil, under the command of Marshal Soult, were assembled in a vast plain to witness the distribution of the crosses of the Legion of Honour impressed with the Imperial effigy. This plain, which I saw with Bonaparte in our first journey to the coast, before our departure to Egypt, was circular and hollow; and in the centre was a little hill. This hill formed the Imperial throne of Bonaparte in the midst of his soldiers. There he stationed himself with his staff and around this centre of glory the regiments were drawn up in lines and looked like so many diverging rays. From this throne, which had been erected by the hand of nature, Bonaparte delivered in a loud voice the same form of oath which he had pronounced at the Hotel des Invalides a few days before. It was the signal for a general burst of enthusiasm, and Rapp, alluding to this ceremony, told me that he never saw the Emperor appear more pleased. How could he be otherwise? Fortune then seemed obedient to his wishes. A storm came on during this brilliant day, and it was apprehended that part of the flotilla would have suffered.
Bonaparte quitted the hill from which he had distributed the crosses and proceeded to the port to direct what measures should be taken, when upon his arrival the storm—
—[The following description of the incident when Napoleon nearly occasioned the destruction of the Boulogne flotilla was forwarded to the 'Revue Politique et Litteraire' from a private memoir. The writer, who was an eye-witness, says—
One morning, when the Emperor was mounting his horse, he announced that he intended to hold a review of his naval forces, and gave the order that the vessels which lay in the harbour should alter their positions, as the review was to be held on the open sea. He started on his usual ride, giving orders that everything should be arranged on his return, the time of which he indicted. His wish was communicated to Admiral Bruix, who responded with imperturbable coolness that he was very sorry, but that the review could not take place that day. Consequently not a vessel was moved. On his return back from his ride the Emperor asked whether all was ready. He was told what the Admiral had said. Twice the answer had to be repeated to him before he could realise its nature, and then, violently stamping his foot on the ground, he sent for the Admiral. The Emperor met him halfway. With eyes burning with rage, he exclaimed in an excited voice, "Why have my orders not been executed?" With respectful firmness Admiral Bruix replied, "Sire, a terrible storm is brewing. Your Majesty may convince yourself of it; would you without need expose the lives of so many men?" The heaviness of the atmosphere and the sound of thunder in the distance more than justified the fears of the Admiral. "Sir, said the Emperor, getting more and more irritated, "I have given the orders once more; why have they not been executed? The consequences concern me alone. Obey!" 'Sire, I will not obey,' replied the Admiral. "You are insolent!" And the Emperor, who still held his riding-whip in his hand, advanced towards the admiral with a threatening gesture. Admiral Bruix stepped back and put his hand on the sheath of his sword and said, growing very pale, "sire, take care!" The whole suite stood paralysed with fear. The Emperor remained motionless for some time, his hand lifted up, his eyes fixed on the Admiral, who still retained his menacing attitude. At last the Emperor threw his whip on the floor. M. Bruix took his hand off his sword, and with uncovered head awaited in silence the result of the painful scene. Rear-Admiral Magon was then ordered to see that the Emperor's orders were instantly executed. "As for you, sir," said the Emperor, fixing his eyes on Admiral Bruix, you leave Boulogne within twenty-four hours and depart for Holland. Go!" M. Magon ordered the fatal movement of the fleet on which the Emperor had insisted. The first arrangements had scarcely been made when the sea because very high. The black sky was pierced by lightning, the thunder rolled and every moment the line of vessels was broken by the wind, and shortly after, that which the Admiral had foreseen came to pass, and the most frightful storm dispersed the vessels in each a way that it seamed impossible to save them. With bent head, arms crossed, and a sorrowful look in his face, the Emperor walked up and down on the beach, when suddenly the most terrible cries were heard. More than twenty gunboats filled with soldiers and sailors were being driven towards the shore, and the unfortunate men were vainly fighting against the furious waves, calling for help which nobody could give them. Deeply touched by the spectacle and the heart-rending cries and lamentations of the multitude which had assembled on the beach, the Emperor, seeing his generals and officers tremble with horror, attempted to set an example of devotion, and, in spite of all efforts to keep him back, he threw himself into a boat, saying, "Let me go! let me go! they must be brought out of this." In a moment the boat was filled with water. The waves poured over it again and again, and the Emperor was drenched. One wave larger than the others almost threw him overboard and his hat was carried sway. Inspired by so much courage, officers, soldiers, seamen, and citizens tried to succour the drowning, some in boats, some swimming. But, alas! only a small number could be saved of the unfortunate men. The following day more than 200 bodies were thrown ashore, and with them the hat of the conqueror of Marengo. That sad day was one of desolation for Boulogne and for the camp. The Emperor groaned under the burden of an accident which he had to attribute solely to his own obstinacy. Agents were despatched to all parts of the town to subdue with gold the murmurs which ware ready to break out into a tumult.]—
—ceased as if by enchantment. The flotilla entered the port safe and sound and he went back to the camp, where the sports and amusements prepared for the soldiers commenced, and in the evening the brilliant fireworks which were let off rose in a luminous column, which was distinctly seen from the English coast.—[It appears that Napoleon was so well able to cover up this fiasco that not even Bourrienne ever heard the true story. D.W.]
When he reviewed the troops he asked the officers, and often the soldiers, in what battles they had been engaged, and to those who had received serious wounds he gave the cross. Here, I think, I may appropriately mention a singular piece of charlatanism to which the Emperor had recourse, and which powerfully contributed to augment the enthusiasm of his troops. He would say to one of his aides decamp, "Ascertain from the colonel of such a regiment whether he has in his corps a man who has served in the campaigns of Italy or the campaigns of Egypt. Ascertain his name, where he was born, the particulars of his family, and what he has done. Learn his number in the ranks, and to what company he belongs, and furnish me with the information."
On the day of the review Bonaparte, at a single glance, could perceive the man who had been described to him. He would go up to him as if he recognised him, address him by his name, and say, "Oh! so you are here! You area brave fellow—I saw you at Aboukir—how is your old father? What! have you not got the Cross? Stay, I will give it you." Then the delighted soldiers would say to each other, "You see the Emperor knows us all; he knows our families; he knows where we have served." What a stimulus was this to soldiers, whom he succeeded in persuading that they would all some time or other become Marshals of the Empire!
Lauriston told me, amongst other anecdotes relating to Napoleon's sojourn at the camp at Boulogne, a remarkable instance of intrepidity on the part of two English sailors. These men had been prisoners at Verdun, which was the most considerable depot of English prisoners in France at the rupture of the peace of Amiens. They effected their escape from Verdun, and arrived at Boulogne without having been discovered on the road, notwithstanding the vigilance with which all the English were watched They remained at Boulogne for some time, destitute of money, and without being able to effect their escape. They had no hope of getting aboard a boat, on account of the strict watch that was kept upon vessels of every kind. These two sailors made a boat of little pieces of wood, which they put together as well as they could, having no other tools than their knives. They covered it with a piece of sail-cloth. It was only three or four feet wide, and not much longer, and was so light that a man could easily carry it on his shoulders,—so powerful a passion is the love of home and liberty! Sure of being shot if they were discovered, almost equally sure of being drowned if they effected their escape, they, nevertheless, resolved to attempt crossing the Channel in their fragile skiff. Perceiving an English frigate within sight of the coast, they pushed off and endeavoured to reach her. They had not gone a hundred toises from the shore when they were perceived by the custom-house officers, who set out in pursuit of them, and brought them back again. The news of this adventure spread through the camp, where the extraordinary courage of the two sailors was the subject of general remark. The circumstance reached the Emperor's ears. He wished to see the men, and they were conducted to his presence, along with their little boat. Napoleon, whose imagination was struck by everything extraordinary, could not conceal his surprise at so bold a project, undertaken with such feeble means of execution. "Is it really true," said the Emperor to them, "that you thought of crossing the sea in this?"—"Sire," said they, "if you doubt it, give us leave to go, and you shall see us depart."—"I will. You are bold and enterprising men—I admire courage wherever I meet it. But you shall not hazard your lives. You are at liberty; and more than that, I will cause you to be put on board an English ship. When you return to London tell how I esteem brave men, even when they are my enemies." Rapp, who with Lauriaton, Duroc, and many others were present at this scene, were not a little astonished at the Emperor's generosity. If the men had not been brought before him, they would have been shot as spies, instead of which they obtained their liberty, and Napoleon gave several pieces of gold to each. This circumstance was one of those which made the strongest impression on Napoleon, and he recollected it when at St. Helena, in one of his conversations with M. de Las Casas.
No man was ever so fond of contrasts as Bonaparte. He liked, above everything, to direct the affairs of war whilst seated in his easy chair, in the cabinet of St. Cloud, and to dictate in the camp his decrees relative to civil administration. Thus, at the camp of Boulogne, he founded the decennial premiums, the first distribution of which he intended should take place five years afterwards, on the anniversary of the 18th Brumaire, which was an innocent compliment to the date of the foundation of the Consular Republic. This measure also seemed to promise to the Republican calendar a longevity which it did not attain. All these little circumstances passed unobserved; but Bonaparte had so often developed to me his theory of the art of deceiving mankind that I knew their true value. It was likewise at the camp of Boulogne that, by a decree emanating from his individual will, he destroyed the noblest institution of the Republic, the Polytechnic School, by converting it into a purely military academy. He knew that in that sanctuary of high study a Republican spirit was fostered; and whilst I was with him he had often told me it was necessary that all schools, colleges, and establishments for public instruction should be subject to military discipline. I frequently endeavoured to controvert this idea, but without success.
It was arranged that Josephine and the Emperor should meet in Belgium. He proceeded thither from the camp of Boulogne, to the astonishment of those who believed that the moment for the invasion of England had at length arrived. He joined the Empress at the Palace of Lacken, which the Emperor had ordered to be repaired and newly furnished with great magnificence.
The Emperor continued his journey by the towns bordering on the Rhine. He stopped first in the town of Charlemagne, passed through the three bishoprics,
—[There are two or three little circumstances in connection with this journey that seem worth inserting here:
Mademoiselle Avrillion was the 'femme de chambre' of Josephine, and was constantly about her person from the time of the first Consulship to the death of the Empress in 1814. In all such matters as we shall quote from them, her memoirs seem worthy of credit. According to Mademoiselle, the Empress during her stay at Aix-la- Chapelle, drank the waters with much eagerness and some hope. As the theatre there was only supplied with some German singers who were not to Josephine's taste, she had part of a French operatic company sent to her from Paris. The amiable creole had always a most royal disregard of expense. When Bonaparte joined her, he renewed his old custom of visiting his wife now and then at her toilet, and according to Mademoiselle Avrillion, he took great interest in the subject of her dressing. She says, "It was a most extraordinary thing for us to see the man whose head was filled with such vast affairs enter into the most minute details of the female toilet and of what dresses, what robes, and what jewels the Empress should wear on such and such an occasion. One day he daubed her dress with ink because he did not like it, and wanted her to put on another. Whenever he looked into her wardrobe he was sure to throw everything topsy-turvy."
This characteristic anecdote perfectly agrees with what we have heard from other persons. When the Neapolitan Princess di——- was at the Tuileries as 'dame d'honneur' to Bonaparte's sister Caroline Murat, then Queen of Naples, on the grand occasion of the marriage with Maria Louisa, the, Princess, to her astonishment, saw the Emperor go up to a lady of the Court and address her thus: "This is the same gown you wore the day before yesterday! What's the meaning of this, madame? This is not right, madame!"
Josephine never gave him a similar cause of complaint, but even when he was Emperor she often made him murmur at the profusion of her expenditure under this head. The next anecdote will give some idea of the quantity of dresses which she wore for a day or so, and then gave away to her attendants, who appear to have carried on a very active trade in them.
"While we were at Mayence the Palace was literally besieged by Jews, who continually brought manufactured and other goods to show to the followers of the Court; and we had the greatest difficulty to avoid buying them. At last they proposed that we should barter with them; and when Her Majesty had given us dresses that were far too rich for us to wear ourselves, we exchanged them with the Jews for piecegoods. The robes we thus bartered did not long remain in the hands of the Jews, and there must have been a great demand for them among the belles of Mayence, for I remember a ball there at which the Empress might have seen all the ladies of a quadrille party dressed in her cast-off clothes.—I even saw German Princesses wearing them" (Memoires de Mademoiselle Avrillion).]
—on his way Cologne and Coblentz, which the emigration had rendered so famous, and arrived at Mayence, where his sojourn was distinguished by the first attempt at negotiation with the Holy See, in order to induce the Pope to come to France to crown the new Emperor, and consolidate his power by supporting it with the sanction of the Church. This journey of Napoleon occupied three months, and he did not return to St. Cloud till October. Amongst the flattering addresses which the Emperor received in the course of his journey I cannot pass over unnoticed the speech of M. de la Chaise, Prefect of Arras, who said, "God made Bonaparte, and then rested." This occasioned Comte Louis de Narbonne, who was not yet attached to the Imperial system, to remark "That it would have been well had God rested a little sooner."
During the Emperor's absence a partial change took place in the Ministry. M. de Champagny succeeded M. Chaptal as Minister of the Interior. At the camp of Boulogne the pacific Joseph found himself, by his brother's wish, transformed into a warrior, and placed in command of a regiment of dragoons, which was a subject of laughter with a great number of generals. I recollect that one day Lannes, speaking to me of the circumstance in his usual downright and energetic way, said, "He had better not place him under my orders, for upon the first fault I will put the scamp under arrest."
England deceived by Napoleon—Admirals Missiessy and Villeneuve— Command given to Lauriston—Napoleon's opinion of Madame de Stael— Her letters to Napoleon—Her enthusiasm converted into hatred— Bonaparte's opinion of the power of the Church—The Pope's arrival at Fontainebleau—Napoleon's first interview with Pius VII.— The Pope and the Emperor on a footing of equality—Honours rendered to the Pope—His apartments at the Tuileries—His visit to the Imperial printing office—Paternal rebuke—Effect produced in England by the Pope's presence in Paris—Preparations for Napoleon's coronation—Votes in favour of hereditary succession—Convocation of the Legislative Body—The presidents of cantons—Anecdote related by Michot the actor—Comparisons—Influence of the Coronation on the trade of Paris—The insignia of Napoleon and the insignia of Charlemagne—The Pope's mule—Anecdote of the notary Raguideau— Distribution of eagles in the Champ de Mars—Remarkable coincidence.
England was never so much deceived by Bonaparte as during the period of the encampment at Boulogne. The English really believed that an invasion was intended, and the Government exhausted itself in efforts for raising men and money to guard against the danger of being taken by surprise. Such, indeed, is the advantage always possessed by the assailant. He can choose the point on which he thinks it most convenient to act, while the party which stands on the defence, and is afraid of being attacked, is compelled to be prepared in every point. However, Napoleon, who was then in the full vigour of his genius and activity, had always his eyes fixed on objects remote from those which surrounded him, and which seemed to absorb his whole attention. Thus, during the journey of which I have spoken, the ostensible object of which was the organisation of the departments on the Rhine, he despatched two squadrons from Rochefort and Boulogne, one commanded by Missiessy, the other by Villeneuve—I shall not enter into any details about those squadrons; I shall merely mention with respect to them that, while the Emperor was still in Belgium, Lauriston paid me a sudden and unexpected visit. He was on his way to Toulon to take command of the troops which were to be embarked on Villeneuve's squadron, and he was not much pleased with the service to which he had been appointed.
Lauriston's visit was a piece of good fortune for me. We were always on friendly terms, and I received much information from him, particularly with respect to the manner in which the Emperor spent his time. "You can have no idea," said he, "how much the Emperor does, and the sort of enthusiasm which his presence excites in the army. But his anger at the contractors is greater than ever, and he has been very severe with some of them." These words of Lauriaton did not at all surprise me, for I well knew Napoleon's dislike to contractors, and all men who had mercantile transactions with the army. I have often heard him say that they were a curse and a leprosy to nations; that whatever power he might attain, he never would grant honours to any of them, and that of all aristocracies, theirs was to him the most insupportable. After his accession to the Empire the contractors were no longer the important persons they had been under the Directory, or even during the two first years of the Consulate. Bonaparte sometimes acted with them as he had before done with the Beya of Egypt, when he drew from them forced contributions.
—[Lauriston, one of Napoleon's aides de camp, who was with him at the Military School of Paris, and who had been commissioned in the artillery at the same time as Napoleon, considered that he should have had the post of Grand Ecuyer which Caulaincourt had obtained. He had complained angrily to the Emperor, and after a stormy interview was ordered to join the fleet of Villeneuve—In consequence he was at Trafalgar. On his return after Austerlitz his temporary disgrace was forgotten, and he was sent as governor to Venice. He became marshal under the Restoration.]—
I recollect another somewhat curious circumstance respecting the visit of Lauriston, who had left the Emperor and Empress at Aix-la-Chapelle. Lauriston was the best educated of the aides de camp, and Napoleon often conversed with him on such literary works as he chose to notice. "He sent for me one day," said Lauriston, "when I was on duty at the Palace of Lacken, and spoke to me of the decennial prizes, and the tragedy of 'Carion de Nisas', and a novel by Madame de Stael, which he had just read, but which I had not seen, and was therefore rather embarrassed in replying to him. Respecting Madame de Stael and her Delphine, he said some remarkable things. 'I do not like women,' he observed, 'who make men of themselves, any more than I like effeminate men. There is a proper part for every one to play in the world. What does all this flight of imagination mean? What is the result of it? Nothing. It is all sentimental metaphysics and disorder of the mind. I cannot endure that woman; for one reason, that I cannot bear women who make a set at me, and God knows how often she has tried to cajole me!'"
The words of Lauriston brought to my recollection the conversations I had often had with Bonaparte respecting Madame de Stael, of whose advances made to the First Consul, and even to the General of the Army of Italy, I had frequently been witness. Bonaparte knew nothing at first of Madame de Stael but that she was the daughter of M. Necker, a man for whom, as I have already shown, he had very little esteem. Madame de Stael had not been introduced to him, and knew nothing more of him than what fame had published respecting the young conqueror of Italy, when she addressed to him letters full of enthusiasm. Bonaparte read some passages of them to me, and, laughing, said, "What do you think, Bourrienne, of these extravagances. This woman is mad." I recollect that in one of her letters Madame de Stael, among other things, told him that they certainly were created for each other—that it was in consequence of an error in human institutions that the quiet and gentle Josephine was united to his fate—that nature seemed to have destined for the adoration of a hero such as he, a soul of fire like her own. These extravagances disgusted Bonaparte to a degree which I cannot describe. When he had finished reading these fine epistles he used to throw them into the fire, or tear them with marked ill-humour, and would say, "Well, here is a woman who pretends to genius—a maker of sentiments, and she presumes to compare herself to Josephine! Bourrienne, I shall not reply to such letters."
I had, however, the opportunity of seeing what the perseverance of a woman of talent can effect. Notwithstanding Bonaparte's prejudices against Madame de Stael, which he never abandoned, she succeeded in getting herself introduced to him; and if anything could have disgusted him with flattery it would have been the admiration, or, to speak more properly, the worship, which she paid him; for she used to compare him to a god descended on earth,—a kind of comparison which the clergy, I thought, had reserved for their own use. But, unfortunately, to please Madame de Stael it would have been necessary that her god had been Plutua; for behind her eulogies lay a claim for two millions, which M. Necker considered still due to him on account of his good and worthy services. However, Bonaparte said on this occasion that whatever value he might set on the suffrage of Madame de Stael, he did not think fit to pay so dear for it with the money of the State. The conversion of Madame de Stael's enthusiasm into hatred is well known, as are also the petty vexations, unworthy of himself, with which the Emperor harassed her in her retreat at Coppet.
Lauriston had arrived at Paris, where he made but a short stay, some days before Caffarelli, who was sent on a mission to Rome to sound the Papal Court, and to induce the Holy Father to come to Paris to consecrate Bonaparte at his coronation. I have already described the nature of Bonaparte's ideas on religion. His notions on the subject seemed to amount to a sort of vague feeling rather than to any belief founded on reflection. Nevertheless, he had a high opinion of the power of the Church; but not because he considered it dangerous to Governments, particularly to his own. Napoleon never could have conceived how it was possible that a sovereign wearing a crown and a sword could have the meanness to kneel to a Pope, or to humble his sceptre before the keys of St. Peter. His spirit was too great to admit of such a thought. On the contrary, he regarded the alliance between the Church and his power as a happy means of influencing the opinions of the people, and as an additional tie which was to attach them to a Government rendered legitimate by the solemn sanction of the Papal authority. Bonaparte was not deceived. In this, as well as in many other things, the perspicacity of his genius enabled him to comprehend all the importance of a consecration bestowed on him by the Pope; more especially as Louis XVIII., without subjects, without territory, and wearing only an illusory crown, had not received that sacred unction by which the descendants of Hugh Capet become the eldest sons of the Church.
As soon as the Emperor was informed of the success of Caffarelli's mission, and that the Pope, in compliance with his desire, was about to repair to Paris to confirm in his hands the sceptre of Charlemagne, nothing was thought of but preparations for that great event, which had been preceded by the recognition of Napoleon as Emperor of the French on the part of all the States of Europe, with the exception of England.
On the conclusion of the Concordat Bonaparte said to me, "I shall let the Republican generals exclaim as much as they like against the Mass. I know what I am about; I am working for posterity." He was now gathering the fruits of his Concordat. He ordered that the Pope should be everywhere treated in his journey through the French territory with the highest distinction, and he proceeded to Fontainebleau to receive his Holiness. This afforded an opportunity for Bonaparte to re-establish the example of those journeys of the old Court, during which changes of ministers used formerly to be made. The Palace of Fontainebleau, now become Imperial, like all the old royal chateaux, had been newly furnished with a luxury and taste corresponding to the progress of modern art. The Emperor was proceeding on the road to Nemours when courtiers informed him of the approach of Pius VII. Bonaparte's object was to avoid the ceremony which had been previously settled. He had therefore made the pretext of going on a hunting-party, and was in the way as it were by chance when the Pope's carriage was arriving. He alighted from horseback, and the Pope came out of his carriage. Rapp was with the Emperor, and I think I yet hear him describing, in his original manner and with his German accent, this grand interview, upon which, however, he for his part looked with very little respect. Rapp, in fact, was among the number of those who, notwithstanding his attachment to the Emperor, preserved independence of character, and he knew he had no reason to dissemble with me. "Fancy to yourself," said he, "the amusing comedy that was played." After the Emperor and the Pope had well embraced they went into the same carriage; and, in order that they might be upon a footing of equality, they were to enter at the same time by opposite doors. All that was settled; but at breakfast the Emperor had calculated how he should manage, without appearing to assume anything, to get on the righthand side of the Pope, and everything turned out as he wished. "As to the Pope," said Rapp, "I must own that I never saw a man with a finer countenance or more respectable appearance than Pius VII."
After the conference between the Pope and the Emperor at Fontainebleau, Pius VII. set off for Paris first. On the road the same honours were paid to him as to the Emperor. Apartments were prepared for him in the Pavilion de Flore in the Tuileries, and his bedchamber was arranged and furnished in the same manner as his chamber in the Palace of Monte-Cavallo, his usual residence in Rome. The Pope's presence in Paris was so extraordinary a circumstance that it was scarcely believed, though it had some time before been talked of. What, indeed, could be more singular than to see the Head of the Church in a capital where four years previously the altars had been overturned, and the few faithful who remained had been obliged to exercise their worship in secret!
The Pope became the object of public respect and general curiosity. I was exceedingly anxious to see him, and my wish was gratified on the day when he went to visit the Imperial printing office, then situated where the Bank of France now is.
A pamphlet, dedicated to the Pope, containing the "Pater Noster," in one hundred and fifty different languages, was struck off in the presence of his Holiness. During this visit to the printing office an ill-bred young man kept his hat on in the Pope's presence. Several persons, indignant at this indecorum, advanced to take off the young man's hat. A little confusion arose, and the Pope, observing the cause of it, stepped up to the young man and said to him, in a tone of kindness truly patriarchal, "Young man, uncover, that I may give thee my blessing. An old man's blessing never yet harmed any one." This little incident deeply affected all who witnessed it. The countenance and figure of Pope Pius VII. commanded respect. David's admirable portrait is a living likeness of him.
The Pope's arrival at Paris produced a great sensation in London, greater indeed there than anywhere else, notwithstanding the separation of the English Church from the Church of Rome. The English Ministry now spared no endeavours to influence public opinion by the circulation of libels against Bonaparte. The Cabinet of London found a twofold advantage in encouraging this system, which not merely excited irritation against the powerful enemy of England, but diverted from the British Government the clamour which some of its measures were calculated to create. Bonaparte's indignation against England was roused to the utmost extreme, and in truth this indignation was in some degree a national feeling in France.
Napoleon had heard of the success of Caffarelli's negotiations previous to his return to Paris, after his journey to the Rhine. On arriving at St. Cloud he lost no time in ordering the preparations for his coronation. Everything aided the fulfilment of his wishes. On 28th November the Pope arrived at Paris, and two days after, viz. on the 1st of December, the Senate presented to the Emperor the votes of the people for the establishment of hereditary succession in his family: for as it was pretended that the assumption of the title of Emperor was no way prejudicial to the Republic, the question of hereditary succession only had been proposed for public sanction. Sixty thousand registers had been opened in different parts of France,—at the offices of the ministers, the prefects, the mayors of the communes, notaries, solicitors, etc. France at that time contained 108 departments, and there were 3,574,898 voters. Of these only 2569 voted against hereditary succession. Bonaparte ordered a list of the persons who had voted against the question to be sent to him, and he often consulted it. They proved to be not Royalist, but for the most part staunch Republicans. To my knowledge many Royalists abstained from voting at all, not wishing to commit themselves uselessly, and still less to give their suffrages to the author of the Duo d'Enghien's death. For my part, I gave my vote in favour of hereditary succession in Bonaparte's family; my situation, as may well be imagined, did not allow me to do otherwise.
Since the month of October the Legislative Body had been convoked to attend the Emperor's coronation. Many deputies arrived, and with them a swarm of those presidents of cantons who occupied a conspicuous place in the annals of ridicule at the close of the year 1804. They became the objects of all sorts of witticisms and jests. The obligation of wearing swords made their appearance very grotesque. As many droll, stories were told of them as were ten years afterwards related of those who were styled the voltigeurs of Louis XIV. One of these anecdotes was so exceedingly ludicrous that, though it was probably a mere invention, yet I cannot refrain from relating it. A certain number of these presidents were one day selected to be presented to the Pope; and as most of them were very poor they found it necessary to combine economy with the etiquette necessary to be observed under the new order of things. To save the expense of hiring carriages they therefore proceeded to the Pavilion de Flore on foot, taking the precaution of putting on gaiters to preserve their white silk stockings from the mud which covered the streets, for it was then the month of December. On arriving at the Tuileries one of the party put his gaiters into his pocket. It happened that the Pope delivered such an affecting address that all present were moved to tears, and the unfortunate president who had disposed of his gaiters in the way just mentioned drew them out instead of his handkerchief and smeared his face over with mud. The Pope is said to have been much amused at this mistake. If this anecdote should be thought too puerile to be repeated here, I may observe that it afforded no small merriment to Bonaparte, who made Michot the actor relate it to the Empress at Paris one evening after a Court performance.
Napoleon had now attained the avowed object of his ambition; but his ambition receded before him like a boundless horizon. On the 1st of December; the day on which the Senate presented to the Emperor the result of the votes for hereditary succession, Francois de Neufchateau delivered an address to him, in which there was no want of adulatory expressions. As President of the Senate he had had some practice in that style of speechmaking; and he only substituted the eulogy of the Monarchical Government for that of the Republican Government 'a sempre bene', as the Italians say.
If I wished to make comparisons I could here indulge in some curious ones. Is it not extraordinary that Fontainebleau should have witnessed, at the interval of nearly ten years, Napoleon's first interview with the Pope, and his last farewell to his army, and that the Senate, who had previously given such ready support to Bonaparte, should in 1814 have pronounced his abdication at Fontainebleau.
The preparations for the Coronation proved very advantageous to the trading classes of Paris. Great numbers of foreigners and people from the provinces visited the capital, and the return of luxury and the revival of old customs gave occupation to a variety of tradespeople who could get no employment under the Directory or Consulate, such as saddlers, carriage-makers, lacemen, embroiderers, and others. By these positive interests were created more partisans of the Empire than by opinion and reflection; and it is but just to say that trade had not been so active for a dozen years before. The Imperial crown jewels were exhibited to the public at Biennais the jeweller's. The crown was of a light form, and, with its leaves of gold, it less resembled the crown of France than the antique crown of the Caesars. These things were afterwards placed in the public treasury, together with the imperial insignia of Charlemagne, which Bonaparte had ordered to be brought from Aix-la-Chapelle. But while Bonaparte was thus priding himself in his crown and his imagined resemblance to Charlemagne, Mr. Pitt, lately recalled to the Ministry, was concluding at Stockholm a treaty with Sweden, and agreeing to pay a subsidy to that power to enable it to maintain hostilities against France. This treaty was concluded on the 3d of December, the day after the Coronation.
—[The details of the preparation for the Coronation caused many stormy scenes between Napoleon and his family. The Princesses, his sisters and sisters-in-law, were especially shocked at having to carry the train of the Imperial mantle of Josephine, and even when Josephine was actually moving from the altar to the throne the Princesses evinced their reluctance so plainly that Josephine could not advance and an altercation took place which had to be stopped by Napoleon himself. Joseph was quite willing himself give up appearing in a mantle with a train, but he wished to prevent his wife bearing the mantle of the Empress; and he opposed his brother on so many points that Napoleon ended by calling on him to either give up his position and retire from all politics, or else to fully accept the imperial regime. How the economical Camberceres used up the ermine he could not wear will be seen in Junot tome iii. p. 196. Josephine herself was in the greatest anxiety as to whether the wish of the Bonaparte family that she should be divorced would carry the day with her husband. When she had gained her cause for the time and after the Pope had engaged to crown her, she seems to have most cleverly managed to get the Pope informed that she was only united to Napoleon by a civil marriage. The Pope insisted on a religious marriage. Napoleon was angry, but could not recede, and the religions rite was performed by Cardinal Fesch the day, or two days, before the Coronation. The certificate of the marriage was carefully guarded from Napoleon by Josephine, and even placed beyond his reach at the time of the divorce. Such at least seems to be the most probable account of this mysterious and doubtful matter.
The fact that Cardinal Fesch maintained that the religious rite had been duly performed, thirteen of the Cardinals (not, however including Fesch) were so convinced of the legality of the marriage that they refused to appear at the ceremony of marriage with Marie Louise, thus drawing down the wrath of the Emperor, and becoming the "Cardinals Noirs," from being forbidden; to wear their own robes, seems to leave no doubt that the religious rite had been performed. The marriage was only pronounced to be invalid in 1809 by the local canonical bodies, not by the authority of the pope.]—
It cannot be expected that I should enter into a detail of the ceremony which took place on the 2d of December. The glitter of gold, the waving plumes, and richly-caparisoned horses of the Imperial procession; the mule which preceded the Pope's cortege, and occasioned so much merriment. to the Parisians, have already been described over and over again. I may, however, relate an anecdote connected with the Coronation, told me by Josephine, and which is exceedingly characteristic of Napoleon.
When Bonaparte was paying his addresses to Madame de BEAUHARNAIS, neither the one nor the other kept a carriage; and therefore Bonaparte frequently accompanied her when she walked out. One day they went together to the notary Raguideau, one of the shortest men I think I ever saw in my life, Madame de Beauharnais placed great confidence, in him, and went there on purpose to acquaint him of her intention to marry the young general of artillery,—the protege of Barras. Josephine went alone into, the notary's cabinet, while Bonaparte waited for her in an adjoining room. The door of Raguideau's cabinet did not shut close, and Bonaparte plainly heard him dissuading Madame de Beauharnais from her projected marriage. "You are going to take a very wrong step," said he, "and you will be sorry for it, Can you be so mad as to marry a young man who has nothing but his cloak and his sword?" Bonaparte, Josephine told me, had never mentioned this to her, and she never supposed that he had heard what fell from Raguideau. "Only think, Bourrienne," continued she, "what was my astonishment when, dressed in the Imperial robes on the Coronation day, he desired that Raguideau might be sent for, saying that he wished to see him immediately; and when Raguidesu appeared; he said to him, 'Well, sir! have I nothing but my cloak and my sword now?'"
Though Bonaparte had related to me almost all the circumstances of his life, as they occurred to his memory, he never once mentioned this affair of Raguideau, which he only seemed to have suddenly recollected on his Coronation day.
The day after the Coronation all the troops in Paris were assembled in the Champ de Mars the Imperial eagles might be distributed to each regiment, in lieu of the national flags. I has stayed away from the Coronation in the church of Notre Dame, but I wished to see the military fete in the Champ de Mars because I took real pleasure in seeing Bonaparte amongst his soldiers. A throne was erected in front of the Military School, which, though now transformed into a barrack, must have recalled, to Bonaparte's mind some singular recollections of his boyhood. At a given signal all the columns closed and approached the throne. Then Bonaparte, rising, gave orders for the distribution of the eagles, and delivered the following address to the deputations of the different corps of the army:
"Soldiers, Soldiers! behold your colours. These eagles will always be your rallying-point! They will always be where your Emperor may thank them necessary for the defence of his throne and of his people. Swear to sacrifice your lives to defend them, and by your courage to keep them constantly in the path of victory.—Swear!"
It would be impossible to describe the acclamations which followed this address; there is something so seductive in popular enthusiasm that even indifferent persons cannot help yielding to its influence. And yet the least reflection would have shown how shamefully Napoleon forswore the declaration he made to the Senate, when the organic 'Senatus-consulte' for the foundation of the Empire was presented to him at St: Cloud: On that occasion he said; "The French people shall never be MY people!" And yet the day after his Coronation his eagles were to be carried wherever they might be necessary for the defence of his people.
By a singular coincidence, while on the 2d of December 1804 Bonaparte was receiving from the head of the Church the Imperial crown of France, Louis XVIII., who was then at Colmar, prompted as it were by an inexplicable presentiment, drew up and signed a declaration to the French people, in which he declared that he then, swore never to break the sacred bond which united his destiny to theirs, never to renounce the inheritance of his ancestors, or to relinquish his rights.
My appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary at Hamburg—My interview with Bonaparte at Malmaison—Bonaparte's designs respecting Italy— His wish to revisit Brienne—Instructions for my residence in Hamburg—Regeneration of European society—Bonaparte's plan of making himself the oldest sovereign in Europe—Amedee Jaubert's mission—Commission from the Emperor to the Empress—My conversation with Madame Bonaparte.
I must now mention an event which concerns myself personally, namely, my appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary, to the Dukes of Brunswick and Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and to the Hanse towns.
This appointment took place on the 22d of March 1806. Josephine, who had kindly promised to apprise me of what the Emperor intended to do for me, as soon as she herself should know his intentions, sent a messenger to acquaint me with my appointment, and to tell me that the Emperor wished to see me. I had not visited Josephine since her departure for Belgium. The pomp and ceremonies of the Coronation had, I may say, dazzled me, and deterred me from presenting myself at the Imperial Palace, where I should have been annoyed by the etiquette which had been observed since the Coronation. I cannot describe what a disagreeable impression this parade always produced on me. I could not all at once forget the time when I used without ceremony to go into Bonaparte's chamber and wake him at the appointed hour. As to Bonaparte I had not seen him since he sent for me after the condemnation of Georges, when I saw that my candour relative to Moreau was not displeasing to him. Moreau had since quitted France without Napoleon's subjecting him to the application of the odious law which has only been repealed since the return of the Bourbons, and by virtue of which he was condemned to the confiscation of his property. Moreau sold his estate of Gros Bois to Bertlier, and proceeded to Cadiz, whence he embarked for America. I shall not again have occasion to speak of him until the period of the intrigues into which he was drawn by the same influence which ruined him in France.
On the evening of the day when I received the kind message from Josephine I had an official invitation to proceed the next day to Malmaison, where the Emperor then was. I was much pleased at the idea of seeing him there rather than at the Tuileries, or even at St. Cloud. Our former intimacy at Malmaison made me feel more at my ease respecting an interview of which my knowledge of Bonaparte's character led me to entertain some apprehension. Was I to be received by my old comrade of Brienne, or by His Imperial Majesty? I was received by my old college companion.
On my arrival at Malmaison I was ushered into the tentroom leading to the library. How I was astonished at the good-natured familiarity with which he received me! This extraordinary man displayed, if I may employ the term, a coquetry towards me which surprised me, notwithstanding my past knowledge of his character. He came up to me with a smile on his lips, took my hand (which he had never done since he was Consul), pressed it affectionately, and it was impossible that I could look upon him as the Emperor of France and the future King of Italy. Yet I was too well aware of his fits of pride to allow his familiarity to lead me beyond the bounds of affectionate respect. "My dear Bourrienne," said he, "can you suppose that the elevated rank I have attained has altered my feelings towards you? No. I do not attach importance to the glitter of Imperial pomp; all that is meant for the people; but I must still be valued according to my deserts. I have been very well satisfied with your services, and I have appointed you to a situation where I shall have occasion for them. I know that I can rely upon you." He then asked with great warmth of friendship what I was about, and inquired after my family, etc. In short, I never saw him display less reserve or more familiarity and unaffected simplicity; which he did the more readily, perhaps, because his greatness was now incontestable.
"You know," added Napoleon, "that I set out in a week for Italy. I shall make myself King; but that is only a stepping-stone. I have greater designs respecting Italy.
"It must be a kingdom comprising all the Transalpine States, from Venice to the Maritime Alps. The union of Italy with France can only be temporary; but it is necessary, in order to accustom the nations of Italy to live under common laws. The Genoese, the Piedmontese, the Venetians, the Milanese, the inhabitants of Tuscany, the Romans, and the Neapolitans, hate each other. None of them will acknowledge the superiority of the other, and yet Rome is, from the recollections connected with it, the natural capital of Italy. To make it so, however, it is necessary that the power of the Pope should be confined within limits purely spiritual. I cannot now think of this; but I will reflect upon it hereafter. At present I have only vague ideas on the subject, but they will be matured in time, and then all depends on circumstances. What was it told me, when we were walking like two idle fellows, as we were, in the streets of Paris, that I should one day be master of France—my wish—merely a vague wish. Circumstances have done the rest. It is therefore wise to look into the future, and that I do. With respect to Italy, as it will be impossible with one effort to unite her so as to form a single power, subject to uniform laws, I will begin by making her French. All these little States will insensibly become accustomed to the same laws, and when manners shall be assimilated and enmities extinguished, then there will be an Italy, and I will give her independence. But for that I must have twenty years, and who can count on the future? Bourrienne, I feel pleasure in telling you all this. It was locked up in my mind. With you I think aloud."
I do not believe that I have altered two words of what Bonaparte said to me respecting Italy, so perfect, I may now say without vanity, was my memory then, and so confirmed was my habit of fixing in it all that he said to me. After having informed me of his vague projects Bonaparte, with one of those transitions so common to him, said, "By the by, Bourrienne, I have something to tell you. Madame de Brienne has begged that I will pass through Brienne, and I promised that I will. I will not conceal from you that I shall feel great pleasure in again beholding the spot which for six years was the scene of our boyish sports and studies." Taking advantage of the Emperor's good humour I ventured to tell him what happiness it would give me if it were possible that I could share with him the revival of all recollections which were mutually dear to us. But Napoleon, after a moment's pause, said with extreme kindness, "Hark ye, Bourrienne, in your situation and mine this cannot be. It is more than two years since we parted. What would be said of so sudden a reconciliation? I tell you frankly that I have regretted you, and the circumstances in which I have frequently been placed have often made me wish to recall you. At Boulogne I was quite resolved upon it. Rapp, perhaps, has informed you of it. He liked you, and he assured me that he would be delighted at your return. But if upon reflection I changed my mind it was because, as I have often told you, I will not have it said that I stand in need of any one. No. Go to Hamburg. I have formed some projects respecting Germany in which you can be useful to me. It is there I will give a mortal blow to England. I will deprive her of the Continent,—besides, I have some ideas not yet matured which extend much farther. There is not sufficient unanimity amongst the nations of Europe. European society must be regenerated—a superior power must control the other powers, and compel them to live in peace with each other; and France is well situated for that purpose. For details you will receive instructions from Talleyrand; but I recommend you, above all things, to keep a strict watch on the emigrants. Woe to them if they become too dangerous! I know that there are still agitators,—among them all the 'Marquis de Versailles', the courtiers of the old school. But they are moths who will burn themselves in the candle. You have been an emigrant yourself, Bourrienne; you feel a partiality for them, and you know that I have allowed upwards of two hundred of them to return upon your recommendation. But the case is altered. Those who are abroad are hardened. They do not wish to return home. Watch them closely. That is the only particular direction I give you. You are to be Minister from France to Hamburg; but your place will be an independent one; besides your correspondence with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I authorise you to write to me personally, whenever you have anything particular to communicate. You will likewise correspond with Fouche."
Here the Emperor remained silent for a moment, and I was preparing to retire, but he detained me, saying in the kindest manner, "What, are you going already, Bourrienne? Are you in a hurry? Let, us chat a little longer. God knows, when we may see each other again!" Then after two or three moments' silence he said, "The more I reflect on our situation, on our former intimacy, and our subsequent separation, the more I see the necessity of your going to Hamburg. Go, then, my dear fellow, I advise you. Trust me. When do you think of setting out?" "In May."—"In May? . . . Ah, I shall be in Milan then, for I wish to stop at Turin. I like the Piedmontese; they are the best soldiers in Italy."—"Sire, the King of Italy will be the junior of the Emperor of France!"
—[I alluded to a conversation which I had with Napoleon when we first went to the Tuileries. He spoke to me about his projects of royalty, and I stated the difficulties which I thought he would experience in getting himself acknowledged by the old reigning families of Europe. "If it comes to that," he replied. "I will dethrone them all, and then I shall be the oldest sovereign among them."—Bourrienne.]—
—"Ah! so you recollect what I said one day at the Tuileries; but, my dear fellow, I have yet a devilish long way to go before I gain my point."—"At the rate, Sire, at which you are going you will not be long in reaching it."—"Longer than you imagine. I see all the obstacles in my way; but they do not alarm me. England is everywhere, and the struggle is between her and me. I see how it will be. The whole of Europe will be our instruments; sometimes serving one, sometimes the other, but at bottom the dispute is wholly between England and France.
"A propos," said the Emperor, changing the subject, for all who knew him are aware that this 'a propos' was his favourite, and, indeed, his only mode of transition; a propos, Bourrienne, you surely must have heard of the departure of Jaubert,
—[Amedee Jaubart had been with Napoleon in Egypt, and was appointed to the cabinet of the Consul as secretary interpreter of Oriental languages. He was sent on several missions to the East, and brought back, is 1818, goats from Thibet, naturalising in France the manufacture of cashmeres. He became a peer of France under the Monarchy of July.]—
and his mission. What is said on the subject?"—"Sire, I have only heard it slightly alluded to. His father, however, to whom he said nothing respecting the object of his journey, knowing I was intimate with Jaubert, came to me to ascertain whether I could allay his anxiety respecting a journey of the duration of which he could form no idea. The precipitate departure of his son had filled him with apprehension I told him the truth, viz., that Jaubert had said no more to me on the subject than to him."—"Then you do not know where he is gone?"—"I beg your pardon, Sire; I know very well."—"How, the devil!" said Bonaparte, suddenly turning on me a look of astonishment. "No one, I, declare, has ever told me; but I guessed it. Having received a letter from Jaubert dated Leipsic, I recollected what your Majesty had often told me of your views respecting Persia and India. I have not forgotten our conversation in Egypt, nor the great projects which you enfolded to me to relieve the solitude and sometimes the weariness of the cabinet of Cairo. Besides, I long since knew your opinion of Amedee, of his fidelity, his ability, and his courage. I felt convinced, therefore, that he had a mission to the Shah of Persia."—"You guessed right; but I beg of you, Bourrienne, say nothing of this to any person whatever. Secrecy on this point is of grew importance. The English would do him an ill turn, for they are well aware that my views are directed against their possessions and their influence in the East."—"I think, Sire, that my answer to Anedee's worthy father is a sufficient guarantee for my discretion. Besides, it was a mere supposition on my part, and I could have stated nothing with certainty before your Majesty had the kindness to inform me of the fact. Instead of going to Hamburg, if your Majesty pleases, I will join Jaubert, accompany him to Persia, and undertake half his mission."— "How! would you go with him?"—"Yes, Sire; I am much attached to him. He is an excellent man, and I am sure that he would not be sorry to have me with him."—"But . . . Stop, Bourrienne, . . . this, perhaps, would not be a bad idea. You know a little of the East. You are accustomed to the climate. You could assist Jaubert. . . . But. . . . No! Daubert must be already far off—I, fear you could not overtake him. And besides you have a numerous family. You will be more useful to me in Germany. All things considered, go to Hamburg—you know the country, and, what is better you speak the language."
I could see that Bonaparte still had something to say to me. As we were walking up and down the room he stopped; and looking at me with an expression of sadness, he said, "Bourrienne, you must, before I proceed to Italy, do me a service. You sometimes visit my wife, and it is right; it is fit you should. You have been too long one of the family not to continue your friendship with her. Go to her.
—[This employment of Bourrienne to remonstrate with Josephine is a complete answer to the charge sometimes made that Napoleon, while scolding, really encouraged the foolish expenses of his wife, as keeping her under his control. Josephine was incorrigible. "On the very day of her death," says Madame de Remusat "she wished to put on a very pretty dressing-gown because she thought the Emperor of Russia would perhaps come to see her. She died all covered with ribbons and rose-colored satin." "One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead!" As for Josephine's great fault—her failure to give Napoleon an heir—he did not always wish for one. In 1802, on his brother Jerome jokingly advising Josephine to give the Consul a little Caesar. Napoleon broke out, "Yea, that he may end in the same manner as that of Alexander? Believe me, Messieurs, that at the present time it is better not to have children: I mean when one is condemned to rule nations." The fate of the King of Rome shows that the exclamation was only too true!]—
"Endeavour once more to make her sensible of her mad extravagance. Every day I discover new instances of it, and it distresses me. When I speak to her—on the subject I am vexed; I get angry—she weeps. I forgive her, I pay her bills—she makes fair promises; but the same thing occurs over and over again. If she had only borne me a child! It is the torment of my life not to have a child. I plainly perceive that my power will never be firmly established until I have one. If I die without an heir, not one of my brothers is capable of supplying my place. All is begun, but nothing is ended. God knows what will happen! Go and see Josephine, and do not forget my injunctions.."
Then he resumed the gaiety which he had exhibited at intervals during our conversation, far clouds driven by the wind do not traverse the horizon with such rapidity as different ideas and sensations succeeded each other m Napoleon's mind. He dismissed me with his usual nod of the head, and seeing him in such good humour I said on departing, "well, Sire, you are going to hear the old bell of Brienne. I have no doubt it will please you better than the bells of Ruel." He replied, "That's tree—you are right. Adieu!"
Such are my recollections of this conversation, which lasted for more than an hour and a half. We walked about all the time, for Bonaparte was indefatigable in audiences of this sort, and would, I believe, have walked and talked for a whole day without being aware of it. I left him, and, according to his desire, went to see Madame Bonaparte, which indeed I had intended to do before he requested it.
I found Josephine with Madame de la Rochefoucauld, who had long been in her suite, and who a short time before had obtained the title of lady of honour to the Empress. Madame de la Rochefoucauld was a very amiable woman, of mild disposition, and was a favourite with Josephine. When I told the Empress that I had just left the Emperor, she, thinking that I would not speak freely before a third person, made a sign to Madame de la Rochefoucauld to retire. I had no trouble in introducing the conversation on the subject concerning which Napoleon had directed me to speak to Josephine, for; after the interchange of a few indifferent remarks, she herself told me of a violent scene, which had occurred between her and the Emperor two days before. "When I wrote to you yesterday," said she, "to announce your appointment, and to tell you that Bonaparte would recall you, I hoped that you would come to see me on quitting him, but I did not think that he would have sent for you so soon. Ah! how I wish that you were still with him, Bourrienne; you could make him hear reason. I know not who takes pleasure in bearing tales to him; but really I think there are persons busy everywhere in finding out my debts, and telling him of them."
These complaints, so gently uttered by Josephine rendered less difficult the preparatory mission with which I commenced the exercise of my diplomatic functions. I acquainted Madame Bonaparte with all that the Emperor had said to me. I reminded her of the affair of the 1,200,000 francs which we had settled with half that sum. I even dropped some allusions to the promises she had made.
"How can I help it?" Said she. "Is it my fault?" Josephine uttered these words in a tone of sincerity which was at once affecting and ludicrous. "All sorts of beautiful things are brought to me," she continued; "they are praised up; I buy them—I am not asked for the money, and all of a sudden, when I have got none, they come upon me with demands for payment. This reaches Napoleon's ears, and he gets angry. When I have money, Bourrienne you know how I employ it. I give it principally to the unfortunate who solicit my assistance, and to poor emigrants. But I will try to be more economical in future. Tell him so if you see him again, But is it not my duty to bestow as much in charity as I can?"—"Yes, Madame; but permit me to say that nothing requires greater discernment than the distribution of charity. If you had always sat upon a throne you might have always supposed that your bounty always fall into the hands of the deserving; but you cannot be ignorant that it oftener falls to the lot of intrigue than to the meritorious needy. I cannot disguise from you that the Emperor was very earnest when he spoke on this subject; and he desired me to tell you so."—"Did he reproach me with nothing else?"—"No Madame. You know the influence you have over him with respect to everything but what relates to politics. Allow a faithful and sincere friend to prevail upon you seriously not to vex him on this point."—"Bourrienne, I give you my word. Adieu! my friend."
In communicating to Josephine what the Emperor had said to me I took care not to touch a chord which would have awakened feelings far more painful to her than even the Emperor's harsh reproof on account of her extravagance. Poor Josephine! how I should have afflicted her had I uttered a word of Bonaparte's regret at not having a child. She always had a presentiment of the fate that one day awaited her. Besides, Josephine told the truth in assuring me that it was not her fault that, she spent as she did; at least all the time I was with both of them, order and economy were no more compatible with her than moderation and—patience with Napoleon. The sight of the least waste put him beside himself, and that was a sensation his wife hardly ever spared him. He saw with irritation the eagerness of his family to gain riches; the more he gave, the more insatiable they appeared, with the exception of Louis, whose inclinations were always upright, and his tastes moderate. As for the other members of his family, they annoyed him so much by their importunity that one day he said, "Really to listen to them it would be thought that I had wasted the heritage of our father."
Napoleon and Voltaire—Demands of the Holy See—Coolness between the pope and the Emperor—Napoleon's departure for Italy—Last interview between the Pope and the Emperor at Turin—Alessandria—The field of Marengo—The last Doge of Genoa—Bonaparte's arrival at Milan—Union of Genoa to the French Empire—Error in the Memorial of St. Helen— Bonaparte and Madam Grassini—Symptoms of dissatisfaction on the part of Austria and Russia—Napoleon's departure from Milan— Monument to commemorate the battle of Marengo—Napoleon's arrival in Paris and departure for Boulogne—Unfortunate result of a naval engagement—My visit to Fouche's country seat—Sieyes, Barras, the Bourbons, and Bonaparte—Observations respecting Josephine.
Voltaire says that it is very well to kiss the feet of Popes provided their hands are tied. Notwithstanding the slight estimation in which Bonaparte held Voltaire, he probably, without being aware of this irreverent satire, put it into practice. The Court of Rome gave him the opportunity of doing so shortly after his Coronation. The Pope, or rather the Cardinals, his advisers' conceiving that so great an instance of complaisance as the journey of His Holiness to Paris ought not to go for nothing; demanded a compensation, which, had they been better acquainted with Bonaparte's character and policy, they would never have dreamed of soliciting. The Holy see demanded the restitution of Avignon, Bologna, and some parts of the Italian territory which had formerly been subject to the Pope's dominion. It may be imagined how such demands were received by Napoleon, particularly after he had obtained all he wanted from the Pope. It was, it must be confessed, a great mistake of the Court of Rome, whose policy is usually so artful and adroit, not to make this demand till after the Coronation. Had it been made the condition of the Pope's journey to France perhaps Bonaparte would have consented to give up, not Avignon, certainly, but the Italian territories, with the intention of taking them back again. Be this as it may, these tardy claims, which were peremptorily rejected, created an extreme coolness between Napoleon and Pius VII. The public did not immediately perceive it, but there is in the public an instinct of reason which the most able politicians never can impose upon; and all eyes were opened when it was known that the Pope, after having crowned Napoleon as Emperor of France, refused to crown him as sovereign of the regenerated kingdom of Italy.
Napoleon left Paris on the 1st of April to take possession of the Iron Crown at Milan. The Pope remained some time longer in the French capital. The prolonged presence of His Holiness was not without its influence on the religious feelings of the people, so great was the respect inspired by the benign countenance and mild manners of the Pope. When the period of his persecutions arrived it would have been well for Bonaparte had Pius VII. never been seen in Paris, for it was impossible to view in any other light than as a victim the man whose truly evangelic meekness had been duly appreciated.
Bonaparte did not evince great impatience to seize the Crown of Italy, which he well knew could not escape him. He stayed a considerable time at Turin, where he resided in the Stupinis Palace, which may be called the St. Cloud of the Kings of Sardinia. The Emperor cajoled the Piedmontese. General Menou, who was made Governor of Piedmont, remained there till Napoleon founded the general government of the Transalpine departments in favour of his brother-in-law, the Prince Borghese, of whom he would have, found it difficult to make anything else than a Roman Prince. Napoleon was still at Turin when the Pope passed through that city on his return to Rome. Napoleon had a final interview with His Holiness to whom he now affected to show the greatest personal deference. From Turin Bonaparte proceeded to Alessandria, where he commenced those immense works on which such vast sums were expended. He had many times spoken to me of his projects respecting Alessandria, as I have already observed, all his great measures as Emperor were merely the execution of projects conceived at a time when his future elevation could have been only a dream of the imagination. He one day said to Berthier, in my presence, during our sojurn at Milan after the battle of Marengo, "With Alessandria in my possession I should always be master of Italy. It might be made the strongest fortress in the world; it is capable of containing a garrison of 40,000 men, with provisions for six months. Should insurrection take place, should Austria send a formidable force here, the French troops might retire to Alessandria, and stand a six months' siege. Six months would be more than sufficient, wherever I might be, to enable me to fall upon Italy, rout the Austrians, and raise the siege of Alessandria!"