Memoirs of the life, exile, and conversations of the Emperor Napoleon. (Vol. II) by Las Cases, Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné, comte de


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This is the second of four volumes, which can be found at Project Gutenberg here:

Volume I Volume II Volume III Volume IV



_Published for Henry Colburn, March 1836._ ]

















On another of these evenings, the Emperor was holding forth against the caprice of women: “Nothing,” said he, “more clearly indicates rank, education, and good breeding among them, than evenness of temper and the constant desire to please.” He added that they were bound by circumstances to appear at all times mistresses of themselves, and to be always attending to their part on the stage. His two wives, he observed, had always been so: they certainly differed greatly in their qualities and dispositions; but they always agreed in this point. Never had he witnessed ill-humour in either the one or the other: to please him had been the constant object with both of them.

Some one ventured to observe, however, that Maria-Louisa had boasted that, whenever she desired any thing, no matter how difficult, she had only to weep. The Emperor laughed, and said, this was new to him. He might have suspected it of Josephine, but he had no idea of it in Maria-Louisa. And then, addressing himself to Mesdames Bertrand and Montholon: “Thus it is with you all, ladies,” said he: “in some points you all agree.”

He continued for a long time to talk about the two Empresses, and repeated, as usual, that one was Innocence, and the other the Graces. He passed from them to his sisters, and dwelt particularly on the charms of the Princess Pauline. It was admitted that she was, without dispute, the handsomest woman in Paris. The Emperor said that the artists were unanimous in considering her a perfect Venus de Medicis. A little pleasantry was hazarded on the influence which the Princess Pauline had exercised, at the Island of Elba, over General Drouot, whose assiduous attentions she attracted in spite of the difference of their ages and the harshness of his countenance. The Princess, it was said, had drawn from him the secret of the intended departure, eight days before it took place. He had repeated the fault of Turenne; and upon this the Emperor said, “Such are women, and such is their dangerous power!” Here Madame Bertrand declared that the Grand Marshal, to a certainty, had not done as much. “Madame,” retorted the Emperor with a smile, “he was only your husband.” Some one having remarked that the Princess Pauline, when at Nice, had set up a post-waggon on the road, by which dresses and fashions arrived from Paris every day, the Emperor said: “If I had been aware of it, that should not have lasted long, she should have been well scolded. But thus it happens: while one is Emperor one knows nothing of these matters.”

After this conversation the Emperor enquired what was the day of the month: it was the 11th of March. “Well!” said he, “it is a year ago to-day, it was a brilliant day; I was at Lyons, I reviewed some troops, I had the Mayor to dine with me, who, by the way, has boasted since that it was the worst dinner he ever made in his life.” The Emperor became animated; he paced the chamber quickly. “I was again become a great power,” he continued: and a sigh escaped him, which he immediately checked with these words, in an accent and with a warmth which it is difficult to describe: “I had founded the finest empire in the world, and I was so necessary to it that, in spite of all the last reverses, here, upon my rock, I seem still to remain the master of France. Look at what is going on there, read the papers, you will find it so in every line. Let me once more set my foot there, they will see what France is, and what I can do!” And then what ideas, what projects, he developed for the glory and happiness of the country! He spoke for a long time, with so much interest, and so unreservedly, that we could have forgotten time, place, and seasons. A part of what he said follows:

“What a fatality,” he said, "that my return from the Island of Elba was not acquiesced in, that every one did not perceive that my reign was desirable and necessary for the balance and repose of Europe! But kings and people both feared me; they were wrong, and may pay dearly for it. I returned a new man; they could not believe it; they could not imagine that a man might have sufficient strength of mind to alter his character, or to bend to the power of circumstances. I had, however, given proofs of this, and some pledges to the same effect. Who is ignorant that I am not a man for half-measures? I should have been as sincerely the monarch of the constitution and of peace, as I had been of absolute sway and great enterprises.

"Let us reason a little upon the fears of kings and people on my account. What could the kings apprehend? Did they still dread my ambition, my conquests, my universal monarchy? But my power and my resources were no longer the same; and, besides, I had only defeated and conquered in my own defence: this is a truth which time will more fully develop every day. Europe never ceased to make war upon France, her principles, and me; and we were compelled to destroy, to save ourselves from destruction. The coalition always existed openly or secretly, avowed or denied; it was permanent; it only rested with the Allies to give us peace; for ourselves, we were worn out; the French dreaded making new conquests. As to myself, is it supposed that I am insensible to the charms of repose and security, when glory and honour do not require it otherwise? With our two Chambers, they might have forbidden me in future to pass the Rhine; and why should I have wished it? For my universal monarchy? But I never gave any convincing proof of insanity; and what is its chief characteristic, but a disproportion between our object and the means of attaining it. If I have been on the point of accomplishing this universal monarchy, it was without any original design, and because I was led on to it step by step. The last efforts wanting to arrive at it seemed so trifling, was it very unreasonable to attempt them? But, on my return from Elba, could a similar idea, a thought so mad, a purpose so unattainable, enter the head of the silliest man in the world? The Sovereigns, then, had nothing to fear from my arms.

"Did they apprehend that I might overwhelm them with anarchical principles? But they knew by experience my opinions on that point. They have all seen me occupy their territories: how often have I been urged to revolutionize their states, give municipal functions to their cities, and excite insurrection among their subjects! However I may have been stigmatized, in their names, as _the modern Attila, Robespierre on horseback_, &c. they all know better at the bottom of their hearts—let them look there! Had I been so, I might perhaps still have reigned; but they most certainly would have long since ceased to reign. In the great cause of which I saw myself the chief and the arbiter, one of two systems was to be followed: to make kings listen to reason from the people; or to conduct the people to happiness by means of their kings. But it is well known to be no easy matter to check the people when they are once set on: it was more rational to reckon a little upon the wisdom and intelligence of rulers. I had a right always to suppose them possessed of sufficient intellect to see such obvious interests: I was deceived; they never calculated at all, and in their blind fury, they let loose against me that which I withheld when opposed to them. They will see!!!

"Lastly, did the Sovereigns take umbrage at seeing a mere soldier attain a crown? Did they fear the example? The solemnities, the circumstances, that accompanied my elevation, my eagerness to conform to their habits, to identify myself with their existence, to become allied to them by blood and by policy, closed the door sufficiently against new comers. Besides, if there must needs have been the spectacle of an interrupted legitimacy, I maintain that it was much more to their interest that it should take place in my person, one risen from the ranks, than in that of a prince, one of their own family: for thousands of ages will elapse before the circumstances accumulated in my case draw forth another from among the crowd to reproduce the same spectacle; while there is not a Sovereign who has not, at a few paces distance in his palace, cousins, nephews, brothers, and relations, to whom it would be easy to follow such an example if once set.

"On the other side, what was there to alarm the people? Did they fear that I should come to plunder and to impose chains on them?—On the contrary, I came the Messiah of peace and of their rights: this new maxim was my whole strength—to violate it would have been ruin. But even the French mistrusted me; they had the insanity to discuss, when there was nothing to do but to fight; to divide, when they should have united on any terms. And was it not better to run the risk of having me again for master than to expose themselves to that of being subjected to a foreign yoke? Would it not have been easier to rid themselves of a single despot, of one tyrant, than to shake off the chains of all the nations united? And moreover, whence arose this mistrust of me? Because they had already seen me concentrate all efforts in myself, and direct them with a vigorous hand? But do they not learn at the present day, to their cost, how necessary that was? Well! the danger was in any case the same: the contest terrible, and the crisis imminent. In this state of things, was not absolute power necessary, indispensable? The welfare of the country obliged me even to declare it openly on my return from Leipsic. I should have done so again on my return from Elba. I was wanting in consistency, or rather in confidence in the French, because many of them no longer placed any in me, and it was doing me a great wrong. If narrow and vulgar minds only saw, in all my efforts, a care for my own power, ought not those of greater scope to have shewn that, under the circumstances in which we were placed, my power and the country were but one! Did it require such great and incurable mischiefs to enable them to comprehend me? History will do me more justice: it will signalize me as the man of self-denials and disinterestedness. To what temptations was I not exposed in the army of Italy? England offered me the Crown of France at the time of the treaty of Amiens.—I refused peace at Châtillon: I disdained all personal stipulations at Waterloo;—and why? Because all this had no reference to my country, and I had no ambition distinct from her’s—that of her glory, her ascendancy, her majesty. And there is the reason that, in spite of so many calamities, I am still so popular among the French. It is a sort of instinct of after-justice on their part.

"Who in the world ever had greater treasures at his disposal? I have had many hundred millions in my vaults; many other hundreds composed my _domaine de l’extraordinaire_: all these were my own. What is become of them?—They were poured out in the distresses of the country. Let them contemplate me here: I live destitute upon my rock. My fortune was wholly in that of France. In the extraordinary situation to which fate had raised me, my treasures were her’s: I had identified myself completely with her destinies. What other calculation was consistent with the height to which I had risen? Was I ever seen occupied about my personal interests? I never knew any other enjoyment, any other riches, than those of the public;—so much so, that when Josephine, who had a taste for the Arts, succeeded under the sanction of my name in acquiring some master-pieces, though they were in my palace, under my eyes, in my family apartments, they offended me, I thought myself robbed: _they were not in the Museum_.

“Ah! the French people undoubtedly did much for me! more than was ever done before for man! But, at the same time, who ever did so much for them? who ever identified himself with them in the same manner? But to return.—After all, what could be their fears? Were not the Chambers and the new Constitution sufficient guarantees for the future? Those additional Acts, against which so much indignation was expressed, did they not carry in themselves their own corrective—remedies that were infallible? How could I have violated them? I had not myself millions of arms; I was but one man. Public opinion raised me up once more; public opinion might equally put me down again; and, compared with this risk, what had I to gain?”

"But as to surrounding States (I speak particularly as regards England), what could be her fears, her motives, her jealousies? We enquire in vain. With our new Constitution, our two Chambers, had we not adopted her creed for the future? Was not that the sure means of coming to a mutual understanding, to establish in future a community of interest? The caprice, the passions of their rulers, once fettered, the interests of the people move on, without obstacle, in their natural course: look at the merchants of hostile nations; they continue their intercourse, and pursue their business however their governments may wage war. The two nations had arrived at that point.—Thanks to their respective parliaments, each would have become the guarantee for the other: and who can ever tell to what extent the union of the two nations and of their interests might have been carried; what new combinations might have been set to work? It is certain that, on the establishment of our two Chambers and our Constitution, the Ministers of England had in their hands the glory and prosperity of their country, the destinies and the welfare of the world. Had I beaten the English army and won my last battle, I should have caused a great and happy astonishment; the following day I would have proposed peace, and, for once, it would have been I who scattered benefits with a prodigal hand. Instead of this, perhaps, the English will one day have to lament that they were victorious at Waterloo.

"I repeat it, the people and the sovereigns were wrong: I had restored thrones and an inoffensive nobility; and thrones and nobility may again find themselves in danger. I had fixed and consecrated the reasonable limits of the people’s rights; vague, peremptory and undefined claims may again arise.

“Had my return, my establishment on the throne, my adoption, been freely acquiesced in by the sovereigns, the cause of kings and the people would have been settled; both would have gained. Now they are again to try it; both may lose. They might have concluded every thing; they may have every thing to begin again: they might have secured a long and certain calm, and already begun to enjoy it: and, instead of that, a spark may now be sufficient to re-produce a general conflagration! Poor, weak humanity!”

Attached, as I am, to the words and the opinions which I gathered from Napoleon on his rock of exile, and however perfectly persuaded and convinced of their entire sincerity, I do not the less experience an extreme gratification, whenever a testimony from another quarter confirms the truth of them; and I am bound to say that I have that gratification as often as opportunity occurs of obtaining other evidence.

The reader has just perused the foregoing remarkable passage, in which Napoleon expresses his ideas, his intentions, his sentiments. What a value do not these expressions collected at St. Helena acquire, when we find them re-echoed in Europe, at the distance of 2000 leagues, by a celebrated writer, who, with a shade of difference in his opinions, and at a very different time, had himself received them from the same lips! What a fortunate circumstance for history! I cannot, indeed, forbear bringing forward here this extract from M. Benjamin Constant, as well on account of the intrinsic merit of the expressions, as from the weight they acquire from the distinguished writer who records them; and also from the pleasure I feel in seeing them coincide so exactly with what I have collected myself in another hemisphere. There are the same intentions, the same depth of thought, the same sentiments.

“I went to the Tuileries,” says M. Benjamin Constant in his account; "I found Bonaparte alone. He began the conversation: it was long: I will only give an analysis of it; for I do not propose to make an exhibition of an unfortunate man. I will not amuse my readers at the expense of fallen greatness; I will not give up to malevolent curiosity him whom I have served, whatever might be my motive; and I will not transcribe more of his discourse than is indispensable: but in what I shall transcribe, I will use his own words.

“He did not attempt to deceive me either as to his views, or the state of affairs. He did not present himself as one corrected by the lessons of adversity: he did not desire to take the merit of returning to liberty from inclination; he investigated coolly, as regarded his interest, and, with an impartiality too nearly allied to indifference, what was possible and what was preferable.

“‘The nation,’ said he, ‘has rested for twelve years from all political agitation, and for a year it has been undisturbed by war: this double repose has begotten a necessity for motion. It desires, or fancies it desires, a public rostrum and assemblies; it has not always desired them. It cast itself at my feet when I came to the government; you must remember, you who made trial of its opinion. Where was your support, your power? No where. I took less authority than I was invited to take. Now all is changed. A weak government, opposed to the interests of the nation, has given these interests the habit of taking up the defensive, and of cavilling at authority. The taste for constitutions, debates, harangues, seems to return.... However, it is only the minority that desires it, do not deceive yourself. The people, or if you like it better, the mob, desire me alone; you have not seen them, this mob, crowding after me, rushing from the tops of the mountains, calling me, seeking me, saluting me.[1] On my return hither from Cannes, I did not conquer—I administered.... I am not only, as it has been said, the Emperor of the soldiers; I am the Emperor of the peasants, of the lower ranks in France.... Thus, in spite of all that is past, you see the people return to me—there is a sympathy between us. It is not so with the privileged classes; the nobility have served me, have rushed in crowds into my ante-chambers, there are no offices that they have not accepted, solicited, pressed for. I have had my _Montmorencies_, my _Noailles_, my _Rohans_, my _Beauveaus_, my _Mortemarts_. But there was no analogy between us. The steed curvetted, he was well trained, but I felt him quivering under me. With the people it is another thing; the popular fibre responds to mine: I am come from the ranks of the people, my voice has influence over them. Observe these conscripts, these sons of peasants, I did not flatter them, I treated them with severity; they did not the less surround me, they did not the less shout ‘_The Emperor for ever!_’ It is because between them and me there is an identity of nature; they look to me as their support, their defender against the nobles.... I have but to make a sign, or rather to turn away my eyes, and the nobles will be massacred in all the departments. They have carried on such fine intrigues for these six months!... But I will not be the King of a _Jacquerie_. If there are any means of governing with a Constitution, well and good..... I wished for the empire of the world; and, to insure it, unlimited power was necessary to me. To govern France only, a Constitution may be better.... I wished for the empire of the world, and who in my situation would not have wished for it? The world invited me to govern it: sovereigns and subjects vied with each other in hastening beneath my sceptre. I have rarely found any opposition in France; but I have, however, met with more from some obscure unarmed Frenchmen, than from all those kings, so vain at present of no longer having a popular man for their equal.... Consider, then, what seems to you to be possible. Give me your ideas. Free elections, public discussions, responsible ministers, liberty, all this is my wish.... The liberty of the press in particular: to stifle it is absurd—I am satisfied upon this point.... I am the man of the people, if the people sincerely wish for liberty: I owe it to them. I have recognised their sovereignty; I am bound to lend an ear to their desires, even to their caprices. I never desired to oppress them for my own gratification. I had great designs, fate has decided them; I am no longer a conqueror, I can no more become so. I know what is possible and what is not; I have now but once charge—to relieve France, and to give her a government that is suited to her.... I am not inimical to liberty: I set it aside when it obstructed my road; but I comprehend it, I have been educated in its principles.... At the same time, the work of fifteen years is destroyed; it cannot begin again. It would require twenty years, and the sacrifice of two millions of men.... Besides I am desirous of peace, and I shall obtain it only by dint of victories. I will not hold out false hopes to you; I cause reports to be circulated that negotiations are on foot; but there are none. I foresee a difficult contest, a long war. To maintain it, the nation must support me; but in return, it will require liberty,—and it shall have it.... The situation is new. I desire no better than to receive information; I grow old; a man is no longer at forty-five what he was at thirty. The repose of a constitutional monarch may be well suited to me. It will assuredly be still more suitable to my son.’”

Footnote 1:

_Note by M.B.C._—Bonaparte attached a high value to the proofs that his return was not effected by military manœuvres. I am sorry that I have not by me six pages which he had written or dictated on this subject, and which he had carefully corrected. He put them into my hands at the time of the communication referred to here. He desired that I would reply to Lord Castlereagh, who, in a speech in parliament, had attributed all his success to the army.

Not choosing to write at all, till I had ascertained that it was not a despot that I was restoring to France, I declined this task; and, in 1815, I entrusted the sketch which Napoleon had given me to one of my friends, who set out for England, and from whom I have hitherto neglected to get it back again. It was written with much warmth; it contained expressions singular, but powerful, a great rapidity of thought, and some strokes of real eloquence.

13th.—The Emperor sent instructions to the Grand Marshal to write to the Admiral to enquire if a letter which he, Napoleon, should write to the Prince Regent would be sent to him. Towards four o’clock, the Deputy Governor Skelton and his lady desired to pay their respects to the Emperor. He received them, took them to walk in the garden, and afterwards out with him in his carriage. The weather had been extremely foggy all day. Upon its clearing up for a short time we saw, on a sudden, a corvette or frigate very near, and coming in with all sails set.


14th—15th. We received the Admiral’s answer. After beginning, according to his established form, by saying that he knew no person by the title of ‘Emperor’ at St. Helena, he stated, that he would undoubtedly send the Emperor’s letter to the Prince Regent: but that he should adhere to the tenor of his instructions, which directed him not to allow any paper to be despatched to England, without having first opened it.

This communication, it must be acknowledged, gave us great astonishment: the part of the instructions cited by the Admiral had two objects in view, both of them foreign to the interpretation put upon them by this officer.

The first was, in the case of our making any complaints, that the local authorities might add their observations, and that the government, in England, might do us justice more speedily, without being obliged to send again to the island for farther information. This precaution, then, was entirely for our interest. The second object of this measure was that our correspondence might not be prejudicial to the interests of the government or the policy of England. But we were writing to the Sovereign, to the chief, to the individual in whom these interests and this government centered: and if there was any conspiracy here, it was not on the part of us, who were writing to him, but rather on his who intercepted our letter, or resolved to violate the privacy of it. That they should place jailors about us with all their equipage, though we did not consider it just, still it seemed possible. But that these jailors should cause their functions to react, even upon their Sovereign, was a thing for which we could not find a name! It was to attach to him completely the idea of a King without faculties, or of a Sultan buried in the recesses of his Seraglio! It was really a monstrous phenomenon in our European manners!

For a long time, we had little or no intercourse with the Admiral. One thought that ill humour had perhaps dictated his answer; another supposed that he was fearful the letter might contain some complaints against him. But the Admiral knew the Emperor too well, not to be aware that he would never appeal to any other tribunal than to that of nations. I, who knew what would have been the subject of the letter, felt the most lively indignation at it! The sole intention of the Emperor had been to employ this method, the only one that seemed compatible with his dignity, to write to his wife, and obtain tidings of his son. However, the Grand Marshal replied to the Admiral that he either over-stepped, or misinterpreted his instructions; that his determination could only be regarded as another instance of flagrant vexation; that the condition imposed was too much beneath the dignity of the Emperor, as well as of the Prince Regent, for him to retain any intention of writing.

The frigate that had just arrived was the Spey, bringing the European papers to the 31st December: they contained the execution of the unfortunate Marshal Ney, and the escape of Lavalette.

“Ney,” said the Emperor, “as ill attacked as defended, had been condemned by the Chamber of Peers, in the teeth of a formal capitulation. His execution had been allowed to take place; that was another error—from that moment he became a martyr. That Labedoyere should not have been pardoned, because the clemency extended to him would have seemed only a predilection in favour of the old Aristocracy, might be conceived; but the pardon of Ney would only have been a proof of the strength of the government, and the moderation of the Prince. It will be said, perhaps, that an example was necessary! But the Marshal would become so, much more certainly, by a pardon, after being degraded by a sentence: it was, to him, in fact, a moral death that deprived him of all influence; and nevertheless the object of authority would be obtained, the Sovereign satisfied, the example complete. The refusal of pardon to Lavalette, and his escape, were new grievances equally unpopular,” said the Emperor.

“But the saloons of Paris,” he observed, “exhibited the same passions as the clubs; the nobility were a new version of the Jacobins. Europe, moreover, was in a state of complete anarchy; the code of political immorality was openly followed; whatever fell into the hands of the Sovereigns was turned to the advantage of each of them. At least in my time I was the butt of all the accusations of this kind. The Sovereigns then talked of nothing but principles and virtue; but now,” added he, “that they are victorious and without control, they practise unblushingly all the wrongs which they themselves then reprobated. What resource and what hope were there then left for nations and for morality? Our countrywomen at least,” he observed, “have rendered their sentiments illustrious: Madame Labedoyere was on the point of dying from grief, and these papers shew us that Madame Ney has displayed the most courageous and determined devotion. Madame Lavalette is become the heroine of Europe.”


16th.—The Emperor had quitted the Encyclopedia Britannica, to take his lessons in English in the _Annual Register_. He read there the adventure of a Mr. Spencer Smith, arrested at Venice, ordered to be sent to Valenciennes, and who made his escape on the road. “This must be a very simple affair,” said the Emperor, “which the narrator has converted into a statement of importance.” The circumstance was totally unknown to him; it was a police affair of too little consequence, he observed, to have found its way up to him.

About four o’clock the captain of the Spey, just arrived from Europe, and the captain of the Ceylon, about to sail for England, were presented to the Emperor. He was in low spirits—he was unwell: the audience of the first was very short; that of the second would have been the same, had he not roused the Emperor by asking if we had any letters to send to Europe. The Emperor then desired me to ask him if he should see the Prince Regent; on his answering in the affirmative, I was charged to inform him that the Emperor was desirous of writing to the Prince Regent, but that in consequence of the observation of the Admiral, that he would open the letter, he had abstained from it, as being inconsistent with his dignity and with that of the Prince Regent himself: that he had, indeed, heard the laws of England much boasted of, but that he could not discover their benefits anywhere; that he had only now to expect, indeed to desire, an executioner; that the torture they made him endure was inhuman, savage; that it would have been more open and energetic to put him to death. The Emperor made me request of the captain that he would take upon him to deliver these words, and dismissed him: he looked very red and was much embarrassed.


17th.—An English Colonel, arrived from the Cape on his return from the Isle of France, came in the morning and addressed himself to me, to try to get an introduction to the Emperor. The Admiral had only allowed his vessel to remain two or three hours in the road. Having prevailed on the Emperor to receive him at four o’clock, he assured me that he would rather miss his vessel than lose such an opportunity. The Emperor was not very well, he had passed several hours in his bath; at four he received the Colonel.

The Emperor put many questions to him concerning the Isle of France, lately ceded to the English; it seems that its prosperity and its commerce suffer from its change of sovereignty.

After the departure of the Colonel, being alone with the Emperor in the garden, I told him that his person seemed to have remained very dear to the inhabitants of the Isle of France; that the Colonel had informed me that the name of Napoleon was never pronounced there but with commiseration. It was precisely on the day of a great festival in the colony, that they learned his departure from France and his arrival at Plymouth; the theatre was to be particularly attractive: the news having arrived during the day, in the evening there was not a single colonist, either white or of colour, in the house: there were only some English, who were exceedingly confused and irritated at the circumstance. The Emperor listened to me. “It is quite plain,” said he, after some moments’ silence; “this proves that the inhabitants of the Isle of France have continued French. I am the country; they love it: it has been wounded in my person, they are grieved at it.” I added that the change of dominion restraining their expressions, they durst not propose his health publicly; but that the Colonel said they never neglected it notwithstanding; they drank to _him_, this word had become consecrated to Napoleon. These details touched him. “Poor Frenchmen!” he said with emphasis—"Poor People! Poor Nation! I deserved all that, I loved thee! But thou, thou surely didst not deserve all the ills that press upon thee! Ah! thou didst merit well that one should devote himself to thee! But what infamy, what baseness, what degradation, it must be confessed, I had about me!" And, addressing himself to me, he added: “I do not speak here of your friends of the Fauxbourg-Saint-Germain; for with respect to them it is another matter.”

There frequently reached us incidents and expressions which, like those from the Isle of France, were calculated to excite emotion in the heart. The Island of Ascension, in our neighbourhood, had always been desert and abandoned; since we have been here, the English have thought proper to form an establishment there. The captain who went to take possession of it told us, on his return, that he was much astonished on landing to find upon the beach, _May the great Napoleon live for ever!_

In the last papers that reached us, among many good-natured sallies, it was remarked, in several languages, that _Paris_ would never be happy till his _Helen_ should be restored to him: these were a few drops of honey in our cup of wormwood.


18th—19th. The Emperor was on horseback by eight o’clock. He had abstained from it for a long time: want of space to ride over was the cause. His health suffers visibly in consequence, and it is astonishing that the want of exercise is not still more hurtful to him, who was in the daily habit of taking it to a violent degree. On our return, the Emperor breakfasted out of doors; he detained us all. After breakfast, the conversation fell on Herculaneum and Pompeii; the phenomenon and epoch of their destruction, the time and the accident of their modern discovery, the monuments and the curiosities, which they have since afforded us. The Emperor said that if Rome had remained under his dominion, she would have risen again from her ruins: he intended to have cleared away all the rubbish; to have restored as much as possible. He did not doubt that, the same spirit extending through all the vicinity, it might have been in some degree the same with Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Breakfast being concluded, the Emperor sent my son to bring the volume of Crevier which contains this event; and he read it to us, as well as the death and character of Pliny. He retired about noon to take some rest. Towards six o’clock we took our usual round in the carriage. The Emperor took with him Mr. and Mrs. Skelton, who were come to visit him.

On our return, the Emperor, driven from the garden by the damp, went to see General Gourgaud, who was recovering rapidly. After dinner, on leaving the table and returning to the drawing-room, we could not help reverting to the meal we had just made;—literally nothing was fit to eat: the bread bad, the wine not drinkable, the meat disgusting and unwholesome: we are frequently obliged to send it back again. They continue in spite of our remonstrances, to send it to us dead, because by that method they can put us off with such animals as have died naturally.

The Emperor, shocked at this representation, could not refrain from saying, with warmth: “No doubt there are people whose physical situation is still worse; but that circumstance does not deprive us of the right of giving an opinion on our own condition, or on the infamous manner in which we are treated. The injustice of the English government, not content with sending us hither, has extended to the selection of the individuals to whom our persons and the supply of our wants are intrusted! For my part, I should suffer less if I were sure that it would one day be divulged to the whole world in such a way as to brand with infamy those who are guilty of it. But let us talk of something else,” said he—“what is the day of the month?” He was told it was the 19th of March: “What!” he exclaimed, “the eve of the 20th of March!” And a few seconds afterwards: “But let us talk of something else.” He sent for a volume of Racine, and at first began to read the comedy of the _Plaideurs_: but, after a scene or two, he turned to _Britannicus_, which he read to us. When the reading was concluded, and the due tribute of admiration had been paid, he said that Racine was censured for making the _dénouement_ of this piece too sudden, that the poisoning of Britannicus was not expected so early in the play as it ought to have been. He highly praised the truth of the character of Narcissus, observing that it was always by wounding the self-love of princes that their determinations were most influenced.


20th.—After dinner one of us observed to the Emperor that he had been less solitary, less quiet, that day twelve-month at the same hour. “I was sitting down to table at the Tuileries,” said the Emperor. “I had found it difficult to get thither: the dangers I went through in that attempt were at least equal to those of a battle.” In fact he had been seized, on his arrival, by thousands of officers and citizens; one party had snatched him from another; he had been carried to the palace, and, amidst a tumult like that of a mob about to tear a man to pieces, instead of the orderly and respectful attendance of a multitude intent on shewing their veneration for an individual. But we ought to look at the sentiment and intention in this case: it was enthusiasm, and love, carried to a pitch that resembled rage or madness.

The Emperor added that in all probability more than one person in Europe would talk of him that evening; and that, in spite of all observation, many a bottle would be emptied on his account.

The conversation then turned on the King of Rome; that day was the anniversary of his birth; the Emperor reckoned that he must be five years old. He then spoke of the accouchement of the Empress, and seemed to take some pleasure in boasting that he had proved himself, on that occasion, as good a husband as any in the world. He assisted the Empress to walk about all night. We who were of the household knew something of the matter; we had all been called together at the palace at ten in the evening; we passed the night there; and the cries of the Empress sometimes reached our ears. Towards morning the accoucheur having told the Emperor that the pains had ceased, and that the labour might yet be tedious, the Emperor went to the bath, and sent us away, desiring us, however, not to go from home. The Emperor had not been long in the bath, when the pains came on again; and the accoucheur ran to him, almost out of his wits, saying he was the most unfortunate of men; that out of a thousand labours in Paris there was not one more difficult. The Emperor, dressing himself again as fast as he could, encouraged him, saying that a man who understood his business ought never to lose his presence of mind; that there was nothing in this case that he ought to be uneasy about; that he had only to fancy he was delivering a citizen’s wife of the Rue Saint-Denis: that nature had but one law; that he was sure he would act for the best; and, above all, that he need not fear any reproach. It was then represented to the Emperor that there was great danger either for the mother or the child. “If the mother lives,” said he, without hesitation, "I shall have another child. Act in this case as if you were attending the birth of a cobbler’s son."

When he reached the Empress she really was in danger; the child presented itself in an unfavourable posture, and there was every reason to fear that it would be stifled.[2]

Footnote 2:

This event took place in the presence of twenty-two persons:—The Emperor.—Dubois, Corvisart, Bourdier and Ivan.—Madames de Montebello, de Lucay, and de Montesquiou. The six first ladies:—Ballant, Deschamps, Durant, Hureau, Nabusson, and Gerard. Five ladies of the bed-chamber.—Mademoiselles Honoré, Edouard, Barbier, Aubert, and Geoffroy. The Keeper;—Madame Blaise, and two maids of the wardrobe.

The Emperor asked Dubois why he did not deliver her. He excused himself, being unwilling to do it, he said, except in the presence of Corvisart, who had not yet arrived. “But what can he tell you?” said the Emperor. “If it is a witness, or a justification, you want to secure, here am I.” Then Dubois, taking off his coat, commenced the operation. When the Empress saw the instruments, she cried out in a piteous manner, exclaiming that they were going to kill her. She was firmly held by the Emperor, Madame de Montesquiou, Corvisart, who had just come in, &c. Madame de Montesquiou dexterously took an opportunity to encourage her, by declaring that she herself had more than once been in the same situation.

The Empress, however, still persuaded herself that she was treated differently from other women, and often repeated, “Am I to be sacrificed because I am an Empress?” She declared, afterwards, to the Emperor, that she really had entertained this fear. At length she was delivered. The danger had been so imminent, said the Emperor, that all the etiquette which had been studied and ordered was disregarded, and the child put on one side, on the floor, whilst every one was occupied about the mother only. The infant remained some moments in this situation, and it was thought he was dead: it was Corvisart who took him up, chafed him, and brought him to utter a cry.[3]

Footnote 3:

In an interesting work published some years since relative to the return from Elba, there is this passage: “When young Napoleon came into the world, he was supposed to be dead; he had neither warmth, motion, nor respiration. Repeated efforts were made to produce signs of life, when the hundred guns destined to proclaim his birth were successively fired. The commotion and shock which they occasioned acted so powerfully on the organs of the royal infant as to bring him to his senses.”


21st—22nd. The Emperor rode out very early: we made the tour of our limits in several directions. It is during these rides that the Emperor now takes his lessons in English. I walk by his side; he speaks a few sentences in English, which I translate, word by word, as he pronounces them; by which method he perceives when he is understood, or is enabled to correct his mistakes. When he has finished a sentence, I repeat it to him in English, so that he may understand it well himself: this helps to form his ear.

The Emperor was reading to-day, in the Roman History, of Catiline’s conspiracy; he could not comprehend it in the way in which it is described. “However great a villain Catiline might be,” observed he, “he must have had some object in view: it could not be that of governing in Rome, since he is accused of having intended to set fire to the four quarters of the city.” The Emperor conceived it to be much more probable that it was some new faction similar to those of Marius and Sylla, which having failed, all the accusations calculated to excite the horror of patriots, were, as usual in such cases, heaped on the head of its leader. It was then observed to the Emperor that the same thing would infallibly have happened to himself, had he been overpowered in Vendemiaire, Fructidor, or Brumaire, before he had illumined with such radiant brilliancy an horizon cleared of clouds.

The Gracchi gave rise to doubts and suspicions of a very different sort in his mind, which, he said, became almost certainties to those who had been engaged in the politics of our times. “History,” said he, "presents these Gracchi, in the aggregate, as seditious people, revolutionists, criminals; and, nevertheless, allows it to appear, in detail, that they had virtues; that they were gentle, disinterested, moral men; and, besides, they were the sons of the illustrious Cornelia, which, to great minds, ought to be a strong primary presumption in their favour. How then can such a contrast be accounted for? It is thus: the Gracchi generously devoted themselves in behalf of the rights of the oppressed people, against a tyrannical senate; and their great talents and noble character endangered a ferocious aristocracy, which triumphed, murdered, and calumniated them. The historians of a party have transmitted their characters in the same spirit. Under the Emperors it was necessary to continue in the same manner; the bare mention of the rights of the people, under a despotic master, was a blasphemy, a downright crime. Afterwards, the case was the same under the feudal system, which was so fruitful in petty despots. Such, no doubt, is the fatality which has attended the memory of the Gracchi. Throughout succeeding ages their virtues have never ceased to be considered crimes; but at this day, when, possessed of better information, we have thought it expedient to reason, the Gracchi may and ought to find favour in our eyes.

“In that terrible struggle between the aristocracy and democracy, which has been renewed in our times—in that exasperation of ancient landed property against modern industry, which still ferments throughout Europe, there is no doubt that if the aristocracy should triumph by force, it would point out many Gracchi in all directions, and treat them as mercifully as its predecessors did the Gracchi of Rome.”

The Emperor added that it was, moreover, easy to see that there was a hiatus in the ancient authors at this period of history; that all which the moderns now presented to us on this subject was mere gleaning. He then reverted to the charges already made against honest Rollin and his pupil Crevier: they were both devoid of talent, system, or colouring. It was to be allowed that the ancients were far superior to us in this point; and that because, amongst them, statesmen were literary men, and men of letters statesmen; they combined professions, whilst we divide them in an absolute manner. This famous division of labour, which in our times produces such a perfection in mechanical arts, is quite fatal to excellence in mental productions: every work of genius is superior in proportion to the universality of the mind whence it emanates. We owe to the Emperor the attempt to establish this principle by frequently employing on various objects men wholly unconnected with each other;—it was his system. He once appointed, of his own accord, one of his chamberlains to go into Illyria to liquidate the Austrian debt: this was a matter of importance, and extremely complicated. The chamberlain, who had previously been a total stranger to public business, was alarmed; and the minister, who had been deprived of this appointment, being dissatisfied with it, ventured to represent to the Emperor that, his nomination having fallen on a man entirely new to such matters, it might be feared that he would not acquit himself satisfactorily. “I have a lucky hand, sir,” was his answer: “those on whom I lay it are fit for every thing.”

The Emperor, proceeding in his criticism, also censured severely what he called historical fooleries, ridiculously exalted by translators and commentators. “Such things prove, in the first place,” said he, “that the historians formed erroneous judgments of men and circumstances. They are wrong, for instance,” said Napoleon, “when they applaud so highly the _continence of Scipio_, and fall into ecstasies at the calmness of Alexander, Cæsar, and others, for having been able to sleep on the eve of a battle. It could only be a monk, debarred from women, whose face brightens up at the very name—who neighs behind his bars at their approach, who could give Scipio much credit for forbearing to violate the female whom chance threw into his power, while he had so many others entirely at his disposal. A famished man might as well praise the hero for having quietly passed by a table covered with victuals, without greedily snatching at them.” As to sleeping just before a battle, there was not, he assured us, one of our soldiers or generals who had not twenty times performed that miracle; their heroism was chiefly produced by the fatigue of the day before.

Here the Grand Marshal added that he could safely say he had seen Napoleon sleep, not only on the eve of an engagement, but even during the battle. “I was obliged to do so,” said Napoleon, “when I fought battles that lasted three days; Nature was also to have her due: I took advantage of the smallest intervals, and slept where and when I could.” He slept on the field of battle at Wagram, and at Bautzen, even during the action, and completely within the range of the enemy’s balls. On this subject, he said that, independently of the necessity of obeying nature, these slumbers afforded a general, commanding a very large army, the important advantage of enabling him to await, calmly, the reports and combinations of all his divisions, instead of, perhaps, being hurried away by the only event which he himself could witness.

The Emperor farther said that he found in Rollin, and even Cæsar, circumstances of the Gallic war which he could not understand. He could not by any means comprehend the invasion of the Helvetii; the road they took; the object ascribed to them; the time they spent in crossing the Saone; the diligence of Cæsar, who found time to go into Italy, as far as Aquileia, in quest of reinforcements, and who overtook the invaders before they had passed the Saone, &c.; that it was equally difficult to comprehend what was meant by establishing winter-quarters that extended from Treves to Vannes. And as we expressed our surprise at the immense works which the generals got performed by their soldiers, the ditches, walls, great towers, galleries, &c., the Emperor observed that in those times all efforts were directed to construction on the spot, whereas in ours they were employed in conveyance. He also thought the ancient soldiers laboured, in fact, more than ours. He had thoughts of dictating something on that subject. “Ancient history, however,” said he, “embraces a long period, and the system of war often changed. In our days it was no longer that of the times of Turenne and Vauban: field-works were growing useless; even the system of our fortresses had become problematical or inefficient; the enormous quantity of bombs and howitzers changed every thing. It was no longer against the horizontal attack that defence was requisite, but also against the curve and the reflected lines. None of the ancient fortresses were henceforth safe; they ceased to be tenable; no country was rich enough to maintain them. The revenue of France would be insufficient for her lines in Flanders, for the exterior fortifications were now not above a fourth or fifth of the necessary expense. Casements, magazines, places of shelter secure from the effects of bombs, were now indispensably requisite, and these were too expensive.” The Emperor complained particularly of the weakness of modern masonry: the engineer department is radically defective in this point; it had cost him immense sums, wholly thrown away.

Struck with these novel truths, the Emperor had invented a system altogether at variance with the axioms hitherto established; it was to have metal of an extraordinary calibre, to advance beyond the principal line towards the enemy; and to have that principal line itself, on the contrary, defended by a great quantity of small moveable artillery: hence the enemy would be stopped short in his sudden advance; he would have only weak pieces to attack powerful ones with; he would be commanded by this superior calibre, round which the resources of the fortress, the small pieces, would form in groups, or even advance to a distance, as skirmishers, and might follow all the movements of the enemy by means of their lightness and mobility. The enemy would then stand in need of battering-cannon; he would be obliged to open trenches: time would be gained, and the true object of fortification accomplished. The Emperor employed this method with great success, and to the great astonishment of the engineers, in the defence of Vienna, and in that of Dresden; he intended to use it in that of Paris, which city could not, he thought, be defended by any other means; but of the success of this method he had no doubt.


23rd—26th. The weather was very unfavourable during the greater part of these mornings, on account of the heavy rains, which scarcely allowed us to stir out of doors. The Emperor read a work by a Miss Williams, on the return from the Isle of Elba; it had just reached us from England. He was much disgusted with it, and with good reason: this production is quite calumnious and false; it is the echo and collection of all the reports invented at the time in certain malevolent Parisian societies.

As to our evenings, the weather was almost indifferent to us; whether it rained, or the moon shone brightly, we literally made ourselves prisoners. Towards nine o’clock we were surrounded by sentinels; to meet them would have been painful. It is true that both the Emperor and ourselves might have gone out at a later hour, accompanied by an officer; but this would have been rather a punishment than a pleasure to us, although the officer never could conceive this feeling. He gave us reason to conclude, at first, that he imagined this seclusion to be merely the effect of ill-humour, and thought it would not last long. I know not what he may subsequently have thought of our perseverance.

The Emperor, as I believe I have already mentioned, sat down to table pretty regularly at eight o’clock; he never remained there above half an hour; sometimes scarcely a quarter of an hour. When he returned to the drawing-room, if he happened to be unwell or taciturn, we had the greatest difficulty in the world to get on till half-past nine or ten o’clock; indeed, we could not effect it without the assistance of reading. But when he was cheerful, and entered into conversation with spirit, we were presently surprised to find it eleven o’clock, and later: these were our pleasant evenings. He would then retire, with a kind of satisfaction, at having, as he expressed it, conquered time. And it was precisely on those days, when the remark applied with least force, that he used to observe that it must require our utmost courage to endure such a life.

On one of these evenings, the conversation turned upon the military trials, which are now taking place in France. The Emperor thought that General Drouot could not be condemned for coming in the suite of one acknowledged sovereign to make war upon another. On this it was remarked that what was now mentioned as his justification would be his greatest danger at the tribunal of legitimacy.

The Emperor acknowledged, in fact, that there was nothing to be said to the doctrines brought forward at this day: but, on the other hand, that, in condemning General Drouot, they would condemn emigration, and legitimize the condemnation of the emigrants. Whomsoever was found in arms against France, the Republican doctrines punished with death; it was not so with the Royal doctrine. If they should in this instance adopt the Republican doctrine, the emigrant and royal party would condemn themselves.

The case of Drouot, however, in a general point of view, was very different even from that of Ney; and besides, Ney had evinced an unfortunate vacillation of which Drouot had never been guilty. Thus the interest which Ney had excited was wholly founded on opinion; whilst that which was felt for Drouot was personal.

The Emperor dilated on the dangers and difficulties which the tribunals and ministers of justice must experience, throughout the affairs connected with his return from the Isle of Elba. Above all, he was extremely struck by a particular circumstance relating to Soult, who, we were told, was to be brought to trial. He (Napoleon) knew, he said, how innocent Soult was; and yet, were it not for that circumstance, and were he an individual and juror in Soult’s case, he had no doubt he should declare him guilty, so strongly were appearances combined against him. Ney, in the course of his defence, through some sentiment which it is difficult to account for, stated, contrary to the truth, that the Emperor had said Soult was in intelligence with him. Now, every circumstance of Soult’s conduct during his administration, the confidence which the Emperor placed in him after his return, &c., agreed with that deposition: who, then, would not have condemned him? “Yet Soult is innocent,” said the Emperor, “he even acknowledged to me that he had taken a real liking to the King. The authority he enjoyed under him,” he said, “so different from that of my ministers, was a very agreeable thing, and had quite gained him over.”

Massena (whose proscription was also announced to us by the papers) was, the Emperor said, another person whom they would perhaps condemn as guilty of treason. All Marseilles was against him; appearances were overwhelming; and yet he had fulfilled his duty up to the very moment of declaring himself openly. On his return to Paris, he had even been far from claiming any credit with the Emperor, when the latter asked him whether he might have reckoned upon him. “The truth is,” continued the Emperor, "that all the commanders did their duty; but they could not withstand the torrent of opinion, and no one had sufficiently calculated the sentiments of the mass of the people and the national impetuosity. Carnot, Fouché, Maret, and Cambaceres, confessed to me, at Paris, that they had been greatly deceived on this point. And no one understands it well; even now.

“Had the King remained longer in France,” continued he, “he would probably have lost his life in some insurrection; but, had he fallen into my hands, I should have thought myself strong enough to have allowed him every enjoyment in some retreat of his own selection; as Ferdinand was treated at Valency.”

Immediately before this conversation, the Emperor was playing at chess, and his king having fallen, he cried out—"Ah! my poor king, you are down!" Some one having picked it up, and restored it to him in a mutilated state—"Horrid!" he exclaimed; “I certainly do not accept the omen, and I am far from wishing any such thing: my enmity does not extend so far.”

I would not, on any account, have omitted this circumstance, trifling as it may appear, because it is in many respects characteristic. We ourselves, when the Emperor had retired, reverted to the incident. What cheerfulness, what freedom of mind in such dreadful circumstances! we said. What serenity in the heart! what absence of malice, irritation, or hatred! Who could discover in him the man whom enmity and falsehood have depicted as such a monster! Even amongst his own followers, who is there that has well understood him, or taken sufficient pains to make him known?

On another evening, the Emperor was speaking of his early years, when he was in the artillery, and of his companions at the mess: he always delighted in reverting to those days. One of his messmates was mentioned, who, having been Prefect of the same department under Napoleon and under the King, had not been able to retain his place on the return of Napoleon. The Emperor, when he recollected him, said that this person had, at a certain period, missed the opportunity of making his fortune through him. When Napoleon obtained the command of the army of the Interior, he loaded this person with favours, made him his aide-de-camp, and intended to place great confidence in him; but this favoured aide-de-camp had behaved very ill to him at the time of his departure for the Army of Italy: he then abandoned his General for the Directory. “Nevertheless,” said the Emperor, "when once I was seated on the throne, he might have done much with me, if he had known how to set about it. He had the claim of early friendship, which never loses its influence; I should certainly never have withstood an unexpected overture in a hunting-party, for instance, or half an hour’s conversation on old times at any other opportunity. I should have forgotten his conduct: it was no longer important whether he had been on my side or not: I had united all parties. Those who had an insight into my character were well aware of this: they knew that, with me, however I might have felt disposed towards them, it was like the game of prison-bars; when once the point was touched, the game was won. In fact, if I wished to withstand them, I had no resource but that of refusing to see them."

He mentioned another old comrade, who, with intelligence and the requisite qualifications, might have done any thing with him. He also said that a third would never have been removed from him, had he been less rapacious.

We disputed amongst ourselves whether these people ever suspected the secret, or their own chances; and whether the elevated station and the Imperial splendour of Napoleon, had fairly allowed them to avail themselves of his favourable disposition towards them.

With respect to the splendour of the Imperial power, the Grand Marshal said that, however great and magnificent the Emperor had appeared to him on the throne, he had never made on him a superior, perhaps an equal, impression, to that which his situation at the head of the Army of Italy had stamped on his memory. He explained and justified this idea very successfully, and the Emperor heard him with some complacency.—But, we observed, what great events took place afterwards! what elevation! what grandeur! what renown throughout the world! The Emperor had listened. “For all that,” said he, “Paris is so extensive, and contains so many people of all sorts, and some so eccentric, that I can conceive there may be some who never saw me, and others who never even heard my name mentioned. Do not you think so?” And it was curious to see with what whimsical ingenuity he himself maintained this assertion, which he knew to be untenable. We all insisted loudly that, as to his name, there was not a town or village in Europe, perhaps even in the world, where it had not been pronounced. One person in company added—"Sire, before I returned to France at the treaty of Amiens, your Majesty being then only FIRST Consul, I determined to make a tour in Wales, as one of the most extraordinary parts of Great Britain. I climbed the wildest mountains, some of which are of prodigious height; I visited cabins that seemed to me to belong to another world. As I entered one of these secluded dwellings, I observed, to my fellow-traveller, that, in this spot, one would expect to find repose, and escape the din of revolution. The cottager, suspecting us to be French, on account of our accent, immediately enquired the news from France, and what _Bonaparte_, the First Consul, was about."

“Sire,” said another, "we had the curiosity to ask the Chinese officers whether our European affairs had been heard of in their Empire. ‘Certainly,’ they replied; ‘in a confused manner, to be sure, because we are totally uninterested in those matters; but the name of your Emperor is famous there, and connected with grand ideas of conquest and revolution:’ exactly as the names of those who have changed the face of that part of the world have arrived in ours, such as Gengis Khan, Tamerlane," &c.



_Published for Henry Colburn, March, 1836._ ]


27th.—This day the Emperor was walking in the garden with the Grand Marshal and me. The conversation led us to make our political self-examination.

The Emperor said that he had been very warm and sincere at the commencement of the Revolution; that he had cooled by degrees, in proportion as he acquired more just and solid ideas. His patriotism had sunk under the political absurdities and monstrous domestic excesses of our legislatures. Finally, his republican faith had vanished on the violation of the choice of the people, by the Directory, at the time of the battle of Aboukir.

The Grand Marshal said that, for his part, he had never been a republican; but a very warm constitutionalist until the 10th of August, the horrors of which day had cured him of all illusion. He had very nearly been massacred in defending the King at the Tuileries.

As for me, it was notorious that I had begun my career as a pure and most ardent royalist. “Why, then, it seems, gentlemen,” humorously observed the Emperor, “that I am the only one amongst us who has been a republican.”—"And something more, Sire," Bertrand and I both replied.—"Yes," repeated the Emperor, “republican and patriot.”—"And I have been a patriot, Sire," replied one of us, “notwithstanding my royalism; but, what is still more extraordinary, I did not become so till the period of the Imperial reign.”—"How! rogue!—are you compelled to own that you did not always love your country?"—"Sire, we are making our political self-examination, are we not? I confess my sins. When I returned to Paris, by virtue of your amnesty, could I at first look upon myself as a Frenchman, when every law, every decree, every ordinance that covered the walls, constantly added the most opprobrious epithets to my unlucky denomination of Emigrant. Nor did I think of remaining, when I first arrived. I had been attracted by curiosity, yielding to the invincible influence of one’s native land, and the desire of breathing the air of one’s country. I now possessed nothing there: in order to be allowed only to see France once more, I had been compelled, at the frontier, to swear to the relinquishment of my patrimony, to accede to the laws which decreed its loss; and I looked on myself as a mere traveller in that country once mine. I was a true foreigner, discontented and even malevolent. The empire came; it was a great event. Now," said I, “my manners, prejudices, and principles triumph; the only difference is in the person of the sovereign. When the campaign of Austerlitz opened, my heart, with surprise, found itself once more French. My situation was painful; I felt as if torn limb from limb; I was divided between blind passion and national sentiment: the triumphs of the French army and their general displeased me; yet their defeat would have humbled me. At length, the prodigies of Ulm, and the splendour of Austerlitz, put an end to my embarrassment. I was vanquished by glory.—I admired, I acknowledged, I loved Napoleon; and from that moment I became French to enthusiasm. Henceforth I have had no other thoughts, spoken no other language, felt no other sentiments; and here I am by your side.”

The Emperor then asked innumerable questions relative to the Emigrants, their numbers, and disposition. I related many curious facts respecting our princes, the Duke of Brunswick, and the King of Prussia. I made him laugh at the extravagance of our presumption, our unbounded confidence of success, the disorder of our affairs, the incapacity of our leaders. “Men,” said I, “really were not at that time what they have since been. Fortunately, those with whom we had to contend were, at first, only our equals in strength. Above all, we thought, and repeated to one another, that an immense majority of the French nation was on our side; and, for my part, I firmly believed it. I soon had, however, an opportunity of being undeceived; when our parties having arrived at Verdun, and beyond it, not a single person came to join us; on the contrary, every one fled at our approach. Nevertheless I still believed it, even after my return from England; so greatly did we deceive ourselves afterwards with the absurdities that we related to each other. We said that the government was vested in a handful of people; that it was maintained by force alone; that it was detested by the nation; and there must be some who have never ceased to think so. I am persuaded that, amongst those who now talk in that manner in the Legislative Body, there are some who speak as they think; so perfectly do I recognise the spirit, the ideas, and the expressions of Coblentz.”—“But at what period were you undeceived?” said the Emperor.—“Very late, Sire. Even when I rallied, and came to your Court, I was led much more by admiration and sentiment, than by conviction of your strength and stability. However, when I came into your Council of State, seeing the freedom with which the most decisive decrees were voted, without a single thought of the slightest resistance; seeing around me nothing but conviction and entire persuasion, it then appeared to me that your power, and the state of affairs, gained strength with a rapidity that I could not account for. By pondering on the cause of this change, I at length made a great and important discovery; namely, that matters had long stood thus, but that I had neither known, nor been willing to perceive, it; I had hid my head under the bushel, lest the light should reach my eyes. Now that I found myself forced into the midst of its brightness, I was dazzled by it. From that moment, all my prejudices fell to the ground; the film was taken from my eyes.

“Being afterwards sent by your Majesty on a mission, and having traversed more than sixty departments, I employed the most scrupulous attention and the most perfect sincerity in ascertaining the truth of which I had so long doubted. I interrogated the prefects, the inferior authorities; I caused documents and registers to be produced to me; I questioned private individuals without being known to them; I employed all possible means of trying the truth of my conclusions, and I remained fully convinced that the government was completely national, and founded in the will of the people; that France had, at no period of her history, been more powerful, more flourishing, better governed, or more happy; the roads had never been better maintained; agriculture had increased by a tenth, a ninth, perhaps an eighth in its productions.[4] A restlessness, a general ardour animated all minds to exertion, and inspired them to aim at a daily personal improvement. Indigo was gained; sugar would inevitably be so. Never, at any period, had internal commerce and industry of every species, been carried to such a pitch; instead of four millions of livres in cotton, which were used at the Revolution, more than thirty millions were now manufactured, although we could obtain none by sea, and received it over-land from the distance of Constantinople. Rouen was become quite a prodigy in production. The taxes were everywhere paid; the Conscription was nationalized; France, instead of being exhausted, contained a more numerous population than before, and was daily increasing.

Footnote 4:

It is a singular fact that the person from whom I had this information on agriculture, in Languedoc, was the identical M. de Villèle, who has since become celebrated.

“When I again appeared amongst my former acquaintance with these data, there was an absolute insurrection against me. They laughed in my face, and almost hooted me. Yet there were some sensible people amongst them, and I now possessed strong grounds of argument; I staggered many, and convinced a few; thus I too have had my victories.”

The Emperor said it must be agreed that our being assembled at St. Helena from political causes was certainly a most extraordinary circumstance: that we had come to a common centre by roads originally leading in very different directions. However, we had travelled through them with sincerity. Nothing more clearly proved the sort of chance, the uncertainty, and the fatality which usually, in the labyrinth of revolutions, direct upright and honest hearts.

Nor can any thing more clearly prove, continued he, how necessary indulgence and intelligent views are to recompose society after long disorders. It was these dispositions and these principles which had made him, he said, the most fit man for the circumstances of the month of _Brumaire_; and it was those which still rendered him without doubt the fittest in the actual state of France. On this point he had neither mistrust, nor prejudice, nor passion; he had constantly employed men of all classes, of all parties, without ever looking back, without enquiring what they had done, what they had said, what they had thought; only requiring, he said, that they should pursue in future and with sincerity the common object—the welfare and the glory of all—that they should shew themselves true and good Frenchmen. Above all, he had never made overtures to leaders in order to gain over parties; but, on the contrary, he had attacked the mass of the parties, that he might be in a situation to despise their leaders. Such had ever been the uniform system of his internal policy; and, in spite of the last events, he was far from repenting it; if he had to begin again he should pursue the same course. “It is totally without reason,” he said, “that I have been reproached with employing nobles and emigrants—a perfectly trite and vulgar imputation! The fact is that under me there only existed individual opinions and sentiments. It is not the nobles and the emigrants who have brought about the restoration, but rather the restoration that has again raised the nobles and the emigrants. They have not contributed more particularly to our ruin than others: those really in fault are the intriguers of all parties and all opinions. Fouché was not a noble; Talleyrand was not an emigrant; Augereau and Marmont were neither. To conclude, do you desire a final proof of the injustice of blaming whole classes, when a revolution like ours has operated in the midst of them? Reckon yourselves here: among four, you find two nobles, one of whom was even an emigrant. The excellent M. de Ségur, in spite of his age, at my departure, offered to follow me. I could multiply examples without end.—It is with as little reason,” he continued, "that I have been blamed for having neglected certain persons of influence; I was too powerful not to despise with impunity the intrigues, and the known immorality, of the greater part of them. None of these causes have therefore contributed to my downfall; but only unforeseen and unheard-of catastrophes; compulsory circumstances; 500,000 men at the gates of the capital; a revolution still recent; a crisis too powerful for French heads; and, above all, a dynasty not sufficiently ancient. I should have risen again even from the foot of the Pyrenees, could I but have been my own grandson.

"And, moreover, what a fascination there is respecting past times! It is most certain that I was chosen by the French: their new worship was their own work. Well! immediately upon the return of their old forms, see with what facility they have returned to their idols.

"And, after all, how could another line of policy have prevented that which ruined me? I have been betrayed by M—— whom I might call my son, my offspring, my own work; him to whom I had committed my destinies, by sending him to Paris, at the very moment that he was putting the finishing hand to his treason and my ruin. I have been betrayed by Murat, whom I had raised from a soldier to a king; who was my sister’s husband. I have been betrayed by Berthier, a mere goose, whom I had converted into a kind of eagle. I have been betrayed in the senate, by those very men of the national party who owe every thing to me. All that, then, did not in any way depend upon my system of internal policy. Undoubtedly I should have been exposed to the charge of too readily employing old enemies, whether nobles or emigrants, if a Macdonald, a Valence,[5] a Montesquiou had betrayed me; but they were faithful: let them object to me the stupidity of Murat, I can oppose to it the intelligence of Marmont. I have, then, no cause to repent of my system of internal policy."

Footnote 5:

One day at Longwood running over the list of the senators who had signed the deposition, one of us pointed out the name of M. de Valence, signed as secretary. But another explained that this signature was false, that M. de Valence had complained of it, and protested against it. “It is very true,” said the Emperor, “I know it; he has behaved well; Valence was true to the nation.”




_By an Engineer formerly of Napoleon’s Cabinet from the information contained in the work itself, and from particulars furnished by Mess^{rs}. Marchand, S^t Denis, Pierron, and others in Napoleon’s service._ ]



28th.—The Emperor during dinner was speaking of the probability of danger in the Chinese ships, of which one in thirty perished, according to the accounts he had received from some captains. This led him to the chances of danger in battle, which he said were less than that. Wagram was pointed out to him as a destructive battle; he did not estimate the killed at more than 3,000, which was only a fiftieth: we were there 160,000. At Essling they were about 4000, we were 40,000: this was a tenth; but it was one of the most severe battles. The others were incomparably lower.

This brought on a conversation on the bulletins. The Emperor declared them to be very correct: assured us that, excepting what the proximity of the enemy compelled him to disguise, that when they came into their hands they might not derive any information prejudicial to him from them, all the remainder was very exact. At Vienna and throughout Germany they did them more justice than among us. If they had acquired a bad character in our armies—if it was a common saying, _as false as a bulletin_, it was personal rivalships, party spirit, that had established it: it was the wounded self-love of those who were not mentioned in them, and who had, or fancied they had, a right to a place there: and still more than all, our ridiculous national defect of having no greater enemies to our successes and our glory than ourselves.

The Emperor after dinner played some games at chess. The day had been very rainy: he was unwell and retired early.


26th. The weather was still bad; it was impossible to set foot out of doors. The rain and the damp invaded our pasteboard apartments. Every one of us suffered in his health in consequence. The temperature here is certainly mild, but the climate is among the most unwholesome. It is a thing ascertained in the island, that few there attain the age of fifty; hardly any that of sixty. Add to this, exclusion from the rest of the world, physical privations, bad moral treatment, and it will result that prisons in Europe are far preferable to liberty in St. Helena.

About four o’clock several Captains from China were brought to me, who were to be presented to the Emperor. They had an opportunity of seeing the smallness, the dampness, and bad state of my habitation. They enquired how the Emperor found himself in point of health. It declined visibly, I told them. Never did we hear a complaint from him: his great soul suffered nothing to overcome it, and even contributed to deceive him with respect to his own state: but we could see him decay very perceptibly. I led them shortly after to the Emperor who was walking in the garden. He seemed to me at that moment more disordered than usual. He dismissed them in half an hour. He went in again, and took a bath.

Before and after dinner he seemed in low spirits and in pain. He began to read to us _Les Femmes Savantes_; but at the second act he handed the book to the Grand Marshal, and dozed upon the sofa during the reading of the remainder.


30th–31st. This day the weather has continued very bad; we all suffered from it: besides, we are absolutely eaten up with rats, fleas, and bugs: our sleep is disturbed by them, so that the troubles by night are in perfect harmony with those by day.

The weather changed entirely to fair on the 31st; we went out in the carriage. The Emperor, in the course of conversation, observed, speaking of Egypt and Syria, that if he had taken St. Jean d’Acre, as ought to have been the case, he should have wrought a revolution in the East. “The most trivial circumstances,” said he, "lead to the greatest events. The weakness of the captain of a frigate, who stood out to sea instead of forcing a passage into the harbour, some trifling impediments with respect to some sloops or light vessels, prevented the face of the world from being changed. Possessed of St. Jean d’Acre, the French army would have flown to Damascus and Aleppo; in a twinkling it would have been on the Euphrates; the Christians of Syria, the Druses, the Christians of Armenia, would have joined it: nations were on the point of being shaken." One of us having said that they would have speedily been re-inforced with 100,000 men—"Say 600,000," replied the Emperor; “who can calculate what it might have been? I should have reached Constantinople and the Indies; I should have changed the face of the world.”


Nine months have already elapsed from the commencement of my Journal; and I fear that, amid the heterogeneous matters that succeed without order in it, I may have often lost sight of my principal, my only, object—that which concerns Napoleon, and may serve to characterize him. It is to make up for this, where necessary, that I here attempt a summary in a few words; a summary which I propose, moreover, on the same account, to repeat, in future, at intervals of three months.

On quitting France, we remained for a month at the disposal of the brutal and ferocious English Ministry; then our passage to St. Helena occupied three months.

On our landing we occupied Briars nearly two months.

Lastly, we have been three months at Longwood.

Now, these nine months would have formed four very distinct epochs, with one who had taken the pains to observe Napoleon.

All the time of our stay at Plymouth, Napoleon remained thoughtful, and merely passive, exerting no power but that of patience. His misfortunes were so great, and so incapable of remedy, that he suffered events to take their course with stoic indifference.

During the whole of our passage, he constantly possessed a perfect equanimity, and, above all, the most complete indifference; he expressed no wish, shewed no disappointment. It is true, the greatest respect was paid him; he received it without perceiving it; he spoke little, and the subject was always foreign to himself. Any one who, coming suddenly on board, had witnessed his conversation, would undoubtedly have been far from guessing with whom they were in company: it was not the Emperor. I cannot better picture him in this situation than by comparing him to those passengers of high distinction who are conveyed with great respect to their destination.

Our abode at Briars presented another shade of difference. Napoleon, left almost entirely to himself, receiving nobody, constantly employed, seeming to forget events and men, enjoyed, apparently, the calm and the peace of a profound solitude; either from abstraction or contempt, not condescending to notice the inconveniences or privations with which he was surrounded. If he now and then dropped an expression relative to them, it was only when roused by the importunity of some Englishman, or excited by the recital of the outrages suffered by his attendants. His whole day was occupied in dictation; the rest of the time dedicated to the relaxation of familiar conversation. He never mentioned the affairs of Europe; spoke rarely of the Empire, very little of the Consulate; but much of his situation as General in Italy; still more, and almost constantly, of the minutest details of his childhood and his early youth. The latter subjects, especially, seemed at this time to have a peculiar charm for him. One would have said that they afforded him a perfect oblivion; they excited him even to gaiety. It was almost exclusively with these objects that he employed the many hours of his nightly walks by moonlight.

Finally, our establishment at Longwood was a fourth and last change. All our situations hitherto had been but short and transitory. This was fixed, and threatened to be lasting. There, in reality, were to commence our exile and our new destinies. History will take them up there; there the eyes of the world were to be directed to consider us. The Emperor, seeming to make this calculation, regulates all about him, and takes the attitude of dignity oppressed by power; he traces around him a moral boundary, behind which he defends himself, inch by inch, against indignity and insult. He no longer gives way on any point to his persecutors; he shews himself sensibly jealous in respect to forms, and hostile to all encroachment. The English never doubted that habit would, in the end, produce formality. The Emperor brings them to it from the first day, and the most profound respect is manifested.

It was no small surprise to us, and no slight satisfaction to have to observe among ourselves, that, without knowing how or why, it was nevertheless perceptible that the Emperor now stood higher in the opinion and the respect of the English than he had hitherto done: we could even perceive that this sentiment was every day increasing. With us the Emperor resumed entirely, in his conversations, the examination of the affairs of Europe. He analyzed the projects and the conduct of the Sovereigns: he compared them with his own; weighed, decided, spoke of his reign, of his deeds; in a word, we once more found him the Emperor, and _all_ Napoleon. Not that he had ever ceased to be so for an instant, as regarded our devotion and our attentions; neither had we, on our side, had any thing to endure from him in any respect.

Never did we experience a more even temper, a more constant kindness, a more unaltered affection. It was, in fact, among us, as in the midst of his family, that he concerted his attacks upon the common enemy; and those which appear the most vigorous, and seem to be dictated by anger, were, however, almost always accompanied with some laughter or pleasantry.

The Emperor’s health, during the six months preceding our establishment at Longwood, did not seem to undergo any change; though his regimen was so completely altered. His hours, his food, were no longer the same; his habits were completely deranged. He who had been accustomed to so much exercise had been confined all this time to a room. Bathing had become part of his existence, and he was constantly deprived of it. It was not till after his arrival at Longwood, and when he was again supplied with some of these things, when he rode on horseback, and returned to the use of the bath, that we began to perceive a sensible alteration.

It is a singular circumstance that, so long as he was uncomfortably situated he suffered nothing; it was not till he was better off that he was seen to be in pain. May it not be that, in the moral as in the physical system, there is often a long interval between causes and their effects?


April 1st—2nd. All that is in any way connected with the Emperor Napoleon must be worthy of observation, and will be held valuable by thousands. With this conviction, I shall proceed minutely to describe his apartment, its furniture, the details of his toilet, &c. And, in course of time, may not his son one day take pleasure in re-producing these details, picturing to himself the appearance of distant objects, and seizing fleeting shadows, which to him will perhaps supply the place of reality?

The Emperor’s own apartments consist of two chambers _A_ and _B_,[6] each 45 feet long and 42 broad, and about 7 feet high. A very indifferent carpet covers the floor, and pieces of nankin, instead of paper, line the walls of both rooms.

Footnote 6:

See the plan of Longwood.

The bed-chamber _A_ contains the little camp-bed _a_, in which the Emperor sleeps, and the couch _b_, on which he reclines the greater part of the day. This couch is covered with books, which seem to dispute with the Emperor the right of possession to it. Beside this couch stands a small table _c_, on which the Emperor breakfasts and dines, when he takes his meals in his own chamber, and which, in the evening, bears a candlestick with three branches, surmounted by a large ornament. Between the two windows, and opposite to the door, stands a chest of drawers _d_, containing the Emperor’s linen, and on the top of which is his large dressing-case.

Over the fire-place _e_, hangs a very small glass, together with several pictures. On the right is a portrait of the King of Rome sitting on a sheep, by Aimée Thiebault—and on the left hangs, as a pendant to it, another portrait of the young Prince, sitting on a cushion and putting on a slipper. This picture is also the production of Thiebault. Lower down is a small marble bust of the King of Rome. Two candlesticks, two scent-bottles, and two cups of silver gilt, taken from the Emperor’s cabinet, complete the arrangement and decoration of the chimney-piece. Lastly, at the foot of the couch, and directly in view of the Emperor when he reposes on it, which he does the greater part of the day, hangs Isabey’s portrait of Maria Louisa, holding her son in her arms. This wretched little closet has thus become a family sanctuary. I must not omit to mention Frederick the Great’s large silver watch, which is a sort of alarum. It was taken at Potsdam and it hangs on the left of the chimney-piece, beyond the portraits. The Emperor’s own watch, which hangs on the right of the chimney, is the same that he used in the Campaigns of Italy; it is enclosed in a gold case, marked with his cipher B:[7] These are the contents of the first chamber.

Footnote 7:

I have since learned that this watch, the faithful companion of his wonderful achievements during the Campaigns in Italy and Egypt, has passed into the hands of the Grand Marshal.—The Emperor complained that his watch did not go, or that it went ill; and we had in vain endeavoured to get it set to rights: when one day, looking at a watch which General Bertrand had just received from the Cape, he said: “I shall keep this and give you mine: it does not go now, but it struck two on the _plateau_ of Rivoli, when I gave orders for the operations of the day.”

In the second room _B_, which serves as a sort of study, along the walls next the windows are several rough boards, supported by trestles, on which are scattered a great number of books, and the manuscripts that have been written from the Emperor’s dictation. Between the two windows is a book-case _g_; and on the opposite side stands another camp-bedstead _h_, similar to the one already mentioned. On this bed the Emperor sometimes reposes in the day-time; and he occasionally lies down on it, when he rises from the other bed during his frequent sleepless nights, or when fatigued with dictating, or walking about alone in his chamber. Lastly, in the middle of the room stands the writing-table _i_, with marks indicating the places usually occupied by the Emperor and each of us during his dictations.

The Emperor dresses in his bed-room. When he takes off his clothes, which he does without assistance, he throws them all upon the floor if one of his valets happens not to be at hand to take them from him. How many times have I stooped to pick up the cordon of the Legion of Honour, when I have seen it thrown carelessly on the ground!

Shaving, which is almost the last business of the Emperor’s toilet, is not commenced until he has put on his stockings, shoes, &c. He shaves himself: first taking off his shirt, and retaining only his flannel waistcoat, which he had laid aside during the excessive heat we experienced in crossing the Line, but which he was obliged to resume at Longwood, in consequence of a severe attack of the cholic; from this, however, the use of his flannel waistcoat speedily relieved him.

The Emperor shaves in the recess of the window nearest to the fire-place. His first valet de chambre hands him the soap and razor: and the second holds before him the looking-glass of his dressing-case, so that the Emperor may turn to the light the side that he is shaving. It is the business of the second valet de chambre to tell him whether or not he shaves clean. Having shaved one side, he turns completely round to shave the other, and the valets change sides.

The Emperor then washes his face, and very frequently his head, in a large silver basin _f_, which is fixed in a corner of the room, and which was brought from the Elysée. The Emperor is very lusty; his skin is white, with but few hairs; and he has a certain plumpness which is unusual in the male sex, and to which he sometimes jokingly alludes. He rubs his chest and arms with a tolerably hard brush. He afterwards gives the brush to his valet de chambre, who rubs his back and shoulders, and when in good humour he often says, “Come, brush hard—as hard as if you were scrubbing an ass.”

He used almost to drown himself in _eau de Cologne_, at least, so long as he had any at his disposal: but his store of this article was speedily exhausted, and as none could be procured on the island, he was reduced to the necessity of using lavender water; the want of _eau de Cologne_ he felt as a severe privation.

After he has had his back rubbed, or after he has finished shaving each side of his beard, he sometimes good-humouredly looks his valet in the face for a few seconds, and then gives him a smart box on the ear, accompanied by some jocular expressions. This has been construed by libelists and pamphleteers into the habit of cruelly beating those who were about him. We all in our turns occasionally received a pinch or a box on the ear; but from the expressions which always accompanied the action, we thought ourselves very happy in receiving such favours during the period of his power.

This calls to my recollection, and explains to me certain observations which I once heard from the Duke Decrès, one of the Emperor’s ministers. The Duke, when in the height of his glory and power, wished to obtain a certain favour from the Emperor. He was conversing with me on the subject, and after adverting to all his chances of success, he said: “I shall have it after all, the first time I get roughly treated.” And, remarking that my countenance expressed surprise, he added with a significant smile: "But, my dear fellow, after all ’tis not so terrible a thing as you imagine; many would be happy to receive such usage, I assure you." ...

The Emperor does not leave his chamber until he is completely dressed. He wears shoes in the morning, and does not put on his boots until he rides out on horseback. When he first came to Longwood, he laid aside his green uniform of the Guard, and wore a hunting coat the lace of which had been taken off. This coat soon began to look shabby, and his attendants were at a loss what to substitute for it. This, however, was not the only inconvenience of the kind to which he was exposed. For instance, we were much distressed to see him reduced to the necessity of wearing one pair of silk stockings for several days in succession; but he laughed whenever we expressed our regret on this subject, or remarked that it was easy to count the number of days the stockings had been worn, by the marks which the shoes had left on them. In other respects he retained his usual dress; namely, waistcoat and small clothes of white kerseymere, and a black cravat. When he was going out, any one of the gentlemen who happened to be in the room handed to him his hat; that little hat which has in some measure become identified with his person. Several of the Emperor’s hats have been carried off since we have been on the island; for every individual who approaches him is anxious to obtain some token of remembrance of him. How often have we been tormented even by persons of distinguished rank, to procure for them even a button of his coat or any other trifle belonging to him.

I was almost always present at the Emperor’s toilet: sometimes I remained after having finished my writing, and sometimes the Emperor desired me to come and chat with him. One day I was looking steadfastly at him as he put on his flannel waistcoat. My countenance I suppose expressed something particular, for he said in his good humoured way of addressing me: “Well, what does _your Excellency_ smile at? What are you thinking of at this moment.”—"Sire, in a pamphlet which I lately read, I found it stated that your Majesty was shielded by a coat of mail for the security of your person. A report of the same kind was circulated among certain classes in Paris; and in support of the assertion, allusion was made to your Majesty’s sudden _embonpoint_, which was said to be quite unnatural. I was just now thinking that I could bear positive evidence to the contrary, and that at St. Helena, at least, all precautions for personal safety have been laid aside."—"This is one of the thousand absurdities that have been published respecting me," said he. "But the story you have just mentioned is the more ridiculous, since every person about me well knows how careless I am in regard to self-preservation. Accustomed from the age of eighteen to be exposed to cannon-balls, and knowing the inutility of precautions, I abandoned myself to my fate. When I came to the head of affairs, I might still have fancied myself surrounded by the danger of the field of battle: and I might have regarded the conspiracies that were formed against me as so many bomb-shells. But I followed my old course; I trusted to my lucky star; and left all precautions to the police. I was perhaps the only sovereign in Europe who dispensed with a body guard. Every one could freely approach me without having, as it were, to pass through military barracks; the sentinels at the outer gates being passed, all had free access to every part of my palace. Maria Louisa was much astonished to see me so poorly guarded; and she often remarked that her father was surrounded by bayonets. For my part, I had no better defence at the Tuileries than I have here: I don’t even know where to find my sword; do you see it?" said he, looking about for it.... “I have, to be sure,” he continued, "incurred great dangers. Upwards of thirty plots were formed against me: these have been proved by authentic testimony, without mentioning many that never came to light. Some sovereigns invent conspiracies against themselves; for my part, I made it a rule carefully to conceal them whenever I could. The crisis most serious to me was during the interval between the battle of Marengo and the attempt of Georges, and the affair of the Duke d’Enghien."

Napoleon related that about a week before the arrest of Georges, a petition had been delivered into his own hands, on the parade, by one of the most determined of the conspirators. Others insinuated themselves among the household at St. Cloud or Malmaison; finally Georges himself seems to have been so near his person as to have been in the same apartment with him.

Independently of good luck, the Emperor attributes his safety, in a great measure, to certain circumstances which were peculiar to himself. That which had doubtless, he said, contributed to preserve him was his having lived after his own fancy; without any regular habits or fixed plan. His close occupations kept him much at home, and almost constantly confined him to his closet. He never dined abroad, seldom visited the theatres, and never appeared but at those times and places at which he was not expected.

As we were descending to the garden after the Emperor had finished dressing, he observed to me that the two designs on his life which had placed him in the most imminent danger were those of Cerachi the sculptor, and the fanatic of Schönbrunn. Cerachi, and some other desperate wretches, had laid a plan for assassinating the First Consul. They agreed to carry their design into execution at the moment of his withdrawing from his box at the theatre. Napoleon, who received intimation of the plot nevertheless proceeded to the theatre, and fearlessly passed by the conspirators, who had shown themselves most eager to occupy their respective stations. They were not arrested until about the middle or near the close of the performance.

Cerachi, said the Emperor, had formerly adored the First Consul; but he vowed to sacrifice him, when, as he pretended, he proved himself a tyrant. This artist had been loaded with favours by General Bonaparte, whose bust he had executed; and, when he entered into the plot against his benefactor, he endeavoured by every possible means to procure another sitting, under pretence of making an essential improvement on the bust. Fortunately, at that time, the Consul had not a single moment’s leisure, and, thinking that want was the real cause of the urgent solicitations of the sculptor, he sent him six thousand francs. But how was he mistaken! Cerachi’s real motive was to stab him during the sitting.

The conspiracy was disclosed by a captain of the line, who was himself an accomplice. “This,” said Napoleon, “was a proof of the strange modifications of which the human mind is susceptible, and shows to what lengths the combinations of folly and stupidity may be carried! This officer regarded me with horror as First Consul, though he had adored me as a General. He wished to see me driven from my post, but he rejected the idea of any attempt upon my life. He wished that I should be secured, but would not have me injured in any way; and he proposed that I should be sent back to the army to face the enemy and defend the glory of France. The rest of the conspirators laughed at these notions; but, when he found that they were distributing poniards and going far beyond his intentions, he then came and disclosed the whole to the Consul.”

As we were discoursing on this subject, some one present mentioned having witnessed at the Theatre Feydeau, a circumstance which threw a part of the audience into the greatest consternation. The Emperor entered the Empress Josephine’s box, and had scarcely taken his seat, when a young man hastily jumped upon the bench immediately below the Box, and placed his hand on the Emperor’s breast. The spectators on the opposite side were filled with alarm. Fortunately, however, the young man was merely presenting a petition, which the Emperor received and read with the utmost coolness.

The Emperor described the _Fanatic of Schönbrunn_, as the son of a protestant minister of Erfurt, who, about the time of the battle of Wagram, had laid a plan for the assassination of Napoleon, with all due parade. He had passed the sentinels at some distance from the Emperor, and had twice or thrice been driven back, when General Rapp, in the act of pushing him aside with his hand, felt something concealed under his coat. This proved to be a knife about a foot and a half long, pointed, and sharp at both edges. “I shuddered to look at it,” said the Emperor; “it was merely rolled up in a piece of newspaper.”

Napoleon ordered the assassin to be brought into his closet. He called Corvisart, and directed him to feel the criminal’s pulse while he spoke to him. The assassin stood unmoved, confessing his intended crime, and frequently making quotations from the Bible. “What was your purpose here?” enquired the Emperor. “To kill you.” “What have I done to offend you? By whose authority do you constitute yourself my Judge?”—"I wish to put an end to the war." “And why not address yourself to the Emperor Francis?” “To him!” said the assassin, “and wherefore? he is a mere cipher. And besides, if he were dead, another would succeed him; but, when you are gone, the French will immediately retire from Germany.” The Emperor vainly endeavoured to move him. “Do you repent?” said he. “No.” “Would you again attempt the perpetration of your intended crime?” “Yes.” “What, if I were to pardon you?” Here, said the Emperor, nature for an instant resumed her sway; the man’s countenance and voice underwent a momentary change. “Even though you do,” said he, “God will not forgive me.” But he immediately resumed his ferocious expression. He was kept in solitary confinement and without food for four-and-twenty hours. The Doctor examined him once more. He was again questioned, but all was unavailing; he still remained the same man, or, to speak more properly, the same ferocious brute. He was at length abandoned to his fate.


3rd.—In the morning the Emperor dictated in the shady part of the garden. The day was delightfully clear and serene. He had been reading the account of Alexander’s expedition in Rollin’s History; and had several maps spread out before him. He complained that the narrative was destitute of taste, and without any proper plan. He observed that it afforded no just idea of the grand views of Alexander; and he expressed a wish himself to write an account of the expedition.

About five o’clock, I joined him in the garden, where he was walking, attended by all the gentlemen. As soon as he perceived me, he said: “Come, we must have your opinion on a point which we have been discussing for the last hour. On my return from Waterloo, do you think I could have dismissed the Legislative Body, and have saved France without it?”—"No," I replied, “it would not have been dissolved voluntarily. You would have found it necessary to employ force; which would have excited protestations, and would have been regarded as scandalous. The dissatisfaction excited in the Legislative Body would have spread through the whole nation. Meanwhile the enemy would have arrived; and your Majesty must have succumbed, accused by all Europe, accused by foreigners, and even by Frenchmen; perhaps loaded with universal maledictions, regarded merely as an adventurer carrying every thing by violence. But as it was, your Majesty issued pure and unsullied from the conflict, and your memory will be everlastingly cherished in the hearts of those who respect the cause of the people. Your Majesty has, by your moderation, ensured to yourself the brightest character in history, while, by a different line of conduct, you might have incurred the risk of reprobation. You have lost your power, it is true; but you have attained the summit of your glory.”

“Well, this is partly my own opinion,” said the Emperor. "But after all, am I certain that the French people will do me justice? Will they not accuse me of having abandoned them? History will decide! Instead of dreading, I invoke, its decree!—I have often asked myself whether I have done for the French people all that they could expect of me; for that people did much for me. Will they ever know all that I suffered during the night that preceded my final decision?

"In that night of anguish and uncertainty, I had to choose between two great courses: the one was to endeavour to save France by violence; and the other was to yield to the general impulse. The measure which I pursued was, I think, most advisable. Friends and enemies, the good and the evil disposed, all were against me, and I stood alone. I could not but yield, and my decision being once adopted, could not be revoked. I am not one who takes half measures; and, besides, sovereignty is not to be thrown off and on like one’s cloak. The other course demanded extraordinary severity. It would have been necessary to arraign great criminals and to decree great punishments. Blood must have been shed; and then who can tell where we should have stopped! What scenes of horror might not have been renewed! By pursuing this line of conduct, should I not have drowned my memory in the deluge of blood, crimes, and abominations of every kind, with which libellers have already overwhelmed me? Should I not thereby have seemed to justify all that they have been pleased to invent? Posterity and History would have viewed me as a second Nero or Tiberius. If, after all, I could have saved France at such a price!... I had energy sufficient to carry me through every difficulty!... But, is it certain that I should have succeeded? All our dangers did not come from without; the worst existed in our internal discord. Did not a party of mad fools dispute about shades, before they had ensured the triumph of the colour? How would it have been possible to persuade them that I was not labouring for myself alone, for my own personal advantage? How could I convince them of my disinterestedness, or prove that all my efforts were directed to save the country? To whom could I point out the dangers and miseries from which I sought to rescue the French people? They were evident to me, but the vulgar mass will ever remain in ignorance of them until they are crushed beneath their weight.

“What answer could be given to those who exclaimed: Behold the despot, the tyrant! again violating the oaths which he took but yesterday! and who knows whether amidst this tumult, this inextricable complication of difficulties, I might not have perished by the hand of a Frenchman, in the civil conflict! Then how would France have appeared in the eyes of the universe, in the estimation of future generations? The glory of France is to identify herself with me. I could not have achieved so many great deeds for her honour and glory without the nation, and in spite of the nation. France was inclined to elevate me to too high a point!... As I said before, History will decide!...”

He then adverted to the plan and details of the Campaign, dwelling with pleasure on its glorious commencement, and with regret on the terrible disaster that marked its close.

“Still,” continued he, "I should have considered the state of affairs as by no means desperate, had I obtained the aid I expected. All our resources rested in the Chambers. I hastened to convince them of this; but they immediately rose against me, under pretence that I was come to dissolve them. What an absurdity! From that moment all was lost.[8]

Footnote 8:

Time, which explains all things, has shewn the little springs which brought about one of our greatest catastrophes. I received the following particulars from one who acted a part in the events of the day:—

On hearing that Napoleon had arrived at the Elysée from Waterloo, Fouché flew to the dissatisfied and suspicious Members of the Chambers exclaiming, “To arms! He has returned desperate, and is about to dissolve the Chambers and seize the dictatorship. We cannot endure the restoration of tyranny.” He then hastened to the best friends of Napoleon. “Are you aware,” said he, “what a terrible fermentation has risen up against the Emperor among certain deputies? We can only save Napoleon by facing them boldly, by showing them the full power of our party, and how easily the Chambers may be dissolved.”

The friends of Napoleon, easily duped in this sudden crisis, failed not to follow, perhaps even to overstep, the suggestions of Fouché, who now returned to the distrustful party and said, “You see his best friends are agreed on this point: the danger is urgent: and in a few hours there will be no remedy. The Chambers will be no more, and we shall be very culpable in letting slip the only opportunity of opposing him.” Thus the permanence of the Chambers, the forced abdication of the Emperor, and the downfall of a great empire, were brought about by petty intrigue, by ante-chamber report and gossip. Ah, Fouché! how well the Emperor knew you, when he said, that your ugly foot was sure to be thrust into every body’s shoes.

“It would perhaps be unjust,” added the Emperor, "to accuse the majority of the Members of the Chambers; but such is the nature of all numerous bodies that they must perish, if disunited. Like armies, they must have leaders. The chiefs of armies are appointed; but, in constituted bodies, men of eminent talent and genius rise up and rule them. We wanted all this, and, therefore, in spite of the good spirit which might have animated the majority, all were, in an instant, plunged into confusion and tumult. The Legislative Body had perfidy and corruption stationed at its doors, while incapacity, disorder, and perversity prevailed in its bosom; and thus France became the prey of foreigners.

"For a moment, I entertained the idea of resistance. I was on the point of declaring myself permanently at the Tuileries, along with my Ministers and Councillors of State. I had thoughts of rallying round me the six thousand guards who were in Paris, augmenting them with the best disposed portion of the National Guard, who were very numerous, and the federate troops of the Faubourgs; of adjourning the Legislative Body to Tours or Blois; re-organizing before the walls of Paris, the wrecks of the army, and thus exerting my efforts singly, as a Dictator, for the welfare of the country. But would the Legislative Body have obeyed? I might have enforced obedience, it is true; but this would have been a new cause of scandal, and a fresh source of difficulties. Would the people have made common cause with me? Would even the army have continued constantly faithful to me? In the succession of events, might not both the people and the army have been separated from me? Might not plans have been arranged to my prejudice? The idea that so many dangers were caused by me alone might have served as a plausible pretext, and the facilities which every one had experienced during the preceding year in gaining favour with the Bourbons, might to many have become decisive inducements.

“Yes,” continued the Emperor, "I hesitated long, I weighed every argument on both sides; and I at length concluded that I could not make head against the coalition without and the royalists within: that I should be unable to oppose the numerous sects which would have been created by the violence committed on the Legislative Body, to control that portion of the multitude which must be driven by force, or to resist that moral condemnation which imputes to him who is unfortunate every evil that ensues. Abdication was therefore absolutely the only step I could adopt. All was lost in spite of me. I foresaw and foretold this: but still I had no other alternative.

“The Allies always pursued the same system against me. They began it at Prague, continued it at Frankfort, at Chatillon, at Paris, and at Fontainbleau. Their conduct displayed considerable judgment. The French might have been duped in 1814; but it is difficult to conceive how they could have been deceived in 1815. History will for ever tarnish the memory of those who suffered themselves to be misled. I foretold their fate when I was departing to join the army: _Let us not resemble_, I said, _the Greeks of the Lower Empire, who amused themselves in debating while the battering-ram was levelling the walls of their city_. And, when forced to abdicate, I said, _Our enemies wish to separate me from the army; when they shall have succeeded, they will separate the army from you. You will then be merely a wretched flock, the prey of wild beasts._”

We asked the Emperor whether he thought that, with the concurrence of the Legislative Body, he could have saved France? He replied, without hesitation, that he would confidently have undertaken to do so, and that he would have answered for his success.

“In less than a fortnight,” continued he, "that is to say, before any considerable mass of the allied force could have assembled before Paris, I should have completed my fortifications, and have collected before the walls of the city, and out of the wrecks of the army, upwards of eighty thousand good troops, and three hundred pieces of horse artillery. After a few days’ firing, the national guard, the federal troops, and the inhabitants of Paris, would have sufficed to defend the entrenchments. I should have had eighty thousand disposable troops at my command. It is well known how advantageously I was capable of employing this force.—The achievements of 1814 were still fresh in remembrance. Champaubert, Montmirail, Craon, Montereau, were still present in the imagination of our enemies; the same scenes would have revived the recollection of the prodigies of the preceding year. I was then surnamed the _hundred thousand men_.

"The rapidity and decision of our successes gave rise to this name. The conduct of the French troops was most admirable. Never did a handful of brave men accomplish so many miracles. If their high achievements have never been publicly known, owing to the circumstances which attended our disasters, they have at least been duly appreciated by our enemies, who counted the number of our attacks by our victories. We were truly the heroes of fable!

“Paris,” said he, "would in a few days have become impregnable. The appeal to the nation, the magnitude of the danger, the excitement of the public mind, the grandeur of the spectacle, would have drawn multitudes to the capital. I could undoubtedly have assembled upwards of four hundred thousand men, and I imagine the allied force did not exceed five hundred thousand. Thus the affair would have been brought to a single combat, in which the enemy would have had as much to fear as ourselves. He would have hesitated, and thus I should have regained the confidence of the majority.

“Meanwhile I should have surrounded myself with a national senate or junta selected from among the members of the Legislative Body—men distinguished by national names, and worthy of general confidence. I should have fortified my military Dictatorship with all the strength of civil opinion. I should have had my tribune, which would have promulgated the talisman of my principles through Europe. The Sovereigns would have trembled to behold the contagion spread among their subjects. They must have treated with me, or have surrendered....”

“But, Sire,” we exclaimed, “why did you not attempt what would infallibly have succeeded?—Why are we here?”

“Now,” resumed the Emperor, “you are blaming and condemning me! But, if you were to take a view of the contrary chances, you would change your tone. Besides, you forget that we reasoned on the hypothesis that the Legislative Body would have joined me; but you know what line of conduct it pursued. I might have dissolved it, to be sure. France and Europe perhaps blame me, and posterity will doubtless censure my weakness, in not breaking up the Legislative Body after its insurrection. It will be said, that I ought not to have separated myself from the destinies of a people who had done all for me. But by dissolving the Assembly, I could at most have obtained only a capitulation from the enemy. In that case, I again repeat, blood must have been shed, and I must have proved myself a tyrant. I had however arranged a plan on the night of the 20th, and on the 21st measures of the most rigid severity were to have been adopted; but before the return of day, the dictates of humanity and prudence warned me that such a course was not to be thought of, that I should miss my aim, and that every one was merely seeking blindly to accommodate himself to circumstances. But I must not begin again. I have already said too much on a subject which always revives painful recollections. I repeat once more that History will decide.”—The Emperor returned to his chamber desiring me to follow him. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4th. At 5 o’clock I went to meet the Emperor in the garden. He had taken too warm a bath, and in consequence found himself ill. We rode out in the calash, the weather was delightful: for several days it had been very warm and dry. Before dinner the Emperor dictated to the Grand Marshal. Madame Bertrand dined at the Admiral’s. The Emperor withdrew to his chamber immediately after dinner.


5th—8th. During these four days, the Emperor invariably rode out on horseback about six or seven in the morning, accompanied only by me and my son.

I am enabled to affirm that I never saw Napoleon swayed either by passion or prejudice, that is to say, I never knew him to pronounce a judgment on men and things that was not dictated by reason. Even when he displays what perhaps may be called anger, it is merely the effect of transitory feeling, and never influences his actions; but I can truly say that, during the eighteen years in which I have had the opportunity of observing his character, I never knew him to act in contradiction to reason.

Another fact which has come to my knowledge, and which I note down here because it recurs to my memory at this moment, is that, either from nature, calculation, or the habit of preserving dignity, he for the most part represses and conceals the painful sensations which he experiences, and still more, perhaps, the kind emotions of his heart. I have frequently observed him repressing feelings of sensibility, as if he thought that they compromised his character. Of this I shall hereafter adduce proofs. Meanwhile, the following characteristic trait so perfectly corresponds with the object of this journal, namely, that of showing the man as he really is, and seizing nature in the fact, that I cannot refrain from mentioning it.

For some days past, Napoleon seemed to have something deeply at heart. A domestic circumstance which had occurred vexed and ruffled him exceedingly. During the last three days, in our rides about the park, he several times alluded to this circumstance with considerable warmth, desiring me to keep close by his side, and ordering my son to ride on before. On one of these occasions the following observation escaped him:—"I know I am fallen. But to feel this among you!"... These words, the gesture, the tone that accompanied them, pierced my very heart. I was ready to throw myself at his feet, and embrace his knees. “I know,” continued he, “that man is frequently unreasonable and susceptible. Thus, when I am mistrustful of myself, I asked, should I have been treated so at the Tuileries? This is my sure test.”

He then spoke of himself, of us, of our reciprocal relations, of our situation in the island, and the influence which our individual circumstances might enable us to exercise. His reflections on these subjects were numerous, powerful, and just. In the emotion with which this conversation inspired me, I exclaimed: “Sire, permit me to take this affair upon myself. It certainly never could have been viewed in this light. If the matter were explained, I am sure it would excite deep sorrow and repentance! I only ask permission to say a single word.” The Emperor replied with dignity:—"No, sir; I forbid it. I have opened my heart to you. Nature has had her course. I shall forget it; and you must seem never to have known it."

On our return, we breakfasted all together in the garden, and the Emperor was more than usually cheerful. In the evening he dined in his own apartment.


9th-10th. On the 9th a ship arrived from England, bringing papers to the 21st of January. The Emperor continued his morning rides on horseback, and passed the rest of the day in examining the newspapers in his own chamber. The contents of these late papers were not less interesting than those which we had already examined. The agitation in France continued to increase; the King of Prussia had issued proclamations respecting secret societies; a misunderstanding had arisen between Austria and Bavaria; in England the persecution of the French Protestants, and the violence of the party which was gaining the ascendancy, agitated the public mind, and gave arms to the Opposition. Europe never presented a more violent fermentation.

On perusing the account of the deluge of evils and sanguinary events which overwhelmed all the French departments, the Emperor rose from his couch, and, stamping his foot violently on the ground, he exclaimed! “How unfortunate was I in not proceeding to America! From the other hemisphere I might have protected France against re-action! The dread of my re-appearance would have been a check on their violence and folly. My name would have sufficed to bridle their excesses, and to fill them with terror.”

Then, continuing the same subject, he said with a degree of warmth, bordering on inspiration, "the counter-revolution, even had it been suffered to proceed, must inevitably have been lost in the grand revolution. The atmosphere of modern ideas is sufficient to stifle the old feudalists; for henceforth nothing can destroy or efface the grand principles of our revolution. Those great and excellent truths can never cease to exist, so completely are they blended with our fame, our monuments, and our prodigies. We have washed away their first stains in the flood of glory, and they will henceforth be immortal. Created in the French tribune, cemented with the blood of battles, adorned with the laurels of victory, saluted with the acclamations of the people, sanctioned by the treaties and alliances of Sovereigns, and having become familiar to the ears as well as in the mouths of Kings, these principles can never again retrograde!

“Liberal ideas flourish in Great Britain, they enlighten America, and they are nationalized in France; and this may be called the tripod whence issues the light of the world! Liberal opinions will rule the universe. They will become the faith, the religion, the morality of all nations; and, in spite of all that may be advanced to the contrary, this memorable era will be inseparably connected with my name; for, after all, it cannot be denied that I kindled the torch and consecrated the principles; and now persecution renders me quite their Messiah. Friends and foes, all must acknowledge me to be their first soldier, their grand representative. Thus even when I shall be no more, I shall still continue to be the leading star of the nations....”


11th—12th. The Emperor took advantage of every fine morning to ride on horseback. He breakfasted in the garden; and the conversation was afterwards maintained with great freedom and interest on the events of his own private life, on public affairs, on the individuals who surrounded his person, and those who have played a conspicuous part in the other Courts of Europe.

The English lessons were no longer thought of; they were continued only in our rides or walks during the day time. What the Emperor thus lost in grammatical accuracy he gained in facility of expression.

About five o’clock on the 11th, we took our usual airing in the calash. In the evening we resumed our ministerial anecdotes and conversations on celebrated persons. Napoleon gave us the history of M. Pozzo di Borgo, his countryman, who had been a Member of the Legislative Body. It was he, it is said, who advised the Emperor Alexander to march upon Paris, even though Napoleon should have attacked his rear. “And thus,” said the Emperor, “he decided the fate of France, of European civilization, and the destinies of the whole world. He had acquired great influence in the Russian Cabinet."

He also gave us the history of M. Capo d’Istria. He then spoke of M. de Metternich.

The Emperor next spoke of his own Ministers; of Bassano, whom he believed to have been sincerely attached to him; Clarke, to whose character Time, he said, would do ample justice; C.... whom late events had shewn to have been worth but little. The Emperor had successively appointed him Ambassador to Vienna, Minister of the interior, and Minister for foreign affairs. Talleyrand, observed the Emperor, described his character in a word, when he said of him, with his usual point and ill-natured spirit, that he was a man who could make himself fit for any place on the day before his appointment to it.

The conversation next turned on M. Cambacérès, whom Napoleon called the man of abuses; observing that he had a decided inclination for the old regime. Lebrun, on the contrary, had a predilection to the opposite extreme. He, said the Emperor, was the man of idealisms. These two men, he observed, were the counterpoises between which the First Consul had placed himself, and he in his turn was humourously called _the consolidated third_.

Messrs. de T.... and Fouché were next spoken of. After saying a great deal respecting both, the Emperor proceeded to make some energetic remarks on the morality of individuals connected with the ministry in France, and generally of all functionaries or men in office; on their want of political faith, or national feeling, which led them to serve indifferently one person to-day, and another to-morrow. “This levity, this inconsistency,” said he, “has descended to us from antiquity. We still remain Gauls, and our character will never be complete, until we learn to substitute principles for turbulence, pride for vanity, and, above all, the love of institutions for the love of place.”

The Emperor concluded that, at the close of our late events, the Monarchs of Europe must necessarily have retained a retrospective feeling of scorn and contempt for the great people who had thus sported with Sovereignty. “But,” said he, “the excuse may perhaps be found in the nature of things, and in the power of circumstances. Democracy raises up Sovereignty, aristocracy preserves it. Mine had neither taken a root deep enough, nor acquired sufficient spirit. At the moment of the crisis it was still connected with democracy; and it mingled with the multitude instead of becoming the sheet-anchor to secure the people from the fury of the tempest, and to guide them in their blindness.”

The following are some fresh particulars respecting M. de T—— and M. Fouché, whose names have so frequently been mentioned. I endeavour as much as possible to avoid repetitions.

“M. de T——” said the Emperor, “waited two days and nights at Vienna for full powers to treat for peace in my name; but I should have been ashamed to have thus prostituted my policy; and yet, perhaps, my conduct in this instance has purchased my exile to St. Helena; for I cannot but allow that T—— is a man of singular talent, and capable at all times of throwing great weight into the scale.

“T——” continued he, “was always in a state treason; but it was in partnership with fortune. His circumspection was extreme; he treated his friends as if they might in future become his enemies; and he behaved to his enemies as if they might some time or other become his friends. M. de T—— had always been, in my opinion, hostile to the Faubourg St. Germain. In the affair of the divorce, he was for the Empress Josephine. It was he who urged the war with Spain, though in public he had the art to appear averse to it.” Thus it was from a kind of spite that Napoleon made choice of Valencey as the residence of Ferdinand. “In short,” said the Emperor, “T—— was the principal instrument and the active cause of the death of the Duke d’Enghien.”


Ch. Maurice de Talleyrand

Engraved by Thomson, from the Original Painting by F. Gérard ]

Napoleon observed that a celebrated actress (Mademoiselle Raucourt) had described him with great truth. “If you ask him a question,” said she, “he is an iron chest, whence you cannot extract a syllable; but if you ask him nothing, you will soon be unable to stop his mouth—he will become a regular gossip.”

This was a foible which, at the outset, destroyed the confidence of the Emperor, and made him waver in his opinion of T——. “I had entrusted him,” said Napoleon, "with a very important affair, and, a few hours afterwards, Josephine related it to me word for word. I instantly sent for the Minister, to inform him that I had just learned from the Empress a circumstance which I had told in confidence to himself alone. The story had already passed through four or five intermediate channels.

"T——’s countenance," added the Emperor, “is so immoveable that nothing can ever be read in it. Lannes and Murat used jokingly to say of him that if, while he was speaking to you, some one should come behind him and give him a kick, his countenance would betray no indication of the affront.”

M. de T—— is mild and even endearing in his domestic habits. His servants, and the persons in his employment, are attached and devoted to him. Among his intimate friends he willingly and good-humouredly speaks of his ecclesiastical profession. He one day expressed his dislike of a tune which was hummed in his hearing. He said he had a great horror of it; it reminded him of the time when he was obliged to practise church-music, and to sing at the desk. On another occasion, one of his intimate friends was telling a story during supper, while M. de T—— was engaged in thought, and seemed inattentive to the conversation. In the course of the story, the speaker happened to say in a lively manner of some one whom he had named, “That fellow is a comical rogue; he is a married priest.” T——, roused by these words, seized a spoon, plunged it hastily into the dish before him, and with a threatening aspect called out to him, “Mr. Such-a-one, will you have some spinach?” The person who was telling the story was confounded, and all the party burst into a fit of laughter, M. de T—— as well as the rest.

The Emperor, at the time of the Concordat, wished to have made M. de T.... a Cardinal, and to have placed him at the head of ecclesiastical affairs. He told him that his proper destiny was to return to the bosom of the Church, to refresh his memory, and to stop the mouths of the declaimers. T——, however, would never agree to this; his aversion to the ecclesiastical profession was insurmountable.

Napoleon was very near appointing him Ambassador to Warsaw, a dignity which he subsequently conferred on the Abbé de Pradt; but his dirty stock-jobbing tricks, as the Emperor called them, occasioned this intention to be abandoned. The Emperor was induced by the same reasons, and at the instance of several sovereigns of Germany, to deprive him of the portfolio of Foreign Affairs.

The Emperor remarked that Fouché was the T—— of the clubs, and that T—— was the Fouché of the drawing-rooms. “Intrigue,” he said, "was to Fouché a necessary of life. He intrigued at all times, in all places, in all ways, and with all persons. Nothing ever came to light but he was found to have had a hand in it. He made it his sole business to look out for something that he might be meddling with. His mania was to wish to be concerned in every thing...! Always in every body’s shoes." This the Emperor would often repeat.

At the time of the conspiracy of Georges, when Moreau was arrested, Fouché was no longer at the head of the Police, and he endeavoured to make himself very much regretted. “What stupidity!” said he, “they have arrested Moreau when he was returning to Paris from his country residence, a circumstance which at least appeared like the confidence of innocence. On the contrary, he should have been seized when he went to Gros-Bois, for then he was evidently running away.”

The remark which he made, or which is attributed to him on the affair of the Duke d’Enghien, is well known; “It is more than a crime, it is a fault,” said he. Such traits as these paint the character of a man better than whole volumes.

The Emperor knew Fouché well, and never became his dupe. He has been much blamed for having employed him in 1815, when indeed Fouché basely betrayed him. Napoleon was not ignorant of his disposition; but he also knew that the danger depended more on the circumstances than on the individual. “If I had been victorious,” said he, “Fouché would have been faithful. He took great care, it is true, to hold himself in readiness for whatever might happen. I ought to have conquered!”

The Emperor, however, was acquainted with his underhand dealings, and he did not spare him. After Napoleon’s return in 1815, one of the first bankers of Paris presented himself at the Elysée, to inform him that, a few days previously, a person just arrived from Vienna had waited upon him with letters of credit, and had made enquiries respecting the means by which he could meet with Fouché. Whether from reflection or presentiment, the banker conceived some doubts respecting this individual, and accordingly came to communicate them in person to the Emperor, who was astonished that Fouché had concealed the matter from his knowledge. In the course of a few hours Réal found the person in question, and immediately brought him to the Elysée, where he was shut up in a small room by himself. The Emperor ordered him to be brought into the garden. “Do you know me?” said he to the man. This commencement, and the feelings which the Emperor’s presence inspired, greatly startled the stranger. “I am acquainted with all your proceedings,” continued Napoleon, in a tone of severity: “if you this moment confess all you know, I may pardon you; if not, you will be taken from this garden to be shot.”—"I will tell all," said the man. “I am sent hither by M. de Metternich to the Duke of Otranto, to propose that he will despatch a messenger to Bâle, who will there meet the messenger sent by M. de Metternich from Vienna. These,” continued he, delivering some papers, “are the marks of recognition which they are to possess.”—"Have you executed your mission to Fouché?" enquired the Emperor.—"Yes."—"Has he despatched his messenger?"—"I do not know." The man was put under confinement, and within an hour a confidential person (M. F——) was on the road to Bâle. He introduced himself to the Austrian messenger, and even held four conferences with him.

Meanwhile Fouché, who was uneasy at the non-appearance of his Vienna messenger, one day waited on the Emperor, and attempted with an air of gaiety and cheerfulness to conceal his extreme embarrassment. “There were several looking-glasses,” said the Emperor, “in the apartment, and I was much amused in studying him by stealth; the expression of his countenance was hideous; he did not know how to enter upon the subject which interested him so deeply.”—"Sire," said he at length, "a circumstance occurred to me four or five days ago, which I fear I was wrong in not communicating to your Majesty.... But I have so much business on my hands——I am surrounded with so many reports, so many intrigues——. A man came to me from Vienna with most ridiculous propositions,——and he is now no where to be found!"—"M. Fouché," said the Emperor, “you may injure yourself, if you take me for a fool. I have secured the man you speak of, and I have known the whole intrigue for several days. Have you sent to Bâle?”—"No, Sire."—"That is fortunate for you. If it be otherwise, and I obtain proofs of it, it may cost you your life."

Subsequent events have proved that this would have been but justice. It appears, however, that Fouché had not sent, and here the business ended.


13th.—The Emperor breakfasted in the garden, and sent for us all to attend him. He resumed the reading of the papers which we had glanced at in the morning, and then proceeded to expatiate on political affairs. The following observations are those which most forcibly struck me.

“On the 13th Vendemiaire, the inhabitants of Paris were completely disgusted with the Government,” said the Emperor; "but the whole of the army, the great majority of the population of the departments, the lower class of citizens, and the peasantry, remained attached to it. Thus the Revolution triumphed over this grand attack of the counter-revolution, though it was only four or five years since the new principles had been promulgated. The most frightful and calamitous scenes had been witnessed; and a happier future was anticipated.

"But now how altered is the case!... If the soldier in his barracks seeks to while away the tedious hours in talking of battles, he cannot speak of Fontenoy or Prague, which he did not witness; he must speak of the victories of Marengo, Austerlitz, and Jena; of him who gained them; in short, of me, whose fame fills every mouth, and lives in every heart.

"Such a situation is unexampled in history. On whichever side it is viewed, nothing but misfortunes present themselves. What will be the result of this?... Two classes of people, inhabitants of the same soil, will become mortal, irreconcileable enemies, will be incessantly quarrelling, and will, perhaps, finally exterminate each other.

“The same fury will soon spread through Europe. The whole Continent will be composed of two hostile parties; it will be no longer divided by nations and territories, but by party-colours and opinions. Who can foresee the crisis, the duration, the details of so many troubles! The event cannot be doubtful. The present enlightened age will not retrograde in knowledge!... How unfortunate was my fall!... I had imprisoned the winds; but bayonets have released them. I could have proceeded tranquilly in the universal regeneration, which can henceforth be effected only amidst storms! My object was to amalgamate; others, perhaps, will extirpate!”


14th.—The rainy weather had returned; for two days it had been miserably wet. Some vessels appeared in sight; and we learnt by signals that they brought the new Governor, Sir Hudson Lowe.

The Emperor was silent and melancholy during dinner. He was not well, and he retired very early.


15th.—About 12 o’clock this morning I received four letters from Europe, which rendered me as happy as I could possibly be in this place.

I saw the Emperor at five o’clock in the garden. He had taken advantage of an interval of fine weather; the rain had been pouring the whole day. I communicated to him the contents of my letters. All our party had received communications from Europe. They were delivered to us open, and they contained no news; but they proved that our friends still remembered us, and in our situation such an assurance was peculiarly gratifying.

During dinner, the Emperor described to us the contents of some French papers which he had by him, and which, he said, gave an account of the shipwreck of La Perouse, his different adventures; his death, and his journal. The narrative consisted of the most curious, striking, and romantic details, and interested us exceedingly. The Emperor observed how highly our curiosity was excited, and then burst into a fit of laughter. This story was nothing but an impromptu of his own, which he said he had invented merely to show us the progress he had made in English.


16th.—The new Governor arrived at Longwood about ten o’clock, notwithstanding the rain which still continued. He was accompanied by the Admiral, who was to introduce him, and who had, no doubt, told him that this was the most suitable hour for his visit. The Emperor did not receive him; he was indisposed, and even had he been well, he would not have seen him. The Governor, in this abrupt visit, neglected the usual forms of decorum. It was easy to perceive that this was a trick of the Admiral’s. The Governor, who probably had no intention to render himself at all disagreeable, appeared very much disconcerted. We laughed in our sleeves. As for the Admiral, he was quite triumphant.

The Governor, after long hesitation and very evident marks of ill-humour, took his leave rather abruptly. We doubted not that this visit had been planned by the Admiral, with the view of prepossessing us against each other at the very outset. But whether the Governor himself had any concern in it, or entertained any suspicion of its design, is a question which time will decide.

About half-past five, the Emperor sent for me to attend him in the garden. He was alone. He told me that a circumstance had arisen which regarded us all individually. It had been determined to require a declaration from each of us, stating whether we chose rather to unite our fate with that of the Emperor, or to be removed from St. Helena and set at liberty.

We could not guess the motive of this determination. Was it adopted by the English Ministry for the sake of procuring regular documents? But at the time of our departure from Plymouth, this preliminary condition was perfectly understood. Was it hoped by this means to separate the Emperor more completely from the world? But could it ever be supposed that we would forsake him?

He asked what would be my determination on this point. I replied that it could not be for a moment doubtful; that if I ever felt a pang, it must have been at the moment of my first determination; that from that instant my fate had been irrevocably fixed. I had at first obeyed only the dictates of glory and honour; but in every succeeding day I had indulged my natural affection and feelings. The Emperor’s voice assumed a milder tone; and this was the mode in which he expressed his thanks. I knew his heart, and the full extent of his gratitude.

I added that there was but little merit in my resolution. No change could take place in our situations. The day after having signed the document, we should be the same as we had been the day before. Our fate depended not on human combinations, but on the course of events. It would be very unwise to add to our troubles by calculations beyond the reach of human foresight. It is our duty calmly to resign ourselves to the mysterious decrees of Fate; and, in the depth of our misfortune, to comfort ourselves with the reflection that our minds are free from self-reproach. This is a consolation which it is beyond the power of man to enfeeble or to destroy.


17th.—The Emperor sent for me at nine o’clock. He read to me an article in the Portsmouth Courier, which gave a very long and faithful description of his residence at Briars.

He sent for me again in the middle of the day to converse with him. One part of the conversation affords so valuable a development of Napoleon’s character that I cannot refrain from noting down some passages of it.

There occasionally arose among us transient misunderstandings and disputes, which vexed and annoyed the Emperor. He adverted to this topic. He analysed our situation with his usual train of reasoning. He calculated the miseries and horrors of our exile, and pointed out the best mode of alleviating them. He said that we ought to make mutual sacrifices, and overlook many grievances; that man can only enjoy life by controlling the character given to him by nature, or by creating to himself a new one by education, and learning to modify it according to the obstacles which he may encounter.

“You should endeavour to form but one family,” said he. “You have followed me only with the view of assuaging my sorrow. Ought not this feeling to subdue every other consideration? If sympathy alone is not sufficiently powerful, let reason be your guide. You should learn to calculate your sorrows, your sacrifices, and your enjoyments, in order to arrive at a result, just as we make additions or subtractions in every kind of calculation. All the circumstances of our lives should be submitted to this rule.... We must learn to conquer ill temper. It is natural enough that little misunderstandings should arise among you; but they should be followed by explanation, and not succeeded by ill-humour; the former will produce a result, the latter will only render the affair more complicated. Reason and logical inference should, in this world, be our constant guides.” He then proceeded to show how he had sometimes acted up to these principles, and sometimes departed from them. He added that we ought to learn to forgive, and to avoid that hostility and acrimony which must be offensive to our neighbours and prejudicial to our own happiness; that we ought to make allowance for human frailties, and humour, rather than oppose, them.

“What would have become of me,” said he, "had I not followed these maxims? It has often been said that I have been too good-natured, and not sufficiently cautious; but it would have been much worse for me had my disposition been the reverse of what it is. I have been twice betrayed, it is true; and I may be betrayed a third time. But it was my knowledge of human character, and the spirit of reasonable indulgence which I had adopted, that enabled me to govern France; and which still perhaps render me the fittest person to rule that nation, under existing circumstances. On my departure from Fontainebleau, did I not say to all who requested me to point out the line of conduct they should pursue, ‘Go, and serve the King!’ I wished to grant them lawful authority for doing what many would not have hesitated to do of their own accord. I would not allow the fidelity of some to be the cause of their ruin; and finally, above all, I did not wish to have any one to censure on my return."

I here ventured, contrary to my constant custom, to call the Emperor, in some measure, to account. “How, Sire,” I exclaimed, “had your Majesty any idea of returning when you left Fontainbleau?”—"Yes, certainly, and by the simplest reasoning. If the Bourbons, said I, intend to commence a fifth dynasty, I have nothing more to do here; I have acted my part. But, if they should obstinately attempt to re-continue the third, I shall soon appear again. It may be said that the Bourbons then had my fame and conduct at their own disposal. It was in their power still to represent me in the eyes of the common mass of mankind as an upstart, a tyrant, a fire-brand, and a scourge. How much good sense and calm reflection would have been necessary to appreciate my real character, and render me justice!... But the men by whom the Bourbons were surrounded, and the erroneous line of conduct they pursued, rendered my presence desirable; they restored my popularity and decreed my return. I should otherwise have ended my days on the Island of Elba, and this would doubtless have proved most to the interest of all parties. I returned to discharge a great debt, and not for the sake of resuming possession of a throne. Perhaps few will comprehend the motive by which I was actuated; no matter. I took upon myself a heavy charge, but it was a duty I owed to the French people. Their complaints reached me; and how could I turn a deaf ear to them?

"Upon the whole, my situation in the Island of Elba was sufficiently enviable and agreeable. I should soon have created to myself a new kind of sovereignty. All that was most distinguished in Europe began to pass in review before me. I should have presented a spectacle unknown in history: that of a monarch who had descended from his throne, beholding the civilized world thronging to file off before him.

“It may indeed be objected that the Allies would have removed me from my Island; and I admit that this circumstance hastened my return. But had France been wisely governed, had the French people been content my influence would have ended; I should henceforth have belonged only to history, and the cabinet of Vienna would have entertained no idea of deposing me. It was the agitation created and maintained in France that first gave rise to the thought of my removal.”

Here the Grand Marshal entered the Emperor’s apartment. He came to announce the arrival of the Governor, who was escorted by the Admiral, and followed by the whole of his staff.

After some further conversation, Bertrand was left alone with the Emperor, and I proceeded to the antechamber; here all the suite was assembled. We endeavoured to exchange a few words with each other; but we were rather bent on observing than conversing.

In about half an hour, the Emperor entered the drawing-room. The valet-de-chambre on duty, who was stationed at the door within the apartment, then summoned the Governor, and he was introduced. The Admiral was following close behind him. The valet who had heard only the Governor’s name mentioned, suddenly closed the door without admitting the Admiral, who was shut out in spite of his remonstrance; and he withdrew quite disconcerted into the recess of one of the windows. The valet de chambre who was the cause of this affront, was Noverraz, a Swiss, a good and faithful servant, of whom the Emperor frequently said that his whole understanding was absorbed in his attachment to his master.

We were astonished at this unexpected occurrence; and we at first concluded that Noverraz had acted in obedience to the Emperor’s wishes. Though we had ample reason to complain of the Admiral, yet we did all in our power to relieve him from his embarrassment; his awkward situation distressed us. Meanwhile the Governor’s staff was summoned and introduced; and this circumstance served only to increase the Admiral’s confusion. In about a quarter of an hour the Emperor took leave of his visitors. The Governor came out of the drawing-room, and the Admiral eagerly advanced to meet him. They said a few words to each other with some degree of warmth, then took leave of us and departed.

We joined the Emperor in the garden, and our conversation turned on the Admiral’s discomfiture. The Emperor knew nothing of the matter. The whole circumstance was solely the effect of chance. The Emperor declared himself delighted with the joke. He burst into a fit of laughter, rubbed his hands, and exhibited the joy of a child, of a school-boy, who had successfully played off a trick on his master. “Ah! my good Noverraz,” said he, “you have done a clever thing for once in your life. He had heard me say that I would not see the Admiral again, and he thought he was bound to shut the door in his face. But this honest Swiss may perhaps carry the joke too far; if I were unfortunately to say we must get rid of the Governor, he would be for assassinating him before my eyes. After all,” said the Emperor, assuming a more serious tone, "it was entirely the Governor’s fault. He should have requested that the Admiral might be admitted, particularly as he had informed me that he could be presented only by him. Why, again, did he not request the Admiral’s admission when he presented his officers to me? He is solely to blame. But," continued he, “the Admiral has lost nothing by the mistake. I should without hesitation have apostrophized him in the presence of his countrymen. I should have told him that by the sentiment attached to the honourable uniform which we had both worn for forty years, I accused him of having, in the eyes of the world, degraded his nation and his Sovereign by wantonly and stupidly failing in respect to one of the oldest soldiers in Europe. I should have reproached him with landing me at St. Helena just as he would have landed a convict at Botany-Bay. I should have assured him that a man of true honour would shew me more respect on my rock than if I were still on my throne and surrounded by my armies.” The force and spirit of these remarks put a period to our gaiety, and closed the conversation.

As I have thus alluded to the Admiral, and as he is now about to quit us, I will once for all sum up the insults with which we have to reproach him, with as much impartiality as our situation and the state of our feelings will admit of.

We cannot pardon the affected familiarity with which he treated us, though our conduct afforded but little encouragement to it. Still less can we forgive him for having endeavoured to extend this familiarity to the Emperor. We can never forget the haughty and self-complacent air with which he addressed Napoleon by the title of _General_. The Emperor, it is true, has immortalized that title; but the tone and the intention with which it was applied were sufficiently insulting.

On our arrival at St. Helena, he lodged the Emperor in a little room, a few feet square, where he kept him for two months, though other residences could have been procured, and there was one which the Admiral had himself fixed upon. He indirectly prohibited the Emperor from riding on horseback, even in the grounds surrounding the Briars; and the individuals of the Emperor’s suite were loaded with embarrassments and humiliations, when they came to pay their daily visits to him in his little cell.

On our removal to Longwood, he stationed sentinels under the very windows of the Emperor; and then, by an evasion, which savoured of the bitterest irony, he alleged that this step had been taken only with a view to the _General’s_ own advantage and protection. He suffered no one to come near us without a note from him, and, having thus placed us in close confinement, he declared that these arrangements had been made solely to secure the Emperor against importunity, and that he (the Admiral) was merely acting the part of _Grand Marshal_. He gave a ball, and sent a written invitation to _General Buonaparte_, in the same manner as he did to every individual in the suite. He replied with the most unbecoming jeers to the notes of the Grand Marshal, who used the title of _Emperor_, saying that he knew no _Emperor_ at the Island of St. Helena, nor any such Sovereign in Europe, or elsewhere, who was not in his own dominions. He refused to forward a letter from the Emperor to the Prince Regent, unless it were delivered to him open, or he were permitted to read it. He even stifled the sentiments and expressions of respect which other individuals manifested for Napoleon. We were assured that he had put persons in inferior situations under arrest, merely for having used the title of Emperor or other similar expressions; which, however, were frequently employed in the 53rd regiment, doubtless, as the Emperor observed, through an irresistible sentiment with which these brave men were inspired.

The Admiral, from his own personal caprice, had limited the extent of our rides and walks. On this subject he had even broken his word to the Emperor. At a moment when he appeared somewhat inclined to make concessions, he had assured Napoleon that he was free to ride in all parts of the Island, without being annoyed even by the sight of the English officer appointed to guard him. But a few days after this, just as Napoleon was on the point of mounting his horse to ride out to breakfast in a shady spot at some distance from our residence, he found himself under the necessity of renouncing this little enjoyment. The officer declared that he must henceforth form one of the party and ride close to him. From that moment the Emperor refused to see the Admiral. The latter had moreover neglected the most ordinary forms of decorum, always fixing upon unsuitable hours for his own visits, and directing strangers who arrived at the Island to select the same unseasonable periods for visiting the Emperor. This was no doubt done with a view of preventing people from gaining access to Napoleon, who constantly refused to be seen on these occasions. It has already been stated that the Admiral acted thus when the Governor paid his first visit to Longwood; and the satisfaction he evinced at the Governor’s ill reception but too plainly betrayed his design.

However, if we were required to pronounce an impartial opinion on him, making allowance for the irritability of our own feelings and the delicacy of his situation, we should not hesitate to declare that our grievances rested in forms rather than facts. We should say, with the Emperor, who had after all a natural predilection for him, that Admiral Cockburn is far from being an ill-disposed man, that he is even susceptible of generous and delicate sentiment; but that he is capricious, irascible, vain, and overbearing: that he is a man who is accustomed to authority, and who exercises it ungraciously; frequently substituting energy for dignity. To express in a few words the nature of our relations with respect to him, we should say, that, as a jailor, he was mild, humane, and generous, and that we have reason to be grateful to him; but that, as a host, he was generally unpolite, often something worse, and that in this character we have cause to be displeased with him.

About two or three o’clock, the Emperor took his usual airing. During our walk in the garden and our ride in the calash, he said a good deal about the events of the morning; and the conversation on this subject was resumed after dinner. Some one jokingly observed that the two first days of the Governor’s arrival had been like days of battle, and were calculated to make us appear very untractable, though we were naturally most patient and accommodating. At these last words, the Emperor smiled and pinched the ear of the individual who made the remark.

The conversation then turned on Sir Hudson Lowe. He was described as being a man about forty-five years of age; of the ordinary height, and of slender make, with red hair, a ruddy complexion, and freckled. His eyes were said to have an oblique kind of expression; glancing askance, seldom fixed full in a person’s face; surmounted by fair, bushy, and very prominent eyebrows. “He is hideous,” said the Emperor, "he has a most villainous countenance. But we must not decide too hastily; the man’s disposition may perhaps make amends for the unfavorable impression which his face produces; this is not impossible."


18th. The weather had been horrible for some days past, but it cleared up a little to-day. The Emperor went out early to take his walk in the garden; about 4 o’clock he got into the calash and took rather a longer airing than usual. Before dinner the Emperor desired me to translate to him the Convention of the Allied Sovereigns relative to his captivity. It was as follows:—


"Napoleon Bonaparte being in the power of the Allied Sovereigns, their Majesties the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia, and the King of Prussia, have agreed, by virtue of the stipulations of the treaty of the 25th of March, 1815, on the measures best calculated to preclude the possibility of his making any attempt to disturb the peace of Europe.

"Art. I.—Napoleon Bonaparte is considered by the Powers who signed the treaty of the 20th of March last, as their prisoner.

"Art. II.—His safeguard is specially intrusted to the British Government.

"The choice of the place and the measures which may best ensure the object of the present stipulation, are reserved to his Britannic Majesty.

"Art. III.—The imperial courts of Austria and Russia and the Royal court of Prussia shall appoint Commissioners to reside in the place which his Britannic Majesty’s Government shall assign as the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, and who, without being responsible for his security, shall assure themselves of his presence.

"Art. IV.—His most Christian Majesty is invited in the name of the four Courts above mentioned, also to send a French commissioner to the place of Napoleon Bonaparte’s detention.

"Art. V. —His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland pledges himself to fulfil the engagements assigned to him by the present convention.

"Art. VI.—The present convention shall be ratified, and the ratification shall be exchanged in the space of a fortnight, or sooner if possible.

"In virtue of which the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the present convention, and have affixed their seals thereto.

“Given at Paris on the 20th of August, in the year of our Lord 1815.”

When I had finished translating this document, the Emperor asked me what I thought of it.

“Sire,” I replied, "in the situation in which we are placed, I would rather depend on the interests of a single one, than on the complicated decision of four. England has evidently dictated this treaty. You see how carefully she stipulates that she alone shall answer for and dispose of the prisoner. She has been labouring to provide herself with the lever of Archimedes, and therefore it is not probable that she w¡ll entertain any idea of breaking it."

The Emperor, without explaining his ideas on this subject, adverted to the different chances which might bring about his liberation from St. Helena, and he made the following remarkable observations: “If the Sovereigns of Europe act wisely, and should succeed in completely restoring order, we shall not be worth the money and the trouble which it must cost to keep us here, and they will get rid of us. But our captivity may still be prolonged for some years, perhaps three, four, or five. Otherwise, setting aside the fortuitous events which are beyond the reach of human foresight, I calculate only on two uncertain chances of our liberation: first, that the Sovereigns may stand in need of me to assist in putting down rebellion among their subjects; and secondly, the people of Europe may require my aid in the contest that may arise between them and their monarchs. I am the natural arbiter and mediator in the immense conflict between the present and the past. I have always aspired to be the supreme judge in this cause. My administration at home and my diplomacy abroad all tended to this great end. The issue might have been brought about more easily and promptly; but fate ordained otherwise. Finally, there is a last chance, which perhaps is the most probable of all; I may be wanted to check the power of the Russians; for, in less than ten years, all Europe may perhaps be overrun with Cossacks, or subject to republican government. Such however are the statesmen who brought about my overthrow.” Then, reverting to the decision of the Sovereigns respecting him, he observed that it was difficult to account for the style of the document, and the malignant spirit which pervaded it.

“The Emperor Francis,” said he, “is a pious sovereign, and I am his son-in-law.—As for Alexander, we once loved each other. With regard to the King of Prussia, I doubtless did him much harm, but I might have done him much more; and after all, might he not have found real glory and self-satisfaction in distinguishing himself by generosity? As to England, it is to the animosity of her Ministers that I am indebted for all. But it remained for the Prince Regent to observe and interfere, or to be branded as a fool, and a protector of vulgar malignity.—One thing however is certain, namely: that the Allied Sovereigns have compromised, degraded, and lost themselves, by their treatment of me.”


19th.—This morning the Grand Marshal and Madame Bertrand came into the garden, in consequence of the Emperor having expressed an intention of breakfasting there; but as he had passed a very restless night, and had had no sleep, he breakfasted in his chamber.

The Governor gave us official notice that we must each send him a declaration, expressing our voluntary determination to remain at Longwood, and to submit to all the restrictions which Napoleon’s captivity might require. Mine was as follows:—

_Declaration._—"I, the undersigned, repeat the declaration which I made when in Plymouth-roads; namely, that I wish to devote myself to the fate of the Emperor Napoleon, to accompany him, to follow him, and to alleviate, as far as lies in my power, the unjust treatment he experiences, through the most unheard-of violation of the law of nations, of which I am the more particularly sensible as it was I who conveyed to him the offer and assurance of Captain Maitland of the Bellerophon, purporting that he had orders to receive the Emperor and his suite under the protection of the British flag, if agreeable to him, and to convey him to England.

"The Emperor Napoleon’s letter to the Prince Regent, which is known to all England, and which I had previously communicated to Captain Maitland, without his having made the slightest observation on it, explains to the world much better than any thing I can say how frankly the Emperor met this offer of hospitality, and, consequently, how much he has been the dupe of his sincerity and confidence.

"Notwithstanding the experience I have had of the horrors of a residence on the Island of St. Helena, which is so prejudicial to the Emperor’s health, and to that of every European, and though, during the six months which we have passed on the island, I have been subjected to every species of privation, which I myself daily multiply, in order to avoid, as much as possible, the violation of that respect which my rank and habits demand, yet, constant to my first sentiments, and resolved that for the future no fear of misfortune, or hope of advantage, shall separate me from the Emperor Napoleon, I repeat my desire to remain with him, and to submit to whatever restrictions may be arbitrarily imposed on him."


20th.—Colonel Wilks, being on the eve of his departure for Europe, called with his daughter to take leave of the Emperor. The young lady was presented by Madame Bertrand. I have already mentioned that Colonel Wilks had formerly been Governor of the Colony, for the East India Company; he was succeeded by the Admiral, in the King’s name, when, in consequence of our removal to St. Helena, the island was transferred from the possession of the Company to that of the Government.

The Emperor was in a remarkably cheerful humour. He conversed for some time with the ladies, and then took Colonel Wilks aside to the recess of one of the windows, whither I followed to serve as interpreter.

Col. Wilks, as I have probably mentioned before, was for a long time the diplomatic agent of the Company in the Indian Peninsula; he has written a history of that country. He is a man of extensive information, and possesses great knowledge of chemistry. Thus he was at once a soldier, an author, a diplomatist, and a chemist. The Emperor put questions to him relative to all these subjects, and treated them himself with great fluency and spirit. The conversation was lively and varied; and it was maintained for upwards of two hours. The following are the principal particulars which I noted down. I shall probably in some measure repeat what I have said before, for the Emperor and Colonel Wilks had, some months ago, a long conversation on precisely the same topics; but that is of no importance; these subjects are so interesting that I would rather incur the risk of repeating than of losing any thing connected with them.

The Emperor began by speaking of the English army, its organization, and particularly its system of promotion. He compared it with the French army, and repeated what I have formerly stated with regard to the excellent composition of our military force, the advantage of the Conscription, and the bravery of our troops. Then, turning to the subject of politics, he said, “You lost America by liberation: you will lose India by invasion. The first loss was perfectly natural; as children advance in years, they break the parental bonds. But, for the Hindoos, they are not advancing at all. They still remain children. The catastrophe, therefore, can only proceed from without. You are not aware of all the dangers with which you were threatened by my arms or my negotiations. As for my Continental system, you perhaps laughed at it?” “Sire,” replied the Colonel, “we affected to do so, but all men of judgment felt the full force of it.”—"Well," continued the Emperor, "I stood alone in my opinion on the Continent; and I was forced for the moment to employ violence every where. At length my plan began to be understood. The tree already bears its fruit. I made the beginning; time will do the rest.... Had I maintained my power, I would have changed the course of trade, and the direction of industry. I had naturalized sugar and indigo in France, and I should have naturalized cotton, and many other articles of foreign produce. I should have knocked up the Colonies, if we had continued to be denied a share of them.

“With us the impulse was most powerful. National prosperity and science advanced beyond measure. Yet your Ministers proclaimed through all Europe that the French were overwhelmed with misery, and were retrograding to a state of barbarism. Thus the view of our internal prosperity strangely surprised the vulgar mass, and even disconcerted the more thinking portion of the European public. The strides of knowledge in France were gigantic. The ideas of the French people were every where properly directed and extended. We took pains to render science popular. I was informed that your countrymen were distinguished for their knowledge of chemistry; and yet I will not decide on which side of the water the most able chemist will be found.”—"In France," said the Colonel immediately.

“It is of little importance,” continued the Emperor; “but I maintain that in the mass of the French people there is ten, and perhaps a hundred, times more chemical knowledge than in England; because the manufacturing classes now employ that science in their daily labour. This was one of the characteristics of my school. Had I been allowed sufficient time, there would soon have been no such thing as trades in France; they would all have been converted into arts.”

The Emperor concluded with these remarkable observations: "England and France held in their hands the fate of the world; and particularly that of European civilization. What injury have we not done to each other!——What good might we not have done! Under Pitt’s system, we desolated the world; and what has been the result? You imposed on France a tax of fifteen hundred millions of francs, and raised it by means of Cossacks. I laid a tax of seven thousand millions on you, and made you raise it with your own hands, by your Parliament. Even now, after the victory you have obtained, who can tell whether you may not sooner or later sink under the weight of such a burden?——With Fox’s system, we should have understood each other; we should have accomplished and preserved the emancipation of nations, the dominion of principles. Europe would have presented but a single fleet and a single army. We might have ruled the world. We might every where have established peace and prosperity, either by dint of force or persuasion. Yes, I repeat it, what mischief have we not done! What good might we not have effected!"

Never was Napoleon in a more talkative humour. He laughed more than once at the endeavours I made to keep up with the volubility with which he uttered his observations. As for the Colonel, he took his leave, amazed and confounded by what he had heard.

When he was gone, the Emperor continued to converse for a long time in the drawing-room. He afterwards went into the garden, in spite of the bad weather, and sent for us all to join him. He was desirous of reading the declarations which we had made; they became the subject of conversation.

Four ships arrived here to-day from Europe. They had on board the 66th regiment, and had left England before the Phaëton, which brought the new Governor, Sir Hudson Lowe.

After dinner, the Emperor good-humouredly related the remark made by an old soldier of the 53rd, who, having seen him yesterday for the first time, went back to his comrades and said,—"What lies they told me about Napoleon’s age; he is not old at all; the fellow is still young enough for at least sixty campaigns." We thought this expression savoured very much of the Frenchman, and we laid claim to it as having proceeded from one of our grenadiers. We then related to him a number of _bons-mots_ made by our soldiers during his absence and on his return, with which he was much entertained. But what particularly excited his risibility was the answer made by a grenadier at Lyons. A grand review was held there, just after the Emperor had landed on his return from Elba. The Commanding Officer remarked to his soldiers that they were well clothed and well fed, that their pay might be seen upon their persons:—"Yes, certainly," replied the grenadier to whom he addressed himself.—"Well!" continued the officer, with a confident air, “it was not so under Bonaparte. Your pay was in arrear, he was in your debt?”—"And what did that signify," said the grenadier smartly, “if we chose to give him credit?”


21st.—The Emperor sent for me to attend him in the garden, about four o’clock, to act as interpreter. Captain Hamilton, the Commander of the Havannah frigate, was to sail next day for Europe, and, with his officers, had come to take leave of the Emperor. Captain Hamilton spoke French. When I joined the party in the garden, the Emperor was expressing himself with warmth.

“They wish to know what I desire?” said he; “I demand my liberty or death. Report these words to your Prince Regent. I no longer ask to hear from my son, since they have had the barbarity to leave my first request unanswered.... I was not your prisoner. Savages would have had more respect for my situation. Your Ministers have basely violated in my person the sacred rights of hospitality; they have for ever dishonoured England!”

Captain Hamilton having ventured to observe that Napoleon was not the prisoner of England alone, but of all the Allied Powers, the Emperor warmly resumed; “I did not deliver myself up to Russia, there I should doubtless have been well received; I did not surrender myself to Austria, there I should have been equally well treated; but I delivered myself up, of my own free will and choice, to England, because I had confidence in her laws and her public morals. I have been cruelly deceived! But Heaven will avenge my wrongs; and, sooner or later you will meet the punishment of a deed for which mankind already reproaches you!——Repeat all this to the Prince Regent, sir.” He accompanied these last words with a motion of his hand, and dismissed the Captain.

We walked about for a few minutes, and on the return of the Grand Marshal, who had accompanied Captain Hamilton a short distance, we thought that it would be proper to leave him alone with the Emperor; but I had scarcely entered my room when he sent for me. He was alone, in his own apartment; he asked me whether I had not had enough of retirement during the day. I told him that a feeling of respect and discretion had alone induced me to leave him. To this he answered that there was no occasion for it, as nothing had passed that he wished to make a secret of. “Besides,” added he, “a certain degree of freedom and ease is not without its charm.” These words, which fell carelessly from Napoleon’s lips, may better serve to show his character than hundreds of pages.

We then perused an English publication, containing the official documents found in his portfolio, which was taken at Waterloo. The Emperor was astonished himself at the number of orders which he had issued almost at the same moment, and the countless details which he had directed in every quarter of the empire. “This publication,” said he, “can do me no harm, after all. It will at least satisfy every one that its contents are not the production of a sluggard. They will compare me with the legitimate Sovereigns, and I shall not suffer by the comparison.”

After dinner, the Emperor conversed on several unconnected subjects. In speaking of his Ambassadors, he said that he considered M. de Narbonne as the only one who had fully deserved that title, and had really fulfilled the duties of his office. “And that,” said he, “by the peculiar advantages, not only of his talents, but of his old-fashioned morals, his manners, and his name. When an Ambassador has merely to prescribe, any one may fill the post; one person is just as good as another; perhaps an aide-de-camp is the best man that can be chosen. But when it is necessary to negotiate, the affair is widely different. In that case it is indispensable to present to the old aristocracy of the Courts of Europe, only the elements of that aristocracy, which, in fact, constitutes a sort of free-masonry. If an Otto or an Andreossi were to enter the saloons of Vienna, there would be a stop to the interchange of opinion; habitual manners would cease. They would be regarded as intruders and profaners, and the mysteries of diplomacy would be suspended. But how different would it be with a Narbonne, possessing the advantages of affinity, sympathy, and identity! A lady of the old nobility would perhaps resign her person to a plebeian, though she would not discover to him the secrets of the aristocracy.”

The Emperor was much attached to M. de Narbonne, and regretted him deeply. He had made him his aide-de-camp, he observed, only because Maria Louisa, through the intrigues of the persons composing her suite, had refused to let him be appointed her gentleman of honour; a post for which he was perfectly adapted. “Until the period of his embassy,” continued the Emperor, “we had been duped by Austria. In less than a fortnight, M. de Narbonne penetrated all the secrets of the cabinet of Vienna, and M. de Metternich was deeply mortified at the appointment. However, by a singular fatality, perhaps, even the success of M. de Narbonne thwarted my views. I found that his talent was no less fatal than useful. Austria, supposing that her designs were guessed, threw aside the mask, and took precipitate steps. Had less penetration been shewn on our part, she would have acted with greater reserve and deliberation. She would have prolonged her natural indecision, and in the interim other chances might have risen up.”

Some one present having alluded to the embassies of Dresden and Berlin, and being apparently inclined to attach blame to our diplomatic agents in those courts, at the period of the return from Moscow, the Emperor replied that, at that period, the fault was not to be attributed to persons, but to things; that with a single glance any one might have foreseen what would happen; and that, for his part, he had not been deceived for a moment. He added that if he had not in person conducted the army back to Wilna, and into Germany, it was through the fear of not being able himself to reach France. He wished, he said, to obviate this imminent danger by the boldness of his movements in crossing Germany rapidly and alone. He was, however, on the point of being taken in Silesia: “but luckily,” said he, "the Prussians were deliberating at the moment when they ought to have been acting. Their conduct in this respect was like that which the Saxons observed towards Charles XII., who said, when he quitted Dresden on a similar occasion;—‘You will see that they will hold a consultation to-morrow upon the expediency of having detained me to-day.’”

Before dinner the Emperor called me into his closet to go over some English exercises with him. He told me that he had just been calculating the expenses of his toilet, and that it cost him about four napoleons per month. We laughed at the immensity of the budget. He talked of ordering some clothes, shoes, boots, &c. from the tradesmen in Europe who had his measures. I thought that this would be attended with serious inconvenience, and, after some consideration, we were convinced that it would never be permitted.

“It is, however,” observed the Emperor, “extremely vexatious to be thus deprived of money; and I wish to come to some settlement on this point. As soon as the bill, which is to determine our situation here, shall be notified to me, I intend to make arrangements for receiving an annual loan of seven or eight millions of napoleons from Eugene. He cannot refuse me. He has received from me perhaps upwards of forty-millions; and it would be an insult to his sentiments to doubt his readiness to serve me. Besides, we have long accounts to settle together. I am sure, if I had appointed a committee of my Councillors of State to draw up a report on this subject, they would have presented me with a balance of at least ten or twelve millions against Eugene.”

At dinner the Emperor asked us some questions respecting the sum necessary to enable a bachelor to live in a European capital, or for the support of a plain family establishment, or the maintenance of a family in a style of elegance. He is fond of these questions and calculations; he treats them with great shrewdness, and enters into the most curious details.

We each presented our budgets, and agreed that a residence in Paris would cost 15,000, 40,000, and 100,000 francs. The Emperor dwelt much on the prices of various articles, and even on the prices of the same articles, as they are charged to different persons, and under different circumstances.

“When I was about to leave the army of Italy,” said he, “to return to Paris, Madame Bonaparte wrote to inform me that she had furnished, in the best possible style, a small house that we had in the _Rue de la Victoire_. The house was not worth more than 40,000 francs. What was my surprise and vexation to find that the drawing-room furniture, which, after all, appeared to me nothing out of the way, was charged at the enormous rate of between 120 and 130,000 francs. In vain did I remonstrate; I was obliged to pay the amount. The upholsterer showed me the directions he had received, and which required that every article should be the very best in its kind. Every thing had been made after new designs, and the designs themselves had been invented expressly for the fitting up of my house. Any judge of the case must have condemned me.”

The Emperor then adverted to the extravagant charges made for furnishing the imperial Palaces, and the vast saving which he had made on this point. He told us the price of the throne, the imperial ornaments, &c. Nothing could be more curious than to hear him detail these charges, together with his own plans of economy. How much I regret not having noted them down at the time! The following particulars will serve to show some of the methods which he adopted for ascertaining the correctness of the accounts that were presented to him:—

On one occasion, when he returned to the Tuileries, which had been magnificently fitted up during his absence, those about him were anxious to direct his attention to all the new furniture and decorations. After expressing his satisfaction at every thing he saw, he walked up to a window overhung with a rich curtain, and, asking for a pair of scissars, cut off a superb gold acorn which was suspended from the drapery, and coolly putting it into his pocket, he continued his inspection to the great astonishment of all present, who were unable to guess his motive. Some days afterwards, at his levee, he drew the acorn from his pocket and gave it to the person who superintended the furnishing of the palace. “Here,” said he, “Heaven forbid that I should think you rob me; but some one has doubtless robbed you. You have paid for this at the rate of one-third above its value. They have dealt with you as though you had been the steward of a great nobleman. You would have made a better bargain if you had not been known.” The fact was that Napoleon, having walked out one morning in disguise (as he was often in the habit of doing), called at some of the shops in the Rue Saint Denis, where he enquired the price of ornaments similar to that which he had cut from the curtain, and enquired the value of various articles of furniture like those provided for the palace, and thus, as he said, he arrived at the result in its simplest form. Every one knew his habits in this respect. These, he said, were his grand plans for ensuring domestic economy, which, notwithstanding his extreme magnificence, was carried to the utmost degree of precision and regularity.

In spite of his numerous occupations he himself revised all his accounts; but he had his own method of doing this, and they were always presented to him in their details. He would cast his eye on the first article, sugar for example, and, finding some thousands of pounds set down, he would take a pen, and say to the person who drew up the accounts: “How many persons are there in my household?”—"Sire, so many:" (and it was necessary to give the answer immediately.)—"And how many pounds of sugar do you suppose they consume per day on an average?"—"Sire, so many."—He immediately made his calculation, and, having satisfied himself, he would give back the paper, saying, “Sir, I have doubled your estimate of the daily consumption, and yet you are enormously beyond the mark. Your account is erroneous. Make it out again, and let me have greater correctness.” This reproof would be sufficient to establish the strictest regularity. Thus he sometimes said of his private, as of his public, administration, “I have introduced such order, and employed so many checks, that I cannot be much imposed on. If I am wronged at all, I leave the guilty person to settle the matter with his own conscience. He will not sink under the weight of his crime, for it cannot be very heavy.”


22nd—25th. The weather has been very bad for several days past. The Emperor discontinued his morning walks, and applied himself with greater regularity to his different occupations. He dictated every morning on the events of 1814.

Sir Hudson Lowe came to visit our establishment. He entered my apartment and remained there for a quarter of an hour. He expressed his regret for the inconveniences to which we were exposed; and observed that we were lodged in bivouacs rather than in apartments. He was right; the pitched paper which had been used for the rooms was already beginning to yield to the effect of the hot climate; when the sun shone I was stifled; and when it rained I was inundated. Sir Hudson Lowe said that he would give directions for having these evils remedied as far as possible, and politely added that he had brought with him about 1500 or 2000 French volumes, which, as soon as they were arranged, he should feel great pleasure in placing at our service.

Racine and Voltaire occupied us for these two or three evenings. Phedre and Athalie, which were read to us by the Emperor, afforded us delightful entertainment; for his observations and commentaries gave twofold interest to what he read.

Mahomet was the subject of deep criticism. “Voltaire,” said the Emperor, "in the character and conduct of his hero, has departed both from nature and history. He has degraded Mahomet, by making him descend to the lowest intrigues. He has represented a great man, who changed the face of the world, acting like a scoundrel, worthy of the gallows. He has no less absurdly travestied the character of Omar, which he has drawn like that of a cut-throat in a melo-drama.

“Voltaire committed a fundamental error in attributing to intrigue that which was solely the result of opinion. Those who have wrought great changes in the world never succeeded by gaining over chiefs, but always by exciting the multitude. The first is the resource of intrigue, and produces only secondary results: the second is the resort of genius, and transforms the face of the universe!”

The Emperor, adverting to the truth of history, expressed his disbelief of all that was attributed to Mahomet. “He must doubtless have been like all chiefs of sects,” said he. “The Koran, having been written thirty years after his death, may have recorded many falsehoods. The Empire of the Prophet, his doctrine and his mission, being established and fulfilled, people might and must have spoken accordingly. Still it remains to be explained how the mighty event which we are certain did take place, namely, the conquest of the world, could have been effected in the short space of fifty or sixty years. By whom was it brought about? By the hordes of the desert, who, as we are informed, were few in number, ignorant, unwarlike, undisciplined, and destitute of system. And yet they opposed the civilized world, abounding in resources. Fanaticism could not have accomplished this miracle, for fanaticism must have had time to establish her dominion, and the career of Mahomet lasted only thirteen years.”—The Emperor conceived that, independently of the fortuitous events by which prodigies are sometimes brought about, there must have been in this case some hidden circumstance which has not reached our knowledge. He was of opinion, that Europe had doubtless sunk beneath the results of some primary cause, of which we are ignorant;—that the different races of people, who suddenly issued from the deserts, had perhaps been engaged in long civil wars, in which men of heroic character and great talent might have risen up, and irresistible impulses have been created.

In all that relates to oriental affairs, Napoleon departed materially from the common opinions which are derived from the books usually regarded as authorities. He said that on this subject he entertained ideas peculiar to himself, though perhaps they were not very well defined; and that his expedition to Egypt had brought about this result in his mind.

“But to return to Voltaire,” said he, “it is astonishing how ill his dramas are adapted for reading.—When criticism and good taste are not cheated by pomp of diction and scenic illusion, he immediately loses a thousand per cent. It will scarcely be believed,” continued he, “that, at the time of the Revolution, Voltaire had superseded Corneille and Racine. The beauties of these two great dramatists lay dormant, until the First Consul again brought them into notice.”

The Emperor spoke truly. It is very certain that when he brought us back to civilization, he at the same time restored us to good taste. He revived our national dramatic and lyric master-pieces—even those which had been proscribed for political reasons. Thus Richard Cœur-de-Lion was again brought upon the stage, though a tender interest had as it were consecrated it to the Bourbons.

“Poor Gretry,” said the Emperor, “had long urged me to permit the performance of the opera. It was rather a dangerous experiment, and a violent uproar was predicted. The representation however went off without any unpleasant circumstances, and I ordered it to be repeated for a week or a fortnight in succession, until the public were completely tired of it. The charm being broken, Richard continued to be played like any ordinary piece, until the time when the Bourbons in their turn prohibited it, because it excited an interest in my favour.”

This strange vicissitude has, it is said, since been renewed with regard to the drama of Prince Edward the Pretender. The Emperor prohibited the piece on account of the Bourbons, and the Bourbons have recently proscribed it on account of the Emperor.


26th.—I went to pay my first visit to Plantation-House. I thought Lady Lowe a pretty and amiable woman, though there was something of the actress about her. Sir Hudson Lowe married a short time before his departure from Europe, for the express purpose, it is said, of having his wife to assist him in doing the honours of the colony. I understand that this lady was the widow of an officer of the regiment which Sir Hudson Lowe formerly commanded, and the sister of a colonel killed at Waterloo.

The Governor showed me the most marked politeness and attention. He remarked that we were old acquaintances, though I was not aware of the fact. He said he had been much gratified by the perusal of M. Lesage’s Atlas, though he had never dreamed that he should one day be introduced to the author. He had first seen the work in Sicily, where he got it smuggled from Naples; and he was inexhaustible in his praises of it. He had frequently read the account of the battle of Jena, with General Blucher, at the head-quarters where he was English commissioner, during the campaign of 1814. He said that he had always admired the liberal expressions and the spirit of moderation and impartiality which were observed towards England; but that at the period when he first examined the work, he had been forcibly struck by some equivocal passages which seemed to breathe hostility to, or censure of, him who then governed us. He added that he had accounted for these passages at the time, by my character and doctrines as an emigrant; but that now he thought it a singular contradiction, to find me here in the suite of that person.

Now we had just been informed that Sir Hudson Lowe was, when in Italy, a kind of Head Police Officer, and an active agent of the system of _espionage_. I could not help suspecting that a certain insinuation was intended to be conveyed in these remarks. If this were really the fact (and the Emperor entertained no doubt of it), then, at least, the business was cleverly managed on his part; and had I felt less self-respect than I did I could have given a smart retort, and the matter might have been carried to some length. I, however, merely replied that he had totally misunderstood the application of the equivocal passages in question, and that they could not have any reference to Napoleon, since I was now attached to his person.

On my return home, I found two French works which Sir H. Lowe had sent to me in the morning, accompanied by a note, in which he expressed a hope that their perusal would gratify the Emperor. Will it be credited? One of these works was the Abbé de Pradt’s Embassy to Warsaw. This I may note down as Sir Hudson Lowe’s _first ill-natured trick_. The work was a novelty, it is true; but it was a libel solely directed against Napoleon.

As to the other book, when I first saw it, I thought I had found a treasure. I imagined it would indemnify us for the want of the Moniteur, and furnish us with the materials which we stood so much in need of. Its title described it to be a collection of all the proclamations and official documents of Napoleon, as General, First Consul, and Emperor. But it was published by Goldsmith the libeller, and was very incomplete, the most striking bulletins being suppressed, the addresses to the Legislative Body mutilated, &c. But, even in this imperfect state, the collection still remains the noblest monument that any man ever left behind him.

After dinner the Emperor amused himself by reading, in Goldsmith’s publications, some of his own proclamations to the army of Italy. They produced a powerful impression on himself; they interested and excited him. “And yet,” said he, “they had the impudence to say that I could not write!”

He then turned to his proclamation to the army of Egypt, and joked much about that in which he represented himself as inspired and sent by God. “This was quackery,” said he; “but it was quackery of the highest order. Besides, the proclamation was composed only for the purpose of being translated into high-flown Arabic verse by one of the cleverest of the Sheiks. My French troops,” continued he, “merely laughed at it; and such was their disposition in this respect that, in order to induce them to listen to the bare mention of religion, I was myself obliged to speak very lightly on the subject, to place Jews beside Christians, and Rabbis beside Bishops, &c.”

The assertion made by Goldsmith of Napoleon’s having assumed the Mussulman dress, is totally false. If ever he entered a mosque, he said, it was always as a conqueror, and not as a worshipper. He was of too serious a turn, and had too much self-respect, to act in an equivocal way on this point.

“After all,” continued he, gaily, “it would not have been so very extraordinary, even though circumstances had induced me to embrace Islamism; and, as a good Queen of France once said, ‘_You will talk to me so much about it!_’... But I must have had good reasons for my conversion. I must have had possession of all as far as the Euphrates, at least. Change of religion for private interest is inexcusable; but it may be pardoned in consideration of immense political results. Henry IV. said, ‘_Paris is well worth a mass_.’ Will it then be said that the dominion of the East, and perhaps the subjugation of all Asia, were not worth a turban and a pair of trousers? And, in truth, the whole matter was reduced to this; for the grand Sheiks had studied how to render it easy to us. They had smoothed down the greatest obstacles; allowed us the use of wine, and dispensed with all corporeal formalities. We should therefore have lost only our small-clothes and hats. I say we; for the army, in the disposition in which it then was, would have entertained but few scruples on the subject, and would have made it a mere matter of jest and laughter. But what would have been the consequence? I should have turned my back on Europe, and the old civilization of the continent would have been bound up. And who would then have troubled themselves about the course of Fate in France, or the regeneration of the age!... Who would have attempted it! Who could have succeeded!”

Continuing his examination of Goldsmith’s book, the Emperor by chance cast his eyes on the Act of the Consuls, by which General Latour Foissac was cashiered for the surrender of Mantua. “This,” said the Emperor, “was, without doubt, an illegal and tyrannical act, but it was a necessary evil; it was the fault of the laws. The general was a hundred and a thousand times guilty, and yet it was doubtful whether we ought to have condemned him. His acquittal would have produced the most fatal effect. We therefore struck the blow with the combined arms of honour and opinion. But I say again, it was a tyrannical act, one of those severe strokes which are sometimes indispensably necessary in a great nation, and under important circumstances.”


27th.—About two o’clock, the Governor came to Longwood, and asked the Emperor’s leave to summon all the domestics before him. This was the first insult received from the Governor.

He probably wished to ascertain whether their declarations had been spontaneously made. M. de Montholon, who had the superintendence of the servants, informed Sir Hudson Lowe, in the Emperor’s name, that his Majesty had not imagined there could have been any pretence for interference between him and his valet de chambre; that, if his permission were asked, he decidedly refused it; that, if the Governor’s instructions required the adoption of this measure, the power was in his own hands, and he might use it: this would only be adding another outrage to those which the English Ministers had already accumulated upon him.

At this moment I joined M. de Montholon and the Governor. I could easily perceive that the two interlocutors were by no means pleased with each other. After a few moments’ silence and evident dissatisfaction, the Governor turned to me, and remarked that pains seemed to be taken to create difficulties and embarrassments in all that regarded the Emperor. I observed that Napoleon’s household having been appointed for him, and not being one of his choice, it was perfectly natural that he should object to any interference with his servants; that, if the Governor had any doubts to clear up relative to the domestics, two courses were open to him. He might resort to indirect and underhand means, which at least would not wound our feelings; or he might employ force and authority; that he possessed these, and there was nothing to restrain him from resorting to them. But I added that the method he was pursuing was quite hostile to our habits. I assured him that the Emperor was desirous of being as accommodating as possible, in the new situation in which he was placed: that he wished to retire within himself, asking for nothing but to be left unannoyed: that fortune had indeed robbed him of his power, but that nothing could deprive him of his self-respect: and, finally, that the consciousness and the delicacy of his dignity were the only things that remained to him of which he could call himself the master.

Meanwhile the servants were assembled, and M. de Montholon and I withdrew, that we might not sanction such a measure by our presence. The Governor spoke to the domestics, and afterwards joined us, saying:—"I am now satisfied. I can inform the English Government that they all signed it freely and voluntarily."

But his ill-humour was not yet fully spent; for he began most inopportunely to extol the beautiful situation of Longwood, observing that, after all, we were not so very badly off. And when we remarked that we felt most severely the want of shade in this burning climate, and that there was scarcely a single tree on the Island. “Oh! we will plant some!” said he. Could any thing have been more cutting?... This may be recorded as the first trait of brutality on the part of the Governor. After this he took his leave.

About five o’clock the Emperor got into the carriage to take an airing. As we were going out, he said, “Gentlemen, but for one man I should have been master of the world! And who do you think this one man was?” We were all eagerness to know.... “The Abbé de Pradt,” continued the Emperor, “the Almoner of the God of War.” On hearing this we could not repress our laughter. “I am serious,” continued he, “the Abbé thus expresses himself in his Embassy to Warsaw; you may read it yourselves. The work is altogether a wicked attack on me, an absolute libel, overwhelming me with insults and calumnies. Whether I happened to be in a particularly good-humour at the time, or whether it was because only truth offends, I know not; but, at all events, I laughed heartily when I read the work, and it afforded me abundant entertainment.”

Misunderstandings occasionally occurred between two individuals of the Emperor’s suite. This circumstance would not have been mentioned here, but that it serves to introduce some characteristic traits of the mind and heart of him to whom we are devoted. The newspapers of the time, and the return of one of the parties to Europe, in consequence of these misunderstandings, however, have already given publicity to the affair.

When I entered the drawing-room, to wait until the announcement of dinner, I found the Emperor speaking with the utmost warmth on this subject, which vexed him exceedingly. His language was energetic and moving.

“You followed me,” said he, “with the view of cheering my captivity! Be brothers, then! otherwise you but annoy me. If you wish to render me happy, be brothers, or you are but a torment to me! You talk of fighting, and that before my face. I am no longer then the object of your attention. You forget that the observation of foreigners is fixed on you.... I wish you all to be animated by my spirit.... I wish that every one around me should be happy, and share the few enjoyments that yet remain to us. Even down to little Emmanuel there, I would wish you all to have your due share....”

The announcement of dinner put an end to the reprimand. The Emperor was silent during the repast; at the dessert he ordered Voltaire to be brought to him, and began to read some of his dramas; but he soon laid aside the books. We daily became more and more tired of Voltaire.

The Emperor retired very early, and soon after desired me to attend him in his bed-chamber, where I remained with him until a late hour.


28th.—The Emperor again recurred to the Abbé de Pradt and his work, which he reduced to merely the first and last pages. “In the first,” said he, "he states himself to be the only man who arrested Napoleon’s career; in the last, he shows that the Emperor, in his way back from Moscow, dismissed him from the embassy, which is true; and this fact his self-love would fain misrepresent or revenge. This is the whole work....

“But the Abbé,” continued the Emperor, “did not fulfil at Warsaw any of the objects which had been intended; on the contrary, he did a great deal of mischief. Reports against him poured in upon me from every quarter. Even the young men, the clerks attached to the embassy, were surprised at his conduct, and went so far as to accuse him of maintaining an understanding with the enemy; which, however, I by no means believed. But he certainly had a long conversation with me, which he misrepresents, as might be expected; and it was at the very moment when he was delivering a long prosing speech, which appeared to me a mere string of absurdity and impertinence, that I scrawled on the corner of the chimney-piece the order to withdraw him from his embassy, and to send him as soon as possible to France; a circumstance which was the cause of a good deal of merriment at the time, and which the Abbé seems very desirous of concealing.”

I cannot refrain from transcribing from the Embassy to Warsaw, M. de Pradt’s account of the Emperor Napoleon’s court at Dresden. His remarks on this subject are striking, and afford a faithful picture both of men and things at that period.

“You,” he says, "who wish to form a just idea of the omnipotence exercised in Europe by the Emperor Napoleon, who wish to fathom the depths of terror into which almost every European sovereign has fallen, transport yourselves in imagination to Dresden, and there contemplate that superb Prince, at the period of his highest glory, so nearly bordering on his fall!

"The Emperor occupied the state apartments of the palace whither he had transferred a considerable portion of his household. Here he gave grand dinner parties; and, with the exception of the first Sunday, when the King of Saxony had a gala, Napoleon’s parties were always attended by the Sovereigns and different members of their families, according to the invitations issued by the Grand Marshal of the Palace. Some private individuals were admitted on these occasions. I enjoyed that honour on the day of my appointment to the embassy of Warsaw.

"The Emperor’s levees were held here, as at the Tuileries, at nine o’clock. Then with what timid submission did a crowd of Princes, mingling with the courtiers, and often scarcely perceived among them, anxiously await the moment for presenting themselves before the new arbiter of their destinies!"

These passages, and some others of equal truth and beauty of diction, are lost amidst a heap of details full of misrepresentation and malice. “They are distorted facts and mutilated conversations,” said the Emperor: and, adverting to the accounts of the Empress of Austria, which were filled with adulation, and of the Emperor Alexander, whose amiable virtues and brilliant qualities are extolled by the author, to the detriment of Napoleon. “Surely,” exclaimed the Emperor, “this is not a French bishop, but one of the eastern magi—a worshipper of the rising sun.” I shall both now and henceforward suppress, from a feeling of justice, several other articles and many details. The following observations may however be noted down, in opposition to the Abbé de Pradt’s endeavours to prove that the French were the unjust aggressors in the contest with Russia.

The Emperor, speaking of the Russian war, said: "No events are trifling with regard to nations and sovereigns; for it is such that govern their destinies. For some time a misunderstanding had sprung up between France and Russia. France reproached Russia with the violation of the continental system, and Russia required an indemnification for the Duke of Oldenburg, and raised other pretensions. Russian troops were approaching the duchy of Warsaw, and a French army was forming in the north of Germany. Yet we were far from being determined on war, when, all on a sudden, a new Russian army commenced its march towards the Duchy; and, as an ultimatum, an insolent note was presented at Paris by the Russian Ambassador, who, in the event of its nonacceptance, threatened to quit Paris in eight days. I considered this as a declaration of war. It was long since I had been accustomed to this sort of tone. I was not in the habit of allowing myself to be anticipated. I could march to Russia at the head of the rest of Europe; the enterprise was popular; the cause was one which interested Europe. It was the last effort that remained to France. Her fate, and that of the new European system, depended on the struggle. Russia was the last resource of England. The peace of the whole world rested with Russia. The event could not be doubtful. I commenced my march; but when I reached the frontier I, to whom Russia had declared war by withdrawing her Ambassador, still considered it my duty to send mine (Lauriston) to the Emperor Alexander at Wilna: he was rejected, and the war commenced!

"Yet, who would credit it? Alexander and myself were in the situation of two bullies, who, without wishing to fight, were endeavouring to terrify each other. I would most willingly have maintained peace; I was surrounded and overwhelmed with unfavourable circumstances, and all that I have since learned convinces me that Alexander was still less eager for war than myself.

"M. de Romanzoff, who had maintained communications at Paris, and who some time afterwards, when the Russians experienced reverses, was very severely treated by Alexander for the course he had induced him to pursue, had assured the Russian Emperor, that the moment was come when Napoleon, in his embarrassments, would readily make some sacrifices to avoid war; that the favourable opportunity should not be allowed to escape; that it was only necessary to assume a bold attitude, and a tone of firmness; that indemnity would be obtained for the Duke of Oldenburg; that Dantzick might be gained, and that Russia would thus acquire immense weight in Europe.

"Such was the cause of the movement of the Russian troops, and of the insolent note of Prince Kourakin, who, doubtless, was not in the secret, and who had been foolish enough to execute his instructions in too literal a way. The same mistaken notions, and the same system also, occasioned the refusal to receive Lauriston at Wilna. This was an instance of the errors and misfortunes which attended my new diplomacy. It stood insulated, without affinity or contact, in the midst of the objects which it had to direct. Had my Minister for Foreign affairs been a member of the old aristocracy, and a man of superior ability, no doubt he would have observed the cloud that was gathering, and might have prevented our going to war.

“Talleyrand, perhaps, might have done this: but it was above the powers of the new school. I could not make the discovery myself; my dignity precluded personal explanations. I could form my judgment only from documents, and in vain did I turn them over and over, for I was sure at last to arrive at a point where they could make no reply to my enquiries.

"Scarcely had I opened the campaign, when the mask fell, and the real sentiments of the enemy were developed. In the course of two or three days Alexander, alarmed at our first successes, despatched a messenger to me, to say that if I would evacuate the invaded territory, and fall back as far as the Niemen, he would enter upon negotiations. But I in my turn took this for a stratagem. I was elated with success; I had taken the Russian army in the very fact, in the critical moment; I had cut off Bagration, and I had reason to hope that I should destroy him. I thought, however, that the enemy merely wanted to gain time for the purpose of rallying his forces. Had I been convinced of Alexander’s sincerity, I should doubtless have acceded to his proposition of falling back to the Niemen. In that case, he would not have passed the Dwina; Wilna would have been neutralized: and there Alexander and myself, accompanied by a few battalions of our guards, would have negotiated in person. How many arrangements should I not have proposed!... Alexander would have had only to take his choice, and we should have separated good friends.

"Yet, in spite of the events which succeeded, and which left my enemy triumphant, is it quite certain that the measures I have just hinted at would have been less advantageous than those which have since been pursued? Alexander marched to Paris, it is true, but he came accompanied by the forces of all Europe. He has gained Poland: but what will be the result of the shock given to the whole European system; of the agitation into which every nation has been thrown; of the increase of European influence over the rest of Russia through the accumulation of new acquisitions: the expeditions in which the Russian troops are engaged in remote quarters; and the influence of the incongruous mass of men and knowledge which have taken refuge in Russia from foreign parts?

“Will the Russian sovereigns be content to consolidate what they have acquired? If, on the contrary, they should be influenced by ambition, what extravagant enterprises may they not attempt! And yet they have lost Moscow, her wealth and resources, and those of many other cities! These are wounds which will bleed for half a century. But at Wilna we might have entered into arrangements for the advantage of all, subjects as well as sovereigns!”

On another occasion, the Emperor said, "I might have shared with Russia the possession of the Turkish empire. We had oftener than once contemplated the idea, but Constantinople was always the obstacle that opposed its execution. The Turkish capital was the grand stumbling-block between us. Russia wanted it, and I could not resign it. Constantinople is worth an empire of itself. It is the real keystone of power; for he who possesses it may rule the world.

“What then?” said the Emperor, resuming the former question, “what has Alexander gained, which he might not have secured to better advantage at Wilna?”—Some one present replied, “Sire, he has conquered, and he remains triumphant.”—"That may be the vulgar opinion," exclaimed the Emperor, "but no Sovereign should entertain such an idea. A monarch, if he himself governs, or his councillors, if they govern for him, must, in vast enterprises of this nature, attach less importance to the victory than to its results. And even though the case be limited to vulgar considerations, still I maintain that the wished-for object has not been attained. Even here the palm must be awarded to the vanquished party. Who will pretend that my victories in Germany were equalled by the successes of the Allies in France? Will any thinking man, will any historian pronounce such an opinion?

"The Allies advanced with all Europe in their train, against a force which might be almost counted as nothing. They had 600,000 men in the line, and nearly an equal number in reserve. If they had been beaten, they had nothing to fear, they could have fallen back. I, on the contrary, in Germany, 500 leagues from home, had hardly a force equal to my enemy’s. I was surrounded by sovereigns and people repressed only by fear, and who, on the first disaster, were ready to rise against me. But I triumphed amidst dangers constantly increasing; I was incessantly compelled to exercise an equal degree of address and energy. In all these enterprises I found it necessary to display a strange character, strange views and a strange confidence in my own plans, which were disapproved perhaps by every one around me.

"What deeds on the part of the Allies can be compared with these? If I had not conquered at Austerlitz, I should have had all Prussia on me. If I had not proved victorious at Jena, Austria and Spain would have assailed me in my rear. If I had not triumphed at Wagram, which by the by, was a less decisive victory, I had to fear that Russia would abandon me, that Prussia would rise against me; and meanwhile the English were already before Antwerp.

"Yet what was my conduct after the victory? At Austerlitz, I gave Alexander his liberty, though I might have made him my prisoner.[9] After Jena I left the House of Prussia in possession of a throne which I had conquered: after Wagram, I neglected to parcel out the Austrian monarchy.

Footnote 9:

Since my return to Europe, I have been assured that there exist two notes, written in pencil by the Emperor Alexander, urgently soliciting that he might be allowed to pass. If this be true, what a singular vicissitude of fortune presents itself! The magnanimous Conqueror was doomed to perish in captivity, far from Europe, and separated from his family; and this too, in the name of the conquered party, to whose prayers he had so generously listened.

“If all this be attributed merely to magnanimity, cold and calculating politicians will doubtless blame me. But, without rejecting that sentiment, to which I am not a stranger, I had higher aims in view. I wished to bring about the amalgamation of the great European interests, in the same manner as I had effected the union of parties in France. My ambition was one day to become the arbiter in the great cause of nations and kings; it was therefore necessary that I should secure to myself claims on their gratitude, and seek to render myself popular among them. This I could not do without losing something in the estimation of the people. I was aware of this. But I was powerful and fearless. I concerned myself but little about transient popular murmurs, being very sure that the result would infallibly bring the people over to my side.

“I committed a great fault after the battle of Wagram, in not reducing the power of Austria still more. She remained too strong for our safety, and to her we must attribute our ruin. The day after the battle, I should have made known, by proclamation, that I would treat with Austria only on condition of the preliminary separation of the three crowns of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia. Will it be credited? A Prince of the House of Austria several times hinted to me the idea of transferring one of the two last-mentioned crowns to himself, or even raising him to the throne occupied by his own family, on pretence that it was only thus that Austria could be induced to act sincerely with me. He even proposed to give me, by way of hostage, ——— and moreover, every possible guarantee.”

The Emperor said, that he had even turned this idea over in his own mind. He had hesitated about it for some time previously to his marriage with Maria Louisa; but after that event, continued he, it became impracticable. He observed that on the subject of marriage his notions were too citizen-like:—"Austria," said he, “had become a portion of my own family; and yet my marriage ruined me. If I had not thought myself safe and protected by this alliance, I should have delayed for three years the resurrection of Poland; I should have waited until Spain was subdued and tranquil. I stepped upon an abyss, covered by flowers.”


29th.—About five o’clock the Grand Marshal visited me in my chamber. He had not been permitted to see the Emperor, who through indisposition had been confined to his own apartment all day, and refused to see any one. Towards evening I went out to take a stroll in those paths in which the Emperor usually walked about this time. I felt dull, being alone. We had dined without the Emperor.

About nine o’clock, just as I was regretting that the day had passed over without my seeing him, he sent for me. I expressed my concern for his indisposition. He replied that he was perfectly well, but that he had taken a fancy to remain alone; that he had been reading all day, and that the time had passed away swiftly and agreeably.

He however appeared low-spirited and languid. He took my Atlas, which happened to be lying beside him, and, opening it at the map of the world, he cast his eye on Persia. “I had some excellent plans, with regard to that country,” said he. “What a capital point of support would it have been for my lever, whether I wished to disturb Russia, or to invade India. I had set on foot relations with Persia, and I hoped to bring them to the point of intimacy, as well as those with Turkey. It might have been supposed that the animals would have understood their own interests sufficiently well to have acceded to my propositions; but both Persians and Turks evaded me at the decisive moment. English gold proved more powerful than my plans. Some treacherous ministers, for a few guineas, sacrificed the prosperity of their country: which is usually the case under seraglio monarchs or imbecile kings.”

The Emperor then, abandoning politics, began to relate some anecdotes of the seraglio, and adverted to the Persians of Montesquiou, and his letters, which he said were distinguished for wit, delicate observations, and above all, for bitter satire on the time. He afterwards spoke of the Turkish and Persian Ambassadors who were in Paris during his reign. He asked me what impression they produced in the French capital; whether they paid visits, and received company, &c.

I replied that, during their stay in Paris, they engrossed public attention, and formed a kind of raree-show at Court. The Persian in particular attracted curiosity. On his arrival, he willingly received visitors, and as he made presents of perfumes and even shawls, he was a great favourite with the ladies. But the great number of those who paid their court to him soon forced him to set bounds to his liberality, and, thenceforward, the rage being over, he was no longer thought of. I added, that at Court, when the Emperor was not present, we sometimes ventured, very inconsiderately to be sure, to play off tricks at the expense of the oriental Ambassadors. At a concert given one day by the Empress Josephine, Asker-Kan, with his long painted beard, was one of the company. He seemed to be heartily tired of the music, and fell asleep standing with his back against a wall, his feet thrust forward and resting against an arm chair which stood in the corner by the fire-place. Some one, by way of joke, drew the chair away softly, so that his Excellency had well nigh fallen down at full length on the floor, and being thus roused from his slumber, he roared out lustily. Asker-Kan could more readily enter into a joke than the Turkish Ambassador; but, on this occasion he was in a great passion, and as we could only understand each other by gestures, the scene was most ludicrous. In the evening, the Empress enquired the cause of the noise which she had heard during the concert; and when the circumstance was explained to her, she laughed a good deal and scolded us still more. “It was very wrong, certainly,” observed the Emperor; “but what business had he at the concert?”—"Sire," I replied, “both he and the Turkish Ambassador went thither with the view of paying court to you. They hoped that your Majesty would be apprized of the circumstance, though you were at that time five hundred leagues off.” I added that on other occasions they had both proved themselves accomplished courtiers, and that their wish to ingratiate themselves with the Emperor carried them to the most extravagant lengths. “We have often seen them,” said I, “at the close of the grand diplomatic audiences on Sunday, follow your Majesty to mass, and occupy the pews in the chapel along with Cardinals of the Holy Catholic Church.”—"What a monstrous spectacle!" exclaimed the Emperor. “What a subversion of their principles and habits!—What extraordinary things I brought about; and yet all this was neither ordered nor perceived.”

The conversation continuing on the two orientals, I mentioned that I had been informed the Arch-chancellor Cambacérès once gave them a grand dinner. Though both from the same quarter, and members of the same religion, yet they nevertheless evinced shades of character totally different. The Turk, who was a disciple of Omar, was the Jansenist, and the Persian, who was a sectary of Ali, was the Jesuit. It was said that, at Cambacérès’ dinner, they scrupulously watched each other with regard to the wine, just as two Catholic Bishops seated at the same table might be expected to keep a vigilant look out, lest either should be tempted to eat meat on a Friday.

The Turk was gloomy and ignorant, and was looked upon as little better than a brute; but the Persian possessed literary information, was very talkative, and had the reputation of being a clever man. It was observed that he made no use of a knife and fork, either in eating or helping himself to any dish at table; and he probably would not have hesitated to help his neighbours in the same unceremonious way. One of our customs particularly attracted his notice; this was our practice of eating bread with every dish. He said he could not conceive why we were obliged always to eat the same article with every thing.

I believe I have already remarked that nothing amuses the Emperor so much as accounts of the fashionable world in Paris, anecdotes of our drawing-rooms, &c.

The Emigrants and the Faubourg St. Germain were subjects on which he was always fond of conversing with me when we were alone, and he accounted for this by saying to me once, “I was well acquainted with every thing that had relation to myself, but I never knew any thing of those affairs.” He observed, that he had nevertheless a natural desire to learn every thing that was passing near him, and to hear the chit-chat of little towns, &c. “I heard a great deal on these subjects,” added he, “during the period of my power; but whenever any thing favourable was said, I put myself on my guard—I was fearful of insinuations; and if, on the contrary, any thing unfavourable was reported to me, I mistrusted the accusation, and had enough to do to guard against a feeling of contempt. Here, my dear Las Cases, none of these disadvantages exist; you and I already belong to the other world; we are conversing in the Elysian fields: you are without interested views, and I am without suspicion.” I therefore eagerly seized every opportunity that offered itself to entertain the Emperor in this way. He perceived this, and gave me credit for my intentions; for, at the conclusion of one of my stories, he pinched my ear, and said, in a tone of voice which delighted me: “I read a story in your Atlas of a Northern Monarch who was immured in a prison, and one of his soldiers solicited and obtained permission to be imprisoned with him, in order that he might cheer his spirits, either by inducing him to converse, or by relating amusing stories to him. My dear Las Cases, you are that soldier.”...

On the present occasion I described to the Emperor the hoax which had been played upon M. de Marbois, and which he had not heard of before. It was as follows: one day, as the story goes, Asker-Kan, who was indisposed, and tired of his Persian treatment, gave orders to send for M. Bourdois, one of the first physicians in Paris. The messenger made a mistake, and went to M. de Marbois, Ex-minister of the Treasury, and at that time President of the Court of Accounts.—"His Excellency the Persian Ambassador," said he, “is very ill, and wishes to see you.” M. de Marbois could not conceive what business the Persian Ambassador could possibly have with him: but Asker-Kan was the envoy of a great Prince, and there is nothing which vanity will not contrive to reconcile. He proceeded with great pomp to the Ambassador’s residence; and it must be allowed that there was nothing in his dress, physiognomy, or deportment, at all likely to undeceive the Persian, who, as soon as he saw him, thrust out his tongue, and stretching forth his arm, motioned him to feel his pulse. These extraordinary gestures astonished M. de Marbois, but he thought they might be some oriental fashion. He took the hand which was offered, and pressed it cordially, when four attendants entered with solemnity, and presented to the Ex-minister a vessel of a very unequivocal nature, for his better information on the state of the patient. At this spectacle, the grave M. de Marbois flew into a violent passion, and asked what was the meaning of this extraordinary behaviour. The mistake was explained; it was M. Bourdois who had been wanted, and the similarity in the sound of the two names had alone occasioned the error. Poor M. de Marbois was the laughing-stock of Paris, and for a long time he could not show his face any where without exciting merriment.

“The drawing-rooms of Paris are indeed tremendous with their jokes!” said the Emperor, “for it cannot be denied that they are for the most part pointed and witty. They always assail the enemy at the breach, and a total defeat is the usual consequence.”—"It is true," said I, “nothing was spared. Even religion was not held sacred, and your Majesty may well suppose that neither you nor the Empress escaped.”—"I dare say not," replied the Emperor, “but no matter; what was said of us?”—“It was reported. Sire, that one day your Majesty, being much dissatisfied at the perusal of a despatch from Vienna, said to the Empress, in a moment of ill-humour, Your father is a blockhead (_votre père est une ganache_). Maria Louisa, who was unacquainted with many French phrases, turned to the person nearest her, and, observing that the Emperor had called her Father a _ganache_, asked what the term meant. The courtier, embarrassed at this unexpected interrogatory, stammered out that the word signified a clever man, a man of judgment, and extraordinary talent. Some time afterwards, the Empress, with her newly learnt term fresh in her memory, was present at the Council of State, and the discussion, becoming somewhat warm, in order to put a stop to it, she called on M. Cambacérès, who was yawning by her side....—‘You must set us right on this important point,’ said she, ‘you shall be our oracle; for I consider you as the greatest _ganache_ in the Empire.’” At these words the Emperor held his sides with laughter. “What a pity,” said he, “that this anecdote is not true! Only imagine the scene. The offended dignity of Cambacérès, the merriment of the whole council, and the embarrassment of poor Maria Louisa, alarmed at the success of her unconscious joke.”

The conversation continued for a long time in this way, and I spent about two hours with the Emperor; I had exerted myself to talk as much as I possibly could to divert him, and I had succeeded. The Emperor felt his spirits revived, he even enjoyed a hearty laugh. When he dismissed me, he felt much better, and I was happy at the change.


30th.—To-day I and my son were engaged to dine at Mr. Balcombe’s at the Briars. About half past three, I went to receive the Emperor’s commands: he was the same as yesterday, and did not intend to go out.

Just before I had reached Hut’s Gate, the residence of Madame Bertrand, I met the Governor on his way to Longwood. He asked me how the Emperor was. I told him that I felt uneasy about him, and that he had not seen any of us yesterday. I added that though he had told me this morning he was well, yet from his countenance I should have expected a different account.

About half past nine, we set out from the Briars on our return to Longwood; it was very dark. A heavy rain had come on, which was as sharp and cutting as hail. We had a most disagreeable, troublesome, and dangerous ride, being every moment on the point of being precipitated into some abyss or other, for we were obliged to gallop on at random without seeing where we were going. We arrived at Longwood drenched to the skin.

The Emperor had given orders that I should attend him on my return. He was well, but he had stayed at home as he had done yesterday. He said he had been waiting for me, and had many things to tell me.

On learning that the Governor had arrived, he admitted him into his chamber, though he was not dressed, and was unable to rise from his couch. He said he had discussed with him, in perfect composure, all the points which naturally presented themselves to his mind. He spoke of protesting against the treaty of the second of August, in which the Allied Sovereigns declared him an exile and a prisoner. He asked what right these Sovereigns had to dispose of him, without his consent, him who was their equal, and had sometimes been their master. He said, if he had thought proper to withdraw to Russia, Alexander, who styled himself his friend, and who never had any but political disputes with him, would if he had not upheld him as a king, at least have treated him as one. This the Governor could not deny. He said, had he thought proper to take refuge in Austria, the Emperor Francis could not, without disgracing himself, have denied him admission not only to his empire, but even to his house and his family, of which he, Napoleon, was a member. This the Governor also admitted.

“Lastly,” said the Emperor, “if, relying on my own individual interests, I had persisted in defending them in France by force of arms, there is no doubt that the Allies would have formally granted me immense advantages, perhaps even territory.” The Governor, who hesitated for some time on this point, at length agreed that there was no doubt the Emperor might with ease have obtained a Sovereignty. “I did not wish it,” continued the Emperor: “I determined on abandoning public affairs; indignant at beholding the leading men in France betraying their country, or at least committing the grossest errors with regard to her interests; indignant at finding that the mass of the representatives preferred disgrace to death, and stooped to traffic with that sacred independence, which, like honour, should be _a rocky and inaccessible island_. In this state of things what did I determine on? What resolution did I adopt? I sought an asylum in a country which was supposed to be governed by laws: among a people, of whom for twenty years I had been the bitterest enemy! But what did you do?... Your conduct will be recorded in history to your eternal disgrace. Yet there is an avenging Providence; sooner or later you will receive your punishment! It will not be long before your posterity, your laws, will expiate your crime!... Your ministers have sufficiently proved, by their instructions, that they wish to get rid of me! Why did not the Kings who proscribed me openly decree my death? One act would have been as legal as the other! A speedy termination to my sufferings would have shown more energy than the lingering death to which they have doomed me. The Calabrians have been more humane, more generous than the Allied Sovereigns or your Ministers. I will not die by my own hands. That would be an act of cowardice. To overcome misfortune is a proof of a noble and courageous mind! We mortals are bound to fulfil our destinies. But if it be intended to keep me here, I feel that you would be doing me a kindness in depriving me of life; for here I daily suffer the agonies of death! The limits of St. Helena are too narrow for me, who was every day accustomed to ride, ten, fifteen, or twenty leagues on horseback. The climate is not like ours: neither the sun nor the seasons are like what we have been accustomed to. Every thing here is hostile to happiness and comfort. The situation is disagreeable and unwholesome, and is destitute of water. This part of the island is totally barren and has been deserted by the inhabitants.”

The Governor stated that his instructions required that the Emperor should be restricted to certain limits in his rides, and that an officer should always accompany him. “If they had been thus enforced,” replied the Emperor, “I should never have left my chamber. If your instructions will not admit of greater latitude, you can henceforth do nothing for us. However, I neither ask nor wish for any thing. Convey these sentiments to the English Government.”

“This,” said the Governor, “is the consequence of transmitting instructions from so great a distance, and with regard to a person of whom those who draw up the instructions know so little.” He then endeavoured to shift the question by intimating that, on the arrival of the wooden house or palace, which was on its way to St. Helena, better plans might perhaps be adopted: that a vessel was expected, bringing furniture and stores of provisions, which it was supposed would be agreeable to the Emperor; that the English Government was exerting every effort to alleviate his situation, &c.

The Emperor replied that all their efforts amounted to little; that he had requested to be furnished with the Morning Chronicle and the Statesman, that he might read what related to himself under the least disagreeable forms: but his request had never been complied with. He had asked for books, which were his only consolation; but nine months had passed away, and he had not received any. He had desired to obtain intelligence of his wife and son; but this had been withheld from him.

“As to the provisions, the furniture, and the house, that are intended for me,” continued he, “you and I, Sir, are soldiers; we know how to value these things. You have been in my native city, perhaps in the very house occupied by my family. Though it was not the worst on the island—though I have no reason to be ashamed of my family circumstances, yet you know what they were. But though I have occupied a throne, and have disposed of crowns, I have not forgotten my first condition; my couch and my camp-bed, you see, are still sufficient for me.”

The Governor observed that the wooden palace and all its accompaniments were at least an attention. “For your own satisfaction, in the eyes of Europe,” replied the Emperor, “but to me they are matters of perfect indifference. It is not a house, nor furniture, that should have been sent to me: but an executioner and a coffin. The former are a mockery, the latter would be a favour. I say, again, the instructions of your ministers tend to this result, and I invoke it. The Admiral, who is not an ill-disposed man, appears to me now to have softened these instructions; I do not complain of his acts: his forms alone offended me.” Here the Governor asked whether he had unconsciously committed any faults. “No, Sir, we complain of nothing since your arrival. Yet one act has offended us, and that is your inspection of our domestics. It was insulting to M. de Montholon, by appearing to throw suspicion on his integrity; and it was petty, disagreeable, and insulting towards me, and perhaps degrading to the English General himself, who thus came to interfere between me and my valet de chambre.”

The Governor was seated in an arm-chair on one side of the Emperor, who had remained stretched on his couch. It was dark, the evening was drawing in, and it was not easy to distinguish objects. “Therefore,” observed the Emperor, “it was in vain that I endeavoured to watch the play of his features, and to observe the impression which my words made on him.”

In the course of the conversation the Emperor, who in the morning had been reading the Campaign of 1814, by Alphonse de Beauchamp, in which all the English bulletins bore the signature Lowe, asked the Governor if he was the individual who had signed them. Sir Hudson Lowe, with marked embarrassment, replied in the affirmative, and added that the bulletins represented his views and opinions. The Governor, who had several times proposed that the Emperor should be attended by his physician, who he said was a very skilful man, on taking his leave again proposed to send his Doctor to Longwood. But the Emperor saw his motives, and constantly resisted his offer.

Having related all these particulars to me, the Emperor remained silent for some minutes. Then resuming, apparently after some reflection, he said: "How mean and disagreeable is the expression of the Governor’s countenance! I never saw any thing like it in my life!... I should be unable to drink my coffee if this man were left for a moment alone beside me.... My dear Las Cases, they have sent me worse than a jailor!..."


May 1st.—The Emperor kept his room to-day as he had done yesterday. I felt ill from my ride from the Briars; I had a slight fever, accompanied by great lassitude. The Emperor sent for me about seven o’clock in the evening. I went to his chamber and found him reading Rollin, whom he accused, as usual, of being too indulgent an historian. He did not appear to have been indisposed, and even said he was very well; but this only rendered me the more uneasy at his seclusion and his calmness of manner. He put off dinner to a later hour than usual, and detained me with him. He called for a glass of Constantia some time before dinner; this he generally does when he feels the want of excitement.

After dinner, he looked over a few of the addresses, proclamations, or acts, in Goldsmith’s imperfect collection. The perusal of some of these documents seemed to interest him; then, laying down the book, he began to walk about, and said, "After all, let them abridge, suppress, and mutilate as much as they please, they will find it very difficult to throw me entirely into the shade. The historian of France cannot pass over the Empire, and if he has any honesty, he will not fail to render me my share of justice. His task will be easy; for the facts speak for themselves: they shine like the sun.

“I closed the gulf of anarchy and cleared the chaos. I purified the Revolution, dignified Nations and established Kings. I excited every kind of emulation, rewarded every kind of merit, and extended the limits of glory! This is at least something! And on what point can I be assailed on which an historian could not defend me? Can it be for my intentions? But even here I can find absolution. Can it be for my despotism? It may be demonstrated that the Dictatorship was absolutely necessary. Will it be said that I restrained liberty? It can be proved that licentiousness, anarchy, and the greatest irregularities, still haunted the threshold of freedom. Shall I be accused of having been too fond of war? It can be shown that I always received the first attack. Will it be said that I aimed at universal monarchy? It can be proved that this was merely the result of fortuitous circumstances, and that our enemies themselves led me step by step to this determination. Lastly, shall I be blamed for my ambition? This passion I must doubtless be allowed to have possessed, and that in no small degree; but, at the same time, my ambition was of the highest and noblest kind that ever, perhaps, existed—that of establishing and of consecrating the empire of reason, and the full exercise and complete enjoyment of all the human faculties! And here the historian will probably feel compelled to regret that such ambition should not have been fulfilled and gratified!” ... Then after a few moments of silent reflection: “This,” said the Emperor, “is my whole history in a few words.”


2nd.—The Emperor still kept his room as on the preceding days. He sent for me about nine o’clock in the evening, after I had dined. He had seen no one during the day; I remained with him till eleven o’clock; he was in good spirits, and appeared to be well. I assured him that the days which we passed without seeing him seemed very tedious; and that we feared his health would suffer from close confinement and the want of fresh air. For my own part, this seclusion caused me great uneasiness and affliction. He went to bed half an hour before he dismissed me: he said his legs refused to support him. He felt fatigued with walking, though he had only taken a few turns with me in his chamber.

He spoke a great deal of the Legion of Honour, of Goldsmith’s Collection, and of the Moniteur. Respecting the latter, he said that it was certainly a very remarkable circumstance, and one of which few besides himself could boast, that he had made his way through the Revolution at so early an age, and with so much notoriety, without having to dread the Moniteur. “There is not a sentence in it,” said he, “which I could wish to obliterate. On the contrary, the Moniteur will infallibly serve me as a justification, whenever I may have occasion for it.”


3rd.—The Emperor still continued within doors, and saw no one; this was his fifth day of retirement. The different individuals of his establishment knew not how he occupied himself in his chamber. He sent for me, as it were, by stealth, and I went to him about six o’clock in the evening.

I again expressed to him the anxiety and pain we felt at seeing him thus secluded. He told me that he bore the confinement very well, but that he found the days long and the nights still longer. He had been unoccupied during the whole day: he said he had felt himself out of humour; and, indeed, he still continued silent and dull. He took the bath, and I attended him. He concluded the evening by conversing on subjects of great importance.


4th.—The Emperor still remained within doors. He had, however, expressed his intention to ride on horseback about four o’clock; but the rain prevented him from stirring out. He received the Grand Marshal in his chamber.

He sent for me about eight o’clock to dine with him. He said that the Governor had called on the Grand Marshal, and had remained with him above an hour. His conversation had been frequently disagreeable and sometimes even offensive. He had spoken on a variety of topics in a tone of ill-humour and disrespect, and in a very vague and indeterminate manner: reproaching us, particularly, as it appeared, with being very loud and unreasonable in our complaints. He maintained that we were very well provided for and ought to be content; that we seemed to be strangely mistaken with regard to what was due to our persons and our situations. He added, at least so he was understood, that he was desirous of being assured every day, by ocular testimony, of the existence and presence of the Emperor.

There is no doubt that this point was the real cause of his ill-humour and agitation. Several days had passed without his having been able to receive any report from his officer or spies, as the Emperor had not gone out, and no one had been admitted to his presence.

But what measures would he adopt? This consideration occupied us all in our turns. The Emperor would never submit, even at the peril of his life, to a regular visit, which might be capriciously renewed at any hour of the day or night. Would the Governor employ force and violence to dispute with the Emperor a last asylum of a few square feet and a few hours’ repose? His instructions must have been drawn up in anticipation of the case that had now occurred. No outrage, no want of respect, no barbarity, could surprise me.

As to the Governor’s remark that we entertained mistaken ideas with regard to ourselves and our situation, we are very conscious that, instead of being at the Tuileries, we are at St. Helena, and that, instead of being masters, we are captives: how then can we be mistaken?


5th.—About ten o’clock in the morning, the Emperor went to ride for the first time. While he was mounting his horse, he was informed that the Resident of the East India Company in China had come to Longwood, and solicited the honour of being presented to him. He sent for him, and put some questions to him with great condescension. We then rode out to call on Madame Bertrand. The Emperor remained there above an hour; he was weak and altered in his appearance: his conversation was languid. We returned to Longwood. The Emperor wished to breakfast out of doors.

He sent for our host at Briars, the worthy Mr. Balcombe, and the Resident from China, who was still at Longwood. The whole time of breakfast was occupied in questions relating to China, its population, laws, customs, and trade.

The Resident stated that a circumstance occurred a few years back between the Russians and the Chinese, which might have been attended with important results, had not Russia been entirely absorbed by the affairs of Europe.

The Russian traveller, Krusenstern, in his voyage round the world, anchored at Canton with his two vessels. He was received provisionally, and was permitted, until the orders of the Court should arrive, to dispose of the furs with which his ships were laden, and to take on board a cargo of tea in their stead. The orders from the Chinese court were delayed for more than a month, and M. de Krusenstern had set sail two days before they arrived. They directed that the two vessels should quit the port immediately: that all trade with the Russians in that quarter was prohibited; that enough had been conceded to their Emperor by land in the North of the Empire; that it was monstrous in him to attempt to extend his intercourse in the South by sea; and that strong displeasure would he manifested towards those who had suggested to them that course. The order further decreed that, in the event of the ships having sailed before the arrival of the answer from Pekin, the English Factory should be charged to communicate it, through Europe, to the Emperor of Russia.

Napoleon felt very much fatigued with his short ride; he had not left his chamber for seven days before; this was the first time that he had re-appeared among us. We remarked an evident change in his countenance.

He sent for me about five o’clock; the Grand Marshal was with him. The Emperor was undressed; he had tried in vain to enjoy a little rest; he thought he was feverish; the sensation proceeded from extreme lassitude. The Emperor had a fire lighted, but would not have candles in his room. We passed the time in desultory conversation in the dark, till eight o’clock, when the Emperor sent us to dinner.

In the course of the day, the conversation had turned on the similarity of the two great revolutions of England and France. “There are many points, both of resemblance and difference, between these two great events,” said the Emperor; “they afford inexhaustible subjects for reflection.” He then made some very curious and remarkable observations. I shall here note down his remarks on this occasion, as well as at other intervals during the day.

"Both in France and England the storm gathered during the two feeble and indolent reigns of James I. and Louis XV., and burst over the heads of the unfortunate Charles I. and Louis XVI.

"Both these Sovereigns fell victims: both perished on the scaffold, and their families were proscribed and banished.

"Both monarchies became republics, and, during that period, both nations plunged into every excess which can degrade the human heart and understanding. They were disgraced by scenes of madness, blood, and outrage. Every tie of humanity was broken, and every principle overturned.

"Both in England and France, at this period, two men vigorously stemmed the torrent, and reigned with splendour. After these, the two hereditary families were restored; but both pursued an erroneous course. They committed faults; a fresh storm suddenly burst forth in both countries, and expelled the two restored dynasties, without their being able to offer the least resistance to the adversaries who overthrew them.

"In this singular parallel, Napoleon appears to have been in France at once the Cromwell and the Wm. III. of England. But as every comparison with Cromwell is in some degree odious, I must add that, if these two celebrated men coincided in one single circumstance of their lives, it was scarcely possible for two beings to differ more in every other point.

"Cromwell appeared on the theatre of the world at the age of maturity. He attained supreme rank only by dint of address, duplicity, and hypocrisy.

"Napoleon distinguished himself at the very dawn of manhood, and his first steps were attended by the purest glory.

"Cromwell attained supreme power, opposed and hated by all parties, and by affixing an everlasting stain on the English revolution.

"Napoleon, on the contrary, ascended the throne by obliterating the stains of the French revolution, and through the concurrence of all parties, who in turn sought to gain him as their chief.

"All the glory of Cromwell was bought by English blood; his triumphs were all so many causes of national mourning; but Napoleon’s victories were gained over the foreign foe, and they filled the French nation with transport.

"Finally, the death of Cromwell was a source of joy to all England: the event was regarded as a public deliverance. The same cannot exactly be said of Napoleon’s fall.

"In England the revolution was the rising of the whole nation against the King. The King had violated the laws, and usurped absolute power; and the nation wished to resume her rights.

"In France, the revolution was the rising of one portion of the nation against another; that of the third estate against the nobility; it was the re-action of the Gauls against the Franks. The King was attacked not so much in his character of monarch as in his quality of chief of the feudal system. He was not reproached with having violated the laws; but the nation wished to emancipate and re-constitute itself.

"In England, if Charles I. had yielded voluntarily, if he had possessed the moderate and undecided character of Louis XVI. he would have survived.

"In France, on the contrary, if Louis XVI. had openly resisted, if he had had the courage, activity, and ardour of Charles I. he would have triumphed.

"During the whole conflict, Charles I., isolated in his kingdom, was surrounded only by partisans and friends, and was never connected with any constitutional branch of his subjects.

"Louis XVI. was supported by a regular army, by foreign aid, and two constitutional portions of the nation—the nobility and the clergy. Besides, there remained to Louis XVI. a second decisive resolution, which Charles I. had it not in his power to adopt, namely, that of ceasing to be a _feudal Chief_, in order to become a _national Chief_. Unfortunately he could not decide on either the one or the other.

"Charles I. therefore perished because he resisted, and Louis XVI. because he did not resist. The one had a perfect conviction of the privileges of his prerogative; but it is doubtful whether the other had any such conviction, any more than he felt the necessity of exercising its privileges.

"In England, the death of Charles I. was the result of the artful and atrocious ambition of a single man.

"In France, it was the work of the blind multitude, of a disorderly popular assembly.

"In England, the representatives of the people evinced a slight shade of decorum, by abstaining from being the judges and actors in the murder which they decreed; they appointed a tribunal to try the King.

"In France, the representatives of the people presumed to be at once accusers, judges, and executioners.

"In England, the affair was managed by an invisible hand: it assumed an appearance of reflection and calmness. In France, it was managed by the multitude, whose fury was without bounds.

"In England, the death of the King gave birth to the Republic. In France, on the contrary, the birth of the Republic caused the death of the King.

"In England the political explosion was produced by the efforts of the most ardent religious fanaticism. In France, it was brought about amidst the acclamations of cynical impiety; each according to different ages and manners.

"The English Revolution was ushered in by the excesses of the gloomy school of Calvin. The loose doctrines of the modern school conjured up the storm in France.

"In England, the Revolution was mingled with civil war. In France, it was attended by foreign war; and to the efforts and opposition of foreigners the French may justly attribute their excesses. The English can advance no such excuse for theirs.

"In England, the army proved itself capable of every act of outrage and fury; it was the scourge of the citizens.

"In France, on the contrary, we owed every benefit to the army. Its triumphs abroad either diminished, or caused us to forget, our horrors at home. The army secured independence and glory to France.

"In England, the Restoration was the work of the English people, who hailed the event with the most lively enthusiasm. The nation escaped slavery, and seemed to have recovered freedom. It was not precisely thus in France.

"In England, a son-in-law hurled his father-in-law from the throne. He was supported by all Europe; and the memory of the act is revered and imperishable.

“In France, on the contrary, the chosen sovereign of the people, who had reigned for the space of fifteen years, with the assent of his subjects and foreigners, re-appeared on the theatre of the world, to seize a sceptre which he regarded as his own. Europe rose in a mass, and outlawed him. Eleven hundred thousand men marched against him; he yielded; he was thrown into captivity, and now efforts are making to tarnish the lustre of his memory!”


6th.—The Emperor sent for me at nine o’clock. He was vexed at the conduct of the new Governor, and particularly at the intention that seemed to be entertained of violating his last humble sanctuary. He preferred death to this last outrage; and he was resolved to run every risk in opposing it. A catastrophe seemed inevitable. The Emperor indeed concluded that there was a determination to bring it about, and that only some plausible pretence was sought for. He was resolved not to evade it. “I am prepared for every thing,” said he, in a certain moment of confidence. “They will kill me here, it is certain....”

The Emperor sent for Dr. O’Meara, in order that he might learn his personal opinion. He desired me to express to him, in English, that he had hitherto no cause of complaint against him: on the contrary, that he considered him to be an honest man, and as a proof of this, he would rely implicitly on the answers he might receive to the questions which he was about to put to him. It was necessary, he said, to come to an understanding. Was he to consider him as his own physician personally, or merely as a prison doctor, appointed by the English Government? Was he his confessor or his inspector? Had he made reports respecting him, or was it his intention so to do, if called upon? In the one case, the Emperor said he would readily continue to receive his attendance, and was grateful for the services he had already received; in the other case, he thanked him and begged him to discontinue his visits.

The doctor replied with great firmness, and in a tone of feeling. He said that his appointment was entirely professional, and had no connection with politics; he conceived himself to be the Emperor’s personal medical attendant, and was a stranger to every other consideration; that he had made no report respecting the Emperor, and that none had yet been demanded of him; that he could not imagine any circumstance which should induce him to make a report, except in case of serious illness, when it might be necessary to call in the aid of other professional men.

About three o’clock, the Emperor went into the garden with the intention of mounting his horse. He had been dictating for a considerable time to General Gourgaud, and had nearly got through the events of 1815. He was very well satisfied with the result of his labour.

I recommended to him next to commence the history of the Consulate; that brilliant period in which a nation in a state of dissolution was in a few moments magically re-composed, with respect to its laws, religion, morality, true principles, and honest prejudices; and all this amidst the universal applause and admiration of astonished Europe.

I was in England at this time. I told the Emperor that the mass of the emigrants were forcibly struck by these acts. The recal of the priests and of the emigrants was received as a blessing; and the great majority profited by it.

The Emperor asked me whether we had not been shocked at the word amnesty?—"No," I replied, “we knew all the difficulties which the First Consul had experienced in this respect. We knew that all the advantages of the measure were due to him, that he alone was our protector, and that every evil originated with those with whom he had been obliged to contend in our favour. Subsequently,” added I, “on our return to France, we found indeed that the Consul might have treated us better with respect to our property, and this without much difficulty, merely by assuming a silent and passive attitude. This we conceived would have sufficed in every case to have produced amicable arrangements between the old proprietors and the purchasers.”

“Doubtless, I might have done so,” said the Emperor, “but could I have trusted sufficiently to the emigrants?—Answer me this question.”

“Sire,” I replied, “now that I have more knowledge of public affairs, and take a more comprehensive view of things, I can readily conceive that policy required you to act as you did. Recent circumstances have proved how wise was the course which you pursued. It would have been bad policy to have dissatisfied the nation. The question of national property is one of the first bulwarks of public spirit and of the national party.”

“You are right,” observed the Emperor; "but I might nevertheless have granted all that was wished. For a moment I cherished the idea of doing so, and I committed a fault in not fulfilling this idea. I intended to form a mass, or a _syndicate_, of all the unsold property of the emigrants, and, on their return, to distribute it in a proportional ratio among them. But when I came to grant property to individuals, I soon found that I was creating too many wealthy men, and that they repaid my favours with insolence. Those who, by dint of petitioning and cringing, had perhaps obtained an annual income of 50 or 100,000 crowns, no longer lifted their hats to me; and far from evincing the least gratitude, they had the impertinence to pretend that they had paid secretly for the favours they enjoyed. This was the conduct of the whole Faubourg Saint-Germain. I restored the fortunes of these people, and they still remained no less hostile and anti-national. Then, in spite of the act of amnesty, I prohibited the restitution of the unsold forests, whenever they should exceed a certain value. This was doubtless an act of injustice, according to the letter of the law; but policy imperatively called for it: the fault was in the drawing up of the law, and the improvidence which dictated it. This re-action on my part, destroyed all the good effect of the recal of the emigrants, and robbed me of the attachment of all the great families. I might have guarded against this evil, or I might have neutralized its effects by my syndicate. For one great family alienated, I might have secured the attachment of a hundred provincial nobles, and thus I should in reality have strictly conformed with justice, which required that the emigrants, who had all run the same risk, embarked their fortunes in common on board the same ship, suffered the same wreck, and incurred the same punishment, should all receive the same indemnification. Here I committed an error,” said the Emperor, “which the more unpardonable as I entertained an idea of the plan which I have just mentioned. But I stood alone, and was surrounded by opposition and difficulty. All parties were hostile to the emigrants: and meanwhile I was pressed by important affairs, time was running on, and I was compelled to direct my attention to other matters.

“Even so late as my return from Elba,” continued the Emperor, “I was on the point of executing a project of the same sort. If I had had time, I should have turned my attention to the poor emigrants from the provinces who were neglected by the Court. It is rather a singular circumstance that this idea was suggested to me by an old ex-minister of Louis XVI., whose services had been but ill requited by the Princes, and who pointed out to me various plans by which evils of the same kind might have been advantageously remedied.”

“Sire,” observed I, “the reasonable portion of the emigrants well knew that the few generous and liberal ideas that were cherished with respect to them originated only with you; they were aware that all who surrounded you wished for their destruction. They knew that the very idea of nobility was hateful to them; and they gave you credit for not being of that opinion. Would you believe it, their self-love occasionally found a certain degree of consolation in the reflection that you were one of their own class?”

The Emperor then asked me what was the opinion of the emigrants respecting his birth, the incidents of his life, &c. I replied that we beheld him for the first time at the head of the army of Italy; and that we were totally ignorant of all his previous history. We never could call him _de Buonaparte_. At this the Emperor laughed. The turn of our conversation then led him to observe that he had frequently reflected on the singular concurrence of secondary circumstances which had brought about his wonderful career.

1st, “If,” said he, “my father, who died before he attained the age of forty, had survived some time longer, he would have been appointed deputy from the Corsican nobility to the Constituent Assembly. He was much attached to the nobility and the aristocracy; on the other hand, he was a warm partisan of generous and liberal ideas. He would, therefore, either have been entirely on the right side, or at least in the minority of the nobility. At any rate, whatever might have been my own personal opinions, I should have followed my father’s footsteps, and thus my career would have been entirely deranged and lost.

2ndly, “If I had been older at the time of the revolution, I should perhaps myself have been appointed deputy. Being of an enthusiastic disposition, I should infallibly have adopted some opinion, and ardently followed it up. But at all events I should have shut myself out from the military service, and thus again my career would have been changed.

3rdly, “Had my family been better known, more wealthy, or more distinguished, my rank of nobility, even though I had followed the course of the revolution, would have made a cipher of me and proscribed me. I could never have obtained confidence; I could never have commanded an army; or, if I had attained such a command, I could not have ventured to do all that I did. Had my family circumstances been different from what they actually were, I could not, with all my success, have followed the bent of my liberal ideas with regard to the priests and nobles, and I should never have arrived at the head of the Government.

4thly, “The number of my sisters and brothers is also a circumstance which proved of great use to me, by multiplying my connections and means of influence.

5thly, “My marriage with Madame de Beauharnois brought me in contact with a party, whose aid was necessary in my system of amalgamations, which was one of the chief principles of my government, and that by which it was especially characterized. But for my wife, I should not have obtained any natural connection with this party.

6thly, “Even my foreign origin, though in France an endeavour was made to raise an outcry against it, was not unattended by advantage. The Italians regarded me as their countryman, and this circumstance greatly facilitated my success in Italy. This success being once obtained, inquiries were set on foot respecting our family history, which had long been buried in obscurity. My family was acknowledged by the Italians to have acted a distinguished part in the events of their country. It was viewed by them as an Italian family. Thus when the question of my sister Pauline’s marriage with the Prince Borghese was agitated, there was but one voice in Rome and Tuscany among the members of that family and their adherents: ‘Well,’ said they, ‘the union is among ourselves; they are our own connections.’ Subsequently, when it was proposed that the Emperor should be crowned by the Pope at Paris, great obstacles were, as circumstances have since proved, thrown in the way of that important event. The Austrian party in the conclave violently opposed the measure; but the Italian party decided in its favour, by adding to political considerations a little consideration of national self-love. ‘We are placing,’ said they, ‘an Italian family on the throne, to govern these barbarians: we shall thus be revenged on the Gauls.’”

These remarks naturally led the Emperor to speak of the Pope, who he said was rather favourably disposed towards him. The Pope did not accuse Napoleon of having ordered his removal to France. He was very indignant at reading in certain publications that the Emperor treated him with disrespect. He had received at Fontainebleau every mark of consideration that he could wish. When he learned the Emperor’s return from Elba to France, he said to Lucien, in a tone expressive of his confidence and impartiality, _’E sbarcato e arrivato_ (he has landed, he has arrived.) He afterwards said: “You are going to Paris; make my peace with him. I am in Rome; no cause of difference shall arise between us.”

“It is certain,” said the Emperor, “that Rome will afford a natural and favourable asylum for my family: there they may find themselves at home. Finally,” added he, smiling, “even my name, Napoleon, which in Italy is uncommon, poetic, and sonorous, contributed its share in the great circumstances of my life.”

I mentioned to the Emperor, what I had already remarked, namely, that the great mass of the emigrants were far from being unjust to him. The sensible part of the old aristocracy disliked him, it is true, but only because he proved an obstacle to their views. They knew how to appreciate his achievements and his talents, which they admired in spite of their inclination. Even the fanatics acknowledged that he had but one fault: “Why is he not legitimate?” they were frequently heard to say. Austerlitz staggered us, though it did not subdue us; but Tilsit prostrated every thing. “Your Majesty,” said I, “might yourself have judged of this, and have enjoyed on your return the unanimity of homage, acclamation, and good wishes.”

“That is to say,” observed the Emperor, smiling, “if, at that time, I could or would have indulged in repose and pleasure; if I had resigned myself to indolence, if every thing had resumed its old course, you would have adored me? But if such had been my taste and inclination, and certainly nothing was more opposite to my natural disposition, circumstances would not have permitted me to act as I pleased.”

The Emperor then adverted to the numerous difficulties by which he had been incessantly surrounded and controlled; and, alluding to the Spanish war, he said, “That unlucky war ruined me; it divided my forces, obliged me to multiply my efforts, and caused my principles to be assailed: and yet it was impossible to leave the Peninsula a prey to the machinations of the English, the intrigues, the hopes, and the pretensions of the Bourbons. Besides, the Spanish Bourbons were not calculated to inspire much fear. Nationally they were foreign to us, and we to them. At the castle of Marrach, and at the Bayonne, I observed that Charles IV. the Queen knew no difference between Madame de Montmorency and the new ladies: the names of the latter were indeed rendered more familiar to them by the newspapers and public documents. The Empress Josephine, who had the most delicate tact on matters of this sort, never ceased alluding to the circumstance. The Spanish Royal Family implored me to adopt a daughter, and to create her a Princess of the Asturias. They pointed out Mademoiselle de Tascher, afterwards Duchess of Aremberg; but I had personal reasons for objecting to this choice. For a moment I decided on Mademoiselle de la Rochefoucault, afterwards Princess Aldobrandini; but I wanted some one sincerely devoted to my interests, a true Frenchwoman, possessing talent and information, and I could not fix on one endowed with all the qualities I wished for.”

Then returning to the war in Spain, the Emperor resumed:—"This combination ruined me. All the circumstances of my disasters are connected with that fatal knot: it destroyed my moral power in Europe, rendered my embarrassments more complicated, and opened a school for the English soldiers. It was I who trained the English army in the Peninsula.

"Events have proved that I committed a great fault in the choice of my means; for the fault lies in the means much more than in the principles. It cannot be doubted that, in the crisis in which France then was, in the struggle of new ideas, in the great cause of the age against the rest of Europe, we could not leave Spain behind, at the disposal of our enemies: it was absolutely necessary to enchain her, voluntarily, or by force, in our system. The destiny of France required this: and the code of the welfare of nations is not always that of individuals. Besides, to political necessity was here superadded for me the force of right. Spain, when she saw me in danger, Spain, when she knew that my hands were full at Jena, had almost declared war against me. The insult ought not to pass unpunished: I could declare war in my turn, and assuredly the success could not be doubtful. It was this very facility that misled me. The nation despised its government: it called loudly for a regeneration. From the height to which Fortune had raised me, I considered myself called, I considered it worthy of me to accomplish in peace so great an event. I was solicitous to spare blood, that not a drop should stain the Castilian emancipation. I therefore delivered the Spaniards from their abominable institutions; I gave them a liberal constitution; I deemed it necessary, perhaps too lightly, to change their dynasty. I placed one of my brothers at their head; but he was the only foreigner among them. I respected the integrity of their territory, their independence, their manners, the remnant of their laws. The new monarch gained the capital, having no other ministers, no other councillors, no other courtiers, but those of the late Court. My troops were about to withdraw: I had done the greatest benefit that ever was conferred on a nation—so I said to myself, and so I still say. The Spaniards themselves, as I have been assured, thought so in their hearts, and never complained of any thing but the forms. I expected their blessings, but I was disappointed: disdaining interest, they thought only of the insult: they were indignant at the idea of an affront, enraged at the sight of force, and all flew to arms. The Spaniards, collectively, behaved like men of honour. I have nothing to say on that head: but, if they triumphed, they have been cruelly punished for it. Perhaps they are to be pitied.... They deserved better."

The Emperor dined with us to-day; it was long since we had enjoyed his company. After dinner he read to us Florian’s novel of Claudine, and some extracts from Paul and Virginia, a work which he says he is very fond of, on account of early recollections.

The Adamant transport has arrived. This vessel a short time ago missed the island. She formed part of a convoy, the remainder of which arrived nearly a month back. These ships brought the famous wooden palace, accounts of which have filled all the newspapers in England, and probably in Europe; and also the furniture, about which the papers have also made a great parade. The wooden palace proved to be nothing more than a number of rough planks, which no one knows how to put together at St. Helena, and which it would require several years to fit up. The splendour of the other articles was of course well suited to our situation. Ostentation, pomp, and luxury, were for Europe; truth and wretchedness for St. Helena.


7th.—The Governor came to Longwood about four o’clock, and went over the establishment without asking to see any one. His ill-humour was visibly increased, his manners had become fierce and brutal.

About five o’clock the Emperor sent for me; the Grand Marshal had been with him for some time. When he went away, the Emperor began to talk with me upon literature; and we reviewed almost every epic poem, ancient and modern. When conversing on the Iliad, he took up an edition of Homer, and read aloud several cantos. The Emperor greatly admired the Iliad. “It was,” he said, "like the Books of Moses, the token and the pledge of the age in which it was produced. Homer, in his epic poem, has proved himself a poet, an orator, an historian, a legislator, a geographer, and a theologist. He may be justly called the encyclopedist of the period in which he flourished.”

The Emperor considered Homer inimitable. Father Hardouin had ventured to question the authenticity of of the Iliad, and to attribute that sacred monument of antiquity to a monk of the tenth century. This the Emperor said was perfect absurdity. He added that he had never been so struck with the beauties of the Iliad as at that very moment; and that the sensations with which it then inspired him fully convinced him of the justice of the universal approbation bestowed on it. One thing which particularly struck him, he observed, was the combination of rudeness of manners with refinement of ideas. Heroes were described killing animals for their food, cooking their meat with their own hands, and yet delivering speeches distinguished for singular eloquence and denoting a high degree of civilization.

The Emperor desired me to stay and dine with him. “Yet,” said he, “you would probably fare better at the table of the household; you will be starved with me.” “Sire,” I replied, “I know that you are ill provided; but I prefer privation shared with you to luxury enjoyed elsewhere.”

During the day, the Emperor was ill with the head-ache, of which some individuals of his suite also complained. I regretted that he was unable to go out, for the weather was very fine. After dinner, the Emperor summoned the whole of his suite into his own chamber, and we remained with him until ten o’clock.

8th.—About five o’clock the Emperor took an airing in the calash. On his return he was visited by several English gentlemen, of whom, according to custom, he asked a multitude of questions. These gentlemen had arrived by the Cornwall: they were proceeding to China, and were expected to touch at St. Helena in the following January on their passage back to Europe.

After dinner one of the suite remarked to the Emperor that his feelings had been painfully excited in the morning when writing out a fair copy of his dictation respecting the battle of Waterloo, to find that the result had depended, as it were, on a hair. The Emperor made no reply, but, turning to Emmanuel, said, in a tone expressing deep emotion: “_My son_ (which was his usual mode of addressing him) go and get Iphigenia in Aulis, it will be a more pleasing subject.” He then read to us that beautiful drama, which he admires exceedingly.


9th.—I went to dine at Briars with my son and General Gourgaud; and we staid to a little ball. I met the Admiral there, and I never found him in a more agreeable humour. This was the first time I had seen him since the adventure of Noverraz; I was aware how much the circumstance had hurt him. He was on the point of departing for Europe, and I knew the Emperor’s sentiments. I was twenty times almost tempted freely to enter upon the subject, and thus to be the means of reconciling him with Napoleon. Truth, justice, and our own interest, demanded this; but I was deterred by considerations that were doubtless trivial. How often have I blamed myself since!... But I had not received this delicate mission, and I could not venture to take it upon myself. The admiral might have given publicity to the affair, and perhaps have represented it in a way that would have highly displeased the Emperor, and possibly have exposed him to fresh vexations. On this subject I will note down the following remarks which were made by the Emperor, and which characterize him too well to be omitted.

He was one day describing to me evils attendant on weakness and credulity in a sovereign; the intrigues which they engender in the interior of the palace; and the fickleness which they create. He demonstrated very clearly that a sovereign distinguished for these qualities must inevitably become the dupe of courtiers and the victim of calumny. “Of this I will give you a proof,” said he. “You yourself, who have sacrificed every thing to follow me; you, who have evinced such noble and affecting devotedness, how do you think your conduct is viewed? How do you imagine your character is estimated? You are regarded merely as one of the old nobility, an emigrant, an agent of the Bourbons, maintaining correspondence with the English. It is said that you concurred in betraying me to them, and that you followed me hither only to be a spy upon me and to sell me to my enemies. The aversion and animosity which you evince towards the Governor are affirmed to be only false appearances agreed upon between you for the purpose of disguising your treachery.” When I smiled at the lively turn of his fancy, and the volubility with which he expressed himself: “You may laugh,” resumed he “but I assure you that I am not inventing, I am merely echoing the reports that have reached my ears. And can you imagine,” continued he, “that a silly, feeble, and credulous being would not be influenced by such stories and contrivances? My dear Las Cases, if I had not been superior to the majority of legitimates, I might already have been deprived of your services here, and your upright heart would perhaps have been doomed to suffer the cruel stings of ingratitude.” He concluded by saying: “how wretched is the lot of man! He is the same every where: on the summit of a rock or within the walls of a palace! Man is always man!...”


10th.—The weather was very bad, and the Emperor, finding it impossible to go out, walked up and down in the dining-room. He afterwards ordered a fire to be kindled in the drawing-room, and sat down to play at chess with the Grand Marshal. After dinner he read to us the history of Joseph from the Bible, and the Andromache of Racine.

The Bengal fleet arrived yesterday evening. The Countess of Loudon and Moira, the wife of the Governor-General of India, was among the passengers.

To-day, in the course of conversation, the name of Hoche having been mentioned, some one observed that at a very early age he had inspired great hope. “And what is still better,” said the Emperor, “you may add that he fulfilled that hope.” Hoche and Napoleon had seen each other, and had conversed twice or thrice together. Hoche esteemed him even to admiration. Napoleon did not hesitate to say that he possessed over Hoche the advantages of extensive information and the principles of a good education. There was, he said, in other respects a great difference between them. “Hoche,” said he, “endeavoured to raise a party for himself, and gained only servile adherents. For my part, I had created for myself an immense number of partisans, without in any way seeking popularity. Hoche possessed a hostile provoking kind of ambition; he was the sort of man who could conceive the idea of coming from Strasburg, with 25,000 men, to seize the reins of government by force. But my policy was always of a patient kind, led on by the spirit of the age, and the circumstances of the moment.”

The Emperor added that Hoche would ultimately either have yielded to him, or must have subdued him, and, as he was fond of money and pleasure, he doubted not that he would have yielded to him. Moreau, observed he, in similar circumstances, knew not how to decide. Thus Napoleon attached but little importance to him, and regarded him as totally wanting in ability; without however extending this opinion to his military talent. “But he was a weak man,” said the Emperor, "guided by those who surrounded him, and slavishly subject to the control of his wife: he was a general of the old monarchy.

“Hoche,” continued the Emperor, "died suddenly and under singular circumstances; and as there existed a party who seemed to think that all crimes belonged to me of right, endeavours were made to circulate a report that I had poisoned him. There was a time when no mischief could happen that was not imputed to me; thus, when in Paris, I caused Kleber to be assassinated in Egypt; I blew out Desaix’s brains at Marengo: I strangled and cut the throats of persons who were confined in prisons; I seized the Pope by the hair of his head: and a hundred similar absurdities were affirmed. However, as I paid not the least attention to all this, the fashion passed away, and I do not see that my successors have been very eager to revive it; and yet, if any of the crimes imputed to me had had any real existence, the documents, the perpetrators, the accomplices, &c. might have been brought forward.

“However, such is the influence of report that these stories, however absurd, were credited by the vulgar, and are perhaps still believed by a numerous class of persons. Happily the statements of the historian who reasons are divested of this pernicious effect.”

Then, returning to the former topic of conversation, he said, "What a number of great Generals arose suddenly during the revolution: Pichegru, Kleber, Massena, Marceau, Desaix, Hoche, &c., and almost all were originally private soldiers. But here the efforts of nature seem to have been exhausted; for she has produced nothing since, or at least nothing so great. At that period every thing was submitted to competition among thirty millions of men, and nature necessarily asserted her rights: whereas, subsequently, we were again confined within the narrower limits of order and the forms of society. I was even accused of having surrounded myself, in military and civil posts, with men of inferior ability, the better to display my own superiority. But now, when the competition will not certainly be renewed, it remains for those who are in power to make a better selection. We shall see what they will do.

"Another circumstance, not less remarkable, was the extreme youth of some of these Generals, who seemed to have started ready made from the hands of nature. Their characters were perfectly suited to the circumstances in which they were placed, with the exception of Hoche, whose morals were by no means pure. The others had no object in view save _glory_ and _patriotism_, which formed their whole circle. They were men after the antique model.

"Desaix was surnamed by the Arabs the _Just Sultan_; at the funeral of Marceau, the Austrians observed an armistice, on account of the respect they entertained for him: and young Duphot was the emblem of perfect virtue.

"But the same commendations cannot be bestowed on those who were farther advanced in life: for they belonged in some measure to the era that had just passed away. Massena, Augereau, Brune, and many others, were merely intrepid plunderers. Massena was, moreover, distinguished for the most sordid avarice. It was asserted that I played him a trick which might have proved a hanging matter; that, being one day indignant at his last depredations, I drew on his banker for 2 or 3,000,000. Great embarrassment ensued: for my name was not without its weight. The banker wrote to intimate that he could not pay the sum without the authority of Massena. On the other hand, he was urged to pay it without hesitation, as Massena, if he were wronged, could appeal to the courts of law for justice. Massena however resorted to no legal measures, and suffered the money to be paid.

"O ——, Murat, and Ney, were common-place Generals, having no recommendation but personal courage.

"Moncey was an honest man: Macdonald was distinguished for firm integrity; I was deceived with respect to the character of B——.

"S—— also had his faults as well as his merits. The whole of his campaign in the south of France was admirably conducted. It will scarcely be credited that this man, whose deportment and manners denoted a lofty character, was the slave of his wife. When I learned at Dresden our defeat at Vittoria, and the loss of all Spain through the mismanagement of poor Joseph, whose plans and measures were not suited to the present age, and seemed rather to belong to a Soubise than to me, I looked about for some one capable of repairing these disasters, and I cast my eyes on S—— who was near me. He said that he was ready to undertake what I wished; but entreated that I would speak to his wife, by whom, he said, he expected to be reproached. I desired him to send her to me. She assumed an air of hostility, and decidedly told me that her husband should certainly not return to Spain; that he had already performed important services, and was now entitled to a little repose. ‘Madam,’ said I to her: ‘I did not send for you with the view of enduring your scolding. I am not your husband, and if I were I should not be the more inclined to bear with you.’ These few words confounded her; she became as pliant as a glove, turned quite obsequious, and was only eager to obtain a few conditions. To these, however, I by no means acceded, and merely contented myself with congratulating her on her willingness to listen to reason. In critical circumstances, Madam, said I, it is a wife’s duty to endeavour to smooth difficulties; go home to your husband, and do not torment him by your opposition."


11th.—At four o’clock I attended the Emperor. The Grand Marshal entered the room, and gave him a note. The Emperor, after glancing it over, returned it, shrugging up his shoulders and saying: “This is too absurd! There is no answer; give it to Las Cases.”

Will it be credited? This was a note from the Governor to the Grand Marshal, inviting _General Bonaparte_ to dine at Plantation House to meet Lady Loudon, the wife of Lord Moria. I blushed at the indecorum. Could any thing be more ridiculous. Sir Hudson Lowe doubtless thought the thing perfectly natural; and yet he had resided for a long time at the head-quarters of armies on the Continent; and taken part in the diplomatic transactions of the time!!...

Mr. Skelton, the Deputy-Governor of the island, who was about to depart for Europe, came accompanied by his wife, to take leave of the Emperor. They staid to dine at Longwood.

This worthy family, whom, contrary to our inclination, we had removed from Longwood, whose prospects we had overthrown by the suppression of the post of Deputy-Governor on our arrival—this excellent family, to whom we had been the occasion of real personal injury, is, however, the only one in the island from whom we have experienced invariable respect and politeness. We therefore bade them adieu with sincere wishes for their welfare. We shall always remember them with sentiments of the deepest interest.


12th.—The Emperor, while walking in the garden and discoursing on various subjects, spoke of the Institute, the manner in which it was composed, the spirit of its members, &c. When he took his place in the Institute, on his return from the army of Italy, he said that he might consider himself as the tenth member in his class, which consisted of about fifty.

Lagrange, Laplace, and Monge, were at the head of this class. It was rather a remarkable circumstance, and one which attracted considerable notice at the time, to see the young General of the army of Italy take his place in the Institute, and publicly discuss profound metaphysical subjects with his colleagues. He was then called the _Geometrician_ of battles, and _Mechanician_ of victory, &c.

On becoming First Consul, Napoleon caused no less sensation in the Council of State. He constantly presided at the sittings for drawing up the civil code. “Tronchet,” he said, “was the soul of this code, and he, Napoleon, was its demonstrator.” Tronchet was gifted with a singularly profound and correct understanding; but he could not descend to developments. He spoke badly, and could not defend what he proposed. “The whole council,” said the Emperor, “at first opposed his suggestions;” but Napoleon, with his shrewdness and facility of seizing and creating luminous and new relations, arose, and without any other knowledge of the subject than the correct basis furnished by Tronchet, developed his ideas, set aside objections, and brought every one over to his opinions.

The Minutes of the Council of State have transmitted to us the extempore speeches of the First Consul on most of the articles of the civil code. At every line, we are struck with the correctness of his observations, the depth of his views, and in particular the liberality of his sentiments.

Thus, in spite of the opposition that was set up to it, we are indebted to him for that article of the Code which enacts that every individual born in France is a Frenchman. “I should like to know,” said he, "what inconvenience can possibly arise from acknowledging every man born in France to be a Frenchman? The extension of the French civil laws can only be attended by advantageous consequences; thus instead of ordaining that individuals born in France of a foreign father shall obtain civil privileges only when they declare themselves willing to enjoy them, it may be decreed that they will be deprived of those privileges only when they formally renounce them.

"If individuals born in France of a foreign father were not to be considered as enjoying the full privileges of Frenchmen, we cannot subject to the conscription and other public duties the sons of those foreigners who have married in France through the events of the war.

“I am of opinion that the question should be considered only with reference to the interests of France. Though individuals born in France possess no property, they are at least animated by French spirit, and they follow French customs. They cherish that attachment which every one naturally feels for the country that gave him birth; finally, they help to maintain the public burthens.”

The First Consul distinguished himself no less by his support of the article which preserves the privileges of Frenchmen to children born of Frenchmen settled in foreign countries, and this law he extended in spite of powerful opposition. “The French people,” said he, "who are a numerous and industrious people, are scattered over every part of the world; and in course of time they will be scattered about in still greater numbers. But the French visit foreign countries only to make their fortunes. The acts by which they seem momentarily to attach themselves to foreign governments have for their object only to obtain the protection necessary for their various speculations. If they should intend to return to France, after realizing a fortune, would it be proper to exclude them?

“If it should happen that a country in the possession of France were to be invaded by the enemy, and afterwards ceded to him by a treaty, would it be just to say to those of the inhabitants who might come to settle on the territory of the republic, that they had forfeited their rights as Frenchmen, for not having quitted their former country at the moment it was ceded; and because they had sworn temporary allegiance to a new Sovereign, in order to gain time to dispose of their property and transfer their wealth to France?”

In another debate on the decease of soldiers, some difficulties having arisen relative to those who might die in a foreign country, the First Consul exclaimed with vivacity;—"The soldier is never abroad when he is under the national banner. The spot where the standard of France is unfurled becomes French ground!"

On the subject of divorce, the First Consul was for the adoption of the principle, and spoke at great length on the ground of incompatibility, which it was attempted to repel.

“It is pretended,” said he, "that divorce is contrary to the interests of women and children, and to the spirit of families; but nothing is more at variance with the interests of married persons, when their humours are incompatible, than to reduce them to the alternative of either living together, or of separating with publicity. Nothing is more opposite to domestic happiness than a divided family. Separation had formerly, with regard to the wife, the husband, and the children, nearly the same effect as divorce, and yet it was not so frequent as divorce now is. It was only attended with this additional inconvenience, that a woman of bad character might continue to dishonour her husband’s name because she was permitted to retain it."

When opposing the drawing up of an article to specify the causes for which divorce would be admissible, he said; "But is it not a great misfortune to be compelled to expose these causes, and reveal even the most minute and private family details?

“Besides, will these causes, even in the event of their real existence, be always sufficient to obtain divorce? That of adultery, for instance, can only be successfully maintained by proofs, which it is always very difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to produce. Yet the husband, who should not be able to bring forward these proofs, would be compelled to live with a woman whom he abhors and despises, and who introduces illegitimate children into his family. His only resource would be separation from bed and board; but this would not shield his name from dishonour.”

Resuming the support of the principle of divorce, and opposing certain restrictions, he continued; "Marriage is not always, as is supposed, the result of affection. A young female consents to marry for the sake of conforming to the fashion, and obtaining independence and an establishment of her own. She accepts a husband of a disproportionate age, and whose tastes and habits do not accord with hers. The law then should provide for her a resource against the moment when, the illusion having ceased, she finds that she is united in ill-assorted bonds, and that her expectations have been disappointed.

"Marriage takes its form from the manners, customs, and religion, of every people. Thus its forms are not everywhere alike. In some countries, wives and concubines live under the same roof; and slaves are treated like children: the organization of families is therefore not deduced from the law of nature. The marriages of the Romans were not like those of the French.

"The precautions established by law for preventing persons from contracting unthinkingly at the age of fifteen or eighteen an engagement which extends to the whole of their lives, are certainly wise. But are they sufficient?

"That after ten years passed in wedlock, divorce should not be admitted but for very weighty reasons, is also a proper regulation. Since, however, marriages contracted in early youth are rarely the choice of the parties themselves, but are brought about by their families for interested views, it is proper that, if the parties themselves perceive that they are not formed for one another, they should be enabled to dissolve a union on which they had no opportunity of reflecting. The facility thus afforded them, however, should not tend to favour either levity or passion. It should be surrounded by every precaution and every form calculated to prevent its abuse. The parties, for example, might be heard by a secret family council, held under the presidency of the magistrate. In addition to this, it might, if thought necessary, be determined that a woman should only once be allowed to procure divorce, and that she should not be suffered to re-marry in less than five years, lest the idea of a second marriage should induce her to dissolve the first; that, after married persons have lived together for ten years, the dissolution should be rendered very difficult, &c.

“To grant divorce only on account of adultery publicly proved, is to proscribe it completely; for, on the one hand, few cases of adultery can be proved, and, on the other, there are few men shameless enough to expose the infamy of their wives. Besides, it would be scandalous, and contrary to the honour of the nation, to reveal the scenes that pass in some families; it might be concluded, though erroneously, that they afford a picture of our French manners.”

The first lawyers of the council were of opinion that civil death should carry along with it the dissolution of the civil contract of marriage. The question was warmly discussed. The First Consul, with great animation, opposed it in these terms; "A woman is then to be forbidden, though fully convinced of her husband’s innocence, to follow in exile the man to whom she is most tenderly united; or, if she should yield to her conviction, and to her duty, she is to be regarded only as a concubine! Why deprive an unfortunate married couple of the right of living together under the honourable title of lawful husband and wife?

"If the law permits a woman to follow her husband, without allowing her the title of wife, it permits adultery.

"Society is sufficiently avenged by the sentence of condemnation, when the criminal is deprived of his property and torn from his friends and his connections. Is there any need to extend the punishment to the wife, and violently to dissolve a union which identifies her existence with that of her husband? Would she not say:—‘You had better have taken his life, I should then have been permitted at least to cherish his memory; but you ordain that he shall live, and you will not allow me to console him in his misery.’ Alas! how many men have been led into guilt only through their attachment to their wives! Those therefore who have caused their misfortunes should at least be permitted to share them. If a woman fulfils this duty, you esteem her virtue, and yet you are allowing her no greater indulgence than would be extended to the infamous wretch who prostitutes herself!" Volumes might be filled with quotations of this sort.

In 1815, after the restoration, as I was conversing with M. Bertrand de Molleville, formerly Minister of the Marine under Louis XVI., a man of great abilities, and who has distinguished himself in more ways than one, he said:—"Your Bonaparte, your Napoleon, was a very extraordinary man, it must be confessed. How little did we know him on the other side of the water! We could not but yield to the conviction of his victories and his invasions, it is true; but Genseric, Attila, and Alaric, were as victorious as he. Thus he produced on me an impression of terror rather than of admiration. But, since I have been here, I have taken the trouble to look over the debates on the civil code, and I have ever since been filled with profound veneration for him. But where in the world did he collect all his knowledge?... I discover something new every day. Ah! Sir, what a man you had at the head of your government. Really, he was nothing less than a prodigy!..."

About five o’clock the Emperor received Captain Bowen, of the Salsette frigate, which is to sail to-morrow. He behaved very condescendingly to him. In the course of conversation the name of Lord St. Vincent, who the Captain said was his patron, happened to be mentioned, on which the Emperor remarked: “You will see him on your return to England, and I commission you to present my compliments to him, as to a good sailor, a brave and worthy veteran.”

About 7 o’clock the Emperor took a bath. He sent for me, and we conversed for a long time, first on the events of the day, then on literary subjects, and lastly on geography. He expressed his astonishment that we possessed no certain knowledge of the interior of Africa. I told him that I had entertained the idea, some years ago, of presenting to his Minister of Marine a plan of a journey into the interior of Africa; not a secret and adventurous excursion, but a regular military expedition, in every respect worthy of the age and of the Emperor. The Minister laughed in my face when I first conversed with him on the subject, and looked upon the idea as an absurdity.

My plan was to have entered Africa at once on the north, south, east, and west, and to have formed a junction in the centre; or, if starting only from the east and west, I proposed that the two divisions of the expedition should meet in the centre, separate again and proceed, one to the north, the other to the south. I thought it probable that, after obtaining from the Court of Portugal all the information that could be procured, it would be found that there already existed a communication from east to west, or that at all events very little was wanting to effect it. The state of public feeling at the time, our enthusiasm, our enterprizes, our prodigies, would have rendered it easy to procure 5 or 600 good soldiers, with the requisite number of surgeons, physicians, botanists, chymists, astronomers, and naturalists, all willing to embark in the enterprize, and we should undoubtedly have accomplished something worthy of the age.

The necessary supply of beasts of burthen, small leathern boats for crossing rivers, skins for conveying water through the deserts, and light manageable field-pieces, would have rendered the execution of the enterprize easy and complete.

“No doubt,” said the Emperor, “your idea would have pleased me. I should have taken it up, submitted it to the consideration of a committee, and brought it to a result.”

He said that he very much regretted his not having had time, during his stay in Egypt, to accomplish something of this sort. He had troops suited in every respect to brave the dangers of the desert. He had received presents from the Queen of Darfour, and had sent her some in return. Had he remained longer, he intended to have carried to a great extent our geographical investigations in the northern district of Africa, and that too by the simplest means, merely by placing in each caravan some intelligent officers, for whom he would have procured hostages.

The conversation then turned on the marine department. The Emperor entered very deeply into the subject. He could not say that he was satisfied with Decrès; and he even thought that the confidence he reposed in him was not altogether irreproachable. The difficulty of finding persons better qualified maintained him in his post; for, after all, the Emperor said, Decrès was the best he could find. Ganteaume was merely a sailor, and destitute of every other talent. Cafarelli, he said, had forfeited his good opinion, because he had been informed that his wife intrigued in political affairs, which he regarded as an unpardonable offence. Missiessi was not a man to be depended on; for his family had been one of those who surrendered Toulon. The Emperor had, for a moment, cast his eye on Emériau; but, on consideration, he did not think that he possessed adequate capabilities. He had asked himself whether T...... might not have filled the post; but he decided that he was not qualified for it. He was a good man of business, it is true; but he had plunged very deeply into the affairs of the revolution; and what had confirmed the Emperor in his disapproval of him was that he had subsequently seen some of his private letters, by which it was evident that he still adhered to his old jacobinical sentiments.

“I had,” observed the Emperor, “rendered the duties of all my ministerial posts so easy that almost any one was capable of discharging them, if he possessed only fidelity, zeal, and activity. I must however except the office of Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which it was frequently necessary to exercise a ready talent for persuasion. In fact,” continued he, “in the marine department but little was required, and Decrès was perhaps, after all, the best man I could have found. He possessed authority; and he discharged the business of his office scrupulously and honestly. He was endowed with a good share of understanding, but this was evinced only in his conversation and private conduct. He never conceived any plan of his own, and was incapable of executing the ideas of others on a grand scale; he could walk, but he could never be made to run. He ought to have passed one-half of his time in the sea-ports, or on board the exercising squadrons. He would have lost none of my favour by so doing. But, as a courtier, he was afraid to quit his portfolio. This shews how little he knew me. He would not have been the less protected by removing from my Court: his absence would have been a powerful circumstance in his favour.”

The Emperor said he very much regretted Latouche-Tréville, whom he regarded as a man of real talent. He was of opinion that that Admiral would have given a different impulse to affairs. The attack on India and the invasion of England would by him have been at least attempted, and perhaps accomplished.

The Emperor blamed himself for having employed the pinnaces at Bologne. He said it would have been better had he employed real ships at Cherbourg. He was of opinion that had Villeneuve manifested more vigour at Cape Finistèrre, the attack might have been rendered practicable. “I had made arrangements for the arrival of Villeneuve, with considerable art and calculation, and in defiance of the opinions and the routine of the naval officers by whom I was surrounded. Every thing happened as I had foreseen; when the inactivity of Villeneuve ruined all. But,” added the Emperor, "Heaven knows what instructions he might have received from Decrès,[10] or what letters might have been privately written to him which never came to my knowledge; for, though I was very powerful and fond of searching into every thing, yet I am convinced that I was far from knowing all that was passing around me.

Footnote 10:

On reading this reflection of Napoleon’s, an officer in the confidence of Admiral Villeneuve wrote to me that the letter of Decrès to that Admiral before the arrival of M. de Rosilly, appointed to supersede him, concluded thus;—"Sail as soon as you find a favourable opportunity: do not shun the enemy; on the contrary attack him wherever you fall in with him, since the Emperor cares little about losing ships, so he loses them with honour." This letter was the only one which the officer in question saved from the Admiral’s portfolio, before he threw it into the sea, at the moment of striking the flag.

"The Grand Marshal said, the other day, that it used to be remarked in the saloon of the household that I was never accessible to any one after I had given audience to the Minister of the Marine. The reason was, because he never had any but bad news to communicate to me. For my part I gave up every thing after the disaster of Trafalgar; I could not be every where, and I had enough to occupy my attention with the armies of the continent.

"I had long meditated a decisive expedition to India; but my plans had been constantly frustrated. I intended to have fitted out a force of 16,000 troops, on board ships of the line; each 74 to have taken 500 troops on board, which would of course have required thirty-two ships. I proposed that they should take in a supply of water for four months; which supply might have been renewed at the Isle of France, or in any habitable spot of the desert of Africa, Brazil, or the Indian Ocean. In case of need, they might have taken in water wherever they chose to anchor. On reaching the place of their destination, the troops were to be put ashore, and the ships were immediately to depart, making up the number of their crews by the sacrifice of seven or eight of the vessels which might be condemned as unserviceable; so that an English squadron arriving from Europe immediately afterwards would have found no trace of ours.

“As for the army, when abandoned to itself and placed under the command of a clever and confidential chief, it would have renewed the prodigies that were familiar to us, and Europe would have beheld the conquest of India as she had already seen the conquest of Egypt.”

I knew Decrès well; we had both commenced our career together in the marine. I think he entertained for me all the friendship of which he was susceptible, and I, on my part, was tenderly attached to him. It was an unfortunate passion, as I used to say when I was rallied on the subject, which was frequently the case, for Decrès was very much disliked, and I have often thought that, from some motive or other, he took pleasure in his own unpopularity. At St. Helena, as elsewhere, I found myself almost his only defender. I saw a great deal of him while the Emperor was at the island of Elba, and he was occasionally favourable to Napoleon. We conversed candidly on the subject, and I have every reason to believe that he observed full and entire confidence with respect to me.

“No sooner had your Majesty returned to the Tuileries,” said I to the Emperor, "than Decrès and I ran to embrace each other, exclaiming, ‘He has returned! we have him again!’ His eyes were suffused with tears; I must bear this testimony to his feelings. ‘Well,’ said he to me, in the presence of his wife, ‘I am now convinced that I have often done you wrong, and I owe you reparation; but your old habits and connections so naturally brought you in contact with those who are now about to quit us that I doubted not but you would sooner or later be perfectly reconciled with them, though you were perhaps often offended at the expression of my real sentiments.’”—“And did you believe this, you simpleton?" exclaimed the Emperor, bursting into a fit of laughter. “This was an excellent piece of courtier-like art; a touch for La Bruyère. It was really a good idea on the part of Decrès; for if, during my absence, any thing offensive to me had chanced to escape him, he would, you see, by this means, have atoned for it once for all.”—"Well, Sire," continued I, "what I have just told you is perhaps only amusing; but what I will now communicate is of a more important nature:—During the crisis of 1814, before the taking of Paris, Decrès was sounded in a very artful way as to his inclination to conspire against your Majesty, and he honestly repelled the suggestion. Decrès was easily and often roused to discontent; and he possessed a certain air of authority in his language and manners which rendered him a useful acquisition to any party he might espouse. He happened, at the unhappy period I have just mentioned, to visit a person of celebrity; the hero of the machinations of the day. The latter advanced to Decrès, and, drawing him aside to the fire-place, took up a book, saying, I have just now been reading something that struck me forcibly,—you shall hear it. Montesquiou, in such and such a chapter and page, says,—When the Prince rises above the laws, when tyranny becomes insupportable, the oppressed have no alternative but....—‘Enough,’ exclaimed Decrès, putting his hand over the mouth of the reader; ‘I will hear no more; close the book.’ And the other coolly laid down the volume, as though nothing particular had occurred, and began to talk on a totally different subject."

On another occasion, a certain Marshal, after his fatal defection, alarmed at the unfavourable impression which his conduct was calculated to produce on the public mind, and vainly seeking the approbation and support of those who surrounded him, endeavoured to interest Decrès in his favour. “I have always borne in mind,” said he to Decrès, “one of our conversations in which you so energetically painted the evils and perplexities that weighed upon the country. The force of your arguments greatly influenced me in the step which I took with the view of alleviating our misfortunes.”—"Yes, my dear fellow," replied Decrès; “but did it not also occur to you that you overshot your mark?”

“In order that these anecdotes may be appreciated as they deserve,” said I to the Emperor, “I must inform your Majesty that they were related to me by Decrès himself during your absence, and when he certainly entertained no idea of your return.”

The Emperor kept up the conversation for nearly two hours in the bath. He did not dine till nine o’clock, and he desired me to stay with him. We discoursed about the military school at Paris. I left the school only a year before Napoleon entered it, and therefore the same officers, tutors, and comrades were common to us both. He took particular pleasure in reverting with me to this period of our youth: in reviving the recollection of our occupations, our boyish tricks, our games, &c.

In this cheerful humour, he called for a glass of Champagne, which was rather an unusual thing; for such is his habitual abstinence that a single glass of wine is sufficient to flush his face, and to render him very talkative. It is well known that he seldom sits longer than a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, at table; but to-day we sat upwards of two hours. He was very much surprised when Marchand informed him that it was eleven o’clock. “How rapidly the time has slipped away,” said he, with an expression of satisfaction. “Why can I not always pass my hours thus agreeably! My dear Las Cases,” said he, as he dismissed me, “you leave me happy.”


13th. Dr. Warden and two other medical gentlemen came to hold a consultation on my son, whose indisposition alarmed me.

The Emperor, at my request, consented to receive Dr. Warden, our old acquaintance of the Northumberland. He conversed for upwards of two hours, familiarly taking a review of those acts of his government which had drawn upon him the greatest share of enmity, falsehood, and calumny. As the Doctor afterwards observed to me, nothing could be more correct, clear, simple, curious, and satisfactory, than these details.

The Emperor concluded with the following remarkable observations: “I concern myself but little about the libels that have been written against me. My acts and the events of my reign refute them more completely than the most skilful arguments that could be employed. I seated myself on a vacant throne. I arrived at supreme power unsullied by the crimes that have usually disgraced the chiefs of dynasties. Let history be consulted, let me be compared with others! If I have to fear the reproaches of posterity and history, it is not for having been too severe but perhaps for having been too indulgent!”

After dinner, the Emperor looked at the _Dictionnaire des Girouettes_ (Dictionary of Weathercocks) which is humourously conceived, though not so well executed. It is an alphabetic collection of the living characters who have figured on the stage of public events since the Revolution, and whose language, opinions, and conduct have followed the changes of the wind. Weathercocks are affixed to their names, with an abstract of the speeches or a description of the acts which have procured for them the distinction. On opening the work, the Emperor inquired whether any of us were mentioned in it. “No Sire,” some one present jokingly replied, “none save your Majesty.” The name of Napoleon was indeed recorded in the work, because, as it was affirmed, he had first sanctioned the republic and then assumed the prerogative of royalty.

The Emperor read to us several articles from the Dictionary. The contrast exhibited at different times in the language and conduct of certain individuals was truly curious; and the transition was in some instances performed with so much coolness and effrontery that the Emperor several times suspended his reading and burst into a hearty fit of laughter. However, after going through a few pages, he closed the book, with an expression of disgust and regret, observing that, after all, the publication was a disgrace to society, a code of turpitude, and a record of our dishonour. One article seemed to affect him deeply, namely, that concerning Bertholet, whom he had so loaded with favour, and on whom, he said, he had every reason to rely.

The following charming trait in the Emperor’s character may be mentioned here, though it is pretty generally known. Bertholet had sustained losses which involved him in difficulties, when, the circumstance having come to the Emperor’s knowledge, he sent him 100,000 crowns, adding, that he had reason to complain of him, since he seemed to have forgotten that he, Napoleon, was always ready to serve his friends. Bertholet, however, behaved very ungratefully to the Emperor, at the period of his disasters. His conduct deeply affected Napoleon at the time, and he was often heard to exclaim: “What Bertholet, on whom I thought I could rely with such confidence!...”

On the Emperor’s return from Elba, Bertholet seemed again inclined to manifest his former sentiments of attachment to his benefactor. He ventured to show himself at the Tuileries, and desired Monge to inform the Emperor that, if he did not obtain a sight of him, he would put a period to his existence the moment he left the palace. The Emperor could not refuse his request, and saluted him with a smile as he passed by.

During his reign, the Emperor had conferred repeated favours on several great manufacturers, among others on Oberkamp, Richard Lenoir, &c. He wished to look for their names in the Dictionary, but every voice was raised to bear witness to their good conduct.


14th.—About four o’clock a great number of visitors came to Longwood, They were passengers who had arrived by the East India Fleet, and the Emperor had signified his willingness to receive them. The party consisted of Mr. Strange, the brother-in-law of Lord Melville, First Lord of the English Admiralty; a Mr. Arbuthnot; and Sir William Burroughs, one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Calcutta; two of Lord Moira’s Aides-de-camp; and some others, together with several ladies. We were all conversing together in the ante-chamber, when the Emperor left his own room to proceed to the garden. This circumstance excited the curiosity of our visitors, who eagerly flew to the windows to see him pass by:—the scene reminded us of Plymouth. The Grand Marshal conducted our visitors to the presence of the Emperor, who received them with the most perfect grace, and with that captivating smile which has exercised such irresistible power. Curiosity and lively emotion were painted in the countenances of all.

The Emperor conversed with each individual, and, according to custom, instantly seized any circumstance that happened to be connected with their names, as he heard them announced. He discoursed with the Supreme Judge on legislation and the administration of justice; with the Company’s officers on trade and the internal Government of India. He questioned the military gentlemen as to how many years they had served and how many wounds they had received; he paid many flattering compliments to the ladies, and remarked, that the climate of Bengal had not spoiled the delicacy of their complexions, &c. Then, addressing himself to one of Lord Moira’s aides-de-camp, he observed that the Grand Marshal had informed him that Lady Loudon was on the Island, and that, had she been within his limits, he should have had great pleasure in paying his respects to her; but that, as she happened to reside beyond the boundaries which had been prescribed to him, he had no more opportunity of seeing her than if she were still in Bengal.

During these conversations, in which I acted as interpreter, Mr. Strange, with whom I had previously been talking, drew me aside by the flap of my coat, and in a tone of surprise and satisfaction said:—"What grace and dignity of manner the Emperor displays!—he shows that he has been accustomed to the etiquette of holding a levee!"

We conducted the company to the drawing-room, and curiosity led them to take a peep at the Emperor’s apartments. Sir William Burroughs, who, from the post he holds, may be supposed to have some connection with the English ministry, on entering the drawing-room asked me whether it was our dining-room. I informed him that it was the drawing-room, or that we might more properly say, it was the only room in the house; at this he was much astonished. I then pointed out to him through the window, the two little chambers which are all the Emperor has for his own use. His countenance expressed regret, and he seemed, in his own mind to be drawing comparisons between the present and the past. Remarking the wretchedness of the furniture and the narrow limits of our abode, he said, with an air of concern—"You will be better provided for soon."—"How," said I, “is there any intention of removing us from the Island?”—"No, but some elegant furniture and a commodious house are to be sent to you."—"We do not," I replied, “complain of the furniture, or the house; but of the rock to which we have been banished, and the latitude in which it is situated. This latitude cannot be changed and we can never be well here.”

I repeated to him literally what the Emperor had, a few days previously said to the Governor on the same subject. Sir William was amazed, and, pressing my hand, he said with a degree of warmth:—"My dear Sir, he is too great and too gifted a man; we have too much cause to dread and fear him."—"But," said I, in my turn, “why not have driven the car of glory together, instead of mutually destroying each other by dragging it different ways? What might not then have been its course?” He looked at me, and again pressing my hand, he said with a pensive air:—"Yes, that would doubtless have been better; but...."

All were particularly struck with the Emperor’s freedom of manner, and his tranquil expression of countenance. I know not what they had expected to see. One remarked that he could scarcely form a conception of the strength of mind necessary to enable Napoleon to endure such wonderful reverses. “That is,” replied I, "because nobody yet well knows the Emperor’s character. He told us the other day that he had been like a block of marble during all the great events of his life; that they had slipped over him without producing any impression either on his moral or physical faculties."

After dinner, the Emperor asked us, as he often does, what we should like to read. Some one proposed that we should resume the Dictionary of Weathercocks; but this the Emperor objected to, on the ground that it served but to render his evenings the more unpleasant. “Rather let us amuse ourselves with fiction,” said he; and, asking for Jerusalem Delivered, he read aloud several cantos of that poem, occasionally translating passages into French. He then read the chief part both of Phedre and Athalie, always expressing his great admiration of the writings of Racine.


15th.—The Emperor, during his walk, conversed on various subjects, and at length happened to light on that of crimes and punishments. He observed that the greatest jurists, even those who had been influenced by the spirit of the age, were divided as to the principle of the equalization of capital punishments. At the establishment of the Code, he should have been averse to equalization, had not circumstances obliged him to adopt a contrary course. He asked my opinion: “I am,” said I, "decidedly favourable to the inequality of punishments. Our notions demand a gradation in punishments, analogous to that which we conceive in crimes. The harmony of our sensations seems to require this. I can never bring myself to rank on a level with each other the wretch who has murdered his father and him who has merely committed a slight robbery accompanied by violence. Should these two criminals be visited by the same punishment?

“In this question the criminal himself is least of all to be considered. The punishment is his business; and humanity discovers many hidden modes of relieving his physical suffering. His ideas previously to the commission of the crime, the feelings which his punishment creates in the minds of the spectators, and the effect it produces on society in general:—these are the points which must claim the attention of the legislator in deciding the question of the equalization of punishments. It is erroneous to suppose that death alone is sufficient, and that the kind of death has no influence on the mind of the criminal in the premeditation of his crime; for if there be inequality of punishment, there is no culprit who would not make his choice if he were permitted so to do. Let any member of society consult his own feelings: he would shudder at the very idea of certain punishments, while perhaps he would be totally indifferent to certain modes of death. The inequality of punishments and the solemnity of executions belong therefore to the justice and policy of civilization. Yet I conceive that it would now be impossible to subdue public opinion on this point.”[11]

Footnote 11:

I must however confess that my opinion is likely to be erroneous, if, as I have been informed, the statements of the registers in France, since the introduction of the equalization of punishments, when compared with those drawn up during a similar interval under the old penal laws, present a diminution in the number of criminals.

The Emperor entirely concurred in these ideas. Having mentioned the crime of regicide, he observed that it might truly be said to be the greatest of all crimes, owing to the consequences which it produced. “The man,” said he, “who should have murdered me in France would have subverted all Europe; and how many times have I not been exposed to assassination!”

Lady Loudon, wife of Lord Moira, the Governor-General of India, has been for several days at St. Helena, where she attracts general attention. She is a lady of high rank, corresponding nearly with a French Duchess under the old regime. The English officers treat her with the utmost respect. To-day the Admiral invited her to a little entertainment on board the Northumberland. He sent a messenger on horseback to request me to lend him my Atlas for the evening, in order that he might shew it to Lady Loudon, whose husband was described in it as the first representative of the Plantagenets, and consequently as the legitimate heir to the throne of England.

The Admiral and I were on a footing of perfect indifference; indeed we had been nearly strangers to each other since the moment he put me ashore. The request was not so much a mark of politeness to me, as a compliment to the work itself. The Atlas had been the subject of conversation, the lady had expressed a wish to see it, and the Admiral felt a desire to shew it to her. However, I was unable to satisfy this desire. The book was in the Emperor’s chamber, and such was the answer I returned.

The Emperor smiled at the honour which the Admiral had intended for me; and I could not help pitying the amusement that had been prepared for the lady. This circumstance led the Emperor himself to speak of the Atlas, and to repeat some observations which had fallen from him before. He remarked that he heard my work spoken of at all times and in all places; that he found it sought after by foreigners as well as Frenchmen. He had heard it mentioned on board the Bellerophon and the Northumberland, at the Island of St. Helena, and, in short, every where, persons of information and rank either knew the work, or expressed a wish to become acquainted with it. “This,” said he, in a lively strain, “is what I call enjoying a real triumph, a great reputation in the literary world. I wish you would give me the history of this Atlas. Tell me when and how you conceived the idea of it, the manner in which it was executed, and its results: why you first of all published it under a fictitious name, and why you did not afterwards affix your real name to it: in short, give me a true and particular account; you understand, Mr. Councillor of State?”

I replied that it would be a long story; though to me the recital would not be devoid of pleasure; for, I added, that my Atlas was the history of a great portion of my life, and that, above all, I was indebted to it for the happiness of being now near the person of the Emperor.

The following is the narrative, such as it appeared when corrected after my first hasty notes. Its length, doubtless, requires indulgence; but this I trust the reader will be inclined to grant, on consideration that the details which I here enter into revive the recollection of my happiest years, of the period of my youth, my health and strength, in a word, of the dear but brief interval of the plenitude of life. I once more entreat the reader to pardon the prolixity in which I have indulged; but this statement so forcibly revives my recollections of past happiness that even now, on reading it over, I cannot find it in my heart to cancel any part of it.

"This Work was partly the fruit of chance; but above all, of necessity, which, as the common proverb says, is the mother of industry.... At the time of the first reverses of the French emigrants, I was cast by the political hurricane in the streets of London, without friends, without money, and without resources; but possessing the requisite courage and willingness for exertion. To a man animated by such a spirit, London, at that time, afforded certain sources of emolument.

"After having unsuccessfully made several applications, I determined to rely on myself alone, and, like Figaro, I decided on turning author. For a moment, I had thoughts of becoming a romance writer: this idea was suggested to me by the proposals of a bookseller; but he required too much and was inclined to pay too little. I then turned my thoughts to writing history, which, at all events, was calculated to procure for me a certain moral advantage, by storing my mind with positive knowledge. It was then I conceived the first idea of my Atlas, which I may truly regard as an inspiration from Heaven, for to it I owed my life. The work was at first a simple sketch, a mere nomenclature, very different from the form in which it now appears. However, it sufficed immediately to relieve me from embarrassment, and to secure to me what might be called a little fortune, in comparison with the miseries endured by the other emigrants. Then, Sire, came the Peace of Amiens, and the benefits conferred on us by your amnesty. I was enabled to make a journey to France, merely as a traveller, having no other object in view than to breathe my native air and to see the French capital. There I found myself at liberty to express my sentiments without restraint; investigation was easy; my ideas and my judgment were enlarged; I was master of my time, and I undertook to arrange my Atlas in the form in which it now appears. I proposed publishing regularly four sheets per quarter. I was now vastly improved both in my mind and circumstances. Interest, attention, good offers, money and connexions, poured in upon me; and I may confidently affirm that this was the happiest period of my life.

"In England, I had published my Work under a feigned name, in order to avoid compromising the honour of my own. I happened to fix upon Le Sage, just as I might have decided on Leblanc, Legris, or Lenoir. But I could not have made a more unlucky choice, or, at least, I could not have assumed a more general appellation. Sometime afterwards, a letter intended for me passed through all the different colonies of French emigrants in London, and was delivered by turns to twenty-two priests, who all bore the name of Le Sage. At length one, who had apparently discovered that the name did not belong to me, sent me the letter in a violent rage, observing that, when people thought proper to change their names, they should at least avoid taking those that belonged to other persons.

"In France I still preserved the name of Le Sage, which had now become identified with my Atlas. To have published it under a new name might have led to the supposition that it was a new work. Besides, I did not wish to expose my own name to the chance of failure, to the attacks of the Journals, or to the bickerings of criticism. Even though I had been assured of the complete success of the work, I should not probably have felt the more inclined to affix my real name to it, owing to a remnant of my old prejudices, of which I could not easily divest myself.

"Certainly this literary fame flattered me not a little; but I had sprung from a warlike race, and I conceived that I was in duty bound to pursue fame of another kind. However, circumstances rendered this impossible, and I think it proper to mention that at least I was not unconscious of the duty. I never had cause to repent of my double appellation. Independently of my real motive for assuming it, it diffused around me an air of adventure and romance which was by no means disagreeable, and which was moreover in unison with my temper and character. It occasioned many mistakes and humourous scenes which afforded me considerable amusement. In England, for example, I have often, when in company, been questioned in the most innocent way imaginable respecting the merits of M. Le Sage’s work; and at a boarding-school I was once addressed in very discourteous language, because I obstinately persisted in condemning my own Atlas.

"So long as I continued myself to manage the publication of the work, my method was to treat in person with all who offered to set their names down as subscribers. I had now no favours to solicit; I rather found it necessary in some instances to guard against receiving those that were offered. In France particularly I was overwhelmed with acts of kindness and flattering compliments. Some paid me these attentions because they knew me, others precisely because they did not know me; and all because I conducted myself alike to each. For my part, I enjoyed the curious spectacle that now presented itself to me. As every one who wished to become a subscriber was obliged to give in his own name, I took a review of many characters, whom I well knew, and observed them in silence. I was thus enabled to meditate at my ease on the curious diversity of opinion, judgment, and taste. The point which one condemned was precisely that which another most admired, which a third declared to be indispensable, and which a fourth pronounced to be inadmissible. Each according to custom failed not to set forth his own opinion as the prevailing one: it was the sentiment of all Paris and of every body.

"I had now an opportunity of being convinced of the great advantage that a man derives from superintending his own business himself, and of the important influence of politeness and good manners in all the affairs of life. I acceded to every thing that was proposed, I received every hint that was suggested, and I was repaid a hundred-fold for my complaisance. It frequently happened that a person who had called on me, without any intention of purchasing the work, was not only induced to carry it away with him, but brought me ten, twenty, or even a hundred, additional subscribers.

"One described my Atlas as a classic work to the Minister of the Interior; another recommended it to the Minister for Foreign Affairs; a third promised to procure for me the decoration of the Legion of Honour, and a fourth wrote a flattering critique on the work, and got it inserted in the public journals. Some carried their interest and attachment for me even to a degree of enthusiasm. Of this the following are instances. One of my provincial subscribers, who was unacquainted with me, wrote to request, as a particular favour, that I would get my portrait engraved to embellish the work, offering, in case I acceded to the proposition, to defray half the expenses of the engraving. Another, who was the owner of the Chateau de Montmorency, paid me a visit every week under pretence of enquiring whether I had got a new sheet of my Atlas ready for publication, but in reality, as he himself assured me, to pass his happiest hours in my society. He added that, if ever I should take a fancy to sell my conversation as I did the sheets of my work, it was in my power, if I chose, to ruin him. I afterwards learned that this was a man of a very eccentric turn; one of La Bruyere’s characters; quite after the manner of Jean-Jacques. For a considerable time he seemed to rack his invention to make me offers of service in the most delicate way imaginable: he even went so far as to throw out paternal suggestions to me. ‘M. Le Sage,’ said he, oftener than once ‘you ought to marry. You possess qualities that are calculated to insure the happiness of a wife, and still more that of a father-in-law.’ I must not omit to mention that the old gentleman had but one daughter, and she was a rich heiress. However, the warmth of our intimacy gradually abated, till at length I entirely lost the acquaintance. It was not until a considerable time afterwards that, being on a country excursion with a party of ladies, the sight of the Chateau de Montmorency revived the recollection of my old friend. I related the history of his eccentricities to the ladies who accompanied me: their curiosity was excited, and we determined to visit the chateau. The porter refused to admit us. On my enquiring whether the gentleman was at his country residence, I received for answer that he was there, and that this was precisely the reason why we could not be admitted. I thought it very extraordinary that he should thus immure himself and render himself totally inaccessible. With considerable difficulty I prevailed on the servant to announce M. Le Sage. The sound of the name operated like enchantment; the affront offered to an elegant calash and rich liveries was immediately repaired. The gates were thrown open, apparently to the no small astonishment of the porter. The servants received orders to show us over the building and to offer us every kind of refreshment. We had brought with us in the carriage provisions for a little rural repast; but a sumptuous dinner was laid out for us in one of the best apartments; and we could not, with any thing like a good grace, decline accepting what was so politely offered. All this hospitality was perfectly disinterested on the part of the worthy old gentleman, who was confined to his chamber by the gout. He was overjoyed at seeing me; and he seemed to regard my visit as the return of the prodigal son. He insisted on seeing the ladies who accompanied me, and was carried into the dining-room to do the honours of the dessert. One thing that amused us infinitely was that he seemed to have no idea of the rank of the friends by whom I was accompanied; and he treated them like persons of inferior rank, though they were in reality ladies of distinction. The old gentleman would now scarcely allow me to depart; he insisted on my repeating my visit, and said, that I and all my friends should ever be welcome to his residence. But alas! I could not avail myself of his kindness; for a few days afterwards I read in the papers an account of the death of this kind and sincere friend.

"From the commencement of my greatness, I may, under every point of view, date the termination of the golden age of my Atlas. When I was transplanted to Court and permitted to approach your Majesty’s person, I conceived that I could not with propriety descend to the details that had hitherto occupied me. I confided the management of the copyright to one of my old college companions, who had been an emigrant like myself, but who did not turn the publication to so good an account as I had done.

"On entering upon my new post at Court, I was loaded with compliments on my production; but to these I replied indifferently, and just as one would do at a ball, after dropping one’s mask. When it was found that I never alluded to my work, that I never quoted from it, and that I avoided all discussion on it, I was never spoken to on the subject; and at length people began to wonder how I had ever written it, and indeed to doubt whether I had any right at all to be considered as its author.

"On hearing these words, the Emperor said to me, ‘My dear Las Cases, even this doubt has found its way to St. Helena. I have heard it affirmed that the work was not written by you, that you purchased the manuscript from the real author; and in support of this assertion it has been remarked that you know nothing at all about the book, because you never speak of it. To these observations,’ continued he, ‘I have merely contented myself with saying, Did you never know any question to remain without a complete answer? Besides I recognise throughout the whole work the style, the very expressions, of Las Cases.’

“Many,” said I, resuming my narrative, "will think I injured myself by this denial; but I preferred good taste to quackery, and I was only acting according to the dictates of my natural disposition. Your Majesty was the other day describing how Syees used to present himself loaded with written plans, and at the very first word of contradiction, as soon as he found it necessary to act on the defensive, he would gather up his papers and be off in a moment. This was precisely my feeling. I never could stand up publicly to support my opinions. Before I could do this, I must enjoy the authority of rank or the freedom of intimate friendship: otherwise I prefer dooming myself to silence, that is to say, when I am not interrogated and urged to the point. But to return to my subject.

"So long as I remained in obscurity I enjoyed the good-will of every one; but my elevation rendered me an object of enmity, and I felt the influence of that vague feeling of envy and malevolence which ever follows the footsteps of fortune. The public journals, which for a length of time had overflowed with flattery and agreeable expressions in favour of the Historical Atlas, now inserted some very ill-natured articles respecting the work, and when these were traced to their source, the writers frankly avowed that they had been occasioned solely by changes that had taken place in political opinions and public affairs.

"A report was delivered to the Institute of all the works that had appeared for several years past; and in this report the Atlas was very severely treated. Happening to be one day in company with the writer of this report, to whom I was known only by the name of Le Sage, I expressed to him my dissatisfaction at what he had said of the Atlas. He candidly confessed that the work and its author were alike unknown to him; that, having found the labour of writing the report too much for him, he had divided the task among several other persons. He informed me that the article on Le Sage’s Atlas was infinitely more severe when delivered to him than it appeared as inserted in the report. He had softened it down considerably. ‘I can easily perceive,’ continued he, ‘that you have enemies in the literary world, and for these you are indebted to your habits and your situation. You have connected yourself with a Count somebody, who holds places at Court; but courtiers and authors never agree well together. Those gentlemen are, for the most part, very unlike us. It is said that, in this curious partnership, you supply the talent and he provides the money. What is the use of that? The Count is only making his profit of you; your work is good, and your bookseller would have remunerated you for it. However, I am only repeating what I have heard, and I advise you to what I conceive to be your interest. If you wish to enjoy our suffrage, you must connect yourself with us, you must identify yourself with our doctrines, and leave the great folks to themselves.’

"I replied, with all possible civility, that I was certainly indebted to him for his kind advice, though it was not just then in my power to follow it. I assured him that he had formed an unfair opinion of my friend; that our purses and our very lives were common to each other; that our friendship and intimacy were indissoluble; that we had vowed to live and die together, and that nothing could induce us to break that vow. It was altogether a truly comic scene.

"Some time afterwards I was dining at the table of a Prince: I was seated beside my illustrious host, and wore a uniform covered with lace. The member of the Institute was one of the guests. Surprise and embarrassment were portrayed in his countenance. I spoke to him several times; but he always drew close to his neighbours, whispering to them, and apparently making enquiries. After dinner, he came up to me, and very good-humouredly begged me to relieve him from his perplexity. He said that he perfectly recollected having had the honour of meeting me before, but that he was quite at a loss to comprehend the trick that I had played upon him. I disclaimed any intention of hoaxing him. ‘All that you have seen,’ said I, ‘and all that I have told you, is nothing but reality and truth. The mystery is easily solved. You then saw M. Le Sage who supplies the talent, and you now see M. Le Comte who provides the funds. You now understand how histories are written, and I have learned how reports are made out.’

“An equally ridiculous mistake procured for M. Le Sage in the famous Yellow Dwarf, the honour of being set down as a Weathercock, in quality of genealogist of the order under the humorous name of _Parvulus Sapiens_ (Little Le Sage). For this favour, as I afterwards learned, I was indebted to the suppression that was made during the King’s reign of the genealogy of your Majesty, whose descent I was supposed to have traced from Æneas and Ascanuis. It is difficult to conceive what could have been meant by all this, as there was nothing in the Atlas that could either directly or indirectly have suggested such an idea. However, at all the various times at which the Atlas and its author were assailed, numerous zealous and fervent partisans enquired whether I would be pleased to permit them to take up my defence. I invariably desired that the subject might be dropped; I conceived that, by thus occupying public attention, I should surely endanger my own tranquillity. I smiled at the ill-natured attacks that were made on poor M. Le Sage; but I should have been very sorry to have seen them extended to his _alias_.

“If however my Atlas enjoyed this general and extensive success, it certainly deserved it. The work is indeed adapted to every age, to every country, to every period; it is suited to all opinions, classes and plans of education. It is an assistant to him who wishes to learn, and a remembrancer to him who has learned. It is a guide to the scholar and an illustrator to the master. It embraces chronology, history, geography, politics, &c. To those who understand it, and know how to use it, it may be truly said to compose a whole library in itself. It is the _vade mecum_ of the pupil and the tutor, of the scholar and the man of business.

“Thus it had an immediate sale, and never, I imagine, did any literary work prove so productive to its author. On its first appearance, the daily subscriptions frequently amounted to 2 or 300 louis. During the period when I personally superintended the publication, I calculated that the receipts constituted a yearly income of at least 60 or 80,000 francs. It procured me a fortune. I had no other, for the Revolution had deprived me of my patrimony, which I had afterwards no hope of recovering; for I had been obliged to renounce it upon oath, before I could be permitted to set foot on the French territory.

“There have been published 8 or 10,000 copies of my Atlas in various editions; and their sale has thrown into circulation 8 or 900,000, perhaps a million of francs, out of which there has been a clear profit of 300,000 francs now in my hands. This constitutes my whole fortune, for I possess nothing that has not arisen out of my Atlas, and that may not be included in its accounts. On my departure from Europe, the sum of 150,000 francs was due to me in outstanding debts, either good or bad; and I possessed a collection of books obtained by exchange, worth 200,000 francs; which being divided into lots of 1000 crowns each, and exported to foreign countries, seemed to promise certain returns. But, unfortunately, out of all this brilliant produce, I can now only reckon upon what I have already in my hands; the rest is involved in so many chances that I cannot but consider it as lost. I have no agent in Europe to manage my affairs, for I had not time to make arrangements for that purpose; and the details are so numerous, scattered, and diversified, that I could not possibly give any one a clue to follow. The outstanding debts are growing old; some of my debtors are dead, some have left the country, and as for the books, they are mostly scattered about, spoiled, and lost.

“At one time my work was on the point of ensuring to me the possession of a brilliant fortune; but my prospects were defeated by the vilest shuffling. The details of this case are so curious that I cannot forbear mentioning them to your Majesty.

“At the commencement of the year 1813, two merchants, who had discovered that I was the author of Le Sage’s Historical Atlas, called on me, and offered, if I would supply them with two millions’ worth of copies, to pay me immediately at the rate of 20 per cent. in ready money, and to convey the books gratis to London, where they should still be my property and should remain at my disposal. I stared at this—I could not conceive what was meant, and suspected that the merchants were hoaxing me. They, on the other hand, sought to explain themselves, by saying that the offer was made for the sake of procuring licences, an affair with which they found I was totally unacquainted. On repeating this conversation to a friend, I afterwards learned that the vessels which were licensed to sail to England, to bring home colonial goods, could not leave France without exporting goods equal in nominal value to their intended importation. Books were included among the allowable objects of exportation, and the merchants sought to obtain a light freight and a high price, which, at little expense, would entitle them to a considerable importation. My Atlas was admirably calculated for this kind of speculation. However, before I entered into any agreement, I consulted the Director General of Customs, and the President of the Committee of Exportation, by whom I was informed that the thing was perfectly legal. With this assurance I immediately set to work. I entered upon one of the most curious speculations that can possibly be conceived. Only a brief interval was allowed me for making the necessary preparations. One hundred forms in folio were distributed among thirty of the principal printing offices in Paris; and from that moment the presses were kept at work without intermission. All the vellum paper of a certain size was bought up, and it daily increased in price until it reached upwards of 100 per cent. Such a general bustle prevailed among all the printers in Paris as to alarm the police, until the affair was fully investigated and explained. I afforded employment either directly or indirectly to between 300 and 400 hands. At the expiration of one-and-twenty days I was to be ready with the two millions worth of copies of the Atlas, and was to receive 400,000 francs in ready money. I was perhaps the only individual in the world who could have engaged in such a speculation; for by a singular chance, I had kept all my forms ready composed by purchasing the types at a vast expense. I was now reaping the fruits of ten years’ industry and expenditure. This was truly a prize in the lottery. I was mad with joy at my unexpected good fortune. But alas! I was building on a sandy foundation, and I was doomed to pay dearly for the few happy moments of my illusion.

“The cynical M. de P——, the Director General of the bookselling trade, who was my colleague in the Council of State, seemed bent on my ruin, though I was unable to divine the cause of his animosity. While he was giving me every assurance of his readiness to serve me, he was, in an underhand way straining every nerve to injure me; and was exciting against me all the most active booksellers, whom he had induced to become the agents of his operations. Of these facts I can entertain no doubt; for the letters secretly written on this subject by P.... were confidentially communicated to me; but motives of delicacy forbid my taking the satisfaction of reproaching him with his baseness.

“He first of all intimated to me that the sheets of my Atlas could not be carried out of France, because the law permitted the exportation of books only. I then enquired whether books in sheets were suffered to be exported; and, on receiving an answer in the affirmative, I observed that my sheets must be considered merely as unbound books. M. de P.... then declared that the favour granted by the Emperor could be extended only to booksellers and not to authors; but M. de Montalivet, the Minister of the Interior, objected to this partiality and silenced M. de P..... The latter then asserted that the price of my sheets had been considerably encreased; but it was proved by reference to two hundred advertisements inserted in the Journals during the last ten years, that the price had never varied. He next alluded to the intrinsic value of the work, and affirmed that what I sold for 100 sous did not cost me more than five or six, and started many other difficulties of an equally absurd kind. Meanwhile time was flying; the ships were taking in their freights, the advantages offered by the owners were diminishing, the arbitrary valuations of the committees arrived, and I, who had persevered in my operations in spite of every difficulty, now found myself involved in a thousand anxieties and vexations, and thought myself happy in escaping absolute ruin, and being able to recover my expenses, which exceeded 80,000 francs.”

“But,” said the Emperor, “this seems almost incredible; I can scarcely conceive how all this happened. Your speculation was exactly suited to my taste; it would have advanced you in my good opinion; I should have been delighted with your activity and the method of your details. Nothing afforded me greater pleasure than to enable those around me to make their fortunes by honest means. Why did you not appeal to me? Why did you not expose the conduct of P....? You should have seen how I would have treated him.”—"Sire," I replied, "such an idea never entered my mind, the moment was critical: your time was precious. How could I hope that your Majesty would listen to me, or that I could satisfactorily explain an affair so complicated and delicate? How could I convince you that I was the author of a work that bore the name of another? What would have been thought of one so near your Majesty’s person meddling with commercial licenses and bookselling speculations? I felt that I was so little known to your Majesty that I dreaded the thought of the affair reaching your ear. Thus, though I was actively engaged in this affair, yet I exerted every endeavour to prevent its gaining publicity, and I made up my mind to suffer the worst."

“You were very wrong,” said the Emperor. “You behaved rather awkwardly towards me and perhaps also towards P....; I cannot otherwise explain the unnatural malignity which he evinced towards you.”


16th.—The breach between the Governor and ourselves had been decided ever since the occurrence of what I have already set down as his first ill-natured trick, his first insult, &c. Our reserve and mutual dislike encreased every day; in short, we were on very bad terms with each other.

He appeared at Longwood about three o’clock, accompanied by his military secretary, and desired to see the Emperor, as he wished to speak with him on business. The Emperor was rather unwell and was not yet dressed; however, he said he would see the Governor as soon as he had finished dressing. In the course of a few minutes, he entered the drawing-room, and I introduced Sir Hudson Lowe.

As I was waiting in the ante-chamber with the military secretary, I could hear, from the Emperor’s tone of voice, that he was irritated, and that the conversation was maintained with great warmth. The interview was very long, and very clamorous. On the Governor’s departure, I went to the garden, whither the Emperor had sent for me. He had not been well for the last two days, and this affair completely upset him.

“Well, Las Cases,” said he, on perceiving me, “we have had a violent scene. I have been thrown quite out of temper! They have now sent me worse than a gaoler! Sir Hudson Lowe is a downright executioner! I received him to-day with my stormy countenance, my head inclined, and my ears pricked up. We looked most furiously at each other. My anger must have been powerfully excited, for I felt a vibration in the calf of my left leg. This is always a sure sign with me; and I have not felt it for a long time before.”

The Governor had opened the conversation with an air of embarrassment, and in broken sentences. He said, some planks of wood had arrived.... The newspapers must have made Napoleon acquainted with this circumstance.... They were intended for the construction of a residence for him.... He should be glad to know what he thought of it ... &c. To this the Emperor replied only by a very significant look. Then adverting hastily to other subjects, he told the Governor with warmth, that he asked him for nothing, and that he would receive nothing at his hands; and that he merely desired to be left undisturbed. He added that, though he had much cause to complain of the Admiral, he had never had reason to think him totally destitute of feeling; that, though he found fault with him, he had nevertheless always received him in perfect confidence; but that, during the month that Sir Hudson Lowe had been on the island, he had experienced more causes of irritation than during the six preceding months.

The Governor having observed that he did not come to receive a lesson, the Emperor replied, "But that is no proof that you do not need one. You tell me, Sir, that your instructions are much more rigid than those that were given to the Admiral. Do they direct that I should suffer death by the sword or by poison? No act of atrocity would surprise me on the part of your ministers! If my death is determined on, execute your orders. I know not how you will administer the poison; but, as for putting me to death by the sword, you have already found the means of doing that. If you should attempt, as you have threatened, to violate the sanctuary of my abode, I give you fair warning that the brave 53rd shall enter only by trampling over my corse.

“On hearing of your arrival, I congratulated myself in the hope of meeting with a general who, having spent some portion of his life on the Continent, and having taken part in important public affairs, would know how to act in a becoming way to me; but I was grossly deceived.” The Governor here said that, as a soldier, his conduct had been conformable with the interests and forms of his country. On which the Emperor replied, “Your country, your government, and yourself, will be overwhelmed with disgrace for your conduct to me; and this disgrace will extend to your posterity. Was there ever an act of more refined cruelty than yours, Sir, when, a few days ago, you invited me to your table by the title of _General Bonaparte_, with the view of rendering me an object of ridicule or amusement to your guests? Would you have proportioned the extent of your respect to the title you were pleased to give me? I am not General Bonaparte to you. It is not for you or any one in the world to deprive me of dignities which are fairly my own. If Lady Loudon had been within my boundaries, I should undoubtedly have visited her, because I do not stand upon strict etiquette with a woman; but I should nevertheless have considered that I was conferring an honour upon her. I have been told, you propose that some of the officers of your staff should accompany me in my rides about the Island, instead of the officer established at Longwood. Sir, when soldiers have been christened by the fire of the battle-field, they have all one rank in my eyes. It is not the sight of any particular uniform that offends me here, but the obligation of seeing soldiers at all; since this must be regarded as a tacit concession of the point which I dispute. I am not a prisoner of war; and I cannot, therefore, submit to the regulations required in such a situation. I am placed in your power only by the most horrible breach of confidence.”

The Governor, on taking leave, requested to be allowed to present his Military Secretary to the Emperor; but the latter replied that that was very unnecessary, and that if the officer had any delicacy of feeling he could not wish it; for his own part he would rather decline it. He added that no social relationship could exist between gaolers and prisoners; and that the presentation was therefore perfectly useless. He then dismissed the Governor.

The Grand Marshal joined us; he came from his own house, where the Governor had alighted both before and after his visit to the Emperor. He gave a detailed account of both his calls.

He said that the Governor on his return had shown great ill-humour, and had complained very much of the Emperor’s temper. Not relying sufficiently on his own wit, he had recourse to that of the Abbé de Pradt, whose work had just then passed through our hands. He had said, “that Napoleon was not content with having created to himself an imaginary France, an imaginary Spain, and an imaginary Poland, but that he now wished to create _an imaginary St. Helena_.” On hearing this, the Emperor could not refrain from laughing.

We then drove out in the calash, and on our return the Emperor took a bath. He sent for me, and having intimated that he would not dine till nine o’clock, kept me with him. He talked over the affairs of the day, and dwelt on the abominable treatment he suffered, the atrocious malignity by which it was dictated, and the brutality with which it was executed. After a few moments of silence and reflection, he exclaimed, as he frequently does, “My dear Las Cases, they will kill me here! It is certain!” What a horrible prophecy!...

He dismissed me at half-past ten.

17th.—I was very ill the whole of the night; the Emperor breakfasted in the garden, and sent for me to attend him there. He was himself dull and melancholy, and was not at all well. After breakfast we walked for a long time in the garden; he uttered not a word. The heat obliged him to return in-doors about ten o’clock. He regretted excessively the want of shade.

About four o’clock he sent to know how I was. He had just returned from taking a drive in the calash, in which I had not been able to join him. I walked with him and the Grand Marshal until half past five. He still had a melancholy and abstracted air. He desired Bertrand to give us an account of his residence at Constantinople in 1796, his journey to Athens, and his return across Albania. A great deal was said relative to Selim III. and his improvements, the Baron de Tott, &c. The conversation was very interesting, but unfortunately I find in my manuscript only a few imperfect notes, which my memory cannot now assist me in filling up.

After dinner the Emperor, who had scarcely eaten any thing, attempted to read to us the meeting of the academy from Anacharsis. His voice and his whole frame had lost their wonted vigour and spirit. Contrary to his custom, he ended without analysis or observation. He retired to rest as soon as the chapter was concluded.


18th.—The Emperor continued indisposed. On his return from a drive in the calash, he took a bath, and sent for me. He shewed a cheerfulness of manner; and we conversed till half-past eight o’clock. He ordered dinner in his own study; and he desired me to stay and dine with him. The place, the tête-a-tête, the elegance of the dinner service, and the neatness with which the table was laid out, gave me, I said, an idea of comfort; the Emperor smiled at my observation. He asked me many questions relative to London, my emigration, the French Princes, and the Bishop of Arras. He himself recurred to the principal events of his Consulship, and gave me some curious details and anecdotes on these subjects. We then began to talk about the old and new courts of France, &c. Many of the observations that were made would, if stated here, only be repetitions, for I believe I have mentioned them before. Other remarks that fell from the Emperor, and which are merely hinted at in my manuscript, must remain for ever lost.

I will transcribe only the following particulars as new. I was entertaining the Emperor with the anecdotes and ridiculous stories, that were related gratuitously, no doubt, of Madame Lefèvre, who long enjoyed the privilege of furnishing the drawing-rooms of Paris, and even the drawing-room of the Tuileries, with a subject for quizzing. “I joined in the ridicule,” said I, "like every body else, until one day I renounced it for ever, on hearing an anecdote which proved her nobleness of sentiment and goodness of heart.

"Madame Lefèvre, whose husband was once a private in the guards, and who consequently filled a humble station in life, seemed to take pleasure in reviving the recollection of circumstances connected with her former station, and even in alluding to the laborious occupations which she had been obliged to pursue. During their poverty, she and her husband had been engaged in a domestic capacity in the family of the Marquis de Valady, the Captain of the corps in which Lefèvre served. The Marquis, who stood godfather to Lefèvre’s child, played a conspicuous part in the desertion of the guards, nor was he less celebrated for his fanatical zeal in favour of republican liberty; he was nevertheless a man of generous sentiments. He was a member of the Convention, and he perished because he opposed the execution of Louis XVI., publicly declaring that he considered it as absolute murder, adding, that Louis had already been too unfortunate as a King to render the infliction of any additional punishment necessary.

"The wife of the Marquis on her return to France after her emigration, immediately received the kindest offers and attentions from the family of Lefèvre, who were then living in a style of considerable splendour.

"One day, Madame Lefèvre called upon her, and, in her usual strain of language, said, ‘How little kindness and goodness of heart there is among you people of quality. We, who have risen from the ranks, know our duty better. We have just heard that M——, one of our old officers, and your husband’s comrade, has returned from his emigration, and that he is dying for want! How shameful this is. We were fearful of offending him by offering him assistance; but the case is quite different with you. An act of service on your part will be gratifying to him. Pray give him this as coming from yourself.’ With these words, she presented to her friend a rouleau of 100 louis, or 1000 crowns. From that moment, Sire," said I, “I felt no inclination to join in the jokes against Madame Lefèvre; I no longer entertained towards her any other feeling than that of profound respect. I eagerly advanced to take her hand whenever I met her at the Tuileries, and I felt proud in escorting her through the drawing-room, in spite of the sneers that were buzzing around me.”

We then related a number of traits of generosity exercised by the new favourites of fortune towards the old ruined families. Among others, we adverted to an instance of courtesy, perhaps somewhat far-fetched, in a certain individual, who, being originally a private soldier, attained the rank of Marshal, or General-in-chief, I forget which. One day, during his newly acquired splendour, he assembled together at a family dinner his former colonel, and four or five officers of the regiment, whom he received in his original uniform of a private, and he addressed his guests in the same terms which he had been in the habit of employing before he attained his elevated rank.

“And this,” observed the Emperor, “was the only way to soften down the fury of the times; for such acts as these must necessarily have created mutual feelings of kindness between the opposite parties; and we may naturally suppose that, during recent events, the persons thus obliged will have returned the obligations they received, were it only for the sake of being _quits_.”

This word _quits_ reminds me of a characteristic trait of the Emperor, which must be noticed here.

A General had been guilty of irregularities in his department, which, had they been brought before the tribunals, must have cost him his honour, and perhaps his life. Now, this general had rendered the most important services to Napoleon on the day of Brumaire. The Emperor sent for, and reproached him with his misconduct. “However,” said he, “you have laid me under obligations, which I have not forgotten. I am perhaps about to transgress the laws, and to fail in my duty. I pardon you, Sir; begone; but know that from this day forward we are _quits_. Take care of yourself for the future, I shall look sharply after you.”


19th.—Doctor Warden breakfasted with me to-day. The Governor of Java (Sir Stamford Raffles) and his staff, who had touched at St. Helena on their way to Europe, arrived at Longwood while we were at breakfast. Governor Raffles was well acquainted with all the Dutch gentlemen, whom I had seen in 1810, during my mission to Amsterdam. The Emperor told me that he would probably receive his visitors about three or four o’clock. In the mean time, I conversed for several hours with Doctor Warden, whom I furnished with some explanations on historical facts relating to the Emperor, about which I supposed he intended to write.[12]

Footnote 12:

I was sorry to find, on perusing the Doctor’s work, that he has totally neglected the observations and corrections with which I furnished him; and has strangely misrepresented the particulars which I communicated.

About three o’clock the Emperor received in the garden the English gentlemen who had come from Java. He afterwards took a drive in the calash.

On his return, about six o’clock, he desired me to follow him to his study. He sent for the Grand Marshal and his Lady, and conversed familiarly, until dinner time, on various subjects relating to his family and his minutest domestic affairs during the period of his power. He dwelt particularly on the Empress Josephine. “They lived together,” he said, “like a private citizen and his wife. They were most affectionate and united, having for a long period occupied but one chamber and one bed. These are circumstances,” said the Emperor, “which exercise great influence over the happiness of a family, securing the reputation of the wife and the confidence of the husband, and preserving union and good conduct on both sides. A married couple,” continued he, “may be said never to lose sight of one another, when they pass the night together; otherwise they soon become estranged. Thus, as long as this practice was continued, none of my thoughts or actions escaped the notice of Josephine. She observed, seized, and comprehended every thing. This circumstance was sometimes not altogether without its inconvenience to myself and to public affairs: but, while we were at the camp of Boulogne, a moment of ill-humour put an end to this state of things.” Certain political events which had occurred at Vienna, together with the report of the coalition which took place in 1805, had occupied the attention of the First Consul throughout the whole of the day, and a great part of the night. He retired to bed not in very good spirits, and he found Josephine in a violent rage at his long absence. Jealousy was the real or pretended cause of this ill-humour. Napoleon grew angry in his turn, threw off the yoke of subjection, and could never be brought to submit to it again. At the time of his second marriage, the Emperor was fearful, he said, “lest Maria Louisa might exact similar obedience, for in that case he must have yielded. It is the true right and privilege of a wife,” he observed.

“A son by Josephine,” continued the Emperor, "would have completed my happiness, not only in a political point of view, but as a source of domestic felicity.

"As a political result, it would have secured to me the possession of the throne; the French people would have been as much attached to the son of Josephine as they were to the King of Rome; and I should not have set my foot on an abyss covered with flowers. But how vain are all human calculations! Who can pretend to decide what may lead to happiness or unhappiness in this life!

"Still I cannot help believing that such a pledge of our union would have proved a source of domestic felicity; it would have put an end to the jealousy of Josephine, by which I was continually harassed, and which after all was the offspring of policy rather than of sentiment. Josephine despaired of having a child, and she in consequence looked forward with dread to the future. She was well aware that no marriage is perfect without children; and at the period of her second nuptials there was no longer any probability of her becoming a mother. In proportion as her fortunes advanced, her alarm increased. She availed herself of every resource of medicine; and sometimes almost persuaded herself that her remedies had proved successful. When, at length, she was compelled to renounce all hope, she suggested to her husband the expediency of resorting to a great political deception; and she even went so far as directly to propose the adoption of such a measure.

"Josephine possessed in an eminent degree the taste for luxury, gaiety, and extravagance, natural to Creoles. It was impossible to regulate her expenditure; she was constantly in debt; and thus there was always a grand dispute when the day of payment arrived. She was frequently known to direct her tradesmen to send in only half their accounts. Even at the Island of Elba, Josephine’s bills came pouring in upon me from all parts of Italy."

Some one who knew the Empress Josephine at Martinique communicated to the Emperor many particulars relative to her family and her youthful days. During her childhood, it was several times predicted that she would wear a crown. Another circumstance not less curious and remarkable is that the phial, containing the holy oil used at the coronation of the Kings of France, is said to have been broken by Josephine’s first husband, General Beauharnais, who, at a moment when the tide of popular favour was running against him, hoped by this act to gain reputation.[13]

Footnote 13:

This story is positively contradicted. It appears that a fondness for the marvellous produced this fable.

A thousand stories have been told and written respecting the marriage of Napoleon and Josephine. The campaigns of Italy explain the circumstance that first brought about their acquaintance and their union. After Vendemiaire, Eugène, who was yet a child, presented himself to General Bonaparte, then General-in-chief of the army of the Interior, to request that his father’s sword might be restored to him. Lemarrois, one of Napoleon’s aides-de-camp, introduced the boy, who, the moment he beheld the sword, burst into tears. The General-in-chief was moved by this incident, and loaded the boy with caresses. When Eugène described the manners of the young General to his mother, she lost no time in introducing herself to him. “It is well known,” said the Emperor, "that she put faith in presentiments and prophecies. In her childhood, some fortuneteller had predicted that she would attain splendid rank, and would even ascend a throne. She moreover possessed a considerable share of art; and, after we became acquainted, she frequently assured me that her heart beat when she first heard Eugène describe me, and that she then caught a glimpse of her future greatness and the accomplishment of the prophecies respecting her fate.

“Another peculiar shade in the character of Josephine,” said the Emperor, “was her constant habit of negation. At all times, and whatever question I put to her, her first movement was negative, her first answer _No_; and this _no_,” continued the Emperor, “was not precisely a falsehood, but merely a precaution, or a defence.”—"This," observed Madame Bertrand, “is a characteristic distinction between our sex and yours.”—"But, after all, Madam," resumed the Emperor, "this distinction arises only from the difference of education. You love, and you are taught to say _no_; we, on the contrary, take a pride in declaring that we love, whether we really do or not. This is the whole course of the opposite conduct of the two sexes. We are not, and never can be, similar.



London: Published for HENRY COLBURN, February, 1836. ]

“During the reign of terror,” said the Emperor, “Josephine was thrown into prison, while her husband perished on the scaffold. Her son Eugène was bound apprentice to a joiner, which trade he actually learned. Hortense had no better prospects. She was, if I mistake not, sent to learn the business of a sempstress.”[14]

Footnote 14:

I have been assured that this circumstance is erroneous, and that relative to Prince Eugène inaccurate.

Fouché was the first who ventured to touch the fatal string of the Imperial divorce. He took upon himself, without any instructions, to advise Josephine to dissolve her marriage for the welfare of France. Napoleon, however, conceived that the proper moment had not yet arrived. The step taken by Fouché was a source of great vexation and trouble: it very much displeased the Emperor, and if, at the earnest solicitation of Josephine, he did not dismiss Fouché, it was because he had himself secretly determined on the divorce, and he did not wish, by thus punishing his minister, to give any check to public opinion on the subject.

However, it is but justice to observe that, as soon as the Emperor shewed himself resolved on the divorce, Josephine consented to it. It cost her, it is true, a severe sacrifice: but she submitted without murmuring, and without attempting to avail herself of those obstacles which she might, however uselessly, have opposed to the measure.[15] She conducted herself with the utmost grace and address. She desired that the Viceroy might be put at the head of this affair, and she herself made offers of service to the house of Austria.

Footnote 15:

I received from the mouth of the Prince Primate some curious details concerning Josephine’s marriage and divorce. Madame de Beauharnais was married to General Buonaparte, by a non-juring priest, who, by mere accident, had neglected to procure the requisite authority from the curate of the parish. This, or some other informality in the marriage, afterwards occupied the attention of Cardinal Fesch; and, whether from his own scruples or otherwise, he succeeded at the time of the coronation in persuading the Emperor and Empress to be married over again by him, privately; or at least to go over as much of the ceremony as he thought necessary. At the divorce, the civil separation was pronounced by the Senate. With regard to the religious separation, the Emperor would not apply to the Pope, and there was no necessity for so doing. Cardinal Fesch having re-married the parties without witnesses, the Officiality of Paris declared that no marriage had taken place. On this judgment being delivered, the Empress Josephine summoned Cardinal Fesch to Malmaison, and asked him whether he could bear witness and sign a declaration that she had been married and lawfully married. “Doubtless,” replied the Cardinal, “I can bear testimony to the fact, and will sign the declaration,” which he accordingly did.

“But,” said I to the Prince Primate, “what judgment was pronounced by the Officiality of Paris?”—"The only proper one," replied the Prince.—"What then became of the declaration of Cardinal Fesch? was it false?"—"Not in his opinion," said the Prince. “He had acted upon the Italian doctrine, by which Cardinals assume the right of marrying without witnesses, which however is not recognised in France, where a marriage is thereby rendered null.”

It appears, however, that Josephine required this declaration only for her own satisfaction, and that she never made any other use of it.

Josephine would willingly have seen Maria Louisa. She frequently spoke of her with great interest, as well as of the young King of Rome. Maria Louisa, on her part, behaved wonderfully well to Eugène and Hortense; but she manifested the utmost dislike and even jealousy of Josephine. “I wished one day to take her to Malmaison,” said the Emperor; “but she burst into tears when I made the proposal. She said she did not object to my visiting Josephine, only she did not wish to know it. But whenever she suspected my intention of going to Malmaison, there was no stratagem which she did not employ for the sake of annoying me. She never left me; and, as these visits seemed to vex her exceedingly, I did violence to my own feelings and scarcely ever went to Malmaison. Still, however, when I did happen to go, I was sure to encounter a flood of tears and a multitude of contrivances of every kind. Josephine always kept in view the example of the wife of Henry IV., who, as she observed, lived in Paris, visited the Court, and attended the coronation after her divorce. But she remarked that her own situation was still preferable, for she already had children of her own, and could not hope to have more.”

Josephine possessed a perfect knowledge of all the different shades of the Emperor’s character, and she evinced the most exquisite tact in turning this knowledge to the best account. “For example,” said the Emperor, “she never solicited any favour for Eugène, or thanked me for any that I conferred on him. She never even shewed any additional complaisance or assiduity, at the moment when the greatest honours were lavished on him. Her grand aim was to prove that all this was my affair, and not hers, and that it tended to my advantage. Doubtless she entertained the idea that one day or other I should adopt Eugène as my successor.”

The Emperor said he was well convinced that he was the individual whom Josephine loved best in all the world: and he added, with a smile, that he was sure she would have relinquished any assignation to attend him. She never failed to accompany him on all his journeys. Neither fatigue nor privation could daunt her; and she employed importunity and even artifice to gain her point. "If I stepped into my carriage at midnight, to set out on the longest journey, to my surprise I found Josephine all ready prepared, though I had had no idea of her accompanying me. ‘But,’ I would say to her, ‘You cannot possibly go, the journey is too long and will be too fatiguing for you.’—‘Not at all,’ Josephine would reply. ‘Besides, I must set out instantly.’—‘Well, I am quite ready.’—‘But you must take a great deal of luggage.’—‘Oh, no! every thing is packed up;‘ and I was generally obliged to yield. In a word, Josephine rendered her husband happy, and constantly proved herself his sincerest friend. At all times and on all occasions, she manifested the most perfect submission and attachment; and thus I shall never cease to remember her with tenderness and gratitude.

“Josephine,” continued the Emperor, “placed the qualities of submission, obedience, and complaisance in her sex on a level with political address; and she often condemned the conduct of her daughter Hortense and her relation Stephanie, who lived on very bad terms with their husbands, frequently indulging in caprice, and pretending to assert their independence.

“Louis,” said the Emperor, “had been spoiled by reading the works of Rousseau. He contrived to agree with his wife only for a few months. There were faults on both sides. On the one hand, Louis was too teazing in his temper, and on the other Hortense was too volatile. They were attached to each other at the time of their marriage, which was agreeable to their mutual wishes. The union was, however, contrived by Josephine, who had her own views in promoting it. I, on the contrary, would rather have extended my connection with other families, and for a moment I had an idea of forming a union between Louis and a niece of M. de Talleyrand’s, who was afterwards Madame Juste de Noailles.”

The most ridiculous reports were circulated respecting an improper intercourse between Napoleon and Hortense, and it was even affirmed that the latter had had a child by the Emperor. “Such a connection,” said he, "would have been wholly repugnant to my ideas; and those who knew anything of the morality of the Tuileries must be aware that I need not have been reduced to so unnatural and revolting a choice. Louis knew perfectly well the value to which these reports were entitled; but his vanity and irritability of temper were nevertheless offended by them, and he frequently alluded to them as a ground for reproaching his wife.

“But Hortense,” continued the Emperor, "the virtuous, the generous, the devoted Hortense, was not entirely faultless in her conduct towards her husband. This I must acknowledge, in spite of all the affection I bore her, and the sincere attachment which I am sure she entertained for me. Though Louis’ whimsical humours were in all probability sufficiently teasing, yet he loved Hortense; and in such a case a woman should learn to subdue her own temper, and endeavour to return her husband’s attachment. Had she known how to repress her temper she would have spared herself the vexation of her late lawsuit; she would have passed a happier life; she would have accompanied her husband to Holland, and would have staid there. Louis would not then have fled from Amsterdam; and I should not have been compelled to unite his kingdom to mine, a measure which contributed to ruin my credit in Europe. Many other events might also have taken a different turn.

“The Princess of Baden,” continued the Emperor, "pursued a wiser course. On witnessing Josephine’s divorce, she recollected her own situation, and used every endeavour to gain her husband’s affections. They were afterwards a most happy couple.

"Pauline was too careless and extravagant. She might have been immensely rich, considering all that I gave her; but she gave all away in her turn. Her mother frequently lectured her on this subject, and told her that she would die in a hospital. _Madame_, however, carried her parsimony to a most ridiculous extreme. I offered to furnish her with a very considerable monthly income, on condition that she would spend it. She, on the other hand, was very willing to receive the money provided she were permitted to hoard it up. This arose not so much from covetousness as excess of foresight; all her fear was that she might one day be reduced to beggary. She had known the horrors of want, and they now constantly haunted her imagination. It is, however, but just to acknowledge that she gave a great deal to her children in secret. She is indeed a kind mother.

“Nevertheless,” continued the Emperor, “this woman, who was so reluctant to part with a single crown, would willingly have given me her all, on my return from the Island of Elba; and after the battle of Waterloo, she would have surrendered to me all she possessed in the world, to assist me in re-establishing my affairs. This she offered to do; and would, without a murmur, have doomed herself to live on brown bread.[16] Loftiness of sentiment still reigned paramount in her heart: pride and noble ambition were not yet subdued by avarice.”

Footnote 16:

How justly did the Emperor paint his mother’s character! On my return to Europe I was delighted to witness the literal confirmation of all that he had said respecting her.

As soon as I disclosed to Madame Mère the Emperor’s real situation, and declared my resolution to exert all my efforts to alleviate his misery, the answer returned to me by the courier was, that her whole fortune was at her son’s disposal, and that she would earn her livelihood if necessary by going to service. She at the same time, authorised me, though I was not personally known to her, to draw immediately in her name for any sum that I might think necessary for the Emperor’s use. Cardinal Fesch also tendered his services in the most affectionate way; and I must take this opportunity of mentioning that all the different members of the Emperor’s family evinced equal love, zeal, and devotedness. So long as my health permitted me to keep up a correspondence with them, I received a multitude of letters, which form altogether a most interesting collection. They reflect honour on the hearts of the writers, and they would have proved a source of consolation to the Emperor, had the restrictions of the English government permitted me to submit them to his perusal.

Here the Emperor observed that he had still present in his memory the lessons of pride which he had received from his mother in his childhood, and which had influenced his conduct through life. The naturally powerful mind of Madame Mère had been exalted by the great events of which she had been a witness; she had seen five or six revolutions; and her house had been thrice burnt to the ground by factions in Corsica.

“Joseph,” said the Emperor, "rendered me no assistance; but he is a very good man. His wife, Queen Julia, is the most amiable creature that ever existed. Joseph and I were always attached to each other, and kept on very good terms. He loves me sincerely, and I doubt not that he would do every thing in the world to serve me. But his qualities are only suited to private life. He is of a gentle and kind disposition, possesses talent and information, and is altogether a very amiable man. In the discharge of the high duties which I confided to him, he did the best he could. His intentions were good; and therefore the principal fault rested not so much with him as with me, who raised him above his proper sphere. When placed in important circumstances, he found his strength unequal to the task imposed on him.

“The Queen of Naples had chiefly formed herself amidst great events. She had solid sense, strength of character, and boundless ambition.... She must naturally suffer severely from her reverses, more particularly as she may be said to have been born a Queen. She had not, like the rest of us,” observed the Emperor, "moved in the sphere of private life. Caroline, Pauline, and Jerome, were still in their childhood when I had attained supreme rank in France; thus they never knew any other state than that which they enjoyed during the period of my power.

“Jerome was an absolute prodigal. He plunged into boundless extravagance, and the most odious libertinism. His excuse perhaps may be his youth, and the temptations by which he was surrounded. On my return from the Isle of Elba, he appeared to be much improved, and to afford great promise. One remarkable testimony in his favour was the love with which he had inspired his wife, whose conduct was admirable, when, after my fall, her father, the despotic and harsh King of Wurtemberg, wished to procure her divorce. The Princess then, with her own hands, honourably inscribed her name in history.”

To our great regret, dinner was announced; but the Emperor continued to be very talkative during the whole of the evening. He took a familiar retrospect of various subjects, principally alluding to the conduct of many persons of note during his absence and at the time of his return. He did not retire until midnight, and he closed the evening’s conversation with the following words:—"What is doing at this moment in France and in Paris? and what shall we ourselves be doing on this day twelvemonth!"


20th.—Mr. Balcombe had intimated to me that he was appointed to supply us with what we wanted at the expense of the English Government; but I wrote to inform him that, as my own pecuniary circumstances enabled me to dispense with this favour, I was resolved not to avail myself of it. I therefore begged that he would obtain permission from the Governor, to receive from me a bill drawn on some person in England, which could not be transmitted without special permission. I wished to remain free from all obligations, so that nothing might impede me in freely exercising the just and sad privilege of venting my reproaches and imprecations.

The Emperor rode out in the calash very early. On his return, about three o’clock, he desired me to follow him to his chamber. “I am low-spirited, unwell, and fatigued,” said he, “sit down in that arm-chair, and bear me company.” He then threw himself on his couch and fell asleep, while I watched beside him. I sat within a few paces of him. His head was uncovered, and I gazed on his brow,—that brow on which were inscribed Marengo, Austerlitz, and a hundred other immortal victories. What were my thoughts and sensations at that moment? They may be imagined; but I cannot attempt to describe them!

In about three quarters of an hour, the Emperor awoke. He took a few turns in his chamber, and he then took a fancy to visit the apartments of all the individuals of his suite. When he had minutely considered all the inconveniences of mine, he said with a smile of indignation:—"Well, I do not think that any christian on earth can be worse lodged than you are."

After dinner, the Emperor attempted to read a part of the _Caravansêrail de Sarrazin_. After glancing over a few of the tales, and reading a page from one of them, he said:—"The moral of this story doubtless is that men never change. This is not true; they change both for better and worse. A thousand other maxims which authors attempt to establish are all equally false. They affirm that men are ungrateful; but no, they are not so ungrateful as is supposed: and if ingratitude be frequently a subject of complaint, it is because the benefactor requires more than he gives.

"It is also said that when you know a man’s character, you have a key to his whole conduct. This is a mistaken notion. A man may commit a bad action, though he be fundamentally good; he may be led into an act of wickedness, without being himself wicked. This is because man is usually actuated not by the natural bent of his character, but by a secret momentary passion, which has lain dormant and concealed in the inmost recesses of his heart. Another error is to suppose that the face is the mirror of the mind. The truth is that it is very difficult to know a man’s character. To avoid being deceived on this point, it is necessary to judge a person by his actions only; and it must be by his actions of the moment, and merely for that moment.

“In truth, men have their virtues and their vices, their heroism and their perversity; men are neither generally good nor generally bad; but they possess and practise all that is good and bad in this world. This is the principle: natural disposition, education and accidental circumstances produce the applications. I have always been guided by this opinion, and I have generally found it correct. However, I was deceived in 1814, when I believed that France, at the sight of her dangers, would make common cause with me; but I was not deceived in 1815, on my return from Waterloo.”

The Emperor felt unwell, and retired very early.


21st.—The Emperor continued indisposed; we nevertheless took our usual airing in the calash. On our return, we were informed that the Governor had been to Longwood and had himself arrested one of our domestics, who had recently quitted the service of Deputy-Governor Skelton, and who had a few days since been engaged by General Montholon. On hearing this, the Emperor exclaimed: “What turpitude! what meanness! A Governor ... an English Lieutenant-General himself to arrest a servant! Really this conduct is too disgusting!”

The Grand Marshal joined us, and announced the arrival of a store ship, which had left England on the 8th of March.

After dinner, the Emperor asked what we would read, and we all decided for the Bible. “This is certainly very edifying,” said the Emperor; “it would never be guessed in Europe.” He read to us the book of Joshua, observing at almost every town or village that he named: “I encamped there; I carried that place by assault; I gave battle here, &c.”


22nd.—In the course of this day a great deal was said about the sailors of the Northumberland, who had been given to us as domestics, and who, we now understood, were to be withdrawn from our service. They had, however, been engaged by a reciprocal contract, by which both parties were bound for the space of a year. But we are without the pale of ordinary law. The Governor affirmed that the Admiral wanted the men; and the Admiral said that he would allow them to remain with us if the Governor pleased. The sailors were taken away, and soldiers were sent in their stead; but these were also removed and sent back again, ordered away a second time and again sent back to us. We were unable to guess the meaning of all these changes.

While I was in the Emperor’s apartment, waiting for the announcement of dinner, the conversation fell on Madame Campan’s establishment, the young persons who had been educated in it, and the fortunes which the Emperor had conferred on some of them. He particularly alluded to Stephanie de Beauharnais, afterwards Princess of Baden, to whom he said he was much attached. He entered into many details respecting her.

Princess Stephanie of Baden lost her mother in her childhood. She was left in the care of an English lady, her mother’s intimate friend, who was very rich and without children, and who confided the education of her _protegée_ to some old nuns in the south of France, I believe at Montauban.

Napoleon, during his Consulship, one day heard Josephine mention this circumstance, while alluding to her young relation Stephanie. “How can you permit this?” said he. “How can you suffer one of your name to be supported by a foreigner, an Englishwoman, who must at this moment be regarded as our enemy? Are you not afraid that your memory will one day suffer for this?” A courier, was immediately despatched to bring the young lady to the Tuileries; but the nuns refused to part with her. Napoleon, however, instituted the necessary legal forms, and a second courier was speedily sent to the Prefect of the district, with orders instantly to seize the person of the young lady in the name of the law.

Owing to the circumstances of the times, such was the influence of certain systems of education, and of the opinions which they inspired, that Stephanie’s removal was to herself a source of deep regret; and she beheld not without terror him who declared himself her relative, and who was about to become her benefactor. She was placed in the establishment of Madame Campan, at St. Germain; all sorts of masters were appointed to superintend her education, and, on her introduction to the world, her beauty, wit, accomplishments, and virtues, rendered her an object of universal admiration.

The Emperor adopted her as his daughter, and gave her in marriage to the hereditary Prince of Baden. This union was for several years far from being happy. In course of time, however, the causes of difference gradually vanished; the Prince and Princess became attached to each other, and from that moment they had only to regret the happiness of which they had deprived themselves during the early years of their marriage.

At the conferences of Erfurt, the Princess of Baden received the most marked attentions from her brother-in-law, the Emperor Alexander. During our disasters, in 1813, persons who were at the head of political affairs, dreading the result of an interview between Alexander and the Princess of Baden, at Manheim, succeeded in depriving the Princess of the regard of her august relative, by circulating false reports to the prejudice of her character. When therefore Alexander arrived at Manheim, on his triumphal march to Paris, he by no means treated Princess Stephanie with due respect. His conduct was calculated to wound her feelings; but it could not humble her pride. On this occasion, the conduct pursued by the Prince of Baden reflected true glory on his character. The most august personages surrounded him, and urged him to repudiate the wife whom he had received from the hands of Napoleon. But the Prince, with true nobleness of sentiment, rejected the idea, observing that he would never commit an act of baseness, which would be as repugnant to his affections as to his honour. This generous Prince, to whom we did not render sufficient justice in Paris, afterwards fell a victim to a tedious and painful illness. The Princess personally attended her husband throughout the whole of his sufferings, performing with her own hands all the minute services that his situation required: her devoted attachment gained for her the admiration of her relatives and subjects.

Princess Stephanie of Baden shed a lustre over her exalted station. She conferred honour on her character as a wife and a daughter. She at all times professed the highest veneration for him, who, when in the enjoyment of boundless power, had benevolently adopted her as his child.


23rd.—The Emperor desired me to attend him in his chamber, about two o’clock. He remarked that I did not look well. He was himself ill, and had had but little sleep during the preceding night. He began to dress, saying that he should probably feel better when he had finished his toilet. We then went out to walk in the garden. The turn of the conversation led the Emperor to remark that our manners required that a sovereign should be regarded only as a blessing to his people; his acts of severity must be overlooked in consideration of his acts of clemency; mercy must still be held to be his chief attribute. In Paris, he observed, he had sometimes been reproached for conversations and words which, in truth, ought not to have escaped him. But he added that his personal situation, his extreme activity, and most of his acts, which really proceeded from himself, ought to have made amends for many things. He rendered justice to the delicate tact which distinguished the inhabitants of the French capital; no where, he said, could be found so much wit or more taste. He reproached himself for the expulsion of Portalis from the Council of State. I, who was present at the scene, told him that I thought his manner was somewhat paternal. “I was perhaps too severe,” resumed he; “I should have checked myself before I ordered him to be gone. He attempted no justification, and therefore the scene should have ended, merely by my saying _It is well_. His punishment should have awaited him at home. Anger is always unbecoming in a sovereign. But perhaps I was excusable in my council, where I might consider myself in the bosom of my own family; or perhaps, after all, I may be justly condemned for this act. Every one has his fault; nature will exert her sway over us all.”

He said he also reproached himself for his conduct to M. de G—— at the Tuileries, during one of the grand Sunday audiences, and in presence of all the Court.—"But in this instance," said he, “I was provoked to the utmost extreme. My anger burst forth against my inclination. I had given G—— the command of a legion of the capital, which I was about to defend. I afterwards learned that he rejoiced in our disasters, and invoked them, though I did not know this at the period to which I am now alluding. The enemy was advancing upon us, and G—— coolly wrote to inform me that his health would not permit him to take the command; though, as a courtier, he presented himself to me in perfect activity and good spirits. I was very indignant at his conduct; but I repressed my anger, and resolved to take no notice of him. He, however, on three or four occasions sought an opportunity of throwing himself in my way. I could no longer stifle my rage, and the bomb exploded.

“But,” concluded the Emperor, "what distressed me most of all, was the situation of G....’s son, who was my chamberlain, and of whom I had no reason to complain."

The Emperor then spoke of the Faubourg St. Germain, and questioned me respecting many families and individuals belonging to it. He happened to mention the name of Madame de S....; I observed that she had constantly evinced great attachment to the Emperor, for which she was now doubtless severely punished. The Emperor was not aware of the extent and sincerity of her zeal and devotedness; though he had been very much moved by her generous resolution of remaining with the Empress Josephine. He had, he said, to reproach himself for not having done any thing for Madame de S..... She must have been unfortunate in the choice of the moment at which she solicited her husband’s nomination to the Senate.

I had, from my childhood, been intimately acquainted with Madame de S....; and she made me her confidential friend. I related to the Emperor the anecdote of her nomination to the post of _dame du palais_. Her husband one morning introduced her to the Empress Josephine, who returned her thanks for having made an application to enter her service. This was a thunderbolt to Madame de S...., who had never dreamed of making such a solicitation; and who, in the natural timidity of her disposition, preserved silence. At that time I was certainly far from approving or advising her acceptance of the post: I nevertheless rendered her a real act of service by withholding a letter of refusal which she had confided to me, without the knowledge of her friends, and which might have proved fatal to the intrigues of those by whom the affair had been brought about.

The Emperor asked me what could have given rise to this repugnance on the part of Madame de S.... to enter the service of the Empress? I replied that it was occasioned by the connection she had had with the royal family. “She was right,” said he, "how could her husband think of placing her in a situation so hostile to her feelings? A similar case occurred in one of my nominations of Chamberlains. One individual begged that I would be pleased to allow him to decline the honour, because, as he said, he had been first Gentleman of the Chamber to Louis XVI. and Louis XVIII. This was perfectly reasonable on his part; but how could I possibly listen to such a solicitation? It was a proof of want of delicacy in those who proposed his nomination; but what had I to do with that? Could I enter into details of this kind? The important affairs that claimed my attention would not permit me to descend to matters of this sort.

“However,” continued the Emperor, "if Madame de S.... had gone the right way to work, she might have obtained all she asked for. But she never evinced any particular interest in what she solicited, and made applications only in favour of individuals who had not proved themselves very deserving; among others she recommended to my notice a man who, after being one of the King’s Peers, wished to be made one of mine. On my return from Elba, his daughter came to assure me that, if I would confer this favour upon him, he would pledge himself to act with zeal in my service, acknowledging, as he said, no interests but those of the nation. All this was of course fair enough."

About four o’clock the Emperor got into the calash; during our usual ride, he mentioned several serious accidents by which, at one time or other, his life had been endangered.

At St. Cloud, he once attempted to drive his calash six-in-hand. The horses were startled by Aide-de-camp Cafarelli inadvertently crossing the road in front of them. Before the Emperor had time to recover the reins, the horses set off at full speed, and the calash, which rolled along with extreme velocity, struck against a railing. The Emperor was thrown out to the distance of eight or ten feet, and lay stretched on the ground upon his face. He was, he said, dead for a few seconds. He felt the moment at which life became extinct, which he called the _negative moment_. The first person who touched him, on alighting from his horse, immediately revived him. He observed that the mere contact suddenly called him to life, as, in the night-mare, the sufferer is relieved as soon as he can cry out.

On another occasion the Emperor said he had nearly been drowned. When in garrison at Auxonne, in 1786, while he was one day amusing himself with swimming, a sudden numbness came over him; he lost his self-possession, and, being alone, he was carried along by the current in a senseless state. He felt life escape him, and even heard his comrades on the shore call out that he was drowned, and hasten in quest of boats to recover his body. In this case a sudden shock restored him to life. His breast struck against a sand-bank; and, by a miracle, his head, being above the water, he recovered himself sufficiently to swim ashore. The water was discharged from his stomach; he regained the spot where he had left his clothes, and, having dressed himself, he got home, while his friends were still in search of his body.

Another time, while hunting the wild boar at Marly, all his suite was put to flight; it was like the rout of an army. The Emperor, with Soult and Berthier, maintained their ground against three enormous boars. “We killed all three; but I received a hurt from my adversary, and nearly lost this finger,” said the Emperor, pointing to the third finger of his left hand, which indeed bore the mark of a severe wound. "But the most laughable circumstance of all was to see the multitude of men, surrounded by their dogs, screening themselves behind the three heroes, and calling out lustily:—‘_Save the Emperor! Save the Emperor!_’ while not one advanced to my assistance."


24th.—The Emperor went out only to take an airing in the calash. We drove for nearly an hour and a half, proceeding at a slow pace, and lengthened our airing by going twice over the limits of our usual ride. The Emperor conversed on politics. The newspapers, which we had received three days ago, furnished the subject of discussion.

In France, he observed, the patriots were emigrating rapidly; and there seemed to be a wish to encourage their emigration, from the circumstance of their property not having been confiscated, &c.

The Emperor thought he could perceive from the debates in the English Parliament, that there was a reserved idea respecting the partition of France; this was a severe shock to his feelings. “Every one possessing a true French heart,” said he, “must now be overwhelmed with despair. An immense majority of the population of France must be plunged in the deepest sorrow. Ah!” he exclaimed, “why am I not placed in some remote sphere, on a soil truly free and independent, where no external influence could be dreaded! how would I astonish the universe! I would address a proclamation to the French; I would say to them;—You are lost if you are not united. The odious, the insolent foreigner is about to parcel you out and to annihilate you. Frenchmen arise; make common cause, at all hazards,—rally, if it must be so, even around the Bourbons! Let the existence, the safety of France, take place of every other consideration!...”

He thought, however, that Russia must oppose this division, as she would thereby have to fear the growing strength and consolidation of Germany against her. Some one present remarked that Austria must oppose it also, from the apprehension of wanting the necessary support in case of any attempts on the part of Russia. It was moreover observed that, in such a case, Austria might probably serve the cause of the King of Rome, by putting him forward. “Yes,” replied the Emperor, "as an instrument of menace, perhaps; but never as the object of her good wishes. Austria must have too much cause to dread him. The King of Rome will be the man of the people; he will be the champion of Italy. Thus it will be the policy of Austria to take his life. This will not probably be attempted during the reign of his grandfather, who is a good man;—but the Emperor Francis cannot live for ever. If, however, the manners of the present age should preclude the possibility of an attempt to murder him, they will endeavour to brutalize his faculties. Or finally, if he should escape both physical and moral assassination,—if his mother’s cares and his own natural endowments should rescue him from all those dangers, then—then—" (he repeated several times, as if absorbed in reflection) “why then—But who can calculate on the destinies of any one here below!”

The Emperor then turned the conversation to England, by remarking that she alone was interested in the destruction of France; and in the plenitude and versatility of his fancy, he touched on all the various plans which she was likely to adopt for that purpose. She could not increase the power of Belgium, he said, otherwise Antwerp would become as formidable to her as it had been under his reign. She must, he observed, leave the Bourbons in the centre, with only eight or ten millions of inhabitants, and surround them with Princes, Dukes, or Kings of Normandy, Brittany, Aquitaine, and Provence; so that Cherbourg, Brest, the Garonne, and the Mediterranean would be in the possession of different sovereigns. This, he said, would make the French monarchy retrograde several ages, would restore it to its situation under the first Capets, and would provide for the Bourbons a few centuries of new and laborious efforts.—"But, fortunately," observed the Emperor, "before England can arrive at this point, she will have to surmount almost invincible obstacles,—the uniformity of the division of the territory into departments, the similitude of language, the identity of manners, the universality of the code, the generality of my lyceums, and the glory and splendour which I have left behind me; these are so many indissoluble knots and truly national institutions.

"A great nation like France cannot easily be parcelled out, or, if it should, it will be constantly re-uniting and seeking to recover its importance; like Ariosto’s giant, who runs after his limbs and even his head, as they are lopped off, and after putting them on begins to fight again." “But Sire,” said some one present, “the power of the giant depended on the plucking out of a single hair; and, in like manner, Napoleon may be said to be the hair on which depended the existence of France.” “No,” resumed the Emperor, “my memory and my ideas would still survive.—But,” continued he, “England, on the contrary, would in course of time have become a mere appendage to France, had the latter continued under my dominion. England was by nature intended to be one of our Islands, as well as Oleron or Corsica. On what trifles does the fate of Empires depend! How petty and insignificant are our revolutions in the grand organization of the universe! If, instead of entering upon the Egyptian expedition, I had invaded Ireland; if some slight derangement of my plans had not thrown obstacles in the way of my Boulogne enterprise; what would England have been to-day? What would have been the situation of the continent and of the whole political world?”


25th.—After dinner the Emperor read Œdipus, which he admired exceedingly. He next took up Brutus, of which he gave us a very remarkable analysis. He observed that Voltaire seemed not to have entered into the right feeling for his subject. “The Romans,” said he, “were guided by patriotism, as we are by honour. Voltaire has not portrayed the real sublimity of Brutus, sacrificing his sons for the welfare of his country, and in spite of the pangs of paternal affection. He has made him a monster of pride, decreeing the death of his children for the sake of preserving his power, his name, and his celebrity. The other characters of the tragedy, he added, are equally misconceived. Tullia is described as a fury who takes advantage of her situation; and not as a woman of tender sentiment, who might be led into crime by seduction and dangerous influence.”


26th.—The Emperor sent for me about two o’clock. He was not well and was much fatigued. We looked over a few newspapers.

In these papers it was stated that Joseph Bonaparte had made extensive purchases of land on the north of the State of New York, on the river St. Lawrence, and that a great number of French families had grouped round him and were soon likely to form a numerous colony. It was remarked that the spot seemed to have been fixed on with a view to the interests of the United States, and in opposition to the policy of England. In the south, in Louisiana, for example, the refugees could have looked forward only to the enjoyment of repose and domestic happiness; but in their present situation they must soon become a natural attraction to the population of Canada, which was already French, and they must ultimately form a strong barrier, or even a hostile point against the English, who yet possess the dominion of that part of America. The Emperor said that the establishment would in a few years present a numerous population, distinguished for all sorts of useful knowledge. If they do their duty, said he, they will transmit from their colony excellent writings, victorious refutations of the system which now triumphs in Europe. When at the Island of Elba, the Emperor had entertained a similar idea.

He then proceeded to calculate all that he had given to the different members of his family; and observed that they might have amassed considerable sums of money. For his part, he said, he had nothing; if in the course of time, he should find himself in possession of any property in Europe, he should be wholly indebted for it to the foresight and contrivance of some of his friends.

If the Emperor had gone to America, he intended to have collected all his relatives around him; and he supposed that they might have realized at least forty millions of francs. This point would have become the nucleus of a national union, a second France. Before the conclusion of a year, the events of Europe would have collected around him a hundred millions of francs and sixty thousand individuals, most of them possessing wealth, talent, and information. The Emperor said that he should have liked to realize that dream; it would have been a renewal of his glory.

“America,” continued he, “was in all respects our proper asylum. It is an immense continent, possessing the advantages of a peculiar system of freedom. If a man is troubled with melancholy, he may get into a coach, and drive a thousand leagues, enjoying all the way the pleasure of a common traveller. In America you may be on a footing of equality with every one; you may, if you please, mingle with the crowd, without inconvenience, retaining your own manners, your own language, your own religion, &c.”

He said it was impossible that he could henceforth consider himself as a private man in Europe; his name was too popular throughout the continent. He was in some way or other connected with every people, and belonged to every country.

“As for you,” said he to me smiling, “your fate seemed naturally to lead you to the shores of the Oronooko or to Mexico, where the recollection of the good Las Cases is not yet obliterated. You would there have enjoyed all you could have wished. The destinies of some men seem to be marked out. Gregoire, for instance, has only to go to Hayti, and he would immediately be made a Pope.”

At the time of the Emperor’s second abdication, an American in Paris wrote to him as follows:—"While you were at the head of a nation, you could perform any miracle, you might conceive any hopes; but now you can do nothing more in Europe. Fly to the United States! I know the hearts of the leading men and the sentiments of the people of America. You will there find a second country and every source of consolation." The Emperor would not listen to such a suggestion. He might, doubtless, by dint of speed or disguise, have gained Brest, Nantes, Bordeaux, or Toulon, and in all probability have reached America; but he conceived that either disguise or flight would be derogatory from his dignity. He thought himself bound to prove to all Europe his full confidence in the French people, and their extreme attachment to him, by passing through his dominions at such a crisis, merely in the quality of a private man, and unattended by any escort. But what above all influenced him at that critical moment was the hope that impending dangers would open the eyes of his subjects, that they would rally around him, and that he might save the country. This hope caused him to linger at Malmaison, and to postpone his departure, after he had reached Rochefort. If he is now at St. Helena, he owes his captivity to this sentiment, of which he was unable to divest himself. Subsequently, when he had no other resource than to accept the hospitality of the Bellerophon, it was not perhaps without a feeling of inward satisfaction that he found himself, by the force of circumstances, irresistibly led to fix his abode in England, where he might enjoy the happiness of being still but little removed from France. He was well aware that he could not be free in England; but he hoped to be heard, and then a chance would at least have been open to the impressions which he might create. “The English Ministers,” said he, “who are the enemies of their country, and who have sold her to foreigners, thought they had too much cause to dread my presence. They conceived that my opinion in London would be more powerful than the whole Opposition: that it would have compelled them either to change their system or resign their places; and, to keep themselves in place, they basely sacrificed the true interests of their country, the triumph, the glory of her laws, the peace of the world, the welfare of Europe, the happiness and the benedictions of posterity.”

In the course of conversation during the evening, the Emperor once more adverted to Waterloo, and described his anxiety and indecision before he came to a final resolution respecting his abdication. I pass over a multitude of details, lest I should be led into repetition; I note down only the following:—

The Emperor’s speech to his ministers was the literal prophecy of all that subsequently took place. Carnot was the only one who seemed to take a right view of the case. He opposed the abdication, which he said was a death-blow to France; and he wished that we should defend ourselves even to annihilation. Carnot was the only one who maintained this opinion; all the rest were for the abdication. That measure was determined, and Carnot, covering his face with his hands, burst into tears.

At another moment the Emperor said, “I am not a God: I cannot do all by my own single efforts: I cannot save the nation without the help of the nation. I am certain that the people then entertained these sentiments, and that they are now suffering undeservedly. It was the host of intriguers, and men possessing titles and offices, who were really guilty. That which misled them, and which ruined me, was the mild system of 1814, the benignity of the restoration; they looked for a repetition of this lenity. The change of the Sovereign had become a mere joke. They all calculated on remaining just as they had been before, whether I should be succeeded by Louis XVIII. or any other. These stupid, selfish, and egotistical men looked upon the great event as merely a competition, about which they cared but little; and they thought only of their individual interests, when a deadly war of principles was about to be commenced. And why should I disguise the truth? There were among the individuals whom I had elevated, and by whom I was surrounded, a number of proud ...!” Then, turning to me, he added, “I am not alluding to your Faubourg St. Germain, with respect to which the matter was totally different, and for which some excuse may be found. During my first reverses in 1814, the greatest traitors were not the persons connected with that party, of whom I had no great cause to complain; and, who, therefore, on my return, were not bound to me by any particular ties of gratitude. I had abdicated, the King was restored. They had but returned to their old attachments, and had only renewed their allegiance.”


27th.—The Emperor went out about 2 o’clock; the weather was very fine. The season is sensibly different from that which we had on our arrival; the air is infinitely more pure. The Emperor was, however, very ill, and very low-spirited. He walked to the extremity of the wood, while we were waiting for the calash. We took our usual drive.

The conversation turned on the state of manufactures in France. The Emperor said he had raised them to a degree of prosperity hitherto unknown; and which was scarcely credited in Europe, or even in France. This was a subject of wonder to foreigners on their arrival. The Abbé de Montesquiou, he said, was constantly expressing his astonishment at this circumstance, the proofs of which he had in his own hands, when he became Minister of the Interior.

The Emperor was the first individual in France who said: Agriculture, first; industry, that is to say, manufactures, next; and, finally, trade, which must arise out of the superabundance of the two first. He also defined and put into practice, in a clear and connected way, the systems most conducive to the interests of our manufacturers and merchants. To him we were indebted for the cultivation of sugar, indigo, and cotton. He offered a reward of a million francs to the person who should discover a method of spinning flax like cotton; and he doubted not that this discovery would have been made. The fatality of circumstances alone prevented this grand idea from being carried into execution.

“The old aristocracy, those enemies to our prosperity,” said the Emperor, “exhausted all their wit in stupid jokes and frivolous caricatures on these subjects. But the English had no cause to laugh; they felt the blow, and have not yet recovered from it.”

A short time before dinner, the Emperor sent for me to attend him in his chamber. He was very unwell; he tried to converse, but he had not strength. He attributed his indisposition to his having drunk some bad wine, which had newly arrived. He said that Corvisart, Bertholet, and other physicians and chemists, had frequently said that if he experienced the least unpleasant flavour, on first tasting his wine, he must by no means swallow it.

The turn of the conversation led him to express his surprise at the contrast between the character of the mind and the expression of the countenance, which was observable in some individuals. “This proves,” said he, "that we must not judge of a man by his face; we can know him only by his conduct. What countenances have I had to judge of in the course of my life! What odd samples of physiognomy have come under my observation! And what rash opinions have I heard on this subject! Thus I invariably made it a rule never to be influenced either by features or by words. Still, however, it must be confessed that we sometimes find curious resemblances between the countenance and the character. For instance, on looking at the face of our _Monseigneur_ (meaning the Governor), who would not recognise the features of a tiger-cat! I will mention another instance. There was a man in my service, who was employed about my person. I liked him very much; but I was obliged to dismiss him because I several times caught him with his hands in my pockets. He committed his thefts too impudently: let any one look at this man, and they must admit that he has a magpie’s eye."

While we were conversing on the subject of physiognomy, some one remarked, that Mirabeau, speaking of Pastoret’s face, said: “it is a compound of the tiger and the calf; but the calf predominates.” At this the Emperor laughed heartily, and said it was strictly true.

The Emperor wished to dine alone in his chamber. He sent for me about ten o’clock. He was then better; and he looked over several of the books which lay scattered upon his couch. He began to read Racine’s Alexander, of which he expressed his dislike; and he afterwards took up Andromache, which is one of his favourite pieces.


28th.—The Emperor went out about two o’clock. The weather was exceedingly pleasant. We took nearly an hour’s drive in the calash. It had been at first proposed that the Emperor should ride on horseback; for his health was suffering from the want of that exercise. But he would not consent to go out on horseback; he said that to ride backward and forward within the limits marked out for him was like being confined in a riding-school, and he could not endure it. However, on our return home, we succeeded in changing his determination. We all attended him, and we reached the summit of that part of Goat Hill which separates the horizon of the town from that of Longwood. On our way back, we passed in front of the English camp; this was the first time we had passed it since our residence at Longwood. The soldiers immediately quitted their various occupations, and eagerly formed themselves in a line as we passed along. “What European soldier,” said the Emperor, “would not be inspired with respect at my approach!” He knew this, and therefore carefully avoided passing the English camp, lest he should be accused of wishing to excite this sentiment. We all very much enjoyed the ride, and returned home about five o’clock. The Emperor was a little fatigued.

For some time past, he has relinquished his regular dictations. He saw some skittles which had been made by the servants for their own amusement. He ordered them to be brought to us, and we played several games with them. The Emperor won a napoleon and a half from me. He made me pay the debt, and then threw the money to the servant who had attended us for the purpose of running after the ball.


29th.—For some time past, at our urgent solicitation, the Emperor every evening made a promise that he would ride on horseback early on the following morning; but whenever the appointed hour arrived he invariably changed his determination. This morning, he was in the garden by half-past eight o’clock, and he sent for me. The conversation turned on Corsica, and was maintained for upwards of an hour.

"One’s native country," said he, “is always dear. Even St. Helena may have charms to those who were born here.” To the Emperor, therefore, Corsica presented a thousand attractions. He described the grand scenery of the country, and remarked that islanders always display originality of character, because their situation tends to protect them against invasion, and precludes that perpetual intercourse with foreigners which is experienced in continental states. The inhabitants of mountainous regions, he said, always possess a degree of energy, and a turn of mind peculiar to themselves. He dwelt much on the charms of his native country, which, from his early recollections, was to him superior to any other spot in the world. He thought that the very smell of the earth would enable him to distinguish his native land, even were he conducted blindfold to her shores; there was in it something peculiar, which he had never perceived elsewhere. Corsica was the scene of all his early attachments; he had there passed the happy years of his childhood, freely roaming among the hills and valleys, enjoying the honours and pleasures of hospitality. He traced different lines of family connections, who, he said, extended the spirit of animosity and revenge, even to the seventh degree; and he observed that a young woman in Corsica thought she enhanced the value of her dowry by enumerating the list of her cousins. He recollected with pride that, when only twenty years of age, he had accompanied Paoli on a grand excursion to Porte di Nuovo. Paoli’s retinue was numerous; he was escorted by upwards of 500 of his followers on horseback. Napoleon rode by his side, and, as they went along, Paoli pointed out to him the different positions and the places which had been the scenes of resistance or triumph during the war for Corsican liberty. He related to him all the particulars of that glorious conflict; and, on hearing the remarks and opinions which fell from his young companion, he said, "Oh Napoleon! there is nothing modern in your character! you are formed entirely on Plutarch’s model."

When Paoli manifested his determination to surrender the island to the English, the Bonaparte family continued to head the French party, and had the fatal honour of being the object of _a march_ of the inhabitants of the island, that is to say, they were attacked by a levy in mass: 12 or 15,000 peasants made a descent from the mountains on Ajaccio. The house occupied by Napoleon’s family was pillaged and burnt, and the vines and flocks were destroyed. Madame, surrounded by a few faithful friends, wandered for some time on the sea-shore, and was at length obliged to fly to France. The Bonaparte family had always been much attached to Paoli, and he in his turn had professed particular respect towards Madame. It is, however, but just to remark that he employed persuasion before he resorted to force. “Renounce this opposition,” said he, “it will prove the ruin of yourself, your family, and your fortune; you will bring irreparable misery on yourself.” The Emperor, indeed, affirmed that, but for the chance of the revolution, the family could never have recovered from their misfortunes. Madame, like another Cornelia, heroically replied, “that she, her children, and her relatives would only obey two laws, namely, those of duty and honour. Had old Archdeacon Lucien been living at that time, his heart would have bled at the idea of the danger of his sheep, goats, and cattle, and his prudence would not have failed to allay the storm.”

Madame Bonaparte, the victim of her patriotism and her attachment to France, expected to be received at Marseilles as an emigrant of distinction; but there she scarcely found herself in safety; and, to her astonishment, discovered that the spirit of patriotism existed only among the very lowest classes of the people.

Napoleon, in his youth wrote a history of Corsica, which he dedicated to the Abbé Raynal. This production gained for him some flattering compliments and letters from the Abbé, who was the fashionable author of the day. This history has been lost.

The Emperor remarked that, during the war in Corsica, all the French who came to the island formed some decided opinion on the character of the mountaineers. Some said that they were full of enthusiasm, others regarded them as mere banditti.

It was said in the Senate at Paris, that France had chosen a ruler from among a people whom the Romans would not take for their slaves. “The Senator intended this remark as an insult to me,” said the Emperor; “but he forgot how high a compliment he was thus paying to the Corsicans. He spoke truly: the Romans never purchased Corsican slaves: they knew that it was impossible to reduce the Corsicans under the yoke of slavery.”

During the war for liberty in Corsica, some one proposed the singular plan of cutting down and burning all the chesnut-trees, the fruit of which furnishes sustenance to the mountaineers. By this means it was hoped they would be compelled to descend to the plains to sue for food and peace. Happily, said the Emperor, this was one of those impracticable plans which can be realized only on paper. From very different motives, Napoleon, during the early period of his life, had constantly declaimed against the goats, which are very numerous in the island, and commit great ravages among the trees. He wished them to be entirely extirpated. On this subject he had some terrible disputes with his uncle, Archdeacon Lucien, who possessed numerous herds of goats, and who defended them like a patriarch. In his rage, he reproached his nephew with being an _innovator_, and inveighed against _philosophic ideas_, as the cause of the danger with which his goats were threatened.

Paoli died in London at a very old age: he lived to see Napoleon First Consul and Emperor. The Emperor expressed his regret at not having recalled him. “That,” said he, “would have been highly gratifying to me. Such an act would have been a real trophy of honour. But my mind was absorbed in important affairs; I rarely had time to indulge my personal feelings.”

After the Emperor’s return in 1815, when Lucien arrived in Paris, Joseph advised the Emperor to appoint him Governor General of Corsica. This measure was even determined on; the importance and hurry of passing events alone prevented its execution. “If Lucien had gone to Corsica,” said the Emperor, “he would still have remained master of the Island, and what resources would it not have presented to our persecuted patriots?—To how many unfortunate families would not Corsica have afforded an asylum? He repeated that he had perhaps committed a fault, at the time of his abdication, in not reserving to himself the sovereignty of Corsica, together with the possession of some millions of the civil list; and in not having conveyed all his valuables to Toulon, whence nothing could have impeded his passage. In Corsica, he would have found himself at home; the whole population would have been, as it were, his own family. He might have disposed of every arm and every heart. Thirty thousand or even 50,000 allied troops could not have subdued him.” No sovereign in Europe would have undertaken such a task. But it was precisely the happy security of the situation that deterred him from availing himself of it. He would not have it said that, amidst the wreck of the French people, which he plainly foresaw, he alone had been artful enough to gain the port.

Some one here observed that, according to the general opinion, he might, in 1814, have secured the possession of Corsica instead of the Island of Elba. “Certainly I might,” replied the Emperor, “and those who are well acquainted with the affairs of Fontainebleau will be surprised that I did not. I might then have reserved to myself whatever I pleased. The humour of the moment led me to decide in favour of Elba. Had I possessed Corsica, it is probable that my return in 1815 would never have been thought of. Even at Elba, those whose interest it was to keep me there decreed my return by their own misgovernment and the non-fulfilment of the engagements which they had entered into with me.”

We now reminded the Emperor of his intention of riding on horseback; but he said that he would rather walk and chat. He ordered his breakfast, after which we conversed for some time on the old Court, the nobility who composed it, their pretensions, the King’s equipages, &c.; and all this was compared with what the Emperor had himself introduced.

The Emperor then reverted to the period of his Consulship, and described the difficulties which he had experienced in forming the kind of Court which was then kept up at the Tuileries. On his arrival there, he was resolved to obliterate the recollection of the manners and conflicts of the period to which he had just succeeded. But he had hitherto passed his life in camps: he had just returned from Egypt, and had quitted France when young and inexperienced. He was a stranger to every one, and he at first found this a source of great embarrassment. Lebrun acted as his guide during the first years of his Consulship. Bankers and money-speculators were at that time persons of the first consequence. No sooner did the Consul enter upon his functions, than a host of these individuals crowded round him, and eagerly offered to advance him considerable sums of money. This conduct, though seemingly dictated only by generosity, was not however without interested views. They were for the most part men of bad character; and their offers were rejected. The First Consul had a natural dislike of men of this profession. He said that he had taken the firm determination to act upon different principles from those of Scherer, Barras, and the Directory. He was anxious that probity should become the main spring and feature of his new government. The Consul was also immediately surrounded by the wives of these money-lenders, who were all beautiful and elegant women. Indeed a money-lender at that time seemed to regard it as indispensably necessary that his wife should be a woman of fascinating manners: it was a circumstance that tended materially to assist his speculations. But the prudent Lebrun was at hand to direct the young Telemachus. He resolved to exclude this sort of society from the Tuileries. It was, however, no such easy matter to assemble a suitable circle around the Consul: nobles were rejected, in order to avoid giving offence to public opinion; and contractors were excluded, with the view of purifying the morals of the new era. These two classes being thus shut out, of course no very distinguished society remained; and the Tuileries for some time presented a sort of magic-lantern, very varied and changeable.

At Moscow, the Viceroy happened to meet with some letters written by Princess Dolgoruki, who had been at Paris at the period here alluded to. This correspondence gave a very favourable picture of the Tuileries. The Princess observed that it was not precisely a Court, nor yet exactly a camp; but something perfectly new in its kind. She added that the First Consul did not carry his hat under his arm, nor wear a dress-sword by his side; but that he was nevertheless a swordsman. “However,” continued the Emperor, “such is the effect of evil report that, owing to some such expressions as these having been misrepresented to me, Princess Dolgoruki was very unjustly treated. I ordered her, at that time, to quit France. We thought her hostile to the principles of our government; but we were, as it may be seen, mistaken. Madame G...., the mistress of M. de T...., for he had not yet made her his wife, greatly contributed to alienate from us the regard of the Russians.”

The Emperor observed that, on his return from Elba, he had experienced far less embarrassment in composing his Court. “It was, indeed,” said he, “all ready formed, by the ladies whom I termed _my widows_. These were Madame Duroc, the Duchess of Istria, Mesdames Regnier, Lagrand, and all the other widows of my first generals. I told the Princesses, who consulted me on the method of recomposing their Courts, to follow my example. Nothing was more natural and proper. These ladies, though still young, were already experienced in the world; and among them were several beautiful and fascinating women. Most of them have now lost their fortunes; some, I have been told, are re-married, and have changed their names;[17] so that, of all the wealth and rank founded by me, no traces will perhaps remain; even names will disappear. If this should really be the case, will it not afford ground for saying that, after all, there must have been a radical error in the selections I made. But it will be the worse for the parties themselves; they will by this means only furnish a triumph and a ground of insolence to the old aristocracy.”

Footnote 17:

The Emperor had been informed that two or three of the widows of his most distinguished generals had lately re-married. This, however, is untrue.

We again reminded the Emperor of his intended ride on horseback: we urged him not to neglect it, because we knew it to be absolutely necessary for his health. But we could not prevail on him to leave the garden. “We are very well here,” said he; “we will have some tents pitched on this spot.” We began to talk about the Faubourg St. Germain, and the Hotel de Luynes, which the Emperor termed its metropolis. He described to us the cause of the banishment of Madame de Chevreuse. He said, he had frequently threatened to visit her with this punishment, and for conduct of the most mischievous and insolent nature. One day, when urged to the utmost extremity, he addressed her as follows:—"Madam, according to the feudal notions and doctrines, entertained by you and your friends, you pretend to be the sovereigns of your estates! Now, on the same principles, I may style myself the Sovereign Lord of France. I may claim Paris as my village, and may banish from it every individual who is obnoxious to me. I judge you by your own laws. Begone! and never venture to return!" On decreeing her exile, the Emperor was firmly resolved never to be prevailed on to recal her; because, he said, he had endured much before he had decreed her punishment, and he found himself compelled to set an example of severity to spare the necessity of repeating it on others. This was one of his grand principles.

I told the Emperor that I had frequently visited the Hotel de Luynes, and that I had been well acquainted with Madame de Chevreuse and her mother-in-law, for whom I had always entertained a great regard. The latter had evinced singular and constant affection for her daughter-in-law, having shared her exile, and accompanied her in her different journeys from place to place. When proceeding on my mission to Illyria, I one night met them both in an inn at the foot of the Simplon. To be thus able to procure in the desert the most trivial details relating to Paris and the Court, was to them a source of unfeigned joy, and a most unexpected instance of good fortune. They listened to me with no less eagerness than that evinced by Fouquet on hearing the accounts of Lauzun. Their banishment from the capital had been to them an absolute sentence of death; it had overwhelmed them with despair!

Finally, I assured the Emperor that, for a considerable period, I had observed the Hotel de Luynes, if not subdued, at least calmed and reduced to something less than indifference; but our unexpected disasters had revived its former spirit.

As to Madame de Chevreuse, who was a handsome, intelligent, and amiable woman, with a somewhat romantic turn of mind, she had doubtless been seduced by the charms of notoriety, or urged on by her numerous flatterers and admirers, some of whom were very unworthy of her regard. “I know it,” observed the Emperor; “she hoped to recommence _the Fronde_; but I was not a minor Sovereign.”

The Musquito brig which left England on the 23rd of March, arrived with files of the Journal des Debats down to the 5th of March, and London papers to the 21st. On retiring to his closet, the Emperor desired me to follow him. He began to peruse the Journal des Debats; and, meanwhile, a letter was delivered to me from the Grand Marshal. It had just arrived from Europe, and was addressed to the Emperor. I handed it to him. He read it over once and sighed; and, then, having read it a second time, he tore it, and threw the fragments beneath the table. This letter was delivered open! The Emperor then resumed his perusal of the Journals, and, suddenly stopping, he said, after a few moments’ silence:—"That letter was from poor Madame: she is well, and wishes to come to reside with me at St. Helena!" After this he continued his reading. This, which was the first letter that the Emperor had received from any individual of his family, was in the handwriting of Cardinal Fesch. The Emperor was evidently much hurt by its having been delivered to him open.


30th.—The Emperor went out about two o’clock, and we all attended him. He began to converse about the intelligence contained in the French papers which he had just received, and alluded to the statues which, it was stated, were to be erected to the memory of Moreau and Pichegru. “A statue to Moreau,” said he, “whose conspiracy in 1803 is now so well proved! Moreau, who, in 1813, died fighting under the Russian standard! A monument to the memory of Pichegru, who was guilty of one of the most heinous of crimes! who purposely suffered himself to be defeated, and who connived with the enemy in the slaughter of his own troops! And after all,” continued he, “history is only made up of reports which gain credit by repetition. Because it has been repeatedly affirmed that these were great men, who deserved well of their country, they will at length pass for such, and their adversaries will be despised.”

Some one present remarked that it might have been thus in the dark ages of ignorance; but that now the multitude of monuments and public documents, the arts of printing and engraving, and the general diffusion of knowledge, must always render truth accessible to those who wish to come at it; and, as each party has its own historians, the thinking reader will always be enabled to form an impartial opinion.

The Emperor then described at length the affairs of Moreau, Georges, and Pichegru, to which I have before alluded, and of which I promised further details. He now informed us that the man who made the first confessions indicated, though without naming him, a person to whom Georges and the other leaders of the conspiracy never spoke without taking off their hats, and whom they treated with the utmost consideration and respect. It was at first supposed that this individual must have been the Duke de Berri; and some concluded him to have been the Duke d’Enghien, during his momentary appearance. Charles d’Hosier, one of the conspirators, unexpectedly drew aside the veil. A few days after his arrest, he was seized with a fit of melancholy and hanged himself in prison. The alarm was however given, and he was cut down. Stretched on his bed, and while yet struggling between life and death, he vented repeated imprecations against Moreau, and accused him of having treacherously seduced many well-disposed men, and held out to them promises of assistance which he never realized. He likewise mentioned the names of Georges and Pichegru. This was the first circumstance that excited suspicion against Georges and Pichegru; there was previously no idea of either the one or the other having been engaged in the conspiracy. Real, who had hastened to this sort of death-bed confession of d’Hosier, proposed to the Consul that he should order the arrest of Moreau.

“This event created a great sensation,” said the Emperor. “The public mind was wrought up to a high pitch of fermentation. Doubts were entertained of the truth of the statements made by the Government respecting the extent of the conspiracy and the number of the conspirators. Of the latter it was affirmed there were about forty in Paris. Their names were published, and the First Consul pledged his honour to secure them. He summoned Bassières, and gave orders that he, with his corps, should surround and guard the walls of Paris. For the space of six weeks, nobody was suffered to quit the capital without special permission. A general gloom prevailed through Paris; but every day the Moniteur announced the arrest of one or two of the individuals who it was alleged were concerned in the conspiracy. Public opinion took a turn in my favour; and indignation against the conspirators increased in proportion as they were secured. Not one escaped.”

The public papers of the period detail the particulars of the arrest of Georges, who killed two men before he could be secured. It appears that he was betrayed by his comrade, who drove the cabriolet in which they were both riding together.

As to Pichegru, he was the victim of the basest treachery. “This circumstance,” said the Emperor, “was truly a disgrace to human nature. He was sold by his intimate friend; by a man whom I will not name, on account of the horror and disgust which his conduct is calculated to excite.” We informed the Emperor that the name of this individual had been mentioned in the Moniteur, at which he expressed surprise. “This man,” continued he, "who was formerly a military officer, and who has since followed the business of a merchant at Lyons, offered to deliver up Pichegru for 100,000 crowns. On the day on which he made this proposal, he stated that they had, on the preceding evening, supped together, and that Pichegru, finding himself every day alluded to in the Moniteur, and being aware that the critical moment was fast approaching, said, ‘If I and a few other Generals were boldly to present ourselves to the troops, should we not gain them over?’—‘No,’ replied the friend, ‘you form a wrong idea of the state of feeling in France; you would not gain over a single soldier.’—He spoke truly. At night, the faithless friend conducted the officers of the police to Pichegru’s door; and he gave them a minute description of his chamber and his means of defending himself. Pichegru had pistols on his bed-room table, and he kept a light burning while he slept. The officers gently unlocked the door by means of false keys, which the treacherous friend had procured for them. The table was overturned, the candle was extinguished, and the officers seized Pichegru, who immediately jumped out of bed. He was a very powerful man; he struggled desperately, and it was found necessary to bind him and convey him to prison, without waiting till he could be dressed."

On being placed at the head of the government, the First Consul was extremely anxious to tranquillize the western departments. He summoned nearly all the leading men of those districts, and succeeded in rousing several of them to a sense of the interests and glory of their country; he added that he even drew tears from the eyes of some. Georges had his turn among the rest. The Emperor said that he had endeavoured to touch every individual string of his heart; but in vain, he could produce no vibration. He found him lost to every generous feeling, and coldly intent on his own ambitious calculations. He persisted in his determination to command his Cantons. The Consul, having exhausted every conciliatory argument, at length assumed the language of the first Magistrate of France. He dismissed him, and recommended him to go home and live quietly and submissively; and above all, not to mistake the nature of the course he had that moment adopted, nor to attribute to weakness what was only the result of his moderation and the consciousness of his power. He desired him to repeat to himself, and to all who were connected with him, that, so long as the First Consul should hold the reins of authority, there would be no chance of safety for any who might dare to engage in conspiracy. Georges took his leave; but, as the event proved, not without having imbibed from this conference a feeling of respect for Napoleon, on whose destruction, however, he still continued bent.

Moreau was the rallying point and the centre of attraction to the conspirators, who came from London to attack Paris. It appeared that Lajollais, his Aide-de-camp, had deceived these men, by addressing them in the name of Moreau, and telling them that that General was secure of popular favour throughout the whole of France, and could dispose of the whole army. Moreau constantly assured them that he could command no one, not even his Aide-de-camp; but that if they killed the First Consul, they might do any thing.

Moreau, when left to himself, was a very good sort of man. He was easily led, and this accounts for his inconsistencies. He left the palace in raptures, and returned to it full of spleen and malice;—having in the interim seen his mother-in-law and his wife. The First Consul, who would have been very glad to have gained him over to his side, once made it up with him completely; but their friendship lasted only four days. The Consul then vowed that he would never renew it. In fact, attempts were afterwards frequently made to reconcile them; but Napoleon never would agree to it. He foresaw that Moreau would commit some fault, that he would lose himself; and certainly he could not have done so in a way more advantageous to the First Consul.

Some days previous to the battle of Leipsic, some carriages containing property and papers belonging to Moreau, which were on their way to his widow in England, were intercepted at Wittemberg. Among those papers, there was a letter from Madame Moreau herself, in which she advised her husband to lay aside his silly wavering conduct, and to come boldly to a determination. She urged him to assist in the triumph of the legitimate cause, that of the Bourbons. In answer to this, Moreau wrote a few days before his death, begging her not to trouble him with her chimeras. “I have come near enough to France,” said he, "to learn all that is going forward there. I have got into a real hornet’s nest."

The Emperor was on the point of publishing these intercepted papers in the Moniteur; but there still existed in France some persons blindly tenacious of the opinion they had always maintained respecting Moreau, and who persisted in regarding him as a victim of tyranny. The counter-revolution had not yet afforded an opportunity of making known those acts hitherto disavowed, and of claiming their recompense. The circumstance of personal enmity prevented the Emperor from executing his intention. He thought that it would not be becoming to revive this enmity for his own advantage, and to tarnish the memory of a man who had just fallen on the field of battle.

The trial of Moreau and Pichegru, which was protracted for such a length of time, violently agitated the public mind. What added to the notoriety and interest of this trial was its connection with the affair of the Duke d’Enghien, with which it became interwoven. “I have,” said the Emperor, “been reproached with having committed a great fault in that trial. It has been compared with the affair of the necklace, in the reign of Louis XVI., which that Monarch put into the hands of Parliament, instead of having it judged by a Commission. Politicians have affirmed that I should have contented myself with consigning the criminals to the judgment of a Military Commission. It would have been ended in eight and forty hours. I could have done it; it was legal, and nothing more would have been required of me; I should have avoided the risks to which I was exposed. But I felt my power so unlimited, and I was at the same time so strong in the justice of my cause, that I was determined the affair should be open to the observation of the whole world. For this reason the ambassadors and agents of Foreign powers were present during the proceedings!”

One of the company present here observed to the Emperor that the course he then adopted had proved advantageous to history and honourable to his own character. It had furnished three volumes of authentic documents relating to the trial.

Another individual of the Emperor’s suite, who, at the time of this celebrated trial, was with the army at Boulogne, said that all these events, even the affair of the Duke d’Enghien, had there excited but little interest, and that, on his return to Paris, some time afterwards, he was astonished to observe the sensation which they had created in the capital.

The Emperor remarked that the public mind had indeed been highly excited, particularly on the occasion of the death of the Duke d’Enghien, which event, he said, still appeared to be judged of in Europe with blindness and prejudice. He maintained his right of adopting the step he had taken, and enumerated the reasons which had urged him to it. He then adverted to the many attempts that had been made to assassinate him, and observed that he was bound in justice to say that he had never detected Louis XVIII. in any direct conspiracy against his life, though such plots had been incessantly renewed in other quarters. With regard to that Prince he had heard only of his systematic plans, ideal operations, &c.

“If,” continued he, “I had continued in France in 1815, I intended to have given publicity to some of the later attempts that were made against me. The Maubreuil affair, in particular, should have been solemnly investigated by the first Court of the Empire, and Europe would have shuddered to see to what an extent the crime of secret assassination could be carried.”


31st.—At five o’clock, I went to join the Emperor in the garden; we were all assembled there. The conversation turned on politics. He described the melancholy situation of England, amidst her triumphs. He alluded to the immensity of her debt, the madness, the impossibility of her becoming a continental power, the dangers which assailed her constitution, the embarrassment of her ministers, and the just clamour of the people. England with her 150 or 200 thousand men, made as many efforts as he, the Emperor, had ever made during the period of his great power, and perhaps even more. He had never employed beyond 500 thousand French troops. The traces of his Continental system were followed by all the powers on the Continent, and would be pursued still further in proportion as those powers became more settled. He did not hesitate to say, and he proved it, that England would have gained by adhering to the treaty of Amiens; that such a line of conduct would have been to the advantage of all Europe, but that Napoleon himself, and his glory would have suffered by it. Yet it was England, and not he, who broke the treaty.

There was only one course, he continued, for England to pursue; namely, to return to her constitution and abandon the military system; to interfere with the Continent only through her maritime influence, in which she was pre-eminent. It was, he said, easy to foresee that great calamities would assail her should she adopt any other course, and this she would inevitably do, because all her aristocracy urged her to it, and because the folly, pride, or venality of her present ministry caused her to persist in the system she was pursuing.

The conversation being concluded, the Emperor returned to his study, and desired me to follow him. He told me that a letter which had been sent to him from England by post was said to have been kept back by the Governor, because it was not addressed to him officially; and it was said that a letter for the Grand Marshal had been detained for the same reason. The Emperor observed that, if this were true, there was something peculiarly cruel in the conduct of the Governor, in having sent back the letters without even mentioning them to us, and without affording us the consolation of knowing from whom they came.... A neglect of form, he said, might easily be corrected in the Island; but it could not so easily be observed at 2000 leagues’ distance. I told the Emperor that a circumstance nearly similar to that which he had just mentioned had occurred to me eight or ten days back. “A person who was on his way to Europe had tormented me with his offers of service. I yielded to his solicitations, and commissioned him to order me some shoes and to get a watch changed for me, for there is no person here who knows how to repair a watch. The Governor had forbidden the execution of those commissions, because they had not been addressed to himself. I have said nothing on the subject to any one, Sire, because it is a principle with me to conceal an insult for which I cannot obtain redress; but I shall find an opportunity to tell the Governor my mind. In the mean time, neither he nor the person to whom I gave the commission, has been able to draw from me a line, or a single word, though the latter has made several attempts to do so.”

After dinner the Emperor, conversing on our situation and the conduct of the Governor, who came to-day and took a rapid circuit round Longwood, reverted to the subject of the last interview they had had together, and made some striking observations respecting it. “I behaved very ill to him, no doubt,” said he, “and nothing but my present situation could excuse me; but I was out of humour, and could not help it; I should blush for it in any other situation. Had such a scene taken place at the Tuileries, I should have felt myself bound in conscience to make some atonement. Never, during the period of my power, did I speak harshly to any one without afterwards saying something to make amends for it. But here I uttered not a syllable of conciliation, and I had no wish to do so. However, the Governor proved himself very insensible to my severity; his delicacy did not seem wounded by it. I should have liked, for his sake, to have seen him shew a little anger, or bang the door after him when he went away. This would at least have shown that there was some spring and elasticity about him; but I found nothing of the kind.”

The Emperor then again resumed his conversation on political affairs, which he maintained with so much spirit and interest, that I could have forgotten for a time what part of the world I was in. I could have believed myself still at the Tuileries or in the Rue de Bourgogne.


Saturday, 1st of June.—The Emperor sent for me. He had just come out of his bath, where he had remained three hours, and he asked me to guess what book he had been engaged in reading whilst in the water; it was Rousseau’s New Eloise. He had expressed himself quite charmed with this work when he first perused it at the Briars; but in analysing it again, he now criticised it with unsparing severity. The rock of _la Meillerie_ being mentioned, he said he thought it had been destroyed when he caused a road to be made over the Simplon; but I assured him that enough remained to preserve a perfect recollection of it: it projects over the road, and, like Leucate of old, offers a fine leap to despairing lovers.

To the noble character given by Rousseau to Lord Edward in his New Eloise, and to the impression produced by some of Voltaire’s plays, the Emperor ascribed, in a great measure, the high estimate which had been formed in France of the English character. The facility with which public opinion was governed in those days excited his surprise; Voltaire and Rousseau, who had _then_ directed it as they pleased, would not, he thought, be able to do so at the present time; and Voltaire, in particular, had only exercised so powerful an influence over his contemporaries, and been considered the great man of his age, because all around him were pigmies.

The Emperor then proceeded to compare the character of the English and French nations. “The higher classes among the English,” said he, "are proud; with us unfortunately they are only vain; in that consists the great characteristic distinction between the two nations. The mass of the people in France certainly possess a greater share of national feeling than any other now existing in Europe; they have profited by the experience of their twenty-five years’ revolution; but unfortunately that class which the revolution has advanced have not been found equal to the station of life to which they have been elevated; they have shown themselves corrupt and unstable: in the last struggles they have not been distinguished either by talents, firmness, or virtue; in short, they have degraded the honour of the nation."

A speech of M. de Chateaubriand’s has been read to the Emperor, on the propriety of allowing the clergy to inherit. The Emperor observed that it was rather an Academical oration than the opinion of a legislator—it had wit, but showed little judgment, and contained no views whatever.—"Allow the clergy to inherit," said he, “and nobody will die without being obliged to purchase absolution: for, whatever our opinions may be, we none of us know whither we go on leaving this world. Then must we remember our last and final account, and no one can pronounce what his feelings will be at his last hour, nor answer for the strength of his mind at that awful moment. Who can affirm that I shall not die in the arms of a confessor? and that he will not make me acknowledge myself guilty of the evil I shall not have done, and implore forgiveness for it?”—In the present instance, however, as somebody has observed, M. de Chateaubriand may be said to uphold an opinion, rather than express a sentiment of his own; and there are strong grounds for believing that, in religion, as well as in politics, he has often been known to set forth doctrines which had failed to carry conviction to his own mind.

On the article of religion, for instance, it is well known that before he wrote his _Beauties of Christianity_, he had published in London another work, of a tendency decidedly anti-religious.[18] The bookseller to whom he entrusted the sale of this work, was Dulau, formerly a benedictine monk of Soreze, who had sought refuge in London at the time of the revolution. Being a man of intelligent mind and sound judgment, he took the liberty of giving M. de Chateaubriand some good advice. He represented to him that both the place and the time were ill chosen for indulging in declamations against religion; that the moment had gone by when they were favourably received; that they had become common-place and in bad taste; and that the surest way to engage the attention of the public would be to take up the other side of the question, and advocate, on the contrary, the cause of religion. M. de Chateaubriand listened to this advice, and wrote his _Beauties of Christianity_; and the event proved that Dulau had not been mistaken in his choice of the moment, for it is very doubtful, if the work were to appear now, whether it would obtain the brilliant success it then met with, notwithstanding the great merit which it undoubtedly possesses.

Footnote 18:

Essai sur les Revolutions Anciennes et Modérnes.

The appointment of the author of _The Beauties of Christianity_ to the embassy of Rome, was considered, at the time, as a very delicate attention on the part of the First Consul to M. de Chateaubriand, who, in his turn, hailed it as a first triumph, and the presage of still greater triumphs which awaited him in the capital of the Christian world, amongst the rulers of the church. But he was soon doomed to find himself greatly mistaken, for people at Rome were highly scandalized at seeing religion transformed into romance, and the Divines condemned without hesitation _The Beauties of Christianity_, which they pronounced to abound in heresies.

However, M. de Chateaubriand, thoroughly convinced of his own merit, consoled himself by affecting to laugh with pity at such puerilities; and, happening to be about this time godfather to a little girl, he gave her the name of Atala; by this name, however, the priest positively refused to christen her, whilst M. de Chateaubriand, in his turn, insisted with all the obstinacy of an author and all the pride of an ambassador. This affair made a noise, and M. de Chateaubriand laid a complaint before the Cardinal-governor; who decided in favour of the priest; and moreover, felt highly offended on the occasion: for M. de Chateaubriand, fancying that his services in the cause of religion had given him a right to assume the tone of one initiated in the secrets of the church, concluded his argument with the Cardinal by saying: “That it was very ridiculous that such obstacles should be thrown in _his_ way; for,” added he, “_between ourselves_, your Eminence must know that between Atala and any other Saint, there is no great difference.”

The Emperor was highly entertained by these anecdotes, which, he said, were quite new to him, and the person who related them observed that, although he could not vouch for their authenticity, yet he had no doubt of it in his own mind, having heard them from one of the persons who succeeded M. de Chateaubriand at the court of Rome.

In politics M. de Chateaubriand has been alternately seen amongst the adherents and opponents of Napoleon; and the Emperor charges him, when in his service, with malevolence and want of integrity, particularly at the time of his embassy to the old King of Sardinia at Rome.

During the disastrous event of 1814, he made himself conspicuous by writing pamphlets so outrageously violent and virulent, and disgraced by such barefaced calumnies, that they excited feelings of disgust. He no doubt must regret having been the author of them, and would not now degrade his talents by such writings.

Some years before our disasters, the Emperor, reading one day some fragments of this author’s works, expressed his surprise that he was not a member of the Institute. These words acted as a powerful recommendation in favour of M. de Chateaubriand, who hastened to put himself in the list as a candidate, and was almost unanimously chosen.

According to one of the invariable rules of the Institute, the candidate newly chosen was to make a speech in praise of the member to whom he was then succeeding; but M. de Chateaubriand, persuaded, that for a man who had once occupied the attention of the public, the surest way to acquire celebrity was to leave the beaten track, and strike into a new path to fame, reversed this custom by devoting part of his speech to stigmatise the political principles of M. Chenier his predecessor, and proscribe him as a regicide. His speech was a complete political argument, discussing the restoration of monarchy and the judgment and death of Louis XVI.; the whole Institute was in an uproar, some of the members refusing to listen to a speech which appeared to them indecorous, and others, on the contrary, insisting upon its being read. From the Institute the dispute spread rapidly through the different circles of Paris, which were full of the debate, and divided in opinion on the subject; and at last reached the ears of the Emperor, to whom every thing was carried, and who wished to be informed of every thing. He ordered the speech to be shown to him, pronounced it to be extravagant in the extreme, and instantly forbade its publication. It so happened that one of the members of the Institute, who had taken a lively part in the discussion, and voted for the reading of the speech, was also one of the great officers of the Emperor’s household; and the Emperor took advantage of this circumstance to manifest his opinion, by addressing him in the following manner at one of his _couchers_:—"How long is it, sir," said he, with the utmost severity, "since the Institute has presumed to take the character of a political assembly? The province of the Institute is to produce poetry and to censure faults of language; let it beware how it forsakes the domain of literature, or I shall take measures to bring it back within its proper limits. And is it possible that _you_, sir, have sanctioned such an intemperate harangue by your approbation? If M. de Chateaubriand is insane, or disposed to malevolence, a mad-house may cure him, or punishment correct him; yet it may be that the opinions he has pronounced are conscientiously his own, and he is not obliged to surrender them to my policy, which is unknown to him; but with you the case is totally different—_you_ are constantly near my person, you are acquainted with all my acts, you know my will; there _may_ be an excuse in M. de Chateaubriand’s favour, there _can_ be none in yours. Sir, I hold you guilty, I consider your conduct as criminal: it tends to bring us back to the days of disorder and confusion, anarchy and bloodshed. Are we then banditti? And am I but an usurper? Sir, I did not ascend the throne by hurling another from it; I found the crown; I picked it up out of the kennel, and the nation placed it on my head: respect the nation’s act. To submit facts that have so recently occurred to public discussion in the present circumstances, is to court fresh convulsions, and be an enemy to the public tranquillity. The restoration of monarchy is veiled in mystery, and must remain so; wherefore then, I pray, this new proposed proscription of conventionalists and regicides? Why are subjects of so delicate a nature again brought to light? To God alone it must belong to pronounce upon what is no longer within the reach of the judgment of men! Are you to be more scrupulous than the Empress? Her interests are as dear as yours can be in this question, and much more direct, yet she has asked no questions, she has made no enquiries; take example from her moderation.

"Have I then lost the fruit of all my labours? have all my efforts been of so little avail that, as soon as my presence no longer restrains you, you are ready to cut one another’s throats?" And, in speaking thus, he paced the room with rapid strides, and, striking his forehead with his hand, exclaimed: "Alas! poor France, long yet must thou need the care of a guardian.

“I have done all in my power,” continued he, "to quell all your dissensions; to unite all parties has been the constant object of my solicitude. I have made all meet under the same roof, sit at the same board, and drink of the same cup. I have a right to expect that you will second my endeavours.

"Since I have taken the reins of government, have I ever inquired into the lives, actions, opinions, or writings of any one?—Imitate my forbearance.

“I have never had but one aim, never asked but this one question; will you sincerely assist me in promoting the true interest of France? and all those who have answered affirmatively have been placed by me in a defile of granite and without outlet on either side, through which I have urged them on to the other extremity, where my finger pointed to the honour, the glory, and the splendour of France.”

This reprimand was so severe that the person to whom it was addressed, a man of honour and delicate feelings, determined upon asking an audience the next day, in order to tender his resignation. He was admitted to the presence of the Emperor, who immediately said to him: “My dear sir, you are come on account of the conversation of yesterday; you felt hurt on the occasion, and I have felt not less so; but it was a piece of advice which I thought it right to give to more than one person; if it has the desired effect of producing some public good, we must neither of us regret the circumstance; think no more about it.” And he spoke of something else.

Thus would the Emperor often censure whole bodies in the person of one single individual; and, in order to strike with greater awe, he did it in a most solemn and imposing manner. But the anger which he sometimes shewed in public, and of which so much has been said, was only feigned, and put on for the moment. The Emperor affirmed that by such means he had often deterred many from the commission of a fault, and spared himself the necessity of punishing.

One day, at one of his grand audiences, he attacked a Colonel with the utmost vehemence, and quite in a tone of anger, upon some slight disorders of which his regiment had been guilty towards the inhabitants of the countries they had passed through, in returning to France. During the reprimand, the Colonel, thinking the punishment out of all proportion to the fault of which he was accused, repeatedly endeavoured to excuse himself; but the Emperor, without interrupting his speech, said to him in an under-tone, “Very well, but hold your tongue; I believe you: but say nothing:” and when he afterwards saw him in private, he said to him: “When I thus addressed you, I was chastising, in your person, certain Generals whom I saw near you, and who, had I spoken to them direct, would have been found deserving of the lowest degradation, and perhaps of something worse.”

But it sometimes happened, also, that the Emperor was publicly appealed to: I have witnessed several instances of this kind.

One day at St. Cloud, at the grand audience which was held every Sunday, a Sub-prefect, or some other public officer of Piedmont, who was standing by my side, addressed the Emperor in a loud tone of voice and with the utmost emotion, calling for justice, asserting that he had been falsely accused, and unjustly condemned and dismissed from the service. “Apply to my ministers,” answered the Emperor. “No, Sire, I wish to be judged by you.” “That is impossible, my time is wholly absorbed with the general interests of the Empire, and my ministers are appointed to take into consideration the particular cases of individuals.” “But they will condemn me.” “For what reason?” “Because every body is against me.” “Why?” “Because I love you—to love you, Sire, is a sufficient motive to inspire every one with hatred.” All the bystanders were disconcerted at this answer, and red with confusion; but the Emperor replied, with the utmost calmness, “This is rather a strange assertion, sir, but I am willing to hope that you are mistaken,” and he passed on to the next person. On another occasion also, on the parade, a young officer stepped out of the ranks, in extreme agitation, to complain that he had been ill-used, slighted, and passed over, and that he had been five years a Lieutenant, without being able to obtain promotion. “Calm yourself,” said the Emperor, “I was _seven_ years a Lieutenant, and yet you see that a man may push himself forward for all that.” Every body laughed, and the young officer, suddenly cooled by those few words, returned to his place. Nothing was more common than to see private individuals attack the Emperor, and hold out against him, and I have often seen him thus sharply and warmly disputed with, and unable to silence his opponent, give up the contest by addressing another person, or by turning the conversation to another subject.

It may be observed, as a general principle, that, however violent the Emperor’s actions might appear, they were always the result of calculation. “When one of my ministers,” said he, “or some other great personage had been guilty of a fault of so grave a nature that it became absolutely necessary for me to be very angry, I always took care in that case to have a third person present to witness the scene that was to ensue; for it was a general maxim, with me, that when I resolved to strike a blow it must be felt by many at the same time; the immediate object of my resentment did not feel more incensed against me on that account, and the bystander, whose embarrassed appearance was highly ludicrous, did not fail to run and circulate, most discreetly, as far as he could, all that he had seen and heard. A salutary terror ran thus from vein to vein through the body social: a new impulse was given to the march of affairs; I had less to punish, and a great deal of public good was obtained without inflicting much private hardship.”


Sunday, 2nd.—The Emperor rode out on horseback at about eight o’clock; he had long since abstained from enjoying that exercise. In returning through the valley of the Company’s garden, he went into the house of one of the Company’s Adjutants, whose wife is a Catholic; he remained there a few minutes only, and was in high spirits. We next went to the house of Madame Bertrand, to whom the Emperor paid a long visit. He alluded, in the strongest terms, and with infinite humour, to the behaviour of the Governor towards us; to his paltry measures, his total want of consideration, the absurd manner in which he conducted the affairs of the government of the island, and his total ignorance of the business and manners of life. “We had certainly some reason to complain of the Admiral,” said the Emperor; “but _he_ at least was an Englishman, and this man is nothing but an Italian _Sbire_. We have not the same manners,” added he, “we cannot understand each other; our feelings do not speak the same language. He probably cannot conceive, for instance, that heaps of diamonds would be insufficient to atone for the affront he has offered in causing one of my domestics to be arrested almost in my presence. Since that day all my household are in consternation.”

On returning from our ride, we breakfasted in the garden. In the evening, whilst we were taking an airing in the calash, and making what we called the double round, we beguiled the time in making an estimate of the expenses of a man possessing an income of 150,000 livres in Paris. The Emperor said that a sixth of that sum should go for the stables, a fourth for the table, &c. I have already said that he was fond of making such calculations, which he always had the art of placing in a new and unexpected light.

The conversation led us to some details worthy of remark on the civil list and the expenses of the Emperor’s household. The following are amongst those I have remembered:

One million was allowed for the table, and yet the expense of the Emperor’s own dinner did not exceed one hundred francs a day. It had never been found possible to manage to give him his dinner hot; for, when once engaged in his closet, it was impossible to know when he would leave it. Therefore, when the hour of dinner arrived, a fowl was put on the spit for him every half hour; and it has sometimes happened that dozens have been roasted before that which has finally been set before him.

The conversation now turned upon the advantages of a good administration of finances. The Emperor spoke highly of the talents of Messrs. de Mollien and Labouillerie, in that branch. M. de Mollien, in particular, had put the treasury on the footing of a simple banking-house; and the Emperor had continually under his eyes, in a small book for that purpose, a complete statement of the revenue, the receipt, expenditure, arrears, resources, &c.

The Emperor had in his cellars at the Tuileries, he added, as much as 400 millions in gold, which were entirely his own property; so much so indeed that no other account of it existed but in a small book in the hands of his private Treasurer. All this treasure disappeared by degrees, and was applied to the expenses of the Empire, particularly at the time of our disasters. “How could I think,” said he, “of keeping anything for myself! I had identified myself with the nation.” He further added that _he_ had sent 2000 millions in specie into France, without reckoning what private individuals might have brought on their own account.

The Emperor said that he had been much hurt at the conduct of M. de Labouillerie, who, being at Orleans in 1814, in charge of several millions belonging to him (Napoleon), his own private property, had taken them to the Count d’Artois in Paris instead of carrying them to Fontainbleau, as he was in duty and in conscience bound to do. “And yet Labouillerie was not a bad man,” said the Emperor. “I had both loved him and esteemed him. On my return in 1815 he earnestly entreated me to see him and hear what he had to say in his own defence; he no doubt would have proved that his fault arose from his ignorance, and not from his heart. He knew me; he was aware that, if he could approach me, the affair would be settled with a few angry expressions on my part; but I also knew my own weakness, I was resolved not to take him into my service again, and therefore refused to admit him. It was the only way in which I could hope at that moment to hold out against him and several others. Esteve, the predecessor of Labouillerie, would not have acted in that manner; he was entirely devoted to my person; he would have brought my treasure to Fontainbleau at all hazards; or if he had failed in the attempt, he would have thrown it into a river, or distributed it in various places, rather than give it up.”


Monday, 3rd.—The Emperor, after having been three hours in his bath, went out at about five o’clock, to take a walk in the garden. He was taciturn and dejected, and wore the appearance of suffering. We afterwards drove out in the calash, and by degrees he became more cheerful and talkative.

On our return, he continued to walk for some time; and in order to engage in a playful warfare with one of the ladies present, he affected to declaim against women. “We men of the West,” said he, winking aside to us at the same time, to let us know that he was jesting, “know nothing at all about the matter, we have acted most unwisely in treating women too well; we have imprudently allowed them to rank almost as our equals. In the East they have more sense and judgment; _there_ women are pronounced to be the actual property of man; and so indeed they are. Nature has made them our slaves, and it is only by presuming upon our folly that they can aspire to govern us, and by abusing the advantages which they possess, that they succeed in fascinating us and establishing their dominion over us. For one woman that inspires us with proper sentiments, there are a hundred who lead us into errors.” He then went on to express his approbation of the maxims of the oriental nations, highly commended the practice of polygamy, which he considered to be that pointed out by nature, and displayed considerable ingenuity and fertility of invention in the choice and number of arguments which he adduced in support of his opinion. “Woman,” said he, "is given to man to bear children to him; but one woman cannot suffice to one man for that purpose, for a woman cannot fulfil the duties of a wife during the period of her gestation, whilst she suckles her child, or when she is ill: and she ceases altogether to be a wife when she is no longer able to bear children. To man, on the contrary, nature has opposed no such obstacles at any period of his existence; a man should therefore have several wives.

“After all,” continued he, smiling significantly, “what have you to complain of, ladies? have we not acknowledged that you possess a soul? though certain philosophers, you know, have entertained doubts on this point. You aim at equality, but _that_ is madness: woman is our property, we are not hers; for it is she that gives us children, and not we to her; she is therefore the property of man, in the same manner as the fruit-tree is the property of the gardener. If the husband is unfaithful to his wife, and he confesses his fault and repents of it, there is an end of the matter; no trace of it is left: the wife is angry, forgives, or becomes reconciled; and not unfrequently is a gainer on the occasion. But the case is widely different when the wife is unmindful of the marriage vow; it is of no avail for her to repent; the consequences of her guilt are incalculable, the mischief irreparable, she must never, she can never, confess it. You will therefore agree with me, Ladies, that it can only be an error of judgment, the want of education, or the preponderance of vulgar notions, that can prompt a wife to believe herself the equal, in every respect, of her husband. There is, however, nothing disparaging in the inequality; each sex has its attributes and its duties; your attributes, Ladies, are beauty, grace, fascination; your duties, submission, and dependance, &c.”

After dinner, the Emperor desired my son to bring him the Memoirs of the Chevalier de Grammont and a volume of Voltaire’s plays. Having, as he said, imposed on himself the task of remaining up till eleven o’clock, the Emperor read for some time the Memoirs, observing that a very little could be rendered amusing when seasoned with genuine wit. He afterwards turned over Mahomet, Semiramis, and other plays of Voltaire’s, pointing out their faults and blemishes, and concluding, as he generally did, that Voltaire had no knowledge either of affairs, men, or the real passions of human nature.


Tuesday, 4th.—The Emperor sent for me at about four o’clock to take a ride in the calash. He told me he had at last been dictating again, and that what had been done would not be found devoid of interest. He added that he had been during the whole morning very much out of humour: that he had at first attempted to go out at about one o’clock, but that he had found himself compelled to return into the house, pursued by disgust and ennui; and that, not knowing what to do with himself, he had thought of resuming his dictations.

The Emperor had long since ceased to apply himself regularly to this occupation. Several months had already elapsed since my Campaigns of Italy were finished; the Campaign of Egypt which he had dictated to General Bertrand, was also completed; and General Gourgaud had been very ill. All these circumstances had concurred to cause interruptions, which had engendered disgust; the Emperor had not proceeded further, and could not summon courage to begin again.

I took advantage of what he had just said, to represent to him that to dictate was, for him, the surest, the only remedy against _ennui_, the only way in which he could beguile the tedious hours: and for us, the means of obtaining the inestimable advantage of being put in possession of treasures, in the existence of which the honour and glory of France were equally interested. I urged, that it was of paramount importance that he should continue to write his own history. “Each of us,” said I, "would willingly give his life to obtain it; it was due to his memory, to his family, to us. Where would his son find the events of his father’s life faithfully recorded? What pen could be found equal to the task of retracing them in a manner worthy of the subject? and yet, without such invaluable documents, how many events would be buried with Napoleon, and remain for ever unknown! We who surrounded him formerly, what did we _then_ know? how much had we not learnt here," &c. &c. The Emperor replied that he would continue his Memoirs, and consulted me as to the plan to be followed in digesting them; should they appear as a history? or as annals? He discussed the point for a long time, but without coming to any conclusion.

At dinner he said, “I have to-day been severely reprimanded on account of my idleness; I am therefore going to take to my task again, and embrace several periods at the same time: each of you shall have his share. Did not Herodotus,” said he, looking at me, “give to his books the names of the muses? I intend that each of mine shall bear the name of one of you. Even little Emmanuel shall give his to one of them. I will begin the history of the Consulate with Montholon, Gourgaud shall record the events of some other period, or detached battles; and little Emmanuel shall prepare the documents and materials of the epoch of the coronation.”


Wednesday, 5th.—The Emperor went out at about four o’clock; he had been three hours in his bath, and did not feel well. Yet the weather was delightful; it was like a fine afternoon in Europe. We walked until we came up to the calash, and then took our usual drive. Our conversation turned upon the military school of Paris before the Revolution, and we contrasted the footing of luxury upon which we were placed at that school with the severe discipline introduced by the Emperor in these establishments during his reign.

At the military school of Paris we were treated in every respect like officers of fortune, boarded and waited upon in a style of great magnificence, greater indeed than the circumstances of most of our families warranted, and greater than most of us could hope to be able to keep up in after-life. The Emperor had been anxious, he said, to avoid falling into this error; he had wished, above all, that his young officers, who were one day to command soldiers, should begin by being soldiers themselves, and learn by experience all the technical details of the service: a system of education, he added, which must ever prove an immense advantage to an officer in the course of his future career, by enabling him to follow them and to enforce the observance of those details in others who are placed under his orders. It was on this principle that, at St. Germain, the young students were obliged to groom their own horses, taught to shoe them, &c. The same spirit presided over the regulations at St. Cyr: there several pupils were lodged together in one large apartment, a common mess was provided for all indiscriminately, &c.: yet the attention paid to these particulars was not suffered to interfere with the care bestowed upon the instruction necessary to qualify them for their future career: in short, they did not leave St. Cyr before they had really earned the rank of officers, and were found capable of leading and commanding soldiers. “And it must be admitted,” the Emperor observed, “that if the young men who passed from that institution, at its origin, into different corps of the army, were at first viewed with jealousy, ample justice was soon rendered to their discipline and to their abilities.”

The establishments of Ecouen, St. Denis and others, which the benevolent solicitude of Napoleon had created for the daughters of members of the legion of honour, were conducted upon principles of a similar nature. Some of the rules, made by the Emperor himself, ordered that every article for the use of the institution should be made in the house and by the hands of the pupils themselves, and forbade every species of luxury, extravagance in dress, and plays; the object being, he said, to form good housewives and respectable women.

Public opinion had given to Napoleon, at the time of his elevation, the reputation of a man of a harsh disposition and void of sensibility; yet it is certain that no sovereign ever acted more from the impulse of genuine feelings than he did; but, from a peculiar turn of mind, he concealed all emotions of the heart with as much care as others take to display them.

He had adopted all the children of the soldiers and officers killed at Austerlitz, and with him such an act was not one of mere form; he had provided for them all.

I heard the following anecdote from a young man who has related it to me since my return to Europe, with tears of gratitude. Having been fortunate enough, when yet very young, to attract the Emperor’s notice by some signal proof of his attachment; Napoleon asked him what profession he would wish to embrace; and, without waiting for his answer, pointed out one himself. The young man observed that his father’s fortune was not sufficient to allow him to follow it. “What signifies that?” replied the Emperor hastily: “Am I not also your father?” Those persons who have known Napoleon in his private life, who have lived near his person, can relate a thousand traits of the same kind.

He had done much for the army and the veterans, and proposed to do much more: every day some new thought tending to that object occupied his mind. The plan of a decree was one day laid before us in the Council of State, proposing that in future all vacant situations in the customs, the collection of the revenue, and the excise, should be given to wounded soldiers, or to veterans capable of filling them, from the private up to the highest ranks in the army. This plan being coldly received, the Emperor addressed one of those who opposed it in his usual manner, urging him to discuss the question freely, and state his opinion without reserve. “Sire,” answered M. Malouet, “my objection is that I fear the other classes of the nation will feel themselves aggrieved in seeing the army preferred to them.” “Sir,” replied the Emperor warmly, “you make a distinction which does not exist; the army no longer forms a separate class of the nation. In the situation in which we are now placed no member of the state is exempt from being a soldier; to follow a military career is no longer a matter of choice, it is one of necessity. The greatest number of those who are engaged in that career have been compelled to abandon their own profession against their will, it is therefore but justice that they should receive some kind of compensation for it.”—"But," again observes the member who opposed the plan, “will it not be inferred that your majesty intends that in future almost all vacant situations shall be given to soldiers?”—

“And such is indeed my intention,” said the Emperor. “Sir, the only question is, whether I have the right to do so, and whether I thereby commit an act of injustice? Now the constitution gives me the nomination to all places, and I think it a principle of strict equity that those who have suffered most have the greatest claims to be indemnified.” Then, raising his voice, he added, “Gentlemen, war is not a profession of ease and comfort: quietly seated on your benches here you know it only by reading our bulletins, or by hearing of our triumphs. You know nothing of our nightly watches, our forced marches, the sufferings and privations of every kind to which we are exposed: but I do know them, because I witness them, and sometimes share in them.”

This plan, however, like many others, was at last abandoned, after having been several times under discussion and variously modified; and the beneficent intentions of the Emperor were, I believe, not even known to the public, though he had appeared to take a lively interest in the passing of this decree, and had defended it in its most minute details.

Amongst the objections started against this plan, at the commencement of the discussion, and the arguments to which they gave rise, were the following:—"Would your majesty, for instance, give such situations to a soldier who could not read?"—"Why not?"—"But how would he be able to discharge his duties? how could he keep his accounts?"—"Sir, he would apply to his neighbour, he would send for his relations, and the benefit intended for one would be felt by many. Besides, I do not hold your objection to be valid; we have only to stipulate that the man appointed shall be qualified to fill the situation," &c.

Towards evening, the Emperor sent for me to his own room. I found him alone, near a small fire, but almost in the dark, the lights being placed in the next apartment. This obscurity, he said, was in harmony with his melancholy. He was silent and dejected.

After dinner the Emperor took up the Memoirs of the Chevalier de Grammont, but found himself unable to continue to read them.

A discussion then arose upon the manner in which time was spent in Paris. The habits of society in former times and the present were reviewed. The Emperor said he had thought much and often upon the means of introducing variety into the pleasures of society. He had had assemblies at Court, plays, excursions to Fontainbleau, but they had only produced the effect, he said, of inconveniencing the people at Court without influencing the circles of the metropolis. There was not yet a sufficient degree of cohesion in those heterogeneous parts for them to re-act upon each other with due effect: but this, he affirmed, would have been brought about in the course of time. It was observed to him that he had much contributed to shorten the evenings at Paris, as all persons employed by government, having a great deal to do, and being obliged to rise very early, were under the necessity of retiring early. “It caused, however, great surprise in Paris,” said the Emperor, “produced quite a revolution in manners, and almost stirred up a sedition in the circles of the metropolis, when the First Consul required that boots should be relinquished for shoes, and that some little attention should be bestowed upon dress to appear in company.”

The Emperor dwelt with great pleasure upon the causes of the good-breeding and amiable manners which distinguished society in our younger days. He defined particularly those points which contributed to render intimacy agreeable, such as a slight tinge of flattery on both sides, or, at least, an opposition seasoned with delicacy and politeness, &c.


Thursday, 6th.—I did not see the Emperor before six o’clock; being indisposed, he had remained in his room, and had not eaten any thing the whole day. He said that he found himself unwell, and was amusing himself by looking over some prints of London which the Doctor had lent him. The Doctor had had the honour of seeing the Emperor in the course of the day, and had made him laugh. “Hearing that I was not well,” said Napoleon, “he claimed me as his prey, by immediately advising me to take some medicine; medicine to me, who, to the best of my recollection, never took any in the whole course of my life!”

It was now past seven: the Emperor said that a man who felt hungry was not very ill. He called for something to eat, and a chicken was brought to him, which he highly relished. This revived his spirits a little, he became more talkative, and made remarks on several French novels. He had been employed the greater part of the day in reading Gil Blas, which he thought full of wit; but the hero and all his companions, he said, had deserved to be sent to the galleys. He then turned over a chronological register, and stopped at the brilliant affair of Bergenopzoom, commanded by General Bizanet.

“How many gallant actions,” said the Emperor, “have been either forgotten in the confusion of our disasters, or overlooked in the number of our exploits. The affair of Bergenopzoom is one of these. A competent garrison for that town would have been probably from eight to ten thousand men, but it did not then contain more than two thousand seven hundred. An English General, favoured by the darkness of the night, and by the intelligence which he kept up with the inhabitants, had succeeded in penetrating into it, at the head of four thousand eight hundred chosen men. They are in the town, the inhabitants are on their side, but nothing can triumph over French valour! A desperate engagement takes place in the streets, and nearly the whole of the English troops are killed or remain prisoners. That is undoubtedly, exclaimed the Emperor, a gallant action! General Bizanet is a gallant officer!”

It is certain, as Napoleon had observed, that, in the last moments of the Empire, numberless heroic deeds and historical traits have been overlooked in the confusion of our disasters, or have disappeared in the abyss of our misfortunes. Such are the extraordinary and singular defence of Huningen, by the intrepid Barbanegre; and the gallant resistance of General Teste at Namur, where, in an open town, with a handful of brave fellows, he stopped short the rapid advance of the Prussians, and facilitated the re-entry of Grouchy, without suffering any loss. Such was the brilliant expedition of the brave Excelmans in Versailles, which might have produced most important results, if it had been supported as it had been decided that it should be; and several others.

At any rate, these noble deeds at that critical period, have shed lustre on the ranks of the army rather than on its principal leaders. It would have been well, if, at the moment of that terrible catastrophe, during that fatal crisis, some of our first generals had again exhibited some of those noble acts of courage, those signal efforts, which marked our first triumphs, and which, under Napoleon’s reign, had become almost a national habit; whatever the result might have been, the attempt would have been a source of consolation to our glory, and France would have contemplated with satisfaction the heroic convulsions of her agony. We ought not to have terminated our career by common actions.

At that calamitous period, we had more troops abroad than at home: Dresden contained an army: a second army was shut up in Hamburg; a third in Dantzick; and a fourth might have been easily collected by bringing together the immense number of our soldiers, which formed several other intermediate garrisons. All the efforts of our enemies tended only to keep these brave troops separated from France, and to cut off their return. Oh! that some one of their leaders had been inspired with the thought to take advantage of those circumstances to liberate the sacred soil, by attacking boldly that of the enemy, and obliging him thus to retrace his steps! Would it have been impossible to unite those different corps?

Would not the union of the garrisons of Dresden, Torgau, Magdeburg, Hamburg, have produced a formidable army in the rear of the enemy, capable of breaking through his line, or of placing him in a most critical situation? Might not such an army have taken possession of Berlin, liberated the garrisons on the Oder, gone to the assistance of Dantzick, raised an insurrection in Poland, so well prepared for it, or, in short, done something bold, striking, unexpected, in a word, worthy of us?

What then was required to give a favourable turn to our destinies? the most trifling event, before the Allies entered France, would have sufficed to enable us to conclude a peace on reasonable terms at Francfort; and, at a later period, when the enemy was already in our own territory, the slightest cause of uneasiness in his rear at the time of the heroic actions of Champaubert, Montmirail, Vauchamp, Craon, Monterau, would probably have determined the hasty retreat of the Allies, and insured our triumph, and perhaps their destruction. And, if the general who had thus dared to devote himself had failed in the attempt, it would not have been the worse for us, since we have ultimately fallen; and he, in the spirit of our national character, would have gained the reputation of a hero and rendered his name immortal.

Instead of this, about one hundred thousand men were lost to France, by tamely adhering to the letter of their instructions; a system which we had long since abandoned. But perhaps I speak inconsiderately and without due knowledge of the subject; perhaps local circumstances and objections of which I am totally ignorant might be adduced as conclusive answers against me; such as the health of the troops, the state of destitution in which they were; the non-reception of orders from the Emperor, who did endeavour to give some orders of that kind; the fear of deranging the main plan; the dread of incurring too great a responsibility, &c. But is it not rather that the source of these high conceptions, and the cause of their heroic execution, were to be found in Napoleon alone, and that where _he_ was not, as it may have been often observed, affairs were suffered to sink to the level of their ordinary course? Be that as it may, something of the kind was however suggested to the General commanding the army in Dantzick, at the time of the capitulation of that town. The idea came from an officer of inferior rank, it is true, but from one whose courage and intrepidity, and the success with which they had been crowned, entitled him perhaps to give such an opinion: it was Captain de Chambure, the leader of that renowned company of partisans which covered itself with glory during the siege. This company had been formed for that particular service, of one hundred picked men chosen out of the most notoriously intrepid, throughout all the corps of the army; it fulfilled, and even exceeded, all the expectations which it had raised; and the besiegers, struck with terror at its exploits, honoured it with the epithet of _infernal_. It would sometimes land at night in the rear of the Russian army, slaughter their sentinels, spike their guns, burn their magazines, destroy their parks, threaten the lives even of the generals, and return to the town through the enemies’ camp over the bodies of all who opposed its passage. These facts and several others are recorded in the general orders of that army.

It cannot be denied that, in ordinary times, in the days that preceded ours, every one of these actions would have been sufficient to immortalize every individual who had a share in them, and that even amidst the wonders of our age they are deserving of particular notice. On his return from Elba, Napoleon was desirous of seeing the brave Chambure, who was covered with wounds: he was accordingly introduced to the Emperor by the Minister of War, and was immediately appointed to the command of a partisan corps on the eastern frontiers of France, where he again shewed himself worthy of his fame. Two English officers fell into his hands in the very heart of France, and at the moment of the violent exasperation produced by the recent disasters which had again befallen us. De Chambure protected these officers from the fury of his own soldiers, and preserved their equipages and even their baggage. Will it be believed? Some time afterwards, this officer, whose courage, loyalty, and above all, whose noble conduct were deserving of the highest recompense, was by a French tribunal condemned to the galleys for life, and to be branded and exposed in the pillory, for having, it was said, stopped and robbed two officers of the enemy’s army on the highway! Such is the justice of party-spirit! Such the monstrous aberrations to which the judgment and the consciences of men can be reconciled by the effervescence of civil commotions!

Under these circumstances, no alternative was left to Colonel de Chambure but a speedy retreat from his own country: it was in vain that from his exile he endeavoured to make the truth known; it was in vain that the two English officers gave the most extensive publicity to the testimonials of their gratitude: a considerable time elapsed before Colonel de Chambure could seize the opportunity of a moment of political calm, to deliver up his person to the tribunals, and call for a revision of his trial.—That revision took place, and this time the result was a declaration that there were not even any grounds of accusation against him! This is indeed one of the peculiar signs of the times!


From Friday 7th to Saturday 8th.—During a long private conversation, this morning, the Emperor reverted to all the horrors of our present situation, and enumerated all the chances which hope suggested of better days.

After his remarks on these topics, which I cannot repeat here, he gave the rein to his imagination, and said that the only countries in which he could reside for the future were England and America. His inclination, he added, prompted for America, because _there_ he should be really free, and independence and repose were all he now sighed for: then followed an imaginary plan of life: he fancied himself with his brother Joseph, in the midst of a little France, &c. Yet policy, he observed, might decide for England. He was bound perhaps to remain a slave to events—he owed the sacrifice of himself to a nation which had done more for him than he had done for it in return; and then followed another imaginary plan for the future.

In the course of our subsequent conversation, the Emperor could not sufficiently express his surprise at the conviction, which he had obtained, that several of those who surrounded him and formed his Court, believed the greatest part of the many absurdities and idle reports which had been circulated respecting himself, and that they even went so far as to doubt the falsehood of the enormities with which his reputation had been stained.—Thus we believed that he wore armour in the midst of us—was addicted to the superstition of presentiments and fatality—subject to fits of madness or of epilepsy—that he had strangled Pichegru—caused a poor English captain’s throat to be cut, &c. We could not but admit that his invective against us on the occasion was merited; all we could allege in our defence was that many circumstances had concurred to leave those who formerly surrounded his person as much in ignorance on the subject as the bulk of the nation could be. We frequently saw him, I said, but we never held any communication with him: every thing remained a mystery for us. Not a voice was raised to refute, whilst many in secret, and some that were nearest to his person, either through perverseness, or with bad intentions, seemed ever busy in dealing out insinuations. As for myself, I candidly confessed that I had not formed a just idea of his disposition before I came here, although I could congratulate myself that I had certainly guessed him in part. “And yet,” he observed in reply, “_you_ have often seen me and heard me in the Council of State.”

In the evening, after dinner, the conversation turned upon religion. The Emperor dwelt on the subject at length. The following is a faithful summary of his arguments; I give it as being quite characteristic upon a point which has probably often excited the curiosity of many.

The Emperor, after having spoken for some time with warmth and animation, said: “Every thing proclaims the existence of a God, _that_ cannot be questioned; but all our religions are evidently the work of men. Why are there so many?—Why has ours not always existed?—Why does it consider itself exclusively the right one?—What becomes in that case of all the virtuous men who have gone before us?—Why do these religions revile, oppose, exterminate one another?—Why has this been the case ever and every where?—Because men are ever men; because priests have ever and every where introduced fraud and falsehood. However, as soon as I had power, I immediately re-established religion. I made it the ground-work and foundation upon which I built. I considered it as the support of sound principles and good morality, both in doctrine and in practice. Besides, such is the restlessness of man, that his mind requires that something undefined and marvellous which religion offers; and it is better for him to find it there, than to seek it of Cagliostro, of Mademoiselle Lenormand, or of the fortune-tellers and impostors.” Somebody having ventured to say to him that he might possibly in the end become devout, the Emperor answered, with an air of conviction, that he feared not, and that it was with regret he said it; for it was no doubt a great source of consolation; but that his incredulity did not proceed from perverseness or from licentiousness of mind, but from the strength of his reason. “Yet,” added he, “no man can answer for what will happen, particularly in his last moments. At present I certainly believe that I shall die without a confessor; and yet there is one (pointing to one of us) who will perhaps receive my confession. I am assuredly very far from being an atheist, but I cannot believe all that I am taught in spite of my reason, without being false and a hypocrite. When I became Emperor, and particularly after my marriage with Maria Louisa, every effort was made to induce me to go with great pomp, according to the custom of the Kings of France, to take the sacrament at the church of Notre Dame; but this I positively refused to do: I did not believe in the act sufficiently to derive any benefit from it, and yet I believed too much in it to run the risk of committing a profanation.” On this occasion a certain person was alluded to, who had boasted, as it were, that he had never taken the sacrament. “That is very wrong,” said the Emperor; “either he has not fulfilled the intention of his education, or his education was neglected.” Then, resuming the subject, he said, “To explain where I come from, what I am, and whither I go, is above my comprehension; and yet all that is. I am like the watch that exists, without possessing the consciousness of existence. However, the sentiment of religion is so consolatory that it must be considered as a gift of Heaven: what a resource would it not be for us here to possess it! What influence could men and events exercise over me, if, bearing my misfortunes as if inflicted by God, I expected to be compensated by him with happiness hereafter! What rewards have _I_ not a right to expect who have run a career so extraordinary, so tempestuous, without committing a single crime, and yet how many might I not have been guilty of? I can appear before the tribunal of God, I can await his judgment without fear. He will not find my conscience stained with the thoughts of murder and poisonings, with the infliction of violent and premeditated death, events so common in the history of those whose lives have resembled mine. I have striven only for the glory, the power, the greatness of France. All my faculties, all my efforts, all my moments, were directed to the attainment of that object. These cannot be crimes; to me they appeared acts of virtue. What then would be my happiness, if the bright prospect of futurity presented itself to crown the last moments of my existence!”

After a pause, he resumed. "How is it possible that conviction can find its way to our hearts, when we hear the absurd language, and witness the acts of iniquity, of the greatest number of those whose business it is to preach to us? I am surrounded by priests, who repeat incessantly that their reign is not of this world, and yet they lay hands upon every thing that they can get. The Pope is the head of that religion from heaven, and he thinks only of this world. What did the present Chief Pontiff, who is undoubtedly a good, and a holy man, not offer to be allowed to return to Rome! The surrender of the government of the church, of the institution of bishops, was not too high a price for him to give, to become once more a secular prince. Even now, he is the friend of all the Protestants, who grant him every thing, because they do not fear him. He is only the enemy of catholic Austria, because her territory surrounds his own.

“Nevertheless,” he observed again, “it cannot be doubted that, as Emperor, the species of incredulity which I felt was favourable to the nations I had to govern. How could I have favoured equally sects so opposed to one another, if I had been under the influence of any one of them? How could I have preserved the independence of my thoughts, and of my actions, under the controul of a confessor, who would have governed me by the dread of hell? What power cannot a wicked man, the most stupid of mankind, thus exercise over those by whom whole nations are governed? Is it not the scene-shifter at the opera, who from behind the scenes, moves Hercules at his will? Who can doubt that the last years of Louis XIV. would have been very different, had he been directed by another confessor? I was so deeply impressed with the truth of these opinions that I promised to do all in my power to bring up my son in the same religious persuasion which I myself entertain.”

The Emperor ended the conversation by desiring my son to bring him the New Testament; and, taking it from the beginning, he read as far as the conclusion of the discourse of Jesus on the mount. He expressed himself struck with the highest admiration, of the purity, the sublimity, the beauty of the morality which it contained; and we all experienced the same feeling.


Sunday, 9th.—The Emperor spoke much of the creation of the Directory; he had installed it, being then Commander-in-chief of the Army of the Interior. This led him to review the five Directors, whose portraits and characters he drew. He gave a lively picture of their follies and their faults, and this led him to the events of Fructidor, and furnished many curious particulars. I have collected the following, partly, from some of his desultory conversations, and, partly, from his dictation of the campaigns of Italy.

“Barras,” said the Emperor, "of a good family in Provence, was an officer in the regiment of the Isle of France; at the revolution, he was chosen Deputy to the National Convention for the department of the Var. He had no talent for oratory, and no habits of business. After the 31st of May, he was, together with Freron, appointed Commissioner to the army of Italy, and to Provence, which was then the seat of civil war. On his return to Paris, he threw himself into the Thermidorian party; threatened by Robespierre, as well as Tallien and the remainder of Danton’s party, they united, and brought about the events of the 9th Thermidor. At the moment of the crisis, the Convention named him to march against the _commune_, which had risen in favour of Robespierre; he succeeded.

"This event gave him great celebrity. After the downfall of Robespierre, all the Thermidorians became the leading men of France.

"At the critical period of the 12th Vendemiaire, it was determined, in order to get rid at once of the three Commissioners to the Army of the Interior, to unite in the person of Barras the power of Commissioner and Commander of that army. But the circumstances in which he was placed were too much for him; they were above his powers. Barras had no experience in war, he had quitted the service when only a captain; he had no knowledge of military affairs.

"The events of Thermidor and of Vendemiaire brought him into the Directory; he did not possess the qualifications requisite to fill that situation, but he acted better than was expected from him by those who knew him.

"He kept up a splendid establishment, had a pack of hounds, and his expenses were considerable. When he quitted the Directory, on the 18th Brumaire, he had still a large fortune, and he did not attempt to conceal it. That fortune was not large enough to have contributed in the least to the derangement of the finances, but the manner in which it had been acquired, by favouring the contractors, impaired the public morals.

"Barras was tall; he spoke sometimes in moments of agitation, and his voice filled the house. His intellectual capacity did not allow him to go beyond a few sentences, but the animation with which he spoke would have produced the impression that he was a man of resolution; this however he was not; and he had no opinion of his own upon any part of the administration of public affairs.

"In Fructidor, he formed with Rewbel and La Reveillere Lepaux, the majority against Carnot and Barthelemy; after that event he became to all appearance the most important member of the Directory, but, in reality, it was Rewbel who possessed the greatest influence. Barras always appeared in public the warm friend of Napoleon. At the time of the 30th Prairial, he had the art to conciliate the preponderating party in the assembly, and he did not share the disgrace of his colleagues.

“La Reveillere Lepaux, born at Angers, belonged to the lower ranks of the middling class of society. He was short, and his person was as unprepossessing as can well be imagined; he was a true Æsop. He wrote tolerably well, but his mind was narrow, and he had neither habits of business nor knowledge of mankind. He was alternately governed, according to circumstances, by Carnot or Rewbel. The _Jardin des Plantes_, and the Theophilanthropy, a new religion of which he had the folly to become the founder, occupied all his time. In other respects, he was a patriot, warm and sincere, an honest man, and a citizen full of probity and of learning; he was poor when he became a member of the Directory, and poor when he left it. Nature had not qualified him to occupy any higher station than that of an inferior magistrate.”

Napoleon, after his return from the army of Italy, found himself, without knowing why, the object of the particular assiduity, the marked attentions and flatteries of the Director La Reveillere, who asked him one day to dine with him, strictly _en famille_, in order, he said, that they might be more at liberty to converse together. The young General accepted the invitation, and found, as he had promised, nobody present but the Director, his wife, and his daughter, “who, by the way,” added the Emperor, “were three paragons of ugliness.” After the dessert, the two ladies retired, and the conversation took a serious turn. La Reveillere descanted at length upon the disadvantages of our religion, upon the necessity, however, of having one, and extolled and enumerated the advantages of the religion which he wanted to establish, the Theophilanthropy. “I was beginning to find the conversation rather tedious and dull,” said the Emperor, “when, on a sudden, La Reveillere, rubbing his hands with an air of satisfaction, said to me affectedly, and with an arch look: ‘How valuable the acquisition of a man like you would be to us!—what advantage, what weight would be derived from your name!—and how glorious that circumstance would be to you!—Now what do you think of it?’”—The young General was far from expecting to receive such a proposal; however, he replied with humility, that he did not think himself worthy of such an honour; and his principles being, when treading an obscure path, to follow the track of those who had preceded him in it, he was resolved to act, in the article of religion, as his father and mother had done. This positive answer convinced the high-priest that nothing was to be done; he did not insist, but from that moment there was an end of all his attentions and flatteries towards the young General.

“Rewbel,” said the Emperor, "born in Alsace, was one of the best lawyers in the town of Colmar. He possessed that kind of intelligence which denotes a man skilled in the practice of the bar,—his influence was always felt in deliberations,—he was easily inspired with prejudices—did not believe much in the existence of virtue—and his patriotism was tinged with a degree of enthusiasm. It is problematical whether he did or did not amass a fortune, during the time he was in the Directory; he was surrounded by contractors, it is true,—but, with his turn of mind, it is possible that he only amused himself by conversing with men of activity and enterprise, and that he enjoyed their flatteries, without making them pay for the complaisance which he shewed them. He bore a particular hatred to the Germanic system—he displayed great energy in the assemblies, both before and after the period of his being a magistrate, and was fond of a life of application and activity. He had been a member of the Constituent Assembly, and of the Convention; by the latter he was appointed Commissioner at Mentz, where he gave no proofs of firmness or of military talent; he contributed to the surrender of the city, which might have held out longer. Like all lawyers, he had imbibed from his profession a prejudice against the army.

"Carnot, born in Burgundy, had entered when very young the corps of engineers, and shewed himself an advocate of the system of Montalembert. He was considered by his companions as an eccentric character, and was already a knight of the order of St. Louis at the commencement of the revolution, the principles of which he warmly espoused. He became a member of the Convention, and was one of the committee of public welfare with Robespierre, Barrère, Couthon, Saint-Juste, Billaud-Varennes, Collot-d’Herbois, &c. He was particularly inveterate against the nobility, and found himself, in consequence, frequently engaged in quarrels with Robespierre, who, towards the close of his life, had taken a great many nobles under his protection.

"Carnot was laborious, sincere on every occasion, but unaccustomed to intrigue and easily deceived. He was attached to Jourdan, as Commissioner from the Convention, at the time when Jourdan was employed in relieving the town of Mentz, which was besieged; and he rendered some services on the occasion. In the Committee of Public Welfare, he directed the operations of the war, and was found useful, but he had neither experience nor practice in the military matters. He displayed on every occasion great moral courage.

"After the events of Thermidor, when the Convention caused all the members of the committee of Public Welfare to be arrested, with the exception of himself, Carnot insisted upon sharing their fate. This conduct was the more noble, inasmuch as public opinion had pronounced itself violently against the Committee. He was nominated a member of the Directory after Vendemiaire; but after the 9th Thermidor his mind was deeply affected by the reproaches of public opinion, which attributed to the committee all the blood which had flowed on the scaffold. He felt the necessity of gaining esteem, and, believing that he took the lead, he suffered himself to be led by some of those who directed the party from abroad. His merit was then extolled to the skies, but he did not deserve the praises of the enemies of France; he found himself placed in a critical situation, and fell in Fructidor.

"After the 18th Brumaire, Carnot was recalled by the First Consul and placed in the department of war; he had several quarrels with the Minister of the Finances and Dufrenes the Director of the Treasury, in which it is but fair to say that he was always in the wrong. At last, he left the department, persuaded that it could no longer go on for want of money.

"When a member of the Tribunate, he spoke and voted against the establishment of the Empire; but his conduct, open and manly, gave no uneasiness to the administration. At a later period, he was appointed Chief Inspector of Reviews, and received from the Emperor, on his retiring from the service, a pension of twenty thousand francs. As long as things went on prosperously, the Emperor heard nothing of him: but, after the campaign of Russia, at the time of the disasters of France, Carnot solicited to be employed: he was appointed to command the town of Antwerp, and he behaved well at his post. On his return in 1815, the Emperor, after a little hesitation, appointed him to be Minister of the Interior, and had no cause to repent of having done so; he found him faithful, laborious, full of probity, and always sincere. In the month of June, Carnot was named one of the Commission of the Provisional Government, but being unfit for the place, he was duped.

“Le Tourneur de la Manche was born in Normandy; he had been an officer of engineers before the revolution. It is difficult to explain how he came to be appointed to the Directory; it can only be from one of those unaccountable caprices of which large assemblies so often furnish examples. He was a man of narrow capacity, little learning, and of a weak mind. There were in the Convention five hundred deputies better qualified for the situation; he was however a man of strict probity, and left the Directory without any fortune.”

Le Tourneur made himself the talk and the laughing-stock of Paris; it was said that he came from his department to take possession at the Directory in a cart, with his house-keeper, his kitchen utensils, and his poultry. The wags of the capital marked him, and he was overwhelmed with ridicule. He was made, for instance, to return from the _Jardin des Plantes_, whither he had run immediately on his arrival in Paris, and to give an account of the rare things he had found there; and, on being asked whether he had seen Lacepede,[19] he was surprised that he should have passed it unobserved, declaring that _la Giraffe_ (the camelopard) was the only thing that had been pointed out to him.[20]

Footnote 19:

Professor of Natural History.

Footnote 20:

I have been since told that part of these jokes had nothing to do with Le Tourneur, but related to a man of the name of Letourneux, who was a Minister about that time.

"The Directory was hardly established before it began to lower itself in public estimation by caprices, bad morals, and false measures. The faults and absurdities which it committed daily completed its discredit, and it was lost in reputation almost at the very moment of its formation. Intoxicated with their elevation, the Directors thought it became them to adopt a certain air, and sought to acquire the appearance and manners of _bon ton_. In order the better to succeed, they formed each a little Court, where they received and welcomed the higher classes, hitherto in disgrace, and who were naturally their enemies, and from which they excluded the greatest part of their old acquaintances and former companions, as thenceforward too vulgar. All those who during the Revolution had shown more energy than the members of the Directory, or who had trodden in the same path with them, became odious to them and were immediately kept aloof; and the Directory thus rendered itself ridiculous to one party, and alienated the affections of the other. These five little Courts exacted a greater degree of servility in proportion as they were inferior and ridiculous; but numbers of men were found who could not bring themselves to bend and submit to formalities which the recollection of recent circumstances, the nature of the government and the character of the governors, rendered inadmissible.

"However, all the Directory could do to gain over the saloons of Paris proved of no avail: it did not succeed in acquiring any influence over them, and the Bourbon party was gaining ground. No sooner did the Directors perceive this than they hastily retraced their steps; but it was too late to recover the good-will of the republicans, whom they had estranged by their conduct. This led to a system of wavering, which looked like caprice; no course was laid down to steer by, no object was kept in view, no unity prevailed. The reigns of terror and of royalty were equally objected to; but in the mean time the road which was to lead to the goal was left untried. The Directory thought to put an end to this state of uncertainty and to avoid these perpetual waverings, by striking at one blow the two extreme parties, whether they had deserved it or not: if therefore a royalist, who had conspired or disturbed the public tranquillity, was arrested by their orders, they caused a republican, innocent or guilty, to be arrested at the same moment. This system was nicknamed _The Political Seesaw_, but the injustice and fraud which characterized it entirely discredited the government; every heart was closed; it was a government of lead. Every true and generous feeling was against the Directory.

"Men of business, jobbers and intriguers, by possessing themselves of the springs of government, acquired the greatest influence; all places were given to worthless individuals, to _protégés_, or to relations—corruption crept into every branch of the administration. This was soon perceived, and those who had it in their power to waste the public money could act without fear; the foreign relations, the armies, the finances, the department of the Interior, all felt the pernicious effects of so vicious a system. This state of things soon gathered a storm on the political horizon, and we proceeded with rapid strides to the crisis of Fructidor.

"At that period the measures of the Directory were weak, capricious, and uncertain; emigrants returned to France, and newspapers, paid by foreigners, dared openly to stigmatize the most deserving of our patriots. The fury of the enemies of our national glory exasperated the soldiers of the army of Italy, which declared itself loudly against them; whilst the Councils, in their turn, acting the parts of real counter-revolutionists, spoke of nothing but priests, bells, and emigrants. All the officers of the army, who had distinguished themselves more or less in the departments, in the battalions of volunteers, or even in the regiments of the line, finding themselves thus attacked in their dearest interests, inflamed more and more the anger of their soldiers; the minds of all parties were in a state of effervescence. In a moment of such violent agitation, what measures could the General of the army of Italy adopt? He had the choice of three:

“1st. To side with the preponderating party in the Councils—but it was too late; the army had declared itself, and the leaders of that party, the orators of the Council, by attacking incessantly both the General and his army, had not left him the possibility of adopting that resolution.

2dly. “To embrace the party of the Directory and of the Republic. That was the plainest course, that which duty pointed out, which the army inclined to, and in which he was already engaged; for all the writers who had remained faithful to the cause of the Revolution had declared themselves, of their own accord, the ardent defenders and warm advocates of the army and its commanders.

3dly. “To overpower both factions, by stepping forward boldly and appearing openly in the contest as regulator of the Republic. But notwithstanding the strength which Napoleon felt that he derived from the support of the army, although his character was highly esteemed in France, he did not think that the spirit of the times and public opinion were such as to allow him to take so daring a step. And besides, if this third measure had been that to which he secretly inclined, he could not have adopted it immediately, and without having previously sided with one of the two parties, which appeared at that moment in the political lists. It was absolutely necessary, even in order to form a third party, to side first either with the Councils or with the Directory.

“Thus, of the three measures to be adopted, the third in its execution merged into the two first, and he was entirely debarred from adopting the first of these two by the new formation of the Councils, and by the attacks already made upon him by them.

“These considerations and conclusions,” the Emperor observed, “were the natural result of a deep meditation upon the then existing state of affairs in France. The General had therefore nothing to do but to let events take their course, and second the impulse of his troops. And this view of the subject produced the proclamation to the army of Italy, and the far-famed order of the day of its General.

“‘Soldiers!’ he said, ‘I know that your hearts are full of grief at the calamities of our country; but, if it were possible that foreign armies should triumph, we would fly from the summit of the Alps with the rapidity of the eagle, to defend once more that cause which has already cost us so much blood.’

“These words decided the question; the soldiers, in ecstasy, were for marching at once upon Paris. The rumour of the event spread immediately to the capital, and produced a most powerful sensation. The Directory, which every body considered as lost, which the moment before was tottering alone and abandoned, found itself at once supported by public opinion; it immediately assumed the attitude, and followed the course of a triumphant party, and defeated all its enemies.

“The General of the army of Italy had sent the proclamation to his soldiers to the Directory by Augereau, because he was a Parisian and strongly in favour of the prevailing notions of the day.

“Nevertheless, the politicians of the day made the following surmises: What would Napoleon have done if the Councils had triumphed; if that faction, instead of being overthrown, had, on the contrary, overthrown the Directory? In that case, it appears, that he was determined to march upon Lyons and Mirbel with fifteen thousand men, where he would have been joined by all the republicans from the south and from Burgundy. The victorious Council would not have been more than three or four days without coming to some violent rupture and division: for it is known that, if the numbers of these Councils were unanimous in their proceedings against the Directory, they were far from being so as to the further course they meant to pursue. The leaders, such as Pichegru, Imbert-Colonnes, and others, sold to foreign powers, exerted all their influence to restore royalty and bring about a counter-revolution; whilst Carnot and others sought to produce results quite opposite to these. France would therefore have become immediately a prey to confusion and anarchy, and in that case, all factions would have seen, with satisfaction, Napoleon appear as a rallying point, an anchor of safety, capable of saving them at the same time from the terror of royalty and from the terror of demagogues. Napoleon would then naturally have repaired to Paris, and found himself placed at the head of affairs by the unanimous wish and consent of all parties. The majority of the Councils was strong and positive, it is true, but it was only against the Directors; it would have been divided _ad infinitum_ as soon as they were overturned.

“The choice of three new Directors having openly exposed the true intention of the measures of the counter-revolution, the greatest number of the citizens, in their alarm, were ready to fly to meet Napoleon with the national oriflamme[21] unfurled; for the true counter-revolutionists were after all few in number, and their pretensions were too ridiculous and absurd. Every thing would have given way before Napoleon. Had they called him Cæsar or Cromwell, still he would have marched with a religion, a party, whose ideas were settled and popular; he was master of his soldiers, the coffers of the army were full, and he was in possession of every other means calculated to ensure their constancy and their fidelity. If the question were now to be asked whether Napoleon, in the recesses of his own mind, would or would not have wished affairs to take this turn, we should give our opinion in the affirmative; and we are led to believe from the following fact, that his wishes and his hopes were in favour of the triumph of the majority of the Councils. At the moment of the crisis between the two factions, a secret decree, signed by the three members composing the party of the Directory, asked him for three millions to resist the attack of the Councils, but Napoleon, under various pretences, did not send them, although it would have been easy for him to do so; yet it is well known that it is not consistent with his character to hesitate in money matters.

Footnote 21:

The _oriflamme_ was a flag which was carried before the kings of France.

“Therefore, when the struggle was over, and the Directory took pleasure in acknowledging openly that it owed its existence to Napoleon, it still entertained some vague suspicions that Napoleon had only espoused its cause in the hopes of seeing it overthrown, and of taking its place.

“Be that as it may, after the 18th Fructidor, the enthusiasm of the army was at its height, and the triumph of Napoleon complete. But the Directory, notwithstanding its apparent gratitude, surrounded Napoleon from that moment with numerous agents, who watched his motions and endeavoured to penetrate his thoughts.

"The situation of Napoleon was one of extreme delicacy, although his conduct was so well regulated, and so admirable, that even at this period we can only form mere conjectures on the subject; but to the delicacy of his situation it is that we think we can trace the principal reasons which led to the conclusion of the peace at Campo Formio, to his refusal to remain at the Congress of Rastadt, and finally, to the undertaking of the expedition to Egypt.

“As it always happens in France, immediately after the 18th Fructidor, the party that had been overthrown disappeared on a sudden, and the majority of the Directory triumphed without moderation. It became every thing, and reduced the Councils to nothing.

“Napoleon then felt the necessity of peace, which, putting an end to the present state of affairs, would increase his popularity: he had every thing to fear from the prolongation of war; it might furnish those who should have suspected him ready pretexts for injuring him; or the intention might be to expose him in situations of difficulty, and unite the other generals against him.

“Two of the generals, who enjoyed the greatest reputation at that time, manifested openly their sentiments with respect to the great affair of Fructidor: these were Moreau and Hoche.

“Moreau had declared himself positively against the Directory, and by a line of conduct at once pusillanimous and culpable, he failed in his duty and compromised his honour.

“Hoche was entirely in favour of the Directory, impelled by the impetuosity of his disposition, he marched part of his army upon Paris, and failed by acting with too much precipitation. His troops were countermanded by the influence of the Councils, and he himself was obliged to leave Paris, to avoid being arrested by order of these Councils. Hoche had therefore done nothing to contribute to the success of the 18th Fructidor; on the contrary he had injured the cause by excess of zeal. But he had shown himself a man entirely devoted to the Directory, and the majority of them could rely on him without reserve, although his imprudence had nearly been the cause of their ruin.

“That same majority of the Directory entertained doubts, on the contrary, with respect to Napoleon, who had been the cause of their triumph; they still thought it possible that the General of the army of Italy had calculated that the Directory would fall in the contest with the Councils, and that he might then rise upon its ruins.

“But how could the Directory reconcile that supposition with the acts of the General, who had done every thing to ensure its triumph? for it is evident that without the order of the day of Napoleon, and the address to his army, the Directory would have been undone.

“Some persons, well informed on the subject, seem to think that Napoleon had really not formed a due estimate of the influence which he exercised in France—that he had suffered himself to be misled by the libels and the newspapers in which he was attacked,—and that he had considered the measures which he adopted calculated not to ensure the complete triumph of the Directory, but to produce precisely the effect of rendering him the deliverer and the true support of the republic. The same persons add that when the officers whom Napoleon had at Paris, and letters from every part of France, had informed him that his proclamation had in one moment changed altogether the state of public feeling in the interior, then, and then only, he saw that he had done too much. We are the more ready to adopt this opinion as we cannot understand why Napoleon should have thought of preserving three Directors whom he did not care about. The only one he esteemed (Carnot) was of the opposite party, and we know that he felt indignant at the corruptness and the weakness of the others.

“A man named Bottot, a private agent of Barras, was sent to Napoleon with secret instructions, to endeavour to penetrate his views and to ascertain why he had not sent the three millions of which the Directory had stood so much in need. Bottot found the French General at Passeriano, and began to intrigue right and left with those who surrounded Napoleon; but he found every one warmly attached to the party that had triumphed; and, having some concerns of his own to arrange, he at last, in the course of some private conversations, confessed the secret of his mission and the vague suspicions entertained by the Directory. He had been soon undeceived by the appearance of simplicity which distinguished Napoleon’s establishment, by the frankness of Napoleon himself; and above all by the enthusiasm of the army, and of the whole of Italy in favour of the General. But, even if the suspicion of the Directory had been well founded, it would not have been difficult, with a few marks of attention, and some frank and unaffected conversations, to remove from Bottot’s mind, surrounded as he then was, all cause of umbrage.

“He wrote to Paris that the fears which had been entertained were altogether groundless, and much less to be dreaded than the perverseness of those who wished to excite them. But the three millions, it was objected to him, why were they refused? Napoleon had proved that the order sent by the Directory was mysterious and irregular, and that, encompassed as it was by such rogues as F—— and others, who had already robbed the public exchequer, he had thought it prudent to ascertain the truth; that he had immediately dispatched Lavalette, his confidential aid-de-camp, to Paris, and that, as soon as Lavalette had informed him of the true state of affairs, he was on the point of sending off the three millions, when the fate of the day was decided.”


Monday, 10th—The course of our conversation to-day led the Emperor to observe that nothing was so dangerous and so treacherous as official conversations with diplomatic agents of Great Britain. “The English Ministers,” said he, “never represent an affair from their nation to another, but as from themselves to their own nation. They care little what their adversaries have said or say; they boldly put forward what their diplomatic agents have said, or what they make them say, on the ground that, those agents having a public and acknowledged character, faith must be placed in their reports. It is in pursuance of this principle, Napoleon added, that the English Ministers published at the time, under the name of Lord Whitworth, a long conversation between me and Whitworth, the account of which was entirely false.”[22]

Footnote 22:

We who have been at St. Helena, we who have seen and been concerned in the facts alleged by Lord Bathurst, before the parliament of Great Britain, we all can affirm, before God and man, that the British Ministers have on that occasion fully deserved the just reproaches which they incurred at the time of Lord Whitworth. Many Englishmen, who were then at St. Helena, have acknowledged it to us, and have confessed that they blushed for their country!!

That ambassador had solicited an audience of the First Consul, and personal communications. The First Consul, who was himself fond of treating affairs directly, willingly assented. “But this proved for me,” said the Emperor, “a lesson which altered my method for ever. From this moment, I never treated officially of political affairs, but through the intervention of my minister for Foreign affairs. He at any rate could give a positive and formal denial; which the sovereign could not do.

“It is utterly false,” added the Emperor, "that any thing occurred in the course of our personal interview, which was not in conformity with the common rules of decorum. Lord Whitworth himself, after our conference, being in company with other Ambassadors, expressed himself perfectly satisfied, and added that he had no doubt all things would be satisfactorily settled. But what was the surprise of those same Ambassadors, when they read a short time afterwards in the English newspapers the report of Lord Whitworth, in which he charged me with having behaved in the interview with unbecoming violence! We had some warm friends amongst these Ambassadors, and some of them went so far as to express their surprise to the English diplomatist, observing to him that his report was very different from what he had said to them immediately after the conference. Lord Whitworth made the best excuse he could, but persisted in maintaining the assertions of the official document.

“The fact is,” said the Emperor, “that every political agent of Great Britain is in the habit of making two reports on the same subject; one public and false for the ministerial archives, the other confidential and true for the Ministers themselves, and for them alone; and when the responsibility of Ministers is at stake, they produce the first of these documents, which, although false, answers every purpose, and serves to exonerate them. And thus it is,” added the Emperor, "that the best institutions become vicious, when they are no longer founded on morality, and when their agents are only actuated by selfishness, pride, and insolence. Absolute power has no need of disguise; it is silent: responsible governments, being obliged to speak, have recourse to artifice, and lie with effrontery.

"It is, however, a circumstance worthy of remark, that, in my great struggle with England, the government of that country has constantly contrived to attach so much odium to my person and actions; and that they have so impudently exclaimed against my despotism, my selfishness, my ambition, and my perfidy, when they alone were guilty of all they dared to lay to my charge. A very strong prejudice must have existed against me, I must have been indeed very much to be feared, since people could suffer themselves to be thus deceived. I can understand it from Kings and Cabinets, their existence was at stake; but from the people!!...

"The British Ministers spoke incessantly of my duplicity; but could any thing be compared to their Machiavelism, their selfishness, during the existence of disorders and convulsions, which were kept alive by them?

"They sacrificed unfortunate Austria in 1805, merely to escape the invasion with which I threatened them.

"They sacrificed her again in 1809, to be more at liberty to act in the Peninsula.

"They sacrificed Prussia in 1806, in the hopes of recovering Hanover.

"They did not assist Russia in 1807, because they chose rather to seize distant colonies, and because they were attempting to take possession of Egypt.

"They gave to the world the infamous spectacle of bombarding Copenhagen in time of peace, and lying in ambush to steal the Danish fleet. They had already once before exhibited a similar spectacle by seizing, like highway robbers, also in time of peace, four Spanish frigates laden with rich treasures.

"Lastly, during the war in the Peninsula, where they endeavoured to prolong the existence of anarchy and confusion, their principal object was to traffic with the wants and the blood of the Spanish nation, by obliging it to purchase their services and their supplies at the expense of gold and concessions.

"Whilst all Europe, through their intrigues and their subsidies, was bathed in blood, they were only intent upon providing for their own safety, gaining advantages for their trade, and obtaining the sovereignty of the sea and the monopoly of the world. As for myself, I had never done any thing of the kind, and, until the unfortunate business with Spain, which after all is not to be compared with the affair of Copenhagen, I can say that my morality was unimpeachable. My actions had perhaps been dictatorial and peremptory, but never disgraced by perfidy. Who can be surprised, after all this, if, in 1814, although England had really been the deliverer of Europe, not a single Englishman could show himself on the Continent without meeting at every step with maledictions, hatred, and execrations? Who can ask how this happened? Every tree bears its own fruit; we reap only what we have sown; and such was necessarily the infallible result of the misdeeds of the English Government, the tyranny and the insolence of the Ministers in London, and of their agents all over the globe.

"For the last fifty years the administrations of Great Britain have gradually declined in consideration and in public estimation. Formerly, the struggle for power was between great national parties, characterised by grand and distinct systems; but now we see only the bickerings of one and the same oligarchy, having constantly the same object in view, and whose discordant members adjust their differences by compromise and concessions: they have turned the Cabinet of St. James’s into a shop.

"The policy of Lord Chatham was marked by acts of injustice, no doubt; but at least he proclaimed them with boldness and energy; they had a certain air of grandeur. Pitt introduced into the Cabinet a system of hypocrisy and dissimulation. Lord Castlereagh, the self-styled heir of Pitt, has brought into it the extreme of every kind of turpitude and immorality. Chatham gloried in being a merchant; Lord Castlereagh, to the serious injury of his nation, has indulged himself in the satisfaction of acting the _fine gentleman_; he has sacrificed his country to fraternise with the great people of the continent, and from that moment has united in his person the vices of the saloon with the cupidity of the counting-house; the duplicity and obsequiousness of the courtier with the haughtiness and insolence of the upstart. The poor English constitution is in imminent danger. What a difference between such men and the Foxes, the Sheridans, and the Greys, those splendid talents, those noble characters of the Opposition, who have been the objects of the ridicule of a victorious oligarchy!

“Lord Cornwallis,” said the Emperor, "is the first Englishman who gave me, in good earnest, a favourable opinion of his nation; after him Fox, and I might add to these, if it were necessary, our present Admiral (Malcolm).

"Cornwallis was, in every sense of the word, a worthy, good, and honest man. At the time of the treaty of Amiens, the terms having been agreed upon, he had promised to sign the next day at a certain hour; something of consequence detained him at home, but he pledged his word. The evening of that same day, a courier arrived from London proscribing certain articles of the treaty, but he answered that he had signed, and immediately came and actually signed. We understood each other perfectly well; I had placed a regiment at his disposal, and he took pleasure in seeing its manœuvres. I have preserved an agreeable recollection of him in every respect, and it is certain that a request from him would have had more weight with me, perhaps, than one from a crowned head. His family appears to have guessed this to be the case; some requests have been made to me in its name, which have all been granted.

"Fox came to France immediately after the peace of Amiens. He was employed in writing a history of the Stuarts, and asked my permission to search our diplomatic archives. I gave orders that every thing should be placed at his disposal. I received him often. Fame had informed me of his talents, and I soon found that he possessed a noble character, a good heart, liberal, generous, and enlightened views. I considered him an ornament to mankind, and was very much attached to him. We often conversed together upon various topics, without the least prejudice; when I wished to engage in a little controversy, I turned the conversation upon the subject of the infernal machine; and told him that his ministers had attempted to murder me; he would then oppose my opinion with warmth, and invariably ended the conversation by saying, in his bad French, ‘First Consul, pray take that out of your head.’ But he was not convinced of the truth of the cause he undertook to advocate, and there is every reason to believe that he argued more in defence of his country, than of the morality of its ministers."

The Emperor ended the conversation, by saying: “Half a dozen such men as Fox and Cornwallis would be sufficient to establish the moral character of a nation.... With such men I should always have agreed; we should soon have settled our differences, and not only France would have been at peace with a nation at bottom most worthy of esteem, but we should have done great things together.”


Tuesday, 11th.—This has been one of those days of wind and rain so common here. The Emperor, about three o’clock, took advantage of a short interval to visit the garden. He sent for me; he had just been reading the history of the Convention by Lacretelle. It is, he observed, certainly not ill-written; but it is ill-digested, and makes no impression on the memory; the whole is a smooth surface without a single asperity to arrest attention. He does not thoroughly examine his subject: he has not done justice to many celebrated characters; he gives no adequate colouring to the crimes of several others, &c.

The rain obliged us to return, and we walked alone for a long time in the saloon and the dining room.

We had been informed, that there were four thousand oxen in the island, and that the annual consumption consisted of five hundred, of which number one hundred and fifty were appropriated to us, fifty to the colony, and three hundred to the shipping. It was added, that four years were requisite for the reproduction of the stock, and this formed a subject for our calculations; an employment for which the Emperor’s peculiar taste is well known.

The subsistence and consumption of these oxen are an important affair in the island. A single beast cannot be killed without the previous order of the governor, and it was stated by one of our people, that the owner of one of the houses or huts of the island, speaking to him on the subject, said: “It is reported, that you complain up yonder, and consider yourselves badly off; (he spoke of Longwood) but we are at a loss to make it out; for it is said that you have beef every day, while we cannot get it but three or four times a year, and even then we pay for it at the rate of fifteen or twenty pence a pound.” The Emperor, who laughed heartily at the story, observed, “You ought to have assured him, that it cost us more than a crown.”

I observed some time afterwards, that it was the only pun I had till then heard from the Emperor’s mouth, but the person to whom I made the remark, said he had heard of his having made a similar one, and on the same subject, in the isle of Elba. A mason employed in some buildings, which were to be constructed by the Emperor’s order, had fallen and hurt himself; the Emperor wishing to encourage him, assured him, that it would be of no consequence. “I have had,” said he, “a much worse fall than yours; but look at me, I am on my legs, and hearty, for all that.”

The Emperor’s attention was for a moment directed to political statistics. He highly extolled the progress and utility of that new science, so well adapted, he observed, to point out the path of truth, to establish and confirm opinions. He called it the _budget of things_, and “without budget,” said he gaily, “there is no safety.”

The singular application of the science by an Englishman or German, who had the patience and resolution to ascertain the number of times each letter of the alphabet occurred in the Bible, was then noticed by a person present. He also mentioned another application of it, less dull, but not less singular. It was that made by a German, eighty years of age, who amused himself with calculating what he might have eaten, during his life, in beef, mutton, poultry, vegetables, &c. as well as what he had drunk. The estimate comprehended immense droves, flocks, and accumulations of all sorts. The public market-place was incapable of containing all he had devoured. This minute applicant of the science did not stop there. He had the curiosity to inquire how often he might have again swallowed the same things. For, he judiciously observed, their transmutation in his person ought necessarily to have contributed to their reproduction. The Emperor laughed much at the calculation, and more particularly at the whimsical repetition of the same eatables.


June 12th.—We have had three days of horrible weather, when a moment that promised to continue fine, induced the Emperor to take an airing in his carriage. He had just finished reading the History of the Constituent Assembly, by Rabeau de St. Etienne. He entertained very nearly the same opinion of this writer as of Lacretelle. He then took occasion to notice several characters.

“Bailli,” he said, “was not a bad man, but unquestionably a miserable politician. Lafayette was another simpleton, and by no means formed for the eminent character he wished to represent. His political simplicity was such, that he could not avoid being the constant dupe of men and things. His breaking up of the chambers on my return from Waterloo, was my ruin. Who could have persuaded him, that I had arrived merely for the purpose of dissolving them;—I, whose only safety was centred in them?”

One of the party saying, by way of excuse or extenuation; “It was, however, sire, the same man, who, treating afterwards with the allies, was filled with indignation at their proposal of delivering up your Majesty, and eagerly asked, if it was to the prisoner of Olmutz they dared to address themselves?”—"But, sir," replied the Emperor, “you run from one subject to another, or rather, you concur with, instead of opposing, my opinion. I have not attacked the sentiments or intentions of M. de Lafayette; I have only complained of their fatal results.”

The Emperor then continued, in the same way, to review the leading men of that period. He dwelt at considerable length on the affair of Favras, &c.

“For the rest,” observed the Emperor, "nothing was more common than to find men of that epoch quite the reverse in character of that which their words and actions seemed to establish. Monges, for instance, might be considered a terrible man. When war was resolved upon, he declared from the tribune of the Jacobins, that he would give his two daughters in marriage to the two first soldiers who might be wounded by the enemy. This he was at liberty to do, in the strict sense of the gift, as far as it respected himself; but he maintained, that others should be compelled to follow his example, and that all the nobility should be put to death, &c. Yet Monges was one of the mildest and weakest men living, and would not have suffered a chicken to be killed, if he had been obliged to do it himself or to see it done. This furious republican, as he believed himself, cherished, however, a kind of worship for me, which he pushed to adoration. He loved me, as a man loves his mistress.

"Grégoire, whose animosity to the clergy, whom he wished to bring back to their original simplicity, was so great that he might have passed for a champion of irreligion, may be mentioned as another instance; yet Grégoire, when the revolutionists were denying their God, and abolishing the priesthood, was very near being massacred in mounting the tribune, for the purpose of boldly declaring his religious sentiments, and protesting that he would die a priest. At the very moment when the work of destruction was going on in all the churches against the altars, Grégoire erected one in his own apartment, and said mass there every day. This man’s lot, however, is decidedly cast. If he be driven from France, he must take refuge in St. Domingo. The friend, the advocate, the eulogist of the negroes will be a god, or a saint, among them."

St. Domingo naturally became the next subject of our conversation. I had, in my younger days, seen that colony in its most flourishing state. The Emperor put many questions to me, and made himself acquainted with all the circumstances relating to that remote period. When his enquiries were over, he said, “I shall, no doubt, astonish you: but I am convinced, even from your own statements, that the island has not, at this moment, lost a third, certainly not one half of its value, and that, in a short time, it will recover all its former prosperity.”

I should not, in reality, be surprised at it; for all the absurd stories, circulated in Europe respecting France, ought to put us on our guard against those which might be safely told with regard to St. Domingo.

The Emperor said that, after the restoration, the French government had sent out emissaries and proposals which were laughed at by the negroes. “As to myself,” he added, “on my return from Elba, I would have settled all differences with them; I would have recognized their independence, contented myself with some factories, like those on the coast of Africa, endeavoured to draw them closer to the mother country, and to establish a kind of family intercourse with them, which might, in my opinion, have been easily accomplished.”

“I have to reproach myself with the attempt made upon the colony during the consulship. The design of reducing it by force was a great error. I ought to have been satisfied with governing it through the medium of Toussaint. Peace with England was not sufficiently consolidated, and the territorial wealth I should have acquired by its reduction would have served but to enrich our enemies.” He had, he observed, the greater reason to reproach himself with this fault, because he had foreseen its failure, and it was executed against his inclination. He had solely yielded to the opinion of the council of state and his ministers, hurried along, as they were by the clamours of the colonists, who formed a considerable party at Paris, and were, besides, he said, either nearly all royalists or in the pay of the English faction.

The Emperor assured us, that the army which had been sent out consisted but of sixteen thousand men, and was quite sufficient. The failure of the expedition was solely to be attributed to accidental circumstances, such as the yellow fever, the death of the Commander-in-chief, but above all to his blunders, a new war, &c.

“The arrival of the Captain General Leclere,” said the Emperor, "was followed by complete success, but he had not the skill to ensure its continuance. Had he followed the secret instructions which I drew up for him myself, he would have saved many lives and spared himself great mortifications. I ordered him, among other things, to associate with himself men of colour, that he might the better keep the Blacks in subjection; and, as soon as he had reduced the Colony, to send to France all the black Generals and superior officers, to be placed at the disposal of the minister at war, who would have employed them in their respective ranks. This measure, which would have deprived the Negro population of its chiefs and its leaders, would have been a decisive stroke, without wounding in their persons the military laws and regulations. But Leclere did just the contrary: he kept down the people of colour, and bestowed his confidence on the black Generals. In consequence, as it might naturally be expected, he was duped by the latter, found himself beset with difficulties, and the Colony was lost. At first, he would not send to France Toussaint, who had filled a distinguished post there; but after some time he found himself obliged to order his apprehension and to send him prisoner to us. Malevolence did not fail to paint this act under the odious colours of tyranny and perfidy, representing Toussaint as an innocent victim deserving of the deepest interest; and yet he was eminently criminal.

"Toussaint was not a man destitute of merit; though certainly he was not what people attempted to describe him at the time. His character, besides, was ill calculated to inspire real confidence; he had given us serious causes of complaint. We must always have distrusted him.[23] He was chiefly guided by an officer of engineers or artillery, director of the fortifications of St. Domingo. (Colonel Vincent). That officer had come to France before Leclere’s expedition, and conferences were, for a long time, held with him. He exerted himself very much to prevent the attempt, and described with great precision, all its difficulties, without pretending, however, that it was impossible." The Emperor thought that the Bourbons might succeed in reducing St. Domingo if they employed force; but on that subject the result of arms was not to be calculated upon; it was rather the result of commerce and of grand political views. Three or four hundred millions of capital transferred from France to a remote country; an indefinite period for reaping the fruits of such a sacrifice; the very great certainty of seeing them engrossed by the English, or swallowed up by revolutions, &c.: those were the points for consideration. The Emperor concluded with saying, "The colonial system, which we have witnessed, is closed for us, as well as for the whole continent of Europe; we must give it up, and henceforth confine ourselves to the free navigation of the seas, and the complete liberty of universal exchange.”

Footnote 23:

The “Memoires de Napoleon” (published at Paris by Bossange, in 1823) contain notes by the Emperor on a history of St. Domingo, which furnish precise and curious particulars respecting the expedition against that colony, the causes which led to the undertaking, to its failure, &c.

The History of the Convention, of which Napoleon had already expressed his disapprobation, again presented itself to his thoughts; he was far from being satisfied with Lacretelle. “Sentences in abundance,” he repeated, “and but little colouring, no depth: he is an academician, but in no respect a historian.” He made me call my son, and dictated the two following notes, of which I give a literal copy, however imperfect they may be, for he never read them a second time. Every thing that comes from him is, in my opinion, valuable.


"The Convention, called by a law of the Legislative Assembly to give a new constitution to France, decreed the Republic; not that the most enlightened did not think the republican system incompatible with the existing state of manners in France, but because the Monarchy could not be continued without placing the Duke of Orleans on the throne, which would have alienated a great part of the nation.

"An executive power, consisting of five ministers, was established by the Convention for conducting the affairs of the republic.

"Two parties contended for the ascendancy in the National Convention: that of the _Girondists_, composed of men who had influenced the Legislative Assembly, and that of the _Mountain_, formed by the Commune of Paris, which had directed the atrocities of the 10th of August and the 2d of September, and commanded the population of the capital.

"Vergniaud, Brissot, Condorcet, Guadet, and Roland, were the leaders of the Girondists; Danton, Robespierre, Marat, Collot d’Herbois, and Billaud-Varennes, headed the Mountain. These two parties were alike indebted for their rise to the principles of the revolution. Their conductors sprang out of the popular societies which they had successively rendered subservient to their views.

"The party of the Girondists was more powerful in talents, and was eminently popular in the great provincial towns, particularly at Bourdeaux, Montpellier, Marseilles, Caen, Lyons, &:c.

"The party of the Mountain possessed more energy and enthusiasm, and was not less popular in the capital and among the clubs of the departments.

"The Girondist party, which, in the Legislative Assembly, had been the most ardent for the Revolution, became, in the Convention, the most moderate; because it had to contend there with a faction much more violent than itself, which had not found its way into the Assembly.

"The Girondists called their adversaries the faction of September, and constantly reproached them with the horrible massacre of which they were guilty. They accused them of being hostile to a national assembly, and of endeavouring to transfer the government of France to the Commune of Paris; but by these means the Girondists only excited against themselves the Jacobins of all the departments.

"On its side, the Commune of Paris (the Mountaineers) stigmatized the Girondists by the name of the federalists, and charged them with the design of establishing a federative system in France similar to that of Switzerland. They also accused them of endeavouring to stir up the provinces against the capital, and thus held them up to the detestation of the people of Paris, which could maintain its splendour only by the union and unity of the whole of the territory. When the Girondists inveighed against the Mountaineers for the massacres of the 2nd of September, the latter reproached the former with having, during the Legislative Assembly, rashly and without cause, declared war against all Europe.

"The Girondists, at first, appeared to have the upper hand in the Convention, and they directed that Marat should be brought to trial, and that proceedings should be instituted against the assassins of September. But Marat, supported by the Jacobins and the Commune of Paris, was acquitted by the revolutionary tribunal, and returned in triumph to the bosom of the assembly.

"The trial of the King had been another apple of discord. The two parties seemed to proceed in unison, and voted, it is true, for his death; but the greater part of the Girondists also voted for an appeal to the people; and here it is difficult to comprehend the reason of their conduct during that crisis. If they wished to save the king, they were at liberty to do so; they had only to vote for deportation, exile, or the adjournment of the question; but to sentence him to death and make his fate depend upon the will of the people, was, in the highest degree, absurd and impolitic. They seemed to be desirous, that after the extinction of the monarchy, France should be torn to pieces by civil war.

"The general opinion ever since the commencement of the revolution, that the most audacious and unreasonable faction would always predominate, was from that moment verified. The Girondists, however, maintained the contest with courage, and very often had majorities in the assembly during all the months of March, April, and May. But the party of the Mountaineers had recourse, in these circumstances, to an expedient which it had constantly employed. On the 31st of May, the fate of the Girondists was decided by an insurrection of the sections of Paris. Twenty-seven were arrested, brought before the revolutionary tribunal, and sentenced to death; seventy-three were thrown into prison, and from that period the triumphant Mountain had no obstacles to encounter in the Convention. Several Girondist deputies took refuge, however, at Caen, and there raised the standard of insurrection. Lyons, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Montpellier, and several towns of Brittany, embraced cause of this party, and also took up arms against the the Convention.

"All these unconnected efforts were of no avail against the capital, and the Mountain remained in tranquil possession of the national tribune. A circumstance altogether singular contributed to confirm the preponderance of Paris. It was the assignats, then the only resource for supplying the treasury; not a single tax was then paid.

"The provinces learnt with considerable emotion the event of the 31st of May, and the death of the most celebrated of the Girondist party. The armies were not agitated by these results; they took no share in the insurrections of some provinces, and remained all attached to the Convention and the dominant party at Paris.

"When the partial insurrection of certain towns in favour of the Girondists was known, all the armies had already taken the oath and testified their adhesion to the Mountain; besides, in the eyes of Frenchmen, Paris was France. Neither did the departments of Alsace, la Moselle, Flanders, Franche Comté, and Dauphiné, where the principal forces of the republic were quartered, sympathize in the feelings of the federalist towns.

“The 31st of May deprived France of men of great talents, zealously attached to liberty, and the principles of the revolution. The catastrophe might afflict the well disposed, but could not surprise them. It was impossible for an assembly, which had extricated France from the critical situation to which she was reduced, to carry on public business with two parties so inveterately and irreconcileably opposed. It was necessary for the safety of the republic that one should extinguish the other, and there can be no doubt that, had the Girondists obtained the victory, they would have consigned their adversaries to the scaffold.”

Here the Emperor, who had dictated in his usual way, from memory alone, without any research, whether he was dissatisfied with the task he had executed, or for some other reason, stopped short, for the purpose, as he said, of recommencing a new dictation on the same subject.


"The Convention was established in September, 1792, and terminated in October, 1795, Its reign, which lasted nearly three years, presents four eras.

"The 1st, from its commencement to the 31st of May 1793—epoch of the destruction of the Girondists.

"The 2nd, to March 1794—overthrow of the Commune of Paris.

"The 3rd, to July, 1794—fall of Robespierre.

"The 4th to the 14th Vendémiaire (4th October, 1795)—installation of the Government of the Directory.

"Its _first era_ consisted of eight months, its second of ten, its third of four, its fourth of fourteen. Total, three years.

"During its first era the Convention was constantly divided between the parties of the Mountain and the Gironde.

"Danton, Robespierre, Marat, Collot-d’Herbois, Billaud-Varennes, Carnot, Heraut de Sechelles, were the leaders of the party of the Mountain.

"Brissot, Condorcet, Vergniaud, Gaudet, Gensonnè, Péthion, Lasource, Barbaroux, headed the party of the Gironde.

"The two parties were equally hostile to the Bourbons and the royalists.

"The men of the first were distinguished for superior energy, those of the second for superior talents. They were both the partisans of a republican establishment. The Mountaineers were desirous of a Republic, for the purpose of destroying what was in existence before the Revolution, both men and things. The Girondists were animated by the infatuation of youthful feeling, which presented at once Athens and Rome to their view, and revived recollections of sublime antiquity.

"The existence of the mountaineers may be dated from the time of the Constituent Assembly. They were the firebrands of the clubs so generally known by the name of Jacobin. The insurrection of the Field of Mars was planned by them.

"This party did not obtain admission into the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies.

"The Girondists, who predominated in the legislative, were hostile to the Constitution of 1794 and to the King. They would not undertake his defence, and suffered him to be sacrificed to the efforts of the Mountain, which, however, was also their enemy. It was the Mountaineers who caused the atrocities of the 20th of June, of the 10th of August, and of the 2nd of September; they had then no party in the assembly; but they compelled the Girondists to join them after their victory.

"The _first era_ of the Convention presents the struggle of the Girondists and Mountaineers; the Girondists prevailed at that time in consequence of their superior talents, their eloquence, and their already acquired reputation. The presidents were nearly all Girondists; they charged the Mountain with the design of destroying the National Assembly, and substituting in its place a Parisian Dictatorship. They also reproached it with the massacre of September.

"The Mountain, in its turn, charged them with wishing for a federative republic like Switzerland, with being hostile to the capital, and with having, without cause, placed the republic in a state of warfare with the whole of Europe.

"The Mountain had at its command the Jacobins of Paris, and the greatest part of the popular societies of the republic; the commune of Paris, the sections, the revolutionary tribunal, and the lower classes of the people of the capital were devoted to its interests.

"The Girondists possessed great influence over the departments in general and the enlightened part of the nation; their partizans were more numerous among the upper class of society. The Girondists, who had occupied the left side in the Legislative Assembly, and had shewn such animosity against the King, the ministers, and the right side, or moderate party, were forced to shift places, and become in their turn the right side or moderate party, opposed to the vehement and overbearing Mountain, which henceforth formed the left side.

"The Mountaineers, working on the plan they had adopted under the Constituent Assembly, enlisted all the passions in their service, and demanded, with loud cries, the death of the King. The Girondists might, by openly defending him, have preserved his life; they had recourse to the singular system of condemning him, and, after having thus destroyed the monarchy, they wished the sentence to be confirmed by an appeal to the people: in other words, they wished to destroy France by the horrors of a civil war. This false combination ruined them.—Vergniaud, one of the pillars of their party, proclaimed the sentence of death passed upon the King.

"The Girondists were so powerful in the Assembly, that several months’ labour and several days’ insurrection were necessary to destroy their influence in the Convention.

"This party would have governed the Convention and crushed the Mountain, had its system of conduct been more direct and candid. The metaphysicians had too weighty a preponderance in it.

"The _second era_ of the Convention is the reign of the Mountain. Twenty-two of the principal Girondists perished on the scaffold, or fell by their own hands; seventy-three were thrown into prison. The Mountain, ruled with absolute power; it created the revolutionary government, and the Convention in a mass placed itself, of its own accord, under the yoke of the Committee of Public Safety and of the Revolutionary Tribunal.

"In this second era, the sittings of the Convention no longer resembled those of the first; there was an end of discussion and of liberty; it was the despotism of the Decemvirs. Some of the Deputies governed the Committees of General Security, of Finance, &c. Others were dispatched by the Committee of Public Safety to the Armies and the Departments, and became real Pro-consuls.

"Every month, every week, every day, the government became more ferocious and sanguinary. All those, in the higher classes of society who had not emigrated were crowded together in the prisons, as objects of suspicion, and sent by hundreds to the scaffold.

"After treating in this way every one who was of a noble family, a priest, a merchant, or a considerable proprietor, the excesses of the party recoiling upon itself, it ruled the Jacobins and the Commune of Paris with an iron hand: it enslaved the Convention, and threatened it with absolute annihilation; it preached up Atheism, and proscribed the arts, the sciences, and every species of talent. The artists and men of science were thrown into prison, as objects of suspicion, and there was a time when the National Library and the Garden of Plants were on the point of being burnt and laid waste.

"Robespierre and Danton, filled with indignation at these outrages, united their efforts to put a stop to the frightful progress of the popular madness. The capuchin Chabot, Bazire, Fabre d’Eglantine, Hebert, Chaumet, Vincent, and all their associates perished on the scaffold.

"For the first time since the commencement of the Revolution, the people saw persons put to death as ultra-revolutionary, and no longer as having wished to stop the Revolution. Their ideas were turned up-side down, and underwent a real revolution.

"The prisons were filled with sans-culottes, and with all that was basest in society. It was remarked, that the apostate priests were numerous in that class.

"The people beheld, without surprise and with joy, the punishment of those who had until then governed them, and that feeling was a revolution, which escaped the observation of Robespierre and Danton, and which they knew not how to convert to their advantage.

"The _third era_ presents a spectacle different from the other two. Danton and Robespierre had without effort stopped the Revolution, and put a period to the power of the Commune of Paris; but after their success they fell out between themselves.

"Danton, Camille des Moulins, Heraut de Sechelles, and Lacroix, were desirous of going a step farther, and putting an end to the assassinations of the Revolutionary Tribunal. Danton and Lacroix had enriched themselves in their mission to Belgium. Camille des Moulins, who, from the beginning of the Revolution had given himself the title of the Attorney-General of the Lantern, was captivated and softened down by a young wife. They had the boldness to demand, that the blow which had been just struck against Hebert, or the rest of Marat’s party, should be turned to the benefit of the whole Republic—that no innocent person should in future be condemned—that the system of terror should be abolished—and that a Committee of Clemency should be established.

"Billaud-Varennes and Collot-d’Herbois, who took the lead in the Committee of Public Safety and among the great body of Jacobins, rejected these demands with indignation and fury; and Robespierre, after some hesitation, did not dare to support Danton, and made a sacrifice of him. Danton, Camille des Moulins, Heraut de Sechelles, &c. perished on the scaffold, to which they were dragged by the whole Committee of Public Safety, and by the enraged Jacobins. The people were struck with consternation, and for the first time expressed no sign of satisfaction.

"What Robespierre, however, had not dared to do, and what he could have easily effected had he supported Danton, he had the presumption to undertake after the death of Danton. In order to put a period to Atheism, he caused the existence of God to be proclaimed, and he endeavoured to reinstate the virtues, the sciences, and the arts. Billaud-Varennes, Collot-d’Herbois, and Barrere, were struck with horror at seeing the termination of the revolutionary government. They formed a coalition with all the representatives, who, in their missions, had caused the effusion of human blood, and with all the numerous friends whom Danton had in the Convention, such as Tallien, Fréron, Legendre; and when Robespierre was bold enough to give a glimpse of his plan for suppressing the administration of the pro-consuls, and for the necessity of bringing to justice the base characters, who had rendered the Revolution odious in the provinces, he was consigned to the scaffold.

"The transactions of the 9th Thermidor constituted, in reality, the triumph of Collot-d’Herbois and Billaud-Varennes, men more horrible and bloodthirsty than Robespierre; but that victory could not be obtained over the Jacobins and the commune, without calling into action the whole of the citizens; so that, with respect to the middling classes and the people, the death of Robespierre was the death of the revolutionary government; and after various oscillations, those who wished to continue the system of terror and had sacrificed Robespierre, as he had sacrificed Danton, because he was desirous of softening down and moderating the revolution, found themselves drawn along with, and overpowered by, the public opinion.

“During the last ten months, Robespierre frequently complained that he was rendered odious by having all the massacres, which were perpetrated, attributed to him. The men who caused his destruction were more sanguinary and dreadful than he, but the whole nation, which had for a long time imputed all the assassinations to Robespierre, exclaimed that it was a triumph over tyranny, and that belief put an end to it.”

Here the dictation ended; the Emperor joined in common conversation, and as he never resumed it, we are deprived of the fourth era.


June 13th.—The Emperor had just run over a great many numbers of the Moniteur. “These Moniteurs,” said he, “so terrible and dangerous to so many reputations, are uniformly useful and favourable to me alone. It is with official documents that men of sense and real talents will write history; now, these documents are full of the spirit of my government, and to them I make an earnest and solemn appeal.” He added, that he had made the Moniteur the soul and life-blood of his government, and that it was the intermediate instrument of his communications with public opinion, both abroad and at home. Every government had since followed his example more or less in that respect.

“Whatever serious fault might be committed by any of the high functionaries employed in the interior, immediately,” said the Emperor, "an enquiry was set on foot by three Councillors of State. They made their report to me, confirmed the facts and discussed the principles. For my own part, I had nothing more to do than to write at the bottom—‘_Dispatched for execution according to the laws of the republic, or of the empire._’ My interference was at an end, the public result accomplished, and popular opinion did justice to the transaction. It was the most formidable and dreadful of my tribunals. Did any question arise abroad respecting certain grand political combinations or some delicate points of diplomacy? The objects were indirectly hinted at in the Moniteur. They instantly attracted universal attention and became the topics of general investigation. This conduct was at once the orderly signal for the adherents of the throne, and at the same time an appeal to the opinion of all. The Moniteur has been reproached for the acrimony and virulence of its notes against the enemy. But before we condemn them, we are bound to take into consideration the benefits they may have produced, the anxiety with which they occasionally gave the enemy, the terror with which they struck a hesitating cabinet, the stimulus which they imparted to our allies, the confidence and audacity with which they inspired our troops," &c.

The conversation next turned upon the liberty of the press, and the Emperor asked our opinions. We talked for a long time very idly on the subject, and threw out a great number of common-place ideas. Some were hostile to it. “Nothing,” said they, “can resist the liberty of the press. It is capable of overthrowing every government, of agitating every society, of destroying every reputation.” “It is only,” observed others, “its prohibition that is dangerous. If it be restricted, it becomes a mine that must explode, but if left to itself it is merely an unbent bow, that can inflict no wound.” Here the Emperor observed, that he was far from being convinced with regard to that point, but that it was no longer the question for consideration; that there were institutions at present, and the liberty of the press was among the number, on the excellence of which we were no longer called upon to decide, but solely to determine the possibility of withholding them from the overbearing influence of popular opinion. He declared, that the prohibition under a representative government was a gross anachronism, a downright absurdity. He had, therefore, on his return from the Isle of Elba, abandoned the press to all its excesses, and he was well assured, that they had, in no respect, contributed to his recent downfall. When it was proposed in council, in his presence, to discuss the means of sheltering the authority of the State from its attacks, he jocosely remarked, “Gentlemen, it is probably yourselves you wish to protect, for, with respect to me, I shall henceforth continue a stranger to all such proceedings. The press has exhausted itself upon me during my absence, and I now defy it to produce any thing new or provoking against me.”


June 14th.—The Emperor had been ill the whole of the night, and continued so during the day; he had a foot-bath, and was not inclined to go out; he dined alone in his apartment, and sent for me towards the evening.

The Emperor began the conversation, of which the constant subject was the Spanish war. It has been seen in the notice which I have already taken of it, that the Emperor took upon himself the whole blame of the measure. I wish to avoid repetitions as much as possible, and shall, therefore, allude to those topics only which appeared new to me.

“The old King and Queen,” said the Emperor, "at the moment of the event, were the objects of the hatred and contempt of their subjects. The Prince of Asturias conspired against them, forced them to abdicate, and at once united in his own person the love and hopes of the nation. That nation was, however, ripe for great changes and demanded them with energy. I enjoyed vast popularity in the country, and it was in that state of things that all these personages met at Bayonne; the old king calling upon me for vengeance against his son, and the young prince soliciting my protection against his father, and imploring a wife at my hands. I resolved to convert this singular occasion to my advantage, with the view of delivering myself from that branch of the Bourbons, of continuing in my own dynasty the family system of Louis XIV. and of binding Spain to the destinies of France. Ferdinand was sent to Valencey, the old king to Marseilles, as he wished, and my brother Joseph went to reign at Madrid with a liberal constitution, adopted by a junta of the Spanish nation, which had come to receive it at Bayonne.

“It seems to me,” continued he, "that Europe, and even France, has never had a just idea of Ferdinand’s situation at Valencey. There is a strange misunderstanding in the world with respect to the treatment he experienced, and still more so, with respect to his wishes and personal opinions as to that situation. The fact is, that he was scarcely guarded at Valencey, and that he did not wish to escape. If any plots were contrived to favour his evasion, he was the first to make them known. An Irishman (Baron de Colli) gained access to his person, and offered, in the name of George the Third, to carry him off; but Ferdinand, so far from embracing the offer, instantly communicated it to the proper authority.

“His applications to me for a wife at my hands were incessant. He spontaneously wrote to me letters of congratulation upon every event that occurred in my favour. He had addressed proclamations to the Spaniards recommending their submission; he had recognized Joseph. All these were circumstances which might, indeed, have been considered as forced upon him; but he requested from him the insignia of his grand order; he tendered to me the services of his brother, Don Carlos, to take the command of the Spanish regiments, which were marching to Russia,—proceedings to which he was, in no respect, obliged. To sum up all, he earnestly solicited my permission to visit my court at Paris, and if I did not lend myself to a spectacle, which would have astonished Europe, by displaying the full consolidation of my power, it was because the important circumstances which called me abroad, and my frequent absence from the capital, deprived me of the proper opportunity.”

About the beginning of a year, at one of the Emperor’s levees, I happened to be next to the Chamberlain, Count d’Arberg, who had been doing duty at Valencey, near the persons of the princes of Spain. When the Emperor approached, he enquired if these princes conducted themselves with propriety, and added; “You have brought me a very pretty letter; but between ourselves, it was you who wrote it for them.” D’Arberg assured him, that he was altogether unacquainted even with the nature of its contents. “Well,” said the Emperor, “a son could not write more cordially to his father.”

“When our situation in Spain,” observed the Emperor, “proved dangerous, I more than once proposed to Ferdinand to return and reign over his people; that we should openly carry on war against each other: and that the contest should be decided by the fate of arms.” “No,” answered the prince, who seems to have been well advised, and never deviated from that way of thinking. “My country is agitated by political disturbances; I should but multiply its embarrassments: I might become their victim, and lose my head upon the scaffold. I remain; but, if you will choose a wife for me, if you will grant me your protection and the support of your arms, I shall set out and prove a faithful ally.”

"At a later period, during our disasters, and towards the end of 1813, I yielded to that proposal, and Ferdinand’s marriage with Joseph’s eldest daughter was decided; but circumstances were then no longer the same, and Ferdinand was desirous that the marriage should be deferred. “You can no longer,” he observed, support me with your arms, and I ought not to make my wife a title of exclusion in the eyes of my people." “He left me,” continued the Emperor, “as it seemed, with every intention of good faith, for he adhered to the principles which he avowed on his departure, until the events of Fontainebleau.”

The Emperor declared that, had the affairs of 1814 turned out differently, he would unquestionably have accomplished his marriage with Joseph’s daughter.

The Emperor, in reverting to these affairs, said, that the impolicy of his own conduct was irrevocably decided by the results; but that independently of this kind of proof, depending upon consequences, he had to reproach himself with serious faults in the execution of his plans. One of the greatest was that of considering the dethronement of the dynasty of the Bourbons as a matter of importance, and of maintaining as the basis of this system, for its successor, precisely that man, who from his qualities and character, was certain to cause its failure.

During the meeting at Bayonne, Ferdinand’s former preceptor and his principal counsellor (Escoiquiz) at once perceiving the vast projects entertained by the Emperor, and pleading the cause of his master, said to him: "You wish to create for yourself a kind of Herculean labour, when you have but child’s play in hand. You wish to rid yourselves of the Bourbons of Spain; why should you be apprehensive of them? They have ceased to exist; they are no longer French. You have nothing to fear from them; they are altogether aliens with respect to your nation and your manners. You have here Madame de Montmorency, and some new ladies of your Court; they are not more acquainted with the one than with the other, and view them all with equal indifference." The Emperor unfortunately formed a different resolution.

I took the liberty of telling him, I had been assured by some Spaniards, that, if the national pride had been respected, and the Spanish junta held at Madrid instead of Bayonne, or even, if Charles IV. had been sent off and Ferdinand retained, the revolution would have been popular, and affairs would have taken another turn. The Emperor entertained no doubt of it, and agreed that the enterprize had been imprudently undertaken, and that many circumstances might have been better conducted. “Charles IV.,” said he, "was, however, too stale for the Spaniards. Ferdinand should have been considered in the same light. The plan most worthy of me, and the best suited to my project, would have been a kind of mediation like that of Switzerland. I ought to have given a liberal constitution to the Spanish nation, and charged Ferdinand with its execution. If he had acted with good faith, Spain must have prospered and harmonized with our new manners. The great object would have been obtained, and France would have acquired an intimate ally and an addition of power truly formidable. Had Ferdinand, on the contrary, proved faithless to his new engagements, the Spaniards themselves would not have failed to dismiss him, and would have applied to me for a ruler in his place.

“At all events,” concluded the Emperor, "that unfortunate war in Spain was a real affliction, and the first cause of the calamities of France. After my conferences at Erfurt with Alexander, England ought to have been compelled to make peace by the force of arms or of reason. She had lost the esteem of the continent; her attack upon Copenhagen had disgusted the public mind, while I distinguished myself at that moment by every contrary advantage, when that disastrous affair of Spain presented itself to effect a sudden change against me and reinstate England in the public estimation. She was enabled, from that moment, to continue the war; the trade with South America was thrown open to her; she formed an army for herself in the peninsula, and next became the victorious agent, the main point, of all the plots which were hatched on the continent. All this effected my ruin.

"I was then assailed with imputations, for which, however, I had given no cause. History will do me justice. I was charged in that affair with perfidy, with laying snares, and with bad faith, and yet I was completely innocent. Whatever may have been said to the contrary, never have I broken any engagement, or violated my promise, either with regard to Spain or any other power.

"The world will one day be convinced, that in the principal transactions relative to Spain I was completely a stranger to all the domestic intrigues of its Court: that I broke no promise made either to Charles IV. or to Ferdinand VII.: that I violated no engagement with the father or the son: that I made use of no falsehoods to entice them both to Bayonne, but that they both strove which should be the first there. When I saw them at my feet and was enabled to form a correct opinion of their total incapacity, I beheld with compassion the fate of a great people; I eagerly seized the singular opportunity, held out to me by fortune, for regenerating Spain, rescuing her from the yoke of England, and intimately uniting her with our system. It was, in my conception, laying the fundamental basis of the tranquillity, and security of Europe. But I was far from employing for that purpose, as it has been reported, any base and paltry stratagems. If I erred, it was, on the contrary, by daring openness and extraordinary energy. Bayonne was not the scene of premeditated ambush, but of a vast master-stroke of state policy. I could have preserved myself from these imputations by a little hypocrisy, or by giving up the Prince of the Peace to the fury of the people; but the idea appeared horrible to me, and struck me as if I was to receive the price of blood. Besides, it must also be acknowledged that Murat did me a great deal of mischief in the whole affair.

"Be that as it may, I disdained having recourse to crooked and common-place expedients—I found myself so powerful!—I dared to strike from a situation too exalted. I wished to act like Providence, which, of its own accord, applies remedies to the wretchedness of mankind, by means occasionally violent, but for which it is unaccountable to human judgment.

“I candidly confess, however, that I engaged very inconsiderately in the whole affair; its immorality must have shewn itself too openly, its injustice too glaringly, and the transactions taken altogether, present a disgusting aspect, more particularly since my failure; for the outrage is no longer seen but in its hideous nakedness, stripped of all loftiness of idea, and of the numerous benefits which it was my intention to confer. Posterity, however, would have extolled it had I succeeded, and perhaps with reason, on account of its vast and happy results. Such is our lot, and such our judgment in this world!... But I once more declare, that, in no instance was there any breach of faith, any perfidy or falsehood, and, what is more, there was no occasion for them.” Here the Emperor resumed, in its totality and in its origin, the history of the affair of Spain, repeating many things which have been already noticed.

“The Court and the reigning family,” said the Emperor, "were split into two parties. The one was that of the monarch, blindly governed by his favourite, the Prince of the Peace, who had constituted himself the real king; the other was that of the heir presumptive, headed by his preceptor, Escoiquiz, who aspired to the government. These two parties were equally desirous of my support, and made me the most flattering promises. I was, no doubt, determined to derive every possible advantage from their situation.

"The favourite, in order to continue in office, as well as to shelter himself from the vengeance of the son, in case of the father’s death, offered me, in the name of Charles IV. to effect, in concert, the conquest of Portugal, reserving as an asylum for himself, the sovereignty of the Algarves.

"On the other hand, the prince of the Asturias wrote to me privately, without his father’s knowledge, soliciting a wife of my choice, and imploring my protection.

"I concluded an agreement with the former, and returned no answer to the latter. My troops were already admitted into the Peninsula, when the son took advantage of a commotion to make his father abdicate and to reign in his place.

"It has been foolishly imputed to me, that I took part in all these intrigues, but so far was I from having any knowledge of them, that the last event, in particular, disconcerted all my projects with the father, in consequence of which my troops were already in the heart of Spain. The two parties were aware, from that moment, that I could and ought to be the arbiter between them. The dethroned monarch and the son had recourse to me, the one for the purpose of obtaining vengeance, and the other, for the purpose of being recognised. They both hastened to plead their cause before me, and they were urged on by their respective councillors, those very persons who absolutely governed them, and who saw no means of preserving their own lives but by throwing themselves into my arms.

"The Prince of the Peace, who had narrowly escaped being murdered, easily persuaded Charles IV. and his queen to undertake the journey, as they had themselves been in danger of falling victims to the fury of the multitude.

“On his part, the preceptor Escoiquiz, the real author of all the calamities of Spain, alarmed at seeing Charles IV. protest against his abdication, and in dread of the scaffold, unless his pupil triumphed, exerted every means to influence the young King. This Canon, who had besides a very high opinion of his own talents, did not despair of making an impression on my decisions by his arguments, and of inducing me to acknowledge Ferdinand, making me a tender, on his own account, of his services to govern, altogether under my control, as effectually as the Prince of the Peace could, in the name of Charles IV. And it must be owned,” said the Emperor, "that, had I listened to several of his reasons, and adopted some of his ideas, it had been much better for me.

"When I had them all assembled at Bayonne, I felt a confidence in my political system, to which I never before had the presumption to aspire. I had not made my combinations, but I took advantage of the moment. I here found the Gordian knot before me, and I cut it. I proposed to Charles IV. and the Queen, to resign the crown of Spain to me, and to live quietly in France. They agreed, I may say, almost with joy, to the proposal, so inveterately were they exasperated against their son, and so earnestly did they and their favourite wish to enjoy, for the future, tranquillity and safety. The Prince of the Asturias made no extraordinary resistance to the plan, but neither violence nor threats were employed against him; and if he was influenced by fear, which I am very willing to believe, that could only be his concern.

"There you have in very few words, the complete historical sketch of the affair of Spain; whatever may be said, or written on it must amount to that; and you see that there could be no occasion for me to have recourse to paltry tricks, to falsehoods, to breaches of faith, or violation of engagements. In order to establish my guilt, it would be necessary to shew my inclination to degrade myself gratuitously; but of that propensity I have never furnished an instance.

"For the rest, the instant my decision was known, the crowd of intriguers who swarm in every court, and even those among them who had been the most active in producing the misfortunes of their country, strove to curry favour with Joseph, as they had done with Charles IV. and Ferdinand VII. They watched, with extraordinary diligence, the progress of events, and changed sides at a later period, in proportion as difficulties encreased, and our disasters approached. They pursued the plan so successfully, that they are the persons, who, at this moment, govern Ferdinand. And, what is truly horrible, the better to secure their influence, they did not hesitate to impute whatever was odious and criminal in past calamities, to the mass of _simpletons_, whom they proscribed and banished;—of those men naturally well-disposed, and who, in principle, decidedly blamed Ferdinand’s journey. Of this latter class, several who opposed the journey afterwards took the oath of allegiance to Joseph, who seemed then to be identified with the happiness and tranquillity of their country, and continued faithful to him, until the grand catastrophe that drove him from the throne.

“It would be difficult to accumulate a greater mass of impudence and baseness than that exhibited by all those intriguers, the principal performers in that grand scene, which, by the way, extenuates the degradation to which similar acts of vileness have reduced France in the eyes of Europe. It is evident, that they do not belong to her exclusively. Intriguing, ambitious, rapacious men, are every where to be found, and are every where the same. Individuals alone are guilty; nations cannot incur the responsibility. Their only disadvantage arises from their being forced to witness these misdeeds. Unhappy the country which becomes the scene of them!”

At present, the affair of Spain is perfectly known, thanks to the writings of the principal actors, the canon Escoiquiz, the minister Cevallos, and others, but above all, to those of the worthy and respectable M. Llorente, who, under the anagrammatic signature of Nellerto, has published the Memoirs of that time, sanctioned by all the official documents. The opposite contradictions of the two first, their mutual disputes, the assertions and denials of their contemporaries, have reduced their writings to their real value, by stripping them of whatever was erroneous, false, or even fabricated. The result is, that in the opinion of every cool and impartial judge, they all concur, even involuntarily, in confirming the justificatory assertions advanced by Napoleon; not but that they display that difference which must inevitably arise from the diversity of party-interests; but solely because neither of them actually establishes the grounds of positive crimination, nor furnishes any official document by which it can be proved, while all those which exist attest and establish the contrary.

It may also be remarked in the history of those transactions, which must now be considered as genuine, that England herself was altogether a stranger to them, at least with respect to their origin, a fact which was far from Napoleon’s way of thinking, who charged the English at the time with being the first cause of all the intrigues, and who still persevered in the accusation at St. Helena: so accustomed was he to discover them at the bottom of every plot formed against him.

With respect to this affair of Spain, I have further to notice a letter from the Emperor, which throws more light upon the subject than volumes. It is admirable, and the events which followed stamp it as a masterpiece. It exhibits the rapidity, the eagle-eyed view, with which Napoleon formed his opinion of men and things.

Unfortunately, it also shews how much the execution of the inferiors, employed during the greater part of the time, destroyed the finest and most exalted conceptions; and in that point of view this letter remains a very precious document for history. Its date renders it prophetic.

“29th March, 1808.

“Monsieur le Grand Duc de Berg—I am afraid lest you should deceive me with respect to the situation of Spain, and lest you should also deceive yourself. Events have been singularly complicated by the transaction of the 20th of March. I find myself very much perplexed.

“_Do not believe that you are about to attack a disarmed nation, and that you can, by a mere parade of your troops, effect the subjugation of Spain._ The revolution of the 20th of March proves, that the Spaniards possess energy. You have to contend with a new people; it has all the courage, and will display all the enthusiasm shewn by men, who are not worn out by political passions.

“The aristocracy and the clergy are the masters of Spain. If their privileges and existence be threatened, they will bring into the field against us levies en masse, that may perpetuate the war. I am not without my partisans; but if I shew myself as a conqueror they will abandon me.

“The Prince of the Peace is detested, because he is accused of having betrayed Spain to France. This is the grievance which has assisted Ferdinand’s usurpation. The popular is the weakest party.

“The Prince of the Asturias does not possess a single quality requisite for the head of a nation. That will not prevent his being ranked as a hero, in order that he may be opposed to us. I will have no violence employed against the personages of this family. It can never answer any purpose to excite hatred and inflame animosity. Spain has a hundred thousand men under arms, more than are necessary to carry on an internal war with advantage. Scattered over several parts of the country, they may serve as rallying points for a total insurrection of the monarchy.

“I lay before you all the obstacles which must inevitably happen. There are others of which you must be aware. England will not allow the opportunity to escape her without multiplying our embarrassments. She daily sends packet-boats to the forces, which she maintains on the coasts of Portugal and in the Mediterranean; and she enlists in her service Sicilians and Portuguese.

“The Royal Family not having left Spain for the purpose of establishing itself in its American colonies, the state of the country can be changed only by a revolution. It is, perhaps, of all others in Europe, that which is the least prepared for one. Those who perceive the monstrous defects of that government, and the anarchy which has been substituted for the legitimate authority, are the fewest in number. Those defects and that anarchy are converted to their own advantage by the greatest number.

“I can, consistently with the interests of my empire, do a great deal of good to Spain. What are the best means to be adopted?

“Shall I go to Madrid? Shall I take upon myself the office of Grand Protector in deciding between the father and the son? It seems to me a matter of difficulty to support Charles IV. on the throne. His government and his favourite are so very unpopular, that they could not maintain themselves for three months.

“Ferdinand is the enemy of France, and to that consideration he has been indebted for the crown. His elevation to the throne would be favourable to the factions, which for five-and-twenty years have longed for the destruction of France. A family alliance would be but a feeble tie. _Queen Elizabeth and other French princesses_ perished miserably when they could be immolated with impunity to the atrocious spirit of vengeance. My opinion is, that nothing should be hurried on, and that our measures ought to be regulated by events as they occur. It will be necessary to strengthen the _corps d’armée_ which will be stationed on the frontiers of Portugal, and wait....

“I do not approve of your Imperial Highness’s conduct in so precipitately making yourself master of Madrid. The army ought to have been kept ten leagues from the capital. You had no assurance that the people and the magistracy were about to recognise Ferdinand, without a struggle. The Prince of the Peace must, of course, have partisans among those employed in the public service; there is also an habitual attachment to the old King, which might lead to unpleasant consequences. Your entrance into Madrid, by alarming the Spaniards, has powerfully assisted Ferdinand. I have ordered Savary to attend the new King, and observe what passes. He will concert matters with your Imperial Highness. I shall hereafter decide upon the measures necessary to be pursued. In the mean time, I think it proper to prescribe the following line of conduct to you:

“You will not pledge me to an interview, _in Spain_, with Ferdinand, unless you consider the state of things to be such that I ought to recognise him King of Spain. You will behave with attention and respect to the King, the Queen, and Prince Godoy. You will require for them, and pay them, the same honours as formerly. You will manage matters so as to prevent the Spaniards from entertaining any suspicions of the course I shall pursue. You will find no difficulty in this, as I know nothing about it myself.

“You will make the nobility and clergy understand that, if the interference of France be requisite in the affairs of Spain, their privileges and immunities shall be respected. You will assure them that the Emperor wishes for the improvement of the political institutions of Spain, in order to place her in a relative state to that of civilized Europe, and to deliver her from the administration of favouritism. You will tell the magistrates and the inhabitants of the towns and the enlightened classes, that the machine of the government needs reconstructing, that Spain wants a system of laws calculated for the protection of the people against the tyranny and usurpations of feudality, and of establishments which may revive industry, agriculture, and the arts. You will describe to them the state of tranquillity and ease enjoyed by France, notwithstanding the wars in which she has been constantly involved, and the splendour of religion, which owes its establishment to the Concordat I have signed with the Pope. You will explain to them the advantages which they may derive from political regeneration—order and peace at home, respect and influence abroad. Such should be the spirit of your conversation and your letters. Do not hazard any thing hastily. I can wait at Bayonne, I can cross the Pyrenees, and, strengthening myself towards Portugal, I can go and conduct the war in that quarter.

“I shall take care of your particular interests, do not think of them yourself. Portugal will be at my disposal. Let no powerful object engage you and influence your conduct; that would be injurious to me, and would be still more hurtful to yourself.

“You are too hasty in your instructions of the 14th; the march you order General Dupont to take is too rapid, on account of the event of the 19th of March. They must be altered; you will make new arrangements; you will receive instructions from my Minister for Foreign Affairs.

“I enjoin the maintenance of the strictest discipline; the slightest faults must not go unpunished. The inhabitants must be treated with the greatest attention. Above all, the churches and convents must be respected.

“The army must avoid all misunderstanding with the corps and detachments of the Spanish army; there must not be a single flash in the pan on either side.

“Let Solano march beyond Badajos, but watch his movements. Do you yourself trace out the marches of my army, that it may be always kept at a distance of several leagues from the Spanish corps. Should hostilities take place, all would be lost.

“The fate of Spain can alone be decided by political views and by negociation. I charge you to avoid all explanation with Solano, as well as with the other Spanish generals and governors. You will send me two expresses daily. In case of events of superior interest, you will despatch orderly officers. You will immediately send back the Chamberlain de T——, the bearer of this despatch, and give him a detailed report.

“I pray God, M. le Grand Duc de Berg, &c.

(Signed) "NAPOLEON.”

June 15th.—The weather was superb; we took an airing in our calash, and observed very near the shore a large vessel, which seemed to manœuvre in a singular manner. We took her from her appearance to be the Newcastle, which had been for some time expected to relieve the Northumberland; but she was only one of the Company’s ships.

During part of the day, the Emperor, after running over a great number of topics, came at length to mention several persons who, were they at liberty, he said, would join him at St. Helena, and he undertook to explain the motives by which they might be influenced. From this subject, he was led to touch upon the motives of those who were about him. “Bertrand,” said he, "is henceforth identified with my fate. It is an historical fact. Gourgaud was my first orderly officer, he is my own work, he is my child. Montholon is Semonville’s son, brother-in-law to Joubert, a child of the revolution and of camps. But you, my good friend," said he to the fourth, “you,” and after a moment’s thought, he resumed; “you, my good friend, let us know by what extraordinary chance you find yourself here?” The answer was, “Sire, by the influence of my happy stars, and for the honour of the emigrants.”


June 16th.—The weather was delightful; the Emperor entered my apartment about ten o’clock. I was employed in dressing myself, and also in dictating my Journal to my son. The Emperor cast his eye over it for a few instants, and said nothing; he left it to look at some drawings. They were topographical sketches, executed with the pen, of some of the battles in Italy, by my son, and we felt pleasure in reserving them as an agreeable surprise for the Emperor. We had, until then, been employed upon them in secret.

I followed the Emperor to the garden; he talked a great deal on the articles that had been just sent to us from England, and which chiefly consisted of furniture. He exposed the ill-grace and awkwardness of those who had been employed to deliver them to us. He observed that, in presenting even what would have been most agreeable to us, they found means to hurt our feelings. He was on that account determined not to make use of them, and he declined accepting two fowling-pieces, which were particularly intended for him. The Emperor breakfasted in the open air, and we were all invited to his table.

The conversation turning on fashions and dress, the Emperor said that, at one period, he had resolved to prohibit the use of cotton in France, for the more effectual encouragement of the lawn and cambric trade of our towns in Flanders. The Empress Josephine was shocked at the idea, which she decidedly opposed, and it was given up.

The Emperor was in a happy humour for conversation, and the weather was very mild and tolerably pleasant. He began walking in the kind of alley which runs perpendicularly in front of the house. The conversation turned on the celebrated epoch of Tilsit, and the following are the interesting particulars which I collected.

The Emperor remarked, that, had the Queen of Prussia arrived at the commencement of the negociations, she might have exercised considerable influence with respect to the result. Happily, she arrived when they were sufficiently advanced to enable the Emperor to decide upon their conclusion four-and-twenty hours afterwards. The King, it was thought, had prevented her early appearance, in consequence of a rising jealousy against a great personage, which was confidently stated, said the Emperor, “not to have been destitute of some slight ground.”

The moment of her arrival, the Emperor paid her a visit. “The Queen of Prussia,” said he, “had been very beautiful, but she was beginning to lose some of the charms of her youth.”

The Emperor declared, that the Queen received him like Mademoiselle Duchesnois in the character of Chimene, thrown back into a grand attitude, demanding, calling aloud for, _justice_. In short, it was altogether a theatrical scene: the representation was truly tragic. He was unable to speak for an instant, and thought the only way of extricating himself was that of bringing back the business to the tone of regular comedy, which he attempted by presenting her with a chair, and gently forcing her to be seated. She proceeded, nevertheless, in the most pathetic tone. “Prussia,” she exclaimed, “had been blinded with respect to her power;—she had dared to contend with a hero, to oppose herself to the destinies of France, to neglect his auspicious friendship; she was deservedly punished for it. The glory of the great Frederic, his memory, and his inheritance had puffed up the pride of Prussia, and had caused her ruin!” She solicited, supplicated, implored. Magdeburg, in particular, was the object of her efforts and wishes. The Emperor kept his ground as well as he could. Fortunately, the husband made his appearance. The Queen reproved, with an expressive look, the unseasonable interruption, and shewed some pettishness. In fact, the King attempted to take part in the conversation, spoiled the whole affair, “and I was,” said the Emperor, “set at liberty.”

The Emperor entertained the Queen at dinner. She played off, said he, all her wit against me; she had a great deal; all her manners, which were very fascinating; all her coquetry; she was not without charms. “But I was determined not to yield. I found it necessary, however, to keep a great command over myself, that I might continue exempt from all kind of engagement, and every expression, which might be taken in a doubtful sense, and the more so, because I was carefully watched, and particularly by Alexander.” Just before sitting down to dinner Napoleon took from a flower-stand a very beautiful rose, which he presented to the Queen. She at first expressed by the motion of her hand a kind of prepared refusal; but suddenly recollecting herself, she said; _Yes, but at least with Magdeburg_. The Emperor replied, “But ... I must observe to your Majesty, that it is I who present, and you, who are about to receive it.” The dinner and the remainder of the time passed over in that manner.

The Queen was seated at table between the two Emperors, who rivalled each other in gallantry. She was placed near Alexander’s best ear; with one he can scarcely hear at all. The evening came, and, the Queen having retired, the Emperor, who had shown the most engaging attentions to his guests, but, who had at the same time, been often driven to an extremity, resolved to come to a point. He sent for M. de Talleyrand, and Prince Kourakin, talked big to them, and letting fly, continued he, some hard words, observed, that, after all, a woman and a piece of gallantry ought not to alter a system conceived for the destiny of a great people, and that he insisted upon the immediate conclusion of the negociations, and the signing of the treaty; which took place according to his orders. “Thus,” said he, "the Queen of Prussia’s conversation advanced the treaty by a week or a fortnight."

The Queen was preparing to renew her attacks the next day, and was indignant when she heard that the treaty was signed. She wept a great deal, and determined to see the Emperor Napoleon no more. She would not accept a second invitation to dinner. Alexander was himself obliged to prevail upon her. She complained most bitterly, and maintained, that Napoleon had broken his word. But Alexander had been always present. He had even been a dangerous witness, ready to give evidence of the slightest action or word on the part of Napoleon in her favour. “He has made you no promise,” was his observation to her; “if you can prove the contrary, I here pledge myself, as between man and man, to make him keep his promise, and he will do so, I am convinced.”—"But he has given me to understand," said she, ... “No,” replied Alexander, “and you have nothing to reproach him with.” She came at length. Napoleon, who had no longer any occasion to be on his guard against her, redoubled his attentions. She played off, for a few moments, the airs of an offended coquette, and when the dinner was over, and she was about to retire, Napoleon presented his hand, and conducted her to the middle of the staircase, where he stopped. She squeezed his hand, and said with a kind of tenderness; “Is it possible, that after having had the honour of being so near to the hero of the century and of history, he will not leave me the power and satisfaction of being enabled to assure him, that he has attached me to him for life?”—"Madam," replied the Emperor in a serious tone, “I am to be pitied; it is the result of my unhappy stars.” He then took leave of her. When she reached her carriage, she threw herself into it in tears; sent for Duroc, whom she highly esteemed, renewed all her complaints to him, and said, pointing to the palace; “There is a place in which I have been cruelly deceived!”

“The Queen of Prussia,” said the Emperor, “was unquestionably gifted with many happy resources; she possessed a great deal of information and had many excellent capabilities. It was she who really reigned for more than fifteen years. She also, in spite of my dexterity and all my exertions, took the lead in conversation, and constantly maintained the ascendancy. She touched, perhaps, too often upon her favourite topic, but she did so, however, with great plausibility and without giving the slightest cause of uneasiness. It must be confessed that she had an important object in view, and that the time was short and precious.”

“One of the high contracting parties,” said the Emperor, “had frequently assured her, that she ought to have come in the beginning or not at all, and observed that, for his part, he had done every thing in his power to induce her to come at once. It was suspected,” continued the Emperor, “that he had a personal motive to gratify by her coming; but, on the other hand, the husband had a motive equally personal in opposing it.” Napoleon believed him to have been very kind and a sincere friend in the business.

“The king of Prussia,” said the Emperor, "had requested his audience of leave on that very day, but I postponed it for four-and-twenty hours, at the secret entreaty of Alexander. The king of Prussia never forgave me for putting off that audience; so clearly did it seem to him, that Royal Majesty was insulted by my refusal.

“Another heavy charge against me, and of which he has never been able to divest his feelings, was that of having violated, as he said, his territory of Anspach in our campaign of Austerlitz. In all our subsequent interviews, however important the subjects of our discussion, he laid them all aside for the purpose of proving that I had really violated his territory of Anspach. He was wrong; but in short, it was his conviction, and his resentment was that of an honest man. His wife, however, was vexed at it, and wished him to pursue a higher system of politics.”

Napoleon reproached himself with a real fault, in allowing the king of Prussia’s presence at Tilsit. His first determination was to prevent his coming. He would then have been less bound to shew any attention to his interests. He might have kept Silesia, he might have aggrandized Saxony with it, and have probably reserved for himself a different kind of destiny. He further remarked: “I learn, that the politicians of the present day find great fault with my treaty of Tilsit; they have discovered, that I had, by that means, placed Europe at the mercy of the Russians; but if I had succeeded at Moscow, and it is now known how very near I was, they would, no doubt, have admired us for having, on the contrary, by that treaty, placed the Russians at the mercy of Europe. I entertained great designs with respect to the Germans.... But I failed, and therefore I was wrong. This is according to every rule of justice....”

Almost every day, at Tilsit, the two Emperors and the King rode out on horseback together, but, said Napoleon, “the latter was always awkward and unlucky.” The Prussians were visibly mortified by it. Napoleon was constantly between the two sovereigns; but either the King fell behind, or jostled and incommoded Napoleon. He shewed the same awkwardness on their return: the two Emperors dismounted in an instant, and took each other by the hand to go up stairs together. But, as the honours were done by Napoleon, he could not enter without first seeing the King pass. It was sometimes necessary to wait for him a long time, and, as the weather was often rainy, it happened that the two Emperors got wet on the king’s account, to the great dissatisfaction of all the spectators.

“This awkwardness,” said the Emperor, “was the more glaring, as Alexander possesses all the graces, and is equal, in elegance of manners, to the most polished and amiable ornaments of our Parisian drawing-rooms. The latter was at times so tired of his companion, who seemed lost in his own vexations, or in something else, that we mutually agreed on breaking up our common meeting to get rid of him. We separated immediately after dinner, under the pretence of some particular business; but Alexander and I met shortly afterwards, to take tea with one another, and we then continued in conversation until midnight, and even beyond it.”

Alexander and Napoleon met again some time after at Erfurt, and exchanged the most striking testimonies of affection. Alexander expressed with earnestness the sentiments of tender friendship and real admiration which he entertained for Napoleon. They passed some days together in the enjoyment of the charms of perfect intimacy and of the most familiar communications of private life. “We were,” said the Emperor, “two young men of quality, who, in their common pleasures, had no secret from each other.”

Napoleon had sent for the most distinguished performers of the French Theatre. A celebrated actress, Mademoiselle B——, attracted the attention of his guest, who had a momentary fancy to get acquainted with her. He asked his companion whether any inconvenience was likely to be the result. “None,” answered the latter; “only,” added he, intentionally, “it is a certain and rapid mode of making yourself known to all Paris. After to-morrow, post-day, the most minute details will be dispatched, and in a short time, not a statuary at Paris but will be qualified to give a model of your person from head to foot.” The danger of such a kind of publicity appeased the monarch’s rising passion; “for,” observed Napoleon, “he was very circumspect with regard to that point, and he recollected no doubt the old adage, When the mask falls, the hero disappears.”

The Emperor assured us that, had it been his wish, Alexander would certainly have given him his sister in marriage; his politics would have dictated the match, even had his inclination been against it. He was petrified when he heard of the marriage with Austria, and exclaimed—"This consigns me to my native forests." If he seemed to shuffle at first, it was because some time was necessary to enable him to come to a decision. His sister was very young, and the consent of his mother was requisite. This was settled by Paul’s will, and the Empress-mother was one of Napoleon’s bitterest enemies. She believed all the absurdities, all the ridiculous stories, which had been circulated concerning him. “How,” she exclaimed, "can I give my daughter to a man who is unfit to be any woman’s husband? Shall another man take possession of my daughter’s bed, if it be necessary, that she should have children? She is not formed for such a fate."—"Mother," said Alexander, “can you be so credulous as to believe the calumnies of London and the insinuations of the saloons of Paris? If that be the only difficulty, if it be that alone which gives you pain, I answer for him, and many others have it in their power to answer for him with me.”

"If Alexander’s affection for me was sincere," said the Emperor, “it was alienated from me by the force of intrigue. Certain persons, M——, or others, at the instigation of T——, lost no seasonable opportunity of mentioning instances of my turning him into ridicule, and they assured him, that at Tilsit and Erfurt, he no sooner turned his back than I took the opportunity of laughing at his expense. Alexander is very susceptible, and they must have easily soured his mind. It is certain, that he made bitter complaints of it at Vienna during the congress, and yet nothing was more false; he pleased me, and I loved him.”

S——, one of Napoleon’s aides-de-camp, was sent immediately after the treaty of Tilsit to Alexander at Petersburg, and was loaded with favours. The efforts and liberality of Alexander were inexhaustible to render himself agreeable to his new ally.

This same aide-de-camp became afterwards minister of the police, and in 1814, soon after the restoration, he is said to have made a striking allusion to his mission in Russia. A person deeply in the confidence of the King, addressing him at the Tuileries, in a manner altogether careless and unreserved, said, “Now that all is over, you may speak out; pray, who was your agent at Hartwell?” (This was, as every one knows, the residence of Louis XVIII. in England.) S——, astonished at the want of delicacy evinced by M. de B——, answered with dignity:—"M. le Comte, the Emperor considered the asylum of kings as an inviolable sanctuary. It was a principle which he impressed upon his police and we adhered to it. We have since learnt, that the same conduct was not observed with respect to him. But you, Sir, should entertain less doubt upon the subject than any other person. When I arrived at Petersburg, you were there on the part of the king. The Emperor Alexander, in the first warmth of his reconciliation, acquainted me with every thing that concerned you, and asked me whether it was the wish of my government that you should be ordered to leave his dominions. I had received no instructions upon that head. I wrote for them to the Emperor. His answer was, by return of courier, that he was satisfied with the sincere friendship of Alexander; that he would never interfere in his private arrangements; that he entertained no personal hatred against the Bourbons; and that, if he believed it were possible for them to accept it, he would offer them an asylum in France, and any royal residence, which might be agreeable to them. If you were then ignorant of these instructions, you will, no doubt, find them among the papers of the foreign office."


17th of June.—The Emperor went out early in the morning. He ordered his calash for the purpose of taking a ride before breakfast. When he was stepping into it, we were informed, that the Newcastle man of war and the Orontes frigate were tacking to enter the port. These two vessels had overshot the island in the night, and were obliged to work to windward. They sailed from England on the 23rd of April and brought the bill respecting the Emperor’s detention. The English legislature had sanctioned by law the determination of ministers on that subject. The Commissioners of Austria, France and Russia were on board these vessels.

In the course of the day, the Emperor, speaking of the forms and costumes which he had established, and of the etiquette which he had introduced, said, “I found it a very difficult thing to give myself up to my own inclinations. I started into public notice from the multitude. Necessity compelled me to observe a degree of state; to adopt a certain system of solemnity; in a word, to establish an etiquette. I should otherwise have been every day liable to be slapped upon the shoulder. In France, we are naturally inclined to a misplaced familiarity, and I had to guard myself particularly against those who had at once, without any preparatory study, become men of education. We become courtiers very easily; we are very obsequious in the outset, and addicted to flattery and adulation: but unless it be repressed, a certain familiarity soon takes place, which might with great facility be carried as far as influence. It is well known that our kings were not exempt from this inconvenience.” Here the Emperor alluded to a very characteristic anecdote of the time of Louis XIV.—that of the courtier, of the number of whose children that prince enquired at his levee. “Four, Sire,” was the reply. The king, having occasion to speak to him two or three times in public during the day, put precisely the same question to him, “Pray, Sir, how many children have you?” The answer was uniformly the same; “Four, Sire.” At length, as the King was at play in the evening, he repeated the usual question. “How many children have you?”—“Six, Sire.” “How the plague can that be?” said the king, “for if I recollect right, you told me you had but four.”—“Really, Sire, I was afraid of fatiguing you with the constant repetition of the same thing.”

"“Sire,” observed one of the company to the Emperor, "I can mention an anecdote of a neighbouring country, worthy of that which we have just heard, and which may enable us to compare the gratuitous insolence of an absolute monarch’s courtier with the open resentment of a man, who has nothing to fear from his constitutional sovereign.

"A person moving in the circles of high life in London, had to complain of a great personage, by whom he had been very ill-used, and pledged himself to his friends to have ostensible satisfaction. Having learnt that the great personage was to honour a very brilliant party with his presence, he attended himself at an early hour and placed himself near the lady of the house. The great personage had paid his respects to the lady, and, after the customary compliments, being about to join the rest of the company, he had scarcely turned round, before the offended person, leaning carelessly towards her, said, with a loud voice, “Who is your fat friend?” The lady reddened, touched him with her elbow, and whispered; "Hold your tongue, I beg, don’t you see it is the Prince?" The gentleman replied, in a higher tone than before;—"How, the Prince!—Well, upon my honour, he is grown as fat as a pig."

Every one is at liberty to decide upon the relative demerits of these two insolent characters. Both are, no doubt, very blameable, and if there be less coarseness in the conduct of our countryman, it must also be allowed, that his impertinence is altogether without an object and purely gratuitous.

During another part of the day, the Emperor conversed at great length on the sittings of the Council of State. I had pointed out some, and of others we had but a doubtful recollection; or they had altogether slipped our memory. “Well,” said he, “in a short time, scarcely a trace of them will be left behind.” Being unable to sleep that night, I thought of these words, and endeavoured to recollect, as minutely as I could, every thing I was acquainted with respecting the Council of State;—the seat of its meetings, its usages, forms, &c.; and I do not think I can better employ the leisure of our solitude at St. Helena, than by giving an account of them here. I shall occasionally add what I may recollect of the sittings at which I was present. There are persons to whom these details will not be destitute of interest.

The hall of the Council of State, in the Tuileries, the place where the sittings were usually held, was on the same side with, and of the entire length of, the chapel. In the partition wall were several large doors, which being thrown open on Sundays, formed passages to the chapel. It was a fine oblong apartment. At one of its extremities, towards the interior of the palace, was a large and beautiful door, by which the Emperor entered, when, attended by his Court, he proceeded on Sunday to hear mass. It was only opened the rest of the week for the Emperor, when he went to his Council of State. The members of the Council entered only by two small doors, contrived for that purpose in the opposite extremity.

A row of tables, which occupied the whole length of the hall, on the right and left, was arranged there only when the council assembled, and the space left was sufficient to admit of seats within near the wall, and of a free passage without. There sat the Councillors of State, in their respective order of precedence; their places were, besides, designated by portfolios, bearing their names, and containing their papers. At the extremity of the hall, towards the grand entrance, and across the two rows, were placed similar tables for the Masters of Requests. The Auditors were seated on stools or chairs, behind the Councillors of State.

At the upper extremity of the hall, opposite to the grand entrance, was the Emperor’s place on an elevation of one or two steps. There was his arm chair, and a small table covered with a piece of rich tapestry, and furnished with all the necessary articles, with paper, pens, ink, penknives, and which were also laid before the Members of the Council.

At the right of the Emperor, but below, and on a level with us, was the Prince Arch-chancellor, with a separate small table; on his left, the Prince Arch-treasurer, who attended very seldom; and finally, at the left of the latter, M. Locre, who drew up the official account of the proceedings.

When any princes of the family happened to be present, a similar table was placed for them on the same line, and according to their respective rank. If any of the ministers were present, and they were all at liberty to attend whenever they pleased, they took their places at the side tables, at the head of the councillors of state. The enclosed space was vacant, and none ever passed through it, but the Emperor, or the Members of the Council, when proceeding to take the oath of allegiance to him.

The ushers moved silently about the hall, for the service of the members, even during the deliberations of the Council. The members left their places whenever they pleased, to obtain from their colleagues any particular documents of which they might be in want, or for any other purpose.

The upper compartments of the hall displayed allegorical paintings, relative to the functions of the Council of State, such as Justice, Commerce, Industry, &c. and the ceiling was decorated with the beautiful picture of the battle of Austerlitz, by Gros. Thus, under one of the most glorious laurels with which he ennobled France, did Napoleon preside over its internal administration.

It was in that place that for nearly eighteen months I enjoyed the inestimable advantage, the unparalleled satisfaction, of attending twice a week sittings so interesting by their special objects, and rendered still more so by the constant presence of the Emperor, who seemed to be the soul and life of the deliberations. It was there that I have seen him protract the discussions from eleven in the morning until nine at night, and display at the conclusion as much activity, copiousness, and freshness of mind and understanding as he did in the beginning, while we were ready to sink with weariness and fatigue.

While the court was at St. Cloud the council was held there, but when the sitting was to take place at too early an hour, or it was likely to last long, the Emperor adjourned the proceedings until the members could take some refreshment, which was served up in the adjacent apartment, on small tables most magnificently supplied, as if by enchantment. I may truly say, that it would be impossible to give a just idea of the fascinations we witnessed in every thing belonging to the Imperial palaces.

The hour of the Council’s sitting was regularly noticed in our letters of convocation, but the hour was generally eleven.

When a sufficient number of members was present, the Arch-Chancellor[note previously in text Arch-chancellor p2], who was always there the first, and who presided in the Emperor’s absence, opened the sitting, and called the attention of the Council to what was then called the _little order of the day_, and which solely embraced simple matters of a local nature and of mere form.

About an hour later, in general, the beating of the drum in the interior of the Palace announced the Emperor’s arrival. The grand entrance was thrown open; his Majesty was announced; all the Council rose, and the Emperor appeared, preceded by his Chamberlain and his Aide-de-Camp on duty, who presented his chair, received his hat, and continued behind him during the sitting, ready to receive and execute his orders.

The Arch-Chancellor then presented to the Emperor the _great order of the day_, which contained the series of objects under deliberation. The Emperor read them over, and pointed out in a distinct tone that which he wished to have discussed. The Councillor of State, nominated for the purpose, read his report, and the deliberations commenced.

Every member was at liberty to speak; if several rose at the same time, the order of precedence was regulated by the Emperor. The members spoke from their places sitting. No written speeches were allowed to be read; it was requisite that they should be made extemporaneously. When the Emperor thought the question, in which he usually took no inconsiderable share himself, sufficiently discussed, he made a summary of the arguments, which was always luminous, and frequently marked with novelty and point, came to a conclusion, and put it to the vote.

I have already noticed the freedom enjoyed in these debates. The animation of the speakers, increasing by degrees, became sometimes excessive, and the discussion was often protracted beyond measure, particularly when the Emperor, occupied probably with some other subject, seemed, either from distraction or something else, to be altogether ignorant of what was going on. He then commonly cast a vacant look over the hall, cut pencils with his penknife, pricked the cover of his table or the arm of his chair with the point of it, or employed his pencil or pen in scrawling whimsical marks or sketches, which, after he was gone, excited the covetous attention of the young members, who made a kind of scramble for them; and it was curious to observe, when he happened to have traced the name of some country or capital, the hyperbolical inferences that were sought to be extracted from it.

Sometimes too, when the Emperor entered the Council, as soon as his dinner was ended, and after having undergone great fatigue during the morning, he would fold his arms upon the table, lay down his head and fall asleep. The Arch-Chancellor proceeded with the deliberations, which were continued without interruption, and the Emperor, on awaking, immediately caught up the thread of the discussion, though the previous subject might have been ended and another introduced. The Emperor often asked for a glass of water and sugar; and a table in the adjoining room was always laid out with refreshments for his use, without any precautions being adopted as to the individuals who were permitted to approach it.

The Emperor, it is well known, was in the habit of taking snuff almost every minute: this was a sort of mania which seized him chiefly during intervals of abstraction. His snuff-box was speedily emptied; but he still continued to thrust his fingers into it, or to raise it to his nose, particularly when he was himself speaking. Those Chamberlains, who proved themselves most expert and assiduous in the discharge of their duties, would frequently endeavour, unobserved by the Emperor, to take away the empty box and substitute a full one in its stead; for there existed a great competition of attention and courtesy among the Chamberlains who were habitually employed in services about the Emperor’s person; an honour which was very much envied. These persons were, however, seldom changed, either because they intrigued to retain their places, or because it was naturally most agreeable to the Emperor to continue them in posts, with the duties of which they were acquainted. It was the business of the Grand Marshal (Duroc) to make all these arrangements. The following is an instance of the attentions paid by the Emperor’s Chamberlains. One of them, having observed that the Emperor on going to the theatre frequently forgot his opera-glass, of which he made constant use, got one made exactly like it, so that the first time he saw the Emperor without his glass, he presented his own to him, and the difference was not observed. On his return from the theatre, the Emperor was not a little surprised to find that he had two glasses exactly alike. Next day, he inquired how the new opera-glass had made its appearance, and the Chamberlain replied that it was one which he kept in reserve in case it might be wanted.

The Emperor always shewed himself very sensible of these attentions, which were innocent in themselves, and which were calculated to make an impression on the feelings, when dictated only by love and respect; for then the individual was not acting the part of a slavish courtier, but that of an affectionate and devoted servant. Napoleon, on his part, whatever may have been reported to the contrary in the saloons of Paris, shewed sincere regard for the persons of his household. When he quitted Paris for St. Cloud, Malmaison, or any other of his country residences, he usually invited the individuals of his household to his private evening parties; and thus was formed a pleasant family circle, admittance to which was held to be a very high honour. When in the country, he also admitted his Chamberlains to dine at his table. One day, while at dinner at Trianon, being troubled with a severe cold in his head, a complaint to which he was very subject, he found himself in want of a handkerchief; the servants immediately ran to fetch one, but meanwhile the Chamberlain on duty, who was a relation of Maria Louisa’s, drew a clean one unfolded from his pocket, and wished to take the other from the Emperor. “I thank you,” said Napoleon; “but I will never have it said that I allowed M—— to touch a handkerchief which I had used;” and he threw it on the ground.

Such was the man who in certain circles was described as being coarse and brutal, ill treating all his household, and even behaving rudely to the ladies of the palace! The Emperor, on the contrary, was a scrupulous observer of decorum. He was very sensible to all the little attentions he received; and though it was a sort of system with him to suffer no manifestation of gratitude to escape him, yet the expression of his eye or the tone of his voice sufficiently denoted what he really felt. Unlike those whose lips overflow with the expression of sentiments which their hearts never feel, Napoleon seemed to make it a rule to repress or disguise the kind emotions by which he was frequently inspired. I believe I have already mentioned this fact; but the following are some fresh proofs of it, which recur to me at this moment. These circumstances are the more characteristic, since they occurred at Longwood, where Napoleon might have been expected to indulge his natural feelings with less restraint than during the possession of his power.

I usually sat beside my son, while he wrote from the Emperor’s dictation. The Emperor always walked about the room when dictating, and he frequently stood for a moment behind my chair, to look over the writing, so that he might know where to take up the thread of his dictation. When in this situation, how many times has my head been enclosed between his arms, and even slightly pressed to his bosom! Then, immediately checking himself, he seemed to have been merely leaning with his elbows upon my shoulders, or playfully bearing all his weight upon me, as if to try my strength.

The Emperor was very fond of my son, and I have often seen him bestow a sort of manual caress on him; and then, as it were, to do away with the effect of this motion, he would immediately accompany it by some words uttered in a loud and somewhat sharp tone of voice. One day, as he was entering the drawing-room, in a moment of good-humour and forgetfulness, I saw him take Madame Bertrand’s hand and affectionately raise it to his lips; but, suddenly recollecting himself, he turned away, in a manner that would have had a very awkward effect, had not Madame Bertrand, with that exquisite grace for which she is so peculiarly distinguished, removed all embarrassment, by impressing a kiss on the hand that had been extended to her. But these stories have carried me very far from my subject. I must return to the Council of State.

All the reports, plans of resolutions, and decrees, which we had to discuss, were printed and distributed to us at our own houses. There was one subject, for example, relating to the University, which was perhaps twenty times drawn up. Others lingered for a length of time in the portfolios, or were at length totally dropped, without any cause being assigned.

On my return from my mission to Holland, just after I had been created a member of the Council of State, I rose to speak on the subject of the Conscription. I was naturally interested in all that related to naval affairs; my mind was full of enthusiasm, and was stored with the observations which I had just collected in Holland. I proposed that all the Dutch conscripts, in consideration of their natural predilections, should be permitted, if they chose, to enter the naval service; and moreover, that the privilege of this choice should be extended to all the French conscripts. I pointed out the inconveniences which such an arrangement was calculated to obviate, and developed the advantages which it was likely to ensure. I observed that it was impossible to render our seamen too numerous. Our ships’ crews, I said, would thus become regiments: the same men would at once be sailors and soldiers, gunners and pontooners; we should obtain double service at the same rate of pay. My speech had, up to this point, been as favourably received as I could wish: and in my own mind I congratulated myself on my success; when on a sudden I lost all power of utterance. The train of my ideas immediately became disconnected, and I stood mute and confounded, without knowing where I was or what I was doing. This was the first time I had ventured to speak; and I had made an extraordinary effort to surmount my natural diffidence. Profound silence reigned in the assembly, a hundred eyes were fixed upon me, and I was ready to sink under the weight of my embarrassment. I had no alternative but to confess my painful situation, to tell the Emperor, frankly, that I would rather be in a battle; and finally to ask permission to conclude my address by reading a few lines from a written paper which I had brought with me. From that moment, however, I never felt any wish to speak in the Council of State; I was completely cured of all desire to exert my eloquence in future. But, in spite of this unfortunate circumstance, my brief address had attracted the notice of the Emperor; for, a few days afterwards, the Aid-de-Camp on duty (Count Bertrand), informed me that the Emperor, while playing at billiards, seeing the Minister of the Marine enter, said to him:—"Well, Sir, Las Cases read to us, at the Council, a very good memorial on the composition of the navy; he was not at all of your opinion respecting the age at which seamen should be allowed to enter the service."

Every sitting of the Council, at which the Emperor presided, presented the highest degree of interest, for he never failed to deliver a speech himself, and all the observations that fell from him were important. I was always delighted with his speeches: but a circumstance that both surprised and vexed me was to hear some of the remarks which had fallen from the Emperor in the course of the day at the Council of State, repeated and often ill-naturedly perverted in the saloons of Paris in the evening. How could this happen? Was it owing to the inaccuracy of the individual who had reported what he heard, or to the malignity of him to whom it had been reported? Be this as it may, the fact was as I have stated.

I often entertained the idea of writing out the speeches which I had heard the Emperor deliver, and I now very deeply regret having neglected to do so. The following are a few reminiscences which occur to me at this moment:

One day, the Emperor, speaking on the political rights which it was proper to concede to persons of French origin born in foreign countries, said, “The noblest title in the world is that of being born a Frenchman; it is a title conferred by Heaven, and which no individual on earth should have the power to withdraw. For my part, I wish that every man of French origin, though he were a foreigner in the tenth generation, should still be a Frenchman, if he wishes to claim the title. Were he to present himself on the other bank of the Rhine, saying, I wish to be a Frenchman, I would have his voice to be more powerful than the law; the barriers should fall before him, and he should return triumphant to the bosom of our common mother.”

On another occasion, he said, though I do not now recollect on what subject he was speaking: “The Constituent Assembly acted very unwisely in abolishing purely titular nobility; a measure which was calculated to humble so many individuals. I do better. I confer on all Frenchmen titles, of which every one has reason to be proud.”

At another time, he used the following words, which perhaps, I have already quoted:—"I wish to raise the glory of the French name to such a pitch as to make it the envy of all nations. I will, with God’s help, bring it to pass, that in whatever part of Europe a Frenchman may travel, he shall always find himself at home."

In the Council of State a discussion once arose respecting the plan of a decree. The result of this discussion has now escaped my recollection, but I know the subject was to determine that the kings of the Imperial Families, occupying foreign thrones, should leave their titles and all the etiquette of royalty on the frontier, and only resume them on quitting France. The Emperor replying to some one who had started objections to this, and at the same time explaining the motives for the measure, said: “But for these monarchs I reserve in France a still higher title; they shall be more than kings: they shall be French Princes.”

I might multiply quotations of this kind to an endless length: they must be engraven in the recollection of all the members of the Council, as well as in mine. It will perhaps be a matter of surprise that, having seen the Emperor so frequently, and having heard him deliver sentiments such as these, I should have said, I did not know him at the period when I followed him to St. Helena. My answer is that at that time I felt, with regard to the Emperor, more of admiration and enthusiasm than of real love, arising from an intimate knowledge of his character. Even in the palace, we were assailed by so many absurd reports respecting the private character and conduct of Napoleon, and we had so little direct communication with him, that, by dint of hearing the same stories repeated over and over, I imbibed, in spite of myself, a certain degree of doubt and distrust. He was described to be of a dissembling and cunning disposition, and it was affirmed that he could, when in public, make a parade of fine sentiment, which he was totally incapable of feeling; in short, that he possessed an eloquent tongue and an insensible heart. Thus it was not until I became thoroughly acquainted with his character that I was convinced how really and truly he was what he appeared to be. Never perhaps was any man in the world so devotedly attached to France, and there was no sacrifice which he would not readily have made to preserve her glory. This is sufficiently evident from his conduct at Chatillon, and after his return from Waterloo. He expressed himself truly and energetically on his rock, when he used these remarkable words, which I have before quoted: “No, my real sufferings are not here!”

The following anecdotes have reference to other subjects, partly grave and partly humourous. One day the Councillor of State, General Gassendi, taking part in the discussion of the moment, dwelt much upon the doctrines of economists. The Emperor, who was much attached to his old artillery comrade, stopped him, saying: “My dear General, where did you gain all this knowledge? Where did you imbibe these principles?” Gassendi, who very seldom spoke in the Council, after defending himself in the best way he could, finding himself driven into his last entrenchments, replied that he had, after all, borrowed his opinions from Napoleon himself. “How?” exclaimed the Emperor, with warmth, “What do you say? Is it possible? From me, who have always thought that if there existed a monarchy of granite, the chimeras of political economists would reduce it to powder!” And after some other remarks, partly ironical and partly serious, he concluded;—"Go, General! you must have fallen asleep in your office, and have dreamed all this." Gassendi, who was rather irascible, replied, “Oh! as for falling asleep in our offices, Sire, I defy any one to do that with you, you plague us too much for that.” All the Council burst into a fit of laughter, and the Emperor laughed louder than any one.

Another time a question arose respecting the organization of the Illyrian provinces, just after they had fallen into the power of France. Those provinces, bordering on Turkey, were occupied by regiments of Croatian troops, organized on a peculiar plan. They were, in short, military colonies, the idea of which was conceived upwards of a century ago by the great Prince Eugene, for the purpose of establishing a barrier against the incursions and ravages of the Turks, and had well fulfilled the purpose for which they were destined. The committee appointed to draw up a plan for the organization of the Provinces, proposed that the Croatian regiments should be disbanded, and replaced by a national guard similar to ours. “Are you mad?” exclaimed the Emperor, on hearing the report read; “are the Croatians Frenchmen? or have you understood the excellence, utility, and importance of the institution?”—"Sire," replied the person, who conceived himself bound to defend the report, “the Turks will not now venture to resume their transgressions.”—"And why not?"—"Sire, because your majesty is become their neighbour."—"Well, and what of that?"—"Sire, they will be too much awed by your power."—"Oh yes, Sire, Sire," replied the Emperor sharply, “a truce to compliments at present, or, if you like, go and present them to the Turks, who will answer you by a discharge of musquetry, and you can return and give me an account of the affair.” The Emperor immediately decided that the Croatian regiments should be preserved.

One day, the plan of a decree respecting ambassadors was submitted to the consideration of the Council of State. This plan, though very remarkable, was, I believe, never published to the world. The coolness which the Council evinced on this subject caused the matter to be dropped; many other plans also experienced the same fate; which, it may be observed, affords an additional proof of the independence of the Council, and shews that Napoleon possessed more moderation than is generally believed.

The Emperor, who appeared to be the only individual to support the decree, and who adhered to it very firmly, made some very curious remarks in its defence. He wished that ambassadors should enjoy no prerogatives or privileges which might place them above the laws of the country. At most, he was only willing to grant that they should be subject to a higher kind of jurisdiction. “For example,” said he, "I have no objection that they should be brought to trial only after a preliminary decision of an assemblage of the ministers and high dignitaries of the empire; that they should be tried only by a special tribunal, composed of the first magistrates and functionaries of the state. It will perhaps be said that sovereigns, finding their own dignity compromised in the persons of their representatives, will not send ambassadors to my Court. Well, where will be the harm of that? I can withdraw mine from foreign Courts, and thus the country will be relieved from the burden of enormous and very frequently useless salaries. Why should ambassadors be exempt from the law? They are sent with the view of being agreeable, and for the purpose of maintaining an interchange of friendship and favour between their respective sovereigns. If they overstep the limits of their duty they should be reduced to the class of common offenders, and placed within the pale of the general law. I cannot tacitly permit ambassadors at my Court to act the part of hired spies: if I do, I must be content to be regarded as a fool, and to submit to all the mischief to which I may be exposed. It is only necessary to have the matter well understood before-hand, so as to obviate the impropriety of violating received customs, and what has hitherto been regarded as the law of nations.

“During the height of a celebrated crisis,” continued the Emperor, “I received information that a great personage had taken refuge in the house of M. de Cobentzel, conceiving that he should be protected under the immunities of the Austrian ambassador. I summoned the ambassador to my presence, in order to enquire into the truth of the fact, and to inform him that it would be most unfortunate if it were really such as it had been reported to me. I observed that custom would be nothing in my eyes when compared with the safety of a nation; and that I would without hesitation order the arrest of the criminal and his privileged protector, deliver them both up to a tribunal, and subject them to the full penalties of the law. And this I would have done, gentlemen,” added he, raising his voice. “The ambassador was aware of my determination, and therefore my wishes were obeyed without further opposition.”

Long before the expedition to Russia, perhaps a year or two before it was undertaken, the Emperor wished to establish a military classification of the Empire. At the Council of State, there were read fifteen or twenty plans for the organization of the three classes of the French national guard. The first, which was to consist of young men, was to march as far as the frontiers; the second, which was to be composed of middle-aged and married men, was not to quit the department to which it belonged; and the third, consisting of men in years, was to be kept solely for the defence of the town in which it had been raised. The Emperor, who was well convinced of the utility of this plan, frequently recurred to it, and made many patriotic remarks on the subject; but it constantly received marked disapproval from the Council, and experienced a kind of passive and silent opposition. Meanwhile, amidst the multitude of public affairs which claimed the attention of the Emperor, he lost sight of this plan, which his foresight had doubtless calculated for the safety of France, and which was likely to have ensured that result. Upwards of two millions of men would have been classed and armed at the period of our disasters. Who then would have ventured to assail us?

During a discussion on the above subject, the Emperor spoke in a very emphatic and remarkable strain. A member (M. Malouet), in a very circumlocutory style, expressed his disapproval of this plan of organization. The Emperor addressing him in his usual way, said: “Speak boldly, sir, do not mutilate your ideas: say what you have to say, freely; we are here by ourselves.” The speaker then declared “that the measure was calculated to excite general alarm; that every one trembled to find himself classed in the national guard, being persuaded that, under the pretext of internal defence, the object was to remove the guard from the country.” “Very good!” said the Emperor, “I now understand you. But, gentlemen,” continued he, addressing himself to the members of the Council, "you are all fathers of families, possessing ample fortunes, and filling important posts, you must necessarily have numerous dependents; and you must either be very awkward, or very indifferent, if, with all these advantages, you do not exercise a great influence on public opinion. Now, how happens it that you, who know me so well, should suffer me to be so little known by others? When did you ever know me to employ deception and fraud in my system of government? I am not timid, and I therefore am not accustomed to resort to indirect measures. My fault is, perhaps, to express myself too abruptly, too laconically. I merely pronounce the word, I order, and, with regard to forms and details, I trust to the intermediate agent who executes my intentions; and heaven knows, whether, on this point, I have any great reason to congratulate myself. If, therefore, I wanted troops, I should boldly demand them of the Senate, who would levy them for me; or if I could not obtain them from the Senate, I should address myself to the people, and you would see them eagerly march to join my ranks. Perhaps you are astonished to hear me say this, for sometimes you appear not to have a correct idea of the real state of things. Know, then, that, my popularity is immense, and incalculable; for, whatever may be alleged to the contrary, the whole of the French people love and respect me: their good sense is superior to the malignant reports of my enemies and the metaphysical speculations of fools. They would follow me in defiance of all. You are surprised at these declarations, but they are nevertheless true. The French people know no benefactor but me. Through me they fearlessly enjoy all that they have acquired; through me they behold their brothers and sons indiscriminately promoted, honoured, and enriched; through me they find their hands constantly employed, and their labour accompanied by its due reward. They have never had reason to accuse me of injustice or prepossession. Now, the people see, feel and comprehend all this; but they understand nothing of metaphysics. Not that I am inclined to repel true and great principles; heaven forbid that I should. On the contrary, I act upon them as much as our present extraordinary circumstances will permit; but I only mean to say, that the people do not yet understand them; while they perfectly understand me, and place implicit trust in me. Be assured, then, that the people of France will always conform to the plans which we propose for their welfare.

“Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the supposed opposition which has just been alluded to; it exists only in the saloons of Paris, and by no means in the great body of the nation. In this plan, I solemnly declare I have no ulterior view of sending the national guard abroad; my thoughts, at this moment, are solely occupied in adopting measures at home, for the safety, repose, and stability of France. Proceed then to organize the national guard; that each citizen may know his post in the hour of need; that even M. Cambaceres, yonder, may shoulder a musket, should our danger require him so to do. We shall thus have a nation built of stone and mortar, capable of resisting the attacks both of time and men. I will moreover raise the national guard to a level with the regiments of the line: the old retired officers shall be the chiefs and the fathers of the corps. I shall have promotion in the national guard solicited as ardently as Court favours.”

All this must be contained in the registers of M. Locré, partly in discussions relative to the national guard, and partly, as well as I can recollect, on the subject of one of the annual conscriptions. I remember that one day, in particular, there was a long debate respecting the University. The Emperor had expressed himself dissatisfied with the little advancement that was observable in the institution, and the bad system on which it was conducted. M. Segur was directed to present a report on this subject, which he did with his usual candour and sincerity. He set on foot the necessary inquiries, and found that the Emperor’s plans were ill understood and badly executed. Napoleon had wished that erudition should be only a secondary object, that national principles and doctrines should take place of every thing; and yet these principles and doctrines were the subjects to which least attention was paid.

The Emperor was not present at this sitting—a circumstance which very much mortified the friends of the person principally interested in the question. We were guilty of sacrificing too much to the spirit of _coteries_. The report was never again brought forward; it was withdrawn from our portfolios, and it was made a point of some importance to get it returned from those members of the Council who had carried it home with them.

However, some time after this, the great dignitaries of the University were summoned to the bar of the Council of State. The Emperor expressed his displeasure at the bad management and the bad spirit which seemed to preside over this important institution. He observed that all his intentions were frustrated, that his plans were never properly carried into effect, &c. M. de F—— bent before the storm, and nevertheless pursued his accustomed course. The Emperor said, on his return from the Island of Elba, that he had been assured that the Grand Master of the University had made a boast to the government, which succeeded the Empire, of having done all in his power to thwart and misdirect the impulse which Napoleon wished to impart to the rising generation.


18th.—The Emperor sent for me to his study before dinner; he was busy in reading the newspapers which had just arrived. M. de Montholon solicited permission to wait on him. He informed the Emperor that Madame de Montholon had just been delivered of a daughter, and requested his Majesty to do him the honour to stand godfather to the child.

After dinner, the Emperor again looked over the papers which he had already perused, and remarked that France still remained in a state of agitation and uncertainty: he observed that the latest English papers used the most indecorous language with regard to the royal family.... One article led him to say: “Present circumstances, the necessities of the moment, and sympathies of old date, concur in favouring the return of the monks to France. This is a characteristic circumstance in France, as in the territories of the Pope.” Then, dwelling on the subject of the latter, he continued, “as for the Pope, it is his special affair, and is calculated to restore his power. Would any one believe that, while he was himself a prisoner at Fontainebleau, and while the question of his own existence was under consideration, he argued with me seriously on the existence of the monks, and endeavoured to induce me to re-establish them! That was truly like the Court of Rome!”

This day was the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. The circumstance was mentioned by some one present, and the recollection of it produced a visible impression on the Emperor. “Incomprehensible day!” said he in a tone of sorrow—"Concurrence of unheard of fatalities!—Grouchy!—Ney!—D’Erlon!—Was there treachery, or only misfortune!—Alas! poor France!—" Here he covered his eyes with his hands. “And yet,” said he, “all that human skill could do was accomplished! All was not lost until the moment when all had succeeded!”

A short time afterwards, alluding to the same subject, he exclaimed; "in that extraordinary campaign, thrice, in less than a week’s space, I saw the certain triumph of France, and the decision of her fate slip through my fingers.

“But for the desertion of a traitor, I should have annihilated the enemy at the opening of the campaign. I should have destroyed him at Ligny, if my left had done its duty.—I should have destroyed him again at Waterloo, if my right had not failed me. Singular defeat, by which, notwithstanding the most fatal catastrophe, the glory of the conquered has not suffered, nor the fame of the conqueror been encreased: the memory of the one will survive his destruction; the memory of the other will perhaps be buried in his triumph!”


19th.—To-day the Northumberland sailed for Europe.

This vessel had conveyed us to St. Helena; we had in the course of our voyage maintained a friendly intercourse with the officers; the crew had shewn us great kindness, and we had received attentions from Admiral Cockburn himself, towards whom we entertained more of ill-humour than absolute dislike, and whose conduct, after all, had not been of a nature to wound our feelings. Whether from all these circumstances combined, or some others which had escaped our notice, or whether owing to that powerful and natural inclination which leads us to attach ourselves to our fellow creatures, and to cherish social feelings with regard to each other, I know not; but it is certain that we did not feel indifferent to the departure of the Northumberland. It seemed as though we had lost something in thus bidding adieu to our old shipmates.

The Emperor had passed a very bad night; he bathed his feet to relieve a violent head-ache.

About one o’clock he went to take a walk in the garden, having in his hand the first volume of an English work, respecting his own life. He turned it over as he walked about. This work had evidently been written in a less malignant spirit than Goldsmith’s. It certainly exhibited less grossness; but it contained the same inventions, the same false statements, and displayed the same ignorance. The Emperor read the article relative to his childhood, and that period of his early life which he spent at College. The whole was a tissue of misrepresentation; and this led him to remark that I had been very right in suggesting that a narrative of the events of his early career should be prefixed to the campaign of Italy; and he added that what he had just read had fully confirmed him in favour of this idea.

I ought before to have mentioned that, after the dictation of the campaigns of Italy was concluded, and after it had all been arranged in chapters, the Emperor was still undecided as to the manner in which he should form an introduction to it. He had changed his mind frequently on this subject, and had conceived many different ideas, which he by turns abandoned and resumed. Sometimes he was inclined to commence with a few unimportant enterprises in which he had been engaged before the siege of Toulon; such as an expedition to Sardinia, which had failed, &c. At other times he determined to open the subject by describing the first events of the French revolution, the state of Europe and the movements of our armies. I always disapproved these ideas, which, I conceived, would carry him back to too remote a period. He had begun by dictating to me the siege of Toulon, and this I maintained to be the proper point of departure, and the most natural arrangement, since he had not undertaken to write a history, but only his private Memoirs. In this grand episode of the history of ages, he ought, I said, to appear all at once on the theatre of the world, and to occupy the fore-ground which he was destined never afterwards to quit. It was my place, as editor, to record, in any introduction which I might think proper to make, all the details of Napoleon’s early life, and of the events anterior to the period to which his own dictations referred. The Emperor approved this idea; and after discussing it one day at dinner, he decided on its adoption. The form that has been given to the campaigns of Italy was determined on by the above considerations, and to this subject the Emperor alluded in his remark just mentioned, respecting the introduction to the campaigns.

At three o’clock, the governor and the new admiral, Sir Pulteney Malcolm, were presented to the Emperor, who, though labouring under indisposition, was nevertheless very gracious and talkative.

Both before and after dinner, the Emperor amused himself by looking over a work on the Russian campaign, written by an officer who had formerly been one of the Viceroy’s aides-de-camp. The Emperor had heard it described as a most odious production; but he has been so accustomed to the attacks of libellers that declamation has but little effect upon him. In works of this kind he looks to facts only; and under this point of view he did not find the publication in question so bad as it had been represented to him. “An historian,” said he, “would select from it only what is good; he would take the facts and omit the declamation, which is only calculated to please fools. The author of this work proves that the Russians themselves burnt Moscow, Smolensko, &c.; he describes the French as having been victorious in every engagement. The facts that are to be found in this work,” continued the Emperor, "have evidently been described for the purpose of being published during my reign, in the period of my power. The declamatory passages have been interpolated since my fall. The author could not easily pervert the ground-work of his subject, though he has interspersed it with abusive remarks after the fashion of the day.

“As to the disasters of my retreat, I left him nothing to say any more than other libellers. My 29th bulletin plunged them into despair. In their rage they accused me of exaggeration. They were provoked to a pitch of madness. I thus deprived them of an excellent subject, I carried off their prey.”

The Emperor quoted several passages from the works of this and some other French authors, all of whom declaimed against their countrymen, and gave a false picture of their achievements. He could not refrain from observing that it was a circumstance unexampled in history to see a nation strive to depreciate her own glory, to see her own sons thus intent on destroying her trophies. “But from the bosom of France avengers will doubtless arise. Posterity will brand with disgrace the madness of the present day. Can these be Frenchmen,” he exclaimed, “who speak and write in this strain? Are their hearts dead to every spark of patriotism?—But no, they cannot be Frenchmen! They speak our language, it is true; they were born on the same soil with us; but they are not animated by the feelings and principles of Frenchmen!”


21st.—The Emperor took a walk in the garden attended by his suite. The conversation turned on the possibility of our returning to Europe and seeing France once more. “My dear friends,” said he, in a tone of sincere feeling, and with an expression which it is impossible to describe, “you will return!”—"Not without you," we all exclaimed with one voice. This led us once more to analyze the probable chances of our quitting St. Helena, and all yielded to the necessity of admitting that our removal could only take place through the intervention of the English. But the Emperor could not imagine how this intervention was likely to be brought about. “The impression is made,” said he; “it has taken too deep a root; they will everlastingly fear me. Pitt told them, There can be no safety for you, with a man who has a whole invasion in his single head.” “But,” observed some one present, “suppose new interests should arise in England; suppose a truly constitutional and liberal ministry should be established, would the English government find no advantage in fixing through you, Sire, liberal principles in France, and thereby propagating them throughout Europe?” “Certainly,” replied the Emperor, “I admit all this.” “Well then,” continued the individual who had first spoken, “would not this constitutional administration find a guarantee in these liberal principles and in your own interests?” “I admit this also,” replied the Emperor. "I can suppose Lord Holland, as Prime Minister of England, writing to me at Paris: If you do so and so I shall be ruined; or the Princess Charlotte of Wales, whom we will suppose to have removed me hence, saying to me: If you act thus, I shall be hated and shall be looked upon as the scourge of my country. At these words I should stop short:—they would arrest me in my career more effectually than armies.

“And after all, what is there to fear? That I should wage war? I am now too old for that. Is it feared that I should resume my pursuit of glory? I have enjoyed glory even to satiety. I have wallowed in it; and it may be said to be a thing which I have henceforth rendered at once common and difficult. Is it supposed that I would recommence my conquests? I did not persevere in them through mania; they were the result of a great plan, and I may even say that I was urged to them by necessity. They were reasonable at the moment when I pursued them; but they would now be impossible. They were practicable once; but now it would be madness to attempt them. And besides, the convulsions and misfortunes to which France has been subjected will henceforth produce so many difficulties, that to remove them will be a sufficient source of glory without seeking for any other.”

Two of the gentlemen of the Emperor’s suite had been to the town to see the persons who had newly arrived at the Island, and to hear the news of the day. The account which they delivered on their return occupied the Emperor’s attention for some minutes in the garden. About six o’clock he proceeded to his closet, desiring me to follow him; and by chance a conversation was introduced, which to me was in the highest degree interesting and valuable. Though the subject of this conversation relates to myself personally, yet I cannot pass it over in silence; it develops so many characteristic traits of the Emperor, that these would furnish a sufficient apology for my laying it before the reader, were any apology necessary.

The persons who had arrived by the Newcastle had spoken much of my Historical Atlas, which led the Emperor again to remark on the extraordinary celebrity of the work, and to express his surprise that he should not sooner have become thoroughly acquainted with it.

“How happened it,” said he, “that none of your friends should have given me a correct idea of it? I never saw it until I was on board the Northumberland, and now I find it is known to every body. How came you never to call my attention to it yourself? I should have appreciated your merits, and should have made your fortune. I had formed a confused and indifferent idea of your work, which perhaps influenced my mind unfavourably with respect to yourself. Such is the misfortune of Sovereigns; for doubtless no one entertained better intentions than myself. Those who filled posts about my person might easily have brought me to render full justice to the merit of your work; for it was a thing that I could myself judge of, and I asked nothing more. Since I have become acquainted with your tables, and am enabled to form a correct notion of their valuable classification, and the indelible impression which they are calculated to make on the memory, with regard to dates, places, and collateral relations, I regret not having established a kind of Normal School, in which the students should have been uniformly instructed by the help of the Historical Atlas. Our Lyceums would have been inundated with your work, or parts of it, and I would have ensured to it the utmost degree of celebrity. Why, I say again, did you not call my attention to it? It is painful to confess the secret; but it is nevertheless true, that a little intrigue is indispensable to those who wish to gain the favour of Sovereigns; modest merit is almost always neglected. But, perhaps, after all, Clarke, Decrès, Montalivet, M. de Montesquiou, or even Barbier, my librarian, might have withheld the hints which you intended they should throw out to me; for it is another mortifying truth, that favours are sometimes more attainable through the medium of the _valet-de-chambre_ than by a higher channel! And how happened it, that your friend Madame de S.... did not speak to me of your work? We frequently rode in the same carriage together; and she might have secured to you all the advantages she could have wished, by describing your real merits to me.”—"Yes, Sire," I replied, “but at that time I....” “I understand you. You did not then perhaps seek favours?” “Sire, my hour had not yet arrived.” Then ensued a very long explanation respecting my first introduction to the Emperor, the missions to which he had appointed me, the opinion which he had formed of me, and which, according to custom, had remained permanently fixed in his mind.

All this time I was standing near the writing-table in the second chamber, while the Emperor walked backward and forward through the whole length of both rooms. The subject of the conversation was to me most interesting. But, to form a just conception of my feelings at this moment, it would be necessary to look back to the time of Napoleon’s power, to that period when no one dared hope to know his thoughts, or ever to suppose the possibility of conversing familiarly and confidentially with him. Such a happy circumstance would then have appeared to me a dream: and now I almost regard it as a conversation in the Elysian Fields.

“I had no correct idea of you,” said the Emperor, "I had no precise knowledge of anything that concerned you. You had no friend near me to commend you to my notice, and you neglected to put yourself forward. Some of those persons on whom perhaps you thought you could rely even acted in a way prejudicial to your interest. I knew nothing of your work; if I had, it would have been a powerful circumstance in your favour. I was not aware that you had, like myself, attended the military school at Paris; that would have been another claim to my notice.

“You had been an emigrant, you would therefore never have enjoyed my full confidence. I knew that you had been much attached to the Bourbons; you would therefore never have been initiated in the great secrets of my government.”—"But Sire," I replied, “your Majesty permitted me to approach your person, you made me a Councillor of State, and entrusted me with various missions.”—"That was because I conceived you to be an honest man; and besides, I am not of a distrustful disposition. Without knowing why, I considered you to be a man of pure integrity in all that regarded pecuniary matters. If you had only mentioned a single word to me about your affair of the commercial licenses with P....[——?], I would have instantly rendered you justice. But, I say again, I should never have employed you in any political affair."—"Then, Sire," said I, “what risk did I not run, when in Paris and Holland! The English were then situated with respect to us, as we now are with respect to them, and, influenced by my old connections, I ventured in spite of your regulations to forward their letters, when they appeared to me to contain nothing objectionable. To what danger should I not have been exposed had my conduct led to any accusation on the part of the Minister of Police! And yet I conceived that I was only making a very natural and discretionary use of the powers with which Your Majesty had entrusted me, and the confidence which you had reposed in me. I felt so satisfied in my own conscience, and was so convinced of the propriety of my intentions, that I thought myself exempt from the observance of regulations which seemed not to have been made for me.”—"Well," observed the Emperor, “I could have conceived all this, I should readily have given you credit for such an explanation of your conduct; for no one is more ready to listen to reason than I. This was precisely the manner in which I wished duty to be performed; and yet it is certain that you would have been condemned had your conduct been the subject of enquiry, because all would have raised their voices against you. Such was the fatality of circumstances and the misfortune of my situation. Besides, when once I conceived a prejudice, I retained it: this again was the misfortune of my situation and my circumstances. But how could it be otherwise? I had no time for details. I could only take into consideration summaries and abstracts. I was very sure that I might sometimes be deceived; but where was my alternative? Few sovereigns have done better than I.”

“Sire,” said I, “I experienced deep mortification, at finding that your Majesty never addressed a word to me at your Court circles and levees. And yet you never failed to speak of me to my wife when I happened to be absent: I sometimes thought that I was not well known to you, or feared, particularly during later times, that your Majesty had some cause to be displeased with me.”—"By no means," resumed the Emperor; “if I spoke of you when absent, it was because I made it a rule always to speak to ladies about their husbands when the latter were sent on missions. If I neglected you when present, it was because I attached too little value to you. It was the same with many other individuals; you were confounded with the mass, you held only an ordinary rank in my regard. You were permitted to approach me, and yet you did not turn this privilege to good account; you were sent on missions, and yet you neglected to reap the benefit of these appointments on your return home. It is a great fault to keep in the back-ground at court. To my eyes you were in fact a mere blank. Nevertheless, I recollect that I sometimes entertained thoughts of employing you. The person connected with the ministry, on whom you in some measure depended, who declared himself to be your friend, and who had it in his power to serve you, diverted my attention from you, and contributed to keep up my indifference towards you. He knew you well, and perhaps feared you; and it is well known that in all cases I went rapidly to work.”—"Sire," I replied, “my situation was the more painful, since my friends were constantly congratulating me on the favours which I received at Court, and predicting the brilliant fortune that awaited me. Reports were continually raised of my having been appointed to all sorts of posts:—sometimes it was asserted that I had been created Maritime Prefect of Brest, Toulon, or Antwerp; that I had been made Minister of the Interior or of the Marine; or that I had received an important trust connected with the education of the King of Rome, &c.”—"Well," said the Emperor, “now that you call the matter to my recollection, some of these reports were not entirely destitute of foundation. I certainly did entertain the idea of employing you to assist in the education of the King of Rome; and I also intended, on your return to Holland, to appoint you to be Maritime Prefect of Toulon, which at that time I regarded as a sort of ministry. There were five-and-twenty ships of the line in the roads, and I wished to augment their number. In this instance, your friend, the Minister, turned my attention from you. You belonged to the old navy, he observed; your prejudices and those of the new officers must inevitably clash together. This appeared to me a decided objection to your appointment, and I thought no more about you; but now, since I have come to know you, I find that you were precisely the man I wanted. I think, too, that I entertained some other ideas respecting your advancement; but I must again repeat that you neglected your own interests. You retreated when you ought to have advanced. Need I tell you that, with the best intentions on my part, the chance against procuring an appointment to an important post was as great as that of winning a prize in the lottery. An idea occurred to me, and I formed my decision; but if that decision were not immediately carried into effect, it escaped my recollection; for I had so much business on my hands. A luckier candidate was then proposed, and he was installed in office.—But I interrupt you....”

“Sire,” continued I, "being ignorant of your Majesty’s kind intentions respecting me, I was placed in a situation truly ridiculous, amidst the numerous congratulations that I received. I endeavoured to extricate myself from all this embarrassment with the best possible grace; but the more efforts I made for this purpose, the more I was blamed for my modesty. I never asked your Majesty for more than one thing, and that was the situation of Master of Requests, which was immediately granted to me. Clarke reproached me with having lowered my dignity by making such a solicitation. He said that I should have asked to be made a Councillor of State; and that your Majesty would have granted my request."—"No," replied the Emperor, “I did not know you well enough for that. I should have looked upon such a request as the result of silly ambition.”—" Sire," I observed, “I had sufficient tact to guess what your opinion would be.”—"Well,“ continued the Emperor, that was odd enough. But perhaps Clarke was right after all. The solicitation of the inferior post of Master of Requests might have injured you in my opinion; that is to say, it might have tended to fix you in the rank in which I had classed you. I was very well pleased to see my chamberlains have something to do; but Master of Requests was too trivial a post. It is curious,” continued he, “how my memory revives, now that I am speaking on this subject. You had performed detached services, which had rapidly escaped my recollection, because my attention had never been directed to them. If they had been presented to my notice all in a mass, they must have given me a very different opinion of you. You served as a volunteer at Flushing. I knew this; and what I should have regarded as a mere matter of course in any other individual, forcibly struck me in an emigrant, who had for this purpose quitted his family, and who was not without fortune.”—"Sire, I received the most gratifying reward on my return. Your Majesty spoke to me on the subject."—"But," said he, “you suffered this to be lost in the flood of oblivion. You addressed several written communications to me. All these things occur to my recollection by degrees. You transmitted to me some plans respecting the Adriatic Sea, with which I was much pleased. The suggestion was to get possession of the Adriatic, and to establish a fleet there. Ships could have been built at no vast expense, with the wood produced in the immense forests of Croatia. I submitted the whole to the Minister, who never more mentioned the subject to me. But you presented some other things to my notice.”—"Sire, you probably allude to the ideas respecting the system of maritime warfare to be adopted against England, accompanied by an explanatory map."—"Yes, I recollect. The map lay for several days on the desk in my closet. I expressed a wish to see you; but you were absent on a mission."

“Sire, about the same time I had the honour to address to you a plan for transforming the Champ-de-Mars into a _Naumachia_, which would have been an ornament to the palace of the King of Rome. I proposed that the basin should be dug sufficiently deep to admit the launching of small corvettes, which might have been built, rigged, manned and worked by the pupils of the naval school, which, according to my plan, was to be established at the military school. All the Princes of the Imperial house might have been required to devote themselves to these naval exercises for the space of two years, whatever might have been their ultimate destination. Your Majesty might have induced the distinguished families of the empire thus to procure for their sons a knowledge of naval affairs. I doubted not that all these circumstances combined, and the spectacle presented to the capital, would infallibly have rendered the navy at once popular and national in France.”—"Ah! I was not aware of the extent of your plan," said the Emperor, in whose mind every idea immediately became magnified. “This design would have pleased me. It might have produced immense results. From this plan there was but a step to that of rendering the Seine navigable, and cutting a canal from Paris to the sea. This could not have been regarded as too stupendous an enterprise; for more was done by the Romans in ancient times, and more has already been effected by the Chinese of the present day. It would have afforded a pastime to the army in time of peace. I had conceived many plans of the same kind. But our enemies kept me chained to war. Of what glory have they robbed me!... But continue.”—

"Sire, I also submitted to your Majesty’s consideration some ideas respecting the completion of the naval schools."—"Did I adopt them in the schools which I established?" inquired the Emperor. “Did your opinions coincide with mine?” “Sire, the plans for your schools were already determined on; I merely suggested a few hints for their completion.”—"Oh, now I recollect something of the matter. But I think your ideas were a little too democratic; were they not?"—"No, Sire, I set out from the principle that your Majesty had provided for the exclusive competition of the intermediate class, and I proposed to add below it all the chances that might be presented by the competition of seamen; and above it, all the chances that might arise out of the competition of individuals connected with the Court."—"Yes, I recollect," said the Emperor, "your ideas were novel and singular, and they attracted my attention. I submitted the plan to the Minister, who either kept it for his own use, or turned it into ridicule. I also remember that, in the correspondence relative to your mission to Holland, which I ordered to be laid before me, there was mentioned a plan for removing our ships from the German Ocean to the Baltic, by means of canals, which should unite the Elbe, the Oder, and the Vistula. This idea pleased me; it was after my own taste. And on your return, seeing you at my levee, I was about to propose to you some measure for the execution of your plan. But you did not seem to comprehend my questions, or you gave me unsatisfactory and undecided answers. I concluded that the ideas had probably been suggested by some one else, and that you were taking credit for them. I therefore left you, and turned to speak to your neighbour. I was to blame for acting thus precipitately; but I could not help it.

"When I call to mind all these circumstances, I find that I had so many motives for bestowing attention on you, that I am astonished I should have neglected you: and I cannot help thinking that you must have manœuvred admirably, before you could have succeeded in withdrawing yourself so completely from my notice. It is very certain that all these facts have but just now occurred to me: and at the period of our departure, and some time afterwards, you were, with the exception of your name and person, a stranger to me. I looked upon you as one of whom I knew nothing. How do you account for this? You cannot perhaps explain it; but it is nevertheless true.

“I ask again, why you did not avail yourself of the good offices of your friends; or why you did not appeal to me in person?”—"Sire, those who enjoyed the privilege of approaching nearest to your person were intent only on advancing their own interests. Their friendship did not extend beyond mere good wishes. To speak a word for another was what they called using their influence; and that was reserved solely for their own advantage. Besides, even though I had had the opportunity of speaking for myself, I should always have preferred others to speak for me. You, Sire, had but little leisure, your arrangements were very uncertain, it was necessary to explain every thing to you in few words. At the same time, I had so little confidence in myself, and was so fearful of creating an unfavourable impression, that I preferred withdrawing myself from your notice. For it was not sufficient to enter into intrigue; it was necessary that the intrigue should be brought to a result."—"Perhaps it was as well after all," said the Emperor. “You have judged the matter rightly; for, even had I known as much of you as I now do, your reserve and timidity would perhaps have ruined you. I now recollect a circumstance, which probably operated to your prejudice. When M. de Montesquiou proposed you as Chamberlain, he represented you as being possessed of vast fortune; but I soon learned the contrary. I do not mean to say that this circumstance was in any way injurious to you, or that it afforded any ground of objection to you personally; but other individuals, who wished to be appointed Chamberlains, complained of not having been preferred on account of their superior fortune, or quoted your example, if they thought themselves neglected on the score of their poverty. This is the way at Court.”

“It appears evident, Sire, that, with my character, I was destined never to be known to your Majesty.”—"Yes,“ said the Emperor and it had nearly happened so. But yet, on my return, did I not appoint you a Chamberlain? and their number was very limited. Did I not immediately create you a Councillor of State? You had been a member of the old aristocracy, you had been an emigrant, and you had undergone great trials; all these were powerful recommendations to me. Besides, at that time, so many voices were raised in praise of your conduct that, sooner or later, I must have known you thoroughly.”


22nd.—To-day the weather was very bad. The Emperor sent for me about three o’clock. He was in the topographical cabinet, surrounded by all the persons of his suite, who were engaged in unpacking some boxes of books which had arrived by the Newcastle. The Emperor himself helped to unpack, and seemed to be highly amused with the occupation. Men naturally adapt themselves to their circumstances: their enjoyments are trivial in proportion as their sufferings are severe. On seeing the file of Moniteurs, which had been so long expected, he expressed unfeigned delight: he took it up and began eagerly to peruse it.

After dinner the Emperor looked over Park’s and Hornemann’s Travels in Africa, and he traced their course on my Atlas. In these narratives, Hornemann, and the African Society of London, bore ample testimony to the generous assistance they had received from the General-in-chief of the army of Egypt (Napoleon), who had seized every opportunity of promoting their discoveries. The polite and handsome manner in which these facts were mentioned was very gratifying to the Emperor, who had been long accustomed to find his name connected with insulting epithets.


23rd.—I attended the Emperor about three o’clock. He had been so delighted at the receipt of his new books that he had passed the whole night in reading and dictating notes to Marchand. He was very much fatigued; but my visit afforded him a little respite. He dressed and went out to walk in the garden.

During dinner the Emperor alluded to his immense reading in his youth; and he found, from all the books he had perused relative to Egypt, that he had scarcely any thing to correct in what he had dictated on Egypt: he had stated many facts which he had not read, but which, on reference to these books, he found to be correct.

The conversation turned on the subject of memory. The Emperor remarked that a head without memory was like a garrison without fortifications. His he said was a useful kind of memory. It was not general and absolute; but relative, faithful, and only retentive of what was necessary. Some one present observed that his own memory was like his sight, that it became confused by the distance of places and objects, as he removed from one situation to another; upon which the Emperor replied that, for his part, his memory was like his heart, that it preserved a faithful impression of all that ever had been dear to him.

A-propos of good memory and fond recollections, I must here note down a remark of the Emperor’s, which I omitted to mention at the time it was made. One day at dinner, while describing one of his engagements in Egypt, he named numerically the eight or ten demi-brigades which had been engaged. On hearing this, Madame Bertrand could not refrain from asking how, after so long a time, he could possibly recollect all these numbers. "Madame, this is a lover’s recollection of his former mistresses," was Napoleon’s reply.

After dinner, the Emperor ordered my Atlas to be brought to him, for the purpose of verifying the particulars which he had collected in his books on Africa, and he was astonished to find every thing correspond so accurately.

He then began to converse on trade, and the principles and systems which he had introduced. He opposed the principles of economists, which he said were correct in theory, though erroneous in their application. The political constitution of different states, continued he, must render these principles defective; local circumstances continually call for deviations from their uniformity. Duties, he said, which were so severely condemned by political economists, should not, it is true, be an object to the exchequer: they should be the guarantee and protection of a nation, and should correspond with the nature and the objects of its trade. Holland, which is destitute of productions and manufactures, and which has a trade only of transit and commission, should be free from all fetters and barriers. France, on the contrary, which is rich in every sort of production and manufactures, should incessantly guard against the importations of a rival, who might still continue superior to her, and also against the cupidity, egotism, and indifference of mere brokers.

“I have not fallen into the error of modern systematizers,” said the Emperor, "who imagine that all the wisdom of nations is centered in themselves. Experience is the true wisdom of nations. And what does all the reasoning of economists amount to? They incessantly extol the prosperity of England, and hold her up as our model; but the Custom-House system is more burthensome and arbitrary in England than in any other country. They also condemn prohibitions; yet it was England that set the example of prohibitions, and they are in fact necessary with regard to certain objects. Duties cannot adequately supply the place of prohibitions: there will always be found means to defeat the object of the legislator. In France we are still very far behind on these delicate points, which are still unperceived or ill-understood by the mass of society. Yet what advancement have we not made! What correctness of ideas has been introduced by my gradual classification of agriculture, industry, and trade; objects so distinct in themselves, and which present so great and positive a graduation!

"1st.—_Agriculture_; the soul, the first basis of the empire.

"2nd.—_Industry_; the comfort and happiness of the population.

"3rd.—_Foreign trade_; the superabundance, the proper application of the surplus of agriculture and industry.

"Agriculture was continually improving during the whole course of the Revolution. Foreigners thought it ruined in France. In 1814, however, the English were compelled to admit that we had little or nothing to learn from them.

"Industry or manufactures, and internal trade, made immense progress during my reign. The application of chemistry to the manufactures caused them to advance with giant strides. I gave an impulse, the effects of which extended throughout Europe.

"Foreign trade, which in its results is infinitely inferior to agriculture, was an object of subordinate importance in my mind. Foreign trade is made for agriculture and home industry, and not the two latter for the former. The interests of these three fundamental bases are diverging and frequently conflicting. I always promoted them in their natural gradation; but I could not, and ought not to have ranked them all on an equality. Time will unfold what I have done, the national resources which I created, and the emancipation from the English which I brought about. We have now the secret of the commercial treaty of 1783. France still exclaims against its author; but the English demanded it on pain of resuming the war. They wished to do the same after the treaty of Amiens; but I was then all-powerful; I was a hundred cubits high. I replied that if they were in possession of the heights of Montmartre I would still refuse to sign the treaty. These words were echoed through Europe.

The English will now impose some such treaty on France, at least if popular clamour, and the opposition of the mass of the nation, do not force them to draw back. This thraldom would be an additional disgrace in the eyes of that nation, which is now beginning to acquire a just perception of her own interests.

"When I came to the head of the government, the American ships, which were permitted to enter our ports on the score of their neutrality, brought us raw materials, and had the impudence to sail from France without freight, for the purpose of taking in cargoes of English goods in London. They moreover had the insolence to make their payments, when they had any to make, by giving bills on persons in London. Hence the vast profits reaped by the English manufacturers and brokers, entirely to our prejudice. I made a law that no American should import goods to any amount, without immediately exporting their exact equivalent. A loud outcry was raised against this: it was said that I had ruined trade. But what was the consequence? Notwithstanding the closing of my ports, and in spite of the English who ruled the seas, the Americans returned and submitted to my regulations. What might I not have done under more favourable circumstances?

"Thus I naturalized in France the manufacture of cotton, which includes:—

"1st. _Spun-cotton._—We did not previously spin it ourselves; the English supplied us with it as a sort of favour.

"2nd. _The woven-stuff._—We did not yet make it; it came to us from abroad.

"3rd. _The printing._—This was the only part of the manufacture that we performed ourselves. I wished to naturalize the two first branches; and I proposed to the Council of State that their importation should be prohibited. This excited great alarm. I sent for Oberkamp, and I conversed with him a long time. I learned from him that this prohibition would doubtless produce a shock, but that, after a year or two of perseverance, it would prove a triumph, from which we should derive immense advantages. Then I issued my decree in spite of all; this was a true piece of statesmanship.

"I at first confined myself merely to prohibiting wove-cottons; then I extended the prohibition to spun cotton; and we now possess within ourselves the three branches of the cotton manufacture, to the great benefit of our population, and the injury and regret of the English:—which proves that, in civil government as well as in war, decision of character is often indispensable to success. I offered a million of francs as a reward for the discovery of a method of spinning flax like cotton, and this discovery would undoubtedly have been made,[24] but for our unfortunate circumstances. I should then have prohibited cotton, if I could not have naturalized it on the continent.

Footnote 24:

Flax is actually now spun like cotton at Verviers and Liege.

"The encouragement of the production of silk was an object that equally claimed my attention. As Emperor of France and King of Italy I calculated on receiving an annual revenue of 120 millions from the production of silk.

"The system of commercial licenses was no doubt mischievous! Heaven forbid that I should have laid it down as a principle. It was the invention of the English; with me it was only a momentary resource. Even the continental system, in its extent and rigour, was by me regarded merely as a measure occasioned by the war and temporary circumstances.

“The difficulties, and even the total stagnation, of foreign trade during my reign arose out of the force of circumstances and the accidents of the time. One brief interval of peace would immediately have restored it to its natural level.”


24th.—The Emperor informed us that he had spent full four-and-twenty hours in reading the Moniteur on the subject of the Constituent Assembly. He said that he had found these accounts as amusing as a romance; they mark the first rise of those men who had, at a later period, played so distinguished a part. However, he said, it was necessary to have an idea of the external springs of action, otherwise the reports of the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly lost much of their interest, and were frequently unintelligible. The spirit of the first moments, the first interests, of the Revolution remained entirely hidden.

After dinner the Emperor conversed on the subject of Artillery. He had wished for more uniformity and less of subdivision in the pieces. The general was often unable to judge of the best mode of employing them, and nothing could be superior to the advantages of uniformity in all the instruments and accessories of war.

The Emperor observed that in general the artillery did not fire sufficiently in a battle. The principal consideration in war is that there should be no want of ammunition. When there is an actual scarcity, of course, that forms an exception; but, in every other case, it is necessary to fire incessantly. The Emperor, who had himself often been nearly killed by spent balls, and who knew how important such an event would have been to the fate of the battle or the campaign, maintained the propriety of firing continually, without calculating expense. Moreover, he said, that if he wished to avoid the post of danger, he would station himself at the distance of 300 toises, rather than at 600. At the first-mentioned point, the balls frequently pass over the head; but at the latter they must fall somewhere or other.

He remarked, that it was impossible to make artillery fire on masses of infantry, when they were themselves assailed by an opposite battery. This arises from natural cowardice, said he, good-humouredly, from the irresistible instinct of self-preservation. An artillery-officer who was among us protested against this observation.—"It is nevertheless true," continued the Emperor; “you immediately stand on your guard against the enemy who attacks you. You seek to destroy him, lest he should destroy you. You often desist from firing, that he may cease to harass you, and direct his charge against the masses of infantry, who are of much greater importance to the fate of the battle.”

The Emperor frequently adverted to the corps of artillery, in which he had served in his youth. He said that it was the best constituted corps in Europe. It was a sort of family service. The officers were quite of a paternal turn, the bravest and worthiest men in the world, pure as gold. They were somewhat too far advanced in life, because the peace had continued too long. The young men laughed at them, because sarcasm and irony were the fashion of the day; but they adored them, and never failed to render justice to their merits.[25]

Footnote 25:

Napoleon, in his will, has given proof of this sentiment by a bequest in favour of Baron Duthiel, his old chief of artillery, or his children, “as a token of gratitude,” so he wrote with his own hand, “for the attention which that brave general paid to us, when, as lieutenant and captain, we were under his command.”

25th.—We have received the third and last package of books brought by the frigate. The Emperor has greatly fatigued himself by assisting to unpack and arrange them.

About three o’clock, several persons were presented to the Emperor; among others, the Admiral and his lady. The Emperor was indisposed, and he dined in his own chamber, attended by the Grand Marshal.



26th.—The Emperor sent for me and my son, and set us to look over the Moniteur, for the purpose of comparing and completing the manuscript of the Campaigns of Italy.

The Emperor, though he had announced his intention of doing so, had not yet resumed his dictations, and I rejoiced at a circumstance which promised at length to excite renewed interest.

Our business was to select from the Moniteur all the reports and official letters, for the purpose of vouchers. The Emperor wished them to be properly classed, and desired us to make an estimate of their extent, in order that he might be able to calculate at once the space they would occupy when printed, reminding me at the same time that these were henceforth my own affairs; that I should only be serving myself for the future. Delightful words, to which the tone of his voice, his familiar air, and his whole expression, imparted even more value than was conveyed in their meaning!

To-day, during dinner, the Emperor again reviewed the character of his Generals. He passed an eulogium on several of them, the greater number of whom are now no more. He bestowed the highest praise on the talents of General Drouot. Every thing in life is a problem, said he; it is only by what is known that we can come at what is unknown. He observed that he knew to a certainty that General Drouot possessed every quality necessary to make a great General. He had sufficient reasons for supposing him superior to many of his Marshals. He had no hesitation in believing him capable of commanding 100,000 men. “And perhaps,” added he, “he was far from thinking so himself, which, after all, can only be regarded as an additional good quality.”

He again alluded to the prodigious valour of Murat and Ney, whose courage, he said, so often outstripped their judgment. Such is the enigma, said he, of certain actions in certain individuals: the inequality between disposition and understanding explains all.

The conversation turned on the battle of Hohenlinden. The Emperor remarked that “it was one of those great triumphs that are brought about by chance, and obtained without plan. Moreau, he repeated, was destitute of invention; he was not sufficiently decided; and, therefore, he was most fit to be employed on the defensive. Hohenlinden was a confused sort of affair; the enemy had been unexpectedly attacked amidst his own operations, and was conquered by troops whom he had already broken and nearly destroyed. The merit rested chiefly with the troops and generals of the partial corps, who had been most exposed to danger, and who had fought like heroes.”

When speaking of the campaigns of Italy, we observed to the Emperor that the rapid succession of his daily victories, which filled the mouth of fame, must have been a source of great delight to him.—"By no means," replied he. “At least they were supposed to have been so by those who were at a distance from the scene of conflict.”—"That may be; those who were at a distance knew only our success; they knew nothing of our situation. If those victories could have procured me pleasure, I should have enjoyed repose. But I had always the aspect of danger before me, and the victory of to-day was speedily forgotten through the obligation of gaining another to-morrow."

I recollect having heard a distinguished General (Lamarque) deliver a very characteristic opinion of Moreau. Lamarque had been much attached to Moreau, and had for a long time served under him. He was endeavouring to make me understand the different tactics of Moreau and Napoleon. He said:—"Had their two armies been in presence, and there had been sufficient time to move, I would have entered the ranks of Moreau, which were sure to be managed with the utmost regularity, precision, and calculation. On these points, it was impossible to excel, or even to equal, Moreau. But if the two armies had to approach from points a hundred leagues distant from each other, the Emperor would have routed his adversary three, four, or five times over, before the latter could have had time to look about him."


Thursday, 27th.—We had nearly gone without our breakfast: an incursion of the rats, which had entered our kitchen from several points, during the night, had deprived us of every thing eatable. We are much infested with these vermin; they are of enormous size, and very daring and mischievous; it took them very little time to penetrate our walls and floors. Attracted by the smell of the victuals, they even made their way into our drawing-room whilst we were at dinner. We were several times obliged to give them battle after the dessert; and one evening, when the Emperor wished to retire, and his hat was handed to him, a rat of the largest size jumped out of it. Our grooms had tried to rear some poultry, but they were compelled to abandon the attempt, because the rats devoured all the fowls. They would even seize them in the night on their perches.

The Emperor was this day translating some review or journal, in which it was mentioned that Lord Castlereagh had asserted at a public meeting that Napoleon, even since his fall, had not hesitated to declare that, so long as he should have reigned, he would have continued to make war against England, having never had any object but that of her destruction.

The Emperor could not help feeling provoked by these words. “Lord Castlereagh,” said he, with indignation, “must be much accustomed to lying, and must place great dependence on the credulity of his auditors. Can their own good sense allow them to believe that I could ever make such a foolish speech, even if I had had such intentions!”

It was afterwards stated that Lord Castlereagh had said, in parliament, that the reason why the French army was so much attached to Bonaparte was that he made a kind of conscription of all the heiresses of the empire, and then distributed them amongst his generals. “Here again,” observed the Emperor, “Lord Castlereagh tells a wilful falsehood. He came amongst us; he had an opportunity of seeing our manners and laws, and of knowing the truth; he must be certain that such a thing was quite impracticable and out of my power. What does he take our nation for? The French were never capable of submitting to such tyranny. I have, no doubt, made a great number of matches; and I would gladly have made thousands more; it was one of the most effectual methods of amalgamating and uniting irreconcileable factions. If I had had more time to myself, I would have taken great pains to extend these unions to the provinces, and even to the Confederation of the Rhine, in order to strengthen the connection of those distant portions of the empire with France; but in such proceedings, I exerted only my influence, and never my authority. Lord Castlereagh disregards such distinctions; it is important to his policy to render me odious; he is not scrupulous about the means; he does not shrink from any calumny; he has every advantage over me. I am in chains; he has taken all possible precautions for keeping my mouth shut, and preventing the possibility of my making any reply, and I am a thousand leagues from the scene of action; his position is commanding; nothing stands in his way. But certainly this conduct is the _ne plus ultra_ of impudence, baseness, and cowardice.”

I shall now introduce an instance which may serve to prove the truth of the foregoing assertion of Napoleon with respect to French heiresses. I had the account from the lips of the person chiefly interested.

M. d’Aligre had a daughter who was heiress to immense property: the Emperor conceived the idea of marrying her to M. de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, for whom he had such a particular regard that he was looked upon as a kind of favourite. His personal qualities, not less than his high official employment, rendered him one of the first personages in the empire. The Emperor, therefore, never imagined that there could be the slightest impediment to this union. He sent for M. d’Aligre, who often came to Court, and made his request; but M. d’Aligre had other views, and declined the alliance. Napoleon urged it in every possible way, but M. d’Aligre remained immoveable. From his manner of relating the affair to me, it was evident that he thought he had shewn great courage, and, in fact, he deserved the credit of having done so, for he imagined, like all of us, that it was very dangerous to thwart the Emperor’s inclinations. We were, however, all mistaken; we did not know Napoleon. I am now convinced that the justice due to individuals, and to family rights in particular, are sacred to him; and I never heard that M. d’Aligre suffered any inconvenience whatever through his refusal.

After dinner, the Emperor tried some of Pigault Le Brun’s romances and others of the same kind, but in vain: after turning over a few pages of each, he rejected them all, saying that they were all in very bad taste.


Friday, 28th.—Towards one o’clock, the Emperor sent for me and my son. We carried him the first chapter of the Campaigns of Italy, with our last work completing it. He detained us until almost six o’clock.

The Governor had paid a visit to the Grand Marshal, and in a vague manner given him reason to expect some reductions at Longwood. He had stated, with some simplicity, that it had been expected at London that the permission which had been offered us to return to Europe would have greatly diminished the Emperor’s domestic circle. He had also said, without being well understood by the Grand Marshal, that, if we had any private property, we might avail ourselves of our own money, by drawing upon our own funds, as I had already done. His government, he said, had never intended to allow the Emperor more than a table for four persons daily at most, and company to dine once a-week. What a statement! Is it possible that he meant to insinuate that, with respect to us, we ought to pay for our maintenance, and contribute, for the future, to the expenses of the establishment? Let it not be thought incredible: we daily learn here to believe that there is nothing impossible.

The Emperor, afterwards, reverting to a book which he had been reading, and in which there was a story of an Irish lady, respecting whom Goldsmith had abused him violently, recollected well, he said, that, being at Bayonne at the chateau de Marrach, when the city of Bourdeaux gave him a _fête_, he saw, by the side of the Empress Josephine, a charming face of the most perfect beauty, with which he was forcibly struck. The impression she had made did not pass unperceived. It had been anticipated and brought about designedly. “God knows,” said the Emperor, “with what intention. She was a Miss ——, afterwards Madame ——, a new reader to the Empress Josephine, whom she attended to the chateau de Marrach, and might very possibly have had great success. She already occupied my thoughts, when M. de Lavalette, who was at the head of the secret department of the post-office, destroyed the charm. He sent, direct to me, a letter addressed to this young lady. It was from her mother, or her aunt, an Irishwoman, and contained minute directions for the part she was to play, and particularly urged her by all means to contrive to secure such a living pledge as might prolong her empire, or at least secure her great influence. On reading this,” said the Emperor, “all illusion vanished. The coarseness of the intrigue, the turpitude of the details, the style, the hand which had written the letter; but, above all, her being a foreigner, produced immediate disgust; and the pretty little Irish girl was, in fact, as Goldsmith says, put into a post-chaise and suddenly packed off to Paris. And here I find,” continued Napoleon, “a libel imputing this to me as a crime, when, in fact, it was much rather a virtue in me; an act of continence, of which I might, perhaps, boast with much more reason than the famous Scipio. But this is the way in which history is written.”

After dinner, when we were debating what we should read, the Emperor said that, since we confessed we had not wit enough to relate each his tale or story, we ought at least to be condemned to choose, by turns, our evening’s reading; and he began by naming for his part, the poem _De la Pitié_, by the Abbé Delille. He thought the verses good, the language pure, the ideas pleasing; nevertheless, he observed, it was destitute of imagination or warmth. It was, undoubtedly, superior in versification to Voltaire; but still far beneath our other great masters.

Saturday, 29th.—The Emperor breakfasted in the garden, and invited us all. After breakfast he took an airing in the calash. He was in good spirits, and rallied us all in our turns. One he complimented on the beauty and elegance of his apartments, another on the sums which the Governor had paid for him, and which would soon be increased by a handsome stock of child-bed linen; me he congratulated on the taste which the Governor seemed to have for my bills of exchange, which had induced his Excellency to wish the rest to draw bills likewise. He laughed, and was highly amused with our remarks on each other. The weather suddenly changed and obliged him to return home.

After dinner, the Emperor read some passages of Milton, translated by the Abbé Delille. He thought the versification very inferior to the poem _De la Pitié_; and, in fact, it was a work prescribed to the author, written during his emigration, whilst at London, and published by subscription.

During the whole of our morning’s ride, the conversation turned on our kings and their mistresses: Mesdames de Montespan, de Pompadour, Dubarry, &c. The principle was warmly discussed, opinions differed, and were obstinately defended. The Emperor amused himself with fluctuating alternately from one opinion to another. He concluded, however, by deciding in favour of morality.


Sunday, 30th.—The Emperor desired me to be called early in the morning to breakfast with him; he was sad, gloomy, and unable to converse; he could not find words. Chance having produced the mention of London and of my emigration, the Emperor said, by way of fixing on a subject, and finding something to occupy his attention, “You must have seen in London, the Court, the King, the Prince of Wales, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, and other great personages who figured at that time? Tell me what you know of them. What did people think of them? Give me an historical sketch.”—"Sire, your Majesty forgets, or perhaps was never precisely informed of the situation of an emigrant in London. I doubt whether we should have been received at Court; the good old George III. was deeply concerned for our personal misfortunes, but he was extremely reluctant to avow us in a political sense. And if we could have been received there, our means would not have enabled us to appear. I did not therefore go to Court. I have, however, seen most of those whom your Majesty mentions, and I have also heard much said of them.

"I have seen and heard the King several times in the House of Lords, and been very near him; the Prince of Wales in the same place, and also in company in the metropolis. Besides, it is not in London as in France; we do not find there that immense distance between the Court and the mass of the nation; the country is so crowded, information so general, education so equal, affluence so common, and the sphere of activity so rapid, that the whole nation seems to be in the same place and on the same plane; whilst, in looking at this assemblage, which might deserve to be called distinguished, one is tempted to ask, _Where is the people?_ which is, in fact, the question that Alexander is said to have asked at the time of his visit to London. It follows then, that having seen many people of all classes, conditions, and opinions, I must have imbibed some notions approaching in all probability very near the truth. Unluckily, I was then little solicitous about observing and collecting information; and I am likewise fearful that the lapse of so much time may now confuse my memory.

"George the Third was the honestest man in his dominions; his personal virtues made him an object of profound veneration; an extreme morality, and great respect for the laws, were the principal characteristics of his whole life. He came to the throne at twenty years of age, deeply enamoured of a charming young Scotch lady, of one of the first families in the country, it was much feared that he would marry her; but it was sufficient to remind him that it was contrary to law, and he instantly consented to marry the person who should be chosen for him. This was a princess of Mecklenburg. In his grief, he thought her very ordinary, and in fact she was so; nevertheless George III. remained all his life an exemplary husband; he was never known to be guilty of the least infidelity.

"The accession of George III. was an actual political revolution in England: the days of the Pretenders were over; the house of Hanover was established; the Whigs, who had placed that family on the throne, were dismissed from administration: they were troublesome observers, who were no longer wanted. The government was again seized by the Tories, those friends of power, who have ever since kept it, to the great detriment of public liberty.

"The King, however, was personally free from prejudice in this respect: he sincerely loved the laws, justice, and the welfare and prosperity of his country. The violent part taken by England against our French revolution was much less the fault of George III. than of Mr. Pitt, who was the real firebrand. The latter was instigated by the extreme hatred to France which he inherited from his father, the great Chatham, and also by a strong predilection for power and the oligarchy. At the commencement of our revolution, Mr. Pitt was the man of the people: he governed England; he drew in the King, who was always to be worked on by facts; and it must be acknowledged that the excesses and crimes of our outset afforded very favourable opportunities to the measures and the eloquence of Mr. Pitt. It is probable, Sire, that if the unfortunate George III. had retained his reason, your Majesty would eventually have found it greatly to your advantage, because your reign would have presented new facts to his observation, to which he would have yielded. George III. had his own species and degree of character: it was in harmony with his intellectual conceptions: he wished to know things, to be convinced. When once his resolution was taken, it was difficult to make him alter it; yet it was not impossible: his good sense afforded great opportunities.

"His illness was, on this account, a curse to us, a curse to Europe, and to the English themselves, who begin now to give up the high opinion they once professed of Mr. Pitt, of whose fatal errors they now feel the effects.

"It was the first attack of the King’s illness which established the reputation and credit of Mr. Pitt. That minister was little more than twenty-five years of age, when he ventured alone to encounter the mass of those who deserted the King and considered him lost; and who were eager to proclaim the monarch’s incapacity, in order to possess themselves of power under his youthful successor. This conduct rendered Mr. Pitt the idol of the nation. This was the most glorious period of his life; and his noblest triumph was, undoubtedly, that of conducting George III. to St. Paul’s, to return thanks to God for his restoration to health, amidst an immense concourse of people intoxicated with joy and satisfaction.

"There was no doubt that Mr. Pitt was on this occasion the saviour of the King as well as of the public peace; for experience proved that George III. had not become incapable of reigning again; and it was strongly suspected that, had the regency been organized, as the Opposition wished to have it, this capability would not have been very readily acknowledged at a subsequent period; and thus a civil war might have been occasioned.

"I have often heard it said that the mental derangement of George III. was not a common kind of madness: that his alienation did not exactly arise from a local affection of the brain, but from the repletion of the vessels leading to it; a derangement produced by a malady which had long been peculiar to this family. His disorder, it was said, was rather delirium than insanity. When the cause was removed, the sovereign instantly recovered all his faculties, in as great perfection as if they had sustained no interruption; this circumstance explains his numerous relapses and restorations. As a proof of this, people used to mention the strength of mind he must have possessed, to be able, immediately on his first convalescence, to support the pomp of the procession, attended by the assembled population of London, filling the air with acclamations.

"After his second relapse, he gave another not less remarkable proof of this nature, by the calmness and composure which he displayed, when fired at by an assassin, as he entered his box at the theatre. He was so little disturbed that he instantly turned to the Queen, who had just reached the door of the box, to tell her not to be alarmed, for that it was only a squib which had been let off in the theatre: he remained during the whole performance apparently unmoved. Here was certainly no proof of weakness. The permanence of the complaint in his latter years might indeed be opposed to these facts, if it be certain that he had not long lucid intervals.

"George III., although so worthy and well-meaning a monarch, was several times very near falling a victim to assassins. Several instances of this kind occur in his history; and I do not believe any of the persons implicated suffered death, because they all appeared to be insane—all religious or political fanatics. The last and most famous attempt occurred, I think, in 1800.[26] The King went to the theatre, as he did from time to time at that critical period, to keep up his popularity. As he entered his box, a man in the pit took aim at him with a horse pistol, and the ball only missed through the King’s bowing at the moment to salute the public. The dreadful tumult that ensued may easily be conceived! The man did not attempt to deny his crime; he was precisely such another as the fanatic at Schoenbrun, who would have sacrificed your Majesty, and always maintained that he had no other object in view than peace and the happiness of his country. A jury pronounced this man insane, and he was condemned to confinement.

Footnote 26:

The author seems not to be aware that this is the very attempt to which he had just adverted.—_Translator._

"During my excursion to London in 1814, a singular chance procured me a sight of this very assassin. My mind being still occupied with the mission which your Majesty had confided to me the preceding year, concerning the depôts of mendicity and houses of correction, I wished to see the English establishments of this kind. Whilst I was taking a minute survey of Newgate, I entered an apartment in which I found a great number of condemned persons enjoying a certain degree of liberty. The first on whom my conductor fixed his eyes happened to be Hatfield, whom he pointed out to me, and whose name I immediately recollected, and asked if he was the man who had attempted to assassinate George III. It was the same, he said, and he was undergoing the confinement to which he had been condemned, as insane, in Newgate. I observed that, at the time, his insanity had been much doubted and contested by the public, as it always happens in such cases. I was assured, however, that Hatfield was indisputably mad, but only by fits; that his madness was, however, so mild that he was suffered to go about the town, on his word; and that he was the first to request he might be attended to, when he felt that his disorder was coming on. My conductor then called him. Having ventured to ask him some questions, he immediately discovered me to be French by my accent, and told me he had often fought against my countrymen in Flanders. (He had served in the light-horse, or dragoons, under the Duke of York.) He bore their marks, he said, shewing me several scars; and yet, he added, he was far from hating them, for they were brave, and were not to blame in that affair; people had insisted on meddling in their disputes, which concerned themselves only. He began to grow very warm, which induced my conductor to make me a sign, and to send him away. We had touched the chord of his derangement, my conductor observed, and had we continued, he would have become outrageous.

"But I return to George III. The predominant sentiment of that prince was the love of the public good and the welfare of his country. To these he always sacrificed every consideration: this alone induced him to retain Mr. Pitt so long, towards whom he felt a strong repugnance, because he was very ill-treated by that minister.

"The crisis was of the most vital importance to England; the danger most imminent; the talents of the Prime Minister of a superior kind. He was, therefore, necessary. Presuming on the omnipotence of this circumstance over the King’s mind, Mr. Pitt ruled him tyrannically, and without the least delicacy; he scarcely allowed him the disposal of the most trifling place. If there was a vacancy, and the King wished to reward a private servant of his own, he was always too late; Mr. Pitt had already disposed of it, and for the good of the state, he would say—for the sake of parliamentary services. If the King shewed too much dissatisfaction, Mr. Pitt had one invariable answer constantly ready—he would resign and give up his place to another. At length a circumstance occurred of the most delicate kind, as it concerned the King’s conscience, who was very religious; that is to say, the question of the emancipation of the Catholics of Ireland, to which he obstinately refused to consent. Mr. Pitt insisted with equal perseverance; he was pledged to this measure, he said, and resorted to his usual threat. But the King this time took him at his word, and, overjoyed at his deliverance, repeated the same day, to several persons, that he had now got rid of a man who had for twenty years been kicking at him. And it may not, perhaps, be useless to observe here, as a remarkable singularity, in contrast to Mr. Pitt’s ill usage of the King, that George III. has been heard to say that, of all his ministers, Mr. Fox (so much accused of republicanism, and perhaps not without foundation) was the person who, when at the head of affairs, had constantly shewn him the greatest delicacy, deference, respect, and attention.

"Nevertheless, such was the influence of the public interest over the King’s mind that, notwithstanding all his aversion, he reinstated Mr. Pitt a year afterwards. It was thought, at the time, that when Mr. Pitt retired he had had the address to fix Mr. Addington, a creature of his own, in the ministry, in order to be able to replace himself there in a short time without difficulty: but it has since been proved that Mr. Pitt himself was obliged to have recourse to intrigues to overthrow his successor and obtain his second administration, which, however, was by no means worthy of him: it was filled with disasters which he himself had occasioned. The ball that decided the victory of Austerlitz killed him in London.

"Time daily undermines the great reputation of Mr. Pitt, not with respect to his eminent talents, but their fatal employment. England groans under the calamities with which he overwhelmed her, the most fatal of which are the school and the doctrines he bequeathed to her. He introduced the police into England, accustomed the nation to an armed force, and commenced that system of informations, snares, and demoralization of every kind so completely perfected by his successors.

“His great system of tactics was constantly to excite our excesses on the Continent, and then to hold them up as a scarecrow to England, which immediately granted him all he wanted.” “But what did you all say to that?” asked the Emperor: “What was the opinion of the emigrants?”—"Sire," I replied, “we all constantly saw through the same glass; what we said the first day of our emigration we still repeated on the last day of our exile. We had not advanced one step; we had become and remained a people by ourselves. Mr. Pitt was our oracle; whatever was said by him, by Burke, Windham, or any of the most violent on that side of the question, appeared to us to be delicious; all that their adversaries objected, abominable. Fox, Sheridan, and Grey, were in our eyes nothing but infamous Jacobins; we never called them by any other name.” “Very well,” said the Emperor; “now return to George III.”

"This virtuous prince was excessively partial to private life and rural occupations; he devoted all the time he could spare from the business of the state to the cultivation of a farm a few miles from London; he never returned to the capital except for his regular levées, or extraordinary councils required by circumstances; and he immediately returned to his fields, where he lived without pomp, and like an honest farmer, as he said himself. All intrigues were left in town, about the ministers, and amongst them.

"George III. had many domestic troubles. His sister was Matilda Queen of Denmark, whose story forms so melancholy a romance; his two brothers caused him many vexations by their marriages; and he had not reason to be perfectly satisfied with his eldest son.

“The two brothers of George III. were the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Gloucester. I often saw the latter in private society; he was the worthiest, most polite, and honourable gentleman in England. Both these illustrious individuals, according to the spirit of the British constitution, were entirely strangers to public business. The King heard that one of them had married or was about to marry a private individual. This was a great crime in his estimation; he had himself made a great sacrifice to avoid committing it. He was extremely angry; and whilst he was sending a message to Parliament against the brother who had thus given offence, he was informed that the other had eloped to Calais for a similar purpose. It was like a fatality, an absolute epidemic, for it was at the same time reported on all sides, that the heir-apparent himself was also secretly married.”—"What," said the Emperor, “the Prince of Wales!”—"Yes, Sire, himself: his marriage was every where talked of, but with circumstances not sufficiently certain for me to venture to repeat them; the fact, however, seemed generally acknowledged. But, as the Prince afterwards caused it to be contradicted in Parliament, through the medium of the opposition, we are bound after that to believe him.

"I have it, however, from the mouth of a very near relation of his pretended wife, that the matter was positively so. I heard this person give way to the most violent rage on the solemn marriage of the prince, and threaten to resort to personal violence. It might, therefore, be considered a contested point, which was unavoidably represented according to party-spirit; some obstinately maintaining the reality of the marriage, whilst others denied it in the most violent manner. Perhaps this contradiction might be reconciled by the consideration that the person he was said to have married, Mrs. Fitzherbert, was a Catholic. This circumstance rendered the marriage impossible in the eyes of the law, and perfectly void with respect to the heir to the throne. However this may be, I have often met Mrs. Fitzherbert in company: her carriage bore the Prince’s arms, and her servants wore his livery. This lady was much older than himself; but beautiful, agreeable, of a powerful mind, and haughty, impatient temper, which often involved her in disputes with the Prince, and gave rise, it was said, to scenes of violence not very becoming such elevated rank. It was during one of the last quarrels of this kind, when, they say, Mrs. Fitzherbert had obstinately kept the door shut against the Prince, that Mr. Pitt dexterously took the opportunity of persuading him to consent to a marriage with the Princess of Brunswick."—"But stay," said the Emperor, “you go too fast; you pass over what chiefly interests me. Under what auspices did the Prince of Wales enter into life? What was there peculiar in his political conduct, his situation with regard to the Opposition, and so forth?”—"This Prince, Sire, came before the public with all the advantages of face, person, and mind. He was greeted with universal enthusiasm; but he soon evinced those inclinations, and began to act that part, which seemed necessarily imposed on great personages in the middle of the last century. Such were the infatuation of gaming, and its consequent embarrassments; table and other excesses; and, above all, a set of companions disapproved of by the public. Then it was that all generous hearts were grieved; hope was blighted, and the middling class, which in every country really constitutes the nation, and which, it must be confessed, is in England the most moral population of all Europe, despaired of the future. It was a received adage in England, amongst the lower classes in particular, that the Prince of Wales would never reign; the fortune-tellers and conjurors, it was said, had foretold it to himself.

“The opposition, into whose arms he had thrown himself, as heirs presumptive too frequently do; the opposition, whose stay and hope he was, perhaps trying to deceive themselves, when this misconduct was mentioned to them, used to get over it by saying that he would be another Henry V.; that Henry V. had been extremely dissipated when Prince of Wales; but that he became the greatest King the monarchy had produced; and thence they concluded that the Prince of Wales would make one of their greatest kings.”—"But did he adopt the revolutionary party and defend our modern ideas?" said the Emperor. "No, Sire; as the fever of revolutionary principles increased, decency compelled him to withdraw by degrees from the opposition which defended them. He relinquished all ostensible alliance, and filled up the void of his life by giving himself up to pleasure and its attendant difficulties. He was constantly overwhelmed with debts, although parliament had already paid them several times. By these encumbrances he was greatly embarrassed, and his character and popularity were endangered. It was whilst thus involved, and during a quarrel with Mrs. Fitzherbert, that Mr. Pitt got hold of him, offering to pay his debts again, if he would adopt his father’s views and consent to marry. He was obliged to submit to all that was prescribed, and the hand of the Princess of Brunswick was asked and obtained. But, during the short interval of the negotiation, a celebrated woman who had long aspired to govern the prince, finding the place vacant, took possession of it herself. It is pretended that she has said she had sought this connection for twenty years; for she was much older than himself, a circumstance which seemed to indicate a peculiar taste in this family, having also been remarked in several of his brothers. This person was immediately appointed Lady of the Bed-chamber to the future Princess of Wales; she even went to meet her and bring her to England. It was under such auspices, such malignant influence, that the bride landed on the British shore. Accordingly, it is positively asserted that this unhappy princess had not even so much as twenty-four hours’ enjoyment, out of that privileged period emphatically called by the English the honey-moon. From the very day after her marriage, ridicule, neglect, and contempt were her portion.

"All who possessed the least spark of generosity or morality in England took her part, and loudly exclaimed against the manner in which she was treated. The greater share of the odium, however, fell on Lady Jersey, who was accused of having bewitched the prince. She became the object of public execration; yet the Prince, it was declared could not plead the excuse of illusion or blindness; for it is said that, after a very gay entertainment amongst his jovial companions, one of them was led, in the course of conversation, to say that he knew the Madame de Merteuil of the Liaisons Dangereuses. Many of the others immediately cried out that they also knew one: upon this, it is said, the Prince proposed, for a frolic, that each should write his secret separately. All the notes were thrown into a vase; and the name of Lady Jersey was found written on every one of them: the Prince himself, not having looked for such unanimity, or expected to be discovered, had written this name as well as the rest.

"I knew this Lady Jersey, and it must be confessed that her face and whole appearance were so little indicative of her age, that it could not easily have been suspected. She had all the charms of early youth, heightened by all the grace of the most elegant manners; and I am bound to say, that, in the circles in which I saw her, she even possessed a sort of attractive kindness; whether the manners of her class render the disposition indulgent, or whether she did not in fact deserve all the reproaches with which she was loaded.

“The Prince of Wales seems to have possessed a peculiar faculty, a gift, which the English call the power of fascination. He is endowed with it in the highest degree; one would think that his will was sufficient to reclaim the attachment of the multitude, and as it were to corrupt public opinion. His history is full of those losses and returns of popularity; and, perhaps, it is the certainty of being able to command this sort of success that has so often led him, as his detractors say, to disregard public opinion. His enemies have asserted that he has carried this species of courage to absolute heroism. They have censured him for his hardihood in persisting, whilst lying himself under the reproach of an irregular life, in accusing his wife of that conduct of which he set the example; an inconsistency which ought, undoubtedly, to be attributed to the fatal suggestions of pernicious counsellors, inimical to his glory and tranquillity. It is at least certain, that the basest corruption, the aid of the laws, and the influence of the heir to the throne, were all employed against the Princess, and all in vain: a circumstance which, it is said, used to torment the Prince and expose him to ridicule. People laughed at his unprecedented ill-luck, in being unable to prove, with all his endeavours, what so many husbands would give so much to conceal. Hatred increased on every new defeat, and with it the sufferings of the victim. She was reduced, at last, to a sort of banishment, to a place a few miles from London; she was deprived of her daughter; she was insulted in the sight of the allied Sovereigns when they visited London. But the expression of the feelings of the multitude was always ready to avenge her, and it became necessary to get her to quit England; which she was induced to do voluntarily, by the aid, perhaps, of the perfidious insinuations of some pretended friend.”

Here the Emperor again interrupted me, saying that I was leaving out a very essential point. “When and how had the Prince attained the Royal authority? How had he arranged matters with the opposition? What had he done with those old friends?” “Sire,” I replied, "my information ends here. There was a time when political events induced your Majesty to cut off all intercourse between England and France. We no longer obtained the papers; we were prevented from receiving letters; the two nations had no longer any thing in common. There is, therefore, an actual blank in my intelligence, which I should be unwilling to fill up with mere conjectures. I understand, however, that after several recoveries and relapses of the old King, all parties at length agreed to consign the regency to the Prince of Wales, and place him in full possession of the sovereign authority. The long expected period of changes and of hopes was at length arrived. The gates of heaven were now to open, at length, to that opposition which had so long eulogised the Prince; to those old friends who had seemed from infancy to unite their fate with his. But, to the great and universal surprise of the nation, and through I know not what contrivance of Lord Castlereagh’s, nothing was altered. Those old ministers, who had so long been the objects of the Prince’s dislike and censure, kept their places, and those intimate and dearly beloved friends, who had so long been caressed, remained out of office.

"The opposition complained loudly; but they were laughed at, and told that when the wild Prince of Wales became a great King, his first care was to get rid of his old companions. The jest might be a very good one, but it was by no means applicable; for the greatest characters in the empire were at the head of this opposition; and they were far from being Falstaffs or profligates of that kind. From that instant they evinced a marked coolness towards the Prince: some would no longer see him; others refused his invitations, or repelled the advances which he made to them. It is said, however, that one of them suffered himself to be persuaded to go to dine in private with the Prince. The latter, recurring to his usual victorious weapons, endeavoured to prove to him, with his accustomed grace, that he could not have acted differently; and at length desired to be told of what his old friends could justly accuse him. The guest, whose heart was still swelling with indignation, seized the opportunity, and freely told him all his faults, with such warmth, that the Princess Charlotte, who was at table, and was perhaps secretly inclined towards the guest’s opinion, burst into tears. Lord Byron heard of this scene the next day, and consecrated the event in these celebrated verses:—

"Weep, daughter of a royal line, A Sire’s disgrace, a realm’s decay; Ah happy! if each tear of thine Could wash a father’s fault away! Weep, for thy tears are virtue’s tears, Auspicious to these suff’ring isles; And be each drop, in future years, Repaid thee by thy people’s smiles." March, 1812.

“In 1814, at the time of my visit to London, I had the honour of being presented to the Prince of Wales at Carlton House.”—“And what the devil did you want there?” said the Emperor. “I do not wonder that your Majesty is surprised; but I was induced by a sort of point of honour: I thought I could do no other. There were many French in London at that time; I was the only one who had been near your Majesty’s person, worn your colours, and followed the line of conduct which seemed to be censured at that period. Some one having told me that the others would certainly not endure my presence, that circumstance determined me to go. We were, in fact, twenty-two Frenchmen, presented at the same time, at one of the Prince’s grand levees; and I must say that I never saw more graceful manners, more pleasing expression, more harmony in the _tout-ensemble_; I thought him the _beau-ideal_ of elegance. I comprehended the full power, the whole truth of that magic fascination which I had so often heard attributed to him; and even at this moment, Sire, when I recollect that fine countenance, on which I thought I perceived elevation of mind, and the love and desire of glory, I cannot help asking myself how your Majesty comes to be here, how those atrocious ministers could induce him to declare himself the gaoler, the...?” “My dear Sir,” said the Emperor, “perhaps you were no physiognomist; you took the halo of coquetry for that of greatness; the study to please for the love of glory; and, besides, the love of glory is not exactly in the face; it is in the recesses of the heart, and you did not search there.[27]

Footnote 27:

Since this was said, the great victim has fallen. I, his servant, saw his torments begin; others have communicated to me his last sufferings and protracted agonies. He expired! His enemies never ceased to strike him, in the name of the Prince! This immortal victim accordingly left with his own hand, these dreadful words: “_I bequeath the infamy of my death to the reigning family of England!_”

“But were you not translating to me, the other day,” said the Emperor, "some journal or work, in which it was stated that the Prince Regent had made a great display of sympathy towards the last Stuarts; that he had paid the most extravagant prices for things which had belonged to, and been left by them; that he had talked of raising a monument to the last of them? There is much more calculation than magnanimity in all that; it is because he is anxious to establish and consecrate their extinction. From that event his legitimacy and security date; and he is in the right. If, in my time, and under the circumstances into which the English Ministers had plunged the nation, there had been some young Stuart, of a brave and enterprising character, equal to the present age, he would have been landed in Ireland, escorted by the modern doctrines; and then we should undoubtedly have seen the regenerate Stuarts driving out the degenerate Brunswicks. England would have had its 20th of March. Such are thrones and their contagious influence; scarcely is one seated there when the poison begins to operate. These Brunswicks, brought in by liberal ideas, raised by the will of the people, have no sooner ascended the throne, than they grasp at arbitrary and despotic power; they must absolutely drive their wheels in the track which overturned their predecessors; and this because they are become Kings! And it should seem that this is the inevitable course! That fine stem of the Nassaus, for instance, those patrons of noble independence in Europe, whose liberalism ought to be in the blood, and even in the marrow of their bones; those Nassaus, who, as far as regards their dominions, would be only at the tail, and who might by their doctrines, place themselves at the head,—they have just been placed on a throne; well, you will infallibly see them concern themselves about nothing but becoming what they call legitimates; and adopt the principles, the proceedings, and the errors of that class.

“Nay, after all, my dear Sir, has not the same thing been said of me, myself? and perhaps not without some appearance of reason; for probably many circumstances may have escaped my observation. Nevertheless I declared, on a solemn occasion, that in my estimation the sovereign power was not in the title, nor the throne in its splendour. It has been said of me, that scarcely had I attained power, when I exercised a despotic and arbitrary sway; but it was rather a Dictatorship; and the circumstances of the times will be a sufficient excuse for me. I have also been reproached with having suffered myself to be intoxicated with pride at my alliance with the house of Austria, and having thought myself more truly a sovereign after my marriage; in fact, of having considered myself from that time as Alexander, become the son of a god! But can all this be just? Did I really fall into such errors? A young, handsome, agreeable, woman fell to my lot; was it inadmissible for me to testify some satisfaction? Could I not devote a few moments to her without incurring blame? Was I not to be allowed to abandon myself to a few hours of happiness? Was I required to use my wife ill from the very first night, like your Prince ——? Or was I, like the Sultan we have read of, to have her head struck off, in order to escape the reproaches of the multitude? No! my only fault in that alliance was that of carrying too plebeian a heart with me. How often have I said that the heart of a statesman ought only to be in his head. Mine, unfortunately, in this instance, remained in its place, subject to family feelings, and this marriage ruined me; because I believed, above all things, in the religion, the piety, the morality, and the honour of Francis I. He has cruelly deceived me. I am willing to believe that he was himself deceived; and I forgive him with all my heart. But will history spare him? If, however,...”

Here Napoleon was silent for a few moments, resting his head on one of his hands; then resuming, “But what a romance is my life!” said he, rising. “Open the door, and let us walk.” And we walked up and down the adjoining rooms, for some time.


Monday July 1st to Thursday 4th.—Yesterday, my son’s horse ran away with him, whilst he was taking a ride; and, being fearful that the horse might dash him against the trees, he thought it best to throw himself off his back. He had sprained his ancle sufficiently to condemn him to the sofa for a month.

The Emperor condescended to come into my room, about 11 o’clock, to learn the state of my son, whom he rated well for his awkwardness. I followed him into the garden, where he breakfasted, which he had not done there for some time previously.

The conversation turned on pillage by armies, and the horrors occasioned by it.

Pavia, the Emperor said, was the only place that he had ever given up to pillage; he had promised it to his soldiers for 24 hours; “but after three hours,” said he, “I could bear it no longer, and I put an end to it. I had but 1200 men;” said he, “the cries of the populace which reached my ears prevailed. If there had been 20,000 soldiers, their numbers would have drowned the complaints of the people, and I should have heard nothing of it. Happily, however, policy and morality are equally opposed to the system of pillage. I have meditated much on this subject: and have often been urged to gratify my soldiers in this manner. But nothing is so certain to disorganize and completely ruin an army. A soldier loses all discipline as soon as he gets an opportunity to pillage; and, if by pillage he enriches himself, he immediately becomes a bad soldier, and will not fight. Besides,” continued he, “pillage is incompatible with our French manners; the hearts of our soldiers are not bad; when the first transport of fury is over, they come to themselves again. It would be impossible for French soldiers to pillage for twenty-four hours; many of them would employ the latter part of the time in repairing the mischief they had done in the beginning. They afterwards reproach each other, in their quarters, with the excesses they have committed, and load with reprobation and contempt those whose conduct has been particularly odious.”

About three o’clock, the new Admiral, Sir Pulteney Malcolm, and all his officers, were presented to the Emperor. The Admiral first conversed with the Emperor alone, for nearly two hours. He must have been much impressed with this conversation, for he said, as he came out, that he had been taking a very fine and valuable lesson on the history of France.

The Emperor was understood to have said to him, towards the close of the interview, what I believe I have already introduced elsewhere on this subject. “You have levied a contribution of 700 millions on France; I have imposed one of more than 10,000 millions on your country. You raised yours by your bayonets: I caused mine to be raised by your parliament.” “And that is the true summary of the matter,” replied the Admiral.

The Admiral was bringing from America some old troops consisting of 12,000 men, without the least suspicion of the new state of Europe. At sea, a vessel informed him of the return of the Emperor from the isle of Elba, and the consequent revolution; it seemed to him so magical that he could scarcely believe it. But when he arrived in sight of Plymouth, he received orders to proceed, with all possible expedition, to Ostend; he reached it in time, and 4000 of the men on board his ships were enabled to take part in the battle, and they were unquestionably amongst the best troops in the whole line, as the Admiral declared. Who can determine what degree of influence they may have had? The English thought the battle lost, during the whole day, and they acknowledge that it would have been so, but for Grouchy’s error.



After walking some time in the garden, the Emperor got into his calash. The weather was delightful: we made two turns at full gallop. I was alone with him. He spoke much of my son, and his future prospects, with a degree of interest and kindness which went to my heart. He said that, considering his age, the circumstance of being sent to St. Helena was of inestimable value to his future life; that it must be like a hot-house for bringing forward his character.

After dinner, the Emperor resumed the subject of the 18th Brumaire, and related it to us with an infinite number of minor details. As he has long since dictated it to General Gourgaud, I shall refer to his publication for the mass of the particulars of that event. I shall only give here some little anecdotes or accessories which possibly may not be found there.

Napoleon’s situation on his return from Egypt was unprecedented. He had found himself immediately applied to by all parties, and had been entrusted with all their secrets. There were three which were particularly distinct; the _Manege_, of which General J. was one of the leaders; the _Moderates_, directed by Sieyes; and the _Rotten_ party, with Barras at their head.

The determination which Napoleon formed to ally himself with the Moderates, exposed him, he said, to great danger. With the Jacobins he would have risked nothing; they offered to name him Dictator. “But, after conquering with them,” observed the Emperor, “it would have been necessary, almost immediately, to conquer against them. A club cannot endure a permanent chief; it wants one for every successive passion. Now to make use of a party one day, in order to attack it the next, under whatever pretext it is done, is still a piece of treachery; it was inconsistent with my principles.”

“My dear Sir,” said the Emperor to me, at another moment, after having again run over the events of the 18th of Brumaire, "that is a far different thing, you will allow, from the conspiracy of St. Real, in which there is much more plotting, and much less result; ours was struck at a single blow. It is certain that there never was a great revolution which caused less inconvenience; it was so generally desired; it was accordingly crowned with universal applause.

"For my own part, all my share in the plot, for effecting this change, was confined to the assembling the whole crowd of my visitors at the same hour in the morning, and marching at their head to seize on power. It was from the threshold of my door, from the top of my own steps, and without my friends having any previous knowledge of my intentions, that I led them to this conquest; it was amidst the brilliant escort they formed, their lively joy, and unanimous ardour, that I presented myself at the bar of the ancients, to thank them for the Dictatorship with which they invested me.

“Metaphysicians have disputed, and will long dispute, whether we did not violate the laws, and whether we were not criminal; but these are mere abstractions, at best fit for books and tribunes, and which ought to disappear before imperative necessity: one might as well blame a sailor for waste and destruction, when he cuts away his masts to avoid being upset. The fact is that, had it not been for us the country must have been lost: and we saved it. The authors and chief agents of that memorable state transaction may and ought, instead of attempting denials or justifications, to answer their accusers proudly, like the Roman, _We protest that we have saved our country; come with us and return thanks to the gods_.”

On the completion of the Revolution of the 18th Brumaire, three provisional consuls were appointed; Napoleon, Sieyes, and Ducos. A president was to be chosen, the moment was critical, and rendered the General highly necessary; he accordingly seized the arm-chair, and his two acolytes did not venture to dispute it with him. Besides, Ducos declared himself that moment, once for all. The General alone could save them, he said: and thenceforth he was of his opinion in every thing. Sieyes was greatly mortified, but he was obliged to do the same.

Sieyes was a man of a very selfish disposition. On the first meeting of the three Consuls in Council, and as soon as they were alone, Sieyes went in a mysterious manner to the doors of the apartment, to see whether any person was within hearing; then, returning to Napoleon, he said to him with complacency, and in an under-tone, shewing him, at the same time, a sort of cabinet. “Do you see that pretty piece of furniture? You do not, perhaps, suspect how valuable it is?” Napoleon thought he was directing his attention to some appendage of the crown, which had, perhaps, been used by Louis XVI. “That is not the matter;" said Sieyes, seeing his mistake, “I am going to let you into the secret; it contains 800,000 francs!” and his eyes opened wide. “In our Directorial magistracy, we reflected that a Director going out of office might very possibly go back to his family without a denier; a very unbecoming thing: we therefore invented this little chest from which we drew a sum for every Director going out of office. There are now no more Directors; we are therefore the possessors of the remainder. What shall we do with it?” Napoleon, who had paid great attention, and began, at length, to understand, said: “If it comes to my knowledge, the sum shall go to the public treasury; but if I should not hear of it (and I know nothing of it yet), you and Ducos, being two old Directors, can divide it between you: only make haste, for to-morrow it may perhaps, be too late. The colleagues did not wait to be told twice,” observed the Emperor. "Sieyes hastily undertook the operation, and divided the spoil like the lion in the fable. He made several lots; he took one as the eldest Director; another, because he was to have continued in office longer than his colleague; a third, because he had suggested the idea of this happy change, &c. In short he adjudged 600,000 francs to himself, and only sent 200,000 to poor Ducos, who, when his first emotions had subsided, insisted on revising this calculation, and seemed bent on quarrelling with Sieyes. Both of them reverted to the subject every moment, wishing their third colleague to arbitrate between them; but the latter always replied—Settle it between yourselves. Above all, be quiet, for if the matter should come to my ears, you would have to give up the whole.

“When we were about to fix on a constitution,” said the Emperor, “Sieyes treated us with another very entertaining scene. Circumstances and public opinion had made him a sort of oracle in these matters; he accordingly unfolded his various propositions in the committees of the two councils, with great mystery, importance and method; they were all adopted, good, bad, and indifferent. Finally, he crowned the work by displaying the upshot which had been expected with lively and anxious impatience: he proposed a Grand Elector, who was to reside at Versailles, to enjoy six millions per annum, to represent the national dignity, and to have no other duty than the nomination of two Consuls, one for peace and the other for war; entirely independent in their functions. Moreover, if this Elector should make a bad choice, the Senate was to _absorb_ him himself. This was the technical expression, meaning, to remove him, by replacing him, as a punishment, in the crowd of private citizens.”

Napoleon, for want of experience in assemblies, and also through a degree of circumspection which the circumstances of the moment required, had taken little or no share in what had preceded; but now, at this decisive point, he began, he said, to laugh in Sieyes’s face, and to cut up all his metaphysical nonsense without mercy. Sieyes did not like to defend himself, said the Emperor, nor did he know how to do it. He made the attempt, however, saying that, after all, a king was nothing more. Napoleon replied, “But you take the abuse for the principle, the shadow for the body. And how can you imagine, M. Sieyes, that a man of any talent or the least honour, will make up his mind to act the part of a pig fattening on a few millions?” After this sally, which, said the Emperor, made those who were present laugh immoderately, Sieyes remained overwhelmed; it was no longer in his power to resume the subject of his Grand Elector; and a First Consul was determined on, who was to have the supreme decision and the nomination of all offices: with two accessory Consuls, who were to have deliberate voices only. It was in fact, from that moment, a unity of power. The First Consul was precisely the President of America, veiled under the forms which the irritable spirit of the times still rendered necessary. The Emperor accordingly said that his reign began in reality from that day.

The Emperor in some measure regretted that Sieyes had not been nominated one of the consuls. Sieyes, who at first refused the appointment, afterwards regretted it himself, but not until it was too late. “He had fallen into a mistake respecting the nature of these Consuls,” said Napoleon; “he was fearful of mortification, and of having the First Consul to contend with at every step; which would have been the case, if all the Consuls had been equal; we should then have all been enemies: but, the constitution having made them subordinate, there was no room for the struggles of obstinacy, no cause of enmity, but a thousand reasons for a genuine unanimity. Sieyes discovered this, but too late.” The Emperor said he might have been very useful in council—better, perhaps, than the others, because he had occasionally novel and most luminous ideas; but that, in other respects, he was wholly unfit to govern. “After all,” said the Emperor, “in order to govern it is necessary to be a military man; one can only rule in boots and spurs. Sieyes, without being fearful, was always in fear; his police spies disturbed his rest.”

At the Luxembourg, during the provisional consulate, he often awakened his colleague Napoleon, and harassed him about the new plots which he heard of every moment from his private police. “But have they corrupted our guard?” Napoleon used to say. “No.” “Then go to bed.—In war, as in love, my dear Sir, we must come to close quarters to conclude matters. It will be time enough to be alarmed when our 600 men are attacked.”

The Emperor said that, for the permanent government, he had chosen, in Cambacérès and Lebrun, two distinguished characters; both prudent, moderate, and able, but of completely opposite principles—the one the advocate of abuses, prejudices, old institutions, the revival of honours and distinctions, &c.—the other cold, austere, insensible, contending against all these ideas, yielding to them without illusion, and naturally falling into ideology.

In resuming, he observed that Sieyes might perhaps have contributed to give a different colour, another characteristic, to the imperial administration; but it was observed to him that this variation could not have been otherwise than injurious, for Napoleon’s choice had been much approved of at the time. The men he had selected, it was said, were not liable to be objected to by Europe. They had greatly contributed to conciliate public opinion in France, which ran wholly against Sieyes. His name and the recollections attending it would, in the eyes of many people, have disgraced the acts in which he might have taken part; and there was an anecdote eagerly repeated at the time, which shews all the ill-will that was borne towards him. It was said that, whilst he was talking with the Emperor, at the Tuileries, about Louis XIV. he had suffered the word _tyrant_ to escape him. "M. l’Abbé," the Emperor was said to have replied, “if Louis XVI. had been a tyrant, you would now be saying mass, and I should not be here.” The Emperor smiled at this anecdote, without confirming or denying it. It will hereafter appear that it was false.


Saturday 6th to Monday 8th.—I have not mentioned the Governor for some time. We endeavour to keep him as much as possible out of our thoughts; we now scarcely ever adverted to him. His ill-manners, and the vexations we endure from him oblige me to notice him to-day: they seem to have increased. He has just withheld from us some letters from Europe, although they came open, and in the most ostensible manner—merely because they had not passed through the hands of the Secretary of State; without considering that a want of formality can easily be rectified in England, but that it is irremediable at a distance of two thousand leagues. If, however, in thus rigorously and literally fulfilling his instructions, he had only had the humanity to let us know that he has received these letters, and from whom they come, he might set our minds at ease with regard to those respecting whose health, or whose attention to ourselves, we suffer so much anxiety: but he has the barbarity to make a mystery of the affair. It is not many days since, the Countess Bertrand having written to town, he had the note seized, and sent it back to her as having been written without his permission. He accompanied this insult with an official letter, by which he prohibited us, for the future, from all written or even verbal communication with the inhabitants, without submitting it to his approbation; and what is particularly absurd and incredible is, that he imposed this restriction on our intercourse with people whom he nevertheless permits us to visit at our own pleasure. He accompanied the publication of the act relating to us with commentaries which spread terror amongst the inhabitants; he complains of the excessive expense of the Emperor’s table, and insists on great reductions.—It had not been understood that General Bonaparte would have so many people about him. Ministers, he told us ingenuously, had never doubted that the permission they had sent us to go away would have induced us to quit the Emperor. All this shuffling produced an exchange of pretty sharp notes. To one of the Governor’s communications, in which he said, that if the restrictions imposed on us seemed too hard, we might relieve ourselves from them by going away, the Emperor himself dictated the following addition to the answer we had already written:—"That, having been honoured by him during his prosperity, we considered it our chief pleasure to serve him, now that he could do nothing for us; and if there were persons to whom this conduct was incomprehensible, so much the worse for them."


Tuesday 9th to Thursday 11th.—The Governor continues to annoy us, and is incessantly aggravating the misery of our situation. He seems resolved to place us in close confinement. He has published a proclamation in the town, ordering that all letters and notes addressed by us to the inhabitants, on any occasion whatever, shall be sent to him within twenty-four hours. He has also forbidden them to visit the Grand Marshal and his wife, who live at the entrance of our enclosure. In the beginning of this blockade of Madame Bertrand, it was so rigorously enforced that some medicines sent hence by the doctor for one of the Grand Marshal’s people, who was dying, could not be delivered; and it was only as an accommodation that the officer at last took upon him to let them pass over the wall.

The Governor, having read in a letter, sent by one of us to Europe, that the writer wanted several articles of clothing, linen, &c., came and told him that he might have most of those articles out of the stores sent by Government for Napoleon: and the individual replying that he preferred purchasing them, being unwilling to incur any obligation, the Governor drily answered that he might pay for them if he had a fancy to do so. To which the other replied, “Excuse me, Sir, I like to choose my shops myself.” In consequence of this, the Governor afterwards sent him word, by the Doctor, that he should complain of him, for having _contemptuously_ refused the gifts of Government. The other instantly replied that he should be much obliged to him; being much happier to give him an opportunity of transmitting refusals than requests, to the ministers he served.

All these petty tricks, the length and interest of our readings, and the continuance of the bad weather, which is dreadful, confine the Emperor more closely than ever to the house, and overwhelm him with melancholy: he now never stirs abroad. His amusement is now limited to going occasionally, about five o’clock, to visit Madame de Montholon, who has not yet gone abroad since her lying-in. We all meet there, and the Emperor converses for half an hour, or three-quarters, before he returns to his own apartment.

To-day he met little Tristan, the eldest son of M. de Montholon, who is only seven or eight years old, and runs about all day. The Emperor placed him between his knees, and tried to make him recite some fables, of which the poor child did not understand two words out of ten. The Emperor laughed heartily, blaming the practice of putting La Fontaine into the hands of children who cannot understand him; and began to explain these fables to Tristan; endeavouring to render their meaning more palpable to him; nor could any thing be more curious than the simplicity, justice, and logic of his illustrations.

Whilst he was explaining the fable of the Wolf and the Lamb, it was extremely laughable to hear the poor child say _Sire_, and _your Majesty_, and in speaking of the wolf, and to the Emperor, confuse all his expressions; whilst his ideas were probably in still greater confusion.

The Emperor thought this fable had far too much irony in it to be within the comprehension of children. It was likewise defective, he observed, in its principle and its moral; and this was the first time that he had been struck with these defects. It was false that the argument of the stronger was always the best; and if it sometimes happened so, in fact, that, he said, was the very evil, the abuse, which was to be condemned. The wolf, ought, therefore, to have been strangled in devouring the lamb.

Tristan is very idle. He confessed to the Emperor that he did not work every day. “Do you not eat every day?” said the Emperor to him, “Yes, Sire.” “Well, then, you ought to work every day; no one should eat who does not work.” “Oh! if that be the case, I will work every day,” said the child, quickly. “Such is the influence of the belly,” said the Emperor, patting that of little Tristan. "It is hunger that makes the world move. Come, my little man, if you are a good boy, we’ll make a page of you." "But I won’t be one," said Tristan, pouting and looking sulky.

Our afternoons were occupied in reading something selected in hopes of enabling us to kill time for an hour or two. At this period we were reading a voyage to Spitzbergen; the shipwreck of the Dutch at Nova Zembla; the _Causes celébres_, the trial of Calas; those of Martinguerre and the Marchioness of Brinvilliers. The author observed, in some part of the work, that the face often gave a false idea of the character. The Emperor paused, laid down the book, and said, with a look and tone that denoted conviction: “It is most true, and it is also true that no study will enable us to avoid this deception. How many proofs of this kind have I had! For instance, I had a person about me; his countenance undoubtedly.... But after all he had a mischievous eye; I ought to have guessed something from that.” He then went into some particulars of the character of the person in question. They had known each other from infancy, he said; he had long placed his entire confidence in this individual, who had talent and resources; the Emperor even thought that he had been attached and faithful—"But he was much too covetous," said he, “he was too fond of money. When I was dictating to him, and he sometimes had to write _millions_, it was never without a peculiar change of countenance, a smacking of his lips, and restlessness on his chair, which several times induced me to ask what ailed him.”

The Emperor said this vice was too glaring to allow of his retaining this person about him; but that, considering his other qualities, he ought, perhaps, to have contented himself with removing him into a different situation.


Friday, 12th.—The conversation to-day led us to speak of the Iron Mask, and we took a review of what has been said on the subject by Voltaire, Dutens, and others; and of what is found respecting him in Richelieu’s Memoirs. In these it is well known that he is said to have been the twin-brother of Louis XIV., and the elder of the two. On this occasion, some one added that, being employed in making out a pedigree, a person had come to him to demonstrate seriously to him that Napoleon was a lineal descendant from this Iron Mask, and consequently the legitimate heir of Louis XIII. and Henry IV., in preference to Louis XIV. and all his issue. The Emperor also said that he had heard something about it, and added that the credulity of mankind and their love of the marvellous are so great that it would not have been difficult to make out and substantiate something of the kind for the multitude, and that there would not have been wanting certain persons in the Senate to sanction it; probably, he observed, the very men who at a later period were so eager to revile him, as soon as they saw him in adversity.

We then went on to trace the foundation and the progress of this story. The name of the Governor of the Island of St. Marguerite, to whom the custody of the Iron Mask was entrusted, was M. de Bonpart, a circumstance, to begin with, very singular. This man, it was asserted, was aware of the origin of his prisoner. He had a daughter: she and the prisoner were both young; they saw each other and loved. The Governor, having informed the Court of this circumstance, it was decided that there was no great objection to allowing the unfortunate captive to seek in love an alleviation of his misery, and they were married.

The person who was speaking at this moment said that, at the time the above particulars were related to him, he had been very much entertained by them, and had happened to say that he thought the story very ingeniously imagined; upon which the narrator of it became excessively angry, maintaining that the marriage could very easily be verified by the registers of one of the parishes of Marseilles, which he named. He added that the children born of this marriage were silently and secretly conveyed to Corsica, where the difference of language, chance, or perhaps intention had, changed the name of Bonpart into Bonaparte and Buonaparte, which, after all, has the same meaning, and is in fact the same thing.

After this anecdote, it was added that, at the time of the revolution, a similar story had been made in favour of the Orleans branch. It was founded in a document found in the Bastille, and surmised that Anne of Austria, who was brought to bed after twenty-three years of sterility, had been delivered of a girl, and that Louis XIII. fearing she might have no more children, had been induced to put away that girl and falsely to substitute in her stead a boy, which was Louis XIV.; that the following year, however, the Queen had been again brought to bed, and this time really of a boy, which boy was Philip, the head of the house of Orleans, who thus turned out to be with his descendants the legitimate heirs to the throne, whilst Louis XIV. and his issue were only intruders and usurpers. According to that story the Iron Mask was a girl. A pamphlet on this subject was circulated in the provinces at the time the Bastille was taken, but the story did not gain credit, and very quietly disappeared, without having, it seems, engaged the attention of the capital even for a moment.


Saturday, 13th.—The conversation again fell upon Junot. Of the considerable fortunes which the Emperor had bestowed, that of Junot, he said, was one of the most extravagant. The sums he had given him almost exceeded belief, and yet he was always in debt; he had squandered treasures, without credit to himself, without discernment or taste, and, too frequently, the Emperor added, in gross debauchery.

He has been known more than once, after having taken a most copious and substantial breakfast, in his magnificent _hotel_ at Paris, fired with anger at the most trifling demand made by the most insignificant creditor, to threaten to pay the debt with his sword. Every time he saw the Emperor, said Napoleon, it was to hint at some fresh embarrassment, be reprimanded and assisted. In the campaign of Austerlitz, he came to the Emperor at Schönbrun; but this time, said Napoleon, it was not to intercede precisely for himself. He took at this period a most lively interest in the beautiful Madame Recamier. He had just arrived from Paris, and began his conversation with the Emperor by a most virulent philippic against M. de Marbois, then Minister of the Treasury, who had been base enough, he said, to refuse M. Recamier a loan of only two millions, to save him from bankruptcy. All Paris was indignant. This Marbois, he added, was a wicked man, an unworthy servant, who did not love the Emperor. He, Junot, had gone to him and had used every endeavour to persuade him, but to no purpose. He had represented to him the enormity of his conduct, and had assured him (and such added Junot was the general opinion in Paris,) that if the Emperor had been in the capital he would have immediately ordered the money to be given to M. Recamier. “He was on a wrong scent,” said the Emperor, "for I coolly replied to this passionate lover who was almost out of his senses: ‘You and Paris are both mistaken, I should not have ordered even two thousand _sous_ to be given; and I should have been very much displeased with De Marbois if he had acted otherwise than he has done. _I_ am not Madame Recamier’s lover, and I do not come forward to the assistance of merchants who keep up an establishment of six hundred thousands francs per annum. Know that, M. Junot, and learn also that the Treasury does not lend money to those whom it knows to have been long since on the road to bankruptcy; it has other claims to satisfy.’ Junot," added the Emperor, “was obliged to calm his emotion, thinking probably that there were hard-hearted people at Vienna as well as at Paris.”

Junot travelled as fast as the Emperor himself; he had his relays, said Napoleon, hundreds of horses, and other extravagances of the kind.

The Emperor added that, not so much in his capacity as sovereign, but as being fond of Junot, and actuated also by a sort of feeling derived from the similarity of birth-place, he being also originally from Corsica, he had one day sent for Madame Junot, in order to give her some paternal admonitions on the subject of the extravagance of her husband’s expenditure, the profusion of diamonds which she herself had inconsiderately displayed after her return from Portugal, and her intimate connections with a certain foreigner, which might give umbrage in a political point of view. But she rejected this advice, dictated alone by concern for her interest. “She grew angry,” said the Emperor, “and treated me like a child; nothing then remained for me to do but to send her about her business, and abandon her to her fate. She fancied herself a princess of the family of the Comnenes; and Junot had been made to believe it when he was induced to marry her. Her family was from Corsica, and resided in the neighbourhood of mine; they were under great obligations to my mother, not merely for her benevolence towards them, but for services of a more positive nature.” The Emperor then gave the following explanation:

"The Genoese, in evacuating the Morea, had formerly carried a colony of Maniotes to Corsica and settled them in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio. M. de Vergennes, while he was ambassador at Constantinople, married a Greek woman; and, on his return to France, being greatly in favour with Louis XVI. he took it into his head that he must have married a princess. It so happened that some political circumstances occurred to favour his wish; the downfall of Constantinople was believed in at that moment, and it would have suited France to advance some pretensions to a portion of that empire. A man of the name of Comnene, a relation of Madame de Vergennes, was therefore sent for from the Greek colony near Ajaccio, and, having been brought to Versailles, was soon after, by virtue of letters-patent of Louis XVI., acknowledged a descendant from the Emperors of Constantinople. This said Comnene was a large farmer, whose sister had unexpectedly married, some years before, a Frenchman, a clerk in the victualling department named P—. After the elevation of the family, and through the interest of M, de Vergennes, this P—, clerk in the victualling department, had become a man of great consequence, having had the contract for supplying the whole army of Rochambeau. The daughter of the clerk was this very Madame Junot, duchess of Abrantes.

“Junot, in the campaign of Russia, gave me great cause of dissatisfaction;” said the Emperor, “he was no longer the same man, and committed some gross blunders which cost us dear.”

After the return from Moscow, Junot, in consequence of the dissatisfaction he had given, lost the governorship of Paris; and the Emperor sent him to Venice. However that species of disgrace was almost immediately softened, by his appointment as Governor-general of Illyria; but the blow was struck. The frequent incoherences which had been observed in Junot’s behaviour for some time past, and which had arisen from the excesses in which he had indulged, broke out at last into complete insanity. It was necessary to secure him, and to convey him home to his paternal mansion, where he died miserably shortly afterwards, having mutilated his person with his own hands. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Sunday, 14th.—During the dinner, speaking of dress, it was said that, amongst the number of great personages of that time, none had carried extravagance in that point further than Murat, and yet, some one observed, his dress was for the most part so singular and fantastic that the public called him King Franconi.[28]

Footnote 28:

Director of a theatre at Paris, similar to Astley’s here.

The Emperor laughed very heartily, and confessed that certain costumes and manners sometimes gave to Murat the appearance of a quack operator or a mountebank. It was added that Bernadotte also took infinite pains with his dress, and that Lannes bestowed much time upon his. The Emperor expressed himself much surprised at what he had heard respecting the two latter, and this led him to repeat how sincerely he regretted the loss of Marshal Lannes. “Poor Lannes,” said he, "had passed the night which preceded the battle, in Vienna, and not alone. He appeared on the field without having taken any food, and fought the whole day. The physician said that this triple concurrence of circumstances caused his death, he required a great deal of strength after the wound to enable him to bear it, and unfortunately nature was almost exhausted before.

“It is generally said,” the Emperor observed, “that there are certain wounds, to which death seems preferable; but this is very seldom the case, I assure you. It is at the moment we are going to part with existence that we cling to it with all our might. Lannes, the most courageous of men, deprived of both his legs, would not hear of death, and was irritated to such a degree as to declare that the two surgeons who attended him deserved to be hanged for behaving so brutally towards a Marshal. He had unfortunately overheard them whisper to each other, as they thought without being heard, that it was impossible he could recover. Every moment the unfortunate Lannes called for the Emperor; he twined himself round me,” said Napoleon, “with all he had left of life; he would hear of no one but me, he thought but of me; it was a kind of instinct! Undoubtedly he loved his wife and children better than me; yet he did not speak of them: it was he that protected them, whilst I on the contrary was his protector. I was for him something vague and undefined, a superior being, his Providence, which he implored!”

Somebody then observed that the world had spoken very differently on the subject; that it had been reported that Lannes had died like a maniac, vociferating imprecations against the Emperor, at whom he seemed enraged; and it was added that he had always an aversion to the Emperor, and had often manifested it to him with insolence. “What an absurdity,” said the Emperor, “Lannes, on the contrary, adored me. He was assuredly one of the men on whom I could most implicitly rely. It is very true that, in the impetuosity of his disposition, he has sometimes suffered some hasty expressions against me to escape his lips, but he would probably have broken the head of any person who had chanced to hear them.”

Returning to Murat, some one observed that he had greatly influenced the unfortunate events of 1814. “He determined them,” said the Emperor, “he is one of the principal causes of our being here. But the fault is originally mine. There were several men whom I had made too great; I had raised them above the sphere of their intelligence. I was reading, some days since, his proclamation on abandoning the Viceroy, which I had not seen before. It is difficult to conceive any thing disgraced by a greater degree of turpitude: he says in that document that the moment is come to choose between two banners, that of crime and that of virtue. It is my banner which he calls the banner of crime! and it is Murat, my creature, the husband of my sister, the man who owed every thing to me, who would have been nothing without me, who exists by me, and is known through me alone—it is Murat who writes this! It is impossible to desert the cause of misfortune with more unfeeling brutality; and to run with more unblushing baseness to hail a new destiny.”

From that moment, Madame (mother of the Emperor) refused to have any thing more to do with either Murat or his wife; to all their entreaties she invariably answered that she held traitors and treachery in abhorrence. As soon as she was at Rome, after the disasters of 1814, Murat hastened to send her eight magnificent horses out of his stables at Naples; but Madame would not accept them. She resisted, in like manner, every effort of her daughter Caroline, who constantly repeated that, after all, the fault was not hers; that she had no share in it; that she could not command her husband. But Madame answered, like Clytemnestra—"If you could not command him, you ought at least to have opposed him:—but what struggles have you made? what blood has flowed? At the expense of your own life, you ought to have defended your brother, your benefactor, your master, against the sanguinary attempts of your husband.

“On my return from Elba,” said the Emperor, "Murat’s head was turned, on hearing that I had landed in France. The first intelligence he received of this event informed him that I was at Lyons. He was accustomed to my great returns of fortune; he had more than once seen me placed in most extraordinary circumstances. On this occasion, he thought me already master of all Europe, and determined to endeavour to wrest Italy from me; for that was his object, the aim of all his hopes. It was in vain that some men, of the greatest influence amongst the nations which he attempted to excite to rebellion, threw themselves at his feet and assured him that he was mistaken; that the Italians had a king on whom alone they had bestowed their love and their esteem. Nothing could stop him; he ruined himself, and contributed to ruin us a second time; for Austria, supposing that he was acting at my instigation, would not believe my professions, and mistrusted me. Murat’s unfortunate end corresponds with his conduct. Murat was endowed with extraordinary courage and little intelligence. The too great disproportion between those two qualities explains the man entirely. It was difficult, even impossible, to be more courageous than Murat and Lannes; but Murat had remained courageous and nothing more. The mind of Lannes, on the contrary, had risen to the level of his courage; he had become a giant. However," said the Emperor, in ending the conversation, “the execution of Murat is nevertheless horrible. It is an event in the history of the morals of Europe; an infraction of the rules of public decorum.—A king has caused another king, acknowledged by all the others, to be shot! What a spell he has broken!” . . . . . . . . .


I have already observed that, in a work like the present, it is impossible to keep up in any point a unity of interest and of object; I shall, therefore, now attempt to supply this defect by retracing, in a very few words, and uninterruptedly, the circumstances of aggravation which have occurred in the Emperor’s situation during these three months; the repeated instances of ill-treatment to which he has been subjected; the visible decline of his health; the general tenor of his habits; the principal topics of his conversation:—in a word, the bulletin, both physical and moral, of his person, during that short space of time.

1st. A new Governor arrives, who turns out to be a man of either very narrow views, or very bad intentions—a corporal with his watch-word, instead of a general with his instructions.

2dly. A declaration is required from every one of the captives that he submits beforehand to all the restrictions that may be imposed on Napoleon, and this in the hopes of detaching them from his person.

3dly. An official communication is made to us of the convention of the allied Sovereigns, who, without further ceremony, proclaim and sanction the banishment of Napoleon.

4thly. We receive the bill of the British Parliament, which converts into a law the act of oppression of the English ministers towards the person of Napoleon.

5thly. Lastly, Commissioners come in the name of their Sovereigns, to watch over the fetters, and contemplate the sufferings of the victim. Thus our horizon grows darker and darker, our chains are shortened, all hopes of amelioration vanish, and the most gloomy prospects are all that the future presents.

The arrival of the new Governor is the signal for the infliction of greater hardships. For the person of the Emperor it is the commencement of a new series of torments; every day he is wounded by the recurrence of some petty vexation.

The first step of Sir Hudson Lowe is an insult; his first word one of cruelty; one of his first acts, an act of inhumanity.

After that, he seems to have no other occupation, to have received no other instruction, than to torment us and make us suffer under every shape, on every occasion, and in every way.

The Emperor, who had at first resolved to adopt a system of strict stoicism, is nevertheless moved with indignation at this conduct, and expresses himself in strong terms. Conversations grow warm; the breach is made; it will grow wider every day.

The Emperor’s health is visibly affected, and we can observe a rapid alteration. Contrary to his natural temperament, he very frequently feels indisposed; on one occasion he is confined to his room for six days running, without going out at all. A secret melancholy, which endeavours to conceal itself from every eye, and perhaps from his own, begins to take possession of him; the latent seeds of disease appear already to be lurking in his system. He contracts every day the circle, already so confined, of his movements and his diversions. He gives up riding on horseback; he no longer invites any English to dinner,—he even abandons his daily occupations. The dictations in which he had hitherto seemed to take pleasure, are suspended. Disgust had seized him, he would sometimes say to me, and he could not muster courage enough to resume them. The greatest part of his days is passed in turning over books in his own apartment, or in conversing with us either publicly or in private; and in the evening, after dinner, he reads to us some plays of our great poets, or any other work which chance or the choice of the moment brings to his hand.

Yet the serenity of his mind, the equanimity of his disposition towards us, are not in the least impaired; on the contrary, we seem more united like one family. He is more ours, and we belong more to him; his conversations offer a greater degree of confidence, freedom, and interest.

He would now often send for me into his room, to converse with him; and these private conversations would sometimes lead him to subjects of great importance,—such as the war in Russia, that of Spain, the conferences of Tilsit and Erfurth, which will be found in this portion of my Memoirs.






Transcriber’s Note

Certain conventions of the text have been modified. For instance, a series of dots (....) were employed where a name was elided. These have been replaced with long dashes (———) in order to avoid awkward line breaks.

Given the publication date, spelling has been generally allowed to stand as printed. But errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and are noted here.

There were a number of instances in the text where quoted words were missing either an opening or closing quotation mark. The proper placement is not always obvious, but the most plausible choice has been made. The paragraph beginning at the foot of p. 294 was particularly obscure and has been left to the reader to decipher.

The issues tabulated below should be noted, along with the resolutions. The references below are to the page and line in the original.

9.26 the glory and prosperity of their [‘/,] Inverted. 9.40 my establis[h]ment on the throne Added. 21.32 you were attending the birth of a cob[b]ler’s Added. son. 30.13 they had been greatly deceived on [t]his Added. point. 36.33 leading in very different d[i]rections. Added. 45.40 [“]I shall keep this and give you mine Added. 55.15 We wanted all this, and, ther[e]fore], in Added. spite of 55.17 plunged into confusion and t[mulu/umul]t Transposed. 55.36 and said, [“]You see his best friends Added. 62.21 the leading star of the nations....[”] Added. 63.4 said the Emperor, “[h]e decided the fate of Added. France 67.17 he did not spare him[.] Added. 68.19 “Sire,” said he at length, [“]a circumstance Added. occurred to me 80.31 "Art. V.[—]His Majesty the King Added. 89.7 an aide-de-camp is the best man that can be Added. chosen[.] 90.20 [“/‘]You will see that they will hold Replaced. 90.22 detained me to-day.[’]” Added. 101.13 Abb[e/é] de Pradt," continued the Emperor Replaced. 105.33 [“]Talleyrand, perhaps, might have done this: Added. 106.16 How many arra[n]gements should I not have Added. proposed! 108.20 [“]If all this be attributed Added. 120.30 It can be proved [t]hat this was merely the Restored. result 131.11 Here I committed an error,[”] said the Added. Emperor, 131.12 [“]which the more unpardonable Added. 133.28 [“/‘]We are placing,[”/’] Replaced 133.29 said they, [“/‘]an Italian Replaced. 133.31 on the Gauls.[’”] Added. 136.10 I placed one [one] of my brothers at their Removed. head 137.25 the period in which he flourished.[”] Added. 149.23 [“/‘]You had better have taken his life, I Replaced. should 149.26 me to console him in his misery.[’] Added. 167.38 ‘M. L[a/e] Sage,’ said he, Replaced. 168.4 a considerable time afterwar[d]s Added. 172.41 [“]There have been published Added. 174.27 two millions[,] worth of copies Removed. 180.28 till half-past eight o’clock[,/.] Replaced. 199.16 [“]I was provoked to the utmost extreme Added. 226.2 the Duke [D/d]’Enghien, Replaced. 231.19 on the part of the First Co[u]nsul to M. de Removed. Chateaubriand 241.10 your duties, submission, and dependance, Added. &c.[”] 267.37 [“]Two of the generals, Added. 270.22 [“]But this proved for me," said the Emperor Added. 276.30 who amused himself with calcu[l]ating Added. 281.15 complete liberty of universal exchange.[”] Added. 285.24 Brissot, Condorcet, Vergn[i]aud>, Gaudet Added. 288.1 All thos[e], in the higher classes of society Added. 300.38 acts of vileness have reduced France[’] in the Removed. eyes 303.38 the _corps [d]’armée_ Added. 315.22 said[,] “I found it a very difficult thing Added. 316.8 “Six, Sire.” [“]How the plague can that be?” Added. 317.7 “Well,[”] said he Added. 317.13 I can bet[t]er employ the leisure Added. 318.4 the Emperor’s place on an eleva[va]tion of one Removed. or two steps. 326.3 a discussion once arose respec[t]ing the plan Added. of a decree 334.29 19th.—To[ /-]day the Northumberland sailed Added. 354.5 in all the instruments and access[a/o]ries of Replaced. war. 382.21 [“]That is not the matter;” Added. 385.6 he had chosen, in Cambac[èré/érè]s and Lebrun, Transposed. 387.16 of this blockade of Madame Bert[r]and Added. 397.26 [“]However,” said the Emperor Removed.