NAPOLEON AND BLUCHER
Part 12 out of 12
necessary for you to order, 'Forward!' It would have been just as
well, for your hussars were intent on nothing else; and, like their
field-marshal, they wished only to reach Paris."
"And now we have to wait here without firing a gun," replied
Blucher. "Moreover, my eyes ache as if they were burning. The sun
has been blazing all day, as though curious to see whether or not we
should take Paris; he has poured his rays on me since daybreak, and
I had no protection for my old eyes. On looking out of the carriage
early this morning I lost my shade; the wind carried it off as
though it were a kite. I have lost it, and, what is worse, I cannot
even enter Paris, for we shall of course sign a capitulation."
"Here is the pipe, your excellency," said Christian, "and now, good-
by, field-marshal; I have to attend to a little private matter."
He galloped off, and Blucher looked after him. "Happy fellow!" he
said, sighing; "he can gallop as light as a bird, while I must sit
here as a poor old prisoner!" At this moment his adjutant, Major von
Nostiz, rode up to the field-marshal's carriage. "Well, Nostiz, tell
me how things look in the outer world. What is the news?"
"Bad and good, your excellency," said Nostiz. "A murderous battle
has taken place to-day, and we have sustained heavy losses. About
eight thousand men were killed on our side, but in return we have
gained a large number of trophies, field-pieces, caissons, and
stands of colors."
"We ought to have taken all their colors!" cried Blucher, eagerly.
"What say the monarchs now, Nostiz? Will they still leave the
Parisians the choice to suffer a bombardment or not?"
"The negotiations are still pending."
"Are the monarchs themselves taking part in them? Do they condescend
to negotiate in person?"
"No, your excellency. The monarchs have returned to their quarters;
the King of Prussia has gone to the village of Pantin, the Emperor
of Russia to Bondy, and their representatives have repaired to the
suburb of La Chapelle, where they are treating with Marshals Mortier
and Marmont and their two adjutants in regard to the capitulation of
"Would that their negotiations were unsuccessful--that we might have
the pleasure of bombarding this infamous city which, for twenty
years past, has brought so much misery on Europe!"
"There is some prospect of it," said Nostiz, smiling. "The allies
have demanded that the French corps should surrender as prisoners of
war. To this the marshals refused to accede, declaring that they
would perish first in the streets, so the allies agreed to abandon
this article. A discussion next rose as to the route by which the
corps of Marmont and Mortier should retire, so as to be prevented
from joining the approaching forces of the emperor, the allies
insisting for that of Brittany, the French for any that they might
choose. The marshals refused positively to agree to these demands."
"They did!" cried Blucher, in an angry voice. "Well, I am glad of
it, for I see now that we shall have a bombardment. Let us
immediately make all necessary dispositions for it, in order that
when the fun commences we may be ready. Bring me my horse!" With the
activity of a youth Blucher opened his carriage and vaulted on the
horse, which the groom led close to the carriage. For a moment he
reeled in the saddle; for he felt as if red-hot daggers were
piercing his eyes, but he overcame his faintness and pain. "Where
are the members of my staff, Nostiz?" he asked, eagerly.
"They are near, your excellency, at La Villette."
"Let us ride, then, to La Villette, and thence up the Montmartre.
Nostiz, you will have immediately eighty or ninety pieces planted on
the Montmartre, that, when the bombardment commences early in the
morning, there may be no delay. [Footnote: Varnhagen von Esse, "Life
of Blucher," p. 380.] Make haste, Nostiz! There must be at least
eighty pieces! We shall startle the Parisians out of their slumber,"
growled Blucher, riding along the road to La Villette, attended by
his orderlies; "let them see that another state of affairs exists,
and that they are no longer the masters of the world, and able to
trample others in the dust!"
At La Villette, Blucher met the members of his staff, and, with
Gneisenau and Muffling by his side, and followed by the other
officers, rode up the heights of Moutmartre. The sun had set, but
his last beams still lingered in the evening clouds. The silence
reigning around them after the uproar of the day, made upon their
minds a solemn impression. At first the party engaged in an animated
conversation, but it gradually ceased. Peaceful nature in this
spring eventide contrasted the noise and bloodshed of the day with
her own indifference, so that even Blucher himself was deeply moved.
They reached the crest of the Montmartre. Paris--the long-feared,
but now vanquished Paris, which for centuries had not seen a
conquering enemy near its walls--lay at their feet. The steeples of
Notre-Dame, of St. Genevieve, the large cupola of the Hotel des
Invalides, the countless spires proudly looming up, the vast pile of
the Tuileries, the Louvre, the Palais-Royal, where for twenty years
Napoleon had given laws to trembling Europe, were plainly discerned.
And this great city, with its temples and palaces, was in the hands
of the enemy. They were Prussian generals who looked down from the
heights of the Montmartre, and who for seven years had borne the
disgrace of their country with sad yet courageous hearts; but this
moment was a sufficient indemnity for the long years of
"This, then, is Paris," said Blucher, after a long pause, and his
voice was gentle and tremulous. "This is Paris, for which I have
longed during seven years--the city which I knew my eyes would see,
that I might die in peace! Good God," he cried, lifting his blue
eyes toward heaven, and taking off his cap, "I thank Thee for having
permitted us to be here, for lending us Thy assistance in attaining
our object, and hurling from the throne the man who has so long been
a terror to humanity. I thank Thee for having called us, the men who
saw the disastrous day of Jena, to participate in the day of
liberation! Blessed spirit of our Queen Louisa! if thou, with thine
heavenly eyes that wept so much on earth, now lookest down upon us,
behold our hearts full of gratitude toward God, and of love for thee
as when thou wast among us! Thou hast assisted us in gaining the
victory; assist us now, too, in profiting by it in a manner worthy
ourselves, and for the welfare of the fatherland!" he paused, and,
shading his face with his cap, prayed in a low voice. The generals
followed his example; removing their hats, they offered silent
prayers of gratitude to God. "Now," cried Blucher, putting on his
cap again, "we have paid homage to Heaven, let us think a little of
ourselves. I am still in hope that there will be a bombardment, and
that we shall send our balls to the Parisians for breakfast to-
morrow. I will, therefore, remain on the Montmartre, and establish
here my quarters for the night."
"Field-marshal!" shouted a voice at a distance. "Field-Marshal
Blucher, where are you?"
"Here I am!" shouted Blucher.
"And here I am!" cried Hennemann, galloping up.
"Pipe-master, is it you?" asked Blucher, in amazement. "Well, what
do you want, and where have you been so long?"
"I have just brought an eye-shade for you, and here it is," said
Christian, handing with profound gravity a lady's bonnet of green
silk, with a broad green brim.
"A bonnet!" exclaimed Blucher, laughing. "What am I to do with it?"
"Put it on," said Christian, composedly. "We can cut off the crown,
then it will be a good shade; your excellency will put it on, and
wear your general's hat over it."
"That will do," said Blucher. "But tell me, my boy, where did you
"I saw this afternoon a lady with a green bonnet at a villa near
which I passed, and when you told me you ought to have an eye-shade,
I thought immediately of the bonnet. Well, I rode to the house, and
knocked so long at the door that they opened it. There were none but
women at the house, and they cried and wailed dreadfully on seeing
me. Well, I told them at once that I would not hurt them, but was
only desirous of getting the green bonnet. While the women were
raising such a hue-and-cry, another door opened, and the lady who
owned the house came in, with the bonnet on. Well, I went directly
to her, made her an obeisance, and said, 'Madame, be so kind as to
give me your green bonnet for my field-marshal, who has sore eyes.'"
"Well, and did she understand your good Mecklenburg German?"
inquired Blucher, smiling.
"No, she did not understand me apparently, but I made myself
understood, your excellency."
"Well, what did you do?"
"Oh, your excellency, I simply stepped near her, took hold of the
large knot by which her bonnet was tied under her chin, loosened it,
seized the bonnet by the brim, and took it very gently from her
head. She cried a little, and fainted away--but that will not hurt a
woman; I know she will soon be better. I secured my prize, and here
I am, and here is your excellency's eye-shade."
"And a good one it is. I thank you, my boy; I will wear it in honor
of you, for my eyes are aching dreadfully, and I have need of a
shade. I will raise this standard when we make our entrance into
Paris, and I believe, pipe-master, the fair Parisians will rejoice
at seeing me dressed in the latest Parisian fashion. But now,
milliner, cut off the crown, else I cannot use it."
"I will do so at once," said Christian, taking a pair of scissors
from his dressing-pouch, and transforming a lady's bonnet into an
A few hours afterward, all was quiet on the Montmartre, and on all
the other heights around Paris. After the battle the armies needed
sleep, and it was undisturbed, for there was no longer an enemy to
dispute their possession of the French capital.
NIGHT AND MORNING NEAR PARIS.
So the allied armies encamped and rested round the bivouac-fires,
while, at a house in the suburbs of La Chapelle, the
plenipotentiaries of the sovereigns were still negotiating with the
French marshals the terms on which the city was to be surrendered.
But he who now rode along the road to Paris at a gallop in an open
carriage knew no peace or rest. His quivering features were
expressive of alarm; ruin sat enthroned on his forehead, covered
with perspiration. By his side sat Caulaincourt; behind him,
Berthier and Flahault. The carriage thundered along at the utmost
speed. "Caulaincourt, I shall arrive at Paris in time," murmured the
emperor; "we are already at Fromenteau; in an hour we shall be
there. The watch-fires of the enemy are seen on the opposite bank of
the Seine. Ah, I shall extinguish them; to-morrow night the enemy
will not be so near.--But what is that? Do you hear nothing? Have
the carriage stopped!"
Berthier shouted to the driver--the carriage stopped. They all heard
a sort of hollow noise.
"It is a squad of cavalry riding along this road," whispered
"It is artillery," murmured Napoleon. "Forward! They can only be our
own men. But why are they retreating from Paris? Forward!"
The carriage rolled on. And from the other side of the road a dark
mass, with a rumbling noise, moved toward them. Napoleon was not
mistaken, nor was Caulaincourt mistaken.
"Who is there?" shouted the emperor to the horsemen at the head of
the column. "Halt!"
"It is the emperor!" cried a voice, in amazement, and a horseman
dismounting in a moment approached the carriage.
"It is General Belliard," exclaimed the emperor, and alighted
hastily from his carriage. "General, whither are you moving? What
"Sire, all is lost!" said Belliard, after a mournful pause.
"How so?" cried Napoleon, vehemently. "You see I am coming! I shall
be in Paris in an hour. I will call out the National Guard, and put
myself at the head of the troops."
"Sire, we are too weak; the enemy is five times stronger."
"But I am there, and my name will increase the strength of my army
"Sire, it is too late."
"Too late! What do you mean?"
"Marmont and Mortier have capitulated; we are taking advantage of
the night to evacuate Paris, while the marshals are still
negotiating the terms of capitulation."
A single cry of anger burst from Napoleon's lips; then, as if
crushed by the blow, his head dropped on his breast. Recovering
himself in a moment, he said, imperiously: "General Belliard! return
with your troops; I shall be there before you reach the city.
Resuming hostilities, I will call upon all Paris to take up arms;
the people love me, they will remain faithful; the majority of the
working-men are composed of old soldiers. They know how to fight,
and I will lead them. We shall fight as the Spaniards fought against
us at Saragossa, defending with our blood the streets of our
capital; detaining the enemy at least for a day, my army will
arrive, and we shall be strong enough to give battle. I must go to
Paris; when I am not there, they do nothing but blunder! My brother
Joseph is a pusillanimous and easily-disheartened man, and Minister
Clarke is a blockhead. Marmont and Mortier are traitors deserving
death, for they violated my express instructions. I asked them to
hold out only two days, and the traitors capitulated before they had
elapsed! Oh, I shall hold them responsible for it: I know how to
punish traitors and poltroons!" He hurried on in a rapid step,
General Belliard walking by his side, and Caulaincourt, Berthier,
and Flahault following him. "I must go to Paris," cried the emperor,
after a momentary pause. "Order my carriage!"
"Sire," said Belliard, solemnly, "it is no longer possible for your
majesty to reach Paris. You would run the risk of falling into the
hands of the vanguard of the allies. If your majesty were at Paris,
it would be of no avail. The enemy is in possession of all the
heights, and they can bombard the city without being interfered with
by the exhausted troops of Mortier and Marmont. Sire, all is lost;
there is no prospect which would justify us to hope for a favorable
"To Paris!" cried the emperor. "You say I can no longer enter the
city. Well, then, I shall put myself at the head of the troops of
Marshals Mortier and Marmont, and, while the allies are making their
entrance into the city, resume the struggle."
"Sire," said Belliard, mournfully, "it is too late, the marshals
have agreed to surrender Paris; it was only on this condition that
our troops were allowed to move out. The capitulation cannot be
"What do I care for the capitulation of traitorous marshals?" said
the emperor, stamping; "my will alone reigns here, and my will is,
that the troops face about and follow me.--Say, Hulin," said the
emperor, turning toward the commander of Paris, who had just
approached him, "are you not of my opinion? The troops should return
"No, sire," said General Hulin, sighing, "the capitulation has
already been concluded, and it does not permit the soldiers to
return on any pretext."
"Are you of the same opinion?" asked Napoleon, turning toward
General Curial, who had just come up with a corps of infantry, and
saluted the emperor.
"I am, sire," said Curial. "The capitulation has been concluded, and
we are happy to have received permission for our troops, who are
exhausted, to evacuate the city. We are already on the march in the
direction of Fontainebleau. We have no hope of conquering, and we
could only be involved in a last dreadful but useless carnage. Your
majesty cannot desire that. Have pity on poor France, bleeding from
a thousand wounds; you do not wish the enemy to bombard the heart of
"And you?" asked Napoleon, turning his eyes, with an expression of
agony, toward his attendants. "Caulaincourt, do you, too, share the
views of these gentlemen?"
"Yes, sire," said Caulaincourt, with tears in his eyes. "It is too
late to conquer; it only remains for us to save what we can."
"And you, Berthier and Flahault?"
"Sire, that is our opinion! It is too late; all is lost!"
Napoleon's sigh sounded like a death-rattle. "Well, then," he said,
in a faint, hollow voice, "I will return to Fontainebleau."
Napoleon reentered his carriage. When his three attendants had taken
seats, he rose and called out in a commanding voice, "General
Belliard!" The general approached the carriage hesitatingly; he was
still afraid lest the emperor should change his mind.
"Belliard," said Napoleon, "dispatch immediately an orderly to
Marshals Marmont and Mortier, and communicate to them that they
march their troops to Essonne, ten leagues south of Paris; there
they are to take a position, and await further orders.--To
The carriage passed again along the road by which it had arrived,
bearing away a wearied and despairing man, who a moment before was
full of hope and energy. The clock of the village of Jurissy struck
twelve, when he halted in front of the "Cour de France," and had the
horses changed. "Caulaincourt," he said, hurriedly, "alight, take
post-horses, and hasten to Paris! Penetrate to the headquarters of
the Emperor Alexander! Prevent the capitulation--do so in my name;
you have full powers! Negotiate, consent to any treaty that
recognizes me as sovereign of France!" [Footnote: Beitzke vol. iii.,
It was past midnight, and with a new day began a new era. The rising
sun shone upon the brilliant array of the allies. The terms of the
capitulation had been adjusted at two in the morning. It was
stipulated that the marshals should evacuate Paris at seven on the
same day; that the public arsenals and magazines be surrendered in
the same state in which they were when the capitulation was
concluded; that the National Guard, according to the pleasure of the
allies, be either disbanded, or employed under their direction in
the service of the city; that the wounded and stragglers, found
after ten in the morning, be considered prisoners of war; and that
Paris be recommended to the generosity of the sovereigns. [Footnote:
"Memoires du Duc de Rovigo," vol. iii.]
It was now eight in the morning, and the corps of the allied troops
that were to make their entrance into the city were in readiness. A
staff, composed of hundreds of Austrian, Russian, Prussian,
Wurtemberg, Bavarian, and Swedish generals, awaited the arrival of
the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, when the triumphal
march into Paris would take place.
Overcoming his pain, and keeping erect by a violent effort, Field-
Marshal Blucher had himself dressed by his servants. The toilet was
finished, and, attired in his uniform, covered with glittering
orders, he stepped from his bedroom, and sent for Christian. "Pipe-
master," he said, "I am ready now, and believe I look quite
imposing; but you must adjust the last ornament of my toilet. You
captured it, and ought to add it to my uniform."
"What ornament, your excellency?"
"Well, the eye-shade, Christian. Come and adorn me!" He handed the
crownless bonnet to Christian, and sat down on a chair. The article
was carefully placed on the head of the field-marshal, so that his
bald scalp protruded from the aperture of the shade like a full moon
surrounded by a green halo. He then carefully put on it the field-
marshal's hat, with its waving plumes and gold-lace. [Footnote:
Varnhagen, "Life of Blucher," p. 382]
"Now I am ready," said Blucher, rising.
At this moment the door opened, and General Gneisenau, accompanied
by Surgeon-General Voelzke, entered the room.
"What!" exclaimed Gneisenau, in amazement. "An hour ago I found you
in bed, a prey to a raging fever, complaining of your eyes; and now
you have not only risen, but are in full feather, and ready for the
march into the city!"
"Why, yes, of course, I am," said Blucher, sullenly. "I must make my
entry, I must keep my word, and get into Paris after aiding in
getting HIM out of it."
"That is to say," cried Dr. Voelzke, "you intend to break your
pledge, and prove faithless to your oath?"
"What oath?" asked Blucher, greatly surprised.
"Did you not solemnly pledge me your word four days ago, your
excellency, to submit to my treatment for two weeks, and adhere to
"Yes, and I think I have kept my word. I have swallowed your
medicines, pills, and powders, rubbed in your salves, and applied
your plasters, in accordance with your directions, although I must
say that all this did not help me any."
"But your eyes have not grown any worse, and they will soon improve,
if you continue my treatment."
"Well, what do you want me to do, then?"
"You must stay here. You must not be six or eight hours on
horseback; you must not expose yourself so long to the dust and
"What! I am not to participate in the entrance of the monarchs into
Paris?" cried Blucher, indignantly.
"I implore your excellency not to do so," said the physician, in an
impressive tone. "Give yourself a few days' rest and recreation, and
your eyes will get well; but if you expose yourself to-day I shall
never again cross your threshold, for I do not care to be disgraced
by the report that Field-Marshal Blucher lost his eyesight while
under my care; and I tell you, you will be blind, and then I can do
nothing for you."
"Stay here, your excellency," begged Gneisenau; "do not trifle with
your dear eyes, destined to see still many beautiful things, and
gladden the world by their heroic glances! What can a triumph of a
few hours' duration be to you to whom every day will be a triumph,
and whom delivered Germany awaits to greet with manifestations of
love and gratitude?"
"Ah, it is not for the sake of the triumph that I wish to go," cried
Blucher, morosely. "But I have sworn, for seven years, and it has
been my only consolation, that, in spite of Bonaparte, I would make
my triumphal entrance into Paris, as Bonaparte did into Berlin, and
now you insist on my not fulfilling my oath!"
"You will nevertheless make your entrance into Paris," exclaimed
Gneisenau; "though your person be absent, your name will float as
our banner of victory over the monarchs, and all know full well that
Blucher is THE conqueror."
"Stay!" begged Voelzke; "think of the pain which you have already
suffered, and of that you will suffer, and of which I give you
"Yes, field-marshal," begged Hennemann, with tearful eyes, "pray do
what the doctor says; do not hazard your sight; for, let me say,
field-marshal, a blind man is like a pipe that will not draw; both
of them will go out."
"Well, I do not care," cried Blucher, "I will stay. It will not hurt
me. My task is performed, and it makes no difference to me how I
enter Paris. I have my share of the victory, and no one can take it
from me. HE has been cast down, and none will deny that I assisted."
"Well, I think I have also assisted a little in it," said Christian,
solemnly; "for had I not always kept the pipes in so good a state,
the field-marshal would not have had such successful ideas, nor
could he have so well said, 'Forward!'"
"You are right, pipe-master," said Blucher, pleasantly. "The pipe--
but what is that? Was not that a gun, and there another? Have the
negotiations miscarried, after all, and the bombardment commenced in
"No, your excellency," said Gneisenau, smiling, "you must give up
that hope! These are the guns which give the troops the signal that
the monarchs have arrived, and that the march into the city is to
"Well, good-by, then; make haste and leave!" cried Blucher, pushing
Gneisenau and Voelzke toward the door.
They left, and the field-marshal was again alone with Christian
"Well," he said, "give me a pipe: while the others are making their
entrance into Paris, I want you to afford me a little pleasure, too.
Come here, therefore, and sing to me the Low-German song which you
sang to me on the day when you arrived at Kunzendorf."
The reports of the artillery continued; the monarchs were entering
Paris. The field-marshal in the mean time sat with the green bonnet
on his head, puffing his pipe. No one was with him but Christian
Hennemann, who sang in a loud voice, "Spinn doch, spinn doch, mihn
lutt lewes Dochting!"
NAPOLEON AT FONTAINEBLEAU.
Napoleon passed seven days of indescribable mental anguish at
Fontainebleau. Adversity had befallen him, but he bore it with the
semblance of calmness, uttering no complaint. His was still the
cold, inscrutable face of the emperor, such as it had been on his
triumphal entrance into Berlin and Madrid, after the victories of
Austerlitz and Jena, in the days of Erfurt and Tilsit, at the
conflagration of Moscow, at the Beresina, and at Leipsic. He gave no
expression to his soul's agony. It was only in the dead of night
that his faithful servants heard him sometimes sigh, pacing his
room, restless and melancholy. He did not yet feel wholly
discouraged; he still hoped. His bravest marshals were still with
him; his Old Guard had not yet gone, and at Paris there were many
devoted friends, because they owed to him honor and riches.
He was hopeful that Marmont's troops would arrive at Fontainebleau,
when, concentrating all his corps, he would march with them and
reconquer his capital. Engrossed with this idea, he was alone in his
cabinet; bent over his maps, he examined the various positions of
his troops, and considered when they might all reach him. But while
he was thinking of war, his marshals were thinking of peace. They
had withdrawn into one of the remote apartments of Fontainebleau for
the purpose of holding a secret consultation. There were his old
comrades Ney, Prince de la Moskwa; Macdonald, Duke de Tarento;
Lefebvre, Duke de Dantzic; Oudinot, Duke de Reggio--all of them
owing their glory to Napoleon: it was, therefore, pardonable if he
confided in their gratitude--but gratitude to the fallen, who had
nothing more to give, and whose misfortunes resembled an infectious
disease, repelling even his dearest friends.
"He is lost," said Oudinot, in an undertone; "he is on the edge of
the precipice, and those who abide by him will fall with him."
"We must, therefore, leave him," whispered Lefebvre. "We are unable
to keep him back; prudence commands us to keep aloof."
"We have suffered and bled for him for years," said Macdonald; "it
is time now for him to suffer and bleed for us. His death would be a
"Yes," murmured Ney, "his death would give us a new life. But he
will not die; his heart is made of bronze, and will not break."
"No, he will not die voluntarily," said Oudinot.
The marshals paused and looked at each other with dark and
significant glances. All seemed to read each other's souls, and to
divine the sinister thoughts that began to find utterance.
"No, he will not die voluntarily," repeated Macdonald. "But the
millions of soldiers that have fallen on the battlefields have not
died voluntarily, either: Napoleon drove them into the jaws of
death. Now he is no longer any thing but a mere soldier; could we be
blamed, if, in order to save France, we should drive him into the
"But how could we do it?" asked Lefebvre. "He has with him
Caulaincourt, Berthier, and Maret, who would certainly be capable of
showing, like Anthony, the blood-stained cloak of Caesar to the
people, and of bringing upon us a destiny such as befell Brutus and
Cassius. I am not desirous of seeing my house set on fire, and of
being compelled to flee."
"We ought not to imitate Caesar's generals," said Ney, gloomily. "He
has lived like a demi-god, and must die like a demi-god. Not a
vestige of him must remain; he must, like Romulus, ascend to the
"Let us consider what ought to be done," said Macdonald.
They whispered in low tones, so that they themselves scarcely heard
each other. After a prolonged secret consultation, they seemed
agreed as to what should be done, and as if there were now no longer
any doubt or objection.
"Caulaincourt, Bertrand, and Maret, are alone to be feared," said
Oudinot, loudly. "If they refuse to be silent, they must be
silenced! And Berthier? what are we to do with Berthier?"
"We shall tell him all when it is over," responded Macdonald, with a
shrug. "Berthier is not formidable; he has a heart of cotton, and a
head of wind."
All laughed; Oudinot then said, in a grave and menacing voice: "It
is time for us to come to a decision. We are already in April, and
nothing decided; the Emperor of Russia is impatient, and the future
King of France will never forgive us if we delay his return to
Paris. Come, gentlemen, let us for the last time try the way of
kindness and persuasion. Let us openly and honestly advise Napoleon
to abdicate; he must make up his mind to do so, or--"
"Or we shall compel him," said Macdonald. "He has often enough
compelled us to do what was repugnant to us. Come, gentlemen, let us
go to the emperor." [Footnote: "Memoirs of the Duchess d'Abrantes."]
The emperor was sill bending over his maps when the four marshals
entered his cabinet. With a quick glance he read in their pale,
sullen faces that they came to him, not as friends and servants, but
as adversaries. "I am glad," he said calmly, "that you anticipate my
request, and come to me when I intended to send for you. We must
hold a council of war, marshals. I have determined to make a general
assault upon the allies to-morrow, and I wished to assemble you here
to lay the details of my plan before you. One of you may go and call
Berthier, who should participate in our deliberations."
"Sire," said Ney, in a harsh tone, "before entering into
deliberations on the war, we should first consider whether it is
still desirable." Napoleon cast on him a glance which once would
have frozen the marshal's blood, but which now made no impression on
him. "I believe," added Ney, "that France can no longer bear the
burden of war. She is exhausted, bleeding from many wounds, and
would sink to certain ruin if she continue a useless struggle. Her
finances cannot be restored, for the people are destitute. Our
fields are uncultivated, our industry is paralyzed; our workshops
and stores are closed, our commerce is prostrated, for France is
destitute of money, credit, and laborers. What means has your
majesty to shield her from the most terrible misfortunes?"
"I have but one--to attack the allies to-morrow, expelling those who
have caused all the misfortunes of France."
"Sire, our country is tired of war," cried Ney; "she wants peace."
"Is that your opinion, marshals?" asked the emperor, hastily.
"Yes, sire, it is."
"Well, then," said Napoleon, after a moment's reflection, "do you
know of any way of restoring peace?"
The marshals were silent. Their lips seemed to shrink from uttering
the thoughts of their souls; but the Prince de la Moskwa, Marshal
Ney, overcame his timidity. "Sire," he remarked, "the allies say in
their proclamation that it is not France against which they wage
"Not France, but myself!" cried Napoleon. "Ah, you come to propose
an abdication to me?"
"We come to implore your majesty to make a last great sacrifice."
"Sire," exclaimed Oudinot, "let your heroic soul conquer itself, and
restore peace to France."
"She will forever bless you," said Lefebvre.
"Restore to France the peace for which she has been vainly longing
for twenty-five years!" cried Macdonald.
Now that they had all spoken, there was an anxious, breathless
pause. Suddenly Napoleon passed over to his desk. He cast a last
glance, full of pride, contempt, and anger, on his four marshals;
then, seating himself, he took up a pen with a firm hand, and wrote.
The marshals stood in silence, and looked at him in an embarrassed
manner. Laying aside the pen, and rising, he held up the paper on
which he had written, and motioned to Marshal Ney. "Here, Prince de
la Moskwa," said Napoleon, "read to the marshals what I have
Ney read in a tremulous voice: "'The allied powers, having
proclaimed that the Emperor Napoleon is the sole obstacle to the
reestablishment of peace in Europe, the Emperor Napoleon, faithful
to his oath, declares that he is ready to descend from the throne,
to quit France, and even life itself, for the good of the country,
inseparable from the rights of his son, of the regency of the
empress, and of the maintenance of the laws of the empire.'"
[Footnote: Fain, "Manuscrit de 1814," p. 221.]
"You have willed it so," said Napoleon, when Ney had finished.
"Macdonald and Ney, with Caulaincourt, will immediately repair with
this document to Paris. On the way they will meet Mortier, and
request him to accompany them. The four dukes will present my
conditional abdication to the Emperor Alexander, and treat with him
in regard to the future of my son and the regency of my consort."
On the 7th of April the Duke de Vicenza entered the emperor's
cabinet, pale and with a mournful air.
"Caulaincourt," cried Napoleon, "you have delivered my abdication to
"Yes, sire," said Caulaincourt, sadly. "Ah, sire, I bring bad news,
which my lips almost refuse to utter!"
"Speak, I am courageous enough to hear all; be, then, courageous
enough to tell me all. I wish no concealment whatever--I desire to
know the whole truth."
"Well, sire, all is lost. The Emperor Alexander has issued to-day a
manifesto, which has been placarded over every part of Paris, to the
effect that 'he would no longer treat with Bonaparte, nor with any
member of his family.'"
"Ah, the perfidious wretch!" murmured Napoleon, "he plighted me once
eternal friendship and fidelity.--Proceed, Caulaincourt! What says
the so-called provisional government presided over by M. Talleyrand,
the renegade priest, whom I made a man of distinction, whom I raised
to the dignity of a prince, on whom I lavished honors, and who has
now become the leader of the royalists? What say M. Talleyrand, and
the provisional government, and the senate, who swore allegiance to
"Sire, the senate solemnly declared yesterday, the 6th of April,
that the Emperor Napoleon has forfeited his throne, because, by
abusing the powers conferred on him, by despotism, by trampling
under foot the liberty of the press, by undertaking wars in
violation of right, and by his openly manifested contempt of man and
human law, he has rendered himself unworthy of the sovereignty of
the nation. The senate, besides, have called back the Bourbons to
the throne of France. In consequence of this declaration, the
provisional government has proclaimed to-day that, till the arrival
of King Louis XVIII., the administration is exclusively in their
"Ah, the traitors!" cried Napoleon. "They have dared to proclaim
such sentiments! to carry their impudence so far! See what venal
creatures those men are! As long as fortune was faithful to me,
they, who now call themselves the provisional government and senate,
in the name of France, were my most sycophantic servants. A sign
from me was an order for the senate, who always did more than was
desired of them, and not a whisper was heard against the abuses of
power. Ah, they charge me with despising them--tell me,
Caulaincourt, will not the world see now whether or not I had
reasons for my opinion?" [Footnote: Fain, "Manuscrit de 1814," p.
"Sire, it is true, your majesty has met with many ingrates during
your career, and will still meet with them," said Caulaincourt,
sighing. "Perfidy seems to have become an epidemic."
"Ah, I see you have not yet told me every thing. Speak! In the first
place, what was the result of your negotiations with the Emperor
"Sire, if your majesty agrees to renounce, for yourself and your
heirs, the throne of France, the allied sovereigns offer Corsica or
Elba as a sovereign principality, and France will pay your majesty
an annual pension of two million francs."
"I am to renounce the throne, too, for my son--my dear little King
of Rome?" cried Napoleon, mournfully. "No, never! I cannot deprive
my son of his inheritance. This is too much. I will put myself at
the head of my army and run the risk of any calamities, rather than
submit to a humiliation worse than them all!"
"Your majesty has no army. Treason has infected your marshals."
"What do you mean? Ah. it is true, you come alone! Where are the
marshals? Where is Ney? Where is Macdonald?"
"Sire, they have remained in Paris."
"Ah, I understand," exclaimed Napoleon, with a scornful laugh; "they
are waiting there for King Louis XVIII., in order to offer him their
services. But where is Marmont? You know well that I am greatly
attached to Marmont, and I long to see him. Why does he not come?"
"Sire, Marshal Marmont has passed over to the allies with a corps of
ten thousand men."
"Marmont!" cried Napoleon, almost with a scream--"Marmont a traitor!
That is false--that is impossible! Marmont cannot have betrayed me!"
"Sire, he did betray you. He marched the troops, notwithstanding
their undisguised reluctance, to Versailles, in order there to join
the allies, after receiving from them the solemn promise that the
French soldiers should be treated as friends."
"Marmont has betrayed me!" murmured Napoleon. "Marment, whom I loved
as a son--who owes me all--who--" His voice faltered; his heart was
rent, and, sinking on a chair, he buried his quivering face in his
A SOUL IN PURGATORY.
It was the 11th of April. Napoleon, at Fontaineblean, sat at his
desk and stared at the paper before him. It contained an absolute
resignation of his throne for himself and his family. After signing
this document, he was no more Emperor of France, nor his son King of
Rome, nor his consort empress--perhaps, no longer even his wife. By
signing this paper, he accepted all the conditions imposed on him by
the allies; that is to say, he descended from the sovereignty of all
his states and went to the little island of Elba, to live there a
pensioner of Europe; his consort wore no longer, like him, the
imperial title, but became Duchess of Parma; and the King of Rome
became not the heir of his father, the Emperor of Elba, but the heir
of his mother, the Duchess of Parma, and the title of "Duke de
Reichstadt" was to be given him. He renounced not only France, but
his wife and his son!
Napoleon was fondly and sincerely attached to Maria Louisa, and he
loved the King of Rome with passionate tenderness. Before
consenting, therefore, to affix his signature to this act of
abdication, he wished to know whether Maria Louisa agreed to it, and
whether she would not at least ask the allies, one of whom was her
own father, to permit her to reside with her son and her husband on
the island of Elba, sharing the emperor's exile. For some time he
had not heard from his consort; he wrote to her every day, but for
six days past no answers came. He did not, however, distrust her; he
knew that Maria Louisa loved him. His heart longed for her and his
child. He had sent Berthier to Orleans the day before with a letter
for Maria Louisa. He was to tell him what his consort was thinking
and wishing. If she was courageous enough to claim her rights, and
desired to do so, Berthier was to convey her to the emperor, and, at
Fontainebleau, Maria Louisa was to declare to her father that she
insisted on her sacred right of staying with her husband. Napoleon
expected this, and he was nervous and anxious, waiting for the
return of his general, and in hope that Maria Louisa would accompany
He contemplated the paper, and, while reading the words of despair,
he thought of the past--of the days when Europe had been at his
feet, and when he himself showed no mercy. The door of the cabinet
was softly opened, and the Duke de Bassano entered. "Maret," he
exclaimed, "you come to inform me that Berthier has returned, do you
"And he--he is alone?"
"Yes, sire, he is alone."
Napoleon sighed. "Admit Berthier," he said, "but stay here."
Maret stepped to the door and opened it. The Prince of Neufchatel
entered, mournful and silent. A single glance told Napoleon that his
mission had failed.
"Well, Berthier, you have seen the empress?"
"I have, sire. I met the empress leaving Orleans."
"Ah, then, she is coming!" exclaimed Napoleon.
"No, sire. Prince Metternich had paid her a visit on the preceding
day, and delivered to her autograph letters from her father the
Emperor of Austria. He had asked his daughter to repair to
Rambouillet, where he would meet her."
"And Louisa consented?"
"She did, sire. Her majesty told me with tears in her eyes that
nothing remained for her but to submit to the will of her father,
because only his intercession could secure her own future and that
of her son. She deplored that she was not at liberty to come to
Fontainebleau, but stated she had solemnly pledged her word to
Prince Metternich, who, in the emperor's name, had required a pledge
neither to see nor to correspond with your majesty."
"And she did not indignantly reject this base demand?" cried the
emperor. "She did not remember that she is my wife, and that she
plighted her faith to me?"
"Sire, the empress said that, for her son's sake, she was allowed
now only to consider herself a princess of Austria, and the Austrian
princesses were all educated in unconditional and unmurmuring
obedience to the orders of the emperor their father. [Footnote:
Meneval, "Memoires," etc., vol. ii., p. 80.] Hence, she obeyed her
father now, in order to enjoy at a later time the happiness of
belonging to your majesty. For, as soon as her future was secured,
as soon as the duchy of Parma was settled upon her, and her son
declared its heir, nothing would prevent her from rejoining her
beloved husband; and if your majesty agreed to accept the island of
Elba, the empress would certainly soon repair thither. She proposed
that, prohibited from directly corresponding with your majesty, you
might have intercourse through your private secretaries; your
majesty might have Baron Fain write to her all you wished her to
know, and she would do the same through Baron de Meneval."
"A genuine woman's stratagem," murmured Napoleon, gloomily, to
himself. "She is destitute of courage, and does not love me enough
to brave her father.--Berthier," he then asked aloud, "did you see
"No, sire, they would not let me see the prince; they feared lest it
would excite him too much, and remind him of the past. For the King
of Rome is constantly longing for his father."
"And his father cannot see him--cannot call him to his side! Oh,
Berthier, this is painful, very painful!"
"But your majesty will soon be reunited with him," said Maret,
feelingly. "Sign the act of abdication; go to Elba, sire, and no one
can prevent the empress from coming to you with her son. She wishes
and has a right to do so."
"Well, then, be it so," said the emperor, drawing a deep breath. "I
will sign every thing. I will abdicate; I will sign this second
treaty, which makes me Emperor of Elba! My wife and my son must be
restored to me!" He quickly stepped to the desk, and signed the two
papers with a steady hand.
"Well," he said, flinging the pen into a corner of the room, "now I
am no longer Emperor of France, but at the same time no longer a
prisoner at Fontainebleau. At Elba I shall be free, at least; I
shall be surrounded by the brave soldiers of my Old Guard; I shall
see again my wife and my son. That is to say," he gloomily murmured
to himself, "if her father permits them to rejoin me; for without
his permission she will not come. Louisa is a princess of Austria,
and has, therefore, been brought up in obedience. Oh, how I longed
for the consolation of her presence! She ought not to have left me
alone in these days!" His lips murmured softly, "Josephine would not
have done so! She would have gone with me into exile!" He sat a long
time absorbed in his reflections, which whispered to him of the
past, and of Josephine. He felt that they moved him too deeply, and,
with an impetuous gesture, he jumped up, and, proudly throwing back
his head, exclaimed: "Well, then, I have submitted to my fate, and
shall bear it manfully. We shall go to Elba, then! You will
accompany me, my friends, and I shall not be alone? Maret and
Berthier, you will not leave me, I hope?"
"Sire, I would follow your majesty to the end of the world!" said
"I know of no more glorious destiny than to remain your majesty's
faithful servant," exclaimed Berthier, emphatically. "I thank you
for permitting me to go with you to Elba, and I joyfully accept this
permission; but as I have to make some necessary preparatious, I
request two days' leave of absence of your majesty."
While Berthier was speaking, the emperor contemplated him with
painful astonishment; now he quickly came near him, and, laying his
hand on his shoulder, he fixed his keen eyes on him, as if he wished
to read his most secret thoughts. "Berthier," he said, in a gentle,
imploring voice, "you see how much I have need of consultation; how
necessary it is for me to have true friends about me. You will,
therefore, return to-morrow, will you not?"
"Sire, certainly," faltered Berthier.
Napoleon's eyes still rested on the pale, confused face of the
prince. "Berthier," he said, after a pause, "if you wish to leave
me, tell me so frankly and sincerely."
"I leave you!" exclaimed Berthier. "Your majesty knows well that I
am devoted to you with immovable fidelity--that my heart can never
forget you, and that I shall always be your obedient servant."
"Words, words!" said Napoleon, shaking his head. "Well, then, it is
your will: go, therefore, to Paris. Attend to the affairs which you
have more at heart than my wishes. Go, and--if you can, come back
Berthier wished to grasp the emperor's hand and press it to his
lips, but he hastily withdrew it, and, lifting it up, pointed with
an imperious glance at the door. Berthier bowed, and, walking
backward, approached the door with bent head, and departed. The
emperor looked after him long and gloomily; then he slowly turned
his head toward the Duke de Bassano. "Maret," he said, slowly,
"Berthier will not come back."
"What, sire!" exclaimed Maret, in dismay. "Your majesty believes--"
"I know it," said Napoleon, slowly, "Berthier will not come back!"
He threw himself into an easy-chair, at times heaving a sigh, but
without uttering a single complaint; and thus he sat all day. From
time to time the few faithful men who had remained with him dared to
speak, but the emperor, starting from his meditations, only stared
at them, and then slowly dropped his head again on his breast. At
dinner-time Maret endeavored to induce him to go to the table; but
he only responded by indignantly shaking his head, and waving him
toward the door.
Evening had come, and the emperor still sat alone in his cabinet,
motionless and sad. He did not hear the door behind him softly open;
he did not see a dark, veiled female form that had slowly entered,
and now, as if overwhelmed by grief, leaned against the wall. Her
veil prevented her, perhaps, from seeing Napoleon; she threw it
back, and now Josephine's pale, quivering face was seen. She fixed
her eyes on him with an expression of boundless tenderness, and then
lifted them to heaven with an imploring air, softly raising her
arms, and her lips moving in inaudible prayer.
The emperor did not yet notice her. Josephine stepped noiselessly
across the carpet, and laid her hand gently on his head. "Napoleon,"
she whispered, "Napoleon!"
He uttered a cry and jumped up. "Josephine," he exclaimed, "my
Josephine! Oh, now I am no longer alone!" He clasped her with
impassioned tenderness in his arms; he kissed her quivering lips,
and held her streaming face between his hands, gazing at it with the
tender expression of a lover. Encircling her with his arms, and no
longer able to restrain his heart, he laid his head on her shoulder,
and wept bitterly. Recovering, his face resumed its inscrutable
expression. "Josephine," he said, "I have wrung many tears from you,
but Fate has avenged you; I have wept, too; and what is worse than
tears is that which is gnawing at my heart. I thank you, Josephine,
for coming to me. All have deserted me!"
"I know it, Napoleon," whispered Josephine, smiling amid tears, "and
that is why I am here. You will not go all alone to Elba; I shall go
with you. No, Bonaparte, no! do not shake your head; do not reject
me! I have a right to accompany you; for, whatever men may say, I
was your wife, and am your wife, and what God has joined together no
man can sunder. My soul is one with yours. I love you to-day as
tenderly as I did on the day when I stood with you before the altar
and plighted my fidelity to you; I love you now even more intensely,
for you are unfortunate, and have need of my love. Bid me,
therefore, not go any more. SHE is not here, and her place by your
side, which she has deserted, belongs to me!"
"No," said Napoleon, gravely, "let her absence remind her of her
duty. I will not give my son's mother a pretext for staying away
from me; she shall not say that she cannot rejoin me because I have
yielded to another woman the place that belongs to her. No,
Josephine, she must not be able to reproach me. I thank you for
coming, but you have come to take leave of me. I have seen you--your
faithful love has been a balm to my heart. Now, farewell!"
"Then, you bid me go already?" cried Josephine, reproachfully; "oh,
Bonaparte, let me stay here at least till your departure. No one
will betray to HER that I am here."
"It would remain no secret, Josephine, and it would be used to
excuse her, and to accuse me. Go, then, and take with you the
consciousness that you have afforded me the last joy of my life."
"Oh, Bonaparte, you break my heart!" murmured Josephine, leaning her
head on his shoulder. "I cannot leave you, I cannot bear to see you
go alone into exile."
"Fate has decreed it, and so has the evil star that arose upon my
path when I left you, Josephine! Let this be my farewell. Now, go!"
"No, Bonaparte," she cried, passionately; "tell me not to go if you
do not wish me to die! Your misfortunes have pierced my heart. My
only hope of life is by your side, for sorrow at the remembrance of
your misfortunes will kill me."
A strange smile played around the emperor's lips. "I do not pity
those who die," he said; "death is a kind friend, and pray God that
He may soon send this friend to me!" He kissed her forehead and
conducted her gently to the door. "Go, my Josephine," he said; "this
is the last sacrifice which I shall ask of you!"
"I go!" she sighed. "Farewell, Bonaparte, farewell!" She fixed on
him a look full of love and grief. "We shall never meet again!"
"Yes," he said, slowly and solemnly, lifting his hand toward heaven,
"we shall meet again!"
"I shall await you there!" she said, with an expression of intense
love and sorrow.
The door closed; Napoleon was again alone; he stood in the middle of
the room, as if still beholding her pale, smiling face, and hearing
her sweet voice. "She will await me there!" he murmured. "But why
should she await me? Why should she die, and I live? And why must I
live?" he asked, in a loud, and almost joyful tone. "Why shall I
suffer these mean, cowardly creatures, who formerly lay in the dust
before me, now to enjoy their triumph? Why must I live?" He sank
into his chair, thinking of the disgrace soon to be brought upon
him, remembering that each of the allied sovereigns would send an
envoy to Fontainebleau, and that he was to be transported to Elba--
escorted, like a caged lion, by Russian, Prussian, and Austrian
commissioners! His heart for a moment grew strong in his anguish. He
jumped up, rushed to his desk, pulled out the drawers, and opened a
secret compartment. There lay a small black silken bag. Taking it
out, he cut it open, and drew a package from it. "Ha!" he exclaimed,
joyfully, "now I have the kind friend that will deliver me! They
want to drag me through the country as a prisoner! But thou, blessed
poison, wilt release me!"
In the night of the 13th of April, Constant, Napoleon's valet de
chambre, was awakened by an extraordinary groaning proceeding from
Napoleon's bedroom, whither Constant hastened. Yes, it was the
emperor who was suffering. His face was deadly pale; his limbs were
quivering; a paper lay on the floor in front of him; on the table by
his side stood a glass, in which were still seen some drops of a
whitish color. Constant rushed toward him. He gazed at his servant
with fixed looks, and murmured, "I suffer dreadfully! Fire is
consuming my bowels; but it does not kill me!"
Uttering a cry, and hastening from the room, Constant went for the
domestic surgeon, Dr. Ivan, Maret, and Caulaincourt. They appeared
in the utmost consternation, and surrounded the easy-chair on which
the emperor still sat. Dr. Ivan felt his forehead, which was covered
with clammy perspiration; and his pulse was feeble and sluggish, but
still throbbing. He recognized his physician, and his livid lips
murmured almost inaudibly, "Ivan, I have taken poison, that which
you gave me one day in Russia; but it has lost its efficacy! It does
not kill, while it causes me excruciating pain."
Ivan went weeping out of the room to prepare a remedy.
Napoleon turned his eyes with an expression of agony toward Maret
and Caulaincourt, who were kneeling before him. "My friends," he
said, "I sought death! But you see God did not will it! He commands
me to live and suffer." [Footnote: Constant's "Memoires," vol. vi.,
p. 88. Fain, "Manuscrit."]
On the morning after this night of terror, the emperor rose from his
couch, and his face, which for the last few days had been so gloomy,
assumed now a serene expression. "Providence has spared me for other
purposes," he murmured to himself. "Well, then, I shall live! To the
living belongs the future!"! [Footnote: Bausset's "Memoires," vol.
ii., p. 244.]
A week afterward, on the 20th of April, Napoleon left Fontainebleau
for Elba. In the court-yard of the palace the Old Guard was drawn up
in the splendor of their arms, with their eagles and banners. Near
the ranks of the soldiers, in front of the main portal, stood
Bonaparte's travelling-carriage, and beside it the foreign
commissioners. Before setting out, he wished to take leave of his
faithful soldiers. Advancing into the midst of the Old Guard, he
addressed them in a firm voice: "Soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you
adieu! During twenty years I have ever found you in the path of
honor. In the last days, as in those of our prosperity, you have
never ceased to be models of bravery and fidelity. With such men as
you our cause could never have been lost; but the war would never
end; it would have become a civil war, and France must daily have
been more unhappy. I have, therefore, sacrificed all our interests
to those of our country: I depart; but you remain to serve France.
Her happiness was my only thought; it will always be the object of
my fervent wishes. Lament not my destiny: if I have consented to
survive myself, it was because I might contribute to your glory.
Adieu, my children! I would I could press you all to my heart; but I
will, at least, press your eagle!" At these words, General Petit
advanced with the eagle; Napoleon received the general in his arms,
and, kissing the standard, he added: "I cannot embrace you all, but
I do so in the person of your general! Adieu, once again, my old
The veteran soldiers had no reply but tears and sobs, and,
stretching out their hands toward Napoleon, they implored him to
stay. But the carriage rolled rapidly across the court-yard, bearing
into exile, or at best to the sovereignty of an insignificant
island, a man who, in aiming at the empire of the world, had subdued
almost all the kingdoms of Europe.
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