The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete

Part 13 out of 15

very enthusiastic man of much intelligence. His devotion to the Emperor
amounted to a passion, and he never mentioned him without a sort of
idolatry. This employee was accustomed to pass his evenings with a
circle of friends who met in the Rue de Vivienne. The regular attendants
of this place, whom the police very naturally had their eyes upon, did
not all hold the same opinion as the person of whom I have just spoken,
and began openly to condemn the acts of government, the opposing party
allowing their discontent to be plainly manifest; and the faithful adorer
of his Majesty became proportionately more lavish of his expressions of
admiration, as his antagonists showed themselves ready with reproaches.
The Duke of Rovigo was informed of these discussions, which each day
became more eager and animated; and one fine day our honest employee
found on returning to his home a letter bearing the seal of the general
of police. He could not believe his eyes. He, a good, simple, modest
man living his retired life, what could the minister of general police
desire of him? He opens the letter, and finds that the minister orders
him to appear before him the next morning. He reports there as may be
imagined with the utmost punctuality, and then a dialogue something like
this ensued between these gentlemen. "It appears, Monsieur," said the
Duke of Rovigo, "that you are very devoted to the Emperor."--"Yes, I love
him; I would give him my blood, my life."--"You admire him greatly?"--
"Yes, I admire him! The Emperor has never been so great, his glory has
never--"--"That is all very well, Monsieur; your sentiments do you honor,
and I share those sentiments with you; but I urge on you to reserve the
expression of them for yourself, for, though I should regret it very
much, you may drive me to the necessity of having you arrested."--"I, my
Lord, have me arrested? Ah! but doubtless--why?"--"Do you not see that
you cause the expression of opinions that might remain concealed were it
not for your enthusiasm; and finally, you will force, many good men to
compromise themselves to a certain extent, who will return to us when
things are in better condition. Go, Monsieur, let us continue to love,
serve, and admire the Emperor; but at such a time as this let us not
proclaim our fine sentiments so loudly, for fear of rendering many guilty
who are only a little misguided." The employee of the treasury then left
the minister, after thanking him for his advice and promising to follow
it. I would not dare to assert that he kept his word scrupulously, but I
can affirm that all I have just said is the exact truth; and I am sure
that if this passage in my Memoirs falls under the eyes of the Duke of
Rovigo it will remind him of an occurrence which he may perhaps have
forgotten, but which he will readily recall.

Meanwhile the commission, composed as I have said of five senators and
five members of the Corps Legislatif, devoted itself assiduously to the
duty with which it was charged. Each of these two grand bodies of the
state presented to his Majesty a separate address. The senate had
received the report made by M. de Fontanes; and their address contained
nothing which could displease the Emperor, but was on the contrary
expressed in most proper terms. In it a peace was indeed demanded, but a
peace which his Majesty could obtain by an effort worthy of him and of
the French people. "Let that hand so many times victorious," they said,
"lay down its arms after having assured the repose of the world." The
following passage was also noteworthy: "No, the enemy shall not destroy
this beautiful and noble France, which for fourteen hundred years has
borne itself gloriously through such diverse fortunes, and which for the
interest of the neighboring nations themselves should always bear
considerable weight in the balance of power in Europe. We have as
pledges of this your heroic constancy and the national honor." Then
again, "Fortune does not long fail nations which do not fail in their
duty to themselves."

This language, worthy of true Frenchmen, and which the circumstances at
least required, was well pleasing to the Emperor, as is evident from the
answer he made on the 29th of December to the deputation from the senate
with the prince archchancellor at its head:

"Senators," said his Majesty, "I am deeply sensible of the sentiments you
express. You have seen by the articles which I have communicated to you
what I am doing towards a peace. The sacrifices required by the
preliminary basis which the enemy had proposed to me I have accepted; and
I shall make them without regret, since my life has only one object,--the
happiness of the French people.

"Meanwhile Bearn, Alsace, Franche-Comte, and Brabant have been entered,
and the cries of that part of my family rend my soul. I call the French
to the aid of the French! I call the Frenchmen of Paris, Brittany,
Normandy, Champagne, Burgundy, and the other departments to the aid of
their brothers. Will they abandon them in misfortune? Peace and the
deliverance of our territory should be our rallying cry. At the sight of
this whole people in arms the foreigner will flee, or will consent to
peace on the terms I have proposed to him. The question is no longer the
recovery of the conquests we have made."

It was necessary to be in a position to thoroughly know the character of
the Emperor to understand how much it must have cost him to utter these
last words; but from a knowledge of his character also resulted the
certainty that it would have cost him less to do what he promised than to
say them. It would seem that this was well understood in Paris; for the
day on which the 'Moniteur' published the reply of his Majesty to the
senate, stocks increased in value more than two francs, which the Emperor
did not fail to remark with much satisfaction; for as is well known, the
rise and decline of stocks was with him the real thermometer of public

In regard to the conduct of the Corps Legislatif, I heard it condemned by
a man of real merit deeply imbued with republican principles. He uttered
one day in my presence these words which struck me: "The Corps Legislatif
did then what it should have done at all times, except under these
circumstances." From the language used by the spokesman of the
commission, it is only too evident that the speaker believed in the false
promises of the declaration of Frankfort. According to him, or rather
according to the commission of which he was after all only the organ,
the intention of the foreigners was not to humiliate France; they only
wished to keep us within our proper limits, and annul the effects of an
ambitious activity which had been so fatal for twenty years to all the
nations of Europe. "The propositions of the confederated powers," said
the commission, "seem to us honorable for the nation, since they prove
that foreigners both fear and respect us." Finally the speaker,
continuing his reading, having reached a passage in which allusion was
made to the Empire of the Lily, added in set phrase that the Rhine, the
Alps, the Pyrenees, and the two seas inclosed a vast territory, several
provinces of which had not belonged to ancient France, and that
nevertheless the crown royal of France shone brilliantly with glory and
majesty among all other diadems.

At these words the Duke of Massa interrupted the speaker, exclaiming,
"What you say is unconstitutional;" to which the speaker vehemently
replied, "I see nothing unconstitutional here except your presence," and
continued to read his report. The Emperor was each day informed of what
took place in the sitting of the Corps Legislatif; and I remember that
the day on which their report was read he, appeared much disturbed, and
before retiring walked up and down the room in much agitation, like one
trying to make some important decision. At last he decided not to allow
the publication of the address of the Corps Legislatif, which had been
communicated to him according to custom. Time pressed; the next day
would have been too late, as the address would be circulated in Paris,
where the public mind was already much disturbed. The order was
consequently given to the minister of general police to have the copy of
the report and the address seized at the printing establishment, and to
break the forms already set up. Besides this the order was also given to
close the doors of the Corps Legislatif, which was done, and the
legislature thus found itself adjourned.

I heard many persons at this time deeply regret that his Majesty had
taken these measures, and, above all, that having taken them he had not
stopped there. It was said that since the Corps Legislatif was now
adjourned by force, it was better, whatever might be the result, to
convoke another chamber, and that the Emperor should not recognize the
members of the one he had dismissed. His Majesty thought otherwise, and
gave the deputies a farewell audience. They came to the Tuileries; and
there his only too just resentment found vent in these words:

"I have suppressed your address, as it was incendiary. Eleven-twelfths
of the Corps Legislatif are composed of good citizens whom I know and for
whom I have much regard; the other twelfth is composed of seditious
persons who are devoted to England. Your Commission and its chairman,
M. Laine, are of this number. He corresponds with the Prince Regent,
through the lawyer Deseze. I know it, and have proof of it. The other
four are of the same faction. If there are abuses to be remedied, is
this a time for remonstrances, when two hundred thousand Cossacks are
crossing our frontiers? Is this the moment to dispute as to individual
liberty and safety, when the question is the preservation of political
liberty and national independence? The enemy must be resisted; you must
follow the example of the Alsatians, Vosges, and inhabitants of
Franche-Comte, who wish to march against them, and have applied to
me--for arms. You endeavor in your address to separate the sovereign
from the nation. It is I who here represent the people, who have given
me four million of their suffrages. If I believed you I should cede to
the enemy more than he demands. You shall have peace in three months or
I shall perish. Your address was an insult to me and to the Corps

Although the journals were forbidden to repeat the details of this scene,
the rumors of it spread through Paris with the rapidity of lightning.
The Emperor's words were repeated and commented on; the dismissed
deputies sounded them through all the departments. I remember seeing the
prime arch-chancellor next day come to the Emperor and request an
audience; it was in favor of M. Deseze, whose protector he then was. In
spite of the threatening words of his Majesty, he found him not disposed
to take severe measures; for his anger had already exhausted itself, as
was always the case with the Emperor when he had abandoned himself to his
first emotions of fury. However, the fatal misunderstanding between the
Corps Legislatif and the Emperor, caused by the report of the committee
of that body, produced the most grievous effects; and it is easy to
conceive how much the enemy must have rejoiced over this, as they never
failed to be promptly informed by the numerous agents whom they employed
in France. It was under these sad circumstances that the year 1813
closed. We will see in future what were the consequences of it, and in
fact the history, until now unwritten, of the Emperor's inner life at
Fontainebleau; that is to say, of the most painful period of my life.


In order to neutralize the effects which might be produced in the
provinces by the reports of the members of the Corps Legislatif and the
correspondence of the alarmists, his Majesty appointed from the members
of the conservative senate a certain number of commissioners whom he
charged to visit the departments and restore public confidence. This was
a most salutary measure, and one which circumstances imperiously
demanded; for discouragement began to be felt among the masses of the
population, and as is well known in such cases the presence of superior
authority restores confidence to those who are only timid. Nevertheless,
the enemy were advancing at several points, and had already pressed the
soil of Old France. When this news reached the Emperor, it afflicted him
deeply without overcoming him. At times, however, his indignation broke
forth; above all, when he learned from the reports that French emigrants
had entered the enemy's ranks, whom he stigmatized by the name of
traitors, infamous and wretched creatures, unworthy of pity. I remember
that on the occasion of the capture of Huningen he thus characterized a
certain M. de Montjoie, who was now serving in the Bavarian army after
taking a German name, which I have forgotten. The Emperor added,
however: "At least, he has had the modesty not to keep his French name."
In general easy to conciliate on nearly all points, the Emperor was
pitiless towards all those who bore arms against their country; and
innumerable times I have heard him say that there was no greater crime in
his eyes.

In order not to add to the complication of so many conflicting interests
which encountered and ran contrary to each other still more each day, the
Emperor already had the thought of sending Ferdinand VII. back into
Spain. I have the certainty that his Majesty had even made some
overtures to him on this subject during his last stay in Paris; but it
was the Spanish prince who objected to this, not ceasing, on the
contrary, to demand the Emperor's protection. He desired most of all to
become the ally, of his Majesty, and it was well known that in his
letters to his Majesty he urged him incessantly to give him a wife of the
Emperor's selection. The Emperor had seriously thought of marrying him
to the eldest daughter of King Joseph, which seemed a means of
conciliating at the same time the rights of Prince Joseph and those of
Ferdinand VII., and King Joseph asked nothing better than to be made a
party to this arrangement; and from the manner in which he had used his
royalty since the commencement of his reign, we may be permitted to think
that his Majesty did not greatly object to this. Prince Ferdinand had
acquiesced in this alliance, which appeared very agreeable to him, when
suddenly at the end of the year 1813 he demanded time; and the course of
events placed this affair among the number of those which existed only in
intention. Prince Ferdinand left Valencay at last, but later than the
Emperor had authorized him to do, and for some time his presence had been
only an additional embarrassment. However, the Emperor had no reason to
complain of his conduct towards him until after the events of

At any rate, in the serious situation of affairs, matters concerning the
Prince of Spain were only an incidental matter, no more important than
the stay of the Pope at Fontainebleau; the great point, the object which
predominated everything, was the defense of the soil of France, which the
first days of January found invaded at many points. This was the one
thought of his Majesty, which did not prevent him, nevertheless, from
entering according to custom into all the duties of his administration;
and we will soon see the measures he took to re-establish the national
guard of Paris. I have on this subject certain documents and particulars
which are little known, from a person whose name I am not permitted to
give, but whose position gave him the opportunity of learning all the
intricacies of its formation. As all these duties still required for
more than a month the presence of his Majesty at Paris, he remained there
until the 25th of January.

But what fatal news he received during those twenty-five days!

First the Emperor learned that the Russians, as unscrupulous as the
Austrians in observing the conditions of a capitulation which are usually
considered sacred, had just trampled under their feet the stipulations
made at Dantzic. In the name of the Emperor Alexander, the Prince of
Wurtemberg who commanded the siege had acknowledged and guaranteed to
General Rapp and the troops placed under his command the right to return
to France, which agreement was no more respected than had been a few
months before that made with Marshal Saint-Cyr by the Prince of
Schwarzenberg; thus the garrison of Dantzic were made prisoners with the
same bad faith as that of Dresden had been. This news, which reached him
at almost the same time as that of the surrender of Torgau, distressed
his Majesty so much the more as it contributed to prove to him that these
powerful enemies wished to treat of peace only in name, with a resolution
to retire always before a definite conclusion was reached.

At the same period the news from Lyons was in no wise reassuring. The
command of this place had been confided to Marshal Augereau, and he was
accused of having lacked the energy necessary to foresee or arrest the
invasion of the south of France. Further I will not now dwell on this
circumstance, proposing in the following chapter to collect my souvenirs
which relate more especially to the beginning of the campaign in France,
and some circumstances which preceded it. I limit myself consequently to
recalling, as far as my memory serves, events which occurred during the
last days the Emperor passed in Paris.

From the 4th of January his Majesty, although having lost, as I said a
while since, all hope of inducing the invaders to conclude a peace, which
the whole world so much needed, gave his instructions to the Duke of
Vicenza, and sent him to the headquarters of the allies; but he was
compelled to wait a long time for his passports. At the same time
special orders were sent to the prefects of departments in the invaded
territory as to the conduct they should pursue under such difficult
circumstances. Thinking at the same time that it was indispensable to
make an example in order to strengthen the courage of the timid, the
Emperor ordered the creation of a commission of inquiry, charged to
inquire into the conduct of Baron Capelle, prefect of the department of
the Leman at the time of the entrance of the enemy into Geneva. Finally
a decree mobilized one hundred and twenty battalions of the National
Guard of the Empire, and ordered a levy en masse on all the departments
of the east of all men capable of bearing arms. Excellent measures
doubtless, but vain! Destiny was stronger than even the genius of a
great man.

Meanwhile on the 8th of January appeared the decree which called out for
active duty thirty thousand men of the National Guard of Paris on the
very day when by a singular and fatal coincidence the King of Naples
signed a treaty of alliance with Great Britain. The Emperor reserved for
himself the chief command of the National Parisian Guard, and constituted
the staff as follows: a vice-commander-in-chief, four aides who were
major-generals, four adjutant commandants, and eight assistant captains.
A legion was formed in each district, and each legion was divided into
four battalions subdivided into five companies.--Next the Emperor
appointed the following to superior grades:

General vice-commander-in-chief.--Marshal de Moncey, Duke of Conegliano.

Aides--major-generals.--General of division, Count Hullin; Count
Bertrand, grand marshal of the palace; Count of Montesquieu, grand
chamberlain; Count de Montmorency, chamberlain of the Emperor.

Adjutant-commandants.--Baron Laborde, adjutant-commandant of the post of
Paris; Count Albert de Brancas, chamberlain of the Emperor; Count
Germain, chamberlain of the Emperor; M. Tourton.

Assistant captains.--Count Lariboisiere; Chevalier Adolphe de Maussion;
Messieurs Jules de Montbreton, son of the equerry of the Princess
Borghese; Collin, junior, the younger; Lecordier, junior; Lemoine,
junior; Cardon, junior; Malet, junior.

Chiefs of the twelve Legions.--First legion, Count de Gontaut, senior;
second legion, Count Regnault de Saint Jean d'Angely; third legion, Baron
Hottinguer, banker; fourth legion, Count Jaubert, governor of the bank of
France; fifth legion, M. Dauberjon de Murinais; sixth legion, M. de
Fraguier; seventh legion, M. Lepileur de Brevannes; eighth legion, M.
Richard Lenoir; ninth legion, M. Devins de Gaville; tenth legion, the
Duke of Cadore; eleventh legion, Count de Choiseul-Praslin, chamberlain
of the Emperor; twelfth legion, M. Salleron.

From the names we have just read, we may judge of the incredible insight
by which his Majesty was enabled to choose, among the most distinguished
persons of the different classes of society, those most popular and most
influential from their positions. By the side of the names which had
gained glory under the eyes of the Emperor, and by seconding him in his
great undertakings, could be found those whose claim to distinction was
more ancient and recalled noble memories, and finally the heads of the
principal industries in the capital. This species of amalgamation
delighted the Emperor greatly; and he must have attached to it great
political importance, for this idea occupied his attention to such an
extent that I have often heard him say, "I wish to confound all classes,
all periods, all glories. I desire that no title may be more glorious
than the title of Frenchman." Why is it fate decreed that the Emperor
should not be allowed time to carry out his extensive plans for the glory
and happiness of France of which he so often spoke? The staff of the
National Guard and the chiefs of the twelve legions being appointed, the
Emperor left the nomination of the other officers, as well as the
formation of the legions, to the selection of M. de Chabrol, prefect of
the Seine. This worthy magistrate, to whom the Emperor was much
attached, displayed under these circumstances the greatest zeal and
activity, and in a short time the National Guard presented an imposing
appearance. They were armed, equipped, and clothed in the best possible
manner; and this ardor, which might be called general, was in these last
days one of the consolations which most deeply touched the heart of the
Emperor, since he saw in it a proof of the attachment of the Parisians to
his person, and an additional motive for feeling secure as to the
tranquillity of the capital during his approaching absence. Be that as
it may, the bureau of the National Guard was soon formed, and established
in the residence which Marshal Moncey inhabited on the Rue du Faubourg
Saint-Honore, near the square Beauveau; and one master of requests and
two auditors of the council of state were attached to it. The master of
requests, a superior officer of engineers, the Chevalier Allent, soon
became the soul of the whole administration of the National Guard, no one
being more capable than he of giving a lively impulse to an organization
which required great promptness. The person from whom I obtained this
information, which I intermingle with my personal souvenirs, has assured
me that following upon, that is to say, after our departure for
Chalons-sur-Marne, M. Allent became still more influential in the
National Guard, of which he was the real head. In fact, when King
Joseph had received the title of lieutenant-general to the Emperor,
which his Majesty conferred on him during the time of his absence, M.
Allent found himself attached on one hand to the staff of King Joseph as
officer of engineers, and on the other to the vice-general-in-chief in
his quality of master of requests. It resulted that he was the mediator
and counselor in all communications which were necessarily established
between the lieutenant-general of the Emperor and Marshal Moncey, and
the promptness of his decisions was a source of great benefit to that
good and grave marshal. He signed all letters, "The Marshal, Duke de
Conegliano;" and wrote so slowly that M. Allent had, so to speak, time
to write the correspondence while the marshal was signing his name. The
auditors to the council of state duties of the two were nothing, or
nearly so; but these men were by no means nobodies, as has been
asserted, though a few of that character of course slipped into the
council, since the first condition for holding this office was simply to
prove an income of at least six thousand francs. These were Messieurs
Ducancel, the dean of the auditors, and M. Robert de Sainte-Croix. A
shell had broken the latter's leg during the return from Moscow; and
this brave young man, a captain of cavalry, had returned, seated astride
a cannon, from the banks of the Beresina to Wilna. Having little
physical strength, but gifted with a strong mind, M. Robert de
Sainte-Croix owed it to his moral courage not to succumb; and after
undergoing the amputation of his leg, left the sword for the pen, and it
was thus he became auditor to the council of state.

The week after the National Guard of the city of Paris had been called
into service, the chiefs of the twelve legions and the general staff were
admitted to take the oath of fidelity at the Emperor's hands. The
National Guard had already been organized into legions; but the want of
arms was keenly felt, and many citizens could procure only lances, and
those who could not obtain guns or buy them found themselves thereby
chilled in their ardor to equip themselves. Nevertheless, the Citizen
Guard soon enrolled the desired number of thirty thousand men, and by
degrees it occupied the different posts of the capital; and whilst
fathers of families and citizens employed in domestic work were enrolled
without difficulty, those who had already paid their debts to their
country on the battlefield also demanded to be allowed to serve her
again, and to shed for her the last drop of their blood. Invalided
soldiers begged to resume their service. Hundreds of these brave
soldiers forgot their sufferings, and covered with honorable wounds went
forth again to confront the enemy. Alas! very few of those who then
left the Hotel des Invalides were fortunate enough to return.

Meanwhile the moment of the Emperor's departure approached; but before
setting out he bade a touching adieu to the National Guard, as we shall
see in the next chapter, and confided the regency to the Empress as he
had formerly intrusted it to her during the campaign in Dresden. Alas
this time it was not necessary to make a long journey before the Emperor
was at the head of his army.


We are now about to begin the campaign of miracles; but before relating
the events which I witnessed on this campaign, during which I, so to
speak, never left the Emperor, it is necessary that I here inscribe some
souvenirs which may be considered as a necessary introduction. It is
well known that the Swiss cantons had solemnly declared to the Emperor
that they would not allow their territory to be violated, and that they
would do everything possible to oppose the passage of the allied armies
who were marching on the frontiers of France by way of the Breisgau. The
Emperor, in order to stop them on their march, relied upon the
destruction of the bridge of Bale; but this bridge was not destroyed,
and Switzerland, instead of maintaining her promised neutrality, entered
into the coalition against France. The foreign armies passed the Rhine
at Bale, at Schaffhausen, and at Mannheim. Capitulations made with the
generals of the confederated troops in regard to the French garrisons of
Dantzic, Dresden, and other strong towns had been, as we have seen,
openly violated. Thus Marshal Gouvion Saint-Cyr and his army corps had
been, contrary to the stipulations contained in the treaties, surrounded
by superior forces, disarmed, and conducted as prisoners to Austria; and
twenty thousand men, the remains of the garrison of Dantzic, were thus
arrested by order of the Emperor Alexander, and conveyed to the Russian
deserts. Geneva opened its gates to the enemy in the following January.
Vesoul, Epinal, Nancy, Langres, Dijon, Chalons-sur-Saone, and
Bar-sur-Aube were occupied by the allies.

The Emperor, in proportion as the danger became more pressing, displayed
still more his energy and indefatigable activity. He urged the
organization of new levies, and in order to pay the most urgent expenses
drew thirty millions from his secret treasury in the vaults of the
pavilion Marsan. The levies of conscripts were, however, made with
difficulty; for in the course of the year 1813 alone, one million forty
thousand soldiers had been summoned to the field, and France could no
longer sustain such enormous drains. Meanwhile veterans came from all
parts to be enrolled; and General Carnot offered his services to the
Emperor, who was much touched by this proceeding, and confided to him the
defense of Antwerp. The zeal and courage with which the general
acquitted himself of this important mission is well known. Movable
columns and corps of partisans placed themselves under arms in the
departments of the east, and a few rich proprietors levied and organized
companies of volunteers, while select cavalry formed themselves into
corps, the cavaliers of which equipped themselves at their own expense.

In the midst of these preparations the Emperor received news which moved
him deeply,--the King of Naples had just joined the enemies of the
French. On a previous occasion, when his Majesty had seen the Prince
Royal of Sweden, after having been marshal and prince of the Empire,
enter into a coalition against his native country, I heard him break
forth into reproaches and exclamations of indignation, although the King
of Sweden had more than one reason to offer in his own defense, being
alone in the north, and shut in by powerful enemies against whom he was
entirely unable to struggle, even had the interests of his new country
been inseparable from those of France. By refusing to enter into the
coalition he would have drawn on Sweden the anger of her formidable
neighbors, and with the throne he would have sacrificed and fruitlessly
ruined the nation which had adopted him. It was not to the Emperor he
owed his elevation. But King Joachim, on the contrary, owed everything
to the Emperor; for it was he who had given him one of his sisters as a
wife, who had given him a throne, and had treated him as well as, and
even better than, if he had been a brother. It was consequently the duty
of the King of Naples as well as his interest not to separate his cause
from that of France; for if the Emperor fell, how could the kings of his
own family, whom he had made, hope to stand? Both King Joseph and Jerome
had well understood this, and also the brave and loyal Prince Eugene, who
supported courageously in Italy the cause of his adopted father. If the
King of Naples had united with him they could together have marched on
Vienna, and this audacious but at the same time perfectly practicable
movement would have infallibly saved France.

These are some of the reflections I heard the Emperor make in speaking of
the treachery of the King of Naples, though in the first moments,
however, he did not reason so calmly. His anger was extreme, and with it
was mingled grief and emotions near akin to pity: "Murat!" cried he,
"Murat betray me! Murat sell himself to the English! The poor creature!
He imagines that if the allies succeed in overthrowing me they would
leave him the throne on which I have seated him. Poor fool! The worst
fate that can befall him is that his treachery should succeed; for he
would have less pity to expect from his new allies than from me."

The evening before his departure for the army, the Emperor received the
corps of officers of the National Parisian Guard, and the reception was
held in the great hall of the Tuileries. This ceremony was sad and
imposing. His Majesty presented himself before the assembly with her
Majesty the Empress, who held by the hand the King of Rome, aged three
years lacking two months. Although his speech on this occasion is
doubtless already well known, I repeat it here, as I do not wish that
these beautiful and solemn words of my former master should be wanting in
my Memoirs:

"GENTLEMEN, Officers of the National Guard,--It is with much
pleasure I see you assembled around me. I leave to-night to place
myself at the head of the army. On leaving the capital I place with
confidence in your care my wife and my son on whom rests so many
hopes. I owe you this proof of my confidence, in return for all the
innumerable proofs you have repeatedly given me in the important
events of my life. I shall depart with my mind free from anxiety,
since they will be under your faithful protection. I leave with you
what is dearest to me in the world, next to France, and I freely
commit it to your care.

"It may occur that in consequence of the maneuvers I am about to
make, the enemy may find the opportunity of approaching your walls.
If this should take place, remember that it will be an affair of
only a few days, and I will soon come to your assistance. I
recommend to you to preserve unity among yourselves, and to resist
all the insinuations by which efforts will be made to divide you.
There will not be wanting endeavors to shake your fidelity to duty,
but I rely upon you to repel these perfidious attempts."

At the end of this discourse, the Emperor bent his looks on the Empress
and the King of Rome, whom his august mother held in her arms, and
presenting both by his looks and gestures to the assembly this child
whose expressive countenance seemed to reflect the solemnity of the
occasion, he added in an agitated voice, "I confide him to you,
Messieurs; I confide him to the love of my faithful city of Paris!" At
these words of his Majesty innumerable shouts were heard, and innumerable
arms were raised swearing to defend this priceless trust. The Empress,
bathed in tears and pale with the emotion by which she was agitated,
would have fallen if the Emperor had not supported her in his arms. At
this sight the enthusiasm reached its height, tears flowed from all eyes,
and there was not one present who did not seem willing as he retired to
shed his blood for the Imperial family. On this occasion I again saw for
the first time M. de Bourrienne at the palace; he wore, if I am not
mistaken, the uniform of captain in the National Guard.

On the 25th of January the Emperor set out for the army, after conferring
the regency on her Majesty the Empress; and that night we reached
Chalons-sur-Marne. His arrival stopped the progress of the enemy's army
and the retreat of our troops. Two days after he, in his turn, attacked
the allies at Saint-Dizier. His Majesty's entrance into this town was
marked by most touching manifestations of enthusiasm and devotion. The
very moment the Emperor alighted, a former colonel, M. Bouland, an old
man more than seventy years old, threw himself at his Majesty's feet,
expressing to him the deep grief which the sight of foreign bayonets had
caused him, and his confidence that the Emperor would drive them from the
soil of France. His Majesty assisted the old veteran to rise, and said
to him cheerfully that he would spare nothing to accomplish such a
favorable prediction. The allies conducted themselves in the most
inhuman manner at Saint-Dizier: women and old men died or were made ill
under the cruel treatment which they received; and it may be imagined
what a cause of rejoicing his Majesty's arrival was to the country.

The enemy having been repulsed at Saint-Dizier, the Emperor learned that
the army of Silesia was being concentrated on Brienne, and immediately
set out on the march through the forest of Deo, the brave soldiers who
followed him appearing as indefatigable as he. He halted at the village
of Eclaron, where his Majesty paid a certain sum to the inhabitants to
repair their church, which the enemy had destroyed. The surgeon of this
town advanced to thank the Emperor; and his Majesty examining him
attentively said to him, "You have served in the army, Monsieur?"--"Yes,
Sire; I was in the army of Egypt."--"Why have you no cross?"--"Sire,
because I have never asked for it."--"Monsieur, you are only the more
worthy of it. I hope you will wear the one I shall give you." And in a
few moments his certificate was signed by the Emperor, and handed to the
new chevalier, whom the Emperor recommended to give the most careful
attention to the sick and wounded of our army who might be committed to
his care.

[It is known that the Emperor was not lavish in the distribution
of the Cross of Honor. Of this fact I here give an additional
proof. He was much pleased with the services of M. Veyrat,
inspector general of police, and he desired the Cross. I presented
petitions to this effect to his Majesty, who said to me one day,
"I am well satisfied with Veyrat. He serves me well, and I will
give him as much money as he wishes; but the Cross, never!"

On entering Mezieres his Majesty was received by the authorities of the
city, the clergy, and the National Guard. "Messieurs," said the Emperor
to the National Guard who pressed around him, "we fight to day for our
firesides; let us defend them in such a manner that the Cossacks may not
come to warm themselves beside them. They are bad guests, who will leave
no place for you. Let us show them that every Frenchman is born a
soldier, and a brave one!" His Majesty on receiving the homage of the
curate, perceiving that this ecclesiastic regarded him with extreme
interest and agitation, consequently considered the good priest more
attentively, and soon recognized in him one of the former regents of the
college of Brienne. "What! is it you, my dear master?" cried the
Emperor. "You have, then, never left your retirement! So much the
better, since for that reason you will be only the better able to serve
the cause of your native land. I need not ask if you know the country
around here."--"Sire," replied the curate, "I could find my way with my
eyes shut."--"Come with us, then; you will be our guide, and we will
converse." The worthy priest immediately saddled his well-broken horse,
and placed himself in the center of the Imperial staff.

The same day we arrived before Brienne. The Emperor's march had been so
secret and so rapid that the Prussians had heard nothing of it until he
suddenly appeared before their eyes. A few general officers were made
prisoners; and Blucher himself, who was quietly coming out of the
chateau, had only time to turn and fly as quickly as he could, under a
shower of balls from our advance guard. The Emperor thought for a moment
that the Prussian general had been taken, and exclaimed, "We have got
that old swash-buckler. Now the campaign will not be long." The
Russians who were established in the village set it on fire, and an
engagement took place in the midst of the flames. Night arrived, but the
combat still continued; and in the space of twelve hours the village was
taken and retaken many times. The Emperor was furious that Blucher
should have escaped. As he returned to headquarters, which had been
established at Mezieres, his Majesty narrowly escaped being pierced
through with the lance of a Cossack; but before the Emperor perceived the
movement of the wretch, the brave Colonel Gourgaud, who was marching
behind his Majesty, shot the Cossack dead with his pistol.

The Emperor had with him only fifteen thousand men, and they had waged an
equal struggle with eighty thousand foreign soldiers. At the close of
the combat the Prussians retreated to Bar-sur-Aube; and his Majesty
established himself in the chateau of Brienne, where he passed two
nights. I recalled during this stay the one that I had made ten years
before in this same chateau of Brienne, when the Emperor was on his way
to Milan with the intention of adding the title of King of Italy to that
of Emperor of the French. "To-day," I said to myself, "not only is Italy
lost to him, but here in the center of the French Empire, and a few
leagues from his capital, the Emperor is defending himself against
innumerable enemies!" The first time I saw Brienne, the Emperor was
received as a sovereign by a noble family who fifteen years before had
welcomed him as a protege. He had there revived the happiest
remembrances of his childhood and youth; and in comparing himself in 1805
with what he had been at the Ecole Militaire had spoken with pride of the
path he had trod. In 1814, on the 31st of January, the end to which this
path was tending began to be seen. It is not that I wish to announce
myself as having foreseen the Emperor's fall, for I did not go so far as
that. Accustomed to see him trust to his star, the greater part of those
who surrounded him trusted it no less than he; but nevertheless we could
not conceal from ourselves that great changes had taken place. To delude
ourselves in this respect it would have been necessary to close our eyes
that we might neither see nor hear this multitude of foreigners, whom we
had until now seen only in their own country, and who, in their turn,
were now in our midst.

At each step, in fact, we found terrible proofs of the enemy's presence.
After taking possession of the towns and villages, they had arrested the
inhabitants, maltreated them with saber-strokes and the butt ends of
their guns, stripping them of their clothing, and compelling those to
follow them whom they thought capable of serving as guides on their
march; and if they were not guided as they expected they killed with the
sword or shot their unfortunate prisoners. Everywhere the inhabitants
were made to furnish provisions, drink, cattle, forage, in a word,
everything that could be useful to an army making enormous requisitions;
and when they had exhausted all the resources of their victims, they
finished their work of destruction by pillage and burning. The
Prussians, and above all the Cossacks, were remarkable for their brutal
ferocity. Sometimes these hideous savages entered the houses by main
force, shared among themselves everything that fell into their hands,
loaded their horses with the plunder, and broke to pieces what they could
not carry away. Sometimes, not finding sufficient to satisfy their
greed, they broke down the doors and windows, demolished the ceiling in
order to tear out the beams, and made of these pieces and the furniture,
which was too heavy to be carried away, a fire, which being communicated
to the roofs of neighboring houses consumed in a moment the dwellings of
the unhappy inhabitants, and forced them to take refuge in the woods.

Sometimes the more wealthy inhabitants gave them what they demanded,
especially brandy, of which they drank eagerly, thinking by this
compliance to escape their ferocity; but these barbarians, heated by
drink, then carried their excesses to the last degree. They seized
girls, women, and servants, and beat them unmercifully, in order to
compel them to drink brandy until they fell in a complete state of
intoxication. Many women and young girls had courage and strength to
defend themselves against these brigands; but they united three or four
against one, and often to avenge themselves for the resistance of these
poor creatures mutilated and slew them, after having first violated them,
or threw them into the midst of the bivouac fires. Farms were burned up,
and families recently opulent or in comfortable circumstances were
reduced in an instant to despair and poverty. Husbands and old men were
slain with the sword while attempting to defend the honor of their wives
and daughters; and when poor mothers attempted to approach the fires to
warm the children at their breasts, they were burned or killed by the
explosion of packages of cartridges, which the Cossacks threw
intentionally into the fire; and the cries of pain and agony were stifled
by the bursts of laughter from these monsters.

I should never end if I attempted to relate all the atrocities committed
by these foreign hordes. It was the custom at the time of the
Restoration to say that the complaints and narrations of those who were
exposed to these excesses were exaggerated by fear or hatred. I have
even heard very dignified persons jest pleasantly over the pretty ways of
the Cossacks. But these wits always kept themselves at a distance from
the theater of war, and had the good fortune to inhabit departments which
suffered neither from the first nor second invasion. I would not advise
them to address their pleasantries to the unfortunate inhabitants of
Champagne, or of the departments of the east in general. It has been
maintained also that the allied sovereigns and the general officers of
the Russian and Prussian army severely forbade all violence in their
regular troops, and that the atrocities were committed by undisciplined
and ungovernable bands of Cossacks. I have been in a position to learn,
on many occasions, especially at Troves, proofs to the contrary. This
town has not forgotten, doubtless, how the Princes of Wurtemberg and
Hohenlohe and the Emperor Alexander himself justified the burnings,
pillage, violations, and numerous assassinations committed under their
very eyes, not only by the Cossacks, but also by regularly enlisted and
disciplined soldiers. No measures were taken by the sovereigns or by
their generals to put an end to such atrocities, and nevertheless when
they left a town there was needed only an order from them to remove at
once the hordes of Cossacks who devastated the country.

The field of the La Rothiere was, as I have said, the rendezvous of the
pupils of the military school of Brienne. It was there that the Emperor,
when a child, had foreshadowed in his engagement with the scholars his
gigantic combats. The engagement at La Rothiere was hotly contested; and
the enemy obtained, only at the price of much blood, an advantage which
they owed entirely to their numerical superiority. In the night which
followed this unequal struggle, the Emperor ordered the retreat from
Troves. On returning to the chateau after the battle, his Majesty
narrowly escaped an imminent danger. He found himself surrounded by a
troop of uhlans, and drew his sword to defend himself. M. Jardin,
junior, his equerry, who followed the Emperor closely, received a ball in
his arm. Several chasseurs of the escort were wounded, but they at last
succeeded in extricating his Majesty. I can assert that his Majesty
showed the greatest self-possession in all encounters of this kind. On
that day, as I unbuckled his sword-belt, he drew it half out of the
scabbard, saying, "Do you know, Constant, the wretches have made me cut
the wind with this? The rascals are too impudent. It is necessary to
teach them a lesson, that they may learn to hold themselves at a
respectful distance."

It is not my intention to write the history of this campaign in France,
in which the Emperor displayed an activity and energy which excited to
the highest point the admiration of those who surrounded him.
Unfortunately, the advantages which he had obtained gradually exhausted
his own troops, while only creating losses in the enemy's, which they
easily repaired. It was, as M. Bourrienne has well said, a combat of an
Alpine eagle with a flock of ravens: "The eagle may kill them by
hundreds. Each blow of his beak is the death of an enemy; but the ravens
return in still greater numbers, and continue their attack on the eagle
until they at last overcome him." At Champ-Aubert, at Montmirail, at
Nangis, at Montereau, and at Arcis, and in twenty other engagements, the
Emperor obtained the advantage by his genius and by the courage of our
army; but it was all in vain. Hardly had these masses of the enemy been
scattered, before fresh ones were formed again in front of our soldiers,
exhausted by continuous battles and forced marches. The army, especially
that which Blucher commanded, seemed to revive of itself, and whenever
beaten reappeared with forces equal, if not superior, to those which had
been destroyed or dispersed. How can such an immense superiority of
numbers be indefinitely resisted?


The Emperor had never shown himself so worthy of admiration as during
this fatal campaign in France, when, struggling against misfortunes, he
performed over again the prodigies of his first wars in Italy, when
fortune smiled on him. His career had begun with an attack, and the end
was marked by the most magnificent defense recorded in the annals of war.
And it may be said with truth that at all times and everywhere his
Majesty showed himself both the perfect general and the soldier, under
all circumstances furnishing an example of personal courage to such an
extent, indeed, that all those who surrounded him, and whose existence
was dependent on his own, were seriously alarmed. For instance, as is
well known, the Emperor, at the battle of Montereau, pointed the pieces
of artillery himself, recklessly exposed himself to the enemy's fire, and
said to his soldiers, who were much alarmed at his danger and attempted
to remove him, "Let me alone, my friends; the bullet which is to kill me
has not yet been molded."

At Arcis the Emperor again fought as a common soldier, and more than once
drew his sword in order to cut his way through the midst of the enemy who
surrounded him. A shell fell a few steps from his horse. The animal,
frightened, jumped to one side, and nearly unhorsed the Emperor, who,
with his field-glass in his hand, was at the moment occupied in examining
the battlefield. His Majesty settled himself again firmly in his saddle,
stuck his spurs in the horse's sides, forced him to approach and put his
nose to it. Just then the shell burst, and, by an almost incredible
chance, neither the Emperor nor his horse was even wounded.

In more than one similar circumstance the Emperor seemed, during this
campaign, to put his life at a venture; and yet it was only in the last
extremity that he abandoned the hope of preserving his throne. It was a
painful sacrifice to him to treat with the enemy so long as they occupied
French territory; for he wished to purge the soil of France of the
presence of foreigners before entering into any agreement with them
whatever. And this feeling was the reason of his hesitation and refusal
to accept the peace which was offered him on various occasions.

On the 8th of February, the Emperor, at the end of a long discussion with
two or three of his intimate advisers, retired very late, and in a state
of extreme preoccupation. He woke me often during the night, complaining
of being unable to sleep, and made me extinguish and relight his lamp
again and again. About five o'clock in the morning I was called again.
I was almost fainting with fatigue, which his Majesty noticed, and said
to me kindly, "You are worn out, my poor Constant; we are making a
severe campaign, are we not? But hold out only a little longer; you will
soon rest."

Encouraged by the sympathizing tones of his Majesty, I took the liberty
of replying that no one could think of complaining of the fatigue or
privations he endured, since they were shared by his Majesty; but that,
nevertheless, the desire and hope of every one were for peace. "Ah,
yes," replied the Emperor, with a kind of subdued violence, "they will
have peace; they will realize what a dishonorable peace is!" I kept
silence; his Majesty's chagrin distressed me deeply; and I wished at this
moment that his army could have been composed of men of iron like
himself, then he would have made peace only on the frontiers of France.

The tone of kindness and familiarity in which the Emperor spoke to me on
this occasion recalls another circumstance which I neglected to relate in
its proper place, and which I must not pass over in silence, since it
furnishes such a fine example of his Majesty's conduct towards the
persons of his service, and especially myself. Roustan witnessed the
occurrence, and it was from him I learned the opening details.

In one of his campaigns beyond the Rhine (I do not remember which), I had
passed several nights in succession without sleep, and was exhausted.
The Emperor went out at eleven o'clock, and remained three or four hours;
and I seated myself in his armchair, near his table, to await his return,
intending to rise and retire as soon as I heard him enter, but was so
exhausted with fatigue that sleep suddenly overtook me, and I dropped
into a deep slumber, my head resting on my arm, and my arm on his
Majesty's table. The Emperor returned at last with Marshal Berthier, and
followed by Roustan. I heard nothing. The Prince de Neuchatel wished to
approach and shake me that I might awake and resign to his Majesty his
seat and table; but the Emperor stopped him, saying, "Let the poor fellow
sleep; he has passed many nights with none." Then, as there was no other
chair in the apartment, the Emperor seated himself on the edge of the
bed, made the marshal also seat himself there, and they held a long
conversation while I continued to sleep. At length, needing one of the
maps from the table on which my arm rested, his Majesty, although he drew
it out most cautiously, awoke me; and I immediately sprang to my feet,
overwhelmed with confusion, and excusing myself for the liberty I had so
involuntarily taken. "Monsieur Constant," the Emperor then said with an
exceedingly kind smile, "I am distressed to have disturbed you. Pray,
excuse me." I trust that this, in addition to what I have already
related of the same nature, may serve as an answer to those who have
accused him of harshness to his servants. I resume my recital of the
events of 1814.

On the night of the 8th the Emperor seemed to have decided on making
peace; and the whole night was spent in preparing dispatches, which on
the morning of the 9th at nine o'clock were brought to him to sign; but
he had changed his mind. At seven o'clock he had received news from the
Russian and Prussian army; and when the Duke of Bassano entered, holding
in his hand the dispatches to be signed, his Majesty was asleep over the
maps where he had stuck his pens. "Ah, it is you," said he to his
minister; "we will no longer need those. We are now laying plans to
attack Blucher; he has taken the road from Montmirail. I am about to
start. To-morrow I will fight, and again the next day. The aspect of
affairs is on the point of changing, as we shall see. Let us not be
precipitate; there is time enough to make such a peace as they propose."
An hour after we were on the road to Sezanne.

For several days in succession after this, the heroic efforts of the
Emperor and his brave soldiers were crowned with brilliant success.
Immediately on their arrival at Champ-Aubert, the army, finding itself in
presence of the Russian army corps, against which they had already fought
at Brienne, fell on it without even waiting to take repose, separated it
from the Prussian army, and took the general-in-chief and several general
officers prisoners. His Majesty, whose conduct towards his conquered
foes was always honorable and generous, made them dine at his table, and
treated them with the greatest consideration.

The enemy were again beaten at the Farm des Frenaux by Marshals Ney and
Mortier, and by the Duke of Ragusa at Vaux-Champs, where Blucher again
narrowly escaped being made prisoner. At Nangis the Emperor dispersed
one hundred and fifty thousand men commanded by the Prince von
Schwarzenberg, and ordered in pursuit of them Marshals Oudinot,
Kellermann, Macdonald, and Generals Treilhard and Gerard.

The eve of the battle of Wry, the Emperor inspected all the surroundings
of this little town; and his observing glasses rested on an immense
extent of marshy ground in the midst of which is the village of Bagneux,
and at a short distance the village of Anglure, past which the Aube
flows. After rapidly passing over the unsafe ground of these dangerous
marshes, he set foot on solid ground, and seated himself on a bundle of
reeds, and there, leaning against the wall of a night-hunter's hut, he
unrolled his map of the campaign; and, after examining it a few moments,
remounted his horse and set off at a gallop.

At this moment a flock of teal and snipe flew up before his Majesty; and
he exclaimed laughingly: "Go, go, my beauties; make room for other game."
His Majesty said to those around him, "This time we have them!"

The Emperor was galloping towards Anglure, in order to see if the hill of
Baudemont, which is near this village, was occupied by the artillery,
when the noise of cannon heard in the direction of Wry compelled him to
retrace his steps; and he accordingly returned to Wry, saying to the
officers who accompanied him, "Let us gallop, gentlemen, our enemies are
in a hurry; we should not keep them waiting." A half hour after he was
on the battlefield. Enormous clouds of smoke from the burning of Wry
were driven in the faces of the Russian and Prussian columns, and partly
hid the maneuvers of the French army. At that moment everything
indicated the success of the plans the Emperor had formed that morning in
the marshes of Bagneux, for all went well. His Majesty foresaw the
defeat of the allies, and France saved, while at Anglure all were given
up to despair. The population of many villages shuddered at the approach
of the enemy; for not a piece of cannon was there to cut off their
retreat, not a soldier to prevent them from crossing the river.

The position of the allies was so exceedingly critical that the whole
French army believed them destroyed, as they had plunged with all their
artillery into the marshes, and would have been mowed down by the shower
of balls from our cannon if they had remained there. But suddenly they
were seen to make a new effort, place themselves in line of battle, and
prepare to pass the Aube. The Emperor, who could pursue them no farther
without exposing his army to the danger of being swallowed up in the
marshes, arrested the impetuosity of his soldiers, believing that the
heights of Baudemont were covered with artillery ready to overwhelm the
enemy; but hearing not a single shot in this direction, he hurried to
Sezanne to hasten the advance of the troops, only to learn that those he
expected to find there had been sent toward Fere Champenoise.

During this interval, a man named Ansart, a land owner at Anglure,
mounted his horse, and hurried at the utmost speed to Sezanne in order to
inform the marshal that the enemy were pursued by the Emperor, and about
to cross the Aube. Having reached the Duke, and seeing that the corps he
commanded was not taking the road to Anglure, he hastened to speak.
Apparently the Emperor's, orders had not been received; for the marshal
would not listen to him, treated him as a spy, and it was with much
difficulty this brave man escaped being shot.

While this scene was taking place, his Majesty had already reached
Sezanne; and seeing many inhabitants of this village around him, he
requested some one to guide him to Fere Champenoise, whereupon a bailiff
presented himself. The Emperor immediately set out, escorted by the
officers who had accompanied him to Sezanne, and left the town, saying to
his guide, "Go in front, monsieur, and take the shortest road." Arrived
at a short distance from the battlefield of Fere Champenoise, his Majesty
saw that every report of the artillery made the poor bailiff start. "You
are afraid," said the Emperor to him. "No, Sire."--"Then, what makes you
dodge your head?"--"It is because I am not accustomed like your Majesty
to hearing all this uproar."--"One should accustom himself to everything.
Fear nothing; keep on." But the guide, more dead than alive, reined in
his horse, and trembled in every limb. "Come, come; I see you are really
afraid. Go behind me." He obeyed, turned his horse's head, and galloped
as far as Sezanne without stopping, promising himself most faithfully
never again to serve as guide to the Emperor on such an occasion.

At the battle of Mery, the Emperor, under the very fire of the enemy, had
a little bridge thrown over the river which flows near the town. This
bridge was constructed in an hour by means of ladders fastened together,
and supported by wooden beams; but as this was not sufficient, it was
necessary that planks should be placed on this. None could be found,
however; for those who might have been able to procure them did not dare
to approach the exposed spot his Majesty occupied at this moment.
Impatient, and even angry, because he could not obtain the planks for
this bridge, his Majesty had the shutters of several large houses a short
distance from the river taken down, and had them placed and nailed down
under his own eyes. During this work he was tormented by intense thirst,
and was about to dip water up in his hand to slake it, when a young girl,
who had braved danger in order to draw near the Emperor, ran to a
neighboring house, and brought him a glass of water and some wine, which
he eagerly drank.

Astonished to see this young girl in so perilous a place, the Emperor
said to her, smiling, "You would make a brave soldier, Mademoiselle;
and if you are willing to wear epaulets you shall be one of my
aides-de-camp." The young girl blushed, and made a courtesy to the
Emperor, and was going away, when he held out his hand to her, and she
kissed it. "Later," he said, "come to Paris, and remind me of the
service you have rendered me to-day. You will be satisfied of my
gratitude." She thanked the Emperor and withdrew, very proud of his
words of commendation.

The day of the battle of Nangis an Austrian officer came in the evening
to headquarters, and had a long, secret conference with his Majesty.
Forty-eight hours after, at the close of the engagement at Mery, appeared
a new envoy from the Prince von Schwarzenberg, with a reply from the
Emperor of Austria to the confidential letter which his Majesty had
written two days before to his father-in-law. We had left Mery in
flames; and in the little hammock of Chatres, where headquarters had been
established, there could no shelter be found for his Majesty except in
the shop of a wheelwright; and the Emperor passed the night there,
working, or lying on the bed all dressed, without sleeping. It was there
also he received the Austrian envoy, the Prince of Lichtenstein. The
prince long remained in conversation with his Majesty; and though nothing
was known of the subject of their conversation, no one doubted that it
related to peace. After the departure of the prince, the Emperor was in
extraordinarily high spirits, which affected all those around him.

Our army had taken from the enemy thousands of prisoners; Paris had just
received the Russian and Prussian banners taken at Nangis and Montereau;
the Emperor had put to flight the foreign sovereigns, who even feared for
a time that they might not be able to regain the frontiers; and the
effect of so much success had been to restore to his Majesty his former
confidence in his good fortune, though this was unfortunately only a
dangerous illusion.

The Prince of Lichtenstein had hardly left headquarters when M. de
Saint-Aignan, the brother-in-law of the Duke of Vicenza, and equerry
of the Emperor, arrived. M. de Saint-Aignan went, I think, to his
brother-in-law, who was at the Congress of Chatillon, or at least had
been; for the sessions of this congress had been suspended for several
days. It seems that before leaving Paris M. de Saint-Aignan held an
interview with the Duke of Rovigo and another, minister, and they had
given him a verbal message to the Emperor. This mission was both
delicate and difficult. He would have much preferred that these
gentlemen should have sent in writing the communications which they
insisted he should bear to his Majesty, but they refused; and as a
faithful servant M. de Saint-Aignan performed his duty, and prepared to
speak the whole truth, whatever danger he might incur by so doing.

When he arrived at the wheelwright's shop at Chatres, the Emperor, as we
have just seen, was abandoning himself to most brilliant dreams; which
circumstance was most unfortunate for M. de Saint-Aignan, since he was
the bearer of disagreeable news. He came, as we have learned since, to
announce to his Majesty that he should not count upon the public mind at
the capital, since they were murmuring at the prolongation of the war,
and desired that the Emperor should seize the occasion of making peace.
It has even been stated that the word disaffection was uttered during this
secret conference by the sincere and truthful lips of M. de Saint-Aignan.
I cannot assert that this is true; for the door was closely shut, and M.
de Saint-Aignan spoke in a low tone. It is certain, however, that his
report and his candor excited his Majesty's anger to the highest degree;
and in dismissing him with an abruptness he had certainly not merited,
the Emperor raised his voice to such a pitch as to be heard outside.
When M. de Saint-Aignan withdrew, and his Majesty summoned me to my
duties near him, I found him much agitated, and pale with anger. A few
hours after this scene the Emperor ordered his horse, and M. de
Saint-Aignan, who had resumed his duties as equerry, approached to hold
his stirrup; but as soon as the Emperor perceived him he threw on him an
angry glance, made him a sign to withdraw, exclaiming loudly,
"Mesgrigny!" This was Baron de Mesgrigny, another of his Majesty's
squires. In compliance with his Majesty's wishes, M. de Mesgrigny
performed the duties of M. de Saint-Aignan, who withdrew to the rear of
the army to wait till the storm should be past. At the end of a few
days his disgrace was ended, and all who knew him rejoiced; for the
Baron de Saint-Aignan was beloved by all for his affability and loyalty.

From Chatres the Emperor marched on Troyes. The enemy who occupied this
town seemed at first disposed to defend themselves there, but soon
yielded, and evacuated it at the close of a capitulation. During the
short time the, allies passed at Troyes, the Royalists had publicly
announced their hatred to the Emperor, and their adherence to the allied
powers, who came, they said, only to establish the Bourbons on the
throne, and even had the imprudence to display the white flag and white
cockade; and the foreign troops had consequently protected them, while
exercising extreme harshness and severity towards those inhabitants who
held contrary opinions.

Unfortunately for the Royalists they were in a very feeble minority, and
the favor shown to them by the Russians and Prussians led the populace
oppressed by the latter to hate the proteges as much as their protectors.

Even before the entrance of the Emperor into Troyes, Royalist
proclamations addressed to the officers of his household or the army had
fallen into his hands. He had showed no anger, but had urged those who
had received, or who might receive, communications of this nature, to
destroy them, and to inform no one of the contents. On his arrival at
Troyes his Majesty rendered a decree proclaiming penalty of death against
all Frenchmen in the service of the enemy, and those who wore the emblems
and decorations of the ancient dynasty. An unfortunate emigre, accused
before a council of war, was convicted of having worn the cross of St.
Louis and the white cockade during the stay of the allies at Troyes, and
of having furnished to the foreign generals all the information in his

The council pronounced sentence of death, for the proofs were positive,
and the law not less so; and Chevalier Gonault fell a victim to his
ill-judged devotion to a cause which was still far from appearing
national, especially in the departments occupied by the allied armies,
and was executed according to military usage.


After the brilliant successes obtained by the Emperor in such a short
time, and with forces so exceedingly inferior to the great masses of the
enemy, his Majesty, realizing the necessity of allowing his troops to
take a rest of some days at Troyes, entered into negotiations for an
armistice with the Prince von Schwarzenberg.

At this juncture it was announced to the Emperor that General Blucher,
who had been wounded at Mery, was descending along both banks of the
Maine, at the head of an army of fresh troops, estimated at not less than
one hundred thousand men, and that he was marching on Meaux. The Prince
von Schwarzenberg, having been informed of this movement of Blucher's,
immediately cut short the negotiations, and assumed the offensive at
Bar-sur-Seine. The Emperor, whose genius followed by a single glance
all the marches and, operations of the enemy, though he could not be
everywhere at once, resolved to confront Blucher in person, while by
means of a stratagem he made it appear that he was present opposite
Schwarzenberg; and two army corps, commanded, one by Marshal Oudinot,
the other by Marshal Macdonald, were then sent to meet the Austrians.
As soon as the troops approached the enemy's camp they made the air
resound with the shouts of confidence and cheers with which they usually
announced the presence of his Majesty, though at this very moment he was
repairing in all haste to meet General Blucher.

We halted at the little village of Herbisse, where we passed the night in
the manse; and the curate, seeing the Emperor arrive with his marshals,
aides-de-camp, ordnance officers, service of honor, and the other
services, almost lost his wits. His Majesty on alighting said to him,
"Monsieur le Cure, we come to ask your hospitality for a night. Do not
be frightened by this visit; we shall disturb you as little as possible."
The Emperor, conducted by the good curate, beside himself with eagerness
and embarrassment, established himself in the only apartment the house
contained, which served at the same time as kitchen, diningroom, bedroom,
cabinet, and reception-room. In an instant his Majesty had his maps and
papers spread out before him, and prepared himself for work with as much
ease as in his cabinet at the Tuileries. But the persons of his suite
needed somewhat more time to install themselves, for it was no easy thing
for so many persons to find a place in a bakehouse which, with the room
occupied by his Majesty, composed the entire manse of Herbisse; but these
gentlemen, although there were among them more than one dignitary and
prince of the Empire, were uncomplaining, and readily disposed to
accommodate themselves to circumstances. The gay good humor of these
gallant soldiers, in spite of all the combats they had to sustain each
day, while events every instant took a more alarming turn, was most
noteworthy, and depicts well the French character.

The youngest officers formed a circle around the curate's niece, who sang
to them the songs of the country. The good curate, in the midst of
continual comings and goings, and the efforts he made to play worthily
his role of master of the mansion, found himself attacked on his own
territory, that is to say, on his breviary, by Marshal Lefebvre, who had
studied in his youth to be a priest, and said that he had preserved
nothing from his first vocation except the shaven head, because it was so
easy to comb. The worthy marshal intermingled his Latin quotations with
those military expressions he so freely used, causing those present to
indulge in bursts of laughter, in which even the curate himself joined,
and said, "Monseigneur, if you had continued your studies for the
priesthood you would have become a cardinal at least."--"Very likely,"
observed one of the officers; "and if the Abbe Maury had been a
sergeant-major in '89, he might to-day be marshal of France."--"Or
dead," added the Duke of Dantzic, using a much more energetic
expression; "and so much the better for him, since in that case he would
not see the Cossacks twenty leagues from Paris."--"Oh, bah! Monseigneur,
we will drive them away," said the same officer. "Yes," the marshal
muttered between his clinched teeth; "we shall see what we shall see."

At this moment the mule arrived bearing the sutler's supplies, which had
been long and impatiently expected. There was no table; but one was made
of a door placed on casks, and seats were improvised with planks. The
chief officers seated themselves, and the others ate standing. The
curate took his place at this military table on which he had himself
placed his best bottles of wine, and with his native bonhomie continued
to entertain the guests. At length the conversation turned on Herbisse
and its surroundings, and the host was overcome with astonishment on
finding that his guests knew the country so thoroughly.

"Ah, I have it!" exclaimed he, considering them attentively one after the
other; "you are Champenois!" And in order to complete his surprise these
gentlemen drew from their pockets plans on which they made him read the
names of the very smallest localities. Then his astonishment only
changed its object, for he had never dreamed that military science
required such exact study. "What labor!" replied the good curate, "what
pains! and all this in order the better to shoot cannon-balls at each
other!" The supper over, the next thought was the arrangements for
sleeping; and for this purpose we found in the neighboring barns a
shelter and some straw. There remained outside, and near the door of the
room occupied by the Emperor, only the officers on duty, Roustan and
myself, each of whom had a bundle of straw for his bed. Our worthy host,
having given up his bed to his Majesty, remained with us, and rested like
us from the fatigues of the day, and was still sleeping soundly when the
staff left the manse; for the Emperor arose, and set off at break of day.
The curate when he awoke expressed the deepest chagrin that he had not
been able to make his adieux to his Majesty. A purse was handed him
containing the sum the Emperor was accustomed to leave private
individuals of limited means at whose residences he halted as indemnity
for their expense and trouble; and we resumed our march in the steps of
the Emperor, who hastened to meet the Prussians.

The Emperor wished to reach Soissons before the allies; but although they
had been obliged to traverse roads which were practically impassable,
they had arrived before our troops, and as he entered La Ferte his
Majesty saw them retiring to Soissons. The Emperor was rejoiced at this
sight. Soissons was defended by a formidable garrison, and could delay
the enemy, while Marshals Marmont and Mortier and his Majesty in person
attacked Blucher in the rear and on both flanks, and would have inclosed
him as in a net. But this time again the enemy escaped from the snare
the Emperor had laid for him at the very moment he thought he had seized
him, for Blucher had hardly presented himself in front of Soissons before
the gates were opened. General Moreau, commandant of the place, had
already surrendered the town to Billow, and thus assured to the allies
the passage of the Aisne. On receiving this depressing news the Emperor
exclaimed, "The name of Moreau has always been fatal to me!"

Meanwhile his Majesty, continuing his pursuit of the Prussians, was
occupied in delaying the passage of the Aisne. On the 5th of March he
sent General Nansouty in advance, who with his cavalry took the bridge,
drove the enemy back as far as Corbeny, and made a Russian colonel
prisoner. After passing the night at Bery-au-Bac, the Emperor was
marching towards Laon when it was announced to him that the enemy was
coming to meet us; these were not Prussians, but an army corps of
Russians commanded by Sacken. On advancing farther, we found the
Russians established on the heights of Craonne, and covering the road to
Laon in what appeared to be an impregnable position; but nevertheless the
advance guard of our army, commanded by Marshal Ney, rushed forward and
succeeded in taking Craonne. That was enough glory for this time, and
both sides then passed the night preparing for the battle of next day.
The Emperor spent it at the village of Corbeny, but without sleeping,
as inhabitants of the neighboring villages arrived at all hours to give
information as to the position of the enemy and the geography of the
country. His Majesty questioned them himself, praised them or
recompensed their zeal, and profited by their information and services.
Thus, having recognized in the mayor of one of the communes in the
suburbs of Craonne one of his former comrades in the regiment of La Fere,
he placed him in the number of his aides-de-camp, and arranged that he
should serve as guide through this country, which no one knew better than
he. M. de Bussy (that was the officer's name) had left France during the
reign of terror, and on his return had not re-entered the army, but lived
in retirement on his estates.

The Emperor met again this same night one of his old companions in arms
in the regiment of La Fere, an Alsatian named Wolff, who had been a
sergeant of artillery in the regiment in which the Emperor and M. de
Bussy had been his superior officers. He came from Strasburg, and
testified to the good disposition of the inhabitants through the whole
extent of the country he had traversed. The dismay caused in the allied
armies by the first attacks of the Emperor made itself felt even to the
frontiers; and on each road the peasants rose, armed themselves, and cut
off the retreat, and killed many, of the enemy. Corps of the Emperor's
adherents were formed in the Vosges, with officers of well-proved bravery
at their head, who were accustomed to this species of warfare. The
garrisons of the cities and fortified places of the east were full of
courage and resolution; and it would have well suited the wishes of the
population of this part of the Empire had France become, according to the
wish expressed by the Emperor, the tomb of the foreign armies. The brave
Wolff, after having given this information to the Emperor, repeated it
before many other persons, myself among the number. He took only a few
hours' repose, and set out again immediately; but the Emperor did not
dismiss him until he had been decorated with the cross of honor, as the
reward of his devotion.

The battle of Craonne commenced, or I should say recommenced,
on the 7th at break of day, the infantry commanded by the Prince of
Moskwa--[Marshall Ney] and the Duke of Belluno, who was wounded on this
day. Generals Grouchy and Nansouty, the first commanding the cavalry of
the army, the second at the head of the cavalry of the guard, also
received severe wounds. The difficulty was not so much to take the
heights, as to hold them when taken. Meanwhile the French artillery,
directed by the modest and skillful General Drouot, forced the enemy's
artillery to yield their ground foot by foot. This was a terribly
bloody struggle; for the sides of the heights were too steep to allow of
attacking the Russians on the flank, and the retreat was consequently
slow and murderous. They fell back at length, however, and abandoned
the field of battle to our troops, who pursued them as far as the inn of
the Guardian Angel, situated on the highroad from Soissons to Laon, when
they wheeled about, and held their position in this spot for several

The Emperor, who in this battle as in every other of this campaign, had
exposed his person and incurred as many dangers as the most daring
soldiers, now transferred his headquarters to the village of Bray. As
soon as he entered the room which served as his cabinet, he had me
summoned, and I pulled off his boots, while he leaned on my shoulder
without uttering a word, threw his hat and sword on the table, and threw
himself on his bed, uttering a deep sigh, or rather one of those
exclamations which we cannot tell whether they arise from discouragement
or simply from fatigue. His Majesty's countenance was sad and careworn,
nevertheless he slept from sheer weariness for many hours. I awoke him
to announce the arrival of M. de Rumigny, who was the bearer of
dispatches from Chatillon. In the condition of the Emperor's mind at
this moment he seemed ready to accept any reasonable conditions which
might be offered him; therefore I admit I hoped (in which many joined me)
that we were approaching the moment when we should obtain the peace which
we so ardently desired. The Emperor received M. de Rumigny without
witnesses, and the interview lasted a long while. Nothing transpired of
what had been said, and it occurred to me that this mystery argued
nothing good. The next day early M. de Rumigny returned to Chatillon,
where the Duke of Vicenza awaited him; and from the few words his Majesty
uttered as he mounted his horse to return to his advance posts, it was
easy to see that he had not yet resigned himself to the idea of making a
peace which he regarded as dishonorable.

While the Duke of Vicenza was at Chatillon or Lusigny for the purpose of
treating for a peace, the orders of the Emperor delayed or hastened the
conclusion of the treaty according to his successes or repulses. On the
appearance of a ray of hope he demanded more than they were willing to
grant, imitating in this respect the example which the allied sovereigns
had set him, whose requirements since the armistice of Dresden increased
in proportion as they advanced towards France. At last everything was
finally broken off, and the Duke of Vicenza rejoined his Majesty at
Saint-Dizier. I was in a small room so near his sleeping-room that I
could not avoid hearing their conversation. The Duke of Vicenza
earnestly besought the Emperor to accede to the proposed conditions,
saying that they were reasonable now, but later would no longer be so.
As the Duke of Vicenza still returned to the charge, arguing against the
Emperor's postponing his positive decision, his Majesty burst out
vehemently, "You are a Russian, Caulaincourt!"--"No, Sire," replied the
duke with spirit, "no; I am a Frenchman! I think that I have proved this
by urging your Majesty to make peace."

The discussion thus continued with much warmth in terms which
unfortunately I cannot recall. But I remember well that every time the
Duke of Vicenza insisted and endeavored to make his Majesty appreciate
the reasons on account of which peace had become indispensable, the
Emperor replied, "If I gain a battle, as I am sure of doing, I will be in
a situation to exact the most favorable conditions. The grave of the
Russians is under the walls of Paris! My measures are all taken, and
victory cannot fail."

After this conversation, which lasted more than an hour, and in which the
Duke of Vicenza was entirely unsuccessful, he left his Majesty's room,
and rapidly crossed the saloon where I was; and I remarked as he passed
that his countenance showed marks of agitation, and that, overcome by his
deep emotion, great tears rolled from his eyes. Doubtless he was deeply
wounded by what the Emperor had said to him of his partiality for Russia;
and whatever may have been the cause, from that day I never saw the Duke
of Vicenza except at Fontainebleau.

The Emperor, meanwhile, marched with the advance guard, and wished to
reach Laon on the evening of the 8th; but in order to gain this town it
was necessary to pass on a narrow causeway through marshy land. The
enemy was in possession of this road, and opposed our passage. After a
few cannon-shots were exchanged his Majesty deferred till next day the
attempt to force a passage, and returned, not to sleep (for at this
critical time he rarely slept), but to pass the night in the village of

In the middle of this night General Flahaut

[Count Auguste Charles Joseph Flahaut de la Billarderie, born in
Paris, 1785; colonel in 1809; aide-de-camp to the Emperor, 1812; and
made a general of division for conduct at Leipzig; was at Waterloo.
Ambassador to Vienna, 1841-1848, and senator, 1853; died 1870. He
was one of the lovers of Queen Hortense, and father by her of the
late Duc de Morny.--TRANS.]

came to announce to the Emperor that the commissioners of the allied
powers had broken the conferences at Lusigny. The army was not informed
of this, although the news would probably have surprised no one. Before
daylight General Gourgaud set out at the head of a detachment selected
from the bravest soldiers of the army, and following a cross road which
turned to the left through the marshes, fell unexpectedly on the enemy,
slew many of them in the darkness, and drew the attention and efforts of
the allied generals upon himself, while Marshal Ney, still at the head of
the advance guard, profited by this bold maneuver to force a passage of
the causeway. The whole army hastened to follow this movement, and on
the evening of the 9th was in sight of Laon, and ranged in line of battle
before the enemy who occupied the town and its heights. The army corps
of the Duke of Ragusa had arrived by another road, and also formed in
line of battle before the Russian and Prussian armies. His Majesty
passed the night expediting his orders, and preparing everything for the
grand attack which was to take place next morning at daylight.

The appointed hour having arrived, I had just finished in haste the
toilet of the Emperor, which was very short, and he had already put his
foot in the stirrup, when we saw running towards us on foot, with the
utmost speed and all out of breath, some cavalrymen belonging to the army
corps of the Duke of Ragusa. His Majesty had them brought before him,
and inquired angrily the meaning of this disorder. They replied that
their bivouacs had been attacked unexpectedly by the enemy; that they and
their comrades had resisted to the utmost these overwhelming forces,
although they had barely time to seize their arms; that they had at last
been compelled to yield to numbers, and it was only by a miracle they had
escaped the massacre. "Yes," said the Emperor knitting his brow, "by a
miracle of agility, as we have just seen. What has become of the
marshal?" One of the soldiers replied that he saw the Duke of Ragusa
fall dead, another that he had been taken prisoner. His Majesty sent his
aide-de-camp and orderly officers to ascertain, and found that the report
of the cavalrymen was only too true. The enemy had not waited to be
attacked, but had fallen on the army corps of the Duke of Ragusa,
surrounded it, and taken a part of his artillery. The marshal, however,
had been neither wounded nor taken prisoner, but was on the road to
Rheims, endeavoring to arrest and bring back the remains of his army

The news of this disaster greatly increased his Majesty's chagrin; but
nevertheless the enemy was driven back to the gates of Laon, though the
recapture of the city was impossible. After a few fruitless attempts, or
rather after some false attacks, the object of which was to conceal his
retreat from the enemy, the Emperor returned to Chavignon and passed the
night. The next day, the 11th, we left this village, and the army fell
back to Soissons. His Majesty alighted at the bishopric, and immediately
commanded Marshal Mortier, together with the principal officials of the
place, to take measures to put the town in a state of defense. For two
days the Emperor shut himself up at work in his cabinet, and left it only
to examine the locality, visit the fortifications, and everywhere give
orders and see that they were executed. In the midst of these
preparations for defense, his Majesty learned that the town of Rheims had
been taken by the Russian general, Saint-Priest, notwithstanding the
vigorous resistance of General Corbineau, of whose fate we were
ignorant, but it was believed that he was dead or had fallen into the
hands of the Russians. His Majesty confided the defense of Soissons to
the Marshal Duke of Treviso, and himself set out for Rheims by forced
marches; and we arrived the same evening at the gates of the city, where
the Russians were not expecting his Majesty. Our soldiers entered this
battle without having taken any repose, but fought with the resolution
which the presence and example of the Emperor never failed to inspire.
The combat lasted the whole evening, and was prolonged far into the
night; but after General Saint-Priest had been grievously wounded the
resistance of his troops became less vigorous, and at two o'clock in the
morning they abandoned the town. The Emperor and his army entered by one
gate while the Russians were emerging from the other; and as the
inhabitants pressed in crowds around his Majesty, he inquired before
alighting from his horse what havoc the enemy was supposed to have made.
It was answered that the town had suffered only the amount of injury
which was the inevitable result of a bloody nocturnal struggle, and that
moreover the enemy had maintained severe discipline among the troops
during their stay and up to the moment of retreat. Among those who
pressed around his Majesty at this moment was the brave General
Corbineau. He wore a citizen's coat, and had remained disguised and
concealed in a private house of the town. On the morning of the next day
he again presented himself before the Emperor, who welcomed him
cordially, and complimented him on the courage he had displayed under
such trying circumstances. The Duke of Ragusa had rejoined his Majesty
under the walls of Rheims, and had contributed with his army corps to the
capture of the town. When he appeared before the Emperor, the latter
burst out in harsh and severe reproaches regarding the affair at Laon;
but his anger was not of long duration, and his Majesty soon resumed
towards the marshal the tone of friendship with which he habitually
honored him. They held a long conference, and the Duke of Ragusa
remained to dine with the Emperor.

His Majesty spent three days at Rheims in order to give his troops time
to rest and recuperate before continuing this arduous campaign. They
were in sore need of this; for even old soldiers would have had great
difficulty in enduring such continued forced marches, which often ended
only in a bloody battle; nevertheless, the greater part of the brave men
who obeyed with such unwearied ardor the Emperor's orders, and who never
refused to endure any fatigue or any danger, were conscripts who had been
levied in haste, and fought against the most warlike and best disciplined
troops in Europe. The greater part had not had even sufficient time to
learn the drill, and took their first lessons in the presence of the
enemy, brave young fellows who sacrificed themselves without a murmur,
and to whom the Emperor once only did injustice,--in the circumstance
which I have formerly related, and in which M. Larrey played such a
heroic part. It is a well-known fact that the wonderful campaign of 1814
was made almost entirely with conscripts newly levied.

During the halt of three days which we made at Rheims, the Emperor saw
with intense joy, which he openly manifested, the arrival of an army
corps of six thousand men, whom the brave Dutch General Janssens brought
to his aid. This re-enforcement of experienced troops could not have
come more opportunely. While our soldiers were taking breath before
recommencing a desperate struggle, his Majesty was giving himself up to
the most varied labors with his accustomed ardor. In the midst of the
cares and dangers of war the Emperor neglected none of the affairs of the
Empire, but worked for several hours each day with the Duke of Bassano,
received couriers from Paris, dictated his replies, and fatigued his
secretaries almost as much as his generals and soldiers. As for himself,
he was indefatigable as of yore.


Affairs had reached a point where the great question of triumph or defeat
could not long remain undecided. According to one of the habitual
expressions of the Emperor, the pear was ripe; but who was to gather it?
The Emperor while at Rheims appeared to have no doubt that the result
would be in his favor. By one of those bold combinations which astonish
the world, and change in a single battle the face of affairs, although
the enemy had approached the capital, his Majesty being unable to prevent
it, he nevertheless resolved to attack them in the rear, compel them to
wheel about, and place themselves in opposition to the army which he
commanded in person, and thus save Paris from their invasion. With the
intention of executing this bold combination the Emperor left Rheims.
Meanwhile, being anxious concerning his wife and son, the Emperor, before
attempting this great enterprise, wrote in the greatest secrecy to his
brother, Prince Joseph, lieutenant-general of the Empire, to have them
conveyed to a place of safety in case the danger became imminent. I knew
nothing of this order the day it was sent, as the Emperor kept it a
secret from every one; but when I learned afterwards that it was from
Rheims that this command had been addressed to Prince Joseph, I thought
that I could without fear of being mistaken fix the date at March 15th.
That evening, in fact, his Majesty had talked to me as he retired of the
Empress and the King of Rome; and as usual, whenever he had during the
day been deeply impressed with any idea, it always recurred to him in the
evening; and for that reason I conclude that this was the day on which
his mind had been occupied with putting in a place of shelter from the
dangers of the war the two objects of his most devoted affection.

From Rheims we directed our course to Epernay, the garrison and
inhabitants of which had just repulsed the enemy, who the evening before
had attempted to capture it. There the Emperor learned of the arrival at
Troyes of the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia. His Majesty, in
order to testify to the inhabitants of Epernay his satisfaction with
their admirable conduct, rewarded them in the person of their mayor by
giving him the cross of the Legion of Honor. This was M. Moet, whose
reputation has become almost as European as that of Champagne wine.

During this campaign, without being too lavish of the cross of honor, his
Majesty presented it on several occasions to those of the inhabitants who
were foremost in resisting the enemy. Thus, for example, I remember that
before leaving Rheims he gave one to a simple farmer of the village of
Selles whose name I have forgotten. This brave man, on learning that a
detachment of Prussians was approaching his commune, put himself at the
head of the National Guard, whom he encouraged both by word and example;
and the result of his enterprise was forty-five prisoners, among them
three officers, whom he brought into the town.

How many deeds similar to this occurred which it is impossible to
remember! However all that may be, the Emperor on leaving Epernay
marched towards Fere-Champenoise, I will not say in all haste, for that
is a term which might be used concerning all his Majesty's movements, who
sprang with the rapidity of an eagle on the point where his presence
seemed most necessary. Nevertheless, the enemy's army, which had crossed
the Seine at Pont and Nogent, having learned of the re-occupation of
Rheims by the Emperor, and understanding the movement he wished to make
on their rear, began their retreat on the 17th, and retook successively
the bridges which he had constructed at Pont, Nogent, and Arcis-sur-Aube.
On the 18th occurred the battle of Fere-Champenoise, which his Majesty
fought to clear the road intervening between him and Arcis-sur-Aube,
where were the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia, who, on
learning of this new success of the Emperor, quickly fell back to Troyes.
The pronounced intention of his Majesty was then to go as far as
Bar-sur-Aube. We had already passed the Aube at Plancy, and the Seine
at Mery, but it was necessary to return to Plancy. This was on the
19th, the same day on which the Count d'Artois arrived at Nancy, and on
which the rupture of the Congress of Chatillon occurred, which I
mentioned in the preceding chapter, following the order in which my
souvenirs recurred to my mind.

The 20th March was, as I have said, an eventful date in the Emperor's
life, and was to become still more so one year later. The 20th March,
1814, the King of Rome completed his third year, while the Emperor was
exposing himself, if it were possible, even more than was his usual
custom. At the battle of Arcis-sur-Aube, which took place on that day,
his Majesty saw that at last he would have new enemies to encounter. The
Austrians themselves entered the line of battle; and an immense army,
under the command of the Prince von Schwarzenberg, spread itself out
before him, when he supposed he had only an advance guard to resist. The
coincidence may not perhaps appear unimportant that the Austrian army did
not begin to fight seriously or attack the Emperor in person until the
day after the rupture of the Congress of Chatillon. Was this the result
of chance, or did the Emperor of Austria indeed prefer to remain in the
second line, and spare the person of his son-in-law, so long as peace
appeared possible to him? This is a question which it is not my province
to answer.

The battle of Arcis-sur-Aube was terrible, and ended only with the close
of day. The Emperor still occupied the city in spite of the combined
efforts of an army of one hundred and thirty thousand fresh troops, who
attacked thirty thousand worn out by fatigue. The battle still continued
during the night, while the fire of the faubourgs lighted our defenses
and the works of the besieging-party. It was at last found impossible to
hold our position longer, and only one bridge remained by which the army
could effect its retreat. The Emperor had another constructed; and the
retreat commenced, but in good order, in spite of the numerous masses
which closely threatened us. This unfortunate affair was the most
disastrous his Majesty had experienced during the whole campaign, since
the roads leading to the capital had been left uncovered; and the
prodigies of his genius and valor were unavailing against such
overwhelming numbers. An instance which furnishes an excellent proof of
the presence of mind which the Emperor preserved in the most critical
positions was, that before evacuating Arcis he committed to the Sisters
of Charity a sum sufficient for the first needs of the wounded.

On the evening of the 21st we arrived at Sommepuis, where the Emperor
passed the night. There I heard him for the first time pronounce the
name of the Bourbons. His Majesty was extremely agitated, and spoke in
such broken tones that I understood only these words, which he repeated
many times: "Recall them myself--recall the Bourbons! What would the
enemy say? No, no? it is impossible! Never!" These words which
escaped the Emperor in one of those attacks of preoccupation to which he
was subject whenever his soul was deeply moved astonished me
inexpressibly; for the idea had never once entered my mind that there
could be any other government in France than that of his Majesty.
Besides, it may be easily understood that in the position I then occupied
I had scarcely heard the Bourbons mentioned, except to the Empress
Josephine in the early days of the Consulate, while I was still in her

The various divisions of the French army and the masses of the enemy were
then so closely pressed against each other, that the enemy occupied each
point the moment we were compelled to abandon it; thus, on the 22d the
allies seized Epernay, and, in order to punish this faithful town for the
heroic defense it had previously made, orders were given that it should
be pillaged. Pillage? The Emperor called it the crime of war; and I
heard him often express in most vehement terms the horror with which it
inspired him, which was so extreme that at no time did he authorize it
during his long series of triumphs. Pillage! And yet every proclamation
of our devastators declared boldly that they made war only on the
Emperor; they had the audacity to repeat this statement, and some were
foolish enough to believe them. On this point I saw too plainly what
actually occurred to have ever believed in the ideal magnanimity which
has since been so much vaunted.

On the 23d we were at Saint-Dizier, where the Emperor returned to his
first plan of attacking the enemy's rear. The next day, just as his
Majesty mounted his horse to go to Doulevent, a general officer of the
Austrians was brought to him, whose arrival caused a great sensation at
headquarters, as it delayed the Emperor's departure for a few moments.
I soon learned that it was Baron de Weissemberg, ambassador from Austria
to London, who was returning from England. The Emperor ordered that he
should follow him to Doulevent, where his Majesty gave him a verbal
message to the Emperor of Austria, while Colonel Galbois was charged with
a letter which the Emperor had the Duke of Vicenza write. But after a
movement by the French army towards Chaumont, by the road of Langres, the
Emperor of Austria, finding himself separated from the Emperor Alexander,
was forced to fall back as far as Dijon. I remember that on his arrival
at Doulevent his Majesty received secret information from his faithful
director-general of the post, M. de Lavalette. This information, the
purport of which I did not know, appeared to produce the deepest
impression on the Emperor; but he soon resumed before the eyes of those
around his accustomed serenity, though for some time past I had seen that
this was only assumed. I have learned since that M. de Lavalette
informed the Emperor that there was not a moment to lose if he would save
the capital. Such an opinion from such a man could only be an expression
of the real truth, and it was this conviction which contributed to
increase the Emperor's anxiety. Until then the news from Paris had been
favorable; and much had been said of the zeal and devotion of the
National Guard, which nothing could dismay. At the various theaters
patriotic pieces had been played, and notably the 'Oriflamme' at the
Opera, a very trivial circumstance apparently, but which nevertheless
acted very powerfully on the minds of enthusiasts, and for this reason
was not to be disdained. Indeed, the small amount of news that we had
received represented Paris as entirely devoted to his Majesty, and ready
to defend itself against any attacks. And in fact, this news was not
untrue; and the handsome conduct of the National Guard under the orders,
of Marshal Moncey, the enthusiasm of the different schools, and the
bravery of the pupils of the polytechnic schools, soon furnished proof of
this. But events were stronger than men. Meanwhile, time passed on, and
we were approaching the fatal conclusion; each day, each moment, saw
those immense masses collecting from the extremities of Europe, inclosing
Paris, and pressing it with a thousand arms, and during these last days
it might well be said that the battle raged incessantly. On the 26th the
Emperor, led by the noise of a fierce cannonade, again repaired to
Saint-Dizier, where his rear-guard was attacked by very superior forces,
and compelled to evacuate the town; but General Milhaud and General
Sebastiani repulsed the enemy on the Marne at the ford of Valcourt; the
presence of the Emperor produced its accustomed effect, and we re-entered
Saint-Dizier, while the enemy fled in the greatest disorder over the road
to Vitry-le-Francais and that of Bar-sur-Ornain. The Emperor moved
towards the latter town, thinking that he now had the Prince of
Schwarzenberg in his power; but just as he arrived there learned that it
was not the Austrian general-in-chief whom he had fought, but only one of
his lieutenants, Count Witzingerode. Schwarzenberg had deceived him; on
the 23d he had made a junction with General Blucher, and these two
generals at the head of the coalition had rushed with their masses of
soldiers upon the capital.

However disastrous might be the news brought to headquarters, the Emperor
wished to verify its truth in person, and on his return from Saint-Dizier
made a detour to Vitry, in order to assure himself of the march of the
allies on Paris; and all his doubts were dissipated by what he saw.
Could Paris hold out long enough for him to crush the enemy against its
walls? Thereafter this was his sole and engrossing thought. He
immediately placed himself at the head of his army, and we marched on
Paris by the road to Troyes. At Doulencourt he received a courier from
King Joseph, who announced to him the march of the allies on Paris. That
very moment he sent General Dejean in haste to his brother to inform him
of his speedy arrival. If he could defend himself for two days, only two
days, the allied armies would enter Paris, only to find there a tomb.
In what a state of anxiety the Emperor then was! He set out with his
headquarters squadrons. I accompanied him, and left him for the first
time at Troyes, on the morning of the 30th, as will be seen in the
following chapter.


What a time was this! How sad the period and events of which I have now
to recall the sad memory! I have now arrived at the fatal day when the
combined armies of Europe were to sully the soil of Paris, of that
capital, free for so many years from the presence of the invader. What a
blow to the Emperor! And what cruel expiation his great soul now made
for his triumphant entries into Vienna and Berlin! It was, then, all in
vain that he had displayed such incredible activity during the admirable
campaign of France, in which his genius had displayed itself as
brilliantly as during his Italian campaign. The first time I saw him on
the day after a battle was at Marengo; and what a contrast his attitude
of dejection presented when I saw him again on the 31st of March at

Having accompanied His Majesty everywhere, I was near him at Troyes on
the morning of the 30th of March.

The Emperor set out at ten o'clock, accompanied only by the grand marshal
and the Duke of Vicenza. It was then known at headquarters that the
allied troops were advancing on Paris; but we were far from suspecting
that at the very moment of the Emperor's hurried departure the battle
before Paris was being most bitterly waged. At least I had heard nothing
to lead me to believe it. I received an order to move to Essonne, and,
as means of transportation had become scarce and hard to obtain, did not
arrive there until the morning of the 31st, and had been there only a
short time when the courier brought me an order to repair to
Fontainebleau, which I immediately did. It was then I learned that the
Emperor had gone from Troyes to Montereau in two hours, having made the
journey of ten leagues in that short space of time. I also learned that
the Emperor and his small suite had been obliged to make use of a chaise
on the road to Paris, between Essonne and Villejuif. He advanced as far
as the Cour de France with the intention of marching on Paris; but there,
verifying the news and the cruel certainty of the surrender of Paris, had
sent to me the courier whom I mentioned above.

I had been at Fontainebleau only a short while when the Emperor arrived.
His countenance was pale and harassed to a greater degree than I had ever
seen it; and he who knew so well how to control all the emotions of his
soul did not seem to attempt to conceal the dejection which was so
manifest both in his attitude and in his countenance. It was evident how
greatly he was suffering from all the disastrous events which had
accumulated one after the other in terrible progression. The Emperor
said nothing to any one, and closeted himself immediately in his cabinet,
with the Dukes of Bassano and Vicenza and the Prince of Neuchatel. These
generals remained a long while with the Emperor, who afterwards received
some general officers. His Majesty retired very late, and appeared to me
entirely crushed. From time to time I heard stifled sighs escape from
his breast, with which were mingled the name of Marmont, which I could
not then understand, as I had heard nothing of the terms of the
surrender, and knew that the Duke of Ragusa was a marshal to whom the
Emperor seemed always deeply attached. I saw that evening, at
Fontainebleau, Marshal Moncey, who the evening before had bravely
commanded the national guard at the barricade of Clichy, and also the
Duke of Dantzic.

A gloomy and silent sadness which is perfectly indescribable reigned at
Fontainebleau during the two days which followed. Overcome by so many
repeated blows, the Emperor seldom entered his cabinet, where he usually
passed so many hours engaged in work. He was so absorbed in his
conflicting thoughts, that often he did not notice the arrival of persons
whom he had summoned, looked at them, so to speak, without seeing them,
and sometimes remained nearly half an hour without addressing them; then,
as if awaking from this state of stupefaction, asked them questions
without seeming to hear the reply; and even the presence of the Duke of
Bassano and the Duke of Vicenza, whom he summoned more frequently, did
not interrupt this condition of preoccupation or lethargy, so to speak.
The hours for meals were the same, and they were served as usual; but all
took place amid complete silence, broken only by the necessary noise of
the service. At the Emperor's toilet the same silence; not a word issued
from his lips; and if in the morning I suggested to him one of the drinks
that he usually took, he not only did not reply, but nothing in his
countenance which I attentively observed could make me believe that he
had heard me. This situation was terrible for all the persons attached
to his Majesty.

Was the Emperor really so overwhelmed by his evil fortune? Was his
genius as benumbed as his body? I must admit, in all candor, that seeing
him so different from what he appeared after the disasters of Moscow, and
even when I had left him at Troyes a few days before, I strongly believed
it. But this was by no means the case; his soul was a prey to one fixed
idea that of taking the offensive and marching on Paris. And though,
indeed, he remained overwhelmed with consternation in his intimate
intercourse with his most faithful ministers and most skillful generals,
he revived at sight of his soldiers, thinking, doubtless, that the one
would suggest only prudent counsels while the others would never reply
aught but in shouts of "Vive l'Empereur!" to the most daring orders he
might give. For instance, on the 2d of April he momentarily, so to
speak, shook off his dejection, and in the court of the palace held a
review of his guard, who had just rejoined him at Fontainebleau. He
addressed his soldiers in a firm voice, saying:

"Soldiers! the enemy has stolen three marches on us, and has taken
possession of Paris; we must drive them out. Unworthy Frenchmen,
emigres to whom we have extended pardon, have donned the white
cockade, and gone over to our enemies. The cowards! They will reap
the reward of this new treason. Let us swear to conquer or to die,
and to have respect shown to this tricolored cockade, which for
twenty-five years we have borne on the road to glory and honor."

The troops were roused to enthusiasm at the sound of their chief's voice,
and shouted in unison, "Paris! Paris!" But the Emperor, nevertheless,
resumed his former dejection on crossing the threshold of the palace,
which arose no doubt from the fear, only too well founded, of seeing his
desire to march on Paris thwarted by his lieutenants. It is only since,
that reflecting on the events of that time, I am enabled to conjecture as
to the struggles which passed in the soul of the Emperor; for then, as
during my entire period of service, I would not have dared to think of
going outside the limits of my ordinary duties and functions.

Meanwhile, the situation became more and more unfavorable to the wishes
and plans of the Emperor. The Duke of Vicenza had been sent to Paris,
where a provisional government had been formed under the presidency of
the Prince of Benevento, without having succeeded in his mission to the
Emperor Alexander; and each day his Majesty with deep grief witnessed the
adhesion of the marshals and a large number of generals to the new
government. He felt the Prince de Neuchatel's desertion deeply; and I
must say that, unaccustomed as we were to political combinations, we were
overcome with astonishment.

Here I find that I am compelled to speak of myself, which I have done as
little as possible in the course of these memoirs, and I think this is a
justice which all my readers will do me; but what I have to say is too
intimately connected with the last days I passed with the Emperor, and
concerns my personal honor too nearly, for me to suppose that I can be
reproached for so doing. I was, as may well be supposed, very anxious as
to the fate of my family, of whom I had received no news for a long
while; and, at the same time, the cruel disease from which I had long
suffered had made frightful progress, owing to the fatigue of the last
campaign. Nevertheless, the mental suffering to which I saw the Emperor
a victim so entirely absorbed all my thoughts, that I took no precautions
against the physical suffering which I endured; and I had not even
thought of asking for a safeguard for the country-house I possessed in
the environs of Fontainebleau. A free corps having seized it, had
established themselves there, after having pillaged and destroyed
everything, even the little flock of merino sheep which I owed to the
kindness of the Empress Josephine. The Emperor, having been informed of
it by others than myself, said to me one morning at his toilet,
"Constant, I owe you indemnity."--"Sire?"--"Yes, my child, I know that
your place has been pillaged, I know that you have incurred considerable
losses in the Russian campaign; I have given an order that fifty thousand
francs should be handed you to cover the whole." I thanked his Majesty,
who more than indemnified me for my losses.

This occurred during the first days of our last stay at Fontainebleau.
At the same period the Emperor's removal to the Island of Elba having
been already discussed, the grand marshal of the palace asked me if I
would follow his Majesty to this residence. God is my witness that I had
no other wish than to consecrate all my life to the service of the
Emperor; therefore I did not need a moment's reflection to reply that
this could not be a matter of doubt; and I occupied myself almost
immediately with preparations for the sojourn, which proved to be not a
long one, but the duration of which no human intelligence could then have
been able to foretell.

Meanwhile, in the retirement of his chamber, the Emperor became each day
more sad and careworn; and when I saw him alone, which often occurred,
for I tried to be near him as much as possible, I remarked the extreme
agitation which the reading of the dispatches he received from Paris
caused him; this agitation was many times so great that I noticed he had
torn his leg with his nails until the blood flowed, without being aware
of it. I then took the liberty of informing him of the fact as gently as
possible, with the hope of putting an end to this intense preoccupation,
which cut me to the heart. Several times also the Emperor asked Roustan
for his pistols; fortunately I had taken the precaution, seeing his
Majesty so unnerved, to recommend him not to give them to him, however
much the Emperor might insist. I thought it my duty to give an account
of all this to the Duke of Vicenza, who entirely approved of my conduct.
One morning, I do not recall whether it was the 10th or 11th of April,
but it was certainly on one of those days, the Emperor, who had said
nothing to me in the morning, had me called during the day. I had hardly
entered his room when he said to me, in a tone of most winning kindness,
"My dear Constant, there is a hundred thousand francs waiting for you at
Peyrache's; if your wife arrives before our departure, you will give them
to her; if she should not, put them in the corner of your country-place,
note the exact location of the spot, which you will send to her by some
safe person. When one has served me well he should not be in want. Your
wife will build a farm, in which she will invest this money; she will
live with your mother and sister, and you will not have the fear of
leaving her in need." Even more moved by the provident kindness of the
Emperor, who thus deigned to consider the interests of my family affairs,
than delighted with the great value of the present he had made me, I
could hardly find words to express to him my gratitude; and such was,
besides, my carelessness of the future, so far from me had been the
thought that this great Empire could come to an end, that this was the
first time I had really considered the embarrassed condition in which I
would have left my family, if the Emperor had not thus generously
provided for them. I had, in fact, no fortune, and possessed in all the
world only my pillaged house, and the fifty thousand francs destined to
repair it.

Under these circumstances, not knowing when I should see my wife again, I
made arrangements to follow the advice his Majesty had been kind enough
to give me; converted my hundred thousand francs into gold, which I put
into five bags; and taking with me the wardrobe boy Denis, whose honesty
was above suspicion, we followed the road through the forest to avoid
being seen by any of the persons who occupied my house. We cautiously
entered a little inclosure belonging to me, the gate of which could not
be seen on account of the trees, although they were now without foliage;
and with the aid of Denis I succeeded in burying my treasure, after
taking an exact note of the place, and then returned to the palace, being
certainly very far from foreseeing how much chagrin and tribulation those
hundred thousand francs would cause me, as we shall see in the succeeding


Here more than ever I must beg the indulgence of my readers as to the
order in which I relate the events I witnessed during the Emperor's stay
at Fontainebleau, and those connected with them which did not come to my
knowledge until later. I must also apologize for any inaccuracy in dates
of which I may be guilty, though I remember collectively, so to speak,
all that occurred during the unhappy twenty days which ensued between the
occupation of Paris and the departure of his Majesty for the Island of
Elba; for I was so completely absorbed in the unhappy condition of my
good master that all my faculties hardly sufficed for the sensations I
experienced every moment. We suffered in the Emperor's sufferings; it
occurred to none of us to imprint on his memory the recollection of so
much agony, for we lived, so to speak, only provisionally.

During the first days of our stay at Fontainebleau the idea that the
Emperor would soon cease to reign over France was very far from entering
the minds of any of those around him, for every one was possessed with
the conviction that the Emperor of Austria would not consent that his
son-in-law, daughter, and grandson should be dethroned; in this they were
strangely mistaken. I remarked during these first days that even more
petitions than usual were addressed to his Majesty; but I am ignorant
whether he responded favorably, or even if he replied at all. The
Emperor often took up the daily papers, but after casting his eyes over
them threw them down angrily; and if we recall the shameless abuse in
which those writers indulged who had so often lavished fulsome praises on
him, it may well be understood that such a transition would naturally
excite his Majesty's disgust. The Emperor usually remained alone; and
the person whom he saw most frequently was the Duke of Bassano, the only
one of his ministers then at Fontainebleau; for the Duke of Vicenza,
being charged continually with missions, was, so to speak, constantly on
the wing, especially as long as his Majesty retained the hope of seeing a
regency in favor of his son succeed him in the government. In seeking to
recall the varied feelings whose impress I remarked on his Majesty's
countenance, I think I may affirm that he was even more deeply affected
by being compelled to renounce the throne for his son than in resigning
it for himself. When the marshals or the Duke of Vicenza spoke to his
Majesty of arrangements relating to his person, it was easy to see that
he forced himself to listen to them only with the greatest repugnance.
One day when they spoke of the Island of Elba, and I do not know what sum
per year, I heard his Majesty reply vehemently: "That is too much, much
too much for me. If I am no longer anything more than a common soldier,
I do not need more than one louis per day."

Nevertheless, the time arrived when, pressed on every side, his Majesty
submitted to sign the act of abdication pure and simple, which was
demanded of him. This memorable act was conceived in these terms:

"The allied powers having proclaimed that the Emperor Napoleon is
the only obstacle to the re-establishment of peace in Europe, the
Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces
for himself and his heirs the thrones of France and Italy, and that
there is no personal sacrifice, even his life, which he is not
willing to make for the interests of France.

Done at the palace of Fontainebleau, 11th of April, 1814.


I do not need to say that I then had no knowledge of the act of
abdication above given; it was one of those state secrets which emanated
from the cabinet, and hardly entered into the confidence of the bedroom.
I only recall that there was some discussion of the matter, though very
vague, that same day in the household; and, besides, it was evident that
something extraordinary was taking place, and the whole day his Majesty
seemed more depressed than at any previous time; but, nevertheless, I was
far from anticipating the agony which followed this fatal day!

I beg the reader in advance to give earnest attention to the event which
I shall now relate. I now become a historian, since I inscribe the
painful remembrance of a striking act in the career of the Emperor; of an
event which has been the subject of innumerable controversies, though it
has been necessarily only a matter of surmise, since I alone knew all the
painful details. I refer to the poisoning of the Emperor at
Fontainebleau. I trust I do not need to protest my perfect truthfulness;
I feel too keenly the great importance of such a revelation to allow
myself to omit or add the least circumstance to the truth. I shall
therefore relate events just as they occurred, just as I saw them, and as
memory, has engraved the painful details indelibly on my mind.

On the 11th of April I undressed the Emperor as usual, I think rather
earlier than usual; for, if I remember aright, it was not quite half-past
ten. As he retired he appeared to me better than during the day, and in
nearly the same condition he had been on previous evenings. I slept in a
room on the next floor, situated behind the Emperor's room, with which it
communicated by a small, dark staircase. For some time past I had slept
in my clothes, in order to attend the Emperor more promptly if he should
call me; and I was sleeping soundly, when at midnight I was awaked by
M. Pelard, who was on duty. He told me that the Emperor had asked for
me, and on opening my eyes I saw on his face an expression of alarm which
astounded me. I threw myself out of the bed, and rapidly descended the
staircase, as M. Pelard added, "The Emperor has poured something in a
glass and drunk it." I entered his Majesty's room, a prey to
indescribable anxiety. The Emperor had lain down; but in advancing
towards his bed I saw on the floor between the fireplace and the bed the
little bag of black silk and skin, of which I spoke some time since. It
was the same he had worn on his neck since the campaign in Spain, and
which I had guarded so carefully from one campaign to another. Ah! if I
had suspected what it contained. In this terrible moment the truth was
suddenly revealed to me!

Meanwhile, I was at the head of the Emperor's bed. "Constant," said he,
in a voice painfully weak and broken, "Constant, I am dying! I cannot
endure the agony I suffer, above all the humiliation of seeing myself
surrounded by foreign emissaries! My eagles have been trailed in the
dust! I have not been understood! My poor Constant, they will regret me
when I am no more! Marmont dealt me the finishing stroke. The wretch!
I loved him! Berthier's desertion has ruined me! My old friends, my old
companions in arms!" The Emperor said to me many other things which I
fear I might not repeat correctly; and it may well be understood that,
overwhelmed as I was with despair, I did not attempt to engrave in my
memory the words which at intervals escaped the Emperor's lips; for he
did not speak continuously, and the complaints I have related were
uttered only between intervals of repose, or rather of stupor. While my
eyes were fastened on the Emperor's countenance, I noticed on it a sudden
contraction, which was the premonition of a convulsion which frightened
me terribly; fortunately this convulsion brought on a slight attack of
vomiting, which gave me some hope. The Emperor, amidst his complicated
physical and mental sufferings, maintained perfect selfpossession, and
said to me, after the first vomiting spell, "Constant, call M. Yvan and
Caulaincourt." I half opened the door, and gave the order to M. Pelard,
without leaving the Emperor's room, and returning to his bed, besought
and entreated him to take a soothing potion; but all my efforts were in
vain, so strong was his determination to die, even when in the presence
of death.

In spite of the obstinate refusal of the Emperor, I was still entreating
him when M. de Caulaincourt and M. Yvan entered the room. His Majesty
made a sign to the Duke of Vicenza to approach his bed, and said to him,
"Caulaincourt, I recommend to you my wife and child; serve them as you
have served me. I have not long to live!" At this moment the Emperor
was interrupted by another fit of vomiting, but slighter than the first,
during which I tried to tell the duke that the Emperor had taken poison;
he understood rather than heard me, for sobs stifled my voice to such an


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