The Private Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Complete

Part 4 out of 15

them; consequently these gentlemen did not always rely upon his
statements. One day his Majesty pulled the ears of one of his physicians
(Halle, I believe). The doctor abruptly drew himself away, crying,
"Sire, you hurt me." Perhaps this speech was tinged with some
irritation, and perhaps, also, the doctor was right. However that may
be, his ears were never in danger again.

Sometimes before beginning my labors, his Majesty questioned me as to
what I had done the evening before, asked me if I had dined in the city,
and with whom, if I had enjoyed myself, and what we had for dinner. He
often inquired also what such or such a part of my clothing cost me; and
when I told him he would exclaim at the price, and tell me that when he
was a sub-lieutenant everything was much cheaper, and that he had often
during that time taken his meals at Roze's restaurant, and dined very
well for forty cents. Several times he spoke to me of my family, and of
my sister, who was a nun before the Revolution, and who had been
compelled to leave her convent; and one day asked me if she had a
pension, and how much it was. I told him, and added, that this not being
sufficient for her wants, I myself gave an allowance to her, and also to
my mother. His Majesty told me to apply to the Duke of Bassano, and
report the matter to him, as he wished to treat my family handsomely.
I did not avail myself of this kind intention of his Majesty; for at that
time I had sufficient means to be able to assist my relatives, and did
not foresee the future, which I thought would not change my condition,
and felt a delicacy in putting my people, so to speak, on the charge of
the state. I confess that I have been more than once tempted to repent
this excessive delicacy, which I have seen few persons above or below my
condition imitate. On rising, the Emperor habitually took a cup of tea
or orange water; and if he desired a bath, had it immediately on getting
out of bed, and while in it had his dispatches and newspapers read to him
by his secretary (Bourrienne till 1804). If he did not take a bath, he
seated himself by the fire, and had them read to him there, often reading
them himself. He dictated to the secretary his replies, and the
observations which the reading of these suggested to him; as he went
through each, throwing it on the floor without any order. The secretary
afterwards gathered them all up, and arranged them to be carried into the
Emperor's private room. His Majesty, before making his toilet, in
summer, put on pantaloons of white pique and a dressing-gown of the same,
and in winter, pantaloons and dressing-gown of swanskin, while on his
head was a turban tied in front, the two ends hanging down on his neck
behind. When the Emperor donned this headdress, his appearance was far
from elegant. When he came out of the bath, we gave him another turban;
for the one he wore was always wet in the bath, where he turned and
splashed himself incessantly. Having taken his bath and read his
dispatches, he began his toilet, and I shaved him before he learned to
shave himself. When the Emperor began this habit, he used at first, like
every one, a mirror attached to the window; but he came up so close to
it, and lathered himself so vigorously with soap, that the mirror,
window-panes, curtains, his dressing-gown, and the Emperor himself, were
all covered with it. To remedy this inconvenience, the servants
assembled in council, and it was decided that Roustan should hold the
looking-glass for his Majesty. When the Emperor had shaved one side, he
turned the other side to view, and made Roustan pass from left to right,
or from right to left, according to the side on which he commenced.
After shaving, the Emperor washed his face and hands, and had his nails
carefully cleaned; then I took off his flannel vest and shirt, and rubbed
his whole bust with an extremely soft silk brush, afterwards rubbing him
with eau-de-cologne, of which he used a great quantity, for every day he
was rubbed and dressed thus. It was in the East he had acquired this
hygienic custom, which he enjoyed greatly, and which is really excellent.
All these preparations ended, I put on him light flannel or cashmere
slippers, white silk stockings, the only kind he ever wore, and very fine
linen or fustian drawers, sometimes knee-breeches of white cassimere,
with soft riding-boots, sometimes pantaloons of the same stuff and color,
with little English half-boots which came to the middle of the leg, and
were finished with small silver spurs which were never more than six
lines in length. All his, boots were finished with these spurs. I then
put on him his flannel vest and shirt, a neck-cloth of very fine muslin,
and over all a black silk stock; finally a round vest of white pique, and
either a chasseur's or grenadier's coat, usually the former. His toilet
ended, he was presented with his handkerchief, his tobacco-box, and a
little shell bog filled with aniseed and licorice, ground very fine. It
will be seen by the above that the Emperor had himself dressed by his
attendants from head to foot. He put his hand to nothing, but let
himself be dressed like an infant, his mind filled with business during
the entire performance.

I had forgotten to say that he used boxwood toothpicks, and a brush
dipped in some opiate. The Emperor was born, so to speak, to be waited
on (homme d valets de chambre). When only a general, he had as many as
three valets, and had himself served with as much luxury as at the height
of his fortunes, and from that time received all the attentions I have
just described, and which it was almost impossible for him to do without;
and in this particular the etiquette was never changed. He increased the
number of his servants, and decorated them with new titles, but he could
not have more services rendered him personally. He subjected himself
very rarely to the grand etiquette of royalty, and never, for example,
did the grand chamberlain hand him his shirt; and on one occasion only,
when the city of Paris gave him a dinner at the time of his coronation,
did the grand marshal hand him water to wash his hands. I shall give a
description of his toilet on the day of his coronation; and it will be
seen that even on that day his Majesty, the Emperor of the French, did
not require any other ceremonial than that to which he had been
accustomed as general and First Consul of the Republic.

The Emperor had no fixed hour for retiring: sometimes he retired at ten
or eleven o'clock in the evening; oftener he stayed awake till two,
three, or four o'clock in the morning. He was soon undressed; for it was
his habit, on entering the room, to throw each garment right and
left,--his coat on the floor, his grand cordon on the rug, his watch
haphazard at the bed, his hat far off on a piece of furniture; thus with
all his clothing, one piece after another. When he was in a good humor,
he called me in a loud voice, with this kind of a cry: "Ohe, oh! oh!"
at other times, when he was not in good humor, "Monsieur, Monsieur

At all seasons his bed had to be warmed with a warming-pan, and it was
only during the very hottest weather that he would dispense with this.
His habit of undressing himself in haste rarely left me anything to do,
except to hand him his night-cap. I then lighted his night-lamp, which
was of gilded silver, and shaded it so that it would give less light.
When he did not go to sleep at once, he had one of his secretaries
called, or perhaps the Empress Josephine, to read to him; which duty no
one could discharge better than her Majesty, for which reason the Emperor
preferred her to all his readers, for she read with that especial charm
which was natural to her in all she did. By order of the Emperor, there
was burnt in his bedroom, in little silver perfume-boxes, sometimes aloes
wood, and sometimes sugar or vinegar; and almost the year round it was
necessary to have a fire in all his apartments, as he was habitually very
sensitive to cold. When he wished to sleep, I returned to take out his
lamp, and went up to my own room, my bedroom being just above that of his
Majesty. Roustan and a valet on service slept in a little apartment
adjoining the Emperor's bedroom; and if he needed me during the night,
the boy of the wardrobe, who slept in an antechamber, came for me. Water
was always kept hot for his bath, for often at any hour of the night as
well as the day he might suddenly be seized with a fancy to take one.

Doctor Yvan appeared every morning and evening, at the rising and
retiring of his Majesty.

It is well known that the Emperor often had his secretaries, and even his
ministers, called during the night. During his stay at Warsaw, the
Prince de Talleyrand once received a message after midnight; he came at
once, and had a long interview with the Emperor, and work was prolonged
late into the night, when his Majesty, fatigued, at last fell into a deep
slumber. The Prince of Benevento, who was afraid to go out, fearing lest
he might awaken the Emperor or be recalled to continue the conversation,
casting his eyes around, perceived a comfortable sofa, so he stretched
himself out on it, and went to sleep. Meneval, secretary to his
Majesty, not wishing to retire till after the minister had left, knowing
that the Emperor would probably call for him as soon as Talleyrand had
retired, became impatient at such a long interview; and as for me, I was
not in the best humor, since it was impossible for me to retire without
taking away his Majesty's lamp. Meneval came a dozen times to ask me if
Prince Talleyrand had left. "He is there yet," said I. "I am sure of
it, and yet I hear nothing." At last I begged him to place himself in
the room where I then was, and on which the street-door opened, whilst I
went to act as sentinel in a vestibule on which the Emperor's room had
another opening; and it was arranged that the one of us who saw the
prince go out would inform the other. Two o'clock sounded, then three,
then four; no one appeared, and there was not the least movement in his
Majesty's room. Losing patience at last, I half opened the door as
gently as possible; but the Emperor, whose sleep was very light, woke
with a start, and asked in a loud tone: "Who is that? Who comes there?"
"What is that?" I replied, that, thinking the Prince of Benevento had
gone out, I had come for his Majesty's lamp. "Talleyrand! Talleyrand!"
cried out his Majesty vehemently. "Where is he, then?" and seeing him
waking up, "well, I declare he is asleep! Come, you wretch; how dare you
sleep in my room! ah! ah!" I left without taking out the lamp; they
began talking again, and Meneval and I awaited the end of the
tete-a-tete, until five o'clock in the morning.

The Emperor had a habit of taking, when he thus worked at night, coffee
with cream, or chocolate; but he gave that up, and under the Empire no
longer took anything, except from time to time, but very rarely, either
punch mild and light as lemonade, or when he first awoke, an infusion of
orange-leaves or tea.

The Emperor, who so magnificently endowed the most of his generals, who
showed himself so liberal to his armies, and to whom, on the other hand,
France owes so many and such handsome monuments, was not generous, and it
must even be admitted was a little niggardly, in his domestic affairs.
Perhaps he resembled those foolishly vain rich persons, who economize
very closely at home, and in their own households, in order to shine more
outside. He made very few, not to say no, presents to members of his
household; and the first day of the year even passed without loosening
his purse-strings. While I was undressing him the evening before, he
said, pinching my ear, "Well, Monsieur Constant, what will you give me
for my present?" The first time he asked this question I replied I would
give him whatever he wished; but I must confess that I very much hoped it
would not be I who would give presents next day. It seemed that the idea
never occurred to him; for no one had to thank him for his gifts, and he
never departed afterwards from this rule of domestic economy. Apropos of
this pinching of ears, to which I have recurred so often, because his
Majesty repeated it so often, it is necessary that I should say, while I
think of it, and in closing this subject, that any one would be much
mistaken in supposing that he touched lightly the party exposed to his
marks of favor; he pinched, on the contrary, very hard, and pinched as
much stronger in proportion as he happened to be in a better humor.

Sometimes, when I entered his room to dress him, he would run at me like
a mad man, and saluting me with his favorite greeting, "Well, Monsieur le
drole," would pinch my ears in such a manner as to make me cry out; he
often added to these gentle caresses one or two taps, also well applied.
I was then sure of finding him all the rest of the day in a charming
humor, and full of good-will, as I have seen him, so often. Roustan, and
even Marshal Berthier, received their due proportion of these imperial


The allowance made by his Majesty for the yearly expenses of his dress
was twenty thousand francs; and the year of, the coronation he became
very angry because that sum had been exceeded. It was never without
trepidation that the various accounts of household expenses were
presented to him; and he invariably retrenched and cut down, and
recommended all sort of reforms. I remember after asking for some one a
place of three thousand francs, which he granted me, I heard him exclaim,
"Three thousand francs! but do you understand that this is the revenue
of one of my communes? When I was sub-lieutenant I did not spend as much
as that." This expression recurred incessantly in his conversations with
those with whom he was familiar; and "when I had the honor of being
sub-lieutenant" was often on his lips, and always in illustration of
comparisons or exhortations to economy.

While on the subject of accounts, I recall a circumstance which should
have a place in my memoirs, since it concerns me personally, and moreover
gives an idea of the manner in which his Majesty understood economy. He
set out with the idea, which was, I think, often very correct, that in
private expenses as in public ones, even granting the honesty of agents
(which the Emperor was always, I admit, very slow to do), the same things
could have been done with much less money. Thus, when he required
retrenchment, it was not in the number of objects of expense, but only in
the prices charged for these articles by the furnishers; and I will
elsewhere cite some examples of the effect which this idea produced on
the conduct of his Majesty towards the accounting agents of his
government. Now I am relating only private matters. One day when
investigating various accounts, the Emperor complained much of the
expenses of the stables, and cut off a considerable sum; and the grand
equerry, in order to put into effect the required economy, found it
necessary to deprive several persons in the household of their carriages,
mine being included in this number. Some days after the execution of
this measure, his Majesty charged me with a commission, which
necessitated a carriage; and I was obliged to inform him that, no longer
having mine, I should not be able to execute his orders. The Emperor
then exclaimed that he had not intended this, and M. Caulaincourt must
have a poor idea of economy. When he again saw the Duke of Vicenza, he
said to him that he did not wish anything of mine to be touched.

The Emperor occasionally read in the morning the new works and romances
of the day; and when a work displeased him, he threw it into the fire.
This does not mean that only improper books were thus destroyed; for if
the author was not among his favorites, or if he spoke too well of a
foreign country, that was sufficient to condemn the volume to the flames.
On this account I saw his Majesty throw into the fire a volume of the
works of Madame de Stael, on Germany. If he found us in the evening
enjoying a book in the little saloon, where we awaited the hour for
retiring, he examined what we were reading; and if he found they were
romances, they were burned without pity, his Majesty rarely failing to
add a little lecture to this confiscation, and to ask the delinquent "if
a man could not find better reading than that." One morning he had
glanced over and thrown in the fire a book (by what author I do not
know); and when Roustan stooped down to take it out the Emperor stopped
him, saying, "Let that filthy thing burn; it is all that it deserves."

The Emperor mounted his horse most ungracefully, and I think would not
have always been very safe when there, if so much care had not been taken
to give him only those which were perfectly trained; but every precaution
was taken, and horses destined for the special service of the Emperor
passed through a rude novitiate before arriving at the honor of carrying
him. They were habituated to endure, without making the least movement,
torments of all kinds; blows with a whip over the head and ears; the drum
was beaten; pistols were fired; fireworks exploded in their ears; flags
were shaken before their eyes; heavy weights were thrown against their
legs, sometimes even sheep and hogs. It was required that in the midst
of the most rapid gallop (the Emperor liked no other pace), he should be
able to stop his horse suddenly; and in short, it was absolutely
necessary to have only the most perfectly trained animals.

M. Jardin, senior, equerry of his Majesty, acquitted himself of this
laborious duty with much skill and ability, as the Emperor attached such
importance to it; he also insisted strongly that his horses should be
very handsome, and in the last years of his reign would ride only Arab

There were a few of those noble animals for which the Emperor had a great
affection; among others, Styria, which he rode over the St. Bernard and
at Marengo. After this last campaign, he wished his favorite to end his
days in the luxury of repose, for Marengo and the great St. Bernard were
in themselves a well-filled career. The Emperor rode also for many years
an Arab horse of rare intelligence, in which he took much pleasure.
During the time he was awaiting his rider, it would have been hard to
discover in him the least grace; but as soon as he heard the drums beat
the tattoo which announced the presence of his Majesty, he reared his
head most proudly, tossed his mane, and pawed the ground, and until the
very moment the Emperor alighted, was the most magnificent animal

His Majesty made a great point of good equerries, and nothing was
neglected in order that the pages should receive in this particular the
most careful education. To accustom them to mount firmly and with grace,
they practiced exercises in vaulting, for which it seemed to me they
would have no use except at the Olympic circus. And, in fact, one of the
horsemen of Messieurs Franconi had charge of this part of the pages'

The Emperor, as has been said elsewhere, took no pleasure in hunting,
except just so far as was necessary to conform to the usage which makes
this exercise a necessary accompaniment to the throne and the crown; and
yet I have seen him sometimes continue it sufficiently long to justify
the belief that he did not find it altogether distasteful. He hunted one
day in the forest of Rambouillet from six in the morning to eight in the
evening, a stag being the object of this prolonged excursion; and I
remember they returned without having taken him. In one of the imperial
hunts at Rambouillet, at which the Empress Josephine was present, a stag,
pursued by the hunters, threw himself under the Empress's carriage; which
refuge did not fail him, for her Majesty, touched by the misery of the
poor animal, begged his life of the Emperor. The stag was spared; and
Josephine placed round its neck a silver collar to attest its
deliverance, and protect it against the attacks of all hunters.

One of the ladies of the Empress one day showed less humanity than she,
however; and the reply which she made to the Emperor displeased him
exceedingly, for he loved gentleness and pity in women. When they had
hunted for several hours in the Bois de Boulogne, the Emperor drew near
the carriage of the Empress Josephine, and began talking with a lady who
bore one of the most noble and most ancient names in all France, and who,
it is said, had been placed near the Empress against her wishes. The
Prince of Neuchatel (Berthier) announced that the stag was at bay.
"Madame," said the Emperor gallantly to Madame de C---- , "I place his
fate in your hands."--"Do with him, Sire," replied she, "as you please.
It is no difference to me." The Emperor gave her a glance of disapproval,
and said to the master of the hounds, "Since the stag in his misery does
not interest Madame C----, he does not deserve to live; have him put to
death;" whereupon his Majesty turned his horse's bridle, and rode off.
The Emperor was shocked by such an answer, and repeated it that evening,
on his return from the hunt, in terms by no means flattering to Madame
de C----.

It is stated in the Memorial of Saint-Helena that the Emperor, while
hunting, was thrown and wounded by a wild boar, from which one of his
fingers bore a bad scar. I never saw this, and never knew of such an
accident having happened to the Emperor. The Emperor did not place his
gun firmly to his shoulder, and as he always had it heavily loaded and
rammed, never fired without making his arm black with bruises; but I
rubbed the injured place with eau de Cologne, and he gave it no further

The ladies followed the hunt in their coaches; a table being usually
arranged in the forest for breakfast, to which all persons in the hunt
were invited.

The Emperor on one occasion hunted with falcons on the plain of
Rambouillet, in order to make a trial of the falconry that the King of
Holland (Louis) had sent as a present to his Majesty. The household made
a fete of seeing this hunt, of which we had been hearing so much; but the
Emperor appeared to take less pleasure in this than in the chase or
shooting, and hawking was never tried again.

His Majesty was exceedingly fond of the play, preferring greatly French
tragedy and the Italian opera. Corneille was his favorite author; and he
had always on his table some volume of the works of this great poet. I
have often heard the Emperor declaim, while walking up and down in his
room, verses of Cinna, or this speech on the death of Caesar:

"Caesar, you will reign; see the august day
In which the Roman people, always unjust to thee," etc.

At the theater of Saint-Cloud, the piece for the evening was often made
up of fragments and selections from different authors, one act being
chosen from one opera, one from another, which was very vexatious to the
spectators whom the first piece had begun to interest. Often, also,
comedies were played; on which occasions there was great rejoicing in the
household, and the Emperor himself took much pleasure in them. How many
times have I seen him perfectly overcome with laughter, when seeing
Baptiste junior in 'les Heritiers', and Michaut also amused him in 'la
Partie de Chasse de Henry IV'.

I cannot remember in what year, but it was during one of the sojourns of
the court at Fontainebleau, that the tragedy of the Venetians was
presented before the Emperor by Arnault, senior. That evening, as he was
retiring, his Majesty discussed the piece with Marshal Duroc, and gave
his opinion, adducing many reasons, in support of it. These praises,
like the criticisms, were all explained and discussed; the grand marshal
talking little, and the Emperor incessantly. Although a poor judge
myself of such matters, it was very entertaining, and also very
instructive, to hear the Emperor's opinion of pieces, ancient and modern,
which had been played before him; and his observations and remarks could
not have failed, I am sure, to be of great profit to the authors, had
they been able like myself to hear them. As for me, if I gained anything
from it, it is being enabled to speak of it here a little (although a
very little), more appropriately than a blind man would of colors;
nevertheless, for fear of saying the wrong thing, I return to matters
which are in my department.

It has been said that his Majesty used a great quantity of tobacco, and
that in order to take it still more frequently and quickly, he put it in
a pocket of his vest, lined with skin for that purpose. This is an
error. The Emperor never took tobacco except in his snuff-boxes; and
although he wasted a great quantity of it, he really used very little, as
he took a pinch, held it to his nose simply to smell it, and let it fall
immediately. It is true that the place where he had been was covered
with it; but his handkerchiefs, irreproachable witnesses in such matters,
were scarcely stained, and although they were white and of very fine
linen, certainly bore no marks of a snuff-taker. Sometimes he simply
passed his open snuff-box under his nose in order to breathe the odor of
the tobacco it contained. These boxes were of black shell, with hinges,
and of a narrow, oval shape; they were lined with gold, and ornamented
with antique cameos, or medallions, in gold or silver. At one time he
used round tobacco-boxes; but as it took two hands to open them, and in
this operation he sometimes dropped either the box or the top, he became
disgusted with them. His tobacco was grated very coarse, and was usually
composed of several kinds of tobacco mixed together. Frequently he
amused himself by making the gazelles that he had at Saint-Cloud eat it.
They were very fond of it, and although exceedingly afraid of every one
else, came close to his Majesty without the slightest fear.

The Emperor took a fancy on one occasion, but only one, to try a pipe, as
I shall now relate. The Persian ambassador (or perhaps it was the
Turkish ambassador who came to Paris under the Consulate) had made his
Majesty a present of a very handsome pipe such as is used by the
Orientals. One day he was seized with a desire to try it, and had
everything necessary for this purpose prepared. The fire having been
applied to the bowl, the only question now was to light the tobacco; but
from the manner in which his Majesty attempted this it was impossible for
him to succeed, as he alternately opened and closed his lips repeatedly
without drawing in his breath at all. "Why, what is the matter?" cried
he; "it does not work at all." I called his attention to the fact that
he was not inhaling properly, and showed him how it ought to be done; but
the Emperor still continued his performances, which were like some
peculiar kind of yawning. Tired out by his fruitless efforts at last, he
told me to light it for him, which I did, and instantly handed it back to
him. But he had hardly taken a whiff when the smoke, which he did not
know how to breathe out again, filled his throat, got into his windpipe,
and came out through his nose and eyes in great puffs. As soon as he
could get his breath, he panted forth, "Take it away! what a pest! Oh,
the wretches! it has made me sick." In fact, he felt ill for at least an
hour after, and renounced forever the "pleasure of a habit, which," said
he, "is only good to enable do-nothings to kill time."

The only requirements the Emperor made as to his clothing was that it
should be of fine quality and perfectly comfortable; and his coats for
ordinary use, dress-coats, and even the famous gray overcoat, were made
of the finest cloth from Louviers. Under the Consulate he wore, as was
then the fashion, the skirts of his coat extremely long; afterwards
fashion changed, and they were worn shorter; but the Emperor held with
singular tenacity to the length of his, and I had much trouble in
inducing him to abandon this fashion, and it was only by a subterfuge
that I at last succeeded. Each time I ordered a new coat for his
Majesty, I directed the tailor to shorten the skirts by an inch at least,
until at last, without his being aware of it, they were no longer
ridiculous. He did not abandon his old habits any more readily on this
point than on all others; and his greatest desire was that his clothes
should not be too tight, in consequence of which there were times when he
did not make a very elegant appearance. The King of Naples, the man in
all France who dressed with the most care, and nearly always in good
taste, sometimes took the liberty of bantering the Emperor slightly about
his dress. "Sire," said he to the Emperor, "your Majesty dresses too
much like a good family man. Pray, Sire, be an example to your faithful
subjects of good taste in dress."--"Would you like me, in order to please
you," replied the Emperor, "to dress like a scented fop, like a dandy, in
fine, like the King of Naples and the Two Sicilies. As for me, I must
hold on to my old habitudes."--"Yes, Sire, and to your 'habits tues',"
added the king on one occasion. "Detestable!" cried the Emperor; "that
is worthy of Brunet;" and they laughed heartily over this play on words,
while declaring it what the Emperor called it.

However, these discussions as to his dress being renewed at the time of
his Majesty's marriage to the Empress Marie Louise, the King of Naples
begged the Emperor to allow him to send him his tailor. His Majesty, who
sought at that time every means of pleasing his young wife, accepted the
offer of his brother-in-law; and that very day I went for Leger, King
Joachim's tailor, and brought him with me to the chateau, recommending
him to make the suits which would be ordered as loose as possible,
certain as I was in advance, that, Monsieur Jourdain [a character in a
Moliere comedy] to the contrary, if the Emperor could not get into them
easily, he would not wear them. Leger paid no attention to my advice,
but took his measure very closely. The two coats were beautifully made;
but the Emperor pronounced them uncomfortable, and wore them only once,
and Leger did no more work for his Majesty. At one time, long before
this, he had ordered a very handsome coat of chestnut brown velvet, with
diamond buttons, which he wore to a reception of her Majesty the Empress,
with a black cravat, though the Empress Josephine had prepared for him an
elegant lace stock, which all my entreaties could not induce him to put

The Emperor's vest and breeches were always of white cassimere; he
changed them every morning, and they were washed only three or four
times. Two hours after he had left his room, it often happened that his
breeches were all stained with ink, owing to his habit of wiping his pen
on them, and scattering ink all around him by knocking his pen against
the table. Nevertheless, as he dressed in the morning for the whole day,
he did not change his clothes on that account, and remained in that
condition the remainder of the day. I have already said that he wore
none but white silk stockings, his shoes, which were very light and thin,
being lined with silk, and his boots lined throughout inside with white
fustian; and when he felt an itching on one of his legs, he rubbed it
with the heel of his shoe or the boot on the other leg, which added still
more to the effect of the ink blotches. His shoe-buckles were oval,
either plain gold or with medallions, and he also wore gold buckles on
his garters. I never saw him wear pantaloons under the Empire.

Owing to the Emperor's tenacity to old customs, his shoemaker in the
first days of the Empire was still the same he employed at the military
school; and as his shoes had been made by the same measure, from that
time, and no new one ever taken, his shoes, as well as his boots, were
always badly made and ungraceful. For a long time he wore them pointed;
but I persuaded him to have them 'en bec de canne', as that was the
fashion. At last his old measure was found too small, and I got his
Majesty's consent to have a new one-taken; so I summoned the shoemaker,
who had succeeded his father, and was exceedingly stupid. He had never
seen the Emperor, although he worked for him; and when he learned that he
was expected to appear before his Majesty, his head was completely
turned. How could he dare to present himself before the Emperor? What
costume must he wear? I encouraged him, and told him he would need a
black French coat, with breeches, and hat, etc.; and he presented himself
thus adorned at the Tuileries. On entering his Majesty's chamber he made
a deep bow, and stood much embarrassed. "It surely cannot be you who
made shoes for me at the l'ecole militaire?"--"No, your Majesty, Emperor
and King, it was my father."--"And why don't he do so now?"--"Sire, the
Emperor and King, because he is dead."--"How much do you make me pay for
my shoes?"--"Your Majesty, Emperor and King, pays eighteen francs for
them."--"That is very dear."--"Your Majesty, Emperor and King, could pay
much more for them if he would." The Emperor laughed heartily at this
simplicity, and let him take his measure; but the Emperor's laughter had
so completely disconcerted the poor man that, when he approached him,
his hat under his arm, making a thousand bows, his sword caught between
his legs, was broken in two, and made him fall on his hands and knees,
not to remain there long, however, for his Majesty's roars of laughter
increasing, and being at last freed from his sword, the poor shoemaker
took the Emperor's measure with more ease, and withdrew amidst profuse

All his Majesty's linen was of extremely fine quality, marked with an "N"
in a coronet; at first he wore no suspenders, but at last began using
them, and found them very comfortable. He wore next his body vests made
of English flannel, and the Empress Josephine had a dozen cashmere vests
made for his use in summer.

Many persons have believed that the Emperor wore a cuirass under his
clothes when walking and while in the army. This is entirely false: the
Emperor never put on a cuirass, nor anything resembling one, under his
coat any more than over it.

The Emperor wore no jewelry; he never had in his pockets either purse or
silver, but only his handkerchief, his snuff-box, and his bonbon-box.

He wore on his coat only a star and two crosses, that of the Legion of
Honor, and that of the Iron Crown. Under his uniform and on his vest he
wore a red ribbon, the ends of which could just be seen.

When there was a reception at the chateau, or he held a review, he put
this grand cordon outside his coat.

His hat, the shape of which it will be useless to describe while
portraits of his Majesty exist, was-extremely fine and very light, lined
with silk and wadded; and on it he wore neither tassels nor plumes, but
simply a narrow, flat band of silk and a little tricolored cockade.

The Emperor purchased several watches from Breguet and Meunier,--very
plain repeaters, without ornamentation or figures, the face covered with
glass, the back gold. M. Las Casas speaks of a watch with a double gold
case, marked with the cipher "B," and which never left the Emperor. I
never saw anything of the sort, though I was keeper of all the jewels,
and even had in my care for several days the crown diamonds. The Emperor
often broke his watch by throwing it at random, as I have said before, on
any piece of furniture in his bedroom. He had two alarm-clocks made by
Meunier, one in his carriage, the other at the head of his bed, which he
set with a little green silk cord, and also a third, but it was old and
wornout so that it would not work; it is this last which had belonged to
Frederick the Great, and was brought from Berlin.

The swords of his Majesty were very plain, with gold mountings, and an
owl on the hilt.

The Emperor had two swords similar to the one he wore the day of the
battle of Austerlitz. One of these swords was given to the Emperor
Alexander, as the reader will learn later, and the other to Prince Eugene
in 1814. That which the Emperor wore at Austerlitz, and on which he
afterwards had engraved the name and date of that memorable battle, was
to have been inclosed in the column of the Place Vendome; but his Majesty
still had it, I think, while he was at St. Helena.

He had also several sabers that he had worn in his first campaigns, and
on which were engraved the names of the battles in which he had used
them. They were distributed among the various general officers of his
Majesty the Emperor, of which distribution I will speak later.

When the Emperor was about to quit his capital to rejoin his army, or for
a simple journey through the departments, we never knew the exact moment
of his departure. It was necessary to send in advance on various roads a
complete service for the bedroom, kitchen, and stables; this sometimes
waited three weeks, or even a month, and when his Majesty at length set
out, that which was waiting on the road he did not take was ordered to
return. I have often thought that the Emperor acted thus in order to
disconcert those who spied on his proceedings, and to baffle their

The day he was to set out no one could discover that fact from him, and
everything went on as usual. After a concert, a play, or any other
amusement which had collected a large number of people, his Majesty would
simply remark on retiring, "I shall leave at two o'clock!" Sometimes the
time was earlier, sometimes later; but he always began his journey at the
designated hour. The order was instantly announced by each of the head
servants; and all were ready at the appointed time, though the chateau
was left topsy-turvy, as may be seen from the picture I have given
elsewhere of the confusion at the chateau which preceded and followed the
Emperor's departure. Wherever his Majesty lodged on the journey, before
leaving he had all the expenses of himself and of his household paid,
made presents to his hosts, and gave gratuities to the servants of the
house. On Sunday the Emperor had mass celebrated by the curate of the
place, giving always as much as twenty napoleons, sometimes more, and
regulating the gift according to the needs of the poor of the parish. He
asked many questions of the cures concerning their resources, that of
their parishioners, the intelligence and morality of the population, etc.
He rarely failed to ask the number of births, deaths, marriages, and if
there were many young men and girls of a marriageable age. If the cure
replied to these questions in a satisfactory manner, and if he had not
been too-long in saying mass, he could count on the favor of his Majesty;
his church and his poor would find themselves well provided for; and as
for himself, the Emperor left on his departure, or had sent to him, a
commission as chevalier of the Legion of Honor. His Majesty preferred to
be answered with confidence and without timidity; he even endured
contradiction; and one could without any risk reply inaccurately; this
was almost always overlooked, for he paid little attention to the reply,
but he never failed to turn away from those who spoke to him in a
hesitating or embarrassed manner. Whenever the Emperor took up his
residence at any place, there were on duty, night and day, a page and an
aide-decamp, who slept on sacking beds. There was also constantly in
attendance, in an antechamber, a quartermaster and sergeant of the
stables prepared to order, when necessary, the equipages, which they took
care to keep always in readiness to move; horses fully saddled and
bridled, and carriages harnessed with two horses, left the stables on the
first signal of his Majesty. These attendants were relieved every two
hours, like sentinels.

I said above that his Majesty liked prompt replies, and those which
showed vivacity and sprightliness. I will give two anecdotes in support
of this assertion. Once, while the Emperor was holding a review on the
Place du Carrousel, his horse reared, and in the efforts his Majesty made
to control him, his hat fell to the ground; a lieutenant (his name, I
think, was Rabusson), at whose feet the hat fell, picked it up, and came
out from the front ranks to offer it to his Majesty. "Thanks, Captain,"
said the Emperor, still engaged in quieting his horse. "In what
regiment?"--"Sire?" asked the officer. The Emperor, then regarding him
more attentively, and perceiving his mistake, said to him, smiling, "Ah,
that is so, monsieur; in the Guard."

The new captain received the commission which he owed to his presence of
mind, but which he had in fact well earned by his bravery and devotion to

At another review, his Majesty perceived in the ranks of a regiment of
the line an old soldier, whose arms were decorated with three chevrons.
He recognized him instantly as having seen him in the army of Italy, and
approaching him, said, "Well, my brave fellow, why have you not the
cross? You do not look like a bad fellow."--"Sire," replied the old
soldier, with sorrowful gravity, "I have three times been put on the list
for the cross."--"You shall not be disappointed a fourth time," replied
the Emperor; and he ordered Marshal Berthier to place on the list, for
the next promotion, the brave soldier, who was soon made a chevalier of
the Legion of Honor.


Pope Pius VII. had left Rome early in November, 1804; and his Holiness,
accompanied by General Menou, administrator of Piedmont, arrived at Mont
Cenis, on the morning of Nov. 15. The road of Mont Cenis had been
surveyed and smoothed, and all dangerous points made secure by barriers.
The Holy Father was received by M. Poitevin-Maissemy, prefect of Mont
Blanc, and after a short visit to the hospice, crossed the mountain in a
sedan chair, escorted by an immense crowd, who knelt to receive his
blessing as he passed.

Nov. 17 his Holiness resumed his carriage, in which he made the remainder
of the journey, accompanied in the same manner. The Emperor went to meet
the Holy Father, and met him on the road to Nemours in the forest of
Fontainebleau. The Emperor dismounted from his horse, and the two
sovereigns returned to Fontainebleau in the same carriage. It is said
that neither took precedence over the other, and that, in order to avoid
this, they both entered the carriage at the same instant, his Majesty by
the door on the right, and his Holiness by that on the left.

I do not know whether it is true that the Emperor used devices and
stratagems in order to avoid compromising his dignity, but I do know that
it would have been impossible to show more regard and attention to the
venerable old man. The day after his arrival at Fontainebleau, the Pope
made his entrance into Paris with all the honors usually rendered to the
head of the Empire. Apartments had been prepared for him at the
Tuileries in the Pavilion of Flora; and as a continuation of the delicate
and affectionate consideration which his Majesty had shown from the
beginning in welcoming the Holy Father, he found his apartments, in
arrangement and furniture, an exact duplicate of those he occupied at
Rome. He evinced much surprise and gratitude at this attention, which he
himself, it is said, with his usual delicacy, called entirely filial;
desiring thus to acknowledge the respect which the Emperor had shown him
on every occasion, and the new title of eldest son of the Church, which
his Majesty was about to assume with the imperial crown.

Every morning I went, by order of his Majesty, to inquire after the
health of the Holy Father. Pius VII. had a noble and handsome
countenance, an air of angelic sweetness, and a gentle, well modulated
voice; he spoke little, and always slowly, but with grace; his tastes
were extremely simple, and his abstemiousness incredible; he was
indulgent to others and most lenient in his judgments. I must admit that
on the score of good cheer the persons of his suite made no pretense of
imitating the Holy Father, but, on the contrary, took most unbecoming
advantage of the Emperor's orders, that everything requested should be
furnished. The tables set for them were abundantly and even
magnificently served; which, however; did not prevent a whole basket of
Chambertin being requested each day for the Pope's private table, though
he dined alone and drank only water.

The sojourn of nearly five months which the Holy Father made at Paris was
a time of edification for the faithful; and his Holiness must have
carried away a most flattering opinion of the populace, who, having
ceased to practice, and not having witnessed for more than ten years, the
ceremonies of the Catholic religion, had returned to them with
irrepressible zeal. When the Pope was not detained in his apartments by
his delicate health in regard to which the difference in the climate,
compared with that of Italy, and the severity of the winter, required
him to take great precautions, he visited the churches, the museum, and
the establishments of public utility; and if the severe weather prevented
his going out, the persons who requested this favor were presented to
Pius VII. in the grand gallery of the Museum Napoleon. I was one day
asked by some ladies of my acquaintance to accompany them to this
audience of the Holy Father, and took much pleasure in doing so.

The long gallery of the museum was filled with ladies and gentlemen,
arranged in double lines, the greater part of whom were mothers of
families, with their children at their knees or in their arms, ready to
be presented for the Holy Father's blessing; and Pius VII. gazed on these
children with a sweetness and mildness truly angelic. Preceded by the
governor of the museum, and followed by the cardinals and lords of his
household, he advanced slowly between these two ranks of the faithful,
who fell on their knees as he passed, often stopping to place his hand on
the head of a child, to address a few words to the mother, or to give his
ring to be kissed. His dress was a plain white cassock without ornament.
Just as the Pope reached us, the director of the museum presented a lady
who, like the others, was awaiting the blessing of his Holiness on her
knees. I heard the director call this lady Madame, the Countess de
Genlis, upon which the Holy Father held out to her his ring, raised her
in the most affable manner, and said a few flattering words complimenting
her on her works, and the happy influence which they had exercised in
re-establishing the Catholic religion in France.

Sellers of chaplets and rosaries must have made their fortunes during
this winter, for in some shops more than one hundred dozen were sold per
day. During the month of January, by this branch of industry alone, one
merchant of the Rue Saint-Denis made forty thousand francs. All those
who presented themselves at the audience of the Holy Father, or who
pressed around him as he went out, made him bless chaplets for
themselves, for all their relations, and for their friends in Paris or in
the provinces. The cardinals also distributed an incredible quantity in
their visits to the various hospitals, to the Hotel des Invalides, etc.,
and even at private houses.

It was arranged that the coronation of their Majesties should take place
on Dec. 2. On the morning of this great day all at the chateau were
astir very early, especially the persons attached to the service of the
wardrobe. The Emperor himself arose at eight o'clock. It was no small
affair to array his Majesty in the rich costume which had been prepared
for the occasion; and the whole time I was dressing him he uttered
unlimited maledictions and apostrophes against embroiderers, tailors, and
furnishers generally. As I passed him each article of his dress, "Now,
that is something handsome, Monsieur le drole," said he (and my ears had
their part in the play), "but we shall see the bills for it." This was
the costume: silk stockings embroidered in gold, with the imperial
coronet on the clocks; white velvet boots laced and embroidered with
gold; white velvet breeches embroidered in gold on the seams; diamond
buckles and buttons on his garters; his vest, also of white velvet,
embroidered in gold with diamond buttons; a crimson velvet coat, with
facings of white velvet, and embroidered on all the seams, the whole
sparkling with gold and gems. A short cloak, also of crimson, and lined
with white satin, hung from his left shoulder, and was caught on the
right over his breast with a double clasp of diamonds. On such occasions
it was customary for the grand chamberlain to pass the shirt; but it
seems that his Majesty did not remember this law of etiquette, and it was
I alone who performed that office, as I was accustomed. The shirt was
one of those ordinarily worn by his Majesty, but of very beautiful
cambric, for the Emperor would wear only very fine linen; but ruffles of
very handsome lace had been added, and his cravat was of the most
exquisite muslin, and his collar of superb lace. The black velvet cap
was surmounted by two white aigrettes, and surrounded with a band of
diamonds, caught together by the Regent. The Emperor set out, thus
dressed, from the Tuileries; and it was not till he had reached
Notre-Dame, that he placed over his shoulders the grand coronation mantle.
This was of crimson velvet, studded with golden bees, lined with white
satin, and fastened with a gold cord and tassel. The weight of it was at
least eighty pounds, and, although it was held up by four grand
dignitaries, bore him down by its weight. Therefore, on returning to the
chateau, he freed himself as soon as possible from all this rich and
uncomfortable apparel; and while resuming his grenadier uniform, he
repeated over and over, "At last I can get my breath." He was certainly
much more at his ease on the day of battle.

The jewels which were used at the coronation of her Majesty the Empress,
and which consisted of a crown, a diadem, and a girdle, came from the
establishment of M. Margueritte. The crown had eight branches, which
supported a golden globe surmounted by a cross, each branch set with
diamonds, four being in the shape of palm and four of myrtle leaves.
Around the crown ran a band set with eight enormous emeralds, while the
bandeau which rested on the brow shone with amethysts.

The diadem was composed of four rows of magnificent pearls entwined with
leaves made of diamonds, each of which matched perfectly, and was mounted
with a skill as admirable as the beauty of the material. On her brow
were several large brilliants, each one alone weighing one hundred and
forty-nine grains. The girdle, finally, was a golden ribbon ornamented
With thirty-nine rose-colored stones. The scepter of his Majesty the
Emperor had been made by M. Odiot; it was of silver, entwined with a
golden serpent, and surmounted by a globe on which Charlemagne was
seated. The hand of Justice and the crown, as well as the sword, were of
most exquisite workmanship, but it would take too long to describe them;
they were from the establishment of M. Biennais.

At nine o'clock in the morning the Pope left the Tuileries for Notre
Dame, in a carriage drawn by eight handsome gray horses. From the
imperial of the coach rose a tiara surrounded by the insignia of the
papacy in gilt bronze, while the first chamberlain of his Holiness,
mounted on a mule, preceded the carriage, bearing a silver gilt cross.

There was an interval of about one hour between the arrival of the Pope
at Notre Dame and that of their Majesties, who left the Tuileries
precisely at eleven o'clock, which fact was announced by numerous salutes
of artillery. Their Majesties' carriage, glittering with gold and
adorned with magnificent paintings, was drawn by eight bay horses
superbly caparisoned.

Above the imperial of this coach was a crown supported by four eagles
with extended wings. The panels of this carriage, which was the object
of universal admiration, were of glass instead of wood; and it was so
built that the back was exactly like the front, which similarity caused
their Majesties, on entering it, to make the absurd mistake of placing
themselves on the front seat. The Empress was first to perceive this,
and both she and her husband were much amused.

I could not attempt to describe the cortege, although I still retain most
vivid recollections of the scene, because 1 should have too much to say.
Picture to yourself, then, ten thousand cavalry superbly mounted,
defiling between two rows of infantry equally imposing, each body
covering a distance of nearly half a league. Then think of the number of
the equipages, of their magnificence, the splendor of the trappings of
the horses, and of the uniforms of the soldiers; of the crowds of
musicians playing coronation marches, added to the ringing of bells and
booming of cannon; then to all this add the effect produced by this
immense multitude of from four to five hundred thousand spectators; and
still one would be very far from obtaining a correct idea of this
astonishing magnificence.

In the month of December it is very rare that the weather is fine, but on
that day the heavens seemed auspicious to the Emperor and just as he
entered the archiepiscopal church, quite a heavy fog, which had lasted
all the morning, was suddenly dissipated, and a brilliant flood of
sunlight added its splendor to that of the cortege. This singular
circumstance was remarked by the spectators, and increased the

All the streets through which the cortege passed were carefully cleared
and sanded; and the inhabitants decorated the fronts of their houses
according to their varied taste and means, with drapery, tapestry,
colored paper, and some even with garlands of yew-leaves, almost all the
shops on the Quai des Orfevres being ornamented with festoons of
artificial flowers.

The religious ceremony lasted nearly four hours, and must have been
extremely fatiguing to the principal actors. The personal attendants
were necessarily on duty continually in the apartment prepared for the
Emperor at the archiepiscopal palace; but the curious (and all were so)
relieved each other from time to time, and each thus had an opportunity
of witnessing the ceremony at leisure.

I have never heard before or since such imposing music: it was the
composition of Messieurs Paesiello, Rose, and Lesueur, precentors of
their Majesties; and the orchestra and choruses comprised the finest
musicians of Paris. Two orchestras with four choruses, including more
than three hundred musicians, were led, the one by M. Persuis, the other
by M. Rey, both leaders of the Emperor's bands. M. Lais, first singer to
his Majesty, M. Kreutzer, and M. Baillot, first violinists of the same
rank, had gathered the finest talent which the imperial chapel, the
opera, and the grand lyric theaters possessed, either as instrumental
players or male and female singers. Innumerable military bands, under
the direction of M. Lesuem, executed heroic marches, one of which,
ordered by the Emperor from M. Lesueur for the army of Boulogne, is still
to-day, according to the judgment of connoisseurs, worthy to stand in the
first rank of the most beautiful and most imposing musical compositions.
As for me, this music affected me to such an extent that I became pale
and trembling, and convulsive tremors ran through all my body while
listening to it.

His Majesty would not allow the Pope to touch the crown, but placed it on
his head himself. It was a golden diadem, formed of oak and laurel
leaves. His Majesty then took the crown intended for the Empress, and,
having donned it himself for a few moments, placed it on the brow of his
august wife, who knelt before him. Her agitation was so great that she
shed tears, and, rising, fixed on the Emperor a look of tenderness and
gratitude; and the Emperor returned her glance without abating in the
least degree the dignity required by such an imposing ceremony before so
many witnesses.

In spite of this constraint their hearts understood each other in the
midst of the brilliancy and applause of the assembly, and assuredly no
idea of divorce entered the Emperor's mind at that moment; and, for my
part, I am very sure that this cruel separation would never have taken
place if her Majesty the Empress could have borne children, or even if
the young Napoleon, son of the King of Holland and Queen Hortense, had
not died just at the time the Emperor had decided to adopt him. Yet I
must admit that the fear, or rather the certainty, of Josephine not
bearing him an heir to the throne, drove the Emperor to despair; and I
have many times heard him pause suddenly in the midst of his work, and
exclaim with chagrin, "To whom shall I leave all this?"

After the mass, his Excellency, Cardinal Fesch, grand almoner of France,
bore the Book of the Gospels to the Emperor, who thereupon, from his
throne, pronounced the imperial oath in a voice so firm and distinct that
it was heard by all present. Then, for the twentieth time perhaps, the
cry of 'Vive l'Empereur' sprang to the lips of all, the 'Te Deum' was
chanted, and' their Majesties left the church in the same manner as they
had entered. The Pope remained in the church about a quarter of an hour
after the sovereigns; and, when he rose to withdraw, universal
acclamations accompanied him from the choir to the portal.

Their Majesties did not return to the chateau until half-past six, and
the Pope not till nearly seven. On their entrance to the church, their
Majesties passed through the archbishop's palace, the buildings of which,
as I have said, communicated with Notre Dame by means of a wooden
gallery. This gallery, covered with slate, and hung with magnificent
tapestry, ended in a platform, also of wood, erected before the principal
entrance, and made to harmonize perfectly with the gothic architecture of
this handsome metropolitan church. This platform rested upon four
columns, decorated with inscriptions in letters of gold, enumerating the
names of the principal towns of France, whose mayors had been deputized
to attend the coronation. Above these columns was a painting in relief,
representing Clovis and Charlemagne seated on their thrones, scepter in
hand; and in the center of this frontispiece were presented the arms of
the Empire, draped with the banners of the sixteen cohorts of the Legion
of Honor, while on each side were towers, surmounted by golden eagles.
The inside of this portico, as well as the gallery, was shaped like a
roof, painted sky-blue, and sown with stars.

The throne of their Majesties was erected on a stage in the shape of a
semicircle, and covered with a bluff carpet studded with bees, and was
reached by twenty-two steps. The throne, draped in red velvet, was also
covered by a pavilion of the same color, the left wing of which extended
over the Empress, the princesses, and their maids of honor, and the right
over the two brothers of the Emperor, with the arch-chancellor and the

Nothing could be grander than the bird's-eye view of the garden of the
Tuileries on the evening of this auspicious day, the grand parterre,
encircled by illuminated colonnades from arch to arch of which were
festooned garlands of rose-colored lights; the grand promenade outlined
by columns, above which stars glittered; the terraces on each side filled
with orange-trees, the branches of which were covered with innumerable
lights; while every tree on the adjoining walks presented as brilliant a
spectacle; and finally, to crown all this magnificent blaze of light, an
immense star was suspended above the Place de la Concorde, and outshone
all else. This might in truth be called a palace of fire.

On the occasion of the coronation his Majesty made magnificent presents
to the metropolitan church. I remarked, among other things, a chalice
ornamented with bas-reliefs, designed by the celebrated Germain, a pyx,
two flagons with the waiter, a holy-water vessel, and a plate for
offerings, the whole in silver gilt, and beautifully engraved. By the
orders of his Majesty, transmitted through the minister of the interior,
there was also presented to M. d'Astros, canon of Notre Dame, a box
containing the crown of thorns, a nail, and a piece of the wood of the
true cross, and a small vial, containing, it was said, some of the blood
of our Lord, with an iron scourge which Saint Louis had used, and a tunic
which had also belonged to that king.

In the morning Marshal Murat, Governor of Paris, had given a magnificent
breakfast to the princes of Germany who had come to Paris in order to be
present at the coronation; and after breakfast the marshal-governor
conveyed them to Notre Dame in four carriages, each drawn by six horses,
accompanied by an escort of a hundred men on horseback, and commanded by
one of his aides-de-camp. This escort was especially noticeable for the
elegance and richness of its uniforms.

The day after this grand and memorable solemnity was one of public
rejoicing. From the early morning an immense crowd of the populace,
enjoying the magnificent weather, spread itself over the boulevards, the
quays, and the public squares, on which were prepared an infinite variety
of amusements.

The heralds-at-arms went at an early hour through all the public places,
throwing to the crowd, which pressed around them, medals struck in memory
of the coronation. These medals represented on one side the likeness of
the Emperor, his brow encircled with the crown of the Caesars, with this
motto: Napoleon, Empereur. On the reverse side was the figure of a
magistrate, with the attributes of his office around him, and that of an
ancient warrior, bearing on a shield a hero crowned, and covered with the
imperial mantle. Above was written: The Senate and the People. Soon
after the passage of the heralds-at-arms the rejoicings commenced, and
were prolonged far into the evening.

There had been erected on the Place Louis XV., which was called then the
Place de la Concorde, four large square rooms of temporary woodwork, for
dancing and waltzing. Stages for the presentation of pantomimes and
farces were placed on the boulevards here and there; groups of singers
and musicians executed national airs and warlike marches; greased poles,
rope-dancers, sports of all kinds, attracted the attention of promenaders
at every step, and enabled them to await without impatience the
illuminations and the fireworks.

The display of fireworks was most admirable. From the Place Louis XV.
to the extreme end of the Boulevard Saint-Antoine, ran a double line of
colored lights in festoons. The palace of the Corps-Legislatif, formerly
the Garde-Meuble, was resplendent with lights, and the gates of
Saint-Denis and Saint-Martin were covered with lamps from top to bottom.

In the evening all those interested betook themselves to the quays and
bridges, in order to witness the fireworks which were set off from the
Bridge de la Concorde (now called Bridge Louis XVI.), and which far
surpassed in magnificence all that had ever been seen.


Wednesday, Dec. 5, three days after the coronation, the Emperor made a
distribution of the colors on the Champ-de-Mars.

In front of Ecole-Militaire a balcony was erected, covered with awnings,
and placed on a level with the apartments on the first floor. The middle
awning, supported by four columns, each one of which was a gilded figure
representing Victory, covered the throne on which their Majesties were
seated. A most fortunate precaution, for on that day the weather was
dreadful; the thaw had come suddenly, and every one knows what a Paris
thaw is.

Around the throne were ranged princes and princesses, grand dignitaries,
ministers, marshals of the Empire, grand officers of the crown, the
ladies of the court, and the council of state.

This balcony was divided on the right and left into sixteen compartments,
decorated with banners, and crowned with eagles, these divisions
representing the sixteen cohorts of the Legion of Honor. Those on the
right were occupied by the Senate, the officers of the Legion of Honor,
the court of appeals, and the chiefs of the national treasury, and those
on the left by the Tribunate and the Corps-Legislatif.

At each end of the balcony was a pavilion. That on the side next the
city was styled the imperial tribune, and intended for foreign princes,
while the diplomatic corps and foreign personages of distinction filled
the other pavilion.

From this gallery an immense staircase descended into the Champ-de-Mars,
the first step of which formed a bench below the tribunes, and was
occupied by the presidents of the cantons, the prefects, the
sub-prefects, and the members of the municipal council. On each side of
this staircase were placed the colossal figures of France making peace
and France making war. Upon the steps were seated the colonels of
regiments, and the presidents of the electoral colleges of the
department, holding aloft the imperial eagles.

The cortege of their Majesties set out at noon from the chateau of the
Tuileries, in the same order adopted at the coronation: the chasseurs of
the guard and the squadrons of mamelukes marching in front, the Legion
d' Elite and the mounted grenadiers following the municipal guard; while
the grenadiers of the guard closed up the line. Their Majesties having
entered l'Ecole-Militaire, received the homage of the diplomatic corps,
who were stationed for this purpose in the reception-rooms. Then the
Emperor and Empress, having donned their insignia of royalty, took their
seats upon the throne, while the air was rent with reiterated discharges
of artillery and universal acclamations. At a given signal the
deputations of the army, scattered over the Champ-de-Mars, placed
themselves in solid column, and approached the throne amid a flourish of
trumpets. The Emperor then rose, and immediately a deep silence ensued,
while in a loud, clear tone he pronounced these words, "Soldiers, behold
your standards! These eagles will serve you always as a rallying point.
They will go wherever your Emperor may judge their presence necessary for
the defense of his throne and of his people. Will you swear to sacrifice
even your lives in their defense, and to keep them always by your valor
in the path to victory? Do you swear it?"--"We swear it," repeated all
the colonels in chorus, while the presidents of the colleges waved the
flags they bore. "We swear it," said in its turn the whole army, while
the bands played the celebrated march known as "The March of the

This intense enthusiasm was communicated to the spectators, who, in spite
of the rain, pressed in crowds upon the terraces which surrounded the
enclosure of the Champ-de-Mars. Soon the eagles took their designated
places, and the army defiled in divisions before the throne of their

Although nothing had been spared to give this ceremony every possible
magnificence, it was by no means brilliant. It is true, the object of
the occasion was imposing; but how could an impressive ceremony be held
in a deluge of melted snow, and amid a sea of mud, which was the
appearance the Champ-de-Mars presented that day? The troops were under
arms from six in the morning, exposed to rain, and forced to endure it
with no apparent necessity so at least they regarded it. The
distribution of standards was to these men nothing more than a review;
and surely it must strike a soldier as a very different matter to brave
the weather on the field of battle, from what it is to stand idle,
exposed to it for hours, with shining gun and empty cartridge-box, on a

The cortege returned to the Tuileries at five o'clock, after which there
was a grand banquet in the gallery of Diana, at which the Pope, the
sovereign elector of Ratisbonne, the princes and princesses, the grand
dignitaries, the diplomatic corps, and many other persons were guests.
Their Majesties' table was placed in the midst of the gallery, upon a
platform, and covered with a magnificent canopy, under which the Emperor
seated himself on the right of the Empress, and the Pope on her left.
The serving was done by the pages. The grand chamberlain, the grand
equerry, and the colonel-general of the guard stood before his Majesty;
the grand marshal of the palace on his right, and in front of the table,
and lower down, the prefect of the palace; on the left, and opposite the
grand marshal, was the grand master of ceremonies; all these also
standing. On either side of their Majesties' table were those of their
imperial highnesses, of the diplomatic corps, of the ministers and grand
officers, and lastly that of the ladies of honor. At night there was
given a reception, concert, and ball. The day after the distribution of
the eagles, his imperial highness Prince Joseph presented to his Majesty
the presidents of the electoral colleges of the departments; and the
presidents of the colleges of the arrondissements and their prefects were
next introduced, and received by his Majesty.

The Emperor conversed with the greater part of these officials on the
needs of each department, and thanked them for their zeal in assisting
him. Then he recommended to them especially the execution of the
conscript law. "Without conscription," said his Majesty, "we should have
neither power nor national independence. All Europe is subject to
conscription. Our success and the strength of our position depend on our
having a national army, and it is necessary to maintain this advantage
with the greatest care."

These presentations occupied several days, during which his Majesty
received in turn, and always with the same ceremonial, the presidents of
the high courts of justice, the presidents of the councils-general of
departments, the subprefects, the deputies of the colonies, the mayors
of the thirty-six principal cities, the presidents of the cantons, the
vice-presidents of the chambers of commerce, and the presidents of the

Some days later the city of Paris gave, in honor of their Majesties, a
fete whose brilliance and magnificence surpassed any description that
could possibly be given. On this occasion the Emperor, the Empress, and
the princes Joseph and Louis, rode together in the coronation carriage;
and batteries placed upon the Pont-Neuf announced the moment at which
their Majesties began to ascend the steps of the Hotel de Ville. At the
same time, buffets with pieces of fowl and fountains of wine attracted an
immense crowd to the chief squares of each of the twelve municipalities
of Paris, almost every individual of which had his share in the
distribution of eatables, thanks to the precaution which the authorities
took of distributing to none except those who presented tickets. The
front of the Hotel de Ville was brilliant with colored lamps; but what
seemed to me the finest part of the whole display was a vessel pierced
for eighty cannon, whose decks, masts, sails, and cordage were distinctly
outlined in colored lights. The crowning piece of all, which the Emperor
himself set off, represented the Saint-Bernard as a volcano in eruption,
in the midst of glaciers covered with snow. In it appeared the Emperor,
glorious in the light, seated on his horse at the head of his army,
climbing the steep summit of the mountain. More than seven hundred
persons attended the ball, and yet there was no confusion. Their
Majesties withdrew early. The Empress, on entering the apartment
prepared for her at the Hotel de Ville, had found there a most
magnificent toilets-service, all in gold. After it was brought to the
Tuileries it was for many days her Majesty's chief source of
entertainment and subject of conversation. She wished every one to see
and admire it; and, in truth, no one who saw it could fail to do so.
Their Majesties gave permission that this, with a service which the city
had presented to the Emperor, should be placed on exhibition for several
days, for the gratification of the public.

After the fireworks a superb balloon was sent up, the whole circumference
of which, with the basket, and the ropes which attached it to the
balloon, were decorated with countless festoons of colored lights. This
enormous body of colored fire rising slowly and majestically into the air
was a magnificent spectacle. It remained suspended for a while exactly
over the city of Paris, as if to wait till public curiosity was fully
satisfied, then, having reached a height at which it encountered a more
rapid current of air, it suddenly disappeared, driven by the wind towards
the south. After its disappearance it was thought of no more, but
fifteen days later a very singular incident recalled it to public

While I was dressing the Emperor the first day of the year, or the day
before, one of his ministers was introduced; and the Emperor having
inquired the news in Paris, as he always did of those whom he saw early
in the morning, the minister replied, "I saw Cardinal Caprara late
yesterday evening, and I learned from him a very singular circumstance."
--"What was it? about what?" and his Majesty, imagining doubtless that it
was some political incident, was preparing to carry off his minister into
his cabinet, before having completed his toilet, when his Excellency
hastened to add, "Oh, it is nothing very serious, Sire! Your Majesty
doubtless remembers that they have been discussing lately in the circle
of her Majesty the Empress the chagrin of poor Garnerin, who has not
succeeded up to this time in finding the balloon which he sent up on the
day of the fete given to your Majesty by the city of Paris. He has at
last received news of his balloon."--"Where did it fall?" asked the
Emperor. "At Rome, Sire!"--"Ah, that is really very singular."--"Yes,
Sire; Garnerin's balloon has thus, in twenty-four hours, shown your
imperial crown in the two capitals of the world." Then the minister
related to his Majesty the following details, which were published at the
time, but which I think sufficiently interesting to be repeated here.

Garnerin had attached to his balloon the following notice:
"The balloon carrying this letter was sent up at Paris on the evening of
the 25th Frimaire (Dec. 16) by Monsieur Garnerin, special aeronaut of his
Majesty the Emperor of Russia, and ordinary aeronaut of the French
government, on the occasion of a fete given by the city of Paris to the
Emperor Napoleon, celebrating his coronation. Whoever finds this balloon
will please inform M. Garnerin, who will go to the spot."

The aeronaut expected, doubtless, to receive notice next day that his
balloon had fallen in the plain of Saint-Denis, or in that of Grenelle;
for it is to be presumed that he hardly dreamed of going to Rome when he
engaged to go to the spot. More than fifteen days passed before he
received the expected notice; and he had probably given up his balloon as
lost, when there came the following letter from the nuncio of his

"Cardinal Caprara is charged by his Excellency Cardinal Gonsalvi,
Secretary of State of His Holiness, to remit to M. Garnerin a copy
of a letter dated Dec. 18. He hastens to send it, and also to add a
copy of the note which accompanied it. The cardinal also takes this
occasion to assure Monsieur Garnerin of his highest esteem."

To this letter was added a translation of the report made to the
cardinal, secretary of state at Rome, by the Duke of Mondragone, and
dated from Anguillora, near Rome, Dec. 18:

"Yesterday evening about twenty-four o'clock there passed through
the air a globe of astonishing size, which fell upon Lake Bracciano,
and had the appearance of a house. Boatmen were sent to bring it to
land; but they were not able to do so, as a high wind prevailed,
accompanied by snow. This morning early they succeeded in bringing
it ashore. This globe is of oiled silk, covered with netting, and
the wire gallery is a little broken. It seems to have been lighted
by lamps and colored lanterns, of which much debris remains.
Attached to the globe was found the following notice." (Which is
given above).

Thus we see that this balloon, which left Paris at seven o'clock on the
evening of Dec. 16, had fallen next day, the 17th, near Rome, at
twenty-four o'clock, that is to say, at sunset. It had crossed France,
the Alps, etc., and passed over a space of more than three hundred
leagues in twenty-two hours, its rate of speed being then fifteen
leagues (45 miles) per hour; and, what renders this still more
remarkable, is the fact that its weight was increased by decorations
weighing five hundred pounds.

An account of the former trips of this balloon will not be without
interest. Its first ascension was made in the presence of their Prussian
Majesties and the whole court, upon which occasion it carried M.
Garnerin, his wife, and M. Gaertner, and descended upon the frontiers of

The second ascension was at St. Petersburg, in the presence of the
Emperor, the two Empresses, and the court, carrying Monsieur and Madame
Garnerin; and it fell a short distance off in a marsh. This was the
first balloon ascension ever seen in Russia.

The third trial was also at St. Petersburg, in the presence of the
imperial family. M. Garnerin ascended, accompanied by General Suolf;
and the two travelers were transported across the Gulf of Friedland in
three-quarters of an hour, and descended at Krasnoe-selo, twenty-five
versts from St. Petersburg. The fourth trial took place at Moscow, and
Garnerin ascended more than four thousand toises [24,000 ft.] He had
many harrowing experiences, and at the end of seven hours descended
three hundred and thirty versts [200 miles] from Moscow, in the
neighborhood of the old frontiers of Russia. This same balloon was
again used at the ascension which Madame Garnerin made at Moscow with
Madame Toucheninolf, in the midst of a frightful storm, and amid flashes
of lightning which killed three men within three hundred paces of the
balloon, at the very instant of the ascension. These ladies descended
without accident twenty-one versts from Moscow.

The city of Paris gave a gratuity of six hundred francs to the boatmen
who had drawn out of Lake Bracciano the balloon, which was brought back
to Paris, and placed in the museum of the Hotel de Ville.

I was a witness that same day of the kindness with which the Emperor
received the petition of a poor woman, a notary's wife, I believe, whose
husband had been condemned on account of some crime, I know not what, to
a long imprisonment. As the carriage of their Imperial Majesties passed
before the Palais-Royal, two women, one already old, the other sixteen or
seventeen years of age, sprang to the door, crying, "Pardon for my
husband, pardon for my father."

The Emperor immediately, in a loud tone, gave the order to stop his
carriage, and held out his hand for the petition which the older of the
two women would give to no one but him, at the same time consoling her
with kind words, and showing a most touching interest lest she might be
hurt by the horses of the marshals of the empire, who were on each side
of the carriage. While this kindness of his august brother was exciting
to the highest pitch the enthusiasm and sensibilities of the witnesses of
this scene, Prince Louis, seated on the front seat of the carriage, also
leaned out, trying to reassure the trembling young girl, and urging her
to comfort her mother, and count with certainty on the Emperor's
favorable consideration. The mother and daughter, overcome by their
emotion, could make no reply; and as the cortege passed on, I saw the
former on the point of falling in a swoon. She was carried into a
neighboring house, where she revived, and with her daughter shed tears of
gratitude and joy.

The Corps Legislatif had decreed that a statue, in white marble, should
be erected to the Emperor in their assembly hall, to commemorate the
completion of the Civil Code. On the day of the unveiling of this
monument, her Majesty the Empress, the princes Joseph, Louis, Borghese,
Bacciochi, and their wives, with other members of the imperial family,
deputations of the principal orders of the state, the diplomatic corps,
and many foreigners of distinction, the marshals of the empire, and a
considerable number of general officers, assembled at seven o'clock in
the evening at the palace of the Legislative Corps.

As the Empress appeared in the hall, the entire assembly rose, and a band
of music, stationed in the neighboring stand, rendered the well-known
chorus from Gluck, "How many charms! What majesty!" Scarcely had the
first strains of this chorus been heard than each one was struck with the
happy coincidence, and applause burst forth from all sides.

By invitation of the president, Marshals Murat and Massena unveiled the
statue; and all eyes were fixed on this image of the Emperor, his brows
encircled with a crown of laurel, and entwined with oak and olive leaves.
When silence had succeeded to the acclamations excited by this sight,
M. de Vaublanc mounted the tribune, and pronounced a discourse, which was
loudly applauded in the assembly, whose sentiments it faithfully

"Gentlemen," said the orator, "you have celebrated the completion of the
Civil Code of France by an act of admiration and of gratitude; you have
awarded a statue to the illustrious prince whose firmness and
perseverance have led to the completion of that grand work, while at the
same time his vast intelligence has shed a most glorious light over this
noble department of human institutions. First Consul then, Emperor of
the French to-day, he appears in the temple of the laws, his head adorned
with a triumphal crown as victory has so often adorned it, while
foretelling that this should change to the diadem of kings, and covered
with the imperial mantle, noble attribute of the highest of dignities.

"Doubtless, on this solemn day, in presence of the princes and the great
of the state, before the august person whom the Empire honors for her
beautiful character even more than for the high rank of which her virtues
render her so worthy, in this glorious fete in which we would reunite all
France, you will permit my feeble voice to be raised a moment, and to
recall to you by what immortal actions Napoleon entered upon this
wonderful career of power and honor.

"If praise corrupts weak minds, it is the nourishment of great souls;
and the grand deeds of heroes are ties which bind them to their country.
To recapitulate them is to say that we expect from them a combination of
those grand thoughts, those generous sentiments, those glorious deeds, so
nobly rewarded by the admiration and gratitude of the public.

"Victorious in the three quarters of the world, peacemaker of Europe,
legislator of France, having bestowed and added provinces to the Empire,
does not this glorious record suffice to render him worthy at one and the
same time both of this august title of Emperor of the French, and this
monument erected in the temple of the laws? And yet I would wish to make
you forget these brilliant recollections which I have just recalled.
With a stronger voice than that which sounded his praises, I would say to
you: erase from your minds this glory of the legislator, this glory of
the warrior, and say to yourselves, before the 18th Brumaire, when fatal
laws were promulgated, and when the destructive principles proclaimed
anew were already dragging along men and things with a rapidity which it
would soon have been impossible to arrest--who appeared suddenly like a
beneficent star, who came to abrogate these laws, who filled up the
half-open abyss? You have survived, each one of you, through those
threatening scenes; you live, and you owe it to him whose image you now
behold. You, who were miserable outlaws, have returned, you breathe
again the gentle air of your native land, you embrace your children, your
wives, your friends; and you owe it to this great man. I speak no longer
of his glory, I no longer bear witness to that; but I invoke humanity on
the one side, gratitude on the other; and I demand of you, to whom do you
owe a happiness so great so extraordinary, so unexpected? . . . And
you, each and all, reply with me--to the great man whose image we

The president repeated in his turn a similar eulogium, in very similar
terms; and few persons then dreamed of thinking these praises
exaggerated, though their opinions have perhaps changed since.

After the ceremony the Empress, on the arm of the president, passed into
the hall of conference, where her Majesty's table had been prepared under
a magnificent dais of crimson silk, and covers for nearly three hundred
guests had been laid by the caterer Robert, in the different halls of the
palace. To the dinner succeeded a brilliant ball. The most remarkable
thing in this fete was the indescribable luxury of flowers and shrubs,
which must doubtless have been collected at great expense, owing to the
severity of the winter. The halls of Lucrece and of La Reunion, in which
the dancing quadrilles were formed, resembled an immense parterre of
roses, laurel, lilac, jonquils, lilies, and jessamine.


It was the 2d of January, 1805, exactly a month after the coronation,
that I formed with the eldest daughter of M. Charvet a union which has
been, and will I trust ever be, the greatest happiness of my life. I
promised the reader to say very little of myself; and, in fact, how could
he be interested in any details of my own private life which did not
throw additional light upon the character of the great man about whom I
have undertaken to write? Nevertheless, I will ask permission to return
for a little while to this, the most interesting of all periods to me,
and which exerted such an influence upon my whole life. Surely he who
recalls and relates his souvenirs is not forbidden to attach some
importance to those which most nearly concern himself. Moreover, even in
the most personal events of my life, there were instances in which their
Majesties took a part, and which, from that fact, are of importance in
enabling the reader to form a correct estimate of the characters of both
the Emperor and the Empress.

My wife's mother had been presented to Madame Bonaparte during the first
campaign in Italy, and she had been pleased with her; for Madame
Bonaparte, who was so perfectly good, had, in her own experience, also
endured trials, and knew how to sympathize with the sorrows of others.

She promised to interest the General in the fate of my father-in-law, who
had just lost his place in the treasury. During this time Madame Charvet
was in correspondence with a friend of her husband, who was, I think, the
courier of General Bonaparte; and the latter having opened and read these
letters addressed to his courier, inquired who was this young woman that
wrote such interesting and intelligent letters, and Madame Charvet well
deserved this double praise. My father-in-law's friend, while replying
to the question of the General-in-chief, took occasion to relate the
misfortunes of the family, and the General remarked that, on his return
to Paris, he wished to meet M. and Madame Charvet; in consequence of
which they were presented to him, and Madame Bonaparte rejoiced to learn
that her protegees had also become those of her husband. It had been
decided that M. Charvet should follow the General to Egypt; but when my
father-in-law arrived at Toulon, Madame Bonaparte requested that he
should accompany her to the waters of Plombieres. I have previously
related the accident which occurred at Plombieres, and that M. Charvet
was sent to Saint-Germain to bring Mademoiselle Hortense from the
boarding-school to her mother. On his return to Paris, M. Charvet
searched through all the suburbs to find a country-seat, as the General
had charged his wife to purchase one during his absence.

When Madame Bonaparte decided on Malmaison, M. Charvet, his wife, and
their three children were installed in this charming residence.

My father-in-law was very faithful to the interests of these benefactors
of his family, and Madame Charvet often acted as private secretary to
Madame Bonaparte.

Mademoiselle Louise, who became my wife, and Mademoiselle Zoe, her
younger sister, were favorites of Madame Bonaparte, especially the
latter, who passed more time than Louise at Malmaison. The condescension
of their noble protectress had rendered this child so familiar, that she
said thou habitually to Madame Bonaparte. One day she said to her, "Thou
art happy. Thou hast no mamma to scold thee when thou tearest thy

During one of the campaigns that I made while in the service of the
Emperor, I wrote to my wife, inquiring about the life that her sister led
at Malmaison. In her answer, among other things, she said (I copy a
passage from one of her letters): "Sometimes we take part in performances
such as I had never dreamed of. For instance, one evening the saloon was
divided in half by a gauze curtain, behind which was a bed arranged in
Greek style, on which a man lay asleep, clothed in long white drapery.
Near the sleeper Madame Bonaparte and the other ladies beat in unison
(not in perfect accord, however) on bronze vases, making, as you may
imagine, a terrible kind of music. During this charivari, one of the
gentlemen held me around the waist, and raised me from the ground, while
I shook my arms and legs in time to the music. The concert of these
ladies awoke the sleeper, who stared wildly at me, frightened at my
gestures, then sprang up and ran with all his might, followed by my
brother, who crept on all fours, representing a dog, I think, which
belonged to this strange person. As I was then a mere child, I have only
a confused idea of all this; but the society of Madame Bonaparte seemed
to be much occupied with similar amusements."

When the First Consul went to live at Saint-Cloud, he expressed his high
opinion of my father-in-law in the most flattering manner, and made him
concierge of the chateau, which was a confidential position, the duties
and responsibilities of which were considerable.

M. Charvet was charged with organizing the household; and, by orders of
the First Consul, he selected from among the old servants of the queen
those to whom he gave places as porters, scrubbers, and grooms of the
chateau, and he gave pensions to those unable to work.

When the chateau took fire in 1802, as I have related previously, Madame
Charvet, being several months pregnant, was terribly frightened; and as
it was not thought best to bleed her, she became very ill, and died at
the age of thirty years. Louise had been at a boarding-school for
several years; but her father now brought her home to keep house for him,
though she was then only twelve years old. One of her friends has kindly
allowed me to see a letter which Louise addressed to her a short time
after our marriage, and from which I have made the following extracts:

"On my return from boarding-school I went to see her Majesty the
Empress (then Madame Bonaparte) at the Tuileries. I was in deep
mourning. She took me on her knee, and tried to console me, saying
that she would be a mother to me, and would find me a husband. I
wept, and said that I did not wish to marry. Not at present,'
replied her Majesty, I but that will come; be sure of it. I was,
however, by no means persuaded that this would be the case. She
caressed me a while longer, and I withdrew. When the First Consul
was at Saint-Cloud, all the chiefs of the different departments of
the household service assembled in the apartments of my father, who
was the most popular, as well as the eldest, member of the
household. M. Constant, who had seen me as a child at Malmaison,
found me sufficiently attractive at Saint-Cloud to ask me of my
father, subject to the approval of their Majesties; and it was
decided that we should be married after the coronation. I was
fourteen years old fifteen days after our marriage.

"Both my sister and I are always received with extreme kindness by
her Majesty the Empress; and whenever, for fear of annoying her, we
let some time pass without going to see her, she complains of it to
my father. She sometimes admits us to her morning toilet, which is
conducted in our presence, and to which are admitted in her
apartments only her women; and a few persons of her household, who,
like us, count among their happiest moments those in which they can
thus behold this adored princess. The conversations are almost
always delightful, and her Majesty frequently relates anecdotes
which a word from one or another of us recalls to her."

Her Majesty the Empress had promised Louise a dowry; but the money which
she intended for that she spent otherwise, and consequently my wife had
only a few jewels of little value and two or three pieces of stuff.

M. Charvet was too refined to recall this promise to her Majesty's
recollection. However, that was the only way to get anything from her;
for she knew no better how to economize than how to refuse. The Emperor
asked me a short time after my marriage what the Empress had given my
wife, and on my reply showed the greatest possible vexation; no doubt
because the sum that had been demanded of him for Louise's dowry had been
spent otherwise. His Majesty the Emperor had the goodness, while on this
subject, to assure me that he himself would hereafter look after my
interests, and that he was well satisfied with my services, and would
prove it to me.

I have said above that my wife's younger sister was the favorite of her
Majesty the Empress; and yet she received on her marriage no richer dowry
than Louise, nevertheless, the Empress asked to have my sister-in-law's
husband presented to her, and said to him in the most maternal tone,
"Monsieur, I recommend my daughter to you, and I entreat you to make her
happy. She deserves it, and I earnestly hope that you know how to
appreciate her!" When my sister-in-law, fleeing from Compiegne, in 1814,
went with her husband's mother to Evreux for her confinement, the Empress
sent by her first valet de chambre every thing necessary for a young
woman in that condition, and, even reproached her with not having come to

My sister-in-law had been reared in the same boarding-school as
Mademoiselle Josephine Tallien, god-daughter of the Empress, who has
since married M. Pelet de la Lozere, and another daughter of Madame
Tallien, Mademoiselle Clemence Cabarus. The school was conducted by
Madame Vigogne, widow of the colonel of that name, and an old friend of
the Empress, who had advised her to take a boarding-school, and promised
to procure for her as many pupils as she could. This institution
prospered under the direction of this lady, who was distinguished for her
intelligence and culture; and she frequently brought to the Empress these
protegees, with other young persons who by good conduct had earned this
reward; and this was made a powerful means of exciting the emulation of
these children, whom her Majesty overwhelmed with caresses, and presented
with little gifts.

One morning just as Madame Vigogne was about to visit the Empress, and
was descending the staircase to enter her carriage, she heard piercing
cries in one of the schoolrooms, and, hastening to the spot, saw a young
girl with her clothing on fire. With a presence of mind worthy of a
mother, Madame Vigogne wrapped her pupil in the long train of her dress,
and thus extinguished the flames, not, however, until the hands of the
courageous instructress had been most painfully burned. She made the
visit to her Majesty in this condition, and related to her the sad
accident which had occurred; while her Majesty, who was easily moved by
everything noble and generous, overwhelmed her with praises for her
courage, and was so deeply touched that she wept with admiration, and
ordered, her private physician to give his best services to Madame
Vigogne and her young pupil.


The Empress Josephine was of medium height, with an exquisite figure; and
in all her movements there was an airiness and grace which gave to her
walk something ethereal, without detracting from the majesty of the
sovereign. Her expressive countenance portrayed all the emotions of her
soul, while retaining the charming sweetness which was its ruling
expression. In pleasure, as in grief, she was beautiful, and even
against your will you would smile when she smiled; if she was sad, you
would be also. Never did a woman justify better than she the expression
that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. Hers were of a deep blue, and
nearly always half closed by her long lids, which were slightly arched,
and fringed with the most beautiful lashes in the world; in regarding her
you felt yourself drawn to her by an irresistible power. It must have
been difficult for the Empress to give severity to that seductive look;
but she could do this, and well knew how to render it imposing when
necessary. Her hair was very beautiful, long and silken, its nut-brown
tint contrasting exquisitely with the dazzling whiteness of her fine
fresh complexion. At the commencement of her supreme power, the Empress
still liked to adorn her head in the morning with a red madras
handkerchief, which gave her a most piquant Creole air, and rendered her
still more charming.

But what more than all else constituted the inexpressible charm of the
Empress's presence were the ravishing tones of her voice. How many times
have I, like many others, stopped suddenly on hearing that voice; simply
to enjoy the pleasure of listening to it. It cannot perhaps be said that
the Empress was a strictly beautiful woman; but her lovely countenance,
expressing sweetness and good nature, and the angelic grace diffused
around her person, made her the most attractive of women.

During her stay at Saint-Cloud, the Empress rose habitually at nine
o'clock, and made her first toilet, which lasted till ten; then she
passed into a saloon, where she found assembled those persons who had
solicited and obtained the favor of an audience; and sometimes also at
this hour, and in the same saloon, her Majesty received her tradespeople;
and at eleven o'clock, when the Emperor was absent, she breakfasted with
her first lady of honor and a few others. Madame de la Rochefoucauld,
first lady of honor to the Empress, was a hunchback, and so small that it
was necessary, when she was to have a place at the table, to heighten the
seat of her chair by another very thick cushion made of violet satin.
Madame de la Rochefoucauld knew well how to efface, by means of her
bright and sparkling, though somewhat caustic wit, her striking elegance,
and her exquisite court manners, any unpleasant impression which might be
made by her physical deformity.

Before breakfast the Empress had a game of billiards; or, when the
weather was good, she walked in the gardens or in the inclosed park,
which recreation lasted only a short while, and her Majesty soon returned
to her apartments, and occupied herself with embroidery, while talking
with her ladies, like herself, occupied with some kind of needlework.
When it happened that they were not interrupted by visits, between two
and three o'clock in the afternoon the Empress took a drive in an open
barouche; and on her return from this the grand toilet took place, at
which the Emperor was sometimes present.

Now and then, also, his Majesty surprised the Empress in her saloon; and
we were sure to find him, on those occasions, amusing, amiable, and in
fine spirits.

At six o'clock dinner was served; this the Emperor frequently forgot, and
delayed it indefinitely, in consequence of which dinner was more than
once eaten at nine or ten o'clock in the evening. Their Majesties dined
together alone, or in the company of a few invited guests, princes of the
imperial family, or ministers, after which there was a concert,
reception, or the theater; and at midnight every one retired except the
Empress, who greatly enjoyed sitting up late, and then played backgammon
with one of the chamberlains. The Count de Beaumont was thus honored
most frequently.

On the days of the chase the Empress and her ladies followed in the
coach. They had a special costume for this occasion, consisting of a
kind of green riding-habit, and a hat ornamented with white plumes. All
the ladies who followed the chase dined with their Majesties.

When the Empress spent the night in the Emperor's apartment, I entered in
the morning, as usual, between seven and eight o'clock, and nearly always
found the august spouses awake. The Emperor usually ordered tea, or an
infusion of orange flowers, and rose immediately, the Empress saying to
him, with a laugh, "What, rising already? Rest a little longer."--"Well,
you are not asleep, then?" replied his Majesty, rolling her over in the
covering, giving her little slaps on her cheeks and shoulders, laughing,
and kissing her.

At the end of a few moments the Empress rose also, put on a wrapper, and
read the journals, or descended by the little communicating stairway to
her own apartment, never leaving the Emperor without a few words
expressing the most touching affection and good-will.

Elegant and simple in her dress, the Empress submitted with regret to the
necessity of toilets of state. Jewels, however, were much to her taste;
and, as she had always been fond of them; the Emperor presented her with
them often and in great quantities; and she greatly enjoyed adorning
herself with them, and still more exhibiting them to the admiration of

One morning, when my wife was present at her toilet, her Majesty related
that, being newly married to M. de Beauharnais, and much delighted with
the ornaments he had given her, she was in the habit of carrying them
around in her reticule (reticules were then an essential part of a
woman's dress), and showing them to her young friends.

As the Empress spoke of her reticule, she ordered one of her ladies to
hunt for one to show my wife. The lady whom the Empress addressed could
scarcely repress a laugh at this singular request, and assured her
Majesty that there was nothing similar to that now in her wardrobe; to
which the Empress replied, with an air of regret, that she would have
really liked to see again one of her old reticules, and that the years
hall brought great changes. The jewels of the Empress Josephine could
hardly have been contained in the reticule of Madame de Beauharnais,
however long or deep it might have been; for the jewel case which had
belonged to Queen Marie Antoinette, and which had never been quite full,
was too small for the Empress. One day, when she wished to exhibit all
her ornaments to several ladies who expressed a desire to see them, it
was necessary to prepare a large table on which to place the caskets;
and, as this table was not sufficient, several other pieces of furniture
were also covered with them.

Good to excess, as everyone knows, sympathetic beyond all expression,
generous even to prodigality, the Empress made the happiness of all who
surrounded her; loving her husband with a devotion which nothing ever
changed, and which was as deep in her last moments as at the period when
Madame Beauharnais and General Bonaparte made to each other a mutual
avowal of their love. Josephine was long the only woman loved by the
Emperor, as she well deserved to have ever been; and for several years
the harmony of this imperial household was most touching. Attentive,
loving, and entirely devoted to Josephine, the Emperor took pleasure in
embracing her neck, her figure, giving her taps, and calling her 'ma
grosse bete'; all of which did not prevent, it is true, his being guilty
of some infidelities, but without failing otherwise in his conjugal
duties. On her side the Empress adored him, sought by every means to
please him, to divine his wishes, and to forestall his least desires.

At first she gave her husband cause for jealousy. Having been strongly
prejudiced against her by indiscreet reports, during the campaign of
Egypt, the Emperor on his return had explanations with her, which did not
always end without lamentations and violent scenes; but peace was soon
restored, and was thereafter very rarely broken, for the Emperor could
not fail to feel the influence of so many attractions and such

The Empress had a remarkable memory, of which the Emperor often availed
himself; she was also an excellent musician, played well on the harp, and
sang with taste. She had perfect tact, an exquisite perception of what
was suitable, the soundest, most infallible judgment imaginable, and,
with a disposition always lovely, always the same, indulgent to her
enemies as to her friends, she restored peace wherever there was quarrel
or discord. When the Emperor was vexed with his brothers or other
persons, which often happened, the Empress spoke a few words, and
everything was settled. If she demanded a pardon, it was very rare that
the Emperor did not grant it, however grave the crime committed; and I
could cite a thousand examples of pardons thus solicited and obtained.
One occurrence which is almost personal to me will sufficiently prove how
all-powerful was the intercession of this good Empress.

Her Majesty's head valet being one day a little affected by the wine he
had taken at a breakfast with some friends, was obliged, from the nature
of his duties, to be present at the time of their Majesties' dinner, and
to stand behind the Empress in order to take and hand her the plates.
Excited by the fumes of the champagne, he had the misfortune to utter
some improper words, which, though pronounced in a low tone, the Emperor
unfortunately overheard. His Majesty cast lightning glances at M. Frere,
who thus perceived the gravity of his fault; and, when dinner was over,
gave orders to discharge the impudent valet, in a tone which left no hope
and permitted no reply.

Monsieur Frere was an excellent servant, a gentle, good, and honest man;
it was the first fault of this kind of which he could be accused, and
consequently he deserved indulgence. Application was made to the grand
marshal, who refused to intercede, well knowing the inflexibility of the
Emperor; and many other persons whom the poor man begged to intercede for
him having replied as the grand marshal had done, M. Frere came in
despair to bid us adieu. I dared to take his cause in hand, with the
hope that by seizing a favorable moment I might succeed in appeasing his
Majesty. The order of discharge required M. Frere to leave the palace in
twenty-four hours; but I advised him not to obey it, but to keep himself,
however, constantly concealed in his room, which he did. That evening on
retiring, his Majesty spoke to me of what had passed, showing much anger,
so I judged that silence was the best course to take; and therefore
waited; but the next day the Empress had the kindness to tell me that she
would be present at her husband's toilet, and that, if I thought proper
to open the matter, she would sustain me with all her influence.
Consequently, finding the Emperor in a good humor, I spoke of M. Frere;
and depicting to his Majesty the despair of this poor man, I pointed out
to him the reasons which might excuse the impropriety of his conduct.
"Sire," said I, "he is a good man, who has no fortune, and supports a
numerous family; and if he has to quit the service of her Majesty the
Empress, it will not be believed that it was on account of a fault for
which the wine was more to be blamed than he, and he will be utterly
ruined." To these words, as well as to many other suggestions, the
Emperor only replied by interruptions, made with every appearance of a
decided opposition to the pardon which I had requested. Fortunately the
Empress was good enough to come to my assistance, and said to her husband
in her own gentle tones, always so touching and full of expression, "Mon
ami, if you are willing to pardon him, you will be doing me a favor."
Emboldened by this powerful patronage, I renewed my solicitations; to
which the Emperor at last replied abruptly, addressing himself to both
the Empress and myself, "In short, you wish it; well, let him stay then."

Monsieur Frere thanked me with his whole heart, and could hardly believe
the good news which I brought him; and as for the Empress, she was made
happy by the joy of this faithful servant, who gave her during the
remainder of his life every proof of his entire devotion. I have been
assured that, in 1814, on the departure of the Emperor for the Island of
Elba, Monsieur Frere was by no means the last to blame my conduct, the
motive of which he could not possibly know; but I am not willing to
believe this, for it seems to me that in his place, if I thought I could
not defend an absent friend, I should at least have kept silence.

As I have said, the Empress was extremely generous, and bestowed much in
alms, and was most ingenious in finding occasions for their bestowal.
Many emigres lived solely on her benefactions; she also kept up a very
active correspondence with the Sisters of Charity who nursed the sick,
and sent them a multitude of things. Her valets were ordered to go in
every direction, carrying to the needy the assistance of her
inexhaustible benevolence, while numerous other persons also received
each day similar commissions; and all these alms, all these multiplied
gifts which were so widely diffused, received an inestimable value from
the grace with which they were offered, and the good judgment with which
they were distributed. I could cite a thousand instances of this
delicate generosity.

Monsieur de Beauharnais had at the time of his marriage to Josephine a
natural daughter named Adele. The Empress reared her as if she had been
her own daughter, had her carefully educated, gave her a generous dowry,
and married her to a prefect of the Empire.

If the Empress showed so much tenderness for a daughter who was not her
own, it is impossible to give an idea of her love and devotion to Queen
Hortense and Prince Eugene, which devotion her children fully returned;
and there was never a better or happier mother. She was very proud of
her children, and spoke of them always with an enthusiasm which seemed
very natural to all who knew the Queen of Holland and the Vice-King of
Italy. I have related how, having been left an orphan at a very early
age by the Revolutionary scaffold, young Beauharnais had gained the heart
of General Bonaparte by an interview in which he requested of him his
father's sword, and that this action inspired in the General a wish to
become acquainted with Josephine, and the result of that interview, all
of which events are matters of history. When Madame de Beauharnais had
become the wife of General Bonaparte, Eugene entered on a military
career, and attached himself immediately to the fortunes of his
step-father, whom he accompanied to Italy in the capacity of
aide-de-camp. He was chief of squadron in the chasseurs of the Consular
Guard, and at the immortal battle of Marengo shared all the dangers of
the one who took so much pleasure in calling him his son. A few years
later the chief of squadron had become Vice-King of Italy, the
presumptive heir of the imperial crown (a title which, in truth, he did
not long preserve), and husband of the daughter of a king.

The vice-queen (Augusta Amelia of Bavaria) was handsome and good as an
angel. I happened to be at Malmaison on the day the Empress received the
portrait of her daughter-in-law, surrounded by three or four children,
one upon her shoulder, another at her feet, and a third in her arms, all
of whom had most lovely faces. The Empress, seeing me, deigned to call
me to admire with her this collection of charming heads; and I perceived
that, while speaking, her eyes were full of tears. The portraits were
well painted, and I had occasion later to find that they were perfect
likenesses. From this time the only question was playthings and rare
articles of all sorts to be bought for these dear children, the Empress
going in person to select the presents she desired for them, and having
them packed under her own eyes.

The prince's valet has assured me that, at the time of the divorce,
Prince Eugene wrote his wife a very desponding letter, and perhaps
expressed in it some regret at not being an adopted son of the Emperor,
to which the Princess replied most tenderly, saying, among other things,
"It is not the heir of the Emperor whom I married and whom I love, but it
is Eugene de Beauharnais." The Prince read this sentence and some others
in the presence of the person from whom I have these facts, and who was
touched even to tears. Such a woman deserved more than a throne.

After that event, so grievous to the heart of the Empress, and for which
she never found consolation, she left Malmaison no more, except to make a
few visits to Navarre.

Each time that I returned to Paris with the Emperor, I had no sooner
arrived than my first duty was to go to Malmaison, though I was rarely
the bearer of a letter from the Emperor, as he wrote to Josephine only on
extraordinary occasions. "Tell the Empress I am well, and that I wish
her to be happy," were almost invariably the parting words of the Emperor
as I set out. The moment I arrived the Empress quitted everything to
speak to me; and I frequently remained an hour and often two hours with
her; during which time there was no question of anything save the
Emperor. I must tell her all that he had suffered on the journey, if he
had been sad or gay, sick or well; while she wept over the details as I
repeated them, and gave me a thousand directions regarding his health,
and the cares with which she desired I should surround him. After this
she deigned to question me about myself, my prospects, the health of my
wife, her former protegee; and at last dismissed me, with a letter for
his Majesty, begging me to say to the Emperor how happy she would be if
he would come to see her.

Before his departure for Russia, the Empress, distressed at this war, of
which she entirely disapproved, again redoubled her recommendations
concerning the Emperor, and made me a present of her portrait, saying to
me, "My good Constant, I rely on you; if the Emperor were sick, you would
inform me of it, would you not? Conceal nothing from me, I love him so

Certainly the Empress had innumerable means of hearing news of his
Majesty; but I am persuaded that, had she received each day one hundred
letters from those near the Emperor, she would have read and reread them
with the same avidity.

When I had returned from Saint-Cloud to the Tuileries, the Emperor asked
me how Josephine was, and if I found her in good spirits; he received
with pleasure the letters I brought, and hastened to open them. All the
time I was traveling, or on the campaign in the suite of his Majesty, in
writing to my wife, I spoke of the Emperor, and the good princess was
delighted that she showed my letters to her. In fact, everything having
the least connection with her husband interested the Empress to a degree
which proved well the singular devotion that she still felt for him
after, as before, their separation. Too generous, and unable to keep her
expenses within her income, it often happened that the Empress was
obliged to send away her furnishers unpaid the very day she had herself
fixed for the settlement of their bills; and as this reached the ears of
the Emperor on one occasion, there ensued a very unpleasant scene between
the Empress and himself, ending in a decision, that in future no merchant
or furnisher should come to the chateau without a letter from the lady of
attire or secretary of orders; and this plan, once decided upon, was
followed very closely until the divorce. During this explanation the
Empress wept freely, and promised to be more economical, upon which the
Emperor pardoned and embraced her, and peace was made, this being, I
think, the last quarrel of this nature which disturbed the imperial

I have heard that after the divorce, the allowance of the Empress having
been exceeded, the Emperor reproached the superintendent of Malmaison
with this fact, who in turn informed Josephine. His kind-hearted
mistress, much distressed at the annoyance which her steward had
experienced, and not knowing how to establish a better order of things,
assembled a council of her household, over which she presided in a linen
dress without ornament; this dress had been made in great haste, and was
used only this once. The Empress, whom the necessity for a refusal
always reduced to despair, was continually besieged by merchants, who
assured her that they had made such or such a thing expressly for her own
use, begging her not to return it because they would not be able to
dispose of it; in consequence of which the Empress kept everything they
brought, though they afterwards had to be paid for.

The Empress was always extremely polite in her intercourse with the
ladies of her household; and a reproach never came from those lips which
seemed formed to say only pleasant things; and if any of her ladies gave
her cause of dissatisfaction, the only punishment she inflicted was an
absolute silence on her part, which lasted one, two, three, or even eight
days, the time being longer or shorter according to the gravity of the
fault. And indeed this penalty, apparently so mild, was really very
cruel to many, so well did the Empress know how to make herself adored by
those around her.

In the time of the Consulate, Madame Bonaparte often received from cities
which had been conquered by her husband, or from those persons who
desired to obtain her intercession with the First Consul, quantities of
valuable furniture, curiosities of all kinds, pictures, stuffs, etc. At
first these presents delighted Madame Bonaparte greatly; and she took a
childish pleasure in having the cases opened to find what was inside,
personally assisting in unpacking them, and rummaging through all these
pretty things. But soon these consignments became so considerable, and
were so often repeated, that it was found necessary to place them in an
apartment, of which my father-in-law kept the key, and where the boxes
remained untouched until it pleased Madame Bonaparte to have them opened.

When the First. Consul decided that he would take up his residence at
Saint-Cloud, my father-in-law was obliged to leave Malmaison, and install
himself in the new palace, as the master wished him to take charge there.

Before leaving Malmaison, my father-in-law rendered an account to Madame
Bonaparte of everything committed to his care, and all the cases which
were piled up from floor to ceiling in two rooms were opened in her
presence. Madame Bonaparte was astonished at such marvelous riches,
comprising marbles, bronzes, and magnificent pictures, of which Eugene,
Hortense, and the sisters of the First Consul received a large part, and
the remainder was used in decorating the apartments of Malmaison.

The Empress's love of ornaments included for a while antique curiosities,
cut stones, and medals. M. Denon flattered this whim, and ended by
persuading the good Josephine that she was a perfect connoisseur in
antiques, and that she should have at Malmaison a cabinet, a keeper for
it, etc. This proposition, which flattered the self-love of the Empress,
was favorably received; the room was selected, M. de M---- made keeper,
and the new cabinet enriched by diminishing in the same proportion the
rich furniture of the apartments of the chateau. M. Denon, who had
originated this idea, took upon himself to make a collection of medals;
but this idea, which came so suddenly, vanished as suddenly; the cabinet
was changed into a saloon for guests, and the antiques relegated to the
antechamber of the bathing hall, while M. de M----, having no longer
anything to keep, remained constantly in Paris.

A short time after this, two ladies of the palace took a fancy to
persuade the Empress that nothing could be handsomer or more worthy of
her than a necklace of Greek and Roman antique stones perfectly matched.
Several chamberlains approved the idea, which, of course, pleased the
Empress, for she was very fond of anything unique; and consequently one
morning, as I was dressing the Emperor, the Empress entered, and, after a
little conversation, said, "Bonaparte, some ladies have advised me to
have a necklace made of antique stones, and I came to ask you to urge M.
Denon to select only very handsome ones." The Emperor burst out
laughing, and refused flatly at first; but just then the grand marshal of
the palace arrived, and the Emperor informed him of this request of the
Empress, asking his opinion. M. le due de Frioul thought it very
reasonable, and joined his entreaties to those of the Empress. "It is an
egregious folly," said the Emperor; "but we are obliged to grant it,
because the women wish it, so, Duroc, go to the cabinet of antiques, and
choose whatever is necessary."

M. le due de Frioul soon returned with the finest stones in the
collection, which the crown jeweler mounted magnificently; but this
ornament was of such enormous weight that the Empress never wore it.

Though I may be accused of making tiresome repetitions, I must say that
the Empress seized, with an eagerness which cannot be described, on all
occasions of making benefactions. For instance, one morning when she was
breakfasting alone with his Majesty, the cries of an infant were suddenly
heard proceeding from a private staircase. The Emperor was annoyed at
this, and with a frown, asked sharply what that meant. I went to
investigate, and found a new-born child, carefully and neatly dressed,
asleep in a kind of cradle, with a ribbon around its body from which hung
a folded paper. I returned to tell what I had seen; and the Empress at
once exclaimed, "O Constant! bring me the cradle." The Emperor would
not permit this at first, and expressed his surprise and disapprobation
that it should have been thus introduced into the interior of his
apartments, whereupon her Majesty, having pointed out to him that it must
have been done by some one of the household, he turned towards me, and
gave me a searching look, as if to ask if it was I who had originated
this idea. I shook my head in denial. At that moment the baby began to
cry, and the Emperor could not keep from smiling, still growling, and
saying, "Josephine, send away that monkey!"

The Empress, wishing to profit by this return of good humor, sent me for
the cradle, which I brought to her. She caressed the little new-born


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