Alexandre Dumas.

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« Why do you ask thati"

^^ Because we have had no proelamations for four
months, and something might be changed in the ordinary

" The proclamation is very well as it is/* said Bonaparte.
" Add nothing." And taking a pen, lie scratched, rather
than wrote^ his name at the bottom of the proclamation.
Then, handing it back to Bourrienne, he said : *' Let that
appear in the * Moniteur * to-morrow."

Bourrienne went out, taking the proclamation with him.

Bonaparte, left alone with Lord Tanlay, walked up and
down for a moment as if he had forgotten his presence ;
then suddenly stopping before him, he said : " My lord, do
you think that you obtained from your uncle all that
another could have obtained in your place ] "

"More, citizen Consul."

" More ! more 1 — but what did you obtain ? **

" Possibly tlie citizen Consul has not read the royal
note with all the attention which it deserves."

" I know it by heart," replied Bonaparte.

" Then the citizen Consul has not weighed well the
spirit and the words of a certain paragraph."

"Do you think sol"

" I am sure of it ; and if the citizen Consul will permit
me to read to him the paragraph to which I refer — - "

Bonaparte unclosed the hand which held the crumpled
note, unfolded it, and handed it to Lord Tanlay, saying :
" Bead."

Sir John glanced over the note, which seemed to be
familiar to him, and stopping at the tenth paragraph,
read, —

** The best and surest pledge of the reality of peace, as well
as of its duration, would be the restoration of that line of
princes who for so many centuries have preserved prosperity


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within, conaideration and respect without. Such a course
would scatter for all time those obstacles which prevent peace-
ful negotiations ; it would secure to France the peaceful enjoy-
ment of her ancient territory, and would procure for all other
nations of Europe, by tranquillity and peace, that security
which they are obliged to seek now by other means."

" Well," said Bonaparte, impatiently, " I read it, and
understood it perfectly. Do as Monk did, — work for
another, — and you will be pardoned your victories, your
reputation, and your genius; humble yourself, and you
will be allowed to remain great ! "

" Citizen Consul," said Lord'Tanlay, "no one knows
better than I do the difference that there is between you
and Monk, and how far superior to him you are in genius
and reputation."

" Then why do you read that to me 1 '*

" I read it to you," replied Sir John, " only to beg you
to give its full value to the paragraph that follows."

'^ Let us see what follows," said Bonaparte, with only
half concealed impatience.

Sir John continued: —

" But however desirable such an event may be for France
and the world, his Majesty does not exclusively limit to this
method the possibility of a solid and sure peace."

Sir John emphasized the last words.
"Ah!" said Bonaparte, and he quickly approached
Sir John.

The Englishman continued : —

" His Majesty does not presume to dictate to France as to
the form of her government, nor in what hands shall be placed
the necessary authority for conducting the affairs of a great and
powerful nation."

" Bead that again," said Bonaparte, quickly.


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"Read it for yourself," rejoined Sir John. And he
held out the note to him.

Bonaparte read it again. ** Waa it you, Monsieur," he
asked, " who caused this paragraph to be added 1 "

" I insisted that it should be put there."

Bonaparte reflected. " You are right," he said ; " this
is a great step gained. The restoration of the Bourbons
is no longer a sine qua non condition. I am accepted not
only as a military but as a political power." Then, hold-
ing out his hand to Sir John, he said : " Have you any-
thing to ask of me, sir ] "

" The only thing that I desire has already been asked
of you by my friend Roland."

" And I have already replied to him, sir, that I should
be very glad to see you the husband of his sister. If I
were rich, or if you were less so — "

Sir John made a quick movement.

** But I know that your fortune is enough for two or
even more," added Bonaparte, smiling. "I therefore
leave to you the joy of bestowing not only happiness but
riches . upon the woman you love." Then he called :
" Bourrienne ! ''

Bourrienne appeared. "It has gone, General," he

" Good ! " replied the First Consul ; " but that was not
why I called you."

" I await your orders."

" At whatever hour of the day or night Lord Tanlay
may appear, I shall be happy to receive him without keep-
ing him waiting. Do you hear, Bourrienne? Do you
hear, my lord 1 "

Lord Tanlay bowed in token of gratitude.

"And now," said Bonaparte, "I suppose you are in
haste to set off for the Chateau of Noires-Fontaines ; I


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will not detain you, and will put only one condition upon
your departure."

'•What is that, General!"

** It is that if I need you for a new embassy — "

" That is not a condition, — it is a favor," said Lord
Tanlay, as he bowed and went out.

Bourrienne prepared to follow him. But Bonaparte
recalled his secretary.

^ Is a carriage ready ) " be asked.

Bourrienne looked into the courtyard. "Yes, Gen-
eral," he said.

** Well, make haste ; we will go together."

*' I am ready, General. I have only my hat and coat
to put on, and they are in my office."

*' Then let us go," said Bonaparte. And he took his
own hat and* overcoat, and going first, descended the little
staircase and made a sign to the carriage to approach.

However much Bourrienne hurried, he could not over-
take him. The lackey opened the door, and Bonaparte
jumped into the carriage.

•^ Where are we going. General 1 " asked Bourrienne.

" To the Tuileries," replied Bonaparte.

Bourrienne, astonished, repeated the order, and turned
towards the First Consul as if to ask an explanation ; but
the latter seemed to be deep in thought, which Bour-
rienne, who was still his friend, did not care to interrupt.
The horses set off at a gallop, for that was the way Bon-
aparte always chose to ride, and took the direction of the

The Tuileries, which had been inhabited by Louis XYI.
after the days of the 5th and 6th October, and sub*
sequently occupied by the Convention and the Council of
Five Hundred, had been empty and deserted since the
18th Brumaire. Since that date Bonaparte had more


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than once cast longing glances upon this ancient palace of
royalty ; but it was important that no one should suspect
that a future king might inhabit the palace of those who
had been deposed. Bonaparte had brought from Italy a
magnificent bust of Junius Bratos ; it was out of place in
the Luxembourg, and towards the end of November the
First Consul had summoned the republican David, and
commissioned him to place this bust in the gallery of the

Who would have thought that David, the friend of
Marat, would have made ready the dwelling of a future
emperor by placing in the gallery of the Tuileries the
bust of the murderer of Csesarl No one would have
believed it, or even suspected it.

When he went to see if the bust was properly placed
in the gallery, Bonaparte noticed the devastations which
had been committed in the palace of Catherine de Medicis.
It was true that the Tuileries was no longer the abode of
kings ; but it was a national palace, and the nation could
not allow it to fall into decay. Bonaparte sent for citizen
Lecomte, architect of the palace, and ordered him to
"clear up** the Tuileries: the words might have been
taken in a moral as well as physical sense. The architect
was asked what this clearing up would cost. His estimate
amounted to five hundred thousand francs. Bonaparte
asked if by means of this the palace could become a gov-
emn)ent palace. The architect replied that this sum would
suffice, not only to put it in its former condition, but to
make it habitable.

This was all that Bonaparte wanted, — a habitable
palace. What did he, a republican, want of the luxury
of royalty 1 For the government palace all the orna-
ments should be grave and severe, marbles and statues.
But what were these statues to be 1 That was for the


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First Consul to say. Bonaparte chose them from three
great centuries and three great nations, — from the Greeks,
the Romans, our rivals, and ourselves. From the Greeks
he chose Alexander and Demosthenes, the genius of con-
quest and the genius of eloquence. From the Romans he
chose Scipio, Cicero, Cato, Brutus, and Caesar, placing the
great victim near his murderer, almost as great as he.
From the modern world he chose Gustavus Adolphus,
Tureune, the great Coud6, Duguay-Trouin, Marlborough,
Prince Eugene, and the Marechal de Saxe ; and finally,
Frederic the Great, and Washington, — emblems of false
philosophy on the ttirone, and true wisdom founding a free
State. Then he added to these warlike illustrations Dam-
pierre, Dugommier, and Joubert, to prove that even as
the memory of a Bourbon did not frighten him in the
person of the great Cond^, he was not envious of the
glory of three brothera-at-arms, who were victims of a
cause which was no longer his.

This was the state of things at the time of which we
are writing, the end of February, 1800. The Tuileries
was put in order, the busts were in their places, the
statues on their pedestals ; all that was wanting was a
favorable opportunity. This opportunity had come ; news
had been received of the death of George Washington.
The founder of liberty in the United States had died on
the 14th of December, 1799. This was what Bonaparte
was thinking of when Bourrienue forbore to disturb his

The carriage stopped before the Tuileries. Bonaparte
left it as briskly as he had entered it, mounted the stair-
case rapidly, looked through the apartments, and examined
more particularly those which Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette had inhabited. Then, stopping at Louis XVI. 's
cabinet, ** We will lodge here, Bourrienne," he said sud-


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deuly, as though the latter had been able to follow him
in the labyrinth through which he was wandering, guided
by that thread of Ariadne, called thought, — " yes, we
will have our rooms here ; the third consul will lodge in
the pavilion of Flora, and Cambac^r^s will remain at the

" So that when the day comes," said Bourrienne, " you
will only have to send away one of them."

Bonaparte took Bourrienne by the ear, " That is not
bad," he said.

"And when shall we change our quarters, General?"
asked Bourrienne.

" Oh, not at once ; it will take at least a week to pre-
pare the Parisians for my change of residence from the
Luxembourg to the Tuileries."

"A week ! " said Bourrienne. "We can wait."

" Particularly if we go about it at once. Come, Bour-
rienne, to the Luxembourg." And with the rapidity which
characterized all his movements when he was engaged
upon matters of importance, Bonaparte retraced his steps
through the apartments which he had already visited, de-
scended the stairs, and leaped into the carriage, saying ;
" To the Luxembourg ! "

" Well, well," said Bourrienne, who was still in the
vestibule, " are you not going to wait for me. General ?"

'* Laggard ! " said Bonaparte. And they set off as they
had come, at a gallop.

When he entered his cabinet, Bonaparte found his min-
ister of police waiting for him. " Well, what is it now,
citizen Fouch^ ? " he said. " Your face is full of news.
Has any one been trying to assassinate me 1 "

"Citizen Consul," said the minister, "you have appar-
ently attached great importance to the destruction of cer*
tain bands calling themselves the companions of Jehu."


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''Yes, since I sent Holand himself in poxsoit of them.
Have you had any news from them ? "


**From whomi"

" From their chief himself.**

** What do you mean ? "

^ He has had the audacity to send me an account of his
last expedition."

" Against whom ? *'

" Against the fifty thousand francs which you sent to
the Fathers of St. Bernard."

" And what has become of them ? "

" Of the fifty thousand francs 1"

** Yes.''

" They are in the hands of the bandits, and their chief
announces to me that they will soon be in those of

« Then Roland is killed?"


''Howisthat ?"

^ My agent is killed^ and the chief of brigade Saint*
Maurice is killed; but your aide-^e^amp is safe and

'< Then he will hang himself," said Bonaparte.

" What for 1 The cord would break ; you know his

" Or his ill luck,. — yes. Where is this report 1 "

'* Do you want to see the letter 1 "

'' The letter, the report, the thing, whatever you call it,
which gave you this news ! "

The minister of police gave the First Consul a little
paper elegantly folded and enclosed in a perfumed

"What is that 1"


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"That is what you asked for/*

Bonaparte read the address, " To citizen Fouch^^ min-
ister of police, at Paris." He opened the letter and read
as follows : —

Citizen Minister, — I have the honor to announce to you
that the fifty thousand franca destined for the Fathers of St.
Bernard passed into our hands during the evening of February
15, 1800 (old style), and that in a week from now they will be
in the possession of citizen Cadoudal.

The thing went off beautifully, except for the death of your
agent and that of the chief of brigade, Saint- Maurice. As for
M. Holand de Montrevel, I am delighted to be able to tell you
that he escaped without any harm. I have not forgotten that
it was he who introduced me int& the Luxembourg.

I write this to you, because I suppose M. Roland de Montre-
vel is just now too much occupied with our pursuit to write
himself. But as soon as he takes a moment's rest, I am sure
that you will receive from him a report, in which he will em-
body all the details that I have no time to write now.

In exchange for the service which I am doing you, let me
beg you to do something for me ; and that is, to inform Mme.
de Montrevel without delay of her son's safety.


From the Maison Blanche, on the road from Macon to Lyon.'.
Saturday, nine o'clock in the evening.

" Well," said Bonaparte, ** He is a bold rascal 1 " Then
he added with a sigh, " What captains and colonels all
these men would have made for me ! "

" What are the First Consul's orders 1 " asked the min-
ister of police.

** None at all. This is Roland's affair ; his honor is con-
cerned in it ; and since he is not dead, he will take his
own revenge."

" Then the First Consul will do nothing further about
the affair 1"


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** Not just now, at all events." Then turning towards
his secretary, he said : <' We have other things tu think
of, have we not, Bourrieune 1 "

Bourrienne made an affirmative sign.

" When does the First Consul desire to see me again 1 "
asked the minister.

" This evening, at ten o'clock, you may be here. We
are to change our residence in a week."

'* Where are you going ? "

"To theTuileries."

Fouch^ made a movement of astonishment.

**It is contrary to your opinions, I know," said the
First Consul ; *' but I will take the responsibility, and you
will only have to obey me."

Fouche bowed and turned to go.

**By the way," said Bonaparte.

Fouch^ turned around.

** Do not forget to tell Mrae. de Montrevel that her son
is safe and sound. That is the least we can do for citizen
Morgan, after all he has done for ub." And he turned his
back upon the minister of police, who went away biting
his lips until the blood came.


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The same day the First Consul, left alone with Bour-
rienne, dictated to him the following order^ addressed to
the consuls' guard and to the army : —

** Washington is dead ! This great man fought successfully
against tyranny ; he consolidated the liherty of America. His
memory will always be dear to the French, as it will be to all
free men of the two worlds, and particularly to the French sol-
diers, who, like those in America, fought for libeity and equal-
ity. Consequently, the First Consul orders that for the next ten
days black crape shall be hung from all the flags and standards
of the Republic."

But the First Consul did not limit himself to this order
of the day. Among the means destined to facilitate his
transit from the Luxembourg to the Tuileries was one of
those fetes by which he understood so well not only how
to amuse the eyes but to impress the minds. This f^te
was to take place at the Invalides, or rather^ as it was
called then, the Temple of Mars ; they were to honor a
bust of Washington, and to receive from the hands of
General Lanues the flags of Aboukir. It was one of those
contrasting combinations of which Bonaparte was so fond.
He took a great man from the New World, and a victory
from the Old; he shadowed young America with the
palms of Thebes and Memphis.

On the day fixed for the ceremony, six thousand men
were stationed along the road from the Luxembourg to


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the Invalides. At eight o'clock Bonaparte mounted his
horse in the grand court of the consular palace, and hy
way of the Rue de Toumon went towards the quays, ac-
companied by a staff of generals, the oldest of whom was
not more than thirty-five years old. Lannes headed the
procession ; behind him sixty guides carried the sixty
captured flags ; then came Bonaparte, two horses' lengths
ahead of his staff. 'The minister of war, Berthier, was
awaiting the procession under the dome of the temple ; he
was leaning against a statue of Mars in repose ; all the
ministers and councillors of State were grouped around
him* Upon the columns sustaining the roof were already
hung the flags of Denain and Fontenoy, and those of the
first campaign in Italy; two aged Invalides, who had
fought beside Marshal Saxe, were standing at Berthier's
right and left, like caryatides of the ancient days looking
across the centuries ; and at the right, upon a platform,
was placed the bust of Washington, which they were about
to shadow with the flags of Aboukir. Upon another plat-
form, opposite this one, was Bonaparte's chair. Around
the sides of the temple rose seats, upou which all the ele-
gant society of Paris, or at least such of it aa conformed
to the new order of things, had taken their places.

At the appearance of the flagSj the brazen tones of the
military trumpets burst forth under the vaulted roof of
the temple. Lannes entered first, and made a sign to the
guides, who, ascending two by two the steps of the platr
form^ passed the staves of the flags through the loops pre*
viously prepared for them. In the mean time Bonaparte,
in the midst of acclamations, had taken his place in his
armchair. Then Lannes advanced towards the minister of
war, and in the powerful voice which knew so well how
to cry, ** Forward ! ** on the field of battle,, said : —

'< Citizen minister I here are all the flags of the OttomaA


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army, which was destroyed under your eyes at Aboukir.
The army of Egypt, after crossing burning deserts and
triumphing over hunger and thirst, found itself before an
enemy who were proud of their numbers and victories,
and who thought to find an easy prey in our troops, who
were worn thin by fatigue and by constantly recurring
battles. They were ignorant that the French soldier is
even greater from his power to suffer than from his power
to conquer, and that his courage only increases with dan-
ger. Three thousand Frenchmen, as you know, fell upon
eighteen thousand barbarians, engulfed them, turned them
around, put them to rout, and pressed them between their
ranks and the sea ; and such was the terror which our
bayonets inspired, that the Mussulmans, forced to choose
their death, threw themselves into the Mediterranean.
The destinies of Egypt, France, and Europe were weighed
in the balance on that memorable day, and were saved by
your courage. Allied Powers ! if you dared to violate the
territory of France, and if the general who was given to
us by the victory of Aboukir should make an appeal to
the nation, Allied Powers, your success would be more
unfortunate for you than a defeat. What Frenchman
would not conquer again under the flags of the First Con-
sul, or serve under him an apprenticeship to glory 1 "

Then addressing the Invalides, for whom the gallery at
the back had been entirely reserved, he continued in a
louder voice : —

** And you, bravo veterans, honorable victims of many
battles ! you would not be the last to hasten to obey the
orders of him who consoles your misfortunes and your
glories, and who places in the midst of you and in your
keeping these trophies conquered by your valor. Ah, I
know, brave veterans, how you bum to sacrifice half your
remaining days for your country and liberty I "

VOL. II. — 14


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This burst of military eloquence from the conqueror of
Montebello was constantly interrupted by applause ; three
times the minister of war attempted to reply, and three
times the renewed shouts interrupted his words ; finally,
however, there was silence, and Berthier spoke as follows :

" To bring to the borders of the Seine trophies won
upon the banks of the Nile ; to suspend from the arches
of our temples, beside flags from Vienna, Petersburg, and
London, the flags which were once blessed in the mosques
of Byzantium and Cairo ; to see them presented here to our
country by the same warriors, young in years but old in
glory, whom victory has so often crowned, is an achieve-
ment which belongs to republican France alone. And
this is only a small part of what, in the flower of his age,
has been accomplished by this hero, who, covered with the
laurels of Europe, appeared as a conqueror before those
pyramids from whose summits forty centuries watched
him as he freed by victory the natal land of the arts, and,
surrounded by learned men and warriors, brought to it the
light of civilization.

'^* Soldiers ! place in this temple of warlike virtues
these ensigns of the Crescent, taken from the rocks of
Canope by three thousand Frenchmen from eighteen thou-
sand warriors as brave as they were barbaric ! May they
preserve the memory of this celebrated expedition, whose
object and success seem to be to absolve war of the evils
which it causes ! May they bear witness, not to the
bravery of the French soldier, for the whole universe is
ringing with that, but to his unalterable constancy and
his sublime devotion ! May the sight of these flags re-
joice and console you, warriors, whose bodies, mutilated
gloriously upon the battlefields of honor, permit to your
courage nothing more than wishes and memories ! From
this roof may these ensigns proclaim to the enemies of the


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French the influence of the genius and valor of the heroes
who conquered them, and may they prophesy to them all
the evils of war if they remain deaf to the voice which
offers them peace ! Yes, if they wish for war they shall
have it, and that terribly !

" Satisfied France contemplates the army of the East
with a feeling of pride. This invincible army will learn
with joy that the brave men who conquered with it have
been its organ ; it knows that the First Consul watches
over the children of glory ; it will know that it is the ob-
ject of the affectionate care of the Republic ; it will know
that we have honored it in our temples, and that if neces-
sary we will imitate upon the battlefields of Europe the
warlike virtues which we have seen displayed in the burn-
ing deserts of Africa and Asia.

"Come in its name, intrepid general! come in the
name of all these heroes here before you, and receive in
this embrace the pledge of national gratitude !

*^ But as we take up again the protecting arms of our
independence, if the blind fury of kings refuses to the
world the peace which we offer it, let us, my comrades,
throw a laurel branch upon the ashes of Washington, that

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Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 14 of 24)