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was evident that his friend had at his tongue's end a secret
which he hesitated to reveal. Roland endeavored to come
to his aid. Therefore, when the breakfast was almost
ended, with that frankness which amounted almost to bru-


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tality with him, he said, leaning his elbows upon the
table and putting his chin between his hands, —

" Well, my dear Sir John, so you have something to
say to your friend Roland which you do not dare to tell

Sir John trembled, and from being very pale became

" Why," continued Roland, ** it seems to be very dif-
ficult for you. If you have anything to ask of me, Sir
John, I know very little that I could refuse you. Speak,
therefore, for I am listening to you."

Roland shut his eyes as if to concentrate all his atten-
tion on what Sir John was about to tell him. But this
seemed to be from Lord Tanlay's point of view a very
difficult thing to say. At the end of five minutes, seeing
that Sir John remained mute, Roland opened his eyes
again. Sir John had become pale again, but his pallor
was greater than it had been before he had blushed.
Roland held out his hand to him.

** Come," he said, " I see that you want to complain to
me of the manner in which you were treated at the Ch&teau
of Noires-Fontaines."

" Exactly, my friend ; for from my stay in that ch&teau
will date the happiness or the misery of my life."

Roland looked at Sir John fixedly. "Ah," he said,
"can I be happy enough — " And he stopped, under-
standing that from the ordinary point of view in society
he was about to commit an indiBcretion.

" Oh," said Sir John, " finish, ray dear Roland I "

"Shall 11"

" I beg of you 1 "

"And if I am mistaken, — if I am about to say some'
thing foolish 1 "

" My friend, my friend 1 finish I **


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" Well, I was about to say, my lord, can I be happy
enough to believe that your highness does my sister the
honor of being in love with her 1 "

Sir John uttered a cry of joy, and with a rapid move-
ment, of which one would have thought him incapable, he
threw himself into Roland's. arms.

" Your sister is an angel, my dear Roland," he cried ;
"and I love her with all my heart."

" You are completely free, my lord 1 "

" Completely. For the last twelve years, as I told you,
I have had command of my fortune, and that fortune
amounts to twenty-five thousand pounds sterling a year."

" That is a great deal too much, my friend, for a girl
who can bring to you only fifty thousand francs."

" Ah," said the Englishman, with that national accent
which came to him often in moments of great emotion,
•' if it is a question of getting rid of my fortune, I can
easily do that."

" No," said Roland, laughing, " that is useless. You
are unfortunately rich, but there is nothing to be done
about it. No, that is not the question. Do you love my
sister 1"

"Oh, I adore her r

" And does my sister love you ^ ** asked Roland.

"You must understand," replied Sir John, "that I
have not asked her. It was right for me, before everything
else, my dear Roland, to speak to you ; and if the thing
pleased you, to beg you to plead my cause with your
mother. Then when I had attained the consent of both
of you, I should declare myself, — or rather, my dear Ro-
land, you would make the declaration for me, for I should
never dare to do it."

" Then I have received your first confidence 1 "

" You are my best friend, and it is only right."


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" Well, my friend, so far as I am concerned, your suit
is of course won."

" There remain your mother and your sister."

" They are like one, you understand. My mother will
leave Amelie entirely free to make her own choice, and I
do not need to tell you that if this choice should fall upon
you my mother would be perfectly happy. But there is
some one else whom you have forgotten."

" Who 1 " asked Sir John, like a man who has for a long
time pondered upon the contrary and favorable chances of
a project, who believes that he has passed them all in re-
view, and who suddenly finds a new obstacle which he
had not expected.

" The First Consul," said Roland.

" God ! " exclaimed the Englishman, swallowing

half of the national oath.

" Before my departure for la Vendue," continued Ro-
land, "he spoke to mo of my sister's marriage, saying
that it was no longer our concern, my mother's and mine,
but his own."

"Then," said Sir John, " I am lost."


" Because the First Consul does not like the English."

" Say, rather, that the English do not like the First

" Who will speak of my wish to him 1 "

" I."

" And you will speak of it as of something agreeable to

" I will be like a dove of peace between two nations,"
said Roland, rising.

" Oh, thanks 1 " cried Sir John, seizing the young man's
hand. Then regretfully he added: "You are going


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" My dear friend, I have leave only for a few hours. I
have given one to my mother, and two to you, and I owe
one to your friend Edward. I am going to see him, and
recommend his masters to allow him to knock about at
his ease with his comrades ; then I shall return to the

" Wei], give him my compliments, and tell him that I
have ordered a pair of pistols for him, so that he will have
no further need, when he is attacked by bandits, of using
the conductor's pistols."

Roland looked at Sir John. "What is thatT' he

" What ! do you not know ] "

"No ; what is it that I do not know?"

" Something which has almost made our poor Am^lie
die of fright."

"What is it r*

" The attack upon the diligence."

"What diligence]"

" The one in which your mother was travelling."

" The diligence in which my mother was travelling] "


" The diligence in which my mother was travelling was

" You saw Mme. de Montrevel, and she told you
nothing about iti"

"Not a word of it."

" Well, my dear Edward has been a hero. As nobody
else resisted, he did it himself. He took the conductor's
pistols and fired."

" Brave child ! " cried Roland.

" Yes ; but unfortunately, or fortunately, the conductor
had had the precaution to take the bullets out of them.
Edward was caressed by the companions of Jehu as being

VOL. II. — 7


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the bravest of the brave, but he neither killed nor wounded
any one."

" And you are sure of what you are telling me ?"

" I repeat that your sister almost died of fright about

" It is well," said Roland.

« What is wein" asked Sir John.

"It is only one reason the more why I should see

" What is it now 1 "


" You will share it with me ] "

** No, indeed ! my projects do not turn out very well
for you."

" But you understand, my dear Roland, that if there
was a risk to- be taken — "

" I would take it for both of us. You are in love, my
dear loi-d ; live in your love ! "

" And you promise me your support ] "

" Most certainly. I have the greatest desire to call you
my brother."
. " Are you weary of calling me your friend 1 "

" Yes, that is too weak a word."

They shook hands and parted. A quarter of an hour
afterwards Roland was at the French Prytaneum. It was
situated where the Lyceum of Louis le Grand is situated
to-day, towards the end of the Rue St. -Jacques, behind
the Sorbonne. At the first word which the director of
the establishment said to him, Roland saw that his young
brother had been particularly recommended. They sent
for the boy.

Edward threw himself into his elder brother's arms
with that adoration which he had always felt for him.
Roland, after the first greetings, turned the conversation


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towards the stopping of the diligence.. Mme. de Mon-
trevel had said nothing of it, and Lord Tanlay had been
sober in his details ; but it was not thus with Edward.
This stopping of the diligence was his Iliad. He related
the affair to Roland down to the last detail, — Jerome's
connivance with the bandits; the pistols loaded with
powder only ; his mother's fainting-fit, and the assistance
which was lavished upon her during this faint by the very
ones who had caused it ; his baptismal name unknown to
the thieves ; and finally the mask which had for a moment
fallen from the face of the one who had assisted Mme.
de Montrevel, so that she had been able to see his

Eoland dwelt particularly upon this last detail. Then
the child related his audience with the First Consul, and
told how the latter had embraced him, caressed him,
petted him, and finally recommended him to the director
of the French Prytaneum.

Roland learned from the child all that he wanted to
know ; and as it was only five minutes* walk from the Rue
St.-Jacques to the Luxembourg, he soon reached the
latter place.


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When Eoland re-entered the Luxembourg, the palace
clock marked the hour of quarter-past one in the after-
noon. The First Consul was at work with Bourrienne.

If we were telling a simple romance, we should hasten
to the end ; and in order to reach it the sooner we should
neglect certain details which can assuredly be allowed to
grand historical figures. That is not our way. From the
moment when we first took up our pen, now thirty years
ago, whether we were engaged upon a drama or a romance,
we had a double end in view, — to instruct as well as to
amuse; and we intentionally say "instruct" first, for
amusement with us is only a mask for instruction. Have
we succeeded 1 We think so. We shall soon have cov-
ered an immense period with our stories : between the
" Countess of Salisbury " and the " Count of Monte Cristo "
lie five centuries and a half; and we are bold enough to
think that concerning those five centurias and a half we
have taught France more history than any historian. And
more : although our political opinions are well known ;
and although under the Bourbons of the elder as well as
of the younger branch, under the republic as under the
actual government, we have been at no pains to conceal
them, — yet we do not think we have ever intruded these
opinions olBTensively, either in our dramas or in our books.
We admire the Marquis of Posa in Schiller's ** Don Carlos ; "
but in Schiller's place we would not have anticipated the


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spirit of the times to such an extent as to place a philo-
sopher of the eighteenth century among Tieroes of the six-
teenth, an encyclopaedist at the court of Philippe II.
Thus even as we were, literally speaking, a monarchist un-
der the monarchy and a republican under the republic, so
we are to-day a reconstruction! st under the consulate. But
this does not prevent our thought-s from taking a higher
plane than men or epochs, or deter us from giving each
one his part in good as in evil.

Now, no one, with the exception of God, has a right to
judge a man by himself alone. Those Egyptian kings
who up to the moment when they were about to enter the
unknown were judged up to the threshold of their tomb,
were judged not by a man, but by a people. That is the
meaning of the saying, " The judgment of a people is the
judgment of God." Historian, romancist, poet, and drama-
tic author though we are, we are nothing more than one
of those judges in a trial by jury who impartially sum up
the arguments and leave the decision to the jury. The
book is the summing up, and the readers are the jury.
And this is why, when we are painting one of the most
gigantic figures, not of the modern world but of all time,
and painting it moreover at a moment of transition, when
Bonaparte was becoming Napoleon, and the general was
merging into the emperor, — that is why, we say, we, fear-
ing to be thought unjust, abandon estimates and substitute

We are not of the opinion of Voltaire, who says, " No
man is a hero to his valet de chambrej^ It may be that
the valet is near-sighted or envious, — two infirmities
which resemble each other more nearly than people gen-
erally suppose. We, for our part, maintain that a hero
may become a good man ; but that a good man, in order
to be a good man, is not the less a hero. What is a hero^


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in public estimation ) A man whose genias momentarily
gets the better of his heart. What is a hero, in private
life 1 A man whose heart overpowers his genius. Histo-
rians judge the genius; people judge the heart. Who
judged Charlemagne 1 The historians. Who judged
Henry IV.] The people. Which is the better judge]
Well, in order that a judgment may be just, and that the
court of appeal, which is nothing more nor less than pos-
terity, may confirm the judgment of contemporaries, it is
not enough to let the light fall upon one side alone of the
figure which is to be painted ; one must go all around it,
and where the sun does not fall, one must bring the torch
and even the candle.

Let us return to Bonaparte. He worked, as we have
eaid, with Bourrienne. How did the First Consul divide
his time at the Luxembourg] He rose from seven to
eight o'clock in the morning, called one of his secretaries
at once, — Bourrienne in preference, — and worked with
him until ten o'clock. At that time breakfast was an-
nounced. Josephine, Hortense, and Eugene sat down to
the table with him, as did Bourrienne and the aides-de'
camp who were in attendance. Afterwards he talked with
those who had breakfasted with him, and with invited
guests if there were any; an hour was devoted to this
conversation, at which appeared usually his two brothers,
Lucien and Joseph, Regnault de St.-Jean-d'Angely,
Boulay (de la Meurthe), Monge, BerthoUet, Laplace, and
Arnault. Towards upon Cambac^r^s arrived. Bonaparte
usually devoted a half-hour to his chancellor, and then
suddenly rising he would say, " Au revoir, Josephine ; au
revoir, Hortense ; Bourrienne, come to work." This re-
quest was always couched in the same terms and at the
same hour, and as soon as it was pronounced Bonaparte
left the salon and went back to his private office. There


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no method of work was adopted, — all depended upon
urgency op caprice. Perhaps Bonaparte dictated, or Bour-
rienne read aloud ; after which the First Consul went to
the council. For the first months he was obliged, in order
to reach the council, to cross the court of the little Lux-
embourg ; in rainy weather this put him in a very bad
humor ; but towards the end of December he had the happy
idea of covering over the court ; after that, he almost al-
ways came singing to his cabinet. He sang almost as badly
as Louis XV. When he was once more at home he
examined the work which had been done, signed a few
letters, stretched himself out in an armchair, the aims of
which he cut with a penknife while he talked ; if he
was not in the mood for talking, he read over the letters
which he had received on the previous day, or the current
pamphlets, laughing at intervals like a great good-natured
child ; then suddenly, as if awakening from a dream, he
would stand up, saying, " Write, Bourrienne ! " And then
he would describe some monument to be erected, or dic-
tate some one of those immense projects which have aston-
ished, or rather frightened, the world. At five o'clock
they dined ; after dinner the First Consul repaired to
Josephine's apartments, where he received his ministers,
and particularly the minister of foreign affairs, M. de
Talleyrand. At midnight, sometimes sooner, but never
later, he gave the signal for departure, saying abruptly,
" Let us go to bed." The next morning at seven o'clock
the same life began again, seldom disturbed by unforeseen

After these details concerning the personal habits of the
powerful genius whom we are attempting to show under
his early aspect, it seems to us his portrait ought to

Bonaparte the First Consul has left even fewer records


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of his personal appearance than Napoleon the Emperor ;
and as the Emperor of 1812 was totally unlike the First
Consul of 1800, we will indicate, if possible, with out pen
those features which the pencil cannot transcribe, that
face which neither bronze nor marble can fix.

Most of the painters and sculptors of this illustrious
period of art, in which flourished Gros, David, Prud'hon,
Girodet, and Bosio, have endeavored to preserve for pos-
terity the features of the man of destiny as he looked at
different epochs of his life. Thus we have portraits of
Bonaparte as General-in-Chief, as First Consul, and of
Napoleon as Emperor ; and although painters and sculp-
tors have been more or less successful in catching the
type of his face, it may be sweepingly asserted that there
does not exist, either of the General, the First Consul, or
the Emperor, a single portrait or bust which perfectly
resembles him. This is owing to the fact that it is not
given even to genius to triumph over impossibilities ; that
during the first period of his life it was possible to paint
or sculpture his protuberant head, his forehead with its
wrinkle furrowed by thought, his pale face, his granite-
like complexion, and the habitual thoughtfulness of his
expression ; that later they could paint or sculpture his
enlarged forehead, his admirably drawn eyebrows, his
straight nose, his compressed lips, his chin modelled with
rare perfection, and his whole face like a medal of Augus-
tus, — but that neither bust nor portrait could preserve
that which is out of the domain of imitation ; namely,
his changeful expression, — that expression which is to
man what the lightning is to God ; namely, the proof of
his divinity. This expression, with Bonaparte, obeyed his
will with the rapidity of lightning; in the same mo-
ment it leaped from beneath his eyelids, now swift and
piercing as the steel of a dagger drawn violently from its


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sheath, now gentle as a sunbeam or a caress, and now
severe as a question or terrible as a menace. Bonaparte
had a separate glance for each emotion which agitated his
soul. With Napoleon, this expression, except in the great
events of his life, ceased to be mobile and became fixed ;
but although it was fixed, it was impossible to transcribe it ;
it was like a gimlet, boring into the heart of the one at
whom he looked, and seeming to penetrate to the pro-
foundest depths and the most secret thoughts. Marble
and paint have been able to catch the fixed look, but not
its life, its penetrating and magnetic action. Troubled
hearts have veiled eyes.

Bonaparte, even when he was thinnest, had beautiful
hands ; he displayed a certain amount of coquetry in the
way he used them. When he grew stouter, his hands be-
came superb ; he took particular care of them, and when
he was talking he would look at them complacently. He
had the same opinion of his teeth ; they certainly were
beautiful, but they had not the splendor of his hands.
When he walked, whether alone or with any one, whether
in the house or in the garden, he almost always stooped a
little, as if his head were too heavy to carry ; and, with
his hands crossed behind his back, he frequently made
an involuntary movement of the right shoulder, as if a
nervous shiver passed over it, and at the same time his
mouth made a motion from left to right. But these move-
ments, whatever may have been said, had nothing con-
vulsive about them ; they were simply a matter of habit,
indicating in him a great preoccupation, a sort of con-
gestion of the mind ; it came more frequently at times
when the General, the First Consul, or the Emperor was
musing on vast projects. It was after such walks, ac-
companied by the double movement of the mouth and
shoulder, that he dictated his most important notes ; on


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the field, in the army, and on horseback he was indefat-
igable, and he was almost equally indefatigable in ordinary
life, when he sometimes walked for five or six hours in
succession without noticing it. When he was walking
with some one with whom he was familiar, he was in the
habit of passing his arm within that of his companion,
and leaning upon it. Thin and spare as he was at the
period at which he is introduced to the reader, yet he
was already dreading his future obesity ; and it was
usually Bourrienne to whom he imparted these singular

" You see, Bourrienne, how temperate and thin I am,"
he would say ; " and yet I am possessed with the idea that
at forty I shall be a great eater, and that I shall grow
very stout. I foresee that my constitution will change,
in spite of the fact that I take plenty of exercise ; it is a
presentiment, and cannot fail to happen."

We know how stout the prisoner of St. Helena be-
came. He had a passion for bathing, which doubtless
contributed towards making him stout. A bath was to
him an irresistible necessity ; he took one once in two
days, and remained in it two hours, during which time he
had the journals and pamphlets read to him. In the
mean time he kept increasing the temperature of the room,
until it became so high that the reader could no longer
' endure it, or even see to read ; then, and then only, would
he permit the door to be opened. Attacks of epilepsy
have been spoken of, which he is said to have had during
the first campaign in Italy ; but Bourrienne, who was with
him eleven years, never saw one. On the other hand,
although he was indefatigable by day, he felt at night an
imperative need of sleep, particularly at the period of
which we are speaking. Bonaparte, as general or first
consul, insisted upon vigilance in others; but he slept


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himself, and slept well. He went to bed at midnight,
sometimes earlier; and when at seven o'clock in the
morning they went into his room to wake him, he was
always sleeping. Usually he rose at the first call, but
sometimes, half asleep, he would mutter, " Bourrienne, I
beg of you, let me sleep a moment longer;" and if there
was nothing important on hand, Bourrienne would leave
him until eight o'clock ; but if he insisted, Bonaparte,
still grumbling, would get up. He slept seven, and some-
times eight hours out of the tvrenty-foiir, for he would
occasionally take a nap in the afternoon. He gave spe-
cial instructions concerning the night.

" In the night," he said, " you will enter my room as
little as possible ; never wake me when you have good
news to communicate, — good news can wait ; but if you
have bad news, wake me at once, for in that case there is
not a moment to lose."

As soon as Bonaparte had risen and made his morning
toilet, which was always very complete, his valet entered,
and shaved him and combed his hair. While this was
being done, a secretary or an aide-de-camp read the
journals to him, always beginning with the " Moniteur."
He never paid much attention to any except the English
and German ones. " Never mind that," he would say about
the French journals ; " I know what they say, because
they never say anything except what I wish.*' When
Bonaparte's toilet was made, he left his bedroom and went
down to his office. We have already seen what he did
there. As we have said, breakfast was announced at ten
o'clock. The steward made the announcement in these
words: " The General is served,'*— ^ no other title, not
even that of first consul. The meal was a frugal one.
Every morning Bonaparte was served with a dish of which
he was very fond ; it was chicken fried in oil, with gap-


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lie, — the same dish which now appears upon the bills
of fare at restaurants under the name of poulet d, la

Bonaparte drank little, taking only Bordeaux or Bur-
gundy wine, and preferably the latter. After both break-
fast and dinner he took a cup of black coflfee, but never
at his meals. When he worked late at night, he had
chocolate instead of coffee brought to him, and his secre-
tary had the same. Most historians, chroniclers, and
biographers, after saying that Bonaparte drank a great
deal of coffee, add that he took snuff to an immoderate
extent. This is a double error. From the age of twenty-

Online LibraryAlexandre DumasThe companions of Jehu → online text (page 7 of 24)