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Pont Eoyal.

" Good God ! " cried M. Charles, what will become of
us ? The horse is running away ; I have no power over it."
" Sir, I conjure you — I entreat you ; a wife who adores
me, sir, is waiting for me ... I beseech you, sir ! "
" What would you have me do ? " said M. Charles,
slightly touching the flanks of the mare with the whip, —
" what would you have me do ? you see I have no com-
mand of the mare . . . she is running away . . . that 's
certain . . . God grant that she may not drag us to the
river!" "M. Charles, let me alight. . . . You are a
worthy man ; you would not kill me. . . . Good heavens !
here we are upon the bridge ! "

" Well, so much the better ; it proves that we shall not
go under it ; you see there is nothing to fear now. Will
you be quiet ? By Jove, you will put me in a passion
presently ! " exclaimed M. Charles, half angry and half
laughing, for the old poet was trying to get hold of the
reins.

" Oh, what will become of me ! " muttered D'Offreville,
almost crying ; " and my wife, my poor wife ! " " Ah ! you
shall see your wife again by-and-by," said M. Charles;
" only let me get home, then I will put you into a hack-
ney coach, and you shall return home to console your



THE HACKNEY COACHMAN. 131

wife, who is no doubt fast asleep without thinking of
you." " And do you live far off, my worthy friend ?
Heavens ! how the cabriolet sways ! Do you live far
off?"

" In the Eue des Maturins." " The Eue des Maturins !
then I shall not get home before five o'clock in the morn-
ing ! " " Be quiet, will you ! and let me drive the mare
without meddliQg with the reins ; and we shall arrive all
the sooner."

At last they reached the Eue Neuve des Maturins.
But not the least amusing part of the adventure to M.
Charles was the anger of the hackney coachman to whose
care he now confided D'Offreville, as they both stood and
looked at his whimsical and disordered dress, besmeared
with powder that had fallen from his hair. The coach-
man said he would not take charge of a masked and dis-
guised person at a time when there was no carnival.
D'Offreville, amongst whose delusions was that of being
very eloquent, undertook to persuade the man to drive
him home by speaking of his wife and her love, himself
and his talent ; and afterwards boasted of his success as a
triumph of his oratorical powers. " The Muses," said he,
" touched my lips, like Pindar's, with milk and honey."

[The truth was that M. Charles, unknown to his com-
panion, had put a crown-piece into the coachman's hand.]



CHAPTER XIII.

We have now attained a new and memorable epoch in
our history, that of the re-establishment of thrones and
of religion. The foundation of several republics was the
work of General Bonaparte ; when at the head of an
army, not yet his subjects, his moderation procured him
even more renown than his victories. Now that his
powerful hand directed the destinies of France, he at-
tempted to set up a petty crown, to place a baby sceptre
in the hands of a man incapable of reigning, as if he
would say to France, already grown unaccustomed to
sovereignty : " See what a king is ! Be not afraid of
the phantom ! "

This monarch, whose new dignity procured for him
more ridicule than respect, was the King of Etruria,
Don Louis, Infant of Parma, nephew of Queen Marie
Antoinette,^ and husband of the Infanta Maria Louisa
Josephine, daughter of Charles lY. They came to Paris
in the month of May, 1801, to thank the First Consul
for their nomination to the crown of Etruria, which was
a stipulation of the treaty between France and Spain
concluded on the 21st of March, at Madrid. By this
treaty France acquired the Duchy of Parma, and ceded
Tuscany to the Prince, giving him as an indemnity for
his paternal inheritance the territory we had conquered
from his uncle. - But the King, Louis I., was very pos-

1 Maria Theresa had four surviving daughters, married to the King of
Naples, the King of France, the Duke of Parma, and to the Duke of
Saxe-Tescheu respectively.



KING AND QUEEN OF ETRURIA. 133

sibly ignorant who was the Sovereign of Tuscany before
it fell to his share ; though had he known it, I am by
no means certain that he would on that account have
refused the crown.

I never beheld two more extraordinary persons than
these new Sovereigns. They assumed the incognito of
Count and Countess of Livorno (Leghorn), and brought
with them a Countling, who, though not quite three
years old, was made of more importance than both his
illustrious parents put together. Those who have not
seen this royal personage at five years of age, in full
Court dress, a hat and feathers under his arm ; a sword
at his side, decorated with a huge bunch of ribands ; his
poor little locks powdered and frizzed, confined in a bag
wig, driven through the streets of Florence on the front
seat of a state carriage, and, though fastened to his
cushion, rolling from right to left like a little ball ; the
Queen Dowager, his mother, riding backwards in the
most respectful attitude, — whoever has not beheld this
spectacle has missed one of those exquisitely ridiculous
scenes which prolong laughter till it becomes painful.

At the time I am speaking of, as the King his father
was still living, the Prince Koyal of Etruria was content
to give his little hand to be kissed, whether asked for or
not. As for his parents, all who remember their arrival
and sojourn in Paris in 1801 will agree with me how
totally dissimilar they were from all other human be-
ings, especially if Her Majesty the Queen is to be com-
pared with a woman of even moderate beauty, or the
King with a man possessed of a single idea.

Fetes were given to the King of Etruria, not from any
regard to the new-fangled monarch, but from a spontane-
ous desire to meet the wishes of the First Consul, who
well knew how to appreciate the sentiments which
dictated the attention. The reception given to his



134 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTES.

tributary King, who was come to tender to the Ee«
public homage for his crown, was at once magnificent
and in good taste. He was, in the first instance, cor-
dially entertained at Malmaison.

The First Consul wished to become acquainted with
the character of the man on whom he had bestowed a
kingdom, enriched by the noblest monuments of art and
science ; a very few interviews, however, sufficed to
prove that he was nullity personified. Not so the
Queen. Her appearance was at first repulsive ; but on
further acquaintance, when she had thrown aside a
timidity partaking in some degree of stateliness, which
threw a restraint over her words and actions, she proved
to be very agreeable.

M. de Talleyrand was the first of the Ministers who
gave a feU to the new Sovereigns. The entertainment
was given at Neuilly, in the month of June, when the
country was in its highest beauty. Taste and ingenuity
were displayed in all the arrangements, but both were
lost upon him for whose enjoyment the whole was chiefly
intended. T\\<i fete was Florentine, and its illusion com-
plete. The beautiful square of the Pitti Palace was
admirably represented, and when their Majesties de-
scended to the garden they were surrounded by crowds
of pretty Tuscan peasant girls, offering them flowers,
singing couplets, and enticing the royal pair into their
groups to hear verses in their own praise. This was fol-
lowed by the famous improwisatore Gianni prophesying
for them, in fine Italian verse, a long and prosperous
reign. All this made no impression on King Louis.
The Queen, who alone understood it, made acknowledg-
ments for both. .

The finest of these fetes was that given by the Minister
of the Interior. He had not, like M. de Talleyrand, the
advantage of a villa in the country, but his garden was



A ROYAL HARLEQUIN. 135

skilfully laid out to bear the appearance of a park, and
the whole scene reminded one of fairyland. Three hun-
dred and fifty ladies found seats in that fine gallery where
Lucien in the preceding year had given such agreeable
balls, which, pleasant as they were, certainly afforded no
presage of M. Chaptal's evening of enchantment. The
First Consul was enraptured, and, though seldom known
to take notice of such matters, not only expressed his
satisfaction at the time, but long afterwards reverted to
the invisible singers and the ravishing harmony of M.
Chaptal's gardens.

Yet here, as at Neuilly, all the delicate courtesies
shown in honour of the Sovereigns were appreciated by
the Queen alone ; the poor King could not find a word of
thanks for so much pains expended on feting and pleasing
him ; even when, in the midst of a Tuscan village, where
Tuscan peasants were singing in chorus the beautiful
lines of Tasso and Petrarch, which he could scarcely fail
of understanding, a crown of flowers was offered him,
accompanied by flattering verses, still not a syllable
could he say — the same eternal and unmeaning smile,
which seemed to express that he could not comprehend
even the language and scenery of Italy, still sat upon
his lips.

In the dance his Tuscan Majesty was really amusing.
I had the honour of figuring near him at the ball given by
the Minister of War on the anniversary of the Battle of
Marengo, and congratulate myself on my wonderful self-
control in preserving my gravity through the whole
country-dance. The King, dancing with Queen Hor-
tense, skipped and jumped about in a manner by no
means beseeming the royal dignity. In one of his
capers a buckle from his shoe suddenly flew into the air,
and alighted in my head-dress; and so highly was the
King's mirth excited by its course and final resting-



136 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

place, that he was nearly choked with laughter. We
were little less diverted when, on examining the buckle
to ascertain how it had found its way from the royal
foot to my head, it was discovered that it had been only
glued to the shoe.^

1 This unfortunate Prince was very ill-calculated to recommend, by his
personal character, the institutions to which the nobility clung with so
much fondness. Kature had endowed him with an excellent heart, but
with very limited talents ; and his mind had imbibed the false impress
consequent upon his monastic education. He resided at Malmaison
nearly the whole time of his visit to Paris. Madame Bonaparte used
to lead the Queen to her own apartments ; and as the First Consul never
left his closet except to sit do^vn to meals, the aides-de-camp were under
the necessity of keeping the King company, and of endeavouring to enter-
tain him, so wholly was he devoid of intellectual resources. It required,
indeed, a great share of patience to listen to the frivolities which en-
grossed his attention. His turn of mind being thus laid open to view,
care was taken to supply him with the playthings usually placed in the
hands of children; he was, therefore, never at a loss for occupation. His
nonentity was a source of regret to us : we lamented to see a tall, hand-
some youth, destined to rule over his fellow-men, trembling at the sight
of a horse, and wasting his time in the game of hide-and-seek, or at leap-
frog, and whose whole information consisted in knowing his prayers, and
in saying grace before and after meals ! Such, nevertheless, was the man
to whom the destinies of a nation were about to be committed ! When
he left France to repair to his kingdom, " Rome need not be uneasy," said
the First Consul to us after the farewell audience, " there is no danger of
his crossing the Rubicon " {Memoirs of the Duke of Rovifjo, vol. i., p. 363).

I once heard the First Consul, in a conversation with his colleague,
Cambaceres, treat his royal protege, the King of Etruria, very severely.
Of course his Majesty was not present. " This good King," said he,
" evinces no great concern for his dear and well-beloved subjects. He
spends his time in gossiping with old women, to whom he is very lavish
of his praise to me, though in secret he murmurs bitterly at the thought
of owing his elevation to the hateful French Republic." "It is alleged,"
observed M. Cambace'res, " that you wished to disgust the French people
with kings by showing them this fine specimen of royalty, as the Spar-
tans used to disgust their children with intoxication by showing them a
drunken slave." " Not at all, not at all," resumed the First Consul, " I
have no wish to excite a distaste for royalty ; but the presence of his
Majesty the King of Etruria, will vex a good many worthy folks who
are striving hard to revive a taste for the Bourbons" {Memoires de
Constant).

The King, though well received and well entertained, was in all respects



CEDIPUS. 137

This fete, of the Minister of War acquired a peculiar
character from the supper being served in the garden,
under tents, with all the military appendages of a
bivouac, and from the charm imparted by the glorious
day which this fete, was intended to recall. The fire-
works were so designed as to show to the First Consul
that the army which surrounded him could honour him
alone. A balloon was sent up in the course of the even-
ing, which, against the dark azure of a clear sky, lumi-
nously traced as it rose the word " Marengo. "

One evening during the King of Etruria's stay in Paris
the First Consul accompanied him to the Comedie Fran-
gaise to see (Edipus. The house was crowded to excess.
All Paris was desirous to see, side by side. General Bona-
parte, who as a private individual had created republics,
and the King he was crowning, now that he was himself
Chief of the most powerful Kepublic in the world. The
manners of the new King were especially amusing when
contrasted with those of the First Consul, who was
always calm, serious, and well calculated to stand the
gaze of millions.

When Philoctetes repeated the line, " I have made
Sovereigns, but have refused to be one, " the noise of the
acclamations with which the theatre resounded was almost
alarming. The whole house was shaken by applauding
feet, while the audience in the boxes, who seldom take
part in such scenes, unanimously joined in the cheers of
the pit. It was the universal nation expressing to Napo-
leon the sentiment which filled all hearts.

As for the King, he started at first in his arm-chair,

a very ordinary man. Not that I had an opportunity of judging of his
character myself, but the First Consul told me that his capabilities were
extremely limited ; that he even felt repugnance to take a pen in his
hand; that he never cast a thought on anything but his pleasures, — in
a word, that he was a fool (Bourrienne's Memoirs of Napoleon, vol. ii.
p. 74).



138 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

then laughed most complacently on observing all hands
and eyes directed towards the box where he sat with the
First Consul. But the mirth of those who knew him
was complete when, finding the applause prolonged, he
thought politeness required some mark of attention in
return for such unequivocal proofs of an interest he was
quite proud, as he said, of inspiring in so great a people;
and he rose to make his best obeisance.

" Poor King ! " said the First Consul, shrugging his
shoulders. These words, " Poor King ! " appear the more
contemptuous from his mouth, covered as he was with
laurels, and radiant with the glory of his great deeds.
But on all occasions a word either of praise or contempt
has appeared to me more impressive from him than from
other men.

After a visit of some weeks the King and Queen of
Etruria quitted Paris and proceeded to their own king-
dom of perfumes, where they were received and installed
in their throne by Murat. "The rising generation,"
said the First Consul one day, laughing, " were unac-
quainted with the face of a King; well, we have
shown them one. " But his countenance instantly re-
covered its seriousness, and he added : " Poor Tuscany !
poor Tuscany ! "

Shortly before the arrival of the King of Etruria in
Paris, an aristocratic measure was under discussion, —
that of the lists of eligibility relative to elections, the
object of which was to fill all official posts with select
persons.

Cambac^rfes, strange as it may seem, pronounced
strongly in favour of the lists, and the First Consul held
a long discussion with him. Napoleon said that the lists
were founded on a bad system, and on false and erroneous
principles. " France, " said he, " is a great Power, but
it is the people who compose that power. This law,



REGNAULT DE SAINT JEAN-D'ANGELY. 139

although a part of the constitution, is not therefore the
less bad and absurd. It is not fifty, sixty, or even a hun-
dred men, assembling together in a moment of tumult
and excitement, who have a right to make a constitution
and to alienate the rights of the people. The sovereignty
of the people is inalienable. " These are the very words
of Napoleon ; they were written in pencil by him who
gave them to me, and he wrote them as they fell from the
First Consul. Did they truly interpret his sentiments ?

It was some weeks previous to this incident that the
establishment of the Legion of Honour, one of the most
remarkable events of the whole rule of Napoleon, was first
talked of. This affair doubtless made an impression, but
less than proportionate to the difficulty with which it had
been effected. It would not, perhaps, have been possible
to have achieved the victory so early had not the First
Consul been powerfully seconded by Eegnault de Saint
Jean-d'Angely, a man of great ability, whose portrait is
necessary here, as his name will be found in every page
of Napoleon's history. Eegnault, having, like nearly
all the members of the Constituent Assembly and of the
Convention, taken a denomination from the place of his
residence, was, as his name indicates, from Saint Jean-
d'Angely, where, however, his parents, who belonged to
that class known before the Eevolution as the honne
bourgeoisie, had but recently established themselves.
They intended their son for a merchant ; but the young
man determined otherwise for himself, and, finding his
parents inexorable, quitted the paternal mansion, where
no better prospect than an insufferable slavery awaited
him, to wander he knew not whither. Happily he met
a family friend, who, entering into his character and
feelings, and being desirous to save both him and his
parents from eternal regret, brought him back to his
home, and induced them to educate him for the Bar.



140 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANXilS.

Thus was laid the foundation of Eegnault's success. He
studied, and very soon displayed a brilliant and original
eloquence, combined with a force of reasoning which
placed him at once on a level with the most distinguished
orators.

Napoleon, who knew how to discriminate between
talent and mediocrity, designed Eegnault, from the
moment he heard him speak, for one of the speakers in
his Council of State. Eegnault, on his part, also judged
the Colossus; and, strange to say, in many instances
fathomed his real thoughts through the veil with which,
though Napoleon was not deceitful, his simple and vigor-
ous ideas were frequently covered. Eegnault, in listening
to discussions introduced by the First Consul, seldom
coincided in the opinion first mooted by him ; he opposed
it, and, curiously enough, generally found himself main-
taining the side of the argument which Napoleon really
intended to preponderate. If this was the effect of ad-
dress, it was excusable.

The creation of the Legion of Honour, when it was first
mooted, excited feelings and discussions of which, in the
present day, it is impossible to convey an idea. The
creation of, an order of knighthood in a country filled
with republican institutions, and resolved on equality,
appeared at first, even to those who, from their reputation
in arms, were entitled to be chiefs of the order, a sort of
monstrosity. None of them had even imagined that the
First Consul would one day assume the sovereignty of the
State. I do not think that the Consulate for life had yet
been talked of ; Napoleon now held the office for ten years
only.

" Well, after all^ " said my mother to Junot, " I assure
you, my dear son, a green, red, or blue ribbon is a very
pretty thing over a black coat or a white waistcoat I
am fond of these talismans of ambition. The Consular



THE FIRST CONSUL'S ORATORY. 141

Court is now rising with an eclat far surpassing its pre-
decessors. You will agree with me that, unless power
possesses both the will and the means to make itself re-
spected, it is indispensable to surround it with a sort of
theatrical splendour, to prevent its becoming an object
of mockery. Bonaparte is a man of sense and tact; he
understands all this, and reduces it to practice. You

will see where all this will end " And my mother

gently nodded her head, as she changed her position on
the sofa ; for at that time, in compliance with the decree
of her physicians, she scarcely ever rose from it.

Junot's demeanour as he listened to her harangue was
droll ; he saw plainly that she was jesting, but as he did
not himself entirely approve this measure at the outset,
he was at a loss for an answer. He was much perplexed
also to guess how my mother had penetrated the secrets
of the Council of State, in which the First Consul had
spoken at great length, and with an eloquence the more
extraordinary as oratory was by no means his forte ; he
possessed to an almost irresistible extent the art of com-
pelling his auditors to adopt his views ; but that he should
speak for an hour together and with real eloquence, was
truly astonishing.

This was not the first time that my motlier had surprised
us by talking politics, in which formerly she never inter-
fered ; but a heart like hers must follow the interests of
those she loved. Until my marriage no warmer senti-
ment than a sincere friendship for a few individuals had
caused her to look upon public affairs either with pleasure
or uneasiness. But in fifteen months her attitude was
changed. Her daughter was the wife of a man so inti-
mately attached to the established order of things that
the future welfare of that daughter depended on its pre-
servation ; her son had a lucrative office in the adminis-
tration of the Kepublic ; and the personal opinions of my



142 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTi:S.

mother were silenced by these strong ties, which bound
her to the existing Government,

She who had never busied herself with any political
gossip now grew desirous of sounding public opinion ; she
had two or three journals read to her daily, and such of
her friends as were in a situation to give her information
were laid under contribution. My good and affectionate
mother, all these habits so foreign to her former life were
not agreeable to her. But it would have distressed her
to be ignorant of anything in which we were interested ;
and through the elder M. Portalis she frequently learned
rumours which did not reach Junot till he heard them
from her two or three days later ; not through any breach
of confidence on the part of the Councillor, but merely
because Junot did not attend the sittings of the Council,
and their proceedings were not reported in the journals.
It happened so in the case of the Concordat, one of those
landmarks which denote a great epoch in the history of
our Ee volution.

Cardinal Consalvi, Signor Spina (since Cardinal Arch-
bishop of Genoa), and Father Corselli, also a Cardinal
later on, came to Paris to conclude the negotiation for the
Concordat. I shall speak hereafter of Cardinal Consalvi ;
I was at this time too young to know and appreciate him.
The First Consul himself was much deceived respecting
him, and there is every reason to believe that he was pre-
judiced against him by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

A person every way worthy of credit says, in his excel-
lent work upon the Consulate, that in a conversation he
held with him at Malmaison, the First Consul mentioned
that the Cardinal jested as freely as a yomig musketeer,
and had told M. ,de Talleyrand that he was as fond of
pleasure as any one, and that he had obtained a reputation
for devotion which he did not possess.

I repeat, the person who reports this conversation with



BRIEF OF PIUS VII. 143

the First Consul is a man of honour, and worthy of
credence. What he reports the First Consul had un-
doubtedly said to him. I can equally answer for Napo-
leon. He could dissemble and give a false colouring to
a story, but was never guilty of direct falsehood to the
extent here imputed to him. The Minister must himself
have been deceived; for had Cardinal Consalvi been as


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