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that occurred about this time — the return of the Army
of Egypt. I was already acquainted with many of Junot's
friends ; but every day now witnessed the arrival of troops
of brothers-in-arms and companions in danger, whom
Junot would run to meet, press their hands, embrace
them with transport, and introduce them to me — so re-
joiced was he to see them return safe and sound, after
escaping the sabres of the Mamelukes and the perfidy of
the English.

One day the servant announced that General Verdier
awaited him in his cabinet, and that there was a lady
with him. " By Jove ! " exclaimed Junot, " that must be



GENERAL VERDIER AND HIS WIFE. 207

our dear gallant Bianca, I must run to see her. Laura,
I bespeak your friendship for her; she is a charming
woman. " And away he flew. I had often heard of
Madame Verdier, and knew that, having followed the
army to Italy as a singer and actress under the name of
Bianca, she had married General Verdier, and afterwards
followed her husband in the Eastern campaign, where she
never quitted his side. I had heard numerous traits of
her admirable conduct, and had learned to esteem without
knowing her ; but the idea I had formed of the person by
no means corresponded with the figure now introduced by
Junot.

My imagination had portrayed a tall masculine form,
jet-black eyes, raven hair, tawny skin, and, in short, the
whole semblance of a Chevalier d'Eon : my surprise may
therefore be conceived on seeing a small, well-made, pretty,
graceful woman enter the apartment, with chestnut hair,
complexion rather inclining to fair than brown, shy and
pleasing manners, and a voice soft as music ! Madame
Verdier, in short, very rapidly gained my heart. Some
portion of her history I knew almost from day to day, for
she had traversed the desert in company with Junot, who
had imparted to me his vivid remembrance of everything
that passed during that journey. " What! " said I, tak-
ing her delicate little hands ; " could this wrist lift a
sword, fire a pistol, and guide a spirited Arabian horse ? "
" Oh yes, dear madame, " answered she, with that soft
inflexion of voice which in an Italian is harmony itself,
" to be sure I used a sword ! but. Holy Virgin ! not to
kill. But you know I must follow the General. "

And from the naivete of her tone it might have been
supposed it was obligatory on all wives to follow their
husbands to the wars. Then she recited her fatigues in
the desert; spoke of the burning simoom, and of Junot's
giving her the small remains of water he had preserved,



208 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTiiS.

and afterwards his cloak to shelter her from the abundant
dew, and making her a seat of two crossed muskets.

" Caro, Caro ! " And she held out to him her pretty-
little hand, which he shook as heartily as he would have
shaken her husband's. " Madame Verdier must be one of
your nearest friends, " said Junot, addressing me. Then
he told me that in crossing the desert her horse was once
a little behind ; and she was hastening to rejoin her troop,
when she met an unfortunate soldier afflicted with oph-
thalmia, which had quite destroyed his sight. The poor
creature was wandering in that sea of burning sands with-
out guidance or assistance, and gave himself up for lost.

Madame Verdier approached and questioned him, and
perceived with a shudder that his sight was totally lost.
And no relief at hand! no possibility of procuring a
guide ! " Well, then, I will be your guide, " said Madame
Verdier. " Come here, my friend ; give me your hand —
there — now do not let go my horse ; when you are weary
you shall mount him, and I will lead you. We shall
proceed more slowly, but God will protect us — no mis-
fortune will overtake us. " " Oh, " said the poor soldier,
" do those sweet sounds that I hear fall from an angel's
voice ?" " An angel! Why, my friend, I am the wife of
the brave General Verdier ! " And the excellent woman
said this with an accent of simplicity and nature that
went to the heart.

Madame Verdier brought me that day an article which,
with all my experience in perfumery, I have never since
been able to procure — a large bottle of essence of roses.
It was neither attar of roses nor that rose-water which we
Europeans use for strengthening the eyes, but gave the
perfume of an actual bunch of the living flower in its
most odoriferous species. She told me that the Egyptian
women use this delicious essence, to which no other per-
fume bears any resemblance, when bathing. It had none



Marmont.

Photo-Etching.- After the Faulting by Giierin.



NEW FRIENDS. 209

of the strength of the attar of roses, which affects the head
so violently and attacks the nerves ; it was mild, sweet,
enchanting.

The Comtesse Verdier is no longer living, but the Gen-
eral is immortal.

Among the most remarkable of the acquaintances
recommended to me by Junot were, the excellent M.
Desgenettes — for whom I speedily felt a sincere regard,
that subsequent years have not diminished — and General
Davout, since a Marshal, whose return had preceded that
of the rest of the army by some months. He frequently
visited both me and Madame Marmont, to whom I was
much attached, for no sooner did she arrive from Italy,
after my marriage, than Junot said to me :

" Laura, Madame Marmont is the wife of the man
whom, next to the First Consul, I love best in the world.
I cannot pretend to direct your affections, but if Madame
Marmont should inspire you with sentiments similar to
those I entertain for her husband, it will make me very
happy. " Fortunately I found her all I could desire in a
friend ; and our intimacy was based, on my side, on real
affection. General Joseph Lagrange, General Menou,
M. Daure, the two brothers of Augustus Colbert, one of
whom, now Lieutenant-General Edward Colbert, was
about this time aide-de-camp to my husband : these
names, and many others which memory has safely
guarded, but which space will not permit me to record
here, were then pronounced in my hearing with expres-
sions of attachment and esteem.

Never did I see more convincing proof of Junot 's good-
ness of heart than at this period of his life. His joy and
emotion on again meeting his comrades were sincere and
extreme. The First Consul was equally affected, but his
feeling partook of that grief which the loss of a dear
friend occasions ; and though he never showed his dissat-

VOL. III. 14



210 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

isfaction, I am sure he felt resentment and ill-will against
General Menou. That officer owed it to the good offices
of M. Maret, then Secretary of State, that he was not
disgraced, and also his appointment at a later period to
the government of the Transalpine Provinces.



CHAPTER XIX.

It was in the spring of 1802 that the first appeal was
made to Napoleon's ambition to reign, by his nomination
as Consul for another ten years, after the expiration of
the ten years fixed by the constitutional act of the 13th
of December, 1799. Very little attention was at that
time paid to this renewal or prolongation of power ; and
the Senatus Consultmn, which appointed Napoleon Consul
for life, conveyed the first warning to the French people
that they had acquired a new Master.

It declared that " the French Eepublic, desirous of re-
taining at the head of her Government the Magistrate who
had so repeatedly in Europe and in Asia conducted her
troops to victory ; who had delivered Italy ; who had
moreover preserved his country from the horrors of
anarchy, broken the revolutionary scythe, extinguished
civil discords, and given her peace ; for it was he alone
who had pacified the seas and the Continent, restored
order and morality, and re-established the authority of
the law: the Eepublic, filled with gratitude towards
General Bonaparte for these benefits, entreats him to
bestow on her another ten years of that existence which
she considers necessary to her happiness. "

The First Consul's reply is admirably conceived in the
style of true simplicity and noble elevation, and is,
besides, pervaded by a tincture of melancholy, the more
remarkable as the expressions are for the most part pro-
phetic : " I have lived but to serve my country, " replied



212 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

he to the Senate — " rortime has smiled on the Eepublic ;
but Fortune is inconstant ; and how many men whom she
has loaded with her favours have lived a few years too
long ! As soon as the peace of the world shall be pro-
claimed, the interest of my glory and my happiness will
appear to point out the term of my public life. But you
conceive that I owe the people a new sacrifice, and I will
make it," etc.

The important decree I have cited above was presented
to the First Consul, and his answer returned on the 6th
of May, 1802 (20th Germinal of the year x.). Junot,
who felt for him that passionate attachment which makes
everything a matter of ardent interest, which affects the
happiness or honour of its object, said to me : " We must
celebrate at the same time this memorable event in the
life of my General which testifies the love of a great
nation, and our gratitude to the First Consul and Madame
Bonaparte for their generous favours. You must invite
Madame Bonaparte to breakfast at our house in the Eue
des Champs-Elysdes, before it is completed. She must
even see it in its present state ; to wait till it is furnished
would delay the project too long, and would, moreover,
deprive us of a new opportunity of inviting her. Arrange
the matter with Madame Bonaparte, and I will undertake
for the First Consul. "

I waited then on Madame Bonaparte and preferred my
request : she received it with extreme kindness. She was
gracious whenever an opportunity allowed, and with a
charm of manner that enhanced her favours. She
accepted my invitation, therefore, conditionally.

" Have you mentioned it to Bonaparte ? " said she.
I told her that Junot was then with the First Consul
making his request, and she replied : " We must wait his
answer, then ; for I can accept no fete or dinner without
Bonaparte's special permission."



JOSEPHINE'S ACCESSIBILITY. 213

This was very true ; I had myself been witness to a
sharp lecture she received from the First Consul for hav-
ing breakfasted with a lady for whom he himself enter-
tained the highest esteem, Madame Devaisnes, only be-
cause he had had no previous notice of it. I believe he
was actuated by prudential motives, and a knowledge of
Madame Bonaparte's extreme facility in accepting every-
thing offered to her ; at the Tuileries it was difficult to
approach her, as no one could visit there without author-
ity; yet even there a few intriguing old ladies paid
their respects to her regularly three or four times a week,
with petitions, demands for prefectures, seats in the Sen-
ate, commands of military divisions, places under the
Eeceiver-General ; in short, nothing was forgotten in
this long list, except the good sense which should have
prevented such unbecoming interference.

The First Consul was aware that her favours were so
unsparingly and indiscriminately distributed that she
would sometimes make fifteen promises at a single break-
fast, dinner, or fete; he was consequently extremely
particular where he allowed her to go. He knew, how-
ever, that at our house she would meet only the same
persons who visited at the Tuileries.

Junot was delighted at the kindness with which the
First Consul had received his request ; he had granted it,
but with the singular addition of desiring that no other
men should join the party except Duroc and Junot, while
the women were to be twenty-five. The breakfast took
place, but was not honoured by the presence of the First
Consul. Madame Bonaparte and Madame Louis came
without him. Madame Bacciochi and Madame Murat
were also present, and all my young married comrades,
if I may apply that term to the wives of Junot's brothers-
in-arms.

Some were very agreeable, and all in the beauty of



214 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT^S.

freshness and youth, so that no spectacle could be prettier
than that our table exhibited, when surrounded on this
occasion by from twenty-five to thirty young and cheerful
faces, of which not more than one or two could be called
ordinary. Madame Bonaparte was an astonishing woman,
and must have formerly been extremely pretty, for though
now no longer in the first bloom of youth, her personal
charms were still striking. Had she only possessed teeth,
she would certainly have outvied nearly all the ladies of
the Consular Court.

The breakfast passed off very well. When it was dis-
posed of, Madame Bonaparte chose to visit every part of
the house, and in this amusement the morning passed
rapidly away. At three Madame Bonaparte proposed a
drive to the Bois de Boulogne. General Suchet and his
brother accompanied us, and did not take their leave till
we re-entered Paris. During the drive Madame Bona-
parte conversed with me respecting our new establish-
ment, and concluded by saying that she was commissioned
by the First Consul to inform Jimot and myself that he
presented us with the sum of a hundred thousand francs
for furnishing our house. " It is ready, " added Madame
Bonaparte ; " Esteve has orders to hold it at your disposal.
For it is of no use, Bonaparte says, to give them a house
unless it be ma(!e habitable. "

Some time afterwards I gave a ball for my house-
warming, when its newly-finished embellishments ap-
peared to great advantage. The whole ground-floor was
opened for dancing. The First Consul, whom the Eepub-
lic had just called to the Consulate for life, did us the
honour to be present. Madame Bonaparte had said to me
the preceding day : " I am determined, in compliment to
your ball, to dress in the very best taste ; you shall see
how charmingly I can perform my toilet. "

She made good her promise. She personated Erigone ;



MADAME JUNOT'S HOUSE WAEMING. 215

her head was adorned with a wreath of vine leaves inter-
spersed with bunches of black grapes ; her robe of silver
llama was trimmed with similar wreaths ; her necklace,
earrings, and bracelets were of fine pearls. Hortense ac-
companied her mother, and was on that occasion, as on all
others, and in all places, graceful and fascinating. She
danced like a sylph, and I seem to see her still, slender
as an aerial nymph, and dressed after the antique in a
short tunic of pink crape, embroidered in silver llama,
her fair head crowned with roses.

I see her, as she always was, the life of the party ; her
gaiety, good-humour, and spirit of pleasing, imparting
the same qualities to all around her. The young people
grouped about her, looked at her, and loved her, as the
crowd would now and for ever follow and love her. As
for the First Consul, he insisted on seeing every part of
the house, and Junot, at his desire, acted as his cicerone
to the very cellars and garrets. He stayed only till one
o'clock, but for him that was a very late hour, and we
were proportionately grateful.

The Senafus ConsuUum, requiring rather than declaring
the prolongation of the Consulate, did not appear suffi-
ciently satisfactory; another was presented to the First
Consul on the 31st of July, or the 1st of August. Junot
went early that morning to the Tuileries, and had a long
interview with the First Consul, and on his return
assured me that Napoleon was still undecided whether
or not he should accept the Consulate for life. It was two
months after the requisition for the prolongation of the
Consulate for ten years that the nation, sensible of the
necessity of preserving to the utmost possible extent that
protection under which France had seen her prosperity
revive, demanded the Consulate for life. But Napoleon,
great as was his ambition, desired that the will of France
should justify it. An appeal was ordered, registers opened.



216 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTiiS.

The citizens were at liberty to sign or not without fear
of proscription, for it is remarkable that Napoleon never
revenged any political offence. Of this Moreau is a
notorious proof.

" The life of a citizen belongs to his country, " replied
the First Consul to the deputation of the Senate ; " as it
is the wish of the French nation that mine should be
consecrated to her, I obey her will. " Surely he had a
right to say that it was the will of the people, for of three
millions five hundred and seventy-seven thousand two
hundred and fifty-nine citizens who voted freely, three
millions five hundred and sixty-eight thousand eight
hundred and ninety gave their vote in the affirmative.

The opinions in which Junot had been educated were
so entirely and purely republican that the Senatus Con-
sultum declaring Napoleon Consul for life was by no
means so agreeable to him as might have been expected
from his attachment, at a time when indifferent observers
saw in this event only the present and future welfare of
France. One day when we dined with the First Consul
at Saint Cloud, I remarked that Junot's countenance on
returning to Madame Bonaparte's drawing-room, after
half an hour's interview with Napoleon, was altered,
and wore an expression of care.

In the carriage, on our way home, he was thoughtful
and melancholy. At first I asked in vain what had
affected him, but eventually he told me that, having been
questioned by the First Consul as to the opinion of the
better circles at Paris respecting the Consulate for life, he
had answered that it was entirely favourable, which was
the truth; and that the First Consul had observed there-
upon, his brow becoming stern and gloomy as he spoke :
" You tell me this as if the fact had been just the reverse.
Approved by all France, am I to find censors only in my
dearest friends ? "



JIINOT ON THE CONSULATE FOE LIFE. 217



" These words," said Junot, his voice failing so much
that I could scarcely hear him — " these words almost
broke my heart. I become my General's censor ! Ah,
he has forgotten Toulon ! " " But it is impossible that
the expression of your countenance should have been the
sole cause of his uttering such words. " Junot was silent
for some time, then, without turning towards me, said :
" No ; I certainly spoke of our regret — I may use the
word — on reading the new Senatus Consultum, which
overthrows the Constitution of the year viii. — in redu-
cing the Tribunate to a hundred and fifty members ! The
Tribunate is a body much valued by the friends of liberty
and of the Eepublic ; then the mode of election is absurd
— those two candidates for the Senate; in short, all this
has been found great fault with in the country, particu-
larly what has been done for the Council of State. " I
asked Junot what he meant had been done for the Council
of State.

" It has been recognized as a constituted body, " said
he ; "I told the First Consul that this measure had been
ill received in many of the provinces. I have been, as I
always shall be, an honest and loyal man — I shall
neither betray my conscience, the interests of my country,
nor those of the man whom I revere and love above all
things — but I believe that I am serving him better in
speaking the truth than in concealing it. I then ex-
plained that any expression of dissatisfaction which he
might have remarked upon my countenance was not to be
attributed to his nomination as Consul for life, but to the
unfavourable impressions very generally produced by the
numerous Senatus Consulta, which for the last fortnight
had daily filled the columns of the Moiiiteur. The
nomination for life of the two other Consuls is also
spoken of in terms that I do not like to hear applied to
anything which relates to the First Consul. I have much



218 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTilS.

friendship for one of them, and a high esteem for the
other ; but why should two magistrates be imposed upon
the nation, which certainly has not raised its voice for
them as for my General ? In fine, my poor Laura, I spoke
as I thought, and I begin to see that we have got a Court
in earnest, because one can no longer speak the truth
without exciting displeasure. "

This journey to Saint Cloud caused Junot a fit of ill-
ness. His affection for the First Consul was so great
that whatever tended to disturb it went directly to his
heart. Some days afterwards I received an invitation
from Madame Bonaparte to breakfast at Saint Cloud, and
to bring my little Josephine. I went alone, because
Junot was confined to his bed by indisposition. Napo-
leon, it is well known, never breakfasted with Madame
Bonaparte, and never appeared in her room in the morn-
ing, except occasionally, when he knew he should meet
some persons there to whom he was desirous of speaking
without exciting observation.

This morning he came into the room just as we were
rising from the breakfast-table, and on advancing towards
us, at once descried in the midst of the group the charm-
ing figure of my little Josephine, with her pretty light
hair curling round a face that beamed with grace and
intelligence, though she was only eighteen months old.
The First Consul, immediately on seeing her, exclaimed :

" Ah ! ah ! here is our god-daughter, the Cardinaless !
Good-morning, m'amselle — come, look at me! — there,
open your eyes. Why, the devil ! do you know that she
is prodigiously pretty — the little thing resembles her
grandmother — yes, faith, she is very like poor Madame
Permon. And what a pretty woman she was ! — she was
really the most beaiitiful woman I ever saw. " As he was
saying this, he pulled the ears and nose of my little girl,
who did not approve of it at all j but I had taken the



JUNOT'S FEVER. 219

precaution to tell her that if she did not cry at Saint
Cloud we should stop at a toy-shop on our way home,
and she should have whatever she liked. Napoleon,
who did not know this promise, remarked how very good-
tempered the child was, while I was secretly reminding
her of the toy-shop ten times in a minute.

" That is what I like children to be, " continued Napo-
leon, " not perpetually crying or fretting. There is that
little Lsetitia, who is as beautiful as an angel — well, she
cries so violently that I make my escape as if the house
was on fire. "

As he was talking, the party had removed to the blue
salon, which was Madame Bonaparte's morning-room.

A circular balcony upon which this room opened
passed along the whole suite of apartments. The First
Consul stepped out of the window, and made me a sign
to follow. I was about to give the child to her nurse,
but he prevented me, saying :

" No, no ; keep your daughter ; a young mother is never
as interesting as when she has her child in her arms.
What is the matter with Junot ? " he added, as soon as
we were out on the balcony.

" He has a fever. General, and it is so violent as to
oblige him to keep his bed. "

" But this fever is of some kind or other ; is it putrid,
maliCTnant, or what ? "

" Neither the one nor the other. Citizen Consul, " I
replied, with a little impatience, for I was provoked at
the petulant tone of his questions ; " but Junot is, as
you know, very susceptible, and a pain which goes to his
heart affects his health. You know. General, that such
complaints are beyond the power of medicine. "

" I see that Junot has been telling you of the sort of
quarrel we had the other day. He made himself quite
ridiculous. "



220 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTilS.

" You will give me leave, Citizen Consul, not to con-
firm what you have just been saying with my assent;
you are no doubt jesting. All that I can do is to affirm
that, having probably misunderstood Junot, you have
given him serious pain. That he has suffered severely
has been manifest to me, because neither my cares nor
this child's caresses have been able to calm his mind.
Also I conclude, General, that, in reporting to me the
conversation you are speaking of, he did not tell me the
whole. " This, as I afterwards learnt, was the truth.

The First Consul looked at me some moments without
speaking — took my right hand, which held my little
girl upon my left arm, then suddenly rejected it with a
very singular movement; seized Josephine's little white
and mottled arm, kissed it, gave a pretty hard tap upon
her cheek, pulled her nose, embraced her, all in a minute,
then disappeared like a flash of lightning. I repeated
this little scene to Junot, whom, on my return, I found
very ill. He was not only very irritable, but his tem-
perament itself was opposed to his reasoning tranquilly
upon anything that agitated him. His adventure at Saint


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