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him on his arrival with every demonstration of sincere
friendship. Madame Marmont and myself, in spite of
the repugnance we felt to have our carpets soiled with
mud, welcomed the friend of our husbands with unfeigned
cordiality.

Davout's military qualities ingratiated him with Napo-
leon, who not only extended to him his good-will, but gave
him, what I suspect he valued more, employment and hon-
ours. He was appointed to a command in the Guards,

^ Napoleon even made a point of checking personal antipathies when-
ever they were entertained towards individuals whose conduct had given
him reason to complain. " It would be thought that I am taking re-
venge," replied he to Junot, who once expressed astonishment at his con-
ferring a command on a man who was looked upon as his enemy in
Egypt. — Duchesse d'Abrantes.



248 MEiMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABEANTliS.

and he espoused the sister of General Leclerc, who two
years before had been affianced to General Lannes. He
continued to advance in favour. At the time we were at
Arras, Davout commanded what was called the camp of
Bruges.^ An intimate friend of ours, Eear- Admiral
Magon, had the command of the fleet at this period.
According to Napoleon's first arrangements, the Admiral
was to have landed the picked division of Arras on the



^ Davofit in figure bore some resemljlance to Napoleon, and when he
began to rise iu the First Consul's favour evidently endeavoured to
imitate him in dress, deportment, and manner. Certainly it was no easy
task to copy Napoleon, but he had some peculiarities which Davout man-
aged to imitate, or rather to parody — for example, his occasional
brusquerie and severity. He had, like Bonaparte, the strange habit of
saying a gracious and a rude thing all in a breath — of conveying at once
a compliment and an affront : " Captain Bory," said he one day to an
officer, " you are an excellent topographical draftsman ; but as to Mon-
sieur yonder, he can draw no better than a hog." On another occasion
he said to this same Captain Bory : " You are a good rider ; you know
how to mount a horse ; you are an absolute Centaur ; but as to him "
(pointing to his first aide-de-camp) " he rides like an infantry officer, and,
when mounted, he looks like a pair of tongs."

Davout afterwards became the most celebrated of Napoleon's Generals.
Created Duke of Auerstadt for his brilliant achievement in defeating the
entire Prussian army when pitted against almost overwhelming numbers
at that place in 1807, he greatly distinguished himself also in the cam-
paigns of Austerlitz, Friedland, and Wagram. In 1812 he was charged
with the most responsible post in the advance into Russia ; and it would
have been well for the French army if his advice had been taken instead
of Murat's. His corps, owing to the discipline and organization main-
tained by him, was always the smartest and most reliable in the army,
not excepting even the Guard. His successful defence of Hamburg is a
memorable one, and his flag flew there for some days after the conclusion
of peace. Had he been employed in Belgium in 1815, the Anglo-Prussian
army would probably have fared very differently after Quatre Bras and
Ligny. Being detained in the capital, however, as the only officer capa-
ble of holding Paris against foes within and without, the only opportu-
nity that the Marshal I*rince of Eckmiihl had of beating the Prussians in
1815 was under the walls of Paris itself. With great self-abnegation he
then gave up the command of the army to Macdonald, and, becoming
thus defenceless, was proscribed by the Bourbons, a race destitute of aU
military instinct or chivalrous feeling.



DawiisU

Photo-Etching. — After the Engraving by Mauduison.



DAVOUT'S APPEAE^i^CE AND CAREER. 249

coast of England. Davout was not a Marshal at the time
of the formation of the camp of Bruges. Napoleon was
then only Consul for life; but Davout, like Soult, Bes-
siferes, and Mortier, had the command of a portion of the
Consular Guard.



CHAPTEE XXII.

The distribution of Crosses of the Legion of Honour
took place at Boulogne on the 15th of August, 1802. I
was a witness to that ceremony, which is still fresh in
my memory. When the creation of the Legion of Honour
was first proposed, it excited violent opposition. Over
this opposition the First Consul triumphed; but he
deemed it advisable to show some regard to deeply -rooted
opinions, and to avoid lacerating wounds which time had
not yet healed. For the space of two years, therefore,
the Legion of Honour was not talked of.

It was not until the period when the Empire was de-
clared that the Emperor made his classification of the
different Crosses. This classification excited no small
degree of surprise, for it had been supposed that the re-
wards would be uniform. Junot was created a Grand
Officer of the Legion of Honour, and almost immediately
after he was appointed Grand Cross. After this followed
the appointment of the twenty-four Grand Officers of the
Empire.

The Emperor now announced his intention of coming
to review the troops. During the ten months that Junot
had been at Arras, Napoleon had not even sent Berthier
to him, except perhaps for a few hours. The Emperor
wished Junot to form the corps according to his own judg-
ment, unassisted by any directions. This, he afterwards
acknowledged, was intended as an experiment on the
capability of his old aide-de-camp. It was fortunate for
Junot that he acquitted himself so satisfactorily.



EEVIEW OF THE TROOPS AT ARRAS. 251

The Emperor arrived on the Wednesday at noon, and
took up his abode at the house of the Prefect, of whom
he made minute inquiries as to the manner in which tlie
troops behaved to the country-people, and whether the
grenadiers cantoned in the little neighbouring villages
had been guilty of any pillage. On the following day
he reviewed the troops, and during the seven hours occu-
pied by their manoeuvres he was constantly on foot.

Escorted by M. Maret, I advanced to the group sur-
rounding the Emperor. He was in the act of remounting
his horse to see the troops defile. He recognized me,
although I was still at some distance, and sent Colonel
Lafond to ask me to advance nearer, that I might have a
better view, Wlien the evolutions were over, I observed
the Emperor directing his horse towards the place where
I stood. He rode up, and kindly inquired how I was,
how I liked Arras, and whether I did not wish to return
to Paris. To all these gracious questions I dare say I
replied very foolishly, as I did not expect such courtesy,
and I was taken by surprise.. The truth, however, is
that the embarrassment I felt at the novelty of pro-
nouncing the words " Sire" and " your Majesty" was the
principal cause of my gaucherie. Maret, whose arm I
held, afterwards told me that I trembled exceedingly.

After the review Junot and all the officers of his
division dined with the Emperor, who paid them very
handsome compliments. " Junot, " said he to my hus-
band, " mention in to-morrow's order of the day that I
am satisfied, extremely satisfied, with my brave grena-
diers of Arras. "

Napoleon had been Emperor about three months when
he determined to inaugurate the Order of the Legion of
Honour ^ by a public solemnity, the first since Napoleon
had enjoyed his new title. It took place in the Eglise

1 Created by the law of the 19th of May, 1802.



252 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANT|:S.

des Invalides at Paris on the 14th of July, 1804. It was
a happy idea to consecrate a military reward, by such a
ceremony, in that venerable pile which is the last asylum
of the wounded soldier.

Preparations were made at Boulogne for another bril-
liant ceremony. The Emperor had distributed the first
Crosses to the Dignitaries of the Order, then in Paris, on
the day of the inauguration. He now wished to distrib-
ute with due formality those which were to supersede
the " Arms of Honour. " Every individual to whom
"Arms of Honour " had been awarded received a summons
to Boulogne. The camps of Saint Omer, Bruges, Arras,
Montreuil, and Amiens sent deputations, and seventy
thousand men assembled at this imposing ceremony.

Junot and I set off for Boulogne : a place was reserved
for me in Berthier's baraque, which was the best situation
for witnessing the magnificent spectacle which took place
on the 15th of August. The Emperor had chosen that
day with the view of celebrating at once his own birthday
and the festival of his brothers-in-arms. Near the Tour
d'Ordre, on the most elevated point of the hill, a throne
was constructed, around which waved two hundred ban-
ners that had been taken from the enemies of France.
On the steps of the throne were ranged the twenty-four
Grand Officers of the Empire whom Napoleon had selected
from amongst the most distinguished military commanders.

On the throne was placed the ancient chair known by
the name of the Fauteuil de Dagolert, and near the Em-
peror was the helmet of Bayard, containing the crosses
and ribbons which were to be distributed. The shield of
Erancis I. was also brought into requisition.

In a valley cut by the hands of Nature there were
stationed sixty thousand men, in several ranks, and in
echelon. The valley was so formed that they seemed to
be ranged in an amphitheatre, and could be seen fronj the



MILITARY CEREMONY AT BOULOGNE. 253

sea, the waves of which broke against the foot of the Tour
d'Ordre, or rather at the foot of the hill on which it was
erected. In front of the men was the throne, which was
ascended by a few steps. There was seated, in all the
splendour of his glory, the man whose genius then ruled
Europe and the world. Over his head a multitude of
banners, tattered by cannon-balls and stained with blood,
formed a canopy appropriate to the occasion. Though the
day was fair, yet the wind blew with extreme freshness,
so that these trophies of victory waved in full view of
several English vessels then cruising in the straits.

I had the pleasure of meeting, on this occasion, Madame
Ney, who was one of the pupils of Madame Campan, and
had received a most finished education, i She was remark-
able for an air of simplicity, and I may even say a certain
degree of timidity, which was the more attractive inasmuch
as it formed a contrast to the manners of most of the ladies
by whom she was surrounded at the Court of France.
Those ladies were, it is true, for the most part perfectly
amiable and well-bred, but they were young and inex-
perienced ; and having seen little of the world, especially
of that courtly world upon which they had recently
entered, they were easily dazzled by the illusions of for-
tune, and were sometimes betrayed into gross absurdities.

The fine ladies of the Faubourg Saint Germain, who at
first formed part of the Empress Josephine's Court,
thought they would produce a wonderful impression by
assuming airs of hauteur, though from them better man-
ners might have been expected. To all this ill-breeding
of various kinds, the manners of a woman comme il faut,
such as Madame Ney, formed a delightful relief. The
softness and benevolence of Madame Ney's smile, together

1 See the memoir of Madame Campan prefixed to her " Private Life
of Marie Antoinette " for an allusion to the number of queens she had
educated (p. xlviii., edit. 1890).



254 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTES.

with the intelligent expression of her large dark eyes,
rendered her a very beautiful woman; and her lively
manners and accomplishments enhanced her personal
graces. It may easily be imagined that I was not a
little delighted to meet this charming person at Boulogne.

The ceremony of the distribution was exceedingly long.
Each legionist ascended the twelve steps leading to the
Throne, and after receiving his Cross and ribbon from the
Emperor's own hand, made his bow, and returned to his
place. When Napoleon presented the Cross to one of his
old comrades, who had fought with him in Italy or
Egypt, there seemed to be a glow of feeling which carried
him back to his early and most brilliant glory.

It was five o'clock, and for a considerable time I had
observed the Emperor turning frequently and anxiously
to M. Decrfes, the Minister of the Marine, to whom he
repeatedly said something in a whisper. He then took
a glass and looked towards the sea, as if eager to discover
a distant sail. At length his impatience seemed to in-
crease. Berthier, too, who stood biting his nails, in spite
of his new dignity of Marshal, now and then looked
through the glass, and Junot appeared to be in the secret,
for they all talked together aside. It was evident that
something was expected. At length the Minister of the
Marine received a message, which he immediately com-
municated to the Emperor, and the latter snatched the
glass from the hand of M. Decr^s with such violence that
it fell and rolled down the steps of the throne.

All eyes were now directed to the point which I had
observed the Emperor watching, and we soon discerned a
flotilla, consisting of between a thousand and twelve hun-
dred boats, advancing in the direction of Boulogne from
the different neighbouring ports and from Holland. The
Emperor had made choice of August 15 as the day for
uniting the flotilla with the other boats stationed in the



ACCIDENT TO THE FLOTILLA. 255

port of Boulogne, in sight of the English vessels which
were cruising in the straits ; while at the same time he
distributed to his troops rewards destined to stimulate
their courage, and to excite their impatience to undertake
the invasion of England.

But the satisfaction Napoleon enjoyed at the sight of
the flotilla was not of long duration. An emphatic oath
uttered by M. Decrfes — who, it is well known, made a
liberal use of these ornaments of speech — warned the
Emperor that some accident had occurred. It was soon
ascertained that the officer who commanded the first
division of the flotilla, disregarding the advice of the
coasting pilot, had, just as he was on the point of landing,
run foul of some works newly erected along the coast.
The shock swamped some of the boats, and several of the
men jumped overboard. The cries of the people at the
seaside, who hurried to their assistance, excited much
alarm. Fortunately, it happened to be low water at the
time, and I believe one man only was drowned. ^

The accident was exceedingly mortifying, happening as
it did in the full gaze of our enemies, whose telescopes
were all pointed towards us, and it threw the Emperor
into a violent rage. He descended from the throne and
proceeded with Berthier to a sort of terrace which was
formed along the water's edge. He paced to and fro very
rapidly, and we could occasionally hear him utter some
energetic expression indicative of his vexation. In the
evening a grand dinner and ball took place in honour of
the inauguration. About six o'clock, just as dinner
was about to be serv^ed for the soldiers, under the tents,
a heavy fall of rain came on. This served to augment the

1 At least, such was stated at the time to be the fact ; perhaps the
truth was disguised to prevent our enemies from ridiculing us. This
they took care to do, however ; the English papers abounded with jeers
about our nutshells, as they styled the gunboats.



25G MEMOIRS OF THE DUCIIESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

Emperor's ill-humour, and formed a gloomy termination
to a day which had commenced so brilliantly.

On the evening of the festival at Boulogne, Junot re-
ceived orders from the Emperor requiring him to set out
for Calais next morning. He told me I might accompany
him if I chose, but that, owing to the little time he had
at his disposal, he could not pass the whole day in Calais,
" Unless, " said he, " you consent to set out to-night im-
mediately after the ball. " I accepted this proposition,
and we arrived at Calais next morning at seven o'clock.
Consequently, we had ample time to look about us. On
my return the Emperor asked me how I liked my noc-
turnal journey, what I thought of Calais and Dessein's
Hotel, and put to me many questions respecting what I
had observed in several places on our route.

I mention this fact, though unimportant in itself,
because I wish to seize every shade, however trivial,
which belongs to the portrait of Napoleon. Certainly
he had no need of my opinion, nor my remarks upon
anything which referred to that part of the French coast ;
but I had eyes and ears, and, being free from prejudice,
I could judge impartially of what I saw, and that was
enough for him. He would sometimes question a child,
and would often interrogate women on subjects to which
they were not, perhaps, in the habit of directing their
attention. On these occasions he always liked to have a
ready answer.

On our return to Arras I observed a twofold activity
prevailing in all that related to the manoeuvres of the
army. Junot was several times summoned to Paris. In
his absence the command devolved alternately on Generals
Dupas and Macon, who were both attached to the Imperial
Guard. On his return from one of these journeys Junot
informed me of a circumstance which at the time I
thought very extraordinary : this was the introduction of



NAPOLEON'S EMBROIDERED COAT. 257

a sort of sumptuary law, regulating the Court dress of the
ladies. This dress "was then nearly what it still remains.
The cherusque,^ which, however, was speedily retrenched,
was exceedingly becoming. The robe and petticoat were
as they are now, with this difference, that the embroi-
dered border of the robe was not to exceed four inches in
depth. The princesses alone had the privilege of wearing
the robe embroidered all over. Such were, at first, the
commands of the Emperor, and they were dictated by
good sense and paternal feeling. He did not wish that
in his Court, which was composed of men who had
rendered honourable services to the country, but many of
whom were comparatively poor, the extravagance of a
young wife should compromise the happiness of her hus-
band. This sumptuary regulation was at first rigidly
observed.

The mention of embroideries reminds me of a curious
circumstance. Every one who frequented the Tuileries
about the period I allude to must recollect a certain coat
composed of red taffety, and richly embroidered in gold
in a symbolic pattern, consisting of branches of olive,
oak, and laurel. ^ This coat was worn by the Eirst
Consul, with boots, a black cravat, and all the accessories
of a military costume. It was known by the name of
Vhahit de Lyon.

M. Levacher, an eminent silk mercer in Paris, observ-
ing the decline which had taken place in a considerable
branch of the silk trade, owing to the disuse of embroidery,
resolved to endeavour to revive it. Eor this purpose he
consulted with some of the principal embroiderers, and
sent them the design I have above mentioned. As soon
as it was finished, he took it to M. Chaptal, the Minister

1 A Gothic ruff with long points, composed of tulle embroidered with
gold or silver to correspond with the dress.
- See vol. iii., p. 168.

VOL. III. — 17



258 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTfeS.

of the Interior. The Minister was struck with the
beauty of the work. " But, " said he, " how can you
expect that the First Consul will wear an embroidered
coat — he who never even wears the uniform of a general
officer ? " "I will not despair of gaining my object, "
said M. Levacher. " I am Madame Bonaparte's silk
mercer ; she has always been very friendly to me, and I
will see what she can do. "

Madame Bonaparte was struck with the beauty of the
garment, but candidly informed M. Levacher that there
was no hope of prevailing on the First Consul to wear it.
The silk mercer, not a little disheartened by this assur-
ance, had folded up the coat, and was putting it into the
box, when the door leading to the First Consul's cabinet
suddenly opened, and Bonaparte appeared. M. Lavacher
was at first somewhat embarrassed ; but, immediately
recollecting that his success depended on seizing the
present opportunity, he opened the box, and submitted
the coat to the inspection of Napoleon, at the same time
warmly urging the necessity of reviving the drooping
prosperity of the unfortunate city of Lyons which was
dying amidst the regeneration of France. The First
Consul listened to him with marked interest : Bonaparte
had already entertained plans for ameliorating the trade
of Lyons, and the offering now presented to him afforded
a fair excuse for wearing embroidered coats, and causing
them to be worn — a fashion which could scarcely have
been introduced without very good reason in a Court
which was yet entirely Republican.

" I will not deny, " he remarked, " that I have some
repugnance to equip myself in this fantastic costume,
but for that reason my resolution will be the better
appreciated. " Such is the history of the habit rouge,
which every one thought so singular when Bonaparte
first appeared in it.



BEFORE THE CORONATION. 259

Bonaparte expressed a decided dislike to the percales
and muslins, 1 which were then much worn by ladies in
France. But he was always pleased whenever he saw
any of us in a leno dress. I recollect one day wearing a
leno dress of which Madame Bonaparte had made me a
present. I was then very slender, and my figure would
very well admit of my wearing a stiffly-starched gown,
but, as it was then the fashion for the ladies' dresses to
fall like the draperies of the antique statues, I must
have looked ridiculous. However, the Emperor thought
proper to applaud my taste. " That is the way you
should all dress, en neglige, ladies," said he. " I do not
like to see you in those English muslins, which are sold
at the price of their weight in gold, and which do
not look half so well as a beautiful white leno. Wear
leno, cambric, and silk, and then my manufactures will
flourish. "

Napoleon's coronation was to take place on the 11th
Frimaire (2nd December), and Junot was summoned to
Paris to attend the ceremony. General Oudinot took
the command of the division of the grenadiers at Arras,
whither Junot did not afterwards return. On my arrival
in town I found my house filled with different members
of Junot 's family, who had arrived from the country to
be present at the coronation. It is impossible to form
an idea of the bustle and gaiety which prevailed in Paris
at this time. From morning till night the streets were
thronged by a busy and joyous multitude. Some were
seen hurrying to procure tickets to witness the ceremony,
others were engaging windows to see the procession pass,
and, to afford some idea of the ardent curiosity that pre-
vailed, I may mention that a family of my acquaintance

1 Percales and French muslins were exceedingly fashionable and
expensive at the time here alluded to. With the exception of leno, all
the white worn by ladies was brought from England.



260 MEMOIRS OF THE DUCHESSE D'ABRANTiiS.

from Artois, having arrived too late to procure tickets
for the interior of Notre Dame, paid the sum of three
hundred francs for a second-floor window near the gate
of the Cathedral.

The sight hunters first visited Dallemagne, the famous
embroiderer, who was preparing the Emperor's mantle,
for which Levacher had furnished the velvet; thence
they proceeded to Foncier's, to see the crowns of the
Emperor and Empress, and the Emperor's sword, the
hilt of which was adorned with the famous diamond
known by the name of the Eegent, and lastly, they went
in search of tickets to view the interior of Notre Dame,
where the most splendid preparations were making
for the approaching ceremony. Embroiderers, tailors,
florists, jewellers — in short, tradesmen of every descrip-
tion — were busily at work, and all joyfully anticipating
a rich harvest of profit.

At this instant of universal joy the Pope arrived in
Paris. His Holiness was lodged in the Pavilion de
Flore, and the Emperor himself set the example of show-
ing him the honours due not only to his dignity as
a Sovereign and the Head of the Church, but also to
his personal virtues. The countenance of Pius VII. has
never been faithfully represented in any of his portraits ;
none that I have seen accurately portray his mild and
intelligent features.

His extremely pallid complexion and jet-black hair,
together with his white robes, produced altogether a
singular effect. When I was presented to him,^ his
venerable appearance inspired me with a feeling of

1 Whenever a female is presented to the Pope it must be so managed
as to have the appearance of accident. Women are not admitted into
the Vatican, but His Holiness permits them to be presented to him in


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