Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne.

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accumulated, all the malversations! But are there no means of making
them refund? We shall see."

In these first moments of poverty it was found necessary to raise a loan,
for the funds of M. Collot did not last long, and 12,000,000 were
advanced by the different bankers of Paris, who, I believe, were paid by
bills of the receivers-general, the discount of which then amounted to
about 33 per cent. The salaries of the first offices were not very
considerable, and did not amount to anything like the exorbitant stipends
of the Empire.

Bonaparte's salary was fixed at 500,000 francs. What a contrast to the
300,000,000 in gold which were reported to have been concealed in 1811 in
the cellars of the Tuileries!

In mentioning Bonaparte's nomination to the Institute, and his
affectation in putting at the head of his proclamation his title of
member of that learned body before that of General-in-Chief, I omitted to
state what value he really attached to that title. The truth is that,
when young and ambitious, he was pleased with the proffered title, which
he thought would raise him in public estimation. How often have we
laughed together when he weighed the value of his scientific titles!
Bonaparte, to be sure, knew something of mathematics, a good deal of
history, and, I need not add, possessed extraordinary military talent;
but he was nevertheless a useless member of the Institute.

On his return from Egypt he began to grow weary of a title which gave him
so many colleagues. "Do you not think," said he one day to me, "that
there is something mean and humiliating in the words, 'I have the honour
to be, my dear Colleague'! I am tired of it!" Generally speaking, all
phrases which indicated equality displeased him. It will be recollected
how gratified he was that I did not address him in the second person
singular on our meeting at Leoben, and also what befell M. de Cominges at
Bâle because he did not observe the same precaution.

The figure of the Republic seated and holding a spear in her hand, which
at the commencement of the Consulate was stamped on official letters, was
speedily abolished. Happy would it have been if Liberty herself had not
suffered the same treatment as her emblem! The title of First Consul
made him despise that of Member of the Institute. He no longer
entertained the least predilection for that learned body, and
subsequently he regarded it with much suspicion. It was a body, an
authorised assembly; these were reasons sufficient for him to take
umbrage at it, and he never concealed his dislike of all bodies
possessing the privilege of meeting and deliberating.

While we were at the Luxembourg Bonaparte despatched Duroc on a special
mission to the King of Prussia. This happened, I think, at the very
beginning of the year 1800. He selected Duroc because he was a man of
good education and agreeable manners, and one who could express himself
with elegance and reserve, qualities not often met with at that period.
Duroc had been with us in Italy, in Egypt, and on board the 'Muiron',
and the Consul easily guessed that the King of Prussia would be delighted
to hear from an eye-witness the events of Bonaparte's campaigns,
especially the siege of St. Jean d'Acre, and the scenes which took place
during the months of March and May at Jaffa. Besides, the First Consul
considered it indispensable that such circumstantial details should be
given in a way to leave no doubt of their correctness. His intentions
were fully realised; for Duroc told me, on his return, that nearly the
whole of the conversation he had with the King turned upon St. Jean
d'Acre and Jaffa. He stayed nearly two whole hours with his Majesty, who,
the day after, gave him an invitation to dinner. When this intelligence
arrived at the Luxembourg I could perceive that the Chief of the Republic
was flattered that one of his aides de camp should have sat at table with
a King, who some years after was doomed to wait for him in his
antechamber at Tilsit.

Duroc never spoke on politics to the King of Prussia, which was very
fortunate, for, considering his age and the exclusively military life he
had led, he could scarcely have been expected to avoid blunders. Some
time later, after the death of Paul I., he was sent to congratulate
Alexander on his accession to the throne. Bonaparte's design in thus
making choice of Duroc was to introduce to the Courts of Europe, by
confidential missions, a young man to whom he was much attached, and also
to bring him forward in France. Duroc went on his third mission to
Berlin after the war broke out with Austria. He often wrote to me, and
his letters convinced me how much he had improved himself within a short
time.

Another circumstance which happened at the commencement of the Consulate
affords an example of Bonaparte's inflexibility when he had once formed a
determination. In the spring of 1799, when we were in Egypt, the
Directory gave to General Latour-Foissac, a highly distinguished officer,
the command of Mantua, the taking of which had so powerfully contributed
to the glory of the conqueror of Italy. Shortly after Latour's
appointment to this important post the Austrians besieged Mantua. It was
well known that the garrison was supplied with provisions and ammunition
for a long resistance; yet, in the month of July it surrendered to the
Austrians. The act of capitulation contained a curious article, viz.
"General Latour-Foissac and his staff shall be conducted as prisoners to
Austria; the garrison shall be allowed to return to France." This
distinction between the general and the troops entrusted to his command,
and at the same time the prompt surrender of Mantua, were circumstances
which, it must be confessed, were calculated to excite suspicions of
Latour-Foissac. The consequence was, when Bernadotte was made War
Minister he ordered an inquiry into the general's conduct by a court-
martial. Latour-Foissac had no sooner returned to France than he
published a justificatory memorial, in which he showed the impossibility
of his having made a longer defence when he was in want of many objects
of the first necessity.

Such was the state of the affair on Bonaparte's elevation to the Consular
power. The loss of Mantua, the possession of which had cost him so many
sacrifices, roused his indignation to so high a pitch that whenever the
subject was mentioned he could find no words to express his rage.
He stopped the investigation of the court-martial, and issued a violent
decree against Latour-Foissac even before his culpability had been
proved. This proceeding occasioned much discussion, and was very
dissatisfactory to many general officers, who, by this arbitrary
decision, found themselves in danger of forfeiting the privilege of being
tried by their natural judges whenever they happened to displease the
First Consul. For my own part, I must say that this decree against
Latour-Foissac was one which I saw issued with considerable regret. I was
alarmed for the consequences. After the lapse of a few days I ventured
to point out to him the undue severity of the step he had taken; I
reminded him of all that had been said in Latour-Foissac's favour, and
tried to convince him how much more just it would be to allow the trial
to come to a conclusion. "In a country," said I, "like France, where the
point of honour stands above every thing, it is impossible Foissac can
escape condemnation if he be culpable." - "Perhaps you are right,
Bourrienne," rejoined he; "but the blow is struck; the decree is issued.
I have given the same explanation to every one; but I cannot so suddenly
retrace my steps. To retro-grade is to be lost. I cannot acknowledge
myself in the wrong. By and by we shall see what can be done. Time will
bring lenity and pardon. At present it would be premature." Such, word
for word, was Bonaparte's reply. If with this be compared what he said
on the subject at St. Helena it will be found that his ideas continued
nearly unchanged; the only difference is that, instead of the impetuosity
of 1800, he expressed himself with the calmness which time and adversity
naturally produce.

- ["It was," says the 'Memorial of St. Helena', "an illegal and
tyrannical act, but still it was a necessary evil. It was the fault
of the law. He was a hundred, nay, a thousand fold guilty, and yet
it was doubtful whether he would be condemned. We therefore
assailed him with the shafts of honour and public opinion. Yet I
repeat it was a tyrannical act, and one of those violent measures
which are at times necessary in great nations and in extraordinary
circumstances."] -

Bonaparte, as I have before observed, loved contrasts; and I remember at
the very time he was acting so violently against Latour-Foissac he
condescended to busy himself about a company of players which he wished
to send to Egypt, or rather that he pretended to wish to send there,
because the announcement of such a project conveyed an impression of the
prosperous condition of our Oriental colony. The Consuls gravely
appointed the Minister of the Interior to execute this business, and the
Minister in his turn delegated his powers to Florence, the actor. In
their instructions to the Minister the Consuls observed that it would be
advisable to include some female dancers in the company; a suggestion
which corresponds with Bonaparte's note, in which were specified all that
he considered necessary for the Egyptian expedition.

The First Consul entertained singular notions respecting literary
property. On his hearing that a piece, entitled 'Misanthropie et
Repentir', had been brought out at the Odeon, he said to me, "Bourrienne,
you have been robbed." - "I, General? how?" - "You have been robbed,
I tell you, and they are now acting your piece." I have already
mentioned that during my stay at Warsaw I amused myself with translating
a celebrated play of Kotzebue. While we were in Italy I lent Bonaparte
my translation to read, and he expressed himself much pleased with it.
He greatly admired the piece, and often went to see it acted at the
Odeon. On his return he invariably gave me fresh reasons for my claiming
what he was pleased to call my property. I represented to him that the
translation of a foreign work belonged to any one who chose to execute
it. He would not, however, give up his point, and I was obliged to
assure him that my occupations in his service left me no time to engage
in a literary lawsuit. He then exacted a promise from me to translate
Goethe's 'Werther'. I told him it was already done, though
indifferently, and that I could not possibly devote to the subject the
time it merited. I read over to him one of the letters I had translated
into French, and which he seemed to approve.

That interval of the Consular Government during which Bonaparte remained
at the Luxembourg may be called the preparatory Consulate. Then were
sown the seeds of the great events which he meditated, and of those
institutions with which he wished to mark his possession of power. He
was then, if I may use the expression, two individuals in one: the
Republican general, who was obliged to appear the advocate of liberty and
the principles of the Revolution; and the votary of ambition, secretly
plotting the downfall of that liberty and those principles.

I often wondered at the consummate address with which he contrived to
deceive those who were likely to see through his designs. This
hypocrisy, which some, perhaps, may call profound policy, was
indispensable to the accomplishment of his projects; and sometimes, as if
to keep himself in practice, he would do it in matters of secondary
importance. For example, his opinion of the insatiable avarice of Sieyès
is well known; yet when he proposed, in his message to the Council of
Ancients, to give his colleague, under the title of national recompense,
the price of his obedient secession, it was, in the words of the message,
a recompense worthily bestowed on his disinterested virtues.

While at the Luxembourg Bonaparte showed, by a Consular act, his hatred
of the liberty of the press above all liberties, for he loved none.
On the 27th Nivôse the Consuls, or rather the First Consul, published a
decree, the real object of which was evidently contrary to its implied
object.

This decree stated that:

The Consuls of the Republic, considering that some of the journals
printed at Paris are instruments in the hands of the enemies of the
Republic, over the safety of which the Government is specially entrusted
by the people of France to watch, decree -

That the Minister of Police shall, during the continuation of the war,
allow only the following journals to be printed and published, viz.
(list of 20 publications)

.....and those papers which are exclusively devoted to science, art,
literature, commerce, and advertisements.

Surely this decree may well be considered as preparatory; and the
fragment I have quoted may serve as a standard for measuring the greater
part of those acts by which Bonaparte sought to gain, for the
consolidation of his power, what he seemed to be seeking solely for the
interest of the friends of the Republic. The limitation to the period of
the continuance of the war had also a certain provisional air which
afforded hope for the future. But everything provisional is, in its
nature, very elastic; and Bonaparte knew how to draw it out ad infinitum.
The decree, moreover, enacted that if any of the uncondemned journals
should insert articles against the sovereignty of the people they would
be immediately suppressed. In truth, great indulgence was shown on this
point, even after the Emperor's coronation.

The presentation of swords and muskets of honour also originated at the
Luxembourg; and this practice was, without doubt, a preparatory step to
the foundation of the Legion of Honour.

- ["Armes d'honneur," decreed 25th December 1799. Muskets for
infantry, carbines for cavalry, grenades for artillery, swords for
the officers. Gouvion St. Cyr received the first sword (Thiers,
tome i. p. 126).] -

A grenadier sergeant, named Léon Aune, who had been included in the first
distribution, easily obtained permission to write to the First Consul to
thank him. Bonaparte, wishing to answer him in his own name, dictated to
me the following letter for Aune: -

I have received your letter, my brave comrade. You needed not to
have told me of your exploits, for you are the bravest grenadier in
the whole army since the death of Benezete. You received one of the
hundred sabres I distributed to the army, and all agreed you most
deserved it.

I wish very much again to see you. The War Minister sends you an
order to come to Paris.

This wheedling wonderfully favoured Bonaparte's designs. His letter to
Aune could not fail to be circulated through the army. A sergeant called
my brave comrade by the First Consul - the First General of France! Who
but a thorough Republican, the stanch friend of equality, would have done
this? This was enough to wind up the enthusiasm of the army. At the
same time it must be confessed that Bonaparte began to find the
Luxembourg too little for him, and preparations were set on foot at the
Tuileries.

Still this great step towards the re-establishment of the monarchy was to
be cautiously prepared. It was important to do away with the idea that
none but a king could occupy the palace of our ancient kings. What was
to be done? A very fine bust of Brutus had been brought from Italy.
Brutus was the destroyer of tyrants! This was the very thing; and David
was commissioned to place it in a gallery of the Tuileries. Could there
be a greater proof of the Consul's horror of tyranny?

To sleep at the Tuileries, in the bedchamber of the kings of France, was
all that Bonaparte wanted; the rest would follow in due course. He was
willing to be satisfied with establishing a principle the consequences of
which were to be afterwards deduced. Hence the affectation of never
inserting in official acts the name of the Tuileries, but designating
that place as the Palace of the Government. The first preparations were
modest, for it did not become a good Republican to be fond of pomp.
Accordingly Lecomte, who was at that time architect of the Tuileries,
merely received orders to clean the Palace, an expression which might
bear more than one meaning, after the meetings which had been there. For
this purpose the sum of 500,000 francs was sufficient. Bonaparte's drift
was to conceal, as far as possible, the importance he attached to the
change of his Consular domicile. But little expense was requisite for
fitting up apartments for the First Consul. Simple ornaments, such as
marbles and statues, were to decorate the Palace of the Government.

Nothing escaped Bonaparte's consideration. Thus it was not merely at
hazard that he selected the statues of great men to adorn the gallery of
the Tuileries. Among the Greeks he made choice of Demosthenes and
Alexander, thus rendering homage at once to the genius of eloquence and
the genius of victory. The statue of Hannibal was intended to recall the
memory of Rome's most formidable enemy; and Rome herself was represented
in the Consular Palace by the statues of Scipio, Cicero, Cato, Brutus and
Caesar - the victor and the immolator being placed side by side. Among
the great men of modern times he gave the first place to Gustavus
Adolphus, and the next to Turenne and the great Condé, to Turenne in
honour of his military talent, and to Condé to prove that there was
nothing fearful in the recollection of a Bourbon. The remembrance of the
glorious days of the French navy was revived by the statue of Duguai
Trouin. Marlborough and Prince Eugène had also their places in the
gallery, as if to attest the disasters which marked the close of the
great reign; and Marshal Sage, to show that Louis XV.'s reign was not
without its glory. The statues of Frederick and Washington were
emblematic of false philosophy on a throne and true wisdom founding a
free state. Finally, the names of Dugommier, Dampierre, and Joubert were
intended to bear evidence of the high esteem which Bonaparte cherished
for his old comrades, - those illustrious victims to a cause which had now
ceased to be his.

The reader has already been informed of the attempts made by Bonaparte to
induce England and Austria to negotiate with the Consular Government,
which the King of Prussia was the first of the sovereigns of Europe to
recognise. These attempts having proved unavailing, it became necessary
to carry on the war with renewed vigour, and also to explain why the
peace, which had been promised at the beginning of the Consulate, was
still nothing but a promise. In fulfilment of these two objects
Bonaparte addressed an energetic proclamation to the armies, which was
remarkable for not being followed by the usual sacred words, "Vive la
République!"

At the same time Bonaparte completed the formation of the Council of
State, and divided it into five sections: - (1) The Interior; (2) Finance;
(3) Marine; (4) The War Department; (5) Legislation. He fixed the
salaries of the Councillors of the State at 25,000 francs, and that of
the Precedents of Sections at 30,000. He settled the costume of the
Consuls, the Ministers, and the different bodies of the State. This led
to the re-introduction of velvet, which had been banished with the old
regime, and the encouragement of the manufactures of Lyons was the reason
alleged for employing this un-republican article in the different
dresses, such as those of the Consuls and Ministers. It was Bonaparte's
constant aim to efface the Republic, even in the utmost trifles, and to
prepare matters so well that the customs and habits of monarchy being
restored, there should only then remain a word to be changed.

I never remember to have seen Bonaparte in the Consular dress, which he
detested, and which he wore only because duty required him to do so at
public ceremonies. The only dress he was fond of, and in which he felt
at ease, was that in which he subjugated the ancient Eridanus and the
Nile, namely, the uniform of the Guides, to which corps Bonaparte was
always sincerely attached.

The masquerade of official dresses was not the only one which Bonaparte
summoned to the aid of his policy. At that period of the year VIII.
which corresponded with the carnival of 1800, masques began to be resumed
at Paris. Disguises were all the fashion, and Bonaparte favoured the
revival of old amusements; first, because they were old, and next,
because they were the means of diverting the attention of the people:
for, as he had established the principle that on the field of battle it
is necessary to divide the enemy in order to beat him, he conceived it no
less advisable to divert the people in order to enslave them. Bonaparte
did not say 'panem et circenses', for I believe his knowledge of Latin
did not extend even to that well-known phrase of Juvenal, but he put the
maxim in practice. He accordingly authorised the revival of balls at the
opera, which they who lived during that period of the Consulate know was
an important event in Paris. Some gladly viewed it as a little conquest
in favour of the old regime; and others, who for that very reason
disapproved it, were too shallow to understand the influence of little
over great things. The women and the young men did not bestow a thought
on the subject, but yielded willingly to the attractions of pleasure.
Bonaparte, who was delighted at having provided a diversion for the
gossiping of the Parisian salons, said to me one day, "While they are
chatting about all this, they do not babble upon politics, and that is
what I want. Let them dance and amuse themselves as long as they do not
thrust their noses into the Councils of the Government; besides,
Bourrienne," added he, "I have other reasons for encouraging this, I see
other advantages in it. Trade is languishing; Fouché tells me that there
are great complaints. This will set a little money in circulation;
besides, I am on my guard about the Jacobins. Everything is not bad,
because it is not new. I prefer the opera-balls to the saturnalia of the
Goddess of Reason. I was never so enthusiastically applauded as at the
last parade."

A Consular decision of a different and more important nature had, shortly
before, namely, at the commencement of Nivôse, brought happiness to many
families. Bonaparte, as every one knows, had prepared the events of the
18th Fructidor that he might have some plausible reasons for overthrowing
the Directors. The Directory being overthrown, he was now anxious, at
least in part, to undo what he had done on the 18th Fructidor. He
therefore ordered a report on the persons exiled to be presented to him
by the Minister of Police. In consequence of this report he authorised
forty of them to return to France, placing them under the observation of
the Police Minister, and assigning them their place of residence.
However, they did not long remain under these restrictions, and many of
them were soon called to fill high places in the Government. It was
indeed natural that Bonaparte, still wishing, at least in appearance, to
found his government on those principles of moderate republicanism which
had caused their exile, should invite them to second his views.

Barrère wrote a justificatory letter to the First Consul, who, however,
took no notice of it, for he could not get so far as to favour Barrère.
Thus did Bonaparte receive into the Councils of the Consulate the men who
had been exiled by the Directory, just as he afterwards appointed the
emigrants and those exiles of the Revolution to high offices under the
Empire. The time and the men alone differed; the intention in both cases
was the same.




CHAPTER XXX

1800.

Bonaparte and Paul I. - Lord Whitworth - Baron Sprengporten's arrival
at Paris - Paul's admiration of Bonaparte - Their close connection and
correspondence - The royal challenge - General Mack - The road to
Malmaison - Attempts at assassination - Death of Washington - National
mourning - Ambitious calculation - M. de Fontanel, the skilful orator
- Fete at the Temple of Mars - Murat's marriage with Caroline
Bonaparte - Madame Bonaparte's pearls.

The first communications between Bonaparte and Paul I. commenced a short
time after his accession to the Consulate. Affairs then began to look a
little less unfavourable for France; already vague reports from


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Online LibraryLouis Antoine Fauvelet de BourrienneMemoirs of Napoleon — Volume 04 → online text (page 3 of 9)