Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne.

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it did not come within the classifications made by the laws passed in the
months the names of which terminated in 'aire, ose, al, and or'.

I showed M. de Fermont's answer to the First Consul, who said, "Ah, bah!
He understands nothing about it - he is wrong: write." He then dictated a
letter, which promised very favourably for the discounting of the bill;
but the answer was a fresh refusal. I said, "General, M. de Fermont does
not attend to you any more than to myself." Bonaparte took the letter,
read it, and said, in the tone of a man who knew beforehand what he was
about to be informed of, "Well, what the devil would you have me do,
since the laws are opposed to it? Persevere; follow the usual modes of
liquidation, and something will come of it!" What finally happened was,
that by a regular decree this bill was cancelled, torn, and deposited in
the archives. These 300,000 livres formed part of the money which
Bonaparte brought from Italy. If the bill was useless to me it was also
useless to him. This scrap of paper merely proves that he brought more
than 25,000 francs from Italy.

I never had, from the General-in-Chief of the army of Italy, nor from the
General in-Chief of the army of Egypt, nor from the First Consul, for
ten years, nor from the Consul for life, any fixed salary: I took from
his drawer what was necessary for my expenses as well as his own. He
never asked me for any account. After the transaction of the bill on the
insolvent Cisalpine Republic he said to me, at the beginning of the
winter of 1800, "Bourrienne, the weather is becoming very bad; I will go
but seldom to Malmaison. Whilst I am at council get my papers and little
articles from Malmaison; here is the key of my secretaire, take out
everything that is there." I got into the carriage at two o'clock and
returned at six. When he had dined I placed upon the table of his
cabinet the various articles which I had found in his secretaire
including 15,000 francs (somewhere about L 600 of English money) in
banknotes which were in the corner of a little drawer. When he looked at
them he said, "Here is money - what is the meaning of this?" I replied,
"I know nothing about it, except that it was in your secretaire." -
"Oh yes; I had forgotten it. It was for my trifling expenses. Here,
take it." I remembered well that one summer morning he had given me his
key to bring him two notes of 1000 francs for some incidental expense,
but I had no idea that he had not drawn further on his little treasure.

I have stated the appropriation of the four millions and a half, the
result of the extortion inflicted on the Senate of Hamburg, in the affair
of Napper Tandy and Blackwell.

The whole, however, was not disposed of in presents. A considerable
portion was reserved for paying Josephine's debts, and this business
appears to me to deserve some remarks.

The estate of Malmaison had cost 160,000 francs. Josephine had purchased
it of M. Lecouteulx while we were in Egypt. Many embellishments, and
some new buildings, had been made there; and a park had been added, which
had now become beautiful. All this could not be done for nothing, and
besides, it was very necessary that what was due for the original
purchase should be entirely discharged; and this considerable item was
not the only debt of Josephine. The creditors murmured, which had a bad
effect in Paris; and I confess I was so well convinced that the First
Consul would be extremely displeased that I constantly delayed the moment
of speaking to him on the subject. It was therefore with extreme
satisfaction I learned that M. de Talleyrand had anticipated me. No
person was more capable than himself of gilding the pill, as one may say,
to Bonaparte. Endowed with as much independence of character as of mind,
he did him the service, at the risk of offending him, to tell him that a
great number of creditors expressed their discontent in bitter complaints
respecting the debts contracted by Madame Bonaparte during his expedition
to the East. Bonaparte felt that his situation required him promptly to
remove the cause of such complaints. It was one night about half-past
eleven o'clock that M. Talleyrand introduced this delicate subject. As
soon he was gone I entered the little cabinet; Bonaparte said to me,
"Bourrienne, Talleyrand has been speaking to me about the debts of my
wife. I have the money from Hamburg - ask her the exact amount of her
debts: let her confess all. I wish to finish, and not begin again. But
do not pay without showing me the bills of those rascals: they are a gang
of robbers."

Hitherto the apprehension of an unpleasant scene, the very idea of which
made Josephine tremble, had always prevented me from broaching this
subject to the First Consul; but, well pleased that Talleyrand had first
touched upon it, I resolved to do all in my power to put an end to the
disagreeable affair.

The next morning I saw Josephine. She was at first delighted with her
husband's intentions; but this feeling did not last long. When I asked
her for an exact account of what she owed she entreated me not to press
it, but content myself with what she should confess. I said to her,
"Madame, I cannot deceive you respecting the disposition of the First
Consul. He believes that you owe a considerable sum, and is willing to
discharge it. You will, I doubt not, have to endure some bitter
reproaches, and a violent scene; but the scene will be just the same for
the whole as for a part. If you conceal a large proportion of your debts
at the end of some time murmurs will recommence, they will reach the ears
of the First Consul, and his anger will display itself still more
strikingly. Trust to me - state all; the result will be the same; you
will hear but once the disagreeable things he will say to you; by
reservations you will renew them incessantly." Josephine said, "I can
never tell all; it is impossible. Do me the service to keep secret what
I say to you. I owe, I believe, about 1,200,000 francs, but I wish to
confess only 600,000; I will contract no more debts, and will pay the
rest little by little out of my savings." - "Here, Madame, my first
observations recur. As I do not believe he estimates your debts at so
high a sum as 600,000 francs, I can warrant that you will not experience
more displeasure for acknowledging to 1,200,000 than to 600,000; and by
going so far you will get rid of them for ever." - "I can never do it,
Bourrienne; I know him; I can never support his violence." After a
quarter of an hour's further discussion on the subject I was obliged to
yield to her earnest solicitation, and promise to mention only the
600,000 francs to the First Consul.

The anger and ill-humour of Bonaparte may be imagined. He strongly
suspected that his wife was dissembling in some respect; but he said,
"Well, take 600,000 francs, but liquidate the debts for that sum, and let
me hear nothing more on the subject. I authorise you to threaten these
tradesmen with paying nothing if they do not reduce their enormous
charges. They ought to be taught not to be so ready in giving credit."
Madame Bonaparte gave me all her bills. The extent to which the articles
had been overcharged, owing to the fear of not being paid for a long
period, and of deductions being made from the amount, was inconceivable.
It appeared to me, also, that there must be some exaggeration in the
number of articles supplied. I observed in the milliner's bill thirty-
eight new hats, of great price, in one month. There was likewise a
charge of 1800 francs for heron plumes, and 800 francs for perfumes.
I asked Josephine whether she wore out two hats in one day? She objected
to this charge for the hats, which she merely called a mistake. The
impositions which the saddler attempted, both in the extravagance of his
prices and in charging for articles which he had not furnished, were
astonishing. I need say nothing of the other tradesmen, it was the same
system of plunder throughout.

I availed myself fully of the First Consul's permission, and spared
neither reproaches nor menaces. I am ashamed to say that the greater
part of the tradesmen were contented with the half of what they demanded.
One of them received 35,000 francs for a bill of 80,000; and he had the
impudence to tell me that he made a good profit nevertheless. Finally, I
was fortunate enough, after the most vehement disputes, to settle
everything for 600,000 francs. Madame Bonaparte, however, soon fell
again into the same excesses, but fortunately money became more
plentiful. This inconceivable mania of spending money was almost the
sole cause of her unhappiness. Her thoughtless profusion occasioned
permanent disorder in her household until the period of Bonaparte's
second marriage, when, I am informed, she became regular in her
expenditure. I could not say so of her when she was Empress in 1804.

- [Notwithstanding her husband's wish, she could never bring her
establishment into any order or rule. He wished that no tradesmen
should ever reach her, but he was forced to yield on this point.
The small inner rooms were filled with them, as with artists of all
sorts. She had a mania for having herself painted, and gave her
portraits to whoever wished for one, relations, 'femmes de chambre',
even to tradesmen. They never ceased bringing her diamonds, jewels,
shawls, materials for dresses, and trinkets of all kinds; she bought
everything without ever asking the price; and generally forgot what
she had purchased. . . All the morning she had on a shawl which
she draped on her shoulders with a grace I have seen in no one else.
Bonaparte, who thought her shawls covered her too much, tore them
off, and sometimes threw them into the fire; then she sent for
another (Rémusat, tome ii. pp. 343-345). After the divorce her
income, large as it was, was insufficient, but the Emperor was more
compassionate then, and when sending the Comte Mollien to settle her
affairs gave him strict orders "not to make her weep" (Meneval,
tome iii. p.237] -

The amiable Josephine had not less ambition in little things than her
husband had in great. She felt pleasure in acquiring and not in
possessing. Who would suppose it? She grew tired of the beauty of the
park of Malmaison, and was always asking me to take her out on the high
road, either in the direction of Nanterre, or on that of Marly, in the
midst of the dust occasioned by the passing of carriages. The noise of
the high road appeared to her preferable to the calm silence of the
beautiful avenues of the park, and in this respect Hortense had the same
taste as her mother. This whimsical fancy astonished Bonaparte, and he
was sometimes vexed at it. My intercourse with Josephine was delightful;
for I never saw a woman who so constantly entered society with such an
equable disposition, or with so much of the spirit of kindness, which is
the first principle of amiability. She was so obligingly attentive as to
cause a pretty suite of apartments to be prepared at Malmaison for me and
my family.

She pressed me earnestly, and with all her known grace, to accept it; but
almost as much a captive at Paris as a prisoner of state, I wished to
have to myself in the country the moments of liberty I was permitted to
enjoy. Yet what was this liberty? I had bought a little house at Ruel,
which I kept during two years and a half. When I saw my friends there,
it had to be at midnight, or at five o'clock in the morning; and the
First Consul would often send for me in the night when couriers arrived.
It was for this sort of liberty I refused Josephine's kind offer.
Bonaparte came once to see me in my retreat at Ruel, but Josephine and
Hortense came often. It was a favourite walk with these ladies.

At Paris I was less frequently absent from Bonaparte than at Malmaison.
We sometimes in the evening walked together in the garden of the
Tuileries after the gates were closed. In these evening walks he always
wore a gray greatcoat, and a round hat. I was directed to answer,
"The First Consul," to the sentinel's challenge of, "Who goes there?"
These promenades, which were of much benefit to Bonaparte, and me also,
as a relaxation from our labours, resembled those which we had at
Malmaison. As to our promenades in the city, they were often very

At the period of our first inhabiting the Tuileries, when I saw Bonaparte
enter the cabinet at eight o'clock in the evening in his gray coat, I
knew he would say, "Bourrienne, come and take a turn." Sometimes, then,
instead of going out by the garden arcade, we would take the little gate
which leads from the court to the apartments of the Duc d'Angoulême. He
would take my arm, and we would go to buy articles of trifling value in
the shops of the Rue St. Honoré; but we did not extend our excursions
farther than Rue de l'Arbre Sec. Whilst I made the shopkeeper exhibit
before us the articles which I appeared anxious to buy he played his part
in asking questions.

Nothing was more amusing than to see him endeavouring to imitate the
careless and jocular tone of the young men of fashion. How awkward was
he in the attempt to put on dandy airs when pulling up the corners of his
cravat he would say, "Well, Madame, is there anything new to-day?
Citizen, what say they of Bonaparte? Your shop appears to be well
supplied. You surely have a great deal of custom. What do people say of
that buffoon, Bonaparte?" He was made quite happy one day when we were
obliged to retire hastily from a shop to avoid the attacks drawn upon us
by the irreverent tone in which Bonaparte spoke of the First Consul.



War and monuments - Influence of the recollections of Egypt -
First improvements in Paris - Malmaison too little - St. Cloud taken
- The Pont des Arts - Business prescribed for me by Bonaparte -
Pecuniary remuneration - The First Consul's visit to the Pritanée -
His examination of the pupils - Consular pensions - Tragical death of
Miackzinski - Introduction of vaccination - Recall of the members of
the Constituent Assembly - The "canary" volunteers - Tronchet and
Target - Liberation of the Austrian prisoners - Longchamps and sacred

The destruction of men and the construction of monuments were two things
perfectly in unison in the mind of Bonaparte. It may be said that his
passion for monuments almost equalled his passion for war;

- [Take pleasure, if you can, in reading your returns. The good
condition of my armies is owing to my devoting to them one or two
hours in every day. When the monthly returns of my armies and of my
fleets, which form twenty thick volumes, are sent to me, I give up
every other occupation in order to read them in detail and to
observe the difference between one monthly return and another.
No young girl enjoys her novel so much as I do these returns!
(Napoleon to Joseph, 20th August 1806 - Du Casse, tome iii.
p. 145).] -

but as in all things he disliked what was little and mean, so he liked
vast constructions and great battles. The sight of the colossal ruins of
the monuments of Egypt had not a little contributed to augment his
natural taste for great structures. It was not so much the monuments
themselves that he admired, but the historical recollections they
perpetuate, the great names they consecrate, the important events they
attest. What should he have cared for the column which we beheld on our
arrival in Alexandria had it not been Pompey's pillar? It is for artists
to admire or censure its proportions and ornaments, for men of learning
to explain its inscriptions; but the name of Pompey renders it an object
of interest to all.

When endeavouring to sketch the character of Bonaparte, I ought to have
noticed his taste for monuments, for without this characteristic trait
something essential is wanting to the completion of the portrait. This
taste, or, as it may more properly be called, this passion for monuments,
exercised no small influence on his thoughts and projects of glory; yet
it did not deter him from directing attention to public improvements of
a less ostentatious kind. He wished for great monuments to perpetuate
the recollection of his glory; but at the same time he knew how to
appreciate all that was truly useful. He could very rarely be reproached
for rejecting any plan without examination; and this examination was a
speedy affair, for his natural tact enabled him immediately to see things
in their proper light.

Though most of the monuments and embellishments of Paris are executed
from the plans of men of talent, yet some owe their origin to
circumstances merely accidental. Of this I can mention an example.

I was standing at the window of Bonaparte's' cabinet, which looked into
the garden of the Tuileries. He had gone out, and I took advantage of
his absence to arise from my chair, for I was tired of sitting. He had
scarcely been gone a minute when he unexpectedly returned to ask me for a
paper. "What are you doing there, Bourrienne? I'll wager anything you
are admiring the ladies walking on the terrace." - "Why, I must confess I
do sometimes amuse myself in that way," replied I; "but I assure you,
General, I was now thinking of something else. I was looking at that
villainous left bank of the Seine, which always annoys me with the gaps
in its dirty quay, and the floodings which almost every winter prevent
communication with the Faubourg St. Germain; and I was thinking I would
speak to you on the subject." He approached the window, and, looking
out, said, "You are right, it is very ugly; and very offensive to see
dirty linen washed before our windows. Here, write immediately: 'The
quay of the École de Natation is to be finished during next campaign.'
Send that order to the Minister of the Interior." The quay was finished
the year following.

An instance of the enormous difference which frequently appears between
the original estimates of architects and their subsequent accounts I may
mention what occurred in relation to the Palace of St. Cloud. But I must
first say a word about the manner in which Bonaparte originally refused
and afterwards took possession of the Queen's pleasure-house. Malmaison
was a suitable country residence for Bonaparte as long as he remained
content with his town apartments in the little Luxembourg; but that
Consular 'bagatelle' was too confined in comparison with the spacious
apartments in the Tuileries. The inhabitants of St. Cloud, well-advised,
addressed a petition to the Legislative Body, praying that their deserted
chateau might be made the summer residence of the First Consul. The
petition was referred to the Government; but Bonaparte, who was not yet
Consul for life, proudly declared that so long as he was at the head of
affairs, and, indeed, for a year afterwards, he would accept no national
recompense. Sometime after we went to visit the palace of the 18th
Brumaire. Bonaparte liked it exceedingly, but all was in a state of
complete dilapidation. It bore evident marks of the Revolution. The
First Consul did not wish, as yet, to burden the budget of the State with
his personal expenses, and he was alarmed at the enormous sum required to
render St. Cloud habitable. Flattery had not yet arrived at the degree
of proficiency which it subsequently attained; but even then his
flatterers boldly assured him he might take possession of St. Cloud for
25,000 francs. I told the First Consul that considering the ruinous
state of the place, I could to say that the expense would amount to more
than 1,200,000 francs. Bonaparte determined to have a regular estimate
of the expense, and it amounted to nearly 3,000,000. He thought it a
great sum; but as he had resolved to make St. Cloud his residence he gave
orders for commencing the repairs, the expense of which, independently of
the furniture, amounted to 6,000,000. So much for the 3,000,000 of the
architect and the 25,000 francs of the flatterers.

When the First Consul contemplated the building of the Pont des Arts we
had a long conversation on the subject. I observed that it would be much
better to build the bridge of stone. "The first object of monuments of
this kind," said I, "is public utility. They require solidity of
appearance, and their principal merit is duration. I cannot conceive,
General, why, in a country where there is abundance of fine stone of
every quality, the use of iron should be preferred." - "Write," said
Bonaparte, "to Fontaine and Percier, the architects, and ask what they
think of it." I wrote and they stated in their answer that "bridges were
intended for public utility and the embellishment of cities. The
projected bridge between the Louvre and the Quatre-Nations would
unquestionably fulfil the first of these objects, as was proved by the
great number of persons who daily crossed the Seine at that point in
boats; that the site fixed upon between the Pont Neuf and the Tuileries
appeared to be the best that could be chosen for the purpose; and that on
the score of ornament Paris would gain little by the construction of an
iron bridge, which would be very narrow, and which, from its light form,
would not correspond with the grandeur of the two bridges between which
it would be placed."

When we had received the answer of MM. Percier and Fontaine, we again had
a conversation on the subject of the bridge. I told the First Consul that
I perfectly concurred in the opinion of MM. Fontaine and Percier; however,
he would have his own way, and thus was authorised the construction
of the toy which formed a communication between the Louvre and the
Institute. But no sooner was the Pont des Arts finished than Bonaparte
pronounced it to be mean and out of keeping with the other bridges above
and below it. One day when visiting the Louvre he stopped at one of the
windows looking towards the Pont des Arts and said, "There is no
solidity, no grandeur about that bridge. In England, where stone is
scarce, it is very natural that iron should be used for arches of large
dimensions. But the case is different in France, where the requisite
material is abundant."

The infernal machine of the 3d Nivôse, of which I shall presently speak
more at length, was the signal for vast changes in the quarter of the
Tuileries. That horrible attempt was at least so far attended by happy
results that it contributed to the embellishment of Paris. It was
thought more advisable for the Government to buy and pull down the houses
which had been injured by the machine than to let them be put under
repair. As an example of Bonaparte's grand schemes in building I may
mention that, being one day at the Louvre, he pointed towards St. Germain
l'Auxerrois and said to me, "That is where I will build an imperial
street. It shall run from here to the Barrière du Trône. It shall be a
hundred feet broad, and have arcades and plantations. This street shall
be the finest in the world."

The palace of the King of Rome, which was to face the Pont de Jena and
the Champ de Mars, would have been in some measure isolated from Paris,
with which, however, it was to be connected by a line of palaces. These
were to extend along the quay, and were destined as splendid residences
for the Ambassadors of foreign sovereigns, at least as long as there
should be any sovereigns in Europe except Napoleon. The Temple of Glory,
too, which was to occupy the site of the Church of la Madeleine, was
never finished. If the plan of this monument proved the necessity.
which Bonaparte felt of constantly holding out stimulants to his
soldiers, its relinquishment was at least a proof of his wisdom. He who
had reestablished religious worship in France, and had restored to its
destination the church of the Invalides, which was for a time
metamorphosed into the Temple of Mars, foresaw that a Temple of Glory
would give birth to a sort of paganism incompatible with the ideas of the

The recollection of the magnificent Necropolis of Cairo frequently
recurred to Bonaparte's mind. He had admired that city of the dead,
which he had partly contributed to people; and his design was to make,
at the four cardinal points of Paris, four vast cemeteries on the plan
of that at Cairo.

Bonaparte determined that all the new streets of Paris should be 40 feet
wide, and be provided with foot-pavements; in short, he thought nothing
too grand for the embellishment of the capital of a country which he

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