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intelligent, and capable officer. In 1811 the report of his
chiefs was that he was well-educated and talented, that
he had fought well, was capable of observing and of giving
an account of what he observed, that he could draw, and talk
Spanish and German. 2

He seems to have had an important role several times,
particularly at Dresden in 1813. His technical education
in everything concerning the artillery, and his mathematical
knowledge, made him very useful to Napoleon, who con-
stantly gave him calculations to make at St. Helena.
Las Cases was the literary man of the group, Gourgaud was
the scientific man, Montholon the man of the world who
" did not pretend to be anything," and Bertrand the soldier.

Gourgaud's education had not been solely a military one.
He had read a great deal, and had his own ideas on many
subjects. He was inclined to simplify all questions, but at
the same time he had a great deal of common sense. He had
not the subtleness of Las Cases, and he was not tactful like
Montholon, but he was clear-headed and intelligent.

His character is very interesting. He was essentially a
military man. He knew nothing of court and society life,
and had never learnt to sacrifice himself for the sake of social
requirements. He was a very natural man, and had developed

1 Nor the Notes sur le Manuscrit de Sainte-Htlene (R.O. 14).

2 Qualifications of subjects considered capable of undertaking the
functions of orderly officers, B.N. Manuscrits, papers relating to the First
Empire, fr. 6577, fol. 61.

187



THE EXILE OF ST. HELENA

without any restraint. He was morally rich in his own way,
and he allowed his qualities and faults to have free play.

He had some excellent qualities. His bravery x has never
been contested. He was kind-hearted, grateful for any
services, by no means spiteful, and the sincerity of his family
affections was most touching. He did not care for Las Cases,
and yet he begged for his son to be admitted to the
Emperor's table. 2 He endeavoured to spare Bertrand
Napoleon's reprimands, thereby laying himself open to
receiving them himself. 3 When Las Cases left St. Helena
Gourgaud forgot all his grievances, tried to comfort him, and
kissed him with tears in his eyes. 4 He lectured Bertrand's
domestic about leaving his master. 5 He was always thinking
about his mother and his sister. 6 His deep affection for
them, as expressed in his letters, 7 touched even Lord Bathurst.
His yearning for affection bordered at times on sentimentality,
and his exile at St. Helena proved so hard, at times, to so
tender-hearted a man that the most tragic lamentations are
frequently interspersed in this soldier's diary. He was
greatly fascinated by Colonel Wilks' daughter, " the adorable
Laura."" 8

" Ah, why am I a prisoner ! 9 The more I see her, the
more I love her ! " 10 he exclaimed bitterly. It was rather a
general need of love with him, though, than any special
affection.

" No one feels this need of loving as I do," he remarked.
" I have too affectionate a nature." n

In consequence of this all the English girls at St. Helena

1 O'Meara's ill-natured accounts (Forsyth, Vol. I, p. 96), and Warden's
also (fifth letter) about his fear during his illness, appear to have been
embellished by inventive imagination, particularly by O'Meara. The
bravest man may also have certain weaknesses on a sick-bed.

2 Gourgaud, January 2nd, 1816.

3 Id., April 6th, 1816.

4 Id., November 25th, December 30th, 1816.

5 Id., February 2nd, 1817.

6 Id., February 15th, August 18th, 1816; March 5th, May 9th,
1817, etc.

7 Id., II, p. 509. 8 Gourgaud, April 19th, 1816.
9 Id., November 20th, 1815.

10 Id., February 11th, 1816. Compare December 17th, 1815: "There is
a woman for you ! "

11 Id., January 20th, 1817.

188



GOURGAUD AND HIS DIARY

were honoured in turn by Gourgaud's secret and platonic
homage. 1 As a lonely exile he suffered greatly on account
of this unsatisfied affection, but he declared that he preferred
having a loving heart, even if he had to suffer through it. 2
There was another side to all this though. Gourgaud
was expansive, affectionate, and very kindly disposed, but he
loved himself too, and he was thoroughly satisfied with
himself. In 1807, when Gourgaud was a lieutenant, General
Boulart spoke of him as being " young, active, and sprightly,
but with a decided air of self-assurance. 11 3 Gourgaud always
had this. " He is very conceited, 11 says Montchenu, " and he
never speaks of anyone but of himself and the Emperor." 4
Balmain, too, says that he is " conceited and self-sufficient. 11 5
His own diary speaks more loudly than any other
witness.

From the first chapter to the last it is evident that he is
very well satisfied with his own deeds, and that he sets a high
value on his moral impeccability. He has nothing with
which to reproach himself. 6 He has always sacrificed his
own interests to his duty and to his honour. 7 When a
confessor is mentioned he says, " I never thought of asking
for one, as I have nothing with which to reproach myself. 11 8
He was just as self-satisfied with regard to his conduct and
his services as a soldier. He returns periodically to his
thirteen campaigns, his eighteen years of military service, his
three wounds, and his brilliant deeds. 9 He was constantly
joked about his pride in having saved Napoleon 1 s life at
Brienne. 10 Napoleon himself grew tired of hearing of it and

1 Gourgaud, April 3rd, 1817.

2 Id., April 13th, 1817.

3 Mimoires militaires du giniral baron Boulart, Paris, Librairie
illustree.

4 Report already mentioned of March 12th, 1818.

5 Report of September 8th, 1816.

6 Gourgaud, July 13th, 1815.

7 Id., October 15th, 1815; March 31st, June 2nd, 1817 ; January 26th.
1818.

8 Id., March 17th, 1817.

9 Id., December 13th, December 21st, 1816; January 26th, 1818.

10 See Warden, additional note, La captivity de Sainte-Helene d'apres
Montchenu, chapter iv. The Souvenirs de Betzy Balcombe, p. 34. Com-
pare Gourgaud, October 3rd, 1815: "I saved his life, and we like those
whom we have obliged."

189



THE EXILE OF ST. HELENA

pretended that he did not remember anything about it. 1
Gourgaud's annoyance then reached a climax.

From the height of his own perfection, Gourgaud criticised
others very severely. He considered Las Cases vain, self-
interested, and given to flattering. 2 He did not spare Madame
de Montholon 3 nor even Bertrand. He wished his own
merit to be recognised and appreciated, and he began
quarrels of precedence with Montholon and Las Cases, worthy
of a duke and peer of the eighteenth century. He threatened
Montholon with a duel if he did not give him the chief place
at table, because he had been " a longer time in the military
household. r> 4 He refused, " as a military man," to yield the
precedence to Las Cases, who was " only a chamberlain, which
is nothing but a titled valet."''' 5 He made the most heroic
efforts with himself, but it was of no avail. " It is no use my
reading the Gospel,'" he says, " I cannot help it, I simply
cannot endure passing after the Montholons. r ' 6 He expected
people to give him the same affection that he lavished on others.
He expected Napoleon to talk to him and to work and
dine with him, 7 and he thought that Bertrand should be
ready to lend an attentive ear to his grievances. 8 He was of
a jealous nature, and was always accusing people of ingra-
titude. In material things he required everything that was
due to him, and he complained that his room was not
furnished as well as the other rooms. 9 He said that the

1 Gourgaud, December 21st, 1816 ; March 10th, September 3rd, 1817 ;
January 26th, 1818.

2 Id., July 26th, October 30th, 1815; January 5th and 18th, June 2nd
and 3rd, August 11th, August 27th, October 8th and 16th, November 16th,
1816, etc.

3 Id., August 27th, 1815 ; January 7th, 1816, etc.

4 Id., December 13th, 1815.

5 Id., November 18th, 1815. Compare July 19th and 22nd, August 8th,
October 25th, 1815, etc. 6 Id., January 20th, 1817.

7 Id., December 5th, 1816 : "It is very painful to me that his Majesty
should not show us the least mark of interest. For him I abandoned my
mother, my country, my profession, and I am well punished for it."
Compare December 12th, 1816, February 11th, 1817 : "The Emperor does
not appreciate real attachment in people." June 30th, 1817, etc.

8 Id., May 21st, June 10th, 18th, 19th, 1817. From the day when
Bertrand became tired of Gourgaud's endless complaints, he was no
longer anything but "an indifferent person, an egoist who acted the
Minister."

9 Id., January 23rd, 1816 ; February 5th, 1817.

190



GOURGAUD AND HIS DIARY

Emperor lavished pecuniary gifts on Montholon, whilst he
received nothing. 1 He declared that the Montholon family
absorbed all the provisions at Longwood. 2 All these fancied
grievances caused the sadness which crept, day by day, into
the poor exile's diary, and that " sombre, melancholy ill-
humour,'' , mentioned by Balmain. 3

Such things, too, were the pretexts for the scenes of
jealousy which were constantly taking place, and which
finally led to his departure from the island. 4 Lord Rosebery
describes these scenes very wittily. 5 Gourgaud's self-assurance
and conceit had a certain consequence which must be taken
into consideration in this study. He was terribly frank.
He had all the freedom of the soldier who does not know
how to colour the truth, and he was absolutely incapable of
concealing his thoughts. He gloried in all this even when
deploring it, for this frankness frequently did him harm.
" I have one very great fault," he said, " and that is, I always
speak the truth. 6 My poor father was much too honest.
He brought me up with principles of honour and virtue
which were far too rigid." 7

At times this frankness had rendered great service, and he
had every reason to be proud of it. Thanks to it he gave
the truth about the state of France during the Empire,
and what he says does not exactly tally with Las Cases's
enthusiastic statements. 8 Thanks, too, to this frankness, he
knew his own faults, admired Napoleon's patience with him, 9
made fun of his own complaints, 10 and regretted his own angry



1 Gourgaud, March 20th, May 7th and 13th, 1817, etc.

2 Id., April 23rd, 1816.

3 Report of February 27th, 1818.

4 We must note that if people were mistaken at St. Helena about the
role played by Gourgaud, Las Cases in Europe was no less mistaken, as he
believed it was really the "turbulent and unsocial disposition" of his
former companion which caused his departure. See the Mimoires du roi
Jtrome (Bibliography, 106), Vol. VII, p. 316.

5 Napoleon, The Last Phase, Chapter III.
8 Gourgaud, May 10th, 1816.

7 7c?., December 12th, 1816.

8 Id., June 23rd, 1816. The whole of this passage has a great deal that
is very just.

9 Id., October 14th, 1816.

10 Id., March 28th, 1817. "I see Bertrand and sing him my refrain."

191



THE EXILE OF ST. HELENA

exaggerations. 1 His frankness was not always out of place,
either. When, in the early days of exile, Gourgaud ventured
to criticise some of Napoleon's historical works, 2 Napoleon
praised his courage, 3 and appealed to him as an impartial
judge who always spoke the truth. 4 Finally, though the
author's feelings were hurt. Napoleon wearied of this
merciless Alcestes, objected to his remarks, 5 and would not
read his Memoires any more " because of Gourgaud, who
criticised everything." c

Gourgaud did not limit his criticisms to literary subjects.
It was absolutely necessary to him to express his opinions, so
that he was led on to make the most disagreeable remarks
as far as his companions were concerned. He declared to his
master that there had been nothing remarkable about the
1813 campaign. 7 The justice of this observation may be
contested, quite as much as its seasonableness. Napoleon
was scandalised at the crudeness of Moliere's language, where-
upon Gourgaud observed that " the more manners and
customs became corrupt, the more particular people were
about words." 8 Madame de Montholon was proud of her
clothes, but he assured her " that they would look like rags by
the side of Lady Lowe's dresses." 9 Napoleon attacked the
metrical system, and said that Laplace himself had recognised
the justice of his criticisms. Gourgaud immediately replied :
" Laplace said that to flatter your Majesty." 10 When
Napoleon was endeavouring to reassure himself about his
failing health, he remarked that he still walked well.

" I would answer for it," observed Gourgaud, " that if his
Majesty had to walk ten leagues a day he would soon be
unable to continue."

All this annoyed Napoleon, 11 and Gourgaud was somewhat
obtuse in not realising the fact. He wounded Napoleon, too,

1 Gourgaud, November 7th, 1817: "I say things about the Grand
Marshal that I do not believe."

2 Id., June 2nd, 1816. 3 Id., June 3rd, 1816.

4 Id., August 30th, 1816.

5 Id., July 5th and 9th, August 16th, 1817.

6 Id., July 8th, 1817. "' Id., June 16th, 1816.
8 Id., November 17, 1717. 9 Id., April 9th, 1817.

10 Id., April 24th, 1817. " Id., June 23rd, 1817.

192




r NAI'OLEOX



l.l\ ED AND DIED




[■HE GRAVE OF NAPOLEON AT ST. HELENA.



GOURGAUD AND HIS DIARY

on points about which he was more susceptible. In the
midst of a dissertation on the state of France, Gourgaud
remarked : " Yes, Sire, but may history never say : France
was very great before Napoleon, but it was all cut up after
him."" l Finally, Napoleon and all the others had enough of
this constant sincerity.

"Don't worry me with your frankness," said Napoleon,
" keep it to yourself . . . 2 What does it matter to me
that you are an honest man. You ought to try to give
me pleasure. You are always so rough and Las Cases has
the delicacy of a woman. It is not a good thing to say
every thing that you think. Everyone has to dissimulate
and to learn the art of living with other people. 3 Look at
the Montholons ; they never open their mouths except to
say agreeable things, but you have nothing but disagreeable
things to say. 4 You are too fond of arguing, you always try
to oppose me, to contradict me. When I say anything, you
quickly employ your logic and your skill in looking at it
from another standpoint. 5 You are just like a Corsican, for
when a Corsican has an idea about anything he never gives
way. You should not be so obstinate. 1 '' 6

These words should be weighed. Napoleon says that Las
Cases has the delicacy of a woman and that Montholon never
opens his mouth except to say agreeable things. It is very
evident that in their enthusiasm for Napoleon, they had no
opinion of their own when he was present. What Napoleon
said was the right thing to say and what he did was always
well done. Without discussing the matter, they were always
ready to accept the idea he wished to give them of himself.
If, in a moment of sudden frankness, Napoleon dropped a few
words which belied his usual arguments, they would not, in all
sincerity, take any notice of them ; or if they did, they would
so transform or interpret them that they would resemble
the usual sense of his words. There are some curious
examples of this, and after all it is quite natural. When we

1 Gourgaud, October 4th, 1817.

2 Id., January 20th, 1818. Compare November 8th, 1817.
! Id., December 25th, 1816

4 Id., July 15th, 1817.

5 Id., July 22nd, 1817. 6 Id., March 20th, 1817.

193 o



THE EXILE OF ST. HELENA

are fond of anyone, all that person's words and deeds are
interpreted by us in the best sense possible. Las Cases
and Montholon could not imagine Napoleon contradicting
himself. If it seemed as though he had done so, they were
convinced that they had misunderstood him. They therefore
either interpreted his words differently or forgot them.

With Montholon, the date of his work must be taken into
account. With only a poor supply of notes he compiled his
book in 1840 from conversations taken down from 1815 to
1821. Then, too, this was after Beranger, after Victor Hugo,
and all the eloquence of the Napoleonic press. It was at the
time of the Return of the Emperor. After an interval of
twenty years it was very easy to attribute to one man what
another one had said, and he may have given a different turn
and character to a discussion from what it originally had. He
may unconsciously have interpreted his notes, so long after-
wards, in conformity with the Emperor's ideas which had
gradually been forced upon everyone. His recollections were
no longer his own. The enthusiasm and the belief of a whole
nation lent a new colouring to them, made them more poetical
in every way. The question is what reliance is to be placed on
this tardy testimony, and does it hold good in face of the
notes taken down day by day by Gourgaud ?

O'Meara was an Englishman. In spite of his devotion,
which began somewhat late, he was a foreigner. When with
him Napoleon was on his guard. He was constantly reminded
of his situation by the difference of ideas, the English
prejudices which he detected in this kindly disposed man.

In order to discover what was really in Napoleon's mind his
free chats with a fellow soldier were of far more value than
all the discussions with O'Meara.

Las Cases, like Gourgaud, wrote out his notes at once, but
he was the most enthusiastic of all the exiles, the most easily
influenced by Napoleon, and the most prompt in giving up
his own private ideas when with his master.

Gourgaud never gave up his own ideas. His merciless

frankness, his passion for arguing, made him hold out always.

His pen, which was as frank as his tongue, took note of

everything he heard, just as he heard it, without any kind of

194



GOURGAUD AND HIS DIARY

modification or of softening clown. He, too, adored Napoleon,
but this did not prevent him from showing his idol just as he
saw him, and it seems as though he certainly saw him just as
he was.

It is from Gourgaud\s accounts that it is possible to see
Napoleon sometimes in one of those fits of involuntary
frankness which belied his usual diplomacy. Gourgaud
shows us the two sides of Napoleon, and it is interesting
to study this other side.

Additional Note. — It may seem surprising that Napoleon, probably-
knowing of Gourgaucl's diary, should have let certain affirmations stand
in it which are contrary to the idea he wanted to give of himself. But
this diary, unlike that of Las Cases, was not intended for publication, and
it was only by chance that it ever was published. Considering this,
Napoleon probably thought that it did not much matter, and it is also not
very probable that Napoleon read in detail this voluminous diary, which
would have been a terribly irksome task for him.



195 o 2



CHAPTER XXI

NAPOLEON ACCORDING TO GOURGAUD

The three chief differences which appear to exist between
the Napoleon of Gourgaud and the Napoleon of the other
Memorialists are : first, his attitude with regard to Liberal
ideas ; secondly, his attitude towards religion ; and thirdly, his
opinion about his own family.

/. NapoleoiCs Liberal ideas. — Gourgaud never denies the
fact that Napoleon always claimed to be a sovereign believing
in equality. The historian may consider this as an estab-
lished fact. The despotic master delighted in the idea of
equality. Mirabeau said that the idea of forming only one
class of citizens would have delighted Richelieu. Gourgaud
has something else to tell though when he treats the question
of Liberty.

Napoleon spoke several times about the policy of the
Bourbons in 1815 and in the following years. His criticism,
as related by all the memorialists, was as follows : In 1814,
Louis XVIII had the choice between two systems. He
might either have returned as a feudal king, overthrowing all
that the Revolution had established and re-establishing the
provinces and the Parliaments, or he could have returned as
an absolutely modern king and have founded a fifth dynasty,
which might have been both Liberal and pacific. He chose
neither of these alternatives and consequently he was
overthrown in 1815. When he was re-established by for-
eigners he was disliked by his subjects so that he no longer
had the choice. Liberalism would then have ruined him. He
196



NAPOLEON ACCORDING TO GOURGAUD

could only govern therefore by terror. By means of this
policy he would be safe for a few years, but this could only
be a respite. When once the foreigners had left France and
the nation was itself again, a national cataclysm would cause
the throne of the Bourbons to disappear.

Las Cases, Montholon and Gourgaud all agree on this
subject. Las Cases says : " Last year Louis XVIII might have
identified himself with the nation ; at present he has no
choice, he can only try the regime of his fathers." l

Montholon writes : " Louis XVIII is now trying his
St. Bartholomew ; it is an experiment and he must beware
of explosions. 2 There might be some chance of success if the
old provinces [and the Parliaments were re-established. 3
The Bourbons are quite right in having provost-courts, for
they can only reign now by terror. When they attempt
to establish Liberalism they will be overthrown. 4 So much
the worse for the King if he cannot keep up the provost-
courts.*" 5

Gourgaud says the same thing but more brutally : " The
Bourbons must have a St. Bartholomew for revolutionists. 6
The provost-courts are the best thing. 7 The King is on the
right road, he will have to re-establish everything as it was
formerly. 8 So much the worse for him if he cannot keep up
the provost-courts, as that is his only chance of holding the
people within bounds. The Bourbons are detested by the
French, so that they must not hesitate to ill-treat their
subjects. 9 If they show any weakness, they are lost. They
must hang, exile, drive away, send a hundred thousand
old soldiers to San Domingo. 10 They must get rid of all



1 Memorial, January 12th— 14th, 1816.

2 R4cits de la captivity, January 12th, 1816.

3 Id., December 8th, 1815.

4 Id., December 27th, 1816.

5 Id., January 4th, 1817. Compare January 30th, 1817, February 15th,
1817.

6 Gourgaud, January 12th, 1816.

7 Id., February 8th, 1816.

8 Id., January 14th, 1816. 9 Id., January 4th, 1817.

10 Id., December 27th, 1816. Compare January 10th, 1817: "They
must reckon on losing a hundred thousand men in three years, but, with
their presently stem, that will be all right."

197



THE EXILE OF ST. HELENA

generals who are not of blue blood. 1 This policy will give
them a little respite, but there is no hope of real security for
them. At the end of about five years,*''' he continues,
" the foreigners will have left and the French nation will then
overthrow the Bourbons."" 2

Up to this point the three memorialists agree perfectly,
but here and there Gourgaud gives us something more. He
sets forth, like the others, that in order to hold their own, in
a country which detests them, the Bourbons must govern
with vigour and absolutism ; but in addition to this, Napoleon
insinuates that the Continental nations, unlike England, are
not made for liberty, that they require to be governed
monarchically and by absolute sovereigns. Napoleon's own
private conviction is introduced surreptitiously by Gourgaud
in the midst of the long and eloquent Liberal declarations
which Las Cases also gives.

It is interesting to follow up these insinuations stage by
stage. Napoleon is still speaking of the policy of the
Bourbons when he remarks : " The Bourbons are on the right
road ; the provost-courts will not be liked by the rabble, but
time will help everything.'''' 3 This was not exactly what he had
said only a little time back. Did he think then that it was a
good thing to hold the people in check. If he thought that
time would help things, he evidently did not expect the
explosion to take place. All this seems to prove that he had
very little confidence in Liberal ideas. He appears to infer,
too, that it was the rabble who supported such ideas. 4

Napoleon evidently thought then that absolutism and
severity might save the Bourbons after the dissolution of the
Chambre introwvable February 16th, 1817. He says: "The
King made a great mistake in dissolving the Chamber of
Deputies, for it might have saved him by its reactionary
exaggeration. 5 According to this he considered it possible

1 Gourgaud, December 27th, 1816. Compare May 24th, 1816, February
15th, 1817.

2 Id., January 4th, 1818. 3 Id., June 13th, 1816.

4 The expression is repeated on the 27th of December, 1816 : " The
provost-courts are the best thing for holding in the rabble."


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