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Las Cases - Memorial

MÉMORIAL DE SAINTE HÉLÈNE

 

 

JOURNAL OF THE PRIVATE LIFE

AND

CONVERSATIONS

OF THE

EMPEROR NAPOLEON

AT SAINT HELENA

By

Count Emmanuel De Las Cases

 

Volume I - Part I

 

 

 


 
 
Las Cases - Memorial

 
PREFACE

Circumstances the most extraordinary have long kept me near the most extraordinary man of modern times. Admiration made me follow him without knowing him and love attached me to him as soon as I did know him. The world is full of his glory, his deeds and his monuments; but no one knows the true shades of his character, his private qualities, or the natural disposition of his soul. This great void I undertake to fill up, and for such a task I possess advantages unexampled in history. I collected and recorded, day by day, all that I saw of Napoleon, all that I heard him say during the period of eighteen months in which I was constantly about his person. In these conversations, which were full of confidence, and which seemed to pass, as it were, in another world, he could not fail to be portrayed by himself as if in a mirror, in every point of view and under every aspect. Henceforth the world may freely study him: there can be no error in the materials. The particulars here collected are, with regard to arrangements, in a state of great confusion; they remain nearly in the order in which I noted them down at St. Helena.

On recovering my manuscript, a short time ago, when it was restored to me by the English Government, I at first intended to have arranged it in a new form and in a certain degree of connection. But I was compelled to renounce this design: on the one hand, the state of my health prohibited application; on the other, I felt myself controlled by time. I considered the speedy publication of my work as a sacred duty to the memory of him whose loss I deplore. I also hope it may afford pleasure to those who love him, and force respect from those who were his enemies. Finally, I have a third and no less important object in this publication, namely, that it will afford an opportunity of defense to those who may find any thing state in it of which they may imagine they have cause to complain; the public will judge and history will speak, with greater certainty.

Count Las Cases

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 TABLE OF CONTENT

  • Introduction
  • Return Of The Emperor To The Elysée After The Battle Of Waterloo
  • The Abdication
  • Deputation Of The Chamber Of Peers-Caulincourt-Fouché
  • The Provisional Government Presented To The Emperor
  • The Emperor Quits The Elysée
  • The Minister Of Marine Comes To Malmaison
  • Napoleon Quits Malmaison And Departs For Rochefort
  • Embarkation Of The Emperor
  • Embarkation Of Napoleon On Board The Bellerophon
  • Summary Dictated By Napoleon Himself
  • Ministerial Decision
  • Remarkable Words Of The Emperor
  • Departure From Plymouth-Continuance In The Channel-Protest
  • Anchored Off Star Point-Persons Allowed To Accompany The Emperor
  • Conversation With Lord Keith-Examination Of The Emperor’s Effect-He Quits The Bellerophon-Separation-We Sail For Saint Helena
  • Description Of The Emperor’s Cabin On Board The Northumberland
  • We Lose Sight Of Land-Reflections-Argument Against The English Ministers
  • The Emperor’s Mode Of Living On Board The Northumberland
  • Singular Good Fortune Of The Emperor
  • Continuation Of The Voyage-Occupation-The Emperor’s Origin And Family-Anecdotes
  • Madeira, Etc.-Violent Gale-Chess
  • The Canaries - Passing The Tropic - Details Of The Emperor’s Childhood - Napoleon At Brienne - Pichegru - Napoleon At The Military School In Paris - In The Artillery - His Companions-Napoleon At The Commencement Of The Revolution
  • Cape Verde Islands - Napoleon At The Siege Of Toulon - Rise Of Duroc And Junot - Napoleon Quarrels With The Representatives Of The People - Quarrels With Aubry - Anecdotes Relative To Vendemiaire – Napoleon General Of The Army Of Italy - Integrity Of His Military Administration - His Disinterestedness - Nicknamed Petit-Caporal - Difference Between The System Of The Directory And That Of The General Of The Army Of Italy.
  • The Emperor Determines To Write His Memoirs
  • Trade Winds-The Line


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A Storm, Examination Of Certain Libels Upon The Emperor-General Reflections

Employment Of Our Time

Accidental Phenomenon-Passage Of The Line-Christening

Examination Of The Antigallican - Sir Robert Wilson’s Writings - Plague At Jaffa, Anecdotes Of The French Army In Egypt - Feelings Of The Army In The Egyptian Campaign - Berthier - Jests Of The Soldiery - Dromedaries - Death Of Kleber - The Young Arab

Singular Coincidences Respecting Philipeaux And Napoleon - Circumstances On Which Fate Depends - Caffarelli’s Attachment To Napoleon - Reputation Of The French Army In The East - Napoleon Quitting Egypt To Assume The Government Of France - The English Expedition-Kleber And Desaix.

The Emperor’s Method Of Dictating

A Singular Accident

Complaints Of The Crew Against The Admiral-Examination Of Another Work-Refutations-Reflections

Arrival At St. Helena

Landing Of The Emperor At Saint Helena

The Emperor Fixes His Abode At Briars-Description Of The Place-Miserable Situation

Description Of Briars-The Garden-The Emperor Meets The Young Ladies Of The House

The Youth Of France-The Emperor Visits Mr. Balcombe’s House

Horror And Misery Of Our Situation-The Emperor’s Indignation-Note To The English Government

Mode Of Living At Briars –Cabinet Whoch The Emperor Had With Him At Austerlitz-The Emperor’s Large Cabinet-Its Content-Articles Of Virtu-Libels Against Napoleobn, Etc.

The Emperor Commences The Campaign Of Egypt With The Grand Marshal-Anecdotes Of Brumaire, Etc.-Letter Of The Count De Lille-The Beautiful Duchess De Guiche

Occupations Of The Day-Council Of State-Disgrace Of Portalis-Dissolution Of The Legislative Body In 1813-Senate

The General of the Army Of Italy-Ancient Armies-Chingis Khan-Modern Invasions-Characters Of Conquerors

Ideas-Plans-Political Suggestions


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Midnight Conversations By Moonlight-The Two Empresses-Maria-Louisa’s Marriage-Her Household-The Duchess Of Montebello-Madame De Montesquiou-The Institute Of Meudon-Sentiments Of The House Of Austria With Regard To Napoleon-Anecdotes Collected In Germany, Since My Return To Europe

The Fauxbourg St. Germain, Etc.- The Emperoro’s Freedom From Prejudice And Ill-Will-Characteristic Language

One The Officer’s Of The Emperor’s Household In 1814-Plans Of Address To The King

The Emperor’s Idea Of Reserving Corsica-His Opinion Of Robespierre-His Ideas Respecting Public Opinion-Expiatory Intention Of The Emperor With Regard To The Victims Of The Revolution

Cascade At Briars

First And Only Excursion During Our Abode At Briars-The Admiral’s Ball

My Conduct While The Emperor Was At Elba

The Emperor’s Temperament-Riding-Notions Of Medicine

Our Mode Of Living At Briars-My First Visit To Longwood-Infernal Machine: Its History

Conspiracy Of Georges, Pichegru, Etc.-The Duke D’Enghien-The Slave Toby-Characteristic Reflections Of Napoleon.

 

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MY RESIDENCE

WITH

THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON

AT ST. HELENA

 

INTRODUCTION

 It is my intention to record daily all that the Emperor Napoleon did or said while I was about his person; but, before I commence my diary, I hope to be excused for offering a few preliminary remarks, which may not be altogether useless.

I never commenced the perusal of any historical work without first wishing to know the character of the author, his situation in society and his political and domestic relations; in fact, all the important circumstances of his life: conceiving that nothing but a knowledge of these matters could furnish a key to his writings or a safe ground of confidence in his statements. I therefore proceed to supply in my turn, that which I always south for in others; and in presenting this diary, relate a few facts respecting my past life.

I was scarcely twenty-one years of age when the Revolution broke out, and had just been made a lieutenant de vaisseau, which corresponded with the rank of a field officer in the line: my family was at court, and I had been, recently presented there myself. I was not rich; but my name and rank in life, together with, my professional prospects, were likely, according to the calculating spirit of the times, to enable me to marry according to my wishes. It was at such a moment that our political troubles burst forth.

One of the principal vices in our system' of admission to the service, was (that of depriv­ing us of the benefits of a solid and' finished education. Withdrawn from school at the early age of fourteen, abandoned from that instant to ourselves, and launched as it were on a wide waste, how was it possible to attain the slightest notion of social organization, public rights, or the duties of civil life? Thus, prompted by noble prejudice, rather than by a just sense of duty, above all led on by a. natural fondness for generous resolves, I was amongst the first to hasten abroad and join our Princes; to save, as it was said, the Monarch from revolutionary fury, and to defend our here­ditary rights, which we could not, it was asserted, yet abandon without shame. From the mode in which we had been educated, it required either a very strong head or a very weak mind to resist the torrent.

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The emigration soon became general: this fatal measure is but too well known to Europe; nor can its folly, as a political blunder and a social crime, find any excuse in the present day, except in the unenlightened but upright character of most of those by whom it was undertaken.

Defeated on our own frontiers; discharged and disbanded by foreigners, rejected and proscribed by the laws of our country, numbers of us reached England, whose Ministers lost no time in landing us on the shore of Quiberon.[1] Being so fortunate as not to disembark, I had after my re­turn time to reflect on the horrible alternative of fighting against our country under foreign banners; and, from this moment, my ideas, prin­ciples, and projects were either disconcerted or entirely changed.

Despairing of events, abandoning the world and my natural sphere, I devoted myself to study; and, under a borrowed name, went through a second course of education in at­tempting to assist that of others

After a lapse of some years, the treaty of Amiens,[2] and the amnesty offered by the First Con­sul,[3] re-opened to us the gates of France. I had no longer any property there: the laws had disposed of my patrimony; but can any thing make us forget our native soil, or destroy the charm of breathing the air .of our own country! 

 

[1] In June 1795, the British Royal Navy landed over 3,000 émigré troops on the Quiberon peninsula to support the Vendean insurgency against the revolutionary government in Paris. However, the landing soon turned into a disaster as the revolutionary forces led by General Hoche counterattacked and, after killing or capturing hundreds of royalists, forced the survivors to re-embark to England.

[2] Treaty of Amiens, signed in March 1802, established peace between France and Britain. However, neither power was willing to follow through on its commitments and viewed the peace as an armistice in their long war. The peace barely lasted a year when it was ruptured and the War of the Third Coalition launched.

[3] Following a successful coup in November 1799, Napoleon pushed through a new constitution, which concentrated authority in the hands of three consuls. Of the three, the First Consul (Napoleon himself) enjoyed the highest authority.

 


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I hurried back, and was grateful for a pardon, rendered more acceptable, since I could say with pride I received it without having any mo­tives of self-reproach. When monarchy was proclaimed soon after, my situation and sentiments were of the most singular description. I found myself a soldier, punished for a cause that had triumphed. Every day brought us back to our former ideas: all that had been dear to our principles and prejudices was renewed and yet delicacy and honour rendered it a kind of duty in us to keep at a distance.

It was in vain that the new government loudly proclaimed the union of all parties; and equally so that its chief had declared he would no longer recognize any but Frenchmen in France; in vain had old friends and former companions offered me the advantages of a new career to be chosen by myself. Unable to subdue the con­flicting feelings which agitated my mind, I obstinately persevered in a system of self-denial; and, devoting all my time to literature, I composed, under a feigned name, an historical work, that re-established my fortune; after which, I passed five or six of the happiest years of my life.

Meanwhile, unprecedented events succeeded each other with extraordinary rapidity: they were of such a nature, and bore so pecu­liar a character, that it became impossible for any person whose heart possessed the least predilection far whatever was great or noble, to view them with indifference. The glory of our country was raised to a pitch unknown in the history of any other people; the administration of affairs was unexampled, not less by its energy than the consequences it produced; a simultaneous impulse, which was suddenly given to every species of industry, excited the emulation of all at the same moment; the army was unrivalled, striking terror abroad and creating a just pride at home.

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Every day added to the number of our tro­phies, while numerous monuments proclaimed our exploits; the victories of Austerlitz, Jena, and Friedland;[1] the treaties of Pressburgh[2] and Tilsit[3] had constituted France the first of nations, and made her the arbitress of Europe. It was a signal honour to be a Frenchman; and yet all these exploits, labors, and prodigies, were the work of one man. Far my own part, whatever might have been my former prepossessions and prejudices, I was now filled with admiration; and, as we all know, there is but one step from admiration to affection.

It was precisely at this period, that the Emperor called some of the first families of France round his throne, causing it to be circulated amongst the rest, that he would consider those who remained aloof as bad Frenchmen. I did not hesitate for an instant: I have, said I to myself, fulfilled the obligations of my na­tural oath, that of my birth and education, to which I have continued faithful until its ex­tinction. Our princes, too, were no longer thought of: we even doubted their existence. The so­lemnities of religion, the alliance of kings, all Eu­rope, and the splendour of France, henceforth taught me that I had a new sovereign. Had those who preceded us, made so long a resistance to such powerful efforts, before rallying round the first of the Capets?[4] I answered therefore for myself, that, happy in being thus enabled to obey a call which removed me with honour from the delicate situation in which I was placed, I freely and spontaneously transferred the zeal, loyalty, and attachment which I had constantly cherished for my old masters, to the new sovereign: the result of this step was my immediate admission at court.



[1] Battle of Austerlitz, fought on 2 December 1805, routed the Russo-Austrain army and ended the Wars of the Third Coalition. The battle of Jena (14 October 1806) led to complete distraction to Prussia while that of Friedland (14 June 1807) defeated the Russian army and forced Russia to the negotiation table at Tilsit.

[2] Treaty of Pressburgh, signed on 26 December 1805, established peace between France and Austria following the Allied defeat at Austerlitz. Austrians recognize French possession of northern Italy and lost Venice, Istria and Dalmatia. Additional lands in Germany were ceded to Napoleon’s Germanic allies, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Baden.

[3] Treaty of Tilsit, signed in July 1807, brought peace to France and Russia following two years of brutal war. Emperors Alexander and Napoleon agreed to divide Europe into their sphere of influences. Russia joined the French Continental System against Britain and received free hand in Finland and the Danubian Principalities.

[4] Capets (Capetians) was a dynasty of French rulers, established by Hugh Capet in 987, between the 10th and 14th century.


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In this state of things, I felt extremely anx­ious that my recent protestations should be ratified by deeds. The English had invaded Flushing and threatened Antwerp; I therefore hastened to assist in the defense of the latter place, as a volunteer; and, on the subsequent eva­cuation of Flushing, my nomination to the office of chamberlain called me near the person of the Emperor. Being desirous of adding some more useful occupation to the duties of this honourable post, I solicited and obtained a seat in the Council of State.[1] Hence followed several confidential missions: I was sent to Holland at the period of its union to the French Empire, in order to receive whatever related to the naval department; then to Illyria for the purpose of liquidating the public debt; and afterwards over half the Empire, to superintend establish­ments of public beneficence. During our late misfortunes, I received some consoling proofs, that the inhabitants of the countries to which I had thus been sent, were not dissatisfied with my conduct.

Providence had however placed a limit to our prosperity. The catastrophe of Moscow, the disasters of Leipzig, and the siege of Paris, are well known. I commanded in that city one of the legions, which acquired honours by its severe losses on the 31st of March. When the capitulation took place I gave up the command, feel­ing that other duties were to be performed near the person of my sovereign, but could not reach Fontainebleau in time: the Emperor had abdi­cated and was succeeded by the King.[2]

My situation now became more singular than it had been twelve years before. The cause for which I had sacrificed my fortune, for which I remained so long in exile, and six years in a state of self-denial at home, was at length triumphant; but, nevertheless, the point of honour and other considerations were about to prevent my reaping any benefit from the event! What could be more capricious than my fate? Two revolutions had been effected in opposition to each other: by the first I lost my patrimony; by the second I might have been deprived of life: neither one nor the other had been favourable to my fortune. Vulgar minds will only perceive an unfortunate tergiversation of opinions in this wayward destiny, while the lovers of in­trigue will assert that I was twice a dupe: only the few will comprehend my motives, and do justice to my actions. Be this as it may, those early friends, whose esteem was not lessened by the line of conduct I had pursued, having now become all powerful, invited me to join them: it was impossible to obey the generous call; dis­gusted and disheartened, I resolved that my pub­lic life should terminate. Ought I to have ex­posed myself to the false judgment of those who were watching my proceedings? Could every body see what was passing in my mind?

Having now become a Frenchman even to en­thusiasm, and unable to endure that national de­gradation of which I was a daily witness amidst foreign bayonets, I determined to endeavor to divert my thoughts at a distance from the scene of calamity. Having, therefore, gone to pass a few months in England, how altered did every thing appear there! On reflection, I found that it was myself who had undergone a great change.


[1] In Napoleonic France, parallel to administrative structure, there was a system of advisory councils, which included municipal council for mayors, arrondissement council for sub-prefects, departmental council for prefects, conseil d’administration for ministers and Conseil d’Etat (State Council) for Napoleon.

[2] Napoleon abdicated twice (with different stipulations) on 4 and 6 April 1814 and was succeeded by King Louis XVIII of the Bourbon dynasty.


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I had scarcely returned, when Napoleon ap­peared on our coasts: he was transported to the capital as it were by magic, and this without battles, excesses, or effusion of blood. I thought I saw the stain brought on us by foreign hands effaced, and all our glory restored. Destiny had ordered otherwise!

No sooner did I hear of the Emperor's arrival, than I spontaneously repaired to attend on his person. I was present at the moment of abdi­cation; and, when the question of his removal was agitated, I requested permission to participate in his fate. Such had been till then the disin­terestedness and simplicity, some will say folly, of my conduct, that, notwithstanding my daily intercourse as an officer of the household and member of his council, Napoleon scarcely knew me. "Do you know whither your offer may lead you?" said he, in his astonishment. " I have made no calculation about it," I replied. He accepted me, and I am at St. Helena.

I have now made myself known; the reader has my credentials in his hands: a host of con­temporaries are living - it will be seen whether a single individual amongst them stands up to in­validate them: I therefore begin my task.

 
 
 
 

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Return of the Emperor to the Elysee, after the Battle of Waterloo

 Tuesday, June 20th, 1815.

 Heard of the Emperor's return to the Elysee Palace: placed myself in immediate attendance there. Found MM. Montalembert and [Charles-Tristan] Montholon[1] there, brought by the same sentiment.

Napoleon had just lost a great battle; so that the safety of the nation thenceforth depended on the wisdom and zeal of the Chamber of Peers. The Emperor, still covered with dust from the field of Waterloo, was on the point of hurrying into the midst of them, there to expose our dangers and resources; and to declare that his personal interests should never be a barrier to the happiness of France, thence to quit Paris imme­diately. It is said that several persons dissuaded him from this step, by leading him to apprehend an approaching ferment amongst the deputies.

It is as yet impossible to comprehend every report that circulates with regard to this fatal battle: some say there is manifest treason; others, a fatality without example. Thirty thousand men under [Emmanuel] Grouchy lost their way and were too late, taking no part in the engagement;[2] the army, victorious till the evening, was it is said suddenly seized with a panic towards eight o'clock, and became broken in an instant. It is another Crecy, another Agincourt,[3]-------- ![4] Everyone trembles and thinks all is lost!


[1] Charles-Tristan Montholon (1783-1853) began his career as a cavalry officer but, with his family enjoying close ties to the exiled Bourbons, Montholon saw virtually now action during the Empire. He was attached to Empress Josephine as chamberlain in 1809 and served on various missions in subsequent years. In 1815, he volunteered to accompany Napoleon to St. Helena.

[2] Grouchy had orders to pursue the Prussians but was outmaneuvered by Prince G.L. Blucher von Wahlstatt, whose timely arrival decided the outcome of the battle of Waterloo.  Grouchy’s arrival could have changed the odds to Napoleon’s favor but he refused to march to the sound of guns and followed his orders, becoming to Napoleon and his supporters the villain of the day.

[3] Battle of Crecy (26 August 1346) and of Agincourt (25 October 1415) refers to the French defeats during the Hundred Years War.

[4] Las Cases’ note: I had put in the text une veritable journée des Eperons (a memorable day of spurs), and must not omit to state what led to its being expunged. The Emperor, who alone knew I kept a journal at St. He­lena, one day expressed a wish that I should read a few pages to him: on coming to this expression, inadvertently thrown in, he suddenly exclaimed, "What have you done! Erase, erase, sir, quickly! Une journée des Eperons! What a calumny! A day of spurs!" said he again, "ah! Unfortunate army! Brave men! You never fought better!" Then after a pause of a few mo­ments, he added in a tone expressive of deep feeling: "We had some great poltroons amongst us! May heaven forgive them! But as to France, will she ever surmount the effects of that ill-fated day!”

 Editor: Las Cases’ une veritable journée des Eperons refers to the battle of Guinegate, fought near Bou­logne in August 1513 between Henry VIII of England and Marshal La Palice of France. The French were decisively defeated and the celebrated Pierre Terrail de Bayard taken prisoner while covering the retreat. The battle became known as journée des Eperons or day of spurs, because, it was said, that the French army made more use of their spurs than swords.


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The Abdication

 21st. [Wednesday]

 The best intentioned and most influen­tial members of the national representation, have been tampered with all last evening and all night by certain persons, who, if their word is to be taken, produce authentic documents and official papers guaranteeing the safety of France, by the mere abdication of the Emperor as they pretend

The above opinion had become so strong this morning, that it seemed irresistible: the president of the assembly, the first men in the state, and the Emperor's particular friends, come to supplicate that he will save France by abdicating. Though by no means convinced, the Emperor answers with magnanimity: he abdicates![1]

This circumstance causes the greatest bustle round the Elysee; the multitude rushes towards the gate, and testifies the deepest interest; numbers penetrate within the hall, while some even of the popular class scale, the walls; some in tears, others in a state approaching to distrac­tion, crowd up to the Emperor, who is walking tranquilly in the garden, and make offers of every description. Napoleon alone is calm, constantly replying that they should in future apply this zeal and tenderness to the good of their country.

I presented the deputation of Representatives, in the course of the day: it came to thank the Emperor for his devotedness to the national in­terests. The documents and state-papers, which have produced such a powerful sensation, and brought about the grand event of this day, are said to be official communications of MM. [Joseph] Fouche[2] and [Clemens] Metternich,[3] in which the latter guarantees Napoleon II and the regency, in case of the abdi­cation of the Emperor. These communications must have been long carried on unknown to Napoleon. M. Fouche must have a furious partiality for clandestine operations. It is well known that his first disgrace, which took place several years ago, arose from his having opened some negotiations with England of his own accord, without the Emperor's knowledge:[4] he has in fact always shown the greatest obliquity in affairs of moment. Grant that his present mysterious acts do not prove fatal to our country!


[1] Returning to Paris on 21 June, Napoleon was advised by his brother Lucien and Marshal Louis Nicholas Davout to declare the nation in danger, dissolve the legislature and use dictatorial powers to continue the war. That same day, large crowds gathered outside his residence at the Elysee Palace, shouting their support and Napoleon said to Benjamin Constant, “They are not the ones I loaded with honors and stuffed with money… But the voice of the Nation speaks through them. If I wish, in an hour, the Chamber [of Peers] will be no more.” However, Napoleon refused to act and the Chamber passed a decree making it treason for him to dissolve the legislature. On 22 June, Napoleon abdicated in favor of his son, declaring “I offer myself in sacrifice to the hate of the enemies of France.” He asked the Senate to proclaim his son as Napoleon II and the Chamber of Peers to appoint a regency council

[2] Joseph Fouche (1760-1820) remains the synonym of political opportunism. A master of behind-curtain machinations, Fouche outlived successive French governments between 1790 and 1815, when he served as a representative on mission for the Convention and Minister of Police for the Directory and Napoleon. He was dismissed in 1810 but reinstated at the Ministry of Police in 1815. After Waterloo, he played important role in establishing opposition to Napoleon in Paris and collaborated with the Allies in restoring King Louis XVIII.

[3] Clemens Metternich (1773-1859) was Austrian diplomat, foreign minister (1908-1811) and chancellor (1811-1848). He played instrumental role in the diplomatic struggle against Napoleon throughout the period and was the driving force for the Conservative reaction that set in after Napoleon’s defeat. He successfully led the Austrian Empire to victory over France and secured its dominant position in Germany and Italy for the next five decades.

[4] Las Cases refers to Fouche’s dismissal on 29 May 1810 following revelations that he secretly negotiated with the British against Napoleon.

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Deputation of the Chamber of Peers. Caulaincourt and ­Fouche

 22d. [Thursday]

 Went home to pass a few hours at my own house; in the course of this day the deputation of the Peers was presented: a portion of the Provisional Government was named in, the evening. [Armand-Augustin-Louis] Caulaincourt[1] and Fouche, who were of the number, happened to be with us in the antechamber: we complimented the first on his nomination, which was, indeed, only to congratulate ourselves on the public good: his reply was full of alarm. "We applaud the choice hitherto made," said we." It is certain," observed Fouche with an air of levity, "that I am not suspected." "If you had been," rudely rejoined the deputy Boulay de la Meurthe, who was also present, "be assured we should not have named you

 The Provisional Government presented to the Emperor

 23d and 24th. [Friday-Saturday]

 The acclamations and interest without, continued at the Elysee. I presented members of the Provisional Government to the Emperor, who, in dismissing them, directed Duke [Denis] Decres[2] to see them out. The Emperor's brothers Joseph, Lucien, and Jerome, were introduced frequently through the day, and conversed with him for some time

As usual, there was a great multitude of peo­ple collected round the palace in the evening: their numbers were constantly increasing. Their acclamations and the interest shown for the Em­peror created considerable uneasiness amongst the different factions. The fermentation of the capital now became so great that Napoleon de­termined to depart on the following day.


[1] Armand-Augustin-Louis Caulaincourt (1773-1827) was close associate of Napoleon, serving as his Grand Master of Horse, Ambassador to Russia (1807-1811) and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1813-1814 and 1815.

[2] Denis Decres (1761-1820) was Napoleon’s Minister of Navy between 2 October 1801 and April 1814 and during the Hundred Days.

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The Emperor quits the Elysee

 25th. [Sunday]

 I accompanied the Emperor to Mal­maison and again requested permission to follow his future fortunes. My proposal seemed to create astonishment, for I was still only known to him by my employment; but he accepted the offer.

 26th. [Monday]

 My wife came to see me; she had divined my intentions: it became a somewhat delicate task to avow them, and still more diffi­cult to convince her of their propriety. "My dear friend," said I, "in following the dutiful dictates of my heart, it is consoling to reflect that your interests are not thereby prejudiced. If Napoleon II is to govern us, I leave you strong claims to his protection; should heaven order it differently, I shall have secured you a glorious asylum, a name honoured with some esteem. At all events we shall meet again, at least in a better world." After tears and even reproaches, which could not but be gratifying, she consented to my departure, exacting a promise however, that I would allow her to join me without loss of time. From this moment, she manifested a courage and strength of mind that would have animated myself in case of necessity.

 The Minister of Marine comes to Malmaison

 27th [Tuesday].

 I went to Paris for a short time, with the Minister of Marine [Decres], who came to Malmaison on business respecting the frigates destined for the Emperor. He read me the instructions drawn out for the commanders, said his Majesty de­pended on my zeal, and intended taking me with him; adding that he would take care of my family during my absence.

Napoleon II is proclaimed by the Legislature. Sent for my son to his school, having deter­mined that he should accompany me. We pre­pared a small parcel of clothes and linen, then proceeded to Malmaison accompanied by my wife, who returned immediately. The road had now become rather unsafe owing to the approach of the enemy.

 28th [Wednesday]

 Being desirous of making some other arrangements before our departure, the Duchess de Rovigo took me and my son to Paris in her carriage. I found MM. de Vertillac and de Quitry at my house; these were the last friends I em­braced: they were terrified. The agitation and uncertainty hourly increased in the capital, for the enemy was at the gates. On reaching Mal­maison, we saw the bridge of Chatou in flames: guards were posted round the palace, and it be­came prudent to remain within the park walls. I went into the Emperor's room, and described how Paris had appeared to me; stating the general opinion that Fouche openly betrayed the national cause; and that the hopes of all patriots were that his Majesty would this very night join the army, who loudly called for him. The Emperor listened to me with an air of deep thought, but made no reply, and I withdrew soon after.

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Las Cases - Memorial

Napoleon quits Malmaison, and departs for Rochefort

29th and 30th. [Thursday-Friday]

A cry of long live the Em­peror! was continually heard on the great road to St. Germain: it proceeded from the troops who passed under the walls of Malmaison.

Towards noon General Becker came from Paris, sent by the Provisional Government; he told us with feelings of indignation, that he had received a commission to guard and watch Napo­leon. [1]



 [1] Las Cases’ note: On my return to Europe chance threw the following documents in my way, relative to the above circumstance. I transcribe them here, because I believe they are unknown to the public. They have been copied from the originals, and re­quire no commentary.

1. Copy of a letter from the Commission of Government to Marshal Prince d'Eckmuhl, Minister at War.

Paris, June 27th 1815.

 Sir,

Such is the state of affairs that it is indispensable for Napoleon to decide on departing and proceeding to the Isle of Aix. If he does not determine to do so on your notifying to him the annexed resolutions, you are to cause him to be watched at­ Malmaison to prevent his escape. For this purpose, you will place a requisite portion of gendarmerie and troops of the line, at the disposal of General Becker, so as to guard all the avenues leading to Malmaison in every direction. You will give orders to the chief inspector of gendarmerie to this effect. These mea­sures must be kept as secret as possible.

This letter is intended for yourself; but General Becker, who will be charged with delivering the resolutions to Napoleon, will receive particular instructions from your excellency, and in­form Napoleon that they have been drawn up with a view to the interest of the state, and for the safety of his person; that their prompt execution is indispensable; and finally, that his future interests make them absolutely necessary.

(Signed) THE DUKE OF OTRANTO 

2. Copy of the resolutions entered into the Commission of Government, extracted from the Minutes of the Secretary of State's department.

Paris, June 26th, 1815.  

The Commission of Government resolves as follows:

Art. 1. The Minister of Marine shall give orders for two frigates to be prepared at Rochefort, to convey Napoleon Bona­parte to the United States.

Art. II. Should he require it, a sufficient escort shall attend him to the place of embarkation under the orders of Lieutenant­general Becker, who will be instructed to provide for his safety.

Art. III. The Director-general of Posts will, on his part, give the necessary orders relative to the relays.

Art. IV. The Minister of Marine will issue the requisite orders for insuring the immediate return of the frigates, after the disembarkation.

Art. V. The frigates are not to quit Rochefort before the arrival of the safe-conducts.                .

Art. VI. The Ministers of Marine, War, and Finances, are each charged with the execution of that part of the present resolutions which concerns them respectively.

                    (Signed) THE DUKE OF' OTRANTO.

    By order of the Commission of Government, the Assistant

                      Secretary of State (Signed)           COUNT BERLIER.

3. Copy of the Duke of Otranto's letter to the Minister at War.

Paris, June 27th, 1815, at noon.

Sir, I transmit to you a copy of the letter I have just written to the Minister of Marine, relative to Napoleon. A perusal of it will convince you of the necessity of giving orders to General Becker not to separate himself from the person of Napoleon whilst the latter remains in the roads of Aix.

(Signed)                THE DUKE OF' OTRANTO 

4. Copy of the letter to the Minister of Marine alluded to in the foregoing

 Paris, June 27th, 1815, noon.

 Sir, The Commission reminds you of the instructions it trans­mitted to you an hour ago. The resolutions must be executed as prescribed by the Commission yesterday; and according to which, Napoleon Bonaparte will remain in the roads of Aix until the arrival of his passports.

The welfare of the State, which cannot be indifferent to him, requires that he should remain there until his fate and that of his family has been definitively regulated. Every means will be employed to render the result of the negotiation satisfactory to him. The honour of France is interested in it; but, in the meantime, all possible precautions must be taken for the per­sonal security of Napoleon, and that he does not quit the place which is temporary assigned him.

  The President of the Commission of Government.

     (Signed) THE DUKE OF OTRANTO.

 5. Letter from the Minister at War to General Becker.

 Paris, June 27th, 1815.

 Sir, I have the honour of transmitting to you the annexed resolutions which the Commission of Government charges you to notify to the Emperor Napoleon; observing to his Majesty, that circumstances are so imperious as to make it indispensable he should decide on setting out for the Isle of Aix. These re­solutions, observes the Commission, have been made as much for the safety of his person as for the interest of the State, which must ever be dear to him. If his Majesty does not make up his mind on these resolu­tions being notified to him, it is the intention of the Commission of Government that the necessary steps shall be taken to prevent the escape of his Majesty, and every attempt against his person. I have to repeat, General, that these resolutions have been adopted for the interest of the state, and for the personal safety of the Emperor; also, that the Commission of Government con­siders their prompt execution as indispensable for the future welfare of his Majesty and his family.

I have the honour to be, &c.

N. B. The above letter remained without any signature; at the moment of sending it off, the Prince of Eckmuhl observed to his secretary, "I will never sign this letter - sign it your­self, that will be sufficient." The secretary expressed himself equally incapable of putting his name to such a communication. Was it sent or not? This is a point which I cannot decide. 

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Las Cases - Memorial

A sentiment the most base had dictated this choice: Fouche knew that General Becker had a private pique against the Emperor, and therefore did not doubt of finding in the former, one disposed to vengeance; it would be impossible for any man more grossly to deceive himself, as this officer constantly showed a degree of respect and attachment to the Emperor highly honourable to his own character.

Meanwhile, time pressed. When on the point of setting out, the Emperor sent a message to the Provisional Government, by General Becker, of­fering to place himself at the head of the army, merely in the rank of a citizen, adding, that after having repulsed Blucher, he would continue his route. On the refusal of this offer, we left Malmaison; the Emperor and a part of his suite taking the road to Rochefort by Tours; I and my son, with Messieurs Montholon, Planat, and Resigny, proceeded towards Orleans, as also two or three other carriages. We reached this place early on the 30th [of June], and got to Chatellerault at midnight.

 


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