He was an egotistical aristocrat with the gall to imagine he stood as the Emperor's conscience he did not , possessed a better measure of the political landscape than did his master he did not , and could well nigh have predicted the day and the hour and the act upon which hinged the Corsican's ruin. That's a lot to swallow. So yes, it may be what we wish, to skirt the fool entirely, but Bonaparte will not permit it.
Bonaparte insists, between the lines of the memoirs and reports, each instruction and dispatch: This is the man I brought to my side. This is the man I was with. Hence we must consider it, and read accordingly. Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne was born in the same year as Napoleon and met this smart and somewhat sullen foreign boy when they were eight on the schoolyard grounds of Brienne.
One imagines the jealousy began then, for the young Bonaparte evinced enough promise to be swept into the ranks of the Ecole Militaire and while everyone will tell us his brilliance had him skipping levels of military training right and left, Bourrienne will not. Bourrienne claims instead that the professors were eager to be rid of him due to his forthright nature and plainspoken opinions The young men launched in different directions, and it wasn't until Napoleon was treating with the Austrians in that he summoned his old school chum to his side to help hammer out the particulars of the Treaty of Campo Formio.
Their skills dovetailed nicely and it was soon decided that Bourrienne would come onboard as Bonaparte's private secretary - a position he retained through , when he was released due to suspicion of financial profiteering. There were certain crimes Napoleon had no forgiveness for; making money on the side was one of them. Still, four volumes of Bourrienne. In very small writing. You could lose your eyesight to this. It was only five years.
Surely we can skip it? No, my friend, we cannot. Because no matter what the British boys tell you, these are the years that matter. These are the years that count. Understand that in order to take control of France a man would have to put an end to the French Revolution - which had not ended but just slipped into the shadow of a corrupt constellation of political factions.
Timing would be everything, and subtlety, and strategy, and a tremendously uncomfortable humility, and pressure from friends in high places against friends in low places, and all of this takes a velvet glove. Understand that Egypt, for all it cost, stood as a diversion; a respite from which a return could be made. And boom, it's done, sort of. Because no one wants a king, and so there will be jiggering. A shared leadership that is not shared but maneuvered swiftly to a single pair of hands as doors close to every alternative, every rival to the vision of the singular military hero France has come to love.
And Bourrienne was there for all of this. Wanker that he was, he was there. The editors of these memoirs Scribner's are well aware of their author's propensity to play fast and loose with his implications. They prove remarkably diligent in disputing questionable assertions and holding the truth to its track. This makes it much easier to concentrate on the flow of events and the many crucial characters striding through these fresh corridors of power.
And it helps, in a way, that Bourrienne thought so very much of himself, because his perspective of those surrounding Bonaparte is conveyed through his sense that he is their equal. Every interaction he has is lifted into life by that. It should be mentioned, too, that those five years spent as Napoleon's private secretary end in Volume II. We proceed from there to his posting in Hamburg, where he professes to have spent the lion's share of his time running spies for the Empire and censoring the news. It was through his close personal sources in France among them Duroc, Rapp, Josephine, Lauriston, and the successive private secretaries that he was able to continue with his history.
He returned to Paris just in time to switch sides and held loyalty to the Bourbons for the remainder of his life. Bourrienne published this work in and passed away four years later after having spent a length of time in an asylum. Very few of this era emerged unscathed.
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There are some remarkable stories here, and insights worthy of the effort. The account of Napoleon's interview with the son of Madame de Stael was absolutely outstanding for its glimpse of the razor's edge of the Emperor's mind. Also, the many factors that played into Bonaparte's return from Elba and the swiftness with which the army re-embraced him are very well relayed. Apart from the size of the print and the footnotes scaling down to an impossible miniature , I found the memoirs a valuable read. Should you have the inclination, I would recommend them.
View all 8 comments. Great book for someone who stalks dead people - I mean someone who's a bit of a historian. Nov 28, Cynthia rated it really liked it. Very good and informative. Lovely if rather monumental work worth reading alongside a more distant biography of Napoleon, as Bourrienne's perspective is very clearly his own. Totally awesome! Renzo Disi rated it it was ok Jun 07, Zabaliih rated it it was amazing Jul 29, Dave rated it really liked it Jul 25, Philip rated it liked it Jan 15, Brooks Robinson rated it it was amazing Jul 05, Troels rated it really liked it Feb 22, Jeffrey Greggs rated it really liked it Jun 19, Tony rated it really liked it Jul 26, Liz M rated it liked it Sep 15, As there were no indications of his ever becoming a scholar, the pedants of the establishment were inclined to think him stupid.
His superior intelligence was, however, sufficiently perceptible, even through the reserve under which it was veiled. If the monks to whom the superintendence of the establishment was confided had understood the organisation of his mind, if they had engaged more able mathematical professors, or if we had had any incitement to the study of chemistry, natural philosophy, astronomy, etc. Unfortunately, the monks did not perceive this, and were too poor to pay for good masters. However, after Bonaparte left the college they found it necessary to engage two professors from Paris, otherwise the college would have fallen to nothing.
These two new professors, MM. Durfort and Desponts, finished my education; and I regretted that they did not come sooner. The often-repeated assertion of Bonaparte having received a careful education at Brienne is therefore untrue.
Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte - Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne - Google книги
The monks were incapable of giving it him; and, for my own part, I must confess that the extended information of the present day is to me a painful contrast with the limited course of education I received at the Military College. It is only surprising that the establishment should have produced a single able man. Though Bonaparte had no reason to be satisfied with the treatment he received from his comrades, yet he was above complaining of it; and when he had the supervision of any duty which they infringed, he would rather go to prison than denounce the criminals.
I was one day his accomplice in omitting to enforce a duty which we were appointed to supervise. He prevailed on me to accompany him to prison, where we remained three days. We suffered this sort of punishment several times, but with less severity. In the Duke of Orleans and Madame de Montesson visited Brienne; and, for upwards of a month, the magnificent chateau of the Comte de Brienne was a Versailles in miniature.
The series of brilliant entertainments which were given to the august travellers made them almost forget the royal magnificence they had left behind them. The Prince and Madame de Montesson expressed a wish to preside at the distribution of the prizes of our college. Bonaparte and I won the prizes in the class of mathematics, which, as I have already observed, was the branch of study to which he confined his attention, and in which he excelled. When I was called up for the seventh time Madame de Montesson said to my mother, who had come from Sens to be present at the distribution, "Pray, madame, crown your son this time; my hands are a-weary.
There was an inspector of the military schools, whose business it was to make an annual report on each pupil, whether educated at the public expense or paid for by his family. I copied from the report of a note which was probably obtained surreptitiously from the War Office.
I wanted to purchase the manuscript, but Louis Bonaparte bought it. I did not make a copy of the note which related to myself, because I should naturally have felt diffident in making any use of it. It would, however, have served to show how time and circumstances frequently reversed the distinctions which arise at school or college. Judging from the reports of the inspector of military schools, young Bonaparte was not, of all the pupils at Brienne in , the one most calculated to excite prognostics of future greatness and glory.
The note to which I have just alluded, and which was written by M. Father Berton, however, opposed Bonaparte's removal to Paris, because he had not passed through the fourth Latin class, and the regulations required that he should be in the third. I was informed by the vice-principal that a report relative to Napoleon was sent from the College of Brienne to that of Paris, in which he was described as being domineering, imperious, and obstinate.
I knew Bonaparte well; and I think M. He himself had no thought of the navy. In consequence of M. Montarby de Dampierre, de Castres, de Comminges, and de Laugier de Bellecourt, who were all, like him, educated at the public expense, and all, at least, as favorably reported. What could have induced Sir Walter Scott to say that Bonaparte was the pride of the college, that our mathematical master was exceedingly fond of him, and that the other professors in the different sciences had equal reason to be satisfied with him?
What I have above stated, together with the report of M. Neither was it, as Sir Walter affirms, his precocious progress in mathematics that occasioned him to be removed to Paris. He had attained the proper age, and the report of him was favourable, therefore he was very naturally included among the number of the five who were chosen in In a biographical account of Bonaparte I have read the following anecdote:—When he was fourteen years of age he happened to be at a party where some one pronounced a high eulogium on Turenne; and a lady in the company observed that he certainly was a great man, but that she should like him better if he had not burned the Palatinate.
This is either an anachronism or a mere fabrication. Bonaparte was fourteen in the year He was then at Brienne, where certainly he did not go into company, and least of all the company of ladies. Bonaparte was fifteen years and two months old when he went to the Military College of Paris. I accompanied him in a carriole as far as Nogent Sur Seine, whence the coach was to start. We parted with regret, and we did not meet again till the year During these eight years we maintained an active correspondence; but so little did I anticipate the high destiny which, after his elevation, it was affirmed the wonderful qualities of his boyhood plainly denoted, that I did not preserve one of the letters he wrote to me at that period, but tore them up as soon as they were answered.
On his arrival at the Military School of Paris, Bonaparte found the establishment on so brilliant and expensive a footing that he immediately addressed a memorial on the subject to the Vice-Principal Berton of Brienne. He showed that the plan of education was really pernicious, and far from being calculated to fulfil the object which every wise government must have in view. The result of the system, he said, was to inspire the pupils, who were all the sons of poor gentlemen, with a love of ostentation, or rather, with sentiments of vanity and self-sufficiency; so that, instead of returning happy to the bosom of their families, they were likely to be ashamed of their parents, and to despise their humble homes.
Instead of the numerous attendants by whom they were surrounded, their dinners of two courses, and their horses and grooms, he suggested that they should perform little necessary services for themselves, such as brushing their clothes, and cleaning their boots and shoes; that they should eat the coarse bread made for soldiers, etc. Temperance and activity, he added, would render them robust, enable them to bear the severity of different seasons and climates, to brave the fatigues of war, and to inspire the respect and obedience of the soldiers under their command.
Thus reasoned Napoleon at the age of sixteen, and time showed that he never deviated from these principles. The establishment of the military school at Fontainebleau is a decided proof of this. As Napoleon was an active observer of everything passing around him, and pronounced his opinion openly and decidedly, he did not remain long at the Military School of Paris.
His superiors, who were anxious to get rid of him, accelerated the period of his examination, and he obtained the first vacant sub-lieutenancy in a regiment of artillery. I left Brienne in ; and as I could not enter the artillery, I proceeded in the following year to Vienna, with a letter of recommendation to M.
I remained two months at Vienna, where I had the honour of twice seeing the Emperor Joseph. The impression made upon me by his kind reception, his dignified and elegant manners, and graceful conversation, will never be obliterated from my recollection. After M. I accordingly repaired to Leipsic, about the time when the French Revolution broke out. I spent some time at Leipsic, where I applied myself to the study of the law of nations, and the German and English languages. I afterwards travelled through Prussia and Poland, and passed a part of the winter of and at Warsaw, where I was most graciously received by Princess Tyszicwiez, niece of Stanislaus Augustus, the last King of Poland, and the sister of Prince Poniatowski.
The Princess was very well informed, and was a great admirer of French literature: At her invitation I passed several evenings in company with the King in a circle small enough to approach to something like intimacy. I remember that his Majesty frequently asked me to read the Moniteur; the speeches to which he listened with the greatest pleasure were those of the Girondists. I arrived at Vienna on the 26th of March , when I was informed of the serious illness of the Emperor, Leopold II, who died on the following day.
In private companies, and at public places, I heard vague suspicions expressed of his having been poisoned; but the public, who were admitted to the palace to see the body lie in state, were soon convinced of the falsehood of these reports. I went twice to see the mournful spectacle, and I never heard a word which was calculated to confirm the odious suspicion, though the spacious hall in which the remains of the Emperor were exposed was constantly thronged with people. I was not very well off, and adversity was hanging heavily on him; his resources frequently failed him.
We passed our time like two young fellows of twenty-three who have little money and less occupation. Bonaparte was always poorer than I. Every day we conceived some new project or other. We were on the look-out for some profitable speculation. At one time he wanted me to join him in renting several houses, then building in the Rue Montholon, to underlet them afterwards. We found the demands of the landlords extravagant—everything failed. At the same time he was soliciting employment at the War Office, and I at the office of Foreign Affairs. I was for the moment the luckier of the two.
We met by appointment at a restaurateur's in the Rue St. Honore, near the Palais Royal, to take one of our daily rambles. On going out we saw approaching, in the direction of the market, a mob, which Bonaparte calculated at five or six thousand men. They were all in rags, ludicrously armed with weapons of every description, and were proceeding hastily towards the Tuilleries, vociferating all kinds of gross abuse.
It was a collection of all that was most vile and abject in the purlieus of Paris. We got the start of them, and took up our station on the terrace of the banks of the river. It was there that he witnessed the scandalous scenes which took place; and it would be difficult to describe the surprise and indignation which they excited in him.
When the King showed himself at the windows overlooking the garden, with the red cap, which one of the mob had put on his head, he could no longer repress his indignation. They should sweep off four or five hundred of them with the cannon; the rest would then set off fast enough. When we sat down to dinner, which I paid for, as I generally did, for I was the richer of the two, he spoke of nothing but the scene we had witnessed.
He discussed with great good sense the causes and consequences of this unrepressed insurrection. He foresaw and developed with sagacity all that would ensue.
He was not mistaken. The 10th of August soon arrived. I was then at Stuttgart, where I was appointed Secretary of Legation. At St. Helena Bonaparte said, "On the news of the attack of the Tuilleries, on the 10th of August, I hurried to Fauvelet, Bourrienne's brother, who then kept a furniture warehouse at the Carrousel. My brother was connected with what was termed an 'enterprise d'encan national', where persons intending to quit France received an advance of money, on depositing any effects which they wished to dispose of, and which were sold for them immediately.
Bonaparte had some time previously pledged his watch in this way. After the fatal 10th of August Bonaparte went to Corsica, and did not return till Sir Walter Scott says that after that time he never saw Corsica again. This is a mistake, as will be shown when I speak of his return from Egypt. Having been appointed Secretary of Legation to Stuttgart, I set off for that place on the 2d of August, and I did not again see my ardent young friend until He told me that my departure accelerated his for Corsica.
We separated, as may be supposed, with but faint hopes of ever meeting again. By a decree of the 28th of March of , all French agents abroad were ordered to return to France, within three months, under pain of being regarded as emigrants.
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What I had witnessed before my departure for Stuttgart, the excitement in which I had left the public mind, and the well-known consequences of events of this kind, made me fear that I should be compelled to be either an accomplice or a victim in the disastrous scenes which were passing at home. My disobedience of the law placed my name on the list of emigrants. It has been said of me, in a biographical publication, that "it was as remarkable as it was fortunate for Bourrienne that, on his return, he got his name erased from the list of emigrants of the department of the Yonne, on which it had been inscribed during his first journey to Germany.
This circumstance has been interpreted in several different ways, which are not all equally favourable to M. I do not understand what favourable interpretations can be put upon a statement entirely false. General Bonaparte repeatedly applied for the erasure of my name, from the month of April , when I rejoined him at Leoben, to the period of the signature of the treaty of Campo-Formio; but without success.
He desired his brother Louis, Berthier, Bernadotte, and others, when he sent them to the Directory, to urge my erasure; but in vain. He complained of this inattention to his wishes to Bottot, when he came to Passeriano, after the 18th Fructidor. Bottot, who was secretary to Barras, was astonished that I was not erased, and he made fine promises of what he would do. On his return to France he wrote to Bonaparte: "Bourrienne is erased. I was not erased until November , upon the reiterated solicitations of General Bonaparte.
It was during my absence from France that Bonaparte, in the rank of 'chef de bataillon', performed his first campaign, and contributed so materially to the recapture of Toulon. Of this period of his life I have no personal knowledge, and therefore I shall not speak of it as an eye-witness. I shall merely relate some facts which fill up the interval between and , and which I have collected from papers which he himself delivered to me. Among these papers is a little production, entitled 'Le Souper de Beaucaire', the copies of which he bought up at considerable expense, and destroyed upon his attaining the Consulate.
This little pamphlet contains principles very opposite to those he wished to see established in , a period when extravagant ideas of liberty were no longer the fashion, and when Bonaparte entered upon a system totally the reverse of those republican principles professed in 'Le Souper de Beaucaire. It may be remarked, that in all that has come to us from St. Helena, not a word is said of this youthful production. Its character sufficiently explains this silence.
In all Bonaparte's writings posterity will probably trace the profound politician rather than the enthusiastic revolutionist. Some documents relative to Bonaparte's suspension and arrest, by order of the representatives Albitte and Salicetti, serve to place in their true light circumstances which have hitherto been misrepresented. I shall enter into some details of this event, because I have seen it stated that this circumstance of Bonaparte's life has been perverted and misrepresented by every person who has hitherto written about him; and the writer who makes this remark, himself describes the affair incorrectly and vaguely.
Others have attributed Bonaparte's misfortune to a military discussion on war, and his connection with Robespierre the younger. It has, moreover, been said that Albitte and Salicetti explained to the Committee of Public Safety the impossibility of their resuming the military operations unaided by the talents of General Bonaparte.
Memoirs Napoleon Bonaparte
This is mere flattery. The facts are these:. On the 13th of July 25th Messidor, year II , the representatives of the people with the army of Italy ordered that General Bonaparte should proceed to Genoa, there, conjointly with the French 'charge d'affaires', to confer on certain subjects with the Genoese Government.
This mission, together with a list of secret instructions, directing him to examine the fortresses of Genoa and the neighbouring country, show the confidence which Bonaparte, who was then only twenty-five, inspired in men who were deeply interested in making a prudent choice of their agents. Bonaparte set off for Genoa, and fulfilled his mission. The 9th Thermidor arrived, and the deputies, called Terrorists, were superseded by Albitte and Salicetti.
In the disorder which then prevailed they were either ignorant of the orders given to General Bonaparte, or persons envious of the rising glory of the young general of artillery inspired Albitte and Salicetti with suspicions prejudicial to him. Be this as it may, the two representatives drew up a resolution, ordering that General Bonaparte should be arrested, suspended from his rank, and arraigned before the Committee of Public Safety; and, extraordinary as it may appear, this resolution was founded in that very journey to Genoa which Bonaparte executed by the direction of the representatives of the people.
Bonaparte said at St. Helena that he was a short time imprisoned by order of the representative Laporte; but the order for his arrest was signed by Albitte, Salicetti, and Laporte. Laporte was not probably the most influential of the three, for Bonaparte did not address his remonstrance to him. He was a fortnight under arrest. Had the circumstance occurred three weeks earlier, and had Bonaparte been arraigned before the Committee of Public Safety previous to the 9th Thermidor, there is every probability that his career would have been at an end; and we should have seen perish on the scaffold, at the age of twenty-five, the man who, during the twenty-five succeeding years, was destined to astonish the world by his vast conceptions, his gigantic projects, his great military genius, his extraordinary good fortune, his faults, reverses, and final misfortunes.
It is worth while to remark that in the post-Thermidorian resolution just alluded to no mention is made of Bonaparte's association with Robespierre the younger. The severity with which he was treated is the more astonishing, since his mission to Genoa was the alleged cause of it. Was there any other charge against him, or had calumny triumphed over the services he had rendered to his country? I have frequently conversed with him on the subject of this adventure, and he invariably assured me that he had nothing to reproach himself with, and that his defence, which I shall subjoin, contained the pure expression of his sentiments, and the exact truth.
In the following note, which he addressed to Albitte and Salicetti, he makes no mention of Laporte. The copy which I possess is in the handwriting of, Junot, with corrections in the General's hand. It exhibits all the characteristics of Napoleon's writing: his short sentences, his abrupt rather than concise style, sometimes his elevated ideas, and always his plain good sense.
You have suspended me from my duties, put me under arrest, and declared me to be suspected. Thus I am disgraced before being judged, or indeed judged before being heard. In a revolutionary state there are two classes, the suspected and the patriots. When the first are aroused, general measures are adopted towards them for the sake of security.
Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte — Complete by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne
The oppression of the second class is a blow to public liberty. The magistrate cannot condemn until after the fullest evidence and a succession of facts. This leaves nothing to arbitrary decision. To declare a patriot suspected is to deprive him of all that he most highly values—confidence and esteem. Since the commencement of the Revolution, have I not always been attached to its principles?
Have I not always been contending either with domestic enemies or foreign foes? I sacrificed my home, abandoned my property, and lost everything for the Republic? I have since served with some distinction at Toulon, and earned a part of the laurels of the army of Italy at the taking of Saorgio, Oneille, and Tanaro. On the discovery of Robespierre's conspiracy, my conduct was that of a man accustomed to look only to principles. Why, then, am I declared suspected without being heard, and arrested eight days after I heard the news of the tyrant's death.
The reverse of this course ought to have been adopted. My papers should first have been sealed; then I should have been called on for my explanation; and, lastly, declared suspected, if there was reason for coming to, such a decision. It is wished that I should go to Paris with an order which declares me suspected. It will naturally be presumed that the representatives did not draw up this decree without accurate information, and I shall be judged with the bias which a man of that class merits.
Though a patriot and an innocent and calumniated man, yet whatever measures may be adopted by the Committee I cannot complain. If three men declare that I have committed a crime, I cannot complain of the jury who condemns me. Salicetti, you know me; and I ask whether you have observed anything in my conduct for the last five years which can afford ground of suspicion? Albitte, you do not know me; but you have received proof of no fact against me; you have not heard me, and you know how artfully the tongue of calumny sometimes works.
Must I then be confounded with the enemies of my country and ought the patriots inconsiderately to sacrifice a general who has not been useless to the Republic? Ought the representatives to reduce the Government to the necessity of being unjust and impolitic?
Hear me; destroy the oppression that overwhelms me, and restore me to the esteem of the patriots. An hour after, if my enemies wish for my life, let them take it. I have often given proofs how little I value it. Nothing but the thought that I may yet be useful to my country makes me bear the burden of existence with courage. It appears that this defence, which is remarkable for its energetic simplicity, produced an effect on Albitte and Salicetti. Inquiries more accurate, and probably more favourable to the General, were instituted; and on the 3d Fructidor 20th August the representatives of the people drew up a decree stating that, after a careful examination of General Bonaparte's papers, and of the orders he had received relative to his mission to Genoa, they saw nothing to justify any suspicion of his conduct; and that, moreover, taking into consideration the advantage that might accrue to the Republic from the military talents of the said General Bonaparte, it was resolved that he should be provisionally set at liberty.
Salicetti afterwards became the friend and confidant of young Bonaparte; but their intimacy did not continue after his elevation. What is to be thought of the motives for Bonaparte's arrest and provisional liberation, when his innocence and the error that had been committed were acknowledged? The importance of the General's military talents, though no mention is made about the impossibility of dispensing with them, is a pretence for restoring him to that liberty of which he had been unjustly deprived.
It was not at Toulon, as has been stated, that Bonaparte took Duroc into the artillery, and made him his 'aide de camp'. The acquaintance was formed at a subsequent period, in Italy. Duroc's cold character and unexcursive mind suited Napoleon, whose confidence he enjoyed until his death, and who entrusted him with missions perhaps above his abilities. Helena Bonaparte often declared that he was much attached to Duroc.
I believe this to be true; but I know that the attachment was not returned. The ingratitude of princes is proverbial. May it not happen that courtiers are also sometimes ungrateful? General Bonaparte returned to Paris, where I also arrived from Germany shortly after him. Our intimacy was resumed, and he gave me an account of, all that had passed in the campaign of the south. He frequently alluded to the persecutions he had suffered, and he delivered to me the packet of papers noticed in the last chapter, desiring me to communicate their contents to my friends. He was very anxious, he said, to do away with the supposition that he was capable of betraying his country, and, under the pretence of a mission to Genoa, becoming a SPY on the interests of France.
He loved to talk over his military achievements at Toulon and in Italy. He spoke of his first successes with that feeling of pleasure and gratification which they were naturally calculated to excite in him. Bonaparte rejected this proposition on two grounds. He thought the scene of action unworthy of his talents, and he regarded his projected removal from the artillery to the infantry as a sort of insult. This last was his most powerful objection, and was the only one he urged officially. In consequence of his refusal to accept the appointment offered him, the Committee of Public Safety decreed that he should be struck off the list of general officers.
Deeply mortified at this unexpected stroke, Bonaparte retired into private life, and found himself doomed to an inactivity very uncongenial with his ardent character. He lodged in the Rue du Mail, in an hotel near the Place des Victoires, and we recommenced the sort of life we had led in , before his departure for Corsica. It was not without a struggle that he determined to await patiently the removal of the prejudices which were cherished against him by men in power; and he hoped that, in the perpetual changes which were taking place, those men might be superseded by others more favourable to him.
He frequently dined and spent the evening with me and my elder brother; and his pleasant conversation and manners made the hours pass away very agreeably. I called on him almost every morning, and I met at his lodgings several persons who were distinguished at the time; among others Salicetti, with whom he used to maintain very animated conversations, and who would often solicit a private interview with him. On one occasion Salicetti paid him three thousand francs, in assignats, as the price of his carriage, which his straitened circumstances obliged him to dispose of.
I could, easily perceive that our young friend either was or wished to be initiated in some political intrigue; and I moreover suspected that Salicetti had bound him by an oath not to disclose the plans that were hatching. He became pensive, melancholy, and anxious; and he always looked with impatience for Salicetti's daily visit. Sometimes, withdrawing his mind from political affairs, he would envy the happiness of his brother Joseph, who had just then married Mademoiselle Clary, the daughter of a rich and respectable merchant of Marseilles.
He would often say, "That Joseph is a lucky rogue. Meanwhile time passed away, and none of his projects succeeded—none of his applications were listened to. He was vexed by the injustice with which he was treated, and tormented by the desire of entering upon some active pursuit. He could not endure the thought of remaining buried in the crowd. He determined to quit France; and the favourite idea, which he never afterwards relinquished, that the East is a fine field for glory, inspired him with the wish to proceed to Constantinople, and to enter the service of the Grand Seignior.
What romantic plans, what stupendous projects he conceived! He asked me whether I would go with him? I replied in the negative. I looked upon him as a half-crazy young fellow, who was driven to extravagant enterprises and desperate resolutions by his restless activity of mind, joined to the irritating treatment he had experienced, and, perhaps, it may be added, his want of money.
He did not blame me for my refusal to accompany him; and he told me that Junot, Marmont, and some other young officers whom he had known at Toulon, would be willing to follow his fortunes. He drew up a note which commenced with the words 'Note for. Some days after he wrote out another, which, however, did not differ very materially from the first, and which he addressed to Aubert and Coni. I made him a fair copy of it, and it was regularly for forwarded.
It was as follows:—. At a moment when the Empress of Russia has strengthened her union with the Emperor of Germany Austria , it is the interest of France to do everything in her power to increase the military power of Turkey. That power possesses a numerous and brave militia but is very backward in the scientific part of the art of war. The organization and the service of the artillery, which, in our modern tactics, so powerfully facilitate the gaining of battles, and on which, almost exclusively, depend the attack and defence of fortresses, are especially the points in which France excels, and in which the Turks are most deficient.
They have several times applied to us for artillery officers, and we have sent them some; but the officers thus sent have not been sufficiently powerful, either in numbers or talent, to produce any important result. General Bonaparte, who, from his youth, has served in the artillery, of which he was entrusted with the command at the siege of Toulon, and in the two campaigns of Italy, offers his services to proceed to Turkey, with a mission from the French Government.
He proposes to take along with him six or seven officers, of different kinds, and who may be, altogether, perfect masters of the military art. He will have the satisfaction of being useful to his country in this new career, if he succeed in rendering the Turkish power more formidable, by completing the defence of their principal fortresses, and constructing new ones. This note shows the error of the often-repeated assertion, that he proposed entering the service of the Turks against Austria. He makes no mention of such a thing; and the two countries were not at war.
No answer was returned to this note. Turkey remained unaided, and Bonaparte unoccupied. I must confess that for the failure of this project, at least I was not sorry. I should have regretted to see a young man of great promise, and one for whom I cherished a sincere friendship, devote himself to so uncertain a fate. Napoleon has less than any man provoked the events which have favoured him; no one has more yielded to circumstances from which he was so skilful to derive advantages.
If, however, a clerk of the War Office had but written on the note, "Granted," that little word would probably have changed the fate of Europe. Bonaparte remained in Paris, forming schemes for the gratification of his ambition, and his desire of making a figure in the world; but obstacles opposed all he attempted. Women are better judges of character than men. Madame de Bourrienne, knowing the intimacy which subsisted between us, preserved some notes which she made upon Bonaparte, and the circumstances which struck her as most remarkable, during her early connection with him.
My wife did not entertain so favourable an opinion of him as I did; the warm friendship I cherished for him probably blinded me to his faults. I subjoin Madame de Bourrienne's notes, word for word:. On the day after our second return from Germany, which was in May , we met Bonaparte in the Palais Royal, near a shop kept by a man named Girardin. Bonaparte embraced Bourrienne as a friend whom he loved and was glad to see.
We went that evening to the Theatre Francais. The performance consisted of a tragedy; and 'Le Sourd, ou l'Auberge pleine'. During the latter piece the audience was convulsed with laughter. The part of Dasnieres was represented by Batiste the younger, and it was never played better. The bursts of laughter were so loud and frequent that the actor was several times obliged to stop in the midst of his part. Bonaparte alone and it struck me as being very extraordinary was silent, and coldly insensible to the humour which was so irresistibly diverting to everyone else.
I remarked at this period that his character was reserved, and frequently gloomy.
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His smile was hypocritical, and often misplaced; and I recollect that a few days after our return he gave us one of these specimens of savage hilarity which I greatly disliked, and which prepossessed me against him. He was telling us that, being before Toulon, where he commanded the artillery, one of his officers was visited by his wife, to whom he had been but a short time married, and whom he tenderly loved.
A few days after, orders were given for another attack upon the town, in which this officer was to be engaged. His wife came to General Bonaparte, and with tears entreated him to dispense with her husband's services that day. The General was inexorable, as he himself told us, with a sort of savage exaltation. The moment for the attack arrived, and the officer, though a very brave man, as Bonaparte himself-assured us, felt a presentiment of his approaching death. He turned pale and trembled. He was stationed beside the General, and during an interval when the firing from the town was very heavy, Bonaparte called out to him, "Take care, there is a shell coming!
Bonaparte laughed loudly while he described the event with horrible minuteness. At this time we saw him almost every day. He frequently came to dine with us. As there was a scarcity of bread, and sometimes only two ounces per head daily were distributed in the section, it was customary to request one's guests to bring their own bread, as it could not be procured for money. Bonaparte and his brother Louis a mild, agreeable young man, who was the General's aide de army used to bring with them their ration bread, which was black, and mixed with bran. I was sorry to observe that all this bad bread fell to the share of the poor aide de camp, for we provided the General with a finer kind, which was made clandestinely by a pastrycook, from flour which we contrived to smuggle from Sens, where my husband had some farms.
Had we been denounced, the affair might have cost us our heads. We spent six weeks in Paris, and we went frequently with Bonaparte to the theatres, and to the fine concerts given by Garat in the Rue St. These were the first brilliant entertainments that took place after the death of Robespierre. There was always something original in Bonaparte's behaviour, for he often slipped away from us without saying a word; and when we were supposing he had left the theatre, we would suddenly discover him in the second or third tier, sitting alone in a box, and looking rather sulky.
Before our departure for Sens, where my husband's family reside, and which was fixed upon for the place of my first accouchement, we looked out for more agreeable apartments than we had in the Rue Grenier St. Lazare, which we only had temporarily. Bonaparte used to assist us in our researches. At last we took the first floor of a handsome new house, No. Bonaparte, who wished to stop in Paris, went to look at a house opposite to ours. He had thoughts of taking it for himself, his uncle Fesch afterwards Cardinal Fesch , and a gentleman named Patrauld, formerly one of his masters at the Military School.
One day he said, "With that house over there, my friends in it, and a cabriolet, I shall be the happiest fellow in the world. We soon after left town for Sens. The house was not taken by him, for other and great affairs were preparing. During the interval between our departure and the fatal day of Vendemiaire several letters passed between him and his school companion. These letters were of the most amiable and affectionate description. They have been stolen. On our return, in November of the same year, everything was changed. The college friend was now a great personage.
He had got the command of Paris in return for his share in the events of Vendemiaire. Instead of a small house in the Rue des Marais, he occupied a splendid hotel in the Rue des Capucines; the modest cabriolet was converted into a superb equipage, and the man himself was no longer the same. But the friends of his youth were still received when they made their morning calls. They were invited to grand dejeuners, which were sometimes attended by ladies; and, among others, by the beautiful Madame Tallien and her friend the amiable Madame de Beauharnais, to whom Bonaparte had begun to pay attention.
He cared little for his friends, and ceased to address them in the style of familiar equality. After the 13th of Vendemiaire M. In the month of February my husband was arrested, at seven in the morning, by a party of men, armed with muskets, on the charge of being a returned emigrant.
He was torn from his wife and his child, only six months old, being barely allowed time to dress himself. I followed him. They conveyed him to the guard-house of the Section, and thence I know not whither; and, finally, in the evening, they placed him in the lockup-house of the prefecture of police, which, I believe, is now called the central bureau. There he passed two nights and a day, among men of the lowest description, some of whom were even malefactors. I and his friends ran about everywhere, trying to find somebody to rescue him, and, among the rest, Bonaparte was applied to.
It was with great difficulty he could be seen. Accompanied by one of my husband's friends, I waited for the commandant of Paris until midnight, but he did not come home. Next morning I returned at an early hour, and found him. I stated what had happened to my husband, whose life was then at stake. He appeared to feel very little for the situation of his friend, but, however; determined to write to Merlin, the Minister of Justice. I carried the letter according to its address, and met the Minister as he was coming downstairs, on his way to the Directory.
Being in grand costume, he wore a Henri IV. He opened the letter; and whether it was that he cared as little for the General as for the cause of M. The Minister then stepped into his carriage, and the writer was conducted to several offices in his hotel. She passed through them with a broken heart, for she met with none but harsh men, who told her that the prisoner deserved death. From them she learned that on the following day he would be brought before the judge of the peace for his Section, who would decide whether there was ground for putting him on his trial. In fact, this proceeding took place next day.
He was conveyed to the house of the judge of the peace for the Section of Bondy, Rue Grange-sue-Belles, whose name was Lemaire. His countenance was mild; and though his manner was cold, he had none of the harshness and ferocity common to the Government agents of that time. His examination of the charge was long, and he several times shook his head. The moment of decision had arrived, and everything seemed to indicate that the termination would be to place the prisoner under accusation.
At seven o'clock be desired me to be called. I hastened to him, and beheld a most heart rending scene. Bourrienne was suffering under a hemorrhage, which had continued since two o'clock, and had interrupted the examination. The judge of the peace, who looked sad, sat with his head resting on his hand.
I threw myself at his feet and implored his clemency. The wife and the two daughters of the judge visited this scene of sorrow, and assisted me in softening him. He was a worthy and feeling man, a good husband and parent, and it was evident that he struggled between compassion and duty. He kept referring to the laws on the subject, and, after long researches said to me, "To-morrow is Decadi, and no proceedings can take place on that day. Find, madams, two responsible persons, who will answer for the appearance of your husband, and I will permit him to go home with you, accompanied by the two guardians.
Desmaisons, counsellor of the court, who became bail for M. He continued under these guardians six months, until a law compelled the persons who were inscribed on the fatal list to remove to the distance of ten leagues from Paris. One of the guardians was a man of straw; the other was a knight of St. The former was left in the antechamber; the latter made, every evening, one of our party at cards. The family of M. That worthy man saved the life of M. The letters mentioned in the narrative were at this time stolen from me by the police officers.
Everyone was now eager to pay court to a man who had risen from the crowd in consequence of the part he had acted at an extraordinary crisis, and who was spoken of as the future General of the Army of Italy. It was expected that he would be gratified, as he really was, by the restoration of some letters which contained the expression of his former very modest wishes, called to recollection his unpleasant situation, his limited ambition, his pretended aversion for public employment, and finally exhibited his intimate relations with those who were, without hesitation, characterised as emigrants, to be afterwards made the victims of confiscation and death.
The 13th of Vendemiaire 5th October was approaching. The National Convention had been painfully delivered of a new constitution, called, from the epoch of its birth, "the Constitution of Year III. The provident legislators did not forget themselves. They stipulated that two-thirds of their body should form part of the new legislature.
The party opposed to the Convention hoped, on the contrary, that, by a general election, a majority would be obtained for its opinion. That opinion was against the continuation of power in the hands of men who had already so greatly abused it. The same opinion was also entertained by a great part of the most influential Sections of Paris, both as to the possession of property and talent.
These Sections declared that, in accepting the new constitution, they rejected the decree of the 30th of August, which required the re-election of two-thirds The Convention, therefore, found itself menaced in what it held most dear—its power;—and accordingly resorted to measures of defence.
A declaration was put forth, stating that the Convention, if attacked, would remove to Chalons-sur-Marne; and the commanders of the armed force were called upon to defend that body. The 5th of October, the day on which the Sections of Paris attacked the Convention, is certainly one which ought to be marked in the wonderful destiny of Bonaparte. With the events of that day were linked, as cause and effect, many great political convulsions of Europe. The blood which flowed ripened the seeds of the youthful General's ambition.
It must be admitted that the history of past ages presents few periods full of such extraordinary events as the years included between and The man whose name serves, in some measure, as a recapitulation of all these great events was entitled to believe himself immortal. Living retired at Sens since the month of July, I only learned what had occasioned the insurrection of the Sections from public report and the journals.
I cannot, therefore, say what part Bonaparte may have taken in the intrigues which preceded that day. He was officially characterised only as secondary actor in the scene. The account of the affair which was published announces that Barras was, on that very day, Commander-in-chief of the Army of the Interior, and Bonaparte second in command. Bonaparte drew up that account. The whole of the manuscript was in his handwriting, and it exhibits all the peculiarity of his style and orthography. He sent me a copy.
Those who read the bulletin of the 13th Vendemiaire, cannot fail to observe the care which Bonaparte took to cast the reproach of shedding the first blood on the men he calls rebels. He made a great point of representing his adversaries as the aggressors. It is certain he long regretted that day.
He often told me that he would give years of his life to blot it out from the page of his history. He was convinced that the people of Paris were dreadfully irritated against him, and he would have been glad if Barras had never made that Speech in the Convention, with the part of which, complimentary to himself, he was at the time so well pleased. Barras said, "It is to his able and prompt dispositions that we are indebted for the defence of this assembly, around which he had posted the troops with so much skill. Being out of Paris, and a total stranger to this affair, I know not how far he was indebted for his success to chance, or to his own exertions, in the part assigned to him by the miserable Government which then oppressed France.
He represented himself only as secondary actor in this sanguinary scene in which Barras made him his associate. He sent to me, as already mentioned, an account of the transaction, written entirely in his own hand, and distinguished by all the peculiarities of his style and orthography. The depot of Meudon was left unprotected. There were at the Feuillans only a few four-pounders without artillerymen, and but 80, cartridges. The victualling depots were dispersed throughout Paris. In many Sections the drums beat to arms; the Section of the Theatre Francais had advanced posts even as far as the Pont Neuf, which it had barricaded.
He secured means for the subsistence of the army and of the Convention for many days, independently of the depots which were in the Sections. In the meantime reports reached him from all quarters acquainting him that the Sections were assembled in arms, and had formed their columns. He accordingly arrayed his troops so as to defend the Convention, and his artillery was in readiness to repulse the rebels. His cannon was planted at the Feuillans to fire down the Rue Honore. Eight-pounders were pointed at every opening, and in the event of any mishap, General Verdier had cannon in reserve to fire in flank upon the column which should have forced a passage.
He left in the Carrousel three howitzers eight-pounders to batter down the houses from which the Convention might be fired upon. At four o'clock the rebel columns marched out from every street to unite their forces. It was necessary to take advantage of this critical moment to attack the insurgents, even had they been regular troops. But the blood about to flow was French; it was therefore for these misguided people, already guilty of rebellion, to embrue their hands in the blood of their countrymen by striking the first blow.
The attack was commenced by them on all sides. They were everywhere routed. French blood was spilled: the crime, as well as the disgrace, fell this day upon the Sections. Roch, in the theatre of the Republic, and in the Palais Egalite; and everywhere they were heard furiously exciting the inhabitants to arms.
To spare the blood which would have been shed the next day it was necessary that no time should be given them to rally, but to follow them with vigour, though without incurring fresh hazards. The General ordered Montchoisy, who commanded a reserve at the Place de la Resolution, to form a column with two twelve-pounders, to march by the Boulevard in order to turn the Place Vendome, to form a junction with the picket stationed at headquarters, and to return in the same order of column.