We left the next day for Lacken, and passed through Alost; and had I known this the evening before, I might perhaps have rested a few hours longer. However, the Emperor found so much difficulty in granting me even one day, that I would not probably have dared to lose more, even had I known that the household was to pass by this town.
The Emperor was much pleased with Lacken; he ordered considerable repairs and improvements to be made there, and the palace, owing to this preference, became a charming place of sojourn.
This journey of their Majesties lasted nearly three months; and we did not return to Paris, or rather to Saint-Cloud, until November. The Emperor received at Cologne and at Coblentz the visits of several German princes and princesses; but as I know only from hearsay what passed in these interviews, I shall not undertake to describe them.
Nothing is too trivial to narrate concerning great men; for posterity shows itself eager to learn even the most insignificant details concerning their manner of life, their tastes, their slightest peculiarities. When I attended the theater, whether in my short intervals of leisure or in the suite of his Majesty, I remarked how keenly the spectators enjoyed the presentation on the stage, of some grand historic personage; whose costume, gestures, bearing, even his infirmities and faults, were delineated exactly as they have been transmitted to us by contemporaries. I myself always took the greatest pleasure in seeing these living portraits of celebrated men, and well remember that on no occasion did I ever so thoroughly enjoy the stage as when I saw for the first time the charming piece of The Two Pages. Fleury in the role of Frederick the Great reproduced so perfectly the slow walk, the dry tones, the sudden movements, and even the short-sightedness of this monarch, that as soon as he appeared on the stage the whole house burst into applause. It was, in the opinion of persons sufficiently well informed to judge, a most perfect and faithful presentation; and though for my own part, I was not able to say whether the resemblance was perfect or not, I felt that it must be. Michelot, whom I have since seen in the same role, gave me no less pleasure than his predecessor; and it is evident that both these talented actors must have studied the subject deeply, to have learned so thoroughly and depicted so faithfully the characteristics of their model.