Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,044 pages of information about Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete.
the first day of the year even passed without loosening his purse-strings.  While I was undressing him the evening before, he said, pinching my ear, “Well, Monsieur Constant, what will you give me for my present?” The first time he asked this question I replied I would give him whatever he wished; but I must confess that I very much hoped it would not be I who would give presents next day.  It seemed that the idea never occurred to him; for no one had to thank him for his gifts, and he never departed afterwards from this rule of domestic economy.  Apropos of this pinching of ears, to which I have recurred so often, because his Majesty repeated it so often, it is necessary that I should say, while I think of it, and in closing this subject, that any one would be much mistaken in supposing that he touched lightly the party exposed to his marks of favor; he pinched, on the contrary, very hard, and pinched as much stronger in proportion as he happened to be in a better humor.

Sometimes, when I entered his room to dress him, he would run at me like a mad man, and saluting me with his favorite greeting, “Well, Monsieur le drole,” would pinch my ears in such a manner as to make me cry out; he often added to these gentle caresses one or two taps, also well applied.  I was then sure of finding him all the rest of the day in a charming humor, and full of good-will, as I have seen him, so often.  Roustan, and even Marshal Berthier, received their due proportion of these imperial tendernesses.


The allowance made by his Majesty for the yearly expenses of his dress was twenty thousand francs; and the year of, the coronation he became very angry because that sum had been exceeded.  It was never without trepidation that the various accounts of household expenses were presented to him; and he invariably retrenched and cut down, and recommended all sort of reforms.  I remember after asking for some one a place of three thousand francs, which he granted me, I heard him exclaim, “Three thousand francs! but do you understand that this is the revenue of one of my communes?  When I was sub-lieutenant I did not spend as much as that.”  This expression recurred incessantly in his conversations with those with whom he was familiar; and “when I had the honor of being sub-lieutenant” was often on his lips, and always in illustration of comparisons or exhortations to economy.

While on the subject of accounts, I recall a circumstance which should have a place in my memoirs, since it concerns me personally, and moreover gives an idea of the manner in which his Majesty understood economy.  He set out with the idea, which was, I think, often very correct, that in private expenses as in public ones, even granting the honesty of agents (which the Emperor was always, I admit, very slow to do), the same things could have been done with much less money.  Thus, when he required retrenchment, it was not in

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Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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