At another review, his Majesty perceived in the ranks of a regiment of the line an old soldier, whose arms were decorated with three chevrons. He recognized him instantly as having seen him in the army of Italy, and approaching him, said, “Well, my brave fellow, why have you not the cross? You do not look like a bad fellow.”—“Sire,” replied the old soldier, with sorrowful gravity, “I have three times been put on the list for the cross.”—“You shall not be disappointed a fourth time,” replied the Emperor; and he ordered Marshal Berthier to place on the list, for the next promotion, the brave soldier, who was soon made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Pope Pius VII. had left Rome early in November, 1804; and his Holiness, accompanied by General Menou, administrator of Piedmont, arrived at Mont Cenis, on the morning of Nov. 15. The road of Mont Cenis had been surveyed and smoothed, and all dangerous points made secure by barriers. The Holy Father was received by M. Poitevin-Maissemy, prefect of Mont Blanc, and after a short visit to the hospice, crossed the mountain in a sedan chair, escorted by an immense crowd, who knelt to receive his blessing as he passed.
Nov. 17 his Holiness resumed his carriage, in which he made the remainder of the journey, accompanied in the same manner. The Emperor went to meet the Holy Father, and met him on the road to Nemours in the forest of Fontainebleau. The Emperor dismounted from his horse, and the two sovereigns returned to Fontainebleau in the same carriage. It is said that neither took precedence over the other, and that, in order to avoid this, they both entered the carriage at the same instant, his Majesty by the door on the right, and his Holiness by that on the left.
I do not know whether it is true that the Emperor used devices and stratagems in order to avoid compromising his dignity, but I do know that it would have been impossible to show more regard and attention to the venerable old man. The day after his arrival at Fontainebleau, the Pope made his entrance into Paris with all the honors usually rendered to the head of the Empire. Apartments had been prepared for him at the Tuileries in the Pavilion of Flora; and as a continuation of the delicate and affectionate consideration which his Majesty had shown from the beginning in welcoming the Holy Father, he found his apartments, in arrangement and furniture, an exact duplicate of those he occupied at Rome. He evinced much surprise and gratitude at this attention, which he himself, it is said, with his usual delicacy, called entirely filial; desiring thus to acknowledge the respect which the Emperor had shown him on every occasion, and the new title of eldest son of the Church, which his Majesty was about to assume with the imperial crown.