On his return to France, the Emperor made no halt between Turin and Fontainebleau. He traveled incognito, in the name of the minister of the interior, and went at such speed that at each relay they were obliged to throw water on the wheels; but in spite of this his Majesty complained of the slowness of the postilions, and cried continually, “Hurry up! hurry up! we are hardly moving.” Many of the servants’ carriages were, left in the rear; though mine experienced no delay, and I arrived at each relay at the same time as the Emperor.
In ascending the steep hill of Tarare, the Emperor alighted from the carriage, as did also Berthier, who accompanied him; the carriages of the suite being some distance behind, as the drivers had stopped to breathe their horses.
His Majesty saw, climbing the hill a few steps before him, an old, decrepit woman, who hobbled along with great difficulty. As the Emperor approached her he inquired why, infirm as she was, and apparently so fatigued, she should attempt to travel so difficult a road.
“Sir,” replied she, “they tell me the Emperor is to pass along here, and I wish to see him before I die.” His Majesty, who liked to be amused, said to her, “Ah, but why trouble yourself about him? He is a tyrant, like all the rest.” The good woman, indignant at this remark, angrily replied, “At least, Sir, he is our choice; and since we must have a master, it is at least right that we should choose him.” I was not an eye-witness of this incident; but I heard the Emperor himself relate it to Dr. Corvisart, with some remarks upon the good sense of the masses, who, according to the opinion of his Majesty and his chief doctor, had generally formed very correct opinions.
His Majesty the Emperor passed the month of January, 1806, at Munich and Stuttgard, during which, in the first of these two capitals, the marriage of the vice-king and the Princess of Bavaria was celebrated. On this occasion there was a succession of magnificent fetes, of which the Emperor was always the hero, and at which his hosts tried, by every variety of homage, to express to this great man the admiration with which his military genius inspired them.
The vice-king and vice-queen had never met before their marriage, but were soon as much attached to each other as if they had been acquainted for years, for never were two persons more perfectly congenial. No princess, and indeed no mother, could have manifested more affection and care for her children than the vice-queen; and she might well serve as a model for all women. I have been told an incident concerning this admirable princess which I take pleasure in relating here. One of her daughters, who was quite young, having spoken in a very harsh tone to her maid, her most serene highness the vice-queen was informed of it, and in order to give her daughter a lesson, forbade