We arrived at Saint-Cloud on the 27th of July; and the Emperor passed the summer partly in this residence, and partly at Fontainebleau, returning to Paris only on special occasions, and never remaining longer than twenty-four hours. During his Majesty’s absence, the chateau of Rambouillet was restored and furnished anew, and the Emperor spent a few days there. The first time he entered the bathroom, he stopped short at the door and glanced around with every appearance of surprise and dissatisfaction; and when I sought the cause of this, following the direction of his Majesty’s eyes, I saw that they rested on various family portraits which the architect had painted on the walls of the room. They were those of madame his mother, his sisters, Queen Hortense, etc.; and the sight of such a gallery, in such a place, excited the extreme displeasure of the Emperor. “What nonsense!” he cried. “Constant, summon Marshal Duroc!” And when the grand marshal appeared, his Majesty inquired, “Who is the idiot that could have conceived such an idea? Order the painter to come and efface all that. He must have little respect for women to be guilty of such an indecency.”
When the court sojourned at Fontainebleau, the inhabitants indemnified themselves amply for his Majesty’s long absences by the high price at which they sold all articles of food. Their extortions became scandalous impositions, and more than one foreigner making an excursion to Fontainebleau thought himself held for ransom by a troop of Bedouins. During the stay of the court; a wretched sacking-bed in a miserable inn cost twelve francs for a single night; the smallest meal cost an incredible price, and was, notwithstanding, detestable; in fact, it amounted to a genuine pillage of travelers. Cardinal Caprara,
[Giovanni Battista Caprara, born
of a noble family at Bologna,
1733; count and archbishop of Milan; cardinal, 1792; Negotiated the
Concordat, 1801; died 1810]
whose rigid economy was known to all Paris, went one day to Fontainebleau to pay his court to the Emperor, and at the hotel where he alighted took only a single cup of bouillon, and the six persons of his suite partook only of a very light repast, as the cardinal had arranged to return in three hours; but notwithstanding this, as he was entering his carriage, the landlord had the audacity to present him with a bill for six hundred francs! The prince of the church indignantly protested, flew into a rage, threatened, etc., but all in vain; and the bill was paid.
Such an outrageous imposition could not fail to reach the Emperor’s ears, and excited his anger to such a degree that he at once ordered a fixed schedule of prices, which it was forbidden the innkeepers to exceed. This put an end to the exactions of the bloodsuckers of Fontainebleau.
On the 21st of August, there arrived at Paris the Princess Catharine of Wurtemberg, future wife of Prince Jerome Napoleon, King of Westphalia. This princess was about twenty-four years of age, and very beautiful, with a most noble and gracious bearing; and though policy alone had made this marriage, never could love or voluntary choice have made one that was happier.