The day preceding the Emperor’s fete, or the day following, the colossal bronze statue which was to be placed on the monument in the Place Vendome was removed from the studio of M. Launay. The brewers of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine offered their handsomest horses to draw the chariot on which the statue was carried, and twelve were selected, one from each brewer; and as their masters requested the privilege of riding them, nothing could be more singular than this cortege, which arrived on the Place Vendome at five o’clock in the evening, followed by an immense crowd, amid cries of “Vive l’Empereur.” A few days before his Majesty’s departure for Erfurt, the Emperor with the Empress and their households played prisoner’s base for the last time. It was in the evening; and footmen bore lighted torches, and followed the players when they went beyond the reach of the light. The Emperor fell once while trying to catch the Empress, and was taken prisoner; but he soon broke bounds and began to run again, and when he was free, carried off Josephine in spite of the protests of the players; and thus ended the last game of prisoner’s base that I ever saw the Emperor play.
It had been decided that the Emperor Alexander and the Emperor Napoleon should meet at Erfurt on the 27th of September; and most of the sovereigns forming the Confederation of the Rhine had been invited to be present at this interview, which it was intended should be both magnificent and imposing. Consequently the Duke of Frioul, grand marshal of the palace, sent M. de Canouville, marshal of lodgings of the palace, M. de Beausset, prefect of the palace, and two quartermasters to prepare at Erfurt lodgings for all these illustrious visitors, and to organize the grand marshal’s service.
The government palace was chosen for the Emperor Napoleon’s lodgings, as on account of its size it perfectly suited the Emperor’s intention of holding his court there; for the Emperor Alexander, the residence of M. Triebel was prepared, the handsomest in the town; and for S. A. L, the Grand Duke Constantine, that of Senator Remann. Other residences were reserved for the Princes of the Confederation and the persons of their suite; and a detachment of all branches of the service of the Imperial household was established in each of these different lodgings.
There had been sent from the storehouse of the crown a large quantity of magnificent furniture, carpets and tapestry, both Gobelin and la Savonnerie; bronzes, lusters, candelabras, girondoles, Sevres china; in fine, everything which could contribute to the luxurious furnishing of the two Imperial palaces, and those which were to be occupied by the other sovereigns; and a crowd of workmen came from Paris. General Oudinot was appointed Governor of Erfurt, and had under his orders the First regiment of hussars, the Sixth of cuirassiers, and the Seventeenth of light infantry, which the major-general had appointed to compose the garrison. Twenty select police, with a battalion chosen from the finest grenadiers of the guard, were put on duty at the Imperial palaces.