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.

On these reviews the Emperor could be seen personally inspecting the haversacks of the soldiers, examining their certificates, or taking a gun from the shoulders of a young man who was weak, pale; and suffering, and saying to him, in a sympathetic tone, “That is too heavy for you.”  He often drilled them himself; and when he did not, the drilling was directed by Generals Dorsenne, Curial, or Mouton.  Sometimes he was seized with a sudden whim; for example, one morning, after reviewing a regiment of the Confederation, he turned to the ordnance officers, and addressing Prince Salm, who was among them, remarked “M. de Salm, the soldiers ought to get acquainted with you; approach, and order them to make a charge in twelve movements.”  The young prince turned crimson, without being disconcerted, however, bowed, and drawing his sword most gracefully, executed the orders of the Emperor with an ease and precision which charmed him.

Another day, as the engineer corps passed with about forty wagons, the Emperor cried, “Halt!” and pointing out a wagon to General Bertrand, ordered him to summon one of the officers.  “What does that wagon contain?”—­“Sire, bolts, bags of nails, ropes, hatchets, and saws.”—­ “How much of each?” The officer gave the exact account.  His Majesty, to verify this report, had the wagon emptied, counted the pieces, and found the number correct; and in order to assure himself that nothing was left in the wagon, climbed up into it by means of the wheel, holding on to the spokes.  There was a murmur of approbation and cries of joy all along the line.  “Bravo!” they said; “well and good! that is the way to make sure of not being deceived.”  All these things conspired to make the soldiers adore the Emperor.


At one of the reviews which I have just described, and which usually attracted a crowd of curious people from Vienna and its suburbs, the Emperor came near being assassinated.  It was on the 13th of October, his Majesty had just alighted from his horse, and was crossing the court on foot with the Prince de Neuchatel and General Rapp beside him, when a young man with a passably good countenance pushed his way rudely through the crowd, and asked in bad French if he could speak to the Emperor.  His Majesty received him kindly, but not understanding his language, asked General Rapp to see what the young man wanted, and the general asked him a few questions; and not satisfied apparently with his answers, ordered the police-officer on duty to remove him.  A sub-officer conducted the young man out of the circle formed by the staff, and drove him back into the crowd.  This circumstance had been forgotten, when suddenly the Emperor, on turning, found again near him the pretended suppliant, who had returned holding his right hand in his breast, as if to draw a petition from the pocket of his coat.  General Rapp seized the man by the arm, and said to

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