This seemed to be a year of fetes, and I dwell upon it with pleasure because it preceded one filled with misfortunes. The years 1811 and 1812 offered a striking contrast to each other. All those flowers lavished on the fetes of the King of Rome and his august mother covered an abyss, and all this enthusiasm was changed to mourning a few months later. Never were more brilliant fetes followed by more overwhelming misfortunes. Let us, then, dwell a little longer upon the rejoicings which preceded 1812. I feel that I need to be fortified before entering upon reminiscences of that time of unprofitable sacrifices, of bloodshed without preserving or conquering, and of glory without result. On the 25th of August, the Empress’s fete was celebrated at Trianon; and from early in the morning the road from Paris to Trianon was covered with an immense number of carriages and people on foot, the same sentiment attracting the court, the citizens, the people, to the delightful place at which the fete was held. All ranks were mingled, all went pell-mell; and I have never seen a crowd more singularly variegated, or which presented a more striking picture of all conditions of society. Ordinarily the multitude at fetes of this kind is composed of little more than one class of people and a few modest bourgeois that is all; very rarely of people with equipages, more rarely still people of the court; but here there were all, and there was no one so low that he could not have the satisfaction of elbowing a countess or some other noble inhabitant of the Faubourg St. Germain, for all Paris seemed to be at Versailles. That town so beautiful, but yet so sadly beautiful, which seemed since the last king to be bereft of its inhabitants, those broad streets in which no one was to be seen, those squares, the least of which could hold all the inhabitants of Versailles, and which could hardly contain the courtiers of the Great King, this magnificent solitude which we call Versailles, had been populated suddenly by the capital. The private houses could not contain the crowd which arrived from every direction. The park was inundated with a multitude of promenaders of every sex and all ages; in these immense avenues one walked on foot, one needed air on this vast plateau which was so airy, one felt cramped on this theater of a great public fete, as at balls given in those little saloons of Paris built for about a dozen persons, and where fashion crams together a hundred and fifty.
Great preparations had been made for four or five days in the delightful gardens of Trianon; but the evening before, the sky became cloudy, and many toilets which had been eagerly prepared were prudently laid aside; but the next day a beautiful blue sky reassured every one, and they set out for Trianon in spite of the recollections of the storm which had dispersed the spectators at the fete of Saint Cloud. Nevertheless,