One day Bonaparte returned from a hunt worn out with fatigue, and begged Marie Louise to come to him. She came, and the Emperor took her in his arms and gave her a sounding kiss on the cheek. Marie Louise took her handkerchief and wiped her cheek. “Well, Louise, you are disgusted with me?”—“No,” replied the Empress, “I did it from habit; I do the same with the King of Rome.” The Emperor seemed vexed. Josephine was very different; she received her husband’s caresses affectionately, and even met him half way. The Emperor sometimes said to her, “Louise, sleep in my room.”—“It is too warm there,” replied the Empress. In fact, she could not endure the heat, and Napoleon’s apartments were constantly warmed. She had also an extreme repugnance to odors, and in her own rooms allowed only vinegar or sugar to be burnt.
In September, 1811, the Emperor decided to make a journey into Flanders in company with the Empress, that he might personally ascertain if his orders had been carried out in all matters concerning both the civil and religious administration. Their Majesties left Compiegne on the 19th, and arrived at Montreuil-sur-Mer at nine o’clock in the evening. I accompanied the Emperor on this journey. I have read in O’Meara’s Memorial that M. Marchand was at that time in the service of Napoleon. This is incorrect; for M. Marchand did not enter the Emperor’s private service until 1814, at Fontainebleau. His Majesty at that time ordered me to select from the domestics of the service an intelligent young man to assist me in my duties near his person, since none of the ordinary ‘valets de chambre’ were to remain on the island of Elba. I mentioned the name of M. Marchand, son of a nurse of the King of Rome, as a suitable person for the place. He was accepted by his Majesty, and from that time M. Marchand formed a part of the private service of the Emperor. He may have been on this journey to Holland; but Napoleon was not aware of it, as his duties did not bring him near his Majesty’s person.
I will now relate some of the circumstances which occurred on this journey, and are not generally known to the public, and at the same time take advantage of the opportunity to refute other assertions similar to those I have just mentioned, and which I have read with surprise, sometimes mixed with indignation, in the Contemporary Memoirs. I deem it important that the public should have correct information as to everything pertaining to this journey, in order that light may thus be thrown on certain incidents, by means of which calumny has attacked the honor of Napoleon, and even my own. A devoted though humble servant of the Emperor, it is natural that I should be deeply interested in explaining all that seems doubtful, in refuting all falsehoods, and in giving minute corrections of many incorrect statements which might influence the judgment of the public concerning my master and myself. I shall fulfil this duty with perfect frankness, as I have sufficiently proved in the foregoing volumes of these Memoirs.