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Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 887 pages of information about Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon Complete.

CHAPTER VI.

The 3d Nivose, year IX. (Dec. 21, 1800),

[Under the Republican regime the years were counted from the proclamation of the Republic, Sept. 22, 1792.  The year was divided into twelve months of thirty days each, re-named from some peculiarity, as Brumaire (foggy); Nivose (snowy); Thermidor (hot); Fructidor (fruit), etc.; besides five supplementary days of festivals, called ‘sans-culottides’.  The months were divided into three decades of ten days instead of weeks, the tenth day (decadi) being in lieu of Sunday.  The Republican calendar lasted till Jan 1, 1806, as to the years and months at least, though the Concordat had restored the weeks and Sabbaths.—­TRANS.]

the Opera presented, by order, The Creation of Haydn; and the First Consul had announced that he would be present, with all his household, at this magnificent oratorio.  He dined on that day with Madame Bonaparte, her daughter, and Generals Rapp, Lauriston, Lannes, and Berthier.  I was on duty; but as the First Consul was going to the Opera, I knew that I should not be needed at the chateau, and resolved, for my part, to go to the Feydeau, occupying the box which Madame Bonaparte allowed us, and which was situated under hers.  After dinner, which the First Consul bolted with his usual rapidity, he rose from the table, followed by his officers, with the exception of General Rapp, who remained with Madame Josephine and Hortense.  About seven o’clock the First Consul entered his carriage with Lannes, Berthier, and Lauriston, to go to the Opera.  When they arrived in the middle of Rue Sainte-Nicaise, the escort who preceded the carriage found the road obstructed by a cart, which seemed to be abandoned, and on which a cask was found fastened strongly with ropes.  The chief of the escort had this cart removed to the side of the street; and the First Consul’s coachman, whom this delay had made impatient, urged on his horses vigorously, and they shot off like lightning.  Scarcely two seconds had passed when the barrel which was on the cart burst with a frightful explosion.  No one of the escort or of the companions of the First Consul was slain, but several were wounded; and the loss among the residents in the street and the passers-by near the horrible machine was much greater.  More than twenty of these were killed, and more than sixty seriously wounded.  Trepsat, the architect, had his thigh broken.  The First Consul afterwards decorated him, and made him the architect of the Invalides, saying that he had long enough been the most invalid of architects.  All the panes of glass at the Tuileries were broken, and many houses thrown down.  All those of the Rue Sainte-Nicaise, and even some in the adjacent streets, were badly damaged, some fragments being blown into the house of the Consul Cambaceres.  The glass of the First Consul’s carriage was shivered to fragments.  By a fortunate

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