In spite of the numerous occupations of the Emperor, who after his return from the army spent much time during the day, and most of the nights, working in his cabinet, he showed himself more frequently in public than heretofore, going out almost without escort. On the 2d of January, 1813, for instance, I remember he went, accompanied only by Marshal Duroc, to visit the basilica of Notre Dame, the works of the archbishopric, those of the central depot of wines, and then, crossing the bridge of Austerlitz, the granaries, the fountain of the elephant, and finally the palace of the Bourse, which his Majesty often said was the handsomest building then existing in Europe. Next to his passion for war, that for monuments was strongest in the Emperor’s heart. The cold was quite severe while his Majesty was taking these solitary excursions; but in fact the cold weather in Paris seemed a very mild temperature to all who had just returned from Russia.
I remarked at this time, that is to say at the end of 1812 and the beginning of 1813, that the Emperor had never hunted so frequently. Two or three times a week I assisted him to don his hunting-costume, which he, like all persons of his suite, wore in accordance with the recently revived usage of the ancient monarchy.
The Empress often accompanied him in a coach, although the cold was intense; but when he gave an order there was nothing to be said. Knowing how distasteful the pleasures of the chase ordinarily were to his Majesty, I was surprised at this recent fondness he manifested, but soon learned that he was acting purely from political motives. One day Marshal Duroc was in his room, while he was putting on his green coat with gold lace; and I heard the Emperor say to the marshal, “It is very necessary that I should be in motion, and have the journals speak of it; for the imbeciles who write for the English journals repeat every day that I am sick, that I cannot move, and am no longer good for anything. Have patience! I will soon show them that I have as much strength of body as of mind.” Besides all this, I think that the exercise of hunting in moderation was very good for the Emperor’s health; for I never saw him in better condition than during the very time the English journals took pleasure in describing him as ill, and perhaps by these false statements were contributing to still further improve his health.
On the 19th of January the Emperor sent to inform the Empress that he was to hunt in the wood of Grosbois, and would breakfast with the Princess de Neuchatel, and requested that her Majesty would accompany him. The Emperor ordered me also to be at Grosbois in order to assist him in changing his linen after the hunt. This hunting-party took place according to announcement; but to the unbounded amazement of the entire suite of the Emperor, just as we were on the point of re-entering