When M. Fontaine had left, the Emperor made me a sign to approach, and began by pulling my ears, according to custom when in good humor. After a few personal questions, he asked me what was my salary. “Sire, six thousand francs.”—“And Monsieur Colin, how much has he?”—“Twelve thousand francs.”—“Twelve thousand francs! that is not right; you should not have less than M. Colin. I will attend to that.” And his Majesty was kind enough to make immediate inquiries, but was told that the accounts for the year were made out; whereupon the Emperor informed me that till the end of the year, M. le Baron Fain
[Born in Paris, 1778; attended Napoleon
in his campaigns as
Secretary of the Records; wrote memoirs of the last three years of
Napoleon’s reign; died 1837.]
would give me each month out of his privy purse five hundred francs, as he wished that my salary should equal that of M. Colin.
After the Emperor left the army and committed, as we have seen, the command to the King of Naples, his Sicilian Majesty also abandoned the command intrusted to him, and set out for his states, leaving Prince Eugene at the head of the forces. The Emperor was deeply interested in the news he received from Posen, where the general headquarters were in the latter part of February and beginning of March, and where the prince vice-king had under his orders only the remains of different corps, some of which were represented by a very small number of men.
Moreover, each time that the Russians appeared in force, there was nothing to be done but to fall back; and each day during the month of March the news became more and more depressing. The Emperor consequently decided at the end of March to set out at an early day for the army.
For some time previous the Emperor, much impressed by Malet’s conspiracy during his last absence, had expressed the opinion that it was dangerous to leave his government without a head; and the journals had been filled with information relative to the ceremonies required when the regency of the kingdom had been left in the hands of queens in times past. As the public well knew the means frequently adopted by his Majesty to foster in advance opinions favorable to any course of conduct he intended to pursue, no one was surprised to see him before leaving confide the regency to the Empress Marie Louise, circumstances not having yet furnished him the opportunity of having her crowned, as he had long desired. The Empress took the solemn oath at the palace of the Elysee, in presence of the princes, great dignitaries, and ministers. The Duke of Cadore was made secretary of the regency, as counselor to her Majesty the Empress, together with the arch-chancellor; and the command of the guard was confided to General Caffarelli.