In the first place, it must be explained that, in accordance with the regulation of the household of the young ladies of the Legion of Honor, no man, with the exception of the Emperor, was admitted into the interior of the establishment. But as the Emperor was always attended by an escort, his suite formed in some sort a part of himself, and entered with him. Besides his officers, the pages usually accompanied him. In the evening on his return from Saint-Denis, the Emperor said to me, laughing, as he entered his room, where I was waiting to undress him, “Well, my pages wish to resemble the pages of former times! The little idiots! Do you know what they do? When I go to Saint-Denis, they have a contest among themselves as to who shall be on duty. Ha! ha!” The Emperor, while speaking, laughed and rubbed his hands together; and then, having repeated several times in the same tone; “The little idiots,” he added, following out one of those singular reflections which sometimes struck him, “I, Constant, would have made a very poor page; I would never have had such an idea. Moreover, these are good young men; good officers have already come from among them. This will lead one day to some marriages.” It was very rare, in fact, that a thing, though frivolous in appearance, did not lead, on the Emperor’s part, to some serious conclusion. Hereafter, indeed, with the exception of a few remembrances of the past, I shall have only serious and often very sad events to relate; for we have now arrived at the point where everything has taken a serious turn, and clothed itself in most somber tints.
For the last time we celebrated in Paris the anniversary fete of his Majesty’s coronation. The gifts to the Emperor on this occasion were innumerable addresses made to him by all the towns of the Empire, in which offers of sacrifices and protestations of devotion seemed to increase in intensity in proportion to the difficulty of the circumstances. Alas! in four months the full value of these protestations was proved; and, nevertheless, how was it possible to believe that this enthusiasm, which was so universal, was not entirely sincere? This would have been an impossibility with the Emperor, who, until the very end of his reign, believed himself beloved by France with the same devotion which he felt for her. A truth, which was well proved by succeeding events, is that the Emperor became more popular among that part of the inhabitants called the people when misfortunes began to overwhelm him. His Majesty had proofs of this in a visit he made to the Faubourg Saint-Antoine; and it is very certain that, if under other circumstances he had been able to bend from his dignity to propitiate the people, a means which was most repugnant to the Emperor in consequence of his remembrances of the Revolution, all the faubourgs of Paris would have armed themselves in his defense. How can this be doubted after the event which I here describe?