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 XXVIII.

After the 12th of April there remained with the Emperor, of all the great personages who usually surrounded him, only the grand marshal of the palace and Count Drouot.  The destination reserved for the Emperor, and the fact that he had accepted it, was not long a secret in the palace.  On the 16th we witnessed the arrival of the commissioners of the allies deputed to accompany his Majesty to the place of his embarkment for the Island of Elba.  These were Count Schuwaloff, aide-de-camp of the Emperor Alexander from Russia; Colonel Neil Campbell from England; General Kohler from Austria; and finally Count of Waldburg-Truchsess for Prussia.  Although his Majesty had himself demanded that he should be accompanied by these four commissioners, their presence at Fontainebleau seemed to make a most disagreeable impression on him.  However, each of these gentlemen received from the Emperor a different welcome; and after a few words that I heard his Majesty say, I was convinced on this, as on many previous occasions, that he esteemed the English far more than all his other enemies, and Colonel Campbell was, therefore, welcomed with more distinction than the other ministers; while the ill-humor of the Emperor vented itself especially on the commissioner of the King of Prussia, who took no notice of it, and put on the best possible countenance.

With the exception of the very slight apparent change made at Fontainebleau by the presence of these gentlemen, no remarkable incident, none at least in my knowledge, came to disturb the sad and monotonous life of the Emperor in the palace.  Everything remained gloomy and silent among the inhabitants of this last imperial residence; but, nevertheless, the Emperor personally seemed to me more calm since he had come to a definite conclusion than at the time he was wavering in painful indecision.  He spoke sometimes in my presence of the Empress and his son, but not as often as might have been expected.  But one thing which struck me deeply was, that never a single time did a a word escape his lips which could recall the act of desperation of the night of the 11th, which fortunately, as we have seen, had not the fatal results we feared.  What a night!  What a night!  In my whole life since I have never been able to think of it without shuddering.

After the arrival of the commissioners of the allied powers, the Emperor seemed by degrees to acclimate himself, so to speak, to their presence; and the chief occupation of the whole household consisted of duties relating to our preparations for departure.  One day, as I was dressing his Majesty, he said to me smiling, “Ah, well, my son, prepare your cart; we will go and plant our cabbages.”  Alas!  I was very far from thinking, as I heard these familiar words of his Majesty, that by an inconceivable concurrence of events, I should be forced to yield to an inexplicable fatality, which did not will that in spite of my ardent desire I should accompany the Emperor to his place of exile.

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