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.
the authenticity, and which, perhaps, may foster the weakness of persons subject to the same superstitions as the Princess of Wurtemberg.  One day at Florence, being present at a family dinner, she perceived that there were exactly thirteen plates, suddenly grew pale, and obstinately refused to take her seat.  Princess Eliza Bacciochi ridiculed her sister-in-law, shrugged her shoulders, and said to her, smiling, “There is no danger, there are in truth fourteen, since I am enceinte.”  Princess Catharine yielded, but with extreme repugnance.  A short time after she had to put on mourning for her sister-in-law; and the death of the Princess Eliza, as may well be believed, contributed no little to render her more superstitious than ever as to the number thirteen.  Well! let strong minds boast themselves as they may; but I can console the weak, as I dare to affirm that, if the Emperor had witnessed such an occurrence in his own family, an instinct stronger than any other consideration, stronger even than his all-powerful reason, would have caused him some moments of vague anxiety.

Now, it only remains for me to render an account of the bestowal I made of the first cross of honor the First Consul wore.  The reader need not be alarmed; I did not make a bad use of it; it is on the breast of a brave soldier of our old army.  In 1817 I made the acquaintance of M. Godeau, a former captain in the Imperial Guard.  He had been severely wounded at Leipzig by a cannon-ball, which broke his knee.  I found in him an admiration for the Emperor so intense and so sincere, he urged me so earnestly to give him something, whatever it might be, which had belonged to his Majesty, that I made him a present of the cross of honor of which I have spoken, as he had long ago been decorated with that order.  This cross is, I might say, a historical memento, being the first, as I have stated, which his Majesty wore.  It is of silver, medium size, and is not surmounted with the imperial crown.  The Emperor wore it a year; it decorated his breast for the last time the day of the battle of Austerlitz.  From that day, in fact, his Majesty wore an officer’s cross of gold with the crown, and no longer wore the cross of a simple member of the legion.

Here my souvenirs would end if, in re-reading the first volumes of my memoirs, the facts I have there related had not recalled to me some others which may be of interest.  With the impossibility of presenting them in the proper order and connection, I have decided, in order that the reader may not be deprived of them, to offer them as detached anecdotes, which I have endeavored to class as far as possible, according to the order of time.

CHAPTER XXX.

Anecdotes and incidents.

As I have often-had occasion to remark, the Emperor’s tastes were extremely simple in everything relating to his person; moreover, he manifested a decided aversion to the usages of fashion; he did not like, so to speak, to turn night into day, as was done in the most of the brilliant circles of society in Paris under the Consulate, and at the commencement of the Empire.  Unfortunately, the Empress Josephine did not hold the same views, and being a submissive slave of fashion, liked to prolong her evenings after the Emperor had retired.

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