After fifteen or eighteen days passed at Lyons, we returned to Paris, the First Consul and his wife continuing to reside by preference at Malmaison. It was, I think, a short time after the return of the First Consul that a poorly dressed man begged an audience; an order was given to admit him to the cabinet, and the First Consul inquired his name. “General,” replied the petitioner, frightened by his presence, “it is I who had the honor of giving you writing lessons in the school of Brienne.”—“Fine scholar you have made!” interrupted vehemently the First Consul; “I compliment you on it!” Then he began to laugh at his own vehemence, and addressed a few kind words to this good man, whose timidity such a compliment had not reassured. A few days after the master received, from the least promising, doubtless, of all his pupils at Brienne (you know how the Emperor wrote), a pension amply sufficient for his needs.
Another of the old teachers of the First Consul, the Abbe Dupuis, was appointed by him to the post of private librarian at Malmaison, and lived and died there. He was a modest man, and had the reputation of being well-educated. The First Consul visited him often in his room, and paid him every imaginable attention and respect.
The day on which the First Consul promulgated the law of public worship, he rose early, and entered the dressing-room to make his toilet. While he was dressing I saw Joseph Bonaparte enter his room with Cambaceres.
“Well,” said the First Consul to the latter, “we are going to mass. What do they think of that in Paris?”—“Many persons,” replied M. Cambaceres, “will go to the representation with the intention of hissing the piece, if they do not find it amusing.”
“If any one thinks of hissing, I will have him put out-of-doors by the grenadiers of the Consular Guard.”
“But if the grenadiers begin to hiss like the others?”
“I have no fear of that. My old soldiers will go to Notre Dame exactly as they went to the mosque at Cairo. They will watch me; and seeing their general remain quiet and reverent, they will do as he does, saying to themselves, ‘That is the countersign!’”
“I am afraid,” said Joseph Bonaparte, “that the general officers will not be so accommodating. I have just left Augereau, who was vomiting fire and fury against what he calls your capricious proclamations. He, and. a few others, will not be easy to bring back into the pale of our holy mother, the church.”
“Bah! that is like Augereau. He is a bawler, who makes a great noise; and yet if he has a little imbecile cousin, he puts him in the priests college for me to make a chaplain of him.
“That reminds me,” continued the First Consul, addressing his colleague, “when is your brother going to take possession of his see of Rouen? Do you know it has the finest archiepiscopal palace in France? He will be cardinal before a year has passed; that matter is already arranged.”