The Prince of Aremberg, an ordnance officer of the Emperor, had, as we know, married Mademoiselle Tascher, niece of the Empress Josephine. Having been sent into Spain, he was there taken by the English, and afterwards carried a prisoner to England. His captivity was at first very disagreeable; and he told me himself that he was very unhappy, until he made the acquaintance of one of my friends, M. Herz, commissary of war, who possessed a fine mind, was very intelligent, spoke several languages, and was, like the prince, a prisoner in England. The acquaintance formed at once between the prince and M. Herz soon became so intimate that they were constantly together; and thus passed the time as happily as it can with one far from his native land and deprived of his liberty.
They were living thus, ameliorating for each other the ennui of captivity, when M. Herz was exchanged, which was, perhaps, a great misfortune for him, as we shall afterwards see. At all events, the prince was deeply distressed at being left alone; but, nevertheless, gave M. Herz several letters to his family, and at the same time sent his mother his mustache, which he had mounted in a medallion with a chain. One day the Princess of Aremberg arrived at Saint-Cloud and demanded a private audience of the Emperor.
“My son,” said she, “demands your Majesty’s permission to attempt his escape from England.”—“Madame,” said the Emperor, “your request is most embarrassing! I do not forbid your son, but I can by no means authorize him.”
It was at the time I had the honor of saving the Prince of Aremberg’s life that I learned from him these particulars. As for my poor friend Herz, his liberty became fatal to him, owing to an inexplicable succession of events. Having been sent by Marshal Augereau to Stralsund to perform a secret mission, he died there, suffocated by the fire of a brass stove in the room in which he slept. His secretary and his servant nearly fell victims to the same accident; but, more fortunate than he, their lives were saved. The Prince of Aremberg spoke to me of the death of M. Herz with real feeling; and it was easy to see that, prince as he was and allied to the Emperor, he entertained a most sincere friendship for his companion in captivity.
I have collected under the title of Military Anecdotes some facts which came to my knowledge while I accompanied the Emperor on his campaigns, and the authenticity of which I guarantee. I might have scattered them through my memoirs, and placed them in their proper periods; my not having done so is not owing to forgetfulness on my part, but because I thought that these incidents would have an added interest by being collected together, since in them we see the direct influence of the Emperor upon his soldiers, and thus can more easily form an exact idea of the manner in which his Majesty treated them, his consideration for them, and their attachment to his person.