I cannot close this introduction without a few words as to myself, in reply to the calumnies which have not spared, even in his retirement, a man who should have no enemies, if, to be protected from malice, it were sufficient to have done a little good, and no harm to any one. I am reproached with having abandoned my master after his fall, and not having shared his exile. I will show that, if I did not follow the Emperor, it was because I lacked not the will but the power to do so. God knows that I do not wish to undervalue the devotion of the faithful servants who followed the fortunes of the Emperor to the end. However, it is not improper to say that, however terrible the fall of the Emperor was for him, the situation (I speak here only of the personal advantages), in the island of Elba, of those who remained in his service, and who were not detained in France by an inexorable necessity, was still not without its advantages; and it was not, therefore, my personal interests which caused me to leave him. I shall explain hereafter my reasons for quitting his service.
I shall also give the truth as to the alleged abuse of confidence, of which, according to others, I was guilty in respect to the Emperor. A simple statement of the mistake which gave rise to this falsehood, I trust, will clear me of every suspicion of indelicacy; but if it is necessary to add other proofs, I could obtain them from those who lived nearest to the Emperor, and who were in a condition to both know and understand what passed between us; and lastly, I invoke fifty years of a blameless life, and I can say: “When I was in a situation to render great services, I did so; but I never sold them. I could have derived advantages from the petitions that I made for people, who, in consequence of my solicitations, have acquired immense fortunes; but I refused even the proper acknowledgment which in, their gratitude (very deep at that time) they felt compelled to offer me, by proposing an interest in their enterprises. I did not seek to take advantage, for my own benefit, of the generosity with which the Emperor so long deigned to honor me, in order to enrich or secure places for my relatives; and I retired poor after fifteen years passed in the personal service of the richest and most powerful monarch of Europe.”
Having made these statements, I shall await with confidence the judgment of my readers.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE PRIVATE LIFE OF NAPOLEON
I shall refer to myself very little in these memoirs, for I am aware the public will examine them only for details concerning the great man to whom fortune attached me for sixteen years, and whom I scarcely quitted during the whole of that time. Notwithstanding, I ask permission to say a few words as to my childhood, and the circumstances which made me valet de chambre of the Emperor.