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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 887 pages of information about Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon Complete.

CHAPTER XV.

The year 1804, which was so full of glory for the Emperor, was also the year which brought him more care and anxiety than all others, except those of 1814 and 1815.  It is not my province to pass judgment on such grave events, nor to determine what part was taken in them by the Emperor, or by those who surrounded and counseled him, for it is my object to relate only what I saw and heard.  On the 21st of March of that year I entered the Emperor’s room at an early hour, and found him awake, leaning on his elbow.  He seemed gloomy and tired; but when I entered he sat up, passed his hand many times over his forehead, and said to me, “Constant, I have a headache.”  Then, throwing off the covering, he added, “I have slept very badly.”  He seemed extremely preoccupied and absorbed, and his appearance evinced melancholy and suffering to such a degree that I was surprised and somewhat anxious.  While I was dressing him he did not utter a word, which never occurred except when something agitated or worried him.  During this time only Roustan and I were present.  His toilet being completed, just as I was handing him his snuff-box, handkerchief, and little bonbon box, the door opened suddenly, and the First Consul’s wife entered, in her morning negligee, much agitated, with traces of tears on her cheeks.  Her sudden appearance astonished, and even alarmed, Roustan and myself; for it was only an extraordinary circumstance which could have induced Madame Bonaparte to leave her room in this costume, before taking all necessary precautions to conceal the damage which the want of the accessories of the toilet did her.  She entered, or rather rushed, into the room, crying, “The Duke d’Enghien is dead!  Ah, my friend! what have you done?” Then she fell sobbing into the arms of the First Consul, who became pale as death, and said with extraordinary emotion, “The miserable wretches have been too quick!” He then left the room, supporting Madame Bonaparte, who could hardly walk, and was still weeping.  The news of the prince’s death spread consternation in the chateau; and the First Consul remarked this universal grief, but reprimanded no one for it.  The fact is, the greatest chagrin which this mournful catastrophe caused his servants, most of whom were attached to him by affection even more than by duty, came from the belief that it would inevitably tarnish the glory and destroy the peace of mind of their master.

The First Consul probably understood our feelings perfectly; but however that may be, I have here related all that I myself saw and know of this deplorable event.  I do not pretend to know what passed in the cabinet meeting, but the emotion of the First Consul appeared to me sincere and unaffected; and he remained sad and silent for many days, speaking very little at his toilet, and saying only what was necessary.

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