“Then I will punish you as a rebel,” retorted Frial; “and as sure as you stand here you shall be shot.”
Liebeau then rose up to fetch his sword, but the company interfered, and the dispute about the priority of claim to the throne of France between the ci-devant drummer and ci-devant jockey was left undecided. From the words and looks of several of the captains present, I think that they seemed, in their own opinions, to have as much prospect and expectation to reign over the French Empire as either General Liebeau or Colonel Frial.
As soon as I returned home I wrote down this curious conversation and this debate about supremacy. To what a degradation is the highest rank in my unfortunate country reduced when two such personages seriously contend about it! I collected more subjects for meditation and melancholy in this low company (where, by the bye, I witnessed more vulgarity and more indecencies than I had before seen during my life) than from all former scenes of humiliation and disgust since my return here. When I the next day mentioned it to General de M------, whom you have known as an emigrant officer in your service, but whom policy has since ranged under the colours of Bonaparte, he assured me that these discussions about the Imperial throne are very frequent among the superior officers, and have caused many bloody scenes; and that hardly any of our generals of any talent exist who have not the same ’arriere pensee of some day or other. Napoleon cannot, therefore, well be ignorant of the many other dynasties here now rivalling that of the Bonapartes, and who wait only for his exit to tear his Senatus Consultum, his will, and his family, as well as each other, to pieces.
Paris, September, 1805.
My lord:—I was lately invited to a tea-party by one of our rich upstarts, who, from a scavenger, is, by the Revolution and by Bonaparte, transformed into a Legislator, Commander of the Legion of Honour, and possessor of wealth amounting to eighteen millions of livres. In this house I saw for the first time the famous Madame Chevalier, the mistress, and the indirect cause of the untimely end, of the unfortunate Paul the First. She is very short, fat, and coarse. I do not know whether prejudice, from what I have heard of her vile, greedy, and immoral character, influenced my feelings, but she appeared to me a most artful, vain, and disagreeable woman. She looked to be about thirty-six years of age; and though she might when younger have been well made, it is impossible that she could ever have been handsome. The features of her face are far from being regular. Her mouth is large, her eyes hollow, and her nose short. Her language is that of brothels, and her manners correspond with her expressions. She is the daughter of a workman at a silk manufactory at Lyons; she ceased to be a maid before she had attained