“Even traitors are unable to betray me. Plots respect me as much as bullets.” I need not tell you that Fortune is the sole divinity sincerely worshipped by Napoleon.
Paris, August, 1805.
My lord:—Joseph Bonaparte leads a much more retired life, and sees less company, than any of his brothers or sisters. Except the members of his own family, he but seldom invites any guests, nor has Madame Joseph those regular assemblies and circles which Madame Napoleon and Madame Louis Bonaparte have. His hospitality is, however, greater at his countryseat Morfontaine than at his hotel here. Those whom he likes, or does not mistrust (who, by the bye, are very few), may visit him without much formality in the country, and prolong their stay, according to their own inclination or discretion; but they must come without their servants, or send them away on their arrival.
As soon as an agreeable visitor presents himself, it is the etiquette of the house to consider him as an inmate; but to allow him at the same time a perfect liberty to dispose of his hours and his person as suits his convenience or caprice. In this extensive and superb mansion a suite of apartments is assigned him, with a valet-de—chambre, a lackey, a coachman, a groom, and a jockey, all under his own exclusive command. He has allotted him a chariot, a gig, and riding horses, if he prefers such an exercise. A catalogue is given him of the library of the chateau; and every morning he is informed what persons compose the company at breakfast, dinner, and supper, and of the hours of these different repasts. A bill of fare is at the same time presented to him, and he is asked to point out those dishes to which he gives the preference, and to declare whether he chooses to join the company or to be served in his own rooms.
During the summer season, players from the different theatres of Paris are paid to perform three times in the week; and each guest, according to the period of his arrival, is asked, in his turn, to command either a comedy or a tragedy, a farce or a ballet. Twice in the week concerts are executed by the first performers of the opera-bouffe; and twice in the week invitations to tea-parties are sent to some of the neighbours, or accepted from them.
Besides four billiard-tables, there are other gambling-tables for Rouge et Noir, Trente et Quarante, Faro, La Roulette, Birribi, and other games of hazard. The bankers are young men from Corsica, to whom Joseph, who advances the money, allows all the gain, while he alone suffers the loss. Those who are inclined may play from morning till night, and from night till morning, without interruption, as no one interferes. Should Joseph hear that any person has been too severely treated by Fortune, or suspects that he has not much cash remaining, some rouleaux of napoleons d’or are placed on the table of his dressing-room, which he may use or leave untouched, as he judges proper.