When the Emperor had abdicated, the foreign rulers showed themselves to be easy with regard to their past interests; they said he would retain the rank, title and honors of royalty. As to his residence, they left him the choice between Corsica and Elba; Napoleon chose the latter.
The Treaty of Paris stipulated that the French Government would grant him a subsidy of two million francs, and he would be free to take, in addition, the staff of his house and eight hundred men of his army that would follow. Whatever misfortunate position he had in this solemn moment, he didn’t forget his family, or his friends, or his servants. He asked that the measures he had taken on their behalf should be respected and that one did not disturb their ownership of the property he had given them, such as properties, endowments and annuities. He also stipulated that the private funds that belonged to him and he was abandoning, should be reserved in a sum of two million to be distributed to a number of officers and soldiers of his army, that he would name. He gave away everything. It was believed that the treaty terms would be religiously observed: it was not. Soon learning himself of this abuse, he said about this:
It was he who took care to inform those around him that he had ceased
He expected to see at least once, his former ministers, State advisors,
his generals, and many others who owed him a last proof of attachment;
nobody came! He stood alone with the small number of officers
and servants of his household who had resolved not to abandon him ever. The
Grand Marshal Bertrand, Generals Drouot and Cambronne, the surgeon
Fourreau de Beauregard, the travel master Peyrusse, the quartermasters
of the palace and Deschamps and Baillon, won the favor of Napoleon
to follow him to the island of Elba, and he composed a house small
in number but strong in loyalty and dedication. Instead of eight
hundred men, they would only let him take four hundred. All his
old comrades in glory wanted to go with him: Napoleon was spoiled by
great choices. Also under the Treaty of Paris, he would be accompanied
to the place of embarkation by a Commissioner of each of the four allied
powers. For several days the commissioners arrived at
After these gentlemen had retired, the Emperor was given a letter
On the night of 19 to 20, Napoleon felt the last defection when it
was still more sensitive than any that had preceded it: his first chamber
valet, in whom he had confidence, and his Mameluck Rustan, who he had filled with good things, did not reappear. In
the morning, not seeing either one or the other at the usual time of
their service, he merely said, upon learning of their disappearance
The kindness that Napoleon had never ceased to bestow on Constant for over twelve years that he was attached to his person, was such that even as it had been decided that, as an economy measure, none of his ordinary valets would accompany him to Elba, he himself requested that Constant choose someone who could assist him in his service. It was here that he glanced on the young M. Marchand, usher of the King of Rome, whose intelligence and honesty were known to him, and who was the son of the first baby rocker of the child-king. Constant had spoken to the Emperor, who had approved, and M. Marchand had accepted this new position with gratitude. He then replaced Constant with the title of first chamber valet, and followed Napoleon to Elba, as he was to follow the next year to St. Helena, and mixed well with his name among the small number of men whose dedication and loyalty have them made so justly popular.
On April 28, at ten o'clock in the morning, carriages were hitched up for travel and lined up in the courtyard of the White Horse. The Imperial Guard had taken up arms and formed a perimeter. At noon precisely, the door of the room where Napoleon had withdrawn opened, and an usher announced loudly: The Emperor!
Napoleon appeared. He reached out to all those present, hurrying
through the apartment, quickly descended the grand staircase of the
chateau, beneath which there was all that remained of the largest and
most brilliant court of Europe: there was the Duke of Bassano, General
Belliard, counts Anatole de Montesquiou and de Turenne, Colonel Gourgaud,
Baron Fain, Colonel Athalin, the Chevalier
Joanne, many Poles, including the General Kosakowski and
the Colonel Germanowski , who obtained permission to accompany him
to Elba, and the foreign commissioners and a host of other characters
of distinction. Immediately this group surrounded him: but he
made a sign that he wanted to talk. Everyone departed. Everyone
knows that beautiful scene that Horace Vernet has reproduced in such
an admirable manner in his tableau Farewell at
At these words, addressed to General Petit and stretching out his arms:
Immediately the flag bearer stepped forward staggering, and while with one hand he covered his eyes to hide her tears, with the other, he inclined his Eagle. Napoleon took the fringe of the flag and pressed it several times on his lips, saying in a trembling voice:
The silence of admiration that inspired this great scene was suddenly interrupted by the sobs of soldiers. Napoleon, which increases the excitement, made a last effort and taking a firmer voice:
And, quickly hiding from the crowd that pressed in, he dashed into a carriage at the door of which the grand marshal was already placed, and disappeared into the vortex of the French escort who provide protection. Immediately a great cry was heard: that of Long live the Emperor!
In a journey as long as that from
The General Drouot went in advance. The Emperor, with the grand marshal in a carriage with four seats, the only one that was drawn by six horses, came immediately after. Those generals Koller and Schouwaloff, Colonel Campbell and Baron Truschess, followed his. Two other carriages, each with six seats were occupied by officers of his civil and military house. Finally, six wagons loaded with luggage had taken another route, because of the inability to unite enough horses on a single number.
The day before, pickets of cavalry had explored scouting near
They claimed, at the time, that the leader of the band had no other mission than to seize the crown jewels and treasures that Napoleon had taken from her. But one did not generally know until after April 20 that the valuables had on the occasion of the 10th of the same month been returned by Baron Dudon to the Provisional Government. Yet this was the pretext which was used by the Prussian General Sacken, Governor of Paris, by General Dupont, Secretary of War, by the Prefect of Police, Anglès, by the Director of Positions Bourrienne, all the ministers of the Provisional Government headed by M. de Talleyrand, to issue an order to the expedition of civilian authorities and military posts for the execution, it was said, of a secret mission of the utmost importance.
The Queen of Westphalia complained to the Emperor Alexander, her parent, and demanded valuables and the diamonds and the eighty thousand francs in gold which had been taken. The equerry to the Queen was arrested and the investigation of the long proceedings opened against him on this, he literally said: he had been charged with nothing less than to kill Bonaparte and his son; that this proposal had been made by M. de Talleyrand and in return for that service one would give him 200,000 fr., to make him a Duke, lieutenant general and governor of a province; but he had accepted this mission to save the life of the Emperor and that of the King of Rome; it was only to look as if he had done something that he had taken jewelry from the wife of Jérôme Bonaparte; that he had returned the removed boxes to the secretary of the provisional government, and with that he washed his hands.
Between these serious charges and the obstinate silence kept by M. de Talleyrand and the signed orders issued, it is difficult to say. It is a mystery that time has not yet sufficiently clarfied.
One of the peculiarities of the trip was that almost the whole Imperial Guard was stationed in the country that Napoleon had to travel through up to Nevers. In passing through, it was under arms; but for several days it had been recommended by its superiors not acknowledge by word, no sign, that it pitied the fate of its Emperor.
This elite corps proved obedient in this painful circumstance. It kept a mournful silence. At no time had a monarch been surrounded by a better or more devoted militia than Napoleon; it was perhaps greatest in this day than in those it had shown during his glorious career. He was escorted by his guards up to Briare.
The 21st, Napoleon slept at Nevers. There he was still received with cheers from
the crowd, its cries of enthusiasm, mingled few epithets showing little
courtesy to the foreign commissioners. It was on leaving this town
that he had the misfortune to see his French escort replaced by a body
of Cossacks and heard shouting of: Long live the Allies! But
these annoyances, however painful they might have been, were only the
prelude to the insults and dangers that assaulted him in Lyon, where
he merely passed through on the night of 22 to 23. He left a
trusted person to await the arrival of the
In Valencia , Napoleon saw for the first time, citizens and French officers with the white cockade in their hats. They belonged to the corps of Augereau. At the hostel of the post, where he stopped, he was joined by the person he had left in Lyon. Among the papers he brought him, was the Moniteur, which provided the proclamation made by the Duke of Castiglione to his army to mark the return of the Bourbons and in which he accused Napoleon by applying the epithet coward ... After reading, the Emperor merely shrug with a smile of contempt. He was also in Valencia when he heard screaming for the first time: Long live the King! The cry made him feel a kind of involuntary shudder. He stopped in the capital of the Drôme just long enough to change horses, and after passing Loriol and Derbierres, he arrived on the 24th at six o'clock in the evening, at Montélimar, and went to the inn that had been designated by the commissioners. Scarcely had he entered the first room, which served at the same time as a kitchen, when one handed him a sealed note. He opened it and read:
And he walked in the kitchen while they prepared a hasty service for the ground floor. Some public officials of Montelimart presented themselves at the porter of the public-house asking for the honor to see the Emperor. He consented to receive them, and asked with a remarkable serenity in a time when he knew that they agitating for him, a few miles away, for his death. These officials spoke of their regret:
Two former army officers, one of whom was Captain Krettly, former trumpeter of his guides, which we discussed in the course of this history, also came to claim the favor to wish him a final farewell.
At eight o'clock they were on the road to
Having said that, he returned to his cabriolet and galloped off.
The quartermaster took General Drouot aside, and repeated what he
had learned. The latter presented it to the grand marshal, who
reported the fact to the Emperor before the allied commissioners. These
then, justly alarmed, held a sort of council on the highway, and it
was decided that Napoleon would shoulder a coat collar like those worn
by most people following the commissioners, he would wear a round hat
and he would change carriages. As the attempting near
At one o'clock in the morning, a carriage without a coat-of-arms, led by three horses and a coachman, presented to relay. The sentry who was posted at this place screamed: To arms! M. de Montagnat arrived with some men; this carriage was that of Colonel Campbell, with a Russian officer whom Napoleon, together with the commissioners, had sent ahead of Montélimar. M. de Montagnat asked the colonel with interest if the escort to His Majesty was enough to put up a brave resistance in case of attack.
M. de Montagnat and the Colonel then decided that courier who arranged the relays should arrive before the Emperor, and that His Majesty would change horses outside of the town.
The Colonel continued his journey to Orgon.
At four o'clock in the morning, courier who preceded Napoleon arrived. M. de Montagnat told him he had to lead the horse to three hundred paces in front of the gate of Saint-Lazare, where it was agreed that the carriages would stop. This gate was opposite to that by which Napoleon was to come. The courier would not initially comply with this provision; M. de Montagnat was obliged to employ a threat for it to be decided. A courier was dispatched on horseback to warn the convoy to go around the city and head towards this point. Unfortunately, all this had been performed so secretly that few people had been informed. An enraged crowd had stood on this side, while M. de Montagnat followed by his little band, went there. He found the carriage of the Emperor already surrounded by Spaniards uttering horrible imprecations. There was also unknown men in the country and they claimed later to have been there by chance. Despite this coincidence, one of them repeatedly rushed to the door to open and extract the Emperor from his carriage. M. de Montagnat, endowed with great strength, seized him and sent him rolling into a ditch beside the road. Meanwhile, a verdet* having crept in among the horses they had brought, and, with a knife in hand, tried to cut the traces. The crowd swelled; the hostile demonstrations became increasingly menacing, all presaged a bloody tragedy. A completely drunk person, with a terrible countenance, armed with an old sword that he brandished uttering frightful cries, put his hand on the ring of the door and a footman placed on the seat the carriage, drew his hunting knife to stab him ...
Meanwhile Napoleon, quickly lowering the front window, advanced to the front, and seizing the footman by the tail of his coat:
While this was happening, the postilions had been in the saddle, the horses were launched, and Napoleon was away at a gallop amid a hail of stones. He had only time to lean out on the side of M. de Montagnat, to whom he owed his life to tell him, waving his hand:
But new perils, the largest yet, awaited following this trip, to be
avenged so well a year later, by the triumphant return from the Island
The mayor of the city, the same who, fifteen years ago, had almost hugged the knees of Napoleon approached the car from the English colonel:
During the diatribe, the Colonel had entered the hostel to send his servant to the other commissioners in order to prevent the dangers that still threatened the Emperor. The courier met the Imperial carriage at the heights of Saint-Andréol, and completed his mission to General Koller, who he found in third carriage with Napoleon and the Grand Marshal. This time it was again decided that the Emperor would shoulder a uniform coat of General Koller and go with him in advance, but when, for safety, it was proposed to put a white cockade in his hat; despite insisting that he must, he would never consent; and, preceded by one of his grooms called Amaudru, he continued to move on Orgon, accompanied only by General Koller.
The first object that met the eyes of Napoleon on coming down from the carriage in the post inn, was a mannequin dressed almost like him, suspended by a rope from a gallows erected to the right of the place. A large group around it, uttered frightful cries at this model that the wind was swinging. The Emperor turned his head and hurried into the house. It was, like all the inns of Provence, built in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by walls with two doors, one, main entrance and one exit and having a sort of alley that led to the highway. The innkeeper, wanting the travelers to escape the fury of the people, shut the front door and pressed the postilions to bring horses. They hastened to harness, and the carriage was taken at a gallop to where Napoleon and General Koller were. The foreign commissioners did not want breakfast in Orgon, paid for the preparations already made, and rejoined the Emperor at Saint-Canat, at the inn of the Calade where he had arrived a few moments before.
By entering this other hostel, Napoleon and his companion approached the fireplace. The groom Amaudru and servant of the Austrian general stood respectfully a few paces behind. According to his habit of familiarity, Napoleon had spoken to the sister of the landlord. This woman said, she was hurt the year before by police, defending her sick husband that they wanted to take by force, and had vowed revenge and to strike the first blow against the Emperor when he comes to pass. Her speeches breathed hatred. Napoleon listened quietly and answered only in monosyllables to the questions addressed to him while watching the preparations for breakfast.
As she spoke, the woman turned her head and noticed that the only person who did not have his hat in his hand was exactly he, who she spoke to. She recognized Napoleon, and remained speechless and confused. Seeing him so calm before her insults, all her anger vanished, and the powerful gaze of the deposed Emperor, who was resting gently on her, awoke in her heart all the concealed generosity of woman.
During this time there was knocking at the door, and they tried to break it in. The young woman watched Napoleon wildly:
Then she rushed into the courtyard. The innkeeper had the greatest respect for Napoleon. He warned that it would not be prudent to go through Aix, where a huge population waited to stone him. While the commissioners were preparing to send to the mayor of this city an order to close the gates and ensure public tranquility, individuals with sinister appearances gathered around the house where the Emperor now rested. A courier was sent to the mayor of Aix, with a second letter, in which the commissioners warned the magistrate that if the gates were not closed in an hour, they would go with two regiments of lancers and four pieces artillery and blast with grapeshot anything that would be in their way.
This threat had all the desired effect. The messenger returned to tell the commissioners that the gates were closed and the Mayor replied that all orderly. One certainly wanted to avoid the dangers which threatened Napoleon in Aix, but there remained a more imminent overt threat: the gathering that formed a few hours earlier around the hostel had increased considerably. If the doors had not been carefully barricaded, the populace would have certainly delivered the most criminal excesses. Some madmen who were a part of it held in their hand a five-franc piece with the portrait of the Emperor, to better recognize their target. Meanwhile, as he had spent two nights without sleep, he withdrew into an adjoining room and fell asleep on a chair. When he was informed that everything was ready for departure, fearful screams were heard outside. There was another attempt to break open the door and finally it gave way before the multitude, when the sister of the landlord suddenly appeared with an ax in her hand:
At these words, this gesture, the crowd broke up without recognizing Napoleon, who threw himself into his carriage, got up the steps and the postilions mounted to depart. Cries of: Down with Nicolas! Death to the tyrant! were heard and a hail of stones shattered the windows of the inn and the glass of the carriage ... Residents nearby had climbed into the trees lining the road so they could insult with impunity Napoleon on his way.
The Emperor relayed outside the town of
The Princess Pauline, after spending the winter at Nice, had rented
in the vicinity d’Hyères a small chateau called Le Luc,
belonging to M. Charles, a former member of the legislature. There
she was aware of the events at
However the small courtyard of the chateau was filled with a crowd of peasants from the vicinity, which for the most part, were as exasperated as those of Orgon, uttered horrible cries. Despite the entreaties of his sister, Napoleon went down into the court and appeared suddenly in the midst of the madmen, the hat on his head and arms folded across his chest. The Allied commissioners, who had hastened to intervene, argued in vain that after they had successfully crossed the Porto Ferrajo he could do what he wanted, until then they were responsible for the misfortunes that took place.
At these words, General Koller, with a sublime gesture pointing to heaven, replied heatedly:
At these words the old soldier became purple, and laying his hand mechanically to his forehead as if to make a military salute, stammered a few words of explanation:
And while Mandarou told the peasants who
had surrounded him the kindness with which Napoleon had granted him
leave and a pension three years ago, Napoleon asked those who were
closest to him how far it was from Luc to
The feelings of hatred that motivated these men there became in a moment, succeeded by an enthusiasm by one of these reactions so common in crowds. A young woman, who was noted previously by the violence of her speech, broke through the ranks:
And at once, speaking with pride to those who claimed this favor:
At this moment, General Koller approached M. de Montbreton:
For answer, the attendant of the princess lightly touched the arm of Napoleon, who turned quickly:
Napoleon went immediately to his sister. She promised to join him at Elba, soon as her health would allow.
The next day the 27th, Napoleon went to Fréjus, where
he found Colonel Campbell, who was instructed to bring into the small
*One uses this term for certain royalist volunteers, who were organized under the Restoration in the Midi of France; so called by the green colors that they took; being those of the Count d’Artois, later Charles X.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2009
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