Eylau: Precis Des Travaux de la Grande Armée
An Audience with Josephine: 5 February 1807
Official detail of all that occurred in the Palace of the Tuileries, with the audience of H. M. the Empress and Queen.
Today Thursday, February 5, at one oclock precisely, different corps were allowed audiences with Her Majesty the Empress and Queen.
Mr. Monge, president of the Senate, addressed the following speech to Her Majesty:
“Four months ago, the heart of Y. I. M. and R. afflicted itself with the approaches with a war, inevitable as much as unforeseen, which was to still cost France blood.
“French blood is so invaluable! Y. M. asked: will it still be necessary for someone to stop the madness of a badly advised Monarch?
“Thus, Y. M. wished peace.
“The EMPEROR, which one had wanted to mislead from his vigilance by the untrue protestations of a personal friendship, would not have been himself, while leaving, without hope to draw aside a war which nothing justified. The outrageous menaces of an inexperienced young Prince did not change his great heart to calm; and the day before the first battle, which was also the last, by revealing the danger of his position and the certainty of his loss to him, opened the door of the greetings and even honoring him.
“The EMPEROR thus wanted peace.
“But, is this the peace which our relentless enemy wanted? No, Madam. For a long time they had been flattering themselves by erasing the name of France from the list of the nations, as since they erased that of Poland. Perhaps even, in their blindness, they still nourish this foolish hope. They renounced in it any morality as no promise holds them; no treaty binds them. For it, they are without honesty in their conduct, and there is not truth in their mouths. Against it, nothing is sacred for them; and if the king of Prussia finally took up arms, it is that it was certain that, without that, they would stab him in the milieu of his court, as they had stabbed Paul Ist. in the milieu of his. And the perfidious ones! they then have the indecency to insult their victim with the misfortunes.
“God of the Empires finally wearies himself of so many iniquities. One can fail to recognize that it is France which he wants to serve to reform the morals of the kings, since, in his kindness, he entrusted one intended for the hands of a heroes which he took pleasure to endow with all great qualities; to which he even condescends to open the ways of wisdom, and who supports him in the arms of engagements.
“Madam, the senate brings to the feet Y. I. M. and R. the tribute of its deep respect, and the homage of the admiration of which it has for all your virtues. It begs you accept its respectful congratulations on the glorious and incredible campaign by which H. M. the Emperor and King finished the year 1806. It is pleased to see again within the capital the majestic wife that an adored head invested in all his confidence, and who is dignified by him with so many titles.
“Can Y. I. and R. M. long endure for the happiness of France, and the happiness of the Emperor!”
Mr. Defermont, in the name of Council-to State, carried the word in these terms:
“Madam, the tender solicitude of Y. M. for the majestic Emperor whose conservation is the object of all our wishes, had carried you to bring you closer to the theater of her immortal exploits; your return to the center of the Empire, is to us a sure guarantor that, if there remain some enemies in combat, they should not give us any reason for concern. How comforting, Madam, is this idea for our hearts! It would be impossible for us to express the extent of the sentiments of admiration and recognition which the triumphs of the armies directed by their invincible head inspired in us. We do not doubt any longer that resistance serves only their preparation of new ones; that the victory does not create reason in the councils of our enemies, and that the Great-Napoleon can come soon to meet in Y. M., to enjoy his glory and the happiness of the French. Condescend to approve, Madam, the sentiments of the Council-in State which one expresses, and to receive with kindness our congratulations, our wishes and our homage.”
Mr. de Fontanes, chairman of the Legislative-Corps, accompanied by the questeurs to which the members of this body present in Paris had met, was expressed in these terms:
“Madam, half of our wishes are fulfilled. The presence of Y. M. will make us wait, less impatiently until, another return all French desires with you. The most brave of all the people is sometimes tempted to complain that he has too much glory, while thinking upon that which remains separated from the monarch whose this glory is the work. But he respects great intentions, and to confide, without murmur and concern, with this powerful hand which can cut down all and to raise all; who, in but a few days, destroyed the monarchy of Frederick-the-Great, the Czars, returned hope to Poland and energy to the Ottoman Empire. While the high designs of the policy are carried out so far from us by the genius of victory, we can at least express with Y. M. the admiration that they gave birth to in all France. This heart, which must enjoy the triumphs of winning so highly, condescends to answer ours, and Paris is comforted to still see again that which gives much glory to the throne, since it finds in you that which always lent to the capacity so many charms, of softness and kindness.”
Mr. Fabre (of the Aude), president of the Tribune, said:
“Madam, the return of Y. M. has excited the sharpest joy: the memory of this delicate kindness which could soften so many sorrows, of this active benevolence which repaired misfortune, is engraved in all hearts.
“Everyone says: Providence, by giving us the Hero whose vast intentions are crowned by successes more constant and quick, wanted that its benefit was whole; she placed close to him that which is always the first thought of the suffering hearts, the softest memory of the hearts recognized, and which the whole of France named the Friend of misfortune.”
Mr. Muraire, adviser-of state, chairman of the supreme court of appeal, made the following speech:
“Madam, it is with the eagerness of the truest feeling, it is with impatience inseparable from a long desire, that the supreme court of appeal comes to offer its regards to Y. M.
“Perhaps our congratulations on your return will not have this time the animated expression without which mixed happiness can only inspire. Eh! don’t all that miss for yours, miss us too?
“But our sentiments, to be less highly returned, cannot ever be less sincere; and when your unutterable kindness pours on the capital, its habitants, on us, the most desired benefit; when you come to soften, by your presence, the painful feeling of the absence of H. M. the Emperor, which new rights dont you acquire, if it were possible, with our homage, with this homage which the benevolence and the virtue attract more surely than the size and the majesty, and than we especially like to return to you under the majestic and revered title to wife of a Sovereign who, facing the distances and the difficulties, the seasons and the climates, tiredness and the dangers, devotes himself so liberally for the glory of the Nation and the happiness of the world?
“Condescends Y. M. to receive with kindness, for him and you, the wishes of our love and the expression of our deep respect.”
Mr. Séguier, first president of the Court of Appeal, said:
“Madam, separated for several months from the presence of our sovereigns, we have come to lay at the feet of Y. M. the satisfaction which his return causes us.
“How much you were distant from us, and to be still quite far away from the object of your affections! At the end of France, the glances turned towards the theatre of always increasing triumphs of Napoleon, you received the first of these incredible details, that you hasten to transmit to the capital, in their attaching a kind of interest that is felt better than it is not expressed.
“However the victories prepare the victories; and our Emperor, not at the borders of France, but almost with that of Europe, fights for the pacification of the World. As of-at the time wasn’t it right that our Empress was replaced in the milieu of its faithful subjects, and very glorious made the absence less painful of the monarch for those that could not follow him?
“Thus Condescend, Madam, to receive within your Empire the testimonies of purer love; and if Y. M., separated from the half of herself, anxious of the chances to which this half is delivered so cherished, is kept from smiling on our eagerness, believe at least that, under your eyes, our duties will seem easier to fill, that our impatience to see again the hero of Jena will become more tender burning for successes and the conservation of that on which the happiness of all is dependent: these sentiments will be the most pleasant homage to the worthy wife of the great Napoleon.”
Mr. Hémart, first president of the Court of Criminal Justice of the Seine, expressed himself in these terms:
“Madam, the Court of Criminal Justice of the Seine shares with all the habitants this capital the sentiments of joy which the return of Y. M. gave birth to in all hearts.
“Who could, Madam, deny you the most sincere, likewise the most respectful attachment, to forget all of your instances marked by benefits, not to remember with tenderness always your significant heart and generous souls need to make the one happy, and that the throne does not shine with the eyes of Y. M., because it gets inappreciable happiness to him to increase the numbers!
“During his long and painful absence, Y. M. received the testimonies of love and of affection which she inspires so well. She saw the French youth called by the laws and the honor to defend the fatherland, to go to the engagements with eagerness, and to push back with the value and the courage, which characterize the new coalition, formed by our eternal enemies. Y. M. saw finally that the vast genius, the great and sublime designs and the untiring activity of her majestic husband, promising to us a lasting peace so necessary for the rest and the prosperity of the States.
“That Y. M., Madam, condescends to interpret sentiments of love and respect which constantly animated the court for the person of H. M. the Emperor and King, and to ensure it that always permeates the importance of her functions, jealous to deserve the benevolence of her Sovereign and the regard of the good men, it will not cease employing all her capacity to move away from the company to be perverse for them who would disturb the order and harmony.”
Mr. Lejeas, first vicar-General, and chairman of the chapter of Our-Lady, with the head of the clergy of Paris, considering the indisposition of H. E. M. cardinal archbishop, expressed themselves as follows:
“Madam, S. E. M. archbishop our respectable, prelate, charged me with expressing to Y. I. M, and R., his regrets to be able to present himself to you the chapter and the clergy of Paris.
“Go, told me this worthy old man, to ensure our beneficial Empress, which I share sincerely the joy with everyone it causes us on her return to our milieu. Say to her that there hasnt ever been a moment without my praising heaven with the most enthusiastic prayers for the happiness of France, for of our invincible Emperor and the prosperity of his arms. The Lord condescended to grant my wishes; he made in a short time for Napoleon astonishing things, and I return graces from there to him.”
“The chapter and the clergy of Paris request Y. M. to be persuaded that their sentiments for your crowned person and that of your majestic husband equal in all those of His Eminence.”
Mr. Bierre de Surgy, chair the members of the national accountants, said:
“Madam, general joy that the happy return of Y. M. excites is highly shored by the commissioners of national accounting; they are pleased to be able to offer to you the respectful homage of their sentiments.
“Majestic partner of the invincible Napoleon, you share the glory of his high destiny, and the empire of your virtues attaches you to all hearts.
“While this immortal hero astonishes the universe by his innumerable victories; while this years milieu of his triumphs aspires only for the re-establishment of a solid and lasting peace, it is difficult to be able to express with dignity all the extent of our admiration for so many new wonders.
“But, Madam, it is quite sweet to lay at the feet of Y. M. the tribute of fidelity, the love and the profound respect of which we are filled with for our majestic Empress.”
Mr. the General Junot, governor of Paris, introducing the municipal body and the council-General of the department, Mr. the adviser-of state, prefect, carrying the word, said:
“Madam, in the name of the city of Paris, for which your return was a subject of festival, the municipal body of this large community comes to renew, at the foot of the throne of Y. M., the homage and the regards of which it was prevented from bringing to express to you for a long time.
“It is of your destiny, Madam, to be necessary at the same time for the happiness of your majestic husband and the happiness of the capital. That is to say rather how much your absence seemed long to us; but is also to say that our love for the Emperor kept us from feeling sorry for ourselves by this deprivation, and that, seeing you more close to him, we could more easily support your being far from us,
“In some places where Y. M. appeared, all hearts flew before her, and you were surrounded with the most flattering homage. These homage, Madam, are a worship everywhere that we like to see your returning with the graces of your person and beautiful qualities of your heart; but it is here however that we wish that you liked this worship more, and, undoubtedly, this desire still holds less from a proud claim, than from a correct feeling of our duties.
“At all hours, Madam, you were in the steps of the winner of North, and some moments sufficed for Y. M. to arrive with him by a road fully sown with his triumphs. However, your attachment for your majestic husband, the attachment of your majestic husband for you, yielded to wishes which we almost do not dare to form, that much less still we would have dared to express, and returned you here finally to the capital of your Empire.
“Trust us to know, Madam, that Paris can appreciate what it must cost your love by a larger separation places today between the Emperor and Y. M. so many rivers and provinces; and it can likewise appreciate the sacrifice as this prince himself made while granting your return; sacrifice that his affection for the habitants of its good town of Paris could only inspire in him, and who becomes for them a new reason of recognition and love.
“You are far from the Emperor, Madam, put Paris also is far. Eh well! in order to overcome this equally painful separation, and for Paris and Y. M., Paris and Y. M. will say much about the Emperor.
“You will enjoy to hear us say that his subjects of his good town of Paris are forever faithful to him, that they are ready with all the acts of devotion which could order his glory, the honor of the Empire and the resolution which it took to lay down weapons only after having ensured the peace of nations.
“You will enjoy to see us holding him in our thoughts and even in the most distant climates, his always victorious eagles; finally, Madam, with each new exploit of the Grand-Army, you will enjoy the collective sharp acclamations that so many times we would have wished to be able to forward as far as in the camps of the founder of the Empire, and feeling then the sincerity of our wishes, you will condescend in being an agent, and sometimes even the interpreter.
“Transmitted by you, Madam, the tribute of our homage and our fidelity will only arrive there worthier still of your majestic husband; and even that will become a new advantage that your capital will be indebted on the return of Y. M.
Mr. the General Junot, at the head of the officers of the government of Paris, expressed himself in these terms:
“Madam, I have the honor to present to Y. I. M. and R. Messieurs the senior officers of the government of Paris and the first military division; they experienced the sharpest pleasure by seeing the return in the milieu of her capital. Oblige to remain there, so to speak, in inaction, to serve the Emperor, as he wanted, they could only follow him in idea, and than to accompany him by their wishes in the milieu of his glory and his dangers; but while following him to the edges of the Vistula, not one of them, Madam, did not forget to stop their heart on the edges of the Rhine, to find the beloved Empress there; they easily recognized her traces; everywhere the relieved people indications of the presence of their benefactor.
“Happy to offer today their devotion and their love to him, the governor of Paris and the senior officers of the government and the 1st military division, beg Y. I. M. and R. to continue his kindness and his protection of them.
H. M. Empress and Queen answered all the speeches that were addressed to her, which have been just read, with this constant benevolence that characterizes her, and this touching affability that is natural for her.
We would wish capacity to collect and recall here the literal expressions of all these answers; but due to the impossibility of finding them all, such as they left the mouth of H. M., we are forced to limit ourselves to repeat in substance what could be retained from some of these answers.
H. M., addressing Mr. president of the Senate, said: “I am touched by the sentiments that had been just expressed in the name of the Senate. In the sorrow that I experience no being able to see the far away Emperor, it is touching for me to find in the first corps the same regrets of his absence and same devotion to his person.”
H. M. also thanked the president of the State-Council for the sentiments, which he had just expressed. These sentiments, has she says, are all the more pleasant for me, that I regard them as a pledge of this attachment that the Emperor pleases himself to recognize with each one of them.
H. M. answering the delegation of the town of Paris said: “Mr. Prefect, I am sensitive to that which you have just said to me in the name of the town of Paris. Accustomed to share all the sentiments of the Emperor, you should not doubt the satisfaction which I experience in my finding again in the walls of a city that itself enjoys to be named the good town of Paris.”
H. M. then received the diplomatic corps, introduced by Mr. de Beaumont, one of its chamberlains.
At this audience, Mr. the count of Metternich, ambassador of the emperor of Austria, was introduced at H. M.
Mr. the count de Mier, chamberlain of H. M. the Emperor of Austria, attaché to his embassy in Paris. – Mr. de Floret, 1st. embassy secretary: Mr. Fevre de Rechtenbourg, secretary: Mr. de Neuman, 3rd. secretary.
Mr. the prince de Masserano, ambassador of Spain, presented: The knight of Los Rios, colonel and gentleman of the chamber of H. M. C.; Camille de Los Rios, his brother, embassy secretary of H. M. C. in Lisbon; – the knight Aristisaval, second embassy secretary in Paris; – the knight Thomasi, Tuscan gentleman.
Mr. the chargé d’ affaires of H. M. the king of Holland presented: Mr. de Janssens, adviser-of state to H. M. the king of Holland, and director of the administration of the war.
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