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pended on Thiers. In 1849 I was Minister of Finance. Blanqui-not the conspirator, but the political economist -came to ask me to call on Thiers, and see whether we could come to an arrangement under which Thiers would support Cavaignac. I said that Thiers was, in many respects, a much greater man than I, but still, as he was a mere private person, and I was a minister, he ought to call on me. Thiers is proud and punctilious; he would not visit me, but it was agreed that he should come to me on the ministerial bench, and that we should go out and discuss the matter in the corridors. We had a long conversation, but it ended in nothing."
"What caused the failure?" I asked. "He imposed," said T. C., "conditions which we could not accept."
"In Latin," answered Maury, "far above the average of educated Frenchmen, perhaps on a par with educated Englishmen: he reads without difficulty." We continued to talk about Louis Napoleon after Maury had left us. Mdme. R. showed me a vase of jade, taken from the palace in Pekin. When sent to her the day before yesterday it came without the cover. This morning Thelern, the Emperor's servant, who managed his escape from Ham, brought her the cover. "The Emperor," he said, "spent all yesterday in looking for it."
"He is a strange being," said Mdme. R.: "one who did not know him would think that he had enough to do without wasting a day in looking for the cover of a vase; but it is like him. His mind wants keeping. A trifle close to his eyes hides from him the largest object at a distance; I have no doubt what Thelern said was true, and that he did spend three or four hours yesterday hunting for the cover of that vase. He wished to send it to me, and for the time that wish absorbed him.”
I called on Mdme. R., and found there M. Maury, of the Academy of Inscriptions. He is assisting Louis Napoleon in his work on Julius Cæsar. I asked after its progress.
"We do not meet," she answered, "but we correspond. I am his intermédiaire with many of the German literati. I get for him information for his book, as
"Much," he answered, "is finished, and the materials for the rest are collected. He is still on his introduction, and is now at the times of the Gracchi. But some subsequent portions are completed, particularly the story of Catiline.' "Catiline," said Mdme. R., was al-I did when he was at Ham for his work ways one of his favourites. He main- on Artillery. We lived together," she tained that Cicero and Sallust were un- continued, "from our births till I was just to him. At one time he almost about fourteen, and he about fifteen. thought him a patriot incompris, until he During the first seven years of this time found that he had pillaged Africa as gov- he was surrounded by all the splendour ernor, and escaped condemnation only of a court. During the last eight years by being defended by Cicero." he was in Germany, looked down on by "He says, with truth," said Maury, the Germans, who would scarcely admit "that if Catiline had been, as Cicero the Buonapartes to be gentry, and would makes him out, a mere robber who wished call him Monsieur Buonaparte, and seeto burn and pillage Rome, he would haveing no one but his mother and her suite. raised the slaves. The Emperor treats "Afterwards he lived in Italy and in him as the leader of a political party, an Switzerland, among Italians and Swiss, extreme one, a mischievous one, but not but never with French people. a band of robbers and assassins."
"His long exclusion from the society of the higher classes of his own countrymen, and, in a great measure, from the higher classes of the foreigners among whom he resided, did him harm in many ways. It is wonderful that it did not spoil his manners; he was saved, perhaps, by having always before him so admirable a model as his mother. But it made him somewhat of a parvenu, what you would call a tuft-hunter. He looked up to people of high rank with a mixture of admiration, envy, and dislike; the more difficult he found it to get into their
"Is the Emperor," I asked, "still absorbed in his literary work?"
As much as ever," answered Maury. "To-day when I entered he was dictating a portion of it. He thinks much more about it than about Italy. He does not like the theatre, excepting sometimes farces that amuse him; he cares little for society. His delight is to get to his study, put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and work at his history." "What sort of a scholar is he?" I asked.
"What are your relations with him now?" I asked.
society, the more he disliked them, and habits, imprisonment will kill me in a few the more he courted them. years, and my will may not be respected. You had better take the value of your pension while I am allowed to pay it to you.'
April 11, 1861.- Mdme. R., Mrs. Grote, Mdme. Mohl, Circourt, Target, Duvergier, and Lavergne breakfasted with us.
Circourt told us that he had acquired a new neighbour, the Emperor, who has purchased Malmaison, and a considerable tract all round it, and is busy planting and gardening.
"He comes to Malmaison," said Circourt, "once or twice a week; pointing out, indeed, writing on little tickets with his own hand, the place for every shrub. He is a most considerate purchaser; pays liberally, and is anxious that no one shall suffer inconvenience by removal. A strange contrast to the indifference with which he turns tens of thousands into the streets to make a boulevard or a square."
"I have often said of him," said Mdme. R., "qu'il a la sensibilité dans l'œil. He is deeply affected by any distress that he actually sees; he is indifferent to any that is not brought before him in detail. One day I found him at Ham in great grief. The man who waited on him had died the day before, leaving a wife and family in distress. I gave them,' he said to me, '300 francs, but that will do little.'
"How much have you left?' I asked. 'Sixty,' he answered. I can manage with that for a fortnight, until my next remittances come. The government must lodge and feed me.' While we were talking, the man's daughter, a girl of about fourteen, came in to thank him. She was weeping, and he began to sob too. Suddenly he went to his escritoire, took out the sixty francs that he had left, and gave them to her. It is lucky,' I said, 'that I have 100 francs more than my journey will cost me.' So I gave them to him, or I should have left him utterly penniless."
"How came he to be so poor?" I asked. "I was told that when he was taken at Boulogne he had 160,000 francs, which were deposited with the maire, and returned to him after his trial?"
"He had much more than that," answered Mdme. R. "His coat was lined with bank notes. It disappeared, with its contents; but, as you say, the 160,000 francs were returned to him. He sold, too, almost all the little property which he had; but nearly all went in buying up the pensions to which the old servants of his mother were entitled.
"He said to them, I am condemned to imprisonment for life. With my active
Almost all that remained he spent in allowances to those who had accompanied him in his expedition and were in different prisons. Persigny had a great deal. The result was that during the latter part of his imprisonment he was very poor, and had the utmost difficulty in getting together the money necessary for his escape."
Monday, April 7, 1862. - I called on Mdme. R.
We talked of Louis Napoleon.
"A single day," said she, "changed his character. Until the death of his elder brother he was mild, unambitious, impressionable, affectionate, delighting in country pursuits, in nature, in art, and in literature. He frequently said to me, not when he was a child, but at the age of nineteen and twenty, What a blessing that I have two before me in the succession: the Duc de Reichstadt and my brother, so that I can be happy in my own way instead of being, as the head of our house must be, the slave of a mission.'
"From the day of his brother's death, he was a different man. I can compare his feelings as to his mission only to those which urged our first apostles and martyrs."
What," I asked, "is the sense in which he understands his mission?"
"It is a devotion,” she answered, “first to the Napoleonic dynasty, and then to France. It is not personal ambition. He has always said, and I believe sincerely, that if there were any better hands to which he could transmit that duty he would do so with delight.
"His duty to his dynasty is to perpetuate it. His duty to France is to give her influence abroad and prosperity at home."
"And also," I asked, "extension of territory?"
"Not now," she answered, "I will not say what may have been his wishes before the birth of his son, but what I have called devotion to his dynasty, is rather worship of his son. One of his besetting fears is the revival of an European coalition, not so much against France as against the Buonapartes, and the renewal of the proscription of the family."
"I have been told," I said, "that he leans towards constitutionalism as more
favourable to hereditary succession than despotism."
I believe," she answered, "that to be true, and that it is the explanation of his recent liberalism. He hates, without doubt, opposition; he hates restraint; but if he thinks that submitting to opposition will promote his great object, the perpetuation of his dynasty, he will do
"He would sacrifice to that object, Europe, France, his dearest friends, and even himself.
"One of his qualities and it is a valuable one, is his willingness to adjourn, to change, or even to give up his means, however dear they may be to him, if any safer or better occur to him."
"Another is the readiness with which he confesses his mistakes. His last confession, "I said, "was perhaps too full and too frank."
"So I think," said Mdme. R., "but by making it he enjoyed another pleasure, that of astonishing. He delights in l'imprévu, in making Europe and France, and, above all, his own ministers stare. When it is necessary to act, he does not consult his friends, still less his ministers, and perhaps he is right, for they would give him only bad advice; he does not conscientiously think the matter over, weigh the opposing reasons, strike the balance and act. He takes his cigar, gives loose to his ideas, lets them follow one another without exercising over them his will, till at last someting pleases his imagination, he seizes it, and thinks himself inspired. Sometimes the inspiration is good, as it was when he released Abd el Kader, sometimes it is very bad, as it was when he chose the same time for opening the discussion of the address, and revealing the state of our finances."
become bright and his lips quiver. His long moustache is intended to conceal his mouth, and he has disciplined his eyes. When I first saw him in 1848 I asked him what was the matter with his eyes. 'Nothing,' he said. A day or two after I saw him again. They had still an odd appearance. At last I found that he had been accustoming himself to keep his eyelids closed, and to throw into his eyes a vacant dreamy expression.
* M. de Tocqueville said of him, “Il sait reculer."
-M. C. M. S.
"I cannot better describe the change that came over him after his brother's death than by saying that he tore his heart out of his bosom, and surrendered himself to his head.
"Once I found him reading Hernani. 'How wonderfully fine it is,' he said. 'I know,' I said, 'what you admire in it. It is the picture of a man driven on by irresistible destiny. You are thinking of the Hernani qui n'est pas un homme comme les autres.'
Ah,' he answered, 'que vous m'avez bien deviné.'"
"Pray show me," I said, "the passage to which you referred."
"He took down the Théâtre de Victor Hugo and read to me the following verses from the fourth scene of the third act of Hernani
Tu me crois, peut-être, Un homme comme sont tous les autres, un être Intelligent qui court droit au but qu'il rêva; Détrompe-toi. Je suis une force qui va. Où vais-je? Je ne sais, mais je me sens poussé D'un souffle impétueux, d'un destin insensé, J'avance et j'avance; si jamais je m'arrête Si parfois, haletant, j'ose tourner la tête Une voix me dit-inarche.
"Now," she continued, "when, as he thinks, his mission is fulfilled, his former nature is returning. He is becoming mild and affectionate. Many parts of his disposition are feminine. He adores his child with the affection rather of a mother than of a father. He puts me in mind of the pictures in which the Virgin is looking on the infant Jesus with an expression, half love and half worship. The boy is intelligent and serious, no common child.
"On the whole the best of the Buonapartes is the Emperor, and as I said before, power is improving him, notwithstanding his detestable entourage. He is a bad judge of men, he is shy, he hates new faces, he hates to refuse anything to anybody, and he keeps about him men unable, and, if they were able, unwilling to give him advice, whose only object is to plunder him and the public purse."
"He knows too, how much I detest his Idées Napoléoniennes. If we talk it must be on the neutral ground of his Life of Casar. There we shall sympathize, for it is very good.
"From time to time he is absolutely engrossed by it. And he has all the help that money and power can procure.'
Sunday, April 5, 1863.- Mdme. breakfasted with us.
"Every time," I said, "that I return to Paris, I expect to find you reconciled to the Emperor."
"Then there was silence which the Emperor broke by saying, 'Je crois que nous ferions mieux de nous asseoir.' He stood with his back to the fire, the Empress and I sitting on each side, and Mdme. Walewska behind the Empress. Then again there was a silence, and the child was sent for.
"I took him in my arms and kissed him. He looked astonished. The Emperor took him between his knees, and told him to repeat one of his fables. I have forgotten,' the boy said, the ends of them all.' Then tell us the beginning of one of them.' 'I have forgotten the beginning.' Then let us have the middle.' 'Mais, papa, où commence le milieu ?'
"The child had broken the ice, though still there was some restraint; but it wore off, and we talked as familiarly as ever. As I went he said, 'J'espère que tu ne me quittes pas pour douze ans.'
"Since that time I see him or the Empress two or three times a week. I find him in the evenings alone in his cabinet, at work on his Cæsar; but he is glad to break it off, and to talk to me for hours on old times. He is quite unembarrassed, for his conscience does not reproach him —indeed, no Buonaparte ever has to complain of his conscience.
"I sometimes forget all that has passed since we saw one another for the last time before December 1851, when he was still an innocent man. But from time to time the destruction of our liberties, the massacres of 1851, the deportations of 1852, and the cruelties which revenged the Attentat rise to my mind, and I shrink from the embrace of a man stained with the blood of many of my friends."
"Do you see the Empress and the child?" I asked.
"At last," she answered, "you are right. On the 5th of last month he wrote to me to say that for twelve years I had refused to see him, and that perhaps I should persist, but that he could not bear the thought that he might die before I had embraced his child. That the next day the boy would be seven years old. Mdme. Walewska would call on me at one o'clock on that day, and that he could not avoid indulging a hope that I would allow her to take me to the Tuileries. I could not refuse. The next day she came and took me thither. As we entered his cabinet the door was closed, and I found my self in the presence of the Emperor and the Empress. He was the nearest and took me by the hand. He stood still for an instant, then ran forward, took me by the arm, threw himself on my neck and kissed me. I kissed him, and we all of us, including the Empress and Mdme. Walewska, began to weep. 'Méchante femme,' exclaimed the Emperor, voilà douze ans que tu me tiens rigueur!'
"It was clear that he would not show off, so he was allowed to go to his pony.
"Cette dame,' he said to his mother in the evening, 'doit avoir été très-grande amie de papa, ou elle ne m'aurait pas embrassé.'
Constantly," she answered. “The child flies into my arms, and the Empress is all kindness and graciousness.
She is a Spaniard; she wants knowledge; in fact, she wants education: but she is very seductive. She is strict with the child, and manages him better than the Emperor does; who, in fact, does not manage him at all.
"Louis Napoleon is slow both in conception and in execution. He meditates his plans long, thinks over every detail,
waits for an opportunity, which, when it comes, he does not always seize: he often keeps deferring and deferring execution until execution has become impossible or useless. But he forgets nothing that he has learned, he renounces nothing that he has planned.
"On the 29th of January 1849, six weeks after he became President, he intended a coup d'état. He read his plan to Changarnier, and the instant_Changarnier began to oppose it, he folded up the paper and was silent.
"But he never abandoned it, and two years and a half afterwards he executed it."
"What," I asked, are Louis Napoleon's habits now?"
sacred royal caste. If his aristocracy is not of the purest blood, it is at least rich. Have you seen Michel Chevalier's building in the Avenue de l'Impératrice ? It is to cost a million. Evans, the Emperor's dentist, has become a millionaire. He had early information that the Avenue de l'Impératrice was to be created, and bought land at low prices which is now worth 250,000 francs an acre. Persigny is building a palace at Chamarand.”
April 15, 1863.- Madame R., the Corcelles, and Lady Ashburton breakfasted with us. We had an agreeable conversation, but I do not recollect much of it. The Corcelles and Madame R. seemed delighted to meet again. They had not seen one another for years. I remarked to Madame R. that I had not seen at Lady Cowley's great party in celebration of the Prince of Wales's marriage more than three French persons that I had ever seen before.
"The Emperor," said Madame R., "cannot attract an aristocracy, so he is forced to make one. Persigny says 'nous autres des grandes maisons,' just as the Emperor considers himself as one of the
"Not out of his savings," I said, "for his salary as minister is not above 120,ooo francs, and as senator 35,000, and he must spend the whole."
April 20, 1863.- We breakfasted with Mdme. R., and met there Renan and Maury, librarian of the Institute, the Emperor's principal assistant in his Life of Cæsar. I asked Mdme. R. when she had last seen the Emperor.
"Worse than they used to be," she answered. "He rides little, walks little, and is getting fat. He hates more and more the details of business, and yet is more and more afraid of trusting them to his ministers. But his Cæsar absorbs and consoles him. He said to the bureau of the Academy, when they came to announce the election of Feuillet, 'Je travaille à me rendre digne de vous.' He thought at one time of offering himself for the vacancy made by Pasquier. He intended to be present at his own recep- the case yesterday, he keeps me much tion, and to read in the frightful academic longer, and then he has to run for it, that green coat the éloge of his predecessor, he may not exhaust the patience of the and to characterize the nine different Empress and of the chef. He delights governments which Pasquier had served. to talk to a person not bound by etiquette, who can question him and contradict him and talk over all his youth. I never conceal my Republican opinions, and he treats them as the harmless follies of a woman.
"Yesterday," she said. It is arranged that I go to him every Sunday at five, and stay till a quarter to seven, when he has to dress for dinner, but often, as was
"But with his habits of procrastination, he has delayed his candidature till the first two volumes of his Cæsar have been published. The first volume is ready, and he intended to publish it immediately; but the booksellers tell him that they will sell better in couples. And as even emperors must submit to booksellers, he waits till the second is finished."
"Nor does he," said Madame R., "do as most of the others do, steal or take pots de vin. The Emperor gives him whatever he wants."
"Yesterday he was in very high spirits. I suspect that he has just made up his mind on some subject that has been teasing him. He dislikes coming to a decision, but perhaps for that very reason, when he does so, he feels relieved and happy. He may have decided what to do about Poland, or what to write about some questionable anecdote about Cæsar or when the elections shall be.
"I think that it may have been about Poland. I told him that in some classes of society, I found an opinion that the forcible intervention of France in favour of Poland was impracticable. His answer was, 'Ei, Ei.'"
Seriously," I asked, "or contemptuously?"
"Laughingly," she answered, "and contemptuously. His Ei, Ei,' may have meant nothing, but I think that it may have meant something. There certainly