Bernadotte's departure from Hamburg--The Duke of Holstein- Augustenburg--Arrival of the Crown Prince in Sweden-- Misunderstandings between him and Napoleon--Letter from Bernadotte to the Emperor--Plot for kidnapping the Prince Royal of Sweden-- Invasion of Swedish Pomerania--Forced alliance of Sweden with England and Russia--Napoleon's overtures to Sweden--Bernadotte's letters of explanation to the Emperor--The Princess Royal of Sweden --My recall to Paris--Union of the Hanse Towns with France-- Dissatisfaction of Russia--Extraordinary demand made upon me by Bonaparte--Fidelity of my old friends--Duroc and Rapp--Visit to Malmaison, and conversation with Josephine.
While Bernadotte was preparing to fill the high station to which he had been called by the wishes of the people of Sweden, Napoleon was involved in his misunderstanding with the Pope,
[It was about this time that, irritated at what he called the captive Pope's unreasonable obstinacy, Bonaparte conceived, and somewhat openly expressed, his notion of making France s Protestant country, and changing the religion of 30,000,000 of people by an Imperial decree. One or two of the good sayings of the witty, accomplished, and chivalrous Comte Louis de Narbonne have already been given in the course of these volumes. The following is another of them:"I tell yon what I will do, Narbonne--I tell you how I will vent my spite on this old fool of a Pope, and the dotards who may succeed him said Napoleon one day at the Tuileries. "I will make a schism as great as that of Luther--I will make France a Protestant country!""O Sire," replied the Count, "I see difficulties in the way of this project. In the south, in the Vendee, in nearly all the west, the French are bigoted Catholics and even what little religion remains among us in our cities and great towns is of the Roman Church.""Never mind, Narbonne--never mind!--I shall at least carry a large portion of the French people with me--I will make a division!" Sire, replied Narbonne, "I am afraid that there is not enough religion in all France to stand division!"-Editor of 1836 edition.]
and in the affairs of Portugal, which were far from proceeding according to his wishes. Bernadotte had scarcely quitted Hamburg for Sweden when the Duke of Holstein-Augustenburg arrived. The Duke was the brother of the last Prince Royal of Sweden, whom Bernadotte was called to succeed, and he came to escort his sister from Altona to Denmark. His journey had been retarded for some days on account of the presence of the Prince of Ponte-Gorvo in Hamburg: the preference granted to Bernadotte had mortified his ambition, and he was unwilling to come in contact with his fortunate rival. The Duke was favoured, by the Emperor of Russia.
As soon as he arrived in Sweden Bernadotte directed his aide de camp, General Lentil de St. Alphonse, to inform me of his safe passage. Shortly after I received a letter from Bernadotte himself, recommending one of his aides de camp, M. Villatte, who was the bearer of it. This letter contained the same sentiments of friendship as those I used to receive from General Bernadotte, and formed a contrast with the correspondence of King Jerome, who when he wrote to me assumed the regal character, and prayed that God would have me in his holy keeping. However, the following is the Prince Royal's letter:
MY DEAR BOURRIENNE--I have directed M. Villatte to see you on his way through Hamburg, and to bear my friendly remembrances to you. Lentil has addressed his letter to you, which I suppose you have already received. Adieu, care for me always, and believe in the inalterable attachment of yours,(Signed)CHARLES JOHN.P.S.--I beg yon will present my compliments to madame and all your family. Embrace my little cousin for me.
The little cousin, so called by Bernadotte, was one of my daughters, then a child, whom Bernadotte used to be very fond of while he was at Hamburg.
Departing from the order of date, I will anticipate the future, and relate all I know respecting the real causes of the misunderstanding which arose between Bernadotte and Napoleon. Bonaparte viewed the choice of the Swedes with great displeasure, because he was well aware that Bernadotte had too much integrity and honour to serve him in the north as a political puppet set in motion by means of springs which he might pull at Paris or at his headquarters. His dissatisfaction upon this point occasioned an interesting correspondence, part of which, consisting of letters from Bernadotte to the Emperor, is in my possession. The Emperor had allowed Bernadotte to retain in his service, for a year at least, the French officers who were his aides de camp--but that permission was soon revoked, end the Prince Royal of Sweden wrote to Napoleon a letter of remonstrance.
Napoleon's dissatisfaction with the Prince Royal now changed to decided resentment. He repented having acceded to his departure from France, and he made no secret of his sentiments, for he said before his courtiers, "That he would like to send Bernadotte to Vincennes to finish his study of the Swedish language." Bernadotte was informed of this, but he could not believe that the Emperor had ever entertained such a design. However, a conspiracy was formed in Sweden against Bernadotte, whom a party of foreign brigands were hired to kidnap in the neighbourhood of Raga; but the plot was discovered, and the conspirators were compelled to embark without their prey. The Emperor having at the same time seized upon Swedish Pomerania, the Prince Royal wrote him a second letter in these terms:
From the papers which have just arrived I learn that a division of the army, under the command of the Prince of Eckmuhl, invaded Swedish Pomerania on the night of the 26th of January; that the division continued to advance, entered the capital of the Duchy, and took possession of the island of Rugen. The King expects that your Majesty will explain the reasons which have induced you to act in a manner so contrary to the faith of existing treaties. My old connection with your Majesty warrants me in requesting you to declare your motives without delay, in order that I may give my advice to the King as to the conduct which Sweden ought hereafter to adopt. This gratuitous outrage against Sweden is felt deeply by the nation, and still more, Sire, by me, to whom is entrusted the honour of defending it. Though I have contributed to the triumphs of France, though I have always desired to see her respected and happy; yet I can never think of sacrificing the interests, honour, and independence of the country which has adopted me. Your Majesty, who has so ready a perception of what is just, must admit the propriety of my resolution. Though I am not jealous of the glory and power which surrounds you, I cannot submit to the dishonour of being regarded as a vassal. Your Majesty governs the greatest part of Europe, but your dominion does not extend to the nation which I have been called to govern; my ambition is limited to the defence of Sweden. The effect produced upon the people by the invasion of which I complain may lead to consequences which it is impossible to foresee; and although I am not a Coriolanus, and do not command the Volsci, I have a sufficiently good opinion of the Swedes to assure you that they dare undertake anything to avenge insults which they have not provoked, and to preserve rights to which they are as much attached as to their lives.
I was in Paris when the Emperor received Bernadotte's letter on the occupation of Swedish Pomerania. When Bonaparte read it I was informed that he flew into a violent rage, and even exclaimed, "You shall submit to your degradation, or die sword in hand!" But his rage was impotent. The unexpected occupation of Swedish Pomerania obliged the King of Sweden to come to a decided rupture with France, and to seek other allies, for Sweden was not strong enough in herself to maintain neutrality in the midst of the general conflagration of Europe after the disastrous campaign of Moscow. The Prince Royal, therefore, declared to Russia and England that in consequence of the unjust invasion of Pomerania Sweden was at war with France, and he despatched Comte de Lowenhjelm, the King's aide de camp, with a letter explanatory of his views. Napoleon sent many notes to Stockholm, where M. Alquier, his Ambassador, according to his instructions, had maintained a haughty and even insulting tone towards Sweden. Napoleon's overtures, after the manifestations of his anger, and after the attempt to carry off the Prince Royal, which could be attributed only to him, were considered by the Prince Royal merely as a snare. But in the hope of reconciling the duties he owed to both his old and his new country he addressed to the Emperor a moderate letter:
This letter throws great light on the conduct of the Emperor with respect to Bernadotte; for Napoleon was not the man whom any one whatever would have ventured to remind of facts, the accuracy of which was in the least degree questionable. Such then were the relations between Napoleon and the Prince Royal of Sweden. When I shall bring to light some curious secrets, which have hitherto been veiled beneath the mysteries of the Restoration, it will be seen by what means Napoleon, before his fall, again sought to wreak his vengeance upon Bernadotte.
Oh the 4th of December I had the honour to see the Princess Royal of Sweden, --[Madame Bernadotte, afterwards Queen of Sweden, was a Mademoiselle Clary, and younger sister to the wife of Joseph Bonaparte]-- who arrived that day at Hamburg. She merely passed through the city on her way to Stockholm to join her husband, but she remained but a short time in Sweden,--two months, I believe, at most, not being able to reconcile herself to the ancient Scandinavia. As to the Prince Royal, he soon became inured to the climate, having been for many years employed in the north.
After this my stay at Hamburg was not of long duration. Bonaparte's passion for territorial aggrandisement knew no bounds; and the turn of the Hanse Towns now arrived. By taking possession of these towns and territories he merely accomplished a design formed long previously. I, however, was recalled with many compliments, and under the specious pretext that the Emperor wished to hear my opinions respecting the country in which. I had been residing. At the beginning of December I received a letter from M. de Champagny stating that the Emperor wished to see me in order to consult with me upon different things relating to Hamburg. In this note I was told "that the information I had obtained respecting Hamburg and the north of Germany might be useful to the public interest, which must be the most gratifying reward of my labours." The reception which awaited me will presently be seen. The conclusion of the letter spoke in very flattering terms of the manner in which I had discharged my duties. I received it on the 8th of December, and next day I set out for Paris. When I arrived at Mayence I was enabled to form a correct idea of the fine compliments which had been paid me, and of the Emperor's anxiety to have my opinion respecting the Hanse Towns. In Mayence I met the courier who was proceeding to announce the union of the Hanse Towns with the French Empire. I confess that, notwithstanding the experience I had acquired of Bonaparte's duplicity, or rather, of the infinite multiplicity of his artifices, he completely took me by surprise on that occasion.
On my arrival in Paris I did not see the Emperor, but the first 'Moniteur' I read contained the formula of a 'Senatus-consulte,' which united the Hanse Towns, Lauenburg, etc., to the French Empire by the right of the strongest. This new and important augmentation of territory could not fail to give uneasiness to Russia. Alexander manifested his dissatisfaction by prohibiting the importation of our agricultural produce and manufactures into Russia. Finally, as the Continental system had destroyed all trade by the ports of the Baltic, Russia showed herself more favourable to the English, and gradually reciprocal complaints of bad faith led to that war whose unfortunate issue was styled by M. Talleyrand "the beginning of the end."
I have now to make the reader acquainted with an extraordinary demand made upon me by the Emperor through the medium of M. de Champagny. In one of my first interviews with that Minister after my return to Paris he thus addressed me: "The Emperor has entrusted me with a commission to you which I am obliged to execute: 'When you see Bourrienne,' said the Emperor, 'tell him I wish him to pay 6,000,000 into your chest to defray the expense of building the new Office for Foreign Affairs.'" I was so astonished at this unfeeling and inconsiderate demand that I was utterly unable to make airy reply. This then was my recompense for having obtained money and supplies during my residence at Hamburg to the extent of nearly 100,000,000, by which his treasury and army had profited in moments of difficulty! M. de Champagny added that the Emperor did not wish to receive me. He asked what answer he should bear to his Majesty. I still remained silent, and the Minister again urged me to give an answer. "Well, then," said I, "tell him he may go to the devil." The Minister naturally wished to obtain some variation from this laconic answer, but I would give no other; and I afterwards learned from Duroc that M. de Champagny was compelled to communicate it to Napoleon. "Well," asked the latter, "have you seen Bourrienne?"--"Yes, Sire."--"Did you tell him I wished him to pay 6,000,000 into your chest?"--" Yes, Sire."--"And what did he say?"--" Sire, I dare not inform your Majesty."--"What did he say? I insist upon knowing."--"Since you insist on my telling you, Sire, M. de Bourrienne said your Majesty might go to- the devil."--"Ah! ah! did he really say so?" The Emperor then retired to the recess of a window, where he remained alone for seven or eight minutes, biting his nails; in the fashion of Berthier, and doubtless giving free scope to his projects of vengeance. He then turned to the Minister and spoke to him of quite another subject: Bonaparte had so nursed himself in the idea of making me pay the 6,000,000 that every time he passed the Office for Foreign Affairs he said to those who accompanied hint; "Bourrienne must pay for that after all."
[This demand of money from Bourrienne is explained in Erreurs (tome ii, p. 228) by the son of Davoust. Bourrienne had been suspected by Napoleon of making large sums at Hamburg by allowing breaches of the Continental system. In one letter to Davoust Napoleon speaks of an " immense fortune," and in another, that Bourrienne is reported to have gained seven or eight millions at Hamburg in giving licences or making arbitrary seizures.]
Though I was not admitted to the honour of sharing the splendour of the Imperial Court; yet I had the satisfaction of finding that; in spite of my disgrace, those of my old friends who were worth anything evinced the same regard for me as heretofore. I often saw Duroc; who snatched some moments from his more serious occupations to come and chat with me respecting all that had occurred since my secession from Bonaparte's cabinet. I shall not attempt to give a verbatim account of my conversations with Duroc, as I have only my memory to guide me; but I believe I shall not depart from the truth in describing them as follows:
On his return from the last Austrian campaign Napoleon; as I have already stated, proceeded to Fontainebleau, where he was joined by Josephine. Then, for the first time, the communication which had always existed between the apartments of the husband and wife was closed. Josephine was fully alive to the fatal prognostics which were to be deduced from this conjugal separation. Duroc informed me that she sent for him, and on entering her chamber, he found her bathed in tears. "I am lost!" she exclaimed in a tone of voice the remembrance of which seemed sensibly to affect Duroc even while relating the circumstance to me: "I am utterly lost! all is over now! You, Duroc, I know, have always been my friend, and so has Rapp. It is not you who have persuaded him to part from me. This is the work of my enemies Savary and Junot! But they are more his enemies than mine. And my poor Eugene I how will he be distressed when he learns I am repudiated by an ungrateful man! Yes Duroc, I may truly call him ungrateful, My God! my God! what will become of us?" . . . Josephine sobbed bitterly while she thus addressed Duroc.
Before I was acquainted with the singular demand which M. de Champagny was instructed to make to me I requested Duroc to inquire of the Emperor his reason for not wishing to see me. The Grand Marshal faithfully executed my commission, but he received only the following answer: "Do you think I have nothing better to do than to give Bourrienne an audience? that would indeed furnish gossip for Paris and Hamburg. He has always sided with the emigrants; he would be talking to me of past times; he was for Josephine! My wife, Duroc, is near her confinement; I shall have a son, I am sure!.... Bourrienne is not a man of the day; I have made giant strides since he left France; in short, I do not want to see him. He is a grumbler by nature; and you know, my dear Duroc, I do not like men of that sort."
I had not been above a week in Paris when Duroc related this speech to me. Rapp was not in France at the time, to my great regret. Much against his inclination he had been appointed to some duties connected with the Imperial marriage ceremonies, but shortly after, having given offence to Napoleon by some observation relating to the Faubourg St. Germain, he had received orders to repair to Dantzic, of which place he had already been Governor.
The Emperor's refusal to see me made my situation in Paris extremely delicate; and I was at first in doubt whether I might seek an interview with Josephine. Duroc, however, having assured me that Napoleon would have no objection to it, I wrote requesting permission to wait upon her. I received an answer the same day, and on the morrow I repaired to Malmaison. I was ushered into the tent drawing-room, where I found Josephine and Hortense. When I entered Josephine stretched out her hand to me, saying, "Ah! my friend!" These words she pronounced with deep emotion, and tears prevented her from continuing. She threw herself on the ottoman on the left of the fireplace, and beckoned me to sit down beside her. Hortense stood by the fireplace, endeavouring to conceal her tears. Josephine took my hand, which she pressed in both her own; and, after a struggle to overcome her feelings, she said, " My dear Bourrienne, I have drained my cup of misery. He has cast me off! forsaken me! He conferred upon me the vain title of Empress only to render my fall the more marked. Ah! we judged him rightly! I knew the destiny that awaited me; for what would he not sacrifice to his ambition!" As she finished these words one of Queen Hortense's ladies entered with a message to her; Hortense stayed a few moments, apparently to recover from the emotion under which she was labouring, and then withdrew, so that I was left alone with Josephine. She seemed to wish for the relief of disclosing her sorrows, which I was curious to hear from her own lips; women have such a striking way of telling their distresses. Josephine confirmed what Duroc had told me respecting the two apartments at Fontainebleau; then, coming to the period when Bonaparte had declared to her the necessity of a separation, she said, °° My dear Bourrienne; during all the years you were with us you know I made you the confidant of my thoughts, and kept you acquainted with my sad forebodings. They are now cruelly fulfilled. I acted the part of a good wife to the very last. I have suffered all, and I am resigned! . . . What fortitude did it require latterly to endure my situation, when, though no longer his wife, I was obliged to seem so in the eyes of the world! With what eyes do courtiers look upon a repudiated wife! I was in a state of vague uncertainty worse than death until the fatal day when he at length avowed to me what I had long before read in his looks! On the 30th of November 1809 we were dining together as usual, I had not uttered a word during that sad dinner, and he had broken silence only to ask one of the servants what o'clock it was. As soon as Bonaparte had taken his coffee he dismissed all the attendants, and I remained alone with him. I saw in the expression of his countenance what was passing in his mind, and I knew that my hour was come. He stepped up to me--he was trembling, and I shuddered; he took my hand, pressed it to his heart, and after gazing at me for a few moments in silence he uttered these fatal words: 'Josephine! my dear Josephine! You know how I have loved you! . . . To you, to you alone, I owe the only moments of happiness I have tasted in this world. But, Josephine, my destiny is not to be controlled by my will. My dearest affections must yield to the interests of France.'--'Say no more,' I exclaimed, 'I understand you; I expected this, but the blow is not the less mortal.' I could not say another word," continued Josephine; "I know not what happened after I seemed to lose my reason; I became insensible, and when I recovered I found myself in my chamber. Your friend Corvisart and my poor daughter were with me. Bonaparte came to see me in the evening; and oh! Bourrienne, how can I describe to you what I felt at the sight of him; even the interest he evinced for me seemed an additional cruelty. Alas! I had good reason to fear ever becoming an Empress!"
I knew not what consolation to offer: to Josephine; and knowing as I did the natural lightness of her character, I should have been surprised to find her grief so acute, after the lapse of a year, had I not been aware that there are certain chords which, when struck, do not speedily cease to vibrate in the heart of a woman. I sincerely pitied Josephine, and among all the things I said to assuage her sorrow, the consolation to which she appeared most sensible was the reprobation which public opinion had pronounced on Bonaparte's divorce, and on this subject I said nothing but the truth, for Josephine was generally beloved. I reminded her of a prediction I had made under happier circumstances, viz. on the day that she came to visit us in our little house at Ruel. "My dear friend," said she, "I have not forgotten it, and I have often thought of all you then said. For my part, I knew he was lost from the day he made himself Emperor. Adieu! Bourrienne, come and see me soon again; come often, for we have a great deal to talk about; you know how happy I always am to see you." Such was, to the best of my recollection, what passed at my first interview with Josephine after my return from Hamburg.