Page One Youth

Napoleon In Paris

Out Of Work

The First Italian Campaign

The Egyptian Campaign

Statesman And Lawgiver

The Concordat

Code Napoleon

General Prosperity

Preparations For War With England

Sale Of Louisiana

Establishment Of The Empire

King of Italy

Campaign Of 1805-1806-1807

The Peace Of Tilsit

Napoleon's Empire

Family Affairs

The Berlin Decree

War In The Peninsula

Bonapartes On The Spanish Throne

Disaster In Spain

Alexander And Napoleon In Council

Napoleon At Madrid

Talleyrand's Treachery

The Campaign Of 1809

Wagram

The Divorce

A New Wife

An Heir To The Crown

The Pope

Conscription

Evasions Of Blockade

Tilsit Agreement Broken

The Russian Campaign

The Burning Of Moscow

A New Army

Campaign Of 1813

Campaign Of 1814

Abdication

Ruler Of Island Of Elba

Return To Paris

Hundred Days

Second Abdication

Napoleon's Surrender

Sent To St. Helena

Life In Exile

Death Of Napoleon

Second Funeral Of Napoleon

Related Information

Wellington and Nelson

Napoleon and the French Revolution

Visit

Forum

Weekly Poll

Please Help Click Here

 

 

Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida

 

 

 

Chapter XXI.

 

Ruler Of Island Of Elba - Return To Paris - Hundred Days - Second Abdication

 

     A week after bidding his Guard farewell, Napoleon sent from Frejus

his first address to the inhabitants of Elba:

 

     "Circumstances having induced me to renounce the throne of France,

sacrificing my rights to the interests of the country, I reserved for

myself the sovereignty of the island of Elba, which has met with the

consent of all the powers.  I therefore send you General Drouot, so that

you may hand over to him the said island, with the military stores and

provisions, and the property which belongs to my imperial domain.  Be good

enough to make known this new state of affairs to the inhabitants, and the

choice which I have made of their island for my sojourn in consideration

of the mildness of their manners and the excellence of their climate.  I

shall take the greatest interest in their welfare.

 

     "Napoleon."

 

     The Elbans received their new ruler with all the pomp which their

means and experience permitted.  The entire population celebrated his

arrival as a fete.  The new flag which the emperor had chosen - white

ground with red bar and three yellow bees - was unfurled, and saluted by

the forts of the nation and by the foreign vessels in port.  The keys of

the chief town of the island were presented to him, a Te Deum was sung.

If these honors seemed poor and contemptible to Napoleon in comparison

with the splendor of the fetes to which he had become accustomed, he gave

no sign, and played his part with the same seriousness as he had when he

received his crown.

 

     His life at Elba was immediately arranged methodically, and he worked

as hard and seemingly with as much interest as he had at Paris.  The

affairs of his new state were his chief concern, and he set about at once

to familiarize himself with all their details.  He travelled over the

island in all directions, to acquaint himself with its resources and

needs.  At one time he made the circuit of his domain, entering every

port, and examining its condition and fortifications.  Everywhere that he

went he planned and began works which he pushed with energy.  Fine roads

were laid out; rocks were levelled; a palace and barracks were begun.

From his arrival his influence was beneficial.  There was a new atmosphere

at Elba, the islanders said.

 

     The budget at Elba was administered as rigidly as that of France had

been, and the little army was drilled with as great care as the Guards

themselves.  After the daily review of his troops, he rode on horseback,

and this promenade became a species of reception, the islanders who wanted

to consult him stopping him on his route.  It is said that he invariably

listened to their appeals.

 

     Elba was enlivened constantly during Napoleon's residence by tourists

who went out of their way to see him.  The majority of these curious

persons were Englishmen; with many of them he talked freely, receiving

them at his house, and letting them carry off bits of stone or of brick

from the premises as souvenirs.

 

     His stay was made more tolerable by the arrival of Madame mere and of

the Princess Pauline and the coming of twenty-six members of the National

Guard who had crossed France to join him.  But his great desire that Marie

Louise and the King of Rome should come to him was never gratified.  It is

told by one of his companions on the island, that he kept carefully

throughout his stay a stock of fireworks which had fallen into his

possession, planning to use them when his wife and boy should arrive, but,

sadly enough, he never had an occasion to celebrate that event.

 

     While to all appearances engrossed with the little affairs of Elba,

Napoleon was, in fact, planning the most dramatic act of his life.  On the

26th of February, 1815, the guard received an order to leave the island.

With a force of eleven hundred men, the emperor passed the foreign ships

guarding Elba, and on the afternoon of the 1st of March landed at Cannes

on the Gulf of Juan.  At eleven o'clock that night he started towards

Paris.  He was trusting himself to the people and the army.  If there

never was an example of such audacious confidence, certainly there never

was such a response.  The people of the South received him joyfully,

offering to sound the tocsin and follow him en masse.  But Napoleon

refused; it was the soldiers upon whom he called.

 

     "We have not been conquered [he told the army].  Come and range

yourselves under the standard of your chief; his existence depends upon

you; his interests, his honor, and his glory are yours.  Victory will

march at double-quick time.  The eagle with the national colors will fly

from steeple to steeple to the towers of Notre Dame.  Then you will be

able to show your scars with honor; then you will be able to boast of what

you have done; you will be the liberators of the country. . . .

 

     At Grenoble there was a show of resistance.  Napoleon went directly

to the soldiers, followed by his guard.

 

     "Here I am; you know me.  If there is a soldier among you who wishes

to kill his emperor, let him do it."

 

     "Long live the emperor!" was the answer; and in a twinkle six

thousand men had torn off their white cockades and replaced them by old

soiled tricolors.  They drew them from the inside of their caps, where

they had been concealing them since the exile of their hero.  "It is the

same that I wore at Austerlitz," said one as he passed the emperor.

"This," said another, "I had at Marengo."

 

     From Grenoble the emperor marched to Lyons, where the soldiers and

officers went over to him in regiments.  The royalist leaders who had

deigned to go to Lyons to exhort the army found themselves ignored; and

Ney, who had been ordered from Besancon to stop the emperor's advance, and

who started out promising to "bring back Napoleon in an iron cage,"

surrendered his entire division.  It was impossible to resist the force of

popular opinion, he said.  From Lyons the emperor, at the head of what was

now the French army, passed by Dijon, Autun, Avallon, and Auxerre, to

Fontainebleau, which he reached on March 19th.  The same day Louis XVIII.

fled from Paris.

 

     The change of sentiment in these few days was well illustrated in a

French paper which, after Napoleon's return, published the following

calendar gathered from the royalist press.

 

     February 25. - "The exterminator has signed a treaty offensive and

defensive.  It is not known with whom."

 

     February 26. - "The Corsican has left the island of Elba."

 

     March 1. - "Bonaparte has debarked at Cannes with eleven hundred

men."

 

     March 7. - "General Bonaparte has taken possession of Grenoble."

 

     March 10. - "Napoleon has entered Lyons."

 

     March 19. - "The emperor reached Fontainebleau today."

 

     March 19. - "His Imperial Majesty is expected at the Tuileries to-

morrow, the anniversary of the birth of the King of Rome."

 

     Two days before the flight of the Bourbons, the following notice

appeared on the door of the Tuileries:

 

     "The emperor begs the king to send him no more soldiers; he has

enough."

 

     "What was the happiest period of your life as emperor?" O'Meara asked

Napoleon once at St. Helena.

 

     "The march from Cannes to Paris," he replied immediately.

 

     His happiness was short-lived.  The overpowering enthusiasm which had

made that march possible could not endure.  The bewildered factions which

had been silenced or driven out by Napoleon's reappearance recovered from

their stupor.  The royalists, exasperated by their own flight,

reorganized.  Strong opposition developed among the liberals.  It was only

a short time before a reaction followed the delirium which Napoleon's

return had caused in the nation.  Disaffection, coldness, and plots

succeeded.  In face of this revulsion of feeling, the emperor himself

underwent a change.  The buoyant courage, the amazing audacity which had

induced him to return from Elba, seemed to leave him.  He became sad and

preoccupied.  No doubt much of this sadness was due to the refusal of

Austria to restore his wife and child, and to the bitter knowledge that

Marie Louise had succumbed to foreign influences and had promised never

again to see her husband.

 

     If the allies had allowed the French to manage their affairs in their

own way, it is probable that Napoleon would have mastered the situation,

difficult as it was.  But this they did not do.  In spite of his promise

to observe the treaties made after his abdication, to accept the

boundaries fixed, to abide by the Congress of Vienna, the coalition

treated him with scorn, affecting to mistrust him.  He was the disturber

of the peace of the world, a public enemy; he must be put beyond the pale

of society, and they took up arms, not against France, but against

Napoleon.  France, as it appeared, was not to be allowed to choose her own

rulers.

 

     The position in which Napoleon found himself on the declaration of

war was of exceeding difficulty, but he mastered the opposition with all

his old genius and resources.  Three months after the landing at Cannes he

had an army of two hundred thousand men ready to march.  He led it against

at least five hundred thousand men.

 

     On June 15th, Napoleon's army met a portion of the enemy in Belgium,

near Brussels, and on July 16th, 17th, and 18th were fought the battles of

Ligny, Quatre Bras, and Waterloo, in the last of which he was completely

defeated.  The limits and nature of this sketch do not permit a

description of the engagement at Waterloo.  The literature on the subject

is perhaps richer than that on any other subject in military science.

Thousands of books discuss the battle, and each succeeding generation

takes it up as if nothing had been written on it.  But while Waterloo

cannot be discussed here, it is not out of place to notice that among the

reasons for its loss are certain ones which interest us because they are

personal to Napoleon.  He whose great rule in wars was, "Time is

everything," lost time at Waterloo.  He who had looked after everything

which he wanted well done, neglected to assure himself of such an

important matter as the exact position of his enemy.  He who once had been

able to go a week without sleep, was ill.  Again, if one will compare

carefully the Bonaparte of Guerin (page 108) with the Napoleon of Girodet

(page 240), he will understand, at least partially, why the battle of

Waterloo was lost.

 

[See After Waterloo]

 

     The defeat was complete; and when the emperor saw it, he threw

himself into the battle in search of death.  As eagerly as he had sought

victory at Arcola, Marengo, Austerlitz, he sought death at Waterloo.  "I

ought to have died at Waterloo," he said afterwards; "but the misfortune

is that when a man seeks death most he cannot find it.  Men were killed

around me, before, behind - everywhere.  But there was no bullet for me."

 

     He returned immediately to Paris.  There was still force for

resistance in France.  There were many to urge him to return to the

struggle, but such was the condition of public sentiment that he refused.

The country was divided in its allegiance to him; the legislative body was

frightened and quarrelling; Talleyrand and Fouche were plotting.  Besides,

the allies proclaimed to the nation that it was against Napoleon alone

that they waged war.  Under these circumstances Napoleon felt that loyalty

to the best interest of France required his abdication; and he signed the

act anew, proclaiming his son emperor under the title of Napoleon II.

 

     Leaving Paris, the fallen emperor went to Malmaison, where Josephine

had died only thirteen months before.  A few friends joined him - Queen

Hortense, the Duc de Rovigo, Bertrand, Las Cases, and Meneval.  He

remained there only a few days.  The allies were approaching Paris, and

the environs were in danger.  Napoleon offered his services to the

provisional government, which had taken his place, as leader in the

campaign against the invader, promising to retire as soon as the enemy was

repulsed, but he was refused.  The government feared him, in fact, more

than it did the allies, and urged him to leave France as quickly as

possible.  In his disaster he turned to America as a refuge, and gave his

family rendezvous there.

 

     Various plans were suggested for getting to the United States.  Among

the offers of aid to carry out his desire which were made to Napoleon, Las

Cases speaks of one coming from an American in Paris, who wrote:

 

     "While you were at the head of a nation you could perform any

miracle, you might conceive any hopes; but now you can do nothing more in

Europe.  Fly to the United States!  I know the hearts of the leading men

and the sentiments of the people of America.  You will there find a second

country and every source of consolation."

 

     Mr. S. V. S. Wilder, an American shipping merchant who lived in

France during the time of Napoleon's power, and who had been much

impressed by the changes brought about in society and politics under his

rule, offered to help him to escape.  He proposed that the emperor

disguise himself as a valet for whom he had a passport.  On board the ship

the emperor was to conceal himself in a hogshead until the danger-line was

crossed.  This hogshead was to have a false compartment in it.  From the

end in view, water was to drip incessantly.  Mr. Wilder proposed to take

Napoleon to his own home in Bolton, Massachusetts, when they arrived in

America.  It is said that the emperor seriously considered this scheme,

but finally declined, because he would leave his friends behind him, and

for them Mr. Wilder could not possibly provide.  Napoleon explained one

day to Las Cases at St. Helena what he intended to do if he had reached

America.  He would have collected all his relatives around him, and thus

would have formed the nucleus of a national union, a second France.  Such

were the sums of money he had given them that he thought they might have

realized at least forty millions of francs.  Before the conclusion of a

year, the events of Europe would have drawn to him a hundred millions of

francs and sixty thousand individuals, most of them possessing wealth,

talent, and information.

 

     "America [he said] was, in all respects, our proper asylum.  It is an

immense continent, possessing the advantage of a peculiar system of

freedom.  If a man is troubled with melancholy, he may get into a coach

and drive a thousand leagues, enjoying all the way the pleasures of a

common traveller.  In America you may be on a footing of equality with

everyone; you may, if you please, mingle with the crowd without

inconvenience, retaining your own manners, your own language, your own

religion."

 

     On June 29th, a week after his return to Paris from Waterloo,

Napoleon left Malmaison for Rochefort, hoping to reach a vessel which

would carry him to the United States; but the coast was so guarded by the

English that there was no escape.

Main Page

World History Project