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Arrest of Barthélemy.
not mistaken, for he was dismissed a few days afterwards. Rewbell, unable to control his rage and disappointment, shook his clenched fist in Cherin's face, and Cherin took the affront quietly, for fear of worse.
"Barras was more successful. He had himself undertaken the honourable mission of arresting Barthélemy. He seized him in bed. Barthélemy, raising his eyes to Heaven, exclaimed: O ma patrie! Like a lamb dragged to the slaughter, he was taken to the Temple, and from thence transported to Sinamary.
"The infamous triumvirate used their victory, as you know with unparalleled barbarity. I can never pardon the style of their first proclamation. It ran thus:
Citizens, a vast number of emigrants, consisting of the assassins of Lyons, and the brigands of La Vendée, drawn hither by royalist intrigues, and the tender interest which has been fearlessly and publicly extended to them, have attacked the posts which surrounded the Executive Directory; but the vigilance of the government and their chiefs of the armed force have defeated their criminal attempts.'
"In the second edition, the false words have attacked, were superseded by the words were to have attacked; and it was announced that any one attempting to recall the monarchy, or the constitution of the year I. or of Orleans, would be shot.
This last observation of Carnot, induced me to remark that the Duke of Orleans was dead at the time alluded to.
"Yes,' said Prince Cambacérès, but he had left sons behind him. The elder, whom he had seen maintaining so favourable an attitude with the Moderates, previously to February 1793, was still labouring to gain a party for himself, and I saw that he was succeeding.'
"Among all the astonishing things one sees now, observed I, not the least extraordinary is to see the Duke of Orleans in France. The Bourbons are not very quick sighted; if they do not perceive the constant danger to which they are exposed by suffering, within two paces of the throne, a Prince who is qualified to ascend it.
"I was surprised at the coolness with which my remark was received. No person present appeared to notice it
A Subject for a Picture.
There was a short pause, which David broke, by the following observation, which he made as naturally as if the course of the conversation had led to it
"The emperor, without, perhaps, being a passionate lover of the fine arts, knew their importance in a state. He was anxious that they should engross a great share of public attention. I went to pay my respects to him immediately after the 18th Brumaire. As soon as he saw me, he saluted me by the title of the French Apelles, and asked me what subject I was engaged on.'
"I replied, Leonidas at Thermopyla. He shrugged his shoulders and said:
"Ah David, you are always painting the Greeks and Romans, and, what is still worse, the conquered!
"Yes, Citizen David, pursued he, the conquered. Is it conformable with the principles of reason that three hundred men should face three millions? If they do so, they are not heroes but madmen, and fit to be sent to the PetitesMaisons. All resistance should be rational, and should be founded on a probability of success; otherwise, whatever name may be given to it, it is pure extravagance, and ought not to be recorded in pictures on account of the bad example that would be conveyed. A small number of men may cause the failure of a great movement, by an imprudent and obstinate defence. I advise you to make choice of some incident in our own history. Modern times are not wanting in good subjects.'
"I was somewhat astonished by these remarks, which were by no means in accordance with my predilection for the antique. I approached the First Consul and said in a voice loud enough to be heard by him alone:
"Perhaps a coronation might meet with approval.
"Not just yet,' replied Bonaparte, laughing. Ah! republican, there is a wide difference between that and Thermopyla. However, do what you please; your pencil will confer celebrity on any subject you may handle. For every great historical picture you choose to paint, you shall be paid a hundred thousand francs."
"Subsequently, he was proclaimed Emperor. The first time he saw me, after this change, he beckoned me to approach him. I obeyed.
David and Isabey.
"Have you any designs ready?' inquired he.
"I understood his hint, and, bowing, replied-It is not designs that are wanting; but where is the ceremony to be fixed, and in what costume?'
"We will speak of this matter another time.'
"Would any one have imagined that, after this conversation, I should not have been appointed to execute the programme of the coronation? Yet, I was passed over, and the commission was given to Isabey. The details were all collected from the past, it is true: but they bore no trace of the glory of the Roman empire. The Emperor himself directed a great share of his attention to the regulation of the costumes and decorations. He arranged the escutcheon of the empire."
Here Count Fabre de l'Aude observed, that in his post of Procureur-General of the Conseil du sceaux des titres he had had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with some particulars not generally known, which he would relate
"At first," continued the Count, "the First Consul was recommended to assume the title and functions of king. "That will not do,' he replied, royalty was destroyed on the scaffold of Louis XVI., and it would be requisite to exhume it from the ruins in which it lies buried. The title of Emperor would be the thing that would enable me to leap over an interval of ten centuries. Then I should be, not the successor of Henry IV., or of Philip Augustus, but of Charlemagne, and thus linked with the Roman empire. This would entitle me to the supremacy over other crowned heads, and to the Protectorate of Germany. With the title of Emperor, I might style myself supreme ruler of Italy. I should neither violate nor cause to be viclated any oath: and every one would be satisfied.'
"Napoleon addressed these words to Count Regnault, who laughed, and said: "I assure you I should not be very deeply vexed, if you should oblige me to commit perjury in such a case. We have taken so many oaths, that it would be no easy matter to find out which is the right one. If you wish for the imperial title, be it so: its novelty will please, and the nation will readily adopt it. The nation dislikes only the Committee of Public Safety and the di
The Sovereign Title.
rectors. But, before you can take your rank among the sovereigns of Europe, you must have a coat of arms. Will you adopt your father's escutcheon, which is azure, a gold rake in pale, with three fleur-de-lis, two in chief, one in point?"
"My dear Count,' replied Napoleon, 'you are quite mistaken. Where did you learn that that was the Bonaparte escutcheon? Whoever told you so, had not consulted the registers of the military school, where my brothers and I were educated, nor the archives of Saint Cyr, where my sister Eliza was brought up. If they bad, they would have known that our shield is gules with two bars of gold, accompanied in chief sinister and in point dexter by a star of gold. The shield supported by two Gothic letters B and P, and surmounted by a Count's coronet. Madame Permon, likewise, made me a present of the arms of her family, the Comneni. But I shall not take the one or the other. It is my wish to be in all things amalgamated with France. She is my adopted mother, and we will both bear the same shield.'
"Then," resumed Regnault, "you would make choice of the old Gallic cock; and he may hold in his claws a tricoloured standard?"
'The cock,' said Napoleon, in spite of his good qualities, is not a sufficiently dignified representative of a great nation. We must have an animal more imposing, more emblematic of power: an elephant for example, or a lion couchant on the map of France, with one paw thrust forward to the boundary of the Rhine, and the device. Gare à qui me cherche.'
Ma foi!" exclaimed Regnault, "but why should we determine limits, which the lion may show himself inclined to overstep."
"Napoleon approved of this hint, and began to think of something else. Regnault suggested the fleur-de-lis. The mere utterance of the word produced an effect almost electrical.
"Never!' exclaimed Napoleon; those ensigns of a proscribed family shall never again be seen among us. I am not the son of Louis XVI. I commence a new dynasty, or rather, I found an empire. Let us not revive old recollec
tions, but adhere to our young institutions. My dynasty will not be that of Hugues Capet,-it will be my own, and will commence with myself. Names and things are the same: your fleurs-de-lis and white flags belong to the Bourbons; I will, therefore, retain the three colours with which they were driven away. We must recognize, by the difference of form and colour, the banner round which we are to rally, should the conflict commence again. You seem not to be aware of the influence of recollections on mankind; unfurl a white flag, embroidered with fleur-de-lis, and one half of France will regard as inevitable the return of Louis XVIII., an event which no one now dreams of.. ... I am Emperor! . . . . . . I succeed Charlemagne and the Cæsars, and I must have their emblems. The empire and myself will, therefore, adopt an eagle with spread wings, adorned with a thunder-bolt. The eagle shall be of gold, on a field ....What colour is considered noblest? gules, I think....Well, then, on a field of gules. But, stay, the Parisians might think that too red. It would furnish a subject for jests; and it would be said that my eagle, instead of hovering in the air, was swimming in blood.'
"Would you have the mantle embroidered with eagles?" No, that would have a bad effect. I would have gold stars, or rather gold bees. The latter would be a national emblem, for bees were found in the tomb of Chilperic. That insect is the symbol of industry. The stars will be for me, and the bees for the people. These, and the gold eagle, with the thunderbolt in his claws, on a field of azure, picturing the Heaven to which he is soaring:-these are more than sufficient. Then, for my livery, I shall have green. I will not have blue, lest that should revive the memory of the Bourbons. The tri-coloured flag will lead us to victory; and the French of the next generation will have nothing in common with their forefathers. The lily will be irrevocably abolished. Our national colours and emblems will all refer to me; and to our descendants I shall be the founder of all things.'
When Count Fabre had ceased speaking, we all with one accord expressed our admiration of the depth of Napoleon's perceptions.