April 24 1814: Hobhouse Explores Paris

On April 24 1814, John Cam Hobhouse, writes in his diary.

Went to Nôtre Dame, which is a large but not a magnificent church. I saw there a young woman at confession, which lasted at least twenty minutes. Was shown the regalia of Napoleon when he was crowned at Nôtre Dame.The robe is purple embroidered with gold flowers, eleven ells in circuit, eighty pounds weight, and employing 6,000 ermine skins. The chair in which he sat is simple of white satin, with small gold springs. Here I saw the sword of Charlemagne, in astonishing preservation, together with its scabbard of embroidered green velvet, which was carried before Napoleon – the Hand of Justice of the same monarch – the Hand of Justice of Napoleon – a long thin wand which he held two-thirds from the bottom – his sceptre – and his crown, which is a beautiful work of laurel in gold. The box in which it was taken to Italy in order to crown him54 is also in the armoire, and has the inscription “Couronne de Napoléon”. A small elegant crown which was placed on the head of Maria Louisa is also amongst the treasures. It is not true that any attempt was made to take away these precious ornaments. I have forgot to mention Charlemagne’s crown, which is likewise to be seen – [sketch] – and the gold globe which Napoleon held in his hand when he mounted the throne. Continue reading

April 23 1814: Silence on Horrid Debauchery

On April 23 1814, John Cam Hobhouse, still in Paris, writes in his diary. He ends the entry by noting: “Tonight I had a dreadful opportunity of seeing the horrid debauchery of the French prostitutes of the lower class.” He does not provide further details.

Went to the review of 4,000 National Guards within the gates of the Tuileries, where Napoleon used to review his troops. The guard was in very good [order] for new troops, and their cocked hats and coats, as Mr Simple has said, certainly give them a military air. They were reviewed by the Count d’Artois, Monsieur, and the duc de Berri, his son who passed the two lines on foot. There was a good deal of acclamation, but not so much as might be expected. Hats were not very readily pulled off, and both that mark of respect and the acclamations were prompted by the Horse Guards, who rode in front of the Princes crying “Chapeau bas Messieurs! – Vive le roi!”

We went to the Luxembourg Gallery today and to the Monument Français first. There are collected the sepulchral statues of celebrated French character. The porter pointed out the many figures of “Le Bon Henri” The enthusiasm of the French for this monarch is at this time most lively. Napoleon used to call him “le Roi de la canaille”. In the pretty garden attached to the building are the tombs of Abelard and Eloïse, Molière, Boileau, &c. This reunion has been made at the expense of every spot in France which formerly possessed the memorials of the [ ] brothers. In the Luxembourg Gallery we saw the famous collection of Rubens’ pictures representing in allegory the history of Mary of Medicis, the gallery of Le Sueur containing the life and caractère of St. Bruno, painted for the Chartreux founded by that saint, and the superb set of Vernet’s ports of France. I was most pleased with the last, although in the collection is a picture representing the sole triumph, almost, that the French navy has to boast – the taking of the Ambuscade. In the same room is a picture of Boulogne or Brest, in which Napoleon is represented on horseback, relieving a sailor on one leg.

Over the gate of the Luxembourg is placed “Palais du Senat Conservateur”. The apartments of that Senate are to the right in entering. We visited them, mounting by a magnificent flight of steps in a quadrangle, the sides of which are adorned with the statues of generals and other heroes of the revolution. There are Kleber and Mirabeau, &c. The apartments attached to the room of sitting are ornamented with large pictures, which as they all of them represented Napoleon in some attractive moment of his life, are now covered with green silk. There is an apartment called “The Chamber of the King of Rome”. The room of sitting is semicircular like a lecture-room, by no means handsome, except the canopy under which Napoleon’s throne was placed may be admired. The chair in which he used to sit – so the conductor told us – is not that which he used to hack with his pen-knife, but that in which he presided at the Council of State.

We dined at Beauvilliers, where entered during dinner Sligo, Lord Lowther, Lord and Robert Milnes. Afterwards I went to the Variétés, where was played Le Souper d’Henri Quatre – the house was full.

Tonight I had a dreadful opportunity of seeing the horrid debauchery of
the French prostitutes of the lower class.


April 22 1814: All the World is Going to Paris

Madame de Staël is going for a short time to Paris, and it seems to me that all the world is doing the same.

Madame d’Arblay’s book [The Wanderer or Female Difficulties] is considered here as a great failure, partly on account of the vulgar faults of exaggeration and caricature with which it is chargeable, and in consequence of her long residence on the Continent she has nearly lost her power of writing English.

— John Whishaw writes to Thomas Smith,  April 22 1814 (image from here).


On April 21 1814, Lord Byron writes to John Murray.

Many thanks with the letters which I return. You know I am a jacobin, and could not wear white, nor see the installation of Louis the Gouty. 

This is sad news, and very hard upon the sufferers at any, but more at such a time I mean the Bayonne sortie. 

You should urge Moore to come out. 

P. S. I want Moreri to purchase for good and all. I have a Bayle, but want Moreri too. 

P. S. Perry hath a piece of compliment to-day; but I think the name might have been as well omitted. No matter ; they can but throw the old story of inconsistency in my teeth let them, I mean, as to not publishing. However, now I will keep my word. Nothing but the occasion, which was physically irresistible, made me swerve; and I thought ananonyme within my pact with the public. It is the only thing I have or shall set about.

April 20 1814: Byron’s Abdication

On April 20 1814, Lord Byron writes to Thomas Moore. Again, Napoleon is greatly on his mind.

I am very glad to hear that you are to be transient from Mayfield so very soon, and was taken in by the first part of your letter*. Indeed, for aught I know, you may be treating me, as Slipslop says, with ‘ironing’ even now. I shall say nothing of the shock, which had nothing of humeur in it; as I am apt to take even a critic, and still more a friend, at his word, and never to doubt that I have been writing cursed nonsense, if they say so. There was a mental reservation in my pact with the public*, in behalf of anonymes; and, even had there not, the provocation was such as to make it physically impossible to pass over this damnable epoch of triumphant tameness. ’Tis a cursed business; and, after all, I shall think higher of rhyme and reason, and very humbly of your heroic people, till—Elba becomes a volcano, and sends him out again. I can’t think it all over yet.

My departure for the continent depends, in some measure, on the incontinent. I have two country invitations at home, and don’t know what to say or do. In the mean time, I have bought a macaw and a parrot, and have got up my books; and I box and fence daily, and go out very little.

At this present writing, Louis the Gouty is wheeling in triumph into Piccadilly, in all the pomp and rabblement of royalty. I had an offer of seats to see them pass; but, as I have seen a Sultan going to mosque, and been at his reception of an ambassador, the most Christian King ‘hath no attractions for me:’—though in some coming year of the Hegira, I should not dislike to see the place where he had reigned, shortly after the second revolution, and a happy sovereignty of two months, the last six weeks being civil war.
“Pray write, and deem me ever, &c.”

April 19 1814: Hobhouse in Paris

On April 19 1814, John Cam Hobhouse, now in Paris, describes his day in his diary.

Tuesday April 19th 1814: Breakfasted – as in Germany, breakfast is not a
meal you have. What you order from a traiteur’s – tea green and good, sugar
bad, butter good, bread bad. Read the Journal des Debats, ci-devant Journal
de l’Empire – the advice of the provisional government to forbear abusing
Napoleon and his government begins to be neglected – the Journal contains
anecdotes of the lying and imposture of Napoleon Bounaparte. We had a carriage for twenty-five francs a day, and at four set out in it and visited Lord Castlereagh, with whom I left a letter of introduction from my father, and called at Cathcart’s to enquire about Wherry, and there saw the Crown Prince of Sweden getting into his carriage after paying a visit to Marshall Berthier, who has taken up the new government, and is employed by Alexander in negotiating with Napoleon, who is sick at Fontainebleau. Continue reading

April 19 1814: Lord Byron’s Journal

On April 19 1814, Lord Byron writes in his journal:

There is ice at both poles, north and south—all extremes are the same—misery belongs to the highest and the lowest only, to the emperor and the beggar, when unsixpenced and unthroned. There is, to be sure, a damned insipid medium—an equinoctial line—no one knows where, except upon maps and measurement.

“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.”

I will keep no further journal of that same hesternal torch-light; and, to prevent me from returning, like a dog, to the vomit of memory, I tear out the remaining leaves of this volume, and write, in Ipecacuanha,—”that the Bourbons are restored!!!”—”Hang up philosophy.”To be sure, I have long despised myself and man, but I never spat in the face of my species before—”O fool! I shall go mad.”