April 23 1815: Napoleon and Adams Attend Mass

100 days of Napoleon

On April 23 1815, John Quincy Adams attends a mass with Napoleon in the chapel at the Tuileires in Paris. Before the mass, there is a review in the Tuileries that John Cam Hobhouse observed. Hobhouse writes:

… I walked to the Place de Caroussel, and saw a review and inspection of the Imperial Guards and five or six regiments of cavalry – Polish lancers –the forty or fifty Poles that were with him in Elba, with the little ragged horses on which they rode to Paris. The eagle which he had in Elba, and the Elba soldiers all distinguished by the Cross of the Legion of Honour. A dozen or twenty mamelukes marched in – the guard were first reviewed in the court of the Tuileries, the cavalry being in the Place de Caroussel.

Napoleon walked on foot between most of the ranks – nothing can exceed the appearance of the Imperial Guard – there were some recruits in plain clothes – the quick march of the Guard at the pas de charge before the Emperor made the eyes of all about me glisten, and their ears beat – when the Guard had passed, the cavalry entered. Amongst them were the grenadiers, à cheval, of the Imperial Guard, which a naval officer near me said was the finest regiment in France. Their appearance is tremendous – the cavalry seemed to fill the court, in which, however, and the place de Caroussel, my navy friend said, Napoleon had, before the Moscow [campaign] reviewed 100,000.

They dismounted, and Napoleon again walked through the ranks,followed by his staff, and distinguished by his simple hat. He came not far from the gratings, and I saw him distinctly. He was walking with his hands knit behind his back. He looked very short. He was followed by Count Librau (General Monton) a great favourite of his, and all in feathers and blue ribbons. The soldiers could not help crying “Vive L’Empereur!” though it appears this exclamation was forbid. He then placed himself near the palace gates, and the cavalry passed him. I saw him bow low to the Colonel of the Grenadiers, à cheval.

I paid ten sous for a place on a stool which gave me a good view of him.It was over by about half-past six. The guard had been on the spot from eight in the morning, some of them. They cried about in the crowd, <“presentez vos armes”> “Le depart des braves”, &c. and “Le gros Louis”. Also a proclamation of Armée Hinault to the army and people, an inflammation brichene to serve “Dieu, Napoleon et Patrie”

John Quincy Adams  writes in his diary:

23d. We went to the mass at the chapel of the Tuileries. The tickets were marked for half-past ten, but we were obliged to walk in the garden near half an hour before we were admitted, and then waited an hour and a half longer before the Emperor came in. The mass then began, and lasted less than half an hour. The music was excellent. The opera-singers Lays, Nourrit, and Madame Albert assisted in the performance of the service. The lower part of the chapel, where we were, was full of company. The ladies only were seated on benches. I had a full and steady view of the Emperor’s countenance.

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