The Court Of Adieux, Fontainebleau.
Hall Of. Henry IV, Fontainebleau.
Among the many memories suggested by this courtyard, who can forget that of the 30th of March, 1814, when, at nine o'clock in the evening, a carriage drawn by four horses at full gallop entered its enclosure? Ten minutes before, a courier had preceded it, crying, as he alighted from his panting steed, "The Emperor! The Emperor!" While a relay of fresh horses was being attached to the vehicle, Napoleon had time to inquire:
"Have you heard the sound of cannon during the day?"
"From which direction?"
"From that of Paris.'
"As I feared. When did it cease ?"
"At five o'clock, Sire."
"To Paris! " cried the Emperor; and in an instant his carriage had resumed once more its impetuous course. An hour later he encountered an officer riding furiously toward Fontainebleau. He summoned him to halt, exchanged a few words with him, and then, in the same tone in which he had exclaimed "To Paris!" Napoleon cried to his postilions:
Napoleon At Fontainebleau, 1814.
"Return to Fontainebleau." What he had learned was this: - Paris, at five o'clock that afternoon, had surrendered to the Allies.
Less than a month later, on the 20th of April, there was assembled in this square a body of men whose name had been for twenty years a synonym of courage and unparalleled devotion. It was the Old Guard of Napoleon, waiting to receive the farewell of their Emperor. These old companions of his many victories were still faithful to him. Unlike the marshals, courtiers, and innumerable beneficiaries of Napoleon, they had not received from him money, titles, and estates, which in the hour of his adversity they were afraid of losing. To these, his loyal grenadiers, whose tears fell silently upon their gray moustaches, he was their idol still, their "Little Corporal," - the most successful soldier of the world. It was precisely one o'clock in the afternoon when the door at the head of the staircase was thrown open and there emerged upon the platform a solitary figure. It was he! The gray coat, the cocked hat, the classic silhouette of the Caesars, - they knew them well, and were apparently never to see them more. Napoleon descended the steps, paused a moment, and then in a voice which revealed deep emotion, spoke these words: "Soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you farewell. For twenty years I have always found you in the path of honor and glory. In these recent days, as in the time of our prosperity, you have not ceased to be models of courage and fidelity. With such men as you our cause was not lost; but the war would have been interminable. It would have become civil war, and by-it France would have been rendered even more unhappy. I have, therefore, sacrificed all our personal interests to those of our country. I must now depart; but do you, my friends, continue to serve France. Do not pity my fate. If I have consented to live on, it is to contribute still further to your glory. I wish to record the great deeds we have achieved together. Adieu, my children. I wish that I could press you all to my heart; but let me at least once more embrace your standard." Here his voice faltered, and the flag which he held to his face concealed his tears. At length his tones were heard again. "Farewell once more, my old companions," he exclaimed; then, embracing the eagle which surmounted the standard, he added: "May this last kiss penetrate your hearts." A moment later, amid the sobs of his veterans, Napoleon stepped into the carriage which awaited him and was driven away to live in exile on the island of Elba.
The Last Review.
Who does not recollect the admirable painting of this scene by Horace Vernet, which now adorns the gallery of Versailles?
The Table On Which The Abdication Was Signed.
This courtyard is not the only portion of the palace associated with Napoleon. In one room, called the Cabinet de l'Abdication, still stands a round mahogany table on which, upon a sheet of paper that has since mysteriously disappeared, Napoleon traced these words: