"I am closer to Vienna than the Emperor of Austria is to Paris": Chateaubriand's account of Napoleon's Six Days' Campaign

Chateaubriand, François-René de, French poet and statesman (1768-1848). "Mémoires d'Outre Tombe". Autograph manuscript (fragment).

N. p. o. d.

8vo. 1 p. French manuscript on paper.


Exceedingly rare, historically important manuscript of Chateaubriand's famous memoir, describing the dramatic events of the campaign in north-eastern France in February 1814, Napoleon's final campaign of the War of the Sixth Coalition that ended with the Battle of Paris and Napoleon's abdication.

The manuscript corresponds to two paragraphs of the 6th volume of the original publication in a chapter entitled "Admirable campagne en France 1814". Added between the lines, in a secretary's hand, are passages from the beginning of the slightly later chapter "La guerre étabie aux barrières de Paris", describing the Battle of Paris. Both texts show important and highly interesting departures from the posthumously published text.

Due to Napoleon's unexpected successes, especially during the so-called Six Days' Campaign (10-15 February), the Coalition leaders gathered near Troyes and offered Napoleon an armistice that would have allowed him to keep the throne. However, Napoleon insisted on terms unaccaptable to the allies: thus, they reaffirmed their coalition against Napoleon in the Treaty of Chaumont and successfully concluded the campaign in France. In Chateaubriand's dramatization, Napoleon "tore apart the preliminaries of the peace offered to him, shouting: 'I am closer to Vienna than the Emperor of Austria is to Paris'". Of course, Chateaubriand was an outspoken adversary of Napoleon, and his testimony must be received with caution. In the last sentence of the manuscript, he quotes Napoleon again, ahead of the Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube with the Austrian forces, which ended in a French retreat: "I will take on my father-in-law in Troyes". In a departure from the printed text, Chateaubriand here mentions that the Allies feared an insurrection and the death of Guillaume Emmanuel Guignard de Saint-Priest, a French royalist general in Russian services, from an injury he sustained during the Battle of Reims.

With minor tears to the right margin.


Mémoires d'Outre Tombe. Tome sixième (Paris, Eugène et Victor Penaud Frères, 1849), pp. 198-200 and 209 f.

Art.-Nr.: BN#61418 Schlagwörter: ,