The Second Empire

By Octave Aubry; Arthur Livingston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIV
From Wissenbourg to Forbach

IN ORDER TO HAVE ITS HANDS FREE THE GOVERNMENT CLOSED THE Chambers after a law had been passed prohibiting discussion of military operations by the press (July 24th). It was decided that the Empress would assume the regency while Napoleon III took command of the army.

He did not seem, really, to be in condition for the hardships of war, the attacks of recent months having quite exhausted him. The Empress teased him to cheer him up; then, repenting of her levities, buried him in endearments.

Again in June Conneau had become greatly alarmed at the Emperor's state of health; and at the physician's request a consultation of specialists was held at Saint-Cloud on the first of July -- Drs. Nélaton, Ricord, Germain Sée, Fauvel and Corvisart participating. They diagnosed a condition of "purulent cystitis caused by a calculus in the bladder." Nélaton remarked to General de Montebello later on -- July 8th:

"It is unallowable even to think of war. The Emperor is a sick man. He couldn't mount a horse. There has been a consultation, and it's serious."

The specialists were not in agreement as to procedure. The Emperor was himself afraid of the sort of operation that Nélaton had performed on Niel and which had carried the Marshal off. He sealed the report which Germain Sée made on the consultation and then handed it to Conneau, asking him to lock it up in a safe place.

His cousin Mathilde was frightened at the signs of illness she could see in his wasted features. She urged him to continue to head the government, leaving the hardships of the field to others. He replied that he felt that his honor had been pledged before the country.

-522-

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