Bonaparte was passing along the dreadful road across the Echelles de Savoie, with his engineer, when he stopped, and pointing to the mountain, said, "Is it not possible to cut a tunnel through yonder rock, and to form a more safe and commodious route beneath it?" "It is possible, certainly, sire," replied his scientific companion, "but"—"No buts;—let it be done, and immediately," replied the Emperor.
A petition from the English deténus at Valenciennes was left for signature at the house of the colonel of gendarmerie, addressed in a fulsome manner to Bonaparte, under his title of Emperor of the French, and beginning with "Sire." Some unlucky wag took an opportunity of altering this word into "Dear Sir," and nearly caused the whole party to be imprisoned.
Monsieur le Compte de Polignac had been raised to honour by Bonaparte; but, from some unaccountable motive, betrayed the trust his patron reposed in him. As soon as Bonaparte discovered the perfidy, he ordered Polignac to be put under arrest. Next day he was to have been tried, and in all probability would have been condemned, as his guilt was undoubted. In the meantime, Madame Polignac solicited and obtained an audience of the Emperor. "I am sorry, madam, for your sake," said he, "that your husband has been implicated in an affair which is marked throughout with such deep ingratitude." "He may not have been so guilty as your majesty supposes," said the countess. "Do you know your husband's signature?" asked the Emperor, as he took a letter from his pocket and presented it to her. Madame de Polignac hastily glanced over the letter, recognised the writing, and fainted. As soon as she recovered, Bonaparte, offering her the letter, said, "Take it; it is the only legal evidence against your husband: there is a fire beside you." Madame de P. eagerly seized the important document, and in an instant committed it to the flames. The life of Polignac was saved: his honour it was beyond the power even of the generosity of an emperor to redeem.