Part 1 out of 6
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A Life picture of the Napoleonic Era
AUTHOR OF PRINCE EUGENE AND HIS TIMES, JOSEPH II, AND HIS COURT,
MERCHANT OF BERLIN, ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY
_DAYS OF CHILDHOOD AND OF THE REVOLUTION._
I.--Days of Childhood.
III.--Consequences of the Revolution.
VI.--Bonaparte in Italy.
VII.--Vicissitudes of Destiny.
VIII.--Bonaparte's Return from Egypt.
_THE QUEEN OF HOLLAND._
I.--A First Love.
II.--Louis Bonaparte and Duroc.
III--Consul and King.
V.--King or Emperor.
IX.--The King of Holland.
X.--Junot, the Duke d'Abrantes.
XI.--Louis Napoleon as a Vender of Violets.
XII.--The Days of Misfortune.
XIII.--The Allies in Paris.
XIV.--Correspondence between the Queen and Louise de Cochelet.
XV.--Queen Hortense and the Emperor Alexander.
XVI.--The New Uncles.
XVII.--Death of the Empress Josephine.
I.--The Return of the Bourbons.
II.--The Bourbons and the Bonapartes.
III.--Madame de Stael.
IV.--Madame de Stael's Return to Paris.
V.--Madame de Stael's Visit to Queen Hortense.
VI.--The Old and New Era.
VII.--King Louis XVIII.
VIII.--The Drawing-room of the Duchess of St. Leu.
IX.--The Burial of Louis XVI. and his Wife.
X.--Napoleon's Return from Elba.
XI.--Louis XVIII.'s Departure and Napoleon's Arrival.
XII.--The Hundred Days.
XIII.--Napoleon's Last Adieu.
_THE DUCHESS OF ST. LEU._
I.--The Banishment of the Duchess of St. Leu.
II.--Louis Napoleon as a Child.
III.--The Revolution of 1830.
IV.--The Revolution in Rome and the Sons of Hortense.
V.--The Death of Prince Napoleon.
VI.--The Flight from Italy.
VIII.--Louis Philippe and the Duchess of St. Leu.
IX.--The Departure of the Duchess from Paris.
X.--Pilgrimage through France.
XI.--Fragment from the Memoirs of Queen Hortense.
General Bonaparte suppressing the Revolt of the Sections, _Frontispiece_.
View of the Tuileries.
Portrait of Queen Hortense.
Portrait of Madame de Stael.
_DAYS OF CHILDHOOD AND OF THE REVOLUTION._
DAYS OF CHILDHOOD.
"One moment of bliss is not too dearly bought with death," says our
great German poet, and he may be right; but a moment of bliss purchased
with a long lifetime full of trial and suffering is far too costly.
And when did it come for her, this "moment of bliss?" When could
Hortense Beauharnais, in speaking of herself, declare, "I am happy? Now,
let suffering and sorrow come upon me, if they will; I have tasted
felicity, and, in the memories it has left me, it is imperishable
Much, very much, had this daughter of an empress and mother of an
emperor to endure.
In her earliest youth she had been made familiar with misfortune and
with tears; and in her later life, as maiden, wife, and mother, she was
A touchingly-beautiful figure amid the drama of the Napoleonic days was
this gentle and yet high-spirited queen, who, when she had descended
from the throne and had ceased to be a sovereign, exhausted and weary of
life, found refuge at length in the grave, yet still survived among us
as a queen--no longer, indeed, a queen of nations, but the Queen
The flowers have retained their remembrance of Josephine's beautiful
daughter; they did not, like so many of her own race, deny her when she
was no longer the daughter of the all-powerful emperor, but merely the
daughter of the "exile." Among the flowers the lovely Hortense continued
to live on, and Gavarni, the great poet of the floral realm, has reared
to her, as Hortensia, the Flower Queen, an enchanting monument, in his
"_Fleurs Animees_." Upon a mound of Hortensias rests the image of the
Queen Hortense, and, in the far distance, like the limnings of a
half-forgotten dream, are seen the towers and domes of Paris. Farther in
the foreground lies the grave of Hortense, with the carved likeness of
the queenly sister of the flowers. Loneliness reigns around the spot,
but above it, in the air, hovers the imperial eagle. The imperial
mantle, studded with its golden bees, undulates behind him, like the
train of a comet; the dark-red ribbon of the Legion of Honor, with the
golden cross, hangs around his neck, and in his beak he bears a
full-blooming branch of the crown imperial.
It is a page of world-renowned history that this charming picture of
Gavarni's conjures up before us--an historical pageant that sweeps by
us in wondrous fantastic forms of light and shadow, when we scan the
life of Queen Hortense with searching gaze, and meditate upon her
destiny. She had known all the grandeur and splendor of earth, and had
seen them all crumble again to dust. No, not all! Her ballads and poems
remain, for genius needs no diadem to be immortal.
When Hortense ceased to be a queen by the grace of Napoleon, she none
the less continued to be a poetess "by the grace of God." Her poems are
sympathetic and charming, full of tender plaintiveness and full of
impassioned warmth, which, however, in no instance oversteps the bounds
of womanly gentleness. Her musical compositions, too, are equally
melodious and attractive to the heart. Who does not know the song, "_Va
t'en, Guerrier_," which Hortense wrote and set to music, and then, at
Napoleon's request, converted into a military march? The soldiers of
France once left their native land, in those days, to the sound of this
march, to carry the French eagles to Russia; and to the same warlike
harmony they have marched forth more recently, toward the same distant
destination. This ballad, written by Hortense, survived. At one time
everybody sang it, joyously, aloud. Then, when the Bourbons had
returned, the scarred and crippled veterans of the _Invalides_ hummed it
under their breath, while they whispered secretly to each other of the
glory of _La Belle France_, as of a beautiful dream of youth, now
To-day, that song rings out with power again through France, and mounts
in jubilee to the summit of the column on the Place Vendome. The bronze
visage of the emperor seems to melt into a smile as these tremulous
billows of melody go sweeping around his brow, and the Hortensias on the
queen's grave raise dreamingly their heads of bloom, in which the dews
of heaven, or the tears of the departed one, glisten like rarest gems,
and seem to look forth lovingly and listen to this ditty, which now for
France has won so holy a significance--holy because it is the
master-chant of a religion which all men and all nations should
revere--the "religion of our memories." Thus, this "_Va t'en,
Guerrier_," which France now sings, resounds over the grave of the
queen, like a salute of honor over the last resting-place of some
She had much to contend with--this hapless and amiable queen--but she
ever proved firm, and ever retained one kind of courage that belongs to
woman--the courage to smile through her tears. Her father perished on
the scaffold; her mother, the doubly-dethroned empress, died of a broken
heart; her step-father, the Emperor Napoleon, pined away, liked a caged
lion, on a lone rock in the sea! Her whole family--all the dethroned
kings and queens--went wandering about as fugitives and pariahs,
banished from their country, and scarcely wringing from the clemency of
those to whom _they_ had been clement, a little spot of earth, where,
far from the bustle and intercourse of the world, they might live in
quiet obscurity, with their great recollections and their mighty
sorrows. Their past lay behind them, like a glittering fairy tale,
which no one now believed; and only the present seemed, to men and
nations, a welcome reality, which they, with envenomed stings, were
eager to brand upon the foreheads of the dethroned Napoleon race.
Yet, despite all these sorrows and discouragements, Hortensia had the
mental strength not to hate her fellow-beings, but, on the contrary, to
teach her children to love them and do good to them. The heart of the
dethroned queen bled from a thousand wounds, but she did not allow these
wounds to stiffen into callousness, nor her heart to harden under the
broad scars of sorrow that had ceased to bleed. She cherished her
bereavements and her wounds, and kept them open with her tears; but,
even while she suffered measureless woes, it solaced her heart to
relieve the woes and dry the tears of others. Thus was her life a
constant charity; and when she died she could, like the Empress
Josephine, say of herself, "I have wept much, but never have I made
Hortense was the daughter of the Viscount de Beauharnais, who, against
the wishes of his relatives, married the beautiful Josephine Tascher de
la Pagerie, a young Creole lady of Martinique. This alliance, which love
alone had brought about, seemed destined, nevertheless, to no happy
issue. While both were young, and both inexperienced, passionate, and
jealous, both lacked the strength and energy requisite to restrain the
wild impulses of their fiery temperaments within the cool and tranquil
bounds of quiet married life. The viscount was too young to be not
merely a lover and tender husband, but also a sober counsellor and
cautious instructor in the difficult after-day of life; and Josephine
was too innocent, too artless, too sportive and genial, to avoid all
those things that might give to the watchful and hostile family of her
husband an opportunity for ill-natured suspicions, which were whispered
in the viscount's ear as cruel certainties. It may readily be conceived,
then, that such a state of things soon led to violent scenes and bitter
grief. Josephine was too beautiful and amiable not to attract attention
and admiration wherever she went, and she was not yet _blasee_ and
hackneyed enough to take no pleasure in the court thus paid to her, and
the admiration so universally shown her, nor even to omit doing her part
to win them. But, while she was naive and innocent at heart, she
required of her husband that these trifling outside coquetries should
not disquiet him nor render him distrustful, and that he should repose
the most unshaken confidence in her. Her pride revolted against his
suspicions, as did his jealousy against her seeming frivolity; and both
became quite willing, at last, to separate, notwithstanding the love
they really bore each other at the bottom of their hearts, had not their
children rendered such a separation impossible. These children were a
son, Eugene, and a daughter, Hortense, four years younger than the boy.
Both parents loved these children with passionate tenderness; and often
when one of the stormy scenes at which we have hinted took place in the
presence of the young people, an imploring word from Eugene or a caress
from little Hortense would suffice to reconcile their father and
mother, whose anger, after all, was but the result of excessive
But these domestic broils became more violent with time, and the moment
arrived when Eugene was no longer there to stand by his little sister in
her efforts to soothe the irritation of her parents. The viscount had
sent Eugene, who was now seven years of age, to a boarding-school; and
little Hortense, quite disheartened by the absence of her brother, had
no longer the means or the courage to allay the quarrels that raged
between her parents, but would escape in terror and dismay, when they
broke out, to some lonely corner, and there weep bitterly over a
misfortune, the extent of which her poor little childish heart could not
In the midst of this gloomy and stormy period, the young viscountess
received a letter from Martinique. It was from her mother, Madame
Tascher de la Pagerie, who vividly depicted to her daughter the terrors
of her lonely situation in her huge, silent residence, where there was
no one around her but servants and slaves, whose singularly altered and
insubordinate manner had, of late, alarmed the old lady, and filled her
with secret apprehensions for the future. She, therefore, besought her
daughter to come to her, and live with her, so that she might cheer the
last few years of her mother's existence with the bright presence of her
Josephine accepted this appealing letter from her mother as a hint from
destiny; and, weary of her domestic wrangles, and resolved to end them
forever, she took her little daughter, Hortense, then scarcely four
years old, and with her sailed away from France, to seek beyond the
ocean and in her mother's arms the new happiness of undisturbed
But, at that juncture, tranquillity had fled the world. The mutterings
and moanings of the impending tempest could be heard on all sides. A
subterranean rumbling was audible throughout all lands; a dull
thundering and outcry, as though the solid earth were about to change
into one vast volcano--one measureless crater--that would dash to atoms,
and entomb, with its blazing lava-streams and fiery cinder-showers, the
happiness and peace of all humanity. And, finally, this terrific crater
did, indeed, open and hurl destruction and death on all sides, over the
whole world, uprooting, with demoniac fury, entire races and nations,
and silencing the merry laugh and harmless jest with the overpowering
echoes of its awful voice!
This volcano was the revolution. In France, the first and most fearful
explosion of this terrific crater occurred, but the whole world shook
and heaved with it, and, on all sides, the furious masses from beneath
overflowed on the surface, seeking to reverse the order of things and
place the lowest where the highest had been. Even away in Martinique
this social earthquake was felt, which had already, in France, flung out
the bloody guillotine from its relentless crater. This guillotine had
become the altar of the so-called enfranchisement of nations, and upon
this altar the intoxicated, unthinking masses offered up to their new
idol those who, until then, had been their lords and masters, and by
whose death they now believed that they could purchase freedom
"_Egalite! fraternite! liberte!_" Such was the battle-cry of this
howling, murdering populace. Such were the three words which burned in
blood-red letters of fire above the guillotine, and their mocking emblem
was the glittering axe, that flashed down, to sever from their bodies
the heads of the aristocrats whom, in spite of the new religion
represented in those three words, they would not recognize as brethren
and equals, or admit to the freedom of life and of opinion. And this
battle-cry of the murderous French populace had penetrated as far as
Martinique, where it had aroused the slaves from their sullen obedience
to the point of demanding by force that participation in freedom,
equality, and brotherhood, that had so long been denied them. They, at
last, rose everywhere in open insurrection against their masters, and
the firebrands which they hurled into the dwellings of the whites served
as the bridal torches to their espousal of liberty.
The house of Madame Tascher de la Pagerie was one of the abodes in which
these firebrands fell.
One night Josephine was awakened by the blinding light of the flames,
which had already penetrated to her chamber. With a shriek of terror,
she sprang from her bed, caught up little Hortense in her arms from the
couch where the child lay quietly slumbering, wrapped her in the
bedclothes, and rushed, in her night-attire, from the house. She burst,
with the lion-like courage of a mother, through the shouting, fighting
crowds of soldiers and blacks outside, and fled, with all the speed of
mortal terror, toward the harbor. There lay a French vessel, just ready
to weigh anchor. An officer, who at that moment was stepping into the
small boat that was to convey him to the departing ship, saw this young
woman, as, holding her child tightly to her bosom, she sank down, with
one last despairing cry, half inanimate, upon the beach. Filled with the
deepest compassion, he hastened to her, and, raising both mother and
child in his arms, he bore them to his boat, which then instantly put
out from land, and bounded away over the billows with its lovely burden.
The ship was soon reached, and Josephine, still tightly clasping her
child to her breast, and happy in having saved this only jewel, climbed
up the unsteady ladder to the ship's decks. Until this moment all her
thoughts remained concentrated upon her child, and it was only when she
had seen her little Hortense safely put to bed in the cabin and free
from all danger--only after she had fulfilled all the duties of a
mother, that the woman revived in her breast, and she cast shamed and
frightened glances around her. Only half-clad, in light, fluttering
night-clothes, without any other covering to her beautiful neck and
bosom than her superb, luxuriant hair, which fell around her and partly
hid them, like a thick black veil, stood the young Viscountess
Josephine de Beauharnais, in the midst of a group of gazing men!
However, some of the ladies on the ship came to her aid, and, so soon as
her toilet had been sufficiently improved, Josephine eagerly requested
to be taken back to land, in order that she might fly to her mother's
But the captain opposed this request, as he was unwilling to give the
young fugitive over to the tender mercies of the assassins who were
burning and massacring ashore, and whose murderous yells could be
distinctly heard on board of the vessel. The entire coast, so far as the
eye could reach, looked like another sea--a sea, though, of flame and
smoke, which shot up its leaping billows in long tongues of fire far
against the sky. It was a terrible, an appalling spectacle; and
Josephine fled from it to the bedside of her little sleeping daughter.
Then, kneeling there by the couch of her child, she uplifted to heaven
her face, down which the tears were streaming, and implored God to spare
But, meanwhile, the ship weighed anchor, and sped farther and farther
away from this blazing coast.
Josephine stood on the deck and gazed back at her mother's burning home,
which gradually grew less to her sight, then glimmered only like a tiny
star on the distant horizon, and finally vanished altogether. With that
last ray her childhood and past life had sunk forever in the sea, and a
new world and a new life opened for both mother and child. The past was,
like the ships of Cortez, burned behind her; yet it threw a magic light
far away over into her future, and as Josephine stood there with her
little Hortense in her arms, and sent her last farewell to the island
where her early days had been spent, she bethought her of the old
mulatto-woman who had whispered in her ear one day:
"You will go back to France, and, ere long after that, all France will
be at your feet. You will be greater there than a queen."
It was toward the close of the year 1790 that Josephine, with her little
daughter, Hortense, arrived in Paris and took up her residence in a
small dwelling. There she soon received the intelligence of the rescue
of her mother, and of the re-establishment of peace in Martinique. In
France, however, the revolution and the guillotine still raged, and the
banner of the Reign of Terror--the red flag--still cast its bloody
shadow over Paris. Its inhabitants were terror-stricken; no one knew in
the evening that he would still be at liberty on the following day, or
that he would live to see another sunset. Death lay in wait at every
door, and reaped its dread harvest in every house and in every family.
In the face of these horrors, Josephine forgot all her earlier griefs,
all the insults and humiliations to which she had been subjected by her
husband; the old love revived in her breast, and, as it might well be
that on the morrow death would come knocking at her own door, she wished
to devote the present moment to a reconciliation with her husband, and a
reunion with her son.
But all her attempts in this direction were in vain. The viscount had
felt her flight to Martinique to be too grave an injury, too great an
insult, to be now willing to consent to a reconciliation with his wife.
Sympathizing friends arranged a meeting between them, without, however,
previously informing the viscount of their design. His anger was
therefore great when, on entering the parlor of Count Montmorin, in
response to that gentleman's invitation, he found there the wife he had
so obstinately and wrathfully avoided. He was about to retire hastily,
when a charming child rushed forward, greeted him tenderly in silvery
tones, and threw herself into his arms. The viscount was now powerless
to fly; he pressed his child, his Hortense, to his heart, and when the
child, with a winning smile, entreated him to kiss her mamma as he had
kissed her; when he saw the beautiful countenance of Josephine wet with
tears; when he heard his father's voice saying, "My son, reconcile
yourself with my daughter! Josephine is my daughter, and I would not
call her so if she were unworthy," and when he saw his handsome son,
Eugene, gazing at him wistfully, his head resting on his mother's
shoulder, his heart relented. Leading little Hortense by the hand, he
stepped forward to his wife, and, with a loud cry of joy and a blissful
greeting of love, Josephine sank on his bosom.
Peace was re-established, and husband and wife were now united in a
closer bond of love than ever before. The storms seemed to have spent
their rage, and the heaven of their happiness was clear and cloudless.
But this heaven was soon to be overcast with the black shadow of the
Viscount Beauharnais, returned by the nobility of Blois to the new
legislative body, the Estates-General, resigned this position, in order
to serve his country with his sword instead of his tongue. With the rank
of adjutant-general, he repaired to the Army of the North, accompanied
by Josephine's blessings and tears. A dread premonition told her that
she would never see the general again, and this premonition did not
deceive her. The spirit of anarchy and insurrection not only raged among
the people of Paris, but also in the army. The aristocrats, who were
given over to the guillotine in Paris, were also regarded with distrust
and hatred in the army, and Viscount Beauharnais, who, for his gallantry
on the battle-field of Soissons, had been promoted to the position of
commanding general, was accused by his own officers of being an enemy of
France and of the new order of things. He was arrested, taken back to
Paris, and thrown into the prison of the Luxembourg, where so many other
victims of the revolution lay in confinement.
The sad intelligence of her husband's misfortune soon reached Josephine,
and aroused her love to energetic action in his behalf. She mentally
vowed to liberate her husband, the father of her children, or to die
with him. She courageously confronted all dangers, all suspicions, and
was happy when she found him in his prison, where she visited him,
whispering words of consolation and hope in his ear.
But at that time love and fidelity were also capital crimes, and
Josephine's guilt was twofold: first, because she was an aristocrat
herself, and secondly, because she loved and wept for the fate of an
aristocrat, and an alleged traitor to his country. Josephine was
arrested and thrown into the prison of St. Pelagie.
Eugene and Hortense were now little better than orphans, for the
prisoners of the Luxembourg and St. Pelagie, at that time, only left
their prisons to mount the scaffold. Alone, deprived of all help,
avoided by all whom they had once known and loved, the two children were
threatened with misery, want, and even with hunger, for the estate of
their parents had been confiscated, and, in the same hour in which
Josephine was conducted to prison, the entrances and doors of their
dwelling were sealed, and the poor children left to find a sheltering
roof for themselves. But yet they were not entirely helpless, not quite
friendless, for a friend of Josephine, a Madame Ho1stein, had the
courage to come to the rescue, and take the children into her
But it was necessary to go to work cautiously and wisely, in order to
avoid exciting the hatred and vengeance of those who, coming from the
scum of the people, were now the rulers of France. An imprudent word, a
look, might suffice to cast suspicion upon, and render up to the
guillotine, this good Madame Ho1stein, this courageous friend of the two
children. It was in itself a capital crime that she had taken the
children of the accused into her house, and it was therefore necessary
to adopt every means of conciliating the authorities. It was thought
necessary that Hortense should, in company with her protectress, attend
the festivals and patriotic processions, that were renewed at every
decade in honor of the one and indivisible republic, but she was never
required to take an active part in these celebrations. She was not
considered worthy to figure among the daughters of the people; she had
not yet been forgiven for being the daughter of a viscount, of an
imprisoned _ci-devant._ Eugene had been apprenticed to a carpenter, and
the son of the viscount was now often seen walking through the streets
in a blouse, carrying a board on his shoulder or a saw under his arm.
While the children of the accused were thus enjoying temporary security,
the future of their parents was growing darker and darker, and not only
the life of the general, but also that of his wife, was now seriously
endangered. Josephine had been removed from the prison of St. Pelagie to
that of the Carmelites, and this brought her a step nearer the scaffold.
But she did not tremble for herself, she thought only of her children
and her husband; she wrote affectionate letters to the former, which she
bribed her jailer to forward to their destination, but all her efforts
to place herself in communication with her husband were abortive. One
day she received the fearful intelligence that her husband had just been
conducted before the revolutionary tribunal. Josephine waited for
further intelligence in an agony of suspense. Had this tribunal
acquitted her husband, or had it condemned him to death? Was he already
free, or was he free in a higher sense--was he dead? If he were free, he
would have found means to inform her of the fact; and if he were dead,
his name would certainly have been mentioned in the list of the
condemned. In this agony of suspense, Josephine passed the long day.
Night came, but brought no rest for her and her companions in
misery--the other occupants of the prison--who also looked death in the
face, and who watched with her throughout the long night.
The society assembled in this prison was brilliant and select. There
were the Dowager Duchess de Choiseul, the Viscountess de Maille, whose
seventeen-years-old daughter had just been guillotined; there was the
Marquise de Crequi, the intellectual lady who has often been called the
last marquise of the _ancien regime_, and who in her witty memoirs wrote
the French history of the eighteenth century as viewed from an
aristocratic standpoint. There was Abbe Texier, who, when the
revolutionists threatened him with the lantern, because he had refused
to take the oath of allegiance to the new constitution, replied: "Will
you see any better after having hung me to the lantern?" And there was
yet another, a M. Duvivier, a pupil of Cagliostro, who, like his
master, could read the future, and with the assistance of a decanter
full of water and a "dove," that is, an innocent young girl of less than
seven, could solve the mysteries of fate.
To him, to the Grand Cophta, Josephine now addressed herself after this
day of dread uncertainty, and demanded information of the fate of
In the stillness of the night the gloomy, desolate hall of the prison
now presented a strange aspect. The jailer, bribed with an assignat of
fifty francs, then worth only forty sous, however, had consented that
his little six-years-old daughter should serve the Grand Cophta as
"dove," and had made all other preparations. A table stood in the middle
of the hall, on which was a decanter filled with clear, fresh water,
around which were three candles in the form of a triangle, and placed as
near the decanter as possible, in order that the dove should be able to
see the better. The little girl, just aroused from sleep and brought
from her bed in her night-gown, sat on a chair close to the table, and
behind her stood the earnest, sombre figure of the Grand Cophta. Around
the table stood the prisoners, these duchesses and marquises, these
ladies of the court of Versailles who had preserved their aristocratic
manners in the prison, and were even here so strictly observant of
etiquette, that those of them who had enjoyed the honor of the
_tabouret_ in the Tuileries, were here accorded the same precedence, and
all possible consideration shown them.
On the other side of the table, in breathless suspense, her large, dark
eyes fastened on the child with a touching expression, stood the unhappy
Josephine, and, at some distance behind the ladies, the jailer with
Now the Grand Cophta laid both hands on the child's head and cried in a
loud voice, "Open your eyes and look!"
The child turned pale and shuddered as it fixed its gaze on the
"What do you see?" asked the Grand Cophta, "I want you to look into the
prison of General Beauharnais. What do you see?"
"I see a little room," said the child with vivacity. "On a cot lies a
young man who sleeps; at his side stands another man, writing on a sheet
of paper that lies on a large book."
"Can you read?"
"No, citizen. Now the man cuts off his hair, and folds it in the paper."
"The one who sleeps?"
"No, the one who was just now writing. He is now writing something on
the back of the paper in which he wrapped the hair; now he opens a
little red pocket-book, and takes papers out of it; they are assignats,
he counts them and then puts them back in the pocket-book. Now he rises
and walks softly, softly."
"What do you mean by softly? You have not heard the slightest noise as
yet, have you?"
"No, but he walks through the room on tiptoe."
"What do you see now?"
"He now covers his face with his hands and seems to be weeping."
"But what did he do with his pocket-book?"
"Ah, he has put the pocket book and the package with the hair in the
pocket of the coat that lies on the sleeping man's bed."
"Of what color is this coat?"
"I cannot see, exactly; it is red or brown, lined with blue silk and
covered with shining buttons."
"That will do," said the Grand Cophta; "you can go to bed, child."
He stooped down over the child and breathed on her forehead. The little
girl seemed to awaken as from a trance, and hurried to her parents, who
led her from the hall.
"General Beauharnais still lives!" said the Grand Cophta, addressing
"Yes, he still lives," cried she, sadly, "but he is preparing for
[Footnote 1: This scene is exactly as represented by the Marquise de
Crequi, who was present and relates it in her memoirs, vol. vi.,
Josephine was right. A few days later Duchess d'Anville received a
package and a letter. It was sent to her by a prisoner in La Force,
named De Legrois. He had occupied the same cell with General Beauharnais
and had found the package and the letter, addressed to the duchess, in
his pocket on the morning of the execution of the general.
In this letter the general conjured Duchess D'Anville to deliver to
Josephine the package which contained his hair and his last adieus to
wife and children.
This was the only inheritance which General Beauharnais could bequeath
to his Josephine and her unhappy children!
Josephine was so agitated by the sight of her husband's hair and his
last fond words of adieu, that she fainted away, a stream of blood
gushing from her mouth.
Her companions in misfortune vied with each other in giving her the most
tender attention, and demanded of the jailer that a physician should
"Why a physician!" said the man, indifferently. "Death is the best
physician. He called the general to-day; in a few days he will restore
to him his wife."
This prophecy was almost verified. Josephine, scarcely recovered from
her illness, received her citation from the Tribunal of Terror. This was
the herald of certain death, and she courageously prepared for the
grave, troubled only by thoughts of the children she must leave behind.
A fortunate and unforeseen occurrence saved her. The men of the
revolution had now attained the summit of their power, and, as there was
no standing still for them, they sank into the abyss which themselves
The fall of Robespierre opened the prisons and set at liberty thousands
of the already condemned victims of the revolution.
Viscountess Josephine left her prison; she was restored to liberty, and
could now hasten to her children, but she came back to them as a poor
widow, for the seals of the "one and indivisible republic" were on hers
and her children's property as well as on that of all other aristocrats.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE REVOLUTION.
France drew a breath of relief; the Reign of Terror was at an end, and a
milder and more moderate government wielded the sceptre over the poor
land that had so lately lain in the agonies of death. It was no longer a
capital offence to bear an aristocratic name, to be better dressed than
the _sans-culottes_, to wear no Jacobin-cap, and to be related to the
emigrants. The guillotine, which had ruled over Paris during two years
of blood and tears, now rested from its horrid work, and allowed the
Parisians to think of something else besides making their wills and
preparing for death.
Mindful of the uncertainty of the times, the people were disposed to
make the most of this release from the fear of immediate death, and to
enjoy themselves to the utmost while they could.
They had so long wept, that they eagerly desired to laugh once more; so
long lived in sorrow and fear, that they now ardently longed for
amusement and relaxation. The beautiful women of Paris, who had been
dethroned by the guillotine, and from whose hands the reins had been
torn, now found the courage to grasp these reins again, and reconquer
the position from which the storm-wind of the revolution had
Madame Tallien, the all-powerful wife of one of the five directors who
now swayed the destinies of France; Madame Recamier, the friend of all
the eminent and distinguished men of that period; and Madame de Stael,
the daughter of Necker, and the wife of the ambassador of Sweden, whose
government had recognized the republic--these three ladies gave to Paris
its drawing-rooms, its reunions, its _fetes_, its fashions, and its
luxury. All Paris had assumed a new form, and, although the Church had
not yet again obtained official recognition, the belief in a Supreme
Being was already re-established. Robespierre had already been bold
enough to cause the inscription, "There is a Supreme Being," to be
placed over the altars of the churches that had been converted into
"Temples of Reason." Yes, there is a Supreme Being; and Robespierre, who
had first acknowledged its existence, was soon to experience in himself
that such was the case. Betrayed by his own associates, and charged by
them with desiring to make himself dictator, and place himself at the
head of the new Roman-French Republic as a new Caesar, Robespierre fell
a prey to the Tribunal of Terror which he himself had called into
existence. While engaged in the Hotel de Ville in signing
death-sentences which were to furnish fresh victims to the guillotine,
he was arrested by the Jacobins and National Guards, who had stormed
the gates and penetrated into the building, and the attempt to blow out
his brains with his pistol miscarried. Bleeding, his jaw shattered by
the bullet, he was dragged before Fouquier-Tainville to receive his
sentence, and to be conducted thence to the scaffold. In order that the
proceeding should be attended with all formalities, he was, however,
first conducted to the Tuileries, where the Committee of Public Safety
was then sitting in the chamber of Queen Marie Antoinette. Into the
bedchamber of the queen whom Robespierre had brought to the scaffold,
the bleeding, half-lifeless dictator was now dragged. Like a bundle of
rags he was contemptuously thrown on the large table that stood in the
middle of the room. But yesterday Robespierre had been enthroned at this
table as almighty ruler over the lives and possessions of all Frenchmen;
but yesterday he had here issued his decrees and signed the
death-sentences, that lay on the table, unexecuted. These papers were
now the only salve the ghastly, groaning man could apply to the wound in
his face, from which blood poured in streams. The death-sentences signed
by himself now drank his own blood, and he had nothing but a rag of a
tricolor, thrown him by a compassionate _sans-culotte_, with which to
bind up the great, gaping wound on his head. As he sat there in the
midst of the blood-saturated papers, bleeding, groaning, and
complaining, an old National Guard, with outstretched arms, pointing to
this ghastly object, cried: "Yes, Robespierre was right. There is a
This period of blood and terror was now over; Robespierre was dead;
Theroigne de Mericourt was no longer the Goddess of Reason, and
Mademoiselle Maillard no longer Goddess of Liberty and Virtue. Women had
given up representing divinities, and desired to be themselves again,
and to rebuild in the drawing-rooms of the capital, by means of their
intellect and grace, the throne which had gone down in the revolution.
Madame Tallien, Madame Recamier, and Madame de Stael, reorganized
society, and all were anxious to obtain admission to their parlors. To
be sure, these entertainments and reunions still wore a sufficiently
strange and fantastic appearance. Fashion, which had so long been
compelled to give way to the _carmagnole_ and red cap, endeavored to
avenge its long banishment by all manner of caprices and humors, and in
doing so assumed a political, reactionary aspect. _Coiffures a la
Jacobine_ were now supplanted by _coiffures a la victime_ and _au
repentir_. In order to exhibit one's taste for the fine arts, the
draperies of the statues of Greece and ancient Rome were now worn.
Grecian _fetes_ were given, at which the black soup of Lycurgus was duly
honored, and Roman feasts which, in splendor and extravagance, rivalled
those of Lucullus. These Roman feasts were particularly in vogue at the
palace of Luxembourg, where the directors of the republic had now taken
up their residence, and where Madame Tallien exhibited to the new French
society the new wonders of luxury and fashion. Too proud to wear the
generally-adopted costume of the Grecian republic, Madame Tallien chose
the attire of the Roman patrician lady; and the gold-embroidered purple
robes, and the golden tiara in her black, shining hair, gave to the
charming and beautiful daughter of the republic the magnificence of an
empress. She had also drawn around her a splendid court. All eagerly
pressed forward to pay their respects to and obtain the good will of the
mighty wife of the mighty Tallien. Her house was the great point of
attraction to all those who occupied prominent positions in Paris, or
aspired to such. While in the parlors of Madame Recamier, who, despite
the revolution, had remained a zealous royalist, the past and the good
time of the Bourbons were whispered of, and witty and often sanguinary
_bon mots_ at the expense of the republic uttered--while in Madame de
Stael's parlors art and science had found an asylum--Madame Tallien and
court lived for the present, and basked in the splendor with which she
knew how to invest the palace of the dictators of France.
In the mean while, Viscountess Josephine Beauharnais had been living,
with her children, in quiet retirement, a prey to sad memories. A day
came, however, when she was compelled to tear herself from this last
consolation of the unhappy, the brooding over the sorrows and losses of
the past, or see her children become the victims of misery and want. The
time had come when she must leave her retirement, and step, as a
petitioner, before those who had the power to grant, as a favor, that
which was hers by right, and restore to her, at least in part, her
sequestered estate. Josephine had known Madame Tallien when she was
still Madame de Fontenay, and it now occurred to her that she might
assist her in her attempt to recover the inheritance of her father.
Madame Tallien, the "Merveilleuse de Luxembourg," also called by her
admirers, "Notre-dame de Thermidor," felt much nattered at being called
on by a real viscountess, who had filled a distinguished position at the
court of King Louis. She therefore received her with great amiability,
and endeavored to make the charming and beautiful viscountess her
friend. But Josephine found that estates were more easily lost than
recovered. The republic, one and indivisible, was always ready to take,
but not to give; and, even with the kindly offices of Madame Tallien
freely exerted in her behalf, it was some time before Josephine
succeeded in recovering her estate. In the mean time, she really
suffered want, and she and her children were compelled to bear the
hardships and mortifications which poverty brings in its train. But true
friends still remained to her in her misery; friends who, with true
delicacy, furnished her with the prime necessities of life--with food
and clothing for herself and children. In general, it was characteristic
of this period that no one felt humiliated by accepting benefits of this
kind from his friends. Those who had lost all had not done so through
their own fault; and those who had saved their property out of the
general wreck could not attribute their fortune to their own merit or
wisdom, but merely to chance. They therefore considered it a sacred
duty to divide with those who had been less fortunate; and the latter
would point with pride to the poverty which proved that they had been
true to themselves and principle, and accept what friendship offered.
This was the result of a kind of community of property, to which the
revolution had given birth. Those who had possessions considered it
their duty to divide with those who had not, and the latter regarded
this division rather as a right than as a benefit conferred.
Josephine could, therefore, accept the assistance of her friends without
blushing; she could, with propriety, allow Madame de Montmorin to
provide for the wardrobe of herself and daughter; and she and Hortense
could accept the invitation of Madame Dumoulin to dine with her twice a
week. There, at Madame Dumoulin's, were assembled, on certain days, a
number of friends, who had been robbed of their fortunes by the storms
of the revolution. Madame Dumoulin, the wife of a rich army-contractor,
gave these dinners to her friends, but each guest was expected to bring
with him his own white-bread. White-bread was, at that time, considered
one of the greatest dainties; for, there being a scarcity of grain, a
law had been proclaimed allotting to each section of Paris a certain
amount of bread, and providing that no individual should be entitled to
purchase more than two ounces daily. It had, therefore, become the
general custom to add the following to all invitations: "You are
requested to bring your white bread with you," for the reason that no
more than the allotted two ounces could be had for money, and that
amount cost the purchaser dearly. Josephine, however, had not even
the money to buy the portion allowed her by law. An exception to this
rule was, however, made in favor of Josephine and Hortense; and at
Madame Dumoulin's dinners the hostess always provided white bread for
them, and for them alone of all her guests. Viscountess Beauharnais was
soon, however, to be freed from this want. One day when she had been
invited by Madame Tallien to dinner, and had walked to the palace with
Hortense, Tallien informed her that the government had favorably
considered her petition, and was willing to make some concessions to the
widow of a true patriot who had sealed his devotion to principle with
his blood; that he had procured an ordinance from the administration of
domains, pursuant to which the seals were at once to be removed from her
furniture and other personal property, and that the republic had
remitted to her, through him, an order on the treasury for her relief,
until the sequestration of her landed estates should be annulled, which
he expected would soon take place.
[Footnote 2: Memoires de Monsieur de Bourrienne sur Napoleon, etc., Vol.
i., p. 80.]
Josephine found no words in which to express her thanks. She pressed her
daughter to her heart and cried out, her face bathed in tears: "We shall
at last be happy! My children shall no longer suffer want!" This time
the tears Josephine shed were tears of joy, the first in long years.
Care and want were now over. Josephine could now give her children an
education suitable to their rank; she could now once more assume the
position in society to which her beauty, youth, amiability, and name
entitled her. She no longer came to Madame Tallien's parlor as a
suppliant, she was now its ornament, and all were eager to do homage to
the adored friend of Madame Tallien, to the beautiful and charming
viscountess. But Josephine preferred the quiet bliss of home-life in the
circle of her children to the brilliant life of society; she gradually
withdrew from the noisy circles of the outer world, in order that she
might, in peaceful retirement, devote herself to the cultivation of the
hearts and minds of her promising children.
Eugene was now a youth of sixteen years, and, as his personal security
no longer required him to deny his name and rank, he had left his
master's carpenter-shop, and laid aside his blouse. He was preparing
himself for military service under the instruction of excellent
teachers, whom he astonished by his zeal and rare powers of
comprehension. The military renown and heroic deeds of France filled him
with enthusiasm; and one day, while speaking with his teacher of the
deeds of Turenne, Eugene exclaimed with sparkling eyes and glowing
countenance: "I too will become a gallant general, some day!"
Hortense, now a girl of twelve years, lived with her mother, who was
scarcely thirty years old, in the sweet companionship of an elder and
younger sister. They were inseparable companions; Nature had given
Hortense beauty with a lavish hand; her mother gave to this beauty
grace and dignity. Competent teachers instructed her daughter's
intellect, while the mother cultivated her heart. Early accustomed to
care and want, this child had not the giddy, thoughtless disposition
usually characteristic of girls of her age. She had too early gained an
insight into the uncertainty and emptiness of all earthly magnificence,
not to appreciate the littleness of those things upon which young girls
usually place so high an estimate. Her thoughts were not occupied with
the adornment of her person, and she did not bend her young head beneath
the yoke of capricious fashion: for her, there were higher and nobler
enjoyments, and Hortense was never happier than when her mother
dispensed with her attendance at the entertainments at the house of
Madame Tallien or Madame Barras, and permitted her to remain at home, to
amuse herself with her books and harp in a better and more useful, if
not in a more agreeable manner, than she could have done in the
brilliant parlors to which her mother had repaired. Early matured in the
school of experience and suffering, the girl of twelve had acquired a
womanly earnestness and resolution, and yet her noble and chaste
features still wore the impress of childhood, and in her large blue eyes
reposed a whole heaven of innocence and peace. When she sat with her
harp at the window in the evening twilight, the last rays of the setting
sun gilding her sweet countenance, and surrounding as with a halo her
beautiful blond hair, Josephine imagined she saw before her one of those
angel-forms of innocence and love which the poet and painter portray.
In a kind of trance she listened to the sweet sounds and melodies which
Hortense lured from her harp, and accompanied with the silvery tones of
her voice, in words composed by herself, half-childish prayer, half
rhapsody of love, and revealing the most secret thoughts of the fair
young being who stood on the threshold of womanhood, bidding adieu to
childhood with a blissful smile, and dreaming of the future.
While Josephine de Beauharnais, after the trials of these long and
stormy years, was enjoying blissful days of quiet happiness and repose,
the gusts of revolution kept bursting forth from time to time in fits of
fury, and tranquillity continued far from being permanently restored.
The clubs, those hot-beds of the revolution, still exercised their
pestilential influence over the populace of Paris, and stirred the rude
masses incessantly to fresh paroxysms of discontent and disorder.
But already the man had been found who was to crush those wild masses in
his iron grasp, and dash the speakers of the clubs down into the dust
with the flashing master-glance of his resistless eye.
That man was Napoleon Buonaparte. He was hardly twenty-nine years of
age, yet already all France was talking him as a hero crowned with
laurels, already had he trodden a brilliant career of victory. As
commander of a battalion he had performed prodigies of valor at the
recapture of Toulon; and then, after being promoted to the rank of
general, had gone to the army in Italy on behalf of the republic.
Bedecked with the laurels of his Italian campaign, the young general of
five-and-twenty had returned to France. There, the government, being
still hostile and ill-disposed toward him, wished to remove him from
Paris, and send him to La Vendee as a brigadier-general. Buonaparte
declined this mission, because he preferred remaining in the artillery
service, and, for that reason, the government of the republic relieved
him of his duties and put him on half-pay.
So, Buonaparte remained in Paris and waited. He waited for the brilliant
star that was soon to climb the firmament for him, and shed the fulness
of its rays over the whole world. Perhaps, the secret voices which
whispered in his breast of a dazzling future, and a fabulous career of
military glory, had already announced the rising of his star.
So Buonaparte lived on in Paris, and waited. He there passed quiet,
retired, and inactive days, associating with a few devoted friends only,
who aided him, with delicate tact, in his restricted circumstances. For
Buonaparte was poor; he had lost his limited means in the tempests of
the revolution, and all that he possessed consisted of the laurels he
had won on the battle-field, and his half pay as a brigadier-general.
But, like the Viscountess de Beauharnais, Napoleon had some true friends
who deemed it an honor to receive him as a guest at their table, and
also, like Josephine, he was too poor to bring his wheaten loaf with him
to the dinners that he attended, as was then the prevailing custom. He
often dined, in company with his brother Louis, at the house of his
boyhood's friend Bourrienne, and his future secretary was at that time
still his host, favored of the gods. The young general, instead of, like
his brother, bringing his wheaten loaf, brought only his ration, which
was rye-bread, and this he always abandoned to his brother Louis, who
was very fond of it, while Madame Bourrienne took care that he should
invariably find his supply of white, bread at his plate. She had managed
to get some flour smuggled into Paris from her husband's estate, and had
white-bread made of it secretly, at the pastry-cook's. Had this been
discovered, it would inevitably have prepared the way for all of them to
Thus, then, young General Buonaparte, or, as he subsequently wrote the
name himself, "Bonaparte," passed quiet days of expectation, hoping
that, should the existing government, so hostile to him, be suppressed
by another, his wishes might be at last fulfilled. These wishes were, by
the way, of a rather unpretending character. "If I could only live here
quietly, at Paris," he once remarked to his friend Bourrienne, "and rent
that pretty little house yonder, opposite to my friends, and keep a
carriage besides, I should be the happiest of men!"
He was quite seriously entertaining the idea of renting the "pretty
little house" in common with his uncle Fesch afterward the cardinal,
when the important events that soon shook Paris once more prevented him,
and the famous 13th Vendemiaire, 1795, again summoned the famous general
away from his meditations to stern practical activity. It was on that
day, the 13th Vendemiaire (October 5th), that there came the outburst of
the storm, the subterranean rumblings of which had been so long
perceptible. The sections of Paris rose against the National Convention
which had given France a new constitution, and so fixed it that two
thirds of the members of the Convention should reappear in the new
legislative body. The sections of Paris, however, were prepared to
accept the new constitution only when it provided that the legislative
body should spring from fresh elections entirely. The Convention, thus
assailed in its ambitious hankering for power, was resolved to stand its
ground, and called upon the representatives who commanded the armed
forces, to defend the republic of their creation. Barras was appointed
the first general commanding the Army of the Interior, and Bonaparte the
second. It was not long before a ferocious conflict broke out in the
streets between the army and the insurgent sections. At that time the
populace were not always so ready, as they have been since then, to tear
up the pavements for barricades, and the revolters, put to flight by the
terrible fire and the fierce onset of the artillery, made the Church of
St. Roch and the Palais Royal their defensive points; but they were
driven from them also; the struggle in the streets recommenced, and
streams of blood had to flow ere it was over.
After the lapse of two days order was restored, and Barras declared to
the triumphant National Convention that the victory over the insurgents
was chiefly due to the comprehensive and gallant conduct of General
The National Convention, as a token of gratitude, conferred upon the
latter the permanent position of second general of the Army of the
Interior, which had been allotted to him temporarily, only on the day of
peril. From that moment, Bonaparte emerged from obscurity; his name had
risen above the horizon!
He now had a position, and he could better comprehend the whispering
voices that sang within his bosom the proud, triumphant song of his
future career. He was now already conscious that he had a shining goal
before his gaze--a goal to which he dared not yet assign a title, that
flitted about him like a dazzling fairy tale, and which he swore to make
reality at last.
One day, there came to the headquarters of the young general-in-chief a
young man who very pressingly asked to see him. Bonaparte had him
admitted, and the dignified form, the courageous, fiery glance, the
noble, handsome countenance of the stranger, at once prepossessed him in
the young man's favor, and he forthwith questioned him in gentle,
friendly tones, concerning the object of his visit.
"General," said the young man, "my name is Eugene Beauharnais, and I
have served the republic on the Rhine. My father was denounced before
the Committee of Public Safety as a _suspect_, and given over to the
Revolutionary Tribunal, who had him murdered, three days before the fall
"Murdered!" exclaimed Bonaparte, in threatening tones.
"Yes, general, murdered!" repeated Eugene, with resolution. "I come now
to request, in the name of my mother, that you will have the kindness to
bring your influence to bear upon the committee, to induce them to give
me back my father's sword. I will faithfully use it in fighting the
enemies of my country and defending the cause of the republic."
These proud and noble words called up a gentle, kindly smile to the
stern, pale face of the young general, and the fiery flash of his eyes
"Good! young man, very good!" he said. "I like this spirit, and this
filial tenderness. The sword of your father--the sword of General
Beauharnais--shall be restored to you. Wait!"
With this, he called one of his adjutants, and gave him the necessary
commands. A short time only had elapsed, when the adjutant returned,
bringing with him the sword of General Beauharnais.
Bonaparte himself handed it to Eugene. The young overwhelmed with strong
emotion, pressed the weapon--the sole, dear possession of his father--to
his lips and to his heart, and tears of sacred emotion started into
Instantly the general stepped to his side, and his slender white hand,
which knew so well how to wield the sword, and yet was as soft, as
delicate, and as transparent as the hand of a duchess, rested lightly on
"My young friend," said he, in that gentle tone which won all hearts to
him, "I should be very happy could I do anything for you or
Eugene gazed at him with an expression of childish amazement. "Good
general!" he managed to say; "then mamma and my sister will pray
This ingenuousness made the general smile; and, with a friendly nod, he
desired Eugene to offer his respects to his mother, and to call upon him
This meeting of Eugene and General Bonaparte was the commencement of the
acquaintanceship between Bonaparte and Josephine. The sword of the
guillotined General Beauharnais placed an imperial crown upon the head
of his widow, and adorned the brows of his son and his daughter with
A few days after this interview between Bonaparte and Eugene, Josephine
met Bonaparte at one of the brilliant _soirees_ given by Barras, the
first general-in-chief. She asked Barras to introduce her to the young
general, and then, in her usual frank manner, utterly the opposite of
all prudery, yet none the less delicate and decorous, extending her hand
to Bonaparte, she thanked him, with the tender warmth of a mother, for
the friendliness and kindness he had manifested to her son.
The general looked with wondering admiration at this young and beautiful
woman, who claimed to be the mother of a lad grown up to manhood. Her
enchanting face beamed with youth and beauty, and a sea of warmth and
passion streamed from her large, dark eyes, while the gentle,
love-enticing smile that played around her mouth revealed the tender
feminine gentleness and amiability of her disposition. Bonaparte had
never mastered the art of flattering women in the light, frivolous style
of the fashionable coxcomb; and when he attempted it his compliments
were frequently of so unusual and startling a character that they might
just as well contain an affront as a tribute of eulogy.
"Ah! ah! How striking that looks!" he once said, while he was emperor,
to the charming Duchess de Chevreuse. "What remarkable red hair
"Possibly so, sire," she replied, "but this is the first time that a
man ever told me so."
And the duchess was right; for her hair was not red, but of a very
[Footnote 3: The Duchess de Chevreuse was shortly afterward banished to
Tours, because she refused to serve us a lady of honor to the Queen
To another lady, whose round, white arms pleased him, he once said: "Ah,
good Heavens, what red arms you have!" Then, again, to another: "What
beautiful hair you have; but what an ugly head-dress that is! Who could
have put it up for you in such ridiculous style?"
Bonaparte, as I have said, did not know how to compliment women with
words; but Josephine well understood the flattering language that his
eyes addressed to her. She knew that she had, in that very hour,
conquered the bold young lion, and she felt proud and happy at the
thought; for the unusually imposing appearance of the young hero had
awakened her own heart, which she had thought was dead, to livelier
From that time forth they saw each other more frequently, and, ere long,
Josephine heard from Bonaparte's own lips the glowing confession of his
love. She reciprocated it, and promised him her hand. In vain her
powerful friends, Tallien and Barras, endeavored to dissuade her from
marrying this young, penniless general; in vain did they remind her that
he might be killed in the very next battle, and that she might thus
again be left a reduced widow. Josephine shook her handsome curls with
a peculiar smile. Perhaps she was thinking of the prophecy of the
negress at Martinique; perhaps she had read in the fiery glances of
Bonaparte's eye, and on his broad, thoughtful brow, that he might be the
very man to bring that prophecy to its consummation; perhaps she loved
him ardently enough to prefer an humble lot, when shared with him, to
any richer or more brilliant alliance. The representations of her
friends did not frighten her away, and she remained firm in her
determination to become the wife of the young general, poor as he was.
Their wedding-day was fixed, and both hastened with joyous impatience to
make their modest little preparations for their new housekeeping
establishment. Yet Bonaparte had not been able to complete his dream of
happiness; he possessed neither house nor carriage, and Josephine, too,
was without an equipage.
Thus both of them often had to content themselves with going on foot
through the streets, and it may be that, in this halcyon period of their
felicity, they regarded the circumstance rather as a favor than as a
scurvy trick of Fortune. Their tender and confidential communications
were not disturbed by the loud rattle of the wheels, and they were not
obliged to interrupt their sweet interchange of sentiment while getting
into and out of a vehicle. Arm-in-arm, they strolled together along the
promenades, he smiling proudly when the passers-by broke out in
spontaneous exclamations of delight at Josephine's beauty, and she happy
and exultant as she overheard the whispered admiration and respect with
which the multitude everywhere greeted Bonaparte, as she pressed with
the general through the throng.
One day, Bonaparte accompanied the viscountess on a visit to Ragideau,
the smallest man but the greatest lawyer in Paris. He had been the
business attorney of the Beauharnais family for a long time, and
Josephine now wished to withdraw from his hands, for her own disposal, a
sum of money belonging to her that had been deposited with him.
Bonaparte remained in the anteroom while Josephine went into the
adjoining apartment, which was Ragideau's office.
"I have come to tell you that I am going to marry again," said
Josephine, with her winning smile, to Ragideau.
The little attorney gave a friendly nod, as he replied: "You do well,
and I congratulate you with all my heart, viscountess, for I am
satisfied that you have made no other than a worthy choice."
"Undoubtedly, a very worthy choice," exclaimed Josephine, with the proud
and happy look of a person really in love. "My future husband is General
The little great man (of a lawyer) fairly started with alarm. "How?"
said he, "You!--the Viscountess Beauharnais, you--marry this little
General Bonaparte, this general of the republic, which has already
deposed him once, and may depose him again to-morrow, and throw him back
Josephine's only reply was this: "I love him."
"Yes you love him, now," exclaimed Ragideau, warmly. "But you are wrong
in marrying him, and you will one day, rue it. You are committing a
folly, viscountess, for you want to marry a man who has nothing but his
hat and his sword."
"But who also has a future," said Josephine, gayly, and then, turning
the conversation, she began to speak of the practical matters that had
brought her thither.
When her business with the notary had been concluded, Josephine returned
to the anteroom where Bonaparte was waiting for her. He came, smiling,
to meet her, but, at the same moment, he gave the notary, who was with
her, so fierce and wrathful a glance that the latter shrank back in
consternation. Josephine also remarked that Bonaparte's countenance was
paler that day than usual, and that he was less communicative and less
disposed to chat with her; but she had already learned that it was not
advisable to question him as to the cause of his different moods. So,
she kept silent on that score, and her cheerfulness and amiability soon
drove away the clouds that had obscured the general's brow.
The nuptials of Bonaparte and Josephine followed, on the 9th of March,
1796; and the witnesses, besides Eugene and Hortense, Josephine's
children, were Barras, Jean Lemarois, Tallien, Calmelet, and Leclerq.
The marriage-contract contained, along with the absolutely requisite
facts of the case, a very pleasant piece of flattery for Josephine,
since, in order to establish an equality of ages between the two
parties, Bonaparte had himself put down a year older, and Josephine four
years younger, than they really were. Bonaparte was not, as the contract
states, born on the 5th of February, 1768 but on the 15th of August,
1769; and Josephine not, as the document represents, on the 23d of July,
1767, but on the 23d of June, 1763.
[Footnote 4: Bourrienne, vol. i., p. 350.]
Josephine acknowledged this gallant act of her young spouse in queenly
fashion, for she brought him, as her wedding-gift, his appointment to
the command of the Italian army, which Barras and Tallien had granted to
her, at her own request.
But, before the young bridegroom repaired to his new scene of activity,
there to win fresh laurels and renown, he passed a few happy weeks with
his lovely wife and his new family, in the small residence in the Rue
Chautereine, which he had purchased a short time before his marriage,
and which Josephine had fitted up with that elevated and refined good
taste that had always distinguished her.
One-half of Bonaparte's darling wish was at length fulfilled. He had his
house, which was large enough to receive his friends. There was now only
a carriage to be procured in order to make the general the "happiest
But, as the wishes of men always aspire still farther the farther they
advance, Bonaparte was no longer content with the possession of a small
house in Paris. He now wanted an establishment in the country also.
"Look me up a little place in your beautiful valley of the Yonne," he
wrote about this time to Bourrienne, who was then living on his property
near Sens; "and as soon as I get the money, I will buy it. Then I will
retire to it. Now, don't forget that I do not want any of the national
[Footnote 5: Bourrienne, vol. i., p. 103.]
As for the carriage, the peace of Campo Formio brought the victorious
General Bonaparte a magnificent team of six gray horses, which was a
present to the general of the French Republic from the Emperor of
Austria, who did not dream that, scarcely ten years later, he would have
him for a son-in-law.
These superb grays, however, were--excepting the laurels of Arcola,
Marengo, and Mantua, the only spoils of war that Bonaparte brought back
with him from his famous Italian campaign--the only gift which the
general had not refused to accept.
It is true that the six grays could not be very conveniently hitched to
a simple private carriage, but they had an imposing look attached to the
gilded coach of state in which, a year later, the first consul made his
solemn entry into the Tuileries.
BONAPARTE IN ITALY.
Josephine, now the wife of General Bonaparte, had but a few weeks in
which to enjoy her new happiness, and then remained alone in Paris,
doubly desolate, because she had to be separated, not only from her
husband, but from her children. Eugene accompanied his young step-father
to Italy, and Hortense went as a pupil to Madame Campan's
boarding-school. The former, lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette,
had, at that time, opened an establishment for the education of young
ladies, at St. Germain, and the greatest and most eminent families of
newly-republicanized France liked to send their daughters to it, so that
they might learn from the former court-lady the refined style and
manners of old royalist times.
Hortense was, therefore, sent to that boarding-school, and there, in the
society of her new Aunt Caroline--the sister of Bonaparte, and afterward
Queen of Naples--and the young Countess Stephanie Beauharnais, her
cousin, passed a few happy years of work, of varied study, and of
Hortense devoted herself with iron diligence, and untiring enthusiasm,
to her studies, which consisted, not only in the acquisition of
languages, in music, and drawing, history and geography, but still more
in the mastering the so-called _bon ton_ and that aristocratic _savoir
vivre_ of which Madame Campan was a very model. While Hortense was thus
receiving instruction on the harp from the celebrated Alvimara, in
painting from Isabey, dancing from Coulon, and singing from Lambert, and
was playing on the stage of the amateur theatre at the boarding-school
the parts of heroines and lady-loves; while she was participating in the
balls and concerts that Madame Campan gave in order to show off the
talent of her pupils to the friends she invited; while, in a word,
Hortense was thus being trained up to the accomplishments of a
distinguished woman of the world, she did not dream how useful all these
little details, so trivial, apparently, at the time, would one day be to
her, and how good a thing it was that she had learned to play parts at
Madame Campan's, and to appear in society as a great lady.
Meanwhile, Josephine was passing days of gratified pride and exulting
triumph at Paris, for the star of her hero was ascending, brighter and
brighter in its effulgence, above the horizon; the name of Bonaparte was
echoing in louder and louder volume through the world, and filling all
Europe with a sort of awe-inspired fear and trembling, as the sea
becomes agitated when the sun begins to rise. Victory after victory came
joyfully heralded from Italy, as ancient states fell beneath the iron
tread of the victor, and new ones sprang into being. The splendid old
Republic of Venice, once the terror of the whole world, the victorious
Queen of the Adriatic, had to bow her haughty head, and her diadem fell
in fragments at the feet of her triumphant conqueror. The lion of St.
Mark's no longer made mankind tremble at his angry roar, and the slender
monumental pillars on the Piazzetta were all that remained to the
shattered and fallen Venetian Republic of her conquests in Candia,
Cyprus, and the Morea. But, from the dust and ashes of the old
commonwealth, there arose, at Bonaparte's command, a new state, the
Cisalpine Republic, as a new and youthful daughter of the French
Republic; and, when the last Doge of Venice, Luigi Manin, laid his
peaked crown at the feet of Bonaparte, and then fainted away, another
Venetian, Dandolo, the son of a family that had given Venice the
greatest and most celebrated of her doges, stepped to the front at the
head of the new republic--that Dandolo of whom Bonaparte had said that
he was "a man."
"Good God!" exclaimed Bonaparte one day to Bourrienne, "how seldom one
meets _men_ in the world! In Italy there are eighteen millions of
inhabitants, but I have found only two _men_ among them all--Dandolo and
[Footnote 6: Bourrienne, vol. i., p. 139.]
But, while Bonaparte was despairing of _men_, in the very midst of his
victories, he cherished the warmest, most impassioned love for his wife,
to whom he almost daily wrote the tenderest and most ardent letters, the
answers to which he awaited with the most impatient longing.
Josephine's letters formed the sole exception to a very unusual and
singular system that Bonaparte had adopted during a part of his
campaign in Italy. This was to leave a11 written communications,
excepting such as came to him by special couriers, unread for three
weeks. He threw them all into a large basket, and opened them only on
the twenty-first day thereafter. Still, General Bonaparte was more
considerate than Cardinal Dubois, who immediately consigned _all_ the
communications he received to the flames, _unread_, and--while the fire
on his hearth was consuming the paper on which, perchance, was written
the despairing appeal of a mother, imploring pardon for her son; of a
disconsolate wife, beseeching pity for her husband; or the application
of an ambitious statesman, desiring promotion--would point to them with
a sardonic smile, and say, "There's _my_ correspondence!" Bonaparte, at
least, gave the letters a perusal, three weeks after they reached him,
indeed; but those three weeks saved him and his secretary, Bourrienne,
much time and labor, for, when they finally went to work on them, time
and circumstances had already disposed of four fifths of them, and thus
only one fifth required answers--a result that made Bonaparte laugh
heartily, and filled him with justifiable pride in what he termed his
Josephine's letters, however, had not an hour or a minute to wait ere
they were read. Bonaparte always received them with his heart bounding
with delight, and invariably answered them, in such impassioned, glowing
language as only his warm southern temperament could suggest, and
contrasted with which even Josephine's missives seemed a little cool and
Ere long Bonaparte ceased to be satisfied with merely getting letters
from his Josephine. He desired to have her, in person, with him; and
hardly had the tempest of war begun to lull, ere the general summoned
his beloved to his side at Milan. She obeyed his call with rapture, and
hastened to Italy to join him. Now came proud days of triumph and
gratified affection. All Italy hailed Bonaparte as the conquering hero;
all Italy did homage to the woman who bore his name, and whose
incomparable fascination and amiability, gracefulness and beauty, won
all hearts. Her life now resembled a magnificent, glorified, triumphal
pageant; a dazzling fairy festival; a tale from the "Arabian Nights"
that had become reality, with Josephine for its enchanted heroine,
sparkling with stars, and gleaming with golden sunshine.
VICISSITUDES OF DESTINY.
Resplendent was the triumphal procession with which Bonaparte made his
proud entry into Paris, on his return from Italy. In the front courtyard
of the Luxembourg, the palace occupied by the _Corps Legislatif_, was
erected a vast amphitheatre, in which sat all the high authorities of
France; in the centre of the amphitheatre stood the altar of the
country, surmounted by three gigantic statues, representing Freedom,
Equality, and Peace. As Bonaparte stepped into this space, all the
dense crowd that occupied the seats of the amphitheatre rose to their
feet with uncovered heads, to hail the conqueror of Italy, and the
windows of the palace were thronged with handsomely dressed ladies, who
waved welcome to the young hero with their handkerchiefs. But suddenly
this splendid festival was marred by a serious mischance. An officer of
the Directory, who, the better to satisfy his curiosity, had clambered
up on the scaffolding of the right-side wing of the palace, then
undergoing extension, fell from it, and struck the ground almost at
Napoleon's feet. A shout of terror burst almost simultaneously from a
thousand throats, and the ladies turned pale and shrank back,
shuddering, from the windows. The palace, which a moment before had
exhibited such a wealth of adornment in these living flowers, now stood
there bare, with empty, gaping casements. A perceptible thrill ran
through the ranks of the _Corps Legislatif_, and here and there the
whisper passed that this fall of an officer portended the early
overthrow of the Directory itself, and that it, too, would soon, like
the unfortunate victim of the accident, be lying in its death agonies at
the feet of General Bonaparte.
But the Directory, nevertheless, hastened to give the victor of Arcola
new _fetes_ every day; and when these _fetes_ were over, and Bonaparte,
fatigued with the speeches, the festivities, the toasts, etc., would be
on his way returning homeward, there was the populace of Paris, who
beset his path in crowds, to greet him with hearty cheers; and these
persistent friends he had to recognize, with smiles and shakings of the
hand, or with a nod and a pleasant glance.
A universal jubilee of delight had seized upon the French. Each
individual saw in Bonaparte renown and greatness reflected on himself.
Every one regarded him as the most brilliant impersonation of his own
inner personality, and, therefore, felt drawn toward him with a sort of
Josephine gave herself up with her whole soul to the enjoyment of these
glorious occasions. While Bonaparte, almost completely overwhelmed and
disturbed, could have held aloof from these ovations of the people of
Paris, they, on the contrary, filled the heart of his wife with pride
and joy. While in the theatre, he shrank back, abashed, behind his
wife's chair when the audience, learning his presence, filled their
noisy plaudits and clamored to have a glimpse at him, Josephine would
thank the crowd on his behalf with a bewitching smile, and eyes swelling
with tears for this proof of their regard, which to her seemed but a
natural and appropriate tribute to her Achilles, her lion-hearted hero.
But Bonaparte did not allow himself to be blinded by these
demonstrations; and one day, when popular enthusiasm seemed as though it
would never end, and the crowd were untiring in their cries of "_Vive
Bonaparte!_" while Josephine turned her face toward him, glowing with
delight, and called out, exultingly--"See, how they love you, these good
people of Paris!" he replied, with an almost melancholy expression
"Bah! The crowd would be just as numerous and noisy if they were
conducting me to the scaffold!"
However, these festivals and demonstrations at length subsided, and his
life resumed its more tranquil course.
Bonaparte could now once more spend a few secluded days of rest and calm
enjoyment in his (by this time more richly-decorated) dwelling in the
Rue Chautereine, the name of which the city authorities had changed to
_Rue de la Victoire_, in honor of the conqueror at Arcola and Marengo.
He could, after so many battles and triumphs, afford to repose a while
in the arms of love and happiness.
Nevertheless, this inactivity soon began to press heavily on his
restless spirit. He longed for new exploits, for fresh victories. He
felt that he was only at the commencement, and not at the end of his
conquering career; he constantly heard ringing in his ears the notes of
the battle-clarion, summoning him to renewed triumphs and to other paths
of glory. Love could only delight his heart, but could not completely
satisfy it. Repose he deemed but the beginning of death.
"If I remain here inactive any longer, I am lost," said he. "They retain
the resemblance of nothing whatever in Paris; one celebrity blots out
another in this great Babylon; if I show myself much oftener to the
public, they will cease to look at me, and if I do not soon undertake
something new, they will forget me."
And he did undertake something new, something unprecedented, that filled
all Europe with astonishment. He left the shores of France with an army
to conquer, for the French Republic, that ancient land of Egypt, on
whose pyramids the green moss of long-forgotten ages was flourishing.
Josephine did not accompany him. She remained behind in Paris; but she
needed consolation and encouragement to enable her to sustain this
separation, which Bonaparte himself had confessed to her might be just
as likely to last six years as six months. And what could afford better
consolation to a heart so tender as Josephine's than the presence of her
beloved daughter? She had willingly given up her son to her husband, and
he had accompanied the latter to Egypt, but her daughter remained, and
her she would not give up to any one, not even to Madame Campan's
Besides, the education of Hortense was now completed. She who had come
to St. Germain as a child, left the boarding-school, after two years'
stay, a handsome, blooming young lady, adorned with all the charms of
innocence, youth, grace, and refinement.
Although she was now a young lady of nearly sixteen, she had retained
the thoughts and ways of her childhood. Her heart was as a white sheet
of paper, on which no profane hand had ventured to write a mortal name.
She loved nothing beyond her mother, her brother, the fine arts, and
flowers. She entertained a profound but speechless veneration for her
young step-father. His burning gaze made her uneasy and timorous; his
commanding voice made her heart throb anxiously; in fine, she
reverenced him with adoring but too agitated an impression of awe to
find it possible to love him. He was for her at all times the hero, the
lord and master, the father to whom she owed implicit obedience, but she
dared not love him; she could only look up to and honor him from
Hortense loved nothing but her mother, her brother, the fine arts, and
flowers. She still looked out, with the expectant eyes of a child, upon
the world which seemed so beautiful and inviting to her, and from which
she hoped yet to obtain some grand dazzling piece of good fortune
without having any accurate idea in what it was to consist. She still
loved all mankind, and believed in their truth and rectitude. No thorn
had yet wounded her heart; no disenchantment, no bright illusion dashed
to pieces, had yet left its shadow on that clear, lofty brow of
transparent whiteness. The expression of her large blue eyes was still
radiant and undimmed, and her laugh was so clear and ringing, that it
almost made her mother sad to hear it, for it sounded to her like the
last echo of some sweet, enchanting song of childhood, and she but too
well knew that it would soon be hushed.
But Hortense still laughed, still sang with the birds, rivalling their
melodies; the world still lay before her like an early morning dream,
and she still hoped for the rising of the sun.
Such was Hortense when her mother took her from Madame Campan's
boarding-school, to accompany her to the baths of Plombieres. But there
it was that Hortense came near experiencing the greatest sorrow of her
life, in nearly losing her mother.
She was with Josephine and some other ladies in the drawing-room of the
house they occupied at Plombieres. The doors facing the balcony were
open, to let in the warm summer air. Hortense was sitting by the window
painting a nosegay of wild flowers, that she had gathered with her own
hands on the hills of Plombieres. Josephine found the atmosphere of the
room too close, and invited some ladies to step out with her upon the
balcony. A moment afterward there was heard a deafening crash, followed
by piercing shrieks of terror; and when Hortense sprang in desperate
fright to the front entrance, she found that the balcony on which her
mother and the other ladies had stood had disappeared. Its fastenings
had given way, and they had been precipitated with it into the street.
Hortense, in the first impulse of her distress and horror, would have
sprung down after her beloved mother, and could only be held back with
the greatest difficulty. But this time fate had spared the young girl,
and refrained from darkening the pure, unclouded heaven of her youth.
Her mother escaped with no other injury than the fright, and a slight
wound on her arm, while one of the ladies had both legs broken.
Josephine's time to die had not yet come, for the prophecy of the
fortune-teller had not yet been fulfilled. Josephine was, indeed, the
wife of a renowned general, but she was not yet "something more than
BONAPARTE'S RETURN FROM EGYPT.
Bonaparte had got back from Egypt. His victory at Aboukir had adorned
his brows with fresh laurels, and all France hailed the returning
conqueror with plaudits of exulting pride. For the first time, Hortense
was present at the festivities which the city of Paris dedicated to her
step-father; for the first time she saw the homage that men and women,
graybeards and children alike, paid to the hero of Italy and Egypt.
These festivities and this homage filled her heart with a tremor of
alarm, and yet, at the same time, with joyous exultation. In the midst
of these triumphs and these ovations which were thus offered to her
second father, the young girl recalled the prison in which her mother
had once languished, the scaffold upon which the head of her own father
had fallen; and frequently when she glanced at the rich gold-embroidered
uniform of her brother, she reminded him with a roguish smile of the
time when Eugene went in a blue blouse, as a carpenter's apprentice,
through the streets of Paris with a long plank on his shoulder.
These recollections of the first terrible days of her youth kept
Hortense from feeling the pride and arrogance of good fortune, preserved
to her modest, unassuming tone of mind, prevented her from entertaining
any overweening or domineering propensity in her day of prosperity, or
from seeming cast down and hopeless when adversity came. She never
lulled herself with the idea of good fortune that could not pass away,
but her remembrances kept her eyes wide open, and hence, when misfortune
came, it did not take her by surprise, but found her armed and ready to
Nevertheless, she drank in the pleasure of these prosperous days in full
draughts, delighted as she was to see the mother, of whom she was so
fond, surrounded by such a halo of glory and gratified love; and in the
name of her murdered father she thanked General Bonaparte with double
fervor, from the bottom of her heart, for having been the means of
procuring for her mother, who had suffered so deeply in her first wedded
life, so magnificent a glow of splendor and happiness in her
In the mean while, new days of storm and tumult were at hand to dispel
this brief period of tranquil enjoyment. A fresh revolution convulsed
all France, and, ere long, Paris was divided into two hostile camps,
burning to begin the work of mutual annihilation. On one side stood the
democratic republicans, who looked back with longing regret to the days
of terrorism and bloodshed, perceiving, as they did, that tranquillity
and protracted peace must soon wrest the reins of power from their
grasp, and therefore anxiously desiring to secure control through the
element of intimidation. This party declared that liberty was in danger,
and the Constitution threatened; they summoned the _sans-culottes_ and
the loud-mouthed republicans of the clubs to the armed defence of the
imperilled country, and pointed with menacing hands at Bonaparte as the
man who wished to overthrow the republic, and put France once more in
the bonds of servitude.
On the other side stood the discreet friends of the country, the
republicans by compulsion, who denounced terrorism, and had sworn
fidelity to the republic, only because it was under this reptile
disguise alone that they could escape the threatening knife of the
guillotine. On this side were arrayed the men of mind, the artists and
poets who hopefully longed for a new era, because they knew that the
days of terror and of the tyrannical democratic republic had brought not
merely human beings, but also the arts and sciences, to the scaffold.
With them, too, were arrayed the merchants and artisans, the bankers,
the business-men, the property-owners, all of whom wanted to see the
republic at least established upon a more moderate and quiet foundation,
in order to have confidence in its durability and substantial character,
and to commence the works of peace with a better assurance of success.
And at the head of these moderate republicans stood Bonaparte.
The 18th Brumaire of the year 1798 was the decisive day. It was a
fearful struggle that then began afresh--a struggle, however, in which
little blood was spilt, and not men but principles were slaughtered.
The Council of Elders, the Council of the Five Hundred, the Directory,
and the Constitution of the year III., fell together, and from the ruins
of the bloody and ferocious democratic republic arose the moderate,
rational republic of the year 1798. At its head were the three consuls,
Bonaparte, Cambaceres, and Lebrun.
On the day following, the 18th Brumaire, these three consuls entered the
Luxembourg, amid the plaudits of the people, and slept, as conquerors,
in the beds of the Directory of yesterday.
From that day forward a new world began to take shape, and the forms of
etiquette which, during the ascendency of the democratic republic, had
slunk away out of sight into the darkest recesses of the Luxembourg and
the Tuileries, began to reappear, slowly and circumspectly, 'tis true,
in broad daylight. People were no longer required, in accordance with
the spirit of equality, to ignore all distinctions of condition and
culture, by the use of the words "citizen" and "citizeness;" or, in the
name of brotherhood, to endure the close familiarities of every brawling
street ruffian; or, in the name of liberty, to let all his own personal
liberty and inclination be trampled under foot.
Etiquette, as I have said, crept forth from the dark corners again; and
the three consuls, who had taken possession of the Luxembourg, whispered
the word "monsieur" in each other's ears, and greeted Josephine and her
daughter, who were installed in the apartments prepared for them in the
palace on the next day, with the title of "madame." Yet, only a year
earlier, the two words "monsieur" and "madame" had occasioned revolt in
Paris, and brought about bloodshed. A year earlier General Augereau had
promulged the stern order of the day in his division, that, "whoever
should use the word 'monsieur' or 'madame,' orally or in writing, on
pretext whatever, should be deprived of his rank, and declared incapable
of ever again serving in the army of the republic."
[Footnote 7: Bourrienne, vol. i., p. 229.]
Now, these two proscribed words made their triumphant entry, along with
the three consuls, into the palace of the Luxembourg, which had been
delivered from its democratic tyrants.
Josephine was now, at least, "Madame" Bonaparte, and Hortense was
"Mademoiselle" Beauharnais. The wife of Consul Bonaparte now required a
larger retinue of servants, and a more showy establishment. Indeed,
temerity could not yet go so far as to speak of the _court_ of Madame
Bonaparte and the _court ladies_ of Mademoiselle Hortense; they had
still to be content with the limited space of the diminutive Luxembourg,
but they were soon to be compensated for all this, and, if they still
had to call each other _monsieur_ and _madame_, they could, a few years
later, say "your highness," "your majesty," and "monseigneur," in the
The Luxembourg Palace was soon found to be too small for the joint
residence of the three consuls, and too confined for the ambition of
Bonaparte, who could not brook the near approach of the other two men
who shared the supreme control of France with him. Too it was also for
the longings that now spoke with ever louder and stronger accents in
his breast, and pushed him farther and farther onward in this path of
splendor and renown which, at first, had seemed to him but as the magic
mirage of his dreams, but which now appeared as the glittering truth and
reality of his waking hours. The Luxembourg was then too small for the
three consuls, but they had to go very circumspectly and carefully to
work to prepare the way to the old royal palace of the Bourbons. It
would not do to oust the representatives of the people, who held their
sessions there, too suddenly; the distrustful republicans must not be
made to apprehend that there was any scheme on foot to revolutionize
France back into monarchy, and to again stifle the many-headed monster
of the republic under a crown and a sceptre. It was necessary, before
entering the Tuileries, to give the French people proof that men might
still be very good republicans, even although they might wish to be
housed in the bedchamber of a king.
Hence, before the three consuls transferred their quarters to the
Tuileries, the royal palace had to be transformed to a residence worthy
of the representatives of the republic. So, the first move made was to
set up a handsome bust of the elder Brutus--a war-trophy of Bonaparte's,
which he had brought with him from Italy--in one of the galleries of the
Tuileries; and then David had to carve out some other statues of the
republican heroes of Greece and Rome and place them in the saloons. A
number of democratic republicans, who were defeated and exiled on the
13th Vendemiaire, were permitted to return to France, and news of the
death of WASHINGTON, the noblest and wisest of all republicans, arriving
just at that time, Bonaparte ordered that the whole army should wear the
badge of mourning for ten days. Black bands were worn on the arm, and
sable streamers waved from the standards, in honor of the deceased
However, when these ten days were past, and France and her army had
sufficiently expressed their regret, the three consuls entered the
Tuileries through the grand portal, on the two sides of which towered
aloft two liberty-poles that still bore the old inscription of the
republic of 1792. On the tree to the right was the legend "August 10,
1792," and on the one to the left, "Royalty in France is overthrown and
will never rise again." It was between these two significant symbols
that Bonaparte first strode into the Tuileries. It was a very long and
imposing procession of carriages which moved that day toward the palace,
through the streets of the capital. They only lacked the outward pomp
and magnificence which rendered the latter _fetes_ of the empire so
remarkable. With the exception of the splendid vehicle in which the
three consuls rode, and which was drawn by the six grays presented by
the Emperor of Austria, there were but few good equipages to be seen.
France of the new day had not had the opportunity to build any
state-coaches, and those of old France had been too shamefully misused
to admit of their ever serving again; for it would be out of the
question to employ, in this solemn procession of the three consuls, the
state-carriages of the old aristocracy, that had served as the vehicles
in which the democratic republic had transported dead dogs to their
place of deposit. Such had been the fact in the September days of the
The unclaimed dogs of the fugitive or slaughtered aristocracy at that
time wandered without masters, by thousands, through the streets and
slaked their thirst with the blood which flowed down from the guillotine
and dyed the ground with the purple of the new system of
The smell of the fresh blood and the ghastly sustenance which the
guillotine yielded them had restored the animals to their original
savage propensities, and hence those who had been so fortunate as to
escape the murderous axe of the _sans-culottes_ had now to apprehend the
danger of falling a victim to the sharp teeth of these wild
blood-hounds; and as the ferocious brutes knew no difference between
aristocrats and republicans, but fell upon both with equal fury, it
became necessary, at last, to annihilate these new foes of the republic.
So, the Champs Elysees were surrounded with troops, and the dogs were
driven into the Rue Royale and the Place Royale, where they were mowed
down by musketry. On that one day the dead carcasses of more than three
thousand dogs lay about in the streets of Paris, and there they
continued to fester for three days longer, because a dispute had arisen
among the city officials as to whose duty it was to remove them. At
length the Convention undertook that task, and intrusted the work to
representative Gasparin, who was shrewd enough to convert the removal of
the dead animals into a republican ceremony. These were the dogs of the
_ci-devants_ and aristocrats that were to be buried, and it was quite
proper, therefore, that they should receive aristocratic honors.
Gasparin, acting upon this idea, caused all the coaches of the fugitive
and massacred aristocracy to be brought from their stables, and the
carcasses of the dogs were flung into these emblazoned and escutcheoned
vehicles of old France. Six grand coaches that had belonged to the king
opened the procession, and the tails, heads, bodies and legs of the
luckless quadrupeds could be seen behind the glittering glass panels
heaped together in wild disorder.
[Footnote 8: Memoires of the Marchioness de Crequi, vol. viii, p. 10.]
After this public canine funeral celebration of the one and indivisible
republic, the gilded state-coaches could not be consistently used for
any human and less mournful occasion, and hence it was that the consular
procession to the Tuileries was so deficient in carriages, and that
public hacks on which the numbers were defaced had to be employed.
With the entry of Bonaparte into the Tuileries the revolution was at an
end. He laid his victorious sword across the gory, yawning chasm which
had drunk the blood of both aristocrats and democrats; and of that sword
he made a bridge over which society might pass from one century to the
other, and from the republic to the empire.
As Bonaparte was walking with Josephine and Hortense through the Diana
Gallery on the morning after their entry into the Tuileries, and was
with them admiring the statuary he had caused to be placed there, both
of the ladies possessing much artistic taste, he paused in front of the
statue of the younger Brutus, which stood close to the statue of Julius
Caesar. He gazed long and earnestly at both of the grave, solemn faces;
but, suddenly, as though just awaking from a deep dream, he sharply
raised his head, and, laying his hand with an abrupt movement upon
Josephine's shoulder, as he looked up at the statue of Brutus with
blazing, almost menacing glances, said in a voice that made the hearts
of both the ladies bound within their bosoms:
"It is not enough to be in the Tuileries: one must remain there. And
whom has not this palace held? Even street thieves and conventionists
have occupied it! Did not I see with my own eyes how the savage Jacobins
and cohorts of _sans-culottes_ surrounded the palace and led away the
good King Louis XVI. as a prisoner! Ah! never mind, Josephine; have no
fear for the future! Let them but dare to come hither once more!"
[Footnote 9: Bourrienne, vol. vi, p. 3.]
And, as Bonaparte stood there and thus spoke in front of the statues of
Brutus and Julius Caesar, his voice re-echoed like angry thunder through
the long gallery, and made the figures of the heroes of the dead
republic tremble on their pedestals.
Bonaparte lifted his arm menacingly toward the statue of Brutus, as
though he would, in that fierce republican who slew Caesar, challenge
all republican France, whose Caesar and Augustus in one he aspired to
be, to mortal combat.
The revolution was closed. Bonaparte had installed himself in the
Tuileries with Josephine and her two children. The son and daughter of
General Beauharnais, whom the republic had murdered, had now found
another father, who was destined to avenge that murder on the
The revolution was over!
_THE QUEEN OF HOLLAND_.
A FIRST LOVE.
With the entry of Bonaparte into the Tuileries, the revolution closed,
and blissful days of tranquillity and gay festivity followed. Josephine
and Hortense were the cynosure of all these festivals, for they were,
likewise, the animating centre whence the grace and beauty, the
attractive charm, and the intellectual significance of them all,
Hortense was passionately fond of dancing, and no one at "the court of
Josephine" tripped it with such gracefulness and such enchanting
delicacy as she. Now, as the reader will observe, people already began
to speak of the "court" of Madame Bonaparte, the powerful wife of the
First Consul of France. Now, also, _audiences_ were held, and Josephine
and Hortense already had a court retinue who approached them with the
same subserviency and humility as though they had been princesses of
Madame Bonaparte now rode with her daughter through the streets of
Paris in a richly-gilded coach, under a military escort, and wherever
the populace caught a glimpse of them they greeted the wife and daughter
of the first consul with applauding shouts.
Bonaparte's coachmen and servants had now a livery, and made their
appearance in green coats with gold embroidery and galloons. There were
chamberlains and lackeys, grooms and outriders; splendid dinners and
evening parties were given, and the ambassadors of foreign powers were
received in solemn audience; for, now, all the European states had
recognized the French Republic under the consulate, and, as Bonaparte
had concluded peace with England and Austria, these two great powers
also sent envoys to the court of the mighty consul.
Instead of warlike struggles, the Tuileries now witnessed contentions of
the toilet, and _powder or no powder_ was one of the great questions of
etiquette in which Josephine gave the casting vote when she said that
"every one should dress as seemed best and most becoming to each, but
yet endeavor to let good taste pervade the selection."
For some time, meanwhile, Hortense had participated with less zest than
formerly in the amusements and parties of the day; for some time she had
seemed to prefer being alone more than in previous years, and held
herself aloof in the quiet retirement of her own apartments, where the
melancholy, tender, and touching melodies which she drew from her harp
in those lonely hours seemed to hold her better converse than all the
gay and flattering remarks that she was accustomed to hear in her
mother's grand saloons.
Hortense sought solitude, for to solitude alone could she confide what
was weighing on her heart; to it alone could she venture to confess that
she was in love, and with all the innocent energy, all the warmth and
absolute devotion of a first attachment. How blissful were those hours
of reverie, of expectant peering into the future, which seemed to
promise the rising of another sun of happiness to her beaming gaze! For
this young girl's passion had the secret approbation of her mother and
her step-father, and both of them smilingly pretended not to be, in the
least degree, aware of the tender understanding that subsisted between
Hortense and General Duroc, Bonaparte's chief adjutant; only that, while
Josephine took it to be the first tender fluttering of a young girl's
heart awaking to the world, Bonaparte ascribed a more serious meaning to
it, and bestowed earnest thought upon the idea of a union between
Hortense and his friend. He was anxious, above all other things, to give
Duroc a more important and imposing status, and therefore sent him as
ambassador to St. Petersburg, to convey to the Emperor Alexander, who
had just ascended his father's throne, the congratulations and good
wishes of the First Consul of France.
The poor young lovers, constantly watched as they were, and as
constantly restrained by the rules of an etiquette which was now
becoming more and more rigid, had not the consolation accorded to them
of exchanging even one last unnoticed pressure of the hand, one last
tender vow of eternal fidelity, when they took leave of each other. But
they hoped in the future, and looked forward to Duroc's return, and to
the precious recompense that Bonaparte had significantly promised to his
friend. That recompense was the hand of Hortense Until then, they had to
content themselves with that sole and sweetest solace of all parted
lovers, the letters that they interchanged, and which Bourrienne,
Bonaparte's secretary, faithfully and discreetly transmitted.
"Nearly every evening," relates Bourrienne, in his Memoires, "I played a
game of billiards with Mademoiselle Hortense, who was an adept at it.
When I said, in a low tone to her, 'I have a letter,' the game would
cease at once, and she would hasten to her room, whither I followed her,
and took the letter to her. Her eyes would instantly fill with tears of
emotion and delight, and it was only after a long lapse of time that she
would go down to the saloon whither I had preceded her."
[Footnote 10: Bourrienne, vol. iv., p. 319.]
Hortense, thus busied only with her young lover and her innocent dreams
of the future, troubled herself but little concerning what was taking
place around her, and did not perceive that others were ready to make
her young heart the plaything of domestic and political intrigue.
Bonaparte's brothers, who were jealous of the sway that the beautiful
and fascinating Josephine still exerted over the first consul, as in the
first days of their wedded life, were anxious, by separating Hortense
from her mother, to deprive Josephine of one of the strongest supports
of her influence, and thus, by isolating Josephine, bring themselves
nearer to their brother. They well knew the affection which Bonaparte,
who was particularly fond of children, entertained for those of his
wife, and they also knew that Eugene and Hortense had, one day, not by
their entreaties or their tears, but by their mere presence, prevented
Josephine and Bonaparte from separating.
This was at the time when the whisperings of his brothers and of Junot
had succeeded in making Bonaparte jealous on his return from Egypt.
At that time, Bonaparte had resolved to separate from a woman, against
whom, however, his anger was thus fiercely aroused, simply because he
was so strongly attached to her; and when Bourrienne implored him, at
least, to hear Josephine before condemning her, and to see whether she
could not clear herself, or he could not forgive her, he had replied:
"I forgive her? Never! Were I not sure of myself this time, I would tear
my heart out and throw it into the fire!" And, as Bonaparte spoke, his
voice trembling the while with rage, he clutched his breast with his
hand as though he would indeed rend it to pieces. This scene occurred in
the evening, but, when Bourrienne came into the office next morning,
Bonaparte stepped forward to meet him with a smile on his face, and a
"Now, Bourrienne," said he, "you will be content--she is here! Don't
suppose that I have forgiven her--no not at all! No, I reproached her
vehemently, and sent her away. But, what would you have?--when she left