Part 5 out of 6
millions in her custody."
The queen was warned to take no money or articles of value with her, but
only that which was absolutely necessary.
General de Mueffling offered her an escort of his soldiers; Hortense
declined this offer, but requested that an Austrian officer might be
allowed to accompany her for the protection of herself and children on
the journey. Count de Boyna, adjutant of Prince Schwartzenberg, was
selected for this purpose.
On the evening of the 17th of July, 1815, the Duchess of St. Leu took
her departure. She left her faithful friend Louise de Cochelet in Paris
to arrange her affairs, and assure the safe-keeping of her jewelry.
Accompanied only by her equerry, M. de Marmold, Count Boyna, her
children, her maid, and a man-servant, she who had been a queen left
Paris to go into exile.
It was a sorrowful journey that Hortense now made through her beloved
France, that she could no longer call her country, and that now seemed
as ill-disposed toward the emperor and his family as it had once
passionately loved them.
In these days of political persecution, the Bonapartists had everywhere
hidden themselves in obscure places, or concealed their real disposition
beneath the mask of Bourbonism. Those whom Hortense met on her journey
were therefore all royalists, who thought they could give no better
testimony to their patriotism than by persecuting with cries of scorn,
with gestures of hatred, and with loud curses, the woman whose only
crime was that she bore the name of him whom France had once adored, and
whom the royalists hated.
Count Boyna was more than once compelled to protect Hortense and her
children against the furious attacks of royalists--the stranger against
her own countrymen! In Dijon, Count Boyna had found it necessary to call
on the Austrian military stationed there for assistance in protecting
the duchess and her children from the attacks of an infuriated crowd,
led by royal guards and beautiful ladies of rank, whose hair was adorned
with the lilies of the Bourbons.
[Footnote 55: Cochelet, vol. iii, p. 289.]
Dispirited and broken down by all she had seen and experienced,
Hortense at last reached Geneva, happy at the prospect of being able to
retire to her little estate of Pregny, to repose after the storms of
life. But this refuge was also to be refused her. The French ambassador
in Switzerland, who resided in Geneva, informed the authorities of that
city that his government would not tolerate the queen's sojourn so near
the French boundary, and demanded that she should depart. The
authorities of Geneva complied with this demand, and ordered the Duchess
of St. Leu to leave the city immediately.
When Count Boyna imparted this intelligence to the duchess, and asked
her to what place she would now go, her long-repressed despair found
utterance in a single cry: "I know not. Throw me into the lake, then we
shall all be at rest!"
But she soon recovered her usual proud resignation, and quietly
submitted to the new banishment that drove her from her last possession,
the charming little Pregny, from her "_reve de chalet_."
In Aix she finally found repose and peace for a few weeks--in Aix, where
she had once celebrated brilliant triumphs as a queen, and where she was
at least permitted to live in retirement with her children and a few
But in Aix the most fearful blow that Fate had in store for her fell
Her action against her husband had already been decided in 1814, shortly
before the emperor's return, and it had been adjudged that she should
deliver her elder son Napoleon Louis, into the custody of his father.
Now that Napoleon's will no longer restrained him, Louis demanded that
this judgment be carried out, and sent Baron von Zuyten to Aix to bring
back the prince to his father then residing in Florence.
The unhappy mother was now powerless to resist this hard command; she
was compelled to yield, and send her son from her arms to a father who
was a stranger to the boy, and whom he therefore could not love.
It was a heart-rending scene this parting between the boy, his mother,
and his young brother Louis, from whom he had never before been
separated for a day, and who now threw his arms around his neck,
tearfully entreating him to stay with him.
But the separation was inevitable. Hortense parted the two weeping
children, taking little Louis Napoleon in her arms, while Napoleon Louis
followed his governor to the carriage, sobbing as though his heart would
break. When Hortense heard the carriage driving off, she uttered a cry
of anguish and fell to the ground in a swoon, and a long and painful
attack of illness was the consequence of this sorrowful separation.
LOUIS NAPOLEON AS A CHILD.
The Duchess of St. Leu was, however, not destined to find repose in Aix;
the Bourbons--not yet weary of persecuting her, and still fearing the
name whose first and greatest representative was now languishing on a
solitary, inhospitable rock-island--the Bourbons considered it dangerous
that Hortense, the emperor's step-daughter, and her son, whose name of
Louis Napoleon seemed to them a living monument of the past, should be
permitted to sojourn so near the French boundary. They therefore
instructed their ambassador to the government of Savoy to protest
against the further sojourn of the queen in Aix, and Hortense was
compelled to undertake a new pilgrimage, and to start out into the world
again in search of a home.
She first turned to Baden, whose duchess, Stephanie, was so nearly
related to her, and from whose husband she might therefore well expect a
kindly reception. But the grand-duke did not justify his cousin's hopes;
he had not the courage to defy the jealous fears of France, and it was
only at the earnest solicitation of his wife that he at last consented
that Hortense should take up her residence at the extreme end of the
grand-duchy, at Constance, on the Lake of Constance; and this permission
was only accorded her on the express condition that neither the duchess
nor her son should ever come to Carlsruhe, and that his wife,
Stephanie, should never visit her cousin at Constance.
Hortense accepted this offer with its conditions, contented to find a
place where she could rest after her long wanderings, and let the
bleeding wounds of her heart heal in the stillness and peace of
beautiful natural scenery. She passed a few quiet, happy years in
Constance desiring and demanding nothing but a little rest and peace,
aspiring to but one thing--to make of the son whom Providence had given
her as a compensation for all her sufferings, a strong, a resolute, and
an intelligent man.
Her most tender care and closest attention were devoted to the education
of this son. An excellent teacher, Prof. Lebas, of Paris, officiated as
instructor to the young prince. She herself gave him instruction in
drawing, in music, and in dancing; she read with him, sang with him, and
made herself a child, in order to replace to her lonely boy the playmate
Fate had torn from his side.
While reposing on her _chaise-longue_ on the long quiet evenings, her
boy seated on a cushion at her feet, she would speak to him of his great
uncle, and of his heroic deeds, and of his country, of France that had
discarded them, to be able to return to which was, however, her most
ardent wish, and would continue to be while life lasted. She would then
inspire the boy's soul with the description of the great battles which
his uncle had won in Italy, on the Nile, on the Rhine, and on the
Danube; and the quiet, pale boy, with the dark, thoughtful eyes, would
listen in breathless suspense, his weak, slender body quivering with
emotion when his mother told him how dearly his uncle had loved France,
and that all his great and glorious deeds had been done for the honor
and renown of France alone.
One day, while he was sitting before her, pale and trembling with
agitation, his mother pointed to David's splendid painting, representing
Napoleon on the heights of the Alps, the genial conception of which
painting is due to Napoleon's own suggestions.
"Paint me tranquilly seated on a wild horse," Napoleon had said to
David, and David had so painted him--on a rearing steed, on the summit
of a rock which bears the inscription "Hannibal" and "Caesar." The
emperor's countenance is calm, his large eyes full of a mysterious
brilliancy, his hair fluttering in the wind, the whole expression
thoughtful and earnest; the rider heedless of the rearing steed, which
he holds firmly in check with the reins.
A beautiful copy of this great painting hung in the parlor of the
duchess; and to this she now pointed while narrating the history of the
emperor's passage over the Great St. Bernard with an army, a feat never
before performed except by Hannibal and Caesar, and perhaps never to be
As she concluded her narrative, an almost angry expression flitted
across the young prince's countenance. Rising from his seat, and holding
himself perfectly erect, he exclaimed: "Oh, mamma, I shall also cross
the Alps some day, as the emperor did!"
And while thus speaking, a glowing color suffused his face; his lips
trembled, and the feverish beating of his heart was quite audible.
Hortense turned in some anxiety to her friend Louise de Cochelet, and
begged her in a low voice to soothe the child with the recital of some
merry narrative. As Louise looked around the room thoughtfully and
searchingly, a cup that stood on the mantel-piece arrested her gaze. She
hastened to the mantel, took the cup, and returned with it to little
"Mamma has been explaining a very grave picture to you, Louis," said
she; "I will now show you a merry one. Look at it--isn't it charming?"
The prince cast a hasty, absent-minded look at the cup, and nodded
gravely. Louise laughed gayly.
"You see, Louis," said she, "that this is the exact counterpart of the
picture of the Emperor Napoleon, who, while riding over the Alps,
encounters on their summit the great spirits of Hannibal and Caesar.
Here is a little Napoleon, who is not climbing up the Alps, but climbing
down from his bed, and who, on this occasion, meets a black spirit, in
the person of a chimney-sweep. This is the history of the great and of
the little Napoleon; the great meets Hannibal, the little the
"Am I the little Napoleon?" asked the boy, gravely.
"Yes, Louis, you are, and I will now tell you the story of this cup.
One day, when we were all still in Paris, and while your great uncle was
still Emperor of France--one day, you met in your room a little Savoyard
who had just crept out of the chimney in his black dress, his black
broom in his hand. You cried out with horror, and were about to run
away, but I held you back and told you that these chimney-sweeps were
poor boys, and that their parents were so poor that they could not
support their children, but were compelled to send them to Paris to earn
their bread by creeping into and cleaning our hot and dirty chimneys,
with great trouble, and at the risk of their lives. My story touched
you, and you promised me never to be afraid of the little chimney-sweeps
again. A short time afterward, you were awakened early in the morning by
a strange noise, your brother still lay asleep at your side, and your
nurse was absent from the room. This noise was made by a chimney-sweep
who had just come down the chimney and now stood in your room. As soon
as you saw him, you remembered his poverty, jumped out of bed in your
night-clothes, and ran to the chair on which your clothes lay. You took
out of your pocket the purse you were compelled to carry with you on
your walks to give money to the poor, and you emptied its entire
contents into the black, sooty hand of the young Savoyard. You then
tried to get back to bed, but it was too high for you; you could not
climb over the railing. Seeing this, the chimney-sweep came to your
assistance, and took the little prince in his arms to help him into bed.
At this moment, your nurse entered the room, and your brother who had
just awakened, cried loudly when he saw Louis in the arms of a
"This is the story of little Napoleon and the chimney-sweep! Your
grandmother, the Empress Josephine was so much pleased with this story,
that your mother had the scene painted on a cup, and presented it to the
empress, in order to afford her a gratification. And what do you think,
Louis--this cup was also the cause of a punishment being remitted your
cousin, the King of Rome, who now lives in Vienna!"
"Tell me all about it, Louise," said the prince, smiling.
"You shall hear it! Your mother had instructed me to take the cup to
Malmaison to the empress. But before going, I endeavored to obtain some
news about the little King of Rome for the empress. Your good
grandmother loved him as though he had been her own child, although she
had never seen him. I therefore went to the Tuileries to see the little
King of Rome, with whose governess, Madame de Montesquieu, I was
intimately acquainted. On entering the apartment, I saw the king
cowering behind a chair in a corner of the room; Madame de Montesquieu
intimated by a look that he was undergoing a punishment; I understood
it, and first conversed with his governess for a short time. When I then
turned and approached him, he concealed the tearful, flushed face, that
his long blond curls covered as with a golden veil, whenever he moved
behind the chair.
"'Sire,' said Madame de Montesquieu to him, 'sire, do you not intend to
bid Mademoiselle de Cochelet good-morning? She came here expressly
to see you.'
"'Your majesty does not recognize me,' said I, attempting to take his
small hand in mine. He tore it from me, and cried in a voice almost
choked with sobbing: 'She will not let me look at the soldiers of
"Madame de Montesquieu told me that it was the little prince's greatest
pleasure to see the Guards exercising on the _Place de Carrousel_, but
that she had deprived Mm of this pleasure to-day, because he had been
naughty and disobedient; that, when he heard the music and drums, his
despair and anger had become so great that she had been forced to resort
to severe means, and make him stand in the corner behind a chair. I
begged for the young king's pardon; I showed him the cup, and explained
the scene that was painted on it. The king laughed, and Madame de
Montesquieu pardoned him for the sake of his little cousin, Louis
Napoleon, who was so well behaved, and who was always held up to him as
a model. Now you have heard the whole story, are you pleased with
[Footnote 56: Cochelet, vol. i., p. 212.]
"I like it very much," said the grave boy, "but I do not like my
cousin's governess, for having intended to prevent him from looking at
his father's soldiers. Oh, how handsome they must have been, the
soldiers of the emperor! Mamma, I wish I were also an emperor, and had
ever so many handsome soldiers."
Hortense smiled sadly, and laid her hand on the boy's head as if to
bless him. "Oh, my son," said she, "it is no enviable fortune to wear a
crown. It is almost always fastened on our head with thorns!"
From this day on, Prince Louis Napoleon would stand before his uncle's
portrait, lost in thought, and after looking at it to his satisfaction,
he would run out and call the boys of the neighborhood together, in
order to play soldier and emperor with them in the large garden that
surrounded his mother's house, and teach the boys the first exercise.
One day, in the zeal of play, he had entirely forgotten his mother's
command, not to go out of the garden, and had inarched into the open
field with his soldiers. When his absence from the garden was noticed,
all the servants were sent out to look for him, and the anxious duchess,
together with her ladies, assisted in this search, walking about in
every direction through the cold and the slush of the thawing snow.
Suddenly they came upon the boy barefooted and in his shirt-sleeves,
wading toward them through the mud and snow. He was alarmed and confused
at this unexpected meeting, and confessed that a moment before, while he
had been playing in front of the garden, a family had passed by so poor
and ragged that it was painful to look at them. As he had no money to
give them, he had put his shoes on one child, and his coat on
[Footnote 57: Cochelet, vol. iv., p. 303.]
The duchess did not have the courage to scold him; she stooped down and
kissed her son; but when her ladies commenced to praise him, she
motioned to them to be silent, and said in a loud voice that what her
son had done was quite a matter of course, and therefore deserved
An ardent desire to gladden others and make them presents was
characteristic of little Louis Napoleon. One day, Hortense had given him
three beautiful studs for his shirt, and on the same day the prince
transferred them to one of his friends who admired them.
When Hortense reproached her son for doing so, and threatened to make
him no more presents, as he always gave them away again directly, Louis
Napoleon replied, "Ah, mamma, this is why your presents give me double
pleasure--once when you give them to me, and the second time when I make
others happy with them."
[Footnote 58: Cochelet, vol. i, p. 355.]
THE REVOLUTION OF 1830.
Fate seemed at last weary of persecuting the poor Duchess of St. Leu. It
at least accorded her a few peaceful years of repose and comfort; it at
least permitted her to rest from the weariness of the past on the bosom
of Nature, and to forget her disappointments and sorrows. The Canton of
Thurgau had had the courage to extend permission to the duchess to take
up her residence within its borders, at the very moment when the
Grand-duke of Baden, who had been urged to the step by Germany and
France, had peremptorily ordered Hortense to leave Constance and his
grand-duchy without delay.
Hortense had thankfully accepted the offer of the Swiss canton, and had
purchased, on the Swiss side of the Lake of Constance, an estate, whose
beautiful situation on the summit of a mountain, immediately on the
banks of the lake, with its magnificent view of the surrounding country,
and its glittering glaciers on the distant horizon, made it a most
delightful place of sojourn. Hortense now caused the furniture of her
dwelling in Paris, that had been sold, to be sent to her. The sight of
these evidences of her former grandeur awakened sweet and bitter
emotions in her heart, as they were one after another taken out of the
cases in which they had been packed--these sofas, chairs, divans,
carpets, chandeliers, mirrors, and all the other ornaments of the
parlors in which Hortense had been accustomed to receive kings and
emperors, and which were now to adorn the Swiss villa that was outwardly
so beautiful because of the vicinity, and inwardly so plain and simple.
But Hortense knew how to make an elegant and tasteful disposition of all
these articles; she herself arranged every thing in her house, and took
true feminine delight in her task. And when all was at last
arranged--when she walked, with her son at her side, through the suite
of rooms, in which every ornament and piece of furniture reminded her
of the past--when these things recalled the proud days of state when so
many friends, relatives, and servants, had surrounded her--a feeling of
unutterable loneliness, of painful desolation, came over her, and she
sank down on a sofa and wept bitterly. But there was nevertheless a
consolation in having these familiar articles in her possession once
more; these mute friends often awakened in the solitary queen's heart
memories that served to entertain and console her. Arenenberg was a
perfect temple of memory; every chair, every table, every article of
furniture, had its history, and this history spoke of Napoleon, of
Josephine, and the great days of the empire.
In Arenenberg Hortense had at last found a permanent home, and there she
passed the greater part of the year; and it was only when the autumnal
storms began to howl through her open and lightly-constructed villa,
that Hortense repaired to Rome, to pass the winter months in a more
genial climate, while her son Louis Napoleon was pursuing his studies at
the artillery school at Thun.
And thus the years passed on, quiet and peaceful, though sometimes
interrupted by new losses and sorrows. In the year 1821 the hero, the
emperor, to whose laurel-crown the halo of a martyr had now also been
added, died on the island-rock, St. Helena.
In the year 1824 Hortense lost her only brother, Eugene, the Duke of
The only objects of Hortense's love were now her two sons, who were
prospering in mind and body, and were the pride and joy of their mother,
and an object of annoyance and suspicion to all the princes of Europe.
For these children bore in their countenance, in their name, and in
their disposition, too plain an impress of the great past, which they
could never entirely ignore while Bonaparte still lived to testify
And they lived and prospered in spite of the Bourbons; they lived and
prospered, although banished from their country, and compelled to lead
an inactive life.
But at last it seemed as though the hour of fortune and freedom had come
for these Bonapartes--as though they, too, were to be permitted to have
a country to which they might give their devotion and services.
The thundering voice of the revolution of 1830 resounded throughout
trembling Europe. France, on whom the allies had imposed the Bourbons,
arose and shook its mane; with its lion's paw it overthrew the Bourbon
throne, drove out the Jesuits who had stood behind it, and whom Charles
X. had advised to tear the charter to pieces, to destroy the freedom of
the press, and to reintroduce the _autos da fe_ of the olden time.
France had been treated as a child in 1815, and was now determined to
assert its manhood; it resolved to break entirely with the past, and
with its own strength to build up a future for itself.
The lilies of the Bourbons were to bloom no more; these last years of
fanatical Jesuit tyranny had deprived them of life, and France tore the
faded lily from her bosom in order to replace it with a young and
vigorous plant. The throne of the Bourbons was overthrown, but the
people, shuddering at the recollection of the sanguinary republic,
selected a king in preference. It stretched out its hand after him it
held dearest; after him who in the past few years had succeeded in
winning the sympathy of France. It selected the Duke of Orleans, the son
of Philippe Egalite, for its king.
Louis Philippe, the enthusiastic republican of 1790, who at that time
had caused the three words "_Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite_" and the
inscription "_Vive la Republique,"_ to be burnt on his arm, in order to
prove his republicanism; the proscribed Louis Philippe, who had wandered
through Europe a fugitive, earning his bread by teaching writing and
languages--the same Louis Philippe now became King of France.
The people called him to the throne; they tore the white flag from the
roof of the Tuileries, but they knew no other or better one with which
to replace it than the _tricolore_ of the empire.
Under the shadow of this _tricolore_ Louis Philippe mounted the throne,
and the people--to whom the three colors recalled the glorious era of
the empire--the people shouted with delight, and in order to indulge
their sympathies they demanded for France--not the son of Napoleon, not
Napoleon II.--but the ashes of Napoleon, and the emperor's statue on the
Palace Vendome. Louis Philippe accorded them both, but with these
concessions he thought he had done enough. He had accepted the
_tricolore_ of the empire; he had promised that the emperor should watch
over Paris from the summit of the Vendome monument, and to cause his
ashes to be brought to Paris--these were sufficient proofs of love.
They might be accorded the dead Napoleon without danger, but it would be
worse to accord them to living Napoleons; such a course might easily
shake the new throne, and recall the allies to Paris.
The hatred of the princes of Europe against Napoleon was still continued
against his family, and it was with them, as Metternich said, "a
principle never to tolerate another Napoleon on the throne."
The European powers had signified to the King of France, through their
diplomatic agents, their readiness to acknowledge him, but they exacted
one condition--the condition that Louis Philippe should confirm or renew
the decree of exile fulminated by the Bourbons against the Bonapartes.
Louis Philippe had accepted this condition; and the Bonapartes, whose
only crime was that they were the brothers and relatives of the deceased
emperor, before whom not only France, but all the princes of Europe, had
once bent the knee--the Bonapartes were once more declared strangers to
their country, and condemned to exile!
THE REVOLUTION IN ROME, AND THE SONS OF HORTENSE.
It was a terrible blow to the Bonapartes, this new decree of banishment!
Like a stroke of lightning it entered their hearts, annihilating their
holiest hopes and most ardent desires, and their joy over the glorious
and heroic revolution of July gave place to a bitter sense of
Nothing, therefore, remained for them but to continue the life to which
they had become somewhat accustomed, and to console themselves, for
their new disappointment, with the arts and sciences.
At the end of October, in the year 1830, Hortense determined to leave
Arenenberg and go to Rome with her son, as she was in the habit of doing
But this time she first went to Florence, where her elder son, Napoleon
Louis, recently married to his cousin, the second daughter of King
Joseph, was now living with his young wife. The heart of the tender
mother was filled with anxiety and care; she felt and saw that this new
French Revolution was likely to infect all Europe, and that Italy, above
all, would be unable to avoid this infection. Italy was diseased to the
core, and it was to be feared that it would grasp at desperate means in
its agony, and proceed to the blood-letting of a revolution, in order to
restore itself to health. Hortense felt this, and feared for her sons.
She feared that the exiled, the homeless ones who had been driven from
their country, and were not permitted to serve it, would devote their
services to those who were unhappy and who suffered like themselves. She
feared the enthusiasm, the generous courage, the energy of her sons, and
she knew that, if a revolution should break out in Italy, it would
gladly adorn itself with the name of Napoleon.
Hortense, therefore, conjured her sons to hold themselves aloof from all
dangerous undertakings, and not to follow those who might appeal to them
with the old word of magic power, "liberty;" that, in spite of the tears
and blood it has already caused mankind, can never lose its
Her two sons promised compliance; and, much relieved, Hortense left
Florence, and went, with her younger son, Louis Napoleon, to Rome.
But Rome, otherwise so aristocratic and solemn, assumed an unusual, an
entirely new, physiognomy this winter. In society the topics of
conversation were no longer art and poetry, the Pantheon and St. Peter,
or what the newest amusement should be; but politics and the French
Revolution were the all-engrossing topics, and the populace listened
anxiously for the signal that should announce that the revolution in
Italy had at last begun.
Even the populace of Rome, usually addicted to lying so harmlessly in
the sunshine, now assembled in dense groups on the streets, and strange
words were heard when the police cautiously approached these groups for
the purpose of listening. But they now lacked the courage to arrest
those who uttered those words; they felt that such a provocation might
suffice to tear away the veil behind which the revolution still
The whole energy and watchfulness of the Roman government was therefore
employed in endeavoring to avert the revolution, if possible; not,
however, by removing the cause and occasion, but by depriving the people
of the means. The son of Hortense, Louis Napoleon, seemed to the
government a means which the revolution might use for its purposes, and
it was therefore determined that he should be removed.
His name, and even the three-colored saddle-blanket of his horse, with
which he rode through the streets of Rome, were exciting to the
populace, in whose veins the fever of revolution was already throbbing.
Louis Napoleon must therefore be removed.
The Governor of Rome first addressed the prince's great-uncle, Cardinal
Fesch, requesting him to advise the Duchess of St. Leu to remove the
young prince from Rome for a few weeks.
But the cardinal indignantly declared that his nephew, who had done
nothing, should not be compelled to leave Rome merely on account of his
name and his saddle-blanket, and that he would never advise the Duchess
of St. Leu to do anything of the kind.
The Roman government therefore determined to adopt energetic means. It
caused the dwelling of the duchess to be surrounded by soldiers, while
a papal office presented himself before Hortense, and announced that he
had received orders to remove Prince Louis from the city at once, and to
conduct him without the papal territory.
The fear of approaching evil caused the government to forget the respect
due to nobility in misfortune and the emperor's nephew was turned out of
the city like a criminal!
Hortense received this intelligence almost with joy. Far from Rome, it
seemed to her that he would be safer from the revolution, whose approach
she so much dreaded; and it therefore afforded her great satisfaction to
send the prince to Florence, to his father, believing that he would
there be shielded from the dangerous political calumnies that threatened
him in Rome. She therefore permitted him to depart; and how could she
have prevented his departure--she, the lone, powerless woman, to whom
not even the French ambassador would have accorded protection! No one
interceded for her--no one protested against the violent and brutal
course pursued toward Louis Napoleon--no one, except the Russian
The Emperor of Russia was the only one of all the sovereigns of Europe
who felt himself strong enough not to ignore the name of Napoleon, and
the consideration due to the family of a hero and of an emperor.
The Emperor of Russia had, therefore, never refused his protection and
assistance to the Bonapartes, and his ambassador was now the only one
who protested against the violent course taken by the Roman government.
The revolution at last broke forth. Italy arose as France had done,
resolved to throw off the yoke of tyranny and oppression, and be free!
The storm first broke out in Modena. The duke saw himself compelled to
fly, and a provisional government under General Menotti placed itself in
his stead. But, while this was taking place in Modena, the populace of
Rome was holding high festival in honor of the newly-chosen Pope Gregory
XVI., who had just taken his seat in the chair of the deceased Pope Pius
VIII., and these festivities, and the Carnival, seemed to occupy the
undivided attention of the Romans; under the laughing mask of these
rejoicings the revolution hid its grave and threatening visage, and it
was not until _mardi-gras_ that it laid this mask aside and showed its
The people had been accustomed to throw confectionery and flowers on
this day, but this time the day was to be made memorable by a shower of
stones and bullets; this time they were not to appear in the harlequin
jacket, but in their true form, earnest, grand, commanding,
self-conscious, and self-asserting.
But the government had been informed of the intention of the
conspirators to avail themselves of the drive to the Corso, to begin the
revolution, and this procession was prohibited an hour before the time
appointed for its commencement.
The people arose against this prohibition, and the revolution they had
endeavored to repress by this means now broke out.
The thunder of cannon and the rattling of musketry now resounded through
the streets of Rome, and the people everywhere resisted the papal
soldiery with energy and determination.
The new pope trembled in the Quirinal, the old cardinals lost courage,
and in dismay recoiled a step at every advancing stride of the
insurgents. Gregory felt that the papal crown he had just achieved was
already on the point of falling from his head, to be trodden in the dust
by the victorious populace; he turned to Austria, and solicited help and
But young Italy, the Italy of enthusiasm, of liberty, and of hope,
looked to France for support. Old Italy had turned to Austria for help;
young Italy looked for assistance to the free, newly-arisen France, in
which the revolution had just celebrated a glorious victory. But France
denied its Italian brother, and denied its own origin; scarcely had the
revolution seated itself on the newly-erected kingly throne and invested
itself with the crown and purple robe, when, for its own safety, it
became reactionary, and denied itself.
With all Italy, Rome was resolved to shake off the yoke of oppression;
the whole people espoused this cause with enthusiasm; and in the streets
of Rome--at other times filled with priests and monks and holy
processions--in these streets, now alive with the triumphant youth of
Rome, resounded exultant songs of freedom.
The strangers, terrified by this change, now quitted the holy city in
crowds, and hastened to their homes. Hortense desired to remain; she
knew that she had nothing to fear from the people, for all the evil that
had hitherto overtaken her, had come, not from the people, but always
from the princes only. However, letters suddenly arrived from her
sons, conjuring her to leave Rome and announcing that they would leave
Florence within the hour, in order to hasten forward to meet
[Footnote 59: La Reine Hortense, p. 63.]
Upon reading this, Hortense cried aloud with terror--she, who knew and
desired no other happiness on earth than the happiness of her children,
she whose only prayer to God had ever been, that her children might
prosper and that she might die before them, now felt that a fearful
danger threatened her sons, and that they were now about to be swept
into the vortex of the revolution.
They had left Florence, and their father, and were now on the way to
Rome, that is, on the way to the revolution that would welcome them with
joy, and inscribe the name Napoleon on its standards!
But it was perhaps still time to save them; with her prayers and
entreaties she might still succeed in arresting them on the verge of the
abyss into which they were hastening in the intoxication of their
enthusiasm. As this thought occurred to her, Hortense felt herself
strong, determined, and courageous; and, on the same day on which she
had received the letters, she left Rome, and hurried forward to meet
her sons. She still hoped to be in time to save them; she fancied she
saw her sons in every approaching carriage--but in vain!
They had written that they would meet her on the road, but they were not
Perhaps they had listened to the representations of their father;
perhaps they had remained in Florence and were awaiting their mother's
Tormented by fear and hope, Hortense arrived in Florence and drove to
the dwelling in which her son Louis Napoleon had resided. Her feet could
scarcely bear her up; she hardly found strength to inquire after her
son--he was not there!
But he might be with his father, and Hortense now sent there for
intelligence of her sons. The messenger returned, alone and dejected:
her sons had left the city!
The exultant hymn of liberty had struck on their delighted ear, and they
had responded to the call of the revolution.
General Menotti had appealed to them, in the name of Italy, to assist
the cause of freedom with their name and with their swords, and they had
neither the will nor the courage to disregard this appeal.
A servant, left behind by her younger son, delivered to the duchess a
letter from her son Louis Napoleon, a last word of adieu to his
"Your love will understand us," wrote Louis Napoleon. "We cannot
withdraw ourselves from duties that devolve upon us; the name we bear
obliges us to listen to the appeal of unhappy nations. I beg you to
represent this matter to my sister-in-law as though I had persuaded my
brother to accompany me; it grieves him to have concealed from her one
action of his life."
[Footnote 60: La Reine Hortense, p. 78.]
THE DEATH OF PRINCE NAPOLEON.
That which Hortense most dreaded had taken place: the voice of
enthusiasm had silenced every other consideration; and the two sons of
the Duchess of St. Leu, the nephews of the Emperor Napoleon, now stood
at the head of the revolution. From Foligno to Civita Castellano, they
organized the defence, and from the cities and villages the young people
joyously hurried forth to enroll themselves under their banners, and to
obey the Princes Napoleon as their leaders; the crowds which the young
princes now led were scarcely armed, but they nevertheless advanced
courageously, and were resolved to attempt the capture of Civita
Castellano, in order to liberate the state prisoners who had been
languishing in its dungeons for eight years.
This was the intelligence brought back by the couriers whom Hortense had
dispatched to her sons with letters entreating them to return.
It was too late--they neither would nor could return.
Their father wrung his hands in despair, and conjured his wife, he
being confined to his arm-chair by illness and the gout, to do all in
her power to tear their sons from the fearful danger that menaced them.
For the revolution was lost; all who were cool and collected felt and
saw this. But the youth refused to see it; they still continued to flock
to the revolutionary banners; they still sang exultant hymns of freedom,
and, when their parents endeavored to hold them back, they fled from the
parental house secretly, in order to answer the call that resounded on
their ear in such divine notes.
One of the sons of the Princess of Canino, the wife of Lucien Bonaparte,
had fled from his father's castle in order to join the insurgents. They
succeeded in finding, and forcing him to return, and as the family were
under obligations to the pope for having created the principalities of
Canino and Musignano, for Lucien Bonaparte and his eldest son, the most
extreme measures were adopted to prevent the young prince from fighting
against the troops of the pope;
The Princess of Canino, as a favor, requested the Grand-duke of Tuscany
to confine her son in one of the state prisons of Tuscany; her request
was granted, and her son taken to a prison, where he was kept during the
entire revolution. It was proposed to the Duchess of St. Leu to adopt
this same means of prevention, but, in spite of her anxiety and care,
and although, in her restlessness and feverish disquiet, she wandered
through her rooms day and night, she declined to take such a course.
She was not willing to subject her sons to the humiliation of such
compulsion; if their own reason, if the prayers and entreaties of their
mother, did not suffice, force should not be resorted to, to bring them
back. The whole family was, however, still employing every means to
induce the two Princes Napoleon to withdraw from the revolution, which
must inevitably again draw down upon the name Napoleon the suspicion of
the angry and distrustful princes of Europe.
Cardinal Fesch and King Jerome conjured their nephews, first in
entreating, and then in commanding letters, to leave the insurgent army.
With the consent of their father, Louis Bonaparte, they wrote to the
provisional government at Bologna that the name of the two princes was
injuring the cause of the revolution, and to General Armandi, the
minister of war of the insurgent government, entreating him to recall
the princes from the army. Every one, friend and foe, combined to
neutralize the zeal and efforts of the two princes, and to prove to them
that they could only injure the cause to which they gave their names;
that foreign powers, considering the revolution a matter to be decided
by Italy alone, would perhaps refrain from intervening; but that they
would become relentless should a Bonaparte place himself at the head of
the revolution, in order perhaps to shake the thrones of Europe anew.
The two princes at last yielded to these entreaties and representations;
they gave up their commands, and resigned the rank that had been
accorded them in the insurgent army; but, as it was no longer in their
power to serve the revolution with their name and with their brains,
they were at least desirous of serving it with their arms: they resigned
their commands, but with the intention of remaining in the army as
simple soldiers and volunteers without any rank.
And when their father and their uncles, not yet satisfied with what they
had done, urged them still further the two princes declared that, if
these cruel annoyances were continued, they would go to Poland, and
serve the revolution there.
[Footnote 61: La Reine Hortense, p. 93.]
Hortense had taken no part in these attempts and efforts of her family;
she knew that it was all in vain; she understood her sons better than
they, and she knew that nothing in the world could alter a resolution
they had once formed. But she also knew that they were lost, that the
revolution must be suppressed, that they would soon be proscribed
fugitives, and she quietly prepared to assist them when the evil days
should come. She armed herself with courage and determination, and made
her soul strong, in order that she might not be overwhelmed by the
misfortune that was so near at hand.
While all about her were weeping and lamenting, while her husband was
wringing his hands in despair, and complaining of the present, Hortense
quietly and resolutely confronted the future, and prepared to defy it.
That which she dreaded soon took place. An Austrian fleet sailed into
the Adriatic; an Austrian army was marching on the insurrectionary
Italian provinces. Modena had already been reconquered; the insurgents
were already flying in crowds before the Austrian cannon, whose
thundering salvos were destined to destroy once more the hopes of the
youth of Italy.
Like an enraged lioness glowing with enthusiasm and courage, Hortense
now sprang up. The danger was there, and she must save her sons! She had
long considered how it was to be done, and whither she was to go with
them. She had first resolved to go with them to Turkey, and to take up
her residence in Smyrna, but the presence of the Austrian fleet which
ruled the Adriatic made this plan impracticable. At this moment of
extreme danger, a volume of light suddenly beamed in upon her soul, and
pointed out the way to safety. "I will take them by a road," said she to
herself, "on which they will be least expected. I will conduct them
through France, through Paris. The death-penalty will there hang
suspended over them, but what care I for that? Liberty, justice, and
humanity, still exercise too much control over France to make me
apprehend such severe measures. I must save my sons; the way through
France is the way of safety, and I shall therefore follow it!"
And Hortense immediately began to carry her plan into execution. She
requested an Englishman residing in Florence, to whose family she had
once rendered important services in France, to call on her, and begged
him to procure her a passport for an English lady and her two sons
through France to England.
The lord understood her, and gladly consented to assist her and her two
On the following day he brought her the required passport, and Hortense,
who well knew that the best way to keep a secret was to have no
confidants, now declared to her husband, as well as to her family and
her friends that she was resolved to find her sons, and to embark with
them from Ancona for Corfu!
For this purpose she demanded a passport of the government of Tuscany,
and it was accorded her.
Her sons were still in Bologna, but it was known that this city must
fall into the hands of the Austrians in a few days, and all was lost
unless Hortense arrived there before them. She sent a trusty servant to
her sons to announce her coming. Then, at nightfall, she herself
departed, accompanied by one of her ladies only. She was courageous and
resolute, for she knew that the safety of her sons, her only happiness,
was at stake.
Her rapidly-driven carriage had soon passed without the city, and she
now found herself in a part of the country still occupied by the
insurgents. Here all still breathed courage, joyousness, and confidence.
The entire population, adorned with cockades and three-colored ribbons,
seemed happy and contented, and refused to believe in the danger that
Festivals were everywhere being held in honor of the revolution and of
liberty, and those who spoke of the advancing Austrians and of dangers
were ridiculed. Instead of making preparations for their defence, the
insurgents folded their hands in contentment, rejoicing over that which
they had already attained, and blind to the tide that was rolling down
In the mean while, the insurgent army was in position near Bologna, and
also still occupied the two cities of Terni and Soleta, which they had
courageously defended against the papal troops. Every one expected that
a decisive battle would soon take place, and every one looked forward to
it with a joyous assurance of victory.
Hortense was far from participating in this general confidence. In
Foligno, where she had remained to await her sons, she passed several
sorrowful days of expectancy and suspense, alarmed by every noise, and
ever looking forward with an anxiously-throbbing heart to the moment
when her sons should come to her as fugitives, perhaps covered with
wounds, perhaps dying, to tell her that all was lost! Her anxiety at
last became so great, that she could no longer remain in Foligno; she
must be nearer her sons, she must view the dangers that encompassed
them, and, if need be, share them. Hortense, therefore, left Foligno,
and started for Ancona.
On her arrival at the first station, she saw a man descend from a
carriage and approach her. He was unknown to her, and yet she felt a
dark foreboding at his approach. The mother's heart already felt the
blow that awaited her.
This man was a messenger from her sons. "Prince Napoleon is ill," said
Hortense remembered that she had heard that a contagious disease was
ravaging the vicinity. "Is he indeed ill?" cried she, in dismay.
"Yes; and he earnestly desires to see you, madame!"
"Oh," exclaimed Hortense, in terror, "if he calls for me, he must be
very ill indeed!--Forward, forward, with all possible speed; I must
see my son!"
And onward they went with the speed of the wind from station to station,
approaching nearer and nearer to their destination; but as they neared
their destination, the faces they met grew sadder and sadder. At every
station groups of people assembled about her carriage and gazed at her
sorrowfully; everywhere she heard them murmur: "Napoleon is dead! Poor
mother! Napoleon is dead!" Hortense heard, but did not believe it! These
words had not been spoken by men, but were the utterances of her anxious
heart! Her son was not dead, he could not be dead. Napoleon lived, yes,
he still lived! And again the people around her carriage murmured,
"Napoleon is dead!"
Hortense reclined in her carriage, pale and motionless. Her thoughts
were confused, her heart scarcely beat.
At last she reached her destination; her carriage drove up to the house
in Pesaro, where her sons were awaiting her.
At this moment a young man, his countenance of a deathly pallor, and
flooded with tears, rushed out of the door and to her carriage. Hortense
recognized him, and stretched out her arms to him. It was her son Louis
Napoleon, and on beholding his pale, sorrowful countenance, and his
tear-stained eyes, the unhappy mother learned the truth. Yes, it was not
her heart, it was the people who had uttered the fearful words:
"Napoleon is dead! Poor mother! Napoleon is dead!"
With a heart-rending cry, Hortense sank to the ground in a swoon.
THE FLIGHT FROM ITALY.
But Hortense now had no leisure to weep over the son she had so dearly
loved; the safety of the son who remained to her, whom she loved no
less, and on whom her whole love must now be concentrated, was at stake.
She still had a son to save, and she must now think of him--of Louis
Napoleon, who stood in sorrow at her side, lamenting that Fate had not
allowed him to die with his brother.
Her son must be saved. This thought restored Hortense to health and
strength. She is informed that the authorities of Bologna have already
tendered submission to the Austrians; that the insurgent army is already
scattering in every direction; that the Austrian fleet is already to be
seen in the distance, approaching, perhaps with the intention of landing
at Sinigaglia, in order to surround the insurgents and render flight
This intelligence aroused Hortense from her grief and restored her
energy. She ordered her carriage and drove with her son to Ancona, in
full view of the people, in order that every one should know that it was
her purpose to embark with her son for Corfu at that seaport. At Ancona,
immediately fronting the sea, stood her nephew's palace, and there
Hortense descended from her carriage.
The waves of the storm-tossed sea sometimes rushed up to the windows of
the room occupied by the duchess; from there she could see the port, and
the crowds of fugitives who were pressing forward to save themselves on
the miserable little vessels that there lay at anchor.
And these poor people had but little time left them in which to seek
safety. The Austrians were rapidly advancing; on entering the papal
territory, they had proclaimed an amnesty, from the benefits of which
Prince Louis Napoleon, General Zucchi, and the inhabitants of Modena,
were, however, excepted. The strangers who had taken part in the
insurrection were to be arrested and treated with all the severity
of the law.
The young people who had flocked from Modena, Milan, and from all Italy,
to enroll themselves under the banner of the Roman revolution, now found
it necessary to seek safety from the pursuing Austrians in flight.
Louis Napoleon also had no time to lose; each moment lost might render
flight impossible! Hortense was weary and ill, but she now had no time
to think of herself; she must first save her son, then she could die,
but not sooner.
With perfect composure she prepared for her double (her feigned and her
Outwardly, she purposed embarking with her son at Corfu; secretly, it
was her intention to fly to England through France! But the English
passport that she had received for this purpose mentioned two sons, and
Hortense now possessed but one; and it was necessary for her to provide
a substitute for the one she had lost.
She found one in the person of the young Marquis Zappi, who, compromised
more than all the rest, joyfully accepted the proposition of the Duchess
of St. Leu, promising to conform himself wholly to her arrangements,
without knowing her plans and without being initiated in her secrets.
Hortense then procured all that was necessary to the disguise of the
young men as liveried servants, and ordered her carriage to be held in
readiness for her departure.
While this was being done in secret, she publicly caused all
preparations to be made for her journey to Corfu. She sent her passport
to the authorities for the purpose of obtaining the official _visa_ for
herself and sons, and had her trunks packed. Louis Napoleon had looked
on, with cold and mute indifference, while these preparations were being
made. He stood by, pale and dejected, without complaining or giving
utterance to his grief.
Becoming at last convinced that he was ill, Hortense sent for a
The latter declared that the prince was suffering from a severe attack
of fever, which might become dangerous unless he sought repose at once.
It was therefore necessary to postpone their departure for a day, and
Hortense passed an anxious night at the bedside of her fever-shaken,
The morning at last dawned, the morning of the day on which they hoped
to fly; but when the rising sun shed its light into the chamber in which
Hortense stood at her son's bedside, who can describe the unhappy
mother's horror when she saw her son's face swollen, disfigured, and
covered with red spots!
Like his brother, Louis Napoleon had also taken the same disease.
For a moment Hortense was completely overwhelmed, and then, by the
greatest effort of her life, she summoned her fortitude to her aid. She
immediately sent for the physician again, and, trusting to a sympathetic
human heart, she confided all to him, and he did not disappoint her.
What is to be done must be done quickly, immediately, or it will be
Hortense thinks of all, and provides for all. Especially, she causes her
son's passport to Corfu to be signed by the authorities, and a passage
to be taken for him on the only ship destined for Corfu now lying in the
harbor. She instructs the servants, who are conveying trunks and
packages to the vessel, to inform the curious spectators of her son's
intended departure on this vessel. She at the same time causes the
report to be circulated that she has suddenly been taken ill, and can
therefore not accompany her son.
The physician confirms this statement, and informs all Ancona of the
dangerous illness of the Duchess of St. Leu.
And after all this had been done, Hortense causes her son's bed to be
carried into the little cabinet adjoining her room, and falling on her
knees at his bedside, and covering her face with her hands, she prays to
God to preserve the life of her child!
On the evening of this day the vessel destined for Corfu hoisted its
anchor. No one doubted that Louis Napoleon had embarked on it, and every
one pitied the poor duchess, who, made ill by grief and anxiety, had not
been able to accompany her son.
In the mean while Hortense was sitting at the bedside of her delirious
son. But she no longer felt weak or disquieted; nervous excitement
sustained her, and gave her strength and presence of mind. Her son was
at the same time threatened by two dangers--by the disease, which the
slightest mistake might render mortal; and by the arrival of the
Austrians, who had expressly excepted her son Louis Napoleon from the
benefits of the amnesty. She must save her son from both these
dangers--this thought gave her strength.
Two days had now passed; the last two vessels had left the harbor,
crowded with fugitives; and now the advance-guard of the Austrians was
marching into Ancona.
The commandant of the advance-guard, upon whom the duty of designating
quarters for the following army devolved, selected the palace of
Princess Canino, where the Duchess of St. Leu resided, as headquarters
for the commanding general and his staff. Hortense had expected this,
and had withdrawn to a few small rooms in advance, holding all the
parlors and large rooms in readiness for the general. When they,
however, demanded that the entire palace should be vacated, the wife of
the janitor, the only person whom Hortense had taken into her
confidence, informed them that Queen Hortense, who was ill and unhappy,
was the sole occupant of these reserved rooms.
Strange to relate, the Austrian captain who came to the palace to make
the necessary preparations for his general's reception was one of those
who, in the year 1815, had protected the queen and her children from the
fury of the royalists. For the second time he now interested himself
zealously in behalf of the duchess, and hastened forward to meet the
general-in-chief, Baron Geppert, who was just entering the city, in
order to acquaint him with the state of affairs. He, in common with all
the world, convinced that her son, Louis Napoleon, had fled to Corfu,
declared his readiness to permit the duchess to retain the rooms she was
occupying, and begged permission to call on her. But the duchess was
still ill, and confined to her bed, and could receive no one.
The Austrians took up their quarters in the palace; and in the midst of
them, separated from the general's room by a locked door only, were
Hortense and her sick son. The least noise might betray him. When he
coughed it was necessary to cover his head with the bedclothes, in order
to deaden the sound; when he desired to speak he could only do so in a
whisper, for his Austrian neighbors would have been astonished to hear a
male voice in the room of the sick duchess, and their suspicions might
have been thereby aroused.
At last, after eight days of torment and anxiety, the physician declared
that Louis Napoleon could now undertake the journey without danger, and
consequently the duchess suddenly recovered! She requested the Austrian
general, Baron Geppert, to honor her with a call, in order that she
might thank him for his protection and sympathy; she told him that she
was now ready to depart, and proposed embarking at Livorno, in order to
join her son at Malta, and go with him to England. As she would be
compelled to pass through the whole Austrian army-corps on her way, she
begged the general to furnish her with a passport through his lines over
his own signature; requesting in addition that, in order to avoid all
sensation, the instrument should not contain her name.
The general, deeply sympathizing with the unhappy woman who was about to
follow her proscribed son, readily accorded her request.
Hortense purposed beginning her journey on the following day, the first
day of the Easter festival; and, on sending her farewell greeting to the
Austrian general, she informed him that she would start at a very early
hour, in order to hear mass at Loretto.
During the night all necessary preparations for the journey were made,
and Louis Napoleon was compelled to disguise himself in the dress of a
liveried servant; a similar attire was also sent to Marquis Zappi, who
had hitherto been concealed in the house of a friend, and in this attire
he was to await the duchess below at the carriage.
At last, day broke and the hour of departure came. The horn of the
postilion resounded through the street. Through the midst of the
sleeping Austrian soldiers who occupied the antechamber through which
they were compelled to pass, Hortense walked, followed by her son loaded
with packages, in his livery. Their departure was witnessed by no one
except the sentinel on duty.
Day had hardly dawned. In the first carriage sat the duchess, with a
lady companion, and in front, on the box, her son, as a servant, at the
side of the postilion; in the second carriage her maid, behind her the
young Marquis Zappi.
As the sun arose and shone down upon the beautiful Easter day, Ancona
was already far behind, and Hortense knelt down at the side of Louis
Napoleon to thank God tearfully for having permitted her to succeed so
far in rescuing her son, and to entreat Him to be merciful in the
future. But there were still many dangers to be overcome; the slightest
accident might still betray them. The danger consisted not only in
having to pass through all the places where the Austrian troops were
stationed; General Geppert's pass was a sufficient protection against
any thing that might threaten them from this quarter.
The greatest danger was to be apprehended from their friends--from some
one who might accidentally recognize her son, and unintentionally
They must pass through the grand-duchy of Tuscany, and there the
greatest danger menaced, for there her son was known to every one, and
every one might betray them. This part of the journey must therefore be
made, as far as possible, by night. The courier whom they had dispatched
in advance had everywhere ordered the necessary relays of horses; their
dismay was, therefore, great when they found no horses at the station
Camoscia, on the boundary of Tuscany, and were informed that several
hours must elapse before they could obtain any!
These hours of expectation and anxiety were fearful. Hortense passed
them in her carriage, breathlessly listening to the slightest noise that
broke upon the air.
Her son Louis had descended from the carriage, and seated himself on a
stone bench that stood in front of the miserable little station-house.
Worn out by grief and still weak from disease, indifferent to the
dangers that menaced from all sides, heedless of the night wind that
swept, with its icy breath, over his face, the prince sank down upon
this stone bench, and went to sleep.
Thus they passed the night. Hortense, once a queen, in a half-open
carriage; Louis Napoleon, the present Emperor of France, on a stone
bench, that served him as a couch!
Heaven took pity on the agony of the unhappy Duchess of St. Leu. It
heard the prayer of her anxious mother's heart, and permitted mother and
son to escape the dangers that menaced them at every step in Italy.
At Antibes they succeeded in crossing the French boundary without being
recognized. They were now in their own country--in _la belle France_,
which they still loved and proudly called their mother, although it had
forsaken and discarded them. The death-penalty threatened the Bonapartes
who should dare to set foot on French soil. But what cared they for
that? Neither Hortense nor her son thought of it. They only knew that
they were in their own country. They inhaled with delight the air that
seemed to them better and purer than any other; with hearts throbbing
with joy, they listened to the music of this beautiful language that
greeted them with the sweet native melodies.
At Cannes they passed the first night. What recollections did this place
recall to Hortense! Here it was that Napoleon had landed on his return
from Elba to France; from Cannes he had commenced his march to Paris
with a handful of soldiers, and had arrived there with an army. For the
people had everywhere received him with exultation; the regiments that
had been sent out against the advancing general had everywhere joyously
gone over to his standard. Charles de Labedoyere, this enthusiastic
adherent of the emperor, had been the first to do this. He was to have
advanced against the emperor from Grenoble; but, with the exulting cry,
"_Vive l'empereur!_" the entire regiment had gone over to its adored
chieftain. Labedoyere had paid dearly for the enthusiasm of those
moments; for, the for-the-second-time restored Bourbons punished his
fidelity with death. Like Marshal Ney, Charles de Labedoyere was also
shot; like the emperor himself, he paid for the triumph of the hundred
days with his liberty and with his life!
Of all these names and events of the past, Hortense thought, while
enjoying the first hours of repose in their room at an hotel in Cannes.
Leaning back in her chair, her large eyes gazing dreamily at the ceiling
above her, she told the attentive prince of the days that had been, and
spoke to him of the days in which they were now living--of these days of
humiliation and obscurity--of those days in which the French nation had
risen, and, shaking its lion's mane, hurled the Bourbons from their
ancestral throne, and out of the land they had hitherto proudly called
their own. On driving out the Bourbons, the people had freely chosen
another king--not the King of Rome, who, in Vienna, as Duke of
Reichstadt, had been made to forget the brilliant days of his
childhood--not the son of the Emperor Napoleon. The people of France had
chosen the Duke of Orleans as their king, and Louis Philippe's first act
had been to renew the decree of banishment which the Bourbons had
fulminated against the Bonapartes, and which declared it to be a
capital crime if they should ever dare to set foot on the soil
"The people acted freely and according to their own will," said
Hortense, with a sad smile, as she saw her son turn pale, and wrinkles
gather on his brow. "Honor the will of the people, my son! In order to
reward the emperor for his great services to the country, the people of
France had unanimously chosen him their emperor. The people who give
have also the right to take back again. The Bourbons, who consider
themselves the owners of France, may reclaim it as an estate of which
they have been robbed by the house of Orleans. But the Bonapartes must
remember that they derived all their power from the will of the people.
They must be content to await the future expression of its will, and
then submit, and conform themselves to it."
[Footnote 62: The duchess's own words. See La Reine Hortense en Italie,
Suisse, France, etc., p. 79.]
Louis Napoleon bowed his head and sighed. He must conform to the will of
the people; cautiously, under a borrowed name, he must steal into the
land of his longing and of his dreams; he must deny his nationality, and
be indebted, for his name and passport, to the country that had bound
his uncle, like a second Prometheus, to the rock, and left him there to
die! But he did it with a sorrowful, with a bleeding heart; he wandered
with his mother, who walked heavily veiled at his side, from place to
place, listening to her reminiscences of the great past. At her
relation of these reminiscences, his love and enthusiasm for the
fatherland, from which he had so long been banished, burned brighter and
brighter. The sight, the air of this fatherland, had electrified him; he
entertained but one wish: to remain in France, and to serve France,
although in the humble capacity of a private soldier.
One day Louis Napoleon entered his mother's room with a letter in his
hand, and begged her to read it. It was a letter addressed to Louis
Philippe, in which Louis Napoleon begged the French king to annul his
exile, and to permit him to enter the French army as a private soldier.
Hortense read the letter, and shook her head sadly. It wounded her just
pride that her son, the nephew of the great emperor, should ask a favor
of him who had not hesitated to make the most of the revolution for
himself, but had nevertheless lacked the courage to help the banished
Bonapartes to recover their rights, and enable them to return to their
country. In his ardent desire to serve France, Louis Napoleon had
forgotten this insult of the King of France.
"My children," says Hortense, in her memoirs, "my children, who had been
cruelly persecuted by all the courts, even by those who owed every thing
to the emperor, their uncle, loved their country with whole-souled
devotion. Their eyes ever turned toward France, busied with the
consideration of institutions that might make France happy; they knew
that the people alone were their friends; the hatred of the great had
taught them this. To conform to the will of the people with resignation
was to them a duty, but to devote themselves to the service of France
was their hearts' dearest wish. It was for this reason that my son had
written to Louis Philippe hoping to be permitted to make himself useful
to his country in some way."
Hortense advised against this venturous step; and when she saw how much
this grieved her son, and observed his eyes filling with tears, she
begged that he would at least wait and reflect, and postpone his
decision until their arrival in Paris.
Louis Napoleon yielded to his mother's entreaties, and in silence and
sadness these two pilgrims continued their wandering through the country
and cities, that to Hortense seemed transformed into luminous monuments
of departed glory.
In Fontainebleau Hortense showed her son the palace that had been the
witness of the greatest triumphs and also of the most bitter grief of
his great uncle. Leaning on his arm, her countenance concealed by a
heavy black veil, to prevent any one from recognizing her, Hortense
walked through the chambers, in which she had once been installed as a
mighty and honored queen, and in which she was now covertly an exile
menaced with death. The servants who conducted her were the same who had
been there during the days of the emperor! Hortense recognized them at
once; she did not dare to make herself known, but she nevertheless felt
that she, too, was remembered there. She saw this in the expression
with which the servants opened the rooms she had once occupied; she
heard it in the tone in which they mentioned her name! Every thing in
this palace had remained as it then was! There was the same furniture in
the rooms which the imperial family had occupied after the peace of
Tilsit, and in which they had given such brilliant _fetes_, and received
the homage of so many of the kings and princes of Europe, all of whom
had come to implore the assistance and favor of their vanquisher! There
were also the apartments which the pope had occupied, once voluntarily;
subsequently, under compulsion. Alas! and there was also the little
cabinet, in which the emperor, the once so mighty and illustrious ruler
of Europe, had abdicated the crown which his victories, his good deeds,
and the love of the French people, had placed on his head! And, finally,
there were also the chapel and the altar before which the Emperor
Napoleon had stood god-father to his nephew Louis Napoleon! All was
still as it had been, except that the garden, that Hortense and her
mother had laid out and planted, had grown more luxuriant, and now sang
to the poor banished pilgrim with its rustling tree-tops a melancholy
song of her long separation from her home!
The sorrowing couple wandered on, and at last arrived before the gates
of Paris. At this moment, Hortense was a Frenchwoman, a Parisian only,
and, forgetting every thing else, all her grief and sufferings, she
sought only to do the honors of Paris for her son. She ordered the
coachman to drive them through the boulevards to the Rue de la Paix,
and then to stop at the first good hotel. This was the same way over
which she had passed sixteen years before, escorted by an Austrian
officer. Then she had quitted Paris by night, driven out in a measure by
the allies, who so much feared her, the poor, weak woman with her little
boys, that troops had been placed under arms at regular intervals on her
way, in order, as it was given out, to secure her safe passage. Now,
after sixteen years, Hortense returned to Paris by the same route, still
exiled and homeless, at her side the son who was not only menaced by the
French decree of banishment, but also by the Austrian edict of
But yet she was once more in Paris, once more at home, and she wept with
joy at beholding once more the streets and places about which the
memories of her youth clustered.
By a strange chance, it was at the "_Hotel de Hollande_" that the former
Queen of Holland descended from her carriage, and took up her residence,
holding thus, in a measure, her entrance into Paris, under the
fluttering banner of the past. In the little _Hotel de Hollande_, the
Queen of Holland took possession of the apartments of the first floor,
which commanded a view of the boulevard and the column of the _Place
Vendome._ "Say to the column on the _Place Vendome_ that I am dying,
because I cannot embrace it," the Duke de Reichstadt once wrote in the
album of a French nobleman, who had succeeded, in spite of the watchful
spies, who surrounded the emperor's son, in speaking to him of his
father and of the empire. This happiness, vainly longed for by the
emperor's son, was at least to be enjoyed by his nephew.
Louis Napoleon could venture to show himself. In Paris he was entirely
unknown, and could therefore be betrayed by no one. He could go down
into the square and hasten to the foot of the _Vendome_ column, and in
thought at least kneel down before the monument that immortalized the
renown and grandeur of the emperor. Hortense remained behind, in order
to perform a sacred duty, imposed on her, as she believed, by her own
honor and dignity.
She was not willing to sojourn secretly, like a fugitive criminal, in
the city that in the exercise of its free will had chosen itself a king,
but not a Bonaparte. She was not willing to partake of French
hospitality and enjoy French protection by stealth; she was not willing
to go about in disguise, deceiving the government with a false pass and
a borrowed name. She had the courage of truth and sincerity, and she
resolved to say to the King of France that she had come, not to defy his
decree of banishment by her presence, not for the purpose of intriguing
against his new crown, by arousing the Bonapartists from their sleep of
forgetfulness by her appearance, but solely because there was no other
means of saving her son; because she must pass through France with him
in order to reach England.
Revolution, which so strangely intermingles the destinies of men, had
surrounded the new king almost entirely with the friends and servants
of the emperor and of the Duchess of St. Leu. But, in order not to
excite suspicion against these, Hortense now addressed herself to him
with whom she had the slightest acquaintance and whose devotion to the
Orleans family was too well known to be called in doubt by her
undertaking. Hortense therefore addressed herself to M. de Houdetot, the
adjutant of the king, or rather, she caused her friend Mlle. de Massuyer
to write to him. She was instructed to inform the count that she had
come to Paris with an English family, and was the bearer of a commission
from the Duchess of St. Leu to M. de Houdetot.
M. de Houdetot responded to her request, and came to the _Hotel de
Hollande_ to see Mlle. Massuyer. With surprise and emotion, he
recognized in the supposititious English lady the Duchess of St. Leu,
who was believed by all the world to be on the way to Malta, and for
whom her friends (who feared the fatigue of so long a journey would be
too much for Hortense in her weak state of health) had already taken
steps to obtain for her permission to pass through France on her way
Hortense informed Count Houdetot of the last strokes of destiny that had
fallen upon her, and expressed her desire to see the king, in order to
speak with him in person about the future of her son.
M. de Houdetot undertook to acquaint the king with her desire, and came
on the following day to inform the duchess of the result of his mission.
He told the duchess that the king had loudly lamented her boldness in
coming to France, and the impossibility of his seeing her. He told her,
moreover, that, as the king had a responsible ministry at his side, he
had been compelled to inform the premier of her arrival, and that
Minister Casimir Perrier would call on her during the day.
A few hours later, Louis Philippe's celebrated minister arrived. He came
with an air of earnest severity, as it were to sit in judgment upon the
accused duchess, but her artless sincerity and her gentle dignity
disarmed him, and soon caused him to assume a more delicate and
"I well know," said Hortense in the course of the conversation, "I well
know that I have broken a law, by coming hither; I fully appreciate the
gravity of this offence; you have the right to cause me to be arrested,
and it would be perfectly just in you to do so!"--Casimir Perrier shook
his head slowly, and replied: "Just, no! Lawful, yes!"
[Footnote 63: La Reine Hortense: Voyage en Italie, etc., p. 110.]
LOUIS PHILIIPE AND THE DUCHESS OF ST. LEU.
The visit which Casimir Perrier had paid the duchess seemed to have
convinced him that the fears which the king and his ministry had
entertained had really been groundless, that the step-daughter of
Napoleon had not come to Paris to conspire and to claim the still
somewhat unstable throne of France for the Duke de Reichstadt or for
Louis Napoleon, but that she had only chosen the way through France, in
the anxiety of maternal love in order to rescue her son.
In accordance with this conviction, Louis Philippe no longer considered
it impossible to see the Duchess of St. Leu, but now requested her to
call. Perhaps the king, who had so fine a memory for figures and
money-matters, remembered that it had been Hortense (then still Queen of
Holland) who, during the hundred days of the empire in 1815, had
procured for the Duchess Orleans-Penthievre, from the emperor,
permission to remain in Paris and a pension of two hundred thousand
francs per annum; that it had been Hortense who had done the same for
the aunt of the present king, the Duchess of Orleans-Bourbon. Then, in
their joy over an assured and brilliant future, these ladies had written
the duchess the most affectionate and devoted letters; then they had
assured Hortense of their eternal and imperishable gratitude.
Perhaps Louis Philippe remembered this, and was desirous of rewarding
Hortense for her services to his mother and his aunt.
[Footnote 64: La Reine Hortense: Voyage en Italie, etc., p. 185.]
He solicited a visit from Hortense, and, on the second day of her
sojourn in Paris, M. de Houdetot conducted the Duchess of St. Leu to the
Tuileries, in which she had once lived as a young girl, as the
step-daughter of the emperor; then as Queen of Holland, as the wife of
the emperor's brother; and which she now beheld once more, a poor,
nameless pilgrim, a fugitive with shrouded countenance, imploring a
little toleration and protection of those to whom she had once accorded
toleration and protection.
Louis Philippe received the Duchess of St. Leu with all the elegance and
graciousness which the "Citizen King" so well knew how to assume, and
that had always been an inheritance of his house, with all the
amiability and apparent open-heartedness beneath which he so well knew
how to conceal his real disposition. Coming to the point at once, he
spoke of that which doubtlessly interested the duchess most, of the
decree of banishment.
"I am familiar," said the king, "with all the pains of exile, and it is
not my fault that yours have not been alleviated." He assured her that
this decree of banishment against the Bonaparte family was a heavy
burden on his heart; he went so far as to excuse himself for it by
saying that the exile pronounced against the imperial family was only an
article of the same law which the conventionists had abolished, and the
renewal of which had been so vehemently demanded by the country! Thus it
had seemed as though he had uttered a new decree of banishment, while in
point of fact he had only renewed a law that had already existed under
the consulate of Napoleon. "But," continued the king with exultation,
"the time is no longer distant when there will be no more exiles; I will
have none under my government!"
Then, as if to remind the duchess that there had been exiles and
decrees of banishment at all times, also under the republic, the
consulate, and the kingdom, he spoke of his own exile, of the needy and
humiliating situation in which he had found himself, and which had
compelled him to hire himself out as a teacher and give instruction for
a paltry consideration.
The duchess had listened to the king with a gentle smile, and replied
that she knew the story of his exile, and that it did him honor.
Then the duchess informed the king that her son had accompanied her on
her journey, and was now with her in Paris; she also told him that her
son, in his glowing enthusiasm for his country, had written to the king,
begging that he might be permitted to enter the army.
"Lend me the letter," replied Louis Philippe; "Perrier shall bring it to
me, and, if circumstances permit, I shall be perfectly willing to grant
your son's request; and it will also give me great pleasure to serve you
at all times. I know that you have legitimate claims on the government,
and that you have appealed to the justice of all former ministries in
vain. Write out a statement of all that France owes you, and send it _to
me alone_. I understand business matters, and constitute myself from
this time on your _charge d'affaires_. The Duke of Rovigo," he
continued, "has informed me that the other members of the imperial
family have similar claims. It will afford me great pleasure to be of
assistance to all of you, and I shall interest myself particularly for
the Princess de Montfort."
[Footnote 65: The king's own words. See Voyage en Italie, etc., p. 201.]
[Footnote 66: The Princess de Montfort was the wife of Jerome, the
sister of the King of Wuertemberg, and a cousin of the Emperor
Hortense had listened to the king, her whole face radiant with delight.
The king's beneficent countenance, his friendly smile, his hearty and
cordial manner, dispelled all doubt of his sincerity in Hortense's mind.
She believed in his goodness and in his kindly disposition toward
herself; and, in her joyous emotion, she thanked him with words of
enthusiasm for his promised benefits, never doubting that it was his
intention to keep his word.
"Ah, sire!" she exclaimed, "the entire imperial family is in misfortune,
and you will have many wrongs to redress. France owes us all a great
deal, and it will be worthy of you to liquidate these debts."
The king declared his readiness to do every thing. He who was so fond of
taking in millions and of speculating, smilingly promised, in the name
of France, to disburse millions, and to pay off the old state debt!
The duchess believed him. She believed in his protestations of
friendship, and in his blunt sincerity. She allowed him to conduct her
to his wife, the queen, and was received by her and Madame Adelaide with
the same cordiality the king had shown. Once only in the course of the
conversation did Madame Adelaide forget her cordial disposition. She
asked the duchess how long she expected to remain in Paris, and when the
latter replied that she intended remaining three days longer, Madame
exclaimed, in a tone of anxious dismay: "So long! Three days still! And
there are so many Englishmen here who have seen your son in Italy, and
might recognize you here!"
But Fate itself seemed to delay the departure of the duchess and her
son. On returning home from her visit to the Tuileries, she found her
son on his bed in a violent fever, and the physician who had been called
in declared that he was suffering from inflammation of the throat.
Hortense was to tremble once more for the life of a son, and this son
was the last treasure Fate had left her.
Once more the mother sat at the bedside of her son, watching over him,
lovingly, day and night. That her son's life might be preserved was now
her only wish, her only prayer; all else became void of interest, and
was lost sight of. She only left her son's side when Casimir Perrier
came, as he was in the habit of doing daily, to inquire after her son's
condition in the name of the king, and to request the duchess to name
the amount of her claims against France, and to impart to him all her
wishes with regard to her future. Hortense now had but one ardent
wish--the recovery of her son; and her only request was, that she might
be permitted to visit the French baths of the Pyrenees during the
summer, in order to restore her failing health.
The minister promised to procure this permission of the king, and of the
Chambers, that were soon to be convened. "In this way we shall gradually
become accustomed to your presence," observed Casimir Perrier. "As far
as you are personally concerned, we shall be inclined to throw open the
gates of the country to you. But with your son it is different, his name
will be a perpetual obstacle in his way. If he should really desire at
any time to take service in the army, it would be, above all, necessary
that he should lay aside his name. We are in duty bound to consider the
wishes of foreign governments: France is divided into so many parties,
that a war could only be ruinous, and therefore your son must change his
But now the duchess, her cheeks glowing, blushing with displeasure and
anger, interrupted him. "What!" exclaimed she, "lay aside the noble name
with which France may well adorn itself, conceal it as though we had
cause to be ashamed of it?"
Beside herself with anger, regardless, in her agitation, even of the
suffering condition of her son, she hastened to his bedside, to inform
him of the proposition made to her by Louis Philippe's minister.
The prince arose in his couch, his eyes flaming, and his cheeks burning
at the same time with the fever-heat of disease and of anger.
"Lay aside my name!" he exclaimed. "Who dares to make such a proposition
to me? Let us think of all these things no more, mother. Let us go back
to our retirement. Ah, you were right, mother: our time is passed, or it
has not yet come!"
THE DEPARTURE OF THE DUCHESS FROM PARIS.
Excitement had made the patient worse, and caused his fever to return
with renewed violence. Hortense was now inseparable from his bedside;
she herself applied ice to his burning throat, and assisted in applying
the leeches ordered by the physician. But this continuous anxiety and
excitement, all these troubles of the present, and sad remembrances of
the past, had at last exhausted the strength of the delicate woman; the
flush of fever now began to show itself on her cheeks also, and the
physician urged her to take daily exercise in the open air if she
desired to avoid falling ill.
Hortense followed his advice. In the evening twilight, in plain attire,
her face concealed by a heavy black veil, she now daily quitted her
son's bedside, and went out into the street for a walk, accompanied by
the young Marquis Zappi. No one recognized her, no one greeted her, no
one dreamed that the veiled figure that walked so quietly and shyly was
she who, as Queen of Holland, had formerly driven through these same
streets in gilded coaches, hailed by the joyous shouts of the people.
But, in these wanderings through Paris, Hortense also lived in her
memories only. She showed the marquis the dwelling she had once
occupied, and which had for her a single happy association: her sons had
been born there. With a soft smile she looked up at the proud _facade_
of this building, the windows of which were brilliantly illumined, and
in whose parlors some banker or ennobled provision-dealer was now
perhaps giving a ball; pointing to these windows with her slender white
hand, she said: "I wished to see this house, in order to reproach myself
for having been unhappy in it; yes, I then dared to complain even in the
midst of so much splendor; I was so far from dreaming of the weight of
the misfortune that was one day to come upon me."
[Footnote 67: The duchess's own words: see Voyage, etc., p. 225.]
She looked down again and passed on, to seek the houses of several
friends, of whom she knew that they had remained faithful; heavily
veiled and enveloped in her dark cloak she stood in front of these
houses, not daring to acquaint her friends with her presence, contented
with the sweet sense of being near them!
When, after having strengthened her heart with the consciousness of
being near friends, she passed on through the streets, in which she, the
daughter of France, was now unknown, homeless, and forgotten!--no, not
forgotten!--as she chanced to glance in at a store she was just passing,
she saw in the lighted window her own portrait at the side of that of
Overcome by a sweet emotion, Hortense stood still and gazed at these
pictures. The laughing, noisy crowd on the sidewalk passed on, heedless
of the shrouded woman who stood there before the shop-window, gazing
with tearful eyes at her own portrait. "It seems we are still
remembered," whispered she, in a low voice. "Those who wear crowns are
not to be envied, and should not lament their loss; but is it possible
that the love of the people, to receive which is so sweet, has not yet
been wholly withdrawn from us?"
The profound indifference with which France had accepted the exile of
the Bonapartes had grieved her deeply. She had only longed for some
token of love and fidelity in order that she might go back into exile
consoled and strengthened. And now she found it. France proved to her
through these portraits that she was not forgotten.
Hortense stepped with her companion into the store to purchase the
portraits of herself and of the emperor; and when she was told that
these portraits were in great demand, and that many of them were sold to
the people, she hardly found strength to repress the tears of blissful
emotion that rose from her heart to her eyes. She took the portraits and
hastened home, to show them to her son and to bring to him with them the
love-greetings of France. While the duchess, her thoughts divided
between the remembrances of the past and the cares and troubles of the
present, had been sojourning in Paris for twelve days, all the papers
were extolling the heroism of the duchess in having saved her son, and
of her having embarked at Malta in order to take him to England.
Even the king's ministerial council occupied itself with this matter,
and thought it proper to make representations to his majesty on the
subject. Marshal Sebastiani informed the king that the Duchess of St.
Leu, to his certain knowledge, had landed at Corfu. With lively
interest he spoke of the fatiguing journey at sea that the duchess would
be compelled to make, and asked almost timidly if she might not be
permitted to travel through France.
The king's countenance assumed an almost sombre look, and he replied,
dryly: "Let her continue her journey." Casimir Perrier bowed his head
over the paper that lay before him, in order to conceal his mirth, and
minister Barthe availed himself of the opportunity to give a proof of
his eloquence and of his severity, by observing that a law existed
against the duchess, and that a law was a sacred thing that no one
should be permitted to evade.
But the presence of the duchess, although kept a secret, began to cause
the king and his premier Casimir Perrier more and more uneasiness. The
latter had already once informed her through M. de Houdetot that her
departure was absolutely necessary and must take place at once, and he
had only been moved to consent to her further sojourn by the condition
of the prince, whose inflammation of the throat had rendered a second
application of leeches necessary.
They were now, however, on the eve of a great and dangerous day, of the
5th of May. The people of Paris were strangely moved, and the new
government saw with much apprehension the dawn of this day of such great
memories for France. There seemed to be some justification for this
apprehension. Since the break of day, thousands of people had flocked to
the column on the _Place Vendome_. Silently and gravely they approached
the monument, in order to adorn with wreaths of flowers the eagles, or
to lay them at the foot of the column, and then to retire mournfully.
[Footnote 68: The anniversary of Napoleon's death.]
Hortense stood at the window of her apartment, looking on with folded
hands and tears of bliss at the impressive and solemn scene that was
taking place on the _Place Vendome_ beneath, when suddenly a violent
knocking was heard at her door, and M. de Houdetot rushed in, a pale and
sorrowful expression on his countenance.
"Duchess," said he breathlessly, "you must depart immediately, without
an hour's delay! I am ordered to inform you of this. Unless the life of
your son is to be seriously endangered, you must leave at once!"
Hortense listened to him tranquilly. She almost pitied the king--the
government--to whom a weak woman and an invalid youth could cause such
fear. How great must this fear be, when it caused them to disregard all
the laws of hospitality and of decency! What had she done to justify
this fear? She had not addressed herself to the people of France, in
order to obtain help and protection for her son--for the nephew of the
emperor; cautiously and timidly she had concealed herself from the
people, and, far from being disposed to arouse or agitate her country,
she had only made herself known to the King of France in order to
solicit protection and toleration at his hands.
She was distrusted, in spite of this candor; and her presence, although
known to no one, awakened apprehensions in those in authority. Hortense
pitied them; not a word of complaint or regret escaped her lips. She
sent for her physician at once; and, after informing him that she must
necessarily depart for London, she asked him if such a journey would
endanger her son's life. The physician declared that, while he could
have desired a few days more of repose, the prince would nevertheless,
with proper care and attention, be able to leave on the following day.
"Inform the king that I shall depart to-morrow," said Hortense; and,
while M. de Houdetot was hastening to the king with this welcome
intelligence, the duchess was making preparations for the journey, which
she began with her son early on the following morning.
In four days they reached Calais, where they found the ship that was to
convey them to England in readiness to sail. Hortense was to leave her
country once more as a fugitive and exile! She was once more driven out,
and condemned to live in a foreign country! Because the French people
still refused to forget their emperor, the French kings hated and feared
the imperial family. Under the old Bourbons, they had been hated; Louis
Philippe, who had attained his crown through the people, felt that it
was necessary to flatter the people, and show some consideration for
their sympathies. He declared to the people that he entertained the most
profound admiration for their great emperor, and yet he issued a decree
of banishment against the Bonapartes; he ordered that the _Vendome_
column, with its bronze statue of the emperor, should be adorned, and at
the same time his decree banished the daughter and the nephew of the
emperor from France, and drove them back into a foreign country.
Hortense went, but she felt, in the pain it caused her, that she was
leaving her country--the country in which she had friends whom she had
not seen again; the country in which lay her mother's grave, which she
had not dared to visit; and, finally, the grave of her son! She once
more left behind her all the remembrances of her youth--all the places
she had loved; and her regret and her tears made known how dear these
things still were to her; that the banished and homeless one was still
powerless to banish the love of country from her heart, and that France
was still her home!
PILGRIMAGE THROUGH FRANCE.
The sojourn of the Duchess of St. Leu in England where she arrived with
her son after a stormy passage, was for both a succession of triumphs
and ovations. The high aristocracy of London heaped upon her proofs of
esteem, of reverence, and of love; every one seemed anxious to atone for
the severity and cruelty with which England had treated the emperor, by
giving proofs of their admiration and respect for his step-daughter. All
these proud English aristocrats seemed desirous of proving to the
duchess and her son that they were not of the same disposition as Hudson
Lowe, who had slowly tormented the chained lion to death with petty
The Duchess of Bedford, Lord and Lady Holland, and Lady Grey, in
particular, were untiring in their efforts to do the honors of their
country to Hortense, and to show her every possible attention. But
Hortense declined their proffered invitations. She avoided all
publicity; she feared, on her own and her son's account, that the tattle
of the world and the newspapers might once more draw down upon her the
distrust and ill-will of the French government. She feared that this
might prevent her returning with her son, through France, to her quiet
retreat on the Lake of Constance, in Switzerland, to her charming
Arenenberg, where she had passed so many delightful and peaceful years
of repose and remembrance.
Hortense was right. Her sojourn in England excited, as soon as it became
known, in every quarter, care, curiosity, and disquiet. All parties were
seeking to divine the duchess's intention in residing in London. All
parties were convinced that she entertained plans that might endanger
and frustrate their own. The Duchess de Berri, who resided in Bath, had
come to London as soon as she heard of the arrival of the Duchess of St.
Leu, in order to inquire into Hortense's real intention. The bold and
enterprising Duchess de Berri was preparing to go to France, in order
to call the people to arms for herself and son, to hurl Louis Philippe
from his usurped throne, and to restore to her son his rightful
inheritance. They, therefore, thought it perfectly natural that Hortense
should entertain similar plans for her son; that she, too, should
purpose the overthrow of the French king in order to place her own son,
or the son of the emperor, the Duke de Reichstadt, on the throne.
On the other hand, it had been endeavored to persuade Prince Leopold, of
Coburg, to whom the powers of Europe had just offered the crown of
Belgium, that the Duchess of St. Leu had come to England in order to
possess herself of Belgium by a _coup d'etat_, and to proclaim Louis
Napoleon its king. But this wise and magnanimous prince laughed at these
intimations. He had known the duchess in her days of magnificence, and
he now hastened to lay the same homage at the foot of the homeless woman
that he had once devoted to the adored and powerful Queen of Holland. He
called on the duchess, conversed with her of her beautiful and brilliant
past, and told her of the hopes which he himself entertained for the
future. Deeply bowed down by the death of his beloved wife, Princess
Charlotte of England, it was his purpose to seek consolation in his
misfortune by striving to make his people happy. He had therefore
accepted the crown tendered him by the people, and was on the point of
departing for Belgium.
While taking leave of the duchess, after a long and cordial
conversation, he remarked, with a gentle smile: "I trust you will not
take my kingdom away from me on your journey through Belgium?"
While the new government of France, as well as the exiled Bourbons,
suspected the Duchess of St. Leu and her son of entertaining plans for
the subversion of the French throne, the imperialists and republicans
were hoping that Hortense's influence might be exerted upon the
destinies of France. Everywhere in France as well as in England, the
people were of the opinion that the new throne of Louis Philippe had no
vitality, because it had no support in the heart of the people. The
partisans of the Bourbons believed that France longed for the grandson
of St. Louis, for its hereditary king, Henry V.; the imperialists were
convinced that the new government was about to be overthrown, and that
France was more anxious than ever to see the emperors son, Napoleon II.,
restored. The republicans, however, distrusted the people and the army,
and began to perceive that they could only attain the longed-for
republican institutions under a Bonaparte. They therefore sent their
secret emissaries as well to the Duke de Reichstadt as to
The Duke de Reichstadt, to whom these emissaries proposed that he should
come to France and present himself to the people, replied: "I cannot go
to France as an adventurer; let the nation call me, and I shall find
means to get there."
To the propositions made to him, Louis Napoleon replied that he belonged
to France under all circumstances; that he had proved this by asking
permission to serve France, but he had been rejected. It would not
become him to force to a decision by a _coup d'etat_ the nation whose
decrees he would ever hold sacred.
Hortense regarded these efforts of the imperialists and of the
republicans to win her son to their purposes with a sorrowful and
anxious heart. She hoped and longed for nothing more than the privilege
of living in retirement with her memories; she felt exhausted and
sobered by the few steps she had already taken into the great world;
she, who had ever felt the most tender sympathy for the misfortunes of
others, and the most ardent desire to alleviate them--she had nowhere
found in her misfortune any thing but injustice, indifference,
Hortense longed to be back at Arenenberg, in her Swiss mountains.
Thither she desired to return with her son, in order that she might
there dream with him of the brilliant days that had been, and sing with
him the exalted song of her remembrances! If the French government
should permit her to journey with her son through France, she could
easily and securely reach the Swiss Canton of Thurgau, where her little
estate, Arenenberg, lay under the protection of the republic; the
daughter of the emperor would there be certain to find peace and repose!
The duchess there wrote to M. de Houdetot, begging him to procure for
her from the French government a passport, permitting her to travel
through France under some assumed name. It was promised her after long
hesitation, but under the condition that she should not commence her
journey until after July, until after the first anniversary of the
coronation of Louis Philippe.
Hortense agreed to this, and received on the first of August a passport,
which permitted her, as Madame Arenenberg, to pass through France with
her son in order to return to her estate in Switzerland.
It was at first the duchess's intention, notwithstanding the unquiet
movements that were taking place in the capital, to journey through
Paris, for the very purpose of proving, by her quiet and uninterested
demeanor, that she had no share whatever in these movements and riots.
But, on informing Louis Napoleon of her intention, he exclaimed, with
sparkling eyes: "If we go to Paris, and if I should see the people
sabred before my eyes, I shall not be able to resist the inclination to
place myself on its side!"
[Footnote 69: La Reine Hortense, p. 276.]
Hortense clasped her son anxiously in her arms, as if to protect him
from all danger, on her maternal heart. "We shall not go to Paris," said
she, "we will wander through France, and pray before the monuments of
On the 7th of August the Duchess of St. Leu left England with her son,
Louis Napoleon, and landed after a pleasant passage at Boulogne.
Boulogne was for Hortense the first monument of her happiness, at the
foot of which she wished to pray! There, during the most brilliant
period of the empire, she had attended the military _fetes_, in the
midst of which the emperor was preparing to go forth to encounter new
dangers, and to reap, perhaps, new renown. A high column designated the
place where these camp-festivals had once taken place. It had been
erected under the empire, but under the restoration the name of Louis
XVIII. had been inscribed on it.
Accompanied by the prince, the Duchess of St. Leu ascended this column,
in order to show him from its summit the beautiful and flourishing
France, that had once been her own and through which they must now pass
with veiled countenances and borrowed names. From there she pointed out
to him the situation of the different camps, the location of the
imperial tent, then the place where the emperor's throne had stood, and
where he had first distributed crosses of the legion of honor among
With a glowing countenance and in breathless attention, Louis Napoleon
listened to his mother's narrative. Hortense, lost in her recollections,
had not noticed that two other visitors, a lady and a gentleman, were
now also on the platform and had listened to a part of her narrative. As
the duchess ceased speaking, they approached to tell her with what deep
interest they had listened to her narrative of the most glorious period
of French history. They were a young married couple from Paris, and had
much to relate concerning the parties who were now arrayed against each
other in France, and who made the future of the country so uncertain.
In return for Hortense's so eloquent description of the past, they now
told her of a _bon mot_ of the present that was going the rounds of
Parisian society. It was there said that the best means of satisfying
everybody and all parties would be, to convert France into a republic
and to give it three consuls, the Duke of Reichstadt, the Duke of
Orleans, and the Duke of Bordeaux. "But," added they, "it might easily
end in the first consul's driving out the other two, and making
Hortense found the courage to answer this jest with a smile, but she
hastened to leave the place and to get away from the couple, who had
perhaps recognized her, and told them of the _bon mot_ with a purpose.
Sadly and silently, mother and son returned to their hotel, which was
situated on the sea-side, and commanded a fine view of the surging,
foaming waters of the channel and of the lofty column of the empire.
They both stepped out on the balcony. It was a beautiful evening; the
setting sun shed its purple rays over the surface of the sea. Murmuring
and in melodious _tace_ the foaming waves rolled in upon the beach; on
another side, the lofty column, glowing in the light of the setting sun,
towered aloft like a pillar of fire, a memorial monument of fire!
Hortense, who for some time had been silently gazing, first at the
column, then at the sea, now turned with a sad smile to her son.
"Let us spend an hour with recollections of the past," said she. "In the
presence of this foaming sea and of this proud column, I will show you
a picture of the past. Do you wish to see it?"
His gaze fastened on the imperial column, Louis Napoleon silently nodded
Hortense went to her room, and soon returned to the balcony with a book,
bound in red velvet. Often, during the quiet days of Arenenberg, the
prince had seen her writing in this book, but never had Hortense yielded
to his entreaties and permitted him to read any part of her memoirs.
Unsolicited it was her intention to unfold before him to-day a brilliant
picture; in view of the sad and desolate present, she wished to portray
to him the bright and glittering past, perhaps only for the purpose of
entertaining him, perhaps in order to console him with the hope that all
that is passes away, and that the present would therefore also come to
an end, and that which once was, again become reality for him, the heir
of the emperor.
She seated herself at her son's side, on a little sofa that stood on the
balcony, and, opening her book, began to read.
FRAGMENT FROM THE MEMOIRS OF QUEEN HORTENSE.
"The emperor had returned from Italy. The beautiful ceremony of the
distribution of the crosses of the Legion of Honor had taken place
before his departure, and I had been present on the occasion; the
emperor now repaired to Boulogne, in order to make a second
distribution of the order in the army on his birthday. He had made my
husband general of the army of the reserve, and sent him a courier, with
the request that he should come with me and our son to the camp at
Boulogne. My husband did not wish to interrupt the baths he was taking
at St. Amand, but he requested me to go to Boulogne, to spend a week
with the emperor.
"The emperor resided at Boulogne in a little villa called _Pont de
Brigue_. His sister, Caroline, and Murat, lived in another little villa
near by. I lived with them, and every day we went to dine with the
emperor. During two years, our troops had been concentrating in full
view of England, and every one expected an attack. The camp at Boulogne
was erected on the sea-side, and resembled a long and regularly-built