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The Court of the Empress Josephine by Imbert de Saint-Amand

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to bear it would be the certainty that you are getting some good from your
trip. I have heard of you from Madame de Broc. I beg of you to thank her
for this attention and to ask her to write to me when you are unable. I
heard news, too, of your son; he is at Laeken, very well, and awaits the
King's arrival. The Emperor has written to me again; he shares our sorrow.
I needed this consolation, the only one I have received since your
departure. I am always alone, every moment recalls our loss, my tears
never cease flowing. Good by, my dear daughter, take care of yourself for
your mother's sake, who loves you most tenderly."

Napoleon, who forbade his wife and daughter-in-law to be gloomy,--an order
more easily given than obeyed,--thought their mourning excessive. His
expressions of sympathy were very singular. He wrote from Finkenstein to
Queen Hortense, May 20, 1807:--

"MY DAUGHTER: Everything I hear from The Hague tells me you are not
reasonable. However legitimate your grief, it should have some bounds. Do
not ruin your health; seek some distractions, and remember that life is so
full of dangers and evils that death is not the worst thing that can
befall one." In his letter of May 24 to the Empress, the Emperor spoke of
the unhappy Queen with a severity that amounted to brutality: "Hortense is
unreasonable and does not deserve to be loved since she does not love any
one but her children. Try to calm her and do not make trouble for me. For
every hopeless evil, consolation must be found." He wrote to her again,
May 26: "I have your letter of the 16th. I am glad Hortense has gone to
Laeken. I am sorry to hear what you say about the sort of stupor she is
in. She might show courage and self-control. I can't understand why she
should be sent to the baths; she could find more distractions in Paris.
Control yourself; be cheerful, and keep well. My health is excellent. Good
by. I stare your sufferings, and am sorry not to be with you."

In her bitter grief Hortense lacked courage to write to the Emperor, who
was annoyed by her silence. "My dear," he wrote to Josephine, June 2, "I
hear that you have arrived at Malmaison. I have no letters from you. I am
vexed with Hortense; she has not written me a word. All you tell me about
her distresses me. Why could you not distract her a little? You are always
in tears! I hope you will show some self-control, that I may not find you
sad. I have been for two days at Dantzic; the weather is fine; I am well.
I think of you more than you think of an absent man. Good by; much love.
Forward to Hortense this letter." This is the severe epistle which
Josephine was bidden to send to Hortense:--

"June 2. MY DAUGHTER: You have not written me a word in your great and
natural grief. You have forgotten everything, as if you had not still
losses to endure. I hear that you love nothing, are indifferent to
everything; this is plain from your silence. That is not right, Hortense.
It is not what you promised us. Your son was everything for you? Are your
mother and I nothing? Had I been at Malmaison I should have shared your
sorrow, but I should have wanted you to listen to your best friends. Good
by, my daughter; be cheerful; you must be resigned. My wife is much
distressed at your condition; do not give her further pain. Your
affectionate father."

It is easily seen that such letters were ill adapted to allay the anguish
of an inconsolable mother mourning for her child.

Josephine's letters to her daughter showed very different feelings. The
kind Empress did her best to persuade her that the Emperor sympathized
with her grief. She wrote from Saint Cloud, June 4: "Your letter, my dear
Hortense, gives me much consolation, and what I hear from your ladies
about your health makes me easier. The Emperor was much distressed, in
every letter he tries to give me courage, but I know that this unhappy
event was a great blow to him. The King arrived at Saint Len last evening;
he has sent me word that he meant to call on me to-day, and he must leave
the boy here during his absence. You know how much I love the child, and
how careful I shall be of him. I want the King to take the same route as
you; it will be a consolation for you both to meet. All his letters since
you left are full of love for you. He has too tender a heart not to be
touched. Good by, my dear daughter; take care of your health; mine will
improve only when I don't have to suffer for those I love." This letter
shows all the kindness and gentleness of Josephine's character. She was
conciliating and benevolent, and did her best to smooth over Napoleon's
blame and to reconcile Hortense with her husband. She wrote again from
Saint Cloud, June 11: "Your boy is very well, and amuses me a great deal;
he is so gentle; I think he has all the ways of the poor boy we mourn."
Josephine understood consolation better than the Emperor.

What could be more touching, more maternal, than this letter from the
Empress? "Your letter moved me deeply; I see your grief is ever fresh and
I perceive this better by my own sufferings. We have lost what was most
worthy to be loved; my tears flow as they did the first day. Those regrets
are too natural to be repressed by reason, although it should moderate
them. You are not alone in the world. You have left a husband, an
interesting child, and you are too tender for that to be strange and
indifferent to you. Think of us, my dear daughter, and let this calm your
natural sorrow. I rely on your love for me and on your reasonableness. I
hope that the trip and the waters will do you good. Your son is very well,
and is charming. My health is a little better, but you know it depends on
yours. Good by. Many kisses."

The character of this loving mother and grandmother manifests itself in
every one of her letters. Her style was simple and affectionate, like
herself. Her letters, full of the gentlest, best, and most touching
feeling, might make one say, "The style is the woman."

While Josephine and Hortense were weeping, Napoleon was bringing a
terrible campaign to a brilliant end. June 15 he thus announced to his
wife the great victory of Friedland: "My dear: I write but a word, for I
am very tired; I have been bivouacking for several days. My children have
been worthily celebrating the battle of Marengo. The battle of Friedland
will be quite as famous and glorious for my people. The whole Russian army
routed; eighty cannon; thirty thousand men captured or killed; twenty-five
Russian generals killed, wounded, or captured; the Russian Guard wiped
out; it is a worthy sister of Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena. The bulletin will
tell you the rest. My losses are not serious; I succeeded in
outmanoeuvring the enemy. Be calm and contented. Good by, my dear, my
horse is waiting." The next day he wrote another letter to Josephine: "My
dear, yesterday I sent Moustache to you with news of the battle of
Friedland. Since then, I have continued to pursue the enemy, Königsberg, a
city of eighty thousand inhabitants, Is in my power, I have found there
many cannon, stores, and finally sixty thousand muskets just come from
England. Good by, my dear, my health is perfect, although I have a cold
from the rain and cold of the bivouac. Be cheerful and contented. Ever
yours." From Tilsitt Napoleon wrote to his wife, June 19: "I have sent
Tascher to you to allay your anxiety. Everything goes on admirably here.
The battle of Friedland decided everything. The enemy is confounded, cast
down, and extremely enfeebled. My health is excellent, my army superb.
Good by; be cheerful and contented." Be cheerful and contented--he was
always saying it.

June 25, at one in the afternoon, a great sight was to be seen in the
middle of the Niemen. A raft had been placed midstream in plain view from
both banks of the river. All the rich stuffs that could be found in the
little town of Tilsitt had been taken to make a pavilion on a part of this
raft for the reception of the Emperors of France and Russia. From one bank
Napoleon embarked with Murat, Berthier, Bessières, Duroc, and
Caulaincourt; and from the other, Alexander, with the Grand Duke
Constantine, Generals Bennigsen and Ouvaroff, the Prince of Labanoff, and
the Count of Lieven. The two armies were drawn up on the two banks, and
the country people of the neighborhood were present to watch one of the
most memorable interviews known to history. When they reached the raft,
the two sovereigns, who had just been fighting so bitterly, and had sent
so many thousand men to death, fell into each other's arms with emotion.
The same day Napoleon wrote to Josephine: "I have just seen the Emperor
Alexander, and am much pleased with him; he is a very fine-looking, good
young Emperor; he has more intelligence than is generally supposed. He is
going to move into Tilsitt to-morrow. Good by; keep well and be contented.
My health is excellent." The two monarchs became very intimate. "My dear,"
Napoleon wrote to his wife July 3, "M. de Turenne will give you all the
details about what is going on here; everything is moving smoothly. I
think I told you that the Emperor of Russia drank to your health with
great kindness. He and the King of Prussia dine with me every day. I want
you to be contented. Good by; much love." And July 6: "I have yours of
June 25. I am sorry you are so egoistic, and that my success gives you no
pleasure. The beautiful Queen of Prussia is to dine with me to-day. I am
well and anxious to see you again when fate permits. Still it will
probably be soon."

The Queen of Prussia was one of the most beautiful and most brilliant
women of her time. An hour after her arrival at Tilsitt, Napoleon called
on her, and that evening, when she came to dine with him, he went to the
door of the house in which he lived to receive her with all respect. But
in spite of all her efforts to modify the conditions of the peace imposed
on Prussia, her gracious and obstinate endeavors were fruitless. Napoleon,
July 7, thus described to Josephine the dinner of the evening before to
the charming Queen: "My dear, the Queen of Prussia dined with me
yesterday. I was obliged to refuse her some concessions she wanted me to
make to her husband; but I was polite, and also kept to my plan. She is
very amiable. When I see you I will give you all the details which would
be too long to write now. When you read this letter, peace will have been
concluded with Russia and Prussia, and Jerome will have been recognized as
King of Westphalia with a population of three millions. This piece of news
is for you alone. Good by, my dear; I want to hear that you are contented
and cheerful." The story runs that the Queen of Prussia, who held a
beautiful rose in her hand, offered it to Napoleon, saying with a gracious
smile: "Take it, Sire, but in exchange for Magdeburg." The hero of Jena
made a mistake not to make the exchange. He did too much or too little for
the Prussian monarchy. Since he could not or would not wipe it out, he
ought to have let it live, and become a friendly power. Who can tell?
Perhaps his acceptance of the rose would have warded off many acts of
vengeance, many disasters. On such slight things does the world's destiny

Josephine wrote to her daughter from Saint Cloud, July 10: "I often hear
from the Emperor, who speaks a great deal about the Emperor Alexander,
with whom he seems well satisfied. He sent M. de Monaco and M. de
Montesquiou to give me details of all they had seen. They say the first
view was a magnificent sight. The two armies were on the two banks of the
Niemen. The Emperor was the first to arrive at a raft built in the middle
of the river; the Emperor Alexander's boat found some difficulty in
approaching, which gave him a chance to speak of his eagerness thwarted by
the stream. They tell me that when the two Emperors kissed, wide-spread
applause arose from both banks. What most interests me in all this good
news is my hope of soon seeing the Emperor again. Why is this happiness
troubled by sad memories that can never be destroyed? Your boy is
perfectly-well; his complexion has entirely changed. I hope the waters
will do both you and the King good; remember me to him, and believe in my
constant love."

Before leaving Tilsitt, where he had signed a glorious peace, Napoleon had
the bravest soldier of the Russian Guard presented to him, and he gave him
the eagle of the Legion of Honor. He gave his portrait to Platou, the
hetman of the Cossacks, and some Baschirs gave him a concert after the
custom of their country. July 9, at eleven in the morning, wearing the
grand cordon of Saint Andrew, he called on the Emperor Alexander, who wore
the broad ribbon of the Legion of Honor, The two sovereigns passed three
hours together, then mounted their horses, and rode towards the Niemen.
Then they got down and embraced for the last time. The Czar then embarked,
and Napoleon waited on the river-bank until his new friend had landed on
the other shore. He returned to Königsberg and from there to Dresden,
whence he wrote to Josephine, July, 18: "My dear, I reached here yesterday
afternoon at five, very well, though I had been posting one hundred hours
without stopping. I am staying with the King of Saxony, whom I like very
much. I have more than half my journey to you behind me. I warn you that I
may burst in on you at Saint Cloud one of these nights, like a jealous
husband. Good by, my dear; I shall be very glad to see you again. Ever
yours." Napoleon spoke of jealousy. The days of the first Italian campaign
were very distant. Everything had changed. It was no longer he who had to
be jealous of Josephine: it was Josephine who was jealous of him, and with
good reason. After an absence of nearly a year, the Emperor reached Saint
Cloud, July 27, 1807, at six o'clock in the morning.



July 28, 1807, the Emperor, who had arrived at Saint Cloud the day before,
received the great bodies of the State. It would be hard to form an exact
idea of the flatteries addressed to him. Let us quote a few taken at
random. M. Séguier, First President of the Court of Appeal, said to the
hero of Friedland: "Napoleon is above admiration; only love can rise to
him." The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, speaking in the name of his
clergy, was perhaps even more enthusiastic: "The God of armies," he said,
"has dictated and directed all your plans; nothing could resist the
swiftness of so many wonders.... Have confidence, Sire, in our zeal, and
instruct the people in the submission and obedience they owe to all of
Your Majesty's decrees and orders." But it was Councillor of State
Trochot, Prefect of the Seine, who deserves the prize in this competition
of adulation. Here is a fragment of his speech: "Sire, now that at last
Paris receives you once more after so long an absence and such prodigious
feats, it would gladly express to you all its intense admiration, and yet
it can only speak to you of its love. And, indeed, if it tried to
contemplate in you the conqueror of so many kings, the law-maker of so
many peoples, the controller of so many events, the arbiter of so many
destinies, how could it dare to approach Your Majesty, and in what
language could it address you? Should it speak to you of triumphs? But can
any one but a Caesar himself speak of what Caesar has done? Of glory? but
for ten years it has been impossible to speak of all you have won. Of
genius? but who can speak of all the marvels yours has wrought, before
which we are dumb and confounded. Sire, all these things are beyond us,
and since they command admiration, even silence, the silence of
astonishment which admiration imposes seems to be our sole manner of
expressing it." More had not been said, to Louis XIV., the Sun King.

In allusion to the illuminations in Paris the evening before, the Prefect,
of the Seine added: "Why could not you, Sire, have been an eye-witness of
the joy which the announcement of Your Majesty's return spread yesterday
throughout the capital of your Empire! Why could not you have heard the
applause with which your faithful subjects rent the welkin daring the
festivity which they gave on this occasion until well into the night!" The
Prefect closed by a prophecy, alas! not too accurate: "The august Emperor
Napoleon will render war between nations impossible, and the world's
happiness will date from his reign."

The hero of Austerlitz, of Jena, of Friedland, then thought nothing
impossible. His direct or indirect sway extended from the Straits of
Gibraltar to the Vistula, from the mountains of Bohemia to the North Sea.
Charlemagne was outstripped. Josephine saw her husband again with joy, but
also with anxiety and terror. He returned so infatuated by his wonderful
fortune, he was so flattered and deified by his courtiers, in his whole
Imperial and royal person there was something so formidable and majestic,
that his gentle and timid wife was, as it were, dazzled by the rays of a
sun, too brilliant for her to look at.

Josephine had now become afraid to address him as thou, and to call him
simply Bonaparte as she had done before. When she spoke to him, she often
called him Sire. She did not dare to reproach him with his infidelities at
Warsaw or the Castle of Finkenstein, or to show that she noticed his
attentions to many ladies of the court, notably to a beautiful Italian
woman, a friend of Talleyrand's, who was one of her readers and a
prominent object of Napoleon's attentions. She saw rising before her the
vision of divorce, the phantom which had haunted her imagination since the
expedition to Egypt. Fearful of giving her husband the slightest pretext
for discontent or annoyance, she was humbler, more submissive, more
obedient than ever.

So long as the oldest son of Louis and Hortense had lived, Josephine felt
comparatively secure, because she knew that this boy, a special favorite
of Napoleon's, was intended by his uncle to be the heir of his Empire. But
his surviving brother, the little Napoleon Louis, born October 11, 1804,
did not give the Empress the same confidence. The Emperor was less
intimate with this child; he had not played with him as he had done with
the other; he had not become attached to him. The little Napoleon Louis
was staying with Josephine when the Emperor returned. She did all she
could to make him love him.

Moreover, it was not an easy thing to hold the affections of a man like
Napoleon. Six years younger than his wife, he was but thirty-eight, and in
all the flower and prime of his Caesar-like beauty. He liked to make a
conquest of beauties as well as of provinces. The thought of resistance
exasperated him. In everything he demanded success, triumph, dominion. The
celebration of his birthday, August 15, 1807, which was accompanied with
unusual pomp and splendor, was of the nature of a deification. He made
Josephine share his triumph, and held her by the hand when he appeared on
a balcony of the Tuileries, in the enclosure, amid the applause of the
multitude assembled in the gardens.

King Jerome's marriage with the young Princess Catherine of Würtemberg
added to the animation of the already brilliant court. The annulment of
the young Prince's marriage with Miss Paterson had caused Napoleon much
difficulty. When this marriage had been contracted at Baltimore, December
8, 1803, he had been only First Consul, and Jerome, a simple naval
officer, was in no way under the control of the decree of the Senate,
which was later to determine the civil conditions of the new Imperial
family. But in his haste to marry the young and beautiful American girl,
Jerome, who was but nineteen years old, had neglected, in spite of the
advice of the French Consul, to demand the permission of his mother,
Madame Letitia Bonaparte. This omission had not prevented the Bishop of
Baltimore from celebrating the marriage. Napoleon, however, regarded it as
null and void. It was not till February 22, 1805, that he obtained his
mother's protest, and the 21st of the next March, by an Imperial decree,
he annulled the marriage which displeased him, by his own authority. Yet,
in the eyes of religion, this union still existed. The Emperor asked the
Pope to pronounce it null, but Pius VII. gave the request a formal
refusal, writing in June, 1805: "It is beyond our power in the present
state of things, to pronounce it null. If we should usurp an authority we
do not possess, we should render ourselves guilty of an abuse abominable
before the throne of God; and Your Majesty himself, in his justice, would
blame us for pronouncing a sentence contrary to the testimony of our
conscience, and to the invariable principles of the church.... That is why
we earnestly hope that Your Majesty will be convinced that the desire with
which we are always animated to second his designs, so far as depends on
us, particularly in a matter so closely concerning his august person, has
been rendered idle by the absolute absence of power, and we entreat him to
receive this sincere declaration as testimony of our really paternal
affection." This was the beginning of the quarrel between the Pope and the
Emperor. Pius VII. would not yield; but Napoleon found greater servility
in the metropolitan officialty of Paris; and October 6, 1806, he secured a
sentence pronouncing the nullity of his brother Jerome's marriage with
Miss Paterson.

The King of Würtemberg, in the hope that a close alliance with the
Imperial family would strengthen his throne, and procure him accession of
land and power, had prepared to give to the Emperor's young brother the
hand of his daughter, Princess Catherine. As soon as the King had formed
this decision, he would not listen to a word of criticism from his family,
who were already accustomed never to discuss his ideas. The King of
Würtemberg was a real giant. He was so stout that a broad, deep hollow had
to be cut out of his dining-table; for otherwise he would not have been
able to reach his plate. He was fond of riding, but it was not easy to
find a horse strong enough to carry his enormous weight. The horse had to
be gradually accustomed to it, and to accomplish this, the equerry who had
to prepare the royal steed used to wear a band full of lead, to which he
would add new pieces every day, until he was as heavy as the King. This
monarch, who was highly respected, though greatly feared, by ids subjects,
had some eccentricities. Thus he demanded that his wife should be up and
fully dressed by seven in the morning; and insisted that at whatever hour
of the day or evening it should please him to enter her apartment, he
should find her ready to accompany him wherever he might want to go. The
Queen, who was his second wife,--Princess Catherine was a child by his
first marriage,--was a daughter of the King of England, and consequently
she was averse to seeing her step-daughter marry the brother of England's
greatest enemy; but she took good care not to make any objections. The
King of Würtemberg was severe to his family and to his subjects, but he
was well educated, intelligent, and energetic. Napoleon set great store by
him, and regarded him as a loyal and faithful ally.

Jerome, who had been made King of Westphalia by the treaty of Tilsitt, was
the youngest of the Emperor's brothers. He was born at Ajaccio, November
15, 1784, and was not yet twenty-three when he married Princess Catherine
of Würtemberg, who was nearly two years older than he, having been born
February 2, 1783. This Princess had much charm; she was tall, handsome,
her expression was noble and kindly; she inspired every one with sympathy
and respect. She was a woman remarkable for intelligence, virtue, and
affection. She was to be a model wife and mother. She it was who, in 1814,
refused to get a divorce and to abandon an unfortunate husband, a
dethroned king. She it was who wrote to her father this admirable letter,
without fear of his anger: "Having been forced, by reasons of state to
marry the King, my husband, it has been granted me by fate to be the
happiest woman in the world. I feel for my husband love, tenderness,
esteem, combined; at this painful moment would the best of desire to
destroy my domestic happiness, the only sort left to me? I venture to tell
you, my clear father, you and, all the family, that you do not know the
King, my husband. A time will come, I hope, when you will be convinced
that you have misjudged him and then you will always find him and me the
most respectful and most loving children." She was the courageous woman,
the faithful wife, the devoted mother, of whom Napoleon said at Saint
Helena: "Princess Catherine of Würtemberg has with her own hands written
her name in history."

Jerome's marriage was an event of great ceremony. It was first celebrated,
by proxy, at Stuttgart, the Princess's brother representing the
bridegroom. The Emperor sent presents to his future sister-in-law, among
other things a set of diamonds worth three hundred thousand francs. A
detachment from the Emperor's household and many of the Empress's ladies
of the bedchamber went to the frontiers to meet the Princess. She reached
the Castle of Raincy, August 20, 1807, and there saw her betrothed for the
first time, and the 21st, Napoleon received her at the Tuileries on the
first step of the great staircase. As she bowed before him, he folded her
in his arms, then he presented her to the Empress, before the whole court
and the deputies of the new kingdom of Westphalia, who had been summoned
to Paris to be present at the marriage of their young sovereign with a
Princess belonging to one of the oldest and most illustrious families of

Saturday, August 22, the signature of the marriage contract and the civil
wedding took place at the Tuileries, in the Gallery of Diana, in presence
of the Emperor, the Empress, the ladies and officers of their households
and the great personages of the Empire. M. Regnault de Saint-Jean
d'Angély, Secretary of State of the Imperial family, read the marriage-
contract, which was then signed by the Emperor, the Empress, the young
couple, the Princes and Princesses, the Prince Primate of the
Confederation of the Rhine, the Prince's high dignitaries of the Empire,
and the witnesses of the marriage. The witnesses were, for the court of
France: Prince Borghese, Prince Murat, Grand Duke of Berg, and Marshal
Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel; for the court of Würtemberg: the Prince of
Baden; the Prince of Nassau; and the Count of Winzingerode, the Minister
of Würtemberg. Prince Cambacérès, Arch-chancellor of the Empire, then
received the consent of the couple and pronounced the formula of the civil

The next day, Sunday, August 23, 1807, at eight in the evening, the
religious marriage was celebrated in the chapel of the Tuileries, the
galleries being filled with the diplomatic bodies, the foreign princes and
noblemen and invited guests. The procession was brilliant. On entering the
chapel, Napoleon gave his hand to the Princess Catherine, and Jerome his
to the Empress. The Prince Primate of the Confederation of the Rhines,
Archbishop of Regensburg, Sovereign Prince of that city, of Aschaftenburg,
of Frankfort, etc., surrounded by his clergy and his court, stood at the
chapel door. He gave holy water to the Emperor and the Empress, who at
once went to their praying-chairs; then he gave the nuptial blessing to
the young couple, while the canopy was held by the Bishop of Ghent and the
Abbé of Boulogne, the Emperor's Almoners. After the ceremony, they all
went back from the chapel to the grand apartments, where followed a
concert, a ballet, and a reception in the Hall of the Marshals. Twice
Napoleon appeared on the balcony, showing the newly married pair the vast
throng filling the garden of the Tuileries. Unfortunately, a sudden storm
prevented the display of fireworks.

While the thunder was roaring and the rain pouring down, the Empress, at
her young brother-in-law's marriage, was the prey to sad reflections. She
thought of the deserted American wife, who, far away, was weeping, while
her husband, the father of her children was joyfully leading another wife
to the altar. Josephine doubtless thought that soon perhaps her lot would
he the same as that of the unhappy Miss Paterson; that she would he
sacrificed, abandoned, repudiated in the very same way.

The Empress had another cause of grief. At the Pyrenees her daughter
Hortense had become reconciled with Louis, and was soon to be the mother
of the child afterwards known as Napoleon III. But in a few weeks the
incongeniality of their dispositions, for a moment forgotten in their
common grief, asserted itself anew. On their return to Paris, at the end
of August, the discord between the King and the Queen of Holland was as
violent as ever. The King, more uneasy and suspicious than ever before,
wanted to carry his wife to Holland, but the Queen had an aversion to the
country where she had suffered so much, and to its fatal climate. She
feared that if she should return there she might lose her second son like
the first. Her health was wretched; she feared that her lungs were
affected. In France she felt that the Emperor protected her from her
husband's anger. Holland seemed to her a gloomy, damp, melancholy prison,
of which the King, her husband, would be the jailor. Louis Bonaparte was
furious at his wife's resistance, all the more that he was obliged to hide
his feelings. Napoleon, who held his family, like his Empire, in absolute
control, gave Louis, as well as his other brothers, orders which they had
to obey without a word or a murmur. The King of Holland returned to his
kingdom alone, his wife stayed in France, but in the gloomiest spirits,
with mind and body disordered, disenchanted about all human things. "From
that time," she said later, "I understood that my misfortunes were beyond
cure; I looked upon my life as destroyed; I conceived a horror of
grandeur, of a throne; I often cursed what so many called my good fortune;
I felt lost to all enjoyment of life, shorn of all Illusions, nearly dead
to everything going on about me." Under other conditions, the Empress
would have been delighted to have her daughter with her, but she found her
so dejected, so morose, and so unhappy, that her presence was quite as
much a grief as a comfort for her. These were the feelings of the Empress
of the French and of the Queen, of Holland when they went to Fontainebleau
with the court at the end of September, 1807. There the Emperor lived more
splendidly than ever, surrounding himself with all the pomp and majesty of



The court arrived at the Palace of Fontainebleau September 21, 1807, and
stayed there until November 15. Napoleon felt the need of displaying
unprecedented luxury. He wanted to have the Diplomatic Corps send to
foreign powers the account of magnificent festivities. This splendid
palace, with its proud memories of the old French monarchy, was a
residence that pleased him. He liked to be surrounded by great persons,
whether foreigners or Frenchmen, who rivalled one another in flattery,
zeal, and homage towards him. In his opinion, festivities and battles
added to the glory of the throne. Desiring to be in everything first, he
was very anxious for his court to be esteemed the most brilliant in

There were various types among the guests at Fontainebleau. There was
Napoleon's mother, rather Italian than French by birth, and in face and
accent. She recalled the characters of antiquity, unspoiled by prosperity,
austere in her life, simple in her taste, rigidly economical, less from
avarice than a distrust of the continuance of her son's good fortune.
There was the beautiful Princess Borghese, Duchess of Guastalla, more
elegant, more fashionable, more attractive than ever; then Madame Murat,
rich in freshness and brilliancy, not satisfied with being a French
Princess and Grand Duchess of Berg, but yearning to be a Queen; the Queen
of Holland, on the other hand, in despair at having ascended the throne,
and plunged in a deep melancholy in marked contrast with the splendors
surrounding her in spite of herself. Then Joseph Bonaparte's wife, the
Queen of Naples, whose tastes were modest, and who preferred Paris to her
Italian kingdom. There were many Princes and great lords in the crowd of
courtiers, the satellites of the Imperial sun. In the Gallery of Henry II.
were to be distinguished a cluster of German Princes: the Grand Duke of
Würzburg,--who did not seem to sigh for his Grand Duchy of Tuscany,
finding ample consolation in singing Italian pieces, for music was his
passion; the Prince Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine, Archbishop
of Regensburg, Sovereign Prince of that city and of Frankfort, who, in
spite of his position in the church, joined the Emperor's hunt; Prince
William of Prussia, who hoped by his devotion to alleviate the troubles of
his country, and to modify the demands of the hero of Jena; the Prince of
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, conspicuous for his formal German politeness; the
young Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. brother of the Queen of Prussia,
less interested in the patriotic grievances of his sister, than in his
assiduous court to the Empress Josephine, whose respectful platonic lover
he was; the Prince of Baden, who, although the brother-in-law of the
Emperor of Russia, the King of Bavaria, and the King of Sweden, was proud
to have married a Mademoiselle de Beauharnais, daughter of a simple
Senator of the Empire, with but one regret--that his wife did not love him
enough; Jerome, the young and brilliant King of Westphalia, apparently
forgetful of Elisabeth Paterson, and full of mad love for his new wife,
Princess Catherine of Würtemberg.

In the Gallery of Henry II. was also to be seen Murat, who, after his
triumphal entry into Warsaw, thought of nothing but crowns, anxiously
wondering whether he was to be King of Poland, or of Portugal, of Spain,
or of Naples. There were the high dignitaries of the Empire, the foreign
ambassadors, the marshals, the ministers; M. de Talleyrand with his
enormous salary, his high position as Grand Chamberlain and Vice-Elector,
his title of Prince of Benevento, always sparkling with the cold,
sceptical, politely contemptuous wit that distinguished those who belonged
to the old régime--Talleyrand, who, in the Emperor's closet possibly spoke
to him with a certain freedom, but in the Gallery of Henry II. resembled
the other courtiers and kept a profound silence as his master drew near.
Then the Count of Ségur, Grand Master of Ceremonies, as attractive in the
court of Napoleon as he had been in that of Catherine II. as ambassador of
Louis XVI.; Marshal Berthier, Grand Master of the Horse, Vice-Constable,
Sovereign Prince of Neufchâtel, as devoted to Madame Visconti as if he
were a youth of twenty; Count Tolstoi, the brilliant ambassador of the
Emperor Alexander; M. de Metternich, the fascinating and skilful Austrian
Ambassador, conspicuous by Ms admiration for Princess Murat.

When the Emperor entered, all eyes were turned towards him alone; about
him centred all interest, all intrigues, all ambitions. He appeared as the
dispenser of fortune, the arbiter of destiny, the exceptional being on
whom depended individuals, kingdoms, empires. He filled it all with his
presence; every one seemed to live only for and by the Emperor. A smile, a
word, the slightest mark of attention on his part, seemed a precious
reward, a marked honor, As soon as he entered, a quiver of admiration and
of terror seemed to run through the air. Every one bowed like a horse who
sniffs the approach of his master; they almost prostrated themselves
before him. Any one to whom he spoke, stammered, feared to reply, turned
pale and red; and he, rejoicing in their embarrassment, gloried in the
wide gulf he had set between himself and all other human beings. Even
foreigners seemed to be his subjects. Whatever their position, whatever
their coat-of-arms, by his side they were vulgar supernumeraries. His
power appeared to be limitless, like his genius; and believing everything
possible, looking upon himself as a prodigy, a living miracle, he exulted
proudly and majestically in his glory.

Under the second Empire, what were called the _series_ of Compiègne and of
Fontainebleau were much less ceremonious than under the first. All the
guests of Napoleon III. breakfasted and dined at his table,--in the
morning in frock-coat, in the evening in black coat and knee breeches; no
uniforms were to be seen. Women appeared at breakfast in morning dress;
they wore no especial dress at the hunt. Before dinner the Empress used to
receive a few specially invited guests to drink tea. All day the Emperor
left the company perfectly free. In the evening there was dancing to the
music of a piano like a hand-organ, of which a chamberlain turned the
handle. The Emperor was treated with great deference, but no one feared
him, because his words were always marked by great affability. Napoleon
I., on the other hand, was perhaps more feared than admired. Those who
were charged with organizing his entertainments were perfectly happy if he
was silent; for he almost never gave a word of praise and often
criticised. It was a conspicuous and rare honor, even for Princes, to dine
with him. There were besides at Fontainebleau, in 1807, several distinct
tables: those of the Princes and Princesses of the Imperial family, who
often gave grand dinners; that of the Grand Marshal of the Palace, with
twenty-five places; that of the Empress's Maid of Honor, with the same
number; and, finally, a last table for all those who had received no
special invitation. The Princesses paid the cost--of installing themselves
there out of their own purses, while under Napoleon III., at
Fontainebleau, or at Compiègne, all the expenses were defrayed by the
Emperor. Under the first Empire only those holding high official position
were invited to the Imperial, residences; under the second, many were
invited who were famous only for their elegance. Under Napoleon I., where
everything was formal, scarcely anything but tragedy was played at the
court; under Napoleon III., lighter plays were often given. The hunts were
very simple under the second Emperor and very magnificent under the first,
In 1807 Napoleon had ordered that women who went to the coursing should
wear a special costume; that of the Empress and of all the ladies of her
household was of amaranthine velvet, embroidered with gold, and a cap with
white feathers; that of the Princesses, blue for the Queen of Holland,
pink for the Princess Murat, lilac for the Princess Borghese, all adorned
with silver embroidery. The Emperor and all his guests wore the same
hunting-dress for coursing: a green coat with gold, buttons and lace,
breeches of white cassimere, Hessian boots without tops; for shooting, a
green coat, with no other ornament than white buttons, on which were
carved hunting emblems. Under the first Empire, etiquette was most rigid;
under the second, it hardly existed. At every moment of day and evening,
Napoleon I. wore a twofold air as commander-in-chief and sovereign;
Napoleon III. was like a man of the world receiving his friends in his own

From September 21 to November 15, 1807, the great general had commanded
that there should be amusement in the Palace of Fontainebleau. Pleasure
was ordered, but it does not come at call. The Emperor, accustomed to have
his every wish obeyed, was surprised to see that not every face was
radiant. "Strange," he said, "I have gathered a good many people here at
Fontainebleau; I want them to amuse themselves, I have arranged their
pleasures, yet every one seems tired and sad." The Italian songs, even
when sung by the best singers, in costume and with all the scenery,
produced but a feeble impression. The tragedies seemed to induce slumber.
The little balls, or, more exactly, the little hops in the apartment of
the Maid of Honor, Madame de la Rochefoucauld, were very dull. Sometimes
little games were played there; they gave a flash of gaiety, but as soon
as the Emperor appeared, every one assumed a serious, composed air. Might
one not say once more what La Bruyère said when speaking of the court of
Louis XIV.: "Who would believe that this eagerness for shows, that meals,
hunts, ballets, tilting-matches, crowned so many anxieties, pains, and
diverse interests, so many fears and hopes, so many lively passions, and
serious affairs?" A palace is not built for ease. All its formalities hang
heavy on every guest; the whole of every day is spent in playing a part.

Amid all these empty pleasures and hollow joys there was no lack of
sorrow. It was there that the wretched Queen Hortense, spitting blood,
mourning the past and dreading the future, said to Napoleon: "My
reputation is tainted, my health ruined, I expect no more happiness in
life; banish me from your court; if you wish, lock me up in a convent, I
desire neither throne nor fortune. Give peace to my mother, glory to
Eugene, who deserves it, but let me live a calm and solitary life." She
had been happier as an unknown schoolgirl at Madame Campan's, just as her
mother, the Empress of the French and the Queen of Italy, must have often
sighed for the island of Martinique, where she would have preferred the
splash of the waves to the courtiers' murmur of obsequious flattery.
Napoleon, himself, at the height of human glory, had lost the peace of
heart which he enjoyed in his boyhood, and never found again.

The Empress Josephine naturally held the highest place in this brilliant
court of Fontainebleau, and was the object of untiring homage; few,
however, suspected the anxieties that tormented her, so calm happy did she
appear, with a kind word and a gracious smile for every one.

M. de Metternich, the Austrian Ambassador who was then at Fontainebleau,
took pains to ascertain the causes of her secret sorrow, and sent the
details to his government. He wrote to von Stadion: "In many of my
previous reports I have had the honor of speaking to Your Excellency about
the long current rumors regarding the approaching divorce of the Emperor.
After circulating vaguely in the last two months, they have become the
subject of general and public discussion. It is true of these rumors, as
of all not stamped out at their birth, that they rest on some foundation
of truth, or they would be promptly silenced, if they were not directly
tolerated." Then the clear-sighted ambassador reported in the same
despatch what he had learned, thanks to his relations with persons to whom
the Empress had made revelations: "Since his return from the army, the
Emperor's bearing towards his wife has been cold and embarrassed. He no
longer lives in the same apartment with her, and many of his daily habits
have undergone a change. Rumors of the Empress's divorce began at that
moment to assume a more serious form; when they reached her ears she
simply waited for some direct information, without letting the Emperor see
the slightest anxiety."

Josephine was sorely stricken, and her sufferings were all the more
intense because she had to hide them from every one, especially from her
husband, and they made a marked contrast, by the irony of fate, with the
pleasures and amusements that surrounded her. She was too clear-sighted
and intelligent to proceed to question the Emperor. She feared light and
dreaded the truth. She hesitated before the abyss that awaited her, and
shuddered before the Emperor's glance. She suffered on the throne, as if
it were an instrument of torture. It was then that Fouché took some steps
which doubled her anguish. The incident is thus recounted, by Prince
Metternich in the despatch already cited: "One day the Minister of Police
visited her at Fontainebleau. and after a short preamble, told her that
the public good, and, above all, the strengthening of the existing dynasty
requiring that the Emperor should have children, she ought to ask the
Senate to join with her in demanding of the Emperor a sacrifice most
painful to his heart. The Empress, who was prepared for the question,
asked Fouché, with great coolness, if he took this step by the Emperors
orders. 'No,' he replied: 'I speak to Your Majesty as a minister charged
with a general supervision, as a private citizen, as a subject devoted to
his country's glory,' 'In that case I have nothing to say to you,'
interrupted the Empress; 'I regard my union with the Emperor as written in
the book of Fate, I shall never discuss the matter with any one but him,
and never will do anything but what he orders,'" Josephine, when she
mentioned this conversation to her confidant, M. de Lavalette, who had
married a Mademoiselle de Beauharnais, said to him in great perplexity;
"Is it not clear that Fouché was sent by the Emperor and that my fate is
settled? Alas! To leave the throne is nothing to me. Who knows better than
I do how many tears I have shed there? But to lose at the same time the
man to whom I have given my best love, that sacrifice is beyond my

But to return to Prince Metternich's despatch: "Many days passed without
incident, when suddenly the Emperor began to share again the Empress's
apartment and took a favorable moment to ask why she had been so sad for
some days. The Empress then told him of her interview with Fouché. The
Emperor confirmed his statement that he had never given him any such
orders. He added that she ought to know him well enough to be sure that he
had no need of any go-between to manage matters with her, and made her
promise to report to him anything further she might hear about the
matter." Josephine was not at all comforted. Napoleon's explanation was
very embarrassed, and who could think that so crafty and ambitious a man
as Fouché could assume the responsibility of such a negotiation if he
supposed that thereby he exposed himself to his master's wrath?

The Minister of Police did not confine himself to mere spoken words. A few
days after his interview with the Empress, he wrote to her a long letter
on large paper, in which he set forth all the arguments he had already
brought forward, to urge upon her the spontaneous sacrifice which would be
the more meritorious, the more painful it was. Josephine, who received
this letter in the evening, summoned M. de Rémusat at midnight to show it
to him. "What shall I do," she asked, "to ward off this storm?" "Madame,"
replied the First Chamberlain, "my advice is to go this very moment to the
Emperor, if he has not gone to bed, or else the very first thing to-morrow
morning. Remember, you must seem to have consulted no one. Make him read
this letter; watch him as closely as you can; but, whatever happens, show
that you hate these roundabout methods, and tell him again that you will
never listen to anything but a direct order from him."

The Empress did as he said, Napoleon, to use a common expression, was
"cornered." He pretended to be much surprised, and very angry; promised
"to comb Fouché's head," and even added that if she desired he would take
away his portfolio; and to calm her he went so far as to write to the
Minister of Police this letter, dated Fontainebleau, November 5, 1807:--

"MONSIEUR FOUCHÉ: In the last fortnight I have heard of your foolish
actions; it is time for you to put an end to them, and to stop
interfering, directly or indirectly, in a matter which in no way concerns
you; that is my wish."

Fouché was not at all disturbed by his master's reproach. He was at heart
convinced that he had not displeased him; he kept his portfolio, and was
sure that the divorce, though postponed, was irrevocably decided on by the
Emperor. Josephine had no more illusions. It was in vain that Napoleon
spoke to her kindly, and tried to console her with kisses and even tears,
--for Napoleon used to cry sometimes,--after Fouché had made his overtures
she had no more peace of mind. The end of the stay at Fontainebleau was
very gloomy. All became tired of this life of empty show, of the perpetual
constraint, of the pleasures which by dint of repetition became dull and
monotonous. Every one longed for home, to escape from this master's
glances; for his presence inspired an admiration tempered with dread. The
women had spent vast sums in their dress. The men had indulged in
ambitious plans almost always futile. The German princelings had suffered
in their lordly pride and German patriotism by having to bow their heads
before the formidable man whose humble vassals they were, and these men,
vain of their coat-of-arms, had not seen without a secret spite the
crushing superiority of a poor Corsican gentleman. This great conqueror
himself was not happy in all his splendor. Although he was no longer in
love with his wife, it was not without sadness that he had seen her
uneasiness and grief. Anxiety about the condition of Spain, which was so
fatal to him, cast a cloud on his brow. When hunting in the forest, he was
often seen to lose himself in thought and to let his horse wander as he
pleased. At the theatrical performances it was noticed that, absorbed and
distracted, he appeared to think less of the play than of his vast plans.

Not long since I visited the palace and the forest of Fontainebleau, in
one of those cold but bright autumn days when the half bare trees have a
strange appearance, when some leaves are as red as blood, others as yellow
as gold, and nature wears all the countless hues which defy the artist's
brush. The forest is wonderfully beautiful with its marvellous combination
of trees and rocks. All the kings of France since Louis VII. have
inhabited this palace. The holy head of Louis IX. appears there with his
aureola on his head, In the gallery of Francis I., with its nymphs and
fauns, amid garlands, fruits, and emblems, one recalls that King and
Charles V. who entered the palace by the glided door, and who took part in
the great festival in the forest, when nymphs, fauns, and gods seemed to
issue from the trunks of oaks to the sound of tambourines, and a band of
maidens flung flowers before the feet of the Spanish court. One recalls,
too, Catharine de' Medici with her squadron, of young and brilliant
amazons--Catharine de' Medici who In this palace brought forth her two
sons, Francis II, and Henry III. At the end of the oval court is a dome of
rich and picturesque construction, called the baptistery of Louis XIII,
because that king was baptized there. Then there are the apartments of the
queen mothers; Catharine de' Medici, Maria de' Medici, Anne of Austria,
and those of Pius VII., a captive at Fontainebleau, In the bedroom of the
queen mothers an altar was raised where the Vicar of Christ said mass. The
hangings of embroidered satin in this room were a wedding-gift from the
city of Lyons to Marie Antoinette. The room is a model of luxury and
elegance, and is called the Chamber of the Five Maries because it has been
inhabited by five sovereigns bearing that name, Maria de' Medici, Maria
Theresa, Marie Antoinette, Marie Louise, and Marie Amélie. It was also the
Empress Eugénie's chamber.

This marvellously picturesque palace of Fontainebleau is full of
interesting reminiscences, but of all the figures it recalls, no figure is
more impressive than that of Napoleon. There is much gorgeous furniture in
the palace of various sorts, in the style of the renaissance, of Louis
XIV., Louis XV., and Louis XVI.; but no piece attracts more attention than
the plain mahogany table on which Napoleon signed his abdication. Then how
impressive is the bedroom where he spent terrible nights, unable to sleep,
and at last seeking in suicide a cure for his despair! Consider the
contrast between 1807 and 1814! Meanwhile there had been changes of face,
many apostasies. "Ah! Caulaincourt, mankind, mankind!" exclaimed the
deserted Emperor. Every one left him, promising him a speedy return, but
no one thought of it. Fontainebleau became a desert. If the sound of
wheels was heard, it was never of carriages arriving, but only of
carriages going away. It was at Fontainebleau that Napoleon's pride
triumphed, and there that his pride suffered its cruelest humiliations.
What anguish he endured, this man of destiny, in that room where he wrote:
"To finish my career by signing a treaty in which I have not been able to
stipulate a single general interest, nor even one moral interest, such as
the preservation of our colonies, or the maintenance of the Legion of
Honor! To sign a treaty by which money is given to me!" What anguish tore
his mind and body when, having taken too small a dose of poison, he said
between his spasms: "How hard it is to die, and it is so easy on the
battle-field! Why didn't I die at Arcis-sur-Aube!" Did he then recall the
splendor of his return from Jena, from Friedland, from Tilsitt? Did he
remember the crowd of courtiers who resembled priests whose God he was?
The only courtiers left were those to whom he had given neither money nor
honors, the old soldiers of his guard, with, their gray mustaches, who
could not restrain their sobs and tears when, in the Court of the White
Horse, he bade them farewell, saying, "I should like to embrace you in my
arms, but let me embrace this flag which represents you."



While the court was still at Fontainebleau, the Empress received a piece
of news, which had been kept back from her for some days, and which added
materially to her sorrows. Her widowed mother, Madame Tascher de la
Pagerie, whom she had not seen since September, 1790, had died June 2,
1807, at the age of seventy, in her home at Martinique. Josephine, who was
much attached to her mother, had done her best to persuade her to come to
France, where she would have been sure of the warmest welcome. But that
venerable lady had perhaps chosen more wisely in preferring her modest and
quiet home to all the splendor and excitement of an Imperial palace. From
afar she thought of her daughter at the summit of human happiness; near
her, she would often have seen her sad and downcast. By not approaching
the throne which, at a distance, appears like a magic seat, but, to use
the Emperor's expression, is in fact only an armchair covered with velvet,
Napoleon's mother-in-law was spared the sight of much misery, and she
died, as she had lived, in peace.

The Emperor left for Italy November 16. 1807, and this departure was for
Josephine, already so afflicted, another source of anxiety and sadness,
She would gladly have gone with him, and have seen once more Eugene and
her granddaughter, who was named after her; but Napoleon had decided
otherwise. He was no longer unable to live without his wife, and he no
longer thought with La Fontaine that absence was the greatest of evils. He
alleged as reason, the inclemency of the winter, said that he should be
back early in December--in fact, he did not return to the Tuileries till
January 1--and to the Empress's great despair set off without her, leaving
her the prey of the liveliest anxiety, the cruelest fears.

In Italy Napoleon received the same ardent flattery as in France. He
reached Milan November 22, before Prince Eugene had had time to ride out
to meet him. After ovations, reviews, religious ceremonies at the
Cathedral, grand performances at the Scala, he went to Venice. Here he was
received with all the luxury that used to be displayed at the majestic
marriage of the doge and the Adriatic. When he reached Fusina, he entered
a gondola rowed by men in satin coats embroidered with gold. He entered
the grand canal beneath an arch of triumph between a double line of boats
adorned with festoons and garlands. At the Venice theatre he saw a grand
performance representing Olympus, and then was played, amid applause, the
popular air, _Napoleone it grande_. He had with him in Venice his brother
Joseph, King of Naples; his sister, Elisa Bacciochi, Princess of Lucca;
his step-son, Prince Eugene, Viceroy of Italy; the King and Queen of
Bavaria, the father-in-law and mother-in-law of this Prince; Murat, Grand
Duke of Berg, and Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel. He left Venice December
8, dining at Treviso. The 11th he was at Udine, and the 14th at Mantua.

It was in this city that he had a secret interview with his brother
Lucien, with whom he wished to be reconciled, but on one absolute
condition, _sine qua non_. It will be remembered that Lucien, against the
First Consul's wishes, had married Alexandrine de Bleschamps, widow of M.
Jouberthon; who, after being a broker in Paris, had died in Saint Domingo,
whither he had followed the French expedition. Napoleon, who was anxious
to marry Lucien with Queen Marie Louise, daughter of Charles IV. of Spain,
and widow of Louis I., King of Etruria, wished to annul this marriage. But
this brilliant offer had been peremptorily declined by the man who
preferred a woman's love to a crown. In the spring of 1804 Lucien had
voluntarily left France to seek in Rome an asylum from his brother's
incessant reproaches and demands. His mother, Madame Letitia, who
thoroughly approved of him, had followed him to Rome, and the Emperor had
met with some difficulty in persuading her to return to Paris, which she
only did after the coronation. M. de Méneval went by night to fetch Lucien
from the inn where he was staying, and led him mysteriously to the palace
which the Emperor occupied. Laden, instead of falling in his brother's
arms, greeted him coldly, with dignified reserve.

Stanislas de Girardia, in his interesting "Journal," has recounted the
interview of the two brothers, as he heard it from Lucien himself. They
said very much what follows:--

"Well, sir, do you still told to Madame Jouberthon and her son?"

"Madame Jouberthon is my wife, and her son is my son."

"No, no, since it is a marriage which I do not recognize, and consequently

"I contracted it lawfully, as citizen and as Christian."

"The civil act was illegal, and it is known that you gave a priest twenty-
five louis-d'or to persuade him to marry you."

"Doubtless Your Majesty, when he invited me here, did not do so for the
purpose of paining me; if that is his intention, I withdraw,"

"I have conquered Europe, and certainly I should not flinch before you.
You owe your peaceful life in Rome to my kindness; but you are acquiring
there a consideration which displeases me, and in time you will annoy me;
I will order you to go away, and I will make you leave Europe."

"And if I should not obey?" "I will have you arrested."

"And then?"

"I shall have you sent to Bicêtre and then if--"

"I should defy you to commit a crime!"

"Don't speak to me in that way; don't imagine you can impose on me, I
repeat, I have not conquered Europe to flinch before you. Leave the room."

Lucien did not leave, and Napoleon, after a few violent words, became a
little calmer. Lucien then renewed the stormy discussion, trying to pacify
his brother.

"I had no intention of displeasing Your Majesty by saying what should show
the high opinion I have of the greatness of his soul."

"Never mind that; cast your eyes on the map of the world then. Join us,
Lucien, and take your share; it will be a fine one, I promise you. The
throne of Portugal is empty; I have declared that the King shall cease to
reign. I will give it to you; take command of the army destined to make an
easy conquest of it, and I will make you a French Prince and my
lieutenant. The daughters of your first wife shall be my nieces; I will
establish them in life. I will marry the eldest to the Prince of the
Asturias; the King of Spain asks it of me as a favor; I can prove it by
this letter."

"My eldest daughter, Sire, is not yet thirteen; she is not old enough to
be married."

"I thought she was older."

"In a year or two, I will gladly let you dispose of her."

"Then there are no difficulties about the children of your first wife. You
have daughters by your second wife, I will adopt them; you have a boy too;
I shall not recognize him; his mother will have an important duchy, and he
can be her heir. As for you, go to Lisbon, leave your wife and your son in
Rome; I will look after them. Your ties are broken. I will find a way."

"That can only be by divorce."

"And why not? That is a frank and positive way which perfectly suits me. I
want to be reconciled with you, and you know the price attached to the
Portuguese crown."

"I see that to get it I should have to consent to make my wife a
concubine, my son a bastard. Your Majesty knows me ill if he has been able
to believe that the offer of a crown could tempt me to a dishonorable

"He who is not for me, is against me; if you don't enter into my system,
you are my enemy; and thereby I have the right of persecuting you and I
shall persecute you."

"I do not want to be your enemy, Sire; I cannot become one by preserving
my honor and my virtue, by refusing to give up my reputation for a throne:
and that this disagreement may be unknown, let Your Majesty give me some
conspicuous proof of his kindness; give me the broad ribbon of the Legion
of Honor, I beg of you!"

"No; by taking my colors you would ruin your reputation; it is a great
thing to be opposed to me, and it is a fine part to play; you can continue
it for two years without inconvenience, but then you will have to leave

"Much sooner, and I shall prepare to leave for America. Only the
entreaties of my mother and Josephine have kept me here so long."

"I don't ask that of you; my propositions are not too unreasonable to be
thought over; ponder them, with your wife, and let me know your answer
within eighteen days."

At the end of the interview the two brothers parted with emotion. Lucien
flung himself into his brother's arms, saying that doubtless he was
embracing him for the last time, and left for Rome with his head high. He
was obliged to yield only on one point, by sending to Paris his oldest
daughter, Charlotte Marie, the issue of his first marriage with Christine
Boyer. (She was born at Saint Maximini in February, 1795, and in 1815
married Prince Marius Gabrielli.) But the young girl had all her father's
independent spirit. In Paris she was entrusted to the care of her
grandmother, Madame Letitia, and she spoke so severely about the Imperial
family in her letters, which were opened, that she was sent back to her
father in Rome almost as soon as she had arrived in France. As for the
idea of an annulment of the marriage or a divorce, Lucien absolutely
rejected it. He preferred his wife to all the wealth, all the honors, all
the kingdoms of the world. Jerome had yielded. Lucien did not yield.

Napoleon left Mantua after his interview with his brother, and returned to
Milan, where, December 17, he witnessed some naval sports in the arena of
the circus, which was turned into a lake. There too, December 20, in the
grand, hall of the palace, he adopted Prince Eugene as his son and
declared him his heir to the crown of Italy. At the same time he issued
these two decrees: "Wishing to give especial proof of our satisfaction
with our good city of Venice, we have conferred, and by these letters-
patent here present do confer, upon our dearly loved son, Prince Eugene
Napoleon, our heir presumptive to the crown of Italy, the title of Prince
of Venice." "Wishing to give especial proof of our satisfaction with our
good city of Bologna, we have conferred, and by these letters-patent here
present do confer, the title of Princess of Bologna upon our dearly loved
granddaughter, the Princess Josephine." Napoleon left Milan, December 24,
to return to Paris by way of Turin.

The letters which the Emperor wrote to his wife during this trip were very
empty and unimportant, wholly unlike those he had written in 1798. Only a
few need be quoted. "Milan, November, 25, 1807. I have been here, my dear,
two days. I am glad I did not bring you. You would have suffered terribly
crossing Mount Cenis where a storm detained me twenty-four hours. I found
Eugene very well; I am much pleased with him. The Princess is ill; I went
to see her at Monza: she has had a miscarriage, but is improving. Good by,
my dear." "Venice, November 30, 1807. I have your letter of the 22d. I
have been for two days in Venice. The weather is very bad, which has not
prevented my going through the lagoons to see the different forts. I am
glad to see that you are amusing yourself in Paris. The King of Bavaria
and his family and the Princess Elisa are also here. After December 2,
which I shall spend here, I shall be on my way back, and glad to see you.
Good by, my dear." "Udine, December 11, 1807. I have your letter of the
3d, and I see you are much pleased with the Jardin des Plantes. I am at
the furthest limit of my journey; it is possible that I shall be soon in
Paris where I shall be glad to see you again. The weather has not been
very cold here, but very wet. I have taken advantage of the last fine
weather of the season, for I suppose that at Christmas the winter will be
here. Good by, my dear. Ever Yours."

During the Emperor's absence the triumphal return of the Guard brought a
slight diversion to the Empress's anxiety and distress of mind. Though
unhappy as a wife, she was at least happy as a Frenchwoman. She, alas! had
a presentiment of divorce, but not of the invasion and dismemberment of
France. At noon, November 25, the twelve thousand old soldiers of the
Guard, bronzed, covered with glorious wounds, some already gray, made
their solemn entry into Paris. An arch of triumph, broader and higher than
the Porte Saint Martin, had been built at the gate of La Villette. The
Prefect of the Seine and the municipal authorities there awaited the

The prefect welcomed the brave soldiers: "Heroes of Jena, of Eylan, of
Friediand," he said, "conquerors of peace, immortal thanks are due you,
for the country you have conquered! Your own country will ever remember
your triumphs; your names will be handed down to the remotest posterity on
bronze and marble, and the story of your exploits, firing the courage of
our latest descendants, will be recalled, and you, by the example you have
set, will still protect this vast Empire which, you have so gloriously
defended with your valor... Hail! war-like eagles, symbols of the power of
our magnanimous Emperor; carry over all the earth, with his great name,
the glory of the French name, and may the crowns with which the city of
Paris has been allowed to decorate you be everywhere a proof at once
august and formidable of the union of monarch, people, and army!"

Marshal Bessières, who was in, command, replied: "The most perfect harmony
will always exist between the populace of this great city and the soldiers
of the Imperial guard, and if their eagles should march again, recalling
their oath to defend, them to the death, they would remember that the
wreaths adorning them redouble the obligation." After these two speeches
the standard bearer left the ranks and bent down the flags on which the
magistrates placed golden crowns bearing this inscription: "The city of
Paris to the Grand Army." Then the troops marched past in the following
order: the fusiliers, the riflemen, grenadiers, the light cavalry, the
Mamelukes, dragoons, the horse grenadiers, and the picked body of gens des
armes. While they passed beneath the arch of triumph, a large band and
chorus performed a cantata, with words by Arnault and music by Méhul.
Passing through the dense crowds that lined the way, the guard came to the
Tuileries, passing beneath the arch of the Carrousel, where the eagles
were set down. Then it entered the palace garden, leaving its arms there,
and proceeded to the Champs Elysées, where a banquet for twelve thousand
men was laid. The tables were arranged under tents on each side of the
Champs Elysées, along their whole extent, from the Place de la Concorde to
the gate de l'Etoile. The tent of the staff was in the middle, half-way
up. Marshal Bessières proposed a toast to the city of Paris, and the
Prefect of the Seine one to the Emperor and King, and another to the Grand

The next day there were three performances in every theatre. The pit, the
orchestra, and principal rows of boxes and galleries were reserved for the
Imperial Guard. The opera gave _The Triumph of Trajan_. The Français gave
_Gaston and Bayard_. "That historical play," said the _Moniteur_, "which
presents so noble and true a picture of French honor, of warlike
victories, of chivalric enthusiasm,--never did this tragedy have
spectators better fitted to appreciate it." In the minor theatres various
plays on the events of the day were given. The performance at the opera
was magnificent; the _Moniteur_ described it with its usual lyrical
enthusiasm: "This picked band of braves, who, in their swift conquests, in
their distant marches, have seen such, diverse climates, visited so many
shores, and in so few months have seen the springs and the mouths of so
many rivers, know also the banks of the Tiber; hence in the scenery they
at ones recognized Rome; in the triumphal march, in the eager throng, in
the vast populace, bursting through the ranks of the Roman soldiers, and
flinging themselves beneath the hoofs of their horses, they saw the
touching picture of the reception they had met the day before. Their
emotion baffles description. The Imperial Guard gazing at Trajan's triumph
was itself an admirable spectacle." The opera was but a series of
ingenious allusions to Napoleon's glory. Trajan was represented as
burning, with his own hand, papers containing the secret of a conspiracy,
recalling Napoleon's throwing into the fire the letters by which, he could
have rained M. Hatzfeld; and when the Roman Emperor appeared in his
chariot, drawn by four white horses, it was not Trajan who was applauded,
but Napoleon.

December 14, at the Military School, Marshal Bessières, to celebrate the
victories of the Grand Army, and to thank the city of Paris for its
reception of the Imperial Guard, gave a grand entertainment which the
Empress honored with her presence. The Invalides was brilliantly
illuminated and connected with the Military School by a long row of
lights. In the middle of the Champ de Mars was a vast hemisphere, on which
was a pedestal holding a colossal statue of the Emperor, surrounded by
allegoric figures. The trophies set aside for each one of the Grand Army
were marked with the corps number. The Imperial Guard was under arms, and
formed an interesting part of the spectators, and of the spectacle as
well. Bengal fires lit up the warlike scene. The heights across the Seine
were also ablaze with lights. The Empress arrived at the Military School
at about eight in the evening. The entertainment began with a ballet
performed by dancers from the opera. Then there were fireworks. The Champ
de Mars was one sea of flame, and the Imperial Guard fired blank
cartridges for half an hour. Then there was a grand ball with a fine
supper; after which the dances continued till morning.

This worldly and military entertainment, at which the Empress queen
appeared in all her glory, may be regarded as the crowning point of her
splendors. And here, at the end of 1807, we close this study. We have left
to narrate in a final volume only the last seven years of Josephine's
life. We have already recounted nearly the whole career of this attractive
woman, of this justly famous sovereign. We have described her infancy in
Martinique, in her modest, patriarchal home, where she was born, June 23,
1763. We have admired her as a young girl, loving flowers, music, and
nature, beneath the clear sky of the Antilles, amid banana and orange
trees, tropical flowers, and birds of paradise, where the fortune-telling
negress said to her: "You will be a queen." We have seen her in France,
marrying, December 13, 1779, the young and brilliant Viscount Alexandre de
Beauharnais, by whom she had one son, the future Viceroy of Italy, and one
daughter, the future Queen of Holland. We have seen her going through that
period of illusions, so well called the Golden Age of the Revolution,
receiving in her drawing-room in the rue de l'Université the flower of the
liberal nobility and leaders of the Constituent Assembly, then suddenly
passing from the Golden to the Iron Age, shuddering at the dangers to
which war, and above all the Terror exposed her husband, the general in
chief of the Army of the Rhine, the leader of the democracy, rewarded for
his patriotism and his devotion to the Republic by the scaffold. She
herself, during her husband's captivity, was imprisoned in the Carmes
April, 1794; for one hundred and eight days of inexpressible anguish and
torment, she occupied in this dungeon the Room of the Swords as it was
called, because the walls still bore traces of the three swords which the
men of September had leaned against them after the massacre of the one
hundred and twenty priests who were in the prison. Beauharnais, the man of
the old régime, who had embraced the new ideas with so much ardor, this
grand lord who got himself treated like a _sans-culotte_ was guillotined
four days before Robespierre, whose death would have saved him. His young
widow left prison, reduced to extreme want, and took refuge with her
father-in-law, at Fontainebleau; then she made her appearance in the
motley society which, first showed itself in the drawing-room of Madame
Tallien, then at the Luxembourg under Barras. Rivalling Madame Tallien and
Madame Récamier in popularity, she smiled through her tears, like
Andromache in Homer. Her means becoming greater, thanks to the support of
men in authority, she bought in the rue Chantereine, afterwards rue de la
Victoire, a little house belonging to Talma, the tragedian. There she
received with her customary courtesy the few survivors of French
aristocracy who said behind well-closed doors: "Let us talk about the old
court; let us take a turn at Versailles."

Bonaparte, commander of the Army of the Interior, after the 13th
Vendémiaire, when he saved the expiring Convention, had just ordered the
disarmament of the sections and the delivery of all arms found in private
houses, when a boy of fourteen called upon him to ask to have back the
sword of his father, who had commanded the armies of the Republic. This
boy was Eugene de Beauharnais, afterwards Viceroy of Italy. Bonaparte,
touched by this action, received him graciously. The next day Madame de
Beauharnais called upon him to thank him. He was much struck by her charms
and proposed to her; she accepted him and they were married March 9, 1796.
The Viscountess of Beauharnais became Citizeness Bonaparte. No sooner
married, than the young husband, who was only twenty-six, tore himself
from her arms and started for the army of Italy. Then Napoleon's love for
Josephine was much greater than hers for him. It was he who was jealous,
he who wrote burning letters; he it was who was all enthusiasm, ardor, and
ablaze with passion. It was only with reluctance that Josephine decided to
leave Paris, where she was happy, but in Italy she found a real royalty.
At Milan she took possession of the Serbelloni Palace, where she did the
honors most admirably and received the homage of the proud aristocracy of
Milan. She followed her husband to the war, for he could not bear to be
separated from her, and one day when, beset with dangers, she was crying,
he exclaimed: "Wurmser shall pay dearly for the tears he causes you."
After Arcole, Madame Bonaparte resembled a sovereign. She singularly aided
her husband to play the double part which was soon to carry him to the
highest rank. When it was a question of repelling royalism, the young
conqueror relied on men like Augereau; when it was necessary to attract
men of the old régime, Josephine was the bond of union between him and the
French or Italian aristocracy. On her return to Paris, June 2, 1798, she
shared her husband's glories. The little house in the rue Chantereine
became more famous than the grandest palaces.

Bonaparte left for Egypt, embarking at Toulon, May 19, 1798, after taking
tender leave of Josephine. During her husband's absence, she bought the
estate of Malmaison, an unknown spot which soon became famous. She
skilfully defended Bonaparte's interests with the Directory, and in her
drawing-room met celebrities of every kind. But malicious persons soon
sent to Egypt hostile rumors, and her impetuous husband, wild with jealous
wrath, spoke of nothing but separation and divorce. He reached Paris
unexpectedly, October 16, 1799, and not finding his wife there, started
off to meet her on a different road from hers, wild with jealousy. His
brothers, Josephine's enemies, deceived him, and at first he refused to
see her again; but, softened by the supplications of Eugene and Hortense
de Beauharnais, he pardoned his wife and opened his door to her; she
defended herself, and he let himself be convinced, so that, instead of a
divorce, there was a complete reconciliation. Josephine was of use to her
husband in the preparations for the 18th Brumaire; she helped him to lull
the vigilance of the Republicans and to rise to the highest rank.

Citizeness Bonaparte had become the wife of the First Consul. Like the
ladies of the old régime, she was addressed as Madame until she should be
called Empress, or Your Majesty. She was at the head of the Consular
Court, rich in youth, glory, and hope. At the Tuileries she took
possession of the apartments of Marie Antoinette. At Malmaison she enjoyed
the pleasures of the country. The hero of Marengo looked upon her as his
good angel, his good genius. Their happiness was interrupted by the
infernal machine, but this gloomy incident was soon forgotten. Under
Josephine's guidance Parisian society soon resumed its former brilliancy.
Monarchical customs reappeared. The Concordat effected a reconciliation of
the church with the government, and the wife of the First Consul,
surrounded by a real court, heard a _Te Deum_ in the rood-loft of Notre
Dame. At heart she was a Royalist by her memories and her feelings,
although she was made by fate an Empress. The crown, so far from tempting
her, filled her with fear. She yearned to descend as her husband yearned
to rise. The proclamation of the Consulate for life, the prelude of the
Empire, filled her with gloom and apprehension, Neither the pomp of Saint
Cloud, nor the triumphal trip in Belgium. robbed her of her wise and
modest ideas. She much preferred Malmaison to any splendid palace, and
looked back with regret at the time when she was simply Citizeness
Bonaparte. Grandeur, so far from turning her head, only made her less
ambitious, She gave her husband excellent advice, which, unfortunately, he
did not follow. Had he listened to her, he would not have had the Duke of
Enghien killed, he would have been modest in good fortune, and would have
remained the first citizen of a great Republic.

Crowned at Notre Dame by the hands of Napoleon, Josephine played a
sovereign's part with as much ease as if she had been born on the steps of
the throne. The greatest names of the old régime figured in her house. She
adorned magnificent festivities by her presence. In Italy, whither she
accompanied her husband, she received as Queen the same homage she had
received as Empress. Yet, amid all this splendor, she was not happy. The
terrible wars in which Napoleon engaged filled her with anxiety. At
Strassburg, during the Austerlitz campaign, at Mayence during that of Jena
and that of Poland, she was a victim of the greatest distress of mind and
nervous terror. Then, too, her husband's infidelities filled her with
despair. Towards the end of 1807 the spectre of divorce arose before her.
The loss of a crown would be a trifling matter, but the sight of another
woman reigning as lawful wife over Napoleon's heart was a thought to which
she could not reconcile herself. From that moment she knew no peace or
happiness. She was like a convicted criminal awaiting sentence at any
moment, and she had to hide her terrible grief from every one. She always
imagined that in the homage paid her by force of habit, there was
something false and ironical. She thought of herself only as disgraced,
betrayed, repudiated. All that was left of her crown was its mark on her
brow. Few peasant women in their huts were ever as thoroughly unhappy as
was this sovereign in her palace.

We have seen Josephine in her springtime, in her summer; it remains for us
to describe only the autumn of this wonderful and melancholy career. This
last study will be profoundly sad. "In the season which despoils nature,"
said Madame Swetchine, "there is no breeze, no puff of air so light that
it fails to detach the leaf from the tree that bore it. In the autumn of
the heart there is no movement that does not carry away a happiness or a
hope." The great afflictions of Josephine's later years were the divorce,
the invasion, and the long agony. Driven from the Tuileries forever, she
took refuge at Malmaison one rainy, cold, December night, recalling,
doubtless, the starlit evenings when the conqueror of Italy sought calm
and happiness in that favorite spot. And after draining the cup of
bitterness, the deserted wife exclaimed: "It sometimes seems to me as if I
were dead and there was nothing left of me except a sort of vague power of
feeling that I no longer exist." She could truly say with Queen Margaret
of Navarre: "I have borne more than my share of the weariness which is the
common lot of man." A still harder trial awaited her. Napoleon was
unhappy, and she was forbidden to comfort him! He was exiled, and she was
forbidden to follow him! The Empire she had seen so magnificent she was to
see conquered, invaded, dismembered. No one was to mourn the woes of her
country more than she. She was to die of grief, and when, May 29, 1814,
she had breathed her last after uttering in her death agony these three
words which sum up the anguish of her soul: "Napoleon! Elba! Marie
Louise!" Mademoiselle Avrillon, the First Lady of her Bedchamber, was to
say, "I have seen the Empress Josephine's sleeplessness and her terrible
dreams. I have known her to pass whole days buried in the gloomiest
thought. I know what I have seen and heard, and I am sure that grief
killed her!" Was there ever a life of greater vicissitudes? It was a
career full of smiles and tears, presenting every contrast of light and
shade, of joy and grief, reproducing all the splendor and all the misery
that can be crowded into human existence! It was a career, as fascinating
as it was strange, which could only have been seen in those pathetic and
disturbed epochs, when one surprise follows another, and the actors are
perhaps even more astonished than the spectators at the shifting scenes
and the incidents of the drama, in which events always take an unexpected
turn, when men and things suffer shocks unknown to previous generations,
and when history reads like the wildest romance.

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