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Title: The Happy Days of the Empress Marie Louise
Author: Imbert de Saint-Amand
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Happy Days of the Empress Marie Louise" ***












II. 1809































In 1814, while Napoleon was banished in the island of Elba, the Empress
Marie Louise and her grandmother, Marie Caroline, Queen of Naples,
happened to meet at Vienna. The one, who had been deprived of the French
crown, was seeking to be put in possession of her new realm, the Duchy
of Parma; the other, who had fled from Sicily to escape the yoke of her
pretended protectors, the English, had come to demand the restitution of
her kingdom of Naples, where Murat continued to rule with the connivance
of Austria. This Queen, Marie Caroline, the daughter of the great
Empress, Maria Theresa, and the sister of the unfortunate Marie
Antoinette, had passed her life in detestation of the French Revolution
and of Napoleon, of whom she had been one of the most eminent victims.
Well, at the very moment when the Austrian court was doing its best to
make Marie Louise forget that she was Napoleon's wife and to separate
her from him forever, Marie Caroline was pained to see her granddaughter
lend too ready an ear to their suggestions. She said to the Baron de
Méneval, who had accompanied Marie Louise to Vienna: "I have had, in my
time, very good cause for complaining of your Emperor; he has persecuted
me and wounded my pride,--I was then at least fifteen years old,--but
now I remember only one thing,--that he is unfortunate." Then she went
on to say that if they tried to keep husband and wife apart, Marie
Louise would have to tie her bedclothes to her window and run away in
disguise. "That," she exclaimed, "that's what I should do in her place;
for when people are married, they are married for their whole life!"

If a woman like Queen Marie Caroline, a sister of Marie Antoinette, a
queen driven from her throne by Napoleon, could feel in this way, it is
easy to understand the severity with which those of the French who were
devoted to the Emperor, regarded the conduct of his ungrateful wife. In
the same way, Josephine, in spite of her occasionally frivolous conduct,
has retained her popularity, because she was tender, kind, and devoted,
even after she was divorced; while Marie Louise has been criticised,
because after loving, or saying that she loved, the mighty Emperor, she
deserted him when he was a prisoner. The contrast between her conduct
and that of the wife of King Jerome, the noble and courageous Catherine
of Wurtemberg, who endured every danger, and all sorts of
persecutions, to share her husband's exile and poverty, has set in an
even clearer light the faults of Marie Louise. She has been blamed for
not having joined Napoleon at Elba, for not having even tried to temper
his sufferings at Saint Helena, for not consoling him in any way, for
not even writing to him. The former Empress of the French has been also
more severely condemned for her two morganatic marriages,--one with
Count Neipperg, an Austrian general and a bitter enemy of Napoleon, the
other with Count de Bombelles, a Frenchman who left France to enter the
Austrian service. Certainly Marie Louise was neither a model wife nor a
model widow, and there is nothing surprising in the severity with which
her contemporaries judged her, a severity which doubtless history will
not modify. But if this princess was guilty, more than one attenuating
circumstance may be urged in her defence, and we should, in justice,
remember that it was not without a struggle, without tears, distress,
and many conscientious scruples, that she decided to obey her
father's rigid orders and become again what she had been before her
marriage,--simply an Austrian princess.

It must not be forgotten that the Empress Marie Louise, who was in two
ways the grandniece of Queen Marie Antoinette, through her mother Maria
Theresa of Naples, daughter of Queen Marie Caroline, and through her
father the Emperor Francis, son of the Emperor Leopold II., the
brother of the martyred queen, had been brought up to abhor the French
Revolution and the Empire which succeeded it. She had been taught from
the moment she left the cradle, that France was the hereditary enemy,
the savage and implacable foe, of her country. When she was a child,
Napoleon appeared to her against a background of blood, like a fatal
being, an evil genius, a satanic Corsican, a sort of Antichrist. The few
Frenchmen whom she saw at the Austrian court were émigrés, who saw in
Napoleon nothing but the selfish revolutionist, the friend of the young
Robespierre, the creature of Barras, the defender of the members of the
Convention, the man of the 13th of Vendémiaire, the murderer of the Duke
of Enghien, the enemy of all the thrones of Europe, the author of the
treachery of Bayonne, the persecutor of the Pope, the excommunicated
sovereign. Twice he had driven Austria to the brink of ruin, and it had
even been said that he wished to destroy it altogether, like a second
Poland. The young archduchess had never heard the hero of Austerlitz
and Wagram spoken of, except in terms inspired by resentment, fear,
and hatred. Could she, then, in a single day learn to love the man who
always had been held up before her as a second Attila, as the scourge of
God? Hence, when she came to contemplate the possibility of her marriage
with him, she was overwhelmed with surprise, terror, and repulsion, and
her first idea was to regard herself as a victim to be sacrificed to
a vague Minotaur. We find this word "sacrifice" on the lips of the
Austrian statesmen who most warmly favored the French alliance, even of
those who had counselled and arranged the match. The Austrian ambassador
in Paris, the Prince of Swartzenberg, wrote to Metternich, February 8,
1810, "I pity the princess; but let her remember that it is a fine thing
to bring peace to such good people!" And Metternich wrote back, February
15, to the Prince of Swartzenberg, "The Archduchess Marie Louise sees
in the suggestion made to her by her August father, that Napoleon may
include her in his plans, only a means of proving to her beloved father
the most absolute devotion. She feels the full force of the sacrifice,
but her filial love will outweigh all other considerations." Having been
brought up in the habit of severe discipline and passive obedience, she
belonged to a family in which the Austrian princesses are regarded as
the docile instruments of the greatness of the Hapsburgs. Consequently,
she resigned herself to following her father's wishes without a murmur,
but not without sadness. What Marie Louise thought at the time of her
marriage she still thought in the last years of her life. General de
Trobriand, the Frenchman who won distinction on the northern side in the
American civil war, told me recently how painfully surprised he was when
once at Venice he had heard Napoleon's widow, then the wife of Count de
Bombelles, say, in speaking of her marriage to the great Emperor, "I was

Austria was covered with ruins, its hospitals were crowded with wounded
French and Austrians, and in the ears of Viennese still echoed the
cannon of Wagram, when salvos of artillery announced not war, but this
marriage. The memories of an obstinate struggle, which both sides had
regarded as one for life or death, was still too recent, too terrible to
permit a complete reconciliation between the two nations. In fact, the
peace was only a truce. To facilitate the formal entry of Napoleon's
ambassador into Vienna, it had been necessary hastily to build a bridge
over the ruins of the walls which the French had blown up a few months
earlier, as a farewell to the inhabitants. Marie Louise, who started
with tears in her eyes, trembled as she drew near the French territory,
which Marie Antoinette had found so fatal.

Soon this first impression wore off, and the young Empress was
distinctly flattered by the amazing splendor of her throne, the most
powerful in the world. And yet amid this Babylonian pomp, and all the
splendor, the glory, the flattery, which could gratify a woman's heart,
she did not cease to think of her own country. One day when she was
standing at a window of the palace of Saint Cloud, gazing thoughtfully
at the view before her, M. de Méneval ventured to ask the cause of the
deep revery in which she appeared to be sunk. She answered that as she
was looking at the beautiful view, she was surprised to find herself
regretting the neighborhood of Vienna, and wishing that some magic wand
might let her see even a corner of it. At that time Marie Louise was
afraid that she would never see her country again, and she sighed. What
glory or greatness can wipe out the touching memories of infancy?

Doubtless Napoleon treated his wife with the utmost regard and
consideration; but in the affection with which he inspired her there
was, we fancy, more admiration than tenderness. He was too great for
her. She was fascinated, but troubled by so great power and so great
genius. She had the eyes of a dove, and she needed the eyes of an eagle,
to be able to look at the Imperial Sun, of which the hot rays dazzled
her. She would have preferred less glory, less majesty, fewer triumphs,
with her simple and modest tastes, which were rather those of a
respectable citizen's wife than of a queen. Her husband, amid his
courtiers, who flocked about him as priests flock about an idol, seemed
to her a demi-god rather than a man, and she would far rather have been
won by affection than overwhelmed by his superiority.

It is not to be supposed, however, that Marie Louise was unhappy before
the catastrophes that accompanied the fall of the Empire. It was in
perfect sincerity that she wrote to her father in praise of her husband,
and her joy was great when she gave birth to a child, who seemed a
pledge of peace and of general happiness. Let us add that the Emperor
never had an occasion to find fault with her. Her gentleness, reserve,
and obedience formed the combination of qualities which her husband
desired. He had never imagined an Empress more exactly to his taste.
When she deserted him, he was more ready to excuse and pity her than to
cast blame upon her. He looked upon her as the slave and victim of the
Viennese court. Moreover, he was in perfect ignorance of her love for
the Count of Neipperg, and no shadow of jealousy tormented him at Saint
Helena. "You may be sure," he said a few days before his death, "that if
the Empress makes no effort to ease my woes, it is because she is kept
surrounded by spies, who never let my sufferings come to her ears; for
Marie Louise is virtue itself." A pleasant delusion, which consoled the
final moments of the great man, whose last thoughts were for his wife
and son.

We fancy that the Emperor of Austria was sincere in the protestations
of affection and friendship which he made to Napoleon shortly after the
wedding. He then entertained no thoughts of dethroning or fighting him.
He had hopes of securing great advantage from the French alliance, and
he would have been much surprised if any one had foretold to him how
soon he would become one of the most active agents in the overthrow of
this son-in-law to whom he expressed such affectionate feelings. In 1811
he was sincerely desirous that the King of Rome should one day succeed
Napoleon on the throne of the vast empire. At that time hatred of France
had almost died out in Austria; it was only renewed by the disastrous
Russian campaign. The Austrians, who could not wholly forget the past,
did not love Napoleon well enough to remain faithful to him in
disaster. Had he been fortunate, the hero of Wagram would have preserved
his father-in-law's sympathy and the Austrian alliance; but being
unfortunate, he lost both at once. Unlike the rulers of the old
dynasties, he was condemned either to perpetual victory or to ruin. He
needed triumphs instead of ancestors, and the slightest loss of glory
was for him the token of irremediable decay; incessant victory was the
only condition on which he could keep his throne, his wife, his son,
himself. One day he asked Marie Louise what instructions she had
received from her parents in regard to her conduct towards him. "To be
wholly yours," she answered, "and to obey you in everything." Might she
not have added, "So long as you are not unfortunate"?

But who at the beginning of that fatal year, 1812, could have foretold
the catastrophes which were so near? When Marie Louise was with Napoleon
at Dresden, did he not appear to her like the arbiter of the world,
an invincible hero, an Agamemnon, the king of kings? Never before,
possibly, had a man risen so high. Sovereigns seemed lost amid the crowd
of courtiers. Among the aides-de-camp was the Crown Prince of Prussia,
who was obliged to make special recommendations to those near him to pay
a little attention to his father-in-law, the Emperor of Austria. What
power, what pride, what faith in his star, when, drawing all Europe
after him, he bade farewell to his wife May 29, 1812, to begin that
gigantic war which he thought was destined to consolidate all his
greatness and to crown all his glories! But he had not counted on the
burning of Moscow: there is in the air a zone which the highest balloons
cannot pierce; once there, ascent means death. This zone, which exists
also in power, good fortune, glory, as well as in the atmosphere,
Napoleon had reached. At the height of his prosperity he had forgotten
that God was about to say to him: Thou shalt go no further.

At the first defeat Marie Louise perceived that the brazen statue had
feet of clay. Malet's conspiracy filled her with gloomy thoughts. It
became evident that the Empire was not a fixed institution, but a single
man; in case this man died or lived defeated, everything was gone.
December 12, 1812, the Empress went to her bed in the Tuileries, sad and
ill. It was half-past eleven in the evening. The lady-in-waiting, who
was to pass the night in a neighboring room, was about to lock all the
doors when suddenly she heard voices in the drawing-room close by. Who
could have come at that hour? Who except the Emperor? And, in fact, it
was he, who, without word to any one, had just arrived unexpectedly in a
wretched carriage, and had found great difficulty in getting the palace
doors opened. He had travelled incognito from the Beresina, like a
fugitive, like a criminal. As he passed through Warsaw he had exclaimed
bitterly and in amazement at his defeat, "There is but one step from the
sublime to the ridiculous." When he burst into his wife's bedroom in his
long fur coat, Marie Louise could not believe her eyes. He kissed her
affectionately, and promised her that all the disasters recounted in the
twenty-ninth bulletin should be soon repaired; he added that he had been
beaten, not by the Russians, but by the elements. Nevertheless, the
decadence had begun; his glory was dimmed; Marie Louise began to have
doubts of Napoleon. His courtiers continued to flatter him, but they
ceased to worship him. A dark cloud lay over the Tuileries. The Empress
had but a few days to pass with her husband. He had been away for nearly
six months, from May 29 till December 12, 1812, and he was to leave
again April 15, 1813, to return only November 9. The European sovereigns
could not have continued in alliance with him even if they had wished
it, so irresistible was the movement of their subjects against him.
After Leipsic everything was lost; that was the signal of the death
struggle, which was to be long, terrible, and full of anguish. Europe
listened in terror to the cries of the dying Empire. But it was all
over. The sacred soil of France was invaded. January 25, 1814, at three
in the morning, the hero left the Tuileries to oppose the invaders. He
kissed his wife and his son for the last time. He was never to see them
again. In all, Napoleon had passed only two years and eight months with
Marie Louise; she had had hardly time enough to become attached to him.
Napoleon's sword was broken; he arrived before Paris too late to save
the city, which had just capitulated, and the foreigners were about to
make their triumphal entrance. Could a woman of twenty-two be strong
enough to withstand the tempest? Would she be brave enough, could she
indeed remain in Paris without disobeying Napoleon? Was not flight a
duty for the hapless sovereign? The Emperor had written to his brother,
King Joseph: "In no case must you let the Empress and the King of Rome
fall into the enemy's hands. Do not abandon my son, and remember that
I had rather see him in the Seine than in the hands of the enemies of
France. The lot of Astyanax, a prisoner among the Greeks, has always
seemed to me the unhappiest in history." But, alas! in spite of the
great Emperor's precautions, the King of Rome was condemned by fate
to be the modern Astyanax, and Marie Louise was not as constant as

The allied forces drew near, and there was no more time for flight.
March 29, 1814, horses and carriages had been stationed in the Carrousel
since the morning. At seven o'clock Marie Louise was dressed and ready
to leave, but they could not abandon hope; they wished still to await
some possible bit of good news which should prevent their leaving,--an
envoy from Napoleon, a messenger from King Joseph. The officers of the
National Guard were anxious to have the Empress stay. "Remain," they
urged; "we swear to defend you." Marie Louise thanked them through her
tears, but the Emperor's orders were positive; on no account were the
Empress and the King of Rome to fall into the enemy's hands. The peril
grew. Ever since four o'clock Marie Louise had kept putting off the
moment of leaving, in expectation that something would turn up. Eleven
struck, and the Minister of War came, declaring there was not a moment
to lose. One would have thought that the little King of Rome, who was
just three years old, knew that he was about to go, never to return.
"Don't go to Rambouillet," he cried to his mother; "that's a gloomy
castle; let us stay here." And he clung to the banisters, struggling
with the equerry who was carrying him, weeping and shouting, "I don't
want to leave my house; I don't want to go away; since papa is away, I
am the master." Marie Louise was impressed by this childish opposition;
a secret voice told her that her son was right; that by abandoning the
capital, they surrendered it to the Royalists. But the lot was cast, and
they had to leave. A mere handful of indifferent spectators, attracted
by no other feeling than curiosity, watched the flight of the sovereign
who, four years before, had made her formal entrance into this same
palace of the Tuileries under a triumphal arch, amid noisy acclamations.
There was not a tear in the eyes of the few spectators; they uttered no
sound, they made no movement of sympathy or regret; there was only a
sullen silence. But one person wept, and that was Marie Louise. When she
had reached the Champs Elyseés, she cast a last sad glance at the palace
she was never to see again. It was not a flight, but a funeral.

The Empress and the King of Rome took refuge at Blois, where there
appeared a faint shadow of Imperial government. On Good Friday, April
8, Count Shouvaloff reached Blois with a detachment of Cossacks, and
carried Marie Louise and her son to Rambouillet, where the Emperor of
Austria was to join them. What Napoleon had feared was soon realized.

April 16, the Emperor of Austria was at Blois. Marie Louise, who two
years before had left her father, starting on her triumphal journey to
Prague, amid all form of splendor and devotion, was much moved at seeing
him again, and placed the King of Rome in his arms, as if to reproach
him for deserting the child's cause. The grandfather relented, but the
monarch was stern: did he not soon say to Marie Louise: "As my daughter,
everything that I have is yours, even my blood and my life; as a
sovereign, I do not know you"? The Russian sentinels at the entrance
of the castle of Rambouillet were relieved by Austrian grenadiers. The
Empress of the French changed captors; she was the prisoner no longer of
the Czar's soldiers, but of her own father. Her conjugal affection was
not yet wholly extinct, and she reproached herself with not having
joined Napoleon at Fontainebleau; but her scruples were soon allayed by
the promise that she should soon see her husband again at Elba. She was
told that the treaty which had just been signed gave her, and after her,
her son, the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla; that the King of
Rome was henceforth the hereditary Duke of Parma; that if she had duties
as a wife, she also had duties as a mother; that she ought to gain the
good-will of the powers, and assure her child's future. They added that
she ought to give her husband time to establish himself at Elba, and
that meanwhile she would find in Vienna, near her loving parents, a few
weeks of moral and physical rest, which must be very necessary after so
many emotions and sufferings. Marie Louise, who had been brought up to
give her father strict obedience, regarded the advice of the Emperor of
Austria as commands which were not to be questioned, and April 23 she
left Rambouillet with her son for Vienna.

Did the dethroned Empress carry away with her a pleasant memory of
France and the French people? We do not think so; and, to be frank,
was what had just happened likely to give her a favorable idea of the
country she was leaving? Could she have much love for the people who
were fastening a rope to pull down the statue of the hero of Austerlitz
from its pedestal, the Vendôme column? When her father, the Emperor
Francis I., had been defeated, driven from his capital, overwhelmed with
the blows of fate, his misfortunes had only augmented his popularity;
the more he suffered, the more he was loved. But for Napoleon, who was
so adored in the day of triumph, how was he treated in adversity? What
was the language of the Senate, lately so obsequious and servile? The
men on whom the Emperor had literally showered favors, called him
contemptuously Monsieur de Bonaparte. What did they do to save the crown
of the King of Rome, whose cradle they had saluted with such noisy
acclamations? Were not the Cossacks who went to Blois after the Empress
rapturously applauded by the French, in Paris itself, upon the very
boulevards? Did not the marshals of the Empire now serve as an escort
to Louis XVIII.? Where were the eagles, the flags, and the tricolored
cockades? When Napoleon was passing through Provence on his way to take
possession of his ridiculous realm of Elba, he was compelled to wear an
Austrian officer's uniform to escape being put to death by Frenchmen;
the imperial mantle was exchanged for a disguise. It is true that Marie
Louise abandoned the French; but did not the French abandon her and her
son after the abdication of Fontainebleau; and if this child did not
become Napoleon II., is not the fault theirs? And did she not do
all that could be demanded of her as regent? Can she be accused of
intriguing with the Allies; and if at the last moment she left Paris,
was it not in obedience to her husband's express command? She might well
have said what fifty-six years later the second Emperor said so sadly
when he was a prisoner in Germany: "In France one must never be
unfortunate." What was then left for her to do in that volcano, that
land which swallows all greatness and glory, amid that fickle people
who change their opinions and passions as an actress changes her dress?
Where Napoleon, with all his genius, had made a complete failure, could
a young, ignorant woman be reasonably expected to succeed in the face of
all Europe? Were her hands strong enough to rebuild the colossal edifice
that lay in ruins upon the ground?

Such were the reflections of Marie Louise as she was leaving France. The
moment she touched German soil, all the ideas, impressions, feelings of
her girlhood, came back to her, and naturally enough; for were there not
many instances in the last war, of German women, married to Frenchmen,
who rejoiced in the German successes, and of French women, married to
Germans, who deplored them? Marriage is but an incident; one's nature is
determined at one's birth. In Austria, Marie Louise found again the same
sympathy and affection that she had left there. There was a sort of
conspiracy to make her forget France and love Germany. The Emperor
Francis persuaded her that he was her sole protector, and controlled her
with the twofold authority of a father and a sovereign. She who a few
days before had been the Empress of the French, the Queen of Italy, the
Regent of a vast empire, was in her father's presence merely a humble
and docile daughter, who told him everything, obeyed him in everything,
who abdicated her own free will, and promised, even swore, to entertain
no other ideas or wishes than such as agreed with his.

Nevertheless, when she arrived at Vienna, Marie Louise had by no means
completely forgotten France and Napoleon. She still had Frenchmen in her
suite; she wrote to her husband and imagined that she would be allowed
to visit him at Elba, but she perfectly understood all the difficulties
of the double part she was henceforth called upon to play. She felt that
whatever she might do she would be severely criticised; that it would
be almost impossible to secure the approval of both her father and her
husband. Since she was intelligent enough to foresee that she would be
blamed by her contemporaries and by posterity, was she not justified in
lamenting her unhappy lot? She, who under any other conditions would
have been an excellent wife and mother, was compelled by extraordinary
circumstances to appear as a heartless wife and an indifferent mother.
This thought distressed Marie Louise, who at heart was not thoroughly
contented with herself. She wrote, under date of August 9, 1814: "I am
in a very unhappy and critical position; I must be very prudent in my
conduct. There are moments when that thought so distracts me that I
think that the best thing I could do would be to die."

When Napoleon returned from Elba, the situation of Marie Louise, so far
from improving, became only more difficult. She had no illusions about
the fate that awaited her audacious husband, who was unable to contend,
single-handed, against all Europe. She knew better than any one, not
only that he had nothing to hope from the Emperor of Austria, his
father-in-law, but that in this sovereign he would find a bitter,
implacable foe. As to the Emperor Alexander, he swore that he would
sacrifice his last ruble, his last soldier, before he would consent to
let Napoleon reign in France. Marie Louise knew too well the feeling
that animated the Congress at Vienna, to imagine that her husband had
the slightest chance of success. She was convinced that by returning
from Elba, he was only preparing for France a new invasion, and for
himself chains. Since she was a prisoner of the Coalition, she was
condemned to widowhood, even in the lifetime of her husband. She cannot
then be blamed for remaining at Vienna, whence escape was absolutely

Marie Louise committed one great error; that, namely, of writing that
inasmuch as she was entirely without part in the plans of the Emperor
Napoleon, she placed herself under the protection of the Allies,--Allies
who at that very moment were urging the assassination of her husband,
in the famous declaration of March 13, 1815, in which they said: "By
breaking the convention, which established him on the island of Elba,
Bonaparte has destroyed the only legal title on which his existence
depended. By reappearing in France, with plans of disturbance and
turmoil, he has, by his own act, forfeited the protection of the laws,
and has shown to the world that there can be no peace or truce with him
as a party. The Powers consequently declare that Napoleon Bonaparte has
placed himself outside of all civil and social relations, and that as an
enemy and disturber of the world's peace, he exposes himself to public
vengeance." April 16, at the moment when the processions designed to
pray for the success of the Austrian armies, were going through the
streets of Vienna to visit the Cathedral and the principal churches,
the Empress of Austria dared to ask the former Empress of the French to
accompany the processions with the rest of the court; but Marie Louise
rejected the insulting proposal. The 6th of May next, when M. de
Méneval, who was about to return to France, came to bid farewell and to
receive her commands, she spoke to this effect to the faithful subject
who was soon to see Napoleon: "I am aware that all relations between me
and France are coming to an end, but I shall always cherish the memory
of my adopted home.... Convince the Emperor of all the good I wish him.
I hope that he will understand the misery of my position.... I shall
never assent to a divorce, but I flatter myself that he will not oppose
an amicable separation, and that he will not bear any ill feeling
towards me.... This separation has become imperative; it will in no way
affect the feelings of esteem and gratitude that I preserve." Then
she gave to M. de Méneval a gold snuff-box, bearing his initials in
diamonds, as a memento, and left him, to hide the emotion by which she
was overcome. Her emotion was not very deep, and her tears soon dried.
In 1814 she had met the man who was to make her forget her duty towards
her illustrious husband. He was twenty years older than she, and always
wore a large black band to hide the scar of a wound by which he had lost
an eye. As diplomatist and as a soldier he had been one of the most
persistent and one of the most skilful of Napoleon's enemies. General
the Count of Neipperg, as he called himself, had been especially active
in persuading two Frenchmen, Bernadotte and Murat, to take up arms
against France. Since 1814 he had been most devoted to Marie Louise, and
he felt or pretended to feel for her an affection on which she did not
fear to smile. She admitted him to her table; he became her chamberlain,
her advocate at the Congress of Vienna, her prime minister in the Duchy
of Parma, and after Napoleon's death, her morganatic husband. He had
three children by her,--two daughters (one of whom died young; the other
married the son of the Count San Vitale, Grand Chamberlain of Parma) and
one son (who took the title of Count of Montenuovo and served in the
Austrian army). Until his death in 1829 the Count of Neipperg completely
controlled Marie Louise, as Napoleon had never done.

After Waterloo, every day dimmed Marie Louise's recollections of France.
The four years of her reign--two spent in the splendor of perpetual
adoration, two in the gloom of disasters culminating in final ruin--were
like a distant dream, half a golden vision, half a hideous nightmare.
It was all but a brief episode in her life. She thoroughly deserved
the name of "the Austrian," which had been given unjustly to Marie
Antoinette; for Marie Antoinette really became a Frenchwoman. The
Duchess of Parma--for that was the title of the woman who had worn the
two crowns of France and of Italy--lived more in her principality than
in Vienna, more interested in the Count of Neipperg than in the Duke of
Reichstadt. While her son never left the Emperor Francis, she reigned
in her little duchy. But the title was to expire at her death; for the
Coalition had feared to permit a son of Napoleon to have an hereditary
claim to rule over Parma. Yet Marie Louise cannot properly be called
a bad mother. She went to close the eyes of her son, who died in his
twenty-second year, of consumption and disappointment.

By this event was broken the last bond which attached Napoleon's widow
to the imperial traditions. In 1833 she was married, for the third time,
to a Frenchman, the son of an émigré in the Austrian service. He was a
M. de Bombelles, whose mother had been a Miss Mackan, an intimate friend
of Madame Elisabeth, and had married the Count of Bombelles, ambassador
of Louis XVI. in Portugal, and later in Venice, who took orders after
his wife's death and became Bishop of Amiens under the Restoration.
Marie Louise, who died December 17, 1847, aged fifty-six, lived in
surroundings directly hostile to Napoleon's glory. Her ideas in
her last years grew to resemble those of her childhood, and she was
perpetually denouncing the principles of the French Revolution and of
the liberalism which pursued her even in the Duchy of Parma. France has
reproached her with abandoning Napoleon, and still more perhaps for
having given two obscure successors to the most famous man of modern

If Marie Louise is not a very sympathetic figure, no story is more
touching and more melancholy than that of her son's life and death. It
is a tale of hope deceived by reality; of youth and beauty cut down
in their flower; of the innocent paying for the guilty; of the victim
marked by fate as the expiation for others. One might say that he came
into the world only to give a lasting example of the instability of
human greatness. When he was at the point of death, worn out with
suffering, he said sadly, "My birth and my death comprise my whole
history." But this short story is perhaps richer in instruction than the
longest reigns. The Emperor's son will be known for many ages by
his three titles,--the King of Rome, Napoleon II., and the Duke
of Reichstadt. He had already inspired great poets, and given to
philosophers and Christians occasion for profound thoughts. His memory
is indissolubly bound up with that of his father, and posterity will
never forget him. Even those who are most virulent against Napoleon's
memory, feel their wrath melt when they think of his son; and when at
the Church of the Capuchins, in Vienna, a monk lights with a flickering
torch the dark tomb of the great captain's son, who lies by the side
of his grandfather, Francis II., who was at once his protector and his
jailer, deep thoughts arise as one considers the vanity of political
calculations, the emptiness of glory, of power, and of genius.

Poor boy! His birth was greeted with countless thanksgivings,
celebrations, and joyous applause. Paris was beside itself when in the
morning of March 20, 1811, there sounded the twenty-second report of a
cannon, announcing that the Emperor had, not a daughter, but a son. He
lay in a costly cradle of mother-of-pearl and gold, surmounted by a
winged Victory which seemed to protect the slumbers of the King of Rome.
The Imperial heir in his gilded baby-carriage drawn by two snow-white
sheep beneath the trees at Saint Cloud was a charming object. He was but
a year old when Gérard painted him in his cradle, playing with a cup and
ball, as if the cup were a sceptre and the ball were the world, with
which his childish hands were playing. When on the eve of the battle
of Moskowa, Napoleon was giving his final orders for the tremendous
struggle of the next day, a courier, M. de Bausset, arrived suddenly
from Paris, bringing with him this masterpiece of Gérard's; at once the
General forgot his anxieties in his paternal joy. "Gentlemen," said
Napoleon to his officers, "if my son were fifteen years old, you may be
sure that he would be here among this multitude of brave men, and not
merely in a picture." Then he had the portrait of the King of Rome set
out in front of his tent, on a chair, that the sight of it might be an
added excitement to victory. And the old grenadiers of the Imperial
Guard, the veterans with their grizzly moustaches,--the men who were
never to abandon their Emperor, who followed him to Elba, and died at
Waterloo,--heroes, as kind as they were brave, actually cried with joy
as they gazed at the portrait of this boy whose glorious future they
hoped to make sure by their brave deeds.

But what a sad future it was! Within less than two years Cossacks were
the escort of the King of Rome. When the Coalition made him a prisoner,
he was forever torn from his father. Napoleon, March 20, 1815, on this
return from Elba, re-entered triumphantly the Palace of the Tuileries
as if by miracle, but his joy was incomplete. March 20 was his son's
birthday, the day he was four years old, and the boy was not there;
his father never saw him again. At Vienna the little prince seemed the
victim of an untimely gloom; he missed his young playmates. "Any one can
see that I am not a king," he said; "I haven't any pages now."

The King of Rome had lost the childish merriment and the talkativeness
which had made him very captivating. So far from growing familiar with
those among whom he was thrown, he seemed rather to be suspicious and
distrustful of them. During the Hundred Days the private secretary of
Marie Louise left her at Vienna to return to Napoleon in France. "Have
you any message for your father?" he asked of the little prince. The boy
thought for a moment, and then, as if he were watched, led the faithful
officer up to the window and whispered to him, very low, "You will tell
him that I always love him dearly."

In spite of the many miles that separated them, the son was to be a
consolation to his father. In 1816 the prisoner at Saint Helena received
a lock of the young prince's hair, and a letter which he had written
with his hand held by some one else. Napoleon was filled with joy, and
forgot his chains. It was a renewal of the happiness he had felt on the
eve of Moskowa, when he had received the portrait of the son he loved
so warmly. Once again he summoned those who were about him and, deeply
moved, showed to them the lock of hair and the letter of his child.

For his part, the boy did not forget his father. In vain they gave him a
German title and a German name, and removed the Imperial arms with their
eagle; in vain they expunged the Napoleon from his name,--Napoleon,
which was an object of terror to the enemies of France. His Highness,
Prince Francis Charles Joseph, Duke of Reichstadt, knew very well that
his title was the King of Rome and Napoleon II. He knew that in his
veins there flowed the blood of the greatest warrior of modern times. He
had scarcely left the cradle when he began to show military tastes. When
only five, he said to Hummel, the artist, who was painting his portrait:
"I want to be a soldier. I shall fight well. I shall be in the charge."
"But," urged the artist, "you will find the bayonets of the grenadiers
in your way, and they will kill you perhaps." And the boy answered, "But
shan't I have a sword to beat down the bayonets?" Before he was seven he
wore a uniform. He learned eagerly the manual of arms; and when he was
rewarded by promotion to the grade of sergeant, he was as proud of
his stripes as he would have been of a throne. His father's career
continually occupied his thoughts and filled his imagination with a sort
of ecstasy.

At Paris the fickle multitude soon forgot the son of the Emperor. In
1820 the capital saluted the birth of the Duke of Bordeaux as it had
saluted that of the King of Rome. A close relationship united the two
children who represented two such distinct parties; their mothers were
first-cousins on both their fathers' and their mothers' side. The
Duchess of Berry, mother of the Duke of Bordeaux, was the daughter of
the King of Naples, Francis I., son of King Ferdinand IV. and Queen
Marie Caroline; and her mother was the Princess Marie Clementine,
daughter of the Emperor Leopold II. The Emperor Francis, father of the
Empress Marie Louise, was himself the son of Leopold II.; his wife was
Princess Marie Thérèse of Naples, daughter of Queen Marie Caroline and
aunt of the Duchess of Berry. The King of Rome and the Duke of Bordeaux
were thus in two ways second-cousins. July 22, 1821, at Schoenbrunn, in
the same room where, eleven years later, in the same month and on the
same day of the month, he was to breathe his last, the child who had
been the King of Rome learned that his father was dead. This news
plunged him into deep grief. He had been forbidden the name of Bonaparte
or Napoleon, but he was allowed to weep. The Duke of Reichstadt and his
household were allowed to wear mourning for the exile of Saint Helena.

In justice to the Emperor Francis it must be said that he showed great
affection for his grandson, whom he kept always near him, in his
chamber and in his study, and that he hid from him neither Napoleon's
misfortunes nor his successes. "I desire," he told Prince Metternich,
"that the Duke of Reichstadt shall respect his father's memory, that he
shall take example from his firm qualities and learn to recognize
his faults, in order to shun them and be on his guard against their
influence. Speak to the prince about his father as you should like to be
spoken about to your own son. Do not hide anything from him, but teach
him to honor his father's memory." Military drill, manoeuvres, strategy,
the study of great generals, especially of Napoleon, formed the young
prince's favorite occupations.

So long as the elder branch of the Bourbons reigned in France, the Duke
of Reichstadt never thought of seizing his father's crown and sceptre,
but the Revolution of 1830 suddenly kindled all his hopes. When he
learned that the tricolored flag had taken the place of the white one,
and heard of the enthusiasm that had seized the French for the men and
deeds of the Empire; when he heard the Austrian ministers continually
saying that Louis Philippe was a mere usurper who could reign but a
short time; when his grandfather, the Emperor Francis, who was the
incarnation of prudence and wisdom, said to him one day, "If the French
people should want you, and the Allies were to give their consent, I
should not oppose your taking your place on the French throne," and,
at another time, "You have only to show yourself on the bridge at
Strasbourg, and it is all up with the Orléans at Paris,"--the Duke was
carried away by a feeling of ambition, patriotism, and exaltation.
Born to glory, he imagined himself divinely summoned to a magnificent
destiny; wide and brilliant horizons opened before him. His eager
imagination was kindled by a hidden flame. In his youthful dreams he saw
himself resuscitating Poland, restoring the glories of the Empire. He
prepared for the part he was to play by studying with Marshal Marmont
the campaigns of Napoleon. These lessons lasted three months, and at
their end the Duke gave his portrait to his father's fellow-soldier, and
copied beneath it four lines from Racine's _Phèdre_, in which Hippolyte
says to Théramène:--

  "Having come to me with a sincere interest,
  You told to me my father's story;
  You know how my soul, attentive to your words,
  Kindled at the recital of his noble exploits."

He was as enthusiastic for poetry as for the military profession. One
day his physician, Dr. Malfatti, quoted to him two lines from the author
of the _Meditations_:--

  "Limited in his nature, infinite in his desires,
  Man is a fallen god who remembers heaven."

"That's a fine thought," said the young prince; "it is as pleasing as
it is striking. I am sorry that I don't know Lamartine's poetry." The
physician promised to send him the _Meditations_. The next day the Duke
read the volume aloud; his eyes moistened and his voice broke when he
came to these lines in which the poet seemed to be addressing him:--

  "Courage, fallen scion of a divine race;
  You carry your celestial origin on your brow;
  Every one who sees you, sees in your eyes
  A darkened ray of heavenly splendor."

And, indeed, every one recognized in him a really extraordinary being;
his face, his gestures, his bearing, all had an imperial air. He seemed
born to rule in a drawing-room as well as in a barracks. He was admired
as well as loved; he was a true son of Caesar, born for success in
love as well as for glory. When he appeared in the ball-room, his pale
coloring, his lively expression, his military bearing, his proud but
quiet manners, the mingled energy and gentleness of his face, attracted
every woman's eye. When he appeared before his soldiers, he filled them
with the wildest enthusiasm. One day when he happened to be riding a
fiery horse at the review of his battalion, his superb appearance made
such an impression on the troops that, although they were accustomed to
maintain a profound silence in the ranks, they suddenly broke out into
shouts of admiration.

Yet in spite of all his ardor it was only at intervals that Napoleon's
son felt hopeful. If at one time he had confidence in his star, this
feeling soon yielded to deep depression. The brilliant prospects evoked
by the events in Poland and in France shone for but a moment, and then
vanished. The court of Vienna recognized the monarchy of July. One day
some one was urging him to go to a ball given by Marshal Maison, the
French minister at the Austrian court. "What should I do," he asked, "at
the house of Louis Philippe's ambassador? Has not his government exiled
and outlawed me? No one there could see me without blushing; and then,
too, what would my feelings be?" He became restless and silent, and
distrusted even his best friends. "Answer me, my friend," he said to his
confidant, Count Prokesch-Osten, "answer me this question,--which is one
of great importance to me just now: What do people think of me? Do
they see in me any justification for the caricatures which are forever
presenting me as a creature of the feeblest intelligence?" Count
Prokesch answered him: "Don't worry. Don't you appear in public every
day? Can even the most ignorant see you and place the slightest
confidence in such fables, which are invented by charlatans without the
least care for truth?" But the young Duke was not consoled, and every
day he lost confidence in his future. Once Count Prokesch-Osten found
him meditating upon his father's will. "The fourth paragraph of the
first article," he said, "contains the guiding principle of my life.
There my father bids me not to forget that I was born a French prince."
And we may be sure that he never forgot it; and if he was so uneasy, if
he suffered keenly, and grief drove him with startling rapidity to the
tomb, it was because he felt that fate condemned him to live and die an
Austrian prince.

His overwrought mind and body soon made him ill. He sought by violent
emotions and excessive fatigue to escape from the thoughts which were
persecuting him like spectres, and driving him to his death. In vain the
physicians commanded rest and quiet. When attacked by an incurable
lung trouble, he required absolute repose: but repose was torture; he
preferred death as a deliverance. Dr. Malfatti, who took the keenest
interest in him, and who was much disturbed by his many imprudences,
entreated him not to throw away wantonly a life which might be so well
and usefully employed. "It is a great pity, sir, that Your Highness," he
said, "can't change bodies as you change horses, when they are tired. I
beg of you to notice that you have a soul of steel in a crystal body,
and that the abuse of your will can only be pernicious to you."

The young invalid did not listen to him: he scarcely slept; his appetite
failed him; he made no account of the weather; he rode the wildest
horses the longest distances. His chest and throat became seriously
affected, but it made no difference; he still wanted to command at the
reviews. His voice was lost: soon he could not even speak; but his
illness did not depress, it only annoyed him. His energetic character
could not accustom itself to the idea of abandoning the struggle. He
fought against suffering as he had fought against fate. "Oh!" he said,
"how I despise this wretched body which cannot obey my soul!" Dr.
Malfatti said, "There seems to be in this unfortunate young man an
active principle impelling him to a sort of suicide; reasoning and
precaution are of no avail against the fatality which urges him on."

The end drew near; the completion of the sacrifice approached. The
victim did not pray that the cup might pass from his lips. He ceased to
struggle against the inevitable, and submitted to his fate, becoming
as gentle and peaceful as a child. As the earth left him, he turned to
heaven. "I understood and felt," said Count Prokesch-Osten, "all the
sublimity there is in religion, which alone could throw a light on this
man's path, through the uncertainty and darkness that surrounded him....
Religion is our staff. We can find no surer support in our journey
through the darkness of our life on earth." He had received from the
Emperor and Empress of Austria a book of prayers, called _Divine
Harmonies_, which he read over and over on his bed of suffering. It
contained these words written by his grandfather's hand: "In every
incident of your life, in every struggle of your soul, may God aid you
with His light and strength; this is the most ardent wish of your loving
grandparents." "This book is very dear to me," the prince said to his
friend, after a serious talk on religious matters; "those words, written
by relatives whom I sincerely respect and thoroughly love, have an
inestimable value for me, and yet I give it to you. I want what I most
value to go to you, in memory of what seems to me the most important of
our conversations."

When he was dying, he wanted to gaze at the crucifix, in order not to
complain of his sad lot, dying thus at the very threshold of a career
which promised to be brilliant and glorious; to go down so early to the
gloomy tomb of the Hapsburgs! To exchange his glowing visions for this
untimely end; to find an Austrian tomb instead of the throne of France!
He accepted his fate, but he wished as few witnesses as possible of his
last sufferings. He did not want to show to the world a son of Napoleon
so weak and broken. He could scarcely lift the weak, worn hand which
should have wielded Charlemagne's sword and sceptre. "I am so weak,"
he said; "I beg of you not to let any one see me in my misery!" His
sumptuous cradle he had given to the Imperial Treasury of Vienna, which
is near the Church of the Capuchins, where he was to be buried. "My
cradle and my grave will be near each other," he said. "My birth and my
death--that's my whole story." In the overthrow, by lightning, of one
of the eagles surmounting the palace of Schoenbrunn, the populace saw a
prophecy of the death there of Napoleon's son, and in fact it was there
that he died, in the room which his father had occupied in 1809, when
possibly for the first time he thought of this Austrian marriage, which
should--such at least was his dream--guarantee to the Napoleonic dynasty
unlimited power and glory. The prince desired only one thing,--to see
his mother. She came, and he greeted her with tenderness. He had also
near him his young and beautiful relative, the Archduchess Sophia, the
mother of the present Emperor of Austria. This charming princess, who
was very fond of the young man who was approaching his end, told him
that the time had come for him to receive the last sacraments. "We will
pray together," she said; "I will pray for you, and you shall pray for
me and for my unborn child." The prince, consoled and strengthened by
the aid of religion, died in the enjoyment of a firm faith and thorough
piety. "Mother, mother!" were his last words. General Hartmann said:
"Having passed my life on battle-fields, I have often seen death, but
I never saw a soldier die more bravely." The 22d of July was a very
momentous date in the career of this young prince. It was July 22, 1818,
that the title of Duke of Reichstadt was substituted for his name of
Napoleon Bonaparte; July 22, 1821, he heard of his father's death;
and July 22, 1832, he died at the age of twenty-one years four months
and two days.

We desire to make five studies of the second wife and the son of
Napoleon I. The first, which we are now beginning, covers a period of
brilliancy of infatuation, of fairy-like splendor, which in all its glow
forms a striking contrast with the dreadful shadows that follow. With
the aid of eye-witnesses whose memoirs abound with most valuable
recollections--such as Prince Metternich, who had the principal charge
of the Archduchess's marriage; M. de Bausset and General de Ségur, both
attached to the Emperor Napoleon's household, so that they saw him
nearly every day; Madame Durand, the Empress's first lady-in-waiting;
Baron de Méneval, his private secretary--with their aid we shall try to
recall the brilliant past, taking for our motto that phrase of Michelet:
"History is a resurrection." An excellent work, which deserves
translation, Von Helfert's _Marie Louise, Empress of the French_, throws
a great deal of light on the early years of the mother of the King of
Rome. In the archives of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs--thanks to the
intelligent and liberal control which facilitates historic research--we
have found a great number of curious documents which had never been
published, such as letters written to Napoleon by the Emperor and
Empress of Austria, and despatches from his ambassador at Vienna, Count
Otto. This first study will carry us to the beginning of the Russian
campaign, that glorious period when the unheard-of prosperity promised
to be eternal. No darker night was ever preceded by a more brilliant
sun. Napoleon said on the rock of Saint Helena: "Marie Louise had a
short reign; but she must have enjoyed it; the world was at her feet."



Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, Empress of the French, Queen of
Italy, afterwards Duchess of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, was born
in Vienna, December 12, 1791, the daughter of Archduke Francis, Prince
Imperial, who a year later became Emperor of Germany under the name of
Francis II., and of Marie Thérèse, Princess of Naples, daughter of King
Ferdinand IV. and Queen Marie Caroline.

Marie Louise's father was born February 12, 1768, a year and a half
earlier than the Emperor Napoleon. He was the grandson of the great
Empress Marie Thérèse, and son of the Emperor Leopold II., who was the
brother of the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, and whom he succeeded
March 1, 1792; his mother was a Spanish princess, a daughter of Charles
III. of Spain. He had four wives. He was an excellent husband, but his
family affections were so strong that he could not remain a widower. In
1788 he married his first wife, Princess Elizabeth Wilhelmina Louisa
of Wurtemberg, who died February 17, 1790, in giving birth to a
daughter who lived but six months. The same year he married by proxy
at Naples, August 15, and September 19 in person at Vienna, the young
Neapolitan princess Marie Thérèse, daughter of Ferdinand IV. and of
Marie Caroline, who ruled over the Two Sicilies.

The young princess, who was born June 6, 1772, was then eighteen years
old. She was kind, virtuous, and well educated, and her influence at the
court of Vienna was most excellent. Her mother, who during her reign of
thirty-six years endured many trials and exhibited great qualities as
well as great faults, was a remarkable woman.

Marie Caroline, the Queen of Naples, was energetic to excess, courageous
to the point of heroism; she believed that severity and sometimes
even cruelty was demanded of a sovereign; her religion amounted to
superstition, her love of authority to despotism; she alternated between
passionate devotion to pleasure and earnest zeal for her duty; she was
ardent in her affections and implacable in resentment, intense in her
joys and in her sorrows; she was often an unwise queen, but as a
mother she was beyond reproach. Like the matrons of antiquity and her
illustrious mother, the Empress Marie Thérèse, she was proud of her
large family; she had no fewer than seventeen children, and political
cares never prevented her actively and intelligently caring for their
moral and physical welfare. If she had not the happiness of seeing them
all grow up, those who survived were yet the constant object of her
tender solicitude. She took a prominent part in the education of her two
sons, the Duke of Calabria and the Prince of Salerno, and still more
in that of her five daughters: Marie Thérèse, the wife of the Emperor
Francis II.; Marie Louise, who married the Archduke Ferdinand, Grand
Duke of Tuscany; Marie Christine, wife of Charles Felix, Duke of Genoa,
later King of Sardinia; Marie Amélie, Duchess of Orleans, then Queen of
France; Marie Antoinette, first wife of the Prince of Asturias, later
Ferdinand VII., King of Spain.

Marie Caroline was very fond of her eldest daughter, Marie Thérèse; and
when the princess had, in 1790, married the Archduke Francis, two years
later Emperor of Germany, the mother and daughter kept up an active and
affectionate correspondence in French. They were forever consulting each
other about their babies, which were born at about the same time. When
the daughter had given birth to her first child, the future French
Empress, the Queen congratulated her most warmly: "I congratulate you on
your courage. I am sure that when you look at your baby, which I hear
is large, sturdy, and strong, that you forget all that you have been
through." Scarcely was this child born than the Queen, who was most
anxious to have a number of descendants, besought her daughter to give
the Archduchess Marie Louise a little brother. April 17, 1793, there
was born an Archduke Ferdinand, later Emperor of Germany; and his
grandmother, Queen Marie Caroline, wrote: "I wept for joy! Thank Heaven
for the birth of this boy!" Indeed, the wife of the Emperor Francis
II. followed her mother's example with regard to her own children.
Her eldest daughter, the Archduchess Marie Louise, she educated most
carefully. The little princess, who had a most amiable disposition, was
an eager student, and acquired a good knowledge of French, English,
Italian, drawing, and music. She was brought up to respect religion and
to detest revolutionary ideas.

Her grandmother, Queen Marie Caroline, who in 1800 came to visit the
Austrian court and stayed there two years, had many conversations with
Marie Louise, which certainly were unlikely to inspire her with any
taste for the French Revolution or for General Bonaparte. It is easy to
understand how extremely the high-spirited and haughty Queen of the Two
Sicilies must have been distressed and revolted by the sufferings and
death of her sister, Marie Antoinette. There was something very solemn
in the way in which she told her children what took place in Paris
October 16, 1793. She had them all summoned. They found her dressed in
deep black, with tears in her eyes; and she led them without a word to
the chapel in the royal palace of Naples, and there, before the altar,
she told them that the people of regicides had just put their aunt to
death upon the scaffold. Then she bade them all to pray together for
the peace of the victim's soul, and probably there mingled with Marie
Caroline's prayer thoughts of wrath and vengeance. From that time
she waged against the principles and the spread of the Revolution a
relentless, implacable war, of varying result, which filled her more and
more with detestation of the new France. On the occasion of Bonaparte's
expedition to Egypt, she deemed the time ripe for a general uprising in
Italy against the French. But Championnet had taken possession of Naples
when the Parthenopean Republic had been proclaimed, and the Queen had
been obliged, with her family, to take refuge at Palermo.

In the next year, 1799, the conditions of things changed; and while
Milan was recovered by Austria, and the Russian army, led by Suwarow,
completed the expulsion of the French from Northern and Southern Italy,
the Parthenopean Republic expired, and the Bourbon flag waved once more
over the walls of Naples.

Early in 1800 the French cause seemed forever lost in Italy; General
Masséna alone held out at Genoa. Queen Marie Caroline had triumphed; and
she conceived the plan of going to Austria to visit her daughter, the
Empress, and to make the acquaintance of her grandchildren, whom she
had never seen, and at the same time to demand an enlargement of her
territory in return for the sacrifices of the Kingdom of the Two
Sicilies in behalf of the common cause of the crowned heads and the
Pope. She set sail from Palermo, June 9, 1800, with her second son, the
Prince of Salerno, and her three unmarried daughters, Marie Christine,
Marie Amélie, and Marie Antoinette.

The ideas, the feelings, the principles, the prejudices, the hates, the
hopes, the interests, of Queen Marie Caroline were the same as those of
her son-in-law, the Emperor, of her daughter, the Empress, and of her
other daughter, the Grand Duchess of Tuscany. At Vienna she found the
same political feelings as at Naples. On her way thither she had a great
joy,--the news of the surrender of the French at Genoa, which caused
her to utter cries of delight; and a great sorrow,--the tidings of
the Austrian defeat at Marengo, which was such a blow that she fell
unconscious and narrowly escaped dying of apoplexy. We may readily
understand the influence which a woman of this character must have
had on the mind of her daughter, the Empress of Germany, and of her
granddaughter, the future Empress of the French. Doubtless the young
Marie Louise would have been much astonished if any one had prophesied
to her that she would marry this Bonaparte who was represented to her as
a monster. Marie Caroline did not leave Schoenbrunn to return to her own
kingdom until July 29, 1802. For two years she had worked persistently
and not without success, to augment, if that was possible, the
detestation which the court, the aristocracy, and the whole Austrian
people felt for France and French ideas. When Marie Louise was a child,
and with her little brothers and sisters used to play with toy-soldiers,
the ugliest, blackest, and most repulsive of them was always picked out
and called Bonaparte, and this one they used to prick with pins and
denounce in every way.

The war of 1805, which brought Austria to the brink of ruin, added to
the Archduchess's instinctive repulsion for Napoleon. At Vienna the
panic was extreme; the Imperial family was obliged to flee in different
directions. Marie Louise was only fourteen years old, and she was
already learning bitter lessons at the school of experience. Seeking
shelter in Hungary, and afterwards in Galicia, she prayed most warmly
for the success of the Austrians. She wrote: "Papa must be finally
successful, and the time must come when the usurper will lose heart.
Perhaps God has let him go so far to make his ruin more complete when
He shall have abandoned him." November 21, 1805, a few days before the
battle of Austerlitz, she wrote a letter to her governess's husband,
Count Colloredo, in which she said: "God must be very wroth with us,
since He punishes us so sorely. Perhaps at this very moment there is
living in one of our rooms at Schoenbrunn one of those generals who are
as treacherous as cats. Our family is all scattered: my dear parents are
at Olmütz; we are at Kaschan; there is a third colony at Ofen."

Every sort of misfortune combined to smite this suffering family. While
the Emperor Francis was losing the battle of Austerlitz, his wife, who
was in Silesia, with only one of her children, the little Archduchess
Leopoldine, who was born in 1797 and was not yet eight years old, fell
seriously ill with the measles, and dreaded giving the disease to her
little girl. "The only thing which would make death terrible," she wrote
to her husband, "would be to die without seeing you again.... Do not
take a step that will injure you or the country. Only don't let me be
taken to France." Nothing disturbed her so much as the dread of falling
into the hands of the enemy. The details which her husband wrote to her
about his interview with Napoleon did not allay her uneasiness. "I have
been as happy," he wrote, "as I could hope to be with a conqueror who
holds possession of a large part of my kingdom. With regard to his
treatment of me and mine, he has been very kind. It is easy to see that
he is not a Frenchman." Thus the Emperor Francis ascribed to Napoleon's
Italian birth the politeness with which the hero of Austerlitz treated
him. Does not this simple statement suffice to show in what esteem the
German sovereign held France and the French character?

The Imperial family was at last reunited in Vienna, after many
vicissitudes, early in 1806. But a new misfortune awaited them the
following year. The Empress, whose health was already delicate, had a
miscarriage April 9, 1807, and a pleurisy which seized her carried her
off in four days, in due odor of sanctity, after she had given her
blessing to Marie Louise and the rest of her children. She was only
thirty-five. The untimely death of the amiable and virtuous princess,
whose gayety and kindness had been the life and delight of the court,
plunged her whole family into deep grief.

The Emperor Francis was an excellent husband, but he was not an
inconsolable widower. April 13, 1807, he lost his second wife; but less
than nine months afterwards, January 6, 1808, he married his young
cousin, Marie Louise Beatrice of Este, daughter of the late Archduke
Ferdinand of Modena. This princess, who was born December 14, 1787, was
very short, but attractive in appearance and of an excellent character.
Her disposition was pleasant and her intelligence acute, but she was not
the woman to give Marie Louise any taste for France or the French; for
if in all Europe there was a princess who utterly detested the French
Revolution and all its works, it was the third wife of Francis II.

The new Empress was but four years older than her step-daughter, Marie
Louise, and at the age of twenty-one, she looked much more like the
sister than the step-mother of the young Archduchess, who was then
in her seventeenth year. Nevertheless, the Empress took hold of the
princess's education with a high hand, and displayed as much solicitude
as if she had been her real mother.



The Emperor Francis was not without distractions during his honeymoon
with his third wife, the young Empress, Marie Louise Beatrice. It was
evident to every one that the Peace of Presbourg, like that of
Lunéville, could be nothing more than a truce. Austria could never be
reconciled to its loss, between 1792 and 1806, of the Low Countries,
Suabia, Milan, the Venetian States, Tyrol, Dalmatia, and finally of the
Imperial crown of Germany; for the heir of the Germanic Caesars now
styled himself simply the Emperor of Austria, and a great part of
Germany had become the humble vassal of Napoleon. Of all the Austrians,
it was perhaps the Emperor who felt the least hatred of France. His
whole family and his whole people--nobles, priests, the middle classes,
and the peasantry--nourished an angry resentment against the nation that
was overturning Europe. The new Empress, whose family had been deprived
of the Duchy of Modena, was conspicuous for the bitterness of her
indignation and of her political feelings. In the eyes of all the
Austrians, great or small, poor or rich, the French were the hereditary
enemies, the invaders, the destroyers of the throne and the Church,
impious, sacrilegious, revolutionary,--the authors of every evil. It was
they who, for years, destroyed the harvests, shed torrents of blood,
smote with the sword or the axe of the guillotine, crowded war upon war,
heaped ruins upon ruins, bringing misery and disgrace to all mankind.
The old nobility, once so proud of its coats-of-arms and of its
sovereign rights, now enslaved, humiliated, shorn of its independence,
knew no limit to its abuse of the "Corsican savage," who had cut the
roots of the old Germanic tree, previously so majestic. The priests
denounced the nation which had dared to confiscate the patrimony of
Saint Peter, and they cursed in Napoleon the persecutor of the Holy
Vicar of Christ. Women who had lost their husbands or sons in the war
held France responsible for their afflictions. The Frenchmen,
overthrowing and despoiling everything, foes of the human race, the
enemies of morality and religion, brought suffering to princes in their
palaces, to workmen in their factories, to tradespeople in their shops,
to the priests in their churches, to the soldiers in their camps, to the
peasants in their huts. The war of wrath was irresistible. Every one
lamented the mistake that had been made in abandoning the struggle; all
felt that they should have fought to the end, at the cost of every man
and every florin; that a mistake had been made in not assisting Prussia
at the time of the campaign of Jena; and that the moment had come for
all the powers to combine against the common foe and to crush him. Did
he make any pretence of concealing his intention to overthrow every
throne, and to make himself the oldest sovereign? Had he not had the
insolence to say at Milan in 1805, to the Prince of Cardito, the
Neapolitan envoy extraordinary, "Tell your Queen that I shall leave to
her and her family only enough land for their graves"? Had he not
recently, under the walls of Madrid, uttered these significant words to
the Spaniards, "If you don't want my brother Joseph for king, I shall
not force him upon you. I have another throne for him; and as for you, I
shall treat you as a conquered country"? This other throne, it was said
at Vienna, this throne which Napoleon did not name, must be the throne
of the Emperor Francis II. himself. Already the Imperial crown of
Germany had been lost, and the Austrian crown was threatened. But, added
all the archdukes and officers, that would not be so easy as the French
imagined, and they would get a good lesson. The Hapsburgs were not so
compliant as the Spanish Bourbons, and the Bayonne ambush could not be
repeated. All Europe was thrilling with indignation; only a signal was
needed for it to rise, and this signal Austria would give. This time
there was every chance of success. Their cry was "Victory or Death!" but
victory was certain. The French army, scattered from the Oder to the
Tagus, from the mountains of Bohemia to the Sierra Morena, would not be
able to withstand so many people eager to break their yoke. Were not
Russia and Prussia as desirous as Austria of revenge? Was not the whole
of Germany ready for the fray? Napoleon boasted that he was the
Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine; but if the Confederate
Princes were under his command, in his pay, the people, more patriotic,
more truly German than their rulers, burned with a longing to expel the
French. Let Napoleon suffer but a single defeat, and then on which one
of his vassals would he be able to count? Could he even rely on his own
subjects? Were there not already in his overgrown Empire many germs of
decay and death? In Vienna in 1809 the same things were said as in
Berlin in 1806; the same feelings prevailed. The military ardor had
grown so intense that the greatest soldier of Austria, the Archduke
Charles, was looked upon as too cool, too moderate, and those who were
eager to begin the fight called this bold warrior, this famous general,
the "Prince of Peace." Even if he had wished it, the Emperor Francis
would not have been able to calm the warlike fever of his army and his

The musketry and the cannon would have fired themselves without waiting
for war to be declared. The Landwehr, which had been organized only
a few months, was impatient to cross swords with the veterans of the
French army. Volunteers enlisted in crowds; patriotic gifts abounded. A
story was told of a cobbler who, in despair at not being permitted to
join the army, blew out his brains. Youths wished to leave school in
order to serve. All classes of society rivalled one another in zeal,
courage, and self-sacrifice. When it was known that the Archduke Charles
had been appointed commander-in-chief, February 20, 1809, there was an
outburst of confidence from one end of the Empire to the other. March 9,
the Archbishop of Vienna solemnly blessed in the Cathedral the flags of
the Viennese Landwehr. Together with the other members of the Imperial
family, the young Archduchess Marie Louise was present at this patriotic
and religious ceremony. Could she have imagined that one year later, to
the delight of the vast majority of this same populace of Vienna, she
was to become the wife of this Napoleon who then was calling forth such
violent wrath and deep hatred?

Never was there such a terrible war; never perhaps had the world seen
such slaughter. April 8, 1809, the Emperor Francis left his capital,
leaving there his wife and children, who were not able to stay there
after the fifth of May. From Vienna the Archduchess Marie Louise wrote
frequently to her father. A rumor had spread that the battle of Eckmühl
had been a brilliant victory for the Austrians, and Marie Louise wrote
to her father, April 25: "We have heard with delight that Napoleon was
present at the great battle which the French lost. May he lose his head
as well! There are a great many prophecies about his speedy end, and
people say that the Apocalypse applies to him. They maintain that he is
going to die this year at Cologne, in an inn called the 'Red Crawfish.'
I do not attach much importance to these prophecies, but how glad
I should be to see them come true!" These sentiments, it must be
confessed, are a singular preparation for the next year's wedding.

When the Empress of Austria was compelled to leave Vienna with her
children at the approach of the enemy, she had more the appearance of an
exile than of a sovereign. She was very ill at the time, and scarcely
able to support the jolting of her carriage, and she groaned
continually, as much from her moral as from her physical sufferings. "It
is horrible," said Marie Louise, "to see her suffer so." It rained in
torrents, and the thunder roared as if to foretell all the misfortunes
which were about to overwhelm the country. The roads, made still worse
by the bad weather, were abominable. When the fugitives reached Buda,
after a long and difficult journey, they were wet through, and nearly
worn out with fatigue.

The illusions of the Imperial family were speedily destroyed by the
harsh reality. Vienna surrendered May 12, after suffering severely. In
a few hours eighteen hundred shells had fallen in the city. The streets
were narrow, the houses high, and the populace crowded within the narrow
fortifications were terrified and infuriated at the sight of the damage
caused by the shells, which started fires in every direction. Who
would have said to the Viennese who were then hurling all manner of
imprecations at Napoleon, the author of their woes, that in ten months
later they would be singing the praise of this detested Emperor, and
would be voluntarily setting French flags in their windows as symbols
of friendship? May 13, 1809, the French, under the command of General
Oudinot, entered Vienna, amid the curses and execrations of the populace
beside itself with grief; and ten months later to a day, March 13, 1810,
the same populace, joyous and peaceful, with bells ringing and cannon
saluting, blessed and applauded an archduchess who was leaving Vienna to
share this same Napoleon's throne!

But meanwhile there were many horrors, and much blood was shed. The
artillery duel was most formidable; there was no limit to the fury and
obstinacy of the two combatants. It was a war of giants in which all
the infernal powers appeared to be let loose at once. Napoleon himself,
familiar as he was with scenes of carnage, was surprised by the
bitterness of the struggle. Never had he defied fortune with such
audacity. Neglecting the usual laws of military science, he fought for
twenty-four hours without cessation, on a line only three leagues long,
having in his rear one of the largest rivers in Europe. Wagram was
a victory, but a victory hotly disputed. When at the opening of the
campaign it was thought that events would take a turn favorable to
Austria, a thrill of hope, a movement of joy, ran through all the
European nations, which showed the conqueror what would have happened
if he had been beaten. He began to long for peace as ardently as he had
longed for war. He no longer thought of making Austria, Hungary, and
Bohemia three separate kingdoms, or of dethroning the Emperor Francis,
and putting in his place his brother, the Grand Duke of Würzburg,
formerly the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Austrians, for whom he had felt
a certain contempt, now inspired him with profound esteem; he admired
their bravery, and especially the fidelity, of which they had given many
touching proofs, to their unfortunate ruler. The hero of Wagram said to
himself that if instead of gaining this battle he had lost it, he would
not have gone back to the Tuileries as easily as Francis was going back
to his palace in Vienna. An Emperor of Austria could be beaten and
retain his popularity; but he, the great Napoleon, could not. That
was the reflection which was made one day by his successor, himself a
prisoner of Prussia, "In France one cannot be unfortunate."

When the negotiations began to arrange peace, Napoleon treated the two
distinguished officers, Prince John of Lichtenstein and General von
Bubna, with the utmost courtesy. He spared no pains to show his personal
esteem and to flatter their national pride; he spoke in the highest
terms of the Austrian army and of the bravery it had displayed in the
last campaign. He said to them: "You will always remain the first
continental power, after France; you are deucedly strong. Allied as
I was with Russia, I never expected to have on my hands a serious
continental war, and what a war!" Then to console them for the
conditions imposed on mutilated Austria, he added: "Why distress
yourselves about a few scraps of territory which must come back to you
some day? All this can only last during my lifetime. France ought never
to fight beyond the Rhine. I have been able to; but when I'm gone, it's
all over." Perhaps he was thinking of marrying Marie Louise; at any
rate, he showed a consideration for Prince John of Lichtenstein
and General Bubna which amazed all who saw it. M. de Bausset, who
accompanied him as a gentleman-in-waiting, says in his Memoirs: "I
watched attentively the two Austrian commissioners while they were
breakfasting with the Emperor: I tried to read their expressions, and
I fancied that I saw harmony and a good understanding growing day by
day.... Napoleon's politeness and graciousness towards these gentlemen
never relaxed for a moment. He seemed anxious to give them a favorable
idea of his manners and his person." Nevertheless there were many
patriotic men and women in Austria who were inconsolable. Princess
Charles of Schwarzenberg--the wife of the brilliant general who had
just fought like a hero, and, in the next year, as Austrian ambassador
at the court of the Tuileries Avas to negotiate the marriage of Napoleon
and Marie Louise--wrote a most despairing letter to her husband, in
which she said: "I shall bury myself in the past in order to escape
the present and the future. I have heard that you were to be chosen to
negotiate this so-called peace; it was a heavenly grace by which you
escaped sullying your name. To conclude, I have only one earthly wish:
it is that the ruin which we are cowardly enough to call a peace, may
become complete, that our political existence may end. I pray for the
calm of death."

Napoleon was about leaving Schoenbrunn, to return to France, when,
October 12, 1809, just as he was about to review his troops, he saw
approaching him a young German, of suspicious appearance, who was at
once arrested. This young man, whose name was Staaps, was the son of a
Protestant pastor at Erfurt, and under his coat was found a large, sharp
dagger, with which he said he had intended to kill the Emperor, in order
to deliver Germany. The cool, calm replies of this determined fanatic,
whom Napoleon himself examined, made a deep impression upon him. Might
not this young German be the forerunner of numberless volunteers who
were about to organize against France what they would consider a holy
war? At the sight of this youth, who gave calm expression to unrelenting
hatred, Napoleon--who did not venture to spare his life, although no
criminal act had been committed--was moved by a painful feeling in which
pity was mingled with surprise. He who had cost Germany such torrents
of blood and tears was singularly astonished when at last he saw that
Germany did not love him. Nothing is so repugnant to the great of the
earth, and especially to conquerors, as the thought of death,--death,
the only unconquerable foe! What, the first comer, a fool, a vulgar
fanatic, can with a kitchen knife lay low the greatest hero, the most
illustrious warrior, the mightiest king! At Regensberg, when he was
wounded for the first time since he had begun his military career, the
hero of so many battles perceived, and not without a pang, that he was
not invulnerable. Before the corpse of the brave Marshal Lannes, who had
had his two legs carried off by a cannon-ball at Esoling, he wrote very
sadly to the Empress Josephine: "So everything ends!" And now he might
himself have fallen by the hand of a poor, unknown student! As the
Duchess of Abrantès wrote: "Death, which was always prowling about the
Emperor in various forms, yet never daring to seize him, but always
appearing to say, Take care! ... was a prophecy, and a prophecy of
evil." Napoleon began to reflect seriously. To audacity and the
spirit of adventure there suddenly succeeded prudence and the need of
self-preservation. The all-powerful Emperor said to himself at the
moment of his triumph, that if he were to die without a direct heir, his
vast Empire would fall to pieces, like that of Alexander the Great,
and the unrivalled edifice, built at the price of so much toil and
sacrifice, would be shattered.

The national historian has said: "In proportion as he lost the support
of the public, Napoleon took pleasure in thinking that it was the lack
of a future and not his own misdeeds that threatened his proud throne
with premature fragility. The desire to make firm what he felt trembling
beneath his feet, became his dominant passion, as if, with a new wife in
the Tuileries, the mother of a male heir, the faults which had armed
the whole world against him would be only causes without effects."
And Thiers adds this reflection: "It would doubtless have been to his
advantage to have had an undoubted heir; it would have been better, a
hundred times better, to have been prudent and wise. Napoleon, who,
despite his need of a son, could not, after Tilsit, at the very climax
of his power and glory, make up his mind to sacrifice Josephine, at last
came to a decision because he felt the Empire threatened, and he tried
in a new marriage to secure the solidity which he should have tried to
obtain by wise and moderate conduct."

Possibly even when at Schoenbrunn the conqueror already thought of
asking for the hand of the young archduchess whose home this palace was.
At any rate, it never crossed his mind that in the very room where he
wove such proud visions, such far-reaching plans, his heir would die so
sadly, the heir whom the daughter of the Germanic Caesars was to give to
him. When he reappeared crowned with victory at Fontainebleau, October
26, 1809, Josephine felt that her fate was sealed. The immediate result
of the battle of Wagram was the divorce.



Austria had known terrible fears during the campaign of Wagram; it had
asked anxiously, whether the Hapsburgs might not disappear from the list
of crowned heads, like the Spanish Bourbons, or might not, like the
Neapolitan Bourbons, be left to enjoy only part of their States. The
peace which was signed at Vienna, October 14, 1809, had somewhat allayed
these serious apprehensions, but the situation of Austria remained no
less anxious and painful. As Prince Metternich has said in his curious
Memoirs: "The so-called Peace of Vienna had enclosed the Empire in
an iron circle, cutting off its communication with the Adriatic, and
surrounding it from Brody, on the extreme northeast, towards Russia,
to the southeastern frontiers toward the Ottoman Empire, with a row of
states under Napoleon's rule, or under his direct influence. The Empire,
as if caught in a vice, was not free to move in any direction; moreover,
the conqueror had done all he could to prevent the defeated nation
from renewing its strength; a secret article of the treaty of peace
established one hundred and fifty thousand men as the maximum force of
the Austrian army."

A still darker danger threatened the throne of the Hapsburgs; namely,
the marriage, which was thought very probable and very near, of Napoleon
with the sister of the Czar. Thus imprisoned between two vast empires,
between that of the East and that of the West, as if between hammer and
anvil, what would become of Austria, shorn of its territory and its

There was but one chance, and a very faint one, of any defence against
the dangers that threatened Austria, and that was, that the Viennese
court might make the match which the Russian court was contemplating.
Already, its matrimonial alliances had brought the country good fortune
more than once, and it could not forget the famous maxim expressed in a
Latin line--

  "_Bella gerant alii; tu felix Austria, nube!_"
  "Let others wage war; do you, happy Austria, marry!"

The last campaigns had been unfavorable to the Hapsburg dynasty; a
marriage would set things to right.

At Vienna a party which may be called the peace party had come to power.
Mr. von Stadion, a statesman of warlike tendencies, had been succeeded
in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by a young and brilliant diplomatist,
Count Metternich. The new minister had been ambassador to Paris before
the campaign of Wagram, and, while he had been unable to prevent the
war, he had left a very favorable impression at Napoleon's court, where
his success as a man of the world, as a great nobleman, had been very
brilliant. He then, in the lifetime of his father, Prince Metternich,
bore only the title of Count. In his desire to attest his belief in the
possibility of a reconciliation between Austria and Napoleon, he had
left his wife, Countess Metternich, in France during the war. When
he came to power, he conceived a political plan which was founded,
temporarily at least, if not finally, on a French alliance. But to
secure all the benefits which he hoped to get from it, Napoleon's
marriage with an Austrian princess was necessary; and Metternich, who
was aware of the negotiations between the French and Russian courts,
was not inclined to believe in the possibility of a marriage between an
Austrian Archduchess and the hero of Wagram. Neither before nor after
the conclusion of the Treaty of Vienna was a word spoken about this
plan, either by Napoleon or by the Austrian court.

The Emperor of the French had absolutely decided on a divorce; but he
still thought that it was the Grand Duchess Anne, sister of the Emperor
Alexander of Russia, who was going to succeed Josephine. On the occasion
of the interview at Erfurt he had spoken of this marriage, and the Czar
appeared to be most favorable to the plan. November 22, 1809, the Duke
of Cadore, Minister of Foreign Affairs, forwarded this despatch to the
Duke of Vicenza, French Ambassador at Saint Petersburg: "Rumors of the
divorce reached the ears of the Emperor Alexander at Erfurt, and he
spoke to the Emperor on the subject, saying that his, sister Anne was at
his disposition. His Majesty desires you to broach the subject frankly
and simply with the Emperor Alexander, and to address him in these
terms: 'Sire, I have reason to think that the Emperor, urged by the
whole of France, is making ready for a divorce. May I ask what may be
counted on in regard of your sister? Will not Your Majesty consider the
question for two days and then give me a frank reply, not as to the
French Ambassador, but as to a person interested in the two families? I
am not making a formal demand, but rather requesting the expression
of your intentions. I venture, Sire, upon this step, because I am so
accustomed to say what I think to Your Majesty that I have no fear of
compromising myself.'

"You will not mention the subject to M. de Romanzoff on any pretext
whatsoever, and when you shall have had this conversation with the
Emperor Alexander, and shall have received his answer two days later,
you will entirely forget this communication that I am making. You will,
in addition, inform me concerning the qualities of the young Princess,
and especially when she may be expected to become a mother; for in the
present state of affairs, six months' difference is of great importance.
I need not recommend to Your Excellency the most complete secrecy; you
know what you owe to the Emperor in this respect."

At that time couriers took two weeks to go from Paris to Saint
Petersburg, and the answer to the despatch of November 22 had not yet
arrived when Napoleon, who did not yet know who his second wife was to
be, announced to Josephine, November 30, that divorce was inevitable.
The unhappy Empress received for the last time at the Tuileries, which
she was to leave forever, in the morning of December 16. The reception
was drawing to an end. Among those who were waiting on the grand
staircase or in the vestibule for their carriages to be announced, there
happened to be standing together M. de Sémonville, a young man of some
prominence in the court, and M. de Floret, a young secretary of the
Austrian legation. Everybody imagined then that the marriage with the
Grand Duchess of Russia was settled. Suddenly, in this crowd of great
personages, M. de Sémonville began the following conversation with the
Austrian diplomatist:--

"Well, that's fixed. Why didn't _you_ do it?"

"Who says that we didn't want to?"

"People think so. Are they wrong?"


"What? It would be possible? You may think so; but the Ambassador?"

"I will answer for Prince Schwarzenberg."

"But Count Metternich?"

"There is no difficulty about him."

"But the Emperor?"

"Or about him, either."

"And the Empress, who hates us?"

"You don't know her; she is ambitious, and could be persuaded."

M. de Sémonville started at once to report this curious conversation to
his friend, the Duke of Bassano, who at once hastened to speak of it to
the Emperor. Napoleon appeared pleased, but not astonished. He said that
he had just heard the same thing from Vienna.

This is what had happened in the Austrian capital: the Count of Narbonne
had been passing through before going to Munich, where he was to
represent France as Minister Plenipotentiary. This amiable and
distinguished man, of whom M. Villemain has written an excellent life,
had succeeded in attracting Napoleon's favor, and after receiving an
appointment as general in the French army, he had been made ambassador
and one of the Emperor's aides-de-camp. M. de Narbonne, who was a model
of refinement and bravery, had been one of the ornaments of the court
of Versailles and of the Constituent Assembly. He had been a Knight of
Honor of Madame Adelaide, the daughter of Louis XV.; Minister of War
under Louis XVI., in 1792; a friend of Madame de Staël; an émigré in
England, Switzerland, and Germany; and in 1809, thanks to Napoleon's
good-will, he had once more resumed his military career, after an
interruption of seventeen years. Towards the end of the campaign the
Emperor had sent him as governor to Raab, to keep an eye on Hungary and
Bohemia, and in case Austria should refuse to accept the conditions
imposed by her conqueror, to proclaim the independence of those two
countries. The peace once signed, General the Count of Narbonne went to
Vienna, where he met two of his best friends,--the Prince of Ligne, who
had been one of the favorites of Marie Antoinette, and the Count of
Lamarck, who had been a confidant of Mirabeau. One day when he was
dining with them, and Prince Metternich and a few other intimate
friends, the conversation turned to politics. The Austrian Minister
congratulated himself on the peace, which, he said, made the future
sure, and cut short all danger of trouble and anarchy. The Prince of
Ligne expressed similar views. Then M. de Narbonne spoke out somewhat as
follows: "Gentlemen, I am surprised by your recent astonishment and your
present confidence. Is it possible that you are too blind to see that
every peace, easy or hard, is nothing more than a brief truce? that for
a long time we are hastening to one conclusion, of which peace is but
one of the stations? This conclusion is the subjugation of the whole
of Europe under two mighty empires. You have seen the swift growth and
progress of one of these empires since 1800. As to the other, it is not
yet determined. It will be either Austria or Russia, according to the
results of the Peace of Vienna; for this peace is a danger if it is not
the foundation of a closer alliance, of a family alliance, and does not
finally restore more than its beginning took away; in a word, you are
ill advised if you hesitate in your leaning towards France."

The next morning the Count of Narbonne was summoned to the Emperor
Francis II., and the Austrian monarch indicated the possibility of a
marriage between Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie Louise. The Count of
Narbonne approved, and eloquently expressed his conviction that such a
happy result as confiding once more an Archduchess to France would at
last decide Napoleon to remain at peace, instead of forever hazarding
his glory, and to work for the welfare of the people in harmony with
the wise and virtuous monarch whose adopted son he would become. M. de
Narbonne sent a note of this conversation to Fouché, to be shown to the
Emperor, who thus had knowledge of the secret plans of the Viennese
court six weeks before the meeting over which he presided at the
Tuileries, to ask his councillors their opinion on the choice of an

Since the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two powers, the
Austrian Ambassador in Paris had been Prince Charles of Schwarzenberg,
the warrior and statesman who later, as commander-in-chief of the
Austrian forces, was to deal such heavy blows to France. In 1810 he was
all for peace, and his sole aim was to undermine, for the good of his
country, the influence of his Russian colleague, Prince Kourakine. The
Austrian Ambassador was very anxious that the Archduchess Marie Louise
should become Empress of the French; for he was convinced that such an
event would be of as much benefit to him as to his country. Yet he was
still afraid to hope for the realization of his dream, when one of his
friends, Count Alexandra de Laborde--who, after serving as an émigré, in
the Austrian army, had returned to France and been appointed Master of
Requests in the Council of State, encouraged him in his ideas which
might at first have seemed fanciful, M. de Laborde, whose father had
been court-banker before the Revolution, and had most generously aided
Marie Antoinette, was well known and much liked in Vienna. In this
matter of the marriage of Marie Louise he was the secret agent between
Napoleon's Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prince of Schwarzenberg,
in whom he kindled so much zeal in behalf of the French alliance that
the Ambassador, as we shall soon see, signed the marriage contract
of the Archduchess with Napoleon, even before he had received the
authorization of his government.

December 17, 1809, nothing had been decided. Indeed, what seemed
probable, if not certain, was the Russian marriage. That day--the day
when there appeared in the _Moniteur_ the decree of the Senate relative
to the divorce--a new despatch had been sent from Paris to Saint
Petersburg by the Duke of Cadore, to demand a speedy reply from the
Russian court, yes or no. The answer of the Duke of Vicenza to the first
despatch, that of November 22, 1809, did not reach Paris until December
28. The Ambassador said that the Czar had received his overtures very
amiably, but that the affair needed much discretion and a little
patience. The Emperor Alexander, he went on to say, was personally
favorable; but his mother, whom he did not wish to offend, refused her
consent, and the Czar asked for a few days before giving a final answer.
This delay vexed Napoleon, who nevertheless resolved to wait, although
waiting suited neither his tastes nor his character.

In short, at the beginning of 1810, the matrimonial alliance with
Austria was not settled. The initiative steps had not been taken by the
monarch, the ministers of Foreign Affairs, or by the ambassadors. It is
a curious and characteristic detail, that it was the divorced Empress,
Josephine, who gave the signal. She summoned the Countess Metternich
to Malmaison, January 2, 1810, and said to her: "I have a plan which
interests me to the exclusion of everything else, and nothing but its
success can make me feel that the sacrifice I have just made is not
wholly thrown away: it is that the Emperor shall marry your Archduchess;
I spoke to him about it yesterday, and he said that his choice was
not yet made. But I think it would be made, if he were sure of being
accepted by you." Madame de Metternich was much surprised by this
overture, which she hastened to communicate to her husband in a letter
dated January 3, 1810, which began thus: "To-day I have some very
extraordinary things to tell you, and I am almost sure that my letter
will make a very important part of your despatches. In the first place,
I must tell you that I was presented to the Emperor last Sunday. I had
only mentioned the matter in conversation with Champagny when I received
a letter from M. de Ségur, telling me that the Emperor had appointed
Sunday, and that I was to choose a lady-in-waiting to present me. In my
wisdom I selected the Duchess of Bassano, and after waiting in company
with twenty other women, among whom were the Princess of Isenburg,
Madame de Tyskiewitz and others, from two till half-past six in the
evening, I was introduced first, and the Emperor received me in a way I
could not have expected. He seemed really glad to see me again, and glad
that I had stayed here during the war; he spoke about you and said, 'M.
de Metternich holds the first place in the Empire; he knows the country
well and can be of service to it.'"

Then the Countess went on to narrate what the Empress Josephine and
Queen Hortense had said the evening before at Malmaison. She had been
received by Hortense while waiting in the drawing-room for Josephine to
come down, and she had been much astounded to hear the Queen of Holland
say with much warmth: "You know that we are all Austrians at heart, but
you would never guess that my brother has had the courage to advise the
Emperor to ask for the hand of your Archduchess." Josephine frequently
referred to this projected marriage, on which she seemed to have set her
heart. "Yes," she said, "we must try to arrange it." Then she expressed
her regret that M. de Metternich was not in Paris; for if he had been,
doubtless he would bring the affair to a happy conclusion. "Your Emperor
must be made to see," she went on, "that his ruin and the ruin of his
country are certain if he does not give his consent to this marriage. It
is perhaps the only way of preventing Napoleon from breaking with the
Holy See."

The letter of the Countess Metternich ended thus: "I have not seen
the Queen of Holland again, because she is ill. Hence I have nothing
positive to tell you concerning the matter in question; but if I wanted
to tell you all the honors that have been showered upon me, I should
not stop so soon. At the last levee I played with the Emperor; you may
imagine that it was a serious matter for me, but I managed to come
off with glory. He began by praising my diamond headband, and that
everlasting gold dress, then he asked me a number of questions about my
family and all my relatives; he insisted, in spite of all I could say,
that Louis von Kaunitz was my brother. You can't imagine what effect
that little game of cards had. When it was over, I was surrounded and
paid court to by all the great dignitaries, marshals, ministers, etc. I
had abundant material for philosophical reflections on the vicissitude
of human affairs."

Nevertheless, in spite of the overtures which Josephine had made to the
Countess Metternich, Napoleon had come to no decision about his new
wife. One day when he had been working with M. Daru, whom he highly
esteemed, he had the following conversation with him:--

"In your opinion which would be the better for me, to marry the Russian
or the Austrian?"


"The devil! You are very hard to please."

"Neither, I say, but a Frenchwoman; and provided the new Empress does
not have too many relatives who will have to be made princes and given a
large fortune, France will approve your choice. The throne you occupy is
like no other; you have erected it with your own hands. You are at the
head of a generous nation; your glory and its glory ought to be
shared in common. It is not by imitating other monarchs, it is by
distinguishing yourself, that you find your real greatness. You do not
rule by the same title that they do; you ought not to marry as they do.
The nation would be flattered by your looking at home for an Empress,
and it would always see in your line a thoroughly French family."

"Come, come! that's nonsense! If M. de Talleyrand should hear you, he
would form a very poor idea of your political sagacity. You don't treat
this question like a statesman. I must unite in defence of my crown
those at home and abroad who are still hostile to it; and my marriage
furnishes a chance. Do you imagine that monarchs' marriages are matters
of sentiment? No; they are matters of politics. Mine cannot be
decided by motives of internal policy; I must try to establish my
influence outside, and to extend it by a close alliance with a powerful

No answer had come from Russia, no official overture had been made to or
by Austria; still Napoleon continued to believe, or at least pretended
to believe, that his only difficulty was to make the best choice. The
idea that two emperors and a king--without counting the other sovereigns
on whom he did not deign to cast a glance--were simultaneously disputing
the honor of allying their family with him, greatly flattered his pride.
In fact, what he desired was the Austrian marriage; but he was anxious
to keep his preferences secret, in order to prolong in the eyes of his
principal councillors, an uncertainty in which his pride did not suffer.
He convoked them to an extraordinary session, at the Tuileries, after
mass, Sunday, January 21, 1810. The great dignitaries of the Empire,--
Champagny, Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Duke of Cadore; Maret, the
Secretary of State; the Duke of Bassano; M. Gamier, the President of the
Senate; and M. de Fontanes, President of the Corps Législatif,--all took
part in this solemn council. The relative advantages and disadvantages
of the Russian, the Saxon, and the Austrian marriage were considered at
great length. The Archtreasurer Lebrun and M. Gamier favored the
daughter of the King of Saxony; the Archchancellor Cambacérès and King
Murat, the Grand Duchess of Russia; M. de Champagny, Prince Talleyrand,
Prince Eugene, the Prince of Neufchâtel and the Duke of Bassano, the
Archduchess Marie Louise. Murat especially distinguished himself by his
violent opposition to the Austrian alliance. Doubtless he was averse to
the selection for Empress of the French of the granddaughter of Queen
Marie Caroline of Naples, whose throne he was occupying. Napoleon
remained calm and impassive. When the meeting was over, he dismissed the
councillors, simply saying: "I shall weigh in my mind the arguments that
you have submitted to me. In any case, I remain convinced that whatever
difference may exist in your views, each one has formed his opinion only
from a desire for the good of the country and devotion to my person."
Thus it was that seventeen years to a day after a king of France who had
married an Austrian archduchess had died on the scaffold, there was
discussed the alliance of a new French ruler with another archduchess,
the grandniece of the other.

Some time later, Cambacérè's, in the course of a conversation with M.
Pasquier, then Counsellor of State, gave utterance to his regret at
having failed to impress upon his hearers the superior advantages of the
Russian alliance. "I am not surprised," he said; "when a man has only
one argument to give, and it is impossible to give it, he must expect to
be beaten.... And you will see that my argument is so good that a single
sentence will show you all its weight. I am morally sure that in less
than two years we shall be at war with the Emperor whose relative we do
not marry. Now war with Austria causes me no anxiety; but I dread war
with Russia; its consequences are incalculable. I know that the Emperor
is familiar with the road to Vienna, but I am not so sure that he will
find the road to St. Petersburg."

After quoting this conversation between Cambacérès and M. Pasquier in
his admirable book, _The Church of Rome and the First Empire_, the Count
d'Haussonville indulges in some philosophic reflections: "If it is
curious to come upon this profound and accurate summary, compressed into
a few clear and precise words by a man of remarkable sagacity dealing
with a future still completely hidden, it is no less strange to think
that the prospect of the Austrian marriage, destined to be so fatal to
the Empire, should be suddenly discussed in a five minutes' talk between
two men who met by chance on the steps of the Tuileries, at the very
moment when the unhappy Josephine was about to leave this spot which
had been so long her home. When we reflect on the course of all the
following events, we may perhaps say that the fate of the Empire was
settled in this eventful quarter of an hour; for if the Emperor had
married the Grand Duchess instead of Marie Louise, probably the campaign
of 1812, which Cambacérès foresaw, would not have taken place, and
Heaven knows what part this unhappy expedition played in the fall of the
First Empire!"

How insufficient is human wisdom, how false its calculations! This
Austrian marriage which discouraged the bitterest enemies of the hero of
Austerlitz, of Jena, of Wagram, this magnificent marriage which was to
have been the safeguard of the Empire, proved its ruin. This great event
which called forth abundant congratulations and outbursts of noisy
delight was the main cause of the most tremendous and most
disastrous war of modern times. If he had not blindly counted on
his father-in-law's friendship, would Napoleon, in spite of all his
audacity, have ventured to march to the Russian steppes, without even
taking the precaution of reviving Poland? He himself has said it:
his marriage with the Austrian Archduchess was an abyss covered with

January was drawing to a close; and while in Paris many people were
beginning to regard Napoleon's marriage with Marie Louise as very
probable, the young princess herself had no suspicion of his intentions.
Count Metternich who, like his sovereign, had maintained secrecy about
this delicate matter, wrote to his wife, January 27, 1810: "The
Archduchess is still ignorant, as indeed is proper, of the plans
concerning her, and it is not from the Empress Josephine, who gives
us so many proofs of her confidence, who with so many noble qualities
combines those of a tender mother, that I shall conceal the many
considerations which necessarily present themselves to the Archduchess
Marie Louise when the matter is laid before her. But our princesses
are little accustomed to choose their husbands according to their own
inclinations, and the respect which so fond and so well-trained a
daughter feels for her father's wishes, makes me confident that she will
make no opposition."

The same day, January 27, 1810, the Count Metternich wrote to Prince
Charles of Schwarzenberg, the Austrian Ambassador in Paris, a despatch
which proves that the negotiations concerning the marriage had not yet
begun: "It is with great interest that his Imperial Majesty has heard
the details which Your Highness has communicated to him in his last
despatches, on the question of the marriage of the Emperor of the
French. It would be difficult to form any definite conclusion from the
different data that reach us. It is impossible not to see a certain
official character in the explanations, vague as they are, which the
Minister of Foreign Affairs has had with Your Highness. M. de Laborde's
uninterrupted zeal, the remarks of so many persons connected with the
government, all tending in one direction, and especially the very direct
overtures made by the Empress and the Queen of Holland to Madame de
Metternich, would incline us to suppose that Napoleon's mind was made
up, as the Emperor said, if our August master should consent to give him
Madame the Archduchess. On the other hand, the demands commonly reported
to have been addressed to Russia conflict with this supposition. The
question must, at any rate, become clearer shortly after the arrival of
the next courier, if indeed not before then. So much has been said, that
it is impossible to deny that an alliance with the Imperial House of
Austria has entered into the designs of the French court. By following a
very simple calculation and comparing the great publicity given to the
alleged demand on Russia with the secrecy exercised towards us in this
matter, we may possibly be authorized to suppose that at present their
views tend in our direction; but probability is of very little account
in a transaction of this sort to which Napoleon is a party, and we can
only go on in our usual course, and the result, in one way or another,
must inure to our advantage."

While the court of Vienna thus maintained a position of prudent and
dignified reserve, Napoleon, annoyed by the delays of the Russian court,
and now only anxious to have nothing more to do with it, impatiently
awaited the despatches from Saint Petersburg. These arrived February 6,
but they brought no satisfactory news. The first delay of ten days which
the Czar had asked of the Duke of Vicenza came to an end January 6, but
on the 2lst the Emperor Alexander had not yet replied. He said, to be
sure, that his mother had withdrawn her opposition; but he combined
the affairs of the marriage with the political negotiations concerning
Poland, and doubtless in the desire of affecting Napoleon's decision, he
let the matter drag, as if he wanted to be urged. The Duke of Vicenza
also said in his despatches that, according to the physicians, the Grand
Duchess was yet too young to bear children, and that since she was
averse to changing her religion, she insisted on having a Greek chapel
and Greek priests at the Tuileries.

Napoleon hesitated no longer. That same day he sent word to the Russian
Ambassador, Prince Kourakine, that, being unable to accept a longer
delay, he broke off the negotiation; and that evening he had the
Austrian Ambassador, Prince Schwarzenberg, asked if the contract of his
marriage with the Archduchess Marie Louise could be signed the next day.

The Austrian diplomatist had never expected that events were going to
move at any such speed. He knew the favorable disposition of his court,
but he had received no authorization to conclude the business. The
general instructions which had been sent to him regarding the marriage
were dated December 25, 1809, and they had not since been modified.
These left the Ambassador free to discuss the question only in
accordance with the restrictions which Count Metternich had thus

"1. Every overture is to be received by you in an unofficial capacity.
Your Highness must take cognizance of it only by expressing your
personal willingness to see how the land lies here.

"2. You will then make it clear, as if it were a remark of your own,
that if no secondary consideration, no prejudice, influence the
Emperor's decision, there are laws which he will always obey. His
Majesty will never force a beloved daughter to a marriage which she
might abhor, and will never consent to a marriage not in conformity with
the principles of our religion.

"3. You will endeavor, moreover, to get a definite statement of the
advantages which France would offer to Austria in the case of a family

When, in the evening of February 6, 1810, Napoleon's Minister of Foreign
Affairs asked Prince Schwarzenberg if he was ready to sign the marriage
contract at the Tuileries the next morning, the Ambassador was
delighted, but surprised, and perhaps, for a moment, perplexed. If he
regarded the instructions conveyed in the despatch of December 25, 1809,
he certainly had no authority to sign anything. In fact, not merely did
he not know whether the Archduchess had given her consent, he did not
know whether she had ever been informed of the projected marriage.
Besides, he had no information as to the way in which the Austrian
court looked on the annulment of the religious marriage of Napoleon
and Josephine by the officials of the diocese of Paris, who had acted
independently of the Pope. Finally, he was not in condition to stipulate
for any political advantage to his government as the price of the
alliance. A timid diplomatist would have hesitated. But might not there
arrive the next moment a courier from Saint Petersburg, bringing a
definite answer from the Czar? Would Napoleon, impatient as he was and
unused to delay--would he accept the slightest postponement on the part
of Austria? Prince Schwarzenberg burned his ships; he said to himself
that if his action were disavowed, he could go and raise cabbages on his
estate; but if it were approved, he would be at the top of the wave.
Abandoning then the customary slowness and scruples of diplomacy, he
answered without hesitation that he was ready, and made an engagement
with the Duke of Cadore, Minister of Foreign Affairs, for the next day,
at the Tuileries, to sign the marriage contract of the Emperor of the
French, King of Italy, and of Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria. IV.


February 7, 1810, M. Champagny, Duke of Cadore, the French Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and Prince Charles of Schwarzenberg, met at the
Tuileries, and signed, without the slightest hitch, the marriage
contract of Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie Louise. The text was a
copy almost word for word of Marie Antoinette's marriage contract, which
had been signed forty years before.

On leaving the Tuileries, Prince Schwarzenberg despatched a messenger to
Vienna to announce the momentous news, which possibly would arouse
more surprise than delight. "Count," he wrote to M. de Metternich, "in
signing the marriage contract, while protesting that I was in no way
clothed with power _ad hoc_, I believe that I have merely signed a paper
which can guarantee to the Emperor Napoleon the determination already
formed by my August Sovereign of meeting him half-way in negotiation on
this subject. The despatches with which you have honored me made the
course that I was to follow perfectly clear. His Majesty, as Your
Excellency assures me, approves of my conduct by bidding me follow
the same course; hence the marriage is an affair which my government
naturally regards as one of the greatest interest, and one which it
desires to see arranged. It will be evident to those who know the
character of Emperor Napoleon that if I had shown the slightest
hesitation, he would have abandoned this plan and have formed another.
If this affair was hurried, it was because that is the way in which
Napoleon acts, and it seemed to me best to seize the favorable moment.
I have the most profound conviction of having been of service to my
sovereign on this occasion; and if by any possibility I have had the
misfortune to displease him by the course that I took in perfect
sincerity, His Majesty can disavow it, but in that case I shall
instantly demand my recall."

The next day Prince Schwarzenberg sent to Vienna one of his secretaries,
M. de Floret, with this letter to M. de Metternich: "Paris, February
8, 1810. I send to you, dear Count, M. de Floret, who will give you an
account of everything that has happened. You will soon see that I could
not have acted otherwise without spoiling the whole business. If I had
insisted on not signing, he would have broken the affair off, to treat
with Russia or Saxony. I formally declared that I had full power to give
the most positive assurances that the propositions of marriage would be
favorably received by my court; but that if I was not ready to sign
a contract, it was only on account of the impossibility in which my
minister found himself of supposing that a matter scarcely touched
upon should so soon come to a head. I beg of you, my dear friend, to
arrange that there shall be no obstacle to this important business, and
that it be arranged with a good grace.... I pity the Princess, it is
true; but yet she must not forget that it is a noble deed to give peace
to such good nations, and to give a guarantee of general peace and
tranquillity. Floret will give you our records, and will explain it to
you by word of mouth; we have not had time to have it copied. You
will not object to this, inasmuch as we wish Floret to leave at once.
Conclude this matter nobly, and you will render an incalculable service
to our country."

At the diplomatic reception which was held at the Tuileries, February 8,
Napoleon walked up to the Austrian Ambassador and said to him, in the
most friendly way, "You have been very busy lately, and I think you have
done a good piece of work." Prince Kourakine, the Russian Ambassador,
was much annoyed at the turn events had taken, and did not attend the
reception, under the pretext that he was not well. The evening before
Prince Schwarzenberg had dined at the house of Napoleon's mother with
the King of Holland, Louis Bonaparte, who was loudspoken in his praise
of the Emperor Francis and the Imperial house of Austria. At the court
of the Tuileries there was general satisfaction. Napoleon thought that
he had never achieved a greater triumph. The messenger whom Prince
Schwarzenberg had despatched on the day he had signed the contract,
reached Vienna February 14. The populace had not the faintest idea of
the possibility of a marriage between the Archduchess Marie Louise and
the Emperor of the French; the Austrian monarch and M. de Metternich, in
their anxiety to keep their secret, lest some opposition should manifest
itself, had not breathed a word about the overtures made at Vienna by
Count Alexandre de Laborde, and at Malmaison by the Empress Josephine.
Neither the Viennese nor the Diplomatic Body suspected anything. As M.
de Metternich put it, Count Shouvaloff, the Russian Ambassador at the
Austrian court, was literally petrified. The English breathed fire
and flame. The sudden outburst of a volcano would not have been more
startling than this piece of news which came from a clear sky. The
impression made upon the populace was one of surprise which amounted to
disbelief. People stopped in the streets to ask one another if the thing
was possible.

Marie Louise had given her consent more with resignation than with
pleasure. Metternich recounts in his Memoirs his speech to Francis II.:
"In the life of a state, as in that of a private citizen, there are
cases in which a third person cannot put himself in the place of one
who is responsible for the resolutions he has to take. These cases are
especially such as cannot be decided by calculation. Your Majesty is a
monarch and a father; and Your Majesty alone can weigh his duties as
father and emperor." "It is my daughter who must decide," answered
Francis II. "Since I shall never compel her, I am anxious, before I
consider my duties as a sovereign, to know what she means to do. Go find
the Archduchess, and then let me know what she says. I am unwilling to
speak to her of the demand of the French Emperor, lest I should seem to
be trying to influence her decision."

M. de Metternich betook himself at once to the Archduchess Marie Louise,
and set the matter before her very simply and briefly, without beating
about the bush, without a word for or against the proposition. The
Archduchess listened with her usual calmness, and, after a moment's
reflection, asked him, "What are my father's wishes?" "The Emperor," the
minister answered, "has commissioned me to ask Your Imperial Highness
what decision she means to take in a matter concerning her whole life.
Do not ask what the Emperor wishes; tell me what you yourself wish."
"I wish only what my duty commands me to wish," answered Marie Louise.
"When the interests of the Empire are at stake, they must be consulted,
not my feelings. Beg of my father to regard only his duty as a
sovereign, without subordinating it to my personal interests."

When M. de Metternich had reported to Francis II. the result of his
interview, the Emperor said: "What you tell me does not surprise me. I
know my daughter too well not to expect just such an answer. While you
were with her, I have been considering what I have to do. My consent to
this marriage will assure to the kingdom a few years of political peace,
which I can devote to healing its wounds. I owe myself solely to the
happiness of my people; I cannot hesitate."

We shall now make some extracts from the despatches of Count Otto, the
French Ambassador at Vienna in 1810, which we have found in the archives
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The documents, which have never been
published, are well worthy of our readers' attention, and they throw a
full light on the Emperor Napoleon's relations with the Austrian court.
M. Otto wrote to the Duke of Cadore, February 16, 1810, that the news of
the marriage was beginning to spread through the city: "Business people
are much excited. Merchants are entreating me to tell them what I know.
Couriers are despatched in every direction. In short, I have never had
occasion to use more reserve than at this moment, when the real feeling
of this nation, which has long been compelled to be our enemy, reveals
itself in a way most flattering to us. The French officers who are
returning from different missions assure me that they have found the
same spirit in the army. 'Arrange,' they say, 'that we can fight on your
side; you will find us worthy.' Every one agrees that this alliance will
insure lasting tranquillity to Europe, and compel England to make
peace; that it will give the Emperor all the leisure he requires for
organizing, in accordance with his lofty plans, the vast empire he has
created; that it cannot fail to have an influence on the destiny of
Poland, Turkey, and Sweden; and finally, that it cannot fail to give
lasting glory to Your Excellency's ministry. The news of the conclusion
of this marriage will be received with tumultuous joy throughout the
Austrian dominions. France and the greater part of Europe will share
this joy. As to the English government, I do not think it possible
for it to avert the blow which this important event will deal it; the
national party will finally triumph over the avarice of usurers, the
rancorous passions of the ministry, and the bellicose and constitutional
fury of their king. All humanity will find repose beneath the laurels of
our August Emperor and, after having conquered half of Europe, he
will add to his long list of victories the most difficult and most
consolatory of all,--the conquest of general peace."

The first feeling that prevailed in all classes of Viennese society, on
hearing of the Archduchess's marriage, was, as has been said, one of
surprise, which soon gave way to almost universal joy. Count Metternich
wrote to Prince Schwarzenberg under date of February 19, 1810: "It would
be difficult to judge at a distance the emotion that the news of the
marriage has aroused here. The secret of the negotiations had been so
well kept, that it was not till the day of M. de Floret's arrival that
any word of it came to the ears of the public. The first effect on
'Change was such that the currency would be to-day at three hundred and
less, if the government had not been interested in keeping it higher,
and it was only by buying a million of specie in two days that it
succeeded in keeping it at three hundred and seventy. Seldom has
anything been so warmly approved by the whole nation."

M. de Metternich was most delighted, and took especial satisfaction in
the thought that it was his work. "All Vienna," he wrote to his wife,
"is interested in nothing but this marriage. It would be hard to form an
idea of the public feeling about it, and of its extreme popularity. If
I had saved the world, I could not receive more congratulations or more
homage for the part I am supposed to have played in the matter. In the
promotions that are to follow I am sure to have the Golden Fleece. If
it comes to me now, it will not be for nothing; but it is none the less
true that it required a very extraordinary and improbable combination of
circumstances to set me far beyond my most ambitious dreams, although in
fact I have no ambitions. All the balls and entertainments here will be
very fine, and although everything will have to be brought from the ends
of the earth, everything will be here. I sent the order of arrangements
a few days ago to Paris; Schwarzenberg will have shown it to you. The
new Empress will please in Paris, and she ought to please with her
kindness and her great gentleness and simplicity. Her face is rather
plain than pretty, but she has a beautiful figure, and when she is
properly dressed and put into shape, she will do very well. I have
begged her to engage a dancing-master as soon as she arrives, and not to
dance until she has learned how. She is very anxious to please, and that
is the surest way of pleasing."

The Austrian court did everything with the best possible grace, knowing
that Napoleon set great store by the details of etiquette. Everything
was exhumed from the archives which bore on the weddings of Louis XIV.,
Louis XV., the great Dauphin, the father of Louis XVI., of Louis XVI.
himself. The old gentlemen of the court of Versailles, and especially M.
de Dreux-Brézé, the master of ceremonies at the end of the old régime,
were consulted at every step. Napoleon was very anxious that in pomp and
majesty the wedding of Marie Louise should not only be quite equal, but
even superior to that of Marie Antoinette, for he thought himself of far
more importance than a dauphin of France. He was given what he wanted.
Speaking of the Princess's escort, Count Otto said in despatch to the
Duke of Cadore, dated February 19, 1810: "In order to give the part
its full importance, the Emperor of Austria has appointed to it Prince
Trautmannsdorff, who on all great occasions holds the highest rank in
the kingdom. The Dauphiness had been accompanied by a nobleman of no
very lofty position. Moreover, the Emperor has given orders to
deepen all the tints: the suite of the Dauphiness consisted of six
ladies-in-waiting and six chamberlains; the future Empress will have
twelve of each. The Emperor will choose the most distinguished and
best-known personages of the Empire for these functionaries, and the
Empress has reserved for herself the right of naming the ladies most
prominent for their old families and their position in society. In a
word, the Minister has assured me that no pains will be spared to make
the train most brilliant."

Points of etiquette kept the French Ambassador very busy. He wrote,
February 21, 1810, to the Duke of Cadore: "In reading carefully the
historic summary enclosed in Your Excellency's despatch, I found but
few matters requiring comment, but these seemed to me of sufficient
importance to warrant my calling your attention to them. They are as

"1. Since the religious ceremony is the most solemn, it seems that it
is here that the distinction between the Dauphiness and the new Empress
should be most distinctly marked. The first-named sat in an armchair,
placed in front of the altar, but without a canopy, the Queen Marie
Leczinska, daughter of King Stanislas, having a place, under a canopy,
between the King and Queen of Poland.

"2. The representative and personal rank of His Highness the Prince of
Neufchâtel being much higher than that of the Marquis de Durfort, who
held a similar position in 1770, it has seemed to me desirable to make
the reception more formal. Count Metternich has given me complete
satisfaction on both these points. He has told me that the Emperor would
give the most positive orders to pay to the Empress of France the same
honors that were paid to the Empress of Austria at the celebration of
the last marriage. The canopy and all the paraphernalia of royalty will
be assigned to the new Empress, and the Emperor will furthermore make a
concession on this occasion which is without precedent in the annals of
the realm: at table he will resign the first place to his daughter, and
take the second place himself. Nothing will be left undone to give these
ceremonies their full splendor and to show the interest with which these
new ties are regarded here. The Emperor is so well pleased with this
alliance that he speaks about it even with private persons who have the
honor to be admitted to his presence. He loudly denounces those who led
him into the last war, and asserts that if he had earlier known the
loyalty and magnanimity of the Emperor Napoleon, he should have been on
his guard against their counsels."

The Viennese, who in their amiability and fickleness closely resemble
the Parisians, passed in a moment from an apparently deep-seated hatred
of Napoleon, to the most unbounded confidence. The still bleeding wounds
of Wagram were forgotten; every one thought of nothing but the brilliant
festivals that were preparing. Smiles took the place of tears, and it
seemed as if the French and the Austrians had always been brothers.

The French Ambassador wrote to the Duke of Cadore, February 21, 1810:
"Since the 16th the whole city has thought of nothing but the great
marriage for which the preparations are now under way. All eyes are
turned on the Archduchess. Those who have the honor of being admitted to
her presence are closely questioned, and every one is glad to hear that
she is in the best spirits, and does not try to conceal the satisfaction
she takes in this alliance. Funds continue to rise in a surprising way,
and the price of food is falling in the same proportion. A great many
people have found it hard to sell their gold. Never has public opinion
spoken more clearly or more unanimously. A great many people who had
hoarded their silver in the hope of selling it or of sending it abroad,
are now carrying it to the mint, and consider the government paper
which they get for it as good as gold. The stewards of great houses are
ordering new silverware to take the place of that which they have had
to give to the government. Every one shows a readiness to offer all his
fortune, being convinced that after such an alliance the government
cannot fail to meet its engagements."

The Viennese have a very lively imagination, and bounding from one
extreme to another, they began to form visions of the Austrians waging
wars of ambition and conquest along with the French. They fancied that
their Emperor and his son-in-law would have all Europe at their feet.
"The greater their enthusiasm about the French," wrote Count Otto in
the same despatch, "the more evident the old animosity of the Austrians
against Prussia and Russia. The coffee-house politicians are already
busy with devising a thousand combinations according to which the
Emperor of Austria will be able to recover Silesia and to extend his
dominions towards the east. The disappointed Russians, of whom there are
very many here, are much astonished at this sudden change. One of them
was heard to say, 'A few days ago we were very highly thought of in
Vienna, but now the French are adored, and everybody wants to make war
on us.' Count Shouvaloff himself keeps very quiet. Sensible people do
not share this warlike feeling; they want a general peace, and bless an
alliance which seems to secure it for a few years. In their eyes even a
successful war is a great calamity. Peace, too, has its triumphs, and
this last negotiation is one of the finest known to history."

The official _Gazette_, which was eagerly read by a noisy multitude in
the streets of Vienna, published the official announcement of the
great news. The number of February 24, 1810, contained the following
paragraph: "The formal betrothal of the Emperor of the French, King of
Italy, and Her Imperial and Royal Highness the Archduchess Marie Louise,
the oldest daughter of His Imperial and Royal Majesty, our very Gracious
Sovereign, was signed at Paris, on the 7th, by the Prince Schwarzenberg,
Ambassador, and the Duke of Cadore, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The
exchange of ratifications of this contract took place on the 21st of
this month, at Vienna, between Count Metternich Winneburg, Minister of
State and of Foreign Affairs, and the Imperial Ambassador of France,
Count Otto de Mesloy. All the nations of Europe see in this event a gage
of peace, and look forward with delight to a happy future after so many
wars." On the day that this paragraph appeared in the official journal,
the French Ambassador wrote to the Duke of Cadore: "The Emperor loves
the Princess, and is very happy in her brilliant good fortune. It is
long since he has seemed so happy, so interested, so busy. Everything
which furthers the sumptuousness of the festivals now in preparation is
a matter of great interest to him, and all his subjects, with very few
exceptions, share their sovereign's amiable anxiety."

The French Ambassador was beside himself with delight; he saw everything
in glowing colors,--Marie Louise, the court, all Austria. His despatch
of February 17 was full of enthusiasm. In it he drew with trembling
hand the portrait of the August lady, and we may readily conceive the
eagerness with which Napoleon must have devoured it: "Every one agrees
that the Archduchess combines with a very amiable disposition sound
sense and all the qualities that can be given by a careful education.
She is liked by all at court, and is spoken of as a model of gentleness
and kindness. She has a fine bearing, yet it is perfectly simple; she is
modest without shyness; she can converse very well in many languages,
and combines affability with dignity. As she acquires familiarity
with the world, which is all very new to her, her fine qualities will
doubtless develop further, and endow her whole being with even more
grace and interest. She is tall and well made, and her health is
excellent. Her features seemed to me regular and full of sweetness."

Even the Empress of Austria, who recently had been conspicuous for her
dislike of the French, so that there had been felt some dread of her
dissatisfaction, if not of direct opposition, thoroughly shared her
husband's joy. On this subject, Count Otto, in a despatch of February
19, expressed himself as follows: "The Empress shows herself extremely
favorable to this marriage. In spite of her wretched health she has
expressed her desire to be present at all the festivities, and she takes
every occasion to speak of them with delight."

The Ambassador carried his optimism so far as to look upon Marie
Antoinette's marriage as a happy precedent. In the same despatch he
wrote to the Duke of Cadore: "The names of Kaunitz and Choiseul are on
every one's lips, and every one hopes to see a renewal of the peaceful
days that followed the alliance concluded by those two ministers. They
had both been ambassadors, in France, and in Austria, exactly like Your
Excellency and Count Metternich." The French diplomatist's satisfaction
was only equalled by the vexation of the Russian Ambassador. "The
Russian coteries," added Count Otto, "are the only ones that take no
part in the general rejoicing. When the news reached a ball at a Russian
house, the violins were stopped at once, and a great many of the guests
left before supper. I must observe that Count Shouvaloff has not come to
offer his congratulations." The good humor of the Viennese grew from day
to day, especially in business circles. The French Ambassador concluded
his letter thus: "It is at the Bourse that public opinion has declared
itself in the most amazing way. In less than two hours funds went up
thirty per cent. A feeling of security established itself and at once
affected the price of imported provisions, which immediately began to
fall. Yesterday there was a large crowd gathered at the palace to see
the Archduchess go to mass. The populace was delighted to see her
radiant with health and happiness. Two artists are painting her
portrait. The better one will be sent to Paris." Everything had moved
smoothly without the slightest jar. "In the whole course of the
negotiation," Count Otto had written, February 17, "I have not heard
a word about any pecuniary consideration, or the slightest objection
except as to the legality of the divorce. A mere word from me was
sufficient to overcome that." Consequently nothing troubled the
composure of the happy Ambassador.



The marriage was officially announced, when suddenly an incident
arose which caused the greatest anxiety to Napoleon's ambassador, and
threatened, if not to prevent, at least to delay, the wedding. The
unexpected difficulty which arose at the last moment was of a religious
nature, and in a court as pious as that of Austria it could not fail to
make a very deep impression.

Even in Paris, the annulment of the religious marriage ceremony of
Napoleon and Josephine had aroused serious objections, and the Emperor
had shown much surprise when he was told by his uncle, Cardinal Fesch,
the Grand Almoner, that there were obstacles in the way. In a matter of
this sort, which concerns crowned heads, and is inspired by reasons of
state, it is the Pope who must make the decision. Louis XII. had secured
the dissolution of his marriage with Jane of France from Pope Alexander
VI. Henry IV. had applied to Pope Clement VIII. to annul his marriage
with Margaret of Valois. Napoleon himself had likewise had recourse,
though without success, to Pope Pius VII., in the matter of his
brother Jerome's marriage with Miss Paterson. Now, when the Pope was
his prisoner, Napoleon could not apply to him; and since the sovereign
pontiff had taken part in the coronation of the Empress Josephine, and
profoundly sympathized with her, could he dare to say, like the diocesan
officials of Paris, that she, from the religious point of view, was only
the Emperor's mistress?

At the beginning of 1810 there was an ecclesiastic commission,
consisting of Cardinal Fesch, President; Cardinal Maury, famous at
the time of the Constituent Assembly, and later, one of the Imperial
courtiers; the Archbishop of Tours; the bishops of Nantes, Trèves,
Évreux, and Verceil; and the Abbé Emery, Superior of the Seminary of
Saint Sulpice. The Emperor put to this committee the question whether
the diocesan officials were competent to proceed to the canonical
dissolution of his marriage with Josephine.

January 2, 1810, the committee decided that the diocesan officials were
competent, but neither Cardinal Fesch nor the Abbé Emery signed the
report. The Cardinal could not forget that it was he who, by the special
authorization of Pius VII., had, on the night of December 1-2, 1804,
given to the couple the nuptial blessing.

The very day that the Ecclesiastical Committee had affirmed
the competence of the diocesan officials, it received from the
Archchancellor Cambacérès a petition stating that the nuptial blessing
given to Napoleon and Josephine had not been preceded, accompanied, or
followed by the formalities prescribed by the Canon laws; that is to
say, it lacked the presence of the proper priest--as the parish priest
was termed--and of witnesses. To these two grounds for annulment a third
was added, a new one, which could not fail to surprise the officials. It
was one which in general is applicable only to a minor, wrought upon
by surprise and violence; namely, lack of consent,--yes, lack of the
Emperor's consent. Napoleon saw very clearly that the first two points
were mere quibbles, and that the moment when he intended that his uncle,
the Grand Almoner, should bless his marriage with Marie Louise, was, to
say the least, a singular one to choose for denouncing his incapacity
for consecrating his union with Josephine. As to the absence of
witnesses, that is to be explained as due to a special dispensation of
the Pope, who wished to avoid the scandal of announcing to the whole
world that Napoleon, who had been married by civil, but not by religious
rites, had in the eyes of the Church been living for eight years in
concubinage, in spite of the entreaties of the Empress to put an end
to a state of things which pained her conscience and filled her with
constant dread of divorce. The Emperor consequently laid the chief
weight on his lack of consent. Count d'Haussonville in his remarkable
book, _The Church of Rome and the First Empire_, says on this subject:
"Setting aside the religious feeling with regard to the sanctity of
marriage, it is hard to understand how such a man could have been
willing to represent himself as having desired, on the eve of this great
ceremony of consecration, to deceive at the same time his uncle who
married him, his wife whom he seemed pleased to associate with
his glory, and the venerable pontiff who, in spite of his age and
infirmities, had come from a long distance, to call down upon him the
blessing of the Most High. This argument offended not only every feeling
of delicacy, but also the plainest principles of honest and fair

The officials were not moved by such scruples. They exercised a twofold
jurisdiction,--as a diocesan and as a metropolitan tribunal,--and both
affirmed the nullity of the marriage. The metropolitan tribunal, while
admitting the first two grounds,--namely, the absence of witnesses and
of the proper priest,--based its decision principally on the non-consent
of the Emperor. The diocesan tribunal had declared that to atone for the
infringement of the laws of the Church, Napoleon and Josephine should be
compelled to bestow a sum of money to the poor of the parish of Notre
Dame. The metropolitan tribunal struck this clause out as disrespectful.

This decision was sent to Count Otto, the French Ambassador at Vienna;
in fact, the original draft of the two papers, that is to say, the
judgment of the metropolitan tribunal, was forwarded to him. The
Ambassador spoke about it to the Emperor Francis, to satisfy that
monarch's scruples, but he did not show him the papers themselves, and
three days after the ratification of the marriage contract he sent them
back to Paris. "I confess," he wrote to the Duke of Cadore, in his
despatch of February 28, 1810, "that in returning these papers so
speedily to Paris, I had a presentiment of the discussion which they
might cause among the foreign ecclesiastics. Everything was settled, the
Emperor of Austria was satisfied, the marriage contract was ratified,
the ratification of the marriage had been exchanged for three days, when
the first mention was made of these documents which have aroused the
curiosity and interest of some too influential prelates. I am the more
authorized to say that no one had before that thought of these papers,
by the fact that the Minister, when on the 15th he asked me to give
him, on my honor, my personal opinion with regard to the nullity of His
Majesty's first marriage, would not have failed to add that he had asked
for proof from the Prince of Schwarzenberg, and that he awaited his
reply. My declaration was sufficient to determine the ratification of
the contract on the next day."

Whence came these tardy scruples, this unexpected delay? What had
happened? The objections did not come from the Emperor Francis, or from
Count Metternich, but from a priest, the Archbishop of Vienna, who was
to celebrate the marriage by proxy in the Church of the Augustins in
Vienna. This prelate, who shared all the opinions of the French émigrés,
and had much more respect for the Pope than for Napoleon, deemed it his
duty to examine for himself the judgment of the Parisian authorities,
and stoutly demanded the originals. This filled the French Ambassador
with despair, and he wrote to the Duke of Cadore in great distress: "For
three days the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been in negotiation with
the Archbishop, trying to overcome his scruples with regard to the
nullity of the first marriage of His Majesty. This prelate persists in
saying to-day that he cannot give the nuptial blessing until he has seen
the document which I have sent back to Your Excellency, of which, too,
M. de Metternich did not speak in the course of our negotiations. It is
very strange that since the Archbishop was consulted some time ago, no
mention was made to me of his scruples. I have every reason to believe
that he did nothing until he heard that I had received documents, the
validity of which he might discuss. Now the French clergy will hardly
care to submit its decision to a foreign prelate. Your Excellency's
intention has been to satisfy the Emperor of Austria, the only authority
which, in a question of this importance, we can consider competent,
because it concerns the lot of his daughter. What would happen, sir, if
this prelate, adopting other principles than those which determined the
judgment of our officials, should presume to invalidate them? How can we
submit to a new discussion of a treaty ratified before the eyes of all
Europe, and made public by the order of the Emperor of Austria himself?
May we not suppose that the Archbishop, who in the first instance
approved of this alliance, to-day is moved only by scruples and inspired
by a foreign faction which is ready to seize any pretext to oppose the
genius of peace? I am told that the former Bishop of Carcassonne is
living with the Archbishop. Possibly the Nuncio, who is still here, has
brought some influence to bear on this occasion. That there is something
of the sort behind it all is proved by the prominence that some of the
intriguers give to an alleged excommunication of His Majesty the Emperor
by the Pope. Count Metternich assures me that both the Nuncio and the
Archbishop disclaim all knowledge of any obstacle of this sort. The
Emperor himself, who is keenly alive to the insult to crowned heads
which it implies, repels the indecent objection with the scorn which it

"The Minister has had many fruitless interviews with the Archbishop, who
seems to wish to lay the matter before his tribunal. The Emperor himself
is very uneasy; they are trying to gain time, and are to-day very
anxious lest the Prince of Neufchâtel should arrive too soon. If he
should not get here till the 3d of March, they will manage to postpone
the nuptial blessing till the 11th, when it is hoped that the documents
will have come back again. But even in this case, the Ambassador
Extraordinary will need all the firmness of his character to overrule
this cabal which brings uneasiness to the Emperor's family and uses the
Archbishop as a tool. I have done everything that I could to impress
upon the Minister how much the present state of affairs compromises the
dignity of our court. He has shown me a list of questions presented by
the Archbishop, which it is impossible to answer without seeming to
recognize a tribunal with which we ought to have nothing to do. Never
has so important a negotiation been hampered by a stranger incident."
(Despatch of Count Otto to the Duke of Cadore, February 28, 1810.)

The Ambassador was in great perplexity, and he would have been much more
uneasy if the documents demanded had been in his possession. In fact,
would he have been justified in submitting to a foreign ecclesiastical
tribunal papers which he could only show to the Emperor of Austria, to
remove that sovereign's personal objections? Count Metternich had told
the Ambassador, February 24, that the ceremony would take place in spite
of the Archbishop's objection, but the next day M. de Metternich was
convinced that he was mistaken.

In order to gain time, Count Otto had written to Napoleon's Ambassador
Extraordinary, the Prince of Neufchâtel, to ask him to delay his
arrival at Vienna until March 4. The carnival would end with brilliant
festivities, for which great preparations were making. Ash Wednesday and
the three following days would be consecrated to devotion; and on the
11th the church ceremonies would take place, if, as was hoped, the
required documents should have arrived from Paris.

After a few days of uncertainty, as painful for the court of Vienna as
for the French Ambassador, the difficulties began to settle themselves.
Count Otto wrote to the Duke of Cadore, March 3, 1810: "My long silence
must have surprised Your Excellency, but it was caused by the strangest
circumstances that I have known for many years.... It is only to-day
that we are secure from the attack of the ecclesiastical committee,
and from its scruples. Seven long days and nights have been spent in
ransacking the volumes of the _Moniteur_ and the _Official Bulletin_ in
order to prove the nullity of His Majesty the Emperor's first marriage.
Nothing could pacify the alarmed conscience of the Archbishop. At
first I refused, and held out for twenty-four hours. After protracted
discussion, and insisting on a complete recasting of the paper which I
was desired to sign, I to-day consented to hand in the paper, of which I
have the honor to enclose a copy, but on the express condition, which I
have under the minister's signature, that it is only to be shown to the
Archbishop and in no case to be made public."

This is the text of the paper mentioned by Count Otto: "I, the
undersigned, Ambassador of his Majesty the Emperor of the French, affirm
that I have seen and read the originals of the two decisions of the
two diocesan official boards, concerning the marriage between their
Majesties, the Emperor and the Empress Josephine, and that it
follows from these decisions that, in conformity with the Catholic
ecclesiastical laws established in the French Empire, the said marriage
has been declared null and void, because at the celebration of this
marriage the most essential formalities required by the laws of the
Church, and always regarded in France as necessary for the validity of
a Catholic marriage, had been omitted. I affirm, moreover, that
in conformity with the civic laws in existence at the time of the
celebration of this marriage, every conjugal union was founded on the
principle that it could be dissolved by the consent of the contracting
parties. In testimony whereof I have signed the present declaration, and
have set my seal to it."

In his despatch of March 3, 1810, the Ambassador said, in speaking of
the document just cited: "The only thing that persuaded me to adopt
this course was the conviction that the Archbishop would not consent
to pronounce the blessing until he had seen the two decisions; and it
appeared to me very dangerous to expose these two documents to the whims
of an old man who was controlled by two refugee priests. At any rate,
this method has proved successful, and the delay in the Prince of
Neufchâtel's arrival prevents the public from forming any suspicions
about this discussion which has given us so much anxiety. The Archbishop
is satisfied; all the ceremonies will take place according to the
programme, except the interruption due to the heavy roads. The wedding
will take place March 11; and to make up the time lost, the Archduchess
will travel a little faster, and can easily reach Paris by the 27th. Now
the postponement of the nuptial blessing can be ascribed only to
the circumstances which have prolonged the journey of the Prince of
Neufchâtel. In Lent Sunday is considered the only proper day for
weddings; and since Ash Wednesday is so near, the religious ceremony
cannot possibly take place before the 11th."

The last difficulties had vanished, and the festivities were free to



In Vienna the animation was very great. The great event which was now
in preparation was the sole subject of conversation in all classes of
society. "The ceremonies and the festivities," the French Ambassador
wrote, March 2, 1810, "will be in every respect the same as those that
took place at the marriage of the Emperor with the present Empress.
Every inhabitant of Vienna is doing his utmost to testify his joy on
this occasion. Painters are at work night and day on transparencies and
designs. The festivities will be thoroughly national. Every morning
thousands of people station themselves before the palace to see the
Archduchess pass by on her way to mass. Her portraits are in constant
demand. The Emperor and the archdukes never miss a ball; they are
surrounded by a crowd of maskers who say a number of pleasant things
to them, and it really appears as if this alliance had added to the
Emperor's already great popularity." The next day, March 3, Count Otto
wrote: "I to-day presented the Count of Narbonne to the Emperor,
the Empress, and the Archduchess, and I profited by the occasion to
strengthen my conviction of the joy which the Count feels at this
happy alliance. The Empress spoke with the greatest warmth of her
step-daughters, conversed with a keen interest about France, Paris, and
what she hopes to cultivate in that interesting city."

It was with impatience that was awaited the arrival of the Ambassador
Extraordinary, who had been chosen by the Emperor of the French to make
the formal demand for the hand of the Archduchess, to attend to the
celebration of the marriage which was to be celebrated by proxy at the
Church of the Augustins in Vienna, and to escort the bride to France.
This Ambassador Extraordinary was Marshal Berthier, sovereign Prince of
Neufchâtel, the husband of the Princess Marie Elizabeth Amelia Frances
of Bavaria, Vice-Constable of France, Master of the Hounds, commander of
the first cohort of the Legion of Honor, etc., etc. The most brilliant
reception was prepared for him. Count Otto wrote to the Duke of Cadore,
February 21, 1810: "As to the honors which I have considered due to His
Most Serene Highness, the Prince of Neufchâtel, Count Metternich assures
me that he regarded him not merely as Ambassador Extraordinary, but as
a Sovereign Prince, a great dignitary of the Empire, as a friend and
fellow-soldier of the Emperor; that there would be no more comparison
between him and the Marquis of Durfort than between the future Empress
and the Dauphiness; and that consequently Prince Paul Esterhazy had
been designated to proceed to the frontier to congratulate His Highness;
and that, moreover, an Imperial Commissary would be sent to look after
his journey, and to see that proper honor was paid to him on the way;
that he would be lodged and entertained by the court, and that pains
would be taken to furnish him with everything he might require; for in
such a severe season, at so brief a notice, he could not possibly have
supplied himself with all the articles ha needed."

The Prince of Neufchâtel's formal entrance into Vienna was accompanied
with great pomp. Count Otto thus describes it in his despatch of March
6, 1810: "The Prince of Neufchâtel has just made his entrance. The
ceremony was most magnificent. The court had despatched their finest
carriages, and the highest noblemen sent their equipages in their
grandest array. The Prince lacked only couriers and footmen. I had
twelve of my servants accompanying his carriage, all in the Emperor's
grand livery. The sovereign himself could not have had a warmer
welcome, or one more sumptuous and enthusiastic than did our Ambassador
Extraordinary, and the contrast with many fresh memories made the
spectacle a very touching one. To shorten the Prince's triumphal march
from the summer palace of Schwarzenberg to the Kärthnerstrasse, many
thousand workmen had been busily throwing a bridge over the very
fortifications that our soldiers had blown up. Cheers and applause
accompanied the Vice-Constable to the door of the Audience Chamber, and
from there to his house. The court has given him most sumptuous quarters
in the Imperial Chancellor's offices, where he is treated like the
Emperor himself."

Count Otto in the same despatch thus describes the evening of that
brilliant 10th of March, 1810; "That evening there was a grand ball in
the Hall of Apollo; the whole city was there. The Prince was greeted as
enthusiastically as in the morning. The Emperor himself was present,
together with the Archdukes, and received the congratulations and
blessings of a populace beside itself with joy. The Prince scarcely left
the Emperor, who talked with him most amiably and most cordially. The
Emperor and the Vice-Constable attracted the eyes of the whole multitude
that surrounded them, and every one rejoiced to see the friend and
fellow-soldier of Napoleon by the side of the ruler of Austria. It was
noticed that this was the first appearance of the Archduke Charles
in the Hall of Apollo along with the Emperor; he will figure in the
marriage ceremony, and shows the liveliest satisfaction in the event.
The Vice-Constable was charmed with the Prince's conversation, and is
going to dine with him to-morrow."

General the Count of Lauriston had just arrived in Vienna, bringing
letters from Napoleon to the Emperor and Empress of Austria. We have
found the replies in the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They are as follows:--

The letter of the Emperor of Austria to the Emperor of the French:--

"March 6, 1810. MY BROTHER: General the Count of Lauriston has given to
me Your Imperial Majesty's letter of February 23. Entrusting to your
hands, my brother, the fate of my beloved daughter, I give to Your
Majesty the strongest possible proof that I could give of my confidence
and esteem. There are moments when the holiest of the affections
outweighs every other consideration which is foreign to it. May Your
Imperial Majesty find nothing in this letter but the feelings of a
father, attached, by eighteen years of pleasant intercourse, to a
daughter whom Providence has endowed with all the qualities that
constitute domestic happiness. Though called far away from me, she
will continue to be worthy of my most enduring affections only by
contributing to the felicity of the husband whose throne she is to
share, and to the happiness of his subjects. You will kindly receive the
assurance of my sincere friendship, as well as of the high consideration
with which I am, my brother, Your Imperial and Royal Majesty's
affectionate brother FRANCIS."

The letter of the Empress of Austria to the Emperor Napoleon:--

"March 6,1810. MY BROTHER: I hasten to thank Your Imperial Majesty for
the many proofs of confidence contained in the letter which Your Majesty
has kindly sent to me through the Count of Lauriston. The tender
attachment of the best of fathers for a beloved child has had no need
of counsels. Our wishes are the same. I share his confidence in the
happiness of Your Majesty and of our daughter. But it is from me that
Your Imperial Majesty must receive the assurance of the many qualities
of mind and heart that distinguish the latter. What might seem the
exaggerated affection of a father cannot be suspected from the pen of
a stepmother. Be sure, my brother, that my happiest days will be those
that come to you in consequence of the alliance that is about to unite
us. Accept the friendship and high esteem with which I am Your Imperial
Majesty's affectionate sister MARIE LOUISE."

The different provinces of the Empire sent deputations to Vienna to bear
their good wishes to the Archduchess. They were received on the 6th of
March, and the ceremony was thus described by Count Otto: "Yesterday's
festival was very brilliant. In the morning, the deputations of the
Austrian states drove, in a procession of more than thirty carriages,
to the Palace to pay their compliments to the Archduchess, who received
them under a canopy. In spite of the shyness natural to her youth,
the Princess replied to them in a speech which amazed and touched her
hearers. She is likewise to receive deputations from Hungary, Bohemia,
and Moravia. It is thought that to the first she will reply in Latin. At
one o'clock we went to the Palace to dine with their Majesties and the
Imperial family. The only guests were the Prince Vice-Constable, the
Count of Lauriston, and myself. The Empress was in better health,
and more affable than I have ever seen her. The two Ambassadors took
precedence of the Archduchess. The Prince Vice-Constable was placed at
the Empress's left, and I sat at the Archduchess's right; the Emperor
sat in the middle and took part in the conversation on both sides.
This conversation was very animated. The Archduchess asked a good many
questions which displayed the soundness of her tastes." According to
the Ambassador's despatch, these were the questions which Marie Louise
asked: "Is the Napoleon Museum near enough to the Tuileries for me to
go there and study the antiques and monuments it contains?" "Does the
Emperor like music?" "Shall I be able to have a teacher on the harp?
It is an instrument I am very fond of." "The Emperor is so kind to me;
doubtless he will let me have a botanical garden. Nothing would please
me more." "I am told that the country around Fontainebleau is very wild
and picturesque. I like nothing better than beautiful scenery." "I am
very grateful to the Emperor for letting me take Madame Lazansky with
me, and for choosing the Duchess of Montebello; they are two excellent
women." "I hope the Emperor will be considerate; I don't know how to
dance quadrilles; but if he desires it, I will take dancing-lessons."
"Do you think Humboldt will soon finish the account of his travels? I
have read all that has appeared with great interest."

Count Otto adds, in his faithful report: "I told Her Imperial Highness
that the Emperor was anxious to know her tastes and ways. She told me
that she was easily pleased; that her tastes were very simple; that she
was able to adapt herself to anything, and would do her best to conform
to His Majesty's wishes, her only desire being to please him.... I
must say, that during the whole hour of my interview with Her Imperial
Highness, she did not once speak of the Paris fashions or theatres."

That evening there was a ball at which the Emperor was present with his
whole family, and the Ambassador thus describes the occasion: "More than
six thousand persons, of all ranks, were invited by the court, and they
filled two immense halls which were richly decorated and illuminated. At
the end of the first hall there was a most magnificent sideboard, in the
shape of a temple lit by a thousand ingeniously hidden lamps. The Genius
of Victory, surmounting an altar, was placing a laurel wreath on the
escutcheons of the bride and groom. The N and L were displayed in all
the decoration of the columns and pediments. To the right, a tent made
of French flags covered a sideboard-laden with refreshments; and on the
left there was another under a tent made of Austrian flags. There
were large tables in the neighboring rooms, covered with food for the
citizens who regarded it as an important duty to pledge the health of
the Imperial couple in Tokay. The Archduchess, who had never been to a
ball before in her life, passed through every room on the Emperor's arm.
She was most warmly cheered, and the crowd followed her with a joyous
enthusiasm that can scarcely be described. This ball presented the most
perfect combination of grandeur, wealth, and good taste; it was further
remarkable for the bond of fraternity which seemed to unite the two
nations." The next day but one, March 8, the formal demand for the hand
of the Archduchess Marie Louise was made at the Palace, with great pomp,
by Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel. As soon as he had delivered
his speech, the Archduchess entered in magnificent attire, accompanied
by all the members of the household. Count Anatole de Montesquiou, an
orderly officer of the Emperor Napoleon, had just arrived in Vienna,
bringing a miniature portrait of his sovereign. This officer was to
be present at the wedding, and to take to Paris the first news of
its conclusion. As soon as the Archduchess appeared, the Prince of
Neufchâtel offered her Napoleon's portrait, which she at once had
fastened on the front of her dress by the Mistress of the Robes. The
Ambassador Extraordinary then went to the apartments of the Empress of
Austria, whence he went to visit the Archduke Charles to tell him that
Napoleon wished to be represented by him at the wedding to be celebrated
by proxy, March 11, by the Archbishop of Vienna, at the Church of the
Augustins. The Prince of Neufchâtel continued to be treated with a
consideration such as perhaps had never before fallen to the lot of an
envoy in Vienna. From morning till night his quarters were surrounded by
an inquisitive multitude who were anxious to see and salute Napoleon's
friend and fellow-soldier. On the 9th of March he gave a grand dinner
to the most distinguished gentlemen and ladies of the city. "After the
dinner," Count Otto wrote to the Duke of Cadore, "other ladies came in
to pay the first visit to him, a distinction which probably no foreign
prince has ever before enjoyed here. At the grand performance given at
the court theatre that same evening, the Prince again had precedence of
the Archdukes. He was given a seat by the side of the Empress, who
all the evening said the most flattering things to him.... Among the
unprecedented honors which have been paid to him, I have always found it
easy to distinguish such as were personal attentions. His Highness has
had the greatest success here, especially with the Archdukes, who, in
order to overcome his objections to take precedence of them, said in the
most obliging way, 'We are all soldiers, and you are our senior.' The
Archduke Charles has especially displayed a grace and delicacy that have
extremely touched the Prince.... The Emperor has presented the Prince
with his portrait in a costly medallion, and His Highness has taken care
to wear it on various occasions."

Napoleon, who a few days before had been so hated by the Viennese,
appeared to them, as if by sudden endowment, a sort of divine being. On
all sides were heard outbursts of praise, allegories, and cantatas, in
his honor. The poets of the city rivalled one another in celebrating
the union of myrtles and laurels, of grace and strength, of beauty and
genius. "Love," they sang in their dithyrambs, "weaves flowery chains
to unite forever Austria and Gaul. Peoples shed tears, but tears of
enthusiasm and gratitude. Long live Louise and Napoleon!" In every
street, in every square, there were transparencies, mottoes, flags,
mythological emblems, temples of Hymen, angels of peace and concord,
Fame with her trumpet.

At that moment there happened to be in Vienna a great many French
officers and soldiers, detained there to recover from the wounds they
had received in the course of the last war. All those who were able to
leave their beds were anxious to have the happiness of seeing their new
Empress, and thronged to the Palace doors. As soon as Marie Louise heard
that they were there, she made her appearance before them, and spoke to
them most graciously a few kind words. Then these veterans, wild with
joy, shouted at the top of their lungs, "Long live the Princess! Long
live the House of Austria!" And the good people of Vienna, enchanted at
the sight, both wondered and rejoiced to see their Emperor's daughter so
warmly greeted by the French soldiers of Essling and Wagram.



Before proceeding to the account of the wedding, celebrated by proxy in
Vienna, at the Church of the Augustins, March 11, 1810, it may be well
to enumerate the members, at that time, of the Imperial family.

The Emperor, Francis II., head of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, who
was born February 12, 1768, had just entered his forty-third year;
consequently, he was only eighteen months older than his son-in-law, the
Emperor Napoleon, who was born August 15, 1769. The Austrian monarch
had taken for his third wife his cousin Marie Louise Beatrice of Este,
daughter of the Archduke Ferdinand, Duke of Modena. This Princess, who
had no children, was born December 14, 1787, four years, almost to a
day, before her step-daughter, the Archduchess Marie Louise, Napoleon's
wife, who was born December 11, 1791. The new Empress of the French, at
the time of the celebration of her wedding in Vienna, was consequently
eighteen years and three months old, and twenty-two years younger than
her husband.

Francis II. had eight children, three boys and five girls, all by
his second wife, Marie Theresa, of the Two Sicilies, and born in the
following order: In 1791, Marie Louise; in 1793, Ferdinand, the Prince
Imperial; in 1797, Leopoldine, who became the wife of Dom Pedro, Emperor
of Brazil; in 1798, Marie Clementine, who married the Prince of Salerno,
and was the mother-in-law of the Duke of Aumale, the son of Louis
Philippe; in 1801, Caroline, who married Prince Frederick of Saxony; in
1802, Francis Charles Joseph; in 1804, Marie Anne, who became Abbess of
the Chapter of Noble Ladies in Prague; in 1805, John.

He had one sister and eight brothers, to wit: Marie Theresa Josepha,
born 1767, who married Antoine Clement, brother of Frederic Augustus,
King of Saxony; Ferdinand, born 1769, who, after having been Grand
Duke of Tuscany, became Grand Duke of Würzburg, and a great friend
of Napoleon; Charles Louis, born 1771, the famous Archduke Charles,
Napoleon's rival on the battle-field; Joseph Antoine, born 1776,
Palatine of Hungary; Antoine Victor, born 1779, who became Bishop of
Bamberg; John, born 1782, who presided over the parliament at Frankfort
in 1848; Reinhardt, born 1783, who was Viceroy of the Kingdom of
Lombardy and Venetia when it became an Austrian province; Louis, born
1784; Rudolph, born 1788, who became a Cardinal. Consequently, at the
time of Marie Louise's marriage, there were eleven Archdukes, three sons
and eight brothers of the Emperor. The wedding ceremony was preceded,
March 10, 1810, by a rite called the renunciation. At one in the
afternoon, Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel, Ambassador
Extraordinary of France, drove to the Palace with his suite, in a state
carriage drawn by six horses, and was conducted to the hall of the Privy
Council, to witness this ceremony. As soon as Francis II. and Marie
Louise had taken their seats beneath the canopy, the Emperor, as head of
the family, spoke as follows: "Inasmuch as the customs of the Imperial
family require that the Imperial Princesses and Archduchesses shall
before marriage recognize the Pragmatic Sanction of Austria, and the
order of succession, by a solemn act of renunciation, Her Imperial
Highness the Archduchess Marie Louise, who is betrothed to His Imperial
Majesty the Emperor of the French, King of Italy, is about to take
the usual oath, and proceed to the formal rite of renunciation." The
Archduchess then went up to a table on which stood a crucifix between
two lighted candles, and the holy Gospels. Count Hohenwart, Prince
Archbishop of Vienna, opened the book of the Gospel according to St.
John, and the Archduchess, having placed upon it two fingers of
the right hand, read aloud the act of renunciation of the right of
succession to the crown, and took the oath. That evening, Gluck's
_Iphigenia among the Taurians_ was given at the Royal opera-house.
The stairway to the boxes was brilliantly lighted, and lined with
orange-trees. The next day, Sunday, the wedding was celebrated with
great pomp at the Church of the Augustins. The procession filed through
the apartments of the Palace, which had been covered with rugs and
filled with chandeliers and candelabra. Grenadiers were drawn up in a
double line from the Palace to the church. This was the order of the
procession: Two stewards of the court, the pages, the stewards of the
chamber, the carvers, the chamberlains, the privy councillors, the
ministers, the principal officers of the court, the French Ambassador
Extraordinary, the Archdukes Rudolph, Louis, Reinhardt, John, Antoine,
Joseph, preceded by the Archduke Charles, accompanied by the Grand
Master of the Court; the Emperor and King, followed by the Captain of
the Noble Hungarian Guard, the Captain of the Yeomen, and the Grand
Chamberlain; the Empress Queen holding the bride by the hand. The train
of the Empress's dress was carried by the grand mistresses of the court
as far as the second ante-chamber, by pages to the church, and then
again by the grand mistresses. On each side of the Emperor, the Empress,
and the Archdukes, marched twelve archers and as many body-guards; at
some distance the same number of yeomen bearing halberds. Kettledrums
and trumpets announced the arrival of the Emperor and the Empress at
the church, where the Prince Archbishop of Vienna, accompanied by the
clergy, met them at the door and presented them with holy water; that
done, he proceeded with his bishops to the foot of the altar, on the
gospel-side. The Imperial family took their place in the choir. The
Archduke Charles, as Napoleon's representative, and the Archduchess
Marie Louise, kneeled at the prayer-desks before the altar. When the
Archbishop had blessed the wedding-ring, which was presented to him in a
cup, the Archduke Charles and the bride advanced to the altar, where the
ceremony took place in German, according to the Viennese rite. After the
exchange of rings, the bride took the one destined for Napoleon, which
she was to give herself to her husband. Then while those present
remained on their knees the _Te Deum_ was sung. Six pages carried
flaming torches; salvos of artillery were fired; the bells of the city
announced to the populace the completion of the rite. After the _Te
Deum_ the Archbishop pronounced the benediction. Then the procession
returned to the Palace in the order of its going forth.

The French Ambassador wrote to the Duke of Cadore: "The marriage of His
Majesty the Emperor with the Archduchess Marie Louise was celebrated
with a magnificence that it would be hard to surpass, by the side of
which even the brilliant festivities that have preceded it are not to be
mentioned. The vast multitude of spectators, who had gathered from all
quarters of the realm and from foreign parts, so packed the church, and
the halls and passage-ways of the Palace, that the Emperor and Empress
of Austria were often crowded. The really prodigious display of pearls
and diamonds; the richness of the dresses and the uniforms; the
numberless lights that illuminated the whole Palace; the joy of the
participants, gave to the ceremony a splendor worthy of this grand and
majestic solemnity. The richest noblemen of the country made a most
brilliant display, and seemed to rival even with the Emperor. The ladies
who accompanied the two Empresses, who were for the most part Princesses
and women of the highest rank, seemed borne down by the weight of the
diamonds and pearls they wore. But all eyes were fixed on the principal
person of the solemnity, on this adored Princess who soon will make the
happiness of our Sovereign."

When the procession had re-entered the Palace, the Imperial family and
the court assembled in the room called the Room of the Mirror. The
Emperor of Austria and the two Empresses received the congratulations of
all the nobility. By the side of Marie Louise stood the grand mistress
of the household and twelve ladies-in-waiting. "Her modesty," Count Otto
continues in the same report, "the nobility of her bearing, the ease
with which she replied to the speeches addressed to her, enchanted
every one.... I was the first to be introduced to her. She answered my
congratulations by saying that she would spare no pains to please His
Majesty the Emperor Napoleon and to contribute to the happiness of the
French nation which had now become her own. Her Majesty then received
all the noblemen of the court, and spoke to them with an affability that
delighted them. When the reception was over, I was presented to the
Emperor, who spoke to me most amiably and most cordially. He told me
that, in spite of his delicate health, he was unwilling to lose any
opportunity of testifying his high esteem of my master, the Emperor. 'He
will always find in me,' he went on, 'the loyalty and zeal which you
must have noticed in this last negotiation. I give to your Emperor my
beloved daughter. She deserves to be happy. You see joy on every face.
We have neglected nothing to show our satisfaction with this alliance.
Our nations require rest; they applaud what we have done. I am sure that
the best intelligence will reign between us, and that our union will
become only closer.' All these gratifying things that the Emperor said
to me were made even more marked by the voice and the smile which
accompanied them. This monarch, in fact, has a charm of manner which
accounts for his great popularity. During and after the ceremony, the
Empress held her stepdaughter by her right hand, leading her in this
way in the church and through the halls and rooms. The large crowd of
spectators, which almost blocked the inside of the Palace and all the
approaches, seemed to belong to the Imperial family, so great was its
emotion on seeing the new Empress pass by. All the Frenchmen who were
near me confessed that they had never seen a grander or more touching
sight. The court has had a large number of medals struck off in memory
of this event. Many hundred of these have been sent to the Prince of
Neufchâtel, who, to the last, has been treated with the most marked

After the wedding and the reception a grand state dinner was given at
the Palace. A splendid table was set upon a platform covered with costly
carpets, over which there was a canopy in the shape of a horseshoe. The
Grand Master of the Court announced to their Majesties that the dinner
was served. Carvers and pages brought in the meats. After the _lavabo_
the Archbishop asked the blessing, and the Imperial family took their
places in the following order; in the middle, the Empress of the French;
on her right, the Emperor of Austria; on her left, the Empress; on the
two sides the Archdukes Charles, Joseph, Antoine, John, Reinhardt,
Louis, Rudolph, the Prince of Neufchâtel, the Ambassador Extraordinary.
The Grand Master of the Court sat on the right, behind the Emperor's
chair; near him were the Captain of the Yeomen, and on the left the
Captain of the Noble Hungarian Guard. The ministers of state and the
representatives of foreign courts sat on the right, and the two grand
mistresses of the court on the left below the platform. The rest were
opposite the table, next to the body-guard. The Emperor's children had a
place assigned to them in the gallery from which they could look down on
the feast. A concert, vocal and instrumental, accompanied the dinner. At
the end the officiating bishop said grace in a low voice.

There was much comment on the presence of the Prince of Neufchâtel at
the Imperial table, where he sat from the beginning to the end of the
dinner. This was a modification of the ceremonial of the Viennese court,
which admitted Ambassadors to the monarch's table only on very rare
occasions, as at the marriage of an Archduchess; but even in this case,
required that they should leave the table when the dessert was served,
to move about among the noblemen admitted to the banquet-hall. It was
recalled that at the marriage of the French Dauphin to the Archduchess
Marie Antoinette, the Marquis of Durfort, the Ambassador of Louis
XV., was not invited to the dinner in order to avoid the question of
precedence between him and Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, who was present
at the banquet. This same Duke, as well as the brothers of the young
Empress of the French, did not attend the state dinner of March 11,
1810; and the reason given was the desire to show a particular honor to
Napoleon's Ambassador Extraordinary.

The same day, the Archduke Charles who had just represented the French
Emperor at the wedding, wrote to him this letter:--

"March 11, 1810. SIRE: The functions which Your Imperial Majesty has
been kind enough to impose on me have been infinitely agreeable.
Flattered at being chosen to represent a sovereign who, by his exploits,
will live eternally in the annals of history, and convinced of the
mutual happiness which must ensue from the union of Your Imperial
Majesty with a Princess endowed with so many qualities as my dear niece,
I have felt happy at being called on to cement this bond. I beg Your
Imperial Majesty to receive the most earnest assurances of this feeling,
as well as of the profound consideration with which I shall never cease
to be, sire, Your Majesty's very humble and very obedient servant and
cousin, CHARLES."

That evening there were free performances at every theatre. The Emperor
and Empress drove through the city with the bride, who had that day sent
one gold napoleon to every wounded Frenchman, and five napoleons to
every one who had lost a limb. The same thing had been done for the
wounded German allies of France in the last war. This exhibition of
generosity produced the most favorable impression, and much gratitude
was felt towards the new Empress, who in the hours of her triumph had
thought of the suffering soldiers. She was everywhere cheered. The city
and suburbs were rivals in the brilliancy of the illuminations. In front
of the Chancellor's office, where the Prince of Neufchâtel was staying,
were shown the initials of Napoleon and Marie Louise amid a circle
of lights. On one window was this motto, _Ex unione pax, opes,
tranquillitas populorum_, "This union brings to the people peace,
wealth, tranquillity." The dwelling of the Superintendent of Public
Buildings represented a temple with this illuminated inscription,
_Vota publica fausto hymeneo_, "The wishes of the public for the happy

The famous engineer Melzel had devised an ingenious decoration. Above an
excellent portrait of the new Empress there appeared a rainbow; on one
side, his happiest invention, an automaton, which the Viennese called
the War Trumpet. But a Genius was silencing it by pointing to this
motto, _Tace, mundus concors_, "Silence, the world is at peace."

To be sure there were a few satires, and some insulting placards posted
secretly, but the police took pains to remove them. Unfortunately the
weather was unfavorable, and scarcely one light out of ten held out
to burn. Was not this a token of the enthusiasm of the Viennese for
Napoleon, an enthusiasm which had succeeded hatred as if by magic, and
which, after flaring up so speedily, was soon to expire? VIII.


Marie Louise was to pass but one day more in Vienna. The ceremony had
taken place March 11, 1810, and on the 13th the new Empress of the
French was to leave the Austrian capital to join her husband in France.
After all these festivities and great excitement, the 12th was devoted
to peace and quiet. The Emperor Francis profited by it to write to
Napoleon the following letter:--

"March 12, 1810. MY BROTHER AND MY DEAR SON-IN-LAW: I appoint my
Chamberlain, the Count of Clary, the bearer of this letter to Your
Imperial Majesty. The great bond which forever unites our two thrones
was completed yesterday. I wish to be the first to congratulate Your
Majesty on an event which it has deserved, and which my wishes in
harmony with your own, my brother, have crowned, for I regard it as the
most precious as well as the surest pledge of our common happiness, and
consequently of that of our subjects. If the sacrifice I make is very
great, if my heart is bleeding at the loss of this beloved daughter, the
thought, and, I do not hesitate to say, the firmest conviction of her
happiness, is alone able to console me. Count Metternich, who in a few
days will follow Count Clary, will be commissioned to express by word of
mouth to Your Imperial Majesty the attachment which I consecrated to
the monarch who yesterday became one of the members of my family. Now I
confine myself to begging him to receive the assurances of my esteem and
unalterable friendship. Your Imperial and Royal Majesty's affectionate
brother and father-in-law,


March 12, the Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel, left Vienna for
Braunan, on the Austrian and Bavarian frontier. There he was to join the
Empress of the French, who was to be conducted thither by the Austrian
escort and then be entrusted to the French escort with which she was
to continue her journey. "Before the Prince of Neufchâtel left," wrote
Count Otto, March 10, "a great many Archdukes called on him, including
even the high officers of the crown. His Highness started at two
o'clock, amid the acclamations of a large multitude. No embassy has ever
been more warmly received or filled with more dignity and nobility. The
Prince left sixty thousand francs to be divided among the household
where he had stayed. He was most discreet in everything that he did,
and in spite of the various honors heaped upon him, I do not think that
there is a single person at the court whose pride has been wounded." As
the moment drew near when the young Empress was to leave her beloved
family and country, to plunge into the unknown future that was awaiting
her, various emotions crowded upon her. At heart a German and an
Austrian, she could not accustom herself to the thought that probably
she would never see again her revered and beloved father; the family who
adored her; the good people of Vienna, who had always shown the kindest
interest in her; the Burg and Schoenbrunn, where had been spent so many
happy years of her infancy; the dear Church of the Augustins, where she
had so often earnestly offered up her prayers. Could all the praise of
Napoleon which she had been hearing for the last few days wipe out
the memory of the abuse she had so often heard? She had been promised
wealth, grandeur, power; but do those constitute happiness?

The 13th of March came; the hour of her departure struck. That same day
the French Ambassador wrote: "Her Majesty the Empress of the French left
this morning with a large suite. On leaving her loved family and the
land she will never see again, she for the first time felt all the
anguish of the cruel separation. At eight o'clock in the morning the
whole court was assembled in the reception-rooms. About nine, the
Austrian Empress appeared, again leading her step-daughter by her right
hand. She tried to speak to me, but her voice was choked by sobs. The
young Empress was accompanied to her carriage by her step-mother and
the Archdukes, and there they kissed her for the last time. Here the
affectionate mother broke down, and she was supported to her own room by
two chamberlains. The young Empress burst into tears, and her distress
moved even foreigners who witnessed it."

The procession started in the following order: a division of
cuirassiers, a squadron of mounted militia, three postilions, the Prince
of Paar, Director of the Posts, in a carriage with six horses; following
came four carriages, each with six horses, containing Count Edelinck,
Grand Master of the Court, and the chamberlains; Counts Eugene
of Hangevitz; Domenic of Urbua; Joseph Metternich, Landgrave of
Fürstenberg; Counts Ernest of Hoyes and Felix of Mier; Count Haddick,
Field-Marshal; the Count of Wurmbrand; Count Francis Zichy; Prince
Zinzendorf; Prince Paul Esterhazy; Count Antony Bathiani; then the
Prince of Trautmannsdorf, First Grand Master of the Court, and
Quartermaster, in a carriage with six horses; then, in one with eight
horses, the Empress of the French, having with her the Countess of
Lazansky, grand mistress of her household; finally, in three carriages
with six horses each, her ladies-in-waiting,--the Princess of
Trautmannsdorf, Countesses O'Donnell, of Sauran, d'Appony, of Blumeyers,
of Traun, of Podstalzky, of Kaunitz, of Hunyady, of Chotek, of Palfy,
of Zichy. A detachment of cavalry brought up the rear. The procession
passed slowly through Saint Michael's Place, the Kohlmarkt, the Graben,
Kärthnerstrasse, the Glacis, and the Mariahülfestrasse. The troops and
national guard lined both sides of the way.

"The Empress," wrote Count Otto, in his despatch of March 13, "passed
through the main streets of the city and the suburbs, amid the ringing
of bells and the roar of cannon, followed by an immense concourse of
persons who uttered affectionate wishes and farewells. The inhabitants
had decorated their houses and even the palace gate with tricolored
flags. The regimental bands played French marches for the first time. A
general salvo from the ramparts finally announced that the Empress had
crossed the bridge. Her Majesty will be received with the same honors
in all the Austrian cities she passes through. The procession, which
consists of eighty-three carriages, will probably be delayed by the bad
roads, and the rain which fell heavily last night."

The Ambassador thus concluded his despatch: "The tumultuous joy which
has prevailed in Vienna during this last week, which has gratified Her
Majesty as much as any one, has been dimmed for a moment by a feeling
which does honor to the kindness of her heart, and can only endear her
the more to us. She has a great affection for her parents, and this
feeling they return. She has been called Louise the Pious, and it has
been said to be only right that she should share the throne of Saint
Louis. The Emperor started an hour before Her Majesty for Linz, where he
will embrace his beloved daughter for the last time. During these last
few days it has been very obvious that his feelings as a father have had
more weight with him than his position as a sovereign. This monarch's
amiable disposition has appeared in the most favorable light on this
occasion, and everything promises the happiest results from this

On leaving Vienna, Marie Louise doubtless thought that she would
never see it again; but she was to return to it very soon and in very
different circumstances. In four years the Viennese were to see
her again, but how changed the condition of things! Events cruelly
disappointed the hopes of peace and happiness evoked by her marriage. It
was a bitter deception. The hatred of the Austrians for Napoleon, whom
in 1810 they had so much admired, became once more as intense as in the
days of Austerlitz and Wagram. They ceased to greet Marie Louise with
applause; they simply pitied her. Her father himself ceased to regard
her as a sovereign. "As my daughter," he said to her, "everything that
I possess is yours, my blood and my life; I do not know you as a
sovereign." The time seemed very remote when she had precedence of the
Empress of Austria, and her father, the head of the house of Hapsburg,
respectfully gave her place at his right hand. After losing the double
Imperial and Royal crown, that of France and that of Italy, she was
obliged to beg of the implacable Coalition a petty duchy, the possession
of which had been promised her by a treaty signed after the fall of the
great Empire. There were again festivities in Vienna, but not for her,
the dethroned sovereign. Once she was curious to see one, and she
watched it hiding behind a curtain. On the evening of a court ball given
by her father in honor of the members of the Congress of Vienna, she
concealed herself near an opening made in the attic of the great hall
of the palace,--where the festivities of her wedding had been
celebrated,--and from there the wife of the prisoner of Elba watched the
men dancing who were condemning her to widowhood even in the lifetime of
her husband.



Marie Louise's journey was one long ovation; in every town and in every
village she passed through the young Empress received the homage of the
authorities. Groups of girls, dressed in white, offered her flowers;
bells were rung; and the enthusiasm of the country people was quite as
warm as that of the Viennese. Marie Louise spent the night at Saint
Pölten, where she met her father, who had gone thither incognito,
in order to embrace her for the last time. The Empress, the bride's
stepmother, went there also unexpectedly, and threw herself for the last
time into the arms of the Empress of the French. Ried she reached the
15th of March, 1810, and thence Marie Louise started on the 16th, at
eight in the morning, after hearing mass. By eleven she had reached
Altheim, close to the Bavarian frontier, and here she made a stop for
the purpose of exchanging her travelling-dress for a finer one. Bavaria,
as part of the Confederation of the Rhine, could be regarded as a
province of the French Emperor, since Napoleon was the Protector of the
Confederation. It had hence been decided that on the frontier, between
Austria and Bavaria, close to Braunau, should take place the ceremony of
handing her over to her French escort with all formality. The scene was
a close imitation of what had taken place forty years before, on the
occasion of the marriage of Marie Antoinette. On the frontier line
between Austria and Bavaria three pavilions were set up, opening from
one to the other: the first of these was regarded as Austrian; the
second, as neutral; and the third, as French. These three connected
buildings formed a wooden edifice in three compartments, and was placed
between Altheim and Braunau. It was furnished with care, and provided
with fireplaces. The central pavilion, or hall, which was destined for
the ceremony, was adorned with a canopy, beneath which, on a platform,
there was an armchair for the Empress, covered with a cloth of gold. To
the left of the canopy, on the Bavarian side, towards Braunau, was set a
large table with a velvet cloth, on which the plenipotentiaries were to
write their signatures. Two lines of young green trees had been set out,
one leading to the French hall, the other to the Austrian. On the side
of the first, towards Braunau, were drawn three regiments, in full
uniform, two of infantry and one of cavalry, under the command of
Generals Friant and Pajol. On the other, the Austrian, side, towards
Altheim, there were neither troops nor sentinels, in token of the
temporary neutrality of the territory. The French Commissioner was
Marshal Berthier, the Prince of Neufchâtel, and his secretary, Count
Alexandre de La Borde. The Austrian Commissioner was the Prince of
Trautmannsdorf: M. Thedelitz was his secretary. The French party, which
was to meet Marshal Berthier at Braunau, and to serve as an escort to
the Empress for the rest of the journey, was composed of the following
people: Caroline, Queen of Naples, Murat's wife and Napoleon's sister;
the Duchess of Montebello, lady of honor, the widow of Marshal Lannes;
the Countess of Luçay, lady of the bed-chamber; the Duchess of Bassano,
the Countesses of Montmorency, of Mortemart, and of Bouillé, maids of
honor; the Bishop of Metz, Monsignor Jauffret, almoner; the Count of
Beauharnais, lord-in-waiting; the Prince Aldobrandini Borghese, chief
equerry; the Counts d'Aubusson, of Béarn, d'Angosse, and of Barol,
chamberlains; Philip de Ségur, lord steward; the Baron of Saluces and
the Baron d'Audenarde, equerries; the Count of Seyssel, master of
ceremonies; M. de Bausset, steward.

March 16, at half-past one, the Prince of Neufchâtel, with the rest of
his company, made their way to the French division of the building; they
were all, men and women, in full dress. Towards two o'clock Marie Louise
entered the Austrian room, and after resting a moment she was ushered
into the middle room, the neutral one, by the Austrian master of
ceremonies; there a throne had been set, and the formal ceremony was to
take place. Marie Louise seated herself on the throne. The Prince of
Trautmannsdorf took his station before the table where the papers were
to be signed, with the Aulic Counsellor, Hudelitz, the secretary, behind
him. The men and women of the Austrian party ranged themselves around
the Empress. At the back and on the two sides of the hall were twelve
Noble Hungarian Guards and twelve German guardsmen, armed and in full

While the Austrians were thus getting ready, the French were waiting in
the next room, and displayed great impatience to get a sight of their
new sovereign. M. de Bausset, an eye-witness of the ceremony, tells us
in his Memoirs: "I was naturally anxious to see the Empress as soon as
she should reach the middle room to take a place on the throne, and
give her courtiers time to arrange themselves about her, before we were
introduced. I had brought a gimlet, and with this I had bored a good
many holes in the door of our room. This little indiscretion, which
was not mentioned in our report, gave us an opportunity to inspect the
appearance of our young sovereign at our ease. I need not say that it
was the ladies of our party who were most anxious to make use of the
little holes I had provided. The impression produced by the grace
and majesty of the Empress upon these inquisitive peepers was very
favorable. Marie Louise," M. de Bausset goes on, "sat straight on the
throne. Her erect figure was fine; her hair was blond and very pretty;
her blue eyes beamed with all the candor and innocence of her soul. Her
face was soft and kindly. She wore a dress of gold brocade, caught up
with large flowers of different colors, which must have tired her by its
weight. Hanging from her neck was a portrait of Napoleon surrounded by
sixteen magnificent solitaire diamonds, which together had cost five
hundred thousand francs."

Baron von Lohr, the Austrian master of ceremonies, having knocked at
the door of the next room, where were the Prince of Neufchâtel and the
Empress's French court, announced to the Count of Seyssel, the French
master of ceremonies, that the ceremony might begin; thereupon the
Prince of Neufchâtel entered the neutral room, followed by Count de
Laborde, his secretary for this occasion. After them entered the Duchess
of Montebello, the Count of Beauharnais, and the rest of the French
party, who stationed themselves at the end of the hall opposite the
Austrians. The two commissioners, the Prince of Neufchâtel and the
Prince of Trautmannsdorf, after an exchange of compliments, signed and
sealed the two documents, each retaining one of the copies. Then the
Prince of Trautmannsdorf approached the Empress, bowing, and asked
permission to kiss her hand in bidding her farewell. This permission
was readily granted to him, and to all the ladies and gentlemen who had
accompanied her from Vienna.

While the French and Austrian secretaries were counting the
dowry--five hundred thousand francs in new golden ducats--and verifying
the Empress's jewels and precious stones, the French commissioners
giving a receipt for the dowry and jewels as enumerated in an inventory
attached to the document, the Austrian party drew up before the throne
of Marie Louise, and each one, according to his or her rank, went up
and kissed her hand with deep emotion. Even the humblest servants were
admitted to present their respects and best wishes. "Her Majesty's eyes
were filled with tears," M. de Bausset tells us, "and this emotion
touched every heart."

When they had all regained their places, Prince Trautmannsdorf offered
his hand to the Empress, to help her down from the platform and to lead
her to the Prince of Neufchâtel, who took her by the hand and led her
towards the French courtiers. He named them all to the Empress; then the
door of the French room was opened, and the Queen of Naples, who had
been standing there during the whole ceremony, went up to her, and the
two sisters-in-law kissed each other and chatted for a few moments. Then
the Archduke Antoine was announced; he had been sent by the Emperor of
Austria to present his compliments to the Queen of Naples, and was to
return at once to Vienna to bring tidings of the Empress Marie Louise.
After the Queen had welcomed and thanked the Archduke, the two
sisters-in-law got into a carriage and drove to Braunau, followed by the
Prince of Neufchâtel and all the court. On both sides of the way troops
were drawn up in order of battle, and artillery salutes were fired.

The Prince of Neufchâtel, on the suggestion of the Emperor Napoleon,
invited the ladies and gentlemen of the Austrian party to spend the day
at Braunau, to take part in the rejoicings which were to be celebrated
there. Marie Louise also invited them in her own name. General de
Ségur, who was present, thus describes the mingling of the French and
Austrians: "The only thing that I remember is that the men moved about
together and exchanged words very politely; but I never saw a company of
women sitting more constrainedly, with less ease, than on this occasion,
when the Austrian ladies were haughtily cold and silent. These ladies,
who had been compelled to offer up the Princess as their part of the war
indemnity, seemed to take no part in the submission which the government
had forced upon them. They handed over to us the pledge of defeat with
a bad grace which their husbands, who were weary of war, did not show."
Generals Friant and Pajol gave a grand dinner to the Austrian officers
in the citadel of Braunau, and the courtesy of both sides was worthy of
note. Three toasts were drunk,--the first to the Emperor Napoleon, the
second to the Empress Marie Louise, the third to the Emperor of Austria.
There was a salute of thirty guns after each toast.

At Braunau the Empress occupied the house of a rich wine-merchant
opposite the town-hall. The house was decorated with flags, and before
it a triumphal arch was set up. Marie Louise rested there, and changed
everything she had on, according to the custom, which demands that a
foreign princess on entering her new country must leave behind her
everything that attaches her to the country, the people and the ways she
has left. The Parisian shopkeepers had made everything for her from
measures and models sent from Vienna. Napoleon had had these models
shown him, and taking one of the shoes, which were remarkably small, he
had sportively stroked his valet's cheek with it, and said, "See there,
Constant; here's a shoe that will bring good luck with it. Did you ever
see feet like those?"

After the Empress had received the authorities of Braunau and the
generals commanding the French troops, she sought retirement, and
wrote to her father this touching letter, of which M. von Helfert has
published the German text: this is the translation:--

"DEAR FATHER--Excuse me for not writing yesterday, as I should have
done. The journey, which was long and very fatiguing, prevented me.
It is with pleasure that I seize this occasion to give to Prince
Trautmannsdorf for you the assurance that my thoughts are always with
you. God has endowed me with strength to endure the cruel emotion which
this separation from all my family calls forth. In Him I confide. He
will sustain me and give me courage to fulfil my mission. My consolation
shall be the thought that the sacrifice is in your behalf. I reached
Ried very late, and I was much distressed by the thought that I was
departing from you perhaps forever. At two o'clock I arrived at the
French camp at Braunau. I stopped a few minutes in the Austrian
pavilion, and there I had to listen to the reading of the documents
about the limits of the neutral zone, in which a throne had been set.
All my people then came up to kiss my hand, and I could hardly control
myself. I shuddered, and I was so much moved that the Prince of
Neufchâtel had tears in his eyes. Prince Trautmannsdorf delivered me to
him, and my household was presented. Heavens, what a difference between
the French and the Austrian ladies!... The Queen of Naples came to greet
me, threw her arms about me, and was most kind; but yet I have not
perfect confidence in her: I can't think she took this long journey
merely to be of use to me. She came to Braunau with me, and then I
had to spend two hours in arraying myself. I assure you that now I am
already as much perfumed as the Frenchwomen. Napoleon sent me a superb
golden dress. He has not yet written. Now that I have had to leave you,
I had rather be with him than travel longer with these ladies. Heavens!
how I miss the happy moments I spent with you! Now, alone, I value
them at their true worth. I assure you, dear papa, that I am sad and
inconsolable. I hope you have got over your cold. Every day I pray
for you. Excuse my scrawl. I have so little time. I kiss your hands a
thousand times, and have the honor to be, dear papa, your obedient,
humble daughter,


"BRAUNAU, March 16, 1810."

That evening the Empress appeared again before the party that had
accompanied her from Vienna, to take a last farewell.

"Among them," we read in the Memoirs of Madame Durand, one of the suite
of the new Empress, "were many ladies who had known Marie Antoinette.
They all understood with what a heavy heart Marie Louise would come to
occupy a throne on which her great-aunt had suffered so sorely.... At
the moment when she was getting into the carriage that was to take her
to Munich, the grand master of the household, a man sixty-five years
old, who had accompanied her to this point, raised his joined hands
towards heaven, as if praying for a happy fate for his young mistress,
and blessing her as her own father might have done. His eyes indicated
a mind full of great thoughts and sad memories. His tears moistened the
eyes of all who witnessed this touching sight."

The Empress, with her French escort, started from Braunau for Munich
early March 17, in frightful weather; Only one of the Austrian suite
remained with her, the grand mistress, Countess Lazansky. She hoped that
this lady, whom she much loved, would remain another year with her. But
this hope was doomed to disappointment.



In the course of the 17th the Empress reached Haag, where the Bavarian
Crown Prince received her, and at ten in the evening she was in Munich.
The next day, M. de Boyne, the French _chargé d'affaires_, wrote to the
Duke of Cadore: "Her Majesty the Empress has received all along her
route, and yesterday, on her arrival in Munich, countless expressions
of love and respect. This capital was illuminated with a taste and
magnificence that had never been seen here. The Crown Prince went as
far as Haag to pay his respects to her. The troops and the militia were
under arms, and the King and Queen, with the whole court, met her at the
foot of the staircase of honor." Marie Louise was not to leave Munich
till the 19th of March. On the 18th she received a letter from her
husband, brought by one of his equerries, the Baron of Saint Aignan.
That evening there was a state dinner at the palace, a levee, and a
theatrical representation. The next day, the 19th, the Empress was
destined to suffer a heavy blow. She had brought with her from Vienna to
Braunau, and from Braunau to Munich, her grand mistress, a confidential
friend, a woman who had had faithful charge of her infancy and
youth,--the Countess Lazansky. When she reached the Bavarian capital,
she was sure that this woman was not to leave her. Since the Countess
had not gone away at Braunau, she had every reason to suppose that she
would accompany her to Paris, and Marie Louise fully intended to keep
her with her at least a year. The Austrian court showed this belief, and
the French Ambassador had written March 6th to the Duke of Cadore: "I
shall not, even indirectly, oppose Madame Lazansky's going, since
His Majesty is willing to permit her accompanying the Empress. This
attention will be gratefully received." But that did not at all suit
Napoleon's sister, the Queen of Naples, who had not pleased the Austrian
lady, and who wished to control the new Empress without a rival.

The Queen of Naples was a very agreeable, very charming woman; but Count
Otto was mistaken when he wrote that the Austrian court was flattered
by hearing that Napoleon had chosen his sister Caroline to meet the new
Empress; the choice was not a happy one, and the Emperor would doubtless
have done better to send some other princess of his family. Could it be
forgotten that there was another woman, also a queen, and also bearing
the name of Caroline, Marie Louise's grandmother, whom Marie Louise
tenderly loved, and whose throne was occupied by Murat's wife? It should
have been remembered that in the eyes of the court of Vienna, the true,
the legitimate, queen of the Two Sicilies was not Caroline, Napoleon's
sister, but another Caroline, the daughter of the great Marie Thérèse,
the sister of Marie Antoinette.

This is what the widow of General Durand says on the subject, in her
interesting Memoirs: "Princess Caroline, Madame Murat, then Queen of
Naples, had gone to Braunau to meet her sister-in-law. The Duchess of
Montebello, a beautiful, sensible woman, the mother of five children,
who had lost her husband in the last war, had been appointed a
maid-of-honor,--a feeble compensation on the part of the Emperor for
her sad bereavement. The Countess of Luçay, a gentle, kindly woman,
thoroughly familiar with the customs of good society, was lady of the
bedchamber. I shall speak later of the other ladies of the suite, whose
functions, as established by etiquette, brought them very little into
personal relations with the Empress. Each one of them had pretensions to
which the presence of Madame Lazansky was an obstacle. They complained
to Queen Caroline, and she decided on an act of despotism which deeply
wounded her sister-in-law." This act was the dismissal of Madame
Lazansky. By this course the Queen of Naples expected to add to her
influence over the Empress; but, on the contrary, she only diminished it

"Madame Murat," continues Madame Durand, "was very anxious to acquire
great power over Marie Louise, and she might have been successful had
she taken, more precautions. Talleyrand said of her that she had the
head of a Cromwell on the body of a pretty woman. Endowed by nature with
a marked character, great intelligence, far-reaching ideas, a supple and
crafty mind, with a grace and amiability that made her very charming,
she lacked nothing but the power of hiding her love of rule; and when
she missed her aim, it was because she had been too eager. The moment
she saw the Austrian Princess, she imagined that she had read her
character; but she was utterly mistaken. She took her timidity for
weakness, her embarrassment for awkwardness; and, fancying that she
needed only to give her orders, she hardened against her for all time
the heart of the woman whom she expected to control."

Madame Durand thus describes the conspiracy which these women formed:
"The presence of the Countess Lazansky had excited the jealousy and the
fears of all the ladies of the household. They intrigued and caballed,
telling the Queen of Naples that she could never win her sister-in-law's
confidence or affection so long as she kept with her a person whose
influence rested on so many years of devotion and intimacy. Her
maid-of-honor lamented that her functions would amount to nothing, if
the Princess were to keep near her this foreigner who looked after
everything. Finally they persuaded the Queen to ask Marie Louise to send
back her grand mistress, although she had been promised that she could
keep her for a year."

The Empress might have resisted. They showed her no order from the
Emperor; they merely said that the presence of the Austrian lady with a
French sovereign was something anomalous,--an infringement of the laws
of etiquette,--and that the best way for the Empress to please the
Emperor was by this voluntary sacrifice. Marie Louise yielded for the
sake of peace, and gave up her friend, as later she was to give up her
husband, out of weakness. Her decision gave her great pain, and it was
not without a pang that she parted from the Countess Lazansky. "How
agonizing this separation is!" she wrote to her father. "I really could
not make a greater sacrifice for my husband, and still I do not think
that this sacrifice was intended by him."

Another thing that added to the grief of the new Empress was that she
was compelled to part with a pet dog which she was very fond of: the
Countess was to carry it back to Vienna. They told Marie Louise that
Napoleon disliked dogs, that he could not endure Josephine's, and that
they were perpetual subjects of discord. Besides, was it not her duty,
on entering France, to give up everything that came from her former
home? General de Ségur, who had been part of the Empress's escort since
leaving Braunau, makes no mention of the Countess Lazansky, but
he speaks of the dog: "The complete change of dress was simply an
entertainment: that of the escort had been anticipated; it was
necessary to endure it. This painful change would have taken place
without too much evidence of grief, if the superfluously jealous
interference of Napoleon's sister had not extended itself to a little
dog from Vienna, which, it was insisted, must be sent back, though this
cost Marie Louise many tears." The acquisition of a colossal empire did
not console the sovereign for the loss of a little dog.

March 19, in the morning, Marie Louise and Countess Lazansky parted.
"The worst thing in the conduct of the Queen of Naples," writes Madame
Durand, who did not like her, "was that after having demanded the
Empress's consent to Madame Lazansky's departure, she gave orders to the
ladies-in-waiting not to admit that lady to the Empress if she came to
say good by. This order was not obeyed; the two ladies admitted her by
a secret door; she spent two hours with the Empress, and the ladies who
admitted her never regretted what they had done, in spite of the many
reproaches of the Queen of Naples."

While the Empress, leaving Munich March 19, continued her journey to
France, her old friend was journeying back to Vienna, where she arrived
March 22. Her unexpected return made a most unfavorable impression on
all classes of society.

The report that the Countess Lazansky was to accompany the Empress
to Paris had spread everywhere, and it was regarded as a proof of
confidence and cordiality that was most welcome to the Viennese with
their devotion to the reigning family. Consequently their delight and
interest, which had been fed by the festivities and all the details of
the journey, made the sudden return of the mistress of the robes a cause
of surprise and even of anxiety. There were riotous assemblies, and the
affair was the subject of most unfavorable comment. As the Baron of
Méneval has said, "The reconciliation on the part of the aristocracy and
people of Austria was not sincere. Marie Louise's departure from Vienna
was followed by many regrets. Instigated by English and Russian agents,
the populace of Vienna gathered in the streets and public places, and
began to murmur about the sacrifice which they said had been required
of the Emperor. The authorities were obliged to take active measures
against these assemblages." The Emperor of Austria spoke of them himself
to the French Ambassador. Count Otto wrote, March 24, to the Duke of
Cadore: "The Emperor having returned from Linz, I asked for a private
audience to congratulate him on his happy return. Audiences of this sort
are only accorded here to ambassadors of powers related by marriage, and
I took advantage of this occasion to enjoy this honorable distinction.
His Majesty received with his wonted kindness; he had been thoroughly
satisfied with all that took place at Braunau, and with the delicate
attentions paid to Her Majesty the Empress from the moment of her
arrival. 'But what have you done to Madame Lazansky?' the Emperor
went on, 'Why is she sent back? Your master had given my daughter leave
to take a companion with her; and if an exception was to be made, Madame
Lazansky deserved to be the object of it, for she has always been
well disposed towards France. But I must assure you that I attach no
importance to the matter, although the public amuses itself with a
thousand absurd conjectures; last night there were tumults in the city
and the suburbs.' I told His Majesty, in reply, that these disturbances
of the public peace were doubtless the last efforts of a few foreign
intriguers who are always on hand in this city; that since the escorts
were changed at Braunau, nothing was simpler or more natural than Madame
Lazansky's return; and that to allay the excitement, nothing more was
necessary than to spread abroad the rumor that orders had been received
from here recalling that lady as soon as the Empress was accustomed
to her new court. 'That's just what I have already done,' resumed the
Emperor, 'and it is to be hoped that the same things will be said in
France, as the best way of silencing discontent.'"

A few hours later Prince Metternich, the father of the celebrated
minister, who in his son's absence had charge of the Ministry, had an
interview with the Ambassador about this painful incident. "Prince
Metternich," Count Otto adds in the same despatch, "came to see me to
give me some fuller details about the events of the previous night. He
had been kept up until three in the morning, receiving the reports of
the police, and having the ringleaders arrested. They had gone about in
the coffee-houses, and had carried their effrontery so far as to say
that the French army was again in motion, and that Napoleon's sole aim
had been to distract the attention of this court."

Meanwhile Marie Louise was continuing her triumphal journey. At
Stuttgart she found the court and the population as enthusiastic as
at Munich; there, too, even illuminations, a state dinner, a levee, a
theatrical representation. At Stuttgart the Empress received a letter
from Napoleon, brought by the Count of Beauvau. Another letter from the
Emperor was delivered to her by the Count of Bondy at Carlsruhe, where
her reception was no less brilliant than at Munich and Stuttgart.

March 23, Marie Louise was at Rastadt, where the Hereditary Grand Duke
of Baden, who had married Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Napoleon's adopted
daughter, gave her a breakfast. At the bridge over the Rhine, which the
Empress reached at five in the evening, she was met by twenty French
generals and several divisions under arms. The bridge was decorated with
flags; bells were pealing; salvos of artillery were roaring. At the
entrance of the bridge the sovereign was welcomed by the Prefect of the
Lower Rhine, and at the city gates by the Mayor. "It was at Strasbourg,"
says General de Ségur, "that France, in its turn, greeted Marie Louise.
The enthusiasm on this German and military frontier was all the more
lively, sincere, and wide-spread, because the Archduchess was regarded
as the most brilliant trophy of the success of our arms, and it was
thought that after eighteen years of warfare they had in her a pledge of
certain peace."

March 23, Marie Louise wrote to her father, from Strasbourg, a long
letter, in which she apologized for her long silence, pleading the
excessive fatigue of a long journey, during which she had to get up
every morning at five, travel all day, and spend every evening at
receptions and theatrical performances. She added that the programme of
the festivities at Strasbourg had just been submitted to her for her
orders. "I can't tell you, dear papa," she said, "how funny it seems to
me, who have never had any will of my own, to have to give orders." At
Strasbourg she had the pleasure of meeting Count Metternich, who had
left Vienna March 12, and after stopping at many German courts, was
about to push on to Paris. The festivities there were very brilliant. A
newspaper of the town said, March 24, "Among the guests was the Austrian
general, Count Neipperg, who was here on a mission from his government,
as also many officers." Who could have foreseen that this unknown
general would one day be Marie Louise's consort, Napoleon's successor?

It was at Strasbourg that the Empress received her first letter from her
father since her departure from Vienna. She answered it at once: "I beg
of you, dear father, pray for me most warmly. Be sure that I shall try
with all my strength to perform the duty you have assigned to me. I am
easy about my fate. I am sure that I shall be happy. I wish you could
read Napoleon's letter: it is full of kindness." With every step she
made on French soil, Marie Louise became reconciled with her lot. For
his part, the Emperor awaited his new companion with all the impatience
of a youth of twenty, "Every day," says his valet Constant, "he sent a
letter, and she answered regularly. Her first letters were very short
and probably very cool, for the Emperor never mentioned them; but the
later ones were longer and gradually more affectionate, and the Emperor
used to read them with transports of delight.... He complained that his
couriers were lazy though they killed their horses. One day he came back
from hunting, carrying two pheasants in his hand, and followed by some
footmen bearing the rarest flowers from the conservatory at Saint Cloud.
He wrote a note, summoned his first page, and said to him: 'Be ready to
start in ten minutes, by coach. In it you will find these things, which
you will deliver to the Empress with your own hands. And above all,
don't spare the horses. Go as fast as you can, and fear nothing.'
The young man asked nothing better than to obey His Majesty. Thus
authorized, he hurried at full speed, giving his postilions double pay,
and in twenty-four hours he had reached Strasbourg." According to Madame
Durand, "It was evident that Marie Louise read the Emperor's letters
with ever-increasing interest. She awaited them with impatience; and if
the courier was behind time, she asked frequently if he had not come,
and what could have delayed him. This correspondence must have been
charming, since it evoked a feeling destined to acquire great strength.
Napoleon, on his side, was burning with desire to see his young wife;
he was more flattered by this marriage than he would have been by the
conquest of an empire. What most delighted him was to know that she had
given her consent of her own free will."

The Baron de Méneval also tells about Napoleon's correspondence with
this new wife, whom he had not seen and was so impatient to know: "He
wrote to her every day as soon as she had set foot on French soil; he
sent bouquets of the most beautiful flowers along with the letters, and
sometimes game. He was delighted with the answers, some of which were
long, that he received. These replies were written in good French; the
Empress expressed herself with delicacy and decorum: perhaps the Queen
of Naples aided her. She wrote many details, which interested the
Emperor very much."

The Empress left Strasbourg, March 25, in the direction of Nancy. She
dined at Bar-le-Duc, and at Vitry-le-Francois received the Prince of
Schwarzenberg, the Austrian Ambassador, and the Countess Metternich. She
had just made up her mind to hurry her journey, and thus to hasten the
moment set by etiquette for meeting her husband. The hour which Napoleon
had awaited so impatiently was now drawing near. XI.


Since the 20th of March, Napoleon had been at Compiègne, denouncing the
cumbrous machinery of etiquette which was retarding the happy moment
when he should at last see his new wife and enfold her in his arms.
He had had the castle repaired and richly furnished, that it might be
worthy to receive a daughter of the Cæsars. The grand gallery had been
decorated with gilded ceilings and stucco columns; the garden had been
replanted and adorned with statues. The waters of the Oise had been
carried there by a system of water-works. All the members of the
Imperial family had arrived; the court was most brilliant. The Emperor
wished to dazzle his young wife with unheard-of splendor.

The minutest details of the meeting of the Imperial couple had been
carefully arranged beforehand; it was settled that this should take
place in all formality, March 28, between Soissons and Compiègne.
The Emperor was to leave the last-named place with the princes and
princesses of his family, preceded and followed by detachments of the
mounted Imperial Guard. Two leagues from Soissons they would find a
pavilion composed of three tents, entered by two flights of steps, one
on the side towards Compiègne, the other on that towards Soissons; the
first one was for Napoleon, the other for Marie Louise. The pavilion,
which was richly decorated with flags, was surrounded by trees; near
it flowed a brook. The central tent, the one in which the Emperor and
Empress were to meet for the first time, was decorated with purple and
gold. It had been settled that Marie Louise should fall on her knees as
soon as she saw her husband, that he should help her to her feet and
kiss her; then that both should get into a state carriage, and both the
escorts should unite and form one.

The preparations were completed March 27. Everything--horses,
carriages, escort, pavilion--was ready. That morning Prince Charles of
Schwarzenberg, the Austrian Ambassador, and the Countess Metternich,
the Minister's wife, arrived at the castle of Compiègne from
Vitry-le-François, where they had seen the Empress, of whom they could
bring news to Napoleon. At noon the Emperor received a letter from Marie
Louise, in which she said that in order to make greater haste she was
leaving Vitry-le-François that very morning for Soissons. When this
letter was handed to him, Napoleon was walking up and down in the
park, as if to overcome the impatience which this interminable waiting
produced. When he learned that his wife was so near, he could wait no
longer, and he decided to turn his back on the etiquette which had been
so laboriously prepared for the next day, and to hasten to meet Marie
Louise. He summoned Murat, whom he wished to have as his sole
companion, and leaving the park secretly by a hidden gate, he and his
brother-in-law got into a modest, undecorated carriage, which was driven
by a coachman not in livery towards Soissons as fast as the horses could
carry it.

Never had the Emperor known time to drag so slowly. A double feeling--of
curiosity and love--set his heart beating as if he were a youth of
twenty. When he had got beyond Soissons, he judged that Marie Louise
could not be far distant, and he alighted at a village called

The Empress meanwhile had been journeying ever since the morning in the
same carriage as her sister-in-law, Queen Caroline, with no idea of what
was going to happen. She had passed through Châlons and Rheims, and
proposed to dine at Soissons, where she expected to pass the night; for
the meeting with the Emperor was set down for the next day, March 28,
at the pavilion erected two leagues from that town. It was raining
in torrents when Napoleon reached there, and he got down with his
brother-in-law and sought shelter under the porch of the church opposite
the posting-station. No one in the village had a suspicion that the two
strangers seeking refuge from the rain were the great Emperor and
the King of Naples. Suddenly the clatter of wheels was heard, and a
carriage, preceded by an outrider and followed by a great many vehicles,
rolled up. It was she, at last,--Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria,
Empress of the French, Queen of Italy, the woman who would bring him a
son and heir to the vast empire! Pride and the intoxication of triumph
mingled with the conqueror's joy.

The carriage stopped, and the men began to change the horses. Napoleon
hastened to the carriage-door. He did not want to be recognized for a
few moments yet, but the equerry, d'Audenarde, scarcely believing his
eyes, shouted, "The Emperor!" The happy husband flung himself into the
arms of his wife, who was overcome with surprise and emotion. The first
glance delighted him. That fine young woman, fresh and young, full of
strength and health, with her blonde hair, her blue eyes, her air of
innocence and candor, was the wife he wanted, the Empress of his dreams;
and the words she said to him flattered and touched him, went straight
to his heart! After looking at him for some time, she said timidly and
gently: "You are much better-looking than your portrait."

A courier was despatched to carry the news at full speed to Compiègne,
that the Emperor and Empress would arrive there at about two o'clock,
and the carriage containing Napoleon and Marie Louise, with the King and
Queen of Naples, started in the direction of Soissons, followed by the
carriages containing the Empress's suite. They stopped but a moment at
Soissons. "I had the honor," says M. de Bausset, "to be in the carriage
with Mesdames de Montmorency and de Montemart and the Bishop of Metz. It
seemed to me that these ladies were more contented than I was to leave
the excellent dinner which was awaiting us there." Soissons, which
had made many expensive preparations, had no return for its money and
trouble. As to the ceremonious meeting in the pavilion two leagues off,
which had been prepared for the next day at some expense, it was not to
be thought of. Napoleon showed tact and courtesy by relieving his wife
of this alarming formality, and especially of the necessity of kneeling
before him. He was happily inspired in setting feeling before etiquette,
and in yielding to his impatience to see the face and hear the voice of
his long-awaited wife.

As soon as the courier, sent in advance, reached Compiègne, and
announced the great news, the town was in commotion. The illuminations
were got ready, the triumphal arches were decked with flags, orders were
given to greet the entry of the Emperor and Empress with a salute of a
hundred and one cannon. Marshal Bessières made ready the mounted guard.
In spite of the rain, the inhabitants assembled in crowds to meet the
sovereigns at the stone bridge where Louis XV. had met the Dauphiness,
Marie Antoinette. The courts and galleries of the castle, which were
open to the public, were thronged with inquisitive visitors. A hard
rain was falling, and the night was so dark that nothing could be seen
without torches. At ten o'clock the cannon announced the arrival of
the Imperial couple, who rapidly ascended the Avenue. The princes and
princesses were waiting at the foot of the staircase, and the Emperor
presented them to the Empress. The town authorities were assembled in
a gallery where was the Prince of Schwarzenberg; a band of young girls
dressed in white paid their respects to the Empress, and offered her
flowers. The Emperor then conducted her to her apartments, where she was
delighted, as she was surprised, to find her little dog and her
birds from Vienna, as well as a piece of tapestry which she had left
unfinished at the Burg. This delicate attention of Napoleon's moved her
to tears. She was also pleased to see a magnificent piano. After a quiet
supper, at which the Queen of Naples was the only guest, the Emperor
conducted his wife to the room of his sister Pauline, the Princess
Borghese, who had been prevented by illness from taking part in the
reception. Then he showed her to her own room.

The portrait of the Empress which the Baron de Méneval has drawn, is
as follows: "Marie Louise had all the charm of youth; her figure was
perfectly regular; the waist of her dress was rather longer than was
generally worn at that time, and this added to her natural dignity and
contrasted favorably with the short waists of our ladies; her coloring
was deepened by her journey and her timidity; her fine and thick hair,
of a light chestnut, set off a fresh, full face, to which her gentle
eyes lent a very attractive expression; her lips, which were a little
thick, recalled the type of the Austrian Imperial line, just as a
slightly aquiline nose distinguishes the Bourbon princes; her whole
appearance expressed candor and innocence, and her plumpness, which she
lost after the birth of her son, indicated good health."

The next day, after breakfast, the ladies and officers of the household
who had not met her at Braunau were presented to the Empress, and they
took the oath of allegiance. Then followed the presentation of the
Generals and Colonels of the Guards, of the Ministers and high officers
of the crown, and of the officers and ladies who were to attend her on
leaving Compiègne. She had the pleasure of meeting at the castle her
uncle, the Grand Duke of Würzburg, her father's brother, with whom
she talked for a long time about her country and her family. She
also chatted with the Prince of Schwarzenberg and with the Countess
Metternich. All day Napoleon was in charming humor. Contrary to his
usual custom he dressed for dinner, putting on a coat which his sister
Pauline, an authority on fashions, had commanded of Léger, the tailor of
the King of Naples, who was fond of expensive and handsome clothes. This
coat and a white tie were not becoming to Napoleon; his simple uniforms
and black tie suited him much better. This was the only time he wore the
coat which the Princess Pauline had ordered; on ordinary occasions he
appeared in the green uniform of the Chasseurs of the Guard; and on
Sundays and reception days in his blue uniform with white facings.

March 29, the Count of Praslin set out from Compiègne for Vienna,
carrying two letters, one from Napoleon, the other from Marie Louise,
to the Emperor Francis II. In his letter Napoleon said to his
father-in-law, "Allow me to thank you for the present you have made me.
May your paternal heart rejoice in your daughter's happiness!" Marie
Louise, too, expressed content and joy; after telling her father with
what delicacy her husband had lessened the embarrassment of the first
interview, she went on: "Since that moment I feel almost at home with
him; he loves me sincerely, and I return his affection. I am sure that I
shall have a happy life with him. My health continues good. I am
quite rested from the journey.... I assure you that the Emperor is as
solicitous as you were about my health. If I have the least cold, he
will not let me get up before two o'clock. I only need your presence to
be perfectly happy, and my husband would also be very glad to see you. I
assure you that he desires it as sincerely as I do." Five days later she
wrote: "I am able to tell you, my dear father, that your prophecy has
come true: I am as happy as I can be. The more friendship and confidence
I give my husband, the more he heaps upon me attentions of every
kind.... The whole family are very kind to me, and I can't believe all
the evil that is said of them. My mother-in-law is a very amiable and
most respectable princess who has welcomed me most kindly. The Queens
of Naples, Holland, and Westphalia and the King of Holland are very
amiable. I have also made the acquaintance of the Viceroy of Italy and
his wife. She is very pretty."

The court left Compiègne March 31. At the entrance of the Bois de
Boulogne the Emperor and Empress were met by Count Frochot, Prefect of
the Seine, and a crowd of Parisians. The Prefect made a speech which
concluded with these words: "Escorted from Vienna to this point by the
love of the people, Your Majesty now knows that by the prominence of her
virtues as well as by the graces of her person, her destiny is to rule
over all hearts. Our own, Madame, shall be to make you find again here
in your customary abode, the country that you most love, where you were
most cherished, and to succeed in making worthy of Your Majesty the
homage of our allegiance, of our respect, and of our love."

At half-past six in the evening Napoleon and Marie Louise arrived at
Saint Cloud, where were assembled in full dress the marshals, the
cardinals, the great dignitaries of the Empire, the senators and the
state councillors. At the palace there was a family dinner, and after
it the ladies of the Palace of the Italian Crown, Countesses Porro,
Visconti, Thiene, Trivulci, and Mesdames Gonfalonieri, Trotti, de Rava,
Fe, Mocenigo, Montecuculli, were presented by the Italian maid-of-honor,
the Duchess Litta, and they all took the oath of allegiance. The civil
marriage was appointed for the next day, April 1, at Saint Cloud, and
the religious ceremony for the next but one, April 2, in the _Salon
Carré_ of the Louvre, between the long gallery of the Museum and the
Apollo Gallery. The formal entry of the Emperor and Empress into their
capital on the day of the religious marriage was to be an occasion
of great pomp. Strangers had gathered from all quarters of Europe to
witness this impressive sight, and as much as six hundred francs was
paid for the smallest room from which the passage of the Imperial
procession could be seen. Never, perhaps, in France or anywhere else,
had any ceremony excited so much curiosity. The Royalists themselves
had come to believe that Napoleon, the miraculous being, had forever
fastened fortune to his triumphal chariot. There was a truce to
recriminations. For a moment the caustic wit of the Parisians turned
into profound admiration. The great conqueror, in light of his
apotheosis, was more like a demigod than a man. Every one was eager to
look upon him and his young Empress.



The civil wedding of Napoleon and Marie Louise was celebrated at Saint
Cloud, Sunday, April 1,1810. At the end of the Apollo Gallery, which was
adorned with Mignard's frescoes, and still full of reminiscences of the
great century, had been placed on a platform two armchairs, each under a
canopy; the one to the right for the Emperor, the other for the Empress.
Below the platform, and to one side, was a table covered with a costly
cloth, on which were an inkstand and the civil registers. At two in the
afternoon the Colonel of the Guard on duty and the high officers of the
crown of France and Italy went to escort Their Majesties. The procession
formed and made its way through the Emperor's study, the Princes'
drawing-room, the throne-room, the Mars room, to the Gallery of Apollo,
in the following order: ushers, heralds-at-arms, pages, assistants to
the masters of ceremonies, the masters of ceremonies, the officers of
the household of the King of Italy, the equerries of the Emperor, his
aides-de-camp, the two equerries on duty, the aide on duty, the Governor
of the Palace, the Secretary of State of the Imperial family, the high
officers of the crown of Italy, the High Chamberlain of France and the
one of Italy, the Grand Master of Ceremonies and the Chief Equerry of
Italy, the Princes who were high dignitaries, the Princes of the family,
the Emperor, the Empress; and behind Their Majesties, the Colonel of the
Guard on duty, the Chief Marshal of the Palace, the Grand Master of
the House of Italy, the Grand Almoner of France, the one of Italy, the
Knight of Honor and the Prince Equerry of the Empress, carrying the
train of her cloak, the maids-of-honor of France and Italy and the Lady
of the Bedchamber, the Princesses of the family, the ladies of the
palace, the maids-of-honor of the Princesses, the officers on duty of
the households of the Princes and Princesses.

When the procession had reached the Apollo Gallery, the ushers, the
heralds-at-arms, and the pages drew up in line to the right and left in
the Mars room, near the door. The officers and high officers of France
and Italy, the maids-of-honor and the Lady of the Bedchamber took their
places behind Their Majesties' chairs, in order of rank. The Emperor and
Empress seated themselves on the throne, the Princes and Princesses on
the right and left of the platform in the following order and according
to their family rank: To the right of the Emperor:

  His mother;
  Prince Louis Napoleon, King of Holland;
  Prince Jerome Napoleon, King of Westphalia;
  Prince Borghese, Duke of Guastalla;
  Prince Joachim Napoleon, King of Naples;
  Prince Eugene, Viceroy of Italy;
  The Prince Archchancellor;
  The Prince Vice-Grand Elector.

On the Empress's left:--

  Princess Julia, Queen of Spain;
  Princess Hortense, Queen of Holland;
  Princess Catherine, Queen of Westphalia;
  Princess Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany;
  Princess Pauline, Duchess of Guastalla;
  Princess Caroline, Queen of Naples;
  The Grand Duke of Würzberg;
  Princess Augusta, Vice-Queen of Italy;
  Princess Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Baden;
  The Hereditary Grand Duke of Baden;
  The Prince Archtreasurer;
  The Prince Vice-Constable.

As soon as the Emperor was seated, the Prince Archchancellor of the
Empire, followed by the Secretary of State of the Imperial family,
approached the throne, bowed low, and said: "In the name of the Emperor
(at those words Their Majesties rose), Sire, does Your Imperial and
Royal Majesty declare that he takes in marriage Her Imperial and Royal
Highness Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, here present?" Napoleon
replied: "I declare that I take in marriage Her Imperial and Royal
Highness Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, here present." The same
question was then put to Marie Louise in these terms: "Does Her Imperial
Highness Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, declare that she takes in
marriage His Majesty the Emperor and King, Napoleon, here present?" She
answered: "I declare that I take in marriage His Majesty the Emperor
and King, Napoleon, here present." Then the Archchancellor, Prince
Cambacérès, announced the marriage in these words: "In the name of the
Emperor and of the Law, I declare that His Imperial and Royal Majesty
Napoleon, Emperor of the French and King of Rome, and Her Imperial and
Royal Highness, the Archduchess Marie Louise, are united in marriage."
At the same instant the ceremony was proclaimed by salvos of artillery
fired at Saint Cloud and repeated in Paris by the cannon of the
Invalides. Napoleon must have felt a thrill of pride at this moment.
The Apollo Gallery, where the rite was celebrated, was full of pleasant
memories; there it was that the Ancients were sitting on that eventful
19th Brumaire when the foundations of his vast power were laid, and
there it was that he had uttered that ringing sentence, "Remember that I
march in the company of the God of Fortune and the God of War." There it
was that, May 18, 1804, he had said to the Senators who came to proclaim
the Empire: "I accept the title which you deem of service to the
nation's glory. I hope that France will never repent the honors with
which it loads my family." And in this same gallery he was marrying in
triumph the daughter of the Germanic Cæsars. The Palace of Saint Cloud
brought him good luck. And yet it was from this palace that he set out
two years later on the disastrous Russian campaign; and from there his
successor, sixty years later, started for a still more ruinous war. And
as for this Palace of Saint Cloud, so brilliant and radiant, what was
to become of it? But in 1810 no one could have felt such fears for the

The marriage proclaimed, the document had to be signed. The Secretary of
State of the Imperial family presented the pen to the Emperor and then
to the Empress, who signed (without leaving their places or rising) on
a table brought up before the throne. The Princes and Princesses then
walked up to the table, and after bowing to Their Majesties, signed
in the order fixed by the order of ceremonies. When, finally, the
Archchancellor and the Secretary had affixed their signatures, the
procession, in the same order as before, reconducted Their Majesties to
the Empress's apartments.

Possibly only one thing gave Napoleon a vague uneasiness: fourteen of
the Italian cardinals had approved as regular and satisfactory the
judgment of the officials of Paris concerning the invalidity of the
religious marriage with Josephine; while thirteen others, among whom
was Consalvi, thought that the Pope alone was competent to decide
so important a matter. The rumor had spread that these thirteen
recalcitrant cardinals would not be present at the nuptial benediction
to be given to Napoleon and Marie Louise the next day in the _Salon
Carré_ of the Louvre. But Napoleon in his wrath had exclaimed, "Bah!
they will never dare to stay away!"

That evening after dinner Their Majesties went into the family
drawing-room. The company that was to accompany them to the play
assembled in the neighboring rooms. The orange-house, which had been
converted into a court theatre, was illuminated. The piece to be given
was _Iphigenia in Aulis_, one of the favorite operas of the unhappy
Marie Antoinette, the new Empress's great-aunt. The choice of this piece
seemed an unhappy one; for Iphigenia recalled the idea of a sacrifice,
and the aristocracy of Europe thought that Marie Louise had been
sacrificed. General de Ségur, in spite of his admiration for the
Imperial glories, says in his Memoirs: "The feeling that prevailed in
Paris, along with the general curiosity, was surprise at the presence of
a princess ascending a throne reared so near the scaffold stained with
the blood of one of her near relatives. This cruel memory offended
the feeling of propriety peculiar to the French and especially to the
Parisians. They were insensibly pained by this reminder which made too
evident the sacrifice extorted from Austria, and they felt that their
victory had been carried too far. They condemned the imitation of Louis
XVI., whose sad fate was attributed to a similar selection." But the
fickle crowd which assembled, eager for pleasure in the park of Saint
Cloud, made no such reflections. "The illumination of the park," says
the _Moniteur_, "had been arranged with infinite art; the fountains
were rendered more brilliant by the lights which were thrown upon the
cascades. The great waterfall especially produced a magical effect.
Poets, in their description of enchanted gardens, have given but a
feeble idea of such an appearance and of such an effect of light.
Throughout the park sports of all kinds had been prepared. An immense
crowd, from Paris and the suburbs, took part in the festival, which was
most gay and animated. The arrangements were novel and far exceeded
general expectations."

At Saint Cloud, Sunday, April 1, 1810, when the civil marriage was
celebrated, the weather was pleasant, while in Paris the streets were
flooded by a heavy rain. The next day, that of the religious marriage,
it rained at Saint Cloud, but the weather in Paris was magnificent, so
that nothing was lost of the magnificence of the procession or of the
brilliancy of the illuminations. The Emperor's good fortune, it
was said, had twice triumphed over the equinoctial storms. In the
ever-flattering _Moniteur_ it was said: "April 2 had been chosen for
Their Majesties' entrance into the capital and the wedding rites. One
strange circumstance aroused universal attention and called forth much
favorable comment. A tempest had raged almost all of the previous
night.... It was hence natural to suppose that all the preparations
which for a month had excited general interest would have to be kept
until a more favorable day; but such was not the case, and what has
often happened occurred once more. The agreeable temperature which
the sunshine produced was the more remarkable because it lasted only
while the festivities were going on, beginning and ending with them, and
never was one more strongly reminded of the two familiar lines of
Virgil when, recalling the tempest in the night and the calm of the day
appointed for a great entertainment, he represents the heavens under the
divided control of Augustus and Jupiter:--

  "'Nocte pluit totâ, redeunt spectacula mane,
  Divisum imperium cum Jove Cæsar habet.'"



Monday, April 2, 1810, as soon as day began to break, Paris and all the
country round about set forth towards the Saint Cloud road. From
eight in the morning the windows were filled with women. Everywhere
scaffolding had been put up; fences, roofs, and trees were crowded with
numberless spectators. At the base of the side openings of the great
Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, steps had been set in the form of an
amphitheatre, where a great many persons had taken their place by
invitation of the Prefect of the Seine. Of the arch itself, which was to
be built in stone, only the bases had been built to a height of about
twenty feet, but the rest of the structure was raised in canvas over
a framework for the Emperor's formal entry into Paris. The speed with
which the work had been done seemed magical; nearly five thousand
laborers had been employed, and the temporary structure, imitating the
real one, had been finished in less than twenty days. At the summit was
this inscription: "To Napoleon and Marie Louise, the city of Paris."
The top of the arch, where the vaulting started, was decorated with
bas-reliefs, and with sunk panels in the middle of which were eagles.

There were twelve medallions--six towards Passy, six on the other side;
namely, the portrait of the Emperor, with this motto, "The happiness of
the world is in his hands" (the address of the Senate); a laurel with
many sprouts, and these words, "He has made our glory"; a roaring
leopard, with this motto, "He laughed at our discords, he weeps at
our reunion"; the monograms of Napoleon and Marie Louise, with this
inscription, "We love her through our love for him, we shall love her
for herself"; a Love placing a wreath of myrtles and roses on the helmet
of Mars, with this motto, "She will charm the hero's leisure"; the sun
and a rainbow, and these words, "She announces happy days to the world";
the Empress's portrait, and this inscription, "To her we owe the
happiness of the August spouse who has set her so high in his thoughts";
the figure of the Danube, and this line, "He enriches us with what
is most precious"; the Austrian coat-of-arms; the monogram of Their
Majesties, and the motto, "She will be a true mother to the French"; the
figure of the Seine, motto, "Our love will be grateful for the gift he
makes to us"; and last, the French coat-of-arms.

The six bas-reliefs represented the following subjects: Legislation--the
Emperor in his robes, seated upon the throne, points towards the tables
on which is inscribed the Code, while Innocence, in the form of a
young maiden, is sleeping at the foot of the Imperial throne; National
Industry--merchants presenting to the Emperor various products from
their warehouses; the Arrival of the Empress in Paris; the Decorations
of the Capital; the Emperor's Clemency--Napoleon seated, with his hand
on his sword, is crowned by Victory, while he generously pardons his
vanquished enemies; union of the Emperor and Empress--Napoleon and Marie
Louise hand-in-hand, in token of alliance, before an altar placed at the
foot of the statue of Peace.

The salvos of artillery were heard, announcing the departure of the
Emperor and Empress from Saint Cloud. At the same moment, as if in
obedience to the signal, the sun appeared on the horizon, to shine
all day, and just when the procession reached the Arc de Triomphe, it
appeared with greater brilliancy. The cavalry of the Imperial Guard
headed the procession, the lancers in front, then the chasseurs,
followed by the dragoons, with the bands in advance; the heralds-at-arms
came next; and after them the carriages, the one containing the Emperor
drawn by eight horses, the others by six. Napoleon and Marie Louise were
in the famous coronation coach. Its four sides consisted of four large
pieces of clear glass, set in slender, gilded and wrought corner-posts,
giving as unimpeded view of those within as if the coach was open.
The Emperor was to be seen in his cloak of red and white velvet; the
Empress, in court dress and wearing the crown diamonds. The top of this
magnificent coach consisted of a sort of golden dome, upheld by four
eagles with outspread wings, and surmounted by a huge crown. The
Marshals of France and the colonels in command of the Guard rode on each
side, near the doors of the carriage, the aides near the horses, the
equerries near the hind wheels. According to the etiquette prescribed
for the occasions when the Emperor used this state carriage, as many
pages as possible got on the footboard and on the seat near the driver.

The procession reached the Arc de Triomphe at one o'clock. Twelve cannon
had been placed on the high ground near by, twelve others in the garden
of the Tuileries, on the terrace by the riverside, and their salutes
were repeated by the cannon of the Invalides. Bands which had been
stationed along the routes played triumphal marches. All the church
bells were rung at full peal. The Imperial coach stopped beneath the
arch, where the Governor of Paris, the Prefect of the Seine, the Prefect
of the Police, and the twelve mayors received the sovereigns.

Count Frochot, Prefect of the Seine, then pronounced the following
speech: "Sire, Your Majesty has at last interested himself in his own
happiness, and has succeeded in this as in all he undertakes. If never
in the world's annals did any sovereign's marriage have such grandeur,
never could love and glory better unite their interests or more happily
inspire Your Majesty. From the shouts of joy which have echoed beneath
the arches of the monument erected in honor of your triumphs, Your
Majesty may judge that the wishes of his good city of Paris, that all
the wishes of his people, are satisfied. And it is not in the vast
extent of your empire alone that this joy prevails; Sire, a whole
continent celebrates with equal delight the alliance made by the
greatest of its monarchs, and a hundred different nations bless in
unison these August bonds, secretly woven by Providence, these bonds,
so dear to our hearts, since they give us at once a pledge of Your
Majesty's happiness, and of the fairest hopes of the country."

Then turning to the Empress, the Prefect went on: "You, Madame, will
realize this double hope; and, seated on the first throne of the
universe, you will adorn it for the prince; you will thus make it dearer
to his subjects; you will ensure its durability for posterity. The mere
presence, Madame, of Your Majesty, reveals to every eye the precious
gifts of the Providence who called you to this throne. No longer, in
order to admire you, are we forced to content ourself with the report of
fame, and already are verified those words of your immortal spouse, that
loved first on his account, you will soon be loved for yourself. May it
be permitted, Madame, to apply these words to the city of Paris! May you
honor it at first with your good-will, and soon love for itself this
great part of the immense family of Frenchmen, which on this solemn day
proudly attaches itself to Your Majesty's destiny by all the ties of
its allegiance, its respect, and its love!"

The Empress replied that she loved the city of Paris because she knew
how attached were its inhabitants to the Emperor. Young girls, clad in
white, offered her baskets of flowers, which she accepted graciously,
and the procession moved on.

Then Marie Louise, after passing between a double line of picked troops
before an enthusiastic crowd, through the brilliant avenue of the Champs
Élysées, reaches the fatal Place at its further end. Could all the roar
of artillery, the peals of church bells, the music, so far distract the
young Empress as to make her forget that here for two years stood the
hideous guillotine, on which more than fifteen hundred people were
murdered? Could all the happy cheers drive from her thoughts that
beating of the drums which drowned the voice of Louis XVI. at the moment
when that descendant of Saint Louis essayed to speak a few last words
to his people? The place was full of horrid memories, haunted by gloomy
ghosts. But sixteen years before, cattle would not traverse it, repelled
by the smell of blood. The terraces of the Tuileries were crowded, and,
as the _Moniteur_ put it, the stone images of fame above the garden
gates seemed ready to fly away to proclaim the glories of that great
day. Well, sixteen years and a half before, the same terraces were quite
as densely crowded. Yes, a huge throng gathered in the cool, foggy
morning of October 16, 1793, to get a good view of the death of a woman
whose grand-niece this new Empress was in two ways: on the father's
side by her father, the son of Emperor Leopold II.; and again, on the
maternal side, through her mother, the daughter of Marie Caroline, Queen
of Naples. Yes, on the very spot over which the Imperial procession
passed with so much pomp, in front of the gateway of the Tuileries,
thirty metres from the middle of the Place, where stood the base on
which had been set first the equestrian statue of Louis XIV. and then
the statue of Liberty, there had been raised, sixteen and a half years
before, the scaffold of Marie Antoinette. Could that gorgeous state
carriage drive from her mind the memory of the martyred queen's tumbrel?
And when Marie Louise first saw the Tuileries, must she not have thought
of the last glance which that queen, her near relation, cast on that
fateful palace before she bowed her August and charming head upon the
block? All the flattery and homage of courtiers, the hymns of poets,
the marriage songs, the whole chorus of adulation, cannot drown the
inexorable lamentations of the voice of history!



The procession reached the entrance of the Tuileries gardens, passed
beneath a triumphal arch, wound around the basin of water, by the side
of the flower-beds, which the crowd had respected, and drew near to
the palace walls. The central pavilion had been decorated with a large
orchestra, divided by a passage leading to the vestibule. In the middle
of the orchestra was an arch, on top of which was set a tribune in the
shape of a tent. On all the bas-reliefs the panels and other ornaments
were initials surrounded with flowers and various emblems and
allegories. The carriages passed under this arch; the Emperor and
Empress alighted in the vestibule and ascended the grand staircase.
Marie Louise entered the bedroom of the grand apartment by the great
door, which was thrown wide open. The maids-of-honor of France and
Italy, as well as the ladies of the bedchamber, were shown thither from
the throne-room through the dressing-room. They removed the Empress's
court cloak, and put on her the Imperial cloak. Meanwhile the procession
was forming again in the Gallery of Diana, and as soon as Their
Majesties had arrived, it started again, entered the long Gallery of the
Louvre, passing through its entire length, to the _Salon Carré_, which
had been turned into a chapel for the religious ceremony.

This magnificent gallery presented a fine appearance, divided, as it is,
into nine unequal compartments by arches rising from columns of rare
marble with gilded bases and capitals. It is the famous gallery in which
are gathered the finest pictures of the masters of every school. The
invited guests had been gathering there since ten o'clock. They ascended
thither by two staircases, one leading from the quay, the other from the
Place du Carrousel to the central pavilion. The Imperial party alone was
to enter by the door of the Pavilion of Flora. Two rows of benches had
been placed the whole length of the gallery for the ladies, and two rows
of men were to stand behind them, so that there was room for about eight
thousand persons without crowding. Bars had been placed in front of
the first line of benches to leave an unencumbered passage-way for the
Emperor and Empress. Thanks to the exertions of the officers of the
Imperial Guard, who discharged their duty with perfect courtesy, four
thousand women, in their most brilliant dresses, without trouble,
without confusion, and as many men, all chosen from the highest society,
took their places when the procession was to pass. They had to wait not
less than five hours, but the order was so good that every one could
easily leave and resume his place. The gallery was turned with a
magnificent promenade in which Paris was treated to a display of the
elegance and luxury of its leading men and most fashionable women.
Refreshments of various kinds were handed about while orchestras played
marches or pieces composed by Paër, the famous leader of the Emperor's
music. The waiting was thus a long entertainment. At three in the
afternoon the whole company was standing in place; the doors of the
Pavilion of Flora opened, and the heralds-at-arms appeared, followed
by the Imperial procession. The spectacle is thus described by the
_Moniteur_ with its accustomed enthusiasm:--

"The sound of the music was drowned in the roar of applause which rang
through all parts of the gallery. At times the applause ceased, when the
spectators silently regarded the Emperor and the Empress. This silence
was eloquent; it was a respectful homage that attested the solemn
thoughts which the spectacle evoked, and the deep impressions it made on
every soul; this keen emotion, this silent expression of an irresistible
feeling, gave way to heartfelt enthusiasm, to cries of joy, to
transports of delight. Their Majesties acknowledged this enthusiasm
most courteously as they passed through this long and brilliant gallery
leading to the chapel, which was a sort of nave of the temple where
their August union was to be consecrated anew."

The chapel was the _Salon Carré_, which lies between the
picture-gallery and the Apollo gallery. Two rows of seats had been
placed all around it. The altar, which was placed in front of the
picture-gallery had been adorned with a large bas-relief and many rich
ornaments. The six candelabra and the crucifix were masterpieces. Thirty
feet from the altar, on a platform, and beneath a canopy, were the two
armchairs and the prayer desks of the Emperor and the Empress. Near the
altar, on two chandeliers, had been placed the two candles designed for
offerings; in each one had been set twenty pieces of gold. The Cardinal,
Grand Almoner of France, assisted by the Grand Almoner of Italy, went
to receive the sovereigns at the door, and to offer them holy water and
incense. Their Majesties then took their places on the platform, the
Empress on the Emperor's left. The rest of the procession arranged
themselves in the following order: on the Emperor's right, below
the platform, Prince Louis Napoleon, King of Holland; Prince Jerome
Napoleon, King of Westphalia; Prince Borghese, Duke of Guastalla; Prince
Joachim Murat, King of Naples; Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of
Italy; the Hereditary Grand Duke of Baden; the Prince Arch-chancellor
Cambacérès; the Prince Archtreasurer Lebrun; the Prince Vice-Constable
Berthier; the Prince Vice-Grand Elector Talleyrand;--on the Empress's
left, below the platform, Napoleon's mother; Princess Julia, Queen of
Spain; Princess Hortense, Queen of Holland; Princess Catherine, Queen of
Westphalia; Princess Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany; Princess Pauline,
Duchess of Guastalla; Princess Caroline, Queen of Naples; the Grand
Duke of Würzburg; the Princess Augusta, Vice-Queen of Italy; Princess
Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Baden. The Colonel commanding
the Guard on duty, the Grand Marshal, the High Chamberlain, the First
Equerry, the First Almoner of the Emperor, the high officers of Italy,
the French Maid-of-Honor, the Italian Maid-of-Honor, the Lady of the
Bedchamber, the Knight-of-Honor, the First Equerry and the First Almoner
of the Empress, stationed themselves behind Their Majesties' chairs.

On his way through the gallery Napoleon seemed perfectly radiant with
joy, but suddenly his face clouded. "Where are the cardinals?" he asked,
in a tone of annoyance, of his chaplain, the Abbé de Pradt; "I don't
see them." He saw them very well, but he noticed that they were not
all there. "A great many of them are here," timidly replied the Abbé;
"besides, many of them are old and feeble." "No, they are not there,"
the Emperor repeated, casting his eye on some empty benches. "Fools!
fools!" he said angrily, his face growing darker. It was true! The
thirteen cardinals who had declared that they would not come, had had
the singular audacity to keep their word. What! they had dared to
persist in a factious opposition which he, the Emperor, had defied them
to exhibit! They had dared to brave him, to offer him a public insult!
They were to receive one in their turn. They did not want to be present
at the marriage; very well, he would expel them in disgrace from his
court on the very next day!

Nevertheless, the ceremony began, but the Emperor was absorbed, and
found it difficult to forget the sudden annoyance. The Grand Almoner,
after a deep bow to Their Majesties, intoned the _Veni Creator_, and
then proceeded to bless the thirteen pieces of gold and the ring.
Napoleon and Marie Louise arose, advanced to the altar, and clasped
their bared right hands. The priest then addressed the Emperor, "Sire,
do you acknowledge and swear before God and His Holy Church that you now
take for your lawful wife Her Imperial and Royal Highness, Madame Marie
Louise, Archduchess of Austria, here present?" Napoleon answered, "Yes,
sir." Then turning to the Empress, "Madame, do you acknowledge and swear
before God and His Holy Church that you now take for your lawful husband
the Emperor Napoleon here present?" "Yes, sir." "Do you promise and
swear to show to him the fidelity in all things which a faithful wife
owes to her husband, according to God's holy commandment?" "Yes, sir."
The priest then gave the Emperor the pieces of gold and the ring; he
presented the pieces of gold to the Empress and placed the ring on her
finger, saying, "This ring I give unto you in token of the marriage we
are contracting." The priest made the sign of the cross upon the hand
of the Empress, and said, "_In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus
Sancti, Amen_." Then mass was said. After the Gospel the First Bishop
carried the holy volume to Their Majesties to kiss, and waved incense
before them. After the benediction, the Grand Almoner offered them holy
water, and gave them the corporal kiss; then he turned towards the altar
and intoned the _Te Deum_, which was sung by the chapel choir, producing
a deep impression.

The procession formed anew after the ceremony, and retraced its steps.
The Emperor gave the Empress his hand, and it was observed with surprise
that in passing through the long gallery, his face, which had been so
triumphant and joyous, no longer wore the same expression. Could
the absence of the thirteen cardinals have been enough to mar
this magnificent ceremony? The procession after leaving the long
picture-gallery reached the Gallery of Diana by the Pavilion of Flora,
and then it stopped. The sovereigns and the Imperial family entered
the Emperor's drawing-room, which opened on this gallery. Marie Louise
withdrew to her own room. The maid-of-honor and the Lady of the
Bedchamber removed her Imperial cloak and the crown, to give them to the
Chamberlain, who had carried them in ceremony to Notre Dame. Then Their
Majesties appeared on the balcony of the Hall of the Marshals and
watched the infantry and cavalry of the Imperial Guard march by.
Officers and men waved their weapons, and filled the air with their loud
cheers, which were repeated by an enthusiastic multitude. The Imperial
dinner took place at seven in the theatre of the Tuileries. The stage
had been decorated like the rest of the hall, so that instead of
being separate divisions, there was but one huge, unbroken room. The
decoration consisted of two cupolas upheld by double arches with the
intermediate vaults adorned with columns. One of the two parallel
divisions contained the table destined for the Imperial banquet, which
stood on a platform beneath a magnificent canopy. As soon as the dinner
was ready, the Grand Chamberlain offered the Emperor a basin in which to
wash his hands. The First Equerry offered him a chair. The Grand Marshal
of the Palace gave him a napkin. The First Prefect, the First Equerry,
and the First Chamberlain of the Empress had similar duties. The Grand
Almoner stood up by the table, asked a blessing, and withdrew. During
the repast the Grand Marshal of the Palace offered the Emperor wine. It
was an imposing sight. According to the _Moniteur:_ "Here again it is
impossible to do justice to the extraordinary magnificence of this
imposing occasion. Pen and pencil can describe but faintly the majestic
order, the admirable regularity, the blaze of diamonds, the beauty of a
brilliant illumination, the gorgeous dresses, and above all the noble
ease, the indefinable grace, and perfect elegance which have always
characterized the court of France."

After the banquet Napoleon and Marie Louise went to the Hall of the
Marshals and appeared on the balcony. A vast crowd had gathered in the
garden, under the walls of the palace, around the amphitheatre which
had been built for the public concert. They greeted the sovereigns with
repeated calls and cheers. The following cantata was given, with words
by Arnault and Méhul's music:--


  "Mars himself has yielded the earth
  To the only god peace cannot disarm.
  Beneath serener skies see all revive,
  All grow tender, all take fire.
  On the oak, beneath the heather,
  See, yielding to the call of love,
  The proud eagle itself forgetting his thunder.


  "See the many warriors mingling with the citizens,
  Hiding their old laurels beneath the new myrtles,
  For the first time forgetful of their conquests.
  See the Frenchman, see the German,
  Clasping each other's hand
  And inviting you to the same festivals.


  "Hear the voice resounding
  From the banks of the Danube to the banks of the Seine;
  Hear the voice that promises
  A long reign to the happiness which this day brings."

Then was given the chorus from _Iphigenia:_ "What grace, what majesty!"
a chorus which Glück, said the _Moniteur_, "could not have made more
beautiful, even if he had foreseen this occasion." Alas! the
same thing had been said, in the same words, for the unhappy Marie
Antoinette; but away with these gloomy presentiments! After the concert
the discharge of a rocket from the palace gave the signal for the
fireworks. These had been arranged for the whole length of the Avenue of
the Champs Élysées. The illumination brought out the impressiveness of
the vast architectural lines of the Tuileries. The main avenues of the
gardens were richly decorated; around the flower-beds were one hundred
and twenty-eight porticoes and twenty-eight arches from which hung
transparencies and garlands; and at the entrance of this enchanted
garden there was a graceful triumphal arch with twenty-four columns
and eight pilasters illuminated with colored lanterns. The Place de
la Concorde was surrounded by pyramids of fire and lights arranged to
resemble orange-trees; the Champs Élysées, the Garde Meuble, the Temple
of Glory, the Tuileries, the Palace of the Corps Législatif, were all
ablaze. This last-named building, with a hastily constructed front to
show how it was to be finished, represented on that occasion the Temple
of Hymen. A transparency represented in front Peace blessing the August
couple; on each side were genii carrying bucklers on which were to be
seen the arms of the two Empires. Behind this group were magistrates,
soldiers, and people, offering crowns, and at the ends of the
transparency, the Seine and the Danube, surrounded with children, in
token of fecundity. The twelve columns in front, the steps, the
stone statues of Sully, of l'Hôpital, of Colbert, of d'Aguesseau, as
well as those of Themis and Minerva, were most brilliant. The bridge
Louis XV., leading from the Place de la Concorde to the Temple of Hymen,
resembled a triumphal avenue with its double row of lights, its colored
glass, its obelisks, its hundreds of blazing columns, each one topped
by a star. The calmness of a lovely spring night was favorable to the
illuminations; all Paris seemed a sea of flame with waves of fire.

The festival continued till late into the night. "All the happy
families," says the _Moniteur_, "returned to their peaceful homes after
a long absence. Every one had had the happiness of gazing at the Emperor
and his August spouse, and all could feel that they too had been seen of
them, so thoroughly did the feeling of the benevolence and affability
with which their homage had been received by Their Majesties, repay
the most enthusiastic testimonials of love and gratitude which a great
nation has ever been able to present to its rulers."

Tuesday, April 3, was the day for the presentation at the Tuileries to
the Emperor and Empress, seated on their throne, of the great bodies of
the State. The Emperor replied to the address of the Senate in these
words, "I and the Empress merit the sentiments which you express by the
love we nourish for our people." The President of the deputation from
the Kingdom of Italy spoke in Italian. "Our people of Italy,"
replied the Emperor, "know how much we love them. As soon as possible,
I and the Empress wish to go to our good cities of Milan, Venice, and
Bologna, to give new pledges of our love for our Italian people."

The thirteen Italian cardinals who were unwilling to be present at the
wedding the day before were in the Hall of the Marshals, where, amid a
throng of prelates, officers, functionaries, and court ladies, they were
waiting for the moment to pass before their formidable master. They
had been there for three hours, in great anxiety, when aides appeared,
bidding them depart at once, the Emperor being unwilling to receive
them. Much disconcerted, they made their way with difficulty through the
crowd to their carriages. When the other cardinals, who had been present
at the wedding, presented themselves in the throne-room, Napoleon stood
up and violently denounced their expelled colleagues. Cardinal Consalvi,
formerly Secretary of State to Pius VII., was especially attacked.
"The others," he said, "may perhaps be excused on the score of their
theological prejudices, but he has offended me from political motives.
He is my enemy, and he seeks to revenge himself for my driving him from
the ministry. That is why he has made this deep plot against me, raising
against my dynasty a pretext of illegitimacy, a pretext which my enemies
will be sure to lay hold of when my death shall have freed them from
the fear that restrains them to-day." It was in vain that the offending
thirteen cardinals wrote together an apologetic letter in which they
said that they had never wished to judge the validity of the Emperor's
first marriage or to throw any doubts on the lawfulness of the second.
Napoleon remained implacable. He turned them out of their office,
stripped them of their cardinals' robes, bade them resume their attire
as simple priests, so that afterwards they were known as the black
cardinals, in distinction from the others, the red cardinals. He
deprived them of all their estates, ecclesiastic or inherited, and
placed them under sequestration. He made them live in bands of two, in
various cities of France, dependent on the charity of the faithful.
The contest with the Pope began: but the Pope, though defeated in the
beginning, was to conquer in the end, and the persecutor of one day was
himself persecuted the next. The captive of Savona and of Fontainebleau
was to re-enter the eternal city in triumph, and the all-powerful
Emperor, the Pope's jailer, was to die, a prisoner of the English, on
the rock of Saint Helena.



Napoleon was happy; his new wife pleased him; he found that she was what
he had wanted her to be,--gentle, kindly, timid, modest. It seemed sure
that she would bring him heirs. Being neither ambitious nor prone to
intrigue, she did not meddle with politics. She was religious, moral,
and her principles were most sound. She would never oppose her husband,
whose slightest wish she regarded as a command. She would appease his
few stubborn foes of the French aristocracy, and put a stop to the last
surviving backbiting of the Faubourg Saint Germain. As a bond of union
between the past and the present, she brought not to France alone, but
to all Europe, stability and repose, and rendered the foundations of the
Imperial edifice firm and indestructible. The Emperor's marriage seemed
his greatest triumph. For her part, Marie Louise was pleased with her
new throne. Surrounded as she was by a chosen society, having in her
service the proudest names of the French, the Belgian, the Italian
nobility; flattered by the attention of a court in which elegance,
wit, politeness, followed all the most brilliant traditions of the old
régime, the daughter of the German Cæsars could not imagine that France,
with its tranquillity, its profound respect, its affection for the
monarchy, in which she was treated more like a goddess than a sovereign,
had, a few years earlier, been governed by the Jacobins.

Marie Louise found more luxury and pleasure at the Tuileries and at
Compiègne than at the Burg or at Schoenbrunn. Modest as she was, the
ingenious flattery, the delicate homage, she received from all quarters
could not fail to affect her. The sympathy with which her maid-of-honor,
the Duchess of Montebello, inspired her, soon grew into a warm and firm

Napoleon had particular regard for his young wife, and in his love there
was a shade of fatherly protection. He was not yet forty-one. Success
and glory had given to his mature face a greater beauty than it had worn
in his youth. His manners, formerly harsh and almost violent, had become
much softer. To the Republican general had succeeded a majestic monarch
familiar with all the usages of courts, all the laws of etiquette,
maintaining his rank like a Louis XIV., and playing his royal part with
the ease and dignity of a great actor. Successful in everything he
undertook, never exposed to contradiction, surrounded by people whose
most anxious desire was to forestall his wishes, to anticipate his
commands, he seldom had occasion to give way to the outbursts of anger,
sometimes real, oftener assumed, in which he formerly indulged. He
liked to talk, and his conversation was easy and witty, and full of an
irresistible charm. His dress, which in old times he neglected, became
elegant. His expression and voice acquired gentleness and an almost
caressing quality. Not only did he try to fascinate the young and
handsome Empress, he spared no pains to please her. Being much honored
and flattered in his vanity as a Corsican gentleman,--for this man of
Vendémiaire, the saviour of the Convention, always had a weakness for
coats-of-arms and for titles,--he was proud as well as happy in having
for his wife a woman belonging to so old and illustrious a race; and
this sensation of gratified pride inspired an equability of temper, a
serenity, a gayety, which delighted his courtiers, who were glad to see
his happiness, for they enjoyed its agreeable results. It was in this
spirit that Napoleon and Marie Louise started, April 5, 1810, from Saint
Cloud for Compiègne, whence they set forth on the 27th for a triumphal
progress in the departments of the North.

In short, this wedded life began under the happiest auspices. At Vienna,
the Emperor Francis was perfectly satisfied. Count Otto, the French
Ambassador, wrote to the Duke of Cadore, March 31, 1810, as follows:
"The events of the 29th were celebrated here yesterday by a general
illumination, and by a grand court levee where His Majesty received
again the congratulations of the Diplomatic Body, the nobility, and of
many foreigners. The Emperor seemed thoroughly contented; he spoke to
me very warmly of his satisfaction, which is shared by all his subjects
with but few exceptions. Both when I came in and when I was leaving, he
spoke to me in the most gracious manner possible, and especially
about the incomparable benefit His Majesty had rendered to European
civilization by restoring France to its real basis. He praised our army,
and added that he would do what he could to aid those of our soldiers
who still remained in the hospitals here. 'Henceforth,' the Emperor
continued, 'we have but one and the same interest, to work together for
the peace of Europe and the furtherance of the arts of use for society.
Everything can be made good, except the loss of so many excellent men
killed or maimed in the last war.' His Majesty's example in addressing
me before any one else was followed by his brother."

The Emperor Francis was very happy to learn that his daughter was
pleased with Napoleon and the French. The French Ambassador wrote from
Vienna to the Duke of Cadore, April 8, 1810: "The letters which the
Emperor and Empress of Austria have received from Their Majesties have
given them the greatest satisfaction, and especially those brought two
evenings ago by the Count of Praslin. The Emperor was moved by them to
tears. This sentence, 'We suit each other perfectly,' made the deepest
impression, as well as two letters from Her Majesty the Empress, written
in German, in which, among other things, she said, 'I am as happy as it
is possible to be; my father's words have come true, I find the Emperor
very lovable.' Prince Metternich wept for joy when he gave me these
details, and put his arms round my neck and kissed me. The court is
perfectly happy since it has heard of this meeting, and of the affection
and confidence each has felt for the other."

Count Metternich sent to the Emperor Francis the minutest details about
the magnificent way in which the marriage was celebrated, and the French
Ambassador thus described that monarch's satisfaction: "The Emperor
of Austria received to-day from Count Metternich most circumstantial
accounts of what took place in Paris, April 5, and he expressed to me
his great delight. The unprecedented honors paid to his daughter did not
touch him so much as the delicacy displayed by His Majesty the Emperor
Napoleon. I am especially bidden to convey to Your Excellency the
expression of his gratitude for the consideration His Majesty showed in
relieving the Empress of the ceremony of the first interview. By urging
Her Majesty to talk freely with Count Metternich, the Emperor has also
delighted his August father-in-law, who thoroughly appreciates his noble
conduct. The Empress said that on this occasion she received from
the Emperor not only the most delicate consideration, but also the
attentions and instructions of an affectionate father. That report
called forth many happy tears, and I cannot too strongly express to Your
Excellency the happiness that exists here, and the desire that it should
be known in Paris.... The Emperor of Austria is much flattered by
the marked distinction with which his Minister of Foreign Affairs
[Metternich] is treated in Paris, and he certainly seems to deserve it
by his unflagging zeal and his unbounded devotion to the principles of
the alliance." (Count Otto's despatch of April 15, 1810.)

The famous Prince Metternich, who was then only a count, and had left
his father the Prince in charge of the ministry in Vienna, had intended
to stay only four weeks in Paris, but he was detained there nearly six
months. "I went thither," he states in his Memoirs, "not to study the
past, but to try to forecast the future, and I was anxious to succeed
speedily. I said one day to the Emperor Napoleon that my stay in Paris
could not be a long one. 'Your Majesty,' I said to him, 'had me carried
to Austria, almost like a prisoner; now I have come back to Paris of my
own free will, but with great duties to perform. To-day I am recalled to
Vienna and entrusted with an immense responsibility. The Emperor Francis
wanted me to be present at his daughter's entry into France; I have
obeyed his orders; but I tell you frankly, Sire, that I have a loftier
ambition. I am anxious to find the line to follow in politics in a
remote future.' 'I understand you,' the Emperor replied; 'your wishes
coincide with mine. Remain with us a few weeks longer, and you will be
perfectly satisfied.'"

Metternich held a privileged position at the French court; for he was
very amiable and charming, a perfect man of the world, an accomplished
diplomatist, and thoroughly familiar with France and the French,
moreover, very intimate with Napoleon and the whole Imperial family.
"Napoleon asked me one day," he says in his Memoirs, "why I never went
to see the Empress Marie Louise except on reception days and other more
or less formal occasions. I answered that I had no reason for doing
otherwise, and indeed had many good reasons for doing as I had done."

"By breaking the customary rule," Metternich continued, "I should arouse
comment; people would say that I was intriguing; I should do harm to the
Empress and injustice to my own character. 'Bah!' interrupted Napoleon,
'I want you to see the Empress; call on her to-morrow morning; I will
tell her to expect you.' The next day I went to the Tuileries and found
the Emperor with the Empress. We were talking commonplaces when Napoleon
said to me, 'I want the Empress to talk to you freely, and to tell you
what she thinks of her position; you are her friend, and she ought to
have no secrets from you.' Therewith Napoleon locked the drawing-room
door, put the key in his pocket, and went out by another door. I asked
the Empress what this meant, and she asked me the same question. Since
I saw that she had not been primed by Napoleon, I conjectured that he
evidently wished me to receive from her own lips a satisfactory idea
of her domestic relations, in order to give a favorable account to her
father, the Emperor, The Empress was of the same opinion. We remained
closeted together more than an hour. When Napoleon came back, laughing,
he said, 'Well, have you had a good talk? Has the Empress been abusing
me? Has she been laughing or crying? But I don't ask you to tell me;
those things are your secrets, which do not concern any third person,
not even if that third person is her husband.' We carried on the
conversation in that vein, and I took my leave. The next day Napoleon
sought for an opportunity to talk with me. 'What did the Empress say
yesterday?' he asked. 'You told me,' I replied, 'that our interview did
not concern any third person; let me keep my secret.' 'The Empress told
you,' Napoleon interrupted, 'that she is happy with me, that she has
nothing to complain of. I hope you will tell the Emperor, and that he
will believe you more than any one else.'"

In fact, Metternich told the Emperor Francis, and he believed
Metternich. Moreover, he had every reason to believe him; for the
Empress Marie Louise was then perfectly happy, and no clouds were yet to
be seen on the sky which was later to be torn by terrible tempests.

We will end this chapter by copying the curious letter which Marie
Louise's step-mother, the Empress of Austria, wrote to Napoleon, April
10, 1810, which expresses in a tone almost of familiarity the favorable
impressions of the Viennese court: "My brother,--I cannot express to
Your Majesty the feeling of gratitude I have experienced on receiving
your last letter, which has filled me with joy by the assurance it
contains of your satisfaction with the being we have confided to you.
My maternal heart was the more open to this emotion because I had felt
doubtful about the result. Now, however, that I am reassured by Your
Majesty, I have no further fear, and I cheerfully share my daughter's
happiness. She has described it to me with touching sincerity, and is
never tired of telling me how gratified she is by the many attentions
she has received since your meeting. Her sole desire is to make Your
Majesty happy, and I venture to flatter myself that she will succeed;
for I know her character well, and it is excellent. Louise promises to
write to me regularly, and this somewhat consoles me for a real loss.
It is pleasant to be able to keep up one's relations with a person one
loves, and I am sure that I feel for her the tenderness of a mother, so
kind has she been to me, treating me like a real friend. Your Majesty
is good enough to say that your wife has spoken about me. I am not
surprised; for I know that she, like me, has a very loving heart. But
with due regard to truth, I cannot leave Your Majesty under any mistake
with regard to her obligations towards me. From what she says you may
form a favorable opinion of her candor. If I can boast of anything, it
is that I have tried to preserve this candor, which may at first have
made her seem timid, while in fact it renders her only the more worthy
of Your Majesty's esteem and friendship.

"Some may blame me because my daughter has so few ideas, such a meagre
education. I acknowledge it; but as to the world and its perils, one
learns them only too soon, and I will say frankly she was only eighteen,
and I wanted to preserve her innocence, and cared only that she should
have a loving heart, an honest nature, and clear ideas about what she
did know. I have entrusted her to Your Majesty. I beg you, as her
mother, to be my daughter's friend and guide, as she is your devoted
wife. She will be happy if Your Majesty will always confidently appeal
to her; for, I say once more, she is young and too inexperienced to face
the world's dangers and to fill her position understandingly. But I
perceive that I am wearying Your Majesty with this long letter. You will
pardon this outpouring of a mother's heart, which knows no bounds when a
beloved daughter's happiness is concerned. I must say one thing more.
Your Majesty sets too high a value on my eagerness to satisfy you by
letting you have the portrait of my dear Louise. I was too anxious to
please you as soon as possible, not to be selfish in this matter, but I
shall certainly thoroughly appreciate the portrait you promise me. It
will have this advantage, that it will show me how happy she is."

It must be said that seldom has a step-mother spoken of her
step-daughter in a more tender and more touching way. No letter could
have better pleased Napoleon; it was not written in official style, with
all the formal compliments, but rather with affectionate sincerity. When
he read it, Napoleon must have felt that he had at last really entered
the brotherhood of kings. Everything she had said of her step-daughter
was true. The young Empress of the French had a candor, a simplicity, a
freshness of mind and body, which delighted her husband. Doubtless the
feeling she inspired was not a fiery, romantic passion such as he had
felt for his first wife; and Marie Louise, with her northern beauty,
had not the same charm as Josephine, the bewitching creole. Napoleon
certainly would not have written to his second wife burning letters, in
the style of the _Nouvelle Héloise_, such as he sent to Josephine during
the first Italian campaign. His love for Marie Louise was less fervent,
but he esteemed her more highly. He thought that the society of the
Austrian court was after all a better school for a wife than the society
of the Directory, and he had found in Marie Louise, a girl worthy of all
regard, one invaluable blessing, one treasure which a widow, charming,
it is true, but a coquette, lacked; namely, innocence.



"Napoleon and Marie Louise left Compiègne April 27, 1810, at seven
o'clock in the morning, to make a journey in several of the northern
departments, which was one long ovation. In their suite were the Grand
Duke of Würzburg, brother of the Emperor of Austria, the Queen of
Naples, the King and Queen of Westphalia, Prince Eugene de Beauharnais,
Prince Schwarzenberg, and Count Metternich. The last-named says in his
Memoirs: 'I was an eye-witness of the enthusiasm with which the young
Empress was everywhere greeted by the populace. At Saint Quentin
Napoleon formally expressed his desire that I should be present at an
audience to which he had summoned the authorities of the city. 'I should
like to show you,' he said, 'how I am accustomed to speak to these
people.' I saw that the Emperor was anxious to let me see the extent and
variety of his knowledge of matters of administration.'"

Those who care to know the adulation offered to Napoleon and Marie
Louise on this expedition should read the following passage from M.
de Bausset's Memoirs: "Their Majesties went off to visit some of the
northern departments, in order to give Paris and all the great bodies
of the State the time required for preparing the festivities which
circumstances made necessary. It was a triumphal march. The provinces
greeted their young and beautiful Empress with enthusiasm. Amid all the
brilliant tokens of respect, one attracted especial notice. It was a
little hamlet, with a triumphal arch, bearing the simplest inscriptions.
On the front was written _Pater Noster_; on the reverse, _Ave Maria,
gratiâ plena_. The mayor and the village priest presented wild-flowers.
Flattery could have devised no more delicate attention." Thus we have M.
de Bausset finding it simple to compare the Emperor to the Almighty and
the Empress to the Blessed Virgin. Was not this a sign of the times?

Thiers says of this journey: "The populace, glad of a break in their
monotonous lives, hasten to meet their princes, whoever they may be, and
are often lavish of their applause on the very brink of a catastrophe.
Whenever Napoleon appeared anywhere, curiosity and admiration were
strong enough to gather a multitude; and when he had rounded out
his wonderful destiny by marrying an archduchess, the interest and
enthusiasm were all the greater. Indeed, everywhere he appeared, their
raptures were warm and unanimous."

Starting from Compiègne April 27, the Emperor and Empress reached Saint
Quentin the same day. The canal connecting the Seine with the Scheldt
was illuminated, and Napoleon and his court sailed over it in gondolas
richly decked with flags. On the 30th of April they embarked on the
canal which goes from Brussels to the Ruppel, and by the Ruppel to the
Scheldt. The First Lord of the Admiralty and Admiral Missiessy were in
command of the Imperial flotilla. When they arrived in sight of the
squadron of Antwerp, which Napoleon had created, all the ships,
frigates, corvettes, gunboats, were drawn up in line, and Marie Louise
passed under the fire of a thousand cannon thundering in her honor.
When the sovereigns entered the city, the throng was most dense. "It
expressed," the _Moniteur_ tells us, "the gratitude of the inhabitants
for its second founder. It was impossible not to make a comparison
between the present condition of the port and city of Antwerp with its
condition seven years before, on His Majesty's first visit."

At Antwerp they made a stay of five days, which the Emperor, who was
on his horse at sunrise, spent in visiting the works of the port, the
arsenal, the fortifications, in holding reviews, in inspecting the
fleet. May 2 there was launched a ship of eighty guns, the largest ship
that had ever been built on the stocks of this port. It was blessed
by the Archbishop of Mechlin. According to the Baron de Méneval, "the
Empress was affable, simple, and unpretentious. Possibly the memory of
Josephine's charm and earnest desire to please was a misfortune to Marie
Louise. Her reserve might have been attributed to German family pride,
but that would have been a mistake; no one was ever simpler or less
haughty. Her natural timidity and her unfamiliarity with the part she
had to play, alone gave her an air of stiffness. She was so thoroughly
identified with her new position and so touched by the regard and
affection with which the Emperor was treated, that when he proposed to
her to stay at Antwerp while he was visiting the islands of the Zuyder
Zee, she besought him to take her with him, undeterred by any fear of
the fatigues of the journey." Consequently Napoleon started with her to
visit Bois-le-Duc, Berg-op-Zoom, Breda, Middelburg, Flushing, and the
island of Walcheren, which the English had evacuated four months before.

At Breda the Emperor soundly abused a deputation of the Catholic clergy
whom he knew to be opposed to him. "Gentlemen," he broke out, "why
are you not in sacerdotal garments? Are you attorneys, notaries, or
physicians? ... Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's. The
Pope is not Caesar; I am. It is not to the Pope, but to me, that God has
given a sceptre and a sword.... Ah, you are unwilling to pray for me. Is
it because a Roman priest has excommunicated me? But who gave him any
such power? Who has the power to release subjects from their oath of
allegiance to the legally appointed ruler? No one; and you ought to know
it.... Renounce the hope of putting me in a convent and of shaving
my head, like Louis the Debonair, and submit yourselves; for I am
Caesar! If you don't, I shall banish you from my empire, and scatter
you over the surface of the earth like the Jews.... You belong to the
diocese of Mechlin; go to your bishop; take your oath before him, obey
the Concordat, and then I will see what commands I shall have to give

After visiting the towns on the frontier, as well as the islands of
Tholen, Schomven, North and South Beveland, and Walcheren, Napoleon,
constantly accompanied by Marie Louise, ascended the Scheldt once more,
merely passed through Antwerp, made a brief stop at Brussels, spent
three days at the castle of Lacken, and hastily ran through Ghent,
Bruges, Ostend, Dunkirk, Lille, Calais, Dieppe, Havre, and Rouen.

June 1, 1810, they were back at Saint Cloud. The Baron de Méneval tells
us that Marie Louise was extremely delighted with the way she had been
greeted throughout this journey. Everywhere she had been received under
arches of triumph, with countless festivities, balls, illuminations, and
every token of the popular enthusiasm and affection, so that "she was
able to appreciate the French character, and to decide that she would
readily grow accustomed to a country where the devotion of the people to
their sovereign, the enormous influence he wielded, and the affection he
bore to them, as well as theirs for his cause, filled her with hopes for
a happy life." Napoleon's life at that time was one long deification.
Louis XIV. himself, the Sun-King, had never received more flattery in
prose and verse. All the official poets had tuned their lyres to sing
his marriage, and the _Moniteur_ was full of dithyrambs. It also
published a translation of an Italian cantata entitled, "_La Jerogamia
di Creta, Inno del Cavaliere Vincenzo Monti_," which began thus: "The
silence of Olympus is broken up by the noisy neighing of coursers and by
the prolonged and disturbing rattle of swift chariots. The Immortals
descend to the banks of the Gnossus to celebrate with fitting rites the
new marriage of the ruler of the gods." It ended thus: "The waves of two
seas, in motion, though no wind blows, roar in terror, and Neptune,
alarmed, feels with surprise his trident tremble in his hand. If such is
the sport of the monarch of thunder when he yields to the sweets of
Hymen, what will it be when he again grasps the thunderbolt? Divine
nurses of Jove, bees of Mount Panacra, ah! distil upon my verses, from
the summit of Dicte, one drop of the sweet-savored honey, food of the
King of Heaven, that my August sovereign, whose soul is like Jupiter's,
may find some pleasure in hearing them!"

Napoleon seemed to rule the present and the future. Even those who had
fought against him had become his courtiers. The most illustrious of
these, the Archduke Charles, to whom he had just sent the broad ribbon
of the Legion of Honor, as well as a simple cross of a knight, which was
more precious because he himself had worn it, wrote to him: "Sire, Your
Majesty's Ambassador has transmitted to me the decorations of the Legion
of Honor, and the affectionate letter with which you have honored me.
Being deeply impressed by these tokens of your goodwill, I hasten to
express to Your Majesty my sincere gratitude, which is only equalled by
my admiration for Your Majesty's great qualities. The esteem of a great
man is the fairest flower of the field of honor, and I have always
jealously desired, Sire, to merit yours."

A stranger thing yet: even the Spanish Bourbons, the victims of the
Bayonne treachery, the princes whom Napoleon had ousted, set no limits
to their adulation. Nowhere was the Emperor's marriage with Marie
Louise celebrated with greater show of enthusiasm than at the castle of
Valençay, where Ferdinand III. was living. The Spanish Prince had a _Te
Deum_ sung in the chapel; he gave a banquet, at which he proposed this
toast: "To the health of our August Sovereigns, the great Napoleon and
Marie Louise, his August spouse." In the evening there were magnificent
fireworks. He chose that moment when his subjects were exposing
themselves to every danger, welcoming every sacrifice in their bitter
war in his name, against the French, to beg Napoleon to adopt him as his
son and to concede to him the honor of letting him appear at court.



The whole month of June was filled with a succession of brilliant
festivities. Under the Empire things were not done by halves; battles or
balls, everything was on a vast scale. "Never," says Alfred de Musset,
"were there so many sleepless nights as during this man's lifetime;
never was there such a silence when any one spoke of death: and yet,
never was there so much joy, so much life, so much warlike feeling in
every heart; never had there been a brighter sun than that which dried
so much blood. It was said that God had created it for this man, and
it was called the sun of Austerlitz; but he made it himself with his
ever-roaring cannon, that dispelled the clouds on the morrow of his

The entertainment given to the Emperor and Empress by the city of Paris,
June 10, was magnificent. There were great rejoicings in the capital
on that day. In the afternoon there were public sports in the Champs
Élysées, and dancing in the open places and the long walks. With
nightfall the illuminations began. A troupe of mountebanks performed
on a huge stage a ballet in pantomime, called the "Union of Mars and
Flora." There were as many as five hundred performers. There were bands
playing in every direction, and food was distributed to the contented
multitude. From the Arc to the Tuileries, from the Tuileries to the
Louvre, from the Louvre to the Hôtel de Ville, the spectacle was really
fairy-like. Napoleon and Marie Louise, starting from Saint Cloud at
eight in the evening, made their way, in torchlight, through a countless
multitude. Their approach was announced to the people by the sudden
ascent of a balloon, from which fireworks were discharged. At half-past
nine they reached the Hôtel de Ville. Nearly a thousand persons had
gathered in the concert hall, almost three thousand in the record room,
the Hall of Saint John, and in the semicircular place in front, opposite
the spot, on the left bank of the Seine, where the fireworks were to be
set off at a signal of Napoleon and Marie Louise. These fireworks were
divided into three parts, representing a military scene, the Temple of
Peace, and the Temple of Hymen. In the first there were two forts which
soldiers were assaulting, firing their guns amid the sound of trumpets
and the rattle of drums. The forts were discharging shells and bullets,
which burst into flame, and were reflected in the water before they fell
into the river. When the two forts were captured, they disappeared in a
great blaze. Then the ship, the symbol of the city of Paris, appeared
and took its station between two columns of light. The decoration
changed, and first the Temple of Peace was seen, then that of
Hymen--a real pyrotechnic masterpiece. After the fireworks the Emperor
and Empress went first into the record room, then into the concert hall,
where was sung a cantata, with words by Arnault and music by Méhul,
which began with this apostrophe to the Empress:--

  "From the throne where our homage rises to you,
  From the throne where beauty reigns by the side of courage,
  And Minerva by the side of Mars,
  On these shores of which love has made you sovereign,
  On these happy shores adorned by the Seine,
  Louise, cast thy glance."

After the cantata a ball began. Napoleon did not dance, but Marie Louise
did. The first quadrille was thus made up: the Empress and the King
of Westphalia, the Queen of Naples and the Viceroy of Italy, Princess
Pauline Borghese and Prince Esterhazy, Mademoiselle de Saint-Gilles and
M. de Nicolaï. The second quadrille: the Queen of Westphalia and Prince
Borghese, the Princess of Baden and Count Metternich, the Princess
Aldobrandini and M. de Montaran, Madame Blaque de Belair and M. Mallet.
The Emperor descended from his throne and walked through the room,
exchanging a few words with a great many people. About midnight he
withdrew with the Empress. At two o'clock supper was served: at this
fifteen hundred ladies were present, and the ball went on till daybreak.

Princess Pauline Borghese gave a very brilliant entertainment June 14,
at the castle of Neuilly. At the end of an illuminated lawn appeared
the Austrian palace of Laxenburg, and the ballet consisted of dancers
arrayed like peasants of the neighborhood of Vienna. June 21, another
great ball was given by the Duke of Feltre, the Minister of War. But
the finest, the most original, the grandest ball, was that given by the
Imperial Guard at the Champ de Mars and the Military School, at that
time called the Napoleon quarter. Marie Louise was thoroughly delighted
with it; she said she had never seen anything so magnificent. Never had
Rome under the Caesars seen a more gorgeous spectacle. For many months
the public had been watching the vast preparations for this event. Two
wings had been added to the Military School, large enough to hold eight
thousand persons. The main courtyard had been transformed into a garden
in which were set out numberless orange-trees, shrubs, and flowers. The
officers of the Guard, who were models of French politeness, received
the ladies at the entrance of this garden, offering each one a
bouquet, and escorted them to the galleries which led to the two newly
constructed buildings, one of which was the ball-room; the other, the
supper-room. The ball-room was shaped like a tent, and the ceiling was
decorated with the signs of the Zodiac and allegorical representation of
a triumph. A throne was set there, above seven rows of seats. All around
the room hung muslin draperies, on which were embroidered gold bees and
branches of myrtle and laurel. When the Emperor and Empress appeared at
seven o'clock, three thousand women, each with a bouquet in her hand,
rose at once. It seemed like a living flower-garden. The wives of the
most illustrious officers of the Guard, the Duchess of Dalmatia, of
Treviso, of Istria, Countess Walter, Dorsenne, Curial, Saint-Sulpice,
Lefebore, Desnonettes, Krasenska, Baronesses Kirgener, Lubenska, Guiot,
Gros, Delaistre and Lepic, had been chosen to escort the Empress.
Marshal Bessières, Duke of Istria, presented her with a magnificent

Meanwhile the Champ de Mars, which was covered with flags, was filled
with three or four hundred thousand spectators, who had assembled
quietly, without crowding, on the terrace, the amphitheatres, and in the
walks. When Napoleon and Marie Louise showed themselves on the balcony
of the Military School, there broke out loud applause. Afterwards dinner
was served to the Imperial family. When that was finished, they gave the
signal for the horse and chariot races. Franconi's equestrian troupe
gave performances in the intervals. When all the prizes had been given,
a balloon, carrying a woman, Madame Blanchard, made an ascent. She
saluted the Imperial pair, waved a flag, threw down flowers, and
speedily attained a great height. Then there were fireworks. Amid
rockets, bombs, and shooting-stars, two pretty young women walked up and
down on the tight rope, like magical apparitions, amid the encircling
flames. After the fireworks a ballet was performed by the dancers from
the Opera, under the direction of Gardel; it represented the different
nations of Europe in their national dress. After the ballet came the
ball, which was most animated. Napoleon and Marie Louise left towards
midnight, escorted to their carriage by most of the guests, who cheered,
and did not return to the ball-room until the Emperor and Empress
had gone out of sight. This exceptional entertainment was favored by
pleasant weather and a bright night; the moon and the stars seemed to
rival the illuminations. The main courtyard, filled with trees and
flowers, was like the enchanted garden of Armida, where one walked amid
delicious music. At two in the morning the doors of the supper-room were
opened, a large bower of gilded trellis work, with Corinthian columns,
and a roof covered with frescoes representing groups of children
sporting in the air amid flowers and garlands. About fifteen hundred
people sat down to table.

The Imperial Guard had every reason to be proud of its entertainment.
The officers, young, brilliant, devoted to pleasure as to glory,
found their life more joyous as war threatened to make it short. They
displayed the same ardor, the same enthusiasm, in the ball-room as on
the battle-field. They loved the smell of flowers as much as the smell
of gunpowder. Every form of conquest tempted them, and they revived the
customs of chivalry. In the language of the time, there flourished the
twofold reign of Mars and Venus. In those heroic days courage was set
higher than wealth. The women, with few exceptions, were indifferent to
money; they did not think that an honorable scar disfigured a soldier's
face, and the disinterested kindness of a beauty was the reward of



The series of grand entertainments which had been given in Paris was
to be concluded by a ball, which Prince Schwarzenberg, the Austrian
Ambassador, was to give at the Embassy, July 1, 1810, to the Emperor and
Empress; it had been announced that this was to be a marvel of luxury,
elegance, and good taste. The Ambassador lived in the rue de la
Chaussée d'Antin, in a mansion formerly belonging to the Marchioness
of Montesson, widow of the Duke of Orleans, to whom this lady had been
united by a morganatic marriage. Great preparations had been made with
extraordinary magnificence. Since the ground floor of the house was too
small, a large ball-room of wood had been built, reached by a gallery,
also of wood, leading from the body of the house. The ceiling of this
gallery was covered with varnished paper, decorated and painted; the
floor-boards, which were supported on a framework, were raised to the
same height as the floors of the house. A large chandelier hung from the
ceiling of the ball-room. The sides and the circuit of the gallery were
lit by candelabra fastened to the walls. A high platform was reserved
for the Imperial family, in the centre of the right-hand side of the
ball-room, directly opposite a large door opening on the garden.
Behind the platform was a small door reserved for the sovereigns.
The Ambassador and his wife had staying with them his brother and
sister-in-law, Prince Joseph and Princess Pauline Schwarzenberg, who
were to help him in doing the honors of the ball.

Napoleon and Marie Louise, who started from Saint Cloud, reached the
gates of Paris at quarter to ten; there they got into another carriage,
and soon after ten were at the door of the Embassy, where the Ambassador
received them. The Emperor wore over his coat the broad Austrian ribbon
of Saint Stephen.

The grand ball was opened; a troupe of musicians in the court of honor
sounded a flourish of trumpets at the entrance of Their Majesties, who
passed through the concert hall into the garden, where they stopped a
moment before the Temple of Apollo. There women, dressed to resemble the
Muses, sang a joyous chorus. Napoleon and Marie Louise passed slowly
along a water-walk, where hidden music issued from a subterranean
grotto, to a vine-clad arbor adorned with mirrors, monograms, flowers,
and wreaths, and listened to a concert of vocal and instrumental music,
French and German; then they went further into the garden, stopping
before a Temple of Glory, where were four handsome women representing
Victory, the muse Clio, and Renown; then trumpets sounded, triumphal
songs were sung, and perfumes were burning on golden tripods. Then they
turned to see a delightful ballet danced on the greensward, with a view
of the Palace of Laxenburg--so dear to Marie Louise--in the background;
that done, they entered the wooden gallery just put up before the front
of the mansion, and finally entered the ball-room, which was large
enough to hold about fifteen hundred people.

It was midnight, and so far everything had gone on without a hitch. The
Emperor and Empress seemed delighted; the Ambassador was radiant; every
one was enchanted with the magic of the spectacle. The ball was opened
with a quadrille, in which the Queen of Naples danced with Prince
Esterhazy, and Prince Eugene de Beauharnais with Princess Pauline de
Schwarzenberg. When that was over, the Emperor descended from his throne
to walk through the room; while the Empress, the Queen of Naples, and
the Vice-Queen of Italy remained in their places on the platform.
Napoleon had just come up to Princess Pauline de Schwarzenberg, who had
presented to him the princesses, her daughters, when suddenly the flame
of a candle set fire to the curtains of a window. Count Dumanoir, the
Emperor's chamberlain, and several officers tried to tear the curtains
down; but the flames continued to spread, and in less than three minutes
they had reached the ceiling, and all the light decorations which hung
from it were ablaze. Count Metternich, who happened to be at the foot of
the platform, at once ran up to tell the Empress what had happened, and
to persuade her to follow him as soon as possible. As to the Emperor,
who was as cool as if he were on the battle-field, he was able to reach
the platform to join Marie Louise, and to escape with her to the garden,
urging every one to be calm in order to avoid disorder.

Fortunately the means of exit were wide, and the greater part of the
guests were able to find refuge in the garden; but, alas! there were
many accidents and many victims. It so happened that just when the fire
started a great many young girls had left their mothers to dance a
schottische; their mothers tried to find them, and they tried to find
their mothers, amid wild shrieks and the most desperate confusion. Wives
called for their husbands, parents for their children. The officers of
the Imperial Guard gathered about Napoleon with drawn swords, for at
first they suspected treachery and waited for some further development
of a malicious plot. Prince Schwarzenberg, who did not leave the
Emperor, said to him: "I know how this room is built; it is doomed; but
there are so many exits that every one can escape. Sire, I shall cover
you with my body." Napoleon, under his protection, reached the platform
with composure, took the Empress by the hand, and succeeded in going out
with her. They passed through the garden, got into a carriage, and drove
to the Place Louis XV., where they separated, the Empress pushing on to
Saint Cloud, while the Emperor, retracing his steps, went back to the
Austrian Embassy, where he hoped to be able to help extinguish the fire.

The Ambassador, who had accompanied Napoleon and Marie Louise to their
carriage, went back to the house, then a hideous scene of destruction. A
storm had arisen, and a violent wind had spread the ravaging flames
in every direction. The Queen of Westphalia had fainted and had been
rescued by Count Metternich; the Queen of Naples, Prince Eugene, and his
wife, who was in a delicate condition, had remained on the platform. The
Queen tried to escape by the main door, by which the Emperor and the
Empress had left; but this was speedily so blocked up by the crowd that
she, who was behind every one, would certainly have been caught by the
flames, like many others, had it not been for the assistance of the
Grand Duke of Würzburg and of Marshal Marcey, who seized her and forced
a way for her. Prince Eugene saw the chandelier fall, and the passage
across the room wholly blocked; but, fortunately, he noticed the little
door which led into the house, and through that he escaped with his
wife. The Ambassador beheld the calamity with despair. His wife was
brought out senseless, but untouched by the flames. He saw his brother,
Prince Joseph de Schwarzenberg, running to and fro, wild with grief
and disquiet; he was looking for his wife, Princess Pauline de
Schwarzenberg, and could not find her. What had become of the unhappy
mother? When the fire broke out, knowing her eldest daughter, Eleonore,
to be safe, she had run to the assistance of her second daughter,
Pauline, who was dancing the schottische, and led her speedily to the
steps of the entrance, where the crowd was surging amid the flames. A
moment more, and mother and daughter were safe: they had but a few steps
to take to be on the staircase and then in the garden, but suddenly a
falling beam separated mother and child, and the staircase broke down
beneath the weight of the struggling crowd. Missing her daughter, the
courageous princess plunged once more into the ballroom. No one knew
what had become of her; in the cruel, heart-wringing uncertainty the
stern face of the Ambassador was wet with tears.

Napoleon returned to the Embassy, and directing everything, supervising
everything as on a battlefield, there he stayed more than two hours,
exposed to a heavy rain which began after the fire, and to all the
heat and smoke. Alone, unguarded, evidently anxious to dispel all
misinterpretation which malevolence could draw from the unhappy event,
he displayed great energy and perfect self-possession.

It was not till four in the morning that he returned to Saint Cloud,
where he had been most anxiously awaited. "From the time that the
Empress arrived," we read in Constant's Memoirs, "we had felt the
keenest anxiety; every one in the palace had been most uneasy about the
Emperor. At last he arrived, unharmed, but very tired; his dress in
disorder, his face scorched, his clothes and stockings all blackened and
singed by the fire. He went straight to the Empress's room, to console
her for the fright she had had; then he went to his own room, flung his
hat on the bed, dropped into an easy-chair, saying, 'Heavens! what a
festivity!' I noticed that his hands were all blackened; he had lost his
gloves at the fire. He was overwhelmed with sadness, and he spoke with
an emotion such as I had seen in him only two or three times in his
life, and never about his own misfortunes. I remember that he expressed
a fear that the terrible event of that night betokened future
calamities. Three years later, in the Russian campaign, he was told one
day that Prince Schwarzenberg's army corps had been destroyed, and that
the Prince himself had perished. It happened that the news was false;
but when it was brought to the Emperor, he said, as if in accordance
with a thought that had long haunted him, 'It was he then whom that evil
omen threatened!'"

The morning of the next day Napoleon sent his pages to learn the news.
The accounts they brought back were most gloomy: the Princess de la
Leyen had died from her injuries; General Touzart was in a desperate
condition, as well as his wife and daughter, who, in fact, died the same
day. Prince Kourakine, the Russian Ambassador, was seriously injured;
he had made a misstep on the staircase leading to the garden, and had
fallen senseless into the flames, which, fortunately, had been unable to
get through his coat of cloth of gold and the decorations which
covered him like a cuirass; nevertheless, it was many months before he
recovered. "Prince Joseph de Schwarzenberg," says the _Moniteur_ of July
3, 1810, "spent the night in looking for his wife, whom he could not
find at the Embassy or at Madame Metternich's. He was still ignorant
of his loss when at daybreak there was found in the ball-room a corpse
which Dr. Gall thought that he recognized as that of the Princess
Pauline de Schwarzenberg. Further doubt was impossible when her jewels
with her children's initials, which she wore about her neck, were
recognized. Princess Pauline de Schwarzenberg was the daughter of the
Senator von Avenberg, and the mother of eight children. She was as
renowned for her personal charms as for the distinction of her mind and
heart. The act of devotion which cost her her life shows how much her
loss is to be regretted, for death was certain amid the fury of the
flames. Only a mother would have dared to face the danger."

The _Moniteur_ adds to this pathetic account: "The Austrian Ambassador
during the whole night displayed the zeal, the activity, the calmness,
and the presence of mind to be expected of him. The members of the
Embassy and the Austrians who were present were tireless in their
courage and devotion. The public has been most grateful to the
Ambassador for insisting on accompanying the Emperor and the Empress to
their carriage, without regard to the dangers to which his family was
exposed. The Emperor left the spot at about three in the morning. During
the rest of the night he sent several times for information about the
fate of the Princess Schwarzenberg. It was not until five o'clock that
he received word of her death. His Majesty, who held this princess in
the highest esteem, sincerely regrets her sad lot. The Empress exhibited
the most perfect calmness throughout the evening. When she heard this
morning of the death of Princess Pauline de Schwarzenberg, she burst
into tears."

The young Princess Pauline, the daughter of the woman who had perished,
was for a long time in a state that caused the utmost anxiety. Her
mother's death was concealed from her, but she became uneasy at her
absence, and read on her father's face the marks of the grief which
he tried to conceal. At last she recovered; later she married Prince
Schoenburg; but her wounds reopened, and she died a few years later, a
victim, like her mother, of the fatal ball.

The day after these occurrences Marie Louise wrote a letter in German
to her father, in which she said: "I did not lose my head. Prince
Schwarzenberg led the Emperor and me out of the place, through the
garden. I am the more grateful because he left his wife and son in the
burning room. The panic and confusion were terrible. If the Grand Duke
of Würzburg had not carried the Queen of Naples away, she would have
been burned alive. My sister-in-law Catherine, who thought her husband
was in the midst of the fire, swooned away. The Viceroy had to carry his
wife off. Not a single one of my ladies or of my officers was by me.
General Lauriston, who adores his wife, cried out in the most lamentable
way, and impeded us in our flight. I was calmer then than when the
Emperor left me again. We sat up with Caroline until four in the
morning, when he came back, wet through with the rain. The Duchess of
Rovigo, one of my ladies, is seriously burned. The Countesses Bucholz
and Loewenstein, the Queen of Westphalia's ladies, are also injured....
Lauriston, in saving his wife, had his hair and forehead singed. Prince
Kourakine was so severely injured that he lost consciousness; in the
panic the crowd trampled upon him, and he was dragged out half dead.
Prince Metternich is hardly hurt at all. Prince Charles Schwarzenberg,
who insisted on staying until every one had got out, is badly burned.
The poor Ambassador is beside himself, though he is in no way
responsible for the calamity."

Marie Louise, who had been interrupted at this point, continued as
follows: "I have just come from the Emperor, where I heard a terrible
piece of news. Princess Pauline Schwarzenberg has been found, burned to
a crisp.... Her diamonds were lying near her. She wore on her neck
a heart in brilliants, on which were engraved the names of her two
daughters, Eleonore and Pauline, and it was by this that she was
recognized. She leaves eight children, and was expecting another. Her
family is inconsolable. Kourakine is very low; so is Madame Durosnel,
the general's wife. I am so distressed that I cannot stir."

The Emperor Francis wrote to his son-in-law about this distressing
event: "July 15. My Brother and very dear Son-in-law,--It is with the
greatest satisfaction that I have heard that Your Imperial Majesty, as
well as the Empress, my beloved daughter, has escaped the melancholy
accidents that occurred at the ball of my Ambassador, Prince
Schwarzenberg. I cannot express to you, my brother, my gratitude for the
tokens of your interest which you manifested on that occasion, and for
your personal exertions, as noble as they were courageous, to arrest
the progress of the disaster. Count Metternich and Prince Schwarzenberg
cannot find words to express their profound gratitude for your kindness
and anxiety, and I beg Your Majesty to receive this expression of all
that I have experienced in reading their reports."

The calamity produced a most melancholy impression. It recalled to
every one the disasters that attended the festivities given to Marie
Antoinette forty years before. This ball, followed by a horrid
catastrophe, this grand drawing-room, vanishing in flames, were they not
omens of evil? Was not the great empire to perish in the same way? This
fire, bursting forth in a night of revelry and triumph, was it not like
a prophecy of a still more terrible fire, that which laid Moscow in
ashes? But nations have short memories; gloomy presentiments soon
vanish. The Empire was then so glorious that a passing incident could
not seriously disturb it, and a few days after the catastrophe it was
forgotten. Every one, even the enemies of France, felt the fascination
of this most wonderful career which formed the strangest and most
improbable of romances.



Napoleon and Marie Louise grew fonder and fonder of each other as time
went on. The Empress wrote to her father: "I assure you, dear papa, that
people have done great injustice to the Emperor. The better one knows
him, the better one appreciates and loves him." Napoleon's satisfaction
was even greater when he learned that his young wife was to bring him an
heir; he redoubled his solicitous attention and regards; he never blamed
her, he uttered only words of praise and tenderness. This extract from
Metternich's Memoirs will serve to show how anxious the Emperor was at
this time to spare his wife every form of annoyance: "In the summer of
1810, Napoleon asked me to wait after one of his levees at Saint Cloud.
When we were alone, he asked me, with some embarrassment, if I would do
him a great favor. 'It's about the Empress,' he said; 'you see she is
young and inexperienced, and she does not understand the ways of this
country or the French character. I have given her the Duchess of
Montebello for a companion; she is an excellent woman, but sometimes a
little indiscreet. Yesterday, for example, when she was walking with
the Empress in the park, she presented one of her cousins to her. The
Empress talked with him, and that was a mistake. If she is going to have
young men, and second and third cousins, presented to her, she will
become the tool of intrigues. Every one in France has always some favor
to ask. The Empress will be besieged, and will be exposed to a thousand
annoyances, without being able to do anything for anybody.' I told
Napoleon that I quite agreed with him, but that I did not see why he
confided this matter to me. 'It is,' said Napoleon, 'because I want you
to speak about it to the Empress.' I expressed my surprise that he did
not do that himself. 'Your opinion is sound and wise, and the Empress is
too intelligent not to regard it.' 'I prefer,' said Napoleon,'that you
should do this. The Empress is young, and she might think that I am
merely a cross husband; you are her father's minister and an old friend;
what you may say will have a great deal more weight with her than any
words of mine.'"

Napoleon manifested great regard, not for his wife alone, but also for
his father-in-law, of whom he always spoke with warm sympathy. When
Count Metternich came to bid farewell before returning to Vienna, at the
end of September, 1810, Napoleon charged him to convey to the Emperor
Francis the most positive assurances of his friendship and devotion.
"The Emperor must be sure," he said, "that my only wish is for his
happiness and prosperity. He must reject any idea of my encroaching on
his monarchy. That cannot fail to grow, and speedily too, through our
alliance. Assure him that anything which he may hear to the contrary
is false. I had rather have him than any one of my own brothers on the
Austrian throne, and I don't see any cause for quarrel between us."

Early in July, when their hopes were still vague, Marie Louise wrote to
her father: "Heaven grant that they may prove true! The Emperor would
be so happy!" And later she wrote: "I can assure you, dear papa, that
I look forward without dread to this event, which will be a great
happiness." The official notification of her condition was not made till
November, when Napoleon sent the Baron de Mesgrigny to Vienna with two
letters, one from himself and one from the Empress, to the Emperor
Francis. "This letter," Marie Louise wrote, "is to announce to you, dear
papa, the great news. I take this opportunity to ask your blessing for
me and for your grandchild. You may imagine my delight. It will be
complete if the event shall bring you to Paris." The hope of seeing her
father soon was continually present with her, and Napoleon encouraged
it. As she wrote to her father, "My husband often speaks of you and is
anxious to see you again."

The Emperor Francis answered his son-in-law, December 3, 1810, in these
terms: "My Brother and very Dear Son-in-law,--The letter which M. de
Mesgrigny has handed to me fills me with the liveliest joy. The
happy event which it mentions arouses my fullest sympathy. My best
wishes go out to you, my brother, and the present condition of things
which your letter announces, is too intimately connected with our
reciprocal satisfaction for me not to set the greatest store, as friend
and father, by the news you give me. Everything which Your Majesty says
about your domestic happiness is corroborated by my daughter; in no way
can you, my brother, contribute more directly to my own. I knew the
excellent traits of my daughter when I entrusted her to you, and
Your Imperial Majesty must be sure that my only consolation for the
separation is her happiness, which is inseparable from that of her

Napoleon asked of the Bishops and Archbishops special prayers in behalf
of the Empress. December 2, the anniversary of his coronation, and of
the battle of Austerlitz, he gave an audience to the Senate, who came
to thank him for the notification of the Empress's expectations. At the
Tuileries that day was celebrated by mass a _Te Deum_, an illumination,
and a play. Twelve young girls, who were dowered by the Empress, were
married in the Cathedral, and there was a generous distribution of alms.

The Emperor founded a society of Maternal Charity, to aid poor women
during their confinement. The Empress was appointed patroness of the
society, and Mesdames de Ségur and de Pastoret Vice-Presidents; a
thousand ladies joined it, and fifteen held offices; there was a Grand
Council which sat in Paris, and administrative councils were appointed
for the provinces. The Grand Almoner was made secretary, and there was a
general treasurer. The capital of the society amounted to five hundred
thousand francs, raised in part from the public funds, and in part by
voluntary subscriptions, which soon furnished the required sum.

New Year's Day was approaching, and Marie Louise desired a set of
Brazilian rubies, costing forty-six thousand francs. As she wanted to
make some presents to her sisters, and these cost twenty-five thousand
francs, she saw that only fifteen thousand francs would be left of her
December allowance. Consequently she denied herself the rubies, and
forbore to say anything about them to the Emperor. But Napoleon happened
to hear of it, and was delighted with his wife's economy and sense
of order, which he rewarded in the most delicate manner. He secretly
ordered of the crown-jeweller a set of rubies like the one she had
wanted, but worth between three and four hundred thousand francs,
and surprised her with these, an attention by which she was highly
gratified. He asked her at the same time if she had thought of sending
any New Year's presents to her sisters, the Archduchesses. She answered
yes, and that she had ordered for the young Princesses presents worth
together something like twenty-five thousand francs. Napoleon thought
that a rather small sum; but she told him that they were not so spoiled
as she was, and that they would think their presents superb. Then the
Emperor presented her with a hundred thousand francs.

In January, 1811, the Emperor thus thanked Napoleon for a portrait of
his daughter, the Empress:--

"My Brother,--The delicate way in which Your Imperial Majesty has
fulfilled my wishes by sending me the portrait of the Empress, your dear
wife, lends a new value to the letter you have written to me. I hasten
to give expression to the joy which I feel in seeing the features of my
beloved daughter, which seem to add to a perfect likeness the merit of
expressing her happiness in a congenial marriage."

The Countess of Montesquiou, a most worthy woman, was appointed
Governess of the Imperial children, with two assistants, Mesdames de
Mesgrigny and de Boubers, and later a third, Madame Soufflot. A nurse
was chosen,--a sturdy, healthy woman, wife of a joiner at Fontainebleau;
and two cribs were prepared,--a blue one for a prince, a pink one for
a princess. The baby-linen, which was valued at three hundred thousand
francs, aroused the admiration of all the ladies of the court.

In January and February, 1811, Marie Louise still went about. She drove
to the hunt in the forest of Vincennes, in that of Saint Germain, and
at Versailles. She used to walk in the Bois de Boulogne with Napoleon.
Towards the middle of February great preparations began to be made for
the happy event. Dr. Dubois was installed at the Tuileries, in the
apartments of the Grand Marshal of the Palace, and the Duchess of
Montebello, lady-in-waiting, took up her quarters in the palace. Marie
Louise, who had gone to a fancy ball at the Duchess of Rovigo's,
February 10, was present on the 25th at a quiet ball given at
the Tuileries, at which were present only two strangers,--Prince
Schwarzenberg, the Austrian Ambassador, and Prince Leopold of Coburg.

March 5 Count Frochot, Prefect of the Seine, came to the Tuileries, at
the head of the Municipal Council, to present, in the name of the city
of Paris, a magnificent red cradle, shaped like a ship, the emblem of
the capital. This cradle, a real masterpiece, had been designed by
Prudhon the artist, and is now in the Imperial Treasury of Vienna, to
which it was given by the King of Rome when Duke of Reichstadt. The
ornamentation, which is in mother-of-pearl and vermilion, is set on
a ground of orange-red velvet. It is formed of a pillar of
mother-of-pearl, on which are set gold bees, and is supported by four
cornucopias, near which are set the figures of Force and Justice. At the
top there is a shield with the Emperor's initials, surrounded by three
rows of ivy and laurel. A figure representing Glory overhanging the
world, holds a crown, in the middle of which shines Napoleon's star. A
young eagle at the foot of the cradle is gazing at the conqueror's star,
with wings spread as if about to take flight. A curtain of lace, covered
with stars and ending in rich gold embroidery, hangs over each side.

When Marie Louise's walks were limited to the terrace of the Tuileries,
by the side of the sheet of water that bounds the garden, a small
doorway with an iron grating was thrown open into the first floor of the
palace, to make easier her access to the spot. Around the grating the
crowd used to gather to watch the Empress and respectfully to offer her
their best wishes.

At nine o'clock in the evening of March 19th, 1811, the great bell of
Notre Dame and all the church bells sounded, bidding the faithful spend
the night in prayer and to invoke the blessings of Heaven on their
Empress and the child which was about to enter the world. With Marie
Louise there were M. Dubois, the Duchess of Montebello, the Countess of
Luçay, Mesdames Durand and Ballant, ladies-in-waiting, ladies of the
bedchamber, etc., and Madame Blaise. The Emperor, his mother and
sisters, and two physicians, Drs. Corvisart and Bourdier, were in
the next room. Napoleon kept going in and out of his wife's chamber,
encouraging her with kind and cheery words. At five in the morning
Dubois thought that the birth was not immediate, and the Emperor sent
away the princesses, and, tired out by anxiety and his prolonged watch,
went to take a bath. But Dubois soon found that he was mistaken, and ran
to get Napoleon. He was trembling with anxiety when he burst open the
door of the Emperor's room, finding him in his bath, and told him that
he feared that he should not be able to save both the mother and the
child. "Come, come, Mr. Dubois," exclaimed Napoleon, "don't lose your
head; save the mother; think only of the mother.... Imagine she's some
shopkeeper's wife in the Rue Saint Denis, that's all I ask of you; and,
in any case,--I repeat it,--save the mother.... I shall be with you in
a moment." Thereupon he sprang out of his bath, threw himself into a
dressing-gown, and hastened to Marie Louise's bedside. He found her in
great suffering, and grew very pale. Never on the field of battle had he
displayed such emotion; but he tried to hide his anguish, and kissed
his wife very gently, reassuring her with tender words. But, unable to
control himself, and fearful of adding to her already excessive alarm,
he hurriedly went into the next room, and there, listening to every
sound, as pale as death, trembling from head to foot, he passed a
quarter of an hour in intense anxiety. At last, and with difficulty,
the child was born; at first it was supposed to be dead, and for seven
minutes it gave no sign of life. The Emperor hastened to Marie Louise
and kissed her most tenderly. He thought only of her; he did not give
a look to the child. He had decided to care for nothing if only the
Empress was saved. A few drops of brandy were poured into the prince's
mouth; he was gently slapped all over and wrapped in hot towels, and he
came to life with a little cry. Napoleon, wild with joy, kissed him. The
thought that he had a son filled him with rapture such as none of his
triumphs had given him. "Well, gentlemen," he said, when he went back
to his own room, "we have got a fine, healthy boy. We had to urge him a
little, to persuade him to come, but there he is at last!" And then he
added, with deep emotion: "My dear wife! What courage she has, and how
she has suffered! I had rather never have any more children than see her
suffer so much again."

All this while the people of Paris were in a state of expectancy,
wondering whether the child was to be a boy or a girl. If a boy, he
would have a fine-sounding name. According to a decree calling the
Eternal City the second city of the French Empire, which had become the
capital of a simple department,--the department of the Tiber,--and in
accordance with old usages of the Holy German Empire, by which the
prince destined to succeed the Germanic Caesar, was called King of the
Romans before bearing the title of Emperor, Napoleon's son was to be
called the King of Rome. But would Napoleon have a son? Would Heaven
crown his unexampled prosperity with this new favor? That was the
subject of conversation everywhere, in the grandest mansions as in the
humblest garrets. From daybreak of March 20th the Tuileries garden was
crowded with people of all ages and conditions. The courtyards and quays
were thronged. In the garden, along the terrace, in front of the palace,
a rope was stretched from the grating by the Pont Royal to the Pavilion
de l'Horloge. The crowd was so fearful of disturbing the Empress that
this frail barrier, this simple rope, was more respected than would have
been a lofty wall. The assemblage, which had been growing ever since six
o'clock, remained at some distance from the rope, and only spoke in a
low voice. They waited in extreme impatience, yet in perfect quiet,
for the sound of the cannon of the Invalides. If it was a girl, only
twenty-one guns would be fired; if a boy, there would be a hundred and
one.... Every window was opened; in the squares and streets everything
stood still,--foot-passengers, horses, carriages. The cannon of the
Invalides was heard, and the anxious multitudes in deep emotion began to
count, at first very low, but gradually louder--one, two, three, four,
and so on up to twenty. Then the excitement was tremendous. Twenty-one.
Is that all? No; there is the twenty-second, and the rest of the hundred
and one are to follow; but there was no more need of counting: Napoleon
had a son! At once the enthusiasm of the multitude broke forth like a
volcano. Cheers, hats tossed in the air, loud cries of joy, universal,
noisy delight, what a sight for the Emperor, as he stood at one of the
Empress's windows, gazing in silence at the rapturous crowd! Tears
flowed down his cheeks. "Never had his glory brought a tear to his
eyes," Constant informs us; "but the happiness of fatherhood softened
this soul which the most brilliant victories, the sincerest tributes
of public adoration, had left untouched. Indeed, if Napoleon ever had
reason to believe in his good fortune, it was on the day when the
Archduchess of Austria made him the father of a king, him who had begun
as the younger son of a Corsican family. In a few hours the event which
France and Europe had been awaiting was a festival in every family."

At half-past ten the aeronaut, Madame Blanchard, set forth in a balloon
from the Champ de Mars, to throw down papers announcing the great news
to the populace. The telegraph, unimpeded by any mist,--for it was a
lovely spring day,--began to work in every direction, and by two o'clock
answers had been received from Lyons, Brussels, Antwerp, Brest, and
other large towns of the Empire. All of course gave expression to the
wildest enthusiasm. In the course of the day Napoleon wrote to his
father-in-law, the Emperor of Austria, to inform him of the happy event.
"These are very good letters," he said; "I have never written better
ones." Officers of the Emperor's household, pages, and couriers were
despatched with letters and messages for the great bodies of the State,
for the towns and cities, for the Ambassadors and Ministers of France
and other powers. The Empress Josephine was not forgotten; Napoleon sent
a page to her in her castle of Navarre, in Normandy.

On the very day of his birth the King of Rome was privately christened
at nine o'clock in the evening, in the chapel of the Tuileries,
surrounded by his family and the court; the Emperor took his place in
the middle of the chapel, on a chair with a prayer desk before it,
beneath a canopy. Between the altar and the rail, on a granite base
covered with white velvet, had been set a superb vermilion vase which
served for the baptismal font. When Napoleon approached to present his
son, there was a moment of religious silence, which contrasted with the
noisy gayety of the vast crowd which had gathered near the Tuileries
from every quarter of the city to see the fireworks and the magnificent
illumination. "The houses," Constant says in his Memoirs, "were
illuminated voluntarily. Those who try to make out from the outside
appearance the real thoughts of a people on occasions like this,
observed that the highest stories in the remotest quarters were as
bright as the most sumptuous mansions. The public buildings, which
are generally most brilliant in contrast with the darkness of the
neighboring houses, now were scarcely to be distinguished in the
profusion of lights which the rejoicing public had set in every window.
The boatmen improvised a festival which lasted nearly all night, and
attracted a huge and happy crowd to the banks of the river. The populace
who had been through so many emotions, had celebrated so many victories
in the last thirty years, displayed as much enthusiasm as if this were
the first of its festivities in honor of a happy change in its destiny,"

March 22, Napoleon received in the throne-room at the Tuileries the
great bodies of the State.

"Your people," said the President of the Senate, "greet with unanimous
applause this new star rising above the horizon of France, whose first
ray scatters every shadow of future gloom."

When we think of the end of this matter, and reflect that this King of
Rome was to be deprived not merely of his title of Prince Imperial and
of King, but of the name of Napoleon and of Bonaparte, that he was
destined to be known as Francis, Duke of Reichstadt, and to be buried
in the Church of the Capuchins in Vienna, in Austrian uniform, is it
possible to repress a sad smile at the simple optimism of courts? In
1811 illusions were universal. "Amid all our triumphs," says General de
Ségur, "when even our enemies, at last resigning themselves to their
fate, seemed hopeless, or had rallied to the side of our Emperor, what
pretext was there for gloom, or for any foreboding of a total or partial
eclipse? It was pleasanter to trust in his star, which dazzled us from
its height, so many wonders had it wrought!... And how many of us,
despite the ever-shifting sky of France, when we see it clear, are
tempted to think that no change threatens, and are every day surprised
by some sudden storm! Who, when he hears that some apparently healthy
person has dropped dead, is not astonished? We were in just such case,
when, March 20, 1811, Heaven, feeding our pride to make our humiliation
deeper, vouchsafed the conclusion of the fairy-show and completed the
illusion with the birth of the King of Rome." Napoleon, in the enjoyment
of every happiness and of every triumph, had reached the lofty summit of
glory and prosperity; from this he was soon to fall in a swift, giddy
flight, at the end of which opened a terrible abyss, full of blood and



Marie Louise made a quick recovery, and her restoration to health
delighted both her husband and herself. Her father, the Emperor of
Austria, sympathized with their happiness, as is shown by the following
letter of his to Napoleon, dated March 27, 1811: "My Dear Brother and
Son-in-Law,--It is impossible for me to express in a formal letter of
this sort the satisfaction I feel at the good news you have sent to me
about my daughter. Your Majesty must already know my keen interest in an
event of such importance, both for her and for France, as the birth of a
prince, and the fact that this is safely over only augments my joy. May
Heaven preserve this new pledge of the ties uniting us! Nothing could be
more precious or surer to unite firmly the happy bonds existing between
the two Empires."

Napoleon, on the 20th of March, had despatched to Vienna Count Nicolai,
who arrived there on the 28th. On that day Francis wrote to his
son-in-law: "My Brother and Dear Son-in-Law,--Count Nicolai has this
moment delivered to me the two letters of Your Majesty. Since I am
unwilling to delay a courier, who is on the point of departure, and will
carry to Your Majesty and to the Empress the first expressions of
my delight at the happy event, I postpone my formal answer to Your
Majesty's invitation to hold his son at the baptismal font, but I hasten
to take this opportunity to say that I accept so agreeable a duty.

"All the details which Your Majesty gives me about the birth of the
prince arouse my sincerest interest. Your letter proves your kindness
towards a wife who returns it with affection as deserved as it is
sincere, and for this I hereby express all my gratitude. I thank you,
too, for the full details you have written to me. I know the Empress
well enough to be sure that, though her sufferings were great, the
happiness of satisfying the wishes of Your Majesty and of your people is
an ample compensation. I am sure that Your Majesty's presence must
have given her strength and her attendant confidence in difficult
circumstances. Your Majesty has already so many claims upon my
friendship that these details were not needed to induce me to cherish
more and more the bonds that unite us, and which I charge my daughter
and her son to make even closer."

The health of Marie Louise and of the King of Rome was perfect. In order
to respond to the eagerness of the crowd that was ever thick at the
doors of the Tuileries in search of news about the Empress and the young
prince, it had been decided that one of the chamberlains should be
present all day in the first drawing-room of the grand apartment, to
receive all who came and report to them the bulletin issued twice a day
by the physicians. But soon that was stopped, and there were no more
bulletins, the mother and child being perfectly well. April 6, Marie
Louise got up and wrote six lines to her father. The 17th she walked on
the terrace by the water, amid the applause of the crowd. The next day
Prince Clary, whom the Emperor of Austria had sent from Vienna, was
received. Napoleon spoke for a long time about the courage, the virtue,
the kindness, the excellent education, the exquisite tact, and the
perfect dignity of the Empress. "Moreover," he added, "every one admires
her." The same day, April 18, the Empress drove in the Bois de Boulogne,
and was present at a reception to receive the congratulations of the
Diplomatic Body. The churching took place the next day, the 19th, in the
chapel of the Tuileries. Prince Rohan officiated.

April 21, Marie Louise and the Emperor went to Saint Cloud, whence, two
days later, she wrote to her father the following letter, published by
M. von Helfert in German: "My dear Father,--You may imagine my great
bliss. I never could have imagined that I could be so happy. My love
for my husband has grown, if that is possible, since my son's birth. I
cannot think of his tenderness without tears. It would make me love him
now, if I had never loved him before, for all his kind qualities. He
tells me to speak to you about him. He often asks after you, and says,
'Your father ought to be very happy to have a grandson.' When I tell him
that you already love my child, he is delighted. I am going to send you
a portrait of the boy. I think you will see how much he looks like the
Emperor. He is very strong for only five weeks. When he was born he
weighed nine pounds. He is very well, and is in the garden all day long.
The Emperor takes the greatest interest in him. He carries him about in
his arms, plays with him, and tries to give him his bottle, but he does
not succeed. You know from my uncle's letter how much I suffered for
twenty-two hours, but my happiness in being a mother makes me forget it.
The baptism is set for the month of June. I am sorry that you are too
busy to come. Heaven grant that you may come soon! I was glad to hear
from Prince Clary that you are well. I hope that God will hear my
prayers, and that dear mamma will soon be quite recovered. You may
imagine how many questions I asked about you; for talking about you,
about your kindness, is my greatest pleasure."

The return of summer induced Napoleon to go to Rambouillet for a few
days with the Empress, for the hunt. In this residence, which was
simpler and smaller than the other Imperial castles, the Emperor had a
taste of domestic life. He reached there May 13, and left on the 22d, to
make a trip through Normandy. Marie Louise was so urgent that at last he
decided to take her with him. The departments of Calvados and La Manche
greeted them with the utmost enthusiasm. The Emperor celebrated his stay
at Caen by granting favors and conferring benefits. Many young men of
good family were appointed ensigns; one hundred and thirty thousand
francs were distributed in charity. From Caen the Emperor and Empress
went to Cherbourg to visit the works in the harbor, which had just been
dug out of the granite rocks to the depth of fifty feet.

"What delight," General de Ségur writes in his Memoirs concerning this
trip, "What delight, what admiration was ours! Great must have been
Napoleon's pride, judging from our own satisfaction which we received as
old and trusted companions of so great a man!... I saw Cherbourg for the
first time. This port, which Louis XVI. had designed simply for one of
refuge, had been transformed by Napoleon into one from which an attack
could be made. In those days of prodigies, however incapable of
amazement I might have been, this roadstead, won by superhuman exertion
from the ocean, this vast basin hewn to a depth of fifty feet in the
granite, with accommodations for fifty men-of-war, for their building,
for their repair, for their armament, filled me with an admiration such
as I had felt at the first sight of the grandeur of the Alps."

The day after his arrival at Cherbourg, Napoleon rode out early, visited
the heights about the town and inspected different ships. The next day
he presided at several meetings and visited the works of the navy-yard;
then he went down to the bottom of the basin hewn out of the rock, which
was to contain the ships-of-the-line, and to be covered by the water to
a depth of fifty-five feet. "During our stay," says M. de Bausset, "the
Emperor wanted to breakfast on the dyke, or jetty, which had been begun
in the unhappy reign of the most virtuous of kings. I got there before
Their Majesties, on a most lovely day, and had everything arranged. The
table was set in view of the sea; the English ships were plainly
visible on the distant horizon; certainly they were far from suspecting
Napoleon's presence. There was still a strong battery on the breakwater
to protect the roadstead and the harbor. I do not think that our
neighbors would have ventured to salute us at closer quarters, even if
they had been better informed. At a signal from the Emperor the squadron
lying in the roadstead, consisting of three large ships, under the
command of Admiral Tronde, put out under full sail and passed in front
of the jetty on which we were.... The Admiral's ship came up as close as
it could; the Rear-Admiral came in his gig to fetch Their Majesties and
their suite, and took us on board, amid the cheers of the crew, who were
all in full uniform. While the Empress and her ladies were resting in
the ward-room, Napoleon inspected the rest of the ship. Just when we
least expected it, he ordered all the cannon to be fired together; never
in my life did I hear such a noise: I thought that the ship was blowing

Napoleon and Marie Louise were back at Saint Cloud June 4, 1811. The
Empress, then in the full flower of her beauty, and radiant with
happiness, had responded to the profuse manifestations of public
enthusiasm by her gracious reception of the authorities and the people
of the departments.

It would be hard to imagine all the homage paid at this time to the
Imperial pair. Dithyrambs upon the birth of the King of Rome were
composed in every language of Europe except the English. There was a
real avalanche of poems, odes, epistles; in less than a week the Emperor
received more than two thousand of these tributes. Probably he read very
few of these extravagant compositions, which were crammed panegyrics
and allegories of the Greek mythology. The sum of one hundred thousand
francs was divided among the authors of these official poems. "Of all
these memorials, the most curious that flattery ever elevated," Madame
Durand writes, "is a collection of French and Latin verses, entitled,
'The Marriage and the Birth,' which was printed at the Imperial press,
and appointed by the University to be given as a prize to the pupils
of the four grammar schools of Paris, and of those in the provinces,
thereby assuring a ready sale. In this heap of trash figures the names
of all the authors who, when the giant had fallen, insulted his remains
and burned their incense before the new deity who took his place.

"As Béranger said about those poets:--
  "They are, like the confectioners,
   Friends of every baptism."

The _Moniteur_, in its number of June 9, 1811, the day of the King of
Rome's baptism, spoke as follows: "The happy event which, at the moment
of writing these lines, is throughout this vast Empire the object of the
thanksgivings which a great people can offer to Heaven; which inspire
songs of happiness in our temples, our public places, our peaceful
cities, our fertile fields, and in the camps of our invincible warriors;
which fulfils at once the wishes of the people for the happiness of
their Sovereign, and those of the Sovereign for the firm establishment
of the institutions he has consecrated to the prosperity of his people,
ought more than any other to kindle the fervor of our poets and fill
them with a lively and noble inspiration. Yet no one of them has been
able to disguise the difficulty of his task; all have recognized that
their greatest efforts would be required, not only to rise to the height
of a subject of which its greatness is the first peril, but even to
attune their lyre to the pitch of the enthusiasm that fires us, an
enthusiasm of which the mighty voice, filling all France and heard in
the remotest corner of Europe, is itself the grandest hymn of poetry and
the most harmonious music. But no such obstacle has discouraged their
muse; admiration, gratitude, love, furnish a happy inspiration, and our
poets have felt it; they have faithfully transcribed the language of the
populace in the language ascribed to the gods."

In proof of this we quote some of the verses inserted in the official

  "Sion, rejoice! The voice of the prophets
  Announces again the days of the Eternal One.
  Before a young child, dear hope of Israel,
  The cedars of Lebanon will bow their heads.
  Of the oppressed he will become the support:
  He will punish crime, and will brand vice;
  His words will be the voice of justice,
  And the Spirit of the Lord will march before him."

That is the Biblical style, which was used freely a few years later
to celebrate the baptism of the Duke of Bordeaux. Mythology, too, was
called in:--

  "Do you see the leopard, weary of carnage,
  Sated with blood, towards his savage lair
  Run roaring?
  Seized by an invincible, unknown terror,
  He announces his death, and flees at the sight
  Of a new-born Alcides."

The poet Millevoye exclaimed:--

  "With your head encircled with laurel and flowers,
  Come to reopen henceforth the progress of the year,
  Month long since consecrated to the lover of Venus!
  Triumph, and seize again thy faded garland,
  Which the friend of Egeria placed
  On the double brow of Janus."

M. Le Sur spoke about the Tiber in these terms:--

  "The Tiber, too long drowsing on its urn,
  Lets grow in its bosom the silent reed.
  It awakens at the resonant noise of brass,
  And with a proud wave washing its shore'
  Of its old heritage
  It offers the remains to the Young Sovereign."

A poet who was destined to become famous, and at that time was a scholar
in the Lycée Napoléon, Casimir Delavigne, tried his muse, a youthful
muse, according to the _Moniteur_:--

  "Receive, royal child, the vows of the country.
  May thy father's laurel shadow thy cradle!
  May glory and the arts, adorning thy life,
  Consecrate forever the happiest reign!
  Child beloved of heaven, awaited by the earth,
  Promised to posterity,
  May thou, under the eyes of thy August father,
  Grow to immortality!"

A professor famous for his Latin verses, M. Lemaire, was so fired by his
lyrical enthusiasm that he compared Marie Louise to another Mary, the
Queen of Heaven. Of the two queens,--one, he said, rules in Heaven; the
other on earth:--

  "Haec coelo regina micat; micat altera terris."



The baptism of the King of Rome was celebrated with great pomp, Sunday,
June 7, 1811, at Notre Dame. The festivities began the evening before,
when, at seven o'clock, Napoleon and Marie Louise and their son arrived
from Saint Cloud with a grand retinue. The courtyard of the palace, the
garden, and the terraces were filled with applauding spectators. Free
performances were given at all the theatres, at which songs referring
to the event were loudly cheered. Paris was illuminated, and in all the
public places food was given away to the populace. Wine flowed in the
fountains, and everywhere was drunk the health of the young king and of
his happy parents.

The baptism took place at seven o'clock the next evening; at two in the
afternoon troops of the line and the Imperial Guard formed a double row
from the Tuileries to Notre Dame. Many public buildings and private
houses were decorated with tapestry, leaves, and designs.

At four the Senate started from the Luxembourg, the Council of State
from the Tuileries, the Court of Appeal, the Court of Accounts, the
Council of the University, from their respective places of meeting. From
the Hôtel de Ville started the Prefect of the Seine, the Mayors and the
Municipal Council of Paris, the Mayors and Deputies of forty-nine more
or less important cities of the Empire. It was said that the Mayor of
Rome and the Mayor of Hamburg happened to be placed side by side, and
greeted one another with, "Good day, neighbor!"

Before the façade of Notre Dame had been built a large, tent-shaped
portal, supported by columns and decorated with draperies and garlands.
The interior of the Cathedral was brilliantly lit, and adorned with
flags. The seats in the choir to the right had been reserved for foreign
princes; those to the left, for the Diplomatic Body; the outer edge, for
the wives of the ministers of the high crown officers, as well as for
the households of the Imperial family; the sanctuary, for the twenty
cardinals, and the hundred archbishops and bishops; the choir, for the
Senate, the Council of State, the Mayors and Deputies of the forty-nine
cities; the upper part of the nave, for the civil and military
authorities; the rest of the nave, and the triforiums, for invited

At five o'clock the mounted chasseurs of the Guard, who were at the
head of the procession, began to move. But let us rather yield to the
_Moniteur_, which is always lyrical and enthusiastic, whatever the
Prince, imperial or royal, who is to be baptized: "At half-past five,"
says the official organ, "the cannon, which had been firing at a certain
distance ever since the evening before, announced the departure of Their
Majesties from the Palace of the Tuileries, accompanied by their suite
in the order prescribed by the programme. For the first time the
public was able to behold the August infant whose royal name was to be
consecrated under the auspices of religion. The effect that this sight
produced upon every soul defies description. 'Long live the King of
Rome!' was the uninterrupted acclamation all along the route. Their
Majesties were greeted in the same way; their August names united in
every mouth, with accents of love, respect, and gratitude. They seemed
to appreciate this double homage, which was, in fact, but one alone, and
they deigned to express their feeling in the most touching way to the
attendant multitude."

As the legendary grandmother says in Béranger's _Memories of the
People_, the weather was perfect, the Emperor radiant:--

  "I, a poor woman,
  Being in Paris one day,
  Saw him with his court;
  He was going to Notre Dame--
  All hearts were happy;
  Every one admired the procession.
  Every one said: What fine weather!
  Heaven is always favorable to him.
  His smile was very gentle;
  God had made him father of a son."
And the little villagers all sing in chorus:--

  "What a great day for you, grandmother!
  What a great day for you!"

At a little before seven the Imperial procession reached Notre Dame. The
sovereigns were met at the door by the Cardinal Grand Almoner, who gave
them holy water. Then the procession advanced in the following order:
ushers, heralds-at-arms, the Chief Herald, the pages, the aides, the
orderly officers on duty, the masters of ceremonies, the prefects of
the Palace on duty, the officers of the King of Rome, the Emperor's
equerries, ordinary and extraordinary, in attendance, the chamberlains,
ordinary and extraordinary, in attendance, the equerries of the day,
the chamberlains of the day, the First Equerry, the grand eagles of the
Legion of Honor, the high officers of the Empire, the ministers,
the High Chamberlain, the First Equerry, and the Grand Master of
Ceremonies;--the various objects to be used, to wit: the Prince's
candle, carried by the Princess of Neufchâtel; the chrisom cloth, by the
Princess Aldobrandini; the saltcellar, by the Countess of Beauvau;--then
the objects belonging to the godfather and godmother, to wit: the basin,
carried by the Duchess of Alborg; the ewer, by the Countess Vilain XIV.;
the towel, by the Duchess of Dalmatia;--in front of the King of Rome,
to the right, the Grand Duke of Würzburg, representing the Emperor of
Austria, godfather; to the left, the mother of Napoleon, godmother, and
Queen Hortense, representing the Queen of Naples, the second godmother;
the King of Rome, carried by his governess, in a coat of silver tissue
embroidered with ermine, with his two assistant governesses and nurse
on each side (the train of his coat was carried by Marshal, the Duke
of Valmy); the Empress, beneath a canopy upheld by canons, her First
Equerry holding Her Majesty's train; the lady-in-waiting and
tirewoman, the Knight of Honor and the First Almoner, to the right and
left;--behind the canopy Princess Pauline, an officer of her household
carrying her train; the ladies of the Palace; Cambacérès, Duke of Parma,
Archchancellor of the Empire; Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel and
of Wagram, Vice-Constable; Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento, Vice Grand
Elector; Prince Borghese, Duke of Guastalla; Prince Eugene, Viceroy of
Italy; the Hereditary Grand Duke of Frankfort; Prince Joseph Napoleon,
King of Spain; Prince Jerome Napoleon, King of Westphalia;--the Emperor
under a canopy, upheld by canons: to the right and left of the canopy,
his aides; behind the canopy the Colonel commanding the Guard on
duty, the Grand Marshal of the Palace, and the First Almoner; the
ladies-in-waiting of the Princesses, the ladies and officers of Their
Imperial Highnesses on duty.

When the procession had taken their places according to their rank,
the Grand Almoner intoned the _Veni Creator_, and the governess having
carried the child to the railing of the choir, he went through the
preliminary rites, and then took place the baptism. As soon as the
Imperial child had been baptized, the governess placed him in the hands
of the Empress; the First Herald-at-Arms advanced to the middle of the
choir and called out three times, "Long live the King of Rome!" Cheers
and applause, which till that moment had been restrained by the sanctity
of the ceremony and the solemnity of the place, then broke forth on all
sides. While they lasted, Marie Louise stood with the child in her arms;
the Emperor then took him and held him aloft, that all might see him.

Thiers thus comments in a page of real eloquence on this imposing
spectacle: "What a solemn mystery surrounds human life! What a painful
surprise it would have been, if beyond this scene of power and
greatness, one could have seen the ruin, the blood, the flames of
Moscow, the ice of the Beresina and Leipsic, Fontainebleau, Elba, Saint
Helena, and finally the death of this prince at the age of twenty, in
exile, without one of the crowns he wore that day upon his head, and the
many revolutions once more to raise his family after overthrowing
it! What a blessing that the future is hidden from man! But what a
stumbling-block for his prudence, charged to conjecture the morrow and
to guard against it with all one's wisdom."

When the governess had again taken the Prince, she courtesied to the
Emperor, and the King of Rome, with his retinue, left the church, to be
taken to the Archbishop's, whence he returned to the Tuileries. Then the
Grand Almoner intoned the _Te Deum_, which, was performed by the choir,
and followed by the _Domine, fac salvum imperatorem_. The Emperor
and the Empress were conducted with the same ceremonies as at their
entrance, to the church door, where they got into their carriage amid
the cheers of the crowd, and drove to the entertainment at the Hôtel de

"The people of Paris admitted to this festivity," says Thiers, "were
able to see Napoleon at table, his crown on his head, surrounded by the
kings of his family and a number of foreign princes, eating in public,
like the old Germanic Emperors, the successors of the Emperors of
the West. The Parisians applauded in their delight at this brilliant
spectacle, imagining that durability was united with grandeur and with
glory! They did well to rejoice, for these joys were the last of the
reign. Henceforth our story is but one long lamentation."

Napoleon and Marie Louise reached the Hôtel de Ville at eight in the
evening. The Prefect of the Seine, after welcoming them with an address,
led them to the rooms prepared for them, and the Emperor received four
sets of presentations. The Grand Marshal of the Palace announced that
dinner was ready. The Imperial banquet was thus arranged: in the middle
of the table, the Emperor; on his left, the Empress, the Queen of
Holland, Princess Borghese, the Grand Duke of Würzburg, the Grand Duke
of Frankfort; on his right, his mother, the King of Spain, the King of
Westphalia, Prince Borghese, the Viceroy of Italy. The table was on
a dais. A canopy overhung the chairs of the Emperor and Empress. The
ladies of the Palace and the Imperial retinue sat below the platform,
opposite the table, The officers of the Emperor's household waited
on the table. The hall was decorated with the coats-of-arms of the
forty-nine chosen cities, Paris, Rome, and Amsterdam being the first;
the rest were in alphabetical order. After the dinner, the sovereigns
went into the record-room, where a concert was given, in which was sung
a cantata, called "Ossian's Song," with words by Arnault, and music by
Méhul. Then, after talking to a number of people in the throne-room,
Napoleon and Louise went into the garden which had been constructed
about the courtyard of the Hôtel de Ville, where the Tiber was
represented by abundant streams of cool water. They left at eleven, and
thereupon was opened a ball which lasted till daybreak. In the morning
poor young girls, with dowries given by the city, had been married
to soldiers in every arrondissement. The whole city was alive with
enthusiasm. Food had been given away on the Champs Élysées, there had
been sports in the square of Marigny, tournaments, greased poles,
public balls, balloon ascension, fireworks, a general illumination, and
everything of the sort for the amusement of the populace.

On the 9th of June there were grand festivities in the large towns of
the Empire, in honor of the baptism of the King of Rome. At Antwerp all
the arts and trades contributed to making six chariots, which made
an imposing procession. The first represented France crowned by
Immortality; the second, the marriage of the Emperor and Empress; the
third, the birth of the King of Rome; the fourth, his cradle; the fifth,
Religion, Innocence, and Charity praying Heaven for a long life to the
sovereigns and their son; the sixth, France representing the young
Prince as King to the city of Rome. This procession of chariots was
preceded by the giant, the whale, the frigate, the car of Neptune, that
of Europe, and other figures called in their language _den grooten

At Rome, the city of the Prince, festivities began in the night of June
8, being announced by guns of the fleet of Civita Vecchia, which had
sailed up the Tiber, all beautifully decorated. The Capitol, the Forum,
the Coliseum, the arches of Septimius and Constantine, the temples of
Concord, of Peace, of Antoninus, and Fausta, the Column of Jupiter
Stator, were all brilliantly illuminated. In the morning of the 9th all
the authorities went to Saint Peter's to hear the _Te Deum_ sung before
an immense multitude. In the course of the day there was a horse-race,
and in the evening the dome of Saint Peter's and the Colonnade were
illuminated, and there were fireworks at the Castle of Saint Angelo.
The Rome of the Cæsars and the Popes, the Eternal City, celebrated the
baptismal day of its young King with great splendor.



The Emperor had determined that there could not be too much rejoicing at
his son's baptism; consequently he gave an entertainment himself, June
23,1811, in the palace and park of Saint Cloud. The palace, with its
magnificent halls, its drawing-rooms of Mars, Venus, Truth, Mercury, and
Aurora, its Gallery of Apollo, and Room of Diana, adorned with Mignard's
frescoes; the park, with its fine trees, its wonderful stretches, its
greensward, and abundant flowers; the two grand views from the
upper windows, one towards Paris, the other towards the garden; the
waterfalls, set in a tasteful frame, and rushing down step by step,
breaking into a white foam, sparkling in the sunlight or with the
reflection of a thousand torches, formed a marvellous setting for a
festival both by night and by day. More than three hundred thousand
persons went to Saint Cloud; they began to arrive in the morning, and
filled every avenue, covered every bit of rising ground. Food was
publicly distributed; the fountains ran wine. Games and sports of all
kinds were played, and the Imperial Guard gave an open-air banquet to
the garrison of Paris.

At six in the evening Napoleon and Marie Louise drove in an open
barouche through the park, without guard or escort, to the great delight
of the applauding multitude. The orange house, which had been stripped
of its contents for the decoration of the front of the palace, was
adorned with stuffs of fine colors. Temples and kiosks had been set
up in the shrubbery. At nightfall six illuminated launches, manned
by sailors of the Imperial Guard, performed various evolutions and
discharged fireworks, which made a brilliant show upon the river.
Meanwhile the illuminations began throughout the park, along the
terraces, and the amphitheatre, and in the palace. It was a most
fairy-like sight; the large cascade with its half-lying statues of the
Seine and the Loire; the lower cascade beneath; the fountain rising
twenty-seven metres; the large square basin with the ten little
shell-shaped basins and the nine fountains spurting from gilded masques;
the green lawns, the flower-beds, the shrubbery,--all lit up by the
blazing fireworks. At nine o'clock Madame Blanchard went up in a
balloon, discharging fireworks from the car, which formed a starlike
crown set at a great height; she seemed like a magician in a fiery
chariot. Fireworks were then set off by the artillery of the Imperial
Guard from the middle of the Plain of Boulogne; they were visible from
Paris as from Saint Cloud, and from all the hills bordering the
Seine from Calvaire to Meudon. Next to the row of columns opened the
illuminated garden, with waterfalls, trees, and porticoes, forming a
most brilliant spectacle. The Emperor and Empress walked through the
park, and Marie Louise was continually reminded of her beloved Austria,
of Schoenbrunn, of the Burg, of Laxenburg, by the wonderful panorama.
There were many bands stationed among the trees, playing waltzes, and
dancers from the opera, dressed as German shepherds and shepherdesses,
were dancing. An interlude, "The Village Festival," words by Étienne,
set to music by Nicolo, was given in the open air, on the grass. When
the Empress came to a column supporting a basket of flowers, a dove alit
at her feet and offered her an ingenious motto.

The weather had been tolerably pleasant all day; but it became stormy in
the evening; the air grew heavy: there could be seen neither moon nor
stars. There had just been illuminated, opposite the grand cascade, a
model of the palace intended for the King of Rome,--this palace the
Emperor meant to build on the high ground of Chaillot, with the Bois de
Boulogne for its park,--when suddenly the storm that had been slowly
gathering burst upon the heads of the vast crowd in the park. There were
there deputations from all the large towns of the vast empire which
reached from Cuxhaven to Rome; the men in costly velvet coats, the women
in dresses of embroidered silk. The Emperor at the moment happened to be
talking in the doorway between the drawing-room and the garden; near him
was the Mayor of Lyons, to whom he said, "I am going to benefit your
manufactures." Then he remained standing in the doorway. The courtiers
received the shower with bare heads and smiling faces. Possibly some
might have said that the rain of Saint Cloud, like the rain of Marly,
did not wet.

Of course no one had an umbrella. Prince Aldobrandini, the Empress's
First Equerry, managed to procure one, which he held over her. Count
Rémusat found another, and for an hour he was coming and going, between
the park and the palace, to bring as many ladies as possible under
shelter. The entertainment could not go on; every one was wet through.
The musicians could not play on their dripping instruments. The Emperor
and the Empress withdrew at eleven, and both the court and the people
had gloomy memories of this festivity which began so well and ended so
badly. Superstitious and ill-disposed persons fancied that they saw an
evil omen in this; they recalled the disastrous ball at the Austrian
Embassy, and said that the storm broke just at the very moment when the
palace of the King of Rome was illuminated. But what difference could a
simple shower make to a people accustomed to streams of blood?

August 15, 1811, there was a brilliant celebration at Saint Cloud and
Paris, as well as throughout the Empire, of the festival of the great
and the small Napoleon. August 25 was the birthday of the Empress
Marie Louise, and this was celebrated at the two Trianons, which were
full of memories of Louis XIV. and of Marie Antoinette. The Grand
Trianon, graceful and majestic, though but a single story high, and the
Little Trianon, charming, though but a simple small square, of no regal
aspect, were enchanted palaces on Marie Louise's birthday. The two
buildings, the belvedere, the little lakes, the island and Temple of
Love, the village, the octagonal pavilion, the theatre, were all aglow.
It seemed as if Marie Antoinette were alive again, and to the Empress
Delille's lines could have applied as well as to the Queen:--

  "Like its August and youthful deity,
  Trianon combines grace with majesty:
  For her it adorns itself, is by her adorned."

It was only twenty-two years since Marie Antoinette had been there, and
many of the lords and ladies who adorned Napoleon's court as they had
adorned that of Louis XVI. could not see without emotion this fairy-like
recall of the brilliant days of the old régime. The French nobility had
an opportunity to make many reflections on revisiting the Little Trianon
which aroused many memories. It was less than eighteen years since there
had perished on the scaffold the charming sovereign who had been the
idol, the goddess, of this little temple; and now new festivities were
beginning; another Austrian archduchess occupied the place of the martyred
Queen. There was the Swiss village, of which Louis XVI. had been
the miller, the Count of Provence the schoolmaster, the Count of Artois
the gamekeeper, the village with its merry mill, the dairy where the
cream filled porphyry vessels on marble tables, the laundry where the
clothes were beaten with ebony sticks, the granary to which led mahogany
ladders, the sheep-house where the sheep were shorn with golden shears.
They saw once more the grass sprinkled with flowers, the clear water,
the trees of all colors from dark green to cherry-red; larches and pink
acacias, cedars of Lebanon, sophoras from China, poplars from Athens,
and they said that Time, which shatters a sceptre, respects a shrub.
Everything else had changed; the garden was still the same.

All day long the gloomy solitude of Versailles had been crowded anew
as if by magic. A countless multitude thronged its long, wide avenues,
which had been almost deserted since October, 1789. The festivities
of the former monarchy appeared to have begun again. At three in the
afternoon a rather heavy shower had fallen, and it seemed as if the day
and evening would end gloomily; but on the contrary, the rain was but
brief and only freshened the air, and made the festival pleasanter. The
setting sun lit up the great king's town, and at night many-colored
lamps decorated the Grand Trianon. Six hundred women in rich dresses,
and ablaze with jewelry, gathered in the gallery of that palace. The
Empress spoke to many of them, and it was noticed how well she had
become acquainted with French society, although she had been in the
country but fifteen months; and with what kindness and dignity she
addressed them.

Then they went to the theatre of the Little Trianon, a perfect jewel, a
gem, with its two Ionic columns, its pediment in which Love is holding a
lyre and a laurel wreath; and its ceiling representing Olympus, the work
of Lagrenée; and its curtain, on which are two nymphs supporting Marie
Antoinette's coat-of-arms. It was there that, August 19, 1785, the Queen
played Rosina, in "The Barber of Seville," and that the Count of Artois
uttered those ominous words as Figaro, "I try to laugh at everything,
lest I should have to weep at everything." Before Napoleon and Marie
Louise there was given a piece composed for the occasion by Alissan de
Chazet: it was called "The Gardener of Schoenbrunn." After it was a
pretty ballet given by the dancers of the Opera.

When this was over, the Emperor and Empress walked through the gardens
of the Little Trianon, which were illuminated. Napoleon, with his hat in
his hand, gave his arm to Marie Louise. They visited the island and the
marble Temple of Love, in which is Bouchardon's statue of Love carving
his bow into the club of Hercules. There was soft music from concealed
performers, which seemed to rise from the bottom of the lake, on which
floated illuminated boats full of children disguised as cupids. Then
they walked further in the garden, and watched a _tableau vivant_,
representing Flemish peasants. This was succeeded by groups representing
the people of the different provinces of the Empire in their national
dress, from the Tiber to the North Sea. The celebration ended with a
supper in the gallery of the Grand Trianon. All those who had known the
place in the old régime agreed that the festival was a perfect success;
and Marie Louise, who was becoming more and more at home in France, was
sure that her birthday had never been celebrated with anything like such



A short time after Wagram Napoleon had been heard, in a levee at which
his generals were present, to lament the bloody campaigns in which he
always lost some of his early companions. "I have been a soldier long
enough," he went on; "it's time for me to be a king." During 1811 he
seemed faithful to this new programme. The soldier had become a monarch,
and the hero of so many battles seemed to be desirous of the glories of
peace. He determined to make a trip in Belgium and Holland and along the
banks of the Rhine, where he should see for himself what the happiness
of the people required. The Empress made the journey with him, but
Napoleon started from Compiègne without her, September 19; she was to
join him on the 30th at Antwerp. At this time she was so attached to him
that she could not endure a separation of only a few days, and she wrote
to her father: "My husband has left to-night to go to the island of
Walcheren, which has the worst climate in the world, so that I could
not go with him, for which I am extremely sorry." While the Emperor was
visiting Boulogne, Ostend, and Flushing, the Queen made her way, with
a magnificent court, to Belgium. She left Compiègne, September 22, and
took up her residence at the castle at Laeken, near Brussels. She often
visited the Belgian capital, which then was only the chief town of a
French department,--the department of the Dyle. Napoleon made a great
point of her appearing in all splendor in the provinces which had
previously been governed by the house of Austria. She went to the
theatre, where she was warmly greeted, and purchased a hundred and fifty
thousand francs' worth of lace to revive the manufactures of the city.
September 30 she joined her husband at Antwerp. The _Moniteur_ thus
spoke of the way the Emperor had transformed this city: "Antwerp may be
considered as a fortress of the rank of Metz and Strasbourg. The work
which has been done there is enormous. On the left bank of the Scheldt,
where two years ago there was only a redoubt, there has risen a city
twelve thousand feet long, with eight bastions.... The view from
the dockyard is unparalleled; twenty-one men-of-war, eight of them
three-deckers, are building. The arsenal is fully provided with
provisions of all sorts brought down the Rhine and the Meuse.

"Seven years ago," continues the _Moniteur_, "there was not a single
quay in Antwerp, and the houses came down to the river's edge. To-day,
in the place of these houses, are superb quays, of service to the
commerce and to the defence of the place. Six years ago there was no
basin, but only a few canals where boats drawing ten or twelve feet
could scarcely enter. To-day there is a basin twenty-six feet deep at
the bank, able to hold ships-of-the-line, with a lock for the admission
of ships carrying a hundred and twenty guns."

The formal entrance into Amsterdam took place October 9, 1811. The
former capital of Holland was merely the chief town of a French
department,--the department of the Zuyder Zee. The Dutch were suffering
a good deal from the Embargo, and sorely missed King Louis Bonaparte,
who had in vain tried to alleviate their sufferings. When they came
under the dominion of the Emperor, he had appointed Lebrun, Duke of
Piacenza, their governor general. Of him, Count Beugnot says in his
Memoirs, "He was doubtless a superior man, but he found it easier to
translate Homer and Tasso, and to treat with wonderful ease the most
difficult questions of political economy, than to console a Dutchman for
the loss of ten florins."

The discontent of the Dutch only strengthened Napoleon's desire to
please and win them. "It seemed at that time," M. Beugnot goes on, "as
if Heaven had given him every means of securing happiness. A son
had just been born to him, whose future the poets were justified in
foretelling in their own way. The child who inspired the Mantuan poet
with the idyl, or rather with the magnificent prophecy, _Sicelides
Musae_, etc., was but an humble creature by the side of this infant,
who to the most impressive pride of race added enormous, newly acquired
glory, such as the world had never seen." The happy Emperor fancied that
by showing himself with the mother of the King of Rome to the Dutch and
Germans, he should silence their complaints, wipe out their memories of
national independence, and arouse an enthusiasm that would make them
forget their sufferings and losses. Their welcome was of a sort to
confirm him in this belief. The peaceful populace of Amsterdam forgot
their usual phlegm, and cheered the mighty monarch and his young wife.
The Empress entered the city in a gilded carriage with glass sides, and
she was met by a guard of honor composed of young men belonging to the
first families of Holland. The Emperor followed on horseback,
surrounded by a brilliant staff. Their stay at Amsterdam was marked by
extraordinary pomp; the company of the Théâtre Français was brought
thither from Paris, and Talma appeared as Bayard and as Orosmane. The
court made a stay of a fortnight, the Emperor making short excursions to
Helder, one of his creations, to Texel, and to the dykes of Medemblik,
which protect the country against the Zuyder Zee.

General de Ségur, who went on the journey, thus describes it: "It might
naturally be supposed, that in going through Holland, after the last two
attempted assassinations, Napoleon would have taken precautions against
such frequent attacks; but, far from it, he was full of confidence, and
went about alone among these worst victims of the continental system,
mingling every day with the dense crowd that gathered about him. His
sole thought was to study their needs, their manners, and habits,
anxious to see for himself and trusting thoroughly in them. These
northern people hide warm hearts beneath a cold exterior; they are
impressed by greatness, and give it their confidence. Their feelings
are slow, but for that reason surer when once aroused. The Emperor's
enormous fame had preceded him; and the appearance among them of this
genius, all fire and flame, who had come, as he said, to adopt
them, warmed their phlegmatic nature. They were at once filled with
admiration; his presence, his trust in them, his consoling and
encouraging words, the good works at once begun by his active and able
administration, filled them with enthusiasm."

During the three days of the Emperor's absence Marie Louise visited the
neighborhood of Amsterdam. She went to the village of Broek, which lies
a league from the port, on the shores of a little basin surrounded with
flowers and grass, and is in communication with the Zuyder Zee by means
of a small canal. This village is famous as a perfect model of the
attractive luxury and the over-zealous neatness of the Dutch. It is of a
circular shape. The houses, of wood and one story high, are built around
and upon a lake, and are decorated outside with frescoes. Through the
window-glass, which is remarkably clear, it is easy to see the curtains
of Chinese figured silk or of Indian stuff. Within the houses are large
Gothic sideboards, full of costly Japanese porcelain. There are no signs
of use or of wear upon the furniture; every house looks as if it were
the house of the Sleeping Beauty. There are no barns, or stables, or
granaries, or kitchens. Everything connected with animals is banished
from this fairy-like enclosure. Posts at the ends of every street bar
the way against carriages. The pavement is in mosaic, and is covered
with a fine sand, on which are designs of flowers. The inhabitants carry
their sense of neatness so far that they compel every visitor to take
off his shoes and put on slippers on entering a house. One day, when the
Emperor Joseph II. happened to appear in a pair of boots before one of
these curious houses, he was told that he would have to take them off
before he could go in. "I am the Emperor," he said. "Well, if you were
the burgomaster of Amsterdam, you couldn't come in with boots on," was
the reply. Another time Hortense, then Queen of Holland, was not allowed
to enter one of the houses, and King Louis approved, because the Queen
had not sent word that she was coming.

When Marie Louise visited this famous village, the burgomaster, in view
of the importance of the occasion, consented to break the rigid rules
and to permit the Imperial carriage to drive over the mosaic pavement
to his house, where he presented his respects to the Empress. At this
house, as in every one in the village, there are two doors,--one for
daily use, the other opened only for baptisms, marriages, and funerals.
This door, which is called the fatal door, opens into a room which is
always kept shut except on these three occasions. "The Empress," says
M. de Bausset, "asked to have the fatal door opened. We crossed the
threshold with gratified vanity, in the presence of many inhabitants,
who feared to follow us, but who were almost tempted to admire the ease
and courage with which we went in and out. After visiting, admiring,
and praising everything, we left these worthy people delighted with the
touching graces and amiable kindness of their young sovereign."

The Emperor and Empress visited Saardam, where Peter the Great spent
ten months as a workman, to study shipbuilding. Napoleon fell into
meditation before the hut of the famous Czar, as he had done before the
tomb of Frederick the Great. "That is the noblest monument in Holland!"
he said; and in memory of Peter the Great he ordered Saardam to be made
a city.

Napoleon and Marie Louise also spent a few hours at Harlem, a
half-Gothic, half-Japanese town, celebrated by the passion of its
inhabitants for flowers, especially for tulips. October 26, they arrived
at Rotterdam, at Loo on the 27th, and spent the night of the 28th at The
Hague, whence they went to visit the banks of the Rhine. The Emperor
carried away with him a most favorable impression of the Dutch, whose
seriousness, morality, love of order, and industry had continually
struck him, so that he shared his brother Louis's partiality for a
nation as interesting in the present as in the past.

November 2, Napoleon and his wife reached Düsseldorf. This pretty town,
which is picturesquely placed at the junction of the Düssel with the
Rhine, was at that time the capital of the Grand Duchy of Berg, and had
been under the rule of Murat before he was appointed King of Naples; on
this visit the Emperor assigned it to the oldest son of Louis Bonaparte.
Count Beugnot was then ruling the principality, which contained less
than a million inhabitants. He it was who said in his curious and witty
Memoirs: "How easy it would have been to secure the allegiance of the
Germans, who are unable to withstand the attraction of military glory,
for whom an oath of allegiance is a mere nothing, and who felt for
France an affection which we cruelly drove out of them!... Germany,
which always admires the marvellous, long preserved its admiration for
the Emperor. At that time this was so general, that a breath would have
blown over the Prussian monarchy, which neither the armies nor the
memories of the great Frederick, together with the invincible legion of
the successor of Peter the Great, could defend."

At Düsseldorf, Napoleon, in accordance with his usual custom, received
all the authorities, civil and military, as well as representatives of
all sects. Among these last was an old white-bearded rabbi a hundred
years old, who was so anxious to see the Emperor that he had himself
carried to the reception. He entered, supported on one side by the
parish priest, on the other, by the Protestant clergyman. This union
of the three creeds in homage to their sovereign did not displease the
Emperor, strange as it was. Count Beugnot's Memoirs must be consulted
for a full account of the activity, the interest in details, the
minuteness of the administrative investigations which, at Düsseldorf as
everywhere else, characterized Napoleon in these laborious journeys, on
which, under pretext of seeking distraction, he kept himself in almost
as active movement as if he were at war. The Count who once played whist
at Düsseldorf with Marie Louise for his partner, against the Duchess
of Montebello and the Prince of Neufchâtel, says in speaking of the
occasion: "As often happens, the game was carelessly played; all watched
the cards only with their eyes, and gave their attention to what was
going forward about the table, to which the Emperor came every few
minutes to say a few pleasant words to the Empress or to joke with the
Prince of Neufchâtel and me. I was too busy, both during the dinner and
while we were playing, to make any study of the Empress's tastes or to
form from them a judgment about her character. The journey had been
long; she seemed tired and out of sorts. She answered the Emperor only
in monosyllables, and the other by a somewhat monotonous nod of the
head. I may be mistaken, but I am inclined to believe that Her Majesty
is not free from the awe which her August husband inspires in all who
approach him."

After resting for two days at Düsseldorf, Napoleon and Marie Louise
went on to Cologne, when they visited the Chapel of the Eleven Thousand
Virgins, and a grand _Te Deum_ was sung in the famous Cathedral, They
returned by Liège, Givet, Mézières, and Compiègne, reaching Saint Cloud
after an absence of nearly three months,--the longest visit that the
Emperor had made in the provinces of either the old or the new France.
Everywhere he had met with the expression of two distinct but somewhat
different sentiments: for the Empress, an affectionate respect; for
himself, the sort of violent sensation that a man who is a living wonder
always produces. XXIV.


At the beginning of 1812 Napoleon had reached the height of his power.
Before we watch his decline, it may be well to consider him at the
summit of his fortune, in the fulness of his force, might, and glory. In
his career there were two distinctly marked periods,--the democratic and
the aristocratic. In the early days of the Empire the first one had not
yet come to an end. The coins of that time still bore the stamp, "French
Republic. Napoleon Emperor." He himself resembled Caesar rather than
Charlemagne: he granted no hereditary titles, and associated with but
few of the émigrés; he was still, in many ways, a man of the Revolution.
In 1812, on the other hand, he had given his authority a sort of feudal
character, and revived many points of resemblance with the Carlovingian
epoch. Charlemagne had become his model, his ideal. The saviour of the
Convention, the friend of the young Robespierre, was busily introducing
much of the imperial and military splendor of the Middle Ages. The
continental sovereigns treated him with so much consideration that he
regarded himself as their superior rather than as an equal. He
called them his brothers; but he thought that he was more than a
brother--something like the head of a family of kings. The Kings of
Bavaria, of Würtemberg, of Saxony, of Spain, of Naples, of Westphalia,
who all owed their crowns to him, were indeed his subordinates. As
the Princes of the Confederation of the Rhine, the vassals of their
protector, they despatched their contingents to him with as much zeal
and punctuality as if they had been plain prefects of the Empire.

The émigrés crowded the drawing-rooms of the Tuileries. One might have
thought one's self at Coblenz. Those men who belonged to the old régime
were especially appreciated. The one of his aides-de-camp who most
pleased the Emperor was perhaps the Count of Narbonne, knight of honor
of one of the daughters of Louis XV., Minister of War under Louis XVI.
The most rigid, the most precise etiquette prevailed in the Imperial
residences. The high dignitaries and marshals concealed their plebeian
names under pompous titles of princes and dukes. Madame de Mailly, the
widow of a marshal of the royal period, had been admitted to the rank
and privileges of the wives of the grand officers of the crown, and had
figured as a marshal's widow, at the reception of January 1, 1811. The
court of Versailles appeared to have revived.

Napoleon preferred to derive his power from divine right than from
the will of the nation. "He was much struck," Metternich says in his
Memoirs, "by the idea of ascribing the origin of supreme power to divine
choice. One day at Compiègne, soon after his marriage, he said to me, 'I
notice that when the Empress writes to her father, she addresses him as
His Holy Imperial Highness. Is that your usual way?' I told him he was
so addressed from the tradition of the old Germanic Empire, and because
he also wore the apostolic crown of Hungary. Napoleon then said with
some solemnity, 'It is a noble and excellent custom. Power derives from
God, and that is the only way it can be secure from human assault. Some
time or other I shall adopt the same title.'"

At about the same time, in conversation with M. Molé about the houses
building in Paris, on being asked when he intended to give his attention
to the Church of the Madeleine, the Emperor said, "Well, what is
expected of me?" M. Molé told him that he had heard that it was intended
for a Temple of Glory. "That's what people think, I know," said
Napoleon; "but I mean it for a memorial in expiation of the murder of
Louis XVI." He said to Metternich: "When I was young I favored the
Revolution out of ignorance and ambition. When I came to the age of
reason I followed its counsels and my own instinct, and crushed the
Revolution." At another time he said: "The French throne was empty.
Louis XVI. had not been able to hold it. If I had been in his place,
in spite of the immense progress it had made in men's minds during the
previous reigns, the Revolution would not have triumphed. When the King
fell, the Republic took its place; and I set that aside. The former
throne was buried under the ruins; I had to make a new one."

According to Prince Metternich, "One of Napoleon's keenest and most
persistent regrets was that he could not appeal to the principle of
legitimacy as the foundation of his power. Few men have felt like him
the fragility and precariousness of authority without this basis, and
its vulnerability to attacks." One day, in speaking to the Austrian
statesman about the letter he wrote when First Consul to Louis XVIII.,
he said: "His answer was dignified and rich in impressive traditions. In
Legitimists there is something which lies outside of their intelligence.
If he had consulted his intellect alone, he would have come to terms
with me, and I should have treated him most generously."

The Emperor had come to regard himself as the glorious personification
of divine right, and as the defender of all the monarchies. In his eyes
the King of Prussia was only a revolutionary monarch. If we may believe
Chateaubriand, "Frederick William's great crime, according to Bonaparte
the Republican, was this, that he abandoned the cause of the kings. The
negotiations of the Berlin court with the Directory indicated, Bonaparte
used to say, a timid, selfish, undignified policy, which sacrificed his
own position and the general monarchical interests to petty advantages.
When he used to look at the new Prussia on the map he would say, 'Is it
possible that I have left that man so much territory?'"

The philosophers aroused as much horror in Napoleon as the Jacobins.
In his eyes strong minds were weak minds; and though he persecuted the
Pope, he denounced with equal severity attacks on the throne and attacks
on the Church. He especially detested the Voltairian irony, regarding
it as both blasphemous and treasonable. To quote once more from Prince
Metternich: "He had a profound contempt for the false philosophy as well
as for the false philanthropy of the eighteenth century. Of all the
founders of the doctrine it was Voltaire who was his pet aversion, and
he carried his hate so far as to attack on every occasion his general
literary reputation."

Napoleon thought, spoke, and acted as if he had always been Emperor and
King. In the whole world there was no court so magnificent and brilliant
as his. Many kings were admitted to it only as French princes, high
dignitaries of the Empire: Joseph, King of Spain, was a Great Elector;
Murat, King of the Two Sicilies, Lord High Admiral; Louis Bonaparte,
deprived of the throne of Holland, figures in the Imperial Almanac of
1812 in his capacity of Constable. The other high dignitaries at this
epoch were Cambacérès, Duke of Parma, Lord High Chancellor of the
Empire; Lebrun, Duke of Piacenza, Lord High Treasurer, Governor General
of the Departments of Holland; Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of
Italy, Lord High Chancellor of State; Prince Borghese, Governor General
of the Departments beyond the Alps; Marshal Berthier, Prince of
Neufchâtel and of Wagram, Vice Constable; Talleyrand, Prince of
Benevento, Vice Great Elector. At the head of his military household,
the Emperor had four colonel-generals of the Imperial Guard, all four
marshals of France, Davoust, Duke of Auerstadt and Prince of Eckmühl;
Soult, Duke of Dalmatia; Bessières, Duke of Istria; Mortier, Duke of
Treviso. Moreover, there were ten aides-de-camp, nine of whom were
generals of divisions, and thirteen orderly officers. For Grand Almoner
he had Cardinal Fesch, Archbishop of Lyons, aided by four ordinary
almoners, two archbishops, and two bishops; for Grand Marshal of the
Palace, Duroc, Duke of Frioul; for High Chamberlain, the Count of
Montesquiou Fezensac; for First Equerry, General de Caulaincourt, Duke
of Vicenza; for Chief Huntsman, Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel
and of Wagram; for Grand Master of Ceremonies, the Count of Ségur,
formerly the Ambassador of Louis XVI. to the great Catherine of Russia.
The Emperor had no fewer than ninety chamberlains, among whom figured
these among other great names of the old régime: an Aubusson de la
Teuillade, a Galard de Béarn, a Marmier, a d'Alsace, a Turenne, a
Noailles, a Brancas, a Gontaut, a Gramont, a Beauvau, a Sapicha, a
Radziwill, a Potocki, a Choiseul-Praslin, a Nicolay, a Chabot, a La
Vieuville. This aristocratic court knew no lack of amusements. The
winter of 1811-12 was one long succession of pleasures. "It was in the
whirl of these entertainments and festivities of all sorts," says Madame
Durand, first lady-in-waiting to the Empress, "that Napoleon formed
his plan for the conquest of Russia. The spoiled child of fortune,
intoxicated with flattery, never dreaming of the possibility of defeat,
seemed to be calculating his victories in advance, and to regard
pleasures as the preparations for war. Not a day passed without a play,
a concert, or a masked ball at court." The theatrical representations
on the Tuileries' stage were most impressive. The Emperor and Empress
occupied a box opposite the stage. The princes and princesses sat on
each side of them or behind; on the right was the box of the foreign
ambassadors; on the left, that of the French Ministers. A large gallery
was reserved for the ladies of the court, who all dressed magnificently
and wore sparkling jewels. A number of distinguished men filled the pit,
all in court dress, with small-sword, and ribbons and orders. During
the entr'actes the Emperor's liveried footmen carried about ices and
refreshments of various kinds. The hall was most brilliantly lit. The
balls in the great rooms of the first floor, and the dinners in the
Diana Gallery, were equally sumptuous. The Emperor, however, especially
delighted in the masked balls, when, changing his Imperial robes for a
simple domino, he whose police system was so perfect, who knew and
saw everything, used to baffle the women, and tease or surprise their
husbands and lovers.

Everywhere Napoleon used to make himself feared, at a ball as well as in
a meeting of his Ministers. At an entertainment he won as much glory as
on the battle-field. Even those who hated him had to admire him, for he
had a most wonderful power of astounding and fascinating every one.
His aide, General de Narbonne, had an old mother, who maintained her
allegiance to the old royalty. "See here, my dear Narbonne," the Emperor
said one day, "it's a bad thing for me that you see your mother so
often. I understand that she doesn't like me." "True," replied the
crafty courtier, "she hasn't got beyond admiration." This same Count de
Narbonne had been off to preside at an electoral meeting in a department
some distance from Paris. "What do they say about me in the different
departments you have been through?" asked the Emperor. "Sire," replied
M. de Narbonne, "some say you are a god, and others say you are a devil;
but all agree that you are something more than a human being."

A witty observer, who was inclined to witticism rather than to
enthusiasm, said of the Napoleon of 1811: "His genius controlled every
one's thoughts. I believed that he was born to rule Fortune, and it
seemed to be natural enough that people should prostrate themselves
before his feet; that became, in my eyes, the normal way of the world."
Count Beugnot, who was at that time ruling the Grand Duchy of Berg,
adds: "I worked all night with extraordinary zeal, and thereby surprised
the inhabitants, who did not know that the Emperor performed for all
his officers, at whatever distance they might be, the miracle of real
presence. I imagined that I saw him before me, when I was working alone
in my room, and this impression, which sometimes inspired me with
ideas far beyond my powers, more often preserved me from lapses due to
negligence or carelessness. An ancient writer has said that it was of
great service for a man's conduct of life, if he could feel himself in
the presence of a superior being; and I am inclined to believe, that
the Emperor was generally so well served, because, whether through the
precautions he took, or through the influence of his name, which was
uttered everywhere and all the time, every one of his servants saw him
continually at his side."

If Napoleon produced such an effect even at a distance, what an
impression he must have made on those who were near him! Count Miot de
Mélito thus describes an Imperial reception in 1811: "Never had the
Tuileries displayed more pomp and magnificence. Never had a greater
number of princes, ambassadors, distinguished foreigners, generals,
splendid in gold, and purple, and jewels, ablaze with orders and ribbons
of every color, offered more obsequious homage or sought with more
eagerness at Versailles for the favor of a word or of a glance. The
Emperor alone seemed free and unconstrained. With an assured step he
passed through the throng of courtiers, who respectfully made way before
him. With a look he transported with rapture or crushed those who
approached him; and if he deigned to speak to any one, the happy mortal
thus honored stood with bowed head and attentive ear, scarcely daring to
breathe or to reply."

Napoleon had then given France so much glory that the loss of liberty
was hardly perceived.

December 19, 1832, Victor Hugo, in a speech before the Court of Commons,
where he was trying to compel the government to let "Le Roi s'amuse" be
given, spoke thus of the Imperial government: "Then, sirs, it is great!
The Empire, in its administration and government, was, to be sure, an
intolerable tyranny, but let us remember that our liberty was largely
paid for with glory. At that time France, like Rome under Caesar,
maintained an attitude at once submissive and proud. It was not the
France we desire, free, ruling itself, but rather a France, the slave of
one man, and mistress of the world. It used to be said, 'On such a day,
at such an hour, I shall enter that capital,' and they entered that day
and at that hour. All sorts of kings used to elbow one another in
his ante-chambers. A dynasty would be dethroned by a decree in the
_Moniteur_. If a column was wanted, the Emperor of Austria used to
furnish the bronze. The control of the French comedians was, I confess,
a little arbitrary, but their orders were dated from Moscow. We were
shorn of all our liberties, I say; there was a rigid censorship, our
books were pilloried, our posters were torn down; but to all our
complaints a single word sufficed for a magnificent reply; they could
answer us with Marengo! Jena! Austerlitz!"

And the poet thus ended his speech: "I have but a few more words to
say, and I hope that you will remember them when you proceed to your
deliberations. They are these: 'In this century there has been only one
great man--Napoleon; and only one great thing--Liberty. We no longer
have the great man; let us try to have the great thing.'"

Certainly he exceeded the common measure, that man of whom
Chateaubriand, his implacable foe, said: "The world belongs to
Bonaparte. What that destroyer could not finish, his fame has seized.
Living, he missed the world; dead, he possesses it. You may protest,
but generations pass by without hearing you." When some one asked the
illustrious author why, after so violently attacking Napoleon, he
admired him so much, the answer was, "The giant had to fall before I
could measure his height."

Those who were nearest to Napoleon regarded him as an almost
supernatural being. The Baron of Méneval, who, before he was the private
secretary of Marie Louise, when regent, had been secretary of the First
Consul and Emperor, thus writes: "By the influence which Napoleon
exercised on his age he was more than a man. Never perhaps will a human
being accomplish greater things than did this privileged creature in so
few years, in the face of so many obstacles; yet these were inferior
to those of which the plans lay in his mighty head. The memory of that
time, of the hours I spent with this wonderful man, seems to me a dream.
In the deep feeling which he arouses in me, I have to bow before
the impenetrable decrees of Providence, which, after inspiring this
wonderful instrument of its plans, tore him from his uncompleted work.
Possibly God did not wish him to anticipate the time He had established
by an invariable order. Possibly He did not wish a mortal to exceed
human proportions!"

If Napoleon was thus admired, even after the terrible catastrophes which
wrought his ruin, even after the retreat from Russia, after the two
invasions, after Waterloo, what an impression he must have made on his
enthusiastic partisans when he was the incarnation of success and glory,
when there was no spot on the sun of his omnipotence, and, protected
by some happy fate, he had disarmed envy, discouraged hate, and so far
bound Fortune that she seemed to tremble before him like an obedient

In spite of the glory which surrounded him in 1812, Napoleon, who is
often represented as infatuated with himself and his glory, yet even at
this moment of colossal power and unheard-of prosperity, had moments
when he judged himself with perfect impartiality. He knew human nature
thoroughly, and he indulged in no illusions about his family, which
he distrusted, or about his marshals, whose desertion he seemed to
anticipate, or about his courtiers, whose flatteries did not deceive
him. Being convinced that interest is generally the sole motive of
human actions, he expected neither devotion nor gratitude. "One day, in
speaking to my father," says General de Ségur, "he asked him what he
thought people would say about him after his death, and my father began
to enlarge on the way we should mourn for him. 'Nothing of the sort!'
interrupted the Emperor; 'you would all say, "Ah!"' and he accompanied
this word with a consolatory gesture which expressed 'at last we can
take a long breath and be at peace.'" It was not after his defeats that
the Emperor said this, but in 1811, when still mighty and successful.

"The Emperor," says General de Ségur again, "was not so blind as some
have thought, as to the fate that awaited his gigantic work. He was
often heard to say that his heir would be crushed by the vast bulk of
his empire. 'Poor child!' he said, as he gazed on the King of Rome,
'what a snarl I leave to you.' ... Every one knows the gloomy impression
it makes, when to the vigor and activity of youth there succeeds, with
advancing years, the benumbing influence of stoutness. This transition,
a melancholy warning, came over Napoleon at the end of 1810. Doubtless
this warning of physical decline and weakness rendered him anxious about
the future of a work founded on force. This was apparent when he told
my father: 'The shortest ride now tires me;' and to M. Mollier: 'I am
mortal, and more so than many men;' and again, 'My heir will find my
sceptre very heavy.' As he regarded the future, the only power that
seemed to threaten this sceptre and this heir was Russia, and it may
be that as he began to feel himself grow old, he repented that he had
enlarged its territory both on the north and the south, to the Gulf of
Bothnia and to the Danube. Hence, possibly, this eager desire to deal
the country a blow arose from a spirit of preservation rather than from
one of conquest, and the charge of an overweening and uncontrollable
ambition is thus somewhat refuted." This observation is not wholly
inaccurate. It may be that if the Emperor had had no son, he would not
have made the Russian campaign, and possibly it was more by a mistaken
calculation than by pride, that he was drawn into this colossal war
which, he hoped, would bring the whole continent, and consequently
England, under his control.

A great deal has been said about Napoleon's pride; but in discussing
the matter it is necessary to distinguish between two very different
personages,--the man as he appeared in public, and the man as he was
in private. In public, he was obliged to display more majesty than any
other sovereign. The novelty of his grandeur made additional formality
necessary. When the general became Emperor, he was compelled to keep at
a distance his old fellow-soldiers who had formerly been his equals
and intimates, for familiarity would have lowered his glory and have
lessened his authority. He had to appear before his court like a living
statue that never descended from its pedestal. It was hard to detect a
human heart beating under the sovereign's Imperial robes. Yet in private
life he was by no means what he seemed in public; when he returned to
his own rooms, he laid aside his official seriousness as if he were
taking off a fatiguing uniform, and became affable and familiar. He
used to joke, and sometimes even noisily. He was no longer a haughty
potentate, a terrible conqueror, but rather a good husband who was kind
to his wife, and a good father who played with his child. He used to
tease the companions of Marie Louise wittily, and without malice; he
would take an interest in their dresses, and often give them bits of
good advice in the gentlest manner. He took as much interest in the
minutest details as in the greatest questions. He was indulgent and
generous to his officials, and knew how to make himself loved by them.
He and Marie Louise lived most happily together, as his valet de
chambre, Constant, tells us, "As father and husband he might have been a
model for all his subjects." He simply adored his son, and knew how to
play with him better than did the Empress. As Madame Durand says: "Being
without experience with children, Marie Louise never dared to hold or
pet the King of Rome; she was afraid of hurting him: consequently, he
became more attached to his governess than to his mother--a preference
which at last made Marie Louise a little jealous. The Emperor, on the
other hand, used to take him in his arms every time he saw him, play
with him, hold him before a looking-glass, and make all sorts of faces
at him. At breakfast, he used to hold him on hi knees, and would dip
one of his fingers in a sauce, and let the child suck it, and rub it all
over its face. If the governess complained, the Emperor would laugh,
and the child, who was almost always merry, seemed to like his father's
noisy caresses. It is a noteworthy fact that those who had any favor
to ask of the Emperor when he was thus employed were almost sure of a
favorable reception. Before he was two years old the young Prince was
always present at Napoleon's breakfast."

At this period of his life Napoleon was really happy. The two years that
he spent in the society of the young Empress formed a blessed rest in
his stormy career; he loved his wife and thought that she loved him. He
was grateful to her for being an archduchess, for her beauty, youth,
and health; for having given him an heir to the Empire. He continually
rejoiced in a marriage which, to be sure, inspired him with many
illusions, but yet gave him at least some moments of moral repose and
domestic calm, which are of importance in the life of such a man. Why
was he not wise enough to stop and give thanks to Providence, instead of
continuing his perilous course and forever tempting fortune? How
many evils he would have spared France, Europe, and himself! A few
concessions would have disarmed his adversaries, have satisfied
Germany, have consolidated the Austrian alliance, strengthened the
thrones, and brought about a lasting and general peace. We may say that
Napoleon was his own worst enemy, and that when he held his happiness in
his hand he willingly let it drop on the ground. It was not his second
marriage that ruined him, but rather the over-bold combination which led
him to extend the line of his military operations from Cadiz to Moscow.



Empress Marie Louise was twenty, December 12, 1811. Early in 1812 she,
like Napoleon, was at the summit of her fortune. During the two years of
her reign she had received nothing but homage in France, and no woman in
the whole world held so lofty a position. We will try to draw a portrait
of her at this time when she had reached the top of the wave of human

Rather handsome than pretty, Marie Louise was more impressive than
charming. Her most striking quality was her freshness; her whole person
bespoke physical and moral health. Her face was more gentle than
striking; her eyes were very blue and full of animation; she had a rich
complexion; her hair was light yellow, but not colorless; her nose,
slightly aquiline; her red lips were a trifle thick, like those of all
the Hapsburgs; her hands and feet were models of beauty; she had an
impressive carriage, and was a little above the medium height. When she
arrived in France, she was a little too stout, and her face was a little
too red; but after the birth of her child these two slight imperfections
disappeared. With a more delicate figure she became more graceful, and
no woman ever had a finer complexion. Being endowed with a most sturdy
constitution, she owed all her beauty to nature and nothing to artifice;
her face needed no paint, her wit no coquetry; with no fondness for
luxury or dress, possessing simple and quiet tastes, never striving for
effect, always preferring half-tints to a blaze of light, her expression
and demeanor always had a quality of simplicity and directness which
fascinated Napoleon, who was very glad to turn from experienced
coquettes to a really natural person.

Those who had supervised Marie Louise's education rightly thought that
the greatest charm in a young girl was innocence. She had been brought
up with the most scrupulous care. The books to be placed in the hands of
the archduchesses were first carefully read, and any improper passages
or even words were excised; no male animals were admitted into their
apartments, but only females, these being endowed with more modest
instincts. Napoleon, who was accustomed to the women of the end of the
eighteenth century and to the heroines of the court of Barras, was
delighted to find a girl so pure and so carefully trained.

On grand occasions Marie Louise bore no resemblance to the Marie Louise
in private life; she assumed a coldness which was mistaken for disdain.
She became imposing; she weighed every word; and careless observers
attributed to haughtiness what was really due to reserve and timidity.
The young Empress had every reason to distrust the French court. She
knew what it had cost her great-aunt, Marie Antoinette, to try to live
on the throne like a private person, and to carry kindliness even to
familiarity. The best way for the Empress to escape malevolence and
criticism was by saying very little. She knew French very well, but it
was not her mother-tongue, and however well acquainted with its grammar,
she could not know perfectly the fine shades of the language. Her fear
of employing possibly correct but unusual expressions made her timid
about speaking. Besides, her husband would not have liked to see her
taking part in long conversations. Political subjects were forbidden
to her, and her great charm in Napoleon's eyes was that she did not
interfere in such matters. She never tried to pass for a witty woman.
Although she was well-read, she lacked the delicate observation, the
ingenious comparisons, the jingling of brilliant phrases or words which
compose what in France is called wit. She had no confidence in
the character of the prominent Frenchwomen, of the romantic but
unsentimental beauties who always expressed more than they felt, who
knew how to faint when fainting would be of use to them, and who in
their drawing-rooms, and especially in their boudoirs, bore too close a
resemblance to actresses upon the stage. Marie Louise never assumed
any feelings or ideas which were not genuine. She was always natural.
Comparing his two wives, Napoleon at Saint Helena said: "One was art and
grace; the other, innocence and simple nature. My first wife never, at
any moment of her life, had any ways or manners that were not agreeable
and attractive. It would have been impossible to find any fault with
her in this respect; she tried to make only a favorable impression, and
seemed to attain her end without study. She employed every possible art
to adorn herself, but so carefully that one could only suspect their
use. The other had no idea that there was anything to be gained by these
innocent artifices. One was always a little inexact; her first idea was
to deny everything: the other never dissimulated, and hated everything
roundabout. My first wife never asked for anything, but she ran up debts
right and left; my second always asked for more when she needed it,
which was seldom. She never bought anything without feeling bound to pay
for it on the spot. But both were kind, gentle, and devoted to their

Marie Louise did not shine in a drawing-room like Josephine; that would
have required a French tact which she did not in the least possess. The
first Empress was thoroughly familiar with French society, which the
second did not know at all. Josephine had seen the last brilliancy of
the old regime and the golden days of the Revolution; she had been a
conspicuous figure in that brilliant but, above all, amusing period, of
which Talleyrand said, "No one who did not live before 1789 knows how
charming life can be." As Viscountess of Beauharnais, she was intimate
with the most intelligent persons in Paris. Though far less educated
than Marie Louise, her conversation was more animated and had a wider
range. No subject was too deep for her; and although she never said
anything very important, she always could give what she had to say an
agreeable turn. Her most ardent desire was to make people forget, by her
fascinations, that she was not born to the throne, and she seemed always
endeavoring to be pardoned for her elevation into the society of the
Faubourg Saint Germain. The names of the great French families always
made much more impression on her, who had risen from the people, than on
Marie Louise, who by birth as well as position could look down on all
the French ladies without exception. It was not those who had belonged
to the old régime whom she preferred; Madame Lannes was far more
congenial to her than the Princess of Beauvau or the Countess of
Montesquieu. She never sought to flatter the Faubourg Saint Germain, but
rather kept it at a distance, making none of the advances to which it
was accustomed at the hands of the first Empress. She felt that the
Royalists secretly blamed her for attaching her old coat-of-arms to the
new fortune of Bonaparte. She belonged to a race which had never felt a
warm love for the Bourbons; while Josephine, who was born in a family of
Royalists, had remained faithful, even when on the Imperial throne, to
her devotion to the old Royalty. Marie Louise indulged in no illusions.
She knew that the courtiers, under the appearance of adoration which
amounted to servility, were really concealing a depth of malice and
ill-will, which was the more dangerous the more it was hidden, and that
the very ones who were burning incense before her would be the most
delighted to catch her tripping. Hence she was always on her guard,
and in public steadily maintained an attitude of cold benevolence and
discreet reserve. Napoleon loved her, for the very reason that her
qualities were the exact opposite of those of Josephine; and if she had
striven to copy the former Empress, she would only have sunk in her
husband's estimation. He had bidden her never to forget that she was a
sovereign, as he was always Emperor: she obeyed him, and she did right
to obey him. Strong in her husband's approval,--for he never had
occasion for the slightest reproach,--she persisted in the very prudent
and dignified line of conduct that she had adopted on entering France.
She had every reason to be proud of her success; for so long as she
lived with Napoleon, no whisper of calumny attacked her, no faintest
insinuation was breathed against her morality. At Saint Helena, the
Emperor said, "Marie Louise was virtue itself."

The untiring precision of her demeanor and of her words protected the
Empress from criticism, but aroused no enthusiastic praise. She was more
esteemed than loved; and, in spite of her precocious wisdom, she aroused
no fervent sympathy, none of the enthusiastic admiration which less
reserved, more amiable queens have inspired. Still, no one found fault
with her. Count Miot de Mélito, in describing a reception at the
Tuileries in 1811, says: "The Empress entered.... Her face wore a
dignified but somewhat disdainful expression. She walked round the
room, accompanied by the Duchess of Montebello, and spoke agreeably and
pleasantly with a number of people whom she had introduced to her, and
all were gratified by their kindly reception."

The Duke of Rovigo, the Minister of Police, speaks thus in his Memoirs:
"Marie Louise aroused enthusiasm whenever she opened her mouth. Her
success in France was entirely her own work; for I declare, on my honor,
the authorities never adopted any particular methods to secure for her a
warm welcome from the public. When she was to appear in a procession
or at the theatre, all the authorities did was to provide against the
slightest breach of order or propriety; beyond that, nothing was done.
For example, when I was told that she was going to the theatre, I used
to take all the boxes opposite the one she was to occupy, and all others
from which people might stare at her. Then I took the precaution of
sending the tickets for these boxes to respectable families, who were
very glad to use them. In this way I filled the balcony on the days when
the Empress meant to be present. As to any steps towards insuring a
warm welcome from the pit, I simply did not take any. The Empress Marie
Louise was accustomed, when she came before the public, to make three
courtesies, and so gracefully that the applause always broke out with
great warmth before the third. It was she herself who bade me take no
active steps on such occasions." After thus greeting the audience, the
Empress used to sit modestly in the back of the box. To be gazed at
through all the opera-glasses always annoyed her. Her lofty rank, the
pride of her position, which would have filled other women with rapture,
left her almost indifferent.

Marie Louise was certainly attached to Napoleon, but we may doubt
whether she was really in love with him. He was twenty-two years her
senior; and if she was a wife who suited him in every particular,
probably he was not the husband of whom she had dreamed. He possessed
too much power, too much genius, too much majesty; a quiet home would
have pleased her better than the Imperial Olympus, of which he was the
Jupiter, and she the Juno. Doubtless his glory was unrivalled, but
he had won the best part of it through Austrian defeats. Arcola and
Marengo, Austerlitz and Wagram, were names that wounded Austrian ears.
Had she been free to choose, she would perhaps have preferred to this
all-powerful Emperor any petty German prince, who possessed neither
great wealth nor vast territories, but who shared her memories, ideas,
and hopes. Yet she had resolved to love her husband, and she easily
succeeded in so doing. She was grateful for his kindness, his
consideration, his respect; and in her affectionate but not passionate
devotion there was no trace of reluctance. She sincerely thought that
she would always be faithful to him. She was not only attached to him,
she was also jealous of him; the proximity of Josephine annoyed and
disturbed her. In fact, there was something singular in the simultaneous
presence in France of two empresses sharing almost equally the official
honors. Marie Louise knew how popular Josephine was; and this offended
her, although she pitied a woman of whom the rigid laws of public policy
had required so cruel a sacrifice. Possibly, too, she feared that she
could not count too absolutely on the feelings of a man who, for reasons
of state, had abandoned a wife whom a short time before he had really
loved. Who knows, indeed, but what she dreaded the same fate for
herself, in case she should bear no children? She felt really sure only
when she had borne a son. Before that she was so jealous that one day
when she heard that Napoleon had made a visit to Josephine, she was seen
to shed tears, for the first time since her arrival in France. Another
time, when the Emperor had suggested to her to take advantage of the
absence of the first Empress, who had gone to Aix, in Savoy, and to
visit Malmaison, her face suddenly became so sad that Napoleon at once
abandoned the plan. But after the birth of King of Rome, Marie Louise
was no longer jealous. Under the conviction that she had finally
reconciled Austria and France, and that her son was the pledge of the
peace and happiness of all Europe, she thought that she had so well
accomplished her destiny that she could always count on her husband's
affection and gratitude.

Judging by the words of Cardinal Maury, who had been so famous in the
Constituent Assembly, and had been made Archbishop of Paris by the
Emperor, Napoleon was very much in love with his young wife. "It would
be impossible," he wrote to the Duchesa of Abrantes, "to make you
understand how much the Emperor loves our charming Empress. It is love,
but a good love this time. He is in love with her, I tell you, and as he
never was with Josephine; for, after all, he never knew her when she was
young. She was over thirty when they married, while this wife is young
and as fresh as the spring. You will see her, and you will be delighted
with her.... And then if you knew how gay she is, how pleasant, and,
above all, how thoroughly at her ease with all those whom the Emperor
honors with his intimacy! You will see how lovable she is. People used
to talk about the _soirées_ of the Queen of Holland. I assure you the
Empress is very charming for those whom the Emperor admits informally
into the Tuileries. They go there of an evening to pay their court, they
play with Their Majesties reversis or billiards; and the Empress is so
charming, so fascinating, that it is easy to see from the Emperor's eyes
that he is dying to kiss her."

Probably there is some exaggeration in Cardinal Maury's enthusiasm.
Doubtless Marie Louise pleased Napoleon very much, but had she been a
young woman of humble rank, he probably would not have noticed her. What
he especially admired in her was the Archduchess, the daughter of the
German Caesars, and in the feeling she aroused in him there was perhaps
more gratified vanity than real love. He certainly was not attracted
to her by one of those tempests of passion which had drawn him towards
Josephine; he would not have written to his second wife burning letters
like those he wrote to Josephine during the first campaign in Italy. In
his affection for Marie Louise there was something calm and reasonable,
almost paternal; it was the reflection of maturity succeeding to the
impetuous ardor of youth. Yet he had more deference and regard for the
second Empress than for the first. Shortly after her marriage Marie
Louise said to Metternich: "I am sure that in Vienna people think a
great deal about me, and imagine that I live in continual anguish. The
truth often seems improbable. I am not afraid of Napoleon, but I am
beginning to think that he is afraid of me."

It has been said that the Emperor was not perfectly constant to Marie
Louise; but even if he was ever unfaithful, he kept the fact from her
knowledge, and never made his second wife as unhappy as he had made his
first. He used to boast that he cared only for honest men and virtuous
women, and he was anxious that no one should be able to charge him with
setting a bad example. His court had become very strict, at least in
appearance. Decorum prevailed there as rigidly as etiquette.

Marie Antoinette had in fact known less happiness than Marie Louise.
From the moment she entered France she encountered a sullen enmity which
Marie Louise never experienced. The Empress was never denounced for her
Austrian birth as the Queen had been by the opposition. Marie Antoinette
was surrounded by snares and pitfalls which were never prepared for
Marie Louise. Who would have dared to treat Napoleon's wife as the
Cardinal de Rohan treated the wife of Louis XVI.? What could there have
been under the Empire to compare with the affair of the necklace? The
Queen was attacked by pamphlets of all sorts. The Empress was not once
insulted or slandered. The bitterest foes of her husband respected her.
Moreover, Napoleon was far more attractive than Louis XVI., and Marie
Louise was soon a mother, while Marie Antoinette long endured a
barrenness for which she was not to blame.

The happiness of Marie Louise lasted but little more than two years, but
it was all without a cloud. The mistake that historians always make
in discussing celebrities is that they try to make a single portrait
instead of a series of portraits, according to the different ages and
circumstances. What was true in 1812 was no longer true in 1813, still
less so in 1814. Human life has its seasons like the year. Is anything
less like a brilliant spring day than a gloomy winter's day? In his
history of the Restoration, Lamartine has drawn a picture of the Empress
Marie Louise which seems tolerably exact for the period after the
calamities that befell the Empire, but inapplicable to the happy days
of the mother of the King of Rome. "Marie Louise," he writes, "sought
refuge in ceremony, in retreat and silence from the ill-will that
pursued her at every step.... Napoleon loved her from a feeling of
superiority and pride. She was a sign of his alliance with great races;
the mother of his son; and thus she perpetuated his ambition. ... The
public did wrong to demand of Marie Louise passionate returns and
devotion when her nature could inspire her only with a feeling of duty
and respect for a soldier who had regarded her only as a German hostage
and a pledge of posterity. Her constraint lessened her natural charms,
darkened her expression, dimmed her wit, and burdened her heart. She
was looked upon as a foreign decoration attached to the columns of the
throne. Even history, written in ignorance of the truth, and inspired by
the resentment of Napoleon's courtiers, has slandered this sovereign.
Those who knew her will restore, not the stoical, theatric glory which
was demanded of her, but her real nature.... The alleged emptiness
of her silence hid feminine thoughts and mysteries of feeling which
transported her far from this court. Magnificent though cruel exile!...
She could not pretend anything, either during the days of her grandeur,
nor after her husband's overthrow; that was her crime. The
theatrical world of the court wanted to see a pretence of conjugal
affection in a victor's captive. She was too natural to simulate love
where she felt only obedience, terror, and resignation. History will
blame her; nature will pity her.... She was expected to play a part; she
failed as an actress, but as a woman she has survived."

The Marie Louise who is thus described by Lamartine is not the Marie
Louise of the beginning of 1812; then the young Empress did not regard
herself as "a victor's captive," nor as "a foreign decoration attached
to the columns of the throne." Napoleon did not inspire her with terror,
and she knew none of the constraint which "lessened her natural charms,
darkened her expression, dimmed her wit, and burdened her heart." She
did not look upon her court as a "magnificent but rude exile." These
thoughts may have occurred to her in misfortune, but hardly, we think,
before the Russian campaign. If Lamartine had read the letters which she
wrote to her father in 1810, 1811, and the beginning of 1812, he would
doubtless have acknowledged that for some time Napoleon's second wife
was happy on the French throne.

To this portrait drawn by the great poet we prefer the one we find in
Méneval's Memoirs: "The better Napoleon learned to know the Empress, the
more he applauded his choice. Her character seemed made for him; she
brought him happiness and consolation amid the cares of his stormy
career. In ordinary life she was simple and kindly, yet with no loss of
dignity. No word of complaint or blame ever crossed her lips. Gentle,
but reserved and discreet, she never expressed her feelings with any
vivacity. She was kind and generous, simple and astute at the same time;
her gayety was gentle, her wit without malice. Though well-informed, she
made no parade of her acquirements, fearing to be accused of pedantry.
Her wifely devotion had won the Emperor's affection, and her unfailing
gentleness had attracted all his friends. In this estimate I am
confirmed by my recollections, and I am not inspired by any partiality,
by what has happened, or by any present interest. It would be a mistake
to suppose that her duty and her inclinations were at variance; she was
perfectly natural and could not conceal her real impressions; but events
have shown that while she inclined to virtue when it was easy, she yet
lacked the strength to practise it when it was hard."

Marie Louise did not have the character of her great-grandmother
Marie Thérèse, or that of her great-aunt Marie Antoinette. She rather
resembled the wife of Louis XIV. or that of Louis XV. She would have led
a calm, modest, harmless life, like those two queens, if her fate had
not placed her amid unforeseen and terrible events, the shock of which
she could not endure. In 1812 we see her a loving mother, a faithful
wife, a worthy sovereign. If Napoleon had adopted a less imprudent
policy, all that would have lasted. Doubtless that is what he said to
himself when, at Saint Helena, he impartially examined his career, and
he had no angry thought, no bitter word, for the woman who has been so
severely judged by others.



We have just tried to draw a picture of the appearance and character of
Marie Louise in 1812, when at the summit of her fortune; let us turn our
attention to the organization of her household at this epoch, and to
the details of her daily life. Her first almoner was Count Ferdinand de
Rohan, formerly Archbishop of Cambrai; her knight-of-honor was the Count
of Beauharnais, who had held the same position to the Empress Josephine,
a relative of his. Napoleon had at first meant to appoint the Count of
Narbonne to this place, but Marie Louise had dissuaded him. M. Villemain
says in his _Life_ of M. de Narbonne: "The Empress Marie Louise,
generally so yielding to her husband, on this occasion manifested great
opposition. Whether through womanly kindness or through her pride as a
sovereign, possibly through some superstitious scruple as a second wife,
she insisted on the retention in this post of the Count of Beauharnais;
she was unwilling on any terms to seem to exclude, in the person of this
relative of Josephine, the first name of the Princess whom she succeeded
on the French throne. On the other hand, it is fair to suppose that in
the dashing and attractive Count of Narbonne she was willing to keep
away certain things which were unfamiliar and so alarming to her,
such as the lighter graces, the jesting spirit of the old court, and
doubtless too the melancholy presentiments attached, in her mind, to
everything that recalled Versailles and the daughters of Louis XV., who
had become the aunts of Marie Antoinette. In a word, Marie Louise, cold
and calm, was inflexible in her opposition to the choice which the
Emperor announced to her. He at once yielded the point, and smoothed
matters over by appointing M. de Narbonne one of his aides, an odd favor
for a man fifty-five years old, a relic of the former court, suddenly
made a member of the most warlike and most active staff in Europe." For
first equerry Marie Louise had Prince Aldobrandini, and for master of
ceremonies, the Count de Seyssel d'Aix.

The maid-of-honor was Madame Lannes, Duchess of Montebello, the widow of
the famous marshal who was killed in Austria in the first war. Méneval
tells us that Napoleon in making this appointment hesitated between this
lady and the Princess of Beauvau. "The fear of introducing into his
court influences hostile to the national ideas, such as a German
princess might have favored, with the prejudices of her birth and
position, made him give up this idea. He decided for the Duchess,
thinking this an honor due to the memory of one of his oldest and
bravest comrades." It was a most happy choice. Madame de Montebello
was ten years older than the Empress; very handsome, stately, above
reproach, of whom the Emperor said when he appointed her, "I give the
Empress a real lady-of-honor."

In the purity of her features, the Duchess of Montebello recalled
Raphael's Virgins. There was in her appearance, and in her life, a
quality of calmness, of regularity, which greatly pleased Marie Louise,
who was also much touched by her untiring devotion at the time of her
child's birth, when for nine whole days Madame de Montebello remained
in the Empress's room, sleeping at night on a sofa, and the Empress was
grateful to her for having rigorously performed what could be demanded
only of affection or devotion.

Madame Durand says that Marie Louise felt the need of a friend, and that
the Duchess won her confidence and good graces to such an extent that
the Empress could not do without her; she got to love her like a sister,
and tried to prove her affection by great confidence to her and to her
children. She was always delighted to choose presents that the Duchess
would like, and offered them to her with charming amiability. Naturally
a preference of this sort aroused a great deal of jealousy, especially
among the ladies of the palace, most of whom belonged to older families
than did the Duchess, and were somewhat annoyed that she was preferred
to them. Whenever the Emperor was away, Madame de Montebello used to
stay with the Empress, and every morning Marie Louise used to go to
her room to chat with her, and in order to avoid passing through the
drawing-room, where the other ladies had assembled, she used to go
through a dark passage, which greatly offended these ladies. According
to Madame Durand, Madame de Montebello scorned to hide her real opinions
about any one of whom she was talking, and gave her opinion clearly and
frankly. This openness--a virtue rare in courts--inspired the Empress's
confidence, but earned her many enemies; but they, in spite of their
ill-will, could not injure her reputation. The lady of the bedchamber to
the Empress was the Countess of Luçay, who had been a lady-in-waiting
since the beginning of the Consulate. She was a gentle, modest,
distinctly virtuous person, who enjoyed general esteem and sympathy.
The Emperor set great store by her. "In private life," says General
de Ségur, "Napoleon was gentle and confiding, and especially fond of
honorable people, whose delicacy and uprightness were above suspicion,
and of women of the best reputation; he was a good judge, and he
demanded a great deal. This was undeniably true, and the exceptions were
very few: the way he chose his council and the officers attached to his
person, shows it. In corroboration I will quote first the Grand Marshal
Duroc with all the household of the palace, whose affairs were managed
more honestly and better than those of any private house that can be
named. As to the ladies of the court, it will be enough to name Madame
de Luçay, my mother-in-law, the Lady of the Bedchamber, and Madame de
Montesquiou, governess of the King of Rome, whom the Emperor chose when
my mother declined the position from ill-health. His confidence, when
once given, was unlimited."

The Countess of Montesquiou, the governess of the King of Rome, was
the wife of the Emperor's Grand Chamberlain. The Baron de Méneval thus
speaks of her: "Madame de Montesquiou, who was of high birth, received
the highest consideration and thoroughly deserved it. She was forty-six
years old when she was appointed governess of the Imperial children;
her reputation was above reproach. She was a woman of great piety, yet
indifferent to petty formalities; her manners had a noble simplicity,
her whole nature was dignified but benevolent, her character was firm,
and her principles were excellent. She combined all the qualities that
were required for the important position which the Emperor, of his
own choice, had given her." Madame Durand speaks as warmly about the
Countess of Montesquiou: "It would have been hard to make a better
choice. This lady, who belonged to an illustrious family, had received
an excellent education; to the manners of the best society she added a
piety too firmly fixed and too wise to run into bigotry. Her life had
been so well ordered that she escaped any breath of calumny. Some were
inclined to call her haughty, but this haughtiness was tempered by
politeness and the most gracious consideration for others. She took the
most tender and constant care of the young Prince, and there could be
nothing nobler and more generous than the devotion which led her later
to leave the country and her friends, to follow the lot of this young
Prince whose hopes had been destroyed. Her sole reward was bitter sorrow
and unjust persecution.

"The Duchess of Montebello and the Countess of Montesquieu had little
sympathy for each other, but they never betrayed any coolness. Even had
they desired it, they would have been held in awe by fear of
Napoleon, who insisted on harmony in his court. Still, there could
be distinguished at the Tuileries two parties in occult opposition,
belonging respectively to the old and to the new nobility. At the head
of the first stood the Count and the Countess of Montesquieu; of the
second, the Duchess of Montebello, to whom the Empress's preference gave
great authority. Madame Durand says that all the influence which the
Grand Chamberlain and his wife, the governess of the King of Rome,
enjoyed was exercised in obtaining pardon, favors, pensions, and places
for the nobles, whether they had left France or not; they assured the
Emperor that this was the best way of attaching them to his person, of
making them love his government. They said this because they really
thought it; and since they believed that the destiny of France was
firmly fixed, they were anxious to secure for the ruler of this Empire
those men whom they regarded as its strongest support. Since he had seen
Madame de Montesquiou's unwearying devotion to his son, it was seldom
that he refused her whatever she asked."

The new nobility, which was jealous of the old, had a representative in
the Duchess of Montebello, who was very proud, and did not admit the
superiority of the old aristocracy to the illustrious plebeians,
who, like her husband, had no ancestors, but were destined to become
ancestors themselves. She thought that the title of Duke was not enough
for her valiant husband, and that the Emperor, in not making him a
prince like Davout, Masséna, and Berthier, had been unjust, and that
Marshal Lannes was of more account than all the dukes and marquises of
the Versailles court.

There was at court, between these two groups of the old and the new
nobility, a third party, the military party, headed by the Grand Marshal
of the Palace, Duroc, Duke of Frioul, who, seeing honor and glory only
in the career of a soldier, looked down on all other occupations. The
Emperor secretly favored him, but he nevertheless remained true to his
usual system of neutralizing all opinions, by trying to balance their
forces. Each one of the three rival parties kept an eye on the other
two, and thus everything of interest came to the Emperor's ears.

In 1812, the ladies-in-waiting were the Duchess of Bassano, the
Countess Victor de Mortemart, the Duchess of Rovigo, the Countesses
of Montmorency, Talhouet, Law de Lauriston, Duchâtel, of Bouillé,
Montalivet, Perron, Lascaris Vintimiglia, Brignole, Gentile, Canisy, the
Princess Aldobrandini, the Duchesses of Dalberg, Elchingen, Bellune,
Countesses Edmond de Périgord and of Beauvau, Mesdames de Trasignies,
Vilain XIV., Antinori, Rinuccini, Pandolfini Capone, and the Countesses
Chigi and Bonacorsi. They accompanied the Empress in her walks and
drives and at the theatre. They were real women-chamberlains, always
at her side when she appeared in public, but they had no part in her
domestic life and did not reside in the Imperial palaces. This privilege
belonged to only six other women, who occupied a humbler position in the
court hierarchy, but yet saw much more of the Empress.

In her time Josephine had four other ladies who held a position of
something like female ushers, and whose duty it was to announce the
persons who came to her apartments. These four ladies had numerous
squabbles with the ladies-in-waiting over points in etiquette; and
Napoleon, to put a stop to these heart-burnings, decided to substitute
for them four new ladies, who should be chosen from those who had charge
of Madame Campan's school at Ecouen for the daughters of members of the
Legion of Honor.

Among those thus appointed was the widow of a general, Madame Durand,
whose curious Memoirs we have often consulted. Some months later the
Emperor raised their number to six, and appointed two of the pupils
of this school, a daughter and a sister of distinguished officers,
Mesdemoiselles Malerot and Rabusson.

These six ladies had an important position. Not only did they announce
all the Empress's visitors; they also had actual charge of the domestic
service, with six chambermaids under their orders, who only entered
the Empress's rooms when she rang for them, while they, four, being in
attendance every day, spent all their time with Marie Louise. They went
to the Empress as soon as she was up, and did not leave her till she
had gone to bed. Then all the doors of the Empress's room were locked,
except one, leading into the next room, where slept the one of the
ladies in charge, and Napoleon himself could not go into Marie Louise's
room at night without passing through this room. No man, with the
exception of the Empress's private secretary, her keeper of the purse,
and her medical attendants, could enter her apartment without an order
from the Emperor. Even ladies, other than the Lady of Honor and the Lady
of the Bedchamber, were not received there except by appointment. The
six ladies we have mentioned had charge of the enforcement of these
rules, and were responsible for their observance. One of them was
present at the Empress's drawing, music, and embroidery lessons.
They wrote at her dictation, or under her orders. The same etiquette
prevailed when the court was on its travels. Always one of these six
ladies slept in the next room to the Empress, and that was the only
approach to her chamber.

Madame Durand tells vis the goldsmith Biennais had made for the Empress
a letter-case with a good many secret drawers which she alone could
know, and he asked to be allowed to explain it to her. Marie Louise
spoke about it to the Emperor, who gave her permission to receive him.
Biennais was consequently summoned to Saint Cloud and admitted into the
music-room, where he stood at one end with the Empress, while Madame
Durand was in the same room, but so far off that she could not overhear
his explanation. Just when this was finished the Emperor came in, and
seeing Biennais, he asked who that man was; the Empress hastened to tell
him, to explain the reason of his coming, mentioning that he had himself
given him permission. This the Emperor absolutely denied, and pretended
that the lady-in-waiting was to blame; he scolded her so severely that
the Empress could scarcely stop him, although she said, "But, my dear,
it is I who ordered Biennais to come." The Emperor laughed, and told her
that she had nothing to do about it; that the lady was responsible for
every one she admitted, and was alone to blame; and that he hoped that
nothing of the sort would ever happen again.

Another time, when M. Paër was giving Marie Louise a music-lesson, the
lady, who was present as usual at the lesson, had an order to give.
She opened the door and was leaning half out to give the order, when
Napoleon came in. At first he did not see her, and thought she was not
present. The music-master went out. "Where were you when I came in?" the
Emperor asked. She called his attention to the fact that she had not
left the room. He refused to believe her, and gave her a long sermon
in the course of which he said that he was unwilling that any man, no
matter what his rank, should be able to flatter himself that he had been
two seconds alone with the Empress. He added with some warmth: "Madame,
I honor and respect the Empress; but the sovereign of a great empire
must be placed above any breath of suspicion."

The gynæceum of Marie Louise was thus guarded with the greatest care and
submitted to a very severe discipline. Napoleon entered freely into his
wife's room whenever he pleased, and she never complained; for having
absolutely nothing to conceal from him, she had no desire to be
unfaithful to him even in her thoughts.

Madame Durand tells us that the Emperor, who desired to rule in
important matters, endured, and even liked to be contradicted on minor
matters. "When he was with Marie Louise, he used to be forever teasing
her ladies about a thousand things; it often happened that they stood
up against him, and he would carry on the discussion and laugh heartily
when he had succeeded in vexing the young girls, who, in their frankness
and ignorance of the ways of the world and the court, made very lively
and unaffected answers which were amusing for those to whom they were

The nearness of these six ladies to the Empress aroused much jealousy.
The name by which they were to be called was often changed. For some
time they were allowed to call themselves First Ladies of the Empress;
but this title offended the ladies of the palace, who wanted to call
them First Chambermaids, which made them very angry. The Emperor at last
gave them the name of _Lectrices_. They had under them six ordinary
chambermaids who had no position in the court; these dressed the
Empress, put on her shoes and stockings, and did her hair every morning;
they were, in fact, chambermaids.

This is the way in which Marie Louise passed the day: At eight in the
morning her window shutters were thrown open, and the curtains of her
bed pushed back. The newspapers were brought to her, and she took her
first breakfast in bed. At nine she dressed, and received intimate
friends. At twelve she ate her second breakfast. Then she would practise
a little, or draw, or sew, or play billiards. At two, if the weather was
pleasant, she would drive out with the Duchess of Montebello, the Knight
of Honor, and two ladies-in-waiting. Sometimes she rode on horseback; it
was Napoleon who had given her lessons at Saint Cloud. "He used to walk
by her side, holding her hand, while an equerry led the horse by the
bridle; he allayed her fear and encouraged her. She profited by her
lessons, became bolder, and at last rode very well. When she did credit
to her teacher, the lessons went on, sometimes in the avenues of the
private park just outside of the family drawing-room, so called because
it was adorned with portraits of the Imperial family. When the Emperor
had a moment's leisure after breakfast, he used to have the horses
brought around, would get on one himself in his silk stockings and
silver-buckled shoes, and ride by the Empress's side. He would urge her
horse on, get it to gallop, laughing heartily at her terrified cries,
although all danger was guarded against by the presence of a line of
huntsmen ready to stop the horse and prevent a fall."

On returning, Marie Louise often took a lesson in music or painting. She
was a real musician, and had a real talent for the piano. Prudhon and
Isabey, who taught her drawing and painting, praised her talents. As
Lamartine says: "When she entered her own rooms or the solitude of
the gardens, she was once more a German woman. She cultivated poetry,
drawing, singing. Education had perfected these talents in her, as if to
console her, far from her country, for the absence and the sorrows to
which the young girl would be one day condemned. She excelled in these
things, but for herself alone. She used to read and recite from memory
the poets of her own language and country." Marie Louise busied herself
with charities, but without ostentation, almost secretly; hence she
never won the credit for it that she deserved. Her generosity did not
limit itself to the ten thousand francs which she set aside out of
her allowance of fifty thousand francs a month; she never heard of a
case of suffering without at once trying to relieve it.

In private life Marie Louise was kind and amiable. She was very polite
and gentle; unlike many princesses, she was not given to fickle
preferences and to infatuations as intense as they were brief; she was
not unjust, violent, or capricious. She was never angry; she did not
give empty promises, or affect any excessive interest, but she could
always be depended on; she never distressed or humiliated any one.
Having been trained from her infancy to court life, she was a kind
mistress, for she had learned to combine two qualities that are often
irreconcilable--dignity and gentleness. All who were thrown into her
society agree in this. Sometimes, according to Madame Durand, when she
was in company her face had a melancholy expression inspired by the
demands of etiquette that were made upon her; but "when she had returned
to her own quarters, she was gentle, merry, affable, and adored by all
who were with her every day.... Nothing was more gracious, more amiable,
than her face when she was at her ease, quietly at home in the evening,
or among those to whom she was particularly attached."

Marie Louise gave a great deal of care to her son, whom she tenderly
loved. She had him brought to her every morning, and she kept him with
her until she had to dress. In the course of the day, in the intervals
of her lessons, she used to visit the little King in his apartment,
and sit by his side and sew. Often she took him and his nurse to the
Emperor; the nurse would stop at the door of the room in which Napoleon
was, and Marie Louise would enter, with the child in her arms, always
afraid that she was going to drop him. Then the Emperor would run up,
take the child, and cover him with kisses.

The Baron de Méneval writes thus: "Sometimes he was seated on his
favorite sofa, near the mantel-piece, on which stood two magnificent
bronze busts, of Scipio and Hannibal, and was busily reading an
important report; sometimes he went to his writing-desk, hollowed in
the middle, with two projecting shelves, covered with papers, to sign a
despatch, every word of which had to be carefully weighed; but his son,
sitting on his knees, or held close to his chest, never left him. He had
such a marvellous power of concentration that he could at the same time
give his attention to important business and humor his son. Again,
laying aside the great thoughts which haunted his mind, he would lie
down on the floor by the boy's side, and play with him like another
child, eager to amuse him and to spare him every annoyance."

M. de Méneval also tells us that the Emperor had had made little blocks
of mahogany, of different lengths and various colors, with one end
notched, to represent battalions, regiments, and divisions, and that
when he wanted to try some new combination of troops, he used to set out
these blocks on the floor. "Sometimes," adds M. de Méneval, "we used to
find him seriously occupied in arranging these blocks, rehearsing one of
the able manœuvres with which he triumphed on the battle-field. The boy,
seated at his side, delighted by the shape and color of the blocks,
which reminded him of his toys, would stretch out his hand every minute
and disturb the order of battle, often at the decisive moment, just when
the enemy was about to be beaten; but the Emperor was so cool and so
considerate of his son, that he was not disturbed by the confusion
introduced into his manoeuvres, but he would begin again, without
annoyance, to arrange the blocks. His patience and his kindness to the
boy were inexhaustible."

Napoleon was also very kind to Marie Louise. He did everything that he
could to make his wife happy and respected. He arranged matters in such
a way that etiquette should not interfere with her favorite occupations.
She dined alone with him every evening, and when he was absent, she
dined with the Duchess of Montebello. After dinner there was generally a
small reception or a little concert. At eleven Marie Louise withdrew
to her own apartment, and her life was monotonous, but agreeable.
She generally spent the summer at Saint Cloud and the winter at the
Tuileries. At Saint Cloud, where the park was a great attraction to her,
she slept in a room on the first floor, which had been occupied by Marie
Antoinette and Josephine. (In the time of Napoleon III. it was the
Council Hall of the Ministers.) At the Tuileries, her rooms were on the
ground floor, between the Pavilion of the Clock, and that of Flora, and
had also been occupied by the Queen and the first Empress. They looked
out on the garden, and consisted of a gala apartment and a private one.
The first consisted of an ante-chamber, a first and second drawing-room,
a drawing-room of the Empress, a dining-room, and a concert-room; the
second, of a bedchamber, the library, the dressing-room, the boudoir,
and the bathroom. A rigid etiquette controlled the entrance to the
Empress's as well as the Emperor's apartment. Napoleon lived on the
first floor, where he had the bedroom which had been previously
occupied by Louis XV. and by Louis XVI.; but there was a little private
staircase, which he used constantly, leading to his wife's apartment.

Marie Louise was on good terms with the princes and princesses of
the Imperial family, who were less offended by the superiority of an
archduchess than they had been by that of a woman of humble origin,
like Josephine. In accordance with her husband's directions, the second
Empress was always polite and affable in her relations with his family,
but she was never too familiar. No one of her sisters-in-law was as
intimate with her as was the Duchess of Montebello. One incident, for
which Marie Louise was in no way responsible, threw a little coolness
on her relations with the princesses, although it was of but brief
duration. Soon after the birth of the King of Rome the Emperor noticed
that near the bed on which the Empress was to lie there had been placed
three armchairs,--one for his mother, the other two for the Queens of
Spain and of Holland. He found fault with this arrangement, saying that
since his mother was not a queen, she ought not to have an armchair, and
that none of them should have one. Accordingly, for the armchairs he had
three handsome footstools substituted. When the three ladies came in,
they noticed, with some annoyance, the change that had been made, and
soon left. They would have done wrong to blame the Empress; for it was
the Emperor who was responsible, and when Napoleon gave an order, no
one, not even his wife, could have thought of saying a word. In matters
of etiquette he controlled the minutest details and regarded them as
very important. Nothing came of this little incident, and in general the
members of the Emperor's family got on better with the second Empress
than with the first.

In short, what did Marie Louise lack in the beginning of 1812? She had
a husband, at the height of his fame and glory, who gave her more
affection, regard, and consideration than any one else in the world. She
was the mother of a superb child, whom every one admired. Around her she
saw respect on every face. For maid-of-honor she had a real friend, a
woman whom she would herself have chosen, so highly did she value her
character and manners. Her household consisted of the flower of the
French aristocracy. She followed her own tastes, studied with the best
masters, distributed alms as she pleased, lived in the handsomest
palaces in Europe. There were no discomforts, no difficulties, in her
position. She had no conflicting duties, no occasion to decide between
her father and her husband, between the country of her birth and that
of her adoption, none of those struggles and heartrending perplexities
which so cruelly beset her afterwards. At that time the Emperor Francis
was well contented with his son-in-law, and corresponded with him in
a most friendly way. At that happy moment the Frenchwoman could be an
Austrian without injury to her mission and her duty. The path she was
to follow was clearly traced. Alas! it was not for long that she was
to enjoy this calm and equable happiness, so well suited to her timid
nature, which was made to obey, not to rule. She had then no cause to
blame her fate or herself. As a young girl, as a wife, as a mother, she
had nothing to ask for. Her satisfaction was furthered by the thought
that she was soon to see again her father, her family, her country; and
apart from the matter of feeling, she must have been gratified by the
thought that she was to appear again in Austria with a brilliancy and
splendor such as no other woman in the world could show. Her stay in
Dresden was the crowning point of her brief grandeur, the end of the
swift but dazzling period of prosperity and good fortune which may be
described as the happy days of the Empress Marie Louise.



The _Moniteur_ of May 10, 1812, contained the following announcement:
"Paris, May 9. The Emperor left to-day to inspect the Grand Army
assembled on the Vistula. Her Majesty the Empress will accompany His
Majesty as far as Dresden, where she hopes to have the pleasure of
seeing her August family. She will return in July at the latest. His
Majesty the King of Rome will spend the summer at Meudon, where he has
been for a month. He has finished his teething, and enjoys perfect
health. He will be weaned at the end of the month."

It will be acknowledged that it was a somewhat singular thing to
announce thus in the same article the speedy weaning of a baby and the
beginning of the most colossal campaign of modern times. Not a word had
been said about war. Never had the departure for an army seemed more
like a pleasure trip. Followed by a great part of his court, Napoleon,
like a Darius or a Louis XIV., had left Saint Cloud, May 9, in the same
carriage as the Empress. The Republican general had disappeared before a
magnificent monarch surrounded by Asiatic pomp. The possibility of
defeat occurred to no one. One would have supposed that he was starting
on a long ovation, a triumphal progress.

At every step the all-powerful Emperor and his young wife seemed to be
tasting the onsets of grandeur and glory. May 9 he slept at Châlons; the
10th he entered Metz, where he at once got on horseback, reviewed the
troops, and visited the fortifications. The 11th he was at Mayence,
where he received the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Hesse
Darmstadt, as well as the Prince of Anhalt-Köthen. The 13th he crossed
the Rhine, stopped a moment to see the Prince Primate at Aschaffenburg,
met in the course of the day the King of Würtemberg and the Grand Duke
of Baden, and spent the night at Würzburg, the sovereign of which was
the former Grand Duke of Tuscany, the brother of the Emperor of Austria.
Marie Louise was delighted to see her uncle again, who was to join her
at Dresden. The 14th they slept at Bayreuth, the 15th at Plauen, and on
the 16th they reached Dresden.

As Thiers says, Napoleon had passed through Germany amid an
unprecedented throng of the populace, whose curiosity equalled their
hatred. "Never, indeed, had the potentate whom they abhorred appeared
more surrounded with glory. People talked with mingled surprise and
terror of the six hundred thousand men who had gathered at his
command from all parts of Europe. They ascribed to him plans far more
extraordinary than those he had formed. They said he was going by Russia
to India. They spread abroad a thousand fables far wilder than his
real designs, and almost believed them accomplished, so much had his
continual success discouraged hatred from hoping for what it desired.
Vast heaps of wood were prepared along his path, and at nightfall these
were set on fire to light his road; so that what was really curiosity
produced almost the same effect as love and joy."

The Emperor's intention in going to Dresden was to spend two or three
weeks there before taking command of his armies, and to dazzle all
Europe by the sumptuous court which he should hold in the Saxon capital.
For some weeks Marie Louise had been hoping to meet her father at
Dresden, and the thought filled her with joy. She had written to him,
March 15: "The Emperor sends all sorts of kind messages to you. He bids
me tell you also that if we have war, he will take me to Dresden, where
I shall spend two months, and where I hope soon to see you too. You
cannot imagine, dear father, the pleasure I take in this hope. I am sure
that you will not refuse me the great pleasure of bringing my dear mamma
and my brothers and sisters. But I beg of you, dear papa, don't say
anything about it, for nothing is decided." Marie Louise was at the
height of happiness when she reached Saxony. At that moment she was very
proud of being Napoleon's wife. She entered Dresden with him, May 16,
1812, at eleven in the evening, escorted by the King and Queen of
Saxony, who had gone to Freiberg to meet them.

The next morning at eight, Napoleon, who was staying in the grand
apartment of the royal castle, received the sovereign princes of
Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Weimar, and Dessau, as well as the high officials of
the Saxon court. The King of Westphalia and the Grand Duke of Würzburg
arrived in the course of the day, and at once presented their respects.

At one o'clock in the afternoon of the 18th the Emperor and Empress of
Austria arrived in Dresden. "What a moment for Marie Louise!" writes
Madame Durand. "She found herself once more in her father's arms, and
appeared before the dazzled eyes of her family, the happiest of wives,
the first of sovereigns! Her August father could not hide his emotion.
He tenderly kissed his son-in-law, and recognizing the claims he had
upon his heart, told him more than once that he could count on him
and on Austria for the triumph of the common cause." Possibly these
assurances were not perfectly sincere, but Napoleon believed in them, or
pretended to believe in them. As for Marie Louise, she never interfered
in politics, and gave herself up to family joys.

The period of Napoleon's stay at Dresden was the culmination of his
power. Possibly no mortal had ever attained so high a position as this
new Agamemnon. "It is at Dresden," says Chateaubriand, "that he united
the separate parts of the Confederation of the Rhine, and for the first
and last time set in motion this machine of his own creation. Among the
exiled masterpieces of painting which sadly missed the Italian sun,
there took place the meeting of Napoleon and Marie Louise with a crowd
of sovereigns, great and small. These sovereigns tried to make out of
their different courts subordinate circles of the first court, and
rivalled with one another in vassalage. One wanted to be the cup-bearer
of the ensign of Brienne; another, his butler. Charlemagne's history
was put under contribution by the erudition of the German chancellor's
officers. The higher they were, the more eager their demands. As
Bonaparte said in Las Cases, a lady of the Montmorencys would have
hastened to undo the Empress's shoes." The monarchs were more like
Napoleon's courtiers than his equals. Princes and private citizens, rich
and poor, nobles and plebeians, friends and enemies, crowded to get a
look at him. Night and day there was an immense throng gazing at the
doors and windows of the palace in which lodged the predestined being,
in hope of being able to say, "I have seen him." The French waited on
him with idolatry. The Germans had a complex feeling about him, in which
admiration was stronger than hate.

General de Ségur, who was at Dresden with Napoleon, represents him
as moderate and even eager to please, but with visible effort and
manifestations of the fatigue which he experienced. As to the German
princes, their attitude, their words, even the tone of their voice,
showed the ascendancy he exercised over them. They were all there solely
on his account. They scarcely ventured to discuss anything, being always
ready to recognize his superiority of which he was himself only too
conscious. "His reception," adds the General, "presented a remarkable
sight. Sovereign princes flocked thither to await an audience of the
Conqueror of Europe; they so crowded his officers, that these last often
had to remind one another to take care not to offend these new courtiers
who were crowding among them. Napoleon's presence thus removed the
differences, for he was as much their chief as he was ours. This common
dependence seemed to level everything about him. Then possibly the
ill-concealed military pride of many French generals offended these
princes, when the former seemed to think that they were elevated to
royal rank; for whatever the dignity and position of the conquered, the
conqueror is his equal."

May 18, the day of the arrival of the Emperor and the Empress of
Austria, it was the King of Saxony who gave a dinner to his guests; but
on the other days it was Napoleon who assumed the duties of hospitality,
as if he had been at home in Dresden. He wanted to receive, not to be
received. The sovereigns ate at his table, and it was he who fixed the
hours and all the details of etiquette. Since he was unwilling that his
stay should inconvenience the King of Saxony, who was not rich, he was
preceded and followed by his household, which was supplied with
everything necessary for a magnificent representation. Part of the
handsome vermilion table service presented to him by the city of Paris,
on the occasion of his marriage, had been carried to Dresden, and there
was all the luxury of the Tuileries.

At Saint Helena the beaten conqueror recalled the memory of his past
splendors with a certain satisfaction. "The interview at Dresden," he
said in his Memorial, "was the moment of Napoleon's highest power. Then
he appeared as the king of kings. He was compelled to point out that
some attention should be paid to his father-in-law, the Emperor of
Austria. Neither this monarch nor the King of Prussia had his household
with him; nor did Alexander at Tilsit or Erfurt. There, as at Dresden,
they ate at Napoleon's table. These courts, the Emperor used to say,
were mean and middle-class; it was he who arranged the etiquette and
set the tone. He invited Francis to visit him and dazzled him with his
splendor. Napoleon's luxury and magnificence must have made him seem
like an Asiatic satrap. There, as at Tilsit, he covered with diamonds
every one who came near him." He had brought after him the best actors
of the Théâtre Français, and, as at Erfurt, Talma played before a pit
full of kings.

What were the real feelings of these princes, who were so obsequious to
Napoleon? The King of Saxony, the patriarch of these monarchs, was
a frank, loyal man, of a keen sense of honor, and he was thoroughly
sincere in the devotion he professed to the Emperor, to whom he thought
he owed a great debt. Napoleon, who was very fond of this king, would
have no other guards at Dresden than the Saxon soldiers. Even after
Leipsic he retained a pleasant memory of them, and at Saint Helena he
said to those who charged him with excessive confidence in them, "I was
then in so kind a family, with such good people, that there was no risk;
every one loved me, and even now I am sure that the King of Saxony says
every day a _Pater_ and an _Ave_ for me."

Unlike the Saxon king, the Emperor of Austria, in spite of the family
ties, had but very moderate affection for Napoleon. Metternich, who was
at Dresden, says in his Memoirs, "The attitude of the two sovereigns was
such as their respective positions demanded, but was yet very cool."
Thiers describes the Emperor Francis as opening his arms almost
sincerely to his son-in-law, displaying a sort of inconsistency, which
is more frequent than is generally imagined, torn between delight at
seeing his daughter so exalted and pain at Austria's losses; promising
Napoleon his assistance after having promised Alexander that this
assistance would be nothing, saying to himself that after all he had
adopted a wise course, by making himself sure whichever party should be
victorious, yet with more confidence in Napoleon's success, from which
he sought to get profit in advance.

As to the Empress of Austria, the step-mother of Marie Louise, she
concealed beneath formality and perfect politeness a profound antipathy
to the conqueror. It required almost a formal order from her husband to
bring her to Dresden. She was then a pretty woman, twenty-four years
old, witty, and proud of her birth and her crown. Napoleon she looked
on as an upstart, a vainglorious adventurer, the cause of all the
humiliations inflicted on the Austrian monarchy; and the splendor which
surrounded the hero of Marengo, of Austerlitz, of Wagram, aroused in
her a resentment all the keener because she was compelled to hide it.
Napoleon in his pique determined to win over the step-mother of Marie

The health of the Empress of Austria was so delicate that she was unable
to walk through the long row of rooms. Consequently Napoleon used to
walk in front of her, one hand holding his hat, while the other rested
on the door of her sedan-chair, talking in the liveliest way with
his witty enemy. General de Ségur, like every one else, noticed the
hostility which the Empress in vain tried to conceal. "The Empress of
Austria," he says, "whose parents had been dispossessed by Napoleon in
Italy, was noticeable for her aversion which she vainly essayed to
hide; it made itself at once manifest to Napoleon, and he met it with a
smiling face; but she made use of her intelligence and charm to win over
hearts and to sow the seeds of hate of him."

In fact, the Empress of Austria was jealous of the Empress of the
French. She distinctly recalled the time when she used to have her
under her control, and she was annoyed to see her former pupil taking
precedence of every queen and empress. She would have liked to be able
to give her advice, as she had done in the past, and to exercise her
authority as step-mother in criticising her; but she did not dare to do
this, and the restraint was not agreeable. The careful observer finds
life in a palace what it is in the house of a humble citizen. As
La Bruyère has said: "At court, as in the town, there are the same
passions, the same pettinesses, the same caprices, the same quarrels in
families and between friends, the same jealousies, the same antipathies:
everywhere there are daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law, husbands and
wives, divorces, ruptures, and ineffectual reconciliations; everywhere
eccentricity, anger, preferences, tattling, and tale-bearing. With good
eyes it is easy to see town life, the Rue Saint Denis transported to
Versailles or Fontainebleau."

Count de Las Cases has said in the Memorial: "One of us ventured to ask
if the Empress of Austria was not the sworn enemy of Marie Louise. It
was nothing else, said the Emperor, than a pretty little court hatred, a
heartfelt detestation, concealed under daily letters, four pages long,
full of affection and endearment. The Empress of Austria was very
attentive to Napoleon and was very coquettish with him, so long as he
was in her presence, but as soon as his back was turned she was busy
with trying to detach Marie Louise from him by the vilest and most
malicious insinuations; she was much annoyed that she could get no power
over him. 'Besides,' said the Emperor, 'she is witty and intelligent
enough to embarrass her husband, who was sure that she cared very little
for him. Her face was agreeable and bright with a charm of its own. She
was like a pretty nun.'"

Napoleon kept busy at Dresden. Men were continually coming and going,
and the Emperor was actively working over the details, political and
military, of the vast expedition he was getting ready. Marie Louise, who
wished to avail herself of his few moments of leisure, scarcely left the
palace, and it was to no purpose that her step-mother, the Empress of
Austria, tried to represent this devotion as something ridiculous.

There was a sort of hidden rivalry between the two Empresses. Napoleon
had had all the crown diamonds brought to Dresden, and Marie Louise
was literally covered by them. General de Ségur says: "She completely
effaced her step-mother by the splendor of her jewels. If Napoleon
demanded less display, she resisted him, even with tears, and the
Emperor yielded the point from affection, fatigue, or distraction. It
has been said that, in spite of her birth, this princess mortified the
pride of the Germans by some thoughtless comparisons between her new and
her former country. Napoleon blamed her for this, but very gently. The
patriotism with which he had inspired her gratified him; he tried to
set matters right by numerous presents." The Empress of Austria was
compelled to conceal her ill-will. She was present almost every morning
when Marie Louise was dressing, ransacked her step-daughter's laces,
ribbons, stuffs, shawls, and jewels, and carried something off almost
every day.

The Emperor Francis pretended not to notice the jealousies of his wife
and his daughter. He spent a good part of every day in walking about the
town, and was somewhat surprised at the enormous amount of work which
his son-in-law did. He sought to gratify the mighty Emperor by telling
him that in the Middle Ages the Bonaparte family had ruled over Treviso;
that he was sure of this, for he had seen the authentic documents that
proved it. Napoleon replied that he took no interest in it, that he
preferred being the Rudolph of Hapsburg of his family. The little
genealogical flattery produced its effect, nevertheless, and Marie
Louise was much pleased by it.

Napoleon was on the point of leaving Dresden, when Frederic William,
King of Prussia, arrived there. A treaty, signed February 24, 1812,
bound this prince to furnish for the next campaign twenty thousand men,
under a Prussian general, but bound to obey the commander of the French
army corps to which they should be assigned. Austria, by a treaty
concluded March 14, had promised to furnish a corps of thirty thousand
men, commanded by an Austrian general, under Napoleon's orders. Prussia
especially suffered under such a condition of things, and the memory of
Jena had never been keener or more distressing. The occupation of
Spandau and Pillau by the French, and the ravages inflicted on the
kingdom by the troops marching towards Russia, had much disturbed and
grieved Frederic William, who imagined that Napoleon meant to dethrone
him. Being very anxious to have early information about the lot that
awaited him, he sent to Dresden M. von Hatzfeld, the great Prussian
nobleman whom Napoleon had wanted to have shot in 1806, and to whom he
had later become much attached, which shows, as Thiers has said, that
it is well to think twice before having any one shot. Through M. von
Hatzfeld the King of Prussia requested an interview with the Emperor in
Berlin. The Emperor made answer that Berlin was not on his road, that
he could not go there, but that he would be glad to see the King in

Frederic William regarded the invitation as a command, and set out
forthwith. He reached the capital May 26, accompanied by Baron von
Hardenberg and Count von Goltz, Ministers of State, Prince von
Witgenstein, High Chamberlain, M. von Jagou, First Equerry, Baron von
Krumsmarck, Prussian Minister to Paris, and was joined the next day,
the 27th, by the Crown Prince. Father and son were very well received.
Napoleon consented to credit Prussia with the supplies taken by the
troops on their march, and promised to enlarge the boundaries of the
kingdom if the war with Russia should be successful. For his part,
the King proposed to the Emperor to take the Crown Prince with him as
aide-de-camp, and introduced him to the other aides, asking them to
treat their new comrade kindly. According to the Memoirs of the Baron de
Bausset, who was present at the Dresden interview, "Everything which has
been written about the coldness of the King of Prussia's reception is
false. He was welcomed, as he had the right to expect, as a powerful
ally, who, by a recent treaty, had just united his troops with those of
France." The young Crown Prince, who was making his first appearance in
the world, attracted general attention by his elegance and distinction.
As to the King, he affected a content of which the curious despatch
given below was the official expression.

Nothing more clearly shows the ascendancy which Napoleon exercised at
this time than this circular addresssed, June 2, 1812, by Count von
Goltz to the diplomatic agent of Prussia: "Sir, it will be interesting
for you to learn with certainty the main incidents of the recent journey
of the King, our Sovereign, to Dresden. Since I had the honor to
accompany His Majesty, I give myself the pleasure of seizing the moment
of my return to inform you about them. On receipt of a letter from His
Majesty, the Emperor Napoleon, brought to the King May 24, by the Count
of Saint Marsan, which contained the most obliging and friendly
invitation to visit that monarch at Dresden, His Majesty resolved to
depart at once; and having set forth very early in the morning of the
25th, he arrived that evening at Grossenhain, whither His Majesty the
King of Saxony had sent Lieutenant von Zeschaud and Colonel von Reisky
to meet him. His entrance into Dresden took place on the 28th, at ten in
the morning. It was desired to make this a formal occasion, but His
Majesty deemed it better to decline the profound honors. Nevertheless,
a squadron of the mounted body-guard had awaited His Majesty at a good
quarter of a league from the city, and accompanied him to the palace of
Prince Antony, a part of the castle in which His Majesty is lodged, amid
a countless throng of spectators, who with one accord gave the King the
most marked tokens of their respectful devotion.

"His Majesty was received at the foot of the staircase, and in the most
flattering way, by His Majesty the King of Saxony, accompanied by all
his court, his ministers, and the most distinguished citizens. After a
brief interview in the King's apartment, His Majesty having announced
his visit to the two Emperors, they paid him the friendly attention of
announcing their own. The Emperor Napoleon was the first to arrive, and
the two monarchs, having embraced, had at once an interview which lasted
more than half an hour. The Emperor of Austria then arrived, and greeted
His Majesty in the most considerate and friendly manner."

The Prussian Minister, expressing the most unbounded satisfaction,
abounded with praise of the courtesy and kindness of Napoleon. He
concluded his circular despatch thus: "I am obliged to abstain from
going into further details with regard to our Sovereign's reception, and
the subsequent interviews, as well as the court ceremonies and festivals
of this day and the two following; but what I can and must add as an
eye-witness, is, that in general there could have been nothing more
considerate and more friendly than this reception, as well on the part
of His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon, as on that of Their Majesties the
Emperor of Austria and the King of Saxony and their August families,
and that the King has been much gratified by it. The friendship and the
personal confidence of these monarchs and the reciprocal conviction of
the sincerity of their feelings have affirmed themselves in the most
solid way; and especially, the close bonds uniting our Sovereign with
that of France have acquired a new character of cordiality and strength.
I have to add that His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, who reached
Dresden on the 27th, has equally received the suffrages of the
Sovereigns there assembled, and that the Emperor Napoleon greeted him
with affectionate cordiality." Count von Goltz was evidently anxious
that all this should be bruited abroad. The last sentence of the
despatch ran thus, "Although these details are primarily intended for
you, Sir, you are obviously free to make such use of them as you may see
fit." Possibly this sentence meant that when these details might not be
agreeable, that is to say, to the friends of Russia or England, it might
not be well to communicate them.

In fact, not a single Prussian had forgotten Jena; there was not one
who did not yearn for revenge. King Frederic William, who had at first
resolved to withdraw to Silesia, in order not to be in Potsdam under
the cannon of Spandau, or in Berlin under the authority of a French
governor, consented to return to his usual quarters. Although his
minister, Count von Goltz, had represented him as "perfectly satisfied
with the precious days he had spent at Dresden, and deeply touched by
the repeated proofs of friendship, esteem, and attachment that he had
received," this sovereign, though he bowed to the exigencies of the
hour, waited only for a favorable moment to reappear in the front ranks
of his conqueror's foes. In 1816 Napoleon thus judged him: "The King
of Prussia, as a man, is loyal, kind, and honest, but in his political
capacity he is naturally ruled by necessity; so long as you have the
strength, you are his master."

People of intelligence who were with Napoleon in Dresden were not
deceived about the real feelings of Germany and nearly all its rulers.
"The wisest of us," says General de Ségur, "were alarmed; they said,
though not aloud, that one must think one's self something supernatural
to destroy and displace everything in this way without fear of being
caught in the general overthrow. They saw monarchs leaving Napoleon's
palace, with their eyes and hearts full of the bitterest resentment.
They imagined that they heard them at night pouring forth to their
trusty ministers the agony which filled their souls. Everything
intensified their grief. The crowd through which they had to make their
way, in order to reach the door of their proud conqueror, was a source
of distress; for all, even their own people, seemed to be false to them.
When his happiness was proclaimed, their misfortunes were insulted. They
had collected at Dresden to make Napoleon's triumph more brilliant, for
it was he who triumphed. Every cry of admiration for him was one of
reproach to them, his exaltation was their abasement, his victories were
their defeats! They thus fed their bitterness, and every day hatred sank
deeper into their hearts."

The Duke of Bassano, at that time Minister of Foreign Affairs, was
unwilling to perceive this latent hostility, which was carefully
concealed under protestations of devotion. He wrote, May 27, 1812, to
Count Otto, French Ambassador at Vienna: "Their Royal and Imperial
Majesties will probably leave Dresden day after to-morrow. Their stay
in this city has been marked by reciprocal proofs of the most perfect
intelligence and the greatest intimacy. Now the two Emperors know and
appreciate each other. The embarrassment and timidity of the Emperor
of Austria have left him in face of Napoleon's frankness and simple
character. Long conversations have taken place between the two monarchs.
All the interests of Austria have been discussed, and I believe the
Emperor Francis will have received from his journey a fuller confidence
in the feelings of the Emperor Napoleon towards him, as well as a large
crop of good counsels." With all his optimism, the Minister of Foreign
Affairs was compelled to notice the secret feelings of the Empress of
Austria. After saying in his despatch to Count Otto that the Emperor
Francis had been able to see with his own eyes how happy Marie Louise
was, he went on: "This sight, so agreeable to a father, has produced on
another August person more surprise than emotion. However, if the
real feelings are not changed, there will be at least a perceptible
amelioration, since the illusions inspired and fed by a coterie will
have disappeared." The Duke ended his despatch by these words of praise
for the Crown Prince of Prussia: "The King of Prussia arrived here day
before yesterday. He was followed yesterday by the Crown Prince, who is
making his entrance into the world. He comports himself with prudence
and grace."

The Dresden festivities were drawing to a close. Not only the Germans,
even the French, were growing weary of them. "I pass over the ceremonies
of etiquette," says the Baron de Bausset, who took part in these
so-called rejoicings; "they are the same at every court. Great dinners,
great balls, great illuminations, always standing, even at the eternal
concerts, a few drives, long waitings in long drawing-rooms; always
serious, always attentive, always busy in defending one's powers
or one's pretensions, ... that is to what these envied, longed-for
pleasures amount." All this machinery of alleged distractions concealed
serious anxieties and the keenest uneasiness.

Napoleon had desired that the Dresden interview should preserve a
pacific appearance. Possibly he had for a moment hoped that the Czar,
on seeing the force assembled about the Emperor of the French, King of
Italy, and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, the ally of
Prussia and Austria, would accept whatever conditions so great a
potentate might offer, and abandon the struggle before it was begun. The
military element was kept in the background. Court dresses were more
numerous in Dresden than uniforms. Napoleon assumed the appearance of
a sovereign rather than of a general. Murat and King Jerome were
despatched to their courts. But every one knew perfectly well that the
storm was gathering. One would have said that the first cannon fired in
that tremendous campaign--the Russian campaign--were going to
disturb and then to extinguish the sound of trumpets and bands. The
entertainments were on the surface; the war was in the depths.

It was a terrible, lamentable war towards which the hero of so many
battles was plunging with a lowered head, as if drawn into the abyss by
a deadly fascination. Sometimes, amid the fumes of power and pride, some
mysterious voice warned him of his peril; but he would reassure himself
by recalling his former victories and thinking of his star. As General
de Ségur has said: "It seemed as if in his doubts of the future, he
buried himself in the past, and that he felt it necessary to arm himself
against a great peril with all his most glorious recollections. Then,
as he has since done, he felt the need of forming illusions about the
alleged weakness of his rival. As he made ready for this great invasion,
he hesitated to regard the result as certain; for he no longer was
conscious of his infallibility, nor had that military assurance which
the force and fire of youth give, nor had he that conviction of success
which makes it sure." There had been no lack of warnings. Those of his
advisers who knew Russia well, such as the Count of Ségur and the Duke
of Vicenza, ambassadors at Saint Petersburg, one under the King, the
other under the Empire, had said to him: "Everything will be against
you in this war. The Russians will have their patriotism and love of
independence, all public and private interests, including the secret
wishes of our allies. We shall have for us, against so many obstacles,
nothing but glory alone, even without the cupidity which the terrible
poverty of those regions cannot tempt." General Rapp, who was in command
at Dantzic, had thought it his duty to inform Marshal Davoust of the
alarming symptoms which he had discovered among the German populace:
"If the French army suffers a single defeat, there will be one vast
insurrection from the Rhine to the Niemen." Davoust forwarded this
information to Napoleon with this single indorsement: "I remember, Sire,
in fact, that in 1809, had it not been for Your Majesty's miracles at
Regensburg, our situation in Germany would have been very difficult,"
The Emperor listened to no one. He did not suspect that the King of
Prussia, seemingly his ally, had sent word secretly to the Czar: "Strike
no blow at Napoleon. Draw the French into the heart of Russia; let
fatigue and famine do the work." Meanwhile the sun was drying the roads;
the grass was beginning to grow. Nature was preparing the earth for the
common extermination of its people. And, oddly enough, at the moment
when the slaughter was about to begin, Napoleon had no feeling of hate
or wrath towards his adversary, the Russian monarch. He was of the
opinion that a war between sovereigns, that is to say, between brothers
by divine right, could in no way affect their friendship. He had
written, April 25, 1812, to the Emperor Alexander: "Your Majesty will
permit me to assure you, that if fate shall render this war between us
inevitable, it cannot alter the feelings with which Your Majesty has
inspired me; they are secure from all vicissitude and all change."

Napoleon rightly spoke of fate; for was it not that which lured him,
by its irresistible power, towards the icy steppes where his power and
glory sank beneath the snow? If at times a swift and sombre anticipation
of evil crowned his mind, what was that presentiment by the side of the
terrible reality? What would the conqueror have said if, in the misty
future, he had seen anything of his own fate? Among the courtiers
of every nationality who were gathering around the great Emperor at
Dresden, there was an Austrian general, half a military man, half a
diplomatist, but not a striking figure in any way. One evening the
Empress Marie Louise, on her way to the theatrical performance, spoke a
few empty words to him, merely because she happened to meet him. He was
the Count of Neipperg. How astonished Napoleon would have been if any
one had told him that one day this unknown officer would succeed him as
the husband of Marie Louise. The young Empress would have been equally
amazed if any one had prophesied so strange a thing. Of these two
personages, then so brilliant, the all-powerful Emperor and the radiant
Empress, one was in a few years to be a prisoner at Saint Helena; the
other was to be the morganatic wife of an Austrian general.



May 29, 1812, at three o'clock in the morning, Napoleon left Dresden
to put himself at the head of his armies. He kissed Marie Louise most
warmly, and she seemed sorely distressed at parting from him. The 30th,
at two in the morning, he reached Glogan, in Silesia, whence he started
at five to enter Poland. The Emperor of Austria passed the whole of the
29th with his daughter, trying to console her for Napoleon's departure,
and he left Dresden that evening. He was going to Prague, where she was
to rejoin him in a few days, and he was meaning to put the last touches
to the preparations of the reception he designed for her. Marie Louise
looked forward with pleasure to passing a few weeks at Prague with her
family; and the Austrian ruler, for his part, acted both as a kind
father and an astute statesman in offering to his daughter attentions
and tokens of deference by which his son-in-law could not fail to be

After the departure of her husband and her father, Marie Louise remained
still five days in the capital of Saxony, profiting by them to visit the
wonderful museum, the castle of Pilnitz, and the fortress of Königstein,
on the banks of the Elbe, upon a steep rock. June 4, in the early
morning, she left Dresden accompanied by her uncle, the Grand Duke
of Würzburg. The royal family and the Saxon court escorted the young
Empress to her carriage, and she set forth amid the roar of cannon and
the pealing of all the bells. Her journey was one long ovation. The
Saxon cuirassiers escorted her to the Austrian frontier; there she found
waiting to receive her Count Kolowrat, Grand Burgrave of Bohemia, and
Prince Clary, the Emperor Francis's Chamberlain. A detachment of light
horse of the Klenau regiment took the place of the Saxon cuirassiers. At
midday Marie Louise arrived at Töplitz; there she rested two hours; then
they drove in the magnificent palace gardens of Prince Clary, into which
the populace had been admitted. Then she visited the suburbs, the park
of Turn, Schlossberg. Everywhere there were triumphal arches, bands
of music, girls presenting flowers. In the evening the whole town of
Töplitz was illuminated. The miners assembled before the palace in which
the Empress was staying, to sing one of their songs, each verse of which
ended with a cheer and a swinging of their lanterns.

While the Emperor Francis was at Prague, waiting for his daughter,
he was joined by Count Otto, the French Ambassador at Vienna. This
diplomatist sent to the Duke of Bassano this curious despatch: "Prague,
June 5, 1812. My Lord,--I arrived here the night of the 3d. The Emperor
of Austria had given orders that I and my suite should be conducted to a
house prepared for me by the side of the palace. I was at once informed
on arriving that I was at liberty to dispose of all the service of the
court, including the carriages,--a very agreeable attention, because
on the mountain on which the castle of Prague is built there are no
provisions for strangers. The next day the Grand Chamberlain wrote to
me to say that Their Majesties would be very glad to receive me at a
private audience, after which I should have the honor of dining with
them. I found the Emperor extremely satisfied with all he had seen and
heard at Dresden. He congratulated himself on having made more thorough
acquaintance with his August son-in-law, and spoke with real emotion
of the happiness of his dear Louise. He was impatiently awaiting her
arrival at Prague, and anticipating her surprise at the picturesque and
magnificent view from the castle overhanging the broad river, full of
islands, above the brilliantly illuminated city. The Empress of the
French would enjoy a spectacle which could scarcely be equalled
anywhere, and the more striking because she had never seen Prague.
Knowing that the Emperor preferred to speak German, I addressed him in
that language, and I was glad that I did. The monarch expressed himself
at length in a way that touched me deeply. He told me that he wanted to
keep his August daughter with him as long as she should care to stay
at Prague, and that he would escort her to the frontier. 'To-morrow,' he
added, 'I shall go to meet her with the Empress; I shall make the most
of every moment she can give me, and I shall part with her with the
sincerest regret.'

"Then talking about the state of affairs, the Emperor said that he
could not understand the conduct of Russia; that they must be beside
themselves at Saint Petersburg to wish to measure their strength with a
power like France. 'Your army,' he went on, 'is stronger by at least a
hundred thousand men; you have far abler officers; your Emperor alone is
worth eighty thousand men.'"

After the audience of the Emperor Francis, came the Empress's. The
ambassador described that too, but not without noticing the systematic
reserve she showed in speaking directly or indirectly about the state of
affairs. "When I was introduced to Her Majesty the Empress, she received
me with the same flattering consideration. She made me sit down by her,
and spoke at some length of the excellent health of our Empress, and of
her delight that she was still going to stay for some time with her. The
rest of the conversation was about matters of art and literature, which
interest Her Majesty very much. She talked easily and pleasantly, but
confined herself to literature and philosophy, making no reference to
the events of the day or to those which are preparing." In spite of this
shadow which the ambassador was acute enough to notice, the despatch
on the whole bore witness to his complete content. "On rising from the
table," he added, "the Emperor spoke to me in the kindest way, and asked
some of the noblemen who were present to show me the curiosities of
the city and the neighborhood. He afterwards sent me word by the High
Chamberlain that he had set aside for me one of the principal boxes of
the theatre during my stay. This court, which is generally so informal,
is to be very magnificent during the visit of Her Majesty the Empress.
The Emperor is going to meet her with the principal members of the
court; the guards of the castle and of the city have been largely
reinforced; the Hungarian Guard has been ordered from Vienna. The young
Imperial family will arrive some time to-morrow; preparations are making
for grand illuminations, balls, and other festivities to celebrate
this interesting reunion. I have been invited again to dine with Their
Majesties, and everything is in readiness to receive our Sovereign. The
hearts of this good people of Bohemia are flying to meet her. Speaking
of the loyalty of this nation, the Emperor told me that it is ready to
do whatever is asked of it. General Klenau added that if he were allowed
to make use of the influence of Saint Nepomuc, whose bronze statue is
saluted every day by those who cross the Prague bridge, he could raise
two hundred thousand Bohemians in a very short time. I have mentioned
General Klenau, and I must say that he is full of gratitude for the
kindness with which His Majesty has been treated at Dresden. He speaks
of him most enthusiastically and regrets that he is not able to serve
under the greatest general the world has ever seen. The Prince and
Princess Anthony of Saxony arrived this morning, and are now setting
forth to meet Her Majesty the Empress."

June 5, Marie Louise made an early start from Töplitz for Prague. At
five in the afternoon a salute of fifty cannon announced that she had
arrived at the White Mountain. The Emperor and Empress of Austria,
followed by their household in gala attire, had met her at the Abbey
of Saint Margaret. She got into their carriage, and with them made a
triumphal entry into Prague amid blazing torches. The capital of Bohemia
was brilliantly illuminated. The garrison and the guilds, bearing their
banners, formed a double line. The Empress of Austria had given up to
her step-daughter her place to the right on the back seat, and the
Emperor sat on the front seat with his brother, the Grand Duke of
Würzburg. A countless multitude cheered them most enthusiastically.

When they had reached the castle, Marie Louise was conducted to her
apartments by the Emperor and the Empress, and there she found awaiting
her, to present their respects, the authorities of the city, the
canonesses of the two noble chapters of the province, those of the
court who had not gone to meet her, and a large household chosen by
the Emperor from his most distinguished chamberlains. She dined at
her father's table with the Grand Duke of Würzburg, Prince Anthony of
Saxony, the Duchess of Montebello, the Duchess of Bassano, the Count of
Montesquiou, etc. The Emperor and the Empress of Austria gave up to her
the first place at the table, as they had done in the carriage, and
during her whole stay at Prague she received the honors reserved for the
Austrian sovereigns on grand occasions. Prince Clary was put at the
head of the household chosen for her, which included besides, Counts
Neipperg, von Nestitz, von Clam, Prince von Auersperg, Prince von
Kinsky, Counts von Lutzow, von Paar, von Wallis, von Trautmannsdorf, von

In the postscript of his despatch of June 5, 1812, which we have quoted,
Count Otto gave the following details about Marie Louise's entrance into
Prague: "Her Majesty the Empress arrived here at about seven in the
evening. Ever since eleven in the morning, the troops, the corporation,
the civic guards, the University, and nearly all the inhabitants of
the town, had turned out to meet her, forming a line which it was most
interesting to see, on account of the kindliness and affection which
animated the multitude. The procession was very imposing and worthy of
the two sovereigns. It had been arranged that Her Majesty should arrive
in an open carriage, which was driven very slowly so that the vast crowd
should be able to get a good look at her. Incessant cheers mingled with
the pealing bells, the cannon, and the military music. The whole court
had gathered to welcome the Empress, at the foot of the grand staircase
of the castle. Her Majesty seemed very little tired by the journey,
though she had a slight cold, which did not mar her pleasure or keep her
from expressing to her parents her delight at being with them."

June 7, the Archduke Charles reached Prague. That evening there was a
state dinner in the apartment of the Emperor of Austria. Marie Louise
sat at the middle of the table with the Emperor on her right, and the
Empress on her left. This was the place always assigned to her, both at
home and at her father's. At this dinner she was waited on by Prince
Clary, who was entrusted with the functions of her High Chamberlain.

The same day (June 7), the Duke of Bassano, who had accompanied
Napoleon, wrote to Count Otto: "Sir,--I have the honor of informing you
that His Majesty, who left Dresden May 29, reached Thorn the 2d inst. He
stopped forty-eight hours at Posen, leaving at four o'clock for Dantzic
in order to review on his way several of the army corps. His health is
perfect, and everywhere he has received the expression of the enthusiasm
and admiration he inspires. The army is magnificent. The soldiers are in
good trim, and all the corps are conspicuous for their fine bearing
and their discipline. The weather is faultless, the roads are in good
condition, and the country amply supplies all that the army needs,
without its calling on its abundant reserves. I propose, Sir, to write
to you twice a week, to give you the news about His Majesty, and details
about the operations of the army. These communications will enable you
to contradict the idle rumors which malicious persons may spread."

At Prague the festivities continued without interruption: June 10, the
Empress of France gave a dinner, and at the Court Theatre there was a
performance of a German play, Kotzebue's "American"; on the 11th, the
Emperor of Austria gave a dinner; on the 12th, they visited the Imperial
Library, the Drawing-School, the Museum of Machinery, and in the evening
there was a concert; the 10th, the Archdukes Anthony and Reinhardt
arrived; in the afternoon Marie Louise gave a ball in honor of her
sisters, the three young Archduchesses; the 14th, they visited the Park
of Bubenet; the 15th, the gardens of Count Wratislau, and the estate of
Count von Clam; the 16th, a picnic at Count von Chotek's castle, seven
leagues from Prague, a sail in the boats, return to Prague, and the
arrival of Archduke Albert. The 18th, the Empress Marie Louise rode in
the riding-school of the Wallenstein Place; the Prince of Ligne arrived,
of whom the Baron de Bausset says: "This amiable Prince had all the
qualities needed for social success; he was witty, dignified without
haughtiness, affectionate, and most gracious and polite; his fancy was
quick and fertile; his conversation was animated though kindly and
always in good taste; he was continually saying clever things which
amused but gave no pain, and was full of good stories and interesting
reminiscences. His face was handsome, his expression noble, and he was
very tall. Every one began with loving him, and ended with loving him
still more."

June 18th, in the evening, a grand ball was given by Count von Kolowrat,
Grand Burgrave of Bohemia. The 19th, arrived Archduke Joseph, Palatine
of Hungary; the 20th, visit to the wild and picturesque grotto of Saint
Procopius, which lies amid woods and rocks; the 2lst, reception of the
Princes of Mecklenburg and Hesse-Homburg, state dinner and grand ball at
the castle. The 22d, the Empress Marie Louise rode with her father, who,
when he saw that she liked her horse, made her a present of it. Marie
Louise gave it the name of Hradschin, which is the name of the mountain
on which the castle of Prague is built. The 23d, visit to the Hermitage
of Saint Ivan and to the old castle of Carlstein; the 24th, a grand
performance at the theatre; the 25th, arrival of Archduke Rudolph; the
26th, arrival of the young Archdukes, Ferdinand and Maximilian, ball
given by the Empress of France; the 27th, dinner given by the Emperor of
Austria; the 30th, festival on the island of the Arquebusiers, setting
out at half-past six in the evening from the right bank of the Moldau,
landing at the end of the island, where a triumphal arch had been built,
and young girls threw flowers before Their Majesties' path.

July 1, Marie Louise, accompanied by her father the Emperor, left Prague
at six in the morning. The garrison and the civic guard were under arms.
The nobles who were at court escorted the Empress of the French to her
carriage, and amid pealing bells and roaring cannon, the cheers and
blessings of the crowd, the young sovereign departed. That evening she
slept at Schöffin; the next day, July 2, at Carlsbad; the 4th, she
visited the tin mines of Frankenthal, descending more than six hundred
feet in a chair, placed at the mouth and controlled by balance-weights;
the chair was then sent up, the Emperor Francis went down as well as all
the ladies, one after another; the 5th they left Carlsbad, and reached
Franzbrunn, where they were entertained by national songs and dances.
The 6th, Marie Louise parted from her father, whom she was not to see
again till after the fall of the Empire; she spent the night at Bamberg,
in the palace of the Duke William of Bavaria. The next day, the 7th,
she reached Würzburg, where her uncle, the Grand Duke, gave her a
magnificent reception. After a few excursions to the castle of Werneck,
many boating-parties, illuminations, and concerts led by the Duke
himself, she continued her journey. She reached Saint Cloud July 18,
1812: and at six in the evening the cannon of the Invalides announced to
the Parisians the return of their Empress.

Marie Louise, who was not yet twenty years and six months old, had been
for two years and four months Empress of the French and Queen of Italy.
In her thoughts she recalled everything that had happened since her
pathetic departure from Vienna,--the moving ceremony at Braunau, where
she was given over to the French; her first meeting with Napoleon before
the church of Courcelles; her triumphal entry into Paris by the Avenue
of the Champs Élysées; her magnificent marriage in the _salon carré_ of
the Louvre; the brilliant festivities, the journeys, continual ovations;
the ball at the Austrian Embassy, a gloomy warning amid so much
prosperity; her sufferings ending with a great joy, with the birth of a
son; the enthusiasm which this event aroused throughout the world; then
more recently, the wonderful splendor of the Dresden interview. For two
years nothing but flattery, homage, applause, music, triumphal arches,
magnificence, splendid festivities; and, after all, how poor and empty
it all was!

So far from her husband, her guide and protector, Marie Louise felt
alone and strange in the grand palace of Saint Cloud. It was then that
she began to suffer from those attacks of homesickness which made her
long for the neighborhood of Vienna. Up to that day there had been
nothing but fairy-like splendor; the young sovereign had seen only the
brilliant side of the Empire. A vague presentiment made her fear that
she was to see the other side. Napoleon had not been able to make his
wife share his boundless confidence in himself. She would have been
tempted to apply to all she saw these words from the "Imitation": "The
glory which comes from men passes quickly away.... The glory of this
world is never void of sorrow." Napoleon had just said in his last
proclamation: "Russia is led by fatality. She must fulfil her destiny."
Alas! it was not Russia, it was France; it was the Emperor who was led
by fatality. The army had crossed the Niemen June 24. As the national
historian has said, "We shall find glory at every step; but we must not
look for good fortune beyond the Niemen." Up to this point every one
looked upon Napoleon as invincible, and his young wife had imagined that
he was the incarnation of success. This false idea soon vanished. Marie
Louise's happy days were over.

In our book about the Empress Josephine we regretted that Napoleon had
not oftener sought her advice. We may say the same thing regarding
the second Empress. Marie Louise was very young and inexperienced,
especially in matters of statesmanship and diplomacy. Yet her husband,
genius as he was, would have done well to take counsel of her. She loved
peace, did not care for adventure, and she would have dissuaded him from
the Russian campaign. She who had known from infancy the prejudices,
passions, and rancors of the Viennese court, would have warned him
against blind confidence in Austrian promises. But would she have dared
to give even one word of advice to her powerful husband? Had a woman of
twenty ventured to advise the great Napoleon, the modern Caesar, the
second Charlemagne, he would have received the presumptuous child
with a smile. Yet it was she who would have been right, and she would
have prevented the lamentable wreck of the gigantic Empire. How small a
thing is genius, that word we utter with such respect and emphasis! How
petty before God is the greatest of men!

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Happy Days of the Empress Marie Louise" ***

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